Monday, September 25, 2006

From grey to here

This weekend was a bit grey; heavy grey skies, heavy grey throat and hands, heavy grey feet. I stood on my utterly dead balcony, and mused on the greyness and the deadness of it all, looking at the deceased flowers. Except they weren't grey, really, they were purple,and orange...

and the one tomato that will never ripen was a deep-seated comfy green. In close-up, decay became astounding. The greyness in my head shifted a little.

Then I found Free Wool (or rather it found me), and this entry. Gorgeous. So Isabelle and I spent the morning picking the dead flowers and making our own paper. It's not quite dry yet, and extremely fragile (I think it might break if I look at it too long), but oh! how very far from grey...


Very similar shot, but this way you know for sure they are twins. Amazing but true, he turned out even better than his sister. I know I promised I'd stop after this one, but now I think I'll have to make one more, just so that he's properly out-numbered.

Un collier pour Papa

Thursday, September 21, 2006

On choosing a fig (letter to my husband)

Choosing figs is a delicate, but essential, business. Good figs are heavenly. Not so good figs are unedible. A fig typically has one good day in its short life. To add to the difficulty, the fig season is short, a few weeks at most, providing very little opportunity for practice. So here are some pointers:

The colour: A good fig is purple. It can be reddish-purple, dark-bluish purple, or purple-purple, but it shouldn't be green, yellow or brown. Not even in one spot. Nor should it be covered in fungi. Always lift the fig out of the box to inspect the bottom, that's where the rot appears first.

The skin: The skin of a good fig is taut, ready to burst. In fact, a good fig often does burst when touched (in which case, you have to eat it immediately, once open they are only good for a few minutes, so always calculate in your budget the figs you will eat as part of the search). Do not purchase any wrinkly figs.

The firmness: A ripe fig has a thin skin, the thick white layer between the skin and the flesh having been reduced in the ripening process to a mere millimiter. This explains the above-mentioned bursting risk. Any fig that can stand having your fingers firmly pressed into its sides without giving way is not ready.

The fragrance: You can also just pick your figs by smell. A good fig smells, a fresh, sweet, insistant essence of ripe summer. Always sniff at the bottom.

If unsure, ask Isabelle. She knows.

PS: I was asked to add the following rectification to this post:

"The association of yellow-green variety of fig producers has asked me to ask you to print a small correction to your fig letter on your blog, so that people may know that such varieties can also be good (and ripe) without turning such ridiculous colours as purple. Also, your brother says that they taste even nicer than the other variety and you should try some day."

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The call was answered...

A true thrifting miracle occurred today: as I entered the store, my eye fell on this little lamb on the cover of a knitting series from the early eighties... My mother used to own the exact same folder! Although, having looked through the various project cards IN the folder, I am forced to conclude that either she was lax with filling hers or, alternatively, that she didn't get around to actually doing many of the projects. Retrospectively, I particularly feel the lack of little knitted house-shaped tea cozies in my early years...

All joking aside, a whiff of childhood and a great batch of knitting projects all for the grand total of 1 euro. Not bad, me says. Not bad.

Favourite New Old Shirt


... is yet another one of Hillary Lang's creations, this time from her Make-A-Long project. I am rather infatuated, but I suspect Isabelle has reached her saturation point in terms of softies and dolls. It's time to move on (although I might just squeeze in Olive's twin brother on my way out of the softies' phase...) .

Monday, September 18, 2006

L'arbre de Papa

Last week we received an apple-picking invitation from the organic orchard where Marc's tree (l'arbre de Papa) stands. For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about: for christmas last year, Isabelle gave Marc a one-year adoption for an organic apple tree, including the harvest in the autumn (what great ideas that child has...). So off we went, to what turned out to be the other end of the country (apparently, Gelderland is not so very close to where we live, what was Isabelle thinking?), under a hot hot Indian Summer sun, and we harvested...

and harvested...

and harvested some more...

... and then got Frans (who came along for the ride) to carry the crates to the car. So if you happen to be in the neighbourhood and in need of refreshment, we have 10 kilos worth of delicious Elstar, fresh from the source, just waiting for you.

