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Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Please accept my apologies for the silence of the last three days; I went away for a much-needed wee holiday, and it was wonderful. I did take the computer, but decided to leave it switched off in favour of long walks through unexpected snow, beautiful scenery, and good food. Because I bought myself a humble abode earlier this year, I didn’t have a long holiday, so decided to treat myself. Now suddenly it’s Hogmanay. I’ve not done much today, just a bit of cooking, of one of my favourite dishes, a red cabbage-based delight. (more…)

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Who else in the UK watched episode 1 of  The Miniaturist on BBC1 last night? I thought it was a great adaptation of Jessie Burton’s first novel. I won’t see episode 2 for a few days, so please don’t spoil it for me!

My favourite thing about the programme is its colour palette. It looks like a Dutch painting in its own right, perhaps by Vermeer.

Family prayers in “The Miniaturist”

The dollhouse at the centre of the plot is particularly beautiful, and it was the reason why I read the book in the first place. I really would love to see the original house owned by Petronella Oortman, in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

But with one eye always on a possible subject for the next blog post in the Christmas Feasts series, I remembered Nella’s love of marzipan (a sweet taste we both love). The book goes into more detail about the importance of marzipan in her memories of her home:

‘My mother used to roll it into shapes’. There was always marzipan in the pantry, the only predilection for indulgence in which Mrs Oortman echoed her husband. Mermaids, ships and necklaces of sugared jewels, that almond doughiness melting in their mouths. I no longer belong to my mother, Nella thinks. One day I will roll sugar shapes for otber little clammy hands, voices baying for treats. (p.15)

This takes me back to one of my earlier posts in this series, about marchpane sculptures, inspired by E. T. A. Hoffman’s The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. I wonder if Petronella’s mother ever created such works of art, and if Petronella herself has the talent and patience to do so.  

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Doesn’t that post title sound ominous? It’s not supposed to, really, but when I tried to find another phrase, all the possibilities sounded that wee bit sinister as well. So, “aftermath” it is. But I promise that everybody lives. “Just this once, everybody lives”. (more…)

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Today has, happily, been a much more relaxed day than the last few. It has been mostly loud and chaotic, but happy.  The centrepiece of the day was our meal (thanks to the chef and to the hosts, again, if they read this post).  To keep in today’s spirit of relaxation and not sitting silently behind individual screens, this post is brief and mostly comprised of photos of today’s Christmas feast.
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From the moment I got up yesterday, I was busy, busy, busy, and there wasn’t a moment to even think about blogging until the early hours of Christmas Day, at which point: hello, my bed, o how I love you. Cook the turkey, Cinderelly; make the stuffing, Cinderelly; wrap the presents, Cinderelly; finish the Christmas trees, Cinderelly! (just kidding; it’s manic, but enjoyable). (more…)

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When the snows are lying deep,
When the field has gone to sleep,
When the blackthorn turns to white,
And frosty stars bejewel the night,
When summer streams are turned to ice,
A Snow Ball warms the heart of mice

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I have really struggled to find a subject for today’s feast. It’s entirely possible that the final afternoon of Christmas shopping may have stunned my imagination and ability to write into shock. All I wanted by the time I returned home was a cup hot chocolate, as thick and rich and chocolatey as possible; the perfect hot chocolate is a feast in itself, with cream and lots of spices.
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