today's winner

Sorry, sorry .. I know I promised to announce the giveaway winner yesterday. But yesterday turned into a very busy day indeed and I know you'll understand!

Yes, a winner was chosen by the h&r under twelves and a very convoluted method of picking it was too. Each blogger was given a number in the order they commented, a consecutive number allowed for being a follower/regular and then a third if the giveaway button was posted on their blog. Both children wanted to pick the winner so in the name of fairness it was decided they should both do it. The children played rock paper scissors (best of three) to decide who picked the first or second number. Do not stress or feel you have been overlooked in any way if your number in the comments section was a single figure, because that was thought out too.

Once the boy had wiped the floor with the Model by winning two:one and choosing to do the second, they then turned back to back, secretly thinking of their favourite number between zero and nine and held their fingers firmly above their heads, making out the appropriate number. This bit was important so I could get all hands in the photo, thus eliminating any cheating on their behalf and being able to prove the outcome to you just in case you should feel like checking up on us!!

And so it was that the Model chose zero and the Boy a number nine. Most confusing, I know, and we did discuss the ins and outs of how the heck we could get this to work fairly, cutting down on unnecessary usage of paper at the same time. (I expect you have noticed that children today are extremely environmentally-savvy, in fact the Husband and I are constantly in trouble for either using the car or not turning the engine off when we're in a traffic queue, or even going anywhere near a light switch during daylight hours. Apparently watching the TV is fine!!)

Anyway, by my reckoning 09 belongs to Andrea Creates so congratulations to you Andrea, and if you email me your details, I can get your pressie off to you this week. Thanks to everyone for joining in and also for all your lovely comments, as ever!

I've just had a very lazy Half Term .. no crafting done whatsoever, only a couple of photos taken but now I need to crack the whip and all systems go because suddenly it's full steam ahead to Christmas. I have some orders that need to be sent out and a whole lot of stuff that really needs to be done. NOW.

See you soon!


a two year giveaway - NOW CLOSED

Thank you to all who made such lovely comments on my last two posts, I loved and really appreciated them! You bloggy girls really are the best!

It will be my second blog birthday on the 29th of this month so I thought I would celebrate with a giveaway and have three things to put in the parcel.

The first is a pair of earrings made with 1940s Japanese glass rondelle and lampwork beads and a pretty 1930s salmon-pink stone which is ridged and iridescent so quite unusual. The daisy earwires are made of lead and nickel free plated and lacquered brass but if you prefer, I can fit plain gold filled ones instead.

The second thing is a purse made from the remnants of two dresses you may be familiar with. The outer fabric is from my most recent make and the lining is from this red dress. It has a length of vintage cream lace on one side and a cheery, cherry red zip.

And thirdly, I have a small but stylish A6 note book which will fit neatly into your handbag or by your bedside. I don't know about you but I have taken to putting a pad next to my bed because I quite often think of something that needs to be done for next morning and writing it down is a lot less hassle than getting out of bed!

If you would like to join in the giveaway all you need do is leave a comment here .. perhaps you could tell me what you're planning for the Half Term holiday, if you have one that is. If you're a follower (new ones are more than welcome) or a regular contributor you will get a second chance and if you're prepared to put the header photo on your blog, let me know and you'll get a third. I am prepared to send to anywhere in the big wide world and will close the giveaway at midnight GMT on Saturday 29th. The winner will be announced on Sunday 30th.

Meanwhile a big, huge, massive thank you to everyone who has followed, made comments and generally tolerated my words and pictures over the last 24 months, that's quite a lot isn't it?

Have a great week, everyone!


in the pink

A simple bracelet of vintage blossom pink glass. Lots of sound, movement, femininity and what's more .. perfect with grey!

I'm getting ready for the arrival of friends and the onslaught of Half Term but will be back in a couple of days with a giveaway!

