Thursday 31 January 2008

Better late than never

First of all thank you for all the very many lovely comments on my last post about Iris. I knew it would strike a chord with lots of you and that it would move you in a way that it moved me. Just this morning I was looking through the album and found a little handwritten inscription "To Iris Rutland, a present for a good child". I'm glad that I was able to share her paintings and glimpses of her life with you.

Anyway the photo above is a photo of a tea cosy that I finished yesterday for M's mum. Exactly to her specifications, pale blue with white roses and a little bit of lace trim. Finding the white roses took a while. matching up some blue fabric took a little bit longer, I had the lace and the ribbon already so I'm not quite sure why it took me three years to make! Yes I think it was three Christmas' ago that she asked for one, isn't that awful. Particularly when I've made so many in between. In my defence (a very weak defence I have to admit), sometimes I thought she was just being polite when M showed her what I'd been up to. The moment would pass, I would agree to make her one as a pressie for next time we met and then, well, I'm not sure what happened then. All done now and waiting for its new home.

I have also listed a whole bundle of cosies (what would you call a group of cosies I wonder) in my Etsy shop so if anybody wants a nice warm cuppa they're over there. Don't worry they're already completed and even allowing for the postal service these won't take three years to reach you.

I hope you're all able to keep warm today, this weather is yuk. I can't tell you how many cups of tea I've drunk today and am spending an inordinate amount of time just shuffling around. One piece of sunny news this morning came unexpectedly from somebody selling my hearts. She wanted some hi-res (that sounds impressive doesn't it, as if I know what I'm talking about, well I don't and had to ring M at work to talk me through the pressing of buttons on the computer to get to the hi-res stage)
photos for an Australian magazine who want to feature my hearts! That brought a smile to my face. There are some red hearts in Etsy now as well as I've decided to list a few there as well.
Hope you all keep warm and dry - last day of January yippee.

PS M has just suggested a "huddle" of cosies.

Monday 28 January 2008

For Iris

I found this painting book at a flea market at the weekend. It was hidden under a pile of old photos and books. Beside it on the stall were some other exercise books belonging to the original owner, a little girl called Iris, but it was this painting book that needed to come home with us! It was full of drawings and paintings the little girl had painted over a century ago and we had no idea what other treasures were between its covers. As we handed the money over to the stall holder he noticed my little girl standing beside me with her own sketch book in her hand (she's going through a lovely phase of taking her drawing book everywhere at the moment and just sitting down and doodling!) and I hadn't noticed the comparisons until that moment. Two little girls, a century apart, both taking such innocent pleasure in their drawings. I often feel very sad seeing people's belonging ending up on a stall for other people to buy, intimate personal things being looked at by all of us and it moved me to think of this little girl, Iris, who had once sat down happily painting away with, thankfully, no idea, of where her paintings would end up. I'm glad that we bought it and I'm glad that it's home with us to look after.

Made in the 1890s, this book is full of wonderful floral prints to be copied by a budding young artist

Beautiful victorian floral images, here are just some of them.

On some of the pages Iris has had a go herself and she seems to be a very talented little artist.

Hidden amongst the pages were some old postcards that she must have treasured to have kept them in her book. A German Easter Card from 1903 addressed to Iris and a postcard from 1912 to her new address in London from admirer possibly who says they think of her often! It was only later when I read the postcard again I noticed the address, Iris lived five minutes away from where M and I lived when we were in London!

At the back of the book was an assortment of letters addressed to Iris, written during the First World War. In 1915 she received a letter from the East Sussex Constabulary which enclosed her residence permit. One, writtten in 1916 had the "Opened by Censor" stamp on it. Sent to Denmark it had been returned, its contents written by Iris were thanking a friend for passing on news of mutual friends who had been involved in the fighting. In the same year Iris received a letter from Denmark passing on the sad news of a friend's death through action and that another was at the front. The following year Iris made a donation to The Blinded Soldiers and Sailors Hostel, was it the sad news that had prompted it? The hostel thanks Iris for her "practical sympathy in the welfare of our gallant men."

