Monday, 31 December 2012


"Too much of anything is bad, but too much Champagne is just right".  Mark Twain

All the best to all of you my fellow bloggers and followers, give 2012 a good send off and have a bustin time tonight. Let's all greet 2013 with hope and optimism.

image found on

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Seek and Ye Shall Find

It appears that I'm not the only one in blog world assessing my life at the moment, no surprises there really what with New Year an' all. On this subject one of my favourite Ozzie bloggers Pip has been busy sorting out the good stuff for us all, I love this girl.

Apparently I'm a Maximizer and I need to adopt a bit more Satisficer attitude into my thoughts and decision making. Note to self, don't over think it.

Here’s a quick stroll through some of the key findings on the art of decision-making:
1. Satisficers vs Maximizers.
Coined by the economist Herbert Simon in 1956, “satisficing” is an approach to decision-making that prioritises an adequate solution over an optimal solution. Gretchen Rubin sums up the difference between the two types of decision-makers well in a post over at the Happiness Project:
Satisficers are those who make a decision or take action once their criteria are met. That doesn’t mean they’ll settle for mediocrity; their criteria can be very high; but as soon as they find the car, the hotel, or the pasta sauce that has the qualities they want, they’re satisfied.

Maximizers want to make the optimal decision. So even if they see a bicycle or a photographer that would seem to meet their requirements, they can’t make a decision until after they’ve examined every option, so they know they’re making the best possible choice…

In a fascinating book, The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz argues that satisficers tend to be happier than maximizers. Maximizers must spend a lot more time and energy to reach a decision, and they’re often anxious about whether they are, in fact, making the best choice.

If you're in the same boat as me, pop over to Pip's blog and you can read some more helpful stuff.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

The Big Decisions

One of the nice things that I remember about my childhood was that feeling of living in the moment. Enjoying what I was doing without thinking too much about what I needed to do next. 

My brother Jack and I on holiday at Putnem.

Not too many decisions to make and certainly no big decisions.
I struggle to do that now. I have to plan my work for the year. I try to plan holiday breaks and activities for both my husband and myself that will break up our workload and give us some recreational time. To live a balanced life as it were.

I sometimes feel that unlike my Mother's generation we have so much choice about which way we direct our lives, it can make me anxious about making the right choices. I always feel this more acutely at this time of year. 2013 is before me and I have just had another birthday so as I get older I increasingly feel I have to be more discerning about how I spend my time.

I wondered if anyone else in blog world feels the same as me and If so how you make your big decisions?

Monday, 24 December 2012

Merry Christmas One and All

All done now, just remains for me to say to you all, have a very merry Christmas and a healthy, happy, prosperous new year.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Perfect Christmas Hideaway

It's been a longtime ambition of mine to stay in the Hunting Tower at Chatsworth, and I nearly did recently, but the bloomin boiler broke down and we had to stay somewhere else. Can you believe it?

Booked at the beginning of the year as a birthday treat for me, I had been looking forward to it all year. But it wasn't to be...............this time. The lovely people at Chatsworth offered us the Russian Cottage instead,

which is a delightful place, a bit like a ginger bread house, especially when we had two days of haw frost. I fell in love with the chandelier in the kitchen, but I think they might have noticed if it went missing.

Chatsworth is worth a visit any day of the year but at Christmas the staff  really go to town and turn the house into a real fun palace. 

They have excelled themselves this year with a pantomime theme.

You can just see the Duke and Duchess in the picture above the big bad wolf's head, the customised wallpaper printed with the faces of the staff is typical of the tongue in cheek unstuffy attitude at Chatsworth.

This Captain Hook 'mannequin' frightened the life out of folk when he suddenly moved, just after I had decided 'it' looked a bit creepy and my friend Gina had peered into 'it's' eyes about an inch from his face. The staff obviously have a great time working at Chatsworth. Ah me, if only I lived a bit nearer it would be my dream job.

We popped over to Haddon Hall as well, the house was authentically freezing, so we huddled around the roaring fires which were in most rooms, whilst we took in the gorgeous natural seasonal decorations.

I'm orff to ice my Christmas cake now, pics tomorrow.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Biba and Beyond: Barbara Hulanicki

If you're in or around Brighton in the next few weeks take some time out and pop into The Brighton Museum & Art Gallery. They have a major fashion exhibition on celebrating the Biba lifestyle, which also examines Barbara Hulanicki's post Biba design successes.

I just about caught the last glittering days of Biba before it's sad demise, and honestly I still miss it. What a concept, what a place, it's never been matched since. The exhibition brought it all back to me.

