seven things

I had a lovely surprise when I read Emma from Silverpebble's recent post, saying she deemed me worthy of a versatile blogger award. I'm very flattered but the only trouble is, I now need to divulge seven things about myself and this I found a wee bit of a challenge. So, rather late off the blocks, I'm afraid, here are seven pieces of complete nonsense that no other blogger knows about me and, quite possibly, would prefer not to know anyhow!!

  • Seven is the age of MLF as you probably do know but what you don't know is that she delights in hearing how Mummy was cut open so she could enter the world - strange child! Even more hilarious to her is that her older brother was apparently born out of my bottom!! (Don't you just know these are going to be good?) At the very moment she was born, Cindi Lauper's 'Girls Just Wanna Have Fun' was playing on the radio and I truly believe she is living up to that introduction.
  • In my early office days, I spent four years working for a major bank in Jersey. I hated the work but loved the lifestyle before it finally became too claustrophobic. A friend of mine out there left before me for London and went to work for my husband. When I moved to the City she introduced us the following day and the rest is history.
  • I left a boring office job the day before I got married and when I returned from honeymoon did a year diploma course at Leith's School of Food and Wine. I then did work experience with a variety of restaurants, including Bibendum and, my favourite, Chez Bruce. I am now technically a qualified chef, although most restaurant chefs would be horrified at the idea as they think of Leith's as being some sort of finishing school.

  • I'm not known for my patience, although I do like to think I'm getting better with age! Many years ago, right at the start of my course, I was preparing to do a catering job and my Leith's 'three chocolate bavarois' wasn't going to plan [In short, it's a three-layer cold dessert set with gelatine which is done in lengthy stages (each layer has to be set before the next is started) and the white chocolate sets with a different quantity of gelatine to the milk and plain.] At that time, working with gelatine was proving difficult because the layers were not coming out with the same level of firmness and eventually I was so frustrated I threw it across the kitchen in a rage. My husband has NEVER let that go and whenever I get upset, he always accuses me of having a 'bavarois moment'!
  • My favourite colour is red, and always has been, ever since I grew out of the pinks and purples of my little-girldom. When I was 12 or 13, I wanted the walls of my bedroom painted bright glossy fire engine red but we eventually compromised on red for the radiator, chest of drawers and shelves on the walls. They're still like that even now!
  • I first tried my hand with knitting over 10 years ago with Debbie Bliss herself! A friend of mine knew her really well and her daughter modelled in some of Debbie's earlier books. However I was quite heavily pregnant at the time and once the bouncing boy was born, I was too busy to knit and the momentum was quickly gone.
  • Before she retired, my mother was a Home Economy teacher and tried very hard to teach me to cook and sew as a young child. I was never very interested until the day I bought my first flat and quickly developed a love of the art of domesticity. Latterly, the jobs I have done (and most enjoyed of everything I've ever done) are cooking, sewing and, of course, my jewellery!

Well, I do hope you feel your day is now all the better for this knowledge and now I need to pass the award on. I know that some of you have already taken part and some are award/tag free, so hopefully this will be accepted by these lovely ladies -

Alex at Lola Nova
Tracy at Prosestitch

Obviously if you have better things to do, or would just prefer not to, please don't feel duty bound. I'm not aware it's anything like those dreadful chain letters when everything takes a downhill turn should you dare to break it!

{photos taken at la planete des crocodiles, Civaux, France}

Are you looking at the rain too? I hope you have a happy day, whatever the weather may be.



me too

Remember this? There are times when it has to be done, particularly when the pressure gets too intense, if you know what I mean! But hey ho, a 'mini-me' you might say, just not worn at the same time!

Same ingredients as before. There's no pattern, it's just a simple elasticated skirt with gathered ruffle.

Happy Wednesday, whatever you may be doing x


one for the boys?

It is Half Term after all ...

My son delights in showing me a variety of Lego Star Wars related short films on YouTube. Quite frankly they suck but finally here's one that is actually pretty clever. It lasts nearly nine minutes but you get the general idea after only a couple, so don't blame me if you sit the duration waiting for something life changing to happen. However, if you, too, have a SW fan in your household (young or old!), I bet you they'll approve!

Have a lovely day x

(PS : I just want you to know that not all my holidays have been so fraught, in fact the majority have been utterly wonderful and completely problem free. And yes, perhaps some of you have a point and I should announce future travel plans so you may avoid that particular area like the plague!!)


en vacances

For a while we thought we wouldn't make it back on time but here we are, home after our week in France. A holiday we were supposed to have taken in August only circumstances unfortunately changed all that. We stayed here, lovely and cosy, the English owners friendly and welcoming, we loved feeding the rabbits, watching the new ducklings, chickens running free range and red squirrels scampering in the garden.

