The three of us spend Friday night in, baking red velvet cupcakes, heart shaped mini Victoria sponges, chocolate-peanut butter slices punched into tiny heart shapes, heart shaped sand cookies, marshmallow studded Rocky Road. Clouds of icing sugar that make me sneeze, bottle after bottle of red food colouring that stains my hands, splatters the work surface. I lick about ten kitchen implements clean, feel mildly nauseous.
Saturday I rise early, ice the cupcakes, then head to The Women's Library where my Women's Institute Group, The Shoreditch Sisters, have a stall at the WI Craft Day that is being held there. We showcase our current campaign, 'Embroideries: A Creative Campaign to End FGM', in which we are creating crafted interpretations of the vulva to raise awareness about the issue of Female Genital Mutilation, as well as collecting submissions from other craft groups or individuals, some from other Londoners, some from Scotland, even one sent from France. We sit with our embroidery hoops, our needles, scissors, home made pin cushions (the cake one below is J's), velvet ribbon, silk threads. We stitch and appliqué, meet members from other WI groups, answer questions, field a few raised eyebrows, but are mostly met with lots of support (link above if you would like to get involved).
Afterwards I head home to string up paper hearts, marinate olives, pop popcorn, smother it in salt and melted butter, light candles, mix up punch, fill jam jars with sweetheart roses. The doorbell rings, guests arrive with bottles, jam-filled heart shaped biscuits from H, and an inexplicable set of measuring spoons of mystery origin. The flat fills. There are bottlenecks in doorways, a jam-packed kitchen, living-room, corridor, liaisons in bedrooms. An impromptu raffle at midnight, pizza at 2am, music still pumping at 4 (very understanding neighbours evidently), in bed before 5, just. Brunch on Sunday with all those who stayed over, then a long afternoon of clear up, but we stick some music on and pause for tea and leftover red velvet halfway through so it is not so bad.
Monday itself is fine, a little lonely I suppose, but really it is just another day, and one that M and I don't make a huge deal over even when he is in the country. He does send flowers to work though, so I am able at least to partake in the excessive bouquet one-upmanship that seems to be rife on the tube journey home. And now I am absolutely drowning in the most beautiful roses - scented bunches reduced on their sell buy date to £1.49, above, leftovers from the party, below, and M's pink roses, very bottom, filling the flat, covering surfaces, heavenly.