Seattle Fall

Today was a day of rainbows, swirling autumn leaves and careering round the observation deck of the ‘Pess Nee-doll’ being nearly blown over by the gusting wind and giggling hugely as we went.

Followed of course by a massive thunderstorm in the afternoon.

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Arabesque

Claudia Roden is no more a simple cookbook writer than Marcel Proust was a biscuit baker. She is, rather, a memorialist, historian, ethnographer, anthropologist, essayist, poet.”– Simon Schama

I am indebted to the wonderful Seattle foodie blog Seattle Bon Vivant  for sending me off to a lecture last night by one of my all-time culinary heroines, Claudia Roden.

Though I’m the owner of literally hundreds of cookbooks (as I discovered when we were packing to come here), her The Food of Italy – Region by Region is one that I reach for again and again.  It is the book my aunt and nonna in Italy would have written if they had had the time and the inclination, and if you’d ever tasted their cooking, you would know that that is praise indeed.

Claudia is an Egyptian Jew who moved to England when she was fifteen when the Jews were forced to leave Egypt after the Suez crisis.  Her cultured and cosmopolitan Sephardi Jewish family had roots all over the Middle East and she started to collect recipes from her family and friend in order to counter the horrendous food she found in 1950s London.

The result has been a career as a cookery writer, broadcaster and culinary ambassador which has spanned nearly forty years and focused on Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine.

Last night, however, she was a guest of the Jewish cultural organisation Nextbook and her talk focused principally on her seminal work The Book of Jewish Food and on promoting her most recent book Arabesque -A Taste of Morocco, Turkey & Lebanon

I don’t know very much about Jewish food and her anecdotes were absolutely fascinating – tracing the development of dishes back through time and across Continents.  As an unofficial historian of Jewish food she is invited to eat and cook all over the world, and I could have listened to her stories all night.

She pointed out that when people migrate they might change everything about their lifestyles but will still cling as much as possible to their culinary traditions.  A glance at our kitchen cupboards – full of Italian pasta, Parmesan cheese, olive oil (itself a product of the culinary traditions my mother brought from Italy) Green & Black’s chocolate, Marmite and Nutella - shows that yes, we are clinging desperately to our European ways, despite the fact that European imports are twice the price of canola oil and Velveeta cheese.

I bought a copy of Arabesque and was starstruck enough to get her to sign it.  I really wanted a copy of Jewish Food as well, but all the copies they had were nabbed almost instantly.

Next week I’ll try out something delicious and report back.

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Our name on toast

Do you remember The Million Dollar Homepage?  Where student Alex Tew created an Internet phenomenon and made himself a millionaire by selling a $1million-worth of pixels on a web page?

There have of course been a slew of similar sites and the latest is www.yournameontoast.com.  The major differences as far as I can see is that this one is for charity and that the adverts (which click through to your website) are made of toast.  Which of course meant we had to sign up.

I have no idea whether this is going to be an Internet phenomenon but we’ve had a pleasing number of hits so far to the mirrormirror shop and you have to agree that they’ve made us a particularly scrummy-looking slice of toast.

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The Mad Hatter

Are we really supposed to be taking fashion advice from this woman?

 

It makes me sad that someone so intrinsically lacking in any sense of personal style can be hyped into becoming a fashion guru.

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Sunset

Oh I know this is getting ridiculous, and I probably won’t have any readers left soon, but this evening we were treated to the most awesome sunset (after a day of torrential rain) so I had to climb out onto the roof and take a couple of shots.

This is turning into a real dilemma.  One of the reasons for moving out here was so that the Minx could live in a proper house with a garden and neighbours, instead of a central London flat. 

But I love this view out over the Sound so much that it’s really tempting to stay here in a high-rise downtown apartment instead. Where else am I going to be able to work with a view like this?

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A couple of things

We’ve just launched two more new products on the site, both of which will cheer up your kitchen.

First up some gorgeous new heavy cotton teatowels from Atelier LZC .  It looks like they’re trying to reinvent the simple naturalistic aesthetic for which they’re famous

 

Famous Atelier LZC teatowels

into something more ornate and stylised.