However the time of year meant the swimming pool was closed up, as was the games room. The outside table and chairs remained folded away, there was frost on the ground some mornings (thank goodness I packed thick woollens, coats, hats and gloves for we certainly made use of those) and extra quilts were needed on beds.


Then there were the blockades preventing the oil tankers leaving refineries so we were running on just a small quantity of fuel and worried when we'd find some more. Our plans for a day in Tours were cancelled because, although we knew we'd get there, we couldn't guarantee we'd make it back. Then the last couple of days MLF was sick and had to stay inside. Numerous DVDs were watched but I did at least manage to get to the brocante at nearby Poitiers. Toute seule!

{clockwise from left: Poitiers Cathedral and pews, Poitiers Notre Dame, ceiling at St-Savin}

All this set me thinking about other holidays we have taken over the years that didn't turn out quite as expected. Such as -
  • Far East : the day I arrived in Bangkok there was a military coup
  • Ranthambore, India, tiger safari : riots meant there were evening curfews so it took a lot of time and determination to get there, only to find the tigers had been all but poached
  • Delhi : the most awful food poisoning had me bed ridden for 3 days (the children are obviously pleased to know Hubby refused to shoot me despite my pleas!)
  • Guatemala : we were attacked and separated on a hilltop main road, walking back from visiting a market. A passing bus refused to stop when I begged for help
  • Kenya, camping : supposed to be the dry season but we had torrential downpours
  • Zaire, trekking for mountain gorillas : during the Rwanda troubles, poachers had killed the silverback (alpha male of the group) shortly before we arrived at base camp. There was some talk about not being able to trek into the hills but eventually we were given an armed guard which, although we saw the gorillas, was pretty scary
  • Tanzania : Hubby caught malaria, despite taking anti-malarials
  • Uganda : our safari truck kept breaking down and when it failed in the middle of one of the national parks at dusk, our guide and driver finally came to blows and had to be separated by the group
  • France : during a previous holiday our car was broken into. The next day the passenger side window wouldn't close so we had to drive several hours on the autoroute with me covered in coats and scarves. The car then broke down in Luxemburg where we had to leave it, find our own way home, taking only a handful of possessions from the car
Character building stuff and definitely something to tell the great grandchildren some day!


That said, it was a lovely relaxing break which is really what holidays are all about. Plus I finally managed to achieve something I've wanted to do for ages. Tricot! I only took one skein with me so once I got to the end, I unravelled the lot and started again (so learning why yarn is far better when used for the first time). It was either that or watching Hubby getting more and more obsessed over the jigsaw!!

How are you spending your Half Term?



I recently made a trip to my favourite fabric shop in town, a real treasure trove that isn't a million miles away from me and thankfully doesn't involve a congestion charge to get there. The clue's in the title really. Do you know that typically English village fete game when you guess the number of sweeties in the jar? Well, if you were to do that with the number of fabric bolts stacked in high piles here, you would undoubtedly be a million miles off, for it's a testament to their organisational skills that they can fit it all in, plentiful as it is. The prices are reasonable too.

The last time I went, I warned them I'd put an hour and a half in the parking meter outside and, despite the fact they probably thought I was nuts, I still had to run at breakneck speed before a warden beat me to it! Many moons ago I had a flat pretty much on their doorstep and never went in the shop, such was my interest in sewing then ... good grief it's just as well I don't live there now, can you imagine how fatal that would be on the wallet? They don't sell online, which is a shame, but it's well worth a detour if you're ever in the area.

Whilst there, I was lucky enough to grab the last couple of metres of Liberty's 'eloise', perfect for doing a spot of dressing up on my seven year old doll!! This is 'lantana', 80% cotton, 20% wool, which feels luxuriously soft and so very cosy. I lined the dress, just like the previous one, only with the most sumptuous of berry-colours that I spied sitting under the counter. These colours shout out loud and clear that it's autumn now and that little bit of added weight from the lining adds heaps to the overall snuggliness, I think.

The pattern comes from my latest Japanese acquisition, yet another goodie for the collection. It's a lovely, straightforward, dress to make up - actually it's really a tunic but I added length to the hem and sleeves as per madamoiselle's requirements. Two mop buttons finish the look at the back and honestly, I could just jump into this right now and snuggle up for evermore.

Want to see the model's payment terms?

Wishing you a wonderful weekend x


hat for my boy

I've had this comfy grey cashmere cardi for several years now. Over time, though, more and more holes have appeared from general wear and tear; one year even a visit from the dreaded clothes moths (and brothers, sisters, cousins etc). So too many darns for decency made me think it was time to inject a new lease of life.