This little collection of paintings and letters has moved me so much this weekend. On the way back from the market, sitting on the bus next to my daughter who was still cheerfully sketching away, I looked through the painting book. Before all the tragedy of the First World War, Iris must have experienced the same sort of innocent pleasure as my daughter and I am so pleased that she did.

Sunday 27 January 2008

Sunday Stroll

For those of you who were unable to get out today or had the benefit of the beautiful weather why don't you come along with us for a stroll? It's just the three of us, Big Sister has gone off with a friend. Up to our favourite spot on The Downs. Little Sister is leading the way, wrap up warm though it's a bit chilly up here.

Clambering on we go as Little Sister rushes ahead shouting "I'm Free", in fact we are all free today, free of the confines of being indoors and able to enjoy such beautiful countryside.

The Downs are slowly waking from their wintry sleep and things are still a bit slippery underfoot so be careful. No signs of flowers up here yet although plenty of new shoots and buds appearing on trees and shrubs. In amongst a clump of trees we find this moss covered branch. Isn't it a beautiful green?

Along this country lane down into the village where we find clumps of snowdrops, primroses (yes primroses) in bloom and so many daffodils just waiting to burst. At the bottom of the Downs across a track a Hare jumps out in front of us and hurtles into the hedgerows.

Back up now to the top, it's a long steep climb and for people with little legs it seems to get longer and longer.

Just when you think you're getting closer to Daddy Longlegs...

he steps up a gear and moves further away, leaving us stragglers woefully behind.

Keep going we're almost there, it's worth it, the view from the top is really beautiful. Home and a cup of tea are only five minutes away!

Wednesday 23 January 2008

It's in the air ...

Well it was in the air on Monday and now it's gone again! For one day only the grey lifted and we had sunlight, It was enough to make me venture into the garden and peer round. My poor garden is looking neglected and unloved and I almost don't want to look out of the window. Hidden amongst the fallen leaves and broken branches that I never got round to tidying up, were these little fellows....

Signs of new life, Spring can't be far off. It does amaze me that something as delicate as a shoot from a tiny bulb can bear to show it's head in wintry temperatures and yet I don't leave the house without at least four layers on. It does make you feel optimistic though, I know February and March can be dire but it's great to have these little signs that things are moving forward and the days are getting longer.

The cats of course are still in hibernation and without the Christmas tree baubles to amuse them, they spend their days completely inert on the sofa. Except of course when you go out into the garden and then the fun and games begin. From being dead to the world to scaling the highest branch of the tree, this cat can do it in five seconds flat! She does like to show off and I'm sure she senses just how nervous I am standing underneath the branches trying to gently coax her down.

I'm slowly emerging from a mountain of hearts that I've been making for various stockists for Valentines Day. Most of them have been made using recycled fabric which I'm very pleased about. I have also put some in my Etsy shop, for the romantic amongst you. I have not yet listed any red ones, but if anyone would a red one please contact me. Judging by the amount of crafting that's going on around blogland it seems that we all seem to be thinking about St Valentines. And whilst I'm here I better tell you that as far as my love is concerned, I'm in the doghouse! I forgot to mention M's birthday last week. Well I didn't forget I made a concerted effort not to mention it. M's quite shy and reticent and I figured he would not want everyone to know. Well I gauged it wrong and apparently I've found time to mention anything and everything from chocolate to laundries and flipflops but not mentioned his birthday. So please readers, take a minute to wish him Happy (rather belated) Birthday!

Phew, glad that's done. It's my turn to thank Betty at She's Sew Pretty who passed this award on to me last week.

I have been reading Betty's lovely blog since I started blogging last year and I always enjoy visiting her. The award is for devoted readers who leave supportive comments on your blog. Well I think that just about covers all of you, I have never experienced so much support in my life before. I am going to give this award to all of you, your generosity of spirit never fails to surprise me. I would like to mention two bloggers in particular who have been visiting me since I started last year Heidi from Celebrate The Seasons and

Louise from Beachys Capecodcupboard, thank you for all your support over the months.
Before me and my addled brain get into any more trouble with members of the Ragged Roses household, "Get Well Soon" to my oldest daughter who's poorly at the moment.

