Wednesday 31 October 2007

Is it night time yet?

I love the Autumn sunshine, but there are days when I can't wait for night to fall ...

Have a good one.
(ghostly lollies care of Ali)

Monday 29 October 2007

A good mix ...

Half term's over. Big sister is back at school and little sister returns tomorrow. However long the holiday, there's always a wish for it to have gone on just that big longer. Those couple of days it takes for everyone to relax into the swing of things, to get use to the luxury of no timetable, well in half term before you know it time has sped past and they're back to school. That night before they go back to school, they're not the only ones with that sinking feeling. However much we squabble (squabble perhaps is too gentle a word for what sisters do!), we do enjoy each other's company.

The luxury of lazy days together at home are the best - days when we all feel like making things, cooking, sewing or just playing cards. With the big age difference between the girls it is increasingly hard to find things that ticks the boxes for everyone. We went to see Stardust at the cinema last week - the oldest taking all the thrills in her stride, the youngest clasping my hand, burying her head in my shoulder and peeking out when it was "safe". They both loved it! What I loved, even more than the film, was that sense of sharing an experience with them - with the girls at different schools and the soundtrack to most school days being one of grunts and groans, it was great to find something that they could share with me.

There were days out and yes, big sister did get her shopping fix. Little sister didn't do too badly either. Something tells me that a love for red boots in this family is catching ...

Thursday 25 October 2007

Big Sister, little sister and big blue skies

I'm feeling almost normal today. Which is great news since I think I need all my energy to relive the experience that was the Big Sister's birthday party at the weekend. She wanted a Murder Mystery but all her friends had had them recently. Quite by chance we stumbled across the idea of a "Big Sister" party instead. It was to be along the lines of "Big Brother". So on Saturday we had a house full of teenage girls for 12 hours. They came for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and, the best bit, were evicted at 10pm so no sleepover! They were each assigned characters to play in the house and had to fill in questionnaires to return to Big Sister, via the big sister at school. We turned one room into the Diary Room, I was Big Sister and M was Big Bother (the camera crew), Little Sister ran around delivering tasks and summoning people to the Diary Room. Despite loosing a day planning it and me feeling very poorly it was a great success and dare I say it, lots of fun.
They key was to keep them busy. Over breakfast they had to compile an anthem in honour of Big Sister that they had to sing throughout the day whenever they heard the foghorn! (can't think what the neighbours thought). Friends said it would be good to turn this to our advantage and give them tasks like building the much needed new garden shed or redecorating the hall. The closest we got to that was telling them that one of their tasks was to prepare, eat and wash up lunch in an hour. The look of horror on their faces. 45 minutes to cook pasta!!!! Big Sister made them bring the washing in, blindfolded, through an obstacle course. They had to paint portraits expressing their inner selves (not their real inner selves, but their given characters). Pop videos were made and filmed, a 5 minute soap opera based on Romeo and Juliet was produced and lots of time was spent being called into the Diary Room to be teased and probed by M and me! I have never seen a group of girls so animated before (well, apart from the prospect of an afternoon's shopping at Topshop).

The day after Big Sister's party as reward to us, we decided to walk over from the beautiful village of Glynde (home of Glyndebourne Opera) to Lewes. It was such a warm, sunny day it felt like Spring.

The scenery was beautiful, even the girls admitted it and the oldest even turned off her Ipod to admit that it was the biggest sky she'd ever seen, praise indeed! Seconds later she walked into the biggest cowpat I've ever seen, teenagers are safer at home. If you ever get the chance do this walk, its lovely.

This week being halfterm we are once more snowed under by the weight of school projects needing to be done. My youngest has got one to do this time, The Tudors, a power point presentation on their clothes and fashion! Having done the Tower and Globe theatre we decided to go to Hampton Court Palace instead, I'm glad we did it was a good day out and my daughter just lapped it all up. Ghostly walks, tudor intrigue, children's workshops on how to succeed at Court, wandering around the Maze, it was a wonderful day. I remembered my dad taking me to Hampton Court when I was little and I can still remember the sense of awe when I first saw it, It is a fantastic building, absolutely steeped in history.

