archaeological digging

Thank you for all those lovely birthday wishes. What a surprise, they definitely made me feel quite special. Yesterday was a bit more eventful as we all had a fun day out together, which began and ended with cake!

We've been having a much needed sort out of the garden these last few days, where the husband unearthed this beauty. It's in immaculate condition and had been laying just a foot or two under the soil until his fork dug it up. And a glass stopper with a pretty fluted edge was found close by, although they're not related.

Our house is Victorian so I'm guessing it comes from around that time. I'm also thinking it might be a medicine bottle because of the tablespoon measurements up one side but if anyone has any suggestions, they'd certainly be welcome?

I think I may have to crack the whip a bit and get him to find some more treasures to make me rich some day!

Wishing you a lovely weekend.


27 july

It's been my birthday today but rather than doing anything majorly exciting, the children have been out at a friend's party and I've spent the day in the company of the tiler who squeezed us in at short notice and this was his only slot. Oh, and the window cleaner popped round too.

Not the most celebratory of days do I hear you utter? Ah, but my bathroom has been tidied up, the downstairs loo re-floored and my windows positively sparkle now. I've had some lovely gifts and wonderful cards made by the children but it's funny how getting older changes our views on birthdays. It will be the boy's big day later this week but I dare say it'll take more than clean windows to make it memorable!


lloyd loom and grain sacks

Thank you for all your input on my last post, I definitely know who to turn to when I next have a dilemma. What a great world this blog-place is and I shall, indeed, keep you 'posted' as to what eventually becomes of the 'bouquet of roses'.

This old chair (I think a Lloyd Loom) was bright green when I bought it, and its cushion pad so hideous there was no place for it in my home. Then it had a spell in pink to match the Model's room only, what with all her clobber, there wasn't really the space. So after sitting redundant for some time (the chair!), I gave it a couple of coats of Farrow and Ball's Pavilion Grey and now it's earned itself a new home in the guest room you were so complimentary about - thank you for that.

When it came to breathing new life into the cushion, I took the horrible checked cover to pieces for my template and got out one of my precious antique grain sacks. I'm so pleased with the result but because the fabric is extremely thick, my sewing machine complained bitterly throughout, punishing me with the most awful noises. And, as if to add insult to injury, by the time I had finished I was sporting three Disney princess plasters on my fingers and now most of my pins are bent. I'm not sure I shall be rushing to make another of these again!

And just as I was about to bring out the flags in celebration of the arduous task that was, the husband innocently pointed out: "Isn't the zip supposed to be at the back?" Groan! Sure enough, for all the time taken to get the thing to fit the chair, there was nothing else for it .. dissection yet again!

Sadly this is not the neatest job I've ever done, I have to concede. But frankly, my sewing machine and I are just glad it's over!

I hope you have some sunshine to enjoy today. It's a beautiful morning here.


a bouquet of roses

I bought this gorgeous little book called 'A Bouquet of Roses' by P J Redouté, in the second hand shop recently. Dating back to 1958 and inscribed 'For Molly with love from Jo, September 23rd 1959', the condition of each page is beautiful and they are all intact. There is just a bit of collapse along the inside spine although it's only a matter of time before the pages work themselves loose I think. Perhaps Molly liked the look of some of the roses just a little too much.

I can't stop myself imagining these pages in individual wooden frames and hung all twelve together on one of my walls. Only I'm also having pangs of guilt because I'm not sure I have the heart to dismantle something that dates back over 50 years. On the other hand, however, wouldn't it do this lovely thing more justice to have its images appreciated on a daily basis? Hmm, to chop or not to chop? Quite the dilemma!

Happy weekend everyone.



wood stained

I finally got round to doing something about this guest bed. Goodness, I say it a lot don't I? Something I've been meaning to do for a long time, that is. It is true though. And would it surprise you to know we have had (until recently I hasten to add) a bare light bulb or two in our home for a wee bit on the long side too? No, I thought not!

You know, I find if these things aren't done straight away they get forgotten about and it's only when guests come to stay that my eyes instantly home in on imperfections. Such is life. Well, mine anyway! But my excuse is that I would rather wait till just the right thing comes along instead of putting in any old thing as a stop gap. After all, if I do that, it'll end up staying!

I do love the shape of this bateau lit but it had been in its raw pine state for longer than it really deserved. So I got myself some Auro 160 eco woodstain in grey and applied a couple of coats. I've already used this product in white for both my sewing trestle table and the Ikea step stool and it worked really well. I love that the grain shows through the sheer colour and because there are no nasty ingredients, it's perfect for a bed. And for me, too, since there's no odious smell as I paint away.

Yay, another tick on that long to-do list!

Have a lovely week x


city living

Thank you so much for your comments on my last post. Such lovely long ones too, I really enjoyed reading them although I've yet to find the time to completely digest. It was good to hear such impassioned endorsement of the places where you live and one thing strikes me as very clear: You all seem blissfully happy with wherever you are and I love that.

