Friday, September 27, 2013

the pictures from Paris

Goodness, I said to myself, it's Friday. I had better post something or my defenceless little blog will be lost amid the stampede of lovely things bloggers have handcrafted this week.

It wouldn't be honourable to post the pictures from Paris. So many people don't receive, out of the blue, an envelope containing original artworks, inscribed with a kindly message, from a chic European capital.  Bad feeling would ensue.

Flowers, by Margaret

Bakery shop (detail) by Elizabeth

No, I said, still talking to myself, I will do the decent thing and post a photo of the inconsequential jellies instead, the ones that look so pretty in the light. 

The jellies
The jellies will do until I cease to be so busy and important.  There has been such a rush of requests to critique websites and blogs in the aftermath of my recent pro bono work in that area, and I shall certainly get round to yours once I have finished the report on this particular one, with its many manifest lifestyle deficiencies.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

For the crocheters

After Annabelle's dress, depicted here recently, had spread around the international crocheting community like wildfire, a flood of three emails sought to see more of her wardrobe. Here are a few more ensembles:

Pleased to meet you, Mr Ambassador

Crocheters of the world, I greet you! 

I am delighted to accept this lovely, large parcel

What you are saying about your yoga is truly fascinating

You must forgive me for partially obscuring the lovely cushion
Beautiful!, you kindly think.  As Jen so rightly tells me, the poster struggles to reply thought-provokingly to a comment that simply says 'beautiful!' so I am happy to propose a mutually beneficial arrangement whereby you will save yourself the effort of leaving an admiring comment on this post and I will take 'beautiful!' as read.  We will remain best friends.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Helping Dr Ada

I first came to know Dr Ada a decade ago when an unfortunate timetable clash left her first year course on runic studies vying for attendees with my own series of lectures, Professor Mise's Introduction to Pure Mathematics. Attracted by my charm, reputation, and pedagogical skills, 354 of the young First Arts Students chose to attend my lectures. Five students signed up for Dr Ada's course, no doubt lured by her charm, reputation, and pedagogical skills.

An inevitable, one-sided coolness developed between us despite my frequent macaron gifts to her (I was ever the peacemaker!), and we had quite lost touch until her personal assistant contacted me this summer with the surprising news that Dr Ada had resigned her post and set up her own blog. She was hoping for some hints and tips for this, her new venture.

Dr Ada's Guide to Leaving Academia

Who better qualified to help than myself, I reflected immediately. By then, I could boast as many as seven regular readers, I had self-published extensively on blogging mores, Yvonne from Yvestown had once commented on a post of mine, and my blog statistics had led me to suspect that one of my subscribers was from New York. New York!

"Certainly, my dear," I told Dr Ada's assistant, and promptly forgot about the matter until Dr Ada herself called to my house recently on her motorcycle tour of Ireland.

It is difficult to let someone down when they have apologised so abjectly for their clumsy fall into your marigolds, and so, once Dr Ada had left, marigold petals still in her hair, I set to ponder how I might help her improve her blogging technique.

The first thing that sprang to mind was that her posts contained no images. Compare that with this present post, which I have illustrated with a photograph of Dr Ada's blog, depicted in my own celebrity kitchen.  Yes, the photograph is a tad out of focus and the laptop screen is crudely cropped to conceal my real name, yet the image serves to break the monotony of the paragraphs of text.

The chosen illustration need not necessarily be of a laptop in one's celebrity kitchen. A large, vintage copper pan, proposed tiles for the swimming pool, two candidate sequined scarves for wearing to the launch soirĂ©e: any old thing will do. Whatever is to hand.  

Note, however, that one cannot be entirely cavalier in the choice of image. When Dr Ada states,
The sidecar held up well: its occupant complained only once, when I took a series of spectacular hairpin bends con brio (as the advanced driving qualification demands)
the reader would expect to see a series of stills from the police speed camera.

The other major piece of advice for Dr Ada is, of course, that blog posts should be brief.  This will present a challenge to someone who is used to producing wordy, banal papers in the area of heiroglyphological research, but Dr Ada must bear in mind that her typical reader will simultaneously be skimming five other blogs, making a pudding that includes agar agar, eating buttered toast, and keeping ducks.

