Friday, 25 January 2013

Ukulele lady

Only a totally disorganised person would attend a ukulele workshop at the delightful Tea and Sympathy and meet old friends and new interesting new people and fail to take a single photograph. Why it was almost like being back in the late 90s!

Admittedly I did arrive in a rather flustered state having had to change my travel plans a the last minute. The plan was to eat dinner with the wonderful Naomi (dinner at Naomi's two nights in a row is great!) and then get the train together. When it turned out the trains were all cancelled it was time to have rethink and me driving seemed the obvious option.

Alas my satnav was at home, I only had the vaguest idea of where I was headed and I needed petrol. But Naomi and I stepped up to the plate in best Thelma and Louise style (but without the attempted rape and murder).

The workshop was such fun. Our tutor, Pony, had five songs for us to have a go at playing from the simple one chord Frere Jacques to I just called to say I love you (5 chords). Taking it at a slow pace we played through each a code of times. Pony took the time at the start of each new tune to sing it through and make sure we were all comfortable with any new chords.

By the end of the night when we played through all 5 tunes and sang along it felt great. Even without the cocktails served in teacups that the non-drivers partook of.

And then it was time leave behind the shop full of vintage finds, handmade lovelies and quirky objects. To wander back across town, buy chips, and drive back through the fog, humming Ukulele Lady.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

What's in my lunchbox this week? - impatient


Lunch box and book

I bought rice papers at some point in the past with plans to feed them to a wheat avoiding friend. Then I read Animal, vegetable, miracle which feeds them to vegetarian guests so I figured they must be ok (on all kinds of levels!). I've been sprouting my own alfalfa and the description of the party in Animal, Vegetable, mineral at which these are served kept coming back. I'm so glad it did!

Clockwise from top right

  • Yummy kale in a tahini dressing made with lemon juice, the dregs of a jar of peanut butter, slightly more substantial tahini jar dregs, water and salt.
  • Popcorn popped in sesame oil. A small change that makes so much difference to the taste.
  • Rice paper rolls filled with home sprouted alfalfa and tofu. The tofu was marinated and baked using the recipe from The Vegan Lunchbox.
  • Apple and marzipan pie - homemade pastry filled with sliced apples, some ancient marzipan (from back of the pantry but it never goes off, right?) and a little sprinkle of allspice.
  • To read - One of our Thursdays is missing by Jasper Fforde.

I can barely wait for lunchtime to arrive this week.


Sunday, 20 January 2013

Seven for 7

A dash through the last week.

Fronch toast
  • Eating - Fronch toast from VWAV - an overnight soak in the liquid made some rock hard bread totally delicious.
  • Being inspired by - Start Up Saturday - this brilliant day deserves it's own post and I will endeavour to write on that does it justice
  • Reading - The red leather diary by Lily Koppel - nothing like real life glamour from 1920s New York
  • Listening - to Xfm - a definite bonus of the iPad app is not having to try and tune my radio. A crackle free listening experience.
Glorious bag made by Wendy
  • Being horribly impolite - to the lovely Wendy who made me the bag above as a birthday gift. I've totally failed to thank her and can't even find her Etsy shop to link to. The bag is beautifully made, in my favourite colours, features velvet ribbon an a beautiful glass bead. My various burlesque gloves and stockings will be living in it.
  • Wearing - layers; let's face it the weather just isn't lending itself to bikinis.
  • Trying out - geocaching (which amusing got autocorrected to 'ego caching'). Finding my first cache on a bright, sunny but cold day made me smile and has made me eager to find all 58 caches within 1.5 miles of my workplace.


Friday, 18 January 2013

What's in my lunch box this week? Filled up


Lunch box and book

So here are the results of my intention to make an effort. I actually struggled to fit it all on the lunchbox. A packet of Ryvita failed to make it into the photo.

Clockwise from top right:

  • Cashew and walnut cheese - I found a recipe I'd scribbled on a scrap of paper (this is why one should always cite references) which appeared to be for some kind of raw cashew cheese. Alas it was rather runny so I did what I do with my usual cashew cheese and baked it. So much for experimentation!
  • Shoved down the side of the box are some halved mincemeat muffins. These came out a little heavier than I expected, more like bread pudding, but I'm not complaining.
  • Speedy Kale and tofu delight from La Dolce Vegan - I love this recipe and was delighted to have the ingredients to hand.
  • Steamed cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts with Righteous Ginger and toasted sesame salad dressing. A colleague bought this dressing but didn't care for it and passed it to me. Almost as tasty as my home made version.
  • British Cox apple
  • To read - Mad like Tesla : underdog inventors and their relentless pursuit of clean energy by Tyler Hamilton.


