Wednesday, 1 February 2023

Mash Up

mash-up; [noun] a mixture or fusion of several disparate elements. First known use, 1859 [yes, really!]

Here we are on the first day of February, and I have three totally unrelated snippets for here's a mash-up blogpost...

First - how bizarre, to go into a charity shop 15 miles away, and see one of the little gift bags I made at Christmas  on sale! I hope that the charity manages to sell it- even if the original recipient didn't want it.

Second - Kezzie sent me this picture which amused me enormously. Readers of a delicate disposition, please do not take offence.

Finally - speaking of mash-ups, how do you mash your potatoes? A friend recently posted a picture of her kitchen on Facebook, and it included a jar of utensils. There were a number of comments about her interesting square spoons - but I was intrigued by her masher. It is nothing like mine!
My favourite masher is my Oxo Good Grips [1] But for years I've had a cheaper one here at Cornerstones, with a 'wiggly bottom' [4] These are the two I use most and they live close to the hob.
I also have a ricer [2] which comes out if I want to do something a little more fancy - such as topping a fish pie. The little extruded bits brown beautifully, and go crispy, under a hot grill, or in the oven.
But my good friend has a bent flat-bottomed model [3] I don't know how I would get on with that.
It seems crazy that there are so many styles [and some people use a food mixer - but that uses up electricity and fails to give your 'bingo wings' a workout, so that's a no-no for me]
What sort of masher do you have? and what about your potato peeler?

Tuesday, 31 January 2023

Facets Of Fassett

It is three weeks since I popped down to London to see Liz and the girls and visit the Kaffe Fassett Exhibition. I confess I didn't really know what to expect - but the show was simply a collection of artworks inspired by Kaffe's amazing coloured fabric collections. And I think the thing that intrigued me most was the use of brightly printed fabrics in the patchworks.
People had taken his prints and made some astounding pieces...
Here's the poster outside, based on the Tumbling Blocks banner hanging down the staircase wall inside.

The collage below shows how people have used 'fussy cutting' to select specific pattern motifs, plus overlays of net, and contrast stitching to achieve different effects.
This one is based on the traditional "Baltimore Album " quilts of tyhe mid 19th century. Each block features an applique design of flowers or animals
Birds Of Paradise is procduce din a similar way - see how the stitcher has made use of the prints in the birds' plumage, and animal skins
Look at this detail
The quilts with triangles, suns and planets had a much more contemporary feel

The "Tusker Bull" elephant was pieced with different fabrics, then overstitched with fine black threads to give the impression of the creases in the hide
The artist also produced a zebra and a rather angry looking rooster! [2017 was "The Year of the Rooster" - very popular as the word for 'rooster' in Chinese sounds like the one for 'home']

As well as trad quilting [like the=is wedding ring quilt] there were also some tapestry cushions
But my favourite piece by far was a reinterpretation of a much older artwork. In 1515, the German artist Albrecht Durer [he of 'The praying Hands'] produced an engraving of a rhinocerous. Despite the fact he'd never seen one!
In 2005, I visited Budapest with Liz and there was a Durer exhibition in the National Gallery.
We saw the original rhino piece - and here in London, 18 years later, together we saw the rhino reinterpreted in KF's fabrics. 
It felt really special to see the rhino, and remember that wonderful holiday, and celebrate again the privilege of being mother-and-daughter together having fun!

I bought a couple of notebooks in the gift shop[for recording my next collaboration with Kirsten] then we went and found lunch.

Thanks Liz, for suggesting this!

Monday, 30 January 2023

Just A Soupçon

When I was a child, if a person was offered some food, and replied "Just a soupçon", I thought they were saying "Just a soupspoon". I've been reading a book recently [almost finished, will review it very soon] set mostly in the 40s and 50s. 
Back then the upper classes with their own cooks, [and aspiring persons who could not afford a personal chef] often dropped French food phrases into the conversation, or used the French names for food. 
Like Margo Leadbetter who never made a small stew, but always "une petite daube"
I was thinking about this the other day when we had soup for lunch. Soupe du jour! I announced. Bob said it tasted good, and asked what was in it. I didn't think fast enough, or I'd have said "It's mulligatawny"*- but I fessed up "it's last night's leftover curry, thinned down with stock, and liquidised". 

