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Category — Chocolate

Getting through

Hello February, you scoundrel of a month.

I remember my father trying to talk to me when I was a know it all teenager of about 15. He gently tried to explain that often life gets tough, and that sometimes beyond circumstances that you can control, it just is unexplainably hard, with pressure building and hopefulness fading. I thought then that most adults, particularly my parents were idiots. I couldn’t wait to be a grown up, and what really could be so very hard about it? Big bunch of whingers I remember thinking.

I’ve been a grown up for a few months now, and finally I am just getting it. I feel beyond sadness that he is no longer here for me to tell him he was right. But many of his words stay. Blue February days can be toughies. You know those days. Nothing is technically wrong. All the bills have just about been paid, the house insurance is up to date, you haven’t missed a meeting or dental appointment. You and your partner are speaking, and the children are sort of behaving. Yet its hard to make it through, and you astutely avoid all internet images of kittens lest you start weeping, and never stop. Oh dear. 

So never mind what puts us there, what gets us through? The thought that winter is passing? A long hot bath? Brand new girl boxers ordered off the internet late at night? I really have no idea. 

I do know that attempting to knit slinky jumpers on circular needles with under arm cast offs, when I can barely knit a straight scarf, is not the cleverest. I also know Netflix and 82% dark chocolate is a no-no after 10pm. 

I want my dad. I want him to finish the other part of the conversation that he started 35 years ago. What is supposed to happen next? Do I just carry on? (keeping calm obviously NOT being an option; I have my Mars in Leo for goddsake). 

My default setting is clearly a cross between Joyce Grenfell and Doris Day – bracing walks in the countryside are embarked on, and plenty of good, wholesome food (ignoring the bad influence of best friend eating family packs of chocolate bourbons, I shall not fall madam….).

I bury myself in work, and try to stick to the surprising and quirky. Like finding badgers painted on gateposts, stacks of old letters from the 1930’s in the community recycling, and a gorgeous ginger cake mix sent spontaneously in the post by a lovely woman I’ve never met. 

And if it weren’t for the fact that I’m often held to ransom by a jack russel terrorist then its possible that February could be quite dandy after all……

February 21, 2014   3 Comments

A Stitchy Tale

A short stitchy story. You know how it goes. September comes around, the kids go back to school, you twiddle your thumbs for a couple of days, wondering what to do next, because clearly you do not have enough going on in your life. Then, ah ha! You have that lightbulb moment, sitting in the last of the summer sunshine, when you think, ‘well, it’s nearly Christmas, I had better crack on with some present making’. All in the name of actually avoiding knuckling down to some real, live, paid work, so your family doesn’t starve. Hurrah. Present Making it is. 

Next thing you know, you have persuaded your ex-husband to cut down his entire crop of lavender, although the scary man-tool strimmer was waved a little too close to your head for your liking, but hey presto, you have a tonne and a half of lavender to process before the sun leaves for another 8 months.

So you sit there weeping a little, feeling like what-was-her name when Rumplestiltskin said she had to spin an entire attic of straw into gold. Too big a task for one wee, mad girl. Never mind hey, because that is what Facebook is for – to send out a call for help. Which you do, and before long your garden is filled with lots of fab, mad girlies who spend an entire morning destalking your lavender and gossiping. Your ears nearly fall off their talk is so scandalous.

Well, this isn’t very stitchy yet, sorry. O.K, so lavender is deliciously procured, and made into lavender bags for Christmas, thus saving you a small fortune, funds instantly diverted into a better cause, namely books, chocolate and fun days out.  “And your 15 year old will be delighted with his lavender bag” a friend wryly points out. For shame. Don’t be telling me the truth now, lady.

Alright, spurred on by the success of the lavender mission, you will naturally feel that your stitching talent is boundless and that you really are rather foxy when it comes to needles and thread. Oh you foolish girl. Around the same time you will be mercilessly talked into making a rather wonderful pouch for a special carving, and being a textile goddess you will enthusiastically agree. Oh my god. Did Martha teach you nothing in your sewing classes 3 years ago? Did she really tell you that a tape measure is a complete waste of time, that pins are for wimps? I don’t think so, she would have you horsewhipped for the short cuts you figure you can take.

Even so, you forge on, and as well as the pouch, you attempt to make a quilted hot water bottle cover, all nice and witchy, and magical. Because you can. But maybe, you actually can’t, and by day 5 you are rifling through the bathroom cabinet for diazepam to take away some of your self inflicted pain. I promised you honesty my friends, one blog back – well here it is. This is me, praying, no begging my Husquarvana to have mercy on me. It is pitiful, no?

Well, I need to wrap up this sorry chapter….the pouch got made (I was thrilled to discover my hairy white jumper had moulted all over the black fabric) and the hot water bottle cover just about made it through too, after I had a strict chat with myself and dug out some pins, and even a tailors chalk. The tape measure never quite got used, but lessons were learned. Oh yes they were. Namely, I must remember that learning to sew is best done slow; that one lavender bag made does not make you Mama Soule, far from it. Lavender is more soothing than diazepam and better for you, and JAINE: GET ON WITH SOME PROPER WORK….with this is mind, I am heading off to my Cornish ocean, to build up my strength and take a little break. Back in a week……

September 19, 2013   3 Comments

Sennen Slings

Ok its official, I have just had the best week ever. Remember I was last seen (a blog ago) hoofing off to Cornwall armed with the chocolateiest of chocolate muffins?

