Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Ink on the Page

"Always, Mrs Ramsay felt, one helped oneself out of solitude reluctantly by laying hold of some little odd and end, some sound, some sight. She listened, but it was all very still; cricket was over; the children were in their baths; there was only the sound of the sea. She stopped knitting; she held the long reddish-brown stocking dangling in her hands in a moment. She saw the light again."

(From "To The Lighthouse" by Virginia Woolf)

I was thinking about Me-Made-June and how I wanted it to be more than just a collection of photos: "This is me in the things I made: amn't I clever?"

I hit upon the idea of turning it into a personal "art journal" project: to make the recording process a creative act in itself.
For every day of June, I intend to wear Me-Made clothing and to set my self-portrait in its context by developing a collection of sketches / writings / photographs, all together in one volume. So I can look back at this one month in my life and recall the detail.

Because the blogosphere is all very well, but it is somehow intangible, elusive. I need the smell of the paper and ink. It's why I don't have a Kindle or similar. It's not just about the words or the pictures, it's the texture of the page itself, the blot where you held the pen in place too long. The imprint of the bookmark.

It sounds highly pretentious, I know. Terribly self-indulgent! But isn't that the root of creativity? Losing yourself in the process? Cutting yourself off from the cares of the day like Mrs Ramsay (above) with her knitting?

Rather like my "hour a day" regime for weeding, I will enjoy the discipline of having a timeframe to develop this new journalling habit. Who knows, I might stick to it!

And of course it's always good to have a reason to buy a beautiful new notebook. :)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

FO: Eva Dress 1940's trousers: Neutral is Go!



I love my navy Eva Dress trousers! I would wear them every day if I thought I could get away with it. So I decided to make another pair in a suitably neutral, summery colour.






Part of the success of the first pair comes down to the fabric I used: it is super-swishy, smooth and crease-resistant. This? Not so swishy. Quite "tough" and with a tendency to hold a crease. But... shrug... this is what I bought.



Sewing was easy second-time-around. I knew where I was heading. I knew which size of seams to allow and I remembered to leave the underlap sticking out beyond the side of the main garment. I made these up in one-hour installments across a week, here and there, when I felt like sewing and nobody wanted to watch tv in the same room.




Stats:

Pattern: Eva Dress 3322, a reproduction of a 1940's Simplicity pattern.



N.B. I note that the pattern now has a revised waistband piece - I had to lengthen mine. I made size 16 (1940's sizes) and took bigger seams to bring them in a bit.



Fabric: 2.5 metres of chino trousering from Croft Mill. I am not convinced they sent the right colour but I prefer this to anything you might call "khaki".

£5.60 per metre.

Buttons: 1940's vintage from Clover Crafts and Curios at eeebaaay. I love that they will echo Betty Jean's argyll colourwork (when I get her finished!).

Verdict?


I mean, yeah, they are everything they were intended to be: wide-legged basic workwear trousers with a vintage twist. But, you know, not terribly exciting. Neutral.



But that's fine, isn't it? Because they will be the foil to any craziness I care to wear up-top.



So when it came to these photographs I thought it was time to crank up the top dial.



I was afraid of them looking a bit... beige, a bit Bread Pudding. I wanted to feel more... Vanilla Fudge Sundae with extra toasted nuts!


So I whacked on the Rockalily lipstick, popped in a pincurl and managed to get a bandana to stay put for the duration of this "photoshoot".



None of this would last ten seconds in the wind!



But look - best of all - they work with my Portfolio blouse - woo hoo!

Let's hear it for the New Neutrals!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Little of What You Fancy




This week I have made a point of doing a little bit of everything every day.





We had an almighty wind storm for a couple of days, so gardening was out of the question, unless you count dragging fallen branches out of the flower bed and ringing the farm labourer to come and chainsaw the tree that took out next door's football goalpost!





Look who had his lampshade taken off this morning!



We were just glad none of the really big trees which surround the house came down. Fortunately, they seem to have a pretty good grip on Scotland.






No sign of my Sarah Raven plant order from 10 May*. I am a little peeved at this as she is now into sale season and if I had waited a week I would have got everything for half price.

* Edited 1 June 2011: Customer Services very kindly reduced the prices on my order, which had not yet been shipped. I hadn't understood that plants are grown to order and mine are not ready yet.





The courgettes are ready to plant out and the broad beans are peeking out from under the soil (and a fallen branch!)




This branch was in my vegetable patch and I had to enlist FL's help to get it back over the fence.




