Friday, 29 June 2007

New Book!

You know, usually I like to type my posts out in Word before copying them into blogger and posting them. I enjoy playing with my words, tweaking here and there, but today I couldn't wait to share this news with you!

Nigella has a new book coming out! Go to her website, for more. Her pea and parmesan risotto is one of my most favourite comfort foods, and her breakfast biscuits from 'Feast' are such a scrumptious thing to keep in your freezer!

And, look, look- I think I just posted my first picture!!
Phew, after all this, I really do need a cup of tea! As I shall tomorrow, as I am off to Wimbledon for the first time on the wettest weekend in history! If you see someone at Centre Court in a pink flowery mac sipping tea and giggling a lot, you know you will have spotted me!!

Monday, 25 June 2007

Technical Hitch!

Pictures, snaps, photographs….alas! I so wanted to show you two shelves on my book case! On Sunday morning, before dashing out of the door to London, I captured my ‘display’ bookshelf with the vintage handbag, powder-puff, biography of Marilyn, and cake stand with twinkly jewellery, and my vintage book shelf.

My vintage bookshelf has a large cream flowerpot filled with all my knitting needles of many different sizes, a hand-crocheted doily that a sweet friend made for me, a blue and white vase filled with Sweet Williams, and a selection of my favourite old books.

But alas, although dear Carl took the camera with him to his parents (where there is internet access!) to download the pictures and email them to me, he quite forgot to do it!

So another week will go by before I can show you pictures…but by then I may have taken some of my new flowery coat as well!

Instead I shall tell you about my adventures yesterday. I was lucky enough to be taken up to London to have some lunch and then see the Reduced Shakespeare Company perform his complete works in 97 minutes! (And the did Hamlet three times forward…and once backwards!) It was very tongue-in-cheek but really funny, and the Arts Theatre is a lovely, cosy little place. It was wonderful to wander about London, and as it was raining I was wearing my lovely flowery raincoat, so I was quiet happy!

My best bit of the day was when I realised we were walking past a really quite huge Boarders shop! Mum has been in to one and told me how wonderful it is, but I had yet to have the pleasure! We went in and much to my delight I scooped up the new issue of Martha Stewart Living, BluePrint, Mary Engelbreit’s Home Companion, and the US edition of Country Living. Yes, I had forsworn magazines, but two of them were for my Mum, and the other two I have never seen before, only lusted over having seen them on the internet!

There were lots of opportunities for people watching, which is quite one of my favourite things to do. There was a goth girl with a skirt so short I was worried she would catch a chill, and the most amazing hair-do that must have taken ages. While we were eating lunch, I closed my eyes just to listen to all the different accents around me.

When I got home at seven, I was so tired! A lovely day, but perhaps the rain, and the trains or maybe just being out in London had drained me somewhat. So a supper of cottage pie (home made, from the freezer) a cup of hot, lovely tea, and bed….bliss!

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Today, I Am Wearing...

...oh, joy, joy, joy, a delightful coat that I have been coveting for weeks!

It has been on the mannequin in the window of our British Heart Foundation charity shop, and today I could wait no longer! I went in, tried it on, and it fitted!

So today I will be skipping home, splish splash splishing through the puddles in my new cream mac, printed all over with pink flowers, by Liz Claiborne.

Morning Musings

Mornings are funny things. I like early morning walks through the park to work, because there are few people in it, and as a result more animals. The other day I spotted a little grey squirrel walking across the grass. He was actually walking rather than bounding, until something startled him and he broke into that graceful flowing run. There was a duck waddling along, shaking off drops of water from the river, and having a poke around in the flower bed to see what she could see. A little robin sitting on the back of a bench, surveying his domain.

And yet I do need my cup of tea before I can contemplate starting the day! And sometimes, like today, I feel all fuzzy when I wake up, and it takes some time to shake that off. Other days, like yesterday, I can get up and just kind of glide into the day. Thursday evening I weighed out dried cranberries, raisins, sultanas and glace cherries (not cartoon-red-dyed kind!) and doused them with Cointreau.

Bright and early Friday morning (6.15 am bright and early!) I was to be found in the kitchen lining a cake tin, preheating the oven, and mixing up the first tier of my wedding cake!

