Friday & four skirts (and some numbers)

What have I been wearing this week?

Skirts, and some of my fave one it should be mentioned. The leather skirts are both second-hand. One I bought in Copenhagen and the other in a second-hand shop here. Good stuff, very versatile. I rub them with leather balm when they seem to need it. The first one is cognac colored, the second is black (as you can see in the not great photos). The third and fourth skirts are both made by me, almost ten years ago, in fabric that was a gift from Ecuador. They are a sort of wool-blend and very comfy in winter. Both of them are starting to show signs of decay, threads and piling but given how much I have used these over the years that is no surprise. They have served me well. All of these skirts have been worn with the simplest of sweaters this week, and honestly every other week too. I like cashmere sweaters. A lot. That black one is my ride or die sweater. Especially now that my cardigan has basically fallen to pieces again. Will patch it up during the weekend.

So I counted and I have 42 skirts all in all. The moratorium I issued the other day really wasn’t a bad idea. It should be noted that of my skirts nothing remains unused for long, and it is not clothes that anyone else would really like to use. If I break it down, these are the stats;

  • 29 made of old clothes or material I’ve been given. Nine was made out of old garments, I count curtains and tablecloth as material pure and simple. A lot of stained fabric that I have taken the best bits of. I have been making clothes on and off since I was fourteen and been pretty much the same size.
  • 6 bought second-hand
  • 4 made in fabric I bought myself (i.e. new).
  • 3 inherited (from my mum).

I think about five of my skirts are one the verge of falling apart. Maybe one or two needs a couple of stitches. I’m trying to be systematic about using them so that I can take pics but also to notice which ones could actually need a little TLC. Might also have found a solution to the problem with tights but I’ll get back to you on that one.

Have a great weekend!

-Suss

 

 

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Monday, Menus & Missed photo opportunities

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The calm before the storm, and the loveliest tulips.

So the “Red dinner” happened last night, and happy memories and a hangover is all I have to show for it. I didn’t take any photos, and even if I had tried they would have been awful as the lighting was insufficient.  The theme was inspired by a thing in one of notebooks (the one I use as a journal) and I did use that as a starting point but didn’t follow it exactly.

It said nothing about an aperitif in my journal. I decided to treat my guests to a Negroni before dinner, and a bowl of crisps. The crisps were, sadly, not red as I had hoped. I thought they would at least be tinged with red or have red flecks as they were seasoned with smoked paprika.

The suggested menu had cherry soup as the entrée; to the best of my knowledge that is a dessert. And when I refer too “my knowledge” I mean that I googled and all that came up was a recipe for a Hungarian dessert. Cherry soup with dumplings does seem very tasty and I just might make it at some point but now was not the time. I had first thought of making a tomato and roast pepper soup but made a last-minute switch to lobster soup. I declare that a fail actually; the lobster soup was more orange than red and more importantly I remember that I don’t like lobster soup all that much. In fact, not at all. My guests liked it though so maybe not a complete fail.

The main course was roast beef with roast peppers, tomatoes, beets and red onions. That was largely based on the original menu, and a delight to both make and eat. I like the kind of food that almost cooks itself and on a grey February afternoon it is like getting a vitamin injection to stand in the kitchen and chopping up brightly colored vegetables. To that I made couscous in tomato sauce (which didn’t turn out as red as I had hoped) and I had the day before reduced a bottle of red wine with some shallots, celeriac, herbs and stock to a sauce. It does feel like you are getting robbed, as a bottle of wine yields very little sauce seen to the amount but it is packing some flavor for sure.

Dessert-wise I ran into practical problems and ethical dilemmas. The menu called for fresh strawberries and raspberry sherbet. Well, finding fresh or frozen strawberries just a few days after valentine’s day was difficult and the few ones I saw were too expensive to think about. Looking at the market offerings, there seems to be a huge demand for raspberry sherbet as I couldn’t find any at all ( or there is no demand at all until May and thus no production). Vanilla ice cream all the way basically. I did find what was called a “frozen smoothie” which was based on bananas and berries. It had this whole “no sugar, no dairy la la la healthy dessert” gospel on it. I was skeptical as I believe that people who talk about healthy desserts are either a) fooling  themselves or  b) are completely missing the point about dessert. Either way, I was prepared for it to be a complete failure and I could go “Ha! It is impossible to make a tasty dessert without sugar” but it tasted just fine. I guess I just want people who like chia pudding to be a little less smug about it and stop pretending they know everything about what is healthy. So I ended up having that frozen smoothie, frozen raspberries and pomegranate seeds in my basket, and in fear of having guests leave the table hungry and disappointed I added meringues and cream too. Ingredients that were not red but that made it more interesting to eat. And what do you know, I ended up making a version of Eton Mess yet again. It was very good, but not entirely red so another F I guess.