Ah well, it was to these lovelies that I sped, dear friends who need little persuading when it comes to the sampling of made up recipes of the cakey kind. Fickle, but true.

We had a complete blast….so much fun…..and it’s hard to know where to begin really. Wild ocean walks….

…delicious food, looking through old photos (in my top 10 of things I like doing)

….a wander around St Ives – my very favourite place ever

…crocheting, gossiping, plotting and, well, just having a great time.

I am not sure I was graceful when it was time for me to leave. Sawing off the toes on my clutch foot so I couldn’t drive home was a little dramatic. But David is a doctor, so I was quickly bandaged up and my cunning plan foiled. Hiding one of the tyres on my car was a waste of time too. Lisa has a particular talent for finding hidden things, and I was soon set on my way home…..sadness.

But I am jumping ahead. Before that there was plenty of time for messing about, which is precisely why my small potters wheel was on my check list. My plan was to once, just once, show off my expertise to said lovely friend, in the clay department. Silly me. This woman is amazing when it comes to making things (and any of our friends who have seen her carved bowls, spoons and beautiful weaving will agree with me). After a few crazy minutes of  wet clay flying around her studio and us laughing helplessly, she had the situation under control and was making the most perfect pot. Oh you fiend. Here is the photographic proof.

We had a completely fab day in my favourite Cornish town – St Ives – that I mentioned earlier. A beautiful meander around, all the while talking talking.

Followed by lunch with the very wonderful Cath, who soon set us to hard labour in the most shameful way, stacking the mother of all woodpiles in her sunshine vegetable garden. Actually, I loved it…I could’ve stayed forever.

And if a trip is going to be glorious, there of course has to be some badness in some way or another. Badness came in the form of David and a lethal 1920’s Savoy cocktail book. Oh my downfall.

Now, if you are going to fall from grace I suggest you do it properly. No sloppy half measures. And thus it was that we found ourselves dressing up for the occasion, in black tie, tails and vintage sequinned wear. How very splendid.

Singapore Slings he called them. Oh really? You naughty man. Sennen Slings is what they actually are – the badass big sisters of the former. Quite quite lethal.

Lisa and I quickly took charge of the next round of cocktail making. Oh yes, we had it all under control.

Do you know how utterly hilarious slippers seem whilst wearing tails, when youve had a couple of these bad babies???? Hilarious I tell you. OK, so you had to be there. And if you had you would have also witnessed an impressive piano recital, and a heroic beach rescue of the ‘bone’ kind. I will say no more. But it was so spectacular the evening has earned a place in my personal hall of infamy that swims around my less salubrious side of my nature.

So our tender heads and hearts just about recovered for a final beautiful walk to the Cape the next day, a wonderful and special place.

The ocean sparkled blue and the sun that we have all been waiting for all winter finally settled onto our upturned faces. Life is good.

Thank you sweet friends for my very lovely escape. I hope to see you again soon.

April 24, 2013   No Comments

Check

Happy, skippy me….I am outta here (a little escape, long in the planning)

Pink wellies…check

Small portable potters wheel and a bag of clay…check

Sister gifts for hiding…check

Cocktail glasses…check

Combats, thermals, swimming costume (just in case) …check

Sharp scissors for haircutting…check

Chocolate and Seville orange muffins with honeycomb and a chocolate fudge, raspberry glitter topping, freshly made this morning…check

Girlfriend, those muffins are on their way…I’m bringing ’em over….see you in a bit….

 

April 15, 2013   1 Comment

Week

:: Saturday ::

Stroud’s rag market…always so fab, rummaging around offcuts of hand dyed french linens, buttons, quilts, beads…such a good distraction on a difficult day

:: Sunday ::

An Equinox gathering on Kesty and Martin’s land – hot tea and some community theatre which made me laugh and cheered me up

:: Monday ::

Sewing together some pink pieces of scarf, and really loving the moving stories being sent to me along with them….there are some wonderful people out there

:: Tuesday ::

A Twitter tutorial – trying to get my middle aged brain around something really simple – slightly edgy when teenagers arent the most patient of teachers

:: Wednesday ::

A good old fashioned day at the seaside with Grandma and Grandpa – eating ice cream in a near blizzard – March – you’ve got to love springtime….

:: Thursday ::

A truly mad, crazy two hours with Pixie-Bee, the Hotpants and Saskia-pie – playing trains, stitching lavender bags, nappy changing, song singing, biscuit eating and other fun stuff

:: Friday ::

Back to big kids – a chocolate fudge birthday cake for my youngest teenager

:: Saturday ::

Stroud Farmers Market essential – olives from the Olive Ladies – seriously good, guaranteed happiness

My birthday boy – gotta love a 15 year old in a furry owl onesy

So this is my funny old week – week one of the school holidays – and still feeling like midwinter. Not an especially easy one, but there are pieces of loveliness and colour to be found if I look hard enough. And as always, my camera is around my neck, ready and waiting.