Monday 21 January 2008

Pretty in Pink

Hope you all had a good weekend. Very lazy and relaxed here. Much eating of chocolates and oranges, lolling around on the sofas watching films and playing games and 48 hours later it's over. Weekends really should be one day longer. Something that more than made up for the greyness and apparent shortness of the weekend was this little parcel here. I love getting parcels (even when I'm expecting them). Look how beautifully wrapped it is, shame to open it up ...

... oh my, how pretty is that?! A parcel from Michele that had had me glued to the front door waiting for its arrival, since I ordered it on Wednesday night, a belated Christmas pressie for me, much nicer than a new woolly jumper! Michele at Cowboys and Custard makes the most beautiful box frames filled with vintage and nostalgic childhood items that more than feeds my need for whimsy! A beautiful vintage 1920s/30s bisque doll stands cradling her little doll against vintage ephemera and the whole thing is charming (can't think of a better word to describe it). If you click on the photo it should enlarge. I followed a trail a few months ago that landed on Cowboys and Custard doormat and was made to feel very welcome indeed. It has been wonderful catching up on all her funny, warm and touching posts and I am so pleased to have been able to have made contact with her too. Thank you Michele, I love it. Go and take a sneaky peek at her blog, you probably won't be leaving empty-handed!

Friday 18 January 2008

Where's my jumper?

I took this photo in the garden yesterday at the brightest point of the day . it is sooo grey here. I could tolerate the rain and the cold if we had some respite from the grey. What with the mornings being so dark and gloomy too. I have been lucky in that I've spent a lot of time at home this week finishing orders, ordering canvas and fabric and generally feeling coccooned. Buoyed along with the help of Radio 4 and a mountain of blogs to read, the atmosphere has been cosy and calm, so things haven't been too bad.
What I am beginning to realise is that I really need some fresh air, not the mad dash to school or corner shop kind of fresh air, but the exhilarating and bracing breath of air you get on a long winter's walk. I also need to buy some woollies, I seem to be mistress of the cardigans but looking through my clothes the other day found that I've only got one thick jumper that I wear (I hate to admit this) over my pyjama tops if I get up really early to go to the car boot!

Evenings here seem to be spent fighting the urge to fall asleep on the sofa by the fire. We seem to be going to bed earlier and earlier. Things are so different in the summer when you want to savour every last minute of the day. Mind you there's a lot to be said for going to bed with a good book! You probably all know my favourite book, this post here explains why I love "I Capture the Castle" so much. But any books by Anne Tyler do for me what a nice old woolly jumper might on a long, cold walk. She writes books that offer gentle insights into the every day, the detail of domestic and family life with a humour and warmth that always make me smile. I know I'm in for a treat when there's a new Anne Tyler to be read. Lying on the sofa or snuggled under the duvet (and mountain of eiderdowns) these are the kind of books that I love to read on grey days.

But it's not all gloom and doom, has anyone had an orange recently? I forgot just how good they are at this time of the year! We had some navel oranges last night and I was instantly transported to being a little girl watching my dad peel orange after orange for me when my mum had found some at the greengrocers. It had to be the sweet, juicy navel oranges though, although I never liked to eat the "baby" one inside! So if the grey all gets a bit too much this weekend, how about a bit of Anne Tyler and a bowl of oranges. Well. maybe not a bowl that would be too virtuous - how about a good book, an orange and a bowl full of chocolate ...
Have a good weekend

Tuesday 15 January 2008

Meet the family ...

I bought these two cushions for my daughters at Christmas. I love the fabric, colours and shapes. It struck me the other day just how much their new owners resemble them! Little Sister is indeed a cheeky little squirrel. Always up to mischief, running around, leaping from one thing to another.

An incessant hoarder - she buries her treasure around her room and woe betide anyone who digs it up and moves it to the wrong place. She sleeps surrounded by her goodies, cats, fairies, sylvanians, the odd milk tooth stashed in a purse and is only content when everything is in its right place, even if her mummy can see no order in this!

