Friday, 30 April 2010

May Day Mayday

"To sleep, perchance to dream." See, I'm going all Shakespearian on you.  Well, hardly, but that has truly been the motto for today. The Little Miss has been sleeping so badly, waking up multiple times a night, that on top of my other already existing sleep issues I am now starting to resemble a panda eyed zombie. And the only 'designer bags' ever to be found in this household are indeed under my eyes. But enough whining. Tomorrow we're heading for the May Day celebration at the local Waldorf Steiner School and Kindergarten where Little Miss will be going for a couple of hours a week next autumn. Here is also a nice article on the Guardian website about the Steiner schools. Will be posting more about that later. Today though, I was hoping to get some pattern drawing done. The Little Miss also loves drawing patterns. And on the patterns. Whoops. Never mind. Makes for some truly interesting designs, that does.

I'm still waiting for the 1950's dress pattern to arrive, and meanwhile I've been lucky enough to find somebody who is willing to draw me a copy of this Advance 1940's pattern. I doubt though that the size will fit me, since even though there is the ruching and quite a lot of ease in the bodice, I'm pretty sure I will have to do a full bust adjustment on it. And maybe a, ahem, full waist adjustment as well. Should probably do a toile first and not just jump in head first as is my unfortunate habit when doing my own clothing. But I just can't wait. Patience is a virtue I sorely lack.

So, two lovely patterns are on their way now. Fantastic. It's actually been a while since I've been sewing anything for myself. I believe it's been almost a year. So, seriously time to blow the dust off the sewing machine and get going. The first sewing machine I owned was 1980's Singer of my mother's, which I still love. It's a very sturdy machine and as I was sewing a lot in the 1990's I know from experience that there is no fabric that machine couldn't handle. It still works too, if you don't consider a screwdriver stuck in the tension assembly a hindrance. :)

Then about five years ago I decided to upgrade (or so I thought) and bought a shiny new Brother machine. Now, I have nothing against Brother as a brand in general, but the machine I ended up purchasing is just flimsy, flimsy, flimsy. It's just so plastic. It shakes. It shivers. It has let me down a countless of times. And so, the search for the perfect replacement of the Screwdriver Singer continues. About a year or so ago the Husband bought me a genuinely old Singer that undoubtedly has it's flaws but is certainly not plastic. This thing weighs a ton. Am still getting to grips with it, but so far it would seem like this one just might be The One. 

 See, no plastic here. None. And it came with a bunch of different feet and all sorts of other stuff that I am now trying to identify. But the point is, this machine was made for making the kind of garments I now want to make. Sure, a serger has it's place, but don't you just love the idea of sewing with a machine like this?
So, tomorrow is May Day which is a holiday here. Today we're going to the nearby Grandparents to enjoy some home made traditional mead and doughnuts. My contribution to today's sugarfest (you have no idea how much sugar there is in the mead), are these. 

Jammy Doughnut Muffins found at the lovely Baking Cakes Galore . As you can see, mine don't quite look like the originals. No surprises there, huh. But I think they more than make up for it in the taste department. The dough is quite different from what I'm used to dealing with and I think I might have left it a bit too soft since the jam decided to descend to the bottom. But you can't really see that until you're halfway through the muffin anyway and I'm counting on the taste having wooed the folks by then. They were such a sweet, jammy treat when warm that I am sure they will be appreciated even after having cooled down.

And yes, I hear you. Mead? What is that? Is she going all Shakespearian on us again? Well, no, not really. What we're talking about is a traditional May Day drink around here. And though it might have been quite a potent alcoholic beverage in the time of Taliesin, the modern version is completely non-alcoholic and therefore safe for children and pregnant women alike. Here is the Grandmother's tried and tested way of making it.

Take half a kilo (or around 1 pound) of fine, white sugar and the same amount of brown sugar. Pour in a big, plastic bucket. Then take around 0.2 cup of treacle syrup and pour on top of the sugar. Peel two lemons. Be careful to remove all of the white 'rim' both from the peel and from the top of the actual lemon. If any of the white part ends up in the drink, it will add a bitter taste. Add the peel and chopped up lemons on the sugar mixture. Boil about 8 liters of water and pour in the bucket. Let cool until it reaches a hand-temperature, and drop in about a pea-sized nugget of live yeast. Or even slightly less than that. Keep in a room temperature for 7-8 hours. Sieve and bottle. Add some raisins in each bottle and store in the fridge or other cool place for two to three days or until the raisins have risen to the top. That means the mead is ready to drink. It doesn't keep well for long though, around day 5 or 6 it will start developing a yeasty smell and taste, which is a sign for you that it is starting to get 'overcooked'. This is a really sweet yet, thanks to the lemons, very refreshing drink that is best served cold. Goes fantastically with warm doughnuts.

As you can see, the timeline on this post is, ahem, slightly strange. I have been unable to upload pictures for days thanks to some mishap in the Blogger system which they said was ' affecting a small subset of users' and of course I just had to be one of those said users. I hope they've now gotten this annoying problem fixed for good.

Ah well, as Emily Dickinson said: 
        " A little madness in the spring is wholesome even for a queen." 


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