Saturday, 27 November 2010

Weird Cakes and Crazy Contortions

Cold! Cooooold!!!! I just arrived home and am trying to warm myself up on the sofa, curled under my lovely, fluffy, green wool blanket. The wind is coming in from Siberia, no, really, it is, and that combined with the -23C ( -9.5F ) temperature does not for a very welcoming weather make. Sure, it's very pretty out there for the few moments the sun is up, but damn, this is not the normal weather for this time of the year. Not even here. I just count myself lucky that I get to cuddle up in here surrounded by candlelight, a good book waiting to be opened on the table and some good, dry red breathing in the kitchen. 

And no kids. Yeah, you read right. No kids. And for the past 24 hours I've had two. I know, I know, now all of you with more than one kid of your own are shaking your head and tsktskking to yourself, but let me explain. Last night we had my cousin's almost ten years old Daughter for a sleepover, and while she is, I think, a very lovely, affectionate girl, she also comes with a host of issues which tend to make her, well, a handful. And I can only bow down to those parents of children with 'special needs' who just keep on going, keep on loving and doing the best they can. I am exhausted after only 24 hours. Granted, I am not healthy, but still. All I can say is, respect. 

So, now I haven't got a single kid here. How come? Well, my Daughter is staying over at her Grandparents, which is always fun for her, and tonight she was going to do some baking with her Grandfather... And let me tell you, this must be the only occasion and the only thing my Father bakes. And they make these...

...for which I don't think there is even a word in English. It's fish and lard, yeah, lard, baked into a crust of rye. Supposedly delicious, some say. And it's probably already obvious that it's not exactly one of my favourites. I've never made it and can't remember the last time I ate it. And I don't intend to, either. Should you want to make and taste it, however, the BBC actually has a recipe in English here. But, regardless of what they actually bake, they both love these baking sessions and frankly speaking I doubt if the end result is what matters here...

I had been meaning to take my Daughter and our sleepover girly out to play this morning, but the weather really thought otherwise, and seeing that I really had to come up with something for them to do if I wanted to have a snowflakes chance in hell of keeping the house in one piece 'till the afternoon, so foolish as I am, I suggested we bake a cake. My oh my. By the time I realised my mistake it was obviously way too late so I decided to just throw reason out of the window ( not exactly first time, that one... ) and just go with the flow. And what the flow brought us was this. The wondrous result of two pairs of hands dipping into all sorts of jars and bags and '' Can we put this in?'' being answered all too many times with '' Yeah, why not. Just dump it in.''

A heart shaped sort-of chocolate cake with pink cream cheese topping and four birthday candles. Why? Because the girls saw the candles in the cupboard and decided candles were in order. So birthday candles it was. And surprisingly enough the cake tasted rather nice, all chocolatey and squidgy, despite really having been, literally, thrown together from whatever happened to be lurking in the kitchen cupboard. So forgive me if I won't post a recipe here but it was indeed tasty, in a kiddy kind of way, and what's most important, the girls were mightily proud of their cake.

Besides the cold, weird chocolate cakes and even weirder traditional fishythingies I've been thinking a lot lately about genes. Well, not in the research sense of the word, but rather as how and what we transfer on to our kids. You see, my Daughter is a very beautiful child. And she is going to be a very beautiful woman some day, but she looks very little like me. Most of her looks she's inherited from her paternal Grandmother, and fine by me that is, she is and was a beautiful woman, but this my Daughter not looking all that much like me has lead to some mightily hilarious incidents. While people, even complete strangers, tend to comment on how beautiful she is, they almost invariably also tend to continue with ''...but she hardly looks like you at all!'' Yeah. Right. And after that they, depending on the level of brain action on the speakers part, either blush bright red or continue completely oblivious to what it was they just blurted out. Frankly, I have always found this hilarious, since I know fully what they mean. 

And with her growing older, getting nearer to the age of maybe starting a hobby, I have thought a lot about whether I tend to push her into a certain direction, or whether it is just that she somehow naturally leans towards the same things I like? Or is that due to what she's been exposed to? Does she prefer ballet over football because I do? Does she like gymnastics because I, unwittingly, tend to encourage her in that direction? I don't know, but I do know that she also shows a definite talent in those areas. She is naturally very athletic and flexible and loves music and dancing. But whether or not I want her to choose that path is an entirely different matter altogether. Let me show you something here. This is Rhythmic Sports Gymnastics. My thing...

