Wednesday, January 27, 2010

blogging meet photos

No one can say I haven't joined in with this blogging business wholeheartedly. Tags, guest posts, informal polls, giveaways: you've seen them all here, even when I had to skip the sorbet course or the petits fours to make time for posting.

To my dismay, another blogging phenomenon has now appeared on my radar: Blogger Meets. It's hard work, as many of you will be aware, to run a parallel world, and mine is so busy that I can hardly leave it unattended while I pile on the pearls and Gucci and head off to exquisite hotels to take tea with lovely like-minded bloggers and Thomas Pynchon. So I'll have to concoct a meet to keep up with the blogging Joneses.

I'll need the following for my Semblance:
  • a photo of you looking delighted to be present
  • a photo of you looking admiringly at my hat (assume a seated pose, I can photoshop in me and my hat)
  • a photo of you laughing lightly at something I (just out of shot) have said to you
  • a photo of you pointing at the aforementioned Gucci labels on my clothing and nodding knowledgeably as though to say, "yes, definitely the real thing, and this season's!"
  • a photo of you in expensive sunglasses about to leave through a magnificent gilt door
  • a quote from you about how lovely it was to finally meet me, and how we discovered that we share a love of lime green and tile adhesive.
I'll reciprocate in kind, of course, for your own Semblance of a Meet. Thanks, I sure do appreciate your help.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Talent for Haiti auction

I've already mentioned Talent for Haiti, who will be running their online auction this week. All proceeds will go to Médecins Sans Frontières. Here are some of the many items contributed so far.

[Glen Hansard and Mark Geary in New York, by Paddy Glennon]

How about this for a gala item: Mark Geary and Glen Hansard in concert in your own home. It's stipulated that the home should be no more than two hours from Dublin, so despite the new motorway I don't quite qualify. Otherwise I'd be belting out "you see how hard it can be to keep your side of the deal" and "did I watch you wash away your life and polish up the forks and knifes" all week in readiness. You can already bid on the concert here.

A cotton Cashmere hand-loomed coat donated by Edmund McNulty.

Some Peter O'Brien illustrations

Lovely accessories from Fen and Ned

Keep in touch with the donations and the auction here:

[All images via Talent for Haiti]

Friday, January 22, 2010

standing my fairy cakes

Look what the Internet can do to you. There was I harmlessly admiring casapinka's art class birthday cake, when I suddenly felt a yearning for a new cake stand. I suspect that I've been seeing cake stand images here and there for a while, and this was the one that clicked me into consumerism. More cake stands! A collection of cake stands! An armoire in which to display them!

Well, you know how it is with Internet shopping. A few minutes of busy googling later I'd moved beyond ordinary cake stands (so common) to individual fairy cake* stands. With glass domes, no less, or cloches, as I learned to call them.

(*America, a 'fairy cake' is what we call a cupcake.)

Aren't they rather beguiling? And also suitable for cheese.

I like to think that one day the Blogmobile, a giant floral camper van, conceived in Saudi Arabia, upholstered in ticking with a lace filigree trim, will draw up outside my door and all the commentators will pour in for afternoon tea in a thrilling flurry of hats and fabric samples, trailing statement sleeves and exquisite perfume. We'll sit round my table chatting lightly of arthouse films and chandeliers and how nice our hairstyles are, a perfect fairy cake on its stand in front of each guest.

Please don't call around just yet, though, as none of the online retailers I found is in Ireland and my fairy cakes remain unstood.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

still talking about cushions

I usually upcycle my time into money. Lately, however, influenced by the prevailing green prudence, I've become conscious of more imaginative upcycling ideas so that I can be a Laura Ingalls of the Great Blogging Community rather than a Nellie Olsen.

Emboldened by the enterprising Beach Vintage, I thought I'd make a tea towel cushion.

It took 3 minutes to make after I'd set up the sewing-machine. I felt embarrassed by this ease and hand-stitched on two rather superfluous flowers in another two minutes.

I like its honest cotton simplicity and lovely fabric grain. Already I feel Nellie receding.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

lengthy award ceremony

Please excuse the increased security presence on stage today for the protection of the rosy tea-cosy and the velvet cosmetic bag on display here, as kindly supplied by the lovely Paula of Mabel & Violet.

[Starts to read out all 69 comments]

[Audience stirs fretfully, boos and hisses]

[A woman at the back flings curtain tie-backs and scented tea-lights angrily at the podium]

[Sighs, abandons planned programme of choral recitation of own verse]

And the winner, as chosen by, is no. 26, Helen of Feeding Five for Fifty. Helen, I'll be in touch to organise your prize.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the bar is now open.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

on the kitchen walls

Some recent additions to my kitchen walls and windows:

A glass panel that casts impressionistic light when the sun shines

Jaboopee's silkscreen print

Scottish Grandma's pink waterlilies in oils

Coming up this weekend: a proud giveaway winner will leave here with a life-changing velvet cosmetic bag or rosy tea-cosy.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

in defence of cushions

Lately I ran into a woman I'd been to college with. We'd encountered one another when we took the same module on Ancient Procrastination; she had gone on to be go-getting in publishing while I'd flightily career-hopped and added some motherhood into the mix.

