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.
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...