In sewing news, I have been devoting an hour a day to my second pair of Eva Dress trousers. There is a very good chance I will have a new pair of wide-legs ready for Me-Made-June!















Another hour a day has been spent on Betty Jean, so I am progressing well on sleeve one.






But a pair of sleeves is comparable to a pair of over-the-knee socks, so I have no illusions about finishing soon.






FL misheard my complaint about knitting a sleeve with sock-needles. He thought I said I was knitting with Pot Noodles.






Now there's an idea...







And in tangential crafting news, I am enjoying a third hour at my embroidered pillowcase project.






FL is dubious about tattoos, even embroidered ones. He asked the meaning of the crosses and the word "flu".






"It's TRUE, as in True Love. And if you don't stop complaining yours will be embroidered "FALSE"".






And then I had to explain at length the hidden joke about initials... ; )




Oh - he's doing OK this week, by the way. Maybe the news that he is going downhill gives him something to battle against: new motivation.






He even thought about going on an overnight golf trip with some pals this weekend... until he remembered he wouldn't have the drinking stamina which such a trip requires. But even to have considered the idea is a pretty positive sign.




As for the vegan boost to my recipe regime... hmmm. After last week's Pear and Couscous fiasco, I decided to offer a mini portion of animal protein at the side of this week's new recipe... just in case. This week's speciality was Brown Rice, Roasted Beetroot and Orange, which had a lovely dressing of orange juice, red wine vinegar, ginger and sesame seeds. There appears to be an upsurge of opinion that fruit doesn't work in savoury dishes. The slices of orange were left til the end and eaten as "pudding". Sigh. But at least they were eaten.






What they don't seem to understand is that I am deliberately avoiding the "broccolli and chick pea" combinations which proliferate in my new cook book. Broccolli and Chick Peas are probably my favourite foods ever. I would eat them every day if I could. Maybe I just need to go for it and see what happens. It can't be any worse than the reaction to Pears et al !

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Stitchcraft, January 1946

While waiting for a set of bamboo dpns for Betty Jean's sleeves, I was itching to start knitting something new.




I dug out this copy of Stitchcraft from January 1946, which is always lurking in my mind's eye, waiting to jump the queue!



This is my favourite volume from my modest stash of vintage knitting magazines.


It is just a small booklet, but there are at least three items I want to knit from it, possibly four, and I also love the glimpses into history provided by the adverts and other craft projects.








For example, here is a teapot stand, made out of a tile and two wooden cotton reels: "The original tile came from a bombed house in London."


Oh! Um... err...really? My heart lurched when I read that!


Did people ever really take that sort of source information in their stride? Even just after the war?





Back to the knitting, and I am particularly attracted to two fitted cardigans.


They are both knitted in the same yarn, but on different sized needles, yet have the same gauge. I assume the different stitch patterns change the tension.


The instructions only come in one size, which is to fit a 34 inch bust, which should be OK for me, but I wondered how knitters of the time coped with this - did most women have the skills to alter garments to fit?

Or were all knitters the same size?!

My plan is to knit one of these in black "Crow" Alba Yarn and the other in deep blueberry "Moody Blue", also Alba Yarn.


I think I will use black for the lacey pattern, and blue for the rib and arrow-head, as the lighter colour will show off the stitch pattern better.


Of course... I had no sooner decided what I wanted to do, than my dpns arrived! Typical! But it was good thinking time.










Monday, May 23, 2011

In from Left Field: Betsey strikes again!



All images borrowed from Etsy. I hope the sellers don't mind...?


Just when I thought I had a Plan for my sewing and was going to whip the stash into submission once and for all...



Betsey Johnson strikes again!



I was planning to make a 1950's-style wiggle skirt with a wrap. The sort of thing that only requires one yard of fabric and some funky buttons.



But while scouring Etsy (in vain) for the pattern, I came across this little number from the 1970's.


I have a bit of a penchant for Betsey Johnson patterns. I made my daughter a dress. And I have a swooping greatcoat pattern in the stash awaiting a massive jolt of energy and 5 metres of wool.
At first glance, this is just a wide a-line skirt... but look a little closer!


There is also the option to add an apron-wrap at the back, and a shaped front waistband and super-generous top-stitched pockets!

And see that lime green flounced version? Oh me oh my, it is the "prairie skirt" I spent the late 1970's sighing over!

See that girl in the bandanna and the denim skirt? That was NOT me! But I SO MUCH wanted to be that girl! She was the sort of girl who went out with FL ! :O


And I could be her NOW! Do you think he'll notice?!