Missy mentioned how she felt her children were much more savvy about different cultures because they had grown up in the city and it's very true that my children have no idea whatsoever about anything that might be construed as anti-racial as I am sure few small children do. Obviously they learn about different cultures and religions at school but because they learn alongside children from these very same cultures and religions, they just don't see any differences at all, be it in colour or creed, and I absolutely love that too.

From the age of seven I grew up in Penzance, which is beautiful as I'm sure anyone who's ventured down there will know. But it's beautiful because we're grown ups, for rest assured as a teenager I had very strong feelings about the place, something that Jane reminded me of, drawing comparisons between both herself and me at the same ages. Pz was the best town in the world during the Summer when life became very outdoorsy, the beach was at the bottom of the road and there were plenty of foreign language students to provide a little bit of 'eye candy on the prom'! But when those Winter months arrived it was as dull as ditchwater and that's the reason I couldn't wait to pack my bags and leave for the bright lights. I also think that growing up in the sticks gave me a naivete that took a lot of adjusting when I moved away from home and I suffered terribly with home sickness.

However, at the end of the day I believe it's the school situation that will really make or break a decision. Like anyone else we want what's best for our kids and when you hear of yet another teenage stabbing it brings it all much closer to home and the desire to move away from it becomes more urgent.

I expect it's being on holiday that has brought this subject right to the forefront (although it has been on and off the agenda for a while now), you see had the children still been at school I dare say I would be putting most of my energy into trivial matters such as whether or not to line some garment or other! But I need to set the record straight, that nothing gets done that quickly around here. Life is hectic and we have adopted an almost manjana attitude about most things sadly until something is pressing, at which stage it's all systems go and overdrive kicks in.

By the way, there is (sort of) a point to these gratuitous photos. The painting on the table is my latest acquisition, one I'm rather pleased with which won't have escaped you, not least because even with the inflated London pricing I feel I got it for a quite reasonable sum.

Have a wonderful weekend, all x


country living

Here's the thing.

I was browsing through a recent edition of Country Living last night when I stopped at a feature called 'A Dozen Dream Homes'. I saw that actually it is possible to buy a staggeringly beautiful, multi-bedroomed, large gardened, glorious Georgian rectory for not too much more than the price of what is essentially an average London family home in an average London suburb. A few more clicks on the computer and another possibility could be a thatched character cottage with acreage in idyllic rural setting. And this set me thinking.

Everything we've ever done for our children has been, we believe, for their good health: They eat good, honest, organic food; they drink from the purest of water filters; they live in a home decorated with solvent free paints and cleaned with eco brands; they even began life in organic gel-free nappies! Because that's what we believe is best for them.

And yet we live in London. Granted, we do not reside alongside the busiest of railway platforms or well used roads, yet still it is not fresh air. And then there's the pace of life. We are constantly rushing from one place to another or sitting in traffic queues, wishing we could race from one place to another. The drone of an aircraft on its way to, or from, the airport is never far away, as is the near-constant hum of road traffic and the sound of people going about their daily business.

My husband can base himself pretty much anywhere since the majority of his work is either done from home or involves travelling overseas. I can pootle around, doing my thing, from wherever, after all just give me enough space for a sewing machine and an assortment of other bits and bobs and I'm well away.

We rarely take advantage of what Central London has to offer, although admittedly whenever we do it is lovely to be able to be there and back home so quickly. I do much of my shopping on the internet now and, in any case, the idea of going shopping fills me with a distinct lack of interest that I would never have dreamed possible in my twenties.

So tell me. What do you love about living in the country or by the sea. If you do love it, that is. And if you would prefer to live in a city, then please .. let me in on exactly why? On the other hand, perhaps you live in a city and would never ever dream of moving out?

I'd love to hear your thoughts.


kitten love

Little Millie Mittens has a boyfriend, it would appear. He's Louis, the ginger boy next door and they do make the sweetest sight, nuzzling one another in greeting and sitting together, side by side, underneath the cherry tree.

As they sat there in the shade the other day, I asked the Model a question:

Me: "What do you think they're thinking?"

The M: "I wish I hadn't been neutered" she said.

Ah well, such is life. Here's hoping you have a better week x


party planning

We've finished school for the Summer and the Model had a sleepover party last night. The invitations were designed by her, put into her precious gold envelopes and delivered to five young ladies with instructions to bring party dresses. I think for the first time she realised just how useful it is to have a mother who makes her clothes because she designed her dress for the occasion too.

My friend, Sue, was having a declutter the other day and offloaded a large bag of fabrics. And as the three of us sat on her floor, ooh-ing and aah-ing over what came out of the cupboard next, the Model spied a sarong. Her eyes were as big as saucers and Sue was powerless to resist.

So the Model took inspiration from Kate Middleton's wedding dress which immediately sent my heart rate plummeting. But thankfully it wasn't the intricate handcrafted lace she was after (sighs of relief) but the long slender length, no toes to be seen and, wait for it .. a train. The girl wanted a train. She'd had this dream of gliding down the staircase, glorious train sliding down behind her as she welcomed her guests. Gulp!

