Online shopping in times of sheltering

The Object of Art. The Theory of Illusion in Eighteenth-Century France. Marian Hobson, 1982

Spending longer time at home is a mild enabler for online purchases…

I ordered some organic seeds to attempt window-sill “gardening”. Mixed salad, Italian basil and rocket salad will be planted in whatever minimal space a London flat with no balcony allows. The greens will have to compete with the few resident flowers.

I also looked at books.

As a child and teen I “devoured” books. Nowadays I hardly manage to finish reading one, which is a sad thing indeed. I suspect the rise of technology at one’s fingertips has affected my concentration levels. There are studies on how tech, allowing a constant state of alert and stimuli, might affect the capacity of the brain to concentrate and perform. Gone are the days of sweet lazy relaxing time.

So it’s not really sensible buying books… In principle, I’m a curious person with various interests, so maybe that’s the reason why I do it?

As a minor justification, I recently sold, unwillingly, a beautiful set of antique books (Old and New London, 1881). A number of books, CDs and DVDs were also rehoused through MusicMagpie (normally I would donate them, but now charity points are shut, so they were sold).

What are these new (second-hand) books?

The Object of Art. The Theory of Illusion in Eighteenth-Century France. Marian Hobson, 1982

A Wicked Company: The Forgotten Radicalism of the European Enlightenment. Philipp Blom

Enlightening the world : Encyclopédie, the book that changed the course of history. Philipp Blom

I’ve become enamoured of 18th century artefacts and am collecting what I can from that era – books, minor silver and clothing. It was a period of seminal changes in Western history and I’m keen to better understand that time and way of life.

Is there an era that fascinates you?

 

 

Healthy Brownies recipe (flour and yeast free)

In a recent post I showed some “alternative” brownies I made as a slightly healthier variant to enjoy in these stay-indoor, low-exercise days.

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Here’s the recipe, in case you might want to try.

These are not as sweet as the store-bought ones, so you might want to adjust sweetness to suit your taste. Keep sugar quantity to a minimum for a healthier version.

It could be adapted for vegans by replacing eggs and chocolate with vegan alternatives 🙂

Makes 4 small browny loaves (like the ones in the picture)

INGREDIENTS:

> Quantities are slightly approximate as I improvised <

250g Aduki beans (Japanese red beans*)
3 eggs
50g coconut butter
100g cocoa powder
50g dark chocolate
50g sugar
1 pinch of sea salt (enhances the sweetness)

STEPS:

Prepare 4 small baking trays (each about 12 by 22 cm, 4.5 by 8.5 inches, or so) – they don’t need to be very deep, but at least 5 cm, 2 inches.

Line them with baking paper to prevent sticking. 

Cook the aduki beans in water for a long time (approximately 2 hours) until they’re well cooked and soft.

Drain them of water and let them cool down.

Preheat your oven at about 180 degree Celsius, with top and bottom heating. 

Mash them with the blender until they have a soft paste consistency and the skins are no more detectable.

The consistency should be soft but not too watery (slightly runny but not much).

Add the coconut butter and whisk, then the cocoa powder, sugar and salt, while continuing to whisk. Finally add the eggs.

When done, mix in small chunks of the dark chocolate (about half of the choc bar).

The mix is now ready to go in the lined baking trays. Distribute evenly across the trays.

Shake gently to allow the mix to settle. Spread some choc chips on top. The mix should be about 1/2 inch (1 to 1 1/2 cm) deep.

Bake in the oven until the mix is dry but not very dry (it shouldn’t be as dry as biscuits or cake, but rather still retain a somewhat spongey texture).

The baking time might vary slightly from oven to oven, for me it took approximately one hour. I checked them from time to time to assess the cooking stage. 

When cooked, let them slowly cool down.

Then cut into slices or tiles and serve. 

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These can keep for some days – I stored them in the fridge, but a cool and dry area might work as well. 

If you make them, let me know how this worked for you.. hope you enjoy them!

* Aduki beans (aka as adzuki or azuki) are Japanese red beans, see https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/glossary/aduki-bean. I got these ones through Amazon (no paid link)

 

 

Repairing an antique chest of drawers

I really love this antique, probably Victorian, chest of drawers, despite its sad state.

Victorian chest of drawers

Victorian chest of drawers in need of restoration

My hope is to one day being able to use it in my home – but before that, it will need at least a degree of TLC to make it functional, if not perfect. I might be in for a looong term plan…

Some time ago I made a start, by repairing one of the broken drawers: the back was partly broken and coming off, part of the sides were split and bits had come off.

