All good things come to an end... so what better way to spend our last day than queuing for two hours to buy a cupcake? Oh yes, people, this is what you do when you're a mother and have a child who's a mad fan of Buddy Valastro... aka Cake Boss, from Carlo's Bakery in Hoboken, NJ.
I am not joking.
We had cannolis, cream puffs, lobstair tails, chocolate chip cookies and of course the ubiquitous cupcakes... (What? do you think that after two hours we wouldn't splash out??)
The High Line was the perfect antidote to the calories overload.
Mr M, No 2 and 3 found a bar showing the Liverpool v Man City football (or should I say soccer?) match and were out of the flat at 8.30am... No 1 in true teenage fashion stayed in his pijamas and flopped whilst I hit the pavements of Nolita for a stroll in the sun.
Come with me, it's a really cool place.
I was talking a picture of this 'guy' when a taxi driver screeched to a stop behind me and started shouting: "It's a Fumero! It's a Fumero!". Well, this was followed by a long story about how famous this graffiti artist is, about an amazing empty warehouse in Queens that was covered in street arts from artists all over the world and got knocked down or something, about how he travels around the City with four cameras in his taxi... and that I should really walk around the corner and see this:
Isn't it incredible? It 'glows'. (by a Japanese artist called Maya Hayuki).
Anyway, Liverpool won, everybody was happy so we took advantage of the warm day to have a picnic and rent bikes in Central Park.
(it's a BIG park let me tell you... and not all flat... surprisingly un-flat infact!)
But the day wasn't over... oh noooo.
New York Knicks v Chicago Bulls. (Brilliant)
And then to finish a very long day... we climbed to the top of the Empire State Building...
(An affair to remember... Sleepless in Seattle.... I tried to explain to the boys...)
Another sunny day. And WARM! So beautifully warm...
We walked to Washington Square to get to the subway station and, looking back at the photos, I realise I'm developing a weird obsession with water towers.
(You got to admit they're kind of cool.)
Anyway, we did make it to Washington Square and it's one of my favourite places in the city... it's always full of people, eccentric people it seems, (oh and dogs. LOTS of dogs in NY, who knew). We were on our way to visit the Intrepid, a WWII aircraft carrier turned museum... what can I say, I have as much interest in aircraft carriers as No 1 has in art but after the Guggenheim yesterday... today was his choice.
An aircraft carrier, a bunch of planes, a submarine and a space shuttle... how does the song goes...?
..." If I were a boy I think I could understand"...
(The 9/11 memorial garden is incredibly moving. Me and Mr M and a 6mth old No 1 were having breakfast in a small cafe in Key West when the towers fell, glued to the television and trying to make sense of what we were seeing. The whole island went quiet and we couldn't fly home for almost a week... Being here today made it more real and more surreal at the same time. Those two pools, where the towers stood, are an incredibly powerful image.)
And this had to be done too:
(a huge thank you to my very patient husband and my impeccably behaved children)
Ok so... the flight was delayed more than two hours and it was gone 9pm when we arrived to our place... but who cares right? We walked down the road to a pizza place with brick walls, red and white gingham tablecloths and pictures, amongst others, of Jack Nicholson and a slightly chubby/pre-twearking Miley Cyrus on the walls. Oh and there were firemen eating dinner, the firetruck parked just outside. Like a movie. The perfect start.
It's really raining today. Cats and dogs kind of rain, and my attempts to photograph my latest finished quilt have been completely thwarted by the complete lack of light.
It's a shame because now I have to wait a week and then I might forget and ... well, I really like this one. It's called 'Broken' and not because it is broken, it's just a name... long story... I might tell you one day, or maybe not because it's not really my story to tell. We'll see.
I'm also in the middle of packing up for 4 people - Mr M does his own - and currently there are 4 suitcases in various states of completeness.
No 1 is missing pants and jeans. The kid is very fussy and would rather wear the same things over and over again rather than something that doesn't meet his thight specifictions. He doesn't own many clothes because of that. (This fastidiousness doesn't extend to the state of his bedroom which usually looks like a battlefield).
