Tuesday, 24 July 2012

What's in my lunchbox this week? One way or another

Lunchbox with vegan food
When the weather heats up my appetite either vanishes or increases. This bout of weather has bought on the latter. Happily I have a load of allotment produce and my kitchen is in a basement so nice and cool.

Clockwise from top right:

  • Raspberries - from my allotment
  • Peas from my allotment and Samphire from a local shop - a brilliant combo
  • Home grown rocket, vegan cheese from Tesco and my latest attempt at Seitan sausage. It's my tastiest attempt yet but not a patch on the vegan Ronin stuff
  • Corn bread using the recipe from Cooking with PETA and adding some sliced jalapeƱos.
 

Monday, 23 July 2012

My weekend - emotional brilliance, produce and the princess

Multicoloured curtain
Friday night started the weekend off nicely. I went to my local Lush store to get a preview of their new Emotional Brilliance range of make up. I was particularly keen to attend because (leaving my passion for Lush products) I'd been told all the products were vegan (and this was correct). Plus the staff are very lovely people who don't do hard sell. In fact they often seem delightfully surprised when you do want to buy something!

Food and drink
The marketing for range links colours with words and emotions and makes nice use of dry ice and popular psychology. I was slightly surprised when I got to spin the wheel that I didn't choose any shades of green. I was also rather taken with the three emotions that I'd picked (ambition, success, confidence - photo further down of these colours on the wheel).

Emotional brilliance colour wheel in action
Anyway marketing aside the products are excellent. Nice packaging which is not excessive and largely recyclable. Limited nasties lurking in said products (including the mascara). Oh and did I mentions it's all vegan?

Emotional brilliance products
Based on my experience (leaving Lush, heading home via pub and curry with various friends and then falling into bed without removing make up) it stays on very well but comes off fine with a blob of Almond Oil. Expect to see me wearing very bright red lipstick for the foreseeable future.

Princess doll and lots of mattresses
Saturday I was on a mission. I needed to finish the Princess and the Pea set I was making for my niece. I obviously subconciously knew from the start that I was going to make loads of mattresses (I'd originally planned to do 6-8). The bag I'd made for it to go in seemed enormous initially but actually doesn't have much space left once you fill it with 1 mini pillow, 1 mini quilt and 14 mini mattresses.

Handmade bag
Anyway I thrilled when I finished it right down to checking all the hems and snipping off all the threads.

Wheel of mattresses
And it would seem all those hours of toil on the land were worth it. This week from the allotment I bought home Rocket, raspberries, huge peas, rhubarb and a handful of potatoes and onions. I could of had Spinach too but wasn't sure I'd get round to eating it with so much other stuff on offer.

Vegetables from the allotment
Continuing on a food theme I found some Samphire in a local shop on Saturday. I'd never tried it before (to my knowledge) but for a salt addict like myself it's a dream come true.

I also found time to finish off a couple of novels. I realised a few weeks ago that I'd never read any of the Tarzan novels. So I ordered Tarzan of Apes from the library. It was much better than I expected. Fast moving and quite funny in places. It did have some rather outdated ideas but wasn't as bad as I'd feared. What did annoy me was how Tarzan kept his knife sharp (through. Decade or so of use. It even gets left in the rain and goes rusty). I was willing to go with the plot that had Tarzan teaching himself to read (but not speak English) via an illustrated dictionary. However I couldn't work out how this would enable him to learn write his name. Anyway to will certainly be reading more of this series.

I absolutely devoured Replay by Ken Grimwood. It's the story of a man who dies only to find he is reliving his life over and over again. A really interesting exploration of what choices we would make if we could do things again, if it would make a differences and he restrictions we put on our lives.

So a slightly less packed weekend than usual but one that has left me feeling refreshed and ready for week of sunshine.

Monday, 16 July 2012

My weekend - rain ponchos and rolling stones

So once again I rounded a busy week with a busy weekend. I'm always hopeful that an acupressure session on Friday afternoon will encourage me to relax on Friday evening but this is rarely the case. Instead I ended up repairing torn lace at 11pm.

Saturday I was forced out into the torrential rain to attend a vital meeting with an estate agent. It did give me an opportunity to try out my new rain poncho from the local army surplus store. No photos yet (it's not the most flattering of garments) but I do have big plans for customising it with circles of acrylic paint in various shades of green.

Glass babules
Another benefit of popping out on Saturday was picking up a selection of vintage glass babules. They are still in the WH Smith box and marked at two and a half pence.

South bank
With the Olympic madness about to descend on our capital city I'm not planning anymore visits until September. So it was really great to get a final day out soaking up atmosphere and inspiration. As well as a meander along the Southbank I went to the Rolling Stones exhibition at Somerset House.

Rolling Stones exhibition sign
It was a really great collection of photos and I appreciated them not being in chronological order. It wasn't about charting the history of the Rolling Stones but simply appreciating their style, existance and place in history.
 
Next weekend is going to be all about sewing. I've got projects that I really want to finish or move on. Meanwhile there's almost a working week of rain to get through.
 