Tuesday, 15 January 2013

How to get out of bed on a winter morning

Press snooze on radio alarm. Go back to sleep for a few minutes. When alarm goes off again throw back covers and prepare for cold air to meet skin. Fumble for glasses. Plunge feet into fluffy slippers and wrap heavy dressing gown around body. Stagger along landing and fumble for light switch. Reach foot of staircase. Greet cat. Feed cat. Put kettle to boil then brush teeth. Open front door to show cat outside world. Close door when cat refuses to venture out into cold.

Make pot of tea. Trip over cat. Retreat to bathroom. Pin up hair, put almond oil on face, and step under blissful heat of shower. Step out of shower and dive into towel before cold can reach you. Frantically dry skin and apply body lotion to keep cold out.

Huddled in robe and slippers pour out nicely brewed tea. Let cat out. Return to bedroom and layer on clothing. Apply squirt of perfume, and add necklace, watch, and bracelet. Once more in kitchen put porridge to cook in microwave while preparing lunchbox.

Feel warm glow as a result of hot tea and porridge. Tidy kitchen and put porridge bowl to soak. Let complaining cat back into house to claw at sofa. Wash hands and put contact lenses in. Apply make up. Make face at self in mirror. Look at time and panic.

Collect handbag, and other items required for day ahead. Put on extra socks and boots. Add long coat, hat, scarf and gloves. Check levels of cat food. Check keys are in bag. Gather up things, turn off lights and plunge onto cold of the outside world.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

What's in my lunchbox this week? Once again...


2013 really needs to be a year I get myself organised with my lunchbox. I've been a little erratic in what I put in over the past year and while its great to make the most of what's in the fridge or come up with a last minute idea, I want great food to look forward to ever day.

So to consume this week while reading The art of non-conformity:

Clockwise from top right

  • Carrot sticks
  • Oatcakes
  • Satsuma
  • Peanut butter (this is my back up food because you can do so much with it so I bought several jars over the festive period. I need to go back to buying the ones with no added sugar though)
  • Pasta with the last of the home grown peas from the freezer, vegan hot dog slices, olive oil, chilli flakes, salt and pepper.


Tuesday, 8 January 2013

That was 2012

At the start of every month I make a note of what I got up to during the previous month. It's been great looking at all the stuff I did during 2012. I'm really happy that I did so much, tried new things, and generally felt alive.

January - surprisingly little clear up required after NYE party. Started my third Burlesque course. Enjoyed sobriety January. Moved offices. Began to learn Javascript with Codecademy. Visited the V&A and was rather taken with many things including the netsuke. Cleared out lots of cupboards. Experimented with marinated TVP.

February - Went to exhibition of Mexican miracle paintings and amulets at Wellcome collection. Tried to do less and failed. Became a landlord. Thrilled car was washed while being MOT'd. Got stressed about keeping up with code lessons.

March - Visited Vx and bought vegan junk food. Followed up with vegan hot dog and ice cream in the park. Continued with Burlesque classes including some with tassels. Acquired a green corset. Acquired a green top hat. Cleared out lots more stuff. Had a wonderful time in Rome. Drove with my niece in the car for first time (while bellowing Grand Old Duke of York). Went to a humanist funeral. Wondered if adding a funeral songs playlist to iPod would be morbid. Continued with code lessons. Drove a TT and decided that I didn’t want a sports car.

April - made fresh pasta. Joined Burlesque class with a view to performing with the Red Hot Frilly Feathers. Made vegan aero tray bake and overloaded on sugar. Finally put a timer app on my camera. Got annoyed with a boring haircut and went home to take scissors to it. Bought shoes with ridiculous heels. Tried to keep up with daily quota of Bass, Burlesque, yoga, reading and code and realised that something had to give.

May - Enjoyed NKOTB at O2 more than expected largely due to family time. Bought more heels. Looked into meditation courses but didn’t actually get around to booking anything. Spoke on Social Media at an Executive Briefing. Had to replace my iPhone but thrilled to be able to make full use of technology again. Went to Bristol Vegan Fayre and consumed ridiculous amounts of food. Got my summer clothes out and realised that most of them were too big. Alterations pile grew to mammoth proportions. Did loads of burlesque.

June - Celebrated Jubilee by exhausting myself with auntie type duties and increasing my respect for parents and carers. Signed up for Instagram. Failed to understand ending of Alcatraz. Discovered the joy and stash busting that patchwork done on a sewing machine brings. Wore vintage to the japanese embassy. Saw Kokoro exhibition at Somerset House. Went to Okinawa day at Spitalfields market. Performed burlesque on stage for Jubliee celebrations (and got into local rag). Had an afternoon of drinking and planning with Carla and bought a green lace dress. Sewed like a demon for my first craft stand.

