Embroidered Tea Towels

Here are some recent examples of my embroidery. I embroidered two tea towels in the traditional sashiko style for the church bazaar. The average age of the ladies in the handicrafts posse, of which I am a member, is about 70, and as I am the only member who is not retired, they kindly reduced my quota. Even then the leader is every bit an authority to be as obeyed as a CEO. She is a little old lady around 140cm tall, but she was a master at getting monthly progress reports out of me to gage whether I was likely to reach my production goal, and certainly knew how to motivate me to meet my quota. Even though I've always loved handicrafts, it was all I could do to embroider just two tea towels. When I was in college I was sure that I was busy, and that college students had a lot less free time than what older folks assumed, but I still had time for handicrafts. I was certainly busy as a student, but it's not the same as the busy-ness of a working professional, I must admit.


The first one is a stylized shamrock, done as a traditional Celtic design. This complicated design took some time to embroider.



The other is a gnome sitting on a toadstool, grinning as he holds a flower. Whimsical, yes? (Of course that's my tablecloth in the background.)



Thus, my handmade efforts extend beyond cooking. I also do embroidery and other handicrafts. Oh, and by the way, both tea towels sold at the bazaar.









Playtime in the Park

When was the last time you went into a public park to play? Were you a kid? Or did you have your child in tow?


I still go to the park to play, even though I'm a single, childless 30-year-old woman. The swings are my favorite. I only go after dark, after the children are gone, though. On the swings, going higher and higher, I think about work, I think about my friends, my love life, etc. It's mindless but exhilarating in a way that clears the mind. Quite therapeutic, actually.


I can barely squeeze onto the slide, and there is no point in going on the seesaw when I'm alone. I had to give up on the jungle gym, because I'm simply too big to crawl into it. It's one of the round ones that swivel.


Aside from these obvious amusements, I also practice dance steps in the park. The Viennese waltz, Greek hasapiko, Irish sean nos, any kind of dance, really. I can dance around the swings, which help maintain a nice oval LOD (line of dance) for the Viennese waltz.


It would be so much fun to go on the seesaw and the swings with a date. It wouldn't be romantic like dancing in Central Park with Fred Astaire, but then I'm not Cyd Charisse. It's funny how I'm now old enough to be a kid again, except that it's somehow better to play as a grownup, because I have the best of both worlds. Even better would be playing in the park by daylight, as the proud parent of a little tyke.

I Don't Have an Oven

There are a lot of nice, posh recipe books out there for people who live alone, but many of them involve grilling and roasting. Most normal apartments and houses can at least accomodate a stove-top oven/ grill, but my flat is too small to store such a thing, let alone use it in my tiny kitchen. I can't roast because I don't have an oven, but I can simulate baking by steaming.


One of my favorite desserts that requires an oven is baked apples, but I still manage to enjoy them by simply steaming them instead!


1.Choose a kogyoku apple if you are in Japan, or a Granny Smith in the UK. Tart apples are best for this.

2.Core the apple. Be sure not to puncture the bottom of the apple.


3.Stuff the apple with raisins (any dried berry you have on hand will do). Layer the raisins with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, powdered ginger, vanilla extract if you're feeling fancy, and more raisins, etc. Repeat.


4.Put about 1cm of water into a pot, add the apples, and put the lid on.


5.Steam on medium heat.


The finished product looks as if it was baked!



I have tried many times to make cakes and pies this way, but with questionable results. Eventually I'll get it right...


I also make that Turkish favorite, stuffed paprikas, in the same way.


1.First make the pilaf stuffing. Add cooked rice (cooked with an ordinary rice cooker), tomatoes, miced onions and garlic, raisins, pine nuts, celery, chicken stock (I often use dashi fish stock), oregano, marjoram, thyme, sage, bay leaves, cooking sake, olive oil, and black pepper to a skillet and stir fry the mixture.


2.Remove the parlsey leaves from the stems and add last. (I snack on the stems at this point. Yum yum! Not really.)


3.Carve out the top of the paprika and remove the seeds.


4.We are going to use the top as a lid, so trim off the part that has seeds on it.


5.When the pilaf is ready, stuff it into the paprika.


6.Put the lids on the paprikas, and then put them into a pot with about 1cm of water.


7.Steam on medium heat.



Whether you are steaming apples or paprikas, they're ready when they're soft.


See, you can make fancy meals even without all that snazzy equipment! Your friends will be impressed by your resourcefulness (at least mine were, heh heh).
















































お得に暮らすためのおばあちゃんの知恵 パート②

「お得に暮らすためのおばあちゃんの知恵 パート①」の続編・パート②です。


その⑥ 美容にお金をかけすぎない。


その⑦ 同じ美容のテーマで続けると、古着でもおしゃれができます。


その⑧ スーパーで買い物する際は見切り品コーナーをチェックする。


その⑨ 予算とはゼロ和ゲームです。


その⑩ 最も重要なことは、あたかも1933年であるかのように家計を管理することです。