 

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Things I Love Thursday - embracing busy, blind stitching and time out

Tea and teapot
It's a rainy night, which would be cosy if this wasn't July. I'm seated in one of favourite spots on the basement stairs with a mug of tea reflecting on what makes life worth it this week.

Learning Blind Hem stitch - ages ago I came across this blog post http://www.makeit-loveit.com/2011/07/blind-hem-stitch-with-a-sewing-machine.html so long ago that I can't even recall how I got to it. So I left it open on a tab with plans to come back to it later. Tonight when I should have been doing something else like bass practice, or balancing bank statements or making more mini mattresses I decided it was the ideal time to try it out. After one false start I got it and actually unpicked the while of the hem I was repairing just because this was so cool.

I'm as ever super busy but I'm in the mood to embrace it this week. I'm coping with life's velocity by not looking down. Do bring on back to back commitments, squeezing the juice out of life and falling into bed exhausted by life.

And if I do pause for breath it'll be for tea (and soup and homemade bread if I'm lucky) at Mimi's. Her flat is an enchanting space that takes me away from the rest of the world. I always feel privileged to be allowed to take some time out for Sunshine Earl Grey and gossip with someone do glamorous and welcoming.

*Dreams of setian and cupcakes *burlesque performance to an audience *plotting with my sister *mango sorbet *the magical combination of tofu, rice and seaweed *a really good stretch

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

What's in my lunchbox this week? - a seventh of a rainbow

Lunchbox of food
Despite my best efforts to eat a veritable rainbow of fruit and vegetables Photographic evidence would suggest I only do one colour at a time. I'm uncertain as whether this is a fixation on a colour on my part, failure of local supplier to stock enough variety or something to do with all seasonal produce being the same colour. Anyway it's another of my red phase.

Clockwise form top right:

  • Rice with ripped up wasabi nori. Disappointingly as I like hot tastes the rice seems to effortlessly absorb all the oomph of the wasabi. Still a great combo though.
  • Fried tofu - I thinly sliced the leftover tofu I bought recently at Spitalfields and fried until it was really crispy. Rice, seaweed and tofu - does it get ant better?
  • Cherry tomatoes and radishes - at least they're different shades of red. The radishes are almost purple.
  • Home grown strawberries - and remember strawberries taste much better at room temperature (assuming you aren't eating them straight from the plant on a sunny day).

Monday, 9 July 2012

My weekend - sewing, Chanel and the illusive muse

I don't know about retail therapy but Friday night I engaged in a little online shopping and bought the midorigreen.co.uk domain. I don't have a major plans for it at present. In fact all I've done it put a forward on it to this blog.

Stream and boardwalk
Saturday I enjoyed my usual walk. The stream that runs alongside part of th footpath was unsurpringly high and I made it back just before it started raining again.

Fabric dolls
I spent Saturday afternoon making a Princess and the pea playset as a birthday gift for my niece. I actually found it really hard going. I was originally inspired by various blog posts I'd read about such sets. I pinned a number earlier in the year. Then Mollie Makes put a version on their front cover and I thought I'd have a go at at that version.

What I realised, as I struggled through a mound of limbs, non- fitting doll garments and the feeling I was engaging in some form of voodoo, is that I'm not keen on anything requiring precision. I much prefer to take pieces of fabric and see where they take me. To let them 'talk' to me if that doesn't sound too pretentious. Interestingly there was a post about exactly this feeling on whipup.net. As the post says just because you capable of doing something doesn't mean you should or that it will be creatively satisfying.

The creation of the doll on the right inspired by the sewing in no man's land blog among others was creatively fulfilling.

Hay bale in the street
Sunday morning I got up early in a bid to avoid the rain at my allotment. Alas I got soaked to the skin harvesting raspberries, strawberries and peas. I was surprised to find this hay bale lying the street. Not quite the debris of a Saturday night that one might expect.

I spent the afternoon at a Burlesque class. Early evening I settled down to watch Coco before Chanel. I'd planned to do some hand sewing while I watched but forgot that with subtitles you have to keep your eyes on the screen. It wasn't too much of a hardship though ad it was a great film - really elegant and visually pleasing. It did give me a major urge to sew. Like watching a cookery programme and getting an urge to cook and eat.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

The mystery of the showgirl

Top hat with fan, gloves and scarf in it
I was always taught that performers should keep an element of mystery about them. So just like a magician doesn't give away the secret to their tricks, a dancer shouldn't appear in full costume except on stage.

This is probably fine if the performance takes place on an actual stage with the niceties of dressing rooms. However I suspect that for the majority of dancers such things tend to be a novelty.

While dancing in public as a adult I've performed outdoors more often than in. It's definitely performance area rather than stage. Dressing room is usually the ladies loos. British summers being what they are it's more a case of keeping the rain off your sequins than worrying about sunburn.

There also tends to be a fair bit of hanging around waiting for the local majorette troupe, dog handlers or terrifying professional school of dance to finish.

And burlesque gear doesn't particularly lend itself to much movement. So although the idea of throwing on some jeans to go with a corset is appealing, the reality is less so. To get straight to the point you can't bend over in a corset very easily. And let's face it an elastic waistband doesn't really go with the image.

