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Fancy dress that is.  There has been much dressing up here of late, in hand-me-down super hero costumes and improvised pirate outfits.  Then there was much interest in and requests for a knight’s costume.  Firstly a helmet and shield were hastily constructed from a cardboard box that once held a baby car seat.  (I offered to stick red paper over the “safe-n-sound” logo, but Sir Rex liked the graphic quality of the letters.  And I kind of like the idea of a safe-n-sound brand battle shield.) 

Then there was much rallying for a tunic and cape.  We did a bit of research on knights tunics and decided on colours and crests.  Red and shiny gold, with a three-headed dragon of course.

(Forgive the photos, there was a small person’s finger mark on the lens I suspect).  I used a metre of some red birdseye cotton bought years ago to make a shift dress, and less than this of some inexpensive cotton-backed satin brocade also purchased years ago.  I didn’t use a pattern, but cut into the fabric as in the diagram below, measuring a 1/4 circle from one corner to make a half-circle cape.  I used one of Rex’s t-shirts to get an idea of the width of the tunic, adding a couple of inches each side. (Yes, I do still think in inches when sewing as it was the first unit of measurement I learnt in school).  I cut the tunic in both fabrics, as it is reversible.

I’m really pleased with the cape as it hangs really well, and is very versatile – suitable for knight, super hero, vampire, matador or general day wear.  (The latter has often been the case.)

Tedious technical details below for those who may be interested…

I ironed under two small turnings on the straight sides then sewed them down, then finished the large curved hem with some satin bias binding I happened to have.  (I sewed on the fold on the wrong side then turned it over to the right side and sewed it down so that the satin edging is on the right side.  I ironed more binding in half and sewed to make the ties and neck edging. 

As I made the tunic reversible, so first cut out and appliqued (just with zig-zag stitch on the machine) an emblem on each piece.  I placed right sides together and sewed the neck, clipped the seam and turned it through.  I then just ironed in turnings on the straight sides and hems, then pinned and sewed around the perimeter.  You could add ties at the sides, but I just left it like a poncho.

I don’t know why, but I have a deep-set conviction that the all tasks that need to be performed should be able to fit in to the time one has available.  Of course reason tells me otherwise, but the expectation tends to cause feelings of dissatisfaction and frustration when I’m unable to get everything done.  If I worked on what “should” be done every waking moment, there would be no time for what are really the important things, like spending time with the children and general enjoyment of life.  Like the medieval Persian poem*, I crave to meet the needs of the soul as well as more prosaic ones.

So with the narking presence of a sink full of dirty dishes, a full dishwasher, baskets full of clean and dirty washing, general domestic mayhem and nothing planned for dinner, other things tend to get done.  Like playing snakes and ladders, gazing at and chatting with chirpy little girls who love pointing at birds, and making souffles on a whim.

The recipe reproduced below is from Food in Vogue: From Boulestin to Boxer, Pyramid Books, 1988.  I made half quantity in three individual ramekins, as with souffle leftovers just aren’t the same.  These are so quick to make and not difficult, and it helps to think of them as a quick treat for instant scoffing rather than a fancy classic french dessert for a dinner party.  Here is my method, updated from the 1934 version for a lazy person of 2010.

Lady Colefax’s Chocolate Souffle (for 3)

  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp milk (or cream would be good)
  • 70g dark chocolate (ok, I used 80g and divided the rest of the 100g block between the bases of the ramekins – this may have affected the rising a bit)
  • butter for greasing ramekins
  • cream for serving

Preheat oven to 180 degs. C

Beat egg yolks with sugar until combined and thick.  Melt chocolate with milk (I used the microwave – it took a couple of 10 second goes, but go carefully) and add to egg yolks and sugar mixture.  Beat egg whites until peaks form.  With a metal spoon mix a spoonful into chocolate mixture to soften, then combine rest. (Do not over mix.)

Spoon into well buttered ramekins and bake until risen (about 5-10 minutes, but watch carefully).  Eat at once with cream.

*If of thy mortal goods thou art bereft
And of thy simple store two loaves of bread alone are left
Sell one, and with the dole,
Buy hyacinths to feed the soul.

Muslih-uddin Sa’di

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