Sunday, 31 May 2009

summer is here!

You can't have failed to notice that the sun has been shining brightly the last few days. The first of our strawberries have been picked and promptly eaten by the children, the roses are blooming, we've spent days on the beach and tomorrow is the beginning of June.

I'm really quite excited as we have decided to loosely 'theme' each month and June is going to be aprons and pinnies month. Following Sarah's post about her flower apron, we were amazed by the demand in aprons and realised how popular they are, and how many people wear them. Now I'm off to try and make an apron out of some vintage linen, as a birthday present for someone - hopefully it will be appearing on the blog by the end of the week.

a touch of gold

While Sarah was busy last weekend putting together her goody bags for fellow bloggers I was putting together a pack for her. When we first started looking at blogs we came across the idea of swaps, basically where you compile a stash of goodies and swap them for another load of goodies with someone else (both Mr H and Mr P refer to these as rubbish but to the trained eye they are so much more!).

We both thought this was a fantastic way to accumulate more, and different, bits and pieces and the idea of packaging them nicely makes it feel as good as finding a Christmas stocking on the end of your bed. What's more, it is amazing how a bit of careful arranging can make the most mundane of things (ie pegs and paper fastners) seem like treasure. Well, I had some gold leaf I wanted to give to Sarah, and so it was the basis of my theme for this package, which includes old european museum tickets, spanish orange papers, homemade, gold bird labels, bits of paper and doillies and a chocolate coin!

But because of half term it's taken me all week to get around to giving it. Then we set off to the vintage and handmade fair (more on that to follow), where I ended up buying this jar of lace and buttons. I even asked Christine Nullmeyers, of the sea garden if it was meant for decoration or for using - it was so pretty it took me a while to pluck up courage to pull it to bits and look inside. But I loved the way she displayed everything in glass pots and wished I had thought of it for Sarah's gift - perhaps next time.

Anyway, if you like the idea of 'swapping' bits of old ribbon and fabric, vintage buttons and paper and anything else you may have lurking in the far corners of your craft cupboard or sewing room, watch this space. Sarah and I plan to coordinate a swap or two in the coming months.

Friday, 29 May 2009

persephone books

Baby was playing with a bookshelf this morning and whilst tidying up her mess I came across some books that I love from Persephone Books. Based in Bloomsbury, London they 'reprint neglected classics by C20th (mostly women) writers' for women. I was given a couple by a freind and they are such lovely gifts. From the outside they all have the same grey cover, with small cream title box and a picture of Persephone, very satisfying to look at but inside, what a delight. Each title has a different endpaper, a fabric design of the date and mood of the book, and you get a bookmark to match!

If you haven't yet discovered them you should, at the very least, visit their website.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

kelmscott manor

I feel a bit like a busy train station on a Friday evening, with signal failure. I've so many ideas bouncing around inside my head but I just can't seem to get them out.

As a complete antithesis to this yesterday I had a peaceful day visiting the beautiful Summer home of William Morris, Kelmscott Manor. It is set in a quintessentially English village and the manor is picture perfect. William Morris' fabrics and prints fit into their setting so much better than the brown Liberty versions found on old ladies curtains. But I was really impressed by the garden, a lovely English cottage style and of course this is about the best time of year to see such a garden. It must be tended to as there didn't seem to be any weeds, but the plants were allowed to grow freely, roses climbed against the honey-coloured stone walls and the orchard was filled with swathes of Cow Parsley (with mown paths for people to wander through). For me it was the perfect garden - if only. What with Kelmscott yesterday and Chelsea last week(on TV), I'm very aware that our garden is in dire need of attention.

And whilst I'm on the subject of lovely houses and gardens I must mention today's outing to Bowood. Annoyingly I didn't take the camera as I was thinking along the lines of a day out for the children, completely forgetting that the Adventure Playground that both Hubby and I remember so fondly from our childhood is set in the most beautiful grounds (designed by Capablilty Brown) of an C18th house.

Needing a bit of a change of scene we walked away from the playground to the lake with its 'Doric Temple' , caves, waterfall and boathouse. The children loved it and Granny decided she wanted to live here. The boathouse would do, but the main house would be ideal!

craft and crochet and some new reads

what started me going on my crochet again after giving it up as a lost cause was discovering the lovely blog posy. What a beautiful life! and what a great read she is so funny!
So go over and visit her you will be enchanted. Her lovely photos have made me yearn for the seaside.

this is from rosehip and the pattern is here it looks quite straightforward! - even for me! and her most recent post is about how to do a crochet cushion - ambitious even for me!!

these are both from a fab blog called ohdeedoh which has lots of great kids ideas. It was these pictures that inspired me to have a go at crochet! I think the afghan rug above is originally from yvestown.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

baby presents

This May seems to be a very busy month for having babies and I now have 5 new borns to make presents for. For the last few babies I have made one of these sweet bird embroderies - another idea I've copied from Sarah (in fact we're thinking of selling them on our Etsy shops). They are simple to make and look lovely on the bedroom wall, but since I've so many presents to make this time I'm probably going to have to think of something slightly quicker.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

a lovely weekend and a lovely husband

I feel I have rather neglected you lovely readers over the bank holiday weekend. I had such a perfect weekend with Mr H being very thoughtful and sweet and sending me off for a mooch around Cirencester (minus all whinging hangers on!) on Saturday (I bought my lovely frou frou tuille skirt - hideously impracticle but gorgeous nonetheless!!) and then on Sunday he looked after the children all afternoon while I messed around listening to radio 4 in my studio putting together some little goodie bags for various blog friends. (i have to admit I did go up there with the intention of doing this weeks sample requests but got distracted.................)

Friday, 22 May 2009

vintage handmade

Jo and I are having a little outing to this rather lovely sounding vintage and handmade fair in Chipping Sodbury next weekend, we thought it might be up your street too, any local girls who feel like an escape at the end of half term are welcome to come along with us.

If you click on the link above you will go to a page with lots of blog links to the people who are selling there. There are alot of southwest bloggers - it will be nice to put some faces to names.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

I forgot one for the blog love

well actually I didn't forget but I got the link wrong and have been trying to find it since - you see a notebook is not always best - I think I had a dyslexia moment and wrote the blog address down wrong. Anyway Jo and I both really liked Jamies blog city chic country mouse (now can you see my dyslexia problem - I got city and chic the wrong way round!) We were immensly impressed that Jamie writes this blog with her mum! Anyway her feature on Aprons made us think about having a monthe totally dedicated to the wonders of pinnys, what do you think anyone up for a swap, or a workshop, or a making spot, we would love to feature your creations so get your thinking caps (or pinnys) on for june!!

P.S i think I must still be in Jam and jerusalem mode and haven't taken my pinny off since the cowhunt!!

this ones for jeska

This is for the lovely Jeska from lobster and swan who is going on a trip to paris. i knew I had kept a clipping somewhere in one of my sketchbooks of a place I wanted to visit should I ever be strolling the streets of that very romantic city again.

Anyway after much unearthing od bits and bobs I found the sketchbook I had stuck it in!! It is a shop called ultramod - no weblink sorry, but a google search gave me some nice links.

This is from the flickr page of button candy - a flickr page which was so lovely I have saved it in my favourites to go and have a very good look at.

This is from a website called colleens paris which seems packed full of tips for a visit to paris. These are of the interior of ultramod which in case I didn't mention is a tru old fashioned haberdashery store. I don't think Jo and I would be able to contain our excitement if we were let loose in here!! Jeska if you make it to this store send us a postcard, just don't tell us it was too great or we will be heading off for the eurostar!!

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

such a dilema

The lovely Mr H 's uncle - Robert Lee-Wade RUA has given us the choice of 1 of 4 paintings as a thank you for doing their wedding flowers. the only problem is I can't decide which one to pick, i love them all! I was instantly drawn to the abstract landscape in the first picture as I loved the colour. mr H loves the red geraniums as all the art in our house is shades of blue and green , and the red is a bit different. I also love the blackthorn bushes in number4 and this is a little study for a large painting that I would buy if I had a pot of gold!!! You can visit Roberts studio in Amberley as part of the stroud valleys open studios more on that later this month!
Which one do I choose?

bugs and butterflies

I'm good at being side tracked.

My task for today was to get my little girl to make a birthday card for a little boy. Quite hard since anything she does has to be pink and princessy. I scanned some pictures of bugs and butterflies from old advertising cuts, printed them and gave her a box of watercolours, thinking she'd paint all of the butterflies but hopefully enough creepy crawlies to stick on the card. That did indeed work and the necessary card was created, but I was off on my own tangent.

The effect of watercolour on these images reminded me of a story I loved and was intrigued by as a girl. That of the Cottingley Fairies, where two young girls managed to convince Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and others that photographs that they had taken of fairies were real. Many years later they confessed that they had faked most of the photographs by painting fairies and placing them on hat pins.

I spent hours as a child creating my own fake fairies and today, before I knew, it I had painted my own sheet of bugs and butterflies, got out the florist's wire and made a colony of insects to live in the lavender bush outside our front door. I was really chuffed with the whimsical result and my little girl was thrilled.

I wonder if the Postman was fooled!

rhubarb and clemetine chutney

I've already mentioned how I DO like rhubarb. A kind neighbour has taken this to heart and has donated plentiful amounts of the fruit to us over the last couple of months and I had reached the stage where I had a glut. We've eaten fool, ice cream, pie and tart and the only way forward now seems to be chutney.

I came across a rhubarb and tangerine chutney and the colours in the picture were amazingly jewel like (pink and orange) and I just had to make it. However I failed at the first stumbling block because the supermarket had every orange fruit except tangerines, so I just bought a clementine instead.

The final step of the recipe is to add the rhubarb, I weighed a fresh bundle - not quite enough - added it to the pan and went to the veg basket to add a little slightly older rhubarb to make up the quantities. Boy wondered what on earth was going on when I started doing a Zulu style dance around the kitchen and shouting 'oh my god, oh my god' until I explained I'd seen a dead mouse in the veg basket! Then I noticed that one of the rhubarb stalks I had removed from the basket was extremely rotten and was missing it's end, I was not prepared to check but felt a bit calmer until Boy returned with fascinated sisters in tow and confirmed it was definitely a dead mouse. Meanwhile the chutney was bubbling away and the rhubarb, meant to be slightly cooked was busy stewing and what to do? Add the dead mouse infested rhubarb or not, and then do I enter the chutney in the fete and do I give a jar as a gift to the aforementioned kind neighbour?

Time for some advice from mother. She told me I was being ridiculous, for all I knew the rhubarb may have already had a number of decomposing creatures on it in the wild and any way it was being cooked wasn't it? Just in time hubby came home to save the day. As I had hoped and suspected the dead mouse was in fact a rotten piece of rhubarb - it just goes to show that all is not perfect in a bloggers world!

Anyhow, my chutney looks no where near as exotic as the one I was trying to make but IF in a months time, when it has matured (in time for the Amberley fete), it does 'work especially well when partnered with Chinese-style roast duck or with cold meats such as ham or gammon' I shall share the recipe. At the moment it tastes rather like Cumberland sauce so I think in flavour terms it bodes well.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

and some more bloggy love

and heres the rest of the blog love!

sams notebook (not a new find but still a daily favourite for me)

bloggy love

a week or so ago we completed a blog e-course run by holly from decor8, which was a great way of meeting some inspiring new people! Anyway our final homework (v. late handing in!) was to post 5 blogs we found on the course that we loved so here are moree than 5 in no particular order!
steph bond at bondville - a lovely australian blogger from Brisbane.

great mixed media artist sarah ahern

the red thread - loveliness

orange and pear - you will see more of jennifer here soon.

fresh 365 - great veggie food inspiration (we all know i am a greedy piggy!)

jillian frances - jewllery designer and great style eye.

it appears that I am technically defeated again!! so new post will follow withthe rest!


fashion statement

I'm feeling all creative again.

I've had a couple of lethargic days where things just haven't been happening but today I went back to Cut 2 on Fold and all is well again. Not only did I get another chance to look at the exhibit, but also a chance to admire my little girl's own handy work as part of the exhibition (with some help from mummy). Sarah and I took our girl's to a workshop on Saturday morning held in an enviably huge studio. There we were met by our 'models' and given the clothing templates, a pile of fabrics, trimmings, buttons and left to our own devices to create our own fashion statements. I'm not really sure who the morning was for, the mothers or the daughters, but what a blissful way to start the weekend.

I can't wait to get our doll home so that we can make some her some more clothes and I love the idea of creating a huge washing line of pink clothes as an alternative to bunting..... watch this space

Monday, 18 May 2009

inspired making

I made this necklace after I was inspired by all of the lovely buttons in the lexi loves store. I threaded the buttons on some waxed cotton cord and tied a knot in between. There are a few buutons on there from my nans button box and others I have picked up on my travels. I started with 1m of cord but that wasn't quite long enough, so if i make another I will start with 150cm, the knots seem to take up alot of cord!
If anyone wants to have a go I am going to buy a reel of cord from my lovely haberdashers wholesalers next time I do an order so drop me an email and I can send you some cord!

Sunday, 17 May 2009

inspired by lexi loves

I know you all know about mine and Jo's fondness for all things haberdashery, however I just wanted to post some photos of the interior of the lexi loves shop in Cirencester. It is so conducive to happy shopping. I love the twig and birds/butterflies display. This shop gives me the same happy face as Paper Source inAmerica. Anyway so inspired was I by a recent trip that I felt I had to make something. drop by tomorrow and you will see a picture of the finished article.
Don't you think the interior of the shop is great, i love a feature wall wallpaper...........but then I would wouldn't I?............

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Saturday, 16 May 2009

cut 2 on the fold

I couldn't resist posting this before I head off this morning on our doll workshop. If you are in Stroud today pop along to the exhibition in the Space at Lansdown.
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Friday, 15 May 2009

cut 2 on the fold

T his is the first of a lot of photos from our trip to the cut 2 on the fold exhibitiona as part of the Stroud Textile Festival. If anyone is interested studio seven are running a workshop tomorrow for parents and kids where you learn how to make dolls, which will then feature in this exhibition. No prizes fro guessing Jo and I are going with our girls!!

new bag handles

One of the nicest things about starting the business has been chatting to new people about the products. I had a lovely phonecall last week from a lady in Suffolk who wanted a bag like those featured in the English Home magazine. Anyway I was so busy chatting to this lovely lady that I forgot to take her phone number or give her my address for payment!! So when I needed to contact her to tell her the bags have a new handle design I couldn't! Anyway her is a picture of the new style handles which are much more durable, they are little stripes of multicoloured stitching. Deborah, I hope you like!!!

Thursday, 14 May 2009

lovely cushions

It's amazing what you can make from an old dog blanket and a few scraps of ribbon!

I've been meaning to make a present for a friend for a while and ever since our visit to the Studio Seven exhibition last week I've been itching to get creative. However I'm not fortunate enough to have dedicated space for anything in our house. So first I had to clear my desk of all the paperwork that has piled up. That done (a couple of days of much needed admin!) and I was able to get the sewing machine out. And of course once you get going it doesn't take as long as you think, even with a baby on your lap and a little girl by your side demanding princess dresses.

Sarah has been back to the exhibition and taken some photos to share with us all, and you will see that it is a very calming installation. Everything is natural, there is a lot of calico, the room is airy, and old patterns are used, hence the name Cut 2 On Fold. It was the simple colours that inspired me to make this cushion, I don't think you can see in the pictures that I hand stitched a line of silver military thread (from Baileys Home and Garden) in between each strip of ribbon, just to add a very subtle touch of glamour! Then the use of old pattern paper and an old Vogue dress pattern, machine stiched to make a card, is also directly influenced by the show.

You may be beginning to realise that I really like these people, so you wont be surprised to hear that my little girl and I, and Sarah and her little girl are going to a workshop they are holding, to make beautiful textile dolls that will then become part of the installation until the end of the Textile Festival.

I'm so excited!

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

food for free

I am quite a fan of foraging and quite a fan of hugh fearnley whittingstall - i admire what he has done in taking on the supermarkets with his 'chicken out' campaign (there really is no excuse for the supermarkets to be selling battery eggs). Anyway it was HFW who first got me into the idea of foraging with the river cottage series which i watched back to back while struggling unsuccessfully with trying to feed my first baby). Anyway I am a bit of namby pamby whimp in some areas and wouldn't go scraping up roadkill, however there is some excitement in our house when the wild garlic starts to sprout!

Mr H is a big fan of wild garlic flower fritters so I am giving you the recipe, with the idea that they are sort of crdit crunch nibbles. In fact we have got friends coming for dinner on friday and these will be on the menu!

first gather your flowers - pick from an area not too close to a tree - you don't want dog pee on them!

make a batter from equal quantities of cornflour and plain flour - i usually use an american 1/3 cup measure, and do a measure of each.
Add a biggish pinch of salt.
Heat a small deep saucepan with about an inch of sunflower or vegetable oil, get the oil nice and hot.
mix ice cold lager into the flours to get the consistency of paint or double cream. (it needs to be ice cold)
give the garlic heads a shake to dislodge any wildlife and dip in the batter. deep fry a few at time till puffed and golden (only takes about 30 seconds) take them out of the oil with tongues and drain on kitchen paper. sprinle with a bit more salt (this is not one for people with heart problems!!) and scoff while hot.

I also make a nice sage/ anchovy combo using the same batter, sandwich half an anchovy fillet in between 2 large sage leaves and do the same as above. mmmmmm eat with large glass of wine before dinner!