She asked what I was up to nowadays, and, mentally running through all the things I couldn't possibly tell her about, I mentioned that I occasionally blog about cushions. "Cushions, yes, very important," she politely said, which reminded me of when I wasn't at all interested in interiors either. Frivolous, transient, homey stuff, of no significance when you barely spend any time in your house, as you're in work, pubs, clubs, and in transit, and the finer detail of the rosewood carving is obscured by the swarm of eligibles.

But now I am somewhat interested in interiors, and it dates from when I first had children, which was also a major change to someone who thought buggies and prams were in the way and was barely aware that they contained small people. Round about when Pink Daughter was born, we bought this house, which was my very first to do as I pleased with. When I wasn't reading the manual on how to look after a baby, I glanced around and thought it would all be a bit jollier in white, both inside and outside.

The painting started it, and since then I've gone on to an expensive sofa addiction, a fondness for curves and a design blog-reading habit. And although the interiors phase may be as short-lived as other fancies of mine, I'm convinced that I'm happier for not living amid the default varnished pine, fitted kitchens and sensible sofas of my pre-interiors awareness.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

oh look, it's a giveaway!

No, you're not mistaken; after all my vague promises it really is a bona fide giveaway. Mabel & Violet, the Irish home, gift & lifestyle boutique, is kindly offering to give one of the following items to a Pretty Far West reader.

For fans of retro kitsch and colour, there's this jolly hand-knitted teacosy. If I won it, I'd pass it off as my own work with a modest blush.
Or for fashionistas and admirers of the current grey trend, there's this elegant velvet cosmetic bag.

To enter, just indicate your interest by leaving a comment on this post by Saturday January 16th, stating which item you'd prefer. The giveaway is open to anyone, anywhere, including the three male readers. Implementation of the giveaway tips will get you nowhere.

Friday, January 8, 2010

cheese puffs for a cold day

It's cold, the schools are closed and the media are concocting a crisis. It's time to make gala snacks and sit by the fire scanning the Internet for signs of sudden movement. These cheese puffs are tasty, easy and require few ingredients. The recipe is a variant of Nigella Lawson's Cheesy Yorkshire Puddings and it makes 12 large puffs.

You need:
4 oz / 1 cup flour, 2 eggs, half a pint or 1 and 1/4 cups of milk and water mixed, 4 oz grated cheese (I used cheddar and parmesan, but other cheeses are fine too), some olive or sunflower oil

To make:
1. Heat the oven, with an oiled muffin-tin in it, to 240C/425F
2. Whizz all the ingredients except the cheese well in a blender. Add the cheese and give it another minor mix.
3. Pour into the very hot muffin tin, each compartment about half full, and return to the oven for 15 min until puffy and golden. Serve exquisitely, with red wine.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

2009: an acquisitive year

2009 was the year in which I discovered and decoded blog giveaways. Once I had the lie of the land, my team of trained commentators took up residence with their laptops in an underground bunker in the mountains. When it became clear that the task before us was too great, we offshored some of the commenting and sat around playing ping pong.

Before long, the wins began to accumulate. The final tally for 2009 was four (4, FOUR) giveaway wins. OK then, two of them were fair and square wins and two from kindhearted people who took a momentary rest from helping abandoned baby donkeys to take pity on me.

You name it, I won it. Birds, a beautiful silkscreen print, a stately cookery book, crafty bits & pieces. Please don't name anything other than those.

It's been a valuable experience. For all of my life, I had been getting ahead on merit alone. Merit, as you know, is a bore, and I'm much more content now that I'm relying on chance and the comment-box instead.

I'm disbanding the team of giveaway entrants today, however, as it doesn't seem right to keep competing until I organise my own giveaway. That'll be soon. "Yes," she told herself sternly, "soon."

Meanwhile, I'm over at Amy's stylish no. 15, looking pensively out of my bedroom window.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

(a small grateful post in brackets)

(Thank you very much, Jane of My Pear Tree House, for the Elizabeth David book you kindly sent all the way from Melbourne.) (It's a particularly elegant edition.)

(And thank you for inscribing it so nicely; books with inscriptions are doubly valued by me.) (You'll all be invited round to dinner to celebrate my giveaway win once I've had a trial run at a few recipes from the book.) (Meanwhile, feel free to learn Italian.)

Friday, January 1, 2010

don't stop, don't stop the dance

Thirty years ago, I climbed on the rocks and bounced on the great bales of seaweed tied up by the shore. Twenty years ago, I was in college, pursuing spiky hair and the arts. Ten years ago I flitted about between academia and the merrily meretricious dot com bazaar. And now, a few days after the delightful birthday party, more than half way through the one year blogging experiment, I'm the queen of sofas and fairy cakes, owner of a eucalyptus tree, peacekeeper for the rowdies, and 39 years seems a longer time than I have lived.

Happy birthday to me. Happy new year to me. And you, yes, of course, to you too.
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