Sunday, 30 December 2007

Hello ....

Is anybody out there? A very tentative 'hello' from the very relaxed, some might say lazy, Ragged Roses home. We're slowly emerging from our Christmassy cocoon and venturing outside again. Mornings still being spent lazing round in pyjamas and evenings spent around the fire, boxes of chocolates to hand, playing games and watching films. Even if I were brave enough to post a photo of myself I can assure you that the one above of this 50s domestic goddess is infinitely preferable to the picture of me in my jimjams typing this!

How was your Christmas, good I hope. Ours was lovely, relaxed, full of good food, family, friends and good cheer. We now seem to be walking around in a daze, soporific I think is the word! Yesterday we got out, yes we braved the elements, were dressed by 10am and did one of our favourite walks from Glynde to Lewes. Three hours of fresh air, beautiful countryside and space. Space I think is what we needed. As cold as it was and there was a bit in the middle of the walk when we were all hooded up that we resembled a bunch of Dementors striding across the Downs, it felt good to have some of those cobwebs blown away. Needless to say we were exhausted when we came home and quickly settled down in front of the fire and more of those chocolates.

Four more boxes of chocolates and four more days of holidays to enjoy before 'normal' life resumes. Not sure if I'm ready for it just yet....

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Happy Christmas

From all of us here in the Ragged Roses home to all of you - HAPPY CHRISTMAS! Wishing you all a wonderful time with your family and friends. It has been so much fun this year reading everyone's blogs and sharing so much of your lives and we've all the posts of 2008 to look forward to. I had no idea at the beginning of the year that blogging would bring me so much fun, inspiration, new found confidence and, above all, so many new friends. At such a busy time of the year it's been great to be able to sit back now and again and wonder at your beautiful festive photos, thank you so much for sharing your Christmas homes and preparations with us and I'm sooooo looking forward to reading about your holidays very soon.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Christmas corners

Almost ready now, bar the Christmas food shopping, a few more pressies and all the wrapping!! The house is looking quite festive too. I don't have decorations everywhere but like to have bits and pieces in corners around the place. This little jar was 99p from a charity shop. I love it and have filled it with sweets, snowballs in a jar (our own White Christmas if we don't get to have any snow).

Over the fireplace in the living room the butterfly lights are hovering amongst the holly and look pretty when lit. I bought these a couple of years ago from Woolworths and every year more wings need to be glued back on, but I love the colours too much to part with them.

I like this corner too, not sure if even our cats could manage to grab hold of that big pink bauble, but I'm sure the birds will prove a worthy distraction.

I love this huge candlestick when it's lit in the evening. Very simple but effective and during the day the lustre really shines when the sun hits it.

In the kitchen there's lots of treats too. Have you seen these little chocolate Russsian dolls? We have a long row of them on the shelves which I'm sure will diminish very quickly. They're almost too cute to eat!

Candy canes and reindeer

and a bright bauble filled corner

and look at these treats that I've been sent. Gorgeous twine I received from the very generous Gill as part of her great twine giveaway. Thanks Gill, it's too nice to use! The lovely magnetic pegs and heart came from the very talented Lucy and I'm thrilled with them. If you get a moment, take a look at Lucy's Christmas photos, her home looks wonderful.

Hope you're all getting on with all your preparations and finding time to enjoy it along the way. I've loved looking at everyone's photos and reading about what you've all been up to, it's made Christmas very special. Not long to go now. Isn't it a lovely feeling when it's finally here and you get a chance to enjoy it all!

Saturday, 15 December 2007

The week where I lost all common sense and met Kate Rusby!

A couple of weeks ago a friend asked me whether she should paint a room just before Christmas. "No, of course not, why add to the list?" was my reply. Why indeed? Which does not explain in any way why last week I had a complete flight of fancy and decided to paint one of the rooms downstairs. No Christmas cards have been written, no presents wrapped, but the room is freshly painted and the mess has been cleared!

Why after dithering about painting this room for two years and living happily with the tester pot in the garden shed for the same amount of time should I choose now to do it. What is this inner imperative that makes us feel that everything should be done before 25th? Anyway, done, tidied and I'm happy with the results. Normal service can now be resumed!

It's a soft, powdery, calm and chalky blue and it pretties up the room.

I'm finally at the stage where the decorations can come out.

Little birds hiding in the berries and holly.

Glitter and sequins in little corners of the room. The cats have yet to find them, they're still too busy with the tree!

Here is one of them caught redhanded, eyeing up her next smash and grab. They seem to be going for the pink ones judging by the ones I found this weekend in their stash (yes i know where you're putting them, left hand corner under the sofa) and I've given up all attempts at artistically arranging the recovered baubles they're just placed on the tree wherever and whenver we found them. Frustrating for me and very, very tiring for them!

