Sunday, February 28, 2010

Happy birthday, Pink Daughter!

I made that cake myself, to Pink Daughter's specification. She's five years old now, and specifies quite specifically.

"What is the secret of your success with children?" people ask me. "How do you manage to make charming tutus out of Emma Bridgewater dishcloths and yet meet your work deadlines? How do you keep your house so tidy, your icing fairly crumb-free, and how do you finance your imaginary Maserati? Must you rush to the Opera so soon?"

"Ah," I reply smugly, "it is simply that whenever I move from room to room in my house, I carry something back to where it belongs."

In fact, no one has ever asked me any of these questions. I guess they just don't care.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

warm wrists and ready to waltz

My package from the Talent for Haiti auction has arrived - a beautiful cashmere scarf by Eilis Boyle, who very kindly included a pair of elegant wristwarmers.

The queue of parents outside the classroom waiting to collect their junior infants will be bowled over by my cosy chic look. Little do they know that I'm not just Pink Daughter's mother, I'm also an Evelyn Waugh character. Holy cigarette holders, Batman!

Or the wristwarmers would be stunning with an ivory silk ball gown, with the scarf secured round my shoulders by a pale pink rose. Is anyone holding a ball anytime soon? May I come?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

senior sofa management position

Scottish Husband mentioned lately that he has thought up a whole new time management philosophy. Hastening to replenish my conversational armory with equally fascinating topics, I hit upon the idea of a new sofa for the playroom. Much debate and research ensued.

A playroom sofa has to be petite, durable and pretty. Here's a candidate from Sweetpea & Willow. Yes, I'm usually inclined toward gaudier fabrics, but they mention that this one is perfect for re-upholstering in a fabric of my choice. It sounds tempting, but what an effort it will be to browse for fabrics, request samples, dither, dither and dither again, purchase the appropriate quantity of fabric, post it, place an order and arrange sofa delivery. Does anyone think it's a good idea?

Full time sofa manager required. Must manage sofa. CV and details of relevant sofa experience to this address. Ability to grasp new time management philosophy and apply same to sofa duties a plus. Non-stipendiary position.

Friday, February 19, 2010

a new tin tea set

Oh, the thrill of a new tin tea set. A small one, with dots and gingham napkins.
Sometimes we like to do reenactments of Louisa M. Alcott's 'Good Wives' around here, and for half-term we're working up toward the chapter in which Meg assembles a Real, Working mini-kitchen for Daisy and Demi. Yes, we have a long way to go. It's only a tea set.

We also create installation art using buttons and seashells.

No one ever refuses to get into the car or put their boots on. No one turns into Captain Pink or Captain Blue and climbs up the curtains. No one pulls anyone's hair.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

decommissioning the cosmetics

Lip liner, eye shadow, face powder, foundation, concealer, eyebrow pencil, mascara, lipstick. Radiance enhancer. Pearl powder. Eau corrective. A hefty collection of chemicals, but in recent years I've used hardly any of it.

No, don't strike me off your guest list; I haven't abandoned enhancement entirely. Here's what's still in the makeup bag after my clear out:
  • mascara: black or dark brown, any half-decent waterproof brand
  • eyeshadow: a few simple colours, used only for soirées, award ceremonies and the tv appearances in which I speak of there being three people in this marriage
  • lipstick: Benefit, essential at all times, because those of us who move in blogging circles with the current owner of Tara Palmer-Tomkinson's potato-masher must never be caught unawares.
The rest can go. Next time the glossy magazines get in touch wanting to run a feature on the contents of my makeup bag, I'll borrow yours for the photoshoot. You have fine classy pencils and ampoules for your beauté max-correction totale and multi-perfection needs, right?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

crocheting against the odds

It's been a long time coming, but I've finally been seduced by the craft bloggers into a bout of crochet. This is my new stash of cotton yarn.

Under the timely influence of the Crazy Heart trailer, I've started my comeback crochet tour wearily and against the odds, mostly during conference calls. I pause to clutch the crochet hook in frozen horror every once in a while as long-suppressed embarrassing memories return to me, thus providing a handy plot structure for flashbacks in the story of my life, which will end with a completed blanket (small) and a hinted redemption.