The recipe I am using comes from the November issue of Good Housekeeping magazine, and I made it for a Christmas cake last year. They suggest using vanilla vodka, but I am substituting Cointreau, just like I did back then. I am making an eight inch round tier to sit right on top of an eleven inch round tier. There will be a tier of sponge for those who don’t like fruit cake as well. Having decided I wanted to make the cake myself, I worried that I might be taking on too much, it might all go wrong- but (the first tier at least) was deliciously easy.
Perhaps it is because I have the luxury of knowing someone else is decorating it for me? Friday afternoon, the lovely lady who is making me dozens of icing roses and ivy leaves to go on the cake invited me to lunch and then to have a go at making my own roses. It was thoroughly absorbing, and the three hours passed in what felt like minutes, and I did enjoy it…but…the five roses I made in that time were easily distinguished from hers

Monday, 18 June 2007

A Walk Along My Favourite Bookshelf

At last, at last, we are all spick and span in our little flat. Everything is sparkling, clean and scrumptious. The cushions on my sofa are all fluffed, my boxes and packets of tea and coffee are all in order, and at last I can cast off my pinnie and just sit down…just sip my tea and relax.

If you were sitting with me in my living room, your eye would probably be drawn first to the tank where our little snake lives, and then it would wander to our fishies. After you had taken that in, there is a good chance that your eye would fall upon my bookshelves. Although it is only a little flat, we have fitted three cases in- one tall and two shorter (and looking back, I wish we had bought all three as tall ones!).

My bookshelves (I like to think of them as my library!) are just my favourite thing. The tall one has three wide flat shelves, then three narrower shelves. The third wide flat shelf I like to keep for making little displays on- an idea I got from the ever scrumptious

Just now my display is ‘bombshell’ themed. There is our black and white polka dotted telephone with a fifties pinup girl on the receiver saying ‘Promise I won’t say a word!!’ (it isn’t actually plugged in to anything as we don’t have a landline yet….but it is too pretty to languish in a box!) and also a lovely biography of Marilyn Monroe. There is my favourite vintage beaded handbag, and a tub of sparkly dusting powder with a big black downy puff to dab it on with. I finished the display off with a two tier cake stand, holding a selection of my favourite jewellery bits and bobs, and a bright red nail polish!

I had to fill in a questionnaire for a course at work about my books and reading, which made me think that perhaps it would be fun to take you on a walk along my favourite bookshelf. This is the shelf where I keep my best books. They are all level with the edge of the shelf, except here and there where I have pushed a few back to make a little gap to hold a tiny vase, or a candle, or similar.

This is quite a list (oh, the joy of a big bookshelf!) so now may be the time to make a cup of tea, and then come back! You know I do keep meaning to do little book reviews for here…which reminds me, a thing I do with my books now is to clip out newspaper reviews of them to paste in the front, and then I like to write in the date that I read them, and if I re-read them, the new date. Sacriligeous, no, to write in books? Ahh, but I am allowed to, seeing as I work in a library. Such a thing done to your own books, and done with love is no crime as far as I can see! Next on my list is to design my own bookplates to go in them all….but I digress. Here it is, a wander along my favourite bookshelf:

First, all trimmed in gingham ribbon is my Brocante Home Binder. Utter bliss, filled with my daily, weekly and monthly routines, ideas for puttery treats and more such loveliness from Alison over at Brocante Home. Lovely. Scrumptious! Now on to my other books…
The Fabulous Girl’s Guide to Decorum by Kim Izzo and Ceri Marsh

The Bombshell Manual of Style by Laren Stover

Three Black Skirts: All You Need to Survive Life by Anna Johnson

The Little Lady Agency by Hester Browne

Little Lady Big Apple by Hester Browne

The Shops by India Knight

How to Walk In High Heels by Camilla Morton

The Goddess Guide by Gisele Scanlon

Put On Your Pearls, Girls by Lulu Guinness

Entre Nous: A Womans Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl by Debra Ollivier

Sloe Gin and Beeswax by Jane Newdick

The Country Store by Stephanie Donaldson

Celebrations by Sharon Amos

Gift of a Letter by Alexandra Stoddard

Living a Beautiful Life by Alexandra Stoddard

Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach

Romancing The Ordinary by Sarah Ban Breathnach

Nigella Bites by Nigella Lawson (her pea and parmesan risotto is my favourite comfort food!)

Oh gosh, it was so hard to write that list without annotating each title! I couldn’t resist with Nigella…but I wanted to put down that ‘Pearls’ is a picture book for grown up ladies, and the very first picture, a lady with a breakfast tray holding three cups of tea captioned ‘Lulu is not a morning person’is so very apt! That ‘Sloe Gin’ and ‘Country Store’ make me want to start foraging in hedgerows, and reminds me of the hilarious scenes in my kitchen when my lovely friend Lisa and I made elderberry cordial, and decided to crush the berries with our hands, and ended up purple head to toe.. Or that The Goddess Guide is covered with black velvet flock!