Having a colour themed dinner was fun; I didn’t go all in with the table setting but red napkins, candles or flowers would have added a nice touch. I did in fact have red tulips but they didn’t fit on the table in the end.

In the end I failed in that all the foods were not red, but I gave it a good effort. Everything tasted fine (if you like lobster soup), no-one went to bed hungry and I have the most excellent left overs for my lunch boxes for a few days ahead. And it was nice to sit down with friends, talk and enjoy good food and wine, which I guess was the most important thing.

-Suss

Tuesday&Trim

So to recap; ages ago I bought a dress at Zara during the summer sales. I felt fine in the dressing room, I made a snap decision and when I wore it out and about it felt uncomfortably short due to the design f the dress and my habit of taking long and brisk steps. I thus cut off the lowest part of it and replaced it with some fake leather I had at home and all was well; I had a useable dress, one that I really liked as the top part of it is wonderful, and it was both warm and comfortable. And then the fake leather started to crumble, and there was no stopping it.

Fake leather isn’t the best material to begin with and it wasn’t the highest quality either. So I rummaged around in my bag of materials and what did I find?

IMG_7499Some pretty colorful wool-cotton blend fabric with an ethnic touch. I have a skirt in this fabric that I have used loads so it’s a no brainer. I love this blue (also: is that brught blue haing a moment?). Yes; this ended up being fairly short but, it’s a straight down design so when I stride down the street I won’t be inadvertently showing everyone my underwear. (I will however keep showing everyone my resting bitchface until I learn how to take reasonable selfies or get an assistent).

Worn here with a pair of tights from Swedish Stockings and my fave platform shoes. I would really like to be able to give Swedish Stockings my whole-hearted approval as I think they are trying to do a good thing. However, I’ve bought five pairs of tights from them at this point and two of those (well, three actually) have not lasted long. I know how to wear and take care of tights, I’ve had Wolfords that I’ve used for so long that they are almost members of the family at this point. We’ll see how I solve this dilemma; I need tights to be able to fully use all my skirts and dresses.

-Suss

Friday&Four little projects

As the sewing machine is out the completion of projects, big and small, happen more frequently to say the least. I’m not only using the fabric and garments in my “materials-bag” for clothes however. Some is turned into items for the home; these are a few I have made of late.

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  1. Bag made out of an old tablecloth. This had been somewhat torn and had stains so I made a little bag that I tie together with ribbon (or like a pouch maybe?). Due to the colors it has a Christmas feel. For now I will take it down to the basement and use it to store Christmas tablecloth etc. I have no space for Christmas stuff in the flat so I keep them in the basement for storage but don’t want to have them in a plastic bag (not good for the fabric). I might use this as a decoration or as wrapping for a Christmas gift next time.
  2. Lavender bags of an old runner. Lovely embroidered table runner, but stained. The time and effort that has gone into this embroidery is kind of the origin of my love of clothes and fashion. My heart aches for this kind of hand made items having become unfashionable and thrown away, or in this case just rendered obsolete when stained. I made these like pillows that I filled with dried lavender. I make these kind of things all the time (they make a great housewarming present). I will put this one in with the Christmas tablecloths so their months in the basement doesn’t make them smell or get attacked by moth.
  3. Child size duvet cover and pillowcase. My beloved Missoni sheets had been used to shreds. Many nights of sleeping, many washes and a few cat claws did they endure. When I got this set it was on sale and I had a received a gift certificate at the fancy department store for Christmas but it was such an extravagance. My mum was literally offended. Many years later I can concluded that those sheets were the most wonderful I had ever had (until I purchased jersey sheets) and worth every penny. They also made my bed look great. I managed to salvage enough to make a duvet cover and a pillowcase that I will give to a friends child; this is super-soft.
  4. Missoni handkerchiefs. Yeah, I’m gonna be wiping my nose with Missoni, I’m just extra like that. But really. A few scraps are just that and due to their softness they are excellent for wiping/polishing glasses. A few squares became the handkerchiefs you see in the photo. Bigger pieces will be saved because if I do decided to buy Missoni sheets again, those bits can be made into pillowcases. I have Missoni towels  (also good quality) and the different designs look good together so I might try that with sheets too.