Indian Summer VI: Figs and Pumpkin Soup

Indian Summer V: the sea, the sea

Indian Summer IV: in the Japanese Garden

The passage of time

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


In an incredible moment of transatlantic (or at least cross-Channel) psychic brother-sister connection, Michael apparently 'heard' me nagging about my lack of diary and he sent me the best of the best: a small-format Moleskine that will last me all the way to January 2008. Of course I had to make a cover for it. Urgently. As in within two hours of reception. So that explains the many mistakes and the rather sloppy finish.

I love it though.

It's felt.
It has my favourite Japanese fabric on it.
It has a secret pocket (for keeping secrets in) in which nothing could possibly fit.
Then again secrets don't take up that much space.

Did I mention that I love it? Thank you Michael!

Indian Summer III: The call of the wool

Indian Summer II: Sandy hands, summer dress, sour lemon

Indian Summer I: Sea shells shelved

Monday, September 11, 2006


Last week the mail birdie brought a gift all the way from America: Hillary Lang's Put-together book no 1. Hence this first attempt at recreating the wonderful Wee feeling: a denim almost-bear (I forgot the muzzle), once more mistaken for a cat by the plebs. She has been named Camille after Isabelle's summer love, which might explain her predilection for both sun and undergrowth.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Dancing feet

The new Camper winter catalogue is out. I swooned. Then did a little dance. An addict for the longest time, I now own only Camper shoes. Apart from being amazingly comfortable, fantastically beautiful and totally excentric, these shoes are also unbreakable. And this coming from a person who could never make a pair of shoes last longer than a season. My Camper boots, for instance, have been worn intensively for the last four years and they still look beautiful. What's more, I really like their philosophy (Camper's that is, not my boots', although actually, now I think about it, I like my boots' philosophy just fine).

Friday 6:45 am

Sunday, September 03, 2006


'Onze lieve mama' (literally our sweet mama) (which is how the locals sometimes call me; it makes me sound like Our Lady of Mercy, and how suitable is that? I ask you) had decided to save Julie (Isabelle's favourite doll of the moment) from the many ills resulting from walking barefoot. What's more, in an inspired witty moment, the said 'lieve mama' had decided to make her shoes that would match Isabelle's own pink wonders. So I toiled and I toiled all evening (and swore and swore and swore some more. How does one convince two pieces of felt to stay together when clearly they have nothing in common, especially not shape?).

And then, this morning, Murphy's Law hit again and it turned out Isabelle's pink shoes were MUCH too small, they had to be replaced at once. The cruel cruel irony. So on I toiled, and toiled and toiled... et voilà! le résultat...

Birthday van for Samuel

This adorable vehicle (it was tough giving it away, I distinctly heard some tissue ripping in the general chest area) is based on the one Hillary Lang, from Wee Wonderfuls, made. Hers was in turn based on a pattern by Aranzi Aronzo. And that one was based on ...

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Birthday tote for Zora

Zora is a lucky girl, for this is by far the most technically advanced of all my (three, including this one) totes. For one thing, the fabric has actually been pre-washed! Amazing but true, this time I could wait long enough between figuring out which fabric I wanted to use and pouncing on my sewing machine (ahem... unless of course I happened to use fabric that had been previously pre-washed for another project that never materialized...). But that is not all: the tote also includes, oh luxury of luxuries, an inside pocket.

The only downside is the birdie. I'm going to have to give her a one-year guarantee on that one. It won't last the week. In fact, it's making moves to fly away as we speak.

Thrifting binge

Today was the day. Following two months of summer recess, our local Emmaus thriftstore re-opened its doors this afternoon at 1pm. I'll let you guess who was sitting by the door at 12:45, with her tongue lolling out in expectation ...

Seriously though... at 13:12 I was out, slightly bruised from all the elbow work, but the proud owner of an enormous bag of goodies (all fabric, yum!). My favourite: this chicken tea towel. I'm thinking chickens might just be the next big thing (once we're done with owls ...).

Temporary Exhibition

I finally took the time and trouble to hang up my Black Apple treasures. They look wonderful, Marc says 'it's the prettiest wall in the house'. Now I just have to be strong, and not order anymore... argh!