Beautiful, huh...

And slightly sick too if I may say so myself...

You see, I do hold very fond memories of my time as a gymnast, but I think some of my biggest issues, bodywise, and yeah, as far as my previous and still somewhat existing attitude towards what could be considered 'human weakness' go, stem from that same time. What it is is a discipline I have not seen much elsewhere. Ballet yes, but other than that, no. We are talking about training schedules and weight regimes, not to mention the mentality building so severe that without it I would now be even quite a bit taller than I am and would have started puberty years earlier than I did. Not good. So not good.

 Esthetically, I still love it... but I am more aware now than I think I ever was about the truly dark side of this 'sport' as well, of what it takes to get there...

Been there, done that.

Yes, I remember.

I was lucky in not having problems staying thin, so while many, many others suffered from various eating disorders, I pretty much threw the prescribed diets out of the window. But that did not keep me from internalising the dogma of thin equaling good, and it has taken me decades to grow out of it. And to give myself a break from the ' you'll stop when you faint' attitude. But despite all that, there are lessons learned during those tough years that I can still say I am happy I got to learn. That I got to know that in the end, you can take much more than you thought you could. And if you don't try, you will never find out just how much you can take. I learned that I am strong, both physically and mentally, and knowing this has taken me through many a sticky situation and time in my life. I also learned that I have an innate sense of 'enough is enough' as was proven time and again when my Trainer just simply pushed me too far and received a ball, clubs or whatever happened to be in my hands thrown at her as I stormed out of the training hall. Sure, the next day I would be back as any a good little gymnast but never did I let her make me into a tired, crying wreck. Which I have, unfortunately, seen done as well and of which I fear she was not entirely above of.

So while I do appreciate the beauty, and the discipline to a certain degree, I do wish my Daughter never decides to want to become a competitive gymnast. Or a ballerina. Both, she will be allowed to try but I can only keep my fingers crossed and hope that she decides to choose to continue on something less punishing, like my younger Sister did by changing from gymnastics to competitive show dance. Dance, music, movement - good. Doing it until you literally can no longer move or think - bad. 

So, I don't know. Am I doing her a disfavor by even introducing her to these things? But how could I just shut her out of what is, still, such a huge part of my life? Sigh. Parenting. Lovely it is but I do guess no-one ever said it was going to be easy.

Now, however, that I think I have thoroughly been warmed by both my blankie and my red, I think I am going to cut myself a piece of some rather freakish choccy cake, grab my book and just sink deeper into my oh so soft sofa. No trainer here to admonish me now. No sound in my head telling me to jump higher, run faster, eat less and just 'bloody wrap that leg around your head now already'. And indeed, nobody here to slap my stomach for it being too 'bulging' either...


And the tunes for tonight come here...

Sunday, 21 November 2010


Green. The spring leaf green of childhood. The deep green of being an adult. Being 'green'. Living green. Recently I have found myself being pulled towards all things green, and a friend of mine said while patting my new green, fluffy woollen blanket that green is the color of the heart chakra. Well now, I don't know about chakras, but green somehow just feels right to me now.  As for living green, I could certainly do more. Who couldn't. I could buy organic. Recycle more. Not love driving my car as much as I do. Ok, that last one would be a pretty tough deal, but recycling, yeah, that I could do.

And what indeed is vintage but recycling. Yesterday I went to the Vintage Fair, and was hugely disappointed as far as the wares go. Or maybe I've just been abroad too much, but come on now! Overpriced, bad quality, very little variety. And yeah, ok so maybe I'm being a snob again but Vienna Naschmarkt, anyone? Any little weekend morning street market in any southern European country?? Les Puces in Paris??? I admit. I've been spoiled. But what was bugging me the most is that almost none of the stuff on offer was anything but your basic stuff from any little town flea-market, only priced about thrice the amount. Bahhumbug. I found exactly one dress I might have considered had it been priced reasonably, a 1940's dress along these lines...

But not only was it not priced correctly, 
it was also of very bad quality 
...heeohoy, I'll make one myself!

And that in mind I went scouring the aisles again looking for vintage patterns. Nothing! Shame! By now decidedly disappointed I started to go through the accessories. Bags. Now. I have more than enough vintage evening purses to last a lifetime, most of which I've had for years and will only add another one if I find something truly spectacular. Not going to happen here. Jewellery. Well, costume jewelery I can not wear, unless I wish to bloat to twice my size with rather fetching red rashes. Belts, no luck. Gloves, dismal. Hats, even worse. Hatpins, I found exactly three, all of them of very, very boring !!! By now you surely get the picture...