Though HER bandanna was navy blue ; )

I strongly suspect that the blue linen I bought to make a Portfolio tunic is about to be diverted.

Hurry up, Mr Postman! I am having a major attack of nostalgia!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Attack of the Killer Lampshade

This picture pretty much sums up Saturday.

I made peace with Betty Jean, cast on 58 stitches instead of 50, and started up the first sleeve.

And made blueberry spelt muffins.

And watched 500 Days of Summer with The Girl.

And I ogled my new embroidery book. Someone has dribbled cough syrup over the front cover but I am in a place of deep serentity: ommmmmmmmm............

This morning I found the ugliest toad in the world in my herb garden.


FL has gone to golf despite feeling "incredibly weak" yesterday. He is actually quite upbeat.


We are both in awe at the kindness of strangers on the other side of the planet who have taken the time to send us information about the latest in Myeloma drugs /research. Thank you! I have followed up some links and will certainly have plenty of questions to ask the doctor in June. I was caught offguard last week: that won't happen again!


In dog news, Hero has not yet realised what has been done to him. Yesterday, he took off after the puppies, right through a nettle patch, with me in hot pursuit. It was the Attack of The Killer Lampshade.... not. Ever get the feeling you have left something too late?


Today? Today I am thinking of embroidering a couple of pillowcases. Our bedlinen has begun to resemble the Turin Shroud and needs to be replaced.


One day at a time, people, one day at a time.


: )

Friday, May 20, 2011

Taking a Scat

Nervous energy: I am fizzing with it. I can't tell you how close I have come this week to telling a work colleague to eff off, how part of my brain is telling me to slam doors and throw crockery at the walls and just... scream. Best not, Roo.


I can't bear to be around: pregnant women, babies, happy young couples. I am a jealous witch.


If ever I needed a creative outlet, it is now.


I am in a stuck place with Betty Jean - I can't see to knit brown sleeves on brown needles. New light-coloured bamboo dpns are on order. But that doesn't explain why 50 stitches are too few to go round my wrist: does that mean the entire cardigan is going to be too small? Err... yes, I could measure it... but I am in denial.



I started knitting a baby tunic but I hate it, because I hate babies and I hate people who can have babies (see above: jealous witch).


I have hacked at the weeds in the garden until I got blisters on my hands.


I have scrubbed the kitchen floor.


I have sat at my desk and stared into space until the only possible solution seemed to be a trip to the vending machine to buy chocolate.

I need something to look forward to. All I can think of is our holiday on the West coast. I wonder if FL will be well enough to go?

I ripped out the turquoise socks and the fluffy peach shrug.



I cooked an emphatically vegan meal called "Catalan Couscous Salad with Pears". The Girl liked the couscous. FL liked the pears. Nobody liked the combination.



But here's the thing: it is almost the weekend. I have ordered some herb plants to grow my own tisanes. I am going to plant them in an old sink at the side of the house, out of reach of rabbits.



And the dog has had The Operation and won't be molesting next-door's puppies again.



And I have new embroidery book to play with.



You see? It's not all bad after all!



P.S. "Taking a scat" is an expression The Girl uses when someone throws a wobbly - usually a teacher. Until this very moment, I thought it was about jazz-talk: ranting in a crazy way, scatting. But just now I realised it more likely means taking an emotional dump. How lovely! I won't be using that expression again in a hurry!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Countdown to Me Made June



It has not escaped my notice that we are halfway through May and I need to get my ship in order for Me Made June.






If I was willing to wear the same pair of trousers every day for a month, there would be no issue. My Eva Dress pattern 40's trousers are a big success: comfortable, stylish and they "go" with almost all of my me-made tops.




So I need to make another pair. I bought some light khaki / caramel chino-type fabric from Croft Mill, to make a more summery version.





In the same spree I bought a length of gorgeous orange and white striped cotton for another 1940's blouse, and some blue herringbone-weave linen for a Portfolio tunic.




If I could make those three garments before the start of June, I would be delighted! But there's no harm in continuing work once the month is underway...


I might rustle up some more undies. I actually bought a pattern for simple camisoles and underpants a while back but haven't tried it out yet - there's no better time than Me-Made-June!




I also need to buy some summer-weight tights if I am going to wear skirts or dresses. And paint my toenails, in case I want to wear my sandals.




In knitting news, I have decided to devote June to Betty Jean. Surely I can get her finished in another month of persistence?