At her happiest perhaps in the garden haring around or at the park on her scooter, she likes to sleep cuddled under her eiderdown with her head on the pillow that Big Sister made her for Christmas (watch out ladies Big Sister is turning out to be a dab hand at the soft furnishings!). How much sleep she actually gets is always a mystery to her parents, as one eye seems to be permanently watching over those treasures!

Big Sister on the other hand takes life at a more sedate pace. A lot of time is spent languishing around her room. Just like the deer, she is not often to be seen. Long legged and graceful she is taking those first furtive steps into adulthood and taking a few tumbles along the way. Shy amongst strangers she is happiest with familiy and close friends. I would photograph her room but believe me there's piles of make up in there that even I don't want to see close up!

It's wonderful isn't it to be able to watch our children grow and heartbreaking to see them unhappy. Neither of my two have had the best of weeks and it is hard as a parent and as a child to learn that there are some things that you just can't make better. So Miss Squirrel and Miss Deer this is for you - LOVE YOU.

And a word of advice - Miss Squirrel, no more treasure please, your hoard is big enough to get you through the winter and Miss Deer, please tidy up your room before the magpies are attracted by all the glitter and things start to go missing!

Friday 11 January 2008

Weekend Whimsy - Chapter 2

Well the girls are back at school. M's back at work, the house is clear of glitter and decoration and the weather is wet and grey! Yesterday morning at school I was chatting to a friend of mine about the summer holidays, we were saying that we both fancied a holiday that featured lots of beautiful countryside, the sea, fresh air and the chance to spend time enjoying our family. I'd earmarked the day for crafting and catching up on stock orders but when I got home what I came up with was very different to what I had planned. The view from the window was miserable, incessant rain and wind all day long - I needed to escape! Out came the vintage fabric scraps and postcards and I was on holiday again.

Nostalgic images of seaside towns and country cottages were just what I needed. Quaint and idyllic were just what was required! So in my Etsy shop is another nostalgic seaside bundle and a little package of thatched cottages and countryside. It wasn't long before I was thinking back over the drives we use to take to Devon when Big Sister was just a toddler.

Avoiding the busy roads we would follow the coast road through Sussex and meander through the New Forest, take detours through lovely villages in Dorset and find ourselves in the most delicious countryside. surrounded by cottages that looked like they hadn't changed in centuries. We'd potter on to Devon and follow the coast down to our destination, glimpsing the sea every now again and crossing fields with foxglove filled hedgerows and rolling hills.

Isn't it funny how the mind plays tricks on you? How it edits things so dramatically. If I think again about the journeys I also remember stopping every hour on the hour to change nappies, find food, check the map, repack the car which seemed to contain the entire contents of our house and holding our breath and shutting our eyes as enormous tractors would appear from nowhere on single country lanes hurtling towards us! I remember reaching our holiday home, exhausted and frazzled, vowing never to do the journey again and of course returning the following year for more of the same.

The lure of the countryside and sea has always been too much for me. It would be hard to pick a favourite. Could you choose, land or sea?

More whimsy here - look at these lovely badges I bought from Samantha as stocking fillers for the girls. Samantha has been very busy over at Plump Pudding producing badges with vintage fabrics and nostalgic images. My daughters loved them and I was very hard pushed to hand them over.

Another rainy day today, so I've brought a little bit of sunshine in. My new set of ragballs are covered in this lovely bright, fun floral fabric and embellished with colourful lace flowers. Nothing subtle here, instant sunshine and smiles. I've made myself a set and there's also a set in my Etsy shop too.

Finally a very big "thank you" for all your lovely comments on the last post. The chair has survived and is living happily in our bedroom. I also need to let you know who won the giveaway - drum roll please: Ruth from Oh So Vintage, if you're reading this, you've won! Little Sister chose a random number from the numbered comments and number 45 it was.
Hope you all have a good weekend and find time for a little whimsy of your own.

