Monday, February 2, 2015

the least I could do




I have stood The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying on end.  It is the least I could do.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

for the hell of it


The school filed across the road to a church service lately, so my daughters stayed behind with the few other non-Catholic children to caper and giggle. I asked Pink Daughter why they'd have Mass at such an odd time of year, as I wasn't aware that it was the feast-day of any of Ireland's A-list saints.  She thought about it, and said that no one had given them a reason, and that the school probably had Mass just for the hell of it. 




I hope you won't think this is incongruous in the midst of my trumpeted clear-out activities, but I have bought a new tea towel.  It hangs above my shelf of mugs, and, in the spirit of Kondo anthropomorphism, I feel it encourages my crockery to be picturesque.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

My Life in Houses

When I added My Life in Houses to my suitcase as holiday reading, I hadn't realised that one of Margaret Forster's houses was on the Algarve coast in Portugal, a few coral pink and lemon yellow towns along from the one I was staying in.



Just as she did, I missed my house, which is so much of a refuge to me that it always seems something of a betrayal to leave it, even in the chill fog of winter.  And it's not just me: I encountered Scottish Husband lounging on the sunny terrace last week, white wine by his side, browsing for a new copper saucepan, lidded, of suitable diameter, to be sent to the house in expiation for our absence.



Along the way, the book segues from being about My Life in Houses to My Life in Houses, a change of emphasis brought about by illness and a sense of retreat, accompanied by a conviction that a house is more than the sum of its parts.

Even the sum of the parts of my house is too much for me, let alone more, so now that I'm back, I'm doing a Kondo Clearout (inspired by Lucille), about which I will have much, much more to say.

Monday, December 22, 2014

everything is under control





The note on Blue Daughter's bedroom door states Can You Go Away For Now. No one is allowed in apart from Mama. I love Mama. Officially Signed Blue Daughter POP 18 December 2014 I think or maybe a different day.  Who could argue with this seasonal sentiment?



Every year I post a photo of my knitted nativity and floods of people reach my blog via Google, mostly from America, with the keywords "nativity knitted pattern free FREE quick for God's sake FREE". I am sorry, America; I do not have the pattern.




I am on the very verge of going round to your own blog to wish you a happy Christmas. That is exactly where I have been for the past few days as well. The Very Verge.

The least I can do is disable my comments so you don't feel it is necessary to wish me a Happy Christmas, dear Mise, and all the best to me and mine for 2015. I know you have more pressing things to do.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Biannually on my pink sofa

It was Sue of The Quince Tree, a woman of impeccable taste, who first made me aware of Persephone Books, and when I spotted the name cropping up on other blogs I thought I'd better hasten to request their Biannually and take a photo of it propped up against the unsteady candlestick in front of the big round mirror.



I've also signed up to their Persephone letter, their Persephone forum, their Persephone post, the whole Persephone shebang. Now I plan to read their appealing dove grey books with fabric pattern end-papers – how could I resist fabric pattern end-papers? –  and look forward to being immersed in a world of doughty and complicated women as I sip my cocoa with a splash of brandy.


I took a photo of the Biannually on my pink sofa as well, my favourite one.

The only thing that gives me pause is the frequent reference in their communications to 'the Persephone girls' or 'our girls.'  It conjures up an image of someone halfway along the continuum between Miss J. Hunter Dunn and Dame Maggie Smith, wearing Swedish Hasbeens shoes and plaits in their hair. Not that I object to Hasbeens and plaits, and very nice they look on myself, to be sure.  I'm a woman, though; not a girl.

All that remains on the 2014 101% Full Tilt Spirit of Christmas checklist here now is to finalise something suitable to put under the tree for Scottish Husband, who can be very challenging to shop for. Last Christmas, I gave him folk art but the very next day he gave it away. This year, to save me from tears, I'm giving him something metal, metal...

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

'tis nearly the season to be jolly

As we are expecting house-guests for Christmas, we thought it would be a good idea to buy a large Stilton to dignify the Port.  In Marks and Spencer, we hunted high and low for one, but mostly high, as the more mundane wares tended to be low.



Eventually becoming weary, we approached a member of staff to ask her where we would find the Big Cheese. Looking furtively over her shoulder, she told us that the manager doesn't come in on a Sunday until after his golf.  

Please look away now if you don't want to see what I've got you for Christmas.



 I flatter myself that I am catering to all tastes with this very fetching and useful decanter.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Stripes: how many are too many?

