Saturday, 28 November 2009

kate loveday exhibition

As you may already know from my feature on decor8 'my favourite things' Kate Loveday is one of my most favourite artists. Some of you may recognise her name as her beautiful Gloucestershire home was featured in Country Living magazine a couple of summers ago. It is a house to covet!! Kate has an amazing eyes for colour which is manifested in the beautiful still life vignettes aroud her home and on in to her paintings. She opens her house filled with paintings as part of the Stroud open studios each june, and is an event jo and I look forward to each year.

In fact i must stop being jealous of Jo's lovely Cleo Mussi hand because I have a Kate Loveday still life which makes me smile on a daily basis, it is a painting which radiates sunshine and happiness. Anyway this year Kate is having a gallery exhibition which starts today in Stroud. So if you are around pop in and see why Jo and I are such fans. My scan of the poster doesn't really do justice to Kates wonderful suble blends of colour

Monday, 23 November 2009


hello everybody, I know its been a while, more about that later in the week, along with the photos of vintage handmade, but for know I will give you a bit of blog love!! Jo and I have been trying somewhat unsuccessfully to teach ourselves to crochet for quite some time. Anyway I happened across a new (to me) blog after meeting a lovely lady who came to see some fabrics.
Anyway she told me about attic 24 and suggested I take a look.

well I am so glad a I did as it was just the ticket for a gloomy winter day, and the lovely lucy inspired my to dig out the hook and have another go.
lucy has some really straightforward patterns to follow, and even a complete crochet numpty like me managed a granny square (which has been a goal for ages!!)
the only thing is, my attempts above are a bit let down by the old bits of wool which I had lurking, I feel a debbie bliss splurge coming on, so watch this space I might show you a lovely blanket (in 10 years)!!
stop by later this week for lots of lovely vintage handmade pictures.

the great party bag debate

It's a busy time for Sarah and me as our first borns reach their 6th birthday this weekend. Normally I relish the opportunity to go mad and organise a birthday party but this year the idea of a number of over excited boys exerting their energy in our house, fuelled by sugar, filled me with dread and we negotiated a birthday treat instead.

This involved a trip to the cinema with 4 friends followed by a Happy Meal. It was easy and Macdonalds were even doing Fantastic Mr Fox meals to tie in with the film we had chosen to watch. I even thought I would get away without having to do the dreaded party bags.... until I was told otherwise.

But then I found I was actually slightly relieved. While I loathe the plastic bags sent home with squished cake in grubby napkin and bits of pointless plastic which end up in the baby's mouth I realised that I do like the opportunity to be creative. So I dashed off, bought a few sweets, and made these little, pink, (but I had no complaints from the boys) bags. I also found these fab cup cakes in Waitrose which they devoured in Maccy D's post Happy Meal, meaning the whole event came to a sticky end. But not in my house.

But, is a pretty bag of sweets really any better than a bag of plastic tat?

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

book making

I had a real treat of a day on Saturday. Firstly I had a bit of a shopping spree at the fantastic Christmas Vintage and Handmade fair in Chipping Sodbury. Sarah was there with her camera and will elaborate further I'm sure but, needless to say, I came away with bags a bulging. Then I whizzed off to the Brewery Arts Centre for an afternoon course in contemporary book making with Katherine O'Connell of The Quality Bureau.

It was a really good course, well thought out and we learnt a lot in just 3 hours. I came home with 7 little books of various sizes and styles, as well as plenty of ideas. I would definitely recommend it to any one else curious to give book making a go.

Well that's a few Christmas presents sorted!

Sunday, 15 November 2009

gardening tip

You wont find many gardening tips from me. Whilst I love the idea of the garden looking lovely and the veg patch bulging with produce I don't have green fingers.

Today there was a break in the rain and I decided that I really ought to get some bulbs planted. However, I have been so disorganised that I only had a bag of 12 daffs and the bulbs from last years pots (I have know idea how many of them will actually re-flower). So with hubby busy working on someone else's garden I headed off to the garden centre with 3 children in tow.

The children were thrilled because all the Christmas paraphernalia is up. There were Santa's and flashing lights, reindeer and singing snowmen, angels and gingerbread men....

BUT - my handy tip for those of you who have still some pots to fill - all the bulbs and seasonal flowers were half price or less. I came a way with Viola's already in terracotta pots for £1, a huge bag of mixed daffodil bulbs for £2 and snowdrops for £1. I've never had such a cheap visit to the garden centre and I've filled more pots than I had intended too.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

toys to sew

It's got to the time of year where I pull out all my books and search through looking for ideas for children's Christmas presents. One of my favourites is Toys to Sew by Claire Garland. It's got some great toys of varying levels of difficulty. The felt toys are fairly simple but look really good but my favourite has to be the basic doll, and then all the clothes you can make to go in her wadrobe. And there is a boy's version, the jolly pirate.

I made the doll for our little girl's birthday present last year, along with frilly undies, pyjamas and a dressing gown, (this is the book I plan to use when I sit down to make doll's clothes with our little girl and her new sewing machine). I bought a cheap toy bed from Ikea which I painted and then covered the bedding supplied by Ikea with a nice linen, appliqued with a butterfly to match the pyjamas.

ok, I know the eyes are a bit odd, but that just adds to the character!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

leek and potato soup

It's a cold, grey drizzly day and thoughts have turned to the stomach. Nice warming stews, cosy cups of tea with moist, just-out-of-the-oven cake and, of course, soup.

We don't like to be deterred by the weather and often set off on a family walk regardless of the rain, just so long as the walk has some sort of purpose to keep the children happy. Normally that focus is a picnic lunch of homemade soup and homemade bread rolls 1/3 the way through, and a pub 2/3 of the way. Of course the thought of home and a roaring fire gives us momentum for the final lap.

I usually end up doing this last minute and the flavour of the soup is determined by what's in the fridge/veg basket. But I nearly always have leeks and potatoes and I use a simple recipe of my mother's:

Chop leeks and soften in oil

Add chopped potatoes about 1 cm cubes or bigger (I generally don't even bother taking off the skin)

Add vegetable (or even better) chicken stock and some salt and pepper

Let it bubble away until the potatoes soften. (The longer you can let the soup simmer for the more the potatoes disintegrate the thicker the soup becomes.)

Pour into thermos and off you go

Monday, 9 November 2009

lovely cushions

Too many other things were happening this weekend so I didn't make it to the Rag Fair, and thus don't know if Polly Lyster was actually there this year. However having mentioned her in my previous post I remembered that I had also bought a number of tiny, lavender filled, cushions from her at a textile fair at the American Museum in Bath a couple of years ago.

Hubby can't see the point in endless cushions, especially ones this size but I wanted to share them with you as the fabric/colours are so pretty. It also prompted me to try and find out a bit more about Polly and in the process I came across a blog called the warp and the weft . For those with keen interest in textiles and/or all things French it looks really interesting and I can't wait to have a really good scroll through it.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

smashing pumpkins

ok, so I have squash envy when i see this picture posted on I try each year to grow an abundance of winter sqaush, beacuse we love them! but every year i forget to water them enough and every year i get one solitary fist size specimen!!
I never understand how people get those super smashing pumpkins (actually I do and next year perhaps I'll be less lazy and do more watering at the bottom of the garden, instead of sitting on the terrace at the top of it tucking into olives and a large glass of chilled wine......

Anyway i am posting you a squash recipe made with some yummy sqaushes from the farmers market and loosely based on one from this fabulous food book by sarah raven - one of my most used cookbooks. The Sarah Raven recipe is vegetarian and uses creme fraiche but i only had cream so i used that, and we like a bit of spice so i added a pinch of chilli flakes.

take 1 large butternut squash (for 2 people - or use a whole small one per person) and cut in half scooping out the seeds. (if you are using little cricket ball size ones then just cut off the lid and scoop ouot the seeds). drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and cumin and roast covered with foil for about 40mins - 1hour till soft and tender, about 10 mins before the sqaush is done take off the foil and put 3 or 4 rashers of streaky bacon in the tin with them, cook till fairly crisp.
scoop out the flesh out of the sqaushes leaving a shell, mash the flesh with a fork adding a good slurp of double cream (about 3tblsp) add 3 tbls grated parmesan and crumble in the bacon, season with a pinch of chilli flakes and some fresh tyme leaves. I also added dollop of elderly garlic and herb cheese (because i was going to throw it out if i didn't use it!!) and I think this was a good addition. spoon the mix back into the shells and bake at 180 for about 15mins. You ABSOLUTELY MUST allow it to cool for 5-10mins before tucking in or you will take off the roof of your mouth and not enjoy its deliciousness!!

Thursday, 5 November 2009

any old rags?

Just a reminder to anyone that's around that the Autumn Rag Fair is this Saturday in Bisley. I went a couple of years ago (heavily pregnant, I had to use my bump to fight the hoards) and picked up a lovely bag of scraps from Polly Lyster. She is known for her use of natural dyes but also uses vintage fabrics and when I got home and ferreted properly through my bag I found some lovely old tickings, ancient toile de jouy and a piece of fabric that Sarah admired so much it's pinned on her notice board as inspiration for a design she hopes to do.

I came across the bag the other day whilst I having a sort through my fabrics, looking for something completely different and I decided to make these cheeky, clove scented, robins using some antique french linen and some of my Polly Lyster scraps.

If you get to the fair - Happy Searching

Sunday, 1 November 2009

pumpkims galore

I can't believe it's the 1st November already, where has this year gone?

We spent the day yesterday carving the pumpkins that have been sitting pretty, adding a burst of Autumn colour in our porch to make halloween pumpkins to scare of the ghouls. I have to say I found it rather hard work. Our pumpkins were grown by Nona (hubby's mother) and were small and fleshy! I think the super markets sell large pumpkins with little flesh which are much easier to scrape out. I soon found myself alone at the kitchen table, surrounded by pumpkin seeds and not much else. In the end my great intentions of making a pumpkin pie were dismissed and I decided to call back the troops to help design and carve out the faces.
We ended up with rather a motley crew, but our little girl was thrilled to come 2nd in a Pumpkin competition with her entry (the one on the right)