Blog of the week – chocolate

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Sometimes you just need chocolate. Lots of chocolate. I first saw the recipe for this double-chocolate brownies here, and then searching for the image I also came across this blog here and thought I’d better link that too.

Try both, make lots: buy *all* the chocolate, and then come and see me. These are so getting made this weekend. I like the comment that they last 5 days. Um, more like one?

Anyway, the blog…after a recent trip to a Venezualan cafe (delicious, by the way), I was definitely intrigued by My Colombian Kitchen. There’s a spicy (savoury) orange salad, stuffed potatoes and hot avocado sauce. And chocolate. What’s not to like?

Not to fret

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The days, the days they break to fade.

What fills them I’ll forget.

Every touch and smell and taste,

This sun, about to set

can never last. It breaks my heart,

Each joy feels like a threat:

Although there’s beauty everywhere,

its shadow is regret.

Still, something in the coming dusk

whispers not to fret.

Don’t matter that we’ll lose today.

It’s not tomorrow yet.

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Shades of Maya Angelou and Emily Dickinson in Kate Tempest’s collection “Hold it Own”. Photos of small things that give me pleasure.

Heavens to Betsy

 

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Reminded by Beth Bonini’s cheerful Instagram feed of these delightful books (I’ve posted about their companion volumes here and here before), I think I’m getting ready for a re-read.

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Lots of commentators compare these books to Meet Me in St Louis, and as well as the period details (the hairstyles! the dresses! the slang! the excitement over a telephone!), what I love most is the inherent optimism – progress is always good, and friends and family remain stable whilst welcoming new developments – but also the complete acceptance that a job, writing, singing, making your own mind up, are all important to a girl and in no way conflicted with the rest of her being.

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I find it depressing that a modern book wouldn’t show this, or would have to make a big point about it. Written in the 50s about the 1900-1910s, Betsy, Emily and Carney are in fact far more progressive than any characters today.

The heroic Margery

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Margery Gill was the illustrator of so many of my favourite books as a child (Apple Bough, A Little Princess), so I find her choppy, modern style very familiar and comforting. I like this website too, which praises the heroic age of illustration, an age that went hand in hand with a deliberately liberal social and moral view, the benevolent didacticism of the BBC and Penguin/Puffin books, and some cracking good stories.

Home comfort

 

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You know you’re getting comfortably middle-aged when you start thinking tea towels would be a nice gift (or re-usable wrapping paper), or that your idea of an internet shopping splurge is a cherry tree (only £12.99!), or maybe a pear.

Berry teatowels by Emily Gilmore via her Etsy shop; Otomi teatowels also via Etsy but found on Cup of Jo. Also check out Emily’s beautiful berry paintings on her Instagram page.

A warm embrace

I usually turn to a bit of comfort reading at this time of year, and a firm favourite are the Mountjoy novels. Perhaps Unaccustomed Airs, which features a wintry house, a dash to Budapest and Christmas feasts, or Divine Comedy, which has choral music and velvet enough to get anyone ready for Carols from Kings.

 

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For those who don’t know the series, the Mountjoy family themselves are renowned for their appreciation of a rakish life, and the local pub, The Mountjoy Arms, cheekily features a woman being carried off to bed on its sign.

 

For all the saints

As with last year, I’d like to take today to honour my friends, and also like last year I’m not mentioning family because they’re just too privately dear:

Your friend who sets up home with blankets, knitting and a pumpkin and brings you rose chocolates for dark nights.

Your friend who brings you a hygge book to  be comfortable with.

Your friend who makes you laugh even over breakfast, who is going to absolutely rip the piss out of you this week, and whose secret, secret bodyguard you are.

Your friend who wrote a PhD – a bloody PhD – and still stayed sane and nice and full of the best showbiz gossip. Also, cocktails.

Your friend who makes you smile every time you get their texts and was your first proper uni friend.

Your friends who are also fighting in the trenches of working life, and share with you theatre, wine and kick-ass Victorian heroines in your time off.

Your friend who took you to Helsinki and the best tea place in Tallinn, even though you completely fucked up the accommodation booking and there was only one real bed.

Your friend who is a poet and a rebel, mystic soul.

Your friend who let you drag her to Rosslyn Castle on a bumpy, shuddery bus in the rain.

Your friend who is your neighbour soon, and your friend who already is.

Your friends you get to go to New York to see and who lend you boots and give you malaria pills advice on a muddy walk.

Your friend who knows exactly what period dramas you like and still has time to text about Mr Darcy even with a newborn.

Your friends who come back for a party they think they’ve missed and still send you lawnmower jokes.

All the new, new friends you’ve met this year: thank you for being so welcoming, honest and warm.