This, however, is 
like my trusted stand-by
evening bag bought
a decade ago, born 
half a century ago
and still having life in it for another.

If, however, the wares on offer were nothing to write home about, at least I spent some lovely time just people watching. Seemed to me that the 1950's are the decade here. Saw some really lovely ladies, especially one woman quite possibly in her fifties wearing a lovely secretarey pencil skirt with a fantastic 50's bad gal angora sweater, ankle boots and all. And the best thing about her was the way she was carrying herself, as if she was wearing what she wears every single day anyway. You see, that I think is the problem with full-on vintage dressing, the wearer disappears behind the clothes. The clothes start wearing you. And then everyone just gets uncomfortable.


Later on, in the bus to the centre I came across these two young people. I am saying young people as in maybe ten, fifteen years younger than me. A girl and a boy, I would say, though obviously they were young adults, but there was something very 'girl and a boy' about them. The girl was very pretty in a young, fresh-faced kind of way. Reddish brown short curls peeking from underneath a hand knitted deep green beret. Glasses, cutest dimples and an unlined,  pale skin. The boy was not from around here, which was obvious not only by his looks but by their use of english. American, he was, I realised before tuning out of their conversation as it became far too personal for my ears. Seeing them I could not help since they were sitting right there opposite me, but the least I could do was to try and give them an illusion of privacy by looking out of the window since I instantly recognised what was going on. They had spent the night, the weekend, the week, who knows, together, and now the boy was leaving. They were obviously in love and also obviously terrified. 

He kept taking her hand and kissing it. She kept leaning her head on his shoulder. Soon they were whispering. And I felt my heart go out for them. Who knows, maybe they will live happily ever after. A house, a car and two point five children... Or not. But even if they will not live together ever after, they will live. Very few people actually die from a broken heart. This I would like to tell them. Be brave. Live so you don't have to be sorry for the things you didn't do. But of course I don't, I just keep staring out of the window pretending I'm not even there. Then, an old woman gets on the bus, sits next to me, right in front of the boy. I see her lips purse into a tight line. See the disapproving way she keeps glancing at them. And I remember thinking to myself that I hope never in this life to become that, bitter. Life might not have shown me or show me now the peachiest of sides but why should I grudge other people their happiness? Especially since I know that there are very few of us who can walk through this life without getting punched a little here and a little more there. Ending up more on the bruised, autumn shade of green. So all the best for you two, lovebirds. May life be kind to you.

I didn't use to be like this, all well-wishing-dotty-cookie. Now don't get me wrong, I'm still no Buddha. I scream, I shout. When I get tired and upset I can be terribly mean to the people I love. Sometimes I rave against the 'injustice of it all'. And what what life has also made me is even less tolerant than before of ignorant, intentiously rude and mean people. And of bullshit, if you will pardon my french here. Life is too short. To be bitter or to listen to bullshit. Period.

Now, you better listen, kids,
no bullshit, you hear me?

I'm on my way home now. Sitting glamorously in an airport lobby with a glass of bubbly in my hand... Did you actually buy that for a second there? No? Thought so. But I am actually on my way home now, though instead of flying I'm taking an eleven hour trip by train, and instead of being glamorously dressed up in wiggly skirts and pin-up heels, I'm wearing a grey knitted woollen dress with an enormously long stripy woollen scarf around my neck. Come on, it's cold with a capital C out there. And heels? Yeah, sure, if you like to imagine my comfortable boots with  woolly knitted legwarmers as something they most certainly are not.  And my hair is in plaids. Glamorous, my middle name....But I am wearing the stiletto lipstick, does that count?

Winter fashion circa 1952
Not quite me...

That's more like it.
Though I'm not entirely sure
what that slightly creepy
poodle is doing there...

And love these hats.
Can see myself wearing one
pulled down over my ears.
Not the yellow one though, the 
resemblance to the Big Bird might
be a tad too close for comfort.

