Monday, 26 March 2012

Visible Monday - sunshine!

I went to Marks and Spencer last week. I had gone into the store to buy some sensible, warm, grey leggings but when I got through the doors I saw that there was a sale on. No surprise there, sales seem to be a constant. Whether this was a late winter sale or an early spring one I know not, but there was a small feeding frenzy going on around the racks, so I went over to have a look. This fully lined and nicely tailored dress was reduced to £25.
So I bought it!

March in England, yet here I am sitting in a deckchair soaking up the sun!
But what pasty-looking pins, my skin hasn't seen the sunlight since last November.

Yellow is a spring colour. This necklace came from 'Beluga', the amber shop in St Petersburg, Russia, and was a present from one of my daughters.

Only last week it was cold enough in the mornings to welcome wearing  a winter coat. This one is made by Nicole Farhi and has a cosy false fur trim.

By mid-morning when the sun had burnt away the mist it was time to shed the coat.

I am constantly amazed at the 'thrifting' skills of American bloggers who seem to dress wonderfully at very little expense. It is something that I haven't done, but my two grown up daughters keep me well supplied with their cast-offs, and some of these have become my favourite items of clothing.
This is what I was wearing underneath my winter coat.

Mulberry linen blouse,  hand me down from a friend.
Laura Ashley chenille jumper, bought many moons ago.
Hand made brooch, present from the maker.
Hobbs leather belt.
Silk skirt, hand me down from a daughter.
Clarks boots.

This sheer silk skirt with it's cotton lining is my absolute favourite and I wear it all year round.
It is made by Just In Case - what a great name!

Shaped leather belt from Hobbs.

The enamel and beadwork flower brooch was made by my friend Janet and given to me as a present.

Janet Haigh Her Work

In the summertime I wear my favourite skirt with a tee-shirt.
No wonder it's almost worn out!

For Patti's Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Ceramic Sunday - a cup of tea (and cake!)

This pink lustre tea cup and saucer is an old piece that has managed to survive intact for many years. The pattern is wearing thin, but it is a pleasure to use. I had a cup of green tea to accompany a delicious slice of cake that was made by a friend.
The recipe was in last Sunday's 'Observer' magazine, in a piece from Claudia Roden's new book, 'The Food of Spain'. Mindful of my current low tolerance to fat, Judith had made this cake for when we visited last Friday. It is absolutely delicious! We ate two slices apiece, and when we got up to leave Judith wrapped a sizeable amount of the remaining cake for me to take home. 
Now that's what I call friendship!  

Almond cake, serves 10.

250g blanched almonds, finely ground. (Or do what Judith did, sensible woman, and use ready ground almonds!)
6 eggs, separated
250g caster sugar
zest of an orange
zest of a lemon
4 drops almond extract

Beat the egg yolks and sugar to a pale cream, then add zest, extract and ground almonds and mix well.
In clean bowl whisk egg whites until stiff and fold into the almond mixture. (Rather a thick mixture so needs folding in quite well.)
Grease a 28cm diameter spring-form cake tin  and dust with flour, pour in the mixture and cook for 40 minutes at gas mark 4 (180C)
Leave to cool in the tin before turning out.

The relics of the apostle Saint James are believed to be buried in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Local shops make cakes to this recipe and decorate them with the cross of the Order of Santiago to sell to the visiting pilgrims and tourists.
Lucky tourists!

Friday, 23 March 2012

Good food

Pussywillow asked me how I keep my weight constant. (I hope she wasn't being sarky!) At the moment it is very easy because the fear of making my gallstones complain and cause me pain is enough to keep me on the straight and narrow.
But in fact, apart from being very diligent about the amount and type of fat in my diet and an avoidance of cheese, (sob, sob) and very little bread, I continue to eat much the same as ever. 

I photographed yesterday's meals.
Breakfast is invariably an ounce of porridge cooked in half water and goats' milk, with a scattering of flaked almonds and pumpkin seeds and a variety of fresh fruit and chopped dried prunes and apricots. I never tire of this and it keeps me satisfied until lunchtime.

Lunch was Mediterranean pasta from Patrick Holford's Low-GL cookbook.
Serves 2.
125g wholemeal pasta
1 can tuna in water, drained
black olives
White sauce made with 300ml milk, 2tsp reduced salt vegetable bouillon powder and 1tsp dried herbs. Add 1 tablespoon of cornflour (that has been blended with 2 spoonfuls of cold water,) to thicken the sauce.
Pour over the pasta and season with black pepper and fresh basil leaves.

You won't miss the cheese - really!

