Friday 30 January 2009

Because ...

... one of the many great things about having a blog is that you can look back at nearly two years of Fridays and see what you were up to.

Because ... now and again it's good to choose your favourite Friday photos.

Because ... it's been a long, grey week and we need some cheering up.

Because ... this wonderful man died yesterday and the world will miss his beautiful voice.

Because ... Big Sister has had such a tough week and I am reminded how grateful I am not to be a teenager anymore.

Because ... Little Sister has had a spotty, rashy kind of week and now she's all better.

Because is Friday and it's sweetie day.

Because ... the sun is shining but it's bitterly cold.

Because ... we all need a bit of colour in our lives.

Because .... It's Friday and in a few hours my lovely family will be home for the weekend.

Because ... My blog has allowed me so many things.

Because ... There aren't enough eiderdowns in the world to keep this little creature as warm as she would like.

Because ... An unexpected phone call from a dear friend at the start of the day makes me smile.

Because ... we all like a bit of pretty on a Friday

Because ... It's so good to know that there are so many of you who feel exactly the same.

Just because ...

Tuesday 27 January 2009

One (slow) step at a time

Oh dear, I think I've been taking this winter hibernation malarkey a bit too seriously - I am in serious danger of turning into a sloth (just like them, I have taken to moving very slowly and only when necessary). I hate to say it but the sewing machine has only been out of the cupboard once since Christmas and that was just to alter the waistband on Little Sister's trousers ...

That's not to say that all is lost on the crafting front, I do have some ideas brewing in my head and have taken heart from seeing all the little components needed for my next project slowly (again that word slowly) being assembled in the corner of the room. I blame the weather - this morning the sun is shining, there's a whiff of fresh, exciting air and I am feeling, if not galvanised, then a little more optimistic re all things crafty. Roll on spring ...

I have been spending evenings, lying sloth like on the sofa, watching the excellent BBC4 programmes on Fashion. Every week a different decade's Style has been analysed and discussed. It's been riveting. I loved the one about the 1940s in particular, the ingenuity of women at home "making do" during the war and the change of styles post-war. Reusing, recycling, reinventing garments, it was fascinating to watch. I have a copy of "Make Do and Mend" and love pouring over it, it certainly was true of these times that "necessity is the mother of invention." I love haberdashery and collect buttons and bows and all kinds of old trimmings, rummaging through my button tin reminded me that even the number of buttons that were allowed to be used on garments in the 1940s was restricted.

Big Sister got these two wonderful vintage fashion books for Christmas. I have been spending as much time as she has, ooohing and aaaahing over the images.

There's me wondering some days if anyone would notice if I shuffled to school in the morning with my pj's still on (don't worry I haven't yet ...) and then I glance at these beautiful groomed, elegant models and despair. Well. no, despair is not what I do, if I'm honest I long for the chance to try them on - just for a few minutes, a few twirls in front of the mirror a shimmy around the bedroom ... instead of a shuffle in my slippers.

The other thing I've been watching and really enjoying is the repeat of The House of Chanel, again on BBC4. Big Sister and I have been riveted to it. The talent and dedication of all involved has been a marvel to watch. From the truly amazing designs we've seen emerge from Karl Lagerfeld's hand, to the skill of the seamstresses in the studio, their patience and hard work and then the final catwalk show - it has made fantastic viewing.

All set against a parisian backdrop which makes it all so much more enticing ... One of the real characters of the show was Chanel's braid maker, Mme Pouzieux, who works on her farm and has been making braid for decades for the fashion house, originally for Coco Chanel. All this made on a loom she made herself and is still using. If you get a chance to see any of the repeats, I really recommend them.

Anyway, back to the crafting, from the sublime to the ridiculous! I have made a few things, this new birdhouse being one of them. It looks rather French with the toile paper I think. Sorting through my bits and bobs has made my head a little clearer and I have decided to list some of my boutons in my Etsy shop.

They may inspire you to get on with your sewing, or, like me, just sit on the sofa and admire the packaging !

See you soon!

Tuesday 20 January 2009

An open book

Just before Christmas Mr Roses and I made a deal; we agreed not to buy each other pressies and just spend some money on presents for the girls. A week before Christmas driving home from a Carol Service, I caved in - the thought of M not opening any presents from me was weighing too much on my mind. "It's no use I'm going to have to buy you a present, I just can't bear you not to have a pressie from me.' Mr Roses smiled (whilst Little Sister giggled knowingly in the back seat) and replied "That's okay, I've already got you something!". Three days later, after a trip to the shops I smile triumphantly and with a sigh of relief tell him, "I'm feeling better now, I've bought you some presents." To which Mr Roses replied. "SOME presents, I thought we would only be ONE present!" So it continued until on Christmas morning we both opened our presents, equal in number, and beamed at each other. This little ritual is nothing new. Every year we try and get each other to agree to no presents, we try hard to be responsible and sensible and each year we fail miserably! Living with Mr Roses is like living with the Master of Double Bluff - you have to think hard before believing him when he promises and i hate to admit it I have in the past resorted to asking the girls if Daddy has got me a present this year ...