But honestly, as I was walking to the railway station, I saw this really fashionable young woman walking on the other side of the street. She was wearing a short, swingy camel coat in a sort of 1960's  style and a pair of rather swanky high heel ankle booties. Her hair was loooong and dark and glossy. And she looked like she was cold as hell. We're talking below zero here. With a wind freezing enough to make your nose shrivel and fall off. And she was wearing no pants, no skirt or dress that I could discern though there might have been a minuscule one hiding there under the coat. All you could see were miles of skin and bones leg clad in a thin veil of pantyhose. That poor girl did not even had enough padding under her own skin to keep her warm! And no hat! No gloves! Just a teeny tiny handbag. So I ask you, comfort or glamour? Freezing your ass off or looking like Puffa the Quilted Penguin? Well, me, I go for the penguin look, only add some stripy mittens and a fluffy grandma knitted hat as well. But each to their own. Certainly this young lady was looking very nice in her own way, but I wouldn't exactly call it sensible. But then again, I'm quite sure sensible was not the effect she was going for anyway...

That there is a genuine 1960's
swing coat, and I get it, 
it's supposed to be worn like this,
with bare or practically bare 
legs but honey, in that case
you're living in the wrong country.

And this dreadfully fashionable young lady would probably also never end up in the kind of stylistic ditch I've been the past couple of days. A word to the wise, do not color your hair using supermarket hair coloring especially if your hair is of a lighter than light shade of pale blond. You will end up with a weird color. If you're lucky you will end up with a nice shade of kitty pee. If not, a mop of green with some strategic bluish grey stripes shall be yours. I was not lucky. It's been a long, long time since I've tried to change my haircolor, and will not be doing it again any time soon. Thanks to some hair saving moves I am now pretty much back to my original blond color, but lovely as green is, both as a color and as a metaphor, flattering as a hair color it is not.

So, keep green, dears, only keep it out of  your hair. 

Friday, 19 November 2010

Rocking Chair Party Animal in A Ghost House

Yesterday morning I got up at 3 a.m. Total madness. Even with my plane leaving at six it was still way, way too early, and way, way too dark and cold to be up and about. And it was still way, way too cold almost four hours later sitting in the front of the airplane, the door for some mysterious reason open to let the freezing wind in and absolutely no heating on whatsoever. Me, I was by that time practically asleep anyway, but the old dears sitting next to me were practically turning blue. When somebody finally asked the stewardess, who, by the way, was also turning a fetching shade of purple, what the hell was going on she explained that the plane was being de-iced and therefore the engines could not be started to heat the cabin. Nice. I mean yeah, I wouldn't want to fly on a plane with frozen wings but I also don't think deepfreezing the passengers does much good for the airline publicity.

Gone are the golden days
of air travel...

Later yesterday afternoon, having listened to several hours of both pretentious, just-doing-this-because-it-sounds-brilliant sort of academic garbage and some absolutely brilliant pieces of research, I felt the need for some fresh air and during a coffee break decided to take a walk around the area surrounding the compound. And what did I find? My oh my. A little shop called the Vaudeville Boutique.

And this, of course, is the
legendary wiggle skirt.
Had one.
Lost it.
Want a new one.
They have it...

And speaking of occasions, last night I was supposed to be partying my head off with various academics and other strange creatures, but instead found myself sitting in a rocking chair in an empty one hundred years old wooden house by a lake before the evening had even turned into double digits. There were going to be other people arriving later, once they're done getting all wild and woolly eyed , but right then and there it was just me and the ghostlies in the candlelight. Yeah, I travel with a candle in a glass jar. Of course I do. Who doesn't? Adds instant atmosphere to the skankiest of hotel rooms. Just light the candle, turn off the lights and voila, the dirty, cigarrette smoke stained ceiling just disappeared. And somehow the left-over-from-the-80's furniture suddenly became mysteriously shadowy and alluring...

Not that this place would need any help from candles. Its perfectly old, shadowy and rickety all on its own. My Mother said as I was showing her pictures of this place that there are bound to be ghosts. Fine by me. Room for everyone. But seriously, this place is lovely...

The desk in my room with a 
nice cup of piping hot 

Last night I heard plenty of heavy
footsteps on the stairs...
...unfortunately it was just my 
wild and woolly eyed comrades trying
to climb the stairs to their bedroom upstairs.

This evening as I was coming back from a day of academia again, I decided to try the bus system and as the bus does not come all the way to the villa I had to walk quite a while to reach it...

...and now this warmblooded woman is taking herself to a well-earned, steaming hot bubble bath. Tomorrow shall be a day of vintage finds!

