Friday 31 August 2007

Rosy Days

A bunch of flowers for us all to share this first weekend in September (where's the summer gone?). When I was younger I remember the summer holidays stretching on and on and a new school year seemed an eternity away. Does it feel the same for our children I wonder? It certainly feels that the past few weeks have whizzed past and the last few days of the holidays are passing even faster. We're all desperately trying to claw back some time to spend with each other and enjoy the break from routine that next week (next week!!!) will once again impose on us.

My daughters organised (perhaps organised makes it sound more democratic than it really was - they argued, sulked and squabbled until the oldest got her way) the draw for the print and the winner is Shabby in the City. So Phyllis, it's yours for the taking - enjoy the irony! Anna from Thimbleanna commented how great it would be for a fellow blogger on the other side of the globe to be looking up at the same picture in her kitchen, well now it's going to happen!

I hope you all get to enjoy a great weekend, especially those of you across the pond with your long, celebratory Labor Day weekend. Wishing us all good times over the next few days.

Tuesday 28 August 2007

"Helping Mother"

Well it didn't take too long - my thumb has started to recover, the sun started to shine and I wanted to make something! Fortunately, I had lots of fabric already cut, so not too much cutting involved and lots of colours to choose from. Talking about my chair last week and my favourite colours made me want to make a cosy in these colours, an attempt I think to prolong the sunshine and brightness of summer for a little longer. Anyway, bright and cheery it is and this little bit of summer is now sitting in my Etsy shop.

M has gone back to work this morning and we're all feeling a bit glum. Sorry that he's not with us to enjoy the end of the holidays and sorry that part of the holiday has come to an end. Although we were unable to get away this year, we enjoyed sharing each other's company, laughing and being silly as a family in a way that is hard to do even with your closest friends. M works long hours and is rarely home to eat dinner with the girls during the week so above all it was great to spend the day and evening with him, enjoying our meals together. The weather was awful though but we did have this weekend which was gorgeous and I think the weekend at the beach did us all good and lifted our spirits. There is nothing better than coming back from a day on the beach, faces tingling from the sun, tired from the fresh air and mucking around. (the downside being the queue for the shower, the sand all over the bathroom floor and the mountain of clothes waiting to be washed).

Just to show you what a wonderful weekend it was, here is a photo of the girls and I enjoying a few moments together in the kitchen, getting all those domestic chores done and loving every minute of it! Well, no, actually it is a print I bought at the car boot on Sunday morning. I thought I'd hang it in the kitchen - it's called "Helping Mother" - in the hope that the girls might take the hint, or failing that, add a touch of irony to the place, I think, however that I'm the only one who'll get the irony and the girls will just see it as another thing on the wall! Strangely enough they do like shelling peas, beans etc so perhaps all is not lost. Anyway the point of this ramble is that when I got back from the carboot and took the print out of its wrapper, I found that there were two of them. Well, there's only so much irony one kitchen can stand so I thought that if anyone wanted the print I'd give it to them. Please leave a comment and I'll give it away - if there's more than one we'll have a draw, name out of a hat (or mixing bowl perhaps) - that's one thing that the girls do like helping with!

I also got this lovely wicker hamper/basket at the car boot and a tray full of greengages which have been turned into pots of lovely jam. Has anyone realised yet just how addictive this jam/chutney making business is?

Saturday 25 August 2007

Red sky at night ...

.. is our delight!

At last a holding hands, down by the sea, feeling the sun on our faces kind of day!
Enjoy your weekend.

Thursday 23 August 2007

Sunshine on a rainy day

Well M's been up the ladder again, trying to pick as many apples and figs as possible before they all get blown to the ground by the wind. This grey weather is really beginning to dampen our spirits and it feels more like an Autumn half term than a summer holiday. Have we bypassed summer completely I wonder, I heard that the sun is on its way, but when? Our summer fortnight break with M got off to a good start and we were able to visit lots of places but now we're just plain old bored with this weather! To top it all my oldest now seems to be suffering from some kind of virus that's affecting her ears and throat - as I said it feels just like half-term!