He reads me like an open book. He must have known I was getting twitchy as the number of books beside the bed were dwindling and so my pressies were a pile of books to keep me happy. You probably all know just how much I love reading. I devour books and my love for books is only equalled by love of accumulating them. I sleep soundly knowing that it doesn't matter if I've just read the last line of a book if I've got a stash of new books ready and waiting.

Just before Christmas I found in a charity shop two books that I wanted to reread again for a very long time - Miss Mapp and Mapp and Lucia by E F Benson. I spent the holidays giggling and laughing and being transported to 1930s England, to the small village of Tilling, mixing with genteel society and the comings and goings of Mapp and Lucia. These are two of the funniest books I have read, and have left me yearning to revisit Rye (the town on which Tilling is based) again as soon as the sun starts shining again. One critic compared the books to a modern "Cranford", i think I would agree. So much so, that M and I have been watching the Mapp and Lucia TV series again on DVD - ooooh the costumes are delicious.

The book I am reading at the moment is "They were Sisters" by Dorothy Whipple. It is so very different to the Mapp and Lucia books and yet just as addictive. I can't wait to finish it and I have been staying up later and later each night to read more. It is gripping and harrowing and I will certainly read some more of her novels.

My other two Persephone books are The Runaway and The Children who lived in a barn - I'm looking forward to reading both of them. I haven't read a dud Persephone book yet.

When we were in Bath last year I saw this book in a bookshop there. Madresfield is the story of the country house and its family thought to be the inspiration behind Brideshead Revisited (another TV series we're wading through on DVD). I can't wait to read the history of Sissinghurst but think I will save it for the spring and hopefully tie it in with another visit to the house and gardens as they are wonderful.

And if that wasn't enough, Big Sister bought me the Nigella Christmas book which resulted in the best pavlova being devoured over the holidays and M bought me the fantastic Leon cookbook. Both of them have the most wonderful recipes and are jam packed with gorgeous photos.
So that's my pile of goodies. I can go to bed a happy girl, knowing that, thanks to the duplicitous Mr Roses, there are enough unread words just feet away to keep me going till Spring! What are you reading at the moment?

Wednesday 14 January 2009

Do you want to see my drawers?

I'm guessing that some of you might have got some new drawers as Christmas pressies this year. Mine were a little late in arriving and a tad more unusual.

On one of M's frequent visits up to the loft this year to find the Christmas decorations, he emerged shouting "I've found you some old drawers"!

Now there are limits to my vintage passions, old granny knickers being one of them. Racking my brains to remember any hidden corner of the loft that I have not turned over in a desperate hunt for vintage treasure, I have to say that I was completely baffled and intrigued enough to take a look.

With visions of vintage cotton and lacy trim I ran upstairs and found Mr Roses beaming, arms clutching his vintage treasure. Replace the words, "vintage lingerie" with "brown and wooden" and you get the gist of my unexpected present.

An old set of drawers that M had rescued years ago. Not wanting to seem ungrateful I murmured something about how lovely it was to have some more storage and went downstairs to continue wrapping the pressies.

The drawers sat in a corner of our bedroom until after Christmas. The day after Boxing Day, M came downstairs with his beloved drawers, sat cross legged in the middle of the living room surrounded by some of my wallpapers and set to work ... It was like that moment in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang when the dad locks himself away with the old car.

The days went by and every evening he sat down in the middle of the room, sighed and groaned and continued his gluing. I have to say it was one of the most romantic things (and he has done a lot of romantic things) I have seen him do for me.

On Sunday evening I was presented with my new drawers - floral, pretty and, most importantly, made with love.

Thank you Mr Roses after all these years you still surprise me!

It's his birthday today. Happy Birthday my darling M. I love you.

Wednesday 7 January 2009

Finding the words ...

Oh my goodness, thank you all so much for the many, many lovely comments and New Year wishes on the post below! To say I was amazed would be an understatement ... thank you. Well, the two Rose sisters somehow, miraculously, chose a number and the winner is ... Lou! I really wish I could send you all a little something but the pennies are few and far between at the moment. Would it be okay if I sent you all my very best wishes and hopes for the New Year instead?

Am I the only one to be finding their homes unnervingly quiet at the moment? With the girls back at school and the excitement of Christmas and New Year behind us, it does seem as if the volume control has been turned down doesn't it? I think it's going to take a bit of getting used to, especially the very early morning starts - I'm predicting major fallout by the end of the week in this household ...

