Tuesday, 25 February 2014

The Brothel Supper

Today's Featured Mittens
Stormy Sunset
The Brothel Supper
      I have not really gotten into the non-literal aspect of woolgathering in my blog yet.  So this week I am going to digress from the knitting theme and share my story of The Brothel Supper.  When I first retired and was at home making wonderful meals for supper, it crossed my mind that all that effort of meal preparation was a bit of a waste for just the two of us.  I do love to cook, to feed others, and to eat.  I thought perhaps I should share my efforts and meals with others so I created The Brothel Supper. 
     Brothel might be a misnomer and might be offensive to some so I apologize in advance and invite all of you to suggest a better name.  There is that knitting site called Yarn Harlot so I hope I will be excused for my language and concept.  One visits a brothel and pays for services.  It is a business deal and there are no expectations in return.  The patrons pay for and get the very basics; they do not want or expect love, real intimacy or emotional investment. 
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec: 
Salon at the Rue des Moulins 1894
     Although there would be no sex or money involved in my Brothel Suppers, the brothel concept seemed to be the best model for my idea.  I wanted to invite busy, tired, working people to have a good meal mid-week with no strings attached.  They would not have to bring anything; they would not have to help clean up; they would not have to linger.  They would not even have to talk.  I would listen to the radio all day so I could fill them in on what was happening in the world, if they wanted to hear about it.  And Tom is always willing to give an opinion on anything at all.  There would be no expectation for the Brothel patrons to be charming, scintillating or coherent.  All they would have to do is sit down and eat and then leave when they felt like it. 
     Thinking back to my days of working, I concluded that Wednesday or Thursday night would be the best night for a Brothel Supper.  The working person is not too tired on Monday or Tuesday, and Friday night is the weekend so you can really relax and let your hair down.  On Wednesday and Thursday, however, you start to drag, but you still have to get up in the morning and get to work. 
    When the plan for The Brothel Supper was in its development stage, I pitched the idea to a few people including my husband Tom and my friends Patrick and Cheryl.  Patrick and I have an ongoing contest to see which of us can be the cheapest person in the world so he of course questioned my ulterior motives.  He did not think I would ever undertake such a project without some monetary remuneration.  He does have a point.  After a small discussion and argument in which I tried to defend my moral character, we agreed that even if I charged $10.00 for the Brothel Supper, it would still be attractive to the busy, tired working person.  They would have no choice of menu--- just lay down the $10.00 and eat whatever was being served.  Now this was sounding a little more like a brothel.  You would actually pay for the service.  A mercenary at heart, I considered it for a moment. 
      Then along came Tom who heard us talking about charging people to eat in our home.  Definitely more generous than either Patrick or I, Tom thought if I did such a thing, all the money collected should go to a charitable cause.   When I related all this to Cheryl, my nice, diplomatic friend, she thought of a compromise in which $5.00 could go to the charity and $5.00 to me to cover expenses.  Oh, the possibilities!
      Patrick, agitator extraordinaire, suggested we try out the money idea on his poor unsuspecting wife, Katherine.  I was to make a "crude" sign with the basic information and nail it to the verandah.  He would engineer a walk-by with his wife and just happen to see the sign and come in for the meal. 
     I agreed to the plan but as I was preparing the meal on the designated day, I started to get a little nervous.  Here we were planning a trick on Katherine BUT it would not be unlike Patrick to double-trick ME!  I started to worry that he would send some stranger down the street at the appointed time to read the sign, knock on the door and expect supper.  I went ahead and nailed the beautifully-crafted sign to the verandah at 5pm as planned, but kept running nervously to the window to make sure hordes of people were not lining up for the $10.00 meal.  Patrick and Katherine did walk by at 5:30 and Katherine was convinced to come in for a $10.00 meal.  She was just a little astounded by the whole idea but soon figured out our little joke.    
The Table
   I like to use the good china and crystal to make the brothel patrons feel special.
     The cloth napkins are necessary.  
     The linen tablecloth is a must.
Brothel Supper Menus
     The meals I tend to serve are fairly basic but good.  A Turkey Dinner.  Chili.  Baked chicken.  Beef Stew.  One tried and true menu I call the Long Reach Church Supper, which totally conflicts with the idea of a brothel.  Long Reach is my ancestral home and it boasts many a good cook.  That LR menu is baked ham, potato scallop, baked beans, coleslaw, pickled beets, rolls, pickles, and pie for dessert.  The dress code is bib aprons. 
     I often make pies for dessert.  I will not deny it, I make good pies.  Just ask my friend and neighbor Les.  He will confirm that!
      And I do usually carve some message in the top crust.  They are not usually as mushy as the one pictured above which I made for a friend's wedding.
Recent Brothel Supper
      The most recent Brothel Supper was a Turkey Dinner with turkey and stuffing, of course....
mashed potatoes...
peas and carrots....
baked squash with cranberries....
pickled beets, Lady Ashburnham pickles, cranberry sauce, gravy...
rhubarb/strawberry crisp with whipped cream.....
tea and coffee.... 
The Brothel Patrons
  Margaret, Lynne, Tom, Alex, Les

