autumn shenanigans: on life, love and idina menzel

Flowers, JournalAlexandra Lister4 Comments

I get down to writing mindful that (to buck the trend), today’s post isn’t going to be a rant or a whinge, it’s going to try to be a timely update on the happy, frothy, Instagram-worthy stuff of life because it is cold and dark and very wet out and I feel like indulging myself with a little optimism and because the alternative is to put my head down on the desk in front of me and go back to sleep.

Well, the sun sets in the afternoon now and at night I burn down the hawthorn kindling. In the dwindling hours between day and dark, the light is clogged with rain or fog or woodsmoke anyway and we are heading headlong into winter. Some mornings the lane is glittered with frost and the fields seep into satchel-brown lakes between the hedgerows. I think it strange that here, as far from the sea in any direction as it is possible to be, there should be seagulls paddling on these insignificant bodies of water – and then, when I next look, the water has receded and they have gone.

A little under two months ago we upgraded from the little city flat to the cottage, the picture-perfect chocolate box home for two - hasthtag idyllicnewlymarriedbliss. Circumstances as they are however - husband working all hours god sends and the rest of them on the motorway - I have it mostly to myself. Being well-meaningly wifely I hold the fort, keep the home fires burning (literally) and have taught myself to bake – and I bake a lot, these days. Or else I spend a lot of time in Waitrose wondering which cupcake sprinkles to buy next. We joke that I’m morphing into obsessive lonely baker Marnie Madden from The Hour and he will come home to a table heaving with neurotically baked pies and trifles and me in a starched apron smiling brightly across an outheld martini – ‘welcome home, darling!’ I find myself out of tins – those few I havehousing Nigella’s chocolate Guinness cake, a tray of red velvet cupcakes, a Victoria sponge and several rounds of quiche - so I am perhaps not as far off Marnie-Madden-Land as I like to think. All I need now is a pair of kitten heels and I'm there.

So here / there I am - on the sofa half-watching the latest episode of Homeland in my reindeer pyjamas (okay, that last bit isn’t true) with a bottle of red wine and the bowl of leftover cream cheese frosting under one arm looking wistfully at pictures of our honeymoon back when a) we were together, on a beach and b) I could fit into an Isabel Marant cut-out swimming costume and look smokin. Or at least semi okay-ish. The upshot of all this, of course, is that my husband is progressing his career and that if we actually have a Saturday together we go out to lunch and flirt and laugh at eachother’s jokes in a way that we never would if we spent all our time together and that is all lovely.

We are taking a ‘mini-break’ this weekend - this can’t just be shagging, mini break for holiday means true love -complete with grand piano and roll-top bath and I am going to wear a head-scarf in the car à la Bridget Jones.

Or should that be Grace Kelly.

~ * ~

Since my last broadcast, there was a big fat English wedding.

We did the flowers.

Four solid days of back-breaking work produced blistered fingers, bruised knees and eleven golden bowl tablepieces spilling with flowery goodness, mocca amaryllis and Obama dahlias, feathery asparagus and chocolate-scented cosmos. I could go on (and on) but the end result was sumptuous and abundant, four bouquets (the bride had mistral anemones that I still shiver to think about, petals so delicate around their stern black faces), two cast iron urns of tall spindly branches and trailing amaranthus, several corsages and too many buttonholes to mention.

I have recently acquired a business partner - Jesse Lister - illustrator extraordinaire, my sister, and the one and only person who can make me laugh until I get stomach cramps. I am aware that doesn’t sound much fun.

But it is.

Plus, she doesn’t judge when I know all the words to Taylor Swift songs.

Jesse has a beautiful range of Christmas cards available now on her Etsy shop.

Lastly, I had a great book-buying spree recently that included a couple I have to recommend to anyone who hasn't already rushed out and bought them - for foodies, Mimi Thorisson's A Kitchen in France: A Year of Cooking in My Farmhouse. Every recipe I have tried from this book has been a triumph. Then, for anyone who loves flowers remotely as much as I do - Floral Contemporary: The Renaissance in Flower Design by Olivier Dupon, which is a luxurious tome of a book and is basically the book that I wanted to write (and was even pitching to agents) but now that it's already been done I can relax and forget about it (the pressure's off!) and lastly the latest by Studio Choo founders Alethea Harampolis and Jill Rizzo - The Wreath Recipe Book, which is packed full of ideas for wreaths and garlands galore.