Monday, 15 November 2010

Winter Song

This morning the sun was shining as I was taking my Daughter to the kindergarten. And what's the fuss, I hear you ask. Well, I can not remember when was the last time that I actually saw the sun. Weird, huh. And even today the sun was there only for the briefest of periods before disappearing back under the horizon. But it was there. And with the nipping weather, the light on top of the small mounts surrounding our little town was straight from a Christmas storybook. 

From my bedroom window. 
The sun was already gone.
In just a moment, it will be dark.

Today has been a seriously tiring day. And yet, I feel much more light and in a weird way even sort of calmer now than I did last week. Is it getting used to this? Settling yourself to if not grinning then at least bearing it? Making peace with your battle? I don't know. But I do know better than to 'count my chickens before they're hatched' so I'll just enjoy the calm of today since tomorrow morning I might wake up in the middle of a thunderstorm.

As long as there's breath in me.

Right now I am sitting by my Daughter's bed, she's a fitful sleeper and wanted her Mommy. The only light here are the candles and this cold glow of my computer. The only real sound the sound she makes tossing and turning in her dreams. This morning she said she had been dreaming of fairies that had spread stars on the ground, and brought her butterflies. And all this in the middle of the usual hassle of getting ready to go in the morning. I think it might have been somewhere between the winter boots and the fleece suit. Fairies. I had to smile.

By Warwick Goble
Who's got plenty of other cute faery paintings...

Yeah, fairies are not strangers in this household. I used to actually do serious ( well, that's debatable, naturally ) academic study about fairies. Yeah. Right. Well, poetry about fairies to be more specific. And to be even more specific, poetry written about fairies in the late 18th century Scotland. Wehey. At least  it warranted me some rather nice 'study' trips to the Highlands where I pretty much just roamed around just soaking in the nature and, what else, reading. Didn't see any fairies, though...but I am glad if my Daughter still does. I once said to a certain somebody that the best way to kill an innocent belief into any even slightly esoteric thingybobby is to start doing academic study on it. Trust me, its the best way for that. But look at this, doesn't it send your imagination flying...

That's Eilean Donan, near Isle of Skye which I
still think is one of the most beautiful
places on earth.

I am not a mad fan of crowds. So while I technically would like to see the throngs of Calcutta or the samba carnival in Rio, they would both quite likely drive me straight up the wall. I can deal with crowds, of course, have had to, but I prefer if not solitude then certainly having more space to breathe. Cities, fine, as long as I know I will eventually have the chance to flee them. Unfortunately I find cities also a sort of unpleasant necessity when it comes to work and study, but I breathe easier far away from the 'madding crowd'. And then off to another end of Europe, Nordkapp or North Cape. The location of the northernmost city in the world.

Plenty of breathing space there as well. 
Pure love.

My Sister is, at this very moment, in Berlin, visiting a friend of hers. Talk about big cities. And despite my undying fascination with all these, yes, I guess desolate would be one way of putting it, places, I think my next trip will most likely also be to Berlin. It's been years since I've been there, and for some reason I keep finding myself checking the flight prices. Or else Italy. Florence. Better start packing my suitcases....

Which I should be doing anyway since I am flying 'down south' on Friday anyway. A weekend seminar on the way. Should be nice, and I will be staying in this hundred years old wooden villa by a lake, so actually, no matter what the seminar turns out to be like, that enough should make the trip worthwhile for such a fan of old, decrepit wooden houses as myself. 

Today I have not felt like talking to anyone. Seeing anyone. Just getting by. And while I was just randomly listening to music while doing this 'getting by' I stumbled upon this song by previously completely unknown to me singers Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson. And now I feel like it would make a perfect ending for this wintery post with no baking or any other lighthearted frippery in it. So here it is, Winter Song, just click on it below.

Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Chocolate Cloudberry Cake

It's Father's Day here today. We were spending it at my parents, and I offered to make a cake, the first real cake I've done in months. I was a bit apprehensive that my sugar pastes might have dried up, and had to do some digging around in my kitchen cupboards to find my tools, but in the end the pastes hadn't dried too much and only some of the tools had mysteriously disappeared during the move ( I think moving boxes must eat stuff, there's simply no other way to explain this...) so we had a luscious chocolatey cake with our lunch. Again, I started with a basic sponge cake base cut in three layers. Moistened the layers with diluted orange juice. Then I spread some whipped cream on two of the layer pieces, and added  Arctic Cloudberries on top of the cream. 

These berries have a very distinct flavor and I doubt they are available as such outside the Nordic countries, but it seems that jam made out of these berries is available elsewhere as well, check here for example. Should you be using the berries as such however, depending on your required level of sweetness, add sugar on top of the berries as needed. 

