Monday, December 15, 2008

With thanks, and encore de sucre.

I just wrote this post in its entirety, having squirrelled away the time out of my day with care and good conscience, uploaded the photos, copied out a recipe, etc etc and bloody Blogger's autosave and publishing failed and I lost the lot. It's enough to make one defect to Wordpress.
So I'm not feeling as cheery as I was when I started, said lack of cheer being compounded by just having heard that the euro has reached .9 against the pound and we wonder if we will ever be able to afford to live anywhere ever again.
However, I will not be deflected from expressing my thanks for the wonderful birthday wishes I so shamelessly fished for. I am much blessed.
To our left may be seen my delicious new Derwent Inktense pencils, all 36 of them. Never in my life before have I possessed such a fine array of colouring sticks. As yet I have done nothing more with them than scribble on an envelope and wet them with lick, and in truth I am a little reluctant to broach their virgin unsharpened newness, but I shall.

Indeed, it seemed that almost everything I received was inciting me to wallow in a frenzy of delight in colour, or inviting the application of it.

Here is a gorgeous, warm, tweedy red Irish wool jacket ('cardigan' is not a word worthy of it). The photo doesn't do the colour justice, it's a redder red than that. Not only does it gratify the visual and tactile senses, but the olfactory also; it smells like a real,very clean, Irish sheep, all lanolin and peaty air!

And here are my cards, see those wonderful, luminous, transparent hues and bold, infillable (I made that word up!) linework? Begging to be used as inspiration...

... and a dear little book, in fact a concertina in form, and of delightful construction, filling me with creative urges which I will probably have to give up eating, sleeping, composting my vegetable waste, making chicken stock, and other such time-consuming activities in order to indulge.

Oh, and then there were these two pretty bookmarks from Princeling. Clever boy!
I love I love I love colour.*I know black and white is more subtle and sophisticated and redolent and suggestive of memory and emotion and everything, but. On Sunday morning there was a wonderful thick white frost, and I had a whale of a time with the camera. But despite all the crisp sharp exquisite solarised line and form just crying out to be rendered black and white, I just kept seeing flashes and sheens of sumptuous frosted, dusted colour I couldn't let go, so only a few of them got monochromed. Subtlety ever evaded me.
There, I've quite cheered myself up now, and since it looks like the expat party's over, and holidays, meals out and other such frivolities will soon be the stuff of memory, it's just as well I've got plenty to keep me occupied. Like writing my blog posts twice because Blogger eats them.
Also I'd like to thank Bee Drunken for hosting a small soiree for me over at her place, with English toffee too. As promised for her Christmas sugar exchange, here are flapjacks.
Basic recipe:
6 oz / 150g / 3/4 cup butter or margarine
1 tablespoon golden syrup or honey
4oz / 100g / 1/2 cup demerara sugar
8oz / 225g / 2 cups porridge oats
Put fat, sugar and syrup in a saucepan and melt. Stir in the porridge oats and press evenly into an appropriately sized baking tin, and bake at 180C / 350F / gas mark 4, for about 20 minutes.
Easy peasy. Big deal, I hear you say, everyone knows how to make flapjacks. However, it doesn't end there. When I became friends with Oscar, who has an egg allergy, and his family, I wanted to make something special they could all enjoy at Christmas, so started to experiment with substituting a proportion of the oats with all kinds of other things: walnuts, pecans, glace fruit (especially pretty...), dried apricots, dried cranberries, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, chocolate chips, and then, when cooled, icing them with melted chocolate, sometimes a marbled mix of white and dark. Thus they somewhat resemble hearty florentines. I vary them every year, and they have become the sweetmeat of choice of not only Oscar and his folks but many adults of our acquaintance too. You can cut them into bite-sized pieces and put them into pretty tins or boxes, and a big baking trayful goes a long way.

*And much more besides, like funny pungent smells, and dog kisses, and mud - in moderation and the right footwear - and milk chocolate better than dark...


HLiza said...

Oh such nice things you get for your birthday.. how wonderful! These are the things that make my heart sing too..

Bee said...

