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Shelly X

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

challenge or exchange??

I have a very dear and wonderful friend called Sally.  We have pots of tea and slabs of cake as often as we possibly can; she cooks me crumpets when I get peckish, and is an ear to bend when I wax lyrical and try to put the world to rights.   She took up knitting a few years ago, and seems to be doing a good job with it.  She is incredibly creative as she is a choreographer, dancer and performer.  She is one of Evelyn Mae’s biggest supporters, and her face lights up like a Christmas tree when we peruse Covent Garden market for crafty goods.  However, she is a self confessed un-domestic goddess.

Not so long ago she asked me to set her monthly challenges to help turn her into a domestic queen; incidentally, I have only managed two challenges thus far, and have totally let the side down!

But how can this be, this fabulously creative lady claiming to not be domestic?  Challenge #1 of making rocky road went down so well that she will be making it again for her boyfriend’s birthday at his request!  She is totally able of being domestic and creative, so why does she feel lacking?

What interests me about it, is our perception of being domestically capable.  Nigella Lawson published her How to be a domestic goddess book and a resurgence in home baking occurred since its arrival in 2000.  But what happened if our baked goodies didn’t match up to the perfect pictures? Nigella says that essentially, that doesn’t matter- what does matter is the act home cooking itself, but still, with our lives being fully media integrated, I am sure some of us feel inadequate with our  flat soufflés and ever so slightly overcooked fairy cakes.   The same can be seen in card making – It is a craft for everyone. You only need a few materials to get started, and it really is the effort that you put in for your recipient that is important.  With such a variety of high quality blogs and websites around, it is all too easy to listen to the media aware part of our modern psyche, and claim that we are not good enough, or can’t do it.

Whilst still living in Bristol, I had a friend, Jenny, who bought Christmas cards from me for a number of years. I could make them very dimensional, which Jenny loved because she is visually impaired.  One year, she asked if instead of buying them from me, I could help her make them.  So for a few years, every Christmas, we would sit together, craft and drink hot chocolate.   I’d describe the embellishments and she would choose from my descriptions.  But it was Jenny that would make them.  This Christmas just gone, she told me that she was making her own cards, and getting a sighted friend to help her with a few things.  And now she will be helping at an event run by the RNIB helping others with visual impairments to make cards.  

This is what being a domestic goddess is about; it is about using what skills you have to create, learning new skills from friends, books and blogs, and embracing the inner domestic, creative king or queen that resides within. A creativity that sometimes might be temporarily dormant, or just below the surface, but that is there, should we just choose to engage with it.

Perhaps instead of setting Sally challenges, I should have told her all the wonderfully creative and domestic things she has accomplished so far, and traded some skills instead?  Maybe I should have told her that by serving me some crumpets covered in lashings of butter and letting me wear my pyjamas in her house during the day, was her being an exemplary host? Maybe then, this month, I won’t challenge her, but I will challenge her to an exchange.

I will keep you posted on how that exchange goes!

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Love Shelly X