Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Beautiful Morning

Tuesday morning was pretty special. Not for any big reason, but instead a multitude of little ones. Now Carl is working in London, he has to leave for work quite early, leaving me to my morning in solitude.

Now solitude can be a rather lovely thing. I can let the kettle whistle for a little bit longer than I need to, just to enjoy the sound! When I finally did stop it whistling, I made one of my favourite breakfasts-according to a book I read, it was a favourite of Audrey Hepburn too. A cup of coffee (although I treated myself to vanilla coffee) and two slices of wholemeal toast with raspberry jam, served on my vintage plate painted with love-in-a-mist flowers.

I took my lovely breakfast into our living room, and really it was so quiet and peaceful, and so beautiful. Our sofa is opposite the large window, and the panes of glass were all condensation-y. Through them you could see the sunrise like a glorious Impressionist painting, and they threw my vase of purple tulips into silhouette.

When I ventured outside to work, the air was beautiful. It was slightly hazy, almost misty, like an autumn day rather than a Spring one. Or, like one of those summer days that is going to be very, very hot later on, but just for now is cool. All the colours of the sky were slightly muted, almost like the slight bloom you get on a bunch of black grapes, or on a sloe. The river was as smooth as glass, except for ripples further down the stream, made by a duck. The duck looked like he was wearing an Easter Bonnet, as where the sun was hitting his head, the feathers were glowing green.

There were lots of clumps of violets, which are quiet one of my most favourite flowers. So tiny, but so beautiful, and if you get near enough, such a heavenly scent.

Where it was cooler, the air felt all fresh and clean in my lungs, and my cheeks were slightly rosy. Surely there can be nothing better about such a morning? Wherever you are I hope your morning is just as scrumptious as can be.

Thursday, 22 March 2007

Today I An Wearing...

A black skirt with my raspberry pink vest-top camisole. Over that, to keep me warm (as it has been very chilly indeed here) an aqua cardigan. And even better, raspberry pink lipstick to match my top. Very bright, but it makes me feel cheerful, which is a good thing.

Spring-ing Into The Kitchen

For the first official day of Spring, I bought a bunch of daffodils for my desk. I love having flowers on my desk, it really makes a difference. For dinner I made salmon fish cakes with minty pea puree. The pea puree was realllly good this time- because we used our own home made Greek Yoghurt! I am feeling very domestic ever since I bought our yoghurt maker, and can really recommend getting one. We have been making plain yoghurt and flavouring it ourselves rather than buying flavoured mixes for it. This morning for breakfast, I enjoyed Greek Yoghurt with sliced banana and spiced apricot puree stirred through, with crunchy granola on top. Yum!

Fabulous Friday

It does seem that rather than the every day adventures I have in the kitchen, or with wool and needles or hooks, I have rather been posting about my little jaunts out, recently. Well I am afraid you will have to expect more of it for now! For last Friday I had the most scrumptious day out; I am off to London tomorrow for the Cross Stitch and Craft Exhibition, and then again next Thursday for the Vitality Show! But after all that, or maybe in between, I will be posting more about my every day kind of adventures for a while.

But first let me tell you about Friday, which was a lovely warm spring day (and was followed by sleet and snow on Saturday! I love March for the unpredictable weather) and was just so much fun. I have a particularly lovely friend who I did A Level History with, and then we ended up working in the same building for a while. We email often, and although we don’t meet up quite as often, when we do we have so much fun and never stop talking! We both love vintage things (and because they are lovely, not because they are fashionable at the moment!) and she lives in the country with her lovely husband and adorable chickens. But let me start at the beginning- she has came and picked me up from home, and we went to Tiptree which is a little village that you may recognise as the place where Wilkin and Sons jam comes from (mmm, tiny tip raspberry on wholemeal toast!). To the untrained eye, you would not think you could have much of a day out there, but ohhh, we did! There is a craft shop which is a veritable Aladdin’s Cave, full of every kind of crafting treasure you can possibly imagine! We were quite a while in there, because there is so much to see.