Naughty Blogger! My mom tried to post our family's recipe for Oklahoma Brown candy (v.complicated) in the comments of my candy post, and she lost them, too. Since this was her first foray into blogging, she might just give up before she starts. Thank goodness you chose to persevere.

I shall try your flapjacks - with embellishments. I think that more is more at Xmas.

That lovely sweater! So raspberry pink (is it really red?) and deliciously warm-looking . . . which is good and well since the heat will have to come down now that the pound is such a weakling.

herhimnbryn said...

What a grand day!
Your pencils do look delicious and I bet they smell good and woody and pencilish too.

Isabelle said...

Lovely presents!

I love colour too. Never really see the point of black and white photos. The world isn't black and white.

I always - well, usually - do my posts in Word and save them and then cut and paste into Blogger. Not the photos of course, but still, if Blogger eats the post then the words don't have to be retyped. But I'm sure you know about this anyway.

christopher said...

I love this post, though not that you lost the first version of it. I guess a person could get all defensive and compose outside blogger, doing only the necessary at the last minute to minimize the risk. I have done that sort of thing before in other defensive postures on effing 'puters, and noticed that blogger could go there as I have been cut off (blogger said so) for varying lengths of time.

On the other hand you could take the Buddhist tack that it doesn't really matter anyway and cheerfully rewrite. Sometimes I write better the second time.

And hold the line on the dog kisses, girl, it doesn't matter that some others draw the line there. My old cat comes and sits with me in the evening - and while I know it is her begging for a little something, still, I like it. Smelly old cat.

Dave said...

black and white is more subtle and sophisticated and redolent and suggestive of memory and emotion and everything
Wait - it is??? Crap, I've been doing it all wrong!

Lucy said...

Thank you dear colour lovers!

There really wouldn't have been much point in photographing the colour pencils in black and white would there?

These days Blogger misbehaves like that quite rarely, the worst you usually lose is a few lines since the last autosave. In the old days and when I was still on dial-up it used to happen all the time and I was more circumspect. I probably should have heeded a warning, but assumed the 'publish' button would work anyway.

However, I am a believer in the 'cheerfully redo' school of thought, and actually I did retype quite cheerfully and perhaps a little better; one often thinks of something new or sees something else as unnecessary. I have thought about drafting and copy-and-pasting but I can't really see myself doing it...

No, the sweater really is quite a bit redder, though a rosy red, I took it in the light from the skylight, and though I tweaked it to get it closer, but still it was a little over exposed.

Granny J said...

Color, please! I love my collection of yarns in every color, tint and shade I could find when I bought them -- just so I can run my hands through all that color. Bright and clear... smoky and subtle ... dark, light, there are so many sensuous variations of color to enjoy that I don't have time left for black & white. PS -- happy birthday, Lucy!

Tall Girl said...

Glad it arrived eventually!

Anonymous said...

Oh wow, I am so impressed. If Blogger had done that to me I would be so frustrated and cross that I simply could not go back and rewrite. I just couldn't.

I have only ever lost text once, when I deleted it by mistake and that stupid autosave thing saved the blank version before I had a chance to get it back. Grrrrhhh! But I just left the post and never wrote it again.

I love that book. Gorgeous. And the bookmarks too - made me forget for a moment that it was december.

Zephyr said...

What a lovely post...and gorgeous, charming, lovely gifties. May your life always be ColorFULL.

Dave King said...

I've been echoing your thoughts about blogger of late, but the post is wonderful, overwhelmingly beautiful. Worth all the sweat and tears. Thanks.

SpiralSkies said...

Phwoar, a blog post that smells of flapjacks and Oirish sheep. Bloody brilliant.

Hearty florentines sound so jolly. Can I add my tuppence and suggest a good poke of ginger into the chocolatey ones?

apprentice said...

Oh what lovely spoils and the recipe sounds lovely too.

I look forward to seeing drawing made with the pencils

Anil P said...

The 'sunflower' bookmark could light up just about any day. It's as beautiful a design as any I've seen, very bright, very cheery.

Blogger can truly test one's patience. I'm glad you tided over it.

meggie said...

I so love good coloured pencils! the delicious smell! The endless possiblities for all the colours...
Happy belated Birthday. Your gifts were obviously very fitting & gorgeous.