Happy Monday.


pin striped

I pushed the boat out the other day and bought a pattern from Merchant and Mills. It was rather expensive, about the price of an entire Japanese pattern book, but I fell hook line and sinker for their relaxed dress shirt, inspired by Granddad at a formal dinner.

It is a very different type of pattern to those I'm used to. Drafted onto thick card and rolled up in a tube, it came already cut to size (fantastic for saving time), notches cut out and all ready to plonk straight onto washed and ironed fabric. This was all completely new to me, totally straightforward and, when I used my tailors' chalk for the first time, I had visions of working high in the Parisian workshop of Madamoiselle Coco Chanel herself.

As well as all the pattern pieces coming as separate cards, M&M provided detailed sheets that were well written but even so I would say better suited to an intermediate seamstress. I had a little trouble with the sleeves and had to unpick to increase the length of ease for gathering. And, hard it may be to believe, at times I found the illustrations trickier to understand than my Japanese books, for example placing the bib on to the front of the shirt had me foxed until I engaged my brain and managed to figure that one out.

The fabric I used is a bluey-browny linen with a narrow blue stripe running through (Fabrics Galore), reminiscent of mens' city suits. I thought about making the sleeves a little longer to get me through the cooler months but I shall probably wear a thin top underneath, roll down the 3/4 sleeves and take the option of an all-weather shirt. I also couldn't make up my mind whether or not to shorten it but I finished it, thinking I shall wear it a couple of times and see how I go. Besides, with some different material it will look completely different and I've got plans to make a shorter, true shirt version to wear with trousers, like this one.

But before I've even started wearing it, I know I will enjoy this shirt dress. It feels so comfortable and I love the details .. the front pleat at the bottom of the bib, the bib itself of course, and the edge stitching right beside the seams. Love!

I've just received another new pattern that I'm itching to try and will do so after the Half Term break. Can you believe it's nearly Half Term already? I feel that I've just got into the swing of things and it's pens down, shut up shop all over again.

Have a lovely weekend!



After the success of the Carrot and Coconut cake I've been playing around with coconut flour a bit more.

If you've read any of my previous 'food' posts you will know that a) my children have several allergies (including gluten) and b) I am a bit on the keen side on cooking with coconut. This is because of a) mainly but the more I read up on the subject, it's also because it is just so darned healthy for you.

Coconut flour takes some getting used to, however. It lacks the elasticity that gluten provides and is altogether a much heavier, drier flour, making it a bit of an acquired taste. Not flavour, I hasten to add, because that is good! But I have been on a very long mission to find a batch of cake recipes that the children will enjoy because, believe me, it is a tricky road to travel on .. particularly at birthday parties when the lights go down and the candled cakes come out!

After a couple of trial runs, these brownies turned out really well though. Originally I tried using cocoa flour but that can be drying even in a wheat based recipe. But using good chocolate from a bar (Green and Blacks dark cooks' chocolate with 72% cocoa) and melting it in a bain marie made the cake moist and delicious. Still not on a wheat level, but pretty much there I think and there was a definite thumbs up from the Egons.

chocolate and coconut brownies
(gluten free)

110g good dark chocolate, broken into pieces
85g coconut oil, or butter (or a combination if you wish)
110g runny honey
5 medium eggs
1/4 vanilla pod, scraped
55g coconut flour
pinch salt

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line a 7 x 7 inch square baking tin with parchment paper.

Put the chocolate and coconut oil/butter into a heatproof bowl. Set over a pan of barely simmering water (bain marie) and allow to melt, stirring occasionally. Set it aside to cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, whisk the honey, eggs and vanilla till combined. Sift the coconut flour in in stages and mix well. Coconut flour tends to lump so you may need to give it a quick whisk, but not too much or you will knock the air out of the mixture.

Pour into the baking tin and cook for 20 - 25 minutes.

It would be lovely if you tried some coconut baking, just to see what you think. I guess it's a bit like removing sugar from your cups of tea .. unthinkable to begin with but once you've got used to it, it becomes second nature. And I bet your tummy will thank you for it!