I wanted to cover the cake with chocolate ganache but what do you know, forgot to buy the double cream needed. Head like a sieve I have these days. So, instead of the ganache I decided to do a sort of improvised chocolate buttercream. First I whipped around 200 grams of room temperature butter with my kitchen mixer until soft and smooth. Then I added about the same amount of mascarpone cheese and did some more mixing with the machine. By the way, the machine had sort of broken somewhere between summer and now, but no worries, I stuck a screwdriver in a strategic place and lo and behold, a working kitchen mixer! Next, 500grams of confectioners sugar, and a teaspoon of bourbon vanilla. Mix. Add about 50 grams of dark cocoa powder and again mix until of smooth consistency and color. I also added some melted and cooled dark chocolate, around 100 grams, just to make the topping even more delicious and chocolatey. 

Spread the topping generously on top, intentionally sort of higgedly piggedly, and placed the sugar flowers and leaves in place. Enjoy.

So, today was the day of Fathers. I have always been a sort of Daddy's Girl, and probably always will be. Having a child myself has given me a whole new relationship with my Mother, but it is my Father that I have always felt was more like me and somehow just got what I was about. Both during my seriously troubled teenage years and now that things have at least in that respect toned down considerably. But it was also my Father with whom I had the biggest fights and whom I have many times though of as being completely impossible, infuriating and bull-headed as hell. And still, these days I know that as long as there's breath left in him he will always be there for both me and my Daughter.

I also think I have the weirdest, most wonderful Brother on the planet. Sure, he is known to have an acidic tongue, and he's not squemish in the least about unleashing this verbal hellfire on pretty much anyone who happens to rub him the wrong way. Not an easy person, not by a longshot. And while he might at times get carried away from us by his own ghosts, when he is there, you'd be hard pressed to find a more loyal, helpful and honest person. Oh, and he's also into gym and nutrition, big time. Obsession would be too mild a word here... 

So, since I am aware that my diet these days is probably lacking in every single nutrient there is, and knowing that as soon as I would mention this to my Brother he would be more than willing to make me a whole new eating regime, that's exactly what I did. And now my head is swimming with a completely alien terminology and my Brother fully believes that while I may not be exactly cured by all this I should at least start feeling way better as soon as I get this new regime up and running. Mind you, a diet as in weight loss this is not, just making sure that I get enough everything that I need. Though I must admit that a long, long time ago, when I was actually wanting to lose weight and decided, for the second and the last time in my life to give a diet a go, the diet my Brother fashioned for me made me lose almost 20 kgs ( or 44 lbs ). And the weight did not come back until the pregnancy, so I am certainly willing to give his regime, albeit a wholly different one this time, a go.

Which brings me back to baking. As my Brother has been helping me A LOT lately with all sorts of things, both material and mental, I have actually come up with a pastry that I am going to make for him as a way of thanks. It will have a sweet pie base, vanilla custard on the bottom, cheesecake filling and it will be covered with the same chocolate buttercream topping I improvised for today. Damn, I just hope he won't be reading this...

But now, sleep tight and don't let the bedbugs bite. I am going to steel myself and tackle the frightening array of unopened moving boxes in the attic with high hopes of finding one marked ''Christmas''. Enough with the darkness, bring on the holly. 

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Jam Tarts and Jummy Dresses

Goodness gracious I was in a dark mood yesterday! But that's how it goes, and the days that just keep getting darker and darker ( yeah, we're heading for the period of the year when the sun never rises above the horizon here ) or the fact that less than pleasant things just seem to be popping out of the woodwork at a really rather alarming rate) , but despite all that, today ended up being a, well, a rather pleasant day in it's perfectly normal and dull everydayness.  

One would be forgiven thinking that if you'd be feeling kind of, well, shitty physically, the last thing you'd want to be doing is baking. Ok, so maybe not the last thing but that it wouldn't rate too high on a list of things-to-do-right-now. Perhaps so. But seeing as my Sister and my Mother we're both coming for a cuppa, I just wanted to make something easy. And sweet. And did I already say easy? So, Jam Tarts.  English Jam Tarts. To go with the cuppa, you see...