A couple of days later I did the same with the previous day's ragu sauce. I have decided henceforth that when I make my soup from leftovers rather than  soupe du jour, I shall call it soupe d'hier. It sounds much more posh than "yesterday's liquidised leftovers" 

*Mulligatawny soup came to Britain over 200 years ago - it is a curry soup, and its name means "pepper-water". 

Sunday, 29 January 2023

I Almost Forgot

 What were you doing on Friday Evening? It was only when I switched on the radio in the afternoon, that I was reminded that it was Holocaust Memorial Day - and that across the world, people would be placing lighted candles in their window to acknowledge and remember all those lost in acts of genocide. I was able to find a candle and place it on my kitchen windowsill.

Holocaust Memorial Day encourages remembrance in a world scarred by genocide. The international day on 27 January to remember the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, alongside the millions of other people killed under Nazi persecution of other groups, and during more recent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. 

27 January marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp. The Holocaust threatened the fabric of civilisation, and genocide must still be resisted every day. Our world often feels fragile and vulnerable and we cannot be complacent. Even in the UK, prejudice and the language of hatred must be challenged by us all.

I don't know how many people passed my house in the evening, or if any of them noticed the candle, and wondered about it. The theme for this year was "Ordinary People" - 

ordinary people were persecuted, 
Kamal, a survivor from Bosnia says People may think that they have nothing to do with my story. But what happened to me, could happen to them – to people like yourself. It may sound too hard to believe but this doesn’t happen to strangers who live far away. I’m just an ordinary person. These terrible things can happen to people like us.

ordinary people were the perpetrators,
Jean-Louis, a survivor of the genocide in Rwanda spoke about the involvement of those he knew in the killing - When the killing started, to be honest, everyone was involved. Our neighbours, friends, but we didn’t know the killings were to the extent of what happened.

and ordinary people were the rescuers.
at the start of WW2 Nicholas Winton was a young stockbroker, who enabled 669 children to escape from Czechoslovakia. He said afterwards Why are you making such a big deal out of it? I just helped a little; I was in the right place at the right time.

and sadly, so often, ordinary people have been bystanders
Forgive us, Lord, that we have so easily forgotten. Help us Lord, to work for peace for all peoples. Teach us to love our neighbours . For every 'ordinary' person is your child, and all life is precious.

The King made a statement on Friday [in full here] including these words
In learning from the horrors of the Holocaust and the genocides which followed, we can all recommit to the vital principles of freedom of conscience, generosity of spirit, and care for others that are the surest defences of hope.
Amen to that.

Saturday, 28 January 2023

For Brooke

I have mentioned Brooke, my young neighbour, before. She has a serious, life-limiting condition, AT. But "serious" isn't a word you'd apply to this happy, teenager.

She and her Mum, Justine, have worked really hard to raise awareness of this rare condition, [full name Ataxia-Telangectasia] and to raise funds for further research into finding a cure. 
Earlier this week I was chatting to Justine, who was really excited that the  A-T Society is going to be featured on the BBC tomorrow. And Brooke's friend Brae will be interviewed. 
Justine asked me to tell my friends, and ask them to watch if they can, to find out more about A-T. 
So here are the details - Lifeline, BBC1, 1.55pm Sunday. Please watch it if you can- thankyou
If more people collaborate in this, maybe in the future, A-T will not be incurable 

Friday, 27 January 2023

A Word In Your Ear

I am genuinely overwhelmed with gratitude for all the comments on Wednesday's post about vertigo.
So many of you have shared your own experiences, and tips on managing the condition, and the benefits of the different exercises  UPDATE -please note that FD has now added her link to useful exercises at the bottom of the comments 
This is when The Blog shows its worth - having friends out there who will sympathise, and support each other through difficult moments. Such friendships are very precious
Because of some nasty trolls, I removed the 'automatic' feature of the comments section - and I am sorry that has made it harder for some people to share their kind words. But I do try to check throughout the day and respond.  When people [such as Val yesterday] take the trouble to write a very full, informative comment, it is important to acknowledge their thoughtfulness.

