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1. Valentine’s orchid.


Just as my tulips were wilting in the window, my delightful husband arrived home with two bottles of wine (for a dinner party, see 2), a bottle of Scotch and an orchid. A good V-Day haul. Now I’ll have fresh flowers every day for as long as I can keep it alive.

2. Friday night, we joined some friends for challah, a Jewish tradition involving the eponymous braided challah bread, wine, candles and lots of food. It was a delightful evening of good food and good friends. We all commiserated about the inability to get our hands on Jewish food in Edinburgh–plans for matzo soup were scrapped owing to the lack of flour, and none of us has had a bagel in ages. (As usual, the one Brit in the room couldn’t see what was wrong with the Edinburgh bagel scene, but we knew. I’m from Maine and I won’t eat the bagels here.

I didn’t consider myself cosmopolitan or cultured when I got here. Until I went to college, I could count the number of non-white people I knew on my fingers and toes. But living in a land where no-one has a passing acquaintance with an edible bagel or burrito–even a chipotle burrito or a blueberry special from Mainely Bagel–makes me feel downright worldly.

On the other hand, I don’t think I’d ever had challah before this weekend. Live and learn.

3. Chai soda. I don’t mix my chai with milk until I go to make a latte, so it’s just concentrated spices and tea (no sugar, either). A splash of it is really good in club soda. They should sell this stuff. Recipe tomorrow.

4. Remember the plantain calendula infusion I was brewing? Yeah, neither did I for a while. Consequently, this is really well steeped infusion. And now that I’ve finally strained it and mixed with beeswax, it’s a well-steeped salve.

plantain calendula salve

Both plants are known for their healing properties when applied to skin, so the salve acts as a natural neosporin for bug bites and small cuts and abrasions.

plantain calendula salve

I now have quite a lot of it.

5. Tartan sling bag. There’s a kilt shop on the Royal Mile that sells wool remnants (my mother thinks it’s hilarious that I get wool there). I had the luck to find a larger than usual piece this week. After much fiddling, I’m now the proud owner of a one-shoulder sling bag that I think will do very nicely for re-enactment type events.

tartan bag

It turns out it’s quite hard to get model pictures of bags when you’re alone in the house.

The basic idea is from very like the tutorial on sew mama sew. I added internal instead of external pockets and an adjustable strap (still made from a belt). The fabric on mine had to be pleated at the top so many times that I had to backstitch it by hand; it wouldn’t fit in the machine. The pleats make it look a bit like a shoulder plaid, though, and I like the effect. tartan bag back

The internal pockets and long metal zipper came from an old sundress. I hesitated about using a zipper, but it was the only way to achieve the shape I wanted. So I made sure to use a generous zipper flap. You can’t see it at all. You can’t see the pockets, either, which is for the best…

tartan bag pockets