Again, taking the present instance as a case in point, there is no chance at all, its lucid eloquence notwithstanding, that any reader would ever reach the end of my post.      

Friday, September 13, 2013

an arrant knitting infringement

Exhibit A: the piece of knitting on which I've been working away uncomplainingly for the past ten, maybe eleven years. The pattern, called garter stitch, is an advanced technique for highly experienced knitters.

Here it is attractively displayed on my honeymoon cake-stand.

Exhibit B: the latest Chanel advertisement. Note how similar that pink knitting is to mine. A lighter shade, I grant you, but it would be insufficiently visible against my honeymoon cake-stand.

[by Chanel]

Is this a flagrant ripoff by Chanel of years of patient, creative effort on my part, or what?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

You sit around getting older there's a joke here somewhere and it's on me

I've made this banana bread a hundred times by now. It's really banana cake, I suppose, but the daughters are trained to call it bread for school lunch purposes.

Well, I took a notion and, instead of the melted butter, I added half a can (or one mini-can) of coconut milk. It was Even Nicer. I felt very delusionally wholefood as I ate it.

They say you gotta stay hungry, says Bruce Springsteen, and how true that is. Here, then, is another favourite: feta and lentil salad.

Mix together some cubed feta, a tin of lentils, your favourite chopped herb (I use coriander), a few chives or spring onions, 2 finely chopped cloves of garlic, and, if you like, some chopped walnuts. Add dressing made from olive oil, lime juice, and a teaspoon of wholegrain mustard. Leave it in the fridge for an hour before it is served.

You'll be showing me up by cooking dried lentils yourself, I realize, rather than using a tin. Jolly good.

This is the uplifting blaster mix of Dancing in the Dark. I wish melodious clubbers would follow me round echoing my words.

Monday, September 9, 2013

flowers, cake, and a new online shop

First of all, for Jane, Flowers in the House. An opportunity for us all to stroll out into the garden in our best wellies, the cosy Orla Kiely ones with teacups on, and fling together a few effortless blossoms to display attractively in front of anything that will show us in a good light, lifestyle-wise. 

Cornflower, Nepeta, Hydrangea, Calendula, Verbena. Do I have the right Monday? 

I made reliable sponge cake for the visitors. 4 eggs, 4 oz flour, 4 oz sugar. Raspberry jam, cream.

 The scene shifts to a determinedly minimalist corner of my house.  Golden yellow sofa, assorted cushions, accoutrements.

[from Natural Calico]

And if colour didn't creep so invitingly up on me, this is the state of grace my interiors would achieve: serenity epitomised by a contained quantity of stripes and the rustic chic of grainsack fabric. 

I covet the ottoman, from Natural Calico, a new online home boutique set up by Marie, whom I met when she came to style my house for an Ideal Home photoshoot.  She and I remained in touch and I'm pleased to see her enterprising new venture.  I confidently told Marie that my readers would be particularly interested in washed wood herb planters: was I right?  

Thursday, September 5, 2013

merely dresses

Annabelle is sporting a handmade crochet dress,
 suitable for wearing to a vignette.

A present of a Vanda Luddy print awaits curation.

I plan to wear something like this, from Charlotte and Jane,
when we meet, so please have your dressing assistant call mine
if your dress will clash or is too similar.

Monday, September 2, 2013

doing the right thing

I have picked blackberries,

made blackberry jam,

and baked blackberry crumble in a pink cast-iron pot,

as befits the lifestyle blogging genre.  Self-satisfaction must surely follow.

Following on from their Moroccan art expedition last year, my friends Elizabeth and Margaret are traveling to Paris this month to give some painting workshops.  French readers, if I have French readers, perhaps you would like to join them? All details are here.

The women of the parish wonder what my new metal sign, Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, means. It is a standard placeholder, reserving the textual space until the day comes when the true sign will burst forth in a blaze of revelatory significance.  But that day will not come. A metaphor for my life.

Happy Home goes to Flora, of Through the Round Window. Thank you all for entering, and for your welcoming comments since I resumed posting. You are such a convivial, kindly lot.

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