Who remembers my plan to make a pair of socks every month this year? It's just not happening. March was abandoned in favour of Betty Jean. April was a pattern-choice-failure. We are halfway through May and I haven't even given socks any serious thought.




Ah well. I can't do everything!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

FO: Lisette Portfolio Blouse, Simplicity 2245

Lisette Portfolio strikes again!




I wasn't kidding when I said I really enjoyed sewing my Lisette dress and would come back to the Portfolio pattern.




This time I went for View C, which has a different side panel piece, without pockets.



I wanted a "goes with everything" top and I think this is it! It is simple, but has interesting details.



Who needs mass-produced t-shirts when you can have airy cotton tops in the fabric of your choice?



I started sewing on Thursday evening and finished on Saturday afternoon, but it could easily be done in a day.



Stats:




Pattern: Lisette Portfolio, Simplicity 2245, view C, lengthened by 1 1/4 inches. I made size 8.




Fabric: 1.2m White dobby dot cotton lawn from Croft Mill, £6 per metre (sold out, sorry!)



Buttons: Vintage metal painted cream, found in granny's button box.


While sewing, I realised that the seams were going to show through this semi-transparent fabric, so I took extra care to trim and finish them neatly on the inside.


I am glad I made it longer, as it gives me the option of tucking it in.



Verdict?



Another Lisette success!

The button choice was unexpected. I had no white buttons in my box and The Girl suggested cream. I picked these out as a joke, but she took me seriously, and I think they contribute a certain secret-garden-gate texture to the garment.




Listen, I know what I mean, even if you don't!



Although a casual style, I can imagine wearing this to work under a little cardigan.



But I think it would really come into its own as part of a holiday wardrobe, if I was going somewhere hot. I'm not... but nevertheless it will be in my suitcase when we head for the West Highlands later this year.



So - am I over my Portfolio addiction yet? Nope! I have bought some blue herringbone linen from Croft Mill to make the tunic version.



And I am seriously considering making the capri pants, though I will be doing some careful measurements first!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Lost postz

Dear Blogger,

Please can I have the last two days of my life back?

Otherwise it's back to pen and paper for me.

Or Wordpress. Or Typepad.

Yours sincerely,

Ms Grumpalot

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Roo the Lazy Lard-eater

You may remember that I recently took part in a research study, which set out to examine the effects of workplace stress on eating habits.



Today I received my personal report, and boy oh boy, it makes for interesting if confusing reading!



My initial reaction was indignation, that one week's food intake and activity-level readings were used to make "sweeping assumptions" about my diet and exercise habits. But then I remembered that I had been in control of my life for that week, and that even though I knew my every mouthful and movement was being measured, I did almost nothing to consciously modify my behaviour. I say "almost" because I did do one thing, which will show itself in a moment...



So, what's the verdict on my diet and lifestyle?


Here is a graph which shows that I spend 47.55% of my life sitting on my skinny bottom.



I only managed to muster 2.38% of "vigorous activity" in this average week.



Despite this, I only just scraped into the "normal" category for my Body Mass Index, and have low levels of trunk body fat and visceral fat.



My food intake across the 7 day period averaged 2563 kcal per day, made up of: 38.95% fat, 12.06% protein, 47.65% carbohydrate and 1.34% alcohol (heh!). A healthy diet should contain 30-35% fat, 10-15% protein and the remainder carbohydrate. No alcohol, apparently!



I don't know where they counted the calories I get from sugar: the fruit, the chocolate, the Eat Natural bars...?

My energy balance was 3.51, which means that I took in far more energy that I used up. By rights, if this week was typical, I should be the size of a house by now!

In my dietary defence, I would ask the jury to note that this week was unusual because The Girl was away in London, so FL and I ate the same meals two days running, twice, and those days included his favourites: sausages and roast lamb. Normally, we would only eat these meats once a week and either freeze the leftovers or give them to the dog.

My inactivity level was also skewed by The Girl's absence and bad weather, as I spent my evenings knitting next to FL, and had not yet begun my hour-a-day weeding regime.

This graph shows my activity data across 7 days. But wait a moment... what's that big red spike on Day One, Roo?

Hee hee hee! That would be my quick bounce on the trampoline! The pathetic 0.08% of "very vigorous" activity in my entire week boils down to those few minutes of madness! I was testing the activity monitor, Your Honour.