Then she introduced me to another marvellous shop- a proper hardware shop just opposite. It smelt divine, and was so clever- as well as having wood and sprockets and hammers and all sorts of manly things, it had gorgeous china and kitchen things, as well as candles and gifts and…well…everything! I bought all sorts of knick-knacks- some extra long matches for Carl to light our candles with, a runner-bean slicer, two tiny ramekins to make mini crème-brulees in, two slightly larger ramekins to make mini chocolate mousse in, and two scallop-shell shaped little plates, that I shall put prawns on when I make prawn salad next.

Our next mission was to find some lunch, because really, shopping and hunting through so many treasures really gives you an appetite! So we drove to the Jam Factory, and had lunch in the tea-room garden. If you are ever in the area, I can really recommend it. It was so relaxing to sit in the sun and talk and talk and talk while sipping a pot of tea and eating a really yummy sandwich. Although there is a museum you can look round, we didn’t have time- there was the gift shop to think of, after all! I bought some mini jars of jam (I am going to have them as favours at my wedding, and needed some so I can work out how much fabric I will need to make them little flowery lids), some Cath Kidston handbag tissues, and a gorgeous Ryland Peters and Small notebook that I have been coveting for a while.

Oh dear, don’t I sound like a magpie spendthrift? But you see, what I do is not buy anything for ages, and then I can have a day of buying such pleasing trifles without feeling bad! So do not think too badly of me!

From here we popped to an equally lovely nursery to buy some plants, and then back to her lovely home to meet her chickens and look over our days treasures. Really the day seemed to be over before it began- and as we left she was absolutely lovely- she gave me a bag of Lush bath bombs, and some Dermalogica face products that she couldn’t use! So I am rather pampering myself at the moment! Thank you Anna- you are the loveliest friend, you know!

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

An Unfinished Thought

Often, I type my posts in Word, and then paste them into the magic blogger window that makes them appear on my blog. Yesterday, I got diverted- I cannot remember by what. But I was called away in the middle of a sentance- see?

"Talking of frocks that are gorgeous, I have found a lovely raspberry pink dress in New Look- it has a belt and a long full skirt- that I feel I simply must try on. I have been feeling myself really pulled towards colour just recently. Which has been exacerbated by...."

exacerbated by what? What was I going to say about colour? It as though the thought was formed, and having been half commited to paper, has flown away.

One thing that has made me think about colour more is Kaffe Fassett. He came to our library on Saturday, for a craft morning. And, he was lovely. Really lovely. Relaxed, with purple socks. And although he was signing books, he was just as happy to chat. He had an amazing piece of knitting with him. He asked me if I knit. I said I knit, a bit. I do seem to become stupid around people I admire. Lately, I have been crocheting. But I think it is time for me to pick up sticks again. This time, I am going to make a hot water bottle cover. (I know, I do know we have had the first spring weekend!) In some glorious colour that really calls to me, out of thick fluffy wool, with a huge satin bow. Bliss.

I have dutch daffodils on my desk this week, they are so utterly frilly that it looks like a ballet being danced in my vase. This last post is a little disjointed as it has been a long and busy day and my mind is skipping about. I really need to go home, make a pot of tea and sit and craft something. Crochet tonight I think, soft yarn flowing through my fingers. And a few pages of my book (Virgin Queen by Philippa Gregory, a scrumptious Tudor romp), scented pillow spray, and away to sleep...

Becoming Jane

Now, I do do more than just eat, I promise, but I do love food, and it seems to pop up in my social life quite a bit! Friday night, dear Carl and my lovely friend Lisa went for dinner at Café Rouge before Lisa and I went to see Becoming Jane at the cinema. The waiters were lovely- what is it about a man with an accent?! And as for the film, although it has had some negative reviews, we really enjoyed it. But perhaps that is because we set out with enjoyment in mind! We both took our hand-crocheted stoles with us to wear (the air conditioning is always a little too enthusiastic for my liking) and both sipped tea throughout, while giggling away (a lovely man opened every door for me on the way back from my tea procuring trip!). If you go expecting to see a faithful biography of the life of Jane Austen, then you will be disappointed and perhaps a little shocked at the naked bottoms! But if you go expecting to see a jolly film inspired by her life, with lovely frocks and gorgeous scenery, then I think you will be well pleased.