Consequently I've been giving some thought to how I dress appropriately before and after burlesque performances ensuring that I am glamorous, mysterious and above all warm.

I recently found myself wearing fishnet tights, green pumps, a frilly burlesque skirt, and a fleece top in a effort to stay warm pre-performance. My short dressing robe just wasn't covering enough flesh to prevent it turning blue so I opted for the Tank girl look.

So looking at what's actually my wardrobe I'm considering options around a long skirt, wrap dress, cropped tux jacket and a very fluffy scarf. Oh, and green sequin shoes.

Or maybe I should just go for one of those towel arrangements where a drawstring at the top of the towel forms a kind of tent. It won't be glam but it will be warm and whipping it off will signal the start of the show!

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Things I Love Thursday - sales, sticks and sage tea

Cuff pouches
Absolutely top of my list this week of things that make me smile is selling things that I've made. Close behind is being called 'a clever old stick' by a customer who liked my re-use of cuffs and ties to make pouches.
 
 
Tie pouches
 
Running close behind is the discovery of Tamarind. I'm very keen to try some more recipes soon Now I've realised how amazing this magic ingredient is.

I'm a huge fan of Lush. Their products smell great, are largely vegan and they have brilliant staff. They use minimal packaging, have a sense of humour and do seem to stand for something. I've been using their toothy tabs toothpaste with the tube for a while and really like the Dirty and Chou, Chou I Love you. However another flavour has now joined my 'like' list. I think it's the inclusion of Earl Grey in the ingredients that I couldn't resist.

Sage tea - a colleague bought some loose herbalteas back from Cyprus and has been sweet enough to share them. The sage one is fantastic for clearing your head and getting you ready to deal with life.

Other stuff raising a smile - *pictures of green typewriters sent via email *a gentle breeze through the window *my own space *flatbreads *support from friends * getting on top of joblists *ideas for getting creative

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

What's in my lunchbox this week? - the magic ingredient

I'm always trying to use up the stuff that lurks in the pantry. The ingredients you bought for a single recipe. The ones people gave you. One that were so expensive you're scared to use it. The ones you have no idea how to use.

Many years back a colleague gave me a block of tamarind after being astonished that it wasn't a pantry staple for me. I thanked him and have never touched it because I was quite sure what it went with.

When I spotted Tamarind lentils in Veganomicon I knew its time had come at last and it was so worth the wait.

Lunchbox of food
 

Clockwise from top right:

  • Home grown strawberries
  • Radishes and tomatoes
  • Tamarind lentils - the recipe from Veganomicon ignoring the suggestion to avoid brown lentils and with spinach and rocket stirred in just because they were in the fridge. This tastes amazing.
  • Flat breads - usual recipe (flour, splash of oil, enough water to make a dough, fry in hot fry pan) but with some gram flour in the mix.
 

Monday, 2 July 2012

My weekend - it began with ironing

 

I never iron if I can help it do kicking off a Friday night with several hours of ironing surely indicates a weekend that's going to be a bit busy and not quite the usual round of activities.

Saturday I headed into London for a day of things with a Japanese slant.

Kokoro exhibition sign
It's amazing how many exhibitions with a Japanese angle there are in London. Kokoro at Somerset House was amazing. The pieces had been displayed with care and the simple rooms with pale walls and wooden floors allowed them to speak for themselves.

Goat statue
It's years since I've been to Spitalfields market and my has it smartened itself up.

Okinawa day 2012 at Spitalfields market poster
I was dropping by for the Okinawa Day. It was great to enjoy some music and browse the stalls. I picked up some deep fried tofu and soy bean pulp. I've never cooked this before and suggestions were that used it for falafels or microwaved and served with spring onions. I combined with onions, garlic powder and chilli and gave it a bit of a fry before serving. Not bad at all.

Tofu
I did wander round the vintage market but tried not to look too closely at anything. My wardrobe as ever is stuffed and if I am going to buy new stuff some of the less worn items will have to go first.

Sunday I had to be up early (despite a midnight visit from locked out neighbours to borrow a ladder). A few weeks back I agreed to my first handmade and vintage stand with Carla from Ducking Fabulous at the Maldon motor show. It was a desire to sell some of my hand crafted items that lead to all that ironing on Friday night. As this was the first one I'd done I saw it very much as a fact finding experience.

Maldon motor show
 

As it turned out I had an amazing day. Even part of the stand collapsing under a potential customer, gusty wind blowing everything off the stand and a rain storm couldn't put a negative spin on things. If fact I was enjoying running our stall so much I didn't really manage to look round (except for ending up in the wrong field on my one excursion).

Decorated notebooks
I was delighted to sell a few bits (my covered notebooks were poplar) and be called 'a clever old stick' by a customer. I came away feeling inspired, planning to open an Etsy shop, and with lots of ideas. Carla and I have agreed we must share a stall again soon (assuming we can find a free weekend).

So end result of my weekend was a head buzzing with ideas and a seriously early night.