      Are you a tired, busy, working person?   Perhaps you qualify for a Brothel Supper!!  Leave a comment in the comment section of this blog and I'll sign you up for a chance to win!


Until Next Time......


Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Knitting Downton Abbey

Today's Featured Mittens
Evening in Paris
       This week Downton Abbey is the theme of my blog.  I have trolled around looking for Downton-inspired knitting patterns and have posted some of my favorites from my search.  I have included links to patterns where possible.  And someday, I am going to knit some of these items!!
     This painting is of the same era as Downton Abbey.  The house and the knitter look modest compared to that which we see on Downton.
Edmund Charles Tarbell 1916
     I think this collar is most suitable for Lady Mary.   Perhaps she could wear it while saving the pigs as she did last week.  So refreshing to see her getting dirty. 
    And this has been labelled as The Lady Edith Jacket, although I think the model looks more like Lady Sybil.  Poor Edith.  How is she going to get out of her pickle????
     And here we have the dreamy Lady Sybil jacket.  How I miss Sybil.  Will Tom Branson stay at Downton or go to America? 
    And I think this outfit was made for Cora.  Is Edith going to tell her the truth?  I think Cora would be understanding. 

     And if you did not want to wear the heavy kimono to the wedding, how about this lacy wedding shawl?
After the weddings, the babies arrive we hope. 

        And these Downton babies are stylin'.  This is intended for Baby Sybil.
     And for Baby George in a couple of years, a sensible, sturdy cardigan!

     I can picture the no-nonsense, pragmatic Isobel in this hat.  Will she ever take a serious interest in Dr. Clarkson? 
      And I think these were made for Cousin Rose.  Will she stay out of trouble? 
     I love these "gauntlets."  I cannot really connect them with our Lady Violet, but they were so-named when I discovered them.  Perhaps it is the denim and the leather in the picture that just does not jibe with Lady Violet.  And the colors of the gauntlets???  Not Lady Violet-ish at all.  Or maybe there is another side to Lady Violet that we have not seen.  (Don't think so.)
      One Pinterest follower suggested that Daisy could wear this Winnowing Shawl when she visits the farm.  Will she and Alfred ever get together?  I love the pattern and color of this.   I love Daisy, too. 

     And although we rarely see Ivy out of her kitchen garb, I think she would look great in this Cloche. 
Perhaps Lady Rosamund Painswick could pull this off.
     Mrs. Hughes could add some color to her black wardrobe with this lilac scarf when she steps out to address the various problems which she is so adept at solving. 
      And this is for Mrs. Patmore, if she ever gets out of the kitchen.  Perhaps she could wear it when she and Mrs. Hughes settle down for their evening cup of tea before bedtime.  She deserves some time out of her apron. 
      I think these are suited to demure Anna.  She would surely keep them hidden from public view. 

