may contain nuts

I often think Pinterest has a lot to answer for. I go through stages with my 'pinning' and am currently as obsessed with it as I was when I first joined this time last year. I say it has a lot to answer for because it is filled with the most wonderful possibilities for inspiration. Be it beautiful fashions to swoon over, must-have home wares, new places that need to be travelled to and much much more and all this makes me think I want it all. Then there's the food and suddenly I feel the need to cook.

My family were especially pleased yesterday, because I found a delicious recipe on Pinterest for a cake that's all but gone already yet will be made again and that's a fact. Our children have several allergies, including gluten and grains, which means puddings and cakes are not the simplest of things to provide but this one ticks all the boxes, plus it's healthy too .. not to mention delicious! I tweaked the original just a little to suit the kids, and converted the main into 'english speak'!

Carrot and Coconut Cake

300g ground almonds
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 inch piece large cinnamon stick, ground (or 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder)
50g coconut oil, melted
50g honey
1 inch piece vanilla pod, ground with a little of the coconut oil
4 medium eggs
1 medium (approx 100g) carrot, grated
1 medium (approx 200g) courgette, grated
1 medium (approx 135g) apple, grated

Vanilla Cream

100g cashews, soaked a few hours then drained/rinsed
100ml fresh apple juice
1 medjool date, pitted and roughly chopped
1/2 vanilla pod, scraped (save the remains for vanilla sugar)

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a 9 inch cake tin. In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl combine wet ingredients. Pour wet mixture into the dry and stir to incorporate. Pour into prepared cake tin and cook for about 50 minutes, or until a cocktail stick inserted into the centre comes out clean.

To make the cream, put all the ingredients into a fast blender and blitz till completely smooth. Smooth it on top of the cake when cold, or serve on the side. That's it!

Having extolled the benefits of cooking with coconut before, I use it in all our baking, principally because it is gluten free but also because it tastes so good and does your body a favour too!

Changing the subject, I was flattered to be contacted by be@home a couple of weeks ago, asking if they could feature me in one of their 'best of the web' articles. You can check it out here if you like and you may like to read their tips section too. There are some interesting hints to be found there!

Wishing you a wonderful weekend, the weather here is amazing.



I thought blackberry season was well and truly over but the children managed to sniff some out at the weekend. A quick photo, then they were gone and I can only imagine how good they tasted!

But despite this can't-make-up-its-mind weather, there's a lovely autumnal feel to the air now and tramping about amongst the ochre leaves reminds me why this is my favourite season of all. Since our holiday I have this constant yearning to walk so we drove to one of London's larger commons to stretch our legs that bit further.

And I've been sewing again, this time with Autumn in mind of course, using up remnants of wool tweed left over from this project. Teamed with antique crochet and vintage Liberty it's giving me thoughts of yet more crispness under foot and a reminder that it'll soon be time to order logs for the fire!

I hope your week is going well, it's beautiful here.


shades of grey

I've been very industrious these last few days, restocking the shop after several months of neglect. What's more, I haven't made any jewellery for such a long time and had a real urge to make a chunky, yet feminine, bracelet to see in the new season.

I'm having a pearl moment right now and these vintage glass pearls are stunning. They date back many many decades and come from the factories of the late, great, Miriam Haskell (1899 - 1981). The one who started it all! So much variety; dimpled, smooth, some perfectly round, others haphazardly shaped, each one different and interesting in its own right. All so wonderfully tactile.

I also made a couple of purses with some lovely vintage fabric, originally used for curtains I think. The slate grey background is a great combination with the pink blousy cabbage roses and the whole thing looks muted and understated with the soft cotton floral lining. As well as making a regular purse sized one, I made an oversized version and boxed the corners so it will stand comfortably when filled with an array of goodies.

I've also spent a little time going through my wardrobe, packing away the majority of my summer clothes. They don't seem to have been out that long. But it's good to welcome back some old favourites and yes, there is a lot of grey there too!