We had a busy weekend too, Staff pantos at Big Sister's school, school plays, family get together on Sunday and Saturday night, finally after months of waiting, we got to go to the Kate Rusby concert! We all love her, we went last year but this time was the first for little sister who kept whispering to me that she had to remind herself that this was not telly, that this was real life! For months we'd been on countdown to the concert. Couldn't resist these baubles she'd designed and they've been placed right at the top of the tree as I'm not sure if the cats are Kate fans too.

I'd emailed her record company earlier this month, planning a surprise for the girls and after much shuffling around and secret sign making between M and I, we were ushered back into the concert hall afterwards where Kate was waiting for us on stage! As she chatted with us, I have never seen my girls so shocked/ thrilled/ dumbstruck/ flushed and quiet! Kate was as lovely and warm and natural as she appears on stage. It was difficult getting the girls to go to sleep at all on Saturday! Oooh I love Christmas.

Monday, 10 December 2007

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas ...

My youngest daughter was in a dance show on Friday evening and we took her down to the venue after school. Whilst she was having a run through, Big Sister and I had a chance to have a mooch around the shops and wander through the Lanes in Brighton. I do love shopping in the evening for Christmas. Not shopping in the big stores but popping in and out of the smaller. independent shops and joining in some of the festive feeling. It's always more exciting after sunset, the lights come on, you can smell the cold, December air and the jostling of earlier on in the day seems to disappear.

Maybe I just imagine that last bit but it always reminds me of being a little girl and my mum and dad taking me to London every year to choose a toy in Hamleys, see the Christmas lights in Regent Street and buy some hot roasted chestnuts opposite the London Palladium!
Look at those blue lights and the colour of the sky, so much nicer than the grey of daylight.

The Christmas decorations are coming along at home. Tree is up, furniture re-arranged to accommodate tree and decorations found (a total sum of four hours!). No photos yet of the tree as it's still not quite finished. Leaving some time for the cats to get use to the tree again. As I'm typing I can here the crash of baubles flying across the kitchen floor as yet more have been taken off the tree and passed between the cats down the hall! Sum total of tree baubles found so far, 6 in the hall (1 broken), 2 in the kitchen, 1 still stuck on the cat's magnet (proof if ever there was!) and 4 unaccounted for. Can't blame them though with the weather being so cold they've got to get their fun where they can find it!

Friday, 7 December 2007

Are we done now?

Both my daughters are back at school today after a week of sickness. As soon as one recovered, the other came down with it. What with my cough and sore throat, the sickness and temperatures that the girls have had, I'm surprised that there's Calpol still left on the shelves. Fingers crossed that that it is it for now and we can have a relatively germ free runup to Christmas. As much as I don't like going shopping at Christmas this imposed exile from all things Christmassy has left me a little stir crazy. Yesterday found me emptying my box of buttons, gluing them onto a wreath whilst watching Freaky Friday for 100th time - I need to get out!

A quick dash to the post office and a walk to the fabric shop was more than enough for me. It doesn't take long for us to get use to the cosiness of home and I do feel a bit bad after moaning so much about needing to get out this week that I made such a hasty retreat to my front door. Christmas shopping will have to wait till next week. The Christmas tree is being decorated this weekend, all the windows are open ready for the Christmas cheer but any germs wishing to join us will not be welcome.
Hope you all have a happy, healthy and cheery weekend.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

It's getting nearer ...!

Isn't this cushion gorgeous? I bought it from Niki last week. For a long time now I've been visiting her website as well as her beautiful blog but have always been too slow! Others have got there before me. Last week I struck lucky and pounced on this cushion before anyone had the chance. I love the vibrancy of the floral fabrics she has chosen and it certainly looks very cheery on my eiderdown! Niki always chooses the most gorgeous fabrics and lovely colour combinations. Hopefully, we'll be putting the Christmas tree up next weekend so that'll mean lots more colour and sparkle around the place - I love it!

Well it's December!!!! I realised this morning that usually December seems to be an assault course to get through. Shopping, cleaning, school plays, recitals, shopping, colds, coughs and other lurgys, more shopping and a constant crossing of fingers and checking of calendars to make sure that yes, you have paid the school office for Christmas Dinner, the costumes for the school play have been taken in on the right day and that somehow by the skin of your teeth, everyone gets through to Christmas Day without too many glitches.

Last weekend we tried a different approach. Taking full advantage of having a relatively free weekend, before the onslaught of pre-Christmas visits, school fairs, the visit up to the loft to find all the boxes of Christmas decorations (note the word "all", why is it that every year boxes of decorations go missing?), we decided to invite friends over. On Sunday we had a house full of friends and children and it was lovely - it was a chance to enjoy the moment and not get caught up just yet in all the planning of what will be happening in a few weeks time. It did us all good to take one eye off what would be happening and to enjoy something that was happening now. Spontaneity can be good!

