Baby shower, bits and bobs.

baby shower day at 34+1 weeks. Bunny’s bassinet will live in our room.

Such a lot has happened and yet so little. I’m now almost 36 weeks pregnant, in my first week of maternity leave, and am still completely unable to accept that there is a real baby in that tummy. Surely you go in to labour to prove that you really want a child, and then after a while the midwives just bring in a baby and say “Here’s one we prepared earlier – you can have this one”?

Baby shower day – with the re-covered chair. Last time I’ll be wearing heels for a while too!

I feel like little has happened because I’ve spent the last few months slowly marking small things off lists, none of them amazingly important but all of them necessary. A good example is the photo above – was it worth reporting that I had my grandma’s chair re-covered (v happy btw), bought and built and Expedit, and framed some prints? Not really, but each activity required research, reconnoissance,  a number of visits and at least some swearing. It took time and energy but each was really a bit boring. Together, however, they all add up to something a bit prettier.

The photo above was taken just before my baby shower, which was generously hosted by my sister and sister-in-law. It was a just lovely afternoon with lots of friends and family, champagne (a little less for me) and afternoon tea – a chance to have some girl time and chats before I am swamped with nappies and various bodily expulsions (from Bunny, natch).

The afternoon tea set up.

This is the afternoon tea table above (taken from a poor angle!). You can see some of the lanterns I used (I placed myself in charge of decorations so I could re-use them in the nursery!) – I chose three styles from pinkfrosting.com.au and also used some gorgeous Martha Stewart paper chains (all pictures from Pink Frosting):

Pink polka dot lantern.

Blue butterfly lantern.

Sweet Lucy lantern (love this one).

Martha Stewart paper chains.

All of these will find new life in Bunny’s bedroom – I can occasionally be thrifty!

And here’s a better view of the tea table – instant diabetes.

The little flags, cupcake tower and table runner were also from Pink Frosting.

It was a real treat to just mingle, chat, catch up and spend time with so many dear people. It was the perfect way to mark the beginning of a new phase of life, even if I was mortified to learn that my belly measured 122cm in girth! There were also some amusing names mooted in the ‘guess the arrival date/weight/sex/name’ game – should I be concerned that ‘Bruce’ was mentioned twice?!

People were also wonderfully thoughtful and generous with gifts for Bunny (and some for me too!) – the thank you cards are on their way! It was very touching to receive such special things and the Bunny is a lucky baby indeed.

So the next few weeks … anything from 1 to 5 weeks and that’s it! I’m so close to term and will try to enjoy and rest during this quite strange holiday. I am powering through my To Do list while I have the energy, while keeping my (swollen) feet elevated.

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The Laguiole silliness continues.

Last year I wrote about my sunshiney Laguiole-style cutlery, and had a very interesting conversation with reader Christine about the naming, provenance and trademark issues surrounding the Laguiole flatware heritage. It appeared that the ‘original’ Forge de Laguiole was never trademarked, and every other branded Laguiole-style flatware such as Jean Dubost at one end and Debutante at the other was a bit of a knock-off regardless of differences in quality.

Annnnnnyway … I saw this article yesterday (I hesitate to add that I do not habitually read the Herald-Scum; I saw it in Mx which is a much high quality publication ROTFLMAO hahaha) and the upshot is that apparently everything labelled Laguiole has been trademarked and it’s all even more confusing and silly than we imagined.

Key points include:

  • “Under the terms of the brand’s registration, anyone can use the name Laguiole for knives …”.
  • “The court ruled that … Laguiole knives had become a generic product not necessarily linked to a particular place.”

I am just going to keep buying flatware that I like the look of seeing as it’s all dubious anyway!

 

From the Herald-Sun:

French village renounces knife name

by: Emmy Varley

From: AAP

September 30, 2012 2:49PM

 

RESIDENTS of Laguiole, a village synonymous with the manufacture of France’s most famous knives, have symbolically “unnamed” the place in protest against losing control of the name.

The villagers are furious that the name Laguiole has passed into the hands of an entrepreneur who allows it to be used to sell made-in-China knives and barbecues.

To the cheers of about 200 locals, mayor Vincent Alazard pulled down a sign at the entrance to the village in the Aveyron region of southwestern France.

“Our name no longer belongs to us, so what do you want us to do with this sign?” the mayor asked the assembled protesters. “We are going to take it to Paris and give it to those who have taken it away from us.”

The village this month lost a legal battle to reclaim rights to the name from businessman Gilbert Szajner, who registered Laguiole as a trademark in 1993 and has since licensed its use for products including clothes, table and bed linen, lighters and barbecues, as well as the cutlery which originally made its name.

Under the terms of the brand’s registration, anyone can use the name Laguiole for knives but the villagers would have to pay Szajner if they want to diversify and produce any other products under that name.

“The word Laguiole has been kidnapped, it has been stolen from us,” said Michel Bras, owner of the village’s Michelin three-star restaurant.

“It is very easy to ride on the backs of people who made sacrifices, who made the most of what little they had, to establish the name of this area.

“These people have been swindled by someone who does not know the place.”

The local council attempted unsuccessfully to persuade a Paris court to annul the trademark registered by Szajner on the grounds that his use of it could confuse consumers about the origin of products.