Happy Wednesday to you!

Addendum : For details of where I buy my coconut oil and flour, check out the link above. Coconut oil is widely available in shops and supermarkets but sadly not the flour but the same link will give lots of other info about using coconut products. Worth a browse!


wool and lace

It's cold now and all I want to do is throw on the woollens and stay as warm as possible. Getting out of bed in the morning is starting to become more difficult and it won't be long before the lure of the boiler switch reels me in. This year we shall challenge ourselves to see just how far we can go before the heating wins. I know that putting away the last pieces of Summer clothing, I'm already reaching for the cosier, comforting things to wear. And most definitely the tights! It's hard to believe that only last weekend we were slathering the sun cream on the children.

I'm finally feeling the need to reacquaint myself with a knitting project I started early last April, then put down during the premature Summer we enjoyed .. somehow never to be picked up again. Given it's meant for one of the children, I'm hoping there won't be any size issues to deal with!

And I want to sew warmer, thicker fabrics too. But, you know something, I've been at the grey again! French broderie anglaise on soft wool and a crocheted lace adorned purse that heralds the last of the tweed. I am certainly going to miss that!

Have you succumbed to Autumn now .. surely you must have?!


a first year

Official first birthday portraits. Alfie and Millie Mittens.

We still can't believe that these furry little beasts are today no longer kittens and have now reached cat-hood. The human equivalent is 15 years so I'm also hoping there's an end to the crazy behaviour (curtains spring to mind, grrr) that we have been privy to on the odd occasion. Also surprising is that they have been a part of our family since last December, doesn't time fly?

The following photos were taken, at just a few weeks old, by their 'foster mother' employed by the rescue home and sent to us shortly before they joined our family. Up till then we had no idea what they looked like. We just knew we were having a brother and sister, just like our own children!

By the way, thank you for your comments on my previous post. I really feel like I know you so much more now I know what you wear in bed at night!!

Happy weekend to you all.


sweet lavender dreams

The Model needed sleepwear and no way was I going to buy any! Up till now she has been wearing pjs but now she's starting to change her mind.

This pretty cotton seersucker with tiny lavender and white checks does the job perfectly I think and it's a really good weight for sleeping in too. The pattern, which is from this Japanese sewing book, is really for a pair of pyjamas but I drafted just the top and used an existing nightie for guidance on length. I made it on the large side, too, after all there's nothing worse than feeling constricted when you're trying to catch some zzzz and besides, that way it'll last a fair while too!

The original version calls for a little hand stitched smocking in the middle but the truth is I wanted it to be a quick job. So I stitched three lines of shirring instead which worked a treat and, seeing as a bobbin was already wound with shirring elastic from this dress, it ended up saving me yet more time!

Wishing you all sweet dreams tonight! Do you prefer pjs or a nightie?


checkered light

I found another vintage lampshade to cover recently, a larger version of this project.

As with the last, I used the original cover for my template. Only I added a little extra to the width, simply because the ones I have seen have been stretched tight, to the extent that they have torn.

I have been hoarding this wonderful antique German homespun, greedy with the knowledge there are endless possibilities for it but nevertheless reluctant to make the chop. It is gorgeous, real quality and quite weighty stuff, perfect for anything in my book, even dressmaking, or so I'll be finding out soon enough I expect.

When it came to embellishment, I really did think long and hard. However ultimately the shade is destined for the guest room which I don't want to be gender specific. By definition the shape errs on the feminine side so I'm hoping the checks balance it out. The button is a vintage one from my ever growing stash .. and I dare say you understand all about that!

By the way, one thing I didn't mention last time, if you make your own it is essential to coat the fabric with fire retardant and let it dry before putting it over the frame. I found an environmentally friendly one here.

Wishing you a lovely week ahead, wherever you may be.