Pear Ice Cream At Harrods

I have decided that there is nothing quite so nice to do, on a Thursday afternoon, than to sit at the ice cream bar in Harrods with a tiny silver dish of pear ice cream. It was so lovely to have a day out of work, to do something so very, very different. Harrods itself is an odd thing. We found the food halls lovely, as you can imagine we might. I treated myself to Violet Creams from Charbonnel et Walker, and bought some freshly ground coffee as well, and some orange truffles for Carl. And then we visited the ice cream bar, which was heaven. They had huge sundaes on offer for £15! Apart from the cost, I don’t know that my tummy would survive it- my one little scoop of pear ice cream was very rich and filling, let alone many scoops of chocolate ice cream with hot fudge sauce!

And now for the curious thing- much of the place seemed oddly empty. And very touristy. We had just finished having fun picking out jelly moulds and such things in the kitchenware section (and I, dribbling over a scrumptious pink smeg fridge), when we found ourselves in an awful bit selling fleece coats emblazoned with ‘Harrods’ and ‘Harrods’ teddy bears and ‘Harrods’ mugs and so on. I would happily visit again if I was in the area, but I would much rather bring back some exquisite chocolates or a bunch of flowers or something than a Harrods fleece! We did decide that if we had been going to GO to Harrods, we would have been rather disappointed. But as it was, it was just what they did with us until it was time to go to the studio and see Ready Steady Cook!

And oh, how we laughed. We had heard that there is a Portakabin that they put you in if it rains while you are waiting to go in- and we drove past a shabby one, laughing that it would be THE Portakabin. And it was! And it seems our timing was wrong, and we were far too early, so they herded us in to eat economy bourbon biscuits and drink cheap white wine! Surprisingly plesant way to while away an hour or so!

We peeked at a notice that said that we would be in the audience for the Comic Relief edition! We did not recognise the celebrities names, but lovely Sarah googled them on her mobile phone, and it seems one was from Girls Aloud and the other Sugar Babes. I never did work out which was which! The chefs were Ginno D’Acampo (uttlerly delicious accent!) and Toby Tobin. Due to my fluttery eyelashes, I managed to get a seat in the front row, right next to the aisle! I have to say that the studio is much smaller than it looks in real life, but you might just get a glimpse of me. I am the one in a white cardigan and black-and-white skirt, holding up her green pepper and grinning somewhat manically over the top of it!

(the reason for the grin is that when Ainsley says ‘vote’ you mustn’t! They get rid of the celebrities, then you vote, and they count the votes to see who has won. Then they bring the celebrities back, and you vote again, this time for the camera! Such a lot of voting, and worrying about if your pepper is the right way up, and so on!)

I am just glad that we availed ourselves of the free bourbon biscuits, as all that cookery makes you feel awfully hungry!

Wednesday, 7 March 2007

Dewdrops and roses and noses on kittens...

…these are a few of my favourite things!

I confess, I am cheating today. I have visited lovely Vintage Pretty who made me hungry for fresh bread, and lovely Alison at Brocante Home who has listed 100 teeny tiny everyday pleasures which make life that bit more scrumptious. So I am going to go home and make some bread, and while away my tea break listing some of my own favourite everyday pleasures, and things I love….

1) Flowers. It is well documented that I love them, I think! Best of all are unexpected flowers- a bunch I was not expecting, or a teeny pansy growing all on its own, or some tiny tête-à-tête springing up suddenly.

2) Post. My plaintive cry every time I come home is ‘is there any POST, darling?’ Oh, how I love it! Perhaps I would get more if I wrote more though, which I adore doing, but simply cannot bring myself to do until I find some stationery that I really want to write on.

3) Stationery. Any new project needs a new notebook, the more scrumptious the better. But oh, it is getting hard to find divine ones! As it is writing paper and envelopes. But when I do find lovely ones…utter bliss!

4) Pen and ink. I love to use a fountain pen to write with. I love seeing the ink shine and then dry, carrying with it my good wishes. It looks…grown up somehow, and I love to read words formed with real ink. My next project is to find some lovely coloured ink cartridges.