The court ruled that the name of the village was not sufficiently well known to constitute a de facto marque and that Laguiole knives had become a generic product not necessarily linked to a particular place.

An appeal is being planned.

Meanwhile, local officials hope to persuade the government to pass a law protecting village names and to create a wine-style system of labelling manufactured products by their origin.

Birthday brunching

As 5 out of every 7 birthdays are, mine this year is annoyingly situated mid-week. Instead of trying to negotiate a Tuesday night cheap’n’cheerful, I invited the girls over for a Saturday morning brunch (my favourite meal to eat out).

This posed a number of challenges:

1. Finding a date everyone could make it. Given there are only 6 of us, this was harder than imagined – in fact, we were one short as it was. For two of us, baby-wrangling had to be sought or traded or bargained for. Gosh we’re busy and important.

2. If people arrive Saturday morning, the house needs to be clean on Friday night. Much as I find cleaning therapeutic, Friday night is rarely my ideal time to bust out the Dyson.

3. Brunch at home implies feeding people. If I were to go out to order brunch, I would always go for cooked over sweet. Not thinking I could manage a cooked breakfast for five, I decided to bake instead, and settled on pancakes with ice cream and berry reduction, and peanut butter and chocolate muffins (along with the obligatory ‘health’ offering of fruit).

4. I don’t bake. Some people are cooks, and some are bakers. I am a cook. I’ve noticed many bakers are quite skinny.

So braving the alchemy that is baking, I trial-runned the pancakes last weekend and they went beautifully. I didn’t get around to trying the muffins out so threw caution to the wind and decided that if they sucked, then it’s my birthday and I’ll suck at baking if I want to.

The pancakes were again a dream. It’s the simplest recipe and the hardest part is waiting for just the right amount of bubbles to flip ’em over. I served them with a choice of lemon juice and sugar, or soy ice cream and a berry sauce (put frozen mixed berries in saucepan with about 1/4 cup of water and a splash of lemon juice. Heat. Bring to boil. Reduce. Add cornstarch. That’s it). I was pretty happy with the outcome and they looked pretty to boot. The empty plates assured me that I wasn’t just tooting my own horn!

The muffins were also a simple recipe, but required much more nail-biting. They were easy to mix up but it was with not a small sigh of relief that they came out not underdone, not burnt, and quite edible. However, they did stick to the silicon tray, even though I had sprayed oil in before as well, so they had to be dug out with a spatula. They were delicious, but broken! I didn’t take any photos because I was a little broken-hearted. Any tips?

I also sent my runner, the affable Buzz, out to get ‘proper’ coffees, and had some hot chocolate on hand for those who weren’t already in a sugar coma. Orange juice and mineral water made me feel like I was having an actual Buck’s Fizz. I just realised that I *totally* forgot to make or put out the fruit platter! Hostess fail!

A brunch at home is a lovely way to see friends without having to find an evening, and without having to battle your way through a crowded cafe shouting to be heard. You just have to learn to bake.

Pancakes – demolished!

Pancakes – from ‘Vegan Brunch’ by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Ingredients

1-1/4 c flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 Tbsp canola oil

1/3 c water

1 to 1-1/4 c plain rice or soy milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 Tbsp pure maple syrup

Method

Sift or stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix the remaining ingredients in another bowl. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix just until combined, like muffins (you know, a couple of lumps are fine-overmixing results in tough pancakes and tough muffins).

Add oil to a large skillet and heat the skillet over medium-high heat for a couple of minutes. Add batter and cook until the pancake has some bubbles on top and is browned on the bottom. Turn pancakes and finish (until bottoms are browned). Repeat until batter is used up. Oil skillet between pancakes or as needed.

Chocolate and peanut butter muffins, from here (I used ready-made PB. Toasting peanuts is just a step too far for me).

If you want to use ready made peanut butter then use 1/2 cup butter and 2 tbsp oil.

Ingredients:

100 gm (1/2 cup) unsalted shelled and skinned raw peanuts

4 tbsp oil (preferably peanut or any other flavourless oil) a pich of fleur de sel or your favourite salt

140 gm (1 cup) plain flour

30 gm (1/3 cup) cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

90 gm (3/4 cup) jaggery powder or muscovado sugar or any dark soft sugar (I just used brown sugar)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract 200 ml (3/4 cup) water

Method:

In a skillet, on a moderate flame, roast the peanuts until golden brown. Alternatively heat an oven to 200 degrees C/ 400 degrees F and roast for about ten minutes or until they darken, shaking them a bit half way through so that they roast evenly. Allow the peanuts to cool a bit and then place them in a blender with the oil and fleur de sel and process until you get peanut butter.

In a bowl, mix in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda and sieve once to make the mixture uniform.

Put in the jaggery or sugar, vanilla extract, water and peanut butter and mix with a whisk or a wooden spoon until well blended.

Heat your oven to 180 degrees C/ 350 degrees F. Place the batter into cupcake liners* and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a skewer or toothpick comes out clean. *You might want to use 2 cupcake liners to get neat edges after baking. I didn’t use cupcake liners – maybe I should? I also put a square of Whittaker’s dark almost chocolate in the middle of each muffin – yum!