No 2 is missing pretty much everything. He got busted big time... nothing had made it to the laundry basket for a couple of weeks... and was really sheepy when I opened his cupboard only be buried by an avalanche of smelly clothes. Needless to say the washing machine and drier have been busy.
No 3 has no socks. I swear to you last week his drawer was vomiting socks... and now? Gone, disappeared, vanished... Puff!
It does make perfect sense, therefore, to show you random photos of my study.
I needed to check of the camera still worked... let's just say it was the victim of the gravitational force and plummeted to the ground...
Oops, the drier just beeped... no rest for the wicked.
- 1 1/2 to the beginning of the Easter Holidays. Yippee! (and that is said without sarcasm... I'm actually looking forward to it)
- I have a new rug by the back door
- Mr M is away on business
- My nails are blue
- Actually that's a lie... there were blue. Then Mr M made me test a new nail polish remover (part of his job, dont' ask) and now they're coral:
- Yes, my cuticles deserve some attention.
- No, I don't have time for that.
- Behind my hand, to the right you can see the Official Panini sticker album for this year's football world cup in Brazil. Don't you just LOVE sticker albums? I used to have it as a child! My first one was Heidi... how much I loved it... I must have been nine or ten at the time... the excitment of opening the envelope... the swapping of doubles... Those were the days!
- I dag out last year's crochet eggs and put them in a fish-bowl type vase:
- I read "Perfect" by Rachel Joyce. A really nice story.
- Sprinkles in little jars are the cutest things in the world. (My kids used to be. Now they're too big for that. 'Cuteness' that is. Not jars. I have NEVER put my kids in a jar. Ever.)
- Now they're just weird:
- We're taking the boys to New York next week. Any DOs or DONTs or MUSTS... Please do tell!
- Yes, wearing a laptop case on the head will be banned.
Do you ever start cleaning a cupboard and end up baking a cake?
No? Just me?
On Saturday morning, when No 3 was (losing) at a football tournament (ah the drama... and you think it's only girls? Ha. Not. I'll lend you my boys if you want), No 1 was a zombie on the sofa (just back from a school trip... only used half of his pants... you go figure) and No 2 was tidying up his bedroom (I know, he's weird like that) I decided to clean up the tin cupboard in the kitchen.
Right at the back, on the top shelf I found a tin of coconut milk... which made me think about the April issue of 'The simple things'... which in turn led me astray and I hastily put back all the tins and baked.
It's ever such an easy recipe:
Beat the sugar, butter and eggs together for 2-3 minutes. Add the sifted flour and baking powder. Add the coconut and coconut milk, mix well and divide the mixture equally in two 23cm round tins (line the basis with grease proof paper first). Bake in a preheated oven at 160C for about 25-30 minutes.
For the buttercream beat the icing sugar and the butter till light and fluffy, slowly adding the coconut milk.
Once the two layers have cooled down spread the top of one of the cake with the rasperry jam and then half of the icing. Sandwich the other cake on top and spread the remaining buttercream on top of this one and garnish with fresh raspberries.
I only made half the buttercream and sprinkle icing sugar on the top instead. There's only so much my teeth can take!
Don't ask me why... but for an insight 'behind the scenes'....
I know this is a very different colour palette to what I normally use... some of you 'hate' this quilt... (YOU know who you are... don't hide!), but I actually like it and have really enjoyed making it.