Which season are you wearing now and more importantly, have the tights come out yet?


bonkers for conkers

A couple of weekends ago we went in search of conkers for the Model. Each year she likes to collect as many as she possibly can and then have them sit around in various parts of the house for months on end until the day comes when I smuggle them out without her noticing. This year, being the good mummy that I am, I have provided a basket so at least they will all sit together.

Two or three days after they were brought into the house, however, we started having problems with the burglar alarm as it kept going off. Each time it was the same sensor that was being triggered and the alarm company said the fault could be something as simple as a fly or spider walking over it. It suddenly occurred to me that the fault area was also where the conker basket was and I started thinking we might be experiencing some sort of spider exodus. Perhaps there is some truth in the old wives' tale that conkers really do ward them off!

By the way, as we shared our conker stories, my Italian alarm engineer informed me that they made soap from them during the war. I'm not so sure we'll be trying that one, but I dare say there are now more than enough for the harmony and rosie family challenge this weekend.

Have a good one!


an oilcloth apron

You may remember my previous dalliance with oilcloth when I covered my Ikea step stool with bargain Kate Forman 'oyster christobel' earlier this year? Well, there's still a fair bit left in the cupboard, including a beautiful duck egg version and I've been racking my brains as to how to use the stuff.

The state of my existing aprons leave much to be desired. They are real, proper working aprons, not the pretty pretty ones that, in reality I would have a hard time using for fear of staining. So, clearly in need of a new one all the same, I thought I'd give it a go in oilcloth.

I laid one of my existing aprons over the top of the oilcloth and, with the help of my very fancy indeed French curve, drew around one side, making an adjustment or two as I went. I then folded the cloth carefully in half and cut along where I'd marked, ending up with a symmetrical shape.

Oilcloth is very well behaved to sew because it doesn't fray, however stitching directly onto it is a no-no because the needle sticks. There are a variety of methods to successful stitching but I already had some thick red cotton twill left over from a previous project, so I used that to create a binding and again for the ties. It works a treat, although you do need to use a size 16 needle and set the sewing machine to a longer stitch (I set mine to 3).

As for the subject of pockets, I have never used them in all my previous aprons. If I was a waiter then obviously I would need somewhere to keep my order pad and pen, however since I am using one mainly to protect my clothing from splashed food or washing up water, my used, tomato-stained utensils are hardly in a state fit enough to go into a pocket. But look up aprons on any internet site and they all have pockets .. so exactly what am I missing here?!

Happy Wednesday.


stitching cashmere

The weather's turning, that's for sure, and at the beginning and end of each day there's a real nip in the air.

A cashmere jumper has been calling out for a renaissance and I thought it might be just the ticket for a new hat for the Model. It's such a pretty pinky-red colour and the petal tinge at the bottom of the ribbing gives it a bit of a pep. Because the wool is a fine 2-ply, it is perfect to keep the very slightest of chills away this Autumn. And since I already had the template cut out from when I made this hat for the boy last year, and the jumper had been semi-felted some time ago, it was a super-quick project to fit into a day last week when I didn't have too much time. In case you're wondering, the pattern comes from this book.

My poor shop has been neglected all Summer long so I also made a couple of purses from the same wool, embellishing them with an antique crochet flower and some vintage lace. I lined them both with something that may look rather familiar!

I hope your week is starting out well.


canada week : vancouver

Do you remember me toying with the idea of perhaps living in the country? Well scrap that now, because there's somewhere else on the wish list. Vancouver!

One of the highlights was taking bikes around the fabulous Stanley Park, situated on a peninsula with breathtaking views and, when you're cycling around the edge, completely flat - always a bonus in my book. The centre is forested and all in all, there is an estimated 200 km of trails and roads within. Every so often we would stop and watch the sea planes coming and going, the herons on the water, and the seals lying around catching the rays.

We didn't see any of the rain that Vancouver is famed for, what we saw was a seaside city at the base of the mountains with the most amazing backdrop. If you ski, then some of the best skiing in the world (Whistler) is a mere hour away. It seems such a good healthy outdoorsy lifestyle where people use bicycles and rollerblades as a mode of transport. There are wonderful shops and crafts. Walk off any of the main streets and you will see peaceful tree-lined avenues where black squirrels scamper about and you might quite easily think you are miles away from the hubbub. And with the airport and ferry port only about 45 minutes drive away, what's not to love?

I had no idea that until 1886 Vancouver was called Granville? Not till we visited Granville Island, another peninsular just minutes away from downtown anyway. It is a brilliant place to visit and the Saturday we were there it was thronged with both locals and tourists taking in the atmosphere. The famous indoor market was vibrant and bustling, with a huge selection of fresh produce of all descriptions, flowers and high quality crafts. There was even a separate kids market which, needless to say, we had to visit.

Sadly one of our travelling party didn't get to do much sightseeing. The Model's favourite toy,Furby, was left behind in Jasper and later sent down to Vancouver by Greyhound, would you believe. Although very well travelled, she never got to see beyond her cardboard box!

Hotel stayed in :

Large, spacious appartment right next door to the wonderful Stanley Park and only minutes walk from downtown

* * * * *

So now we're well and truly back into the old routine, the jet lag is done and dusted and my sewing machine and I have been reunited after its little visit to the sewing machine hospital (I think it was this project that did it!). Will be back on Monday with a little bit of crafting I've been up to.

Happy weekend everyone!


canada week : vancouver island part II

One of our best purchases this holiday was a cable to feed the iPod into the car stereo because some of our journeys were long and the children loved taking it in turns to play DJ. There is always a downside, of course, and now the husband and I could probably compete on Mastermind. Specialist subject: All songs by Lady Gaga! They're pretty good actually, don't you think? Oh, and Adele too!

After three nights in Tofino we headed further north to Telegraph Cove. The closer we got to it the more remote it became, only occasionally was the scenery marred by evidence of logging. Throughout Canada we saw trains with well over a hundred wagons transporting grains or oil but up there, it was logs. We also saw them sitting in rivers, waiting to be floated downstream and eventually made into furniture or paper.

The experience of Telegraph Cove will remain with me forever. Originally a sawmill and cannery community it's name came from the first telegraph operator who set up there in 1911. This gorgeous, cosy cottage (No 8) was where we stayed and was originally built by a Mr Ogawa in 1931. He worked in the cove building boxes to hold the salted dog salmon but during World War II Mr Ogawa was interned along with other Japanese citizens and his home was used for accommodation by various sawmill employees.

{No 8}

{the view from No 8}

Telegraph Cove has been preserved as much as possible and although there is a car park as soon as you arrive in the resort, the only way to get around is on a boardwalk that runs alongside the harbour and to the various cabins right the way to the end of the jetty.

Because the cove is renowned for its wild salmon fishing, the harbour has frequent visits from river otters. And bears! One evening we were walking along the boardwalk talking about a notice we had seen advising people never to go out walking in the nearby woods without taking 'bear spray' when our boy suddenly called out that he had seen one. Of course we thought he was joking but when we caught up with him, we could see a fairly large black bear standing behind a fairly small bush only a couple of metres or so away. We could see the whites of its eyes as it watched us and I tell you, I couldn't get us away fast enough. Needless to say, the children rate that as their favourite part of the holiday!

The Cove is most renowned for being the best place to go whale watching, in particular Orcas (killer whales) and Humpbacks. Our whale watching trip wasn't so great in Tofino, namely because the weather was rough and the children were seasick but here in TC it was completely different. The water was flat calm because we didn't go out onto the open sea and we had fantastic and exciting views of several Humpback whales and three different families of Orcas. It was so peaceful watching them and everyone on the boat was silent, taking in the experience. There was only the intermittent sound of an orca exhaling and it was really very special.



And as we left Telegraph Cove for the long drive and ferry crossing back to Vancouver, we saw this little family of black bears on the side of the road. In no hurry whatsoever.

hotels stayed in :

Telegraph Cove : No 8