Sunday 6 January 2008

Out with the old in with the ... old

No not me, although I am 100 today!!! More about that later ... Look at my lovely new/old chair. Born from one of my newest addictions, freecycling . I joined our local freecycling group last summer and have given a camera and photography equipment to an art student and have acquired a very old and very pretty sewing machine, a pair of wonderful old wooden sledges that would have been perfect for the snow that didn't happen last week and this beautiful old Victorian Prie Dieu or prayer chair.

The freecycler wanted it to go to a good home and the rest, they say, is history! It had been used as an upholstery project by the previous owner and needed some TLC and was small enough for me to able to afford to buy some of my favourite Cath Kidston fabric without feeling extravagant. I was going to set about it with my old trusted staple gun when a friend mentioned that they were retraining as an upholsterer and would love to have a go at the chair for us, purely for experience. Purely in the name of friendship I agreed, much to the relief of the rest of the family who find my attempts at upholstering to be good on the eye but sore on the bottom! So in return for supplying an old chair as work experience we gained this beautiful creature, with waxed legs, its porcelain castors polished and it's bottom repadded. All dressed up in a new Spring coat too!

The cats also love it! In fact I'm not sure if I've yet had a chance to sit on it! Placed next to the Christmas tree in our bay window, the cats were able to laze luxuriously whilst batting the tree baubles. sit on top and peer at the squirrels digging up our window boxes and, best of all, given the chair's very long back, it provided them with the perfect scratching post!!! Yes holes, already, amongst the roses.
The chair has now been on a mercy dash up to our bedroom where, finally, I might get a chance to enjoy it. It won't be long before they sniff it out (sometime around midnight tonight I expect to hear the sound of claws being finely chiselled on my gorgeous throne!)

Just before Christmas, and that does seem a very long time ago now, the lovely Michele gave me an award! It will be placed somewhere high out of the reach of my marauding moggies! Thanks Michele I have really enjoyed visiting your blog and am so happy I found it. I think I have to list 7 random facts about me. Well I have listed quite a few already so these are 7 festive facts that you might not know about me.
1. Our oven died two days before Christmas Day so it was takeaways for us in the runup to the big day. No baking no nothing. Fortunately a very nice engineer was able to fix it for us late on Christmas Eve! We thought it might have been stilton on toast for the next day!

2. One of our cats lost her voice just before Christmas. She opened her mouth to ask for her dinner and nothing came out - she just stood there mouth open, blinking at me. The vet thought she might have swallowed something (a severe case of pink baublitis I feared, having seen the amount of baubles they had stolen from the tree). But it transpired to be laryngitis and by the end of the week she was walking round the kitchen screaming as usual (the cat, not me!).
3. I really don't like mince pies, Christmas cake or pudding. I LOVE Stollen and had eaten a whole one before the holidays had even begun. A cup of tea and a slice of stollen ...
4. I love watching everyone open their presents. We all take it in turns to open the pressies and it's a very long drawn out affair!
5. M always accompanies the pressie opening with either Bing or Nat King Cole singing White Christmas, which always makes me think of my mum and cry! Everyone has got use to it by now and I do feel daft for doing it but always feel better for having done it (if only she'd seen her beautiful granddaughters, she would have been so proud).
6.I love Christmas nibbles. Could eat and pick at the nibbles for weeks on end.
7. Christmas has to be accompanied by a mound of chocolate. Even if it's not all eaten I'm only happy when I know it's there and it's been stockpiled for any disaster!
I'd like to pass this award on to Thimbleanna , Anna I'm looking forward to reading what you come up with, but please, for old time's sake, no mention of mash potato!

And finally, I'm a century old today. 100 posts ago I very nervously pressed the "publish post" button and the fun began! Thank you all for your comments on my last post, they really meant a lot to me, and thanks to all of you who have found the time to leave a comment at any time. Please leave a comment on this post and I will put all names into a prize draw, yes it's giveaway time! As usual I have no idea what I'll be giving away, but leave a comment you'll find out and it'll give me a reason to get busy again!!