I also received feedback on the degree of control I exert over myself in respect of food and snacking. The Girl was right! I exhibit very high levels of Restraint and do not appear to experience much Hunger.

But I also tend to eat more after a period of
conscious restraint. I think this means I am the type of person who might be at risk of developing an eating disorder. But I knew that already.

So... what have I learned from all this?
(1) I need to step up my activity levels. There is quite a pleasing red spike at 12.30 every day when I walk up the road to buy my lunch. But I could definitely put more energy into walking the dog instead of ambling along looking for wildflowers. Or worse still, letting FL drive the car up the field with the dog in hot pursuit, and me in the passenger seat - tsk!

(2) My diet isn't too bad, but I could improve it by reducing my fat intake, if that week was typical. I actually think I have made this correction already, with the use of the slow cooker and increased numbers of vegan meals and salads in our weekly menu.

(3) I am not giving up my weekend glasses of wine for anyone, sorry! It is medicinal.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Betty and Jean, 1948



My mother is perplexed by my vintage-inspired stitching. With so many cheap, easy-care fabrics available in the shops, ready-made into clothes, why do I bother with all this cotton and wool and "old-fashioned" designs?



However, it did mean that when she was spring-cleaning and found this photo of herself and my Aunt, taken the day before Aunt Jean's wedding in August 1948, she sent it to me for safe-keeping.


She knew I would be interested in their dresses. They were made of "lovat green" wool by a dressmaker in Edinburgh, with covered buttons as a decorative feature down the arms.


Not difficult to guess which one is my mother!


It is hard to look at that shy young woman in her Sunday Best and think that she became my mother. No wonder she finds my choices so bewildering!



So... from Betty and Jean to Betty Jean!


Here she is, posing with "Practical Mathematics For All"(my father's textbook from a similar era) which was pulled out of the cupboard in an attempt to make sense of parabolas. Fail.


Progress is slow, but I have reached the shoulder -shaping. There are steeks everywhere! The centre front, the armholes, the neck: every one a steek - eek!

I love knitting this cardigan. It is a celebration of my inner geek.

I fancy making this plaid skirt (top right) to wear with her.


Oh there I go, mixing my eras again!


It's funny how the 40's and the 70's seem to collide in my style imagination.


I will leave you with a piece of advice from "Practical Mathematics..." concerning the need to stick at it:


"As it were almost cricket - as it were even your play,

Weighed and pondered and worshipped, and practised day and day"


Uh huh.


I'll keep on knitting...

Sunday, May 08, 2011

FO: Lisette Portfolio dress, Simplicity 2245



I have been more excited about sewing this dress than any other project in ages.




I was desperate for the pattern to arrive in time for my long weekend, and only slightly knocked off my stride when it arrived on Day Two.



If it hadn't been for Standard Grade Maths, I would have finished it last weekend.




But I wanted to keep this as a happy project to immerse myself in, and the need to supply The Girl with advice, solace and chocolate brownies took priority. If I had tried to keep sewing through the steady anxious drip of questions about parabolas and standard deviation it would have been bad for the dress and bad for The Girl!

So: the dress!


Stats:

Pattern: Lisette Portfolio, Simplicity 2245

Fabric: Poppy Dot by Erin Mcmorris from the Park Slope collection for Free Spirit. I bought mine from Nerybeth maybe two years ago now? I was saving it for a special pattern. 2.5 metres was only just enough because I wanted to line up those blinking poppies.

Buttons: Two blue /grey buttons from the stash.


I cut a size 8, based on the "finished measurements" chart. This is important to note. My instinct was to cut a 10 or even a 12 until I realised that I didn't want to make a maternity smock! The back is narrower than the front, with slight shaping at the waist. This makes it fit far better than my straight-up-and-down Japanese pattern tunic. It skims the body.


The busy-ness of this print camouflages the details which attracted me to this design. Several other sewists have used a contrast fabric for the neckband and cuffs, but I was afraid that might turn it into childrenswear: a bit too "Oilily" for a 46-year old woman!


The truly great thing about this dress is its pockets.




"Pockets?!" you cry? "What can possibly be so great about the pockets?"




Well, they are integral to the side panel seams, and rather than lying completely flat, the construction method pushes the fabric forwards by about 3mm from the main side seam.


I am not explaining this well, but essentially there is a pivot point at the top of the pocket, which when you snip it, releases the pocket so that it hangs forward of the side seam, creating a lovely curved "bag" that drapes in alignment with the central panel.