It's a wedding present for a lovely couple who have been through hell last year but they stuck together and battle through it all and still came out looking positively at the future. There's a lesson in that for us all; and... well... they deserve lots of happiness now and... a warm quilt to cuddle under.
one orange and one blue plastic rackets of sort (terribly noisy things, like playing tennis with drums. Neighbours love us... not)
one plastic cricket bat
three wooden cricket bats (different sizes)
a small bottle of bat oil (cricket bat...not the bird kind)
one wooden sword and one rubber sword (life is not fair, right? better learn it when young!)
one cricket bat mallet (who knew you had to 'knock' a cricket bat for 2 &*&%$ weeks before using it?)
two hockey sticks
one wooden paddle thingy (one was left in Greece last summer)
one pair of pink rubber clogs (mine)
one tea towel (muddy)
one baseball cup
three stumps (and probably the doo-daah that goes on top is in there too... wicket? who knows. Hate cricket. Whoever decided it was a good idea playing in WHITE on GRASS in country where it RAINS a lot... deserves to be shot)
Ok it's also tidy up after the weekend season/food shopping season/should change the sheets on the bed season... but let's concentrate on one thing at a time. For once.
I made another dress. And it fits. AND it has French seams!
But back to the beginning: have you ever heard of '100 acts of sewing'? Sonya Philips gave herself the challenge to make 100 dresses in a year all based on the same pattern but with many simply variations.
Dress no 1 was a simple a-line tunic with optional pockets and I've had the pattern in my possession for almost a year.
She has now designed a very cute Dress no 2 (classic tunic with sleeves) and having experienced the first... I'm very tempted. The pattern is simple and the instructions REALLY easy and well explained. Nothing went wrong. I know, shocking.
(My legs look really funny in this photo!)
I knew it had too much of an a-line, so I straightened the sides a little. As I said the instructions are great and the French seaming worked perfectly. I even made bias binding for the neckline and the arm holes.
(And yes I could have taken a photo without the cardigan... but I was cold! And nobody wants to see goospimpled bingo wings, right?)
The fabric is ... cotton... that's all I know. Only £6/m in that crazy shop I was telling you about. I had originally bought it to make napkins, and then it was so cheap I thought I'd use it to make a muslin for this dress but it turned out just right so now it got promoted to real deal.
And there will be others. There's a nice piece of grey on the shelf that's calling my name as I type...
It would be true to say that I have a 'thing' for beautifully styled cookery books.
One of my favourite 'cooks' is Tessa Kiros, not only her books are a joy to leaf through... her recipe always works, which is kind of important when it comes to food... there are plenty of books out there that put style over substance and I find that patronising and very annoying.
Anyway, during the last week or so I've put two books and two recipes to the test and both have passed with flying colours.
First up was this book and this recipe:
I could have cooked it a little longer and it would have been better... but the taste... oh yes, really lovely, homely cake. Beautiful. A keeper.
The second cake comes from this gorgeous book:
It literally means 'country cake' and it's golden and soft and fluffy... it has almost an antique flavour if you can imagine that... The kids have requested another one without the lemon... yes, it would work I'm sure.
Fabric bought with Ali in a place in Cheltenham that looks like this:
... and goes on and on and on... rooms after room after room. I don't think the people who run it have any idea of what they have. Some is.... scary.... some is brilliant.
(... gotta love the baggy knees...)
why would the same camera give me such different colours... it's a mistery to me... the most accurate is the following:
I added this little details at the bottom on both sides. I prefer how it brings the shape together while still leaving plenty of room for walking.
It was the first time I used a Merchant and Mills pattern... I used size twelve although I might try the 10 next time. You can use the pattern for a top or a dress you see. If I have to be totally honest the instructions are a little on the scarse side and had me scratch my head a little... If I hadn't done a couple of Tova tops last year I would have been well stuck. (Jenny Gordy's instructions are magnificent).
BUT all said and done... I'm loving it and have already worn it twice.
I'm really itching to make another one. Where can I get some good linen?
Oh what a beautiful morning.... oh what a beautiful day....
Paint toe nails? Check
Time to wear bright clothes? YES!!
Ok, I give up. It's impossible to photograp this thing... it seems to 'glow' out of the screen... I found the pattern via Pinterest and you can see it here (scroll down for the English translation link).
I used a lovely coral cotton thread given to me by No 2's teacher a few years ago, and size 2mm hook.
And now I can ignore the fact that the weather this coming week is going to be pants.