Friday, February 23, 2007

Feelin' crafty

Every once in a while, I feel a little bit crafty. Please see: the scarf I've been knitting since 2003, the pillowcase I've been embroidering for a year, and all the various books I own on paper mache, knitting, quilting, and a zillion other things.

I painted my kitchen a few weeks ago, from a nasty light blue to a delicious dark red, and it looks awesome. But it really highlighted the fact that the chairs that were left behind by the previous owners? Yeah, they were ugly.


Chair one, on the left, is a perfectly nice wooden chair with a nasty yellow seat. Chair two, on the right, was a puffy disgusting mushroom coloured monstrosity that was gross, gross, gross.

So, what's a crafty girl to do?

Well, re-cover them, obviously.

I bought some awesome fabric on eBay, along with a staple gun, some upholstery foam for the seats and some black paint. Sorted!

I started with the ugly yellow chair.


And what happens when you're trying to take a photograph of a chair?


That's right. A cat jumps on it.

Turns out that these chairs are really cleverly designed and it's super easy to remove the seat. Once you get the cat off, of course.


Let the painting commence!

I decided to move into the living room, where the floors are newer and more expensive and harder to clean. And there's a TV to watch while I paint. Really, what would you choose?


I did put newspaper down. I'm not an idiot. Thank god Julia reads four hundred papers a day, so we had lots to use.

The chair already looked much less ugly when I finished the painting, which was pleasing.


Sadly, the staple gun I spent all of £3 on eBay wasn't up to the task of actually, you know, stapling stuff, so I had to get a replacement for £4 at Woolworths. God, what am I? Made of money?

The staple gunning was the fun bit. The realizing that I almost didn't have enough fabric wasn't fun. Stupid bigger-than-they-look seats.


Fortunately, I did have just enough to get both seat covers finished. Yay! And they look so much better now. It's almost like I went and bought attractive chairs. Clearly, that would be crazy talk, but it's almost as if I actually did that.


Again, taking a photo of a chair? A guarantee that a cat will jump on it.


"This chair is so comfortable and pretty! I wish I could stand on it all day!", is clearly what Lucy is thinking.

Go on. Try and tell me these aren't some fabulous looking chairs that look great in my new red kitchen.


Because I won't believe you.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Holiday Reading

In a mere 10 days, I will be on a plane to France. I know! Isn't that exciting? I'm going to Meribel on a skiing trip with a big group of friends.

Well, actually, it's more of a "skiing" trip for me, as I will not be skiing. I may do one day of it, but it's not really my thing.

"But Alice," I hear you say, "what ever will you do with your time then?"

Oh, there's a plan.

Imagine if you will: a chalet in Meribel. Outside, the snow, she is blowing. Inside, the fire, she is roaring. The hot chocolate, she is delicious and chocolatey. Alice, she is lounging on a couch reading a book.

After a day of delicious reading, Alice's friends return from the slopes, they have dinner and then go out and have lots of drinking and dancing fun.

Seriously, it's like the best holiday ever.

I'm currently putting together my reading list for the holiday. I figure it's seven days, so ten books feels about right to me.

Any suggestions? What do you think I need to read?

Friday, February 02, 2007

Not so clever after all, am I?

So, you know how I was all "I'm the best baker in the entire world, I'm so fabulous, look at me, I'm so great!"?

Oh, I've learned my lesson. Come on, carrot cake. Why do you have to be so difficult?

I get organic vegetables delivered every week, and I do my best to use them up by making soups for my lunches and dinners of various kinds. I often fail, because there are too many vegetables. And sometimes they're weird and scary, and I get afraid.

For the last kazillion weeks, there's been a bag of carrots in the vegetable box. Now, of course, carrots keep forever, so they've just been piling up. The entire crisper drawer in my fridge? Filled with carrots.

Tons and tons of carrots.

I've been bringing carrots for lunch every day, but that only uses up like two of them a day! And each bag is a POUND of carrots! I'm putting carrots in EVERYTHING that can possibly have carrots. Soup? Carrots. Lasagna? Carrots. Pasta sauce? Carrots. Salad? Carrots.

But, last week, like a flash of inspiration, the answer came to me.

I will make carrot cake.

Because one recipe will use like a WHOLE BAG of carrots! Sweet!

I'd meant to bake on Sunday, but due to Sainsbury's online grocery delivery operators being deeply stupid, they screwed up my order so it had to wait till Monday.

But Monday evening was all about carrot cake. I grated four cups of carrots. I measured, mixed, chopped as directed in the recipe. I only made two teensy changes.

I used yogurt instead of oil, which I've done before in recipes and usually works fine. And instead of two round cake pans, I used two loaf pans. Harmless, right?

The recipe said it should take 32 minutes to bake, but I knew it would take longer because of my different pans, so I set the timer for 45 minutes.

I checked at 45 minutes, and no - not done.

At 55 minutes - still not done.

At 65 minutes - still not done.

Now, this is when I got a bit worried. Over an hour is a long time.

At 75 minutes, I thought the toothpick came out clean, and they were done. I took the loaves out of the oven, put them on the cooling racks, admired their lovely loafness and let them cool.

After they'd been cooling for about 20 minutes, I went to cut myself a slice. Mmmm, carrot cake, I thought. Delicious!

But wait - what's this uncooked goo in the middle?

That's right. One hour and fifteen minutes in the oven, and it still wasn't cooked.

I tried to salvage it by pitching it back in the oven for another 20 minutes, but the damage was done. Two loaves, and a solid two and a half hours of prep time, and neither was even close to edible.

Well, I may not have had any delicious carrot cake, but at least I used up the carrots, right? That's got to count for something.