New teatowels from Atelier LZC

I love the new look but it will be interesting to see how they sell in comparison with the other designs (which we’re still carrying) which have always done very well for us.

Of course, you could always treat yourselves to all four designs.

We’ve also got some new fridge magnets which are decorated with old vintage scarves and have a great early-70s retro vibe about them.

They’re only £6 for two, but you will of course need to buy yourself an orange Smeg fridge to hang them on.

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I know you’re all bored with the view

But yesterday evening I decided to experiment with some long exposure night time shots from our balcony, using a tripod and everything.

I’ve never tried my hand at nighttime photography before, so I’m quite pleased with how they turned out.

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Christmas gets Closer

More good coverage in Closer magazine this week and all hell is breaking loose (comparatively speaking) in mirrormirror-land. 

 

Lots of yummy orders and Helen is doing a fabulous job in the dispatch department but the problem is that we’re already running out of stuff and it’s only the middle of November.

All the shenanigans with my appendix and moving to Seattle has meant that I’ve been rather behind in my ordering, so new stock is still coming in and we just haven’t been able to launch as many new products as I would have liked. 

What with one thing and the other I’ve never felt able to focus properly on the company in the two years since mirrormirror has been up-and-running, mostly because I’ve pretty much been a fulltime mum to a baby over that period. In some ways it amazes me that it’s done as well as it has with so little attention, which has been frustrating as well, as I’m sure it could be really fab if I wasn’t always firefighting and could actually execute some of my big ideas.

But now I’m so looking forward to next year.  I’ve finally got a GREAT team in place which should free me up to be a bit more strategic in my thinking over the next few months.  Funnily enough I’m finding the time difference is working to my advantage.  I can answer urgent emails and make phone calls first thing in the morning when the UK is awake and then do more thoughtful work in the evenings when the UK is asleep and I know I won’t get interrupted every five minutes.

In the meantime though I just hope we can get through Christmas without someone having a nervous breakdown.

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It’s official

Well I hate to bang on about it – but the weather here has been dreadful.

As of November 15th it is officially the wettest  Seattle November since records began and we’re only half way through the month!

Today, though, we had a brief respite and for the first time I could see the point of living here.  The sun glistened on the sea, the air was crisp, one could see mountains in every direction and the autumn leaves and berries were spectacular.

Unaccustomed as I am to such splendour, I had of course left my camera at home and so was unable to record all the loveliness.

Which is a pity, as another ferocious storm is forecast for the weekend.

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Dancing with the Stars

So we settled down tonight to watch the Dancing with the Stars results show (so weird to have the results show on a different day, instead of a couple of hours after the main event).

There were only two celebs in the final – Emmitt Smith, apparently an ‘NFL legend’ of whom I have never heard, and Mario Lopez, a freshfaced and very pretty latino actor of whom I have also never heard. 

It warmed the cockles of my heart to see both Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli on the judging panel, though I really missed the cynical objectivity (except when it comes to Emma Bunton) of Craig Revel Horwood, as both Len and Bruno seemed to have gone native in their over-the-top exuberance and uncritical praise.

Anyway, Emmitt (clearly the American Darren Gough – built like a brick outhouse and oozing cheek, charm and charisma) beat Mario (the American Colin Jackson -the better dancer with a sweet nature). 

Here’s Emmitt’s cha cha cha from the semi-final which I enjoyed more than his dances in the final. Note that the camerawork is ten times better than Auntie Beeb’s awful swirly efforts and that the band is simply superb.

I also offer, by way of comparison, Mark Ramprakash’s hot salsa from last week in Strictly Come Dancing, just because I can really. 

It is quite ridiculous and rather sad how in love I am with this programme.  The Husband has rigged up a weird and wonderful system whereby UK programmes are recorded onto a computer back home and then downloaded to us over the Internet, so I’m still able to watch all the Saturday night shows, plus a lot of the week night ‘It Takes Two’ shows.

And when we’ve worked out where we’re going to live permanently here in Seattle, I’m going to sign up for ballroom dancing lessons.

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