Inspiration came from Amanda Blake Soule's lovely Handmade Home. Photos of her children wearing the cutest of jumper hats meant there was no contest and after a couple of rounds in the washing machine to semi-felt, we were ready to go. Because I wanted to incorporate the cardi's ribbing into the hat but obviously didn't want the buttons, I had to cut the pattern from both the sides. It has four seams as a result but hey, is that not a very small price to pay for a cashmere hat?

By the time it was felted it had shrunk too many sizes for a change of heart, which reminds me actually of when carrot boy, as a toddler of course, had a quick play with the buttons on the washing machine, so shrinking (but not felting) one of my other lovely woollens. As you can imagine I was less than pleased at the time but he did me a good turn though, because it fitted so much better afterwards!

Comfy, soft, cosy, previously worn by your old Mum. What's not to love? Plus there's loads of room for growth, currently being worn in the style of David Beckham you will see. An easy peasy project, the hardest thing was working the photocopier!

Wishing you a happy day, whatever you're doing x



Excuse me for bringing this up but am I allowed to mention there are 75 days to go? I know we haven't even reached the 25th October yet but quite frankly something's started to happen here that's completely baffling me ... it's called 'organisation'. Never before (it's normally a mad panic with only days to go), and I may of course be speaking too soon but these are the fruits of my labours these past few days, which I'm thinking will end up as gifts for teachers. Maybe!

I cut one of my husband's old tee shirts into strips and wound them round a wooden hanger. I then used this perfect vintage French rosebud fabric to make a cover a la Cath K. I love it so much and am definitely planning to do some more, although I will tweak the instructions a little bit next time. I think the ends need a bit of careful shaping to make them neater but aside from that, it works a treat.

And some more pouches to get the practice in. For these I cut into the vintage stash, finding some good, sturdy fabrics, and lined them with plain thick cream linen.

Yes, I am supposed to be doing other things but we're allowed the odd indulgence aren't we?

So tell me, have you started anything yet?


feeling lucky

There are a couple of projects very much on the go at the moment upstairs in my little room and my sewing machine has been on overdrive, whirring away day in, day out of late. Much vintage fabric has been cut into and the stash has perhaps the teeniest of dents in it today.

But reading Pipany's latest post reminded me that I was the lucky recipient of her recent giveaway and this is what I managed to bag.

This stunning book cover (complete with a fabulous quality notebook) has been embellished with Pipany's hand and machinery embroidery, and meticulously finished with some rosebud fabric which is making my heart swoon still further. (I'm borrowing Pip's photos because she very sweetly personalised my book which is being kept firmly under wraps, given a certain festive season is heading our way!)

And as if that isn't enough, I am also privy to one of her newly produced cards which I can vouch for, one hundred percent. Wonderfully glossy and extravagant to look at, they are the perfect size for cramming in as much gossip as possible.

Thank you Pip, they are absolutely beautiful and I am thrilled to bits.

As for my own recent creations, that'll have to wait till next time.

Happy Thursday x


zippered pouch

Whilst finding myself between projects I decided to turn my attention to something I've wanted to tackle for oh such a long time - the dreaded zipper. This one's been on the to-do list for so many months I decided it was high time to spring into action and just go for it.

I didn't want to use one of my special fabrics but at the same time didn't want to use anything I wouldn't put to future use. So out came this cute chocolate brown Japanese fabric, together with some remnants from the very first blouse I made which I thought would be good as a lining. The zip is a lovely slate grey/blue colour which coordinates quite nicely I think.

For a first attempt I wanted to do something straightforward, no embellishment. Just in case. And for what turned out to be a surprisingly quick project, I'm left with a sweet pouch large enough to fit pens and pencils or small enough to keep make-up neatly in my handbag.

And, as is usually the case, mountains and mole hills spring to mind. Believe me, this tutorial nailed it in one!

Now, anyone for tea?


apron dress

Packing away the summer clothes to make space for those more suitable for now made me realise MLF has a near-empty wardrobe. This means no guilt-trip for me over unnecessary sewing and hooray for growth!

A quick one then in the form of an easy apron dress from this book. The fabric is a lovely soft babycord I had sent over from Japan over a year ago. It was really quick to sew up but the armholes are huge, so large in fact that MLF has taken to tucking her entire body up inside, drawing her knees up to her chest and clasping her arms around them. An interesting look!

Getting photographs is becoming quite an achievement these days and I feel that sometimes I need the negotiating skills of the United Nations. I bet Mario Testino doesn't get this kind of grief from his models. Well, Naomi Campbell maybe!

These photos were taken this morning, when it was lovely and sunny, and even quite warm. You should see it now!

Ah well, have a lovely (wet) weekend. x