I have been slowly putting things away, tidying up and finding homes for new things and new homes for old things. Before Christmas I was the very, very lucky winner of a giveaway that the very lovely and talented Teena held on her gorgeous blog. The wonderfully bright postcards and beautiful bunting made from retro fabrics that now hangs above Little Sister's bed were in the parcel. Aren't they lovely? Their cheerful colours and designs have really brought a smile to my face these past few days.

Not only that, I also was lucky enough to receive this little pooch from her too. She's having a whale of a time (what a strange saying) in Little Sister's room but, between you and me, I shall try smuggling her out to join me in mine very soon. Thank you so much Teena, I really love them.

Along with the sorting and cleaning I've been thinking and dreaming. Dreaming of all things that I would like to happen this year ... I haven't made any resolutions but have made a mental note of things that I would like to happen over the next 12 months. There are a couple of things I would love to pursue and time seems to be a major prerequiste in order for this to happen. I have been reading a number of blogs over the past few weeks that have mentioned the need (not the desire) to cut back on blogging. I think, if I am going to be truthful with myself and all of you, then this is something I will need to do this year. One of the major things I need to learn is how to increase my self discipline and make productive use of my time. Life is enough of a juggle at the moment and I really need to find the balance. You might notice that I have not used the word "want" in connection with any of this - there is nothing I like more than to sit in front of my computer, cat on my lap, mug of tea in my hand and read all your blogs - but if I am to be realistic, the only way I can have a stab at making some of my dreams come true this year is to limit my time in cyberspace! I will continue to blog, I will continue to read your blogs and I will continue to allow comments as I've always maintained that it was the "conversation" aspect of blogging that appeals to me, I just may not be doing any of the above as much as I did. I really hope you understand, I do feel very bad about this and am very sorry to all of you who I haven't visited recently (and there are a lot of you), to all of you who have tagged me I'm sorry too. I have always loved blogging and I really don't want it to turn into something I feel guilty about because I don't always have the time to respond to all your lovely comments - I hope you understand. See you very soon - very soon I expect as I was never very good at sitting on my hands!

I've decided to add on this little bit - having reread the post and your comments, just want to stress that I'm NOT giving up blogging (I love it far too much for that!) I'm just going to see if I can resist its constant temptation, much like the tin of chocolates that's sitting in a corner in my kitchen calling me like a siren. Just like eating a few chocolates a day whilst standing up doesn't count, a few blogs a day shall be devoured. That way by the end of the week, the whole tin will be consumed! Once a blogaholic, always a blogaholic ...

Thursday 1 January 2009

200 rosy notes

Apologies if you can't hear this post, it has been written very quietly as lack of sleep and too much wine have conspired to make me feel a tad fragile this morning. I really wanted to write this post to wish you all a very Happy New Year and thank you all for your kindness this passed one. I hope you all had a great New Year's Eve spent with family and friends, or if like me, it is not your favourite night of the year, the evening past quietly and peacefully.

We spent last night with our closest friends. Not a dressing up, grand kind of evening but, in my eyes, the best kind of evening, seeing in a New Year with people we love in a relaxed, happy and cosy way. Over the years we have spent New Year's Eve in each other's company, sharing our food, laughter and homes. With every New Year's Eve our children have grown older and bigger, the laughter has grown louder and our relationships stronger. As we sat in their seafront home watching chinese lanterns floating past the windows (yes, it was that idyllic) and fireworks fly off over the sea, I realised that it couldn't get any better. What more would you possibly want to do to say goodbye to one year and welcome in another? And what lay at the heart of it all was our desire and willingness to share.

We have known our friends through times of feast and famine and have supported each other in times of joy and sadness. This year we agreed not to give each other presents and I did worry that it would feel mean or diminish the evening, but in a way the night was better for it. What we savoured was each other - our mad dancing, our shrieking singing, our relentless laughter and the rosy faces of our children as we sat round a candlelit dinner table.

So here we are, slightly the worst for wear, on New Year's Day and this is my 200th post. I won't go on (again!) about how much this blogging business means to me but I will say that, just like evenings spent with friends or family, what has mattered most to me since I began posting was the sense of being able to share. Being able to share in your news and reading your views and comments on my posts has made blogging much more than a way of recording the daily goings on and thoughts from the Roses household. Without your posts, blogs and comments my blogging experience would be so very different. Just like New Year's Eve, I have learnt that sharing things (not necessarily the headache resulting from too much wine and lack of sleep) is fun.

To welcome in the New Year and celebrate my 200 posts I'm offering a little giveaway. To enter, please leave a comment on this post and when I have emerged from my stupor I shall draw a name from a hat. I have, as usual, no idea what I shall be giving away but will go off to a darkened room straightaway and start thinking about it!

Wishing you all a wonderfully happy, rosy New Year, full of dreams fulfilled, magical moments and new blogging friendships. I'm looking forward to reading all about it!