My inner coastal Quaker finds stripes irresistible, so when Scottish Husband asks what I'd like for my birthday I overcome my initial response that I am in a decluttering zone and suggest a striped bedspread. Realising that he will probably not find one in the Harley Davidson store, the only shop he frequents, I attempt to find a specific URL.  Not easily done.

Europe used to contain one ticking quilt, but it is out of stock.

[Nordic House, out of stock]


The rest of the ticking, as you will see if you study a global heat-map of ticking, has migrated from France to North America.  These, for instance:



[Dash and Albert and Brahms Mount]

Due to dollars and customs duties and the cheerfulness barrier, trade with North America is impossible. Do you know where in Europe I can find a simple cotton bedspread or throw or quilt, striped?

Pretty Far West has been rather possession-focussed lately, a natural reaction to losing my fortune in an ill-fated investment in Bitcoins. Be assured that I am also a deeply cultural woman, who passes by the Opera House on the way to the little shop that sells the right sort of shoes. I was seated beside Salman Rushdie at a dinnerparty once, am a member of the parish bookclub despite never attending its meetings, and a former boyfriend of mine owns one of Britain's finest collections of eighteenth century art.

My cultural credentials pall beside those of Frances, who frequented the same New York launderette as a Bezos brother, but I struggle on.  Do let me know where your chamber orchestra will be playing next.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

an end to the lipstick plight

I have spoken movingly in the past of an uncertain future faced due to the disastrous discontinuance of my lipstick. You will have followed my plight as I bought up all remaining stocks of that shade worldwide and set about the cruel task of finding a replacement product. With my trademark stoicism, I have said very little here, but the whole thing has been a woeful tale of reds that were too orange and of inappropriate degrees of shine.



Or so the situation stood until I discovered MAC Dubonnet, my official new lipstick. It is a good shade of red, as you will see in the photo of me unless you are reading this on a mobile device, which you probably are as you have so very much to do and your PA hovering nervously with the papers to sign. It suits me. I am willing to leave the house. Small birds stir and begin to sing once more.

Concern has failed to flood in about the chef who was beaten up back in my days in the catering trade. He recovered and later married one of my many sisters. I baked their wedding cake.  Only two tiers.



I haven't had time to read this book. You?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Not a Very Spiritual Post

After working non-stop for days and days, so much so that I could read only your blog and ignore everyone else's, I thought I'd stop for a coffee and share some finds with you.

Find number one: Scandic Way of Life.




These people sell lovely, simple clothes, with clean lines and good fabrics. International celebrities such as myself wear their dresses while we clear out the fridge or pass the roasted vegetable quiche off as homemade. I particularly like the Sorgenfri Sylt collection, whatever that means, and all these fine socken:





Find number 2: What became of Anna. As a child, I read When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr over and over again, and now I discover that there is more. Bombs on Aunty Dainty is on my bedside table and A Small Person Far Away is rushing toward me in the post.



Anna's mother is highly strung and cannot sew, just like myself. I dearly hope she will survive the war.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Professor of Chinoiserie

It has been a difficult week, in which I experienced a bout of post-new-curtain slump: the listlessness of one for whom the thrill of the chase is over when the new curtains are finally hanging on a double old ivory rail with button finials. I have been morose and taciturn, a constant visitor to the jar of glacé cherries for my nerves.



Did I tell you about the few years I spent running a café after I ceased to be a Banking Mogul? There was a dear little square room at the very back, past the kitchens, where dry goods were stored. Valrhona chocolate chips, glacé cherries, and so forth. Things often go wrong in the café business.  When the chef got arrested, when the road collapsed, when the replacement chef was beaten up, I used to retire to that little room and idly eat cherries until I felt better. To this day a glacé cherry will help me through a tedious conversation about someone else's problems, or a tax return.  

But when God closes one set of curtains He opens another. I have been just offered a new post as Professor of Chinoiserie, and am planning to set the higher mathematics aside to devote myself wholly to that area. How well dear Dr Ada knows me and my unending quest for the perfect toile. 




This is the one that has been on my mind, River Song from Brunswig et Fils.  It will be just the thing for a little sit down when my visitors flit back from the immaculate croquet lawn for their fortune cookies and lapsang suchong.






My sister has sent me some jam from England for our global breakfasting needs here in the pretty far west, where quinces are unknown.  What a joy it was to receive an unexpected package after being out of the giveaway loop for so long.

You will note (top right) how few glacé cherries remain in their jar. Yes, with the curtains, with the flu, with Scottish Husband discovering Buddhism and Pinterest, it has certainly been a difficult week.




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