I also developped a strange fixation on the chimneys, I have never seen such beautiful chimneys before ....!! Couldn't take my eyes off them,
Sorry that this is such a long post, but this is what happens when I've been starved of energy and computer contact!
The other day I received this award from Carol , Carol has just started blogging, and, like me, will be experiencing her first blogging Christmas. Thanks so much. I'm looking forward to Christmas in blogland and get excited whenever I come across a mention of it on some of your blogs. I can't wait to see all of your decorations, gift ideas and share the preparations as Christmas approaches. So in the sense of Christmas let's share this award and if you can think of anyone to pass it on to please do.

A big thank you to Val for sending me this lovely parcel of goodies. I won a giveaway on her lovely blog the other week (have you visited her yet - go see) and was completely overwhelmed by what she sent me. Pin cushions, fabric, edible glitter, tissue holders (very apt) and chocolate. Look at all these pressies and I can say that the lavender chocolate was delicious. Thanks Val.
What a long, rambling post, I'm off to taste some more of that chocolate, I hear it's good for energy levels. i think you deserve some too after reading through all of this...

Sunday 21 October 2007

On the trail ...

Oh dear it's been almost a week since my last post, I think I was a bit premature when I said that I was on the mend. This thing has really lingered. I'm feeling much better than I did, but still very tired with a cold and cough that my oldest daughter seems to be sharing. Thank you all so much for your get well messages. A 'get well' to all of you who are suffering too at the moment, it's definitely lurgy time. A few more early nights are definitely needed and I seem to be craving oranges at the moment so I MUST remember to take those vitamin pills. Think I need a good old-fashioned tincture, like the one in the photo. well not exactly since this is full of bubble bath and originally contained quinine, which I'm sure I don't need at the moment.

Anyway, enough of me - meet the latest addition to the family. My daughter desperately wants a dog and if I'm honest I would love to have one. But with two highly strung cats who run away everytime anyone so much as knocks at the door, I think we'd be asking for trouble. So a bright red felt dog that sits neatly on a shelf, requires no walking and never woofs fits the bill perfectly. There are many things I love about Blogland, one of them being the way you can just sit at your computer following trails and suddenly stumble across the thing you've been looking for, quite unexpectedly it's there in front of you, waiting for you. Lovely Samantha had posted a couple of weeks back a photo of her little dog that she'd made for a birthday present for her son's friend. Gorgeous I thought, but I could never copy that without a pattern, and lo and behold, there followed one of those wonderful blogland trails that ended with the original post by Jenny and a pattern to use too. Thank you!!
Quite by chance last week I received an email from Cath Kidston (no not her personally, as if!!) with details of their Christmas stock with a link to a competition and pattern to make your very own Stanley dog. If my daughter could have any real life dog this would be the one she would choose. Knowing how clever you all are I'm sure one of you talented bloggers could come up with the winning Stanley - so here is my only little trail for you. Good luck and have fun! Let me know if you get to make any, it would be great to see a photo.

The two dogs in the black and white Cath Kidston postcard are adorable aren't they? The little dog tin is one of an ever expanding collection of old tins I seem to be gathering, I am turning into such a hoarder! The spaniel puppies are very cute but they do remind me of my headmistress' dog at secondary school. She would bring the dog into school every day and girls in the first year would have to walk the dog every lunchtime, it was either that or litter duty! Strange the associations Spaniels have for me ...
Anyway I'm off for another early night. Will be back soon with tales of big sister's birthday party, walks on the Downs and Tudor shenanigans!

Tuesday 16 October 2007

Just what the doctor ordered

Thank you all so much for your birthday wishes for my daughter. She had a lovely day and is now all geared up for the party on Saturday, only bemoaning the fact that it's a whole week till half term when she can wear all her new clothes (thank goodness for school uniform). I think I better come clean and tell you all that I played no part in the making of the cake other than asking M to go and collect it from the shop, Choccywoocydoodah. This is the most brilliant shop for cakes, birthday and wedding, chocolates, sweets and the ultimate chocolate indulgence. Have a look at their website and drool! The cake we bought even had a chocolate funnel to hold an indoor firework instead of candles!