The sides are being repaired – the clamps hold the parts in place while the glue sets. Note the back is still broken and the dove-tail joins are coming undone

To restore it, I used wood glue to reattach the parts that had broken off, while for the joins I opted for liquid hide glue because it’s reversible (this is what could be used for “proper’ restoration, as it can be later taken apart if needed).

This is the drawer after the repair

I’m quite pleased with the results!

Ideally, this work should be done in a garage or a workshop – that is, if you had one….

Starting the Boxie shawl

While I wait for inspiration to knit the border onto the Nurmiluntu shawl I started the Boxie Shawl (pattern by the Agrarian Artisan).

Boxie is a traditional triangular shawl worked from the top down. It’s a crochet shawl that uses two 100g skeins of 4-ply yarn.

I opted to use some DK from my stash instead (Diggle and Colour Splan by Woolyknit), but I’m now questioning whether the results might be as nice – with a thicker yarn the holes in the resulting fabric will be larger, and holes in crochet is one reason why I’m not too keen on this technique for producing certain items. What do you think? Does the yarn suit the pattern?

While writing here the yarn details, I just realised that both yarns are classified as DK, but one is definitely thinner than the other. Colour Splash, the variegated one, is 97 meters / 50 grams, while Diggle, the green one, is 123 meters / 50 grams….. ooops!

When I chose the yarn, these colours seemed to be working together pretty well. Does the colour combination really work once worked up?

I’m not sure what to do…. a little voice whispers “frog”…

Nurmilintu shawl

My Nurmilintu had a set back while ago, when I was nearing the end of the main section, the needle slipped and many stitches came undone. The shawl is knit in a beautiful but slippery and unforgiving yarn (The Natural Dye Studio’s Dazzle Sock in Dragonfly, 100% Bluefaced Leicester wool)… it was not possible to rescue. Frogged back by a significant chunk of the body and time-contumely picked the stitches up… sigh. Then re-knit.

Now the body is done and the shawl went to the side – got a bit stuck because I wasn’t familiar with the stitch for the border… Also, I didn’t like the pointy border that much. The border was rethought and I decided to go for a knit-on border. I found some tutorials and nice candidates, but stopped there…

I hope to gather the swing again and finish it in the near future!

Do you have projects that got you stuck?

 

 

Brownies!

Working remotely has the great advantage of not having to spend time for the daily commute – which in large cities like London significantly eats in one’s day.

With a bit extra time in the evening, I gave a go at cooking aduki beans (aka adzuki or azuki) as a dessert (these are small red beans, traditional in Japanese cuisine) – apparently they’re rather healthy.

As usual, I like to improvise or interpret recipes with a freestyle approach.. I tweaked a vague recipe for red beans brownies to use ingredients I had at hand. I used read beans (cooked and finely mashed), cocoa powder, eggs, a few spoons of coconut butter, a few spoons of sugar and icing sugar and choc chunks

The result is rather nice and I couldn’t tell that beans are the base ingredient!

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Letting it go

I’ve been steadily going through my belongings and sorting out my collections and generally “my stuff”.

This was prompted by wanting to “put some order” and moving some things into storage. I own quite a few beloved collections and finally decided to let part of these go.

Some items have been donated and others have been listed already, which feels good!

Here a few that have been or are looking for a new loving owner..

Original vintage sewing bust mannequin SUPAFIT Made in England with adjustable sizing. The vintage picture in the background is also being listed. (sold)

 

Beautiful flowerspray in white & blue jug still life composition

Lovely flowers and shades, from a Russian painter

The hues and motif is cheerful and peaceful, so I’m enjoying it on my wall until a new loving owner is found.

 

This antique 1930s British BSA bicycle has found a new home with a dad and son working on a restore project. They came all the way from a rather distant city to collect it! I would have loved to restore it, but enough time was not at hand….

After going through various thoughts and feelings, I am now ready to share the love – I will part with a sizeable part of my collections. It’s time to travel a bit lighter.

There will be:

  • extensive collection of old patterns and magazines (knitting, crochet, sewing and crafts), antique cards & ephemera
  • vintage jewellery
  • antique books
  • old items in silver and gold (flatware, home decor, table dressing, jewellery)
  • vintage and antique paintings, china, tins and boxes
  • quirk finds

I’m currently organising the items and this will take time. More beloved finds will be slowly listed over the coming months. It takes time to take photos and write descriptions 😉

Please get in touch should you be interested in some of these, I can provide details in advance, as well as quotes. I can ship to the UK and internationally.

My current listings can be seen here: