Friday, 27 June 2008

Owls and Pussy cats

Phew, what a week! I am quite certain that time goes into fast forward as the long summer holiday draws closer! So many chores to get out of the way until the Autumn! Time with the beautiful boy is too precious to be wasted on housework! Happily he is always keen to spend time in the workroom; he has a little project he is making for himself...
and he is already hunting for just the right fabrics and buttons for his very own custom Owl Cushion! So the workroom will not be at all neglected, I shall simply have company to share my time! I have completed my first 'Parliament' of Owls and they are on my website sitting around in the old crib.
I have also added a few Pretties to my site; some lavender hearts,
and some kitty cat pins.
Next stop the kitschen kitchen to spend the rest of the day playing at decorating cakes and biscuits ready for the fete tomorrow! I visited my favourite cake store for a few 'essentials'....
A new pot of poppy red colour paste! Also some vine green, 2 pots of disco glitter in magenta and red, various sugar flowers and bun cases and some diddy little bunnies who were neglected in the sale bucket! I also bought a few wafer roses...
Ok, I admit it, I bought the whole box! A girl just can't have too many wafer roses!
Have a lovely weekend! t.x

Monday, 23 June 2008

Vanishing Pictures!

Yikes! Blogger keeps vanishing pictures! It happened to an old post and then two vanished from my last post - any suggestions welcome! I have to completely rebuild the post to fit them back in again! Thought I'd done it this morning then they vanished again - not sure how long they'll last now! Sorry! t.x

Sunday, 22 June 2008

House of Parliaments

Well I managed a few small changes to my blog sign this week. I think I prefer this one's pinkiness. The puppies were fidgets though!
I've also been busy working with the scrap box in every spare moment. Can you guess what I've been making?
The beautiful boy has a very large collection of owls. He has loved them since he was tiny. The shoebox collection in now a two shoebox collection. The bigger ones sit high up on the shelf which goes all around his room. There are teapots and egg cups and pepperettes and pots. 
There's a serious and sensible pair of wise owl bookends,
and of course he wouldn't be my son if there weren't a few vintage buttons in his collection too!
So I've had plenty of inspiration; this lovely girl was to be seen earlier today messing about in our garden oak tree.
She came indoors to have a snuggle with the puppies
Oh! They do fidget and fuss so much!
But they are very loving!
I am hoping she and a few Owl Cushion friends will be joining the puppies on my website later in the week.
A Parliament of Owls. I do love collective nouns. Whoever made them all up?!
Have a lovely week. We are into fete season so I shall be busy baking and decorating cupcakes and biscuits. Yippee! t.x
Thank-you all for your kind comments! As many of you have asked, the pattern for the owls is my own. That's why it takes me so long to make my first one - cutting, stitching, un-picking, re-cutting etc. etc.! Where I do use an old pattern, for example my puppies, it is very rare that I do not make changes - not least because many old pattern books are very vague in their instructions. Glad you like them. Will post with finished owls soon! t.x

Monday, 16 June 2008

Father's Day - the morning after!

Thank-you for all your comments and mails! Clearly there are a lot of you out there who have the good sense to realise there can never ever be too much fabric or china in our homes! What a clever lot you are!
As you can see, I baked one of my husband's faves for Father's Day; Pecan Pie - pure decadence in a pie tin! My friend in North Carolina supplies me with Karo Dark Corn Syrup and it really makes the best Pecan Pie ever!
So, feeling virtuously justified, yesterday morning, before doing my Show and Tell post and cooking breakfast, in fact before anyone else was awake, I quickly sneaked off to a local field sale. I didn't stay long as I didn't want to be missed, but look what I managed to find! A fab 70's bed-linen set all immaculate in it's original packaging...
a bundle of old crochet lace samples....
and some sewing box booty!
Really quite good for a flying visit don't you think?!
I was going to dedicate this post to all the dad's who tolerate us ladies and our fabric and china obsessions, but then hubby pointed out that the only really official holiday is Mother's Day. Apparently what the card company creators of 'Father's Day' failed to realise was that, until they ruined it, every other day of the year had been a 'Father's Day'......I'm off to pinch another piece of that Pecan Pie!! Have a lovely week everyone. t.x

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Show and Tell Sunday

Well this is most exciting. Having enjoyed everyone's posts for some time, I am finally joining in! This weeks topic, hosted by Heidi on her lovely blog, is 'What is your favourite flea market find?' Of course I'm going to have to show you more than one favourite! So, starting with my kitchen. Some of you will know that we have a 1950's English Rose aluminium kitchen. I love it. It is beautiful and functional and it makes me smile. But there was one corner that caused me pain - literally! Because of the tapered nature of the base units, whenever I rolled pastry or biscuit dough I would bang my head on the wall cupboards. So one corner had to go and I hunted for ages for just the right cupboard to replace my beloved English Rose. Through a remarkable case of serendipity I was eventually given this one......
...for just the cost of the petrol to visit and take it away! It was me or the skip that would have it! Sometimes 'bargain' just does not describe one's joy! Disbelief was also high in my list of emotions! A lick of paint and a touch of my kitchen blue to the inside and it was perfect! I especially love the way the reeded glass shows a tantalising glimpse of the yummy things it stores!
China! Oh I have lots of favourite melaware and china finds, bought for pennies here and there.
Some would say too much china!
Is there such a thing as too much china? And if there is does the same apply to fabric?
So when I'm out, buying too much of everything, occasionally, just occasionally, a bargain and an obsession collide. You see the thing that makes your heart stop....
...mint condition cabbage rose barkcloth...
120cm wide, a full 10 metre length....
for just £2.00!!! Now that's what I call a favourite!
Enjoy your Sunday. I'm off to cook the Father's Day Full English Breakfast. t.x

Friday, 13 June 2008

Feeling like a Gooseberry!

No, I haven't just been to a tea-dance on my own! The lovely Lottie very kindly gave me a few pounds of beautiful, fresh gooseberries from the allotment! Aren't they just the most beautiful green?!
So I've had a very busy day! I made 5 jars of chutney as this is a great weakness of mine whenever I eat cheese! Or even when I don't!
Six jars of delicious Gooseberry Curd, perfect for tarts, cakes and ice-cream. (the observant ones will notice one jar has already vanished!)
And a very grand looking Gooseberry and Elderflower cake! I do think all you have to do to the simplest of cakes is add an extra layer, and suddenly you have something rather grand, even pretentious. I like a bit of pretension in a cake. It's admirable, like a lady in a very large hat! The recipe was a bit odd but with a few adjustments it became very special. A teaspoon of elderflower syrup and some dark brown sugar in the sponge mix, gooseberry curd and cream filling, and the icing topping is so wonderful I might even just use it on plain cupcakes! Make up an icing glaze simply by mixing icing sugar with elderflower syrup! Delicious!
All in all a good days work and a very fine gooseberry harvest!
Thank-you Lottie! I shall bring samples for you on Monday, but I can't guarantee that I shall be able to save any cake!!
Enjoy the weekend everyone. I am hoping to join in with Show and Tell Sunday this week! t.x

Thursday, 12 June 2008

This and that.

As you can see I have been experimenting with a colourful title picture. I had terrible trouble getting a pink that would sit still on the blue background! I have a bit of a way to go but at least I managed to get something in place! I'll fine tune it one day........honest! I do just adore those fonts!
Now, most importantly, a very big thank-you to Niki for kindly mentioning me on her beautiful blog! xx. If you haven't visited her yet, I recommend that you do! And if you found your way over here from Niki's then Hello! and thank-you for stopping by.
An even BIGGER thank-you to Niki's mum for sending us marvellous photoes of our earliest fashion choices! We are both in purple; Niki is at the front in the pretty dress, and I am at the back with the nylon ruffs! If anyone ever had those you will know that they were one of the most scritchy and uncomfortable materials ever added to a party frock! And here we are again, partying hard and looking mighty fine (the troublemaker at the back is my big brother! x).
In case you are curious we are both still every bit as cute as when this photo was snapped! t.x

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

A cure for the blues...pinks, yellows, purples..!

As those of you who know me will understand, 2008 began in a bittersweet way for us here on the Common. Our beautiful boy is so very happily settled into his new school which has in turn taken a weight from our hearts - to see him run up the path every morning eager to learn and play. And then some sadness, which life throws at us now and then just to make us appreciate what we have. Well this time I have found something to help on those blue days. Better by far than any medicine, no side-effects, no weight gain (so what's causing that then?!) and no need to spend a fortune! Buttons! They just make me smile. I have recently spent hours, nay, days sorting through my collection.
But how to organise them? Shapes and characters? Materials and surfaces? Date and style? First I sorted all the opaque from the pearly ones. Then I decided to sort them by colour into grans old jars...
With a few exceptions that were the really special ones! Oh I love those little glass hearts!
I really, really, love those little glass hearts!
And these glass ones are just made to be gazed upon in wonder!
As you can see I still have some way to go with the pearly ones!
Did I mention I have a few old button cards and needle cases too?
But then I had a new thought. I am working on this hearty picture. Stitching each heart to the block, and I've been trying to choose buttons to add and blow me! The jars look beautiful, it's like having my own little sweetie shop, but it just doesn't work!
I just don't seem to be able to think my way around colour coordination! It just goes against the grain and stops all those happy accidents I used to have. You know, when you dip into the button tin looking for a green button and come out with the perfect purple one? So now they'll just all have to go back into the pot and I'll have to start sorting them all over again! Yippee!
But first I need to finish that embroidery and make up a bunting order, and I have an order for a new Scrappy Zoo so I really must put my little creatures to the top of the to-do list for a bit! But before all that, I'm off for a bike ride in this lovely sunshine whilst it lasts! Happy day! t.xx

Defining 'local'

As we try so hard to support local producers when buying our food, I have been annoyed by the introduction at my supermarket of supposedly 'local' produce. Suddenly, what were potatoes, are now premium priced 'East Anglian' potatoes. Whilst I know we live on a small island, Lincolnshire and Hertfordshire are not local to my Norfolk (run for the atlas folks! - Norfolk's the top of the big hump on the right!) and as far as I'm aware an awful lot of commercial British potatoes are produced in Lincolnshire anyway so why the price premium? Also what were 'British' Strawberries (well that's a start!) are now premium priced 'Norfolk' strawberries. Whilst I applaud the awareness of our wish to buy local, I do wonder if those Norfolk strawberries were shipped to a distribution hub in Watford or Birmingham before arriving back at my nearest store. That would probably explain the increased cost! So we crusade on! We buy real local food, the sort that is within a 20 minute drive! And I thought I'd share with you last night's most delicious local tea!
We are so lucky to be surrounded by excellent food producers. I made a very simple pie with pastry (my kitchen), eggs, (Brenda and Lottie, see below), Mr Bunning's superb hot smoked salmon (10 mins on my bike) and Portwood Farm asparagus (10 mins drive en route to my Thursday exercise class). I baked it all in this luscious little oven dish which was my grans; Pyrex Pink Daisies. Mmmm. I often visit Pyrex Love and dream of owning the whole pink daisy set!!!
Of course the parmesan cheese on top and the wine we drank were from further afield! We try our best but we're not saints! Enjoy the sunshine! xx


Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Guilty Secrets

In an attempt to finally reclaim our old barn for car parking this winter (yes we are thinking that far ahead) we have finally got down to the hard business of clearing out. To be truthful this is more about sorting and moving stuff to the other big shed in our garden. It's like houses, the bigger your house, the more stuff you accumulate to fill it! Except in the case of the garden we are now up to quite a shanty town of accomodation. I have always been quite certain that none of the stuff cluttering up the barn could be anything to do with me. For years I have moaned about dead mowers, planked oak trees and an entire chain-saw massacre of power tools! Every icy morning that saw me spraying gallons of de-icer at my poor old car, I would glare jealously into the comparatively warm depths of the barn, knowing it could be completely empty if only someone else would remove all their rubbish. But this weekend I had a surprise. Imagine my embarrassment as, one after another, a steady flow of auction bargains and family hand-me-downs came to light!

At one point it seemed endless. A child's armchair, a wall cupboard with open shelves above, a low table, dolly's high chair, a shield backed nursing chair, a victorian mahogany dining chair, 2 kitchen chairs, a nice elm carver, a hall table with drawer...the list just grew! Oh my! So that's what was in there! Clearly large amounts of humble pie are to be eaten in this household for a while. And now, with my shame published on the www and with my new found blog conscience I shall endeavour to update you from time to time on the progress of these items from shed to home! If you don't see any progress, please feel free to nag me, my husband would greatly appreciate the support! In the meantime I shall also try to avoid sale rooms and field sales for a bit...I said I'd try!
Of course none of this takes into account the half finished projects already languishing indoors. And then there are the little projects found in hidden corners of the garden....
.... and does anyone know these chaps?
Now, excuse me, I need to climb through to the bit of the barn that houses paints, brushes and sandpaper! They're in there somewhere.....