As a result we've spent a few days at home and my thoughts have turned to odd jobs around the house, little painting jobs etc, moving things around, playing with objects and admiring. I applied a fresh coat of blue paint to some kitchen shelves and put a new Laura Ashley jug on them. I fell in love with this little jug, the colours are so bright and vibrant and sitting in front of the blue, it brings another one of those smiles to my face!

Back to the apples and what to do with them? I spent a few hours the other day making a lovely fig and apple jam - which turned out to be delicious, sweet and the prettiest jewel-like colour - a rosy pinkish red! Then quite by accident a couple of days later I found this book in a shop - "Apples for Jam" by Tessa Kiros.

It was meant to be and it was half-price! A book that sings colour, vitality and a love for food, Filled with wonderful recipes, gorgeous photos and memories of childhood. It is a collection of recipes passed from generation to generation, from friend to friend to be shared by everyone. Looking at this book reminds me so much of what goes on here in Blogland - the way we share our thoughts, memories, photos and recipes. The way we can dip and delve into each other's lives and, above all, enjoy what we all offer and make us forget momentarily that the sun isn't shining.

Monday 20 August 2007


It's funny how, after a while, you look at things and no longer see them. Really see them, notice the things that make you like them, the things that make you smile. This chair stands at the end of the bed, in a corner of the bedroom. It was given to us years ago by a friend who had inherited lots of her aunt's furniture. She kindly gave us keys to her aunt's flat and told us to have a good root around and take whatever we wanted! This took place when we just moved into our first home, had very little furniture or money and our friend realised that we needed a bit of help. There was a beautiful, really beautiful, sofa and armchair with loose covers in rose pink linen that we coveted. For hours and days after we planned how we could squeeze this big old furniture which had spent years in an enormous tall ceilinged Regency flat overlooking the sea into our tiny, doll's house of a Victorian terrace. We had to admit defeat but it's one of those "if only ...." things we talk about. The other day i was looking (just looking!) at the new Cath Kidston catalogue and spotted the pink sofa the model was lounging on, a quick knowing look at M and it was another of those "if only" moments.

So we took this chair, along with kitchen utensils a box full of Cornishware (yes a box!) and considered ourselves to be very spoilt indeed. Over the years I think the chair stood in the shadow of the much wanted pink sofa and eventually ended up in the attic. When we moved here one of the first things I did was to give the much neglected chair some TLC. I painted it Eau de nil and covered it in a beautiful pink linen Laura Ashley fabric (you see I've never really got over not having that sofa)! I loved the fabric so much that I covered a huge canvas with it and hung it on a wall behind the chair. Hanging proudly from the chair is one of my mother's bags that I loved when I was a little girl. It was the colour of the beads that I loved and I think the colour combination has to be one of my favourites. It's the colours I tend to use when ragging and the colours I'm fondest of wearing. A friend pointed this out to me the other day, that I tend to have clothes in this colour palette - I wonder where that came from?
Anyway, the chair and bag stand together. Rescued and looked after, their colours make me smile.

Another thing that has brought a lot of smiles to this house these past few days is this wonderful book. One of my favourite children's stories illustrated by my favourite illustrator - Pippi Longstocking (yes, Pippi Longstocking!) illustrated by Lauren Child (yes, Lauren Child). Gorgeous - pick it up if you need a smile!

Friday 17 August 2007

Steam trains and Standen

We had a great day out today - a trip on the Bluebell-Railway up to Standen , a William Morris Arts and Crafts house in the Sussex countryside. First stop was to Sheffield Park station to join our steam train travelling up the Bluebell line that stretches across beautiful countryside.

The little station - well in fact, the whole journey, is a step back in time, it's vintage enamel sign heaven as soon as you reach the station!!

Forget the beautiful scenery, the steam engines and timetables, there are enough enamel signs at the stations to keep us all happy!

Each platform, waiting room, ticket office and train carriage has been lovingly restored and it does feel for the length of the journey that you have stepped into another age. The girls loved it, the train was both Hogwarts Express and a train taking them to be evacuated to the country just like in Narnia!!

Our 1920s vintage steam train took us to Horsted Keynes and Kingscote stations, both beautifully restored - just like scenes from The Railway Children.
At Kingscote we got a bus to Standen a beautiful Arts and Crafts house just outside East Grinstead, now owned by The National Trust.