So first the dough. As my Mother said after tasting these, it is indeed the most basic sweet pie dough imaginable. This one by Joy of Baking would work out fine. If you check that site you can see that mine look quite different, and one of the reasons for that is that I used sort of miniature pie ramekins and not a muffin pan. One of the other reasons is certainly the fact that as always, I was again highly unorthodox in my baking. Mixed together all the jams I could find from the fridge. Sort of threw in a seemingly nice amount of butter. You know the deal. And they came out mouthwateringly sweet and jammy. And since I really don't do light, I just had to see how they would taste with a bit of whippy on top...

You can tell how it tasted, can't you...

Lovely. And it's also lovely to have my baking groove back, since tonight I am supposed to make a Father's Day cake for tomorrow. It is already filled and waiting to be decorated in the fridge. I am thinking chocolate ganache. I am thinking sugar features. But we'll see, I'll post pictures when it's done.

And on to another topic. It's the Christmas Party Season coming on. And as I've mentioned before,  I have somewhat shrunk and was therefore thinking about getting myself a nice new dress, one of those dresses that you can just slink into and feel fantastic and comfortable at the same time. One that does not require a girdle or some such contraption. I value my ability to breath too much...

I mean, I do own a few of that sort of undergarments ( well, obviously not quite like the one above ) but damn if they're anything but sheer torture. Ok, so the ones I am talking about might look nice but who on earth wants to have steel sticking to your bits for hours when you're supposed to be enjoying yourself? Not me that's for sure. And the Spanx sort of thingys? Aahhhh, well now, I have tried one of those contraptions on once, and was getting mightily sweaty and pissed off before I had even managed to get that thing above my hips. No no no no no. And yet I do like a sort of vintagey figure on my dresses. I mean just look at this...

Yeah, love her.

And while I technically also love the sort of 1950's figure with the nipped in waist and acres of hem...

...I am also aware that dresses of this shape always need some fixing up to fit me. Sooo, anyhow, I was thinking of something along these lines...

This one is by Heyday.

Yeah, I know. It would seem that this too would require some hard working underwear, but really, no. For some reason the 1940's just works for me. I actually did make one almost exactly like this last summer during my blogging hiatus, and I still love it. Only it now needs to be taken in and is of a too summery material. Not sure of the poufy sleeves though, as I have some shoulders all of my own, so might tone that down a bit. And just so that you know, I did think of just buying a dress and being done with it. Not going to happen. Everything that seems to be available is either geared towards making the wearer the centerpiece, as in the Christmas Tree, just plain ugly or hideously expensive. Or all three at the same time. So, off to the fabric store on Monday it is....or not, since I just remembered I have some rather unpleasant business on Monday, but Tuesday then...

Which brings me to shoes. Well, for once a perfectly lighthearted post amidst all this gloomy existential musing. Nice! Now, I am strange with shoes. No, not that kind of strange. Strange as in for example I own a pair of black, high heeled, knee length leather boots bought fifteen years ago that I still wear. The zippers have been replaced a couple of times, they've been rehealed and sewn back together, and I fully expect to keep them for the next fifteen years. This kind of strange. I very rarely find the kind of shoes I both like and can wear so I tend to stick with the ones I have. Sorry, market economy... Oh, and the 'can wear' being due to the fact that my feet are rather nicely deformed thanks to all those hours of en pointe.

I still think dancing en pointe is one of the most beautiful 
things there is to watch but 
kind to your poor feet it is not.

Now where was I? Kind of got distracted by thinking about dancing...yeah, shoes. Heels, probably. Never mind the fact that in serious heels I tower over practically all of the females and most males as well, I have never let it stop me. I like wearing my heels. Only sometimes, they're simply just not practical. Enter ballerina flats. Which I love dearly as well but I think that this dress is screaming for heels. Sooooo. Shoes sorted. I am actually kind of finding this amusing, since I am certainly normally so not a very fashiony sort of person. Far from it. I just wear what I feel like wearing. If it is grandad shirts with the plainest jeans on planet, then that's what it is. On the other hand if it is stockings instead of pantyhose, then so be it. And by the way, I think pantyhose is a devil's creation, second possibly only to Spanx and corsets...

But now it's getting to be time to wrap this up. Still going to do some stocking searching, cuban heel or should I go for the french? Tough, tough decisions ahead...

I have actually found writing this post both exhilarating and weirdly liberating. Sometimes, when life gets to be just too dark and full of things that shouldn't really be happening at all, it's good to be all frivolous and superficial for a while. It doesn't mean that you're running away and hiding from your difficulties, it's just a bit of healthy escapism. 

Works for me.