The Simple Things

Sometimes, the simple things are best.

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Leaving my beloved kittens behind, I have returned to life in the Real World. It is a life in which I shall have little time to myself, to dedicate to my dreams, since I’m about to take up full-time employment. I’m working out how best to proceed with all of that, and organising my time efficiently. I’m hoping that the need to be efficient in my professional life will rub off into my personal life and I’ll suddenly become hyper-organised all round.

Really, I need to work out how not to be tired when I come home from work.

Thus it is that I’ve had little time or energy to do any actual baking. I’ve gone with a recipe which I know like the back of my hand, and which takes barely ten minutes, rolling the truffles not included.

Simply melt together 200g chocolate, 50g unsalted butter and 50ml double cream. When it’s melted and smooth, pour into a bowl and leave in the fridge to set. Roll into balls on a cocoa-powder-covered surface and return to the fridge to set some more. Eat, enjoy.

What to Say, or Not…

They say that to become a good writer, you must first be a good reader. By which it is meant that you must read. Anything and everything.

Of late, my reading has been sketchy, mostly being just what I find on the internet. I try not to buy many books at the moment for the very simple reason that my current home has not nearly enough space.

Happily, my last week at home home has meant that I’ve been surrounded by the library I collected as a teenager. I have had the time and comfort to curl up and reread the stories I’ve loved for years.

I knew someone once who couldn’t see the point of rereading books. Once you’ve read it, you know how it ends. No surprises, so what’s the point?

I find rereading books I’ve enjoyed to be like catching up with an old friend. Reminiscing about things we’ve enjoyed, learning new details. My reading this week has mostly been Georgette Heyers, her detective novels as well as some romances. It’s been interesting comparing her approach to each.

The romances are filled with sartorial details, the mysteries not so much. I was particularly looking out for this because apparently someone somewhere, according to my mother, once said that the important difference between Heyer and Jane Austen, despite them writing about the same period, is that Austen was considerably less interested in the clothing choices of her characters. The reason for this is that Austen was writing about her own period. Her readers would know about the clothes and fashions. Heyer, on the other hand, was writing at least a century later and needed to help her readers set the story. I need to reread Austen to check this theory.

However, having compared Heyer’s romances to her contemporary mysteries, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this was found to be true. She, and the readers, would know about the pre- and post-WWII fashions. Detailed descriptions unnecessary.

It’s made me think about my own writing, about my fantasy world, and the necessity of detailed descriptions. I’m not sure quite what I’ve decided about it just yet.

What do you think? Do you like knowing the details of clothes, down to the last trailing thread? Or do you skip them because honestly once you’ve read one description of a dress you’ve read them all?

Crazy Cat-Lady

Are you a dog-person, or a cat-person?

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Me, I’m firmly a cat-person. Not to say I don’t like dogs, but given the choice I wouldn’t have one as a pet. Too needy and demanding of time and attention.

Cats, though, are famous for their aloofness – not that you’d know that with the two I’m currently looking after! Much indulged since kitten-hood, they like affection and attention. And laps to sleep on. And yet still better than a dog, since they’re still both quite capable of looking after themselves, catching rabbits for midnight snacks.

This Christmas-cat I’ve stitched for the Advent calendar reminds me a little of one of the cats we had before these two. He was aptly, if not very originally, named Ginger, and he passed away almost two years ago, at the grand old age of about 19, which isn’t bad for a cat. We’d had him since he was yay-big *indicates quite tiny*, when his mother, having weaned him and decided she couldn’t cope with her litter, abandoned him in our garden (reports from those who remember – not me! – vary as to where in the garden), where he was discovered by my siblings, mewling pathetically.

And as an update on the Advent calendar: I’m reaching the end of my stash of Mouseloft kits and will need to count up my squares soon, to see if I have enough. I have a feeling I might be a couple short, but at any rate I’m considerably closer to the end of this project!

According to Delia: Squidgy Chocolate Cake

Sometimes, cake is needed, but the time and energy required for most cakes is a bit lacking. Sometimes, a key ingredient is lacking, and the effort involved in fetching more is just too much.

I’m currently kitten-sitting a couple of very needy kittens (although, at nearly two, they probably aren’t kittens any longer) for my parents – honestly, whoever said that all cats are supercilious hasn’t met these two, who have been greatly loved and indulged all their lives – and I’ve found myself in a kitchen without cake-flour.

Fortunately, Delia, in her How to Cook series, has a very quick, simple, no-flour-needed, recipe for chocolate cake. Never mind the 5-minute microwave mug cake, this one takes very little longer, when all the prep. time is included, and makes individual cakes.

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Ingredients:

3 eggs, separated

1 tbsp cocoa powder

1 tbsp sugar

How To:

Pre-heat the oven to 180C and lightly grease four ramekins. I skipped this bit, and they haven’t come out cleanly…

Briskly whisk the egg yolks and sugar for about a minute, then fold in the cocoa powder. Whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Fold one tablespoon into the yolk-mix, then fold in the rest.

Divide between the ramekins and pop them in the oven for about 12 minutes. I think mine were a little overdone – they should still wobble slightly.

Allow to cool, tip out of the ramekins and serve as preferred. Delia had a recipe for some prune-cream thing. I’m just eating them…

Home for Summer

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Everyone has their own way of determining when Summer has begun. As a child I was always told that when you can stand on seven daisies with one foot, then it’s Summer.

But really, for me, Summer has begun when the swallows and martins have returned to the nests they abandoned last October. When they are home, then it’s Summer.

Starting Simple

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Life’s too short to be add in extra complications, so I thought I’d keep it simple with this test of a flower.

My ultimate plan for this design is to stitch a string of them along some aida band to make an Alice band, kind of like a daisy-chain. But with different colour daisies.

For the time being, I might just make a few coasters. The wonderful thing about this flower is that it only takes a couple of hours to stitch.

I think I need to play around with the placing of the centre, though, and maybe the thickness of the stem, but otherwise, I’m quite happy with it.

What do you think?

Hearts and Minds

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They say that if you can find a way to make money by doing what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.

Well, until you work out how to make the money. And as long as you continue to love what you do.

Right now, I’m relearning Real Life lessons from Friends. Because there’s no better way to learn about the Real World than by watching a ’90s sit-com. Mostly, it’s the reminder that it’s all okay. It’ll all work out in the end.