For dessert, some of the many plums that we picked in the orchard last autumn, with natural yogurt and toasted flaked almonds.

We eat a lot of soup. This one is sweet potato and parsnip.

I make about ten servings at a time, some to eat and the rest to freeze. All my soups should really be labeled, 'Whatever's to Hand Soup' because that's what goes into them. This one is mostly sweet potato and parsnip, but also red onion and red pepper, garlic, celery and some chopped fresh ginger, all cooked together and then blended.

A food source of 'good fat',  one that I am being encouraged to eat at the moment, is avocado, and at teatime, after a bowl of soup, we ate this light salad of boiled egg and avocado. (You can see that we are rather fond of black olives!)

But evening is when I get the munchies, especially if there is a food programme on the tv and they are making something really naughty but nice!

Monday, 19 March 2012

Visible Monday - High Street clothes

Apart from my much-loved Nicole Farhi linen shirt, all today's clothes are from well-known High Street stores.
The skirt is an ancient linen Laura Ashley with a front side button fastening. It is several sizes too big, bought so large as it was the only way to get the length that I liked. Now I just find it plain annoying because even with a belt it swivels round and the shirt comes adrift like a messy schoolboy's. I would take it in but for the fact that it is very well made and fully lined.
Pink leather belt, navy shoes and tights are from Marks and Spencer and the purple cashmere cardigan is from John Lewis.
(Perhaps you can tell that I'm very fond of the colour purple!)

For Patti's Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Ceramic Sunday - update!

I photographed this bowl last November at Tortola museum in the British Virgin Islands. I posted it on a Ceramic Sunday saying that I wished that I'd picked it up to look underneath and see where it had been made. Our neighbours visited last month and investigated for me. First shock - it is made of melamine and, against expectations, so light that it nearly flew out of their hands. Secondly, it was made in China!
It so clearly looks like melamine to me now and as such doesn't even qualify for ceramic Sunday!

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Hat in a fog

The weather reports keep telling me what wonderful weather I'm having. Don't you believe it! I wake in the morning to mist and fog and go to bed in an even thicker blanket of the stuff. Admittedly for a few hours each afternoon the sky clears and there is some welcome warmth and sunshine.
Yesterday I had an appointment in London and the drive there was not much fun. I pulled this hat out of its box to wear as it keeps me both warm and cheerful. It is 100% wool. It is more of a beret really and was made in Poland, the label states JMM tucki.
It makes my head look a bit like a cloutie dumplin' (a dumpling in a cloth!) but I have happily reached an age beyond caring.

This grey/black winter coat is by Oska, very light and warm and can be worn with anything. It has a huge, versatile collar that can be buttoned up or down and can almost be used as a hood. 

Black leggings and boots so old that I can't remember the make - but they're comfy!
For Patti's Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

A great escape

This week we went to the pictures to see, 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel'. It is an absolute hoot, with some excellent one-liners. The cast comprises Britain's great and good, Judi Dench, Maggi Smith, Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy and Ronald Pickup, all pensioners escaping the threat of a grim old age in Blighty for the delights of a hotel in India. 
It is laugh out loud funny, if a little too close to home for someone of my age. Himself said, "Okay, when do we pack up and go?"
Ha ha!

I have never been to India but our daughters have visited various parts of the country and sing its praises. Wee One came back with a lip ring, a rather lovely sari and a good tan! 

I like to disappear into the dark of the pictures and immerse myself in a story.
I'm not interested in going to the pictures in the summer. It seems very strange to walk out into the street from a darkened cinema when it is still almost light outside. I have embarrassed myself in the past by emerging with damp nose and swollen, red eyes after viewing some heartbreaking film to find everyone else looking perfectly composed.
I wish that we had the weather in Britain to have films out of doors in the summer months the way that they do on the continent. My first experience of outdoor cinema was as a teenager in Italy in the fifties. Oh, the glamour!

Monday, 5 March 2012

Visible Monday - still winter

It is bitterly cold here in the south-west of England, time to be wearing my warmest clothes.
This sheepskin jacket, made in Czecholovakia, was a twenty-first birthday present from my parents at the start of the 'swinging' sixties. The suede outer started life as pale blue but it has faded over time, as have I - it looked a lot more 'swinging' when I could wear it with a tumble of long, dark hair!

It is a big, bulky piece of clothing. Sheepskin these days is crafted to be a much lighter, softer material and is therefore far easier and more comfortable to wear. Due to its bulk this old jacket spends its time just hanging in the wardrobe, but for sentimental reasons I am loathe to part with it. 

A cluttered life?  Too true!

For Patti at Not Dead Yet Style.