It has been a strange week - we had set aside three clear days to do some redecorating, and various things got in the way of that [not just my health issues] .I was relegated to sitting on the floor priming the skirting boards. It seemed unwise for me to stand on the work platform and attempt anything high - the potential damage which could be caused by a small dizzy woman falling over with a pot of paint did not bear thinking about!
Preparation is half the battle- we took down the Rogues Gallery of family photos, and emptied and cleared the little bookshelf, and rolled up the runner, first thing Monday morning. All that created a cloud of dust for Bob to sweep up. And here's the dining area before we started.
The doors are mismatched, and the door surrounds, skirting boards and loft hatch have been unfinished wood since at least 2008 [we bought this place in 2009]
I'm hoping that now my vertigo is subsiding, I will be able to help Bob complete the work by Saturday night. He has been working doubly hard.
But thank you again, everybody, for your genuine concern!

Thursday, 26 January 2023

A Little Cottage, With Roses Round The Door...

Does your home have a name, or a number? In 1765 an Act of Parliament decreed that all new properties should have a number  and a street name, for better identification. We live in #4, but have named our home Cornerstones. It is a fairly ordinary 1970s bungalow. 

I read that there are more than 11,000 properties named "Rose Cottage" in the UK [even more are named Orchard Cottage or Meadow Cottage] During the pandemic, when people in lockdown sought to escape from the things going on around them, the idea of 'cottagecore' was developed. A sort of dreamy escapism, where home was sanctuary, and people could adopt a slower, simpler way of life.
It is a nostalgic, romanticised version of life of rural England, where everyone lives off the land, and women float around in floral frocks. The kitchen is full of home baking, whilst freshly laundered linens waft on the breeze as they hang on the washing line, and baskets of new laid eggs and shiny red apples are displayed on the dresser. Homespun and home made, plus Arts&Crafts furnishings are the key.
Hand stitched cotton quilts, and folded woollen blankets are ready in the bedroom to provide winter warmth, and buzzing bees and bright butterflies are seen in the [weed-free!] garden. Everything is warm and welcoming and soft. The emphasis is on layering. 
No minimalism here - just prepare to be enveloped in cosiness!
I wonder how you feel about this style? Cottagecore has had an astonishing 12.5 billion views on TikTok [but not me, I've never ever looked at TikTok!]
What aspects of it do I like
  • obviously, I'm very happy with the idea of life in a pretty country village [but poor street lighting and only one bus an hour can be frustrating]
  • I like my Kilner jars full of 'pantry staples' [but think using them in the freezer is a daft idea]
  • I love my William Morris curtains [but much A&C furniture is too large, dark and heavy for a small bungalow]
  • I'm grateful for my garden and the flowers, and fresh veg [but acknowledge that its hard work keeping it tidy and productive]
  • I'm definitely all for hand made, hand stitched, hand crafted and home baked
On the other hand, I appreciate many of the advantages of modern technology, and whilst I acknowledge that some of greatgrandmama's herbal remedies were of benefit, modern pharmacology has saved many lives. And nowadays solar panels on the roof are more useful than thatch. I'm glad I do not have to get up early and 'lay the fires', or carry jugs of water from the kitchen to the bathroom for washing.
Are you into 'cottagecore'? 
or do you prefer a minimalist approach?
Either way, it is the love and care that makes somewhere 'home' isn't it?

And thank you everyone for your kind words yesterday regarding the Vertigo. It is clearly a much more common problem than I realised, and all the suggestions were really helpful!