-Suss

Thursday&Trousers-to-skirt.

So I’m doing the slow fashion challenge and the task for February is to clean out your closet. You can read more here (in Swedish).

In my case I did have a good sort in January already because I had the new hangers. Doing that, I had put a few things aside that needed fixing, and slowly but surely I have started to make my way through that pile. There is also the big bag of old fabric that I have been meaning to make thing out of. I’ve had the ideas, just not the time and energy. Well, it’s time was time to stop making excuses.

As someone who has a large portion of self made clothes in my closet and wear them proudly I often get fabric as presents or get offered old curtains and garments that are have been worn out or has been damaged. Such was the case with a pair of trousers bought by someone I know. They came from a fast fashion brand and after washing them (she says she did so according to instructions. Maybe not though?)  they shrunk and become both too short and too tight to wear (and the elastic on the lining wasn’t fun either). well, these things happen and she asked if I wanted them. They were not wearable really and I could feel that the fabric was what I would call “brittle”. I have never studied design or sewing but I have encountered enough fabric to know bad quality when I feel it. This kind of fabric cannot endure much in the way of cutting and needles; it will start to disintegrate. So I decided to make the simplest skirt possible.

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What must be mentioned here is that I really like the colours and the pattern; I won’t be using this right now (it’s too cold) but in summer I’m sure I will wear it loads; just a simple thing to pull on, works with every thing. In this photo I’m wearing it with a beloved silk blouse that is wearing thin in places but the main problem was that the colour of the buttons was falling off. So I changed the buttons; took less than 10 minutes.

-Suss

7 things currently on my mind

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I love a list. I can never stop writing lists, nor will I make such promises.

  1. Swedish poet Karin Boye. When I was an ambassador for the literary prize “Augustpriset” I got a copy of a biography about Swedish Poet Karin Boye, who wrote in the 1930s. I started on it but soon put it aside because of other obligations but also I felt that I should brush up on her works before continuing with the story of her life. So I went on a Boye-hunt and ended up with Astarte which is in my bag, whilst the 600 page biography is read at home.
  2. My new hangers. I put hangers in my gift guides but also on my own wish list, and got some. I will still keep my big sturdy hangers for some clothes but these slim hangers mean that I hang all my dresses side by side instead of having one on top of the other, which inevitably leads to me not noticing half my closet. This is also related to #slowfashionutmaningen that has been launched by Johanna Nilsson on her blog Slow fashion (in Swedish). I care about sustainability, and try to act and consume accordingly but I also fall for the odd fast fashion piece, or buy tights wherever I find them if I’m in a hurry. Over the year, twelve challenges will be presented, the first is “make up your mind”. In 2018 I will try to buy as little as possible and when I do, buy clothes that are genuinely sustainable; try to promote smaller brands that have made commitments and only buy things that I will love and use. Which amounts to shopping according to the principles of slow fashion, which I was doing more or less anyways. I’m just gonna try to do it 100%.
  3. Bron. The Swedish-Danish crime series Bron (The bridge) is back. Saga Norén FTW. I say I don’t like crime novels much but every season of this I’ve been glued to the screen every Sunday night (thesis the fourth and last season).
  4. Yves Saint Laurent Tatouage couture matte stain in 1. I have not forgotten my efforts to find more sustainable skin care but I fell hard for this lip stain. I love a red lip and I’ve come around on matte reds for day time. This does stay on and wears off gradually. It’s like a liquid lipstick but it is a stain. A bit drying but not nearly as bad as the one I have been using from the Victoria Beckham line.
  5. The fact that I am running out of notebooks. I never thought this would happen but it seems like I will soon have a legit reason to do some stationary shopping (see yesterdays post).
  6. Tulips. The one thing that brightens up these grey days.
  7. When will I stop finding needles from the Christmas tree? It’s like this every year, and every year I forget. Until March there will be no walking barefoot on these floors.

