Lunch at The Natural Dye Studio

Lunch at The Natural Dye Studio

Wednesday, 7 May 2014


It's something we're told to be.
Be healthy.
Don't binge drink, don't take drugs, don't smoke, don't eat above 2000/2500 calories a day, don't forget your apple a day either, don't have too much meat, balance your diet, think of the different grains, not just rice, where did that potato come from? Is it organically fairly traded? How do you think it felt when being ripped from mother earth still spudding?

And exercise.
Exercise until every bone aches and every muscle is strained because if you don't feel like you're pushing yourself to the limit then you'll always be fat, just like every other normal person in this world. No one will fancy you because you have a stomach bulge or a protruding love handle and slightly slacker top arm waddle than Cameron Diaz ...

I understand that weight/image is something that women have always had a tremendous problem with (and quite a few men), the constant anxiety that we are not attractive enough. I, of course, have those niggling thoughts however I've never given two tosses to weight myself or obsess over the conventionally pretty airbrushed magazine girls and I've never stopped myself from either A) having one too many drinks B) sitting on my arse all day and creating something C) eating a huge bag of Doritos... by myself... in one sitting.

Queenie on the other hand has had more anxiety than I, but she has been living longer and had the three baby  body stretch and the husband who likes to feed her.
I'm young. I'm sure my anxieties will get worse with age.

At The Natural Dye Studio we do however make an effort to stretch ourselves taller by hanging the yarn off the metal ceiling rack and we do work our arms by lifting kilos of wet yarn in and out of dye baths. Some of the yarn can be very, very heavy and sometimes the lifting of wet yarn can even take ALL of our muscles... well, not all of them, but some of them... fine, not some of them just a couple of them... mainly the wrist muscles.
But it's working out. A strenuous and laborious task that keeps our wrists and biceps in peek condition.
As for the food aspect of being healthy we make a concerted effort to occasionally bring in some fruit which sits on top of the filing cabinet and sometimes gets eaten, but mostly rots.
Today, we found a particularly hard tangerine that had obviously gone past the stage of squidgy rot and into the stage of rock solid rot.

We decided that instead of attempting to open this sad specimen we'd just decorate and photograph it with the sweets we actually had for lunch and then return it to the shelf above the desks.
Long may the tangerine rot, as a beacon of health for us all!

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Amanda's cake making talent through the ages.

I started making cakes when my children were very small, I can't remember the first one, but I'm sure it was glorious.

I have searched through all our old photo albums and found this selection of beauties

This first photo is of Fep's second birthday cake, I'm not sure if it was a shared cake, so I might not of even made it, but it does look like one of mine.
Fep shares a birthday with her friend Jow, in fact they were born on the same day at the same time but in 2 different parts of the country, so they are almost twins. As a 27 year old man I'm sure he will be delighted to discover he is on this blog.
Please note - Fep is wearing a lovely hand knitted (not by me) turquoise cardi and a chocolate face.
The second thing to note about this photo is Fep's newborn 5 week old baby sister, Daisy, was stashed under the table in a baby rocker at this point - my talent for childcare almost out shone my cake making skills.

My second cake is a Sunflower made for Daisy's 1st birthday, originally I assumed it was a sunflower but having looked at the date on the back I have decided it must be a Daisy.
Please note the use of smarties on the petals, have no idea what I was thinking...maybe greenfly??

Next is a Christmas cake in the shape of a Christmas tree, as you can see from the photo my babies loved it, although Daisy does look very bemused and Fred is obviously trying to climb onto the table with the cake.
Again there is a heavy use of smarties involved, maybe hiding the gaps in the icing where it had slide off the cake.

This one is of Fred's second birthday cake, only a couple of smarties this time, but lots of yummy bright red icing full of special hyperactive little boy inducing goodness.
This looks like a very flat cake,  maybe it was un-risen or burnt, but my artistic picture of Toma-da-Tom (Thomas the Tank Engine as pronounced by Fred) would of made up for the taste.

Next we have another one of Daisy's Birthday cake's, as you can see from the photo both my girlies were delighted, so delighted that Fep was obviously so moved that she burst into a spontaneous round of applause. 
However their little friends Jow and his sister Sophie don't look so impressed, can't imagine why.....

This photo is to prove I didn't just save my cake making skills for my babies, here is Carmen and her cake. I have no idea why I thought she deserved a brown heart, but she seems to like it.
Although my girls weren't too impressed, maybe they were jealous.

Another cake of Fred's, its got 5 candles so must be his 5th birthday.
It's not as flat as Thomas the Tank Engine, so maybe it wasn't as burnt and I have moved on from smarties to tiny little silver balls - much more sophisticated.
I suspect he wouldn't of been too excited about a dolphin, as ever since his Toma-da-Tom days he's been a geeky computer boy.....

And finally Daisy's wedding cake....
I carefully made 4 passion cakes and litre of cream cheese icing, put it all in the van and drove 5 hours to Liverpool, by the time the cakes needed to be iced the cream cheese was liquid.
Plus trying to arrange 4 cakes into a pleasant wedding shape was not do-able.
Luckily I have a very good friend (Jeni) who is very good at cooking and other related stuff who took over the decoration and made the best of a bad lot by running to Marks and Sparks to buy and arrange the flowers.