July - Did my first handmade and vintage stall. Set up my Etsy shop. Drove an open top Porsche. Danced under the stars. Saw the Rolling Stones 50 exhibition at Somerset House. Came up with an idea for a business venture with Carla and began to put it into action. Drove to Somerset with my sister and her family (and back by myself). Did the Hot Fuzz tour tour in Wells. Finished a Princess and the pea playset just in time for my niece’s birthday. Ate vegan cupcakes and then went to vegan drinks. Remembered how much I enjoy swimming. Got drenched in torrential rain and acquired a rain poncho.

August - ​Went to V festival and got hit on the head by numerous objects. Camped at Reading festival and avoided such things. Picnicked in the park. Did a tassels workshop. Had a couple of teeth filled. Participated in Great Big Stitched Postcard swap (although my swapping partner failed to reciprocate). Went a car boot sale and picked up a horde of goodies.

September - ​Went to two trade fayres and decided to make Inkdrops a reality. Had a night out with the girls and danced to Motley Crue in the kitchen while drinking things both nice and horrid. Enjoyed carnival, especially the tractors. Heard Terry Pratchett speak in Ely Cathedral. Went to the Munch exhibtion at the Tate Modern and was reminded of my 18 year old self. Went to an evening of Burlesque and whooped lots. Took time off work to sew. Looked after my niece and lived to tell the tale. Got the problem with my car tyre solved. Played the 'name a food beginning with' game at London Vegan Drinks.

October - ​Worked at getting Inkdrops set up and ready to rock (with my awesome business partner). Had my own stall at a craft fayre and glowed when I sold a few pieces. Performed burlesque in a cabaret night. Visited The Third Estate to buy vegan boots. Danced at a Vintage night and got inspired by the vintage catwalk show. Went to Mimi’s annual pumpkin carving party. Carved a pumpkin, won the crown for longest apple peel and ate vegan mac and cheese. Went to Alice Cooper’s halloween night of fear and rocked along to Alice, Duff McKagan’s Loaded and Ugly Kid Joe.

November - ​My sister got married in a surprise ceremony at Marylebone Town Hall followed by a pint in the pub and dinner at Pizza Express. Was ill all month with a bug I couldn’t shake. Launched Inkdrops boxes with Carla. Got a new chartership mentor. Went to Cookies and Scream and adored time wandering around Camden. Went to Hogswatch and demonstrated Burlesque. Got 3 girls to dance with me at the Miss/Mr/Other Discowrld contest. Went yule shopping with my sister. Spent a weekend just resting.

December - ​Drove a Mini (and felt that gears are in the wrong place). Went to Christmas without cruelty fayre and engaged in more comsupion of vegan goodness. Packed up first Inkdrops order and discovered that suppliers can be unreliable. Did three craft and vintage fayres. Went to the Helle’s Belles Ball with Carla, and decided to start our own troupe. Made progress with Chartership thanks to awesome and inspiring new mentor. Acquired a ukulele. Worked on tax return. Viewed a derelict property with a view to renovation. Served Sloe Gin fizz at New Year, using the Sloe gin I made in 2011.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Craft swap Sunday


Basket of chocolates

Several months back I agreed in an enthusiastic manner to take part in a craft swap with some of the lovely talented people I know. Based on some kind of cookie swap that some chums had read about (in a cosy murder novel - who says reading has to be high brow to be worthwhile?), the idea was to make enough of something for everyone else to be able to take one home. So I arrived with 8 little parcels of vegan sloe gin chocolate and left with 8 different things.

Going in a clockwise direction from top right:

  • Vegan cheesecake portion
  • Italian spice mix
  • Little chicken
  • Button magnets
  • Tea bag folded card
  • Lavender heart
  • Raspberry jam
  • Embellished jar with cutters, ginger and gingerbread recipe

I tried to keep the descriptions above as straightforward as possible because otherwise there was a real chance that there would be massive over use of words like 'darling', 'cute', 'delicious', and so on.


The lovely Mrs J hosted and the nine of us had an excellent gossip and drank vast quantities of tea before the swap commenced. It was such a nice way to spend the first Sunday afternoon in January. Not only did it offer something to look forward to post new year but proved to be so inspiring. I got marvellous ideas for things to make from chatting to the others and have found so many things I now want to have a go at making. I suspect this may be a good way to ease into and test out a home made Christmas.


I'm already planning for next year and wondering if I should make snowman piƱatas or mini gingerbread cottages.

Burlesque lady

And here's a close up of the saucy looking lady from my ginger jar - just to remind me not to take life too seriously or to always play by the rules.