On the craft front, I have finished another pompom order for Made in Hastings. These ones are white 'snowball" pompoms hanging from white ricrac. I made a big batch of them and have put some in my Etsy shop too. I'm planning on having some hanging from the fireplace this year, just out of reach of the cats' paws! Wouldn't it be lovely this year to have a white Christmas?

Friday, 30 November 2007

Drawing Inspiration

My youngest daughter won a huge tin of coloured pencils as an art prize at school this week. She is hugely proud of them and has been rearranging them in their tin ever since. They certainly add a burst of colour to a very grey week. I am very proud of her and very pleased that her enthusiasm for art was picked up on. When I was at primary school I use to love the trays of coloured pencils coming out for us to use and would spend an age just staring at the colours before choosing. I remember vividly the two that were my favourites - a soft lilac and an aqua green that I used as often as possible and I think even as a teenager remembering colouring in a diagram in biology in those colours too! Unfortunately my enthusiasm for colour has not improved my drawing skills. I did well at school when we had art exams, copying flowers etc but to this day am unable to draw people! I have nothing but complete admiration for people who can and am awestruck by how easy they make it look.

I started shopping for gifts this week and made a very hasty retreat after a trip to the local shopping centre which was heaving! Sitting in the comfort of my home with the computer in front of me with Etsy and other bloggers to feed my Christmas pressie buying habit, I don't think I'll be venturing out much again. If, like me, you love buying prints, you might like to visit the creator of this print - Belle and Boo. I know most of you know her already - but if not, go visit her Etsy shop in time for Christmas. I wish I could draw like that!

This print, Tree Hugger, captures beautifully just everything I would like to portray about my oldest daughter. She has it hanging above her bed and loves it.

This print, Patience Brown, reminds me of my youngest and is adorable. We've bought lots of pressies from her and I visit her site with trepidation as I'm always enchanted by whatever she produces. Go and have a look, it might make you need one less trip into town ...

The other week, Lynda, very kindly nominated me for a Friendly Site Award. Thank you Lynda! Lynda lives in Canada and has just opened an Etsy shop too if you haven't visited her before. You probably know by now just how impossible it would be for me to choose just one, two or even three of you to pass it on to. I am surprised daily by the warmth and friendliness of all of you and to choose would just be too hard. Instead perhaps we could all try to visit a blog we haven't visited before and make some new friends along the way (it beats Christmas shopping hands down!).

I'm sorry If I haven't been round to visit much recently - I will try and catch up, I can't believe it's December tomorrow!
Have a good weekend.

Monday, 26 November 2007

Cheat's Advent

When we moved into this house a couple of years ago we decided to have the kitchen refitted and a chimney breast removed. It was one of those things that just went on and on, work began at the end of October and correct and complete kitchen units delivered and fitted three days before Christmas! In the midst of all this dust, noise, chaos and piles of boxes containing all our treasures I had an urge to make the girls advent calendars! With no idea where my sewing box was hiding and entry into most of the downstairs rooms very restricted I knew it had to be something, quick, easy and relatively simple to make.

We had managed to get the girls' bedrooms in some kind of order and had found their noticeboards so at least big sister had somewhere to put her new school timetable. Little sister quickly filled her noticeboard and loved changing the additions daily. Both girls seem to love getting mail and I struck upon the idea of combining the two - little envelopes on pinboards, filled with hidden mysteries.

Easy peasy - no sewing involved and I've just numbered some new envelopes for this year. Back any pinboard you have with fabric, (glue or staples will do), You can add a trim around the edges too if you're into trimmings. 25 little envelopes, each with a number on, pinned onto the board and perhaps a named label too. That's it - no sewing, no mess and most of the things can be bought at the post office or stationer's shop. If you've been blessed with dodgy handwriting like me you could even print on the numbers, I found this vintage printing kit for M in a junk shop when we lived in London. It was one of the first things I bought him and I love the lettering.
It is of course up to you what you fill the envelopes with, chocolates, gifts, little messages, Christmas jokes, sequins, handwritten letters, photos ... They can be hung on the wall, propped on a shelf, fireplace or on the hall table.

I have seen some beautiful stitched advent calendars in blogland and this is of course a poor man's equivalent, but if you're up against it time wise (and maybe with a poorly child at home from school like I have today - yes, the dreaded lurgy has struck), than you could have a go. Maybe a kind of Nigella express of advents - if only I had a vat of that butterscotch sauce lurking in the fridge too!