March 30, 2013   2 Comments

Blue sky days

It’s not the dark that I mind about wintertime, no, dark I love. It is the sometimes relentless grey that makes me a tad obsessive about tracking the sun, and those blue skies that come with it. Watching, waiting for it to arrive….willing it to burst into this waiting valley of mine….

This week we woke up to golden….that most precious of lights, filtering in through the curtains and dancing a little in our front gardens

And hot on the heels of the golden beginning – oh yes! Deeply blue – it’s all I really need to be happy. Sometimes I forget this, and meander down the road of other loves: books, music, chocolate, lost stripey bobble hats….but no! Deeply blue – it’s as simple as that.

I get all dizzy with excitement and run up the nearest hill to catch this possibly fleeting light

….whereas Miss Martha, the coolest of cats, stays close to home and tracks the sunshineyness as it seeps into the garden

I love the way winter light tickles around our house – it’s not the windows-flung open, big hot light that washes inisde during the summer (yes, I did say summer, hope springs eternal). But this light is pretty nonetheless, and it shyly whispers into rooms when you’re not watching

I look at my house with different eyes, as it pours into otherwise dark corners

Sometimes this is a good thing….clothes I wear and wear until they beg for mercy look a little more colourful and forgiving in the day’s goldenness

My windows however are less than merciful as the light makes them scream out ‘you see, look everyone, we haven’t been washed since 2007, shocking, this is how she treats us, the hussy’. Well, that’s enough of that nonsense. It’s bad enough that my ears suffer stropping teenagers, I’m not about to have backchat from windows as well. And anyway, I have a hot date on the deck….

Because it is still February, and technically winter, there is still fireside watching and sofa sitting that can be done, when friends drop in, in their lovely layered woollies.

I am even beyond caring whether it is cold or not. It is the magical soup of deeply blue sky that I want to fall in to, throw myself in to, give myself up to, completely, utterly, for ever. So there you have it. Full. Deep. Blue. Grateful. Me.

February 20, 2013   5 Comments

More sugar than you can shake a stick at……

I feel that today’s blog should come with some sort of health warning. Listen up people, it is NOT for the faint hearted. And if you have the sort of wayward hips and thighs that dance to the tune of their own fiddle, as I do, then you should just turn away now. Not that diets and me ever exchange niceties …. I love food far too much….and life is way to short for denial in the eating department. Sorry, rambling again.

O.K…so sugar! Today’s post is about the rather spectacular adventure I have just had in London at the Cake & Bake Show 2012 – hooraah!! Held at Earls Court in West London, which is a lovely Art Deco building….

This was the first big show I have done, and so it was all a bit nervewracking, what with navigating madly through the streets of London with crazy drivers, and unloading in the right place. Then there was finding my spot in the biggest hall you have ever seen, setting up a stand that hopefully didn’t look like a girl guide’s yard sale, and negotiating in a professional way with very handsome event directors (I am allowed to say that, this particular superstar is my much adored cousin Luke)

So, it all worked out pretty well, and this is what I came up with:

I had all the Stitchy Witch cards there, that my dear friends had worked so hard at helping me pack, and of course I took along my old lady sewing machine – she likes a little outing now and again, and was much admired which pleased her greatly. It was fun meeting lots of new people and all the lovely comments made me feel very shiny. Thank you if you did come and say hello!

Now to the sugar bit……have you ever been to a Cake & Bake show?? Me neither! It is one huge ol’ party for every kind of cake and sugar paste flower that you are ever likely to see. I nearly hyperventilated in front of the homemade chocolates section. They were on the point of calling security as I was twitching and drooling (in rather an inappropriate and strange way). But my inner paparazzi kicked in, and so for your delight, I offer up the following saucy little snapshots….

Are you feeling giddy yet? Have you decided to take sacred vows to the High Order of Cakeyness? Well, here are some more…..


Now will someone please tell me – is blue cake allowed? Is anything that is edible allowed to be blue – apart from blueberries and sometimes soup (yes, that did happen in my life once before)…….

Well, why not – it was a crazy kind of weekend – and 18,000 queuing up to get inside is testimony to its greatness. Why were these in a cabinet? Were they dangerous? Dangerous to my thighs maybe, little sponge cakes of badness.

Oh Betty Crocker…..with your gleaming demonstration kitchen, and perky girls in gingham making it look so effortless (I saw Stepford Wives, I KNOW THE TRUTH…..) Sorry, exaggerating again, but Betty, really – a perfect cake every time you bake?? You lie madam, I tried to make the perfect cake, and even blogged about its sad demise here.

Which brings me to the end of this bake fest…and well done reader for staying the course. I promise something a little earthier and witchy in the week, especially as it is full moon time, but for now, this is Jaine Rose, all sugared up and feeling a little speedy, signing off.



September 30, 2012   11 Comments