Throwing my hands in the air and declaring "But I can't do that" is no message to send out, is it? Remember how we like to say "How do you know you can't do something unless you try", "Keep trying and you will succeed", "Don't be so quick to give up". I got a taste of my own medicine, didn't I?

But several fittings later, I do believe we got there. I used McCalls 5569 for the bodice and basically winged it with the skirt. Although she wanted the front to be smooth with no bunching, I cut more fabric for the back and sewed large pleats till it joined the bodice and also to create a good swing under the train. The train itself was just another length of the sarong, which I tied to the straps because the Model wanted to be able to use it again. I have to say it worked pretty well and thankfully I've had one very happy customer on my hands.

And today? The bunting still remains but given the girls were still jumping on beds at 1 am, all we're fit for is a dvd afternoon and bed within the hour. For her too I expect !!

Have a wonderful weekend x


vintage finds

I was really excited when I found these cups and saucers recently, designed in the 1950s by Charles Cobelle for Midwinter. I love the fishing boat with its entourage of seagulls, which is echoed on the saucer and can almost hear their cries as they circle overhead, hoping they'll be thrown a fish or two.

I didn't need to think twice about grabbing a pair of Wood's Ware Beryl jugs which I know will look perfect with some blowsy roses or other cottage garden flowers inside. This china is becoming very collectable now and I'm not surprised, the colour and shape are gorgeous.

Finally, I couldn't go home without this Egersund dish as it makes me feel quite nostalgic. My parents have a very similar one that they must have picked up whilst holidaying in Norway in the late 1960s. I love the shade of green, which is surprisingly similar to the jugs, and that striking retro design which is so covetable now.

Not bad for a 30 minute browse, although I did only pop out for the newspapers!


meadow dress

Oh yes, I'm on fire with the dressmaking. Well, for the moment anyway but I know it's not going to last because here I am looking at the calendar and the realisation has set in that school's out this week. THIS WEEK. Aaaaaargh! Plus, with the usual end of term things to attend; prize giving, sports days, rounders match, dada dada dada, my time is being limited yet more.

I can't tell you how much I dithered before making this dress. Nothing to do with the style, nor the fabric even, but the question of whether to line or not! It's tana lawn again, you see, Meadow by Liberty to be precise and call me predictable but yep, I've been back to Fabrics Galore.

My serger and I have parted ways, and after a ridiculously short time together I might add. After sitting around in its box for a couple of months before I finally had my lesson, it was only used for five or six projects, most of them dressmaking and none of them heavy duty like stitching curtains or the such like. Heaven only knows what happened. But good old John Lewis asked no questions, even when I said I'd rather like my money back thank you very much, so I still love them and there are no hard feelings. Only a lack of a serger. And that's actually a pretty darned big deal since it's one of those things that makes you wonder how you ever managed without and I do think its absence may have been a contributing factor as to why I decided to forgo the lining this time. In truth I think a lining adds a touch of formality too, which is not what this dress is all about. This is a throw-it-on-and-have-some-fun kind of outfit and I'm imagining the Model barefoot, playing in the sunshine, walking along the beach without a care in the world.

The pattern comes from Girls' Holiday Clothes, which is a Japanese sewing book for bigger girls. Most childrens' patterns go up to 130 or maybe 140 cm in height but this one starts at 130 and finishes at 150 cm which is not only very handy but there are also some lovely dresses inside. The Model is 'growing into' the 130 cm size, it has to be said, but even so I had to unpick the neckline so I could shorten the elastic across the shoulders because it was gaping massively, but that was no big deal.

Incidentally, when employing a model (but with no intention of handing over cash payment), ALWAYS supply distraction in the form of nourishment, or any other bribery tactics you can think of! I do know I got off lightly this time with plum tomatoes ..

Have a lovely week and wishing blog friends across the Pond a very happy 4th July x


childhood treasures

Last week the husband went down to Cornwall on a short business trip and stayed a night with my parents. As well as a goodie box filled with lots of self seeded Agapanthus plants for the garden, he brought back a crate packed with books which my father had been storing in their loft for years. Looking through the contents brought back some lovely memories, of things I'd completely forgotten all about.

Predominantly ladybird books, there are so many of them and on a wide variety of subjects too. Someone in the house took a liking to the bible stories, it would seem, and there's one that interests me greatly called Helping at Home. Now, this is one I shall be surreptitiously leaving on the kitchen table .. ever the hopeful!

There are two or three books that came back with us from America which have lovely illustrations on rocks and minerals, insects and mammals and will definitely be useful at some stage. But it was when I saw the likes of Downy Duckling, The Wise Robin, The Discontented Pony and, my goodness my favourite, Tootles the Taxi, that I really got excited as I suddenly remembered them like it was only yesterday.

It's rather sad to think that the majority of these are no longer appropriate for our children so away into the attic they will go, hopefully to be unpacked in years to come for another generation. Once I've re-read them all, that is!

As I type Andy Murray is on the Centre Court .. only after a cracking start it's all starting to go wrong. I must go and join in the shouting!

Happy weekend to you x