Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Martin Amis' Mother and I


I am keenly aware that posterity will judge me on the cleanliness of my floors.  That judgement was destined to be unkind until Móna, enviably closer than I am to the cutting edge of advances in the area of home appliances, recently mentioned the Dyson Slim.  

the dear, dear Dyson Slim


Day and night I have wielded it since it was delivered.  Day and night, until the charge runs out or I have finally vacummed up every grain of invading sand.     

I smiled as I read the sentences in Experience, Martin Amis' memoir, in which he says of his mother, Hilary Bardwell, later Lady Kilmarnock: 

There were many reasons why my mother loved living in Spain, not least of them being that you could, in most pharmacies, buy speed over the counter. After a while the stuff she liked was declared prescription-only; so she had to put on ten layers of clothing and go to the hospital and pretend to be suffering from obesity (a routine business in winter, but not so easy during the African heat of July and August).  She regarded the drug mainly as a labour-saving device. You could always tell when Mum had scored because the house suddenly became the scene of large-scale cleansings and re-orderings. You would see her going from room to room, singing, with a sofa under one arm and a sideboard under the other.   

It is good to know that I am not alone, that Martin Amis' mother also experienced the matchless euphoria of moving a lamp-table from one side of a sofa to another or seeing how the big red jug might look on a lower shelf.   I think of her as I vacuum.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

baked yogurt

I wasn't at all sure how baked yogurt would turn out but it was a great delight, with the sharp tang of yogurt as a counterpoint to the rich cheesecake-like consistency so that it wasn't too sweet.


To make:


1. Measure 150 ml of condensed milk and 150 ml of yogurt (I used full fat Greek yogurt) into a bowl. Mix them together and spoon into two large or four small ramekins.
2. Bake at 180°C for 12-15 minutes. Serve hot or cold.



I shall be experimenting with adding some lavender or lemon juice next time I make this.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

card giveaway winners

The winners of a set of handcrafted cards are Stan Carey and Jane and Lance Hattatt.  Thank you all for your entries, and thank you to Ruth of Nice Day Designs for offering the prizes.

kitchen flowers, for the sake of including a picture

This isn't a very interesting post, I know, but the next one will be wonderful.  Please have two ramekins ready.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Lemon and Raspberry cakes

I was the only grown-up in the house and that only made it worse. As I watched All In the Best Possible Taste with Grayson Perry, it became clear that I am a caricature of the middle classes, with their curated finds, chalky paint finishes and the green bling of conspicuous organic consumption. Had there been someone here with whom I could have exchanged knowing remarks about how at least our Range Rover is an ironic Range Rover and no words are written on our cushions, the effect might have been alleviated.   


how reassuringly homemade they look

Sadly helping myself to a 2007 Rioja, I assembled a tv morsel of sundried tomatoes (with garlic) despite my anxious awareness that the sundried tomato concept is totally out of date, especially with garlic. I only intended to have a few of them, merely as a placeholder for the socially acceptable snack whenever it became clear what that was, but as the package was recyclable I felt pressurised to finish them so that I could recycle it during a commercial break.

Cupcakes are the emblem of the middle classes, says Mr Perry. Here are my latest delicious lemon and raspberry cakes:


The class commentary is incidental; these are delightful and worth baking. An honest visitor has said so.

Measure out 3 oz sugar, 3 oz butter, 3 oz flour, 1 oz cornflour, two eggs, and a generous spoonful of baking powder. Add 2 tablespoons of a nice middle class raspberry yogurt (I used Glenilen) and the zest of one lemon and beat it all together in your middle class Kitchen Aid mixer till it is a lovely enticing pale colour. Spoon it into 12 pretty pastel paper cases in a tin. Bake at 180 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

When they are cold, make some lemon icing by adding lemon juice to (organic) icing sugar. Put a dollop on each  cake and top with a fine locally-sourced raspberry.  Blog about them before you serve them with upmarket chilled rosé wine.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

giveaway reminder - handcrafted cards

the furthest corner of the garden

admiring the lovely soaps Hajni sent me

a card from Nice Day Designs
I merely wanted to show you those things. There is a lovely card giveaway from Nice Day Designs on the go for another few days.  How delightful it would be if you won.

The comments are off on this post.  I will take it on trust on this still day that you like my dilapidated red bench and that the soaps are beautiful and that you wish the sky were that blue where you live, where the foreboding clouds loom low.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Card Giveaway

Ruth from Nice Day Designs is kindly offering a set of her handcrafted cards to Pretty Far West readers.


Two winners, randomly chosen, will get a packet of five cards each, a mix of whichever designs they would like. Some of them are shown here and there are more designs to choose from in the Nice Day Designs etsy shop.


To enter, just leave a comment on this post. There is no need to follow or admire anything. International readers are welcome to take part.

Birthday people of my acquaintance, please look away, as I took a fancy to Ruth's cards some time ago and bought a stash of them, so you will be receiving them from me on the Big Day, accompanied by my usual offerings of finest champagne, a snazzy picnic hamper and a hip flask upon which is inscribed that I love your new shoes.  I would hate to ruin the surprise.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

never ride through Paris

At the age of 41, I realised I'd never ride through Paris in a sports car with the warm wind in my hair. When I pointed this out to Scottish Husband he kindly bought me a Kitchenaid Food Processor (Cream).

scenic vegetables in the foreground

It became known to our household as the Miracle Machine, and joins my Kitchenaid family of the wonderful, wonderful Blender (Orange) and the wonderful, wonderful Mixer (Lavender). The latter is the one that, as I'm sure you won't recall, fell and broke the floor.

"This is upbeat stuff we're reading here," you observe, "and she's normally such a fusspot."  It's true: anyone would think that I was being paid for product endorsement, but no. I write out of simple admiration for sturdy functionality.  What is Paris in a sports car compared with the thrill of grating a whole bunch of carrots at once?

I almost wrote "bag of carrots " rather than "bunch of carrots" but corrected my slip in time; nothing must break the spell.

[Thank you to all the kind international readers who commented wondering whether they could see the Ideal Home feature on my house. It is dear of you to take an interest and alas I can't get my scanner to work.]


Friday, June 1, 2012

ah, there I am

If you fancy a quiet moment amid all the jubilance this weekend, you could sit down with the July issue of Ideal Home magazine, where my house is featured on pages 44 to 49.






It's a while now since that photoshoot took place but I still remember being so tired afterwards that I walked into a door. 

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