I've not been feeling too well and last week my eyes were sore and my head felt like it was in a vice and I couldn't move it. After the fifth day I had one of those Woody Allen moments when I was predicting doom and disaster, but thankfully the next day it cleared to be replaced by an awful cold! We had friends round on Saturday for a special birthday dinner and THE CAKE, If it had not been my daughter's birthday or the fact that these were our oldest and closest friends I might have cancelled. I'm pleased I didn't, we had a wonderful time. There's something very comforting being surrounded by friends and their children, friends that you share a history with, friends who've known you through the good and not so good times. These friends are like our family. My daughter had planned the meal and had planned to share the cooking, but she just had to go shopping! M had been a bit vague about the time our friends were coming too. Two hours earlier than I thought our friends turned up but it really didn't matter. We had the best time sharing the cooking, chatting and drinking wine (which I'm sure did my cold no end of good!). A few Nigella touches too - a batch of Hokey Pokey which is very sweet, delicious and fun and easy to make. Her chocolate dipping sauce which I poured into some cups and placed strawberries and mini doughnuts around the saucers and THE CAKE!

On Sunday the day of the birthday my cold was getting worse but C wanted to go up onto the Downs to her favourite spot and it looked so beautiful outside, so I wrapped up warm and went along, I'm glad I did, the scenery as ever was beautiful and I relished the quiet stillness of it all.

The birds were singing as if it were spring and we climbed and soaked up the sun's rays. I must admit the climb back up to the top was a bit daunting and I wish I could have gone striding ahead just like my youngest!

Yesterday I just felt rotten and OLD! I spent the day under an eiderdown, wrapped in a shawl on the sofa reading a book. The heating on its highest and still I felt cold. My back was aching so much that I couldn't walk without stooping.

Today however, my energy has returned, the heating's off and the chimney sweep has just been round to clean the chimney. It's grey and rainy outside and for once I've found two raincoats for the girls that they'll both wear! A pink (of course) Hello Kitty mac for the youngest and a sixties inspired trench for the oldest, this is the first time in years that they're both happy on rainy day walks to school.

A birthday party to plan, more pompoms to make and a roaring fire tonight, things are on the mend!

Sunday 14 October 2007

C is for ... Cake!

Happy birthday gorgeous one! Another year and another metre or so taller than me! Well your taste in books might have changed, and these days you may be more of a Lizzie Bennett or Cassandra but there are days when Milly Molly Mandy is still beside your bed. I think you're a perfect mixture of all three!

You've not outgrown your love of chocolate (long may that continue!) and hope this cake does the trick!

Wishing you a magical, beautiful and happy year

Thursday 11 October 2007

So she says

We heard her muttering something about wanting to show you her jugs. She said she just can't get them in focus and she's spent a lot of time trying. She hasn't been around much this week. Judging by the amount of fabric lying around I guess she's back on the pompoms. There's also talk of the oldest daughter's birthday this weekend, we even heard her say she just couldn't bear to go shopping again and that it's impossible choosing presents for teenagers!

She said she's feeling really bad about not visiting her blogging friends as much as usual. We think you'll understand. She says an afternoon in front of the computer with a cup of tea and one of us on her lap, catching up on all your news sounds like heaven.

The other day, she caught us chasing (er, playing with) the squirrels in the garden. She said 'has anyone else noticed just how fat the squirrels are this year" As much as she loves squirrels she hopes she doesn't end up with them running round her kitchen like our neighbour did. We said we wouldn't mind!

Monday 8 October 2007

Seeing Red

I bought this bunch of roses last week to brighten up the corner of the living room. Normally I wouldn't have chosen red, it's not one of those colours that I am naturally drawn to. Or so I thought. All week my eye has been drawn to this vase of flowers, the beauty of these flowers and their rich, romantic, dramatic redness, contrasting so vividly with the white vase.

I don't wear a lot of red, It is my colour of choice for my lipstick and toenails but I don't own many red clothes. I have just bought a red cardigan that I'm looking forward to wearing. I feel happier wearing red in the darker, greyer months, hidden under a coat I don't feel I stand out too much. Perhaps my tastes are changing. Certainly nothing beats a splash of red somewhere to lift and brighten your spirits. And then I noticed just how much red I had lying around the place that I'd never really noticed. I must be drawn to red without realising it.