It's such a shame that we weren't allowed to take photos as this has to be one of our favourite NT properties - full of fantastic William Morris designs - textiles, ceramics, wallpapers and furniture, Burne Jones and Rosetti paintings etc but still retaining the feel of a real family home. if you get a chance to visit you should, but beware, if you're thinking of ever owning it, join the queue, I'm afraid we've already divied up the house and nabbed the bedrooms! A beautiful, beautiful home with equally lovely gardens, in acres of beautiful countryside, It was home to the Beale family who had it built especially for them and their seven children and 19 grandchildren who would come and stay. They must have had so much fun, there are photos of them using the old fire chute as a slide from the top floor down to the gardens, toboganning down the slopes on old trolleys and holding secret meetings on a lead shelf above the beautiful conservatory. You get the feeling that this really was a home rather than some old stately pile in the country, a home that was used and enjoyed by its owners.

For us it was back home on the old train and back to reality.

Have a lovely weekend.

Thursday 16 August 2007

Pottering and pickles

M is off work for two weeks and is now officially on holiday. We're not going away and have decided to go for 'days out' with the girls. There is so much to see and do around here that this is never a problem and judging by the size of the list that we drew up of all the places we want to visit, a fortnight will not be long enough!

For some reason though we've all been incredibly tired this week and given in to being lazy - days have been spent lazing round the house, pottering around and getting jobs done that have been hovering over our heads for a while now. I finally painted the door on what use to be the outside loo! This had been niggling me for some while now so it was good to get it done and I love the jade green which will hopefully fade and weather with time.

M has been really enjoying playing the hunter-gatherer in the garden and has spent the last few days up a ladder picking apples and figs. I think I'm going to have to keep an eye on him, if I'm not careful our whole garden could be turned into one huge veg plot!

With so many apples and figs I had to make some chutney. I'm not an expert in fact this was only the second time I'd made it, but I can recommend it. It really is one of the most relaxing things to do - once everything is in the pan - it really is a case of just giving it a stir whenever you're passing through the kitchen. The results were great and very satisfying - jars of both apple and fig chutney ready for Christmas (oops I said that word!).

My youngest wanted in on the cooking action too but wanted no part in pickle-making. Her speciallity is Delia's chocolate brownies - delicious. Soft, crumbly and chewy and the scent of chocolate finally masked the rather overpowering smell of vinegar that had filled the house all day.
Something more active today I think, depending on when the teenager gets out of bed ....

Tuesday 14 August 2007

Summer snapshots

I have been tagged recently by Gill and Leanne and I've been very slow at responding - sorry, I don't like compiling lists (I always forget the most important things to include). Anyway, as it's been a grey, wet and cold day I thought I'd share some facts about me and my summer holidays.

One of my favourite smells and tastes of summer has to be vanilla. It reminds me of France and all those delicious puddings and pastries. I love cooking with sugar that has had vanilla pods stored with it - mmmm delicious! I recently bought a Vanilla Pudding candle from Victoria's Coasts of Cornwall Candle Company and it transports me immediately to France - wonderful!

I love the sun and feeling its warmth on my face but on days when it is just too hot, I love walking through the woods where it's cool and quiet. Walking in the countryside in the summer has to be one of my favourite thing to do.

I love the summer, adore it and love going away. However, I hate packing and must be the world's worst packer. I pack for every eventuality, rain, sun, snow and drought. We leave home laden down with luggage, a quarter of it gets worn and somehow all of it needs washing! It's the same with toiletries - I pack as if we're entering a war zone, the contents of half of a pharmacy in my case!!

One of the things I always have to take with me on holiday is a pile of books - new and waiting to be devoured. I'm a bookworm and one of my greatest pleasures is lying on a beach, on a hillside, in my garden, on a sofa or in bed with a good book to read.
One of the worst books I took on holiday was The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold - it's a great book, but so harrowing, I read it in the evenings in a cottage we rented in a quiet French seaside village, the girls were sleeping on the floor above us and the floorboards creaked and the windows rattled, I don't think I slept at all for the first week.

