Friday, 18 June 2010

I do craft. Or not.

There are a lot of blogs out there where people show off what they've made, and then there's Country Living Magazine, which I get because my mother bought me a subscription to it. The Country Living lifestyle is definitely not mine: the houses on show are filled with beautiful finds from little junk shops and gorgeous French markets; mine is filled with dog hair, books, and a few beautiful finds fighting a losing battle to be seen. Most of the women in Country Living seem to have created marvellously lucrative careers for themselves in next to no time having decided to flee the city, rather than trugging on as I do making a profit but not exactly a bountiful living.

And they also do crafts, these women. I'm usually immune to this lifestyle sort of thing. I am like the women in that old Harry Enfield skit: I know my limits. So, I'm still quite mystified by what exactly it was that took me over last weekend.

In the garden, my roses are out. I adore my roses: I have a complete and utter passion for the many petalled sort with the sort of scent that haunts you, and as they are generally plants which can cope with my laissez-faire approach to gardening, they don't do at all badly in my garden.

In what I think must be something to do with my severely practical grandmother, I like things to be useful, and I do like to feel I've made the best of things. If' there's something to be eaten, or jammed, I like to feel I've eaten it. Or jammed it. Or whatever. Thus far, I've just contented myself with smelling the roses, but last weekend I decided I was going Do Something with them. I started off spreading petals all over the landing windowsill to dry - an innocuous thing I managed quite successfully. Then I decided I would crystallise rose petals.



and here I am, crystallising rose petals.




and I have to say it went surprisingly well, though I got very bored very quickly, and decided I'd move on to making rose syrup. I picked heaps of roses, carefully trimmed them, steeped them in water in double boiler; changed the rose petals three times, heated the mixture up three times, squeezed the petals, added sugar, heated it up, and voila, syrup. I was so, so proud of myself. I lifted up the jar and noticed it had a hefty crack in it. Ooh, I thought, better put that in another jar, at which point the jar exploded. Thank goodness for padded bras is all I can say. Syrup was everywhere. My OH hearing my shrieks, came and did the majority of work de-stickying the kitchen, while I sighed and moaned about the waste of all that effort as I swabbed the floor. A scant teaspoon was all I managed to save. It was ambrosial.

I told my running friends about this the next day, both of whom gave me "are you surprised looks?" Goodness alone knows what possessed me, but I thought I'd try again. I am very fond indeed of rose creams, and thought if I managed to make the syrup again without incident I could try some cooking. Cooking I usually get thereabouts right. Ha. Picked the roses, trimmed them, put everything on the double boiler and trotted off to work. Completely and utterly forgot to turn the flame off under the double boiler, completely and utterly forgot that I'd even started anything in the kitchen, and came down 4 hours later wondering what on earth the very odd smell was.


6 comments:

Moggypie said...

oh...but I DO love little kittens!

As for the craft...well, you certainly rose to the occasion :)

That's one of the finest craft disaster stories I've ever heard. I dabble in various crafts (we've decided around here that if we were ducks, I'd be the dabbling sort, whereas my husband would be one of the divers--the kind that dive deeply into things and stick with it til they get a result) and have had my own failures (my sister is still wondering why I sewed her a triangular and floral stuffed rat as a teen) but so far the kitchen has been unscathed.

Gather ye roses while ye may ;-)

Gillian said...

What a shame about the disasters after your hard work.

I had a go at preserving blackberries and elderberries a few years ago. I made a couple of batches of jam fairly successfully, though one back tasted a little burned. However I'm not really much of a jam eater, so it sat around doing nothing for a year or so and was eventually mostly thrown out.
I also made wine. It all went well and I had two demi-johns left to mature in the bathroom. I got rather nervous about bottling it, in case it turned out to be horrible after all. It sat for about 7 years until I roped in an experienced friend to help. By then, it had refermented and used up all the sugar. One demi-john was abandoned as too vinegary; the other was saved by adding large quantities of sugar to each bottle. It turned out rather good in the end, though Lord alone knows how strong it is.

Jane Badger said...

Moggypie - the question is, was it meant to be a rat? If so, I wonder too. I was briefly tempted to gather rosebuds this weekend, but effortlessly fought the temptation off in favour of covering myself with Dettol, lice powder, red mite powder, diatomaceous earth and bedding shavings. Time to clean out the chickens.

Gillian - you're still writing, so the elderberry stuff couldn't have been that strong.... elderberries are something that make me twitch each year as I think I should be doing something with them. I comfort myself the with thought, that as they are ignored yet again, at least the birds love them.

Frances said...

Oh you did make me laugh!! I'm sorry that didn't turn out quite as expected...maybe next time...? :D

Jane Badger said...

Thank you Frances - every time I go past the roses I think about having another go, but haven't yet psyched myself up to it... maybe at the weekend. Or maybe not.

Shelley said...

Since my work is about our grandmothers' lives, I liked the "old-fashioned" feel to this post--and the crystal rose petals are pretty! Are they to eat? They look more like the beginnings of artwork.