Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Stuff and nonsense

First things first: this Sunday, the 22nd June, a group of fabulously talented makers are getting together near Convent Garden to unleash their creative produce to the world. Its called WeMake, and you need to be there, armed with money and hungry for gorgeousness. You can find out about it on their blog here.
I'm going up to support rather than have a stall. If you see me, do come and say hello and drag me for coffee and cake, not that I'll need much persuading if there are refreshments involved.

Speaking of cake, I've been a bit of a Domestic Goddess recently, if I do say so myself, thanks largely to this fantabulous cookbook. Here's an example of the joy that book can bring:

the ones with purple splodges are cherry (use frozen cherries for ease and welcoming moistness), yogurt and oat and the others are spiced apple and walnut.
The book is wondrous: the recipes are easy to follow, the combinations of flavours are tasty and not outlandish and the results are consistent. Its the kind of book people buy firstly for themselves, and then come back and buy many for friends and family. Its so good, my best mate KT had it sent over from Hastings to her new home in New Zealand as she missed it so.

On the crafting front, sometimes it pays to rethink and re-do a project. I had made some fabric hearts, stuffed with polyfil, as general decorative fripperies. They sat, unloved in my shop, until I suddenly saw the obvious need and re-stuffed them with some calming lavender. I very quickly sold two! Hurrah! I have some more: you need them, your socks need them, let alone your pants. They're in the shop now! (I keep them in a tupperware-style box, determined to keep the freshness in) They're kinda cute, just this side of Cath Kidston, and quite normal for me!

I was recently commissioned by a chum at work to make something for his girlfriend's birthday. She loves lemurs and he wanted to give her a pouch (zip up purse / make-up / oddment bag) that lovingly empathised with her love of this Madagascan inhabitant.
So, after some preliminary sketches

I came up with this:

He loved it but more importantly, so did she. Even more importantly, it started a chain reaction which linked in with some ideas I'd had in my sketchbook:

and these lead to the creation of these beauties:

top left (sold): "aint nowt wrong with my girlie crap", top right: "aint nowt wrong with loving cake", bottom left: "tea, coffee, wine and beer - its all good" and bottom right: "aint nowt wrong with loving a chicken"

All this creativity needs replenishing, and at times like this, despite her teeth-itching (cheers Maose for that phrase!) tv performances, Nigella shines through. I adapted her recipe for 'Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake', found in the 'Chocolate Hall of Fame' to be found in the beautiful 'Feast'. She suggests '175g best quality dark chocolate', I suggest Lidl's milk chocolate, 29p for 100g.

Its all good.

Quick round up of my recent reads:

Alice Hoffman 'The Third Angel'. I thoroughly enjoyed this story. We start off with one character, then layers are peeled back to reveal a complex story of intertwining characters, linked in ways that none of them are aware of. The characters on the periphery are far more absorbing than the perceived central character, but discovering the warp and weft (eeh! That textile degree wasn't a waste, Mum!) of their stories is ultimately very satisfying. The settings, both physical and in time, are beautifully evocative, but then I'm a sucker for anything set in the 50's and 60's: if its well written, I see it in black and white, in a cloud of innocence and cigarette smoke. I'd love to know what you think.

Nora Ephron 'I Feel Bad About My Neck'. I would recommend this for any woman over 30, and certainly for women over 50. As a 36 year old woman, I want to know that there is life, and it is fun, and it is positive, as I get older. Would-be role models fall prey to plastic surgery and the ridiculous concept that a youthful face is wrinkle free and immobile. As the mother of a rather beautiful teenager, let me remind you that a youthful face is incredibly animated and full of wonder, however much they try and mask it with an air of boredom and cynicism- wrinkles make not a jot of difference. Any hoots, this is a smart, sassy perceptive and honest read, as you'd expect from the writer of 'When Harry met Sally'. It oozes positivity, not in a hippy drippy Louise L Hay kind-of-a-way, but in a beautiful, down-to-earth way. If you've ever had ovaries, or you've ever met someone who has, read it.

Meg Wolitzer 'The Ten Year Nap'. I loved this book deeply. Certain lines in this book were written just for me and me alone I am sure. The woman has opened up my brain, assessed how I feel about being a woman, wife, mother, human, and peppered her story with nuggets of wisdom to remind me that I'm doing ok and that I should stop beating myself up all the time for not being all that I should be. If you're a mother, read this. If you think that one day, you'll have children, read this, because anyone who tells you your life won't change when you have children is lying! The story centres around one character, Amy, then pans out to encompass all her friends. Each has a different take on the notion of motherhood and how it has affected them. I love the idea of 'The Ten-Year Nap': women all over the world are suddenly woken up by the growing independence of their offspring, revealing the woman that was there before ante-natal checks, urine samples and more internal examinations than are strictly necessary: 'Oh shit! I'm still here: a whole lot wider, a little wiser, but I still have my sense of humour and, despite an appalling recall for names, my brain still seems to be working...So what now?!'

On a completely different tangent, I'm currently reading George Melly's autobiographical trilogy and also this anthology of Dave Allen, and am thoroughly enjoying them both. (you can 'hear' them narrate: it is impossible to read without hearing their particular vocal inflections.) I'll let you know how me and the boys get on!

PS: thanks, hugs and the promise of cake to Bee and Maose for their nagging: I'll try and blog more, but, if you enjoy the read, feel free to nag more! :-)