These pockets are just asking to have something peeking out of the top. If this was a toddler's dress it would be a tiny teddy bear. But it could be a packet of herb seeds or a wooden spoon or a quiver of paintbrushes!

This is a creative person's dress. I tried it on and it made me feel like a painter, a potter, a cook, a gardener. Best of all? It made me smile! Instant happiness!


How was the sewing?

Straightforward. I had read about people struggling with the pocket pivot, so I read through a couple of "walk-throughs" in advance of stitching. Try here . But I would probably have been ok with the instructions given.


The neckband appeared too large at first, but careful pinning and slow stitching was all that was required.


I wouldn't have liked to use a really soft or slippery fabric. I think it works best with a crisp cotton or maybe linen. Something that holds its shape.


Verdict?

It is exactly what I wanted. A comfortable, practical, everyday dress to wear at home, either on its own or over jeans.



The sort of garment you put on in the morning and don't have to think about again all day. A "uniform" dress!


I would love one of these in denim, and maybe the tunic length in linen, and blouse-length in voile.


I would like to try piping down the sides of the central panel, perhaps; or embroidering the square at the neck, like Solvi. Or lining the pockets in a contrasting fabric, so that when I looked down I could see it winking at me!


So, um, yeah - it's a keeper! ;)


P.S. Please excuse ugly green parka and wellies: it was bucketting down with rain when FL took these "action shots" out of the car window!

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Lost Favourites and Me Made June




Recently, I have spent more odd moments on Ravelry, and ended up losing interest in all my current knitting projects except Betty Jean.

Instead of working on an unloved turquoise sock, or a lacey peach mohair shrug that I WILL NEVER WEAR (stop shouting, Roo!) I have realised that I want to knit more vintage-inspired cardigans and sweaters out of AlbaYarn, a shawl out of Sock Hop handspun, Shalder out of super-sheepy wool from the West Coast - in short, to have a purge and start again. RRRRRRRIP!
Jessica left a comment recently, which really struck a chord. She said:

I LOVE this style that I see evolving on your blog (I mean, I think you've always known and owned your personal style, but it's like when you're a teenager and as you grow up you slowly fill out the edges of the core person that you always were ... am I making sense?)

Yes, Jessica you made a lot of sense to me. It has taken me all this time to "be myself" and fit the skin I'm in. And part of that is about ditching all the stuff that fogs my vision and stops me being "me". Even if I have spent hours trying to make it work. Turquoise sock, I am looking at YOU.
My dear mother recently asked me what on earth I do with all the things I "kept making" - where did I put all those tops and skirts and dresses I "kept making"? After calming down from my instant teen-style anger at this suggestion that I was exhibiting wanton profligacy (and will surely not go to heaven as a result) I spluttered out a reply that these are the only things I have! The other bits and pieces only get to stay for as long as it takes me to replace them with me-made-ness! I could go on at length about the good lady's four wardrobes full of anonymous polyester garments and multiple pairs of almost-identical shoes, but I won't.

Instead I will sign up for Me Made June.

'I, Roobeedoo, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-June '11. I endeavour to wear
only self-made clothing (excluding upholstery and underpinnings) each day for the duration of June 2011'

:D

Monday, May 02, 2011

When maths suck, make brownies

1/2 cup butter or margarine (1 cup is 8 fl oz)




3 ounces dark (at least 70%) chocolate


1 cup lightly packed brown sugar


1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


2 eggs


1/2 cup plain flour


1/2 cup broken walnuts




Preheat oven to 350 (180 on my cooker)




Line an 8" baking tray with greaseproof paper




Melt together the butter and chocolate




Whizz everything except the walnuts together in a food processor.




Fold in the walnuts.




Pour into baking tray and cook for a scant 20 minutes: it should still be slightly gooey in the middle.



Permit your mother to escape into the sunshine with a good book for a little while: her head hurts from all those parabolas.




Good book: "Angels and Men" by Catherine Fox




That's "Angels" not "Angles".




Sunday, May 01, 2011

Day Three of Four

Why can't all weekends be this long?

There's no urgency to completing the chores. The laundry gets done and hung and put away. The slow cooker works its magic.

There is still time to cut out a new dress and start stitching it together.

Still time to read a book out by the treehouse in the sunshine, with the dog pottering about, sniffing every rabbit hole just in case.

Plenty of time to stay calm about The Girl's maths exam on Wednesday. It's not too late to understand parabolas or volume or those bizarre functions that I am certain I never needed to know about at 14... or 46.

And there's still tomorrow to come.