     And which of the Ladies of Downton need a pair of elegant Texters/Smokers? 
       Take the Downton Abbey Character quiz.  Which Downtown Abbey Character Are You?   The first time I took this quiz, I came out as Mrs. Hughes.  I just did it again and I came out as Lady Mary Crawley.   Cold, mean, desperate.....hmm, sounds about right! 
Until Next Time....

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Knitting Muses

 Today's Featured Mittens
Easter Eggs: Sister Act
       Today's mittens were made for 2 little sisters, Sophie, aged 4,  and Lena, aged 2 months.  They feature Mitten Strings, an essential addition for children's mitts!

        I receive many links and photos and articles from friends, Facebook and otherwise, that address my knitting and mitten obsession.  It is reassuring to see that there is so much interest in knitting in the great wide world!   
         An inspirational picture sent by my friend, Joan.....Thinking of doing this in my Knitting Studio.
Mitten Display:  Gros Morne National Park. 
(Photo: Joan McDaniel)
Pink Knitting Mug
The pink mug I got for Christmas from my sister, Kathy.  Love it!
Yarn Cupboard
     My niece Hayley sent me this idea as a Pink Place to stash my yarn.  And it would match my Pink Mug. 
    Yarn in a Teapot
      Here is a neat way to keep your yarn from tangling when knitting with several colors....Thanks to Hayley and cousin Danielle.  Perfect, considering my tea habit. 
Pop Bottle Yarn Organizer
Yet another solution to tangled yarns from my cousin Susan.  Clever idea!
Knitted Lapel Pin
     This little artifact is on loan from my friend Linda.  This was given to her by a student about 30 years ago.  I am going to try and replicate it...when I get caught up.  Think I will need to knit it on toothpicks. 
Knitting Links
     My niece, Hayley, and my knitting friend, Denise, are both top-knotch at sending me links and ideas about knitting.  Here's a good one they both sent me.  It justifies all the hours spent knitting. 
       Hit the link above to read the article about the great health benefits of knitting which include stress relief, dementia risk reduction, improved concentration, pain distraction, social connection, and technology detoxification. 
      Here is another link sent by Hayley which weds two of my favorite past-times, knitting and reading.  This site is so neat.  It matches an audiobook, which you can download for free, with a knitting project which will take approximately the same amount of time to complete as it will to listen to the book.  For example, while you listen to Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver or Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, you can knit yourself a shawl.  The book and the shawl will take about 15 hours.  In one hour you could knit the Mug Cozy pictured above while listening to Brokeback Mountain by E. Annie Proulx.  Brilliant! 
       In the summer at my cottage where I have a radio and a CD player but no TV, no computer, and no human companions I do a loose version of this practice.  Nugget and I spend many hours knitting and listening to CBC Radio and library books on CDs.  So peaceful.  And productive.
     And yet another interesting article sent by my friend Denise.  Click on the link above to read all about the retired teacher who spent 11 years knitting her husband and coat and cap out of her own hair!
     And my friend and Long Reach neighbor Jennifer is encouraging me to knit for penguins affected by the 2011 Rena oil spill in New Zealand.  Click on the link above for more details. 
And yet another idea from my friend Carolyn.  Click link for details!
      Another link from Hayley....23 Things that Would Happen if Knitters Ran the World.  Real food would be passé, for one thing.  Click on the link to see the other 22 things. 
      Knitting buddy Gillian sent this one.  Click the link to see more knitted fences. 
What more could you ask for?  Thanks, Denise!
     Click this link to see where you fit in the array.  Are you an artistic knitter, a logical knitter, a contented knitter? 
Pithy Messages from Various Friends: 

From my daughter, Julia

      "The motion of knitting isn't all that different from the motion of plugging away at your smartphone all day. Except knitting promotes focus, and the phone promotes distraction."

From Denise

From Hayley
From Knitting Fan and Model, Peggy

 Knitting Fan and Model, Peggy, sporting the custom-designed Nose-Warmer

Thanks to all my Knitting Muses..........

Until Next Time....