Friday, 23 November 2007

Weekend whimsy

Ever since I was a little girl I have found it very hard to imagine that the weather anywhere else in the world could be different to ours. Whilst we were suffering grey, dreary interminable winters it was very difficult to picture people on the other side of the world basking in golden, unbroken sunshine. The other day a comment left by Louise on my post reminded me of this. Whilst we'd been holed up because of the rain, she'd written that her family had been doing much the same, but taking refuge from the heat and sun rather than the cold wintry storms.

Another Louise has been sharing her beautiful, atmospheric seaside photos with us. I love windswept, deserted beaches in the winter almost as much as when they are sun drenched in the summer. Living on the coast I think I prefer visiting ours in the winter, when the crowds have gone and the wind has picked up and you can really hear the waves crashing along the shore. M and I used to walk down to the beach every Christmas Day before we had children, it was exhilarating and romantic. Summers at home find us driving a little further along the coast to more deserted, quieter spots to enjoy.
Inspired by the two Louises I had a rummage in my evergrowing vintage postcard collection and found some images to share.

This is a Victorian postcard showing one of our favourite beaches in France, a solitary figure walks along the beaches, shielded from the sun by her parasol.

I wonder what she would have made of this little creature?! Same beach, same spot, a century apart. A solitary figure taking her first very tentative steps on soft, silky, sinking sand. This is little sister when she was just a year old.

It took a while for her to get the hang of the feel of the sand on her feet and she would just drop down in a puddle of seawater, jump up and resume walking, her nappy getting heavier and droopier with every little sitdown!

Another bundle here of Nice 1923, looking nothing like I remember it! Sidmouth in Devon and another one of our favourite beaches - Blackpool Sands in South Devon. We use to go there a lot for summer holidays when Big Sister was a toddler. Come rain (usually rain) or shine we would be down on that beach playing. Lovely, lovely memories.
I have also been keeping some vintage linen that had some lovely seaside images on it. I decided this week to put the two together. Lavender sachets made from the seaside fabric coupled with some of the postcards - little bundles of seaside nostalgia in my Etsy shop.

I hope you all have a great weekend, whatever the weather (Now I think I'm sounding a bit like Gardener's World!). Bye

Monday, 19 November 2007

Let's just stay in

It was only while eating dinner last night that we realised that the youngest hadn't been outside at all this weekend. Not that any of us had braved the weather for any length of time. M took the car to the garage on Saturday and collected a curry with the oldest in the evening and I did a supermarket run yesterday. That's it, the sum total of fresh air intake in 48 hours! Most of the time was spent in front of the fire and I have to say it was lovely.

Having just written a post about how much I love the sunshine it does seem strange to be now admitting that I quite like wet weekends. It's not that I want it to happen every weekend or that I want arrangements to be cancelled or anybody's fun to be spoilt. It's just that now and again, when there's nothing planned, there's nothing better than being holed up at home and doing nothing. ( I use to love rainy days off school when I was little, I remember the smell of my mum's cooking and how cosy it always felt, no matter how poorly I was). The winter is the time when my home really feels like home, when there is no inner imperative to be outside making the most of the sunshine, when there is no pressure to keep up with the gardening. It's a time to enjoy my home, enjoy the sanctuary that it offers, the warmth and security that the children love and that lovely feeling of shutting the door behind you, knowing that there really is no reason to go anywhere in particular for a couple of days.

This of course doesn't always work. Two daughters in self-imposed confinement can be a recipe for disaster. But, thankfully, this weekend, was different. Big sister was feeling particularly benevolent and spent the most of Saturday indulging her younger sister's whims to play with her. Little sister spent most of Saturday afternoon teaching M to salsa (no mean feat) and to show off her newly acquired salsa skills. If only we had CCTV installed, this was a lesson guaranteed to brighten up anyone's grey Monday. I haven't laughed like that for a long while ...

So lots of hotties, eiderdowns and card playing this weekend. M got a chance to listen to his records and I got a chance to do some crafting (extremely rare at the weekend).

This little hamper shows the growing array of goods now in my Etsy shop. Lavender sachets made from my bumper lavender harvest this summer and some of my fabric stash. I also had time to make a set of 4 smaller pompoms in lovely bright colours. They would be great as Christmas decorations, hung from a window, tree or drawer - perhaps added to some gift wrapping to add that extra bit of fun! They're all made from recycled fabrics too.

One of the best things about this grotty weather is that you no longer need any kind of excuse for this. Eating chocolate, drinking chocolate (can you see that little cube of chocolate in cellophane? - solid drinking chocolate) - perfect stocking filler!

Now there's no reason not to be able to bathe in it. I've never seen four people so eager to have a bath before (oh and it's organic so it must be good for you!). Of course when the weather get's really bad then eating and drinking chocolate whilst bathing in it is definitely called for!