Judging by the ever increasing of tea towels and linens I have in my kitchen it seems that red has a place in my heart.

I particularly like the combination of red and white, in ginghams, polka dots, old linens, toile de jouy and plain old fashioned rose prints. Simple patterns and designs seem to work so well in red and white or cream.

I've noticed too that I've started to include red a lot more in my ragging, I like the way it lifts some colours and also jars with others. I made this collage at the beginning of the year and was a bit miffed that we had only red papers left in the paper box, but I'm pleased with it. I like the way it lifts the colour of the wooden clock on the mantelpiece.

It's funny how we would never include certain colours in our favourites list but then notice how much they play a part in our chosen surroundings and, how, subconsciously we include them in our wardrobe .

Well there's been no working of my subconscious as far as these are concerned - I have wanted these boots for weeks. I waited for the shop delivery and ever since I have been like a child outside a sweet shop, face pressed up to the window, gazing in longingly! Well this morning on the way back from school, the greyness was all getting a bit too much and a weekend of "shall I/shan't I" resulted in a quick detour on the way home. The boots are mine! And I take it back about not wearing much red, I just remembered a bright red raincoat upstairs in the wardrobe that I bought at a car boot a few weeks ago, obviously just waiting for a pair of matching boots! Or maybe not ... I must remember I like being able to hide!

Thursday 4 October 2007

Pompoms, polka dots and postal strikes!

I finally finished my tea cosy order today, right on time! Just in time to hear that the postal strikes are on again! Oh well at least I get to enjoy having them around the place for a bit longer. This green cosy is perhaps my favourite of the batch. I particularly wanted a soft, springy green and dyed the fabric.

I'm pleased with the results and like the way the colour is slightly dappled and varied, it's just how I wanted it to be (for once!). It did mean that for a few days my hands were a rather eerie shade of green (I like to think of them more as that moment in I Capture the Castle when Cassandra has dyed everything green and resembles something out of the House of Usher rather than Incredible Hulk).

I've made a batch in pinks, lilacs, blues and aquas and have used as much recycled fabric as possible too.

I love playing with the colours and have enjoyed making this lot up.

When it's been grey and drizzly outside it's been lovely to have such a collection of bright, fun colours around the place.

The pompoms are nearly done too.

A few more to be completed when I've found some more fabric. I seem to be devouring fabric at the moment.

I love adding the trimmings to my pompoms and cosies. When the cosies are finished and the pompoms are cut, the sherbet coloured ricrac and the polka dots and checks of my ribbons are the bits I look forward to adding. Let me loose in a haberdashery and I'm happy!

Monday 1 October 2007

Sunday walking in the woods

It was such a beautiful day yesterday - warm, crisp and bright and so miserable today - grey, wet and, well, Monday morningish! At this time of year you realise that you have to seize every opportunity to be outside that comes your way. So yesterday late morning we decided to grab a football, put on some old shoes and head for the woods. Here's a photo of my youngest outside our house waiting for her older sister to join her. As you can see it's quite a big house, the heating and window cleaning bills are a nightmare .... Sorry, couldn't resist it, of course this is not our house but I wouldn't mind spending the odd week or so living in this setting and grandeur! Built in the 1720s this house, Stanmer House, sits in a huge landscaped park with woods and farmland. I bet this house has seen the odd Jane Austen moment or two.
Stanmer Park is one of our favourite places for a walk in the autumn, winter months and we've been coming for years ever since my oldest was a toddler. In the grounds is an entire village that was completely private and hidden away until 1947 when the city bought it.

Anyway after the obligatory game of footie, climbing of trees etc off into the woods we went. Lots of photos here to show you just how beautiful it is.

The colours of Autumn are beginning to show

and the sun is still high enough to cast dappled rays amongst the trees and heighten the turning shades of the leaves.

Delicate, intricate seed heads are forming

and hidden treasures like this winter cyclamen are waiting to be found

and in corners of the woods leaves are turning chocolatey brown.

It was great to spend hours amongst the trees and climbing the hills, Sometimes it is just too easy to take all of this for granted and there are times like yesterday when I realise what a special time of year this is.