-Suss

Saturday&Smoking Bishop

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It was a wonderful gift; to begin with. I do like cookbooks, and a love love love books, so a cookbook with recipes mentioned in or inspired by books was a great Christmas gift. I spent part of the holiday with coffee in hand, browsing the recipes and reading the stories accompanying them. Oh, and the photos! What delicious photos!!

Now let’s talk a bit about the books mentioned shall we? One in particular, why not? As it happens there are several recipes in this one of dishes mentioned in A Christmas Carol by Dickens. Fancy that. Obviously I got right on it and made the hot drink called Smoking Bishop; it being cold winter nights and all.

As a wise man said; first time you do it by the book. So I did follow Young’s instructions to the letter. In the back of my head there was a voice, making comments based on all that time I’ve spent research vintage cocktails and Victorian punches but ignore that for now. The end result was a great success. If you do it according to what’s written in The little library cookbook you will have a brilliant time reading and cooking and drinking Smoking Bishops. You are sorted for food and book recommendation.

However, I can never leave well enough alone and made it a second time, according to my own mad ideas. This is how it went down. I’d like here to issue a note of caution and a disclaimer; this recepie contains instruction to set something on fire. If you do not know how to handle it, skip that step. Have a lid ready to put out the flame should it be needed.

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Smoking Bishop; makes 2 very generous servings, or 4 small ones

8 cloves

1 orange

1 stick of cinnamon

3 cm ginger; sliced into 6 slices or so

a couple of crushed allspice berries (4-5)

(the odd cardamom pod should you have it around)

3,75 dl Port wine

1,75 dl red wine (plonk is fine)

3+1 tsp granulated sugar

1,5 dl water

2 clementines

fresh nutmeg, to serve

for preparing/serving;

waterproof glasses or cups

Matches

Tea strainer

  1. Divide the orange in half. Stick cloves in one half and place it in the oven at 190 degrees/gas mark 5 for around 30 minutes (I put the flat side down) until the orange is slightly brown or the kitchens smells like Christmas. Mine was nicely caramelized  on the side that was cut (that had been placed downwards).
  2. In the meantime; peel the other half of the orange thinly. No white, just the orange. Chop it in rough bits and place with 3 tsp sugar on like a saucer. This is a mini version of a classic Victorian oleo-saccharum (a sort of citrus sugar), usually used as a base for punches. The oils in the zest will give the sugar a lovely fresh orange taste, use the back of a spoon or a proper muddler to give it a bit of a bash to get things going.
  3. And as two things isn’t enough; in a saucepan, combine the water, ginger, cinnamon stick, allspice berries and one teaspoon of the sugar. Bring to the boil and then lower the heat somewhat, and let reduce to about half. The little bit of sugar releases the flavors (things you learn when making cocktail bitters). Then turn of the heat and let it steep for an additional 10 minutes, then strain it. I use a vintage tea strainer with a fine metal mesh, but a seasick or a coffee filter is fine.
  4. At around the same time the orange and the spiced water should be ready. Then you proceed to mix wine and port in a sauce pan and place it over a low heat. Now comes the fan part; when it is hot you take a match, light it and gently set the port/wine mix on fire. It burns with a blue flame. After a few seconds, blow it out. Add the spiced water and the orange with cloves. Let it simmer on a low heat for 10 minutes.
  5. In the meantime, slice the clementine and add to the glasses (I like a lot of citrus). Squeeze the juice from the other clementine and have it ready.
  6. When the 10 minutes have passed, take the saucer with sugar and zest and add to the hot liquid. You will probably have to scrape it of the saucer.
  7. Take the orange out of the saucepan, fish out the small bits of peel too (or use the tea strainer again). Dived the clementine juice between the glasses, then pout the hot wine/port mix over. Grate a little nutmeg on top.
  8. Serve piping hot.

My version also worked well and so this is how I will make it, and it has less cloves in it, which is an advantage as I see it. Not thrilled about cloves (which might have something to do with me fiddling with the recipe to begin with).

-Suss