I could go on, but sitting here I cannot recall any more author/title combinations. All of them are utterly delicious. Perhaps next time we walk along my bookshelf, we shall visit the vintage girls...including my most recent finds!

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Scrumptious Breakfast

It is so easy to fall into bad habits, isn’t it? You see, dear Carl leaves for work at around 7.15, while I don’t leave until 8.30. So each morning I wave him off, have a shower and then have breakfast. Usually in the living room, with the tv on. Doing this I discovered that I quite like ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ where I always used to think I didn’t, but now that has been taken off for Big Brother, and, well, my mornings have not been quite as scrumptious as they could have been!

So this morning, I abandoned the living room altogether! I always have the bedroom windows thrown wide open to let in the morning air, and I reclined on the bed with a buttery soft croissant, a cup of vanilla coffee, and my new book- ‘The Art and Power of Being a Lady’ (A finishing school with va-va-voom according to the reviewer!) In the background, Glenn Miller serenaded me first with ‘In the Mood’ and then ‘Moonlight Serenade’. And even though I had to be out by 8 O’clock for my early morning start at work today, it felt like I had bags more time than usual, and it was all so much more scrumptious and luxurious!

From now on I resolve to start every day with a little music and spoil myself!

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

A Change of Habit

It feels like a big step into the scary unknown, this. You see, I like to sit down and plan a weeks worth of menus, compile a shopping list from this, and then take my basket and go shopping.

But recently we have felt more and more uncomfortable about using supermarkets, and shopping in a less regimented way sounds so much fun when you read 'French Women Don't Get Fat' we are trying something a little different.

Tonight on the way home, I will be popping into the Co-Op (our shop of choice because of their ethical policies!) to pick up a few bits such as loo roll and so on that we need for the next few days. At lunch time I bought some bread from the bakers, and some steak from the market for dinner tonight.

For the first time in a long time, I do not know what dinner will be tomorrow night! Or the night after! I plan to go to the market and see what looks nicest. Such a simple thing maybe, but it does feel scary! I think perhaps I shall take the 'sting' out of it by having my store cupboard well stocked with staples that I can whip up into something tasty should I need too...


Although I am very happy to get engrossed in a complicated project, I also love things that are less effort but look like they have taken a lot!

My recent discovery is hot fruit salad. It is really scrumptious, quick and easy, but feels really luxurious and special!

Melt a small knob of butter in a frying pan until it goes all frothy and foamy. Drop in your choice of whatever of these you have laying about- tinned pineapple pieces, sliced strawberries, banana and/or cherries (with the fresh fruit it works better with elderly fruit that you might otherwise not have fancied). Give it a good shake about in the pan, a very light sprinkling of caster sugar, and a slosh of cointreau or whatever you fancy.

Give it the odd shake until it smells so delicious you don’t want to wait to eat it any more, (and my, it does smell good- the strawberries give a heavenly jammy scent, and the bananas smell almost of caramel…) then shake it out of the pan into a bowl, making sure you get all of the cointreauy juices out!

Friday, 1 June 2007

A Month Of Roses

June is the month of roses…

…so here are some scrumptious treats to take you through the month…

…go out at lunch time and choose the perfect shade of rose nail polish to paint your toe nails with when you get home tonight. (I like…)

…do you have a favourite cup and saucer to drink your tea from? Treat yourself to a box of Rose Teabags from Whittard, and sip in a quiet corner.

…go on a treasure hunt about the shops to find a scrumptious little pot (or tube!) of rose scented hand cream, and keep it in your handbag. Every time you have to wait in a queue, take a moment to rub a little in and enjoy the scent.

…go to a florist or flower stall, and pick out the prettiest bunch of roses you can find. Creamy white tipped with deepest pink? Wine red? Sunshine yellow? The choice is yours! When you get them home, put most of them in a vase, and then float a single flower head in a little vintage tea cup of water. If there are any petals that have come loose on the journey home, or a head that is looking worse for wear, take the petals and scatter them in your bath tonight.

…nibble on rose scented Turkish delight while watching your favourite black-and-white film.

And also the month of Midsummer…

…In Great Britain, from the 13th century, Midsummer was celebrated with the lighting of bonfires, feasting and merrymaking. Why not combine by whipping up a batch of scrumptious cup-cakes, fairy cakes or muffins, and sit a little indoor sparkler in the middle of all the icing?

I can hardly wait for the weekend so I can get started!