Seasonally inspired things to Learn, Make and Do


It's not about the bread

I love bread.

I particularly love sourdough bread.

Once, in the mid 2000s, after a particularly good trade fair, Euan and I went to the London restaurant Moro to celebrate and I badgered the waiter to let me buy a loaf of bread to take home (£8 - 15 years ago! I must have been on a trade show exhaustion high)

Now, every week, pretty much without fail, I bake a loaf of sourdough. Sometimes I bake two.

But it's not about the bread.

If it was just about the bread then I would simply buy a loaf. Unlike 15 years ago, there are places locally where I can buy excellent sourdough for £3-50-£4 a loaf. (People go on about how sourdough is expensive and it truly isn't, it is just that we have been conditioned to think that bread should be cheap - a whole loaf, which will last a week, costs less than a small coffee and a donut ). It would be a straightforward commercial transaction and I would enjoy my morning toast.

But it isn't about the bread, it is about making the bread.

The pleasure is somehow about the routine and the connection and the sensory pleasure of making the bread. The simplicity of combining flour and water and salt and wild yeast. The kneading. The smell of fresh bread coming out of the oven, cutting the first slice, the feeling of plenty. Abundance.

I don't mean this in a 'domestic goddess' kind of way - my bread is made to a simple recipe with an even simpler technique. I have no call to improve or alter it, I do not want my bread making to become something I perfect, it isn't a competitive undertaking. If you take away the rising and the actual baking it is something I spend less than 10 minutes on each week.

The bread is something in my life that is removed from consumerism, away from competition - something that just is. A weekly magicking up of sustenance from simple ingredients.

It made me think about how many other things in my life, the best things in my life, have the same kind of feel - making soup, growing vegetables, arranging flowers, knitting blankets, mending - all done for the love of the doing, none sensible in a cost analysis way, the process more important than perfection.

It is something that I increasingly believe is a route to a more engaged life - a connection to a rhythm of the seasons, to materials, to making, to feeding people. It is something I am thinking about a great deal while I potter.

So what do you love doing that is as much about the doing as the result? That is away from consumerism and competition? Let me know in a comment.

I learned to bake sourdough with Kat Goldin at Gartur Stitch Farm - she runs workshops and also has a great online course for non locals!

Comments: 1 (Add)

Gill Harris on December 6 2019 at 12:21

I live to make our Saturday night Pizza & today because it’s to wet to garden I made roast vegetable soup & soda
Bread , living 3 miles from a shop makes you be inventive!

Snapdragon social

Small runs.⁠⠀
The single thing that has made the most difference in Snapdragon Life's eco-footprint over the past 9 months has been choosing only to make small runs of products.⁠⠀
I know that can be frustrating sometimes - people get upset when something sells out.  @amandabanhamceramics wrote about this recently - how she received frustrated, sometimes even nasty, emails after every online sale of her houses.⁠⠀
Once upon a time I would make 100s, sometimes even 1000s, of a single design. ⁠Now I make 10 or 20 or 30 of something. ⁠⠀
And that is it. ⁠Once they are gone they are gone.⁠⠀
⁠The photo is of some allium embroidered lavender cushions, embroidered onto C19th handwoven linen - part of the Just Breathe gift set - a limited edition of 20. ⁠⠀
Half have sold.⁠⠀
A big sky and a bright pond for the end of the working week.⁠⠀
This week I've been setting aside time to make things.⁠ It has felt grounding in the way that gardening is when we aren’t ankle deep in mud. Carefully chosen materials, working with my hands, concentrating. ⠀
These patches of antique linen, embroidered with the dark lines of allium seed heads, are for a new batch of the 'Just Breathe' gift sets which should be up on the website tomorrow.⁠⠀
I taught myself to draw with a sewing machine⁠⠀
years before I learned to draw with a pen. ⁠⠀
In many ways I still find it easier - as though there were something backwards in my head that is happier thinking in reverse.⁠⠀
At the weekend I read Anne Lamott's 'Almost Everything: Notes on Hope' - a book written in 2018, ⁠⠀
I copied out this quote ⁠⠀
Oh this linen from @scottishlinen is wonderful to embroider on.  It has inspired me to try something I have been meaning to do for ages.⁠⠀
All Summer I have been decorating order boxes with mugs and flowers.  I must have done a few hundred by now, the initial of the customer on the mug, fine liner on card.⁠⠀
It is a design device I love - the wonderful works of @debbiegeorgeartist and @angielewin are my inspiration - and I wanted to see if I could get fluid enough to have it work as a freehand machine embroidery.⁠⠀
I don't work from a sketch, there are no lines on the fabric, I just put my sewing machine pedal down and go.  It helps a lot if there is some level of muscle memory.⁠⠀
This large lavender cushion is the result - this particular one is going as a gift to a Club Member who has agreed to write for my January edition of Some Seasonal Notes. ⁠⠀
The link to have me make one is going first to Studio Club Members their e-mail this morning, but then will go up on the website later today. The last order date will be 30th November as I can't stockpile them and will need time to make them.⁠⠀
My Dad would hate this photo.⁠⠀
Growing up candles were banned from the house except from on Christmas Day - and even then he spent his time blowing them out as he passed.⁠⠀
This is a rosemary covered jam-jar.  I first saw these in 1990s when they were a speciality of the florist Paula Pryke and the tie was a silk taffeta bow.⁠⠀
This rustic version - with a tie make from linen offcuts - is the 15 minute activity going out in tomorrow's Studio Club email.
Dixie is slowly getting used to being a Studio dog.  All last year - as  I changed the way Snapdragon Life worked - she spent her time with me working at the kitchen table, bossing the cats around, barking at the postman.⁠⠀
Earlier this year, I moved back into the Studio full time and she came with me. To begin with it was fine, she was mainly outside and the doors were open.  She spent her days lying across the Studio threshold and watching out for trespassing pheasants.⁠⠀
But now it is too cold to have open doors and I can't be bothered with constantly letting her in and out, so she is a full time studio dog, curled up on the chair by the stove.⁠⠀
She very clearly finds it “boring, boring, boring” and thoroughly disapproves of both my music and the lack of biscuits. ⁠⠀
Now that we are in the season of mud I am spending most of my time looking up.⁠⠀
Birds stripped the orange rowan berries within a couple of days, but these yellow ones were still hanging bright against the grey.

About Snapdragon Life

At Snapdragon Life I gently guide you through bringing the changing seasons into your daily life, helping you slow down, so that you can experience increased well being, calm and creativity.


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