Thursday, 6 February 2014

Rediscovered rituals

Or, how old friends become reacquainted again.
Welcome back Mistress of Zip, Madam of Zap.  It's been a long time.

Last century, 1991.
Early 20-something single female living solo for the first time.
Her own TV, her own front door key, her own washing machine, her own stereo…

Her own fridge.

Contents of fridge owned by early 20-something single female living solo for the first time (in order of then importance):

  • Chanel nail varnishes lined up in the butter compartment,
  • coffee beans in the freezer,
  • the current opened tin of cat food (neatly cling-wrapped) on the top shelf,
  • a bottle of flat Diet-Coke languishing in the door bracket,
  • a bag of pitted prunes.

Maybe, if early 20-something single female had been ‘grocery shopping’, some eggs.
(I was partial to a soft-boiled egg then, and remain so now).

The day would begin with my morning coffee ritual, the whizzing of the coffee beans, the heating of water, pre-heating the coffee pot.  The readying of the coffee cup.

My morning coffee was made in my Grandmother Helena’s coffee filter contraption and I used a coffee cup I had purchased on sale at David Jones whilst a Uni student (still a splurge at the time on a student budget). The weight of it and the feel of the cup in my hand as I brought it to my lips always pleased me, as did the shape of the saucer, which was curvaceous enough to accommodate the occasional spill as one perambulated down the hall coffee cup in hand to dress for work.

Like many other young people, I overdid it on the caffeine jag, imbibing coffee on waking, on arriving at work, all morning at my desk, at lunch, after lunch, and just before leaving the office. Completely jazzed on caffeine.  From morning ‘til night.

The headaches began and after some time I made the connection.  Farewell my love, you are hurting me.  And so caffeine and I parted ways barring the occasional flirt with after-dinner short blacks in restaurants.  My daily coffee ritual faded from my routine.  Grandma Helena’s coffee contraption was packed up into storage and the coffee cup and its saucer companion floated about in a seemingly purposeless existence on the cup shelf in the kitchen (too small for tea, the cup ended up presenting perfect half-domes of plated up rice and the saucer probably did service as the cat’s biscuit bowl for some time).

I didn’t miss the caffeine and the comforting ritual of laying out breakfast coffee items was replaced with the paraphernalia relating to the making of tea.  For 20 years I have drunk tea.  English Breakfast Tea, Earl Grey Tea, Lady Grey Tea, Russian Caravan Tea.  Orange Pekoe Tea; I loved tea.  It was the perfect beverage able to be savoured morning, noon and night…  You always felt better after a cup of tea.

Then all of a sudden, I couldn’t bear the thought of another cup of tea. 

Just. Like. That.
No more tea for me.

And so the Mistress of Zip, the Madam of Zap has been quietly entering my life again.  My old friends; my Grandmother Helena’s coffee contraption and my old coffee cup have made a triumphant return to my daily morning ritual.

Grandma’s coffee contraption makes the loveliest cup of homemade coffee, the finished product is surprisingly grain-less, the crosshatched porcelain in the base of the filter is very effective.  I would love to know more about this coffee pot and filter, was it the Bodum of its day?  Grandma escaped Russia in 1913 and lived in Germany until after WWII when she immigrated to Australia.  I suspect this coffee pot and filter is of German origin.  Can anyone help?

Happy days!

PS.  Over two decades have passed since 1991 and I now share a fridge with a man and a child.  The 2014 fridge contains the makings of meals; vegetables, meats, sauces.  The nail varnishes in the butter compartment have been replaced with a tube of ‘age-defying, wrinkle-reducing’ eye cream. And butter, of course.

PPS.  Here is a link to a site where you can purchase something very similar to my coffee brewer, (thank you an old friend, Michael, for finding this!  The video on the site is also very informative).

Click here to take you to the Walkure Karlsbad Porcelain Pour Over Brewer

From top LHS clockwise; the underside of the lid, the filter with crosshatching and the top filter
where hot water is added.

Apart from the number 5 and another small mark (both in racing green shown in previous photograph), this is the only other mark, I can't quite make out the letters... 'P A I E N T I R T'... Patent in German? Or a maker's mark?

The four components making up Grandma Helena's coffee pot and filter system, sitting upon a perspex tray purchased recently at 'Spotlight'.  My coffee cup (shown in the first photograph) is Wedgewood, bone china 'Palatia R4700'.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Make me! Affirmation angels

Or, New Year, new you!
Be the person you'd want to meet.

As this post is made, it’s New Year’s Day today.  Despite what may have been, this day has a special resonance for most; it's a re-set, a new start, another chance to make good, be good, do good.

There are a million (literally more no doubt) affirmations that can be found on the Internet.  I most prefer the ones that use words like precious jewels.  An affirmation made up of a few well-chosen words, one that is easy to remember, so that it is swift to read and easy to internalise.

Here’s my pick for my daily affirmation for 2014.

Be the person you’d want to meet.

This Affirmation Angel project is based on the Kewpie Doll Angel project of December 2013 (click here to take you to the instructions) with the only changes being:

  • Her wings are made from magenta coloured feathers.  (If you can’t find the pink feathers you want, dye them using food colouring and vinegar, see the end of this post).
  • She has a scrap strip of pale pink silk wrapped around her body as a ‘slip’.
  • The tulle is the stiff tulle, not the drapey sort.
  • She has a hook glued at the back of her head to hang her from the wall.
  • She has a printed affirmation glued to her hands (11point, Palatino).

Make a loop from wire and glue the twisted end to the back of the angel's head.  Paint the glue splodge gold.

Once the glue has cooled, bend the loop downwards.  Use removable plastic hooks to hang the angel.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   * 

Your bespoke Affirmation Angel

will of course; 

  • be holding your personal choice of phrase,

  • can be any colour (dye the feathers, oh, the possibilities),

  • and can be hung anywhere you need a sweet reminder of what’s important to you.

I have hung my angel on my closet door above my drawers where I keep my lingerie and jewellery and stockings.  She will be seen several times a day as I dress in the morning, and as I prepare for sleep at night.

You could make one for yourself, and while you’re in the groove, perhaps consider making one for a special friend!

Best wishes for the New Year.


Here she is, my friendly reminder to stay the course.

You can make them; Magenta feathers.  Here's how:
Following are some photographs that show how to dye feathers using food colouring.
Read each caption for tips.

I couldn't source separate feathers so resorted to deconstructing a feather boa.  Don't cut the feathers off the string, twist the string a little and then pull each feather gently and they will release.

I figured this would be a sufficient amount of feathers for 3 or 4 sets of wings.

 An entire bottle was used in this project (perhaps you might use less if you wanted a paler colour).

I  dissolved the contents of the pink food colouring, a splash or two of white vinegar and hot water and then submerged the feathers into the liquid using tongs.

After an hour or so soaking in the 'dye', tongs were used to lift the feathers into a lingerie or garment laundry bag.  The bag was zipped closed and rinsed several times until the water was clear (this is near the end of the rinsing).

The garment bag was placed in the washing machine on the spin cycle and pegged out in the hot wind to dry.

Amazing how robust the feathers are, they are doubling in volume or so it seems.

Almost dry.  I hurried them along by tossing the garment bag in the dryer for ten or so minutes.

After the dryer treatment... a bag of fluffy magenta feathers.

Success! Marvellous magenta!