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.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

She Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

My Great-Aunt Clarissa has written from Rome to ask why the tea towel she sent in 2007, bearing a humourous Latin inscription, is not among my three special tea towels.   It is because of the motorcycle spare part incident. Husbands can be so thoughtless. It was, however, a perfect present.  The reader will be wondering what to send me for Christmas. Tea towels, by all means.

Indeed, anything made of fabric. Myself, I ply people with blankets, cushions, and charming bags in which to store their unwanted blankets and cushions. This is my latest fabric acquisition: Agatha in Aqua for the landing window. Isn't it simply lovely?

Being on Bloglovin' has made me acutely aware of the scrapbooking menace in our midst. Grown women spend their time gluing little bits and pieces into scrapbooks and blogging about them when they could be chairing an international pharmaceutical conference, keeping a goat, or, as I do myself, strolling around the parish, bringing peace to a torn community by admiring the horses' heads on people's gateposts. Would that my gateposts were thus adorned, I tell them.

Word has swept round the Internet of Jane's new blue bench. I have flicked back through my 2013 Scrapbook Number 5(c) to find some images of my own blue benches, as I am very cutting edge. I have several, as you will see, plus a painting of one of them.

If you would like to be with Jane and myself in the madding crowd at the cutting edge, why not join the Fellowship of the Blue Bench? You know what you must do.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Nutella Scone

You must all be wondering why I have called you here to the library today. Is is so that I may show you my Nutella Scone.

[special dotty tea towel]

To make these, prepare your normal scone dough, omitting the usual small quantity of sugar. Roll or press it out into a rectangle, spread with a layer of Nutella, roll it up and cut it into slices. Arrange on a baking-tin and bake at a high temperature for 10-15 minutes.

Am I right in thinking you don't have a few special tea towels you keep folded away in the table napkin drawer, to be used only for blog photography? No, me neither.

[special pink stripe tea towel]

But if I did, I'd only have three: the dotty, the pink stripe, and a blue floral. I plan to raise my game and acquire more, or risk my blog being remaindered.  While I haven't posted, so many of my readers will have gone off to finalise their book deals, or launch their range of cashmere ponchos. They'll be too busy and important to loiter round here, shooting the pink breeze. The mushroom will show willing.

Lucille, if you haven't already read it, you will like Elizabeth Von Arnim's Elizabeth and her German Garden.  Sue, you too.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

the turbot problem solved

Are your dinner guests annoying? Do they congregate in your celebrity kitchen with a glass of wine, talking about how they've been, as you fret over the final touch of parmesan on the asparagus starter? Mine mill insufferably round the stove, despite my harried suggestions that they may wish to make themselves more comfortable on a Louis Quinze reproduction sofa.

And so I have frequently suffered the embarrassment of being observed as I stuffed the turbot clumsily into my normal copper fish kettle.

A bright new future with the turbot kettle.
I hope no one thinks I have bought shares in the copper mines.
Rather, I am motivated by joy.
Those sorry days are done. This is my latest discovery, the copper turbot fish kettle, 13 litre capacity. Turbots at my dinner table will remain perfectly turbot-shaped, so long as they do not exceed 13 litres. I would say the average superior Irish turbot is about 11 litres, so that leaves a safe margin of error, no?

Anyhow, the copper turbot fish kettle is now in my Amazon shopping basket. Amazon will leave my many tentative purchases in the basket for weeks and weeks, waiting for the day when I have had two glasses of wine rather than one and click on 'Checkout now'.

How would Friday next week suit you for dinner?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

lying low

A 9th birthday cake. The colour scheme looks a bit seventies, now that we are all here in glorious 2014, but that was unintentional, as is my absence.

Your readership is important to us, please hold the line until the next post becomes available.

Your readership is important to us, please hold the line until the next post becomes available.

Your readership is important to us, please hold the line....

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

the red dogwood

Now that the sun is shining, I thought everyone would be delighted if I were to post a photo of the shelf over the range, with the red dogwood looking well in some coloured bottles.

It's hard to fathom the thinking behind the newly designed Cadbury's chocolate wrapper. 'EASY RECLOSE'?  Is it now the done thing to reclose one's chocolate bar rather than consume it all in one sitting while browsing for an old-fashioned brass locket to send to America? It is only a small bar, a mere eight squares.

I have also fallen a bit behind in blogging conventions and have been slow to notice that it is an essential of lifestyle posts to shoot the same photo from various angles and distances.

To make amends, you will see that my camera and I have backed cautiously away from the chocolate in order that the image should also encompass my petit four serving dish, my pink poinsettia, and my Greengate tea towel. One could almost call the ensemble a vignette.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hot Cross Muffins

A moment of thought fusion occurred in my celebrity kitchen on Saturday: why not combine two of my favourite foods, English muffins and hot cross buns?

Hot cross muffins: standard English muffin recipe,
plus cherries, sultanas and spices.
Secular version.
These are extremely nice, and they bake in about 12 minutes on the stove hotplate. If you have a top tip on kneading glacé cherries into bread dough without breaking them up, please make haste to the comment box to set me straight.  Is my brand of cherries too puny?

I haven't posted in a while, as I've felt awfully cut up over the state of my sourdough starter. It's a living thing, I'm told, a colony of well-intentioned lactobacilli, so I don't like to abandon it to the storm despite its iffy appearance, but, anyhow, soldiering on, the verbena is casting splendid autumnal shadows,

and posies of flowers still come in from the garden although it's nearly November.

People keep getting in touch saying they want to rush me a truckload of pistachio cookies or ergonomic secateurs for me to review on my blog, no strings attached. Does this mean I have risen from C-list to B-list, or do they fail to realise that I only have seven readers, not all of whom are partial to pistachios?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

flowers and food

Blogging always reverts to the classic themes of flowers and food while the rest of life whirls unsuitably on around the camera moments.

Pink Daughter packed up this year's pressed petals to show at school. She was surprised that her classmates don't know the names of even the easy ones, such as cosmos and hydrangea. The One Direction Official Compendium of Garden Flowers should remedy that.

The last of the unpressed flowers still linger outside, getting somewhat in the way of the bulbs waiting to be planted. I've set up a scientific experiment in the corner by the rocky mound: a bed of autumn-planted perennial sunflower, purple toadflax, and Japanese anemone, vigorous invaders all. Time will tell which one overwhelms its companions.

Pizza with blue cheese, rosemary, and potato. It was a great revelation to me that I could make pizza sauce by sautéing courgette and onion rather than cooking tomatoes.  So bourgeois, tomatoes.

Homemade doughballs and Nutella for after school.   I've considered making my own chocolate hazelnut spread in that idle way one toys with the notion of giving up alcohol, but the children would be upset if it contained antioxidants.
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