5) A really hot cup of tea. Some people laugh when I say this- surely all tea is hot? Ah, not so. Sometimes you want nothing more than a good hot cup of tea, which can only be made by someone else who understands what a good hot cup of tea means.

6) My morning coffee. A month or so ago, we started a low-carb eating thing to shape up for spring. My greatest joy was discovering that I could have a cup of coffee with cream in it for breakfast! I always have this in the most beautiful butterfly festooned thin china mug that a lovely lady sent me in a ‘swap’ parcel.

7) Violet creams. WHEN was the last time I had one? I can barely think! But I do know life is sweeter when I know there is a little chocolate garnished with a crystallized violet petal just waiting for me to come home, and stand on tiptoe to reach the box on the top shelf…

8) Laying in bed, listening to Radio 4. When I can’t sleep, I find it soothes me to sleep. I love to sit in bed and listen to the pips and have them announce the hour. I love that at midnight it is Big Ben chiming away instead. I like to listen to the morning headlines before swinging my feet out of bed to make some coffee.

9) Having a bath when the water is hot enough to leave a beauty therapist aghast! I am sure I shall pay for it in years to come with thread veins, but for now, I love HOT water, scented with something lovely, and a book, and a glass of cool, cool water. That feeling, as you lay back, and the bubbles prickle about your shoulders, and you can close your eyes and drift off in a soap bubble…

10) My chamber stick. I have this beautiful cream chamber stick, and I like to waft about the place lighting my way with this, in my Victorian-style nightie, imagining myself to be one of the Bennett sisters at Longbourne.

11) I like it when Carl calls me Sugar. Sometimes he says it, sometimes he uses it in email. Either way, it always makes me smile.

12) Straightening my hair. I have a pair of ceramic straighteners on loan, and boy, do they work! It takes two minutes to run them through my hair, and I just look so much more….polished.

13) A new book. Well, it doesn’t have to be new, it can be really old. But one that I have not read yet, and even as I open the cover and read the first sentence, I know it is going to be as good as I hoped.

14) Making things. Anything, knitting, cooking, crochet, tea, really, anything. Just that lovely feeling of ‘I MADE that!’.

15) The kitties that come and visit me. My little black kitty has not been for a while, but there is a new ginger one who keeps strolling into the living room, and looks around as if to wonder what we are doing in his living room, please?

16) Having coffee with my Mum in the Continental Coffee Company in Maldon. I have coffee with cream and nuts, and quite often they play Elvis in the background, which we tap our toes along to, while we chat, and chat, and chat…

17) My job. Oh it is tiring at the moment, but really it is the best thing in the world. Being surrounded by all these books, and knowledge, all day long. Helping people find what they want, sometimes even things they thought we would never have.

18) Sunday evenings, when there are fresh covers on the bed, and I have had a bath and hairwash, and cut my nails- everything feels really clean and cozy.

19) Talking of bed, I like to open the windows, pull back the duvet and close the door for an hour or so before bed. Then when I get into bed, the air is all soft and clean, and the sheets are cool, yet cozy. Our new sheets are ever so soft and smooth, and the feather pillows are lovely to relax in to.

20) Washing my hands. When I was in Tesco last week they had Method hand-wash from America in. Never mind it is a silly price a bottle, it is a fantastic tear-drop shape and smells like a field of lavender. Go visit who will tell you all about these wonderful products!

21) Talking of Tesco, I like shopping. The Farmers Market, the local market, the health food shop, and anything we can’t get anywhere else from the supermarket. Oh, and going to a different supermarket every now and then. Like Friday, when I tried White Stilton with Pineapple, and Tintern Cheddar with Herbs and Chives at Sainsbury. Oh, and a tiny cracker with duck and cranberry pate on it….I could hardly eat lunch I was so full!

22) Sometimes at the end of a l-o-n-g day, I come home, put the kettle on, and change into my dressing gown and slippers, all snugly and easy. Bliss.

23) Oh, my whistling kettle! Making tea is just so much more fun. Sometimes I let it boil for longer than it needs, just to hear the whistle!

24) Being able to pick out the constellation Orion, practically anywhere I go! Must work on recognising some others now…

25) Coffee out. I tried the Dolce Late in Starbucks the other day, it had cinnamon on it, and was delicious. I love vanilla coffee too. Or plain coffee with a cheese scone at the Garden Centre. Mmmm, bliss.