I remember when I was still at school spending, what seemed like, the entire summer holidays lying in our garden on one of those swing chairs reading Agatha Christie books. Practically one a day, I was completely hooked, I tried rereading them recently but they don't have the same attraction anymore!

This has to be one of my favourite places to spend the holidays. A beach in Normandy where we have spent several holidays. It was the place where my youngest spent an entire fortnight walking in circles on the beach, for some reason as a toddler on the beach she could never walk in a straight line, so we'd be following her across this very big beach spiralling down to the sea. It's here where we've seen dolphins and my oldest's dream came true when she turned round in the sea to see that they were swimming right behind her. I think if we could ever have a dream holiday home it would be here on the cliffs overlooking this beautiful sandy beach where we've had so much fun together and with friends.

There I think I've bored you all enough with what I like getting up to in the summer, but it does feel good to have got that list out of the way!
I'm going to curl up on the sofa now and watch a video but before I do, thanks to Heidi, Meggie and Gill - who all have really lovely blogs - for nominating me again for the Nice Matters Award, I'm very touched. Let's all share this one together- I'm not really one for making lists. Hope you're enjoying your holidays.

Friday 10 August 2007

Time to get cosy

It's official - I'm now suffering from ragrugger's thumb! Perhaps not the most technical of names but nonetheless a real affliction!

Symptoms including an overwhelming reluctance to go near another pair of scissors ever again, complete phobia of stripping fabrics into rags and holding a rag hook for the foreseeable future.

Outward signs aren't hard to miss, a bleeding knuckle or two from sore blisters, callouses on thumbs and in more extreme cases, as in mine today, the apparent appearance of the beginning of an extra thumb as thumb joint is so red and inflammed.

Dabhanders (no pun intended) should be well aware of the symptoms and should know better than attempt to make half a dozen tea cosies and pompoms without applying first ample supplies of plasters and corn pads over knuckles and thumb joint. No sympathy should be extended to those of us, ie me, who should have known better!!!

After weeks of dyeing, cutting, ragging and more cutting, my order is finally ready.

This little lot are heading off along the coast to this shop - Made in Hastings, which has to be one of my favourite shops. I am so excited!!! Thrilled that they wanted some of my things and well worth the dodgy thumb!

I had some fun with this lot, choosing bright summery colours and lovely trims. As I seem to be suffering from selective memory loss I will be starting a whole new batch of hearts too - all thoughts of aching thumbs forgotten as soon as I get near that fabric ....

Enjoy your weekend.

Wednesday 8 August 2007

Lazy days

What do you do on a very hot day when your little body can't take any more sun? You creep up into my room spend the day nestled on the bed where the sun meets the pillow, most of your body in the shade, and sleep! That's what my cat did yesterday, sounds lovely doesn't it - apart from the silhouette of black fur she left behind.

A lovely start to the day today, a cuddle in bed with my youngest. M had gone to work, teenager in her room sleeping as only teenagers do and me and my little one cuddled up together humming the tune to Bewitched and giggling. It's great not to be running round in the mornings, finding bits of uniform, missing homework and something for the lunchbox. We're off for a picnic at the beach today with some friends, so I better step up a gear and get moving,

Before I go I'd like to thank Alison over at Foxgloves for nominating me for the Nice Matters Award! I understand that this award is for those bloggers who are nice people; good blog friends and those who inspire good feelings and inspiration. Also for those who are a positive influence on our blogging world. Well I'm very flattered, touched and embarassed but thank you!
I have to nominate 7 others for the award and this time I'd better actually nominate as I always find it so hard to choose - so here goes (for some reason my computer won't let me do any links today but all the links are on the sidebar - even the computer is being lazy)
Samantha from Plump Pudding -
Emma from Sew Recycled -
Rowan from Circle of the Year -
Lynda from Hedgerow Hollow -
Anna from Thimbleanna -
Betty from She's Sew Pretty -
Tracy at Pink Purl -
That was really hard as we all inspire each other in so many ways.

Thanks also to Emma for nominating me for another Blogger Reflection award. I'm not going to nominate anyone in particular for this, as every single post I've read on your blogs has made me think and reflect and glad to be doing this!
Have a good day.