You'll be writing to me to see how I'm getting on, so I've bought some cards with which to reply. Aren't these lovely?

[Image: Shell Sherree]

They are by Shell Sherree, available from her etsy shop along with equally delightful handbag and teapot cards, and she won my lifelong friendship by enclosing a Campari print with my order. Thanks, Shell!

Monday, February 8, 2010

chocolate Guinness cake redux

Nothing is too much trouble. I've provided a chocolate Guinness cake recipe for you in the past, but it occurs to me that some of you can't attempt it as you may have inadvertently eaten all the dark chocolate in the baking cupboard, just as I did, and are worried about what to serve to the visitors.

How about Nigella's version, made with heaps of cocoa and some sour cream instead of chocolate and just as darkly impressive. Her recipe is here. I've kindly tested it for you and it turns out splendidly.

It doesn't really need icing, but I added some anyhow to entertain the troops.

[The week was worthy of celebratory cake. Lovely Maria of Vintage Simple mentioned me (me, ME! all by myself) as one of seven things about her. How about that? It's up there with when I met Salman Rushdie, or when Yvonne from Yvestown commented on one of my posts. I'm practising flicking my hair modestly away from my face. Brag Brag Brag.]

Thursday, February 4, 2010

the Cath Kidston spell

I am a woman of constant sorrow; I've seen trouble all my days. Cath Kidston no longer stocks the suitcase I'd like to own. It seems to be available in Japan, but I speak no Japanese and am reluctant to dignify my whim with currency conversion.

The latest Kidston catalogue appeared through my door recently, and it wasn't called a catalogue at all, but rather a magazine, so I lowered my defences and read it, and ended up buying some pretty things so that our household may take part in outdoor music festivals and 'Best Dressed in the Air-Raid Shelter' competitions.

[Images: Cath Kidston]

I didn't buy the striped blanket, and regret it. "I'll knit one of those!" I said airily to myself, but I shan't really. And now I see that it's described as 'ticking stripe', not just 'stripe', my loss is even greater. 'Ticking' is one of those magic buy triggers, and it doubles prices. But I don't care; these are the people who brought us mono rose. They deserve our money.

Monday, February 1, 2010

on the happy train

Award buffs, please note that this post starts with "Award buffs, please note" because I've been catching up with the glossy magazines lately and am steeped in magazine-speak, which seems entirely appropriate for today's post.

Thanks to kind awards from Heather at A Day in the Country, Jacqueline at Home, Meredith at Count it all Joy, Suzi at Made by Suzi, Jesse at Good Girl Gone Glad and Catherine at Kids and Capers, towering figures on the blogging circuit, here is a glimpse of my fabulous lifestyle.

The brief is to state several facts about me, or things that make me happy, or somesuch. So let's launch into things that make me happy. FIVE of them.

ONE: order, so calming and so hard-won. When the children are older, perhaps the imaginary assistant and I shan't have to spend so much time putting things back where they belong.

TWO: the rowdies, despite number one.

THREE: being licensed to drive. This was belatedly accomplished a few years ago (to facilitate rural living) after decades of taking taxis, so I'm proud of it, although still wary of speed, roundabouts, overtaking, car-parks and low-flying birds.

FOUR: I am Une Very Stylish Fille, by Dimitri from Paris. Because I am. Don't argue now.

FIVE: the facade of those glossy magazines, full of shoes I won't wear and exciting opportunities to help the large Indulgence Emporia finance the advertising of their incomparable face creams. And indeed I occasionally buy such face creams, deviating from the more sensible and equally lovely Harebell Herbs. Because the 300% brand surcharge is the tax one must pay on being une very stylish fille.

Who to tag? Paula of Mabel and Violet, Alek of From the Right Bank, Lorna of Garrendenny Lane, Stan of Sentence First, Shell of Shell Sherree, Maria of Vintage Simple and those other people I've tagged before who have been slow to step up to the line and dish out the facts. Imaginative excuses will also suffice.
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