26) Sudoku. I was never very good at maths at school. Not enough to be confident. I still think I got my B at GCSE when they marked someone elses paper by mistake…but I do love Sudoku, because it makes me feel like I am doing maths!

27) Word Plays. We are terrible at work, we make awful puns and jokes, and then point them out to each other saying ‘Do you see what I did?!’ while they are too busy groaning to do anything else!

28) Patterns. I love fabric and paper with patterns, patterns made by the clouds, and patterns in the world. Just recently I started a Granny Square blanket. Then several of the blogs I read ( and to name just two) are also crocheting Granny Squares. And then Cath Kidston has bought one out, which was on the cover of a magazine the other day. I love that feeling of having tapped in to something, somehow.

29) I love making pea and parmesan risotto. Store cupboard ingredients transformed into a luscious dish that feels like a luxury dinner, mmm!

30) My new face-cleansing-balm that I take off with a muslin cloth smells of lovely essential oils- all sort of minty and piney. I love the smell of it, and how my skin feels once I have buffed it with the muslin.

Well, Alison went on to 100, but I have made it as far as 30. Not that there are only 30 such pleasures for me, but more that I tend to ramble on a bit, ok, lot more than her, and by now you will probably be wanting a cup of tea.

But before you go, let me tell you that the lunch I had in Starbucks back on St David’s Day was BLISS. I sat all on my own with a sandwich and cinnamon Dolce Late coffee, and finished my book- The Photograph by Penelope Lively. It was all lovely. Being on my own, people watching, the coffee was lovely, and the book was sad but somehow enjoyable at the same time. Then I wandered back to work and bought flowers for my desk.

Oh, and really, the kettle will wait just a minute more- let me tell you about my adventure for tomorrow! I am going up to London! On a coach, with one of my dear friends from Library HQ. We are to be dropped off at Harrods for three hours or so (I have designs on Patisserie Valerie just down the road) and then will be picked up and be taken to see Celebrity Ready Steady Cook filmed! There, you can go now- and you have really earned a chocolate biscuit with your tea!

Thursday, 1 March 2007

A Tale of Two Morning Walks

I walked to work yesterday morning, and was captivated by the sky. Happily the majority of my walk is on a long straight road, so I could gaze up for much of the way! To my left, the sky was thunderous- grey and overcast. There was a strong buffeting breeze that made you feel like marching along. It was not quite raining yet, but it was the kind of weather that made me glad I had my umbrella close to hand! And yet to the right, it was all sunshine and blue sky! And somewhere in the middle, overhead, they swirled together as though playing a game of chess. It made me smile to notice only dark purple pansies on the thunderous side, and tiny clutches of tiny tete-a-tete whispering together on the sunny side.

Well I guess that although it did rain a lot yesterday, the sunny side won the game of chess, because I was greeted by the most beautiful spring-like weather this morning! There was a breeze which was cool but not cold, and everything seemed slightly damp, like the wings of a butterfly freshly emerged from it’s cocoon. Everything seemed terribly bright and clear, almost scoured clean by wind and rain yesterday and all fresh and new this morning. Everything seems full of hope- the crocuses are more abundant than ever, if such a thing can be true. There were daffodils with the creamiest of petals, and golden trumpets standing tall and proud, with violets fussing about their feet. Little schoolboys were jumping in the puddles with glee, before racing off to find the next one.

I just adore mornings like this, don’t you? It feels like everything is going to be good in the day. And so far, it has. Oh, nothing out of the ordinary- a little crochet in my tea break (I am using a teeny tiny hook and the softest of wool at the moment), I found a brooch to wear on my jumper that brings out the pink of my skirt just so. I am going to treat myself to a coffee at Starbucks at lunch time today. And Carl has an interview in London, that I feel….hopeful about. Perhaps it is because it is St David’s day today? My great grandmother on my mothers side (I have her hair, apparently) was Welsh, so I shall celebrate today buy bringing home an armful of daffodils for the windowsill.

I hope you are all having a scrumptious day as well!