All Biba logo designs by Steve Thomas of Whitmore-Thomas, c1971.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Probably the Best Mulled Wine in the World

Eh up devoted blog followers, sorry about the break in transmission but I've been away up t'frozen north.

I'm back now to share my own mulled wine recipe with you, you lucky lot. It's for peeps who don't like mulled wine, no really. If I had a pound for every person who has drunk this concoction and said that's the best mulled wine I've tasted, I'd be in Barbados now sipping rum punch.

So this is enough for about 15 small glasses. So scale it up or down depending on the size of your party.


1 bottle red wine (plonk)
Equal measure water
I carton orange juice 
2 teaspoons mixed spice
Large handful of raisins
Sugar to taste

It's that simple, slowly heat, stir and quaff.

Any raisins not eaten are good to use in bread and butter pudding or porridge, hic.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Don't Stress ...........Enjoy

Just remember in this hectic run up to Christmas that STRESSED is DESSERTS spelt backwards.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Christmas Knitted Chains

I have very fond memories of making paper chain Christmas decorations as a small girl. Sitting quietly and concentrating to make sure they looked perfect. The house decorations signalling the slow build up to Christmas and the much anticipated visit from Father Christmas.

I haven't made any for over twenty years, not since my son Jack was a boy. But I have been inspired this year to make some knitty chains, and I think they are going to turn out quite nicely.

The two woollen cones cost me 10p each, so VERY thrifty indeedy.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Don't Break the Bank for a Stylish Christmas

In recent months I have tried to be even more savvy with my food and household shopping. Money is tight, but even if I had pennies aplenty I still wouldn't waste my hard earned cash. Why would I? Why would anyone? I truly feel that every penny saved makes a difference to my budgets. And as you know I'm the kinda gal who wants quality but refuses to pay the earth for it.

I have made the time to do my 'big' shop across two main stores now. Lidl and Morrisons, and it is really working for me. I'm lucky in that I have both of these stores a short drive from me and in close proximity to each other. So I can nip into Lidl and then across to Morrisons. Yes it does take more time but I do save enough money to make it worthwhile.

I picked up the Christmas edition of Morrisons FREE magazine this week and I have to say I'm very impressed with it. Dear reader there is absolutely no need to spend your £4.95 on a 'posh' Christmasey magazine, when you can get all the information, help and festive titivation from this mag.

Over 145 pages of articles, recipes and tips to make your Christmas the special event you want it to be.

You can even go onto the Morrisons website and watch these three celebrity chefs in action cooking their favourite Christmas recipes.

So how did I spend my 'saved' £4.95? On these fantastic sparkly silver reindeer candles, 6 for £2.99 at Lidl.

Perfect for the Christmas day table. And this adorable tiny Swedish angel rotary candle holder, 99p in my local chazza shop.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Boy Oh Boy Did It Rain

The Deluge by William Etty

The Christmas event at Charleston was a HUGE success despite the incessant rain. And thankfully nobody ended up in quite the same state as the young lady above.

Photo copyright  Penelope Fewster

Hundreds of people turned out to see the family of reindeer, who kept the smiles on faces all through the rotten weather. A very jolly day indeed.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Christmas at Charleston

This time of year, heading towards Christmas is such a terribly busy time. I do manage my time well and can usually step up a gear when I need to but I have to admit to feeling a bit frazzled at the moment. 

But I must press on me dears, as there are lots and lots of things that have to be done. I can hear a lot of voices in the ether concurring with me. Yes, yes, busy busy we are, (does that sound like Yoda in your head too, or is it just me?).

I'm fortunate in that I get a decent break from the day job over Christmas and a chance to recharge my batteries, so in my mind I'm working towards that. Plus I have a very special treat to look forward to in just a few weeks to celebrate my birthday, but more of that particular wonderfulness later.

So this weekend I will be galvanising me old bones into action and taking Shrimpton and Perfect to market, because as we all know, not only is Christmas a busy time it's also bloomin expensive, even for a thrifty chick (well hen then) like me.

Charleston farmhouse is hosting it's first big Christmas event this Saturday 24th and I'm lucky enough to be having a stand there. Over 20 makers and crafters will be plying their wares, including Samantha Stas who has just featured in this month's Mollie Makes.
And there are other VIPs coming or should that be VIRs?

I'm very excited about getting up close and (sort of) personal with a family of reindeer.

I'll be selling some fabulous pure wool hand made knitwear, from original 1940s knitting patterns.

And the good news? I'll be selling these garments for just the cost of the yarn £45.00, as they were knitted up as samples for me when I had my vintage knitwear company.

There will also be lots of other vintage goodies and desirables at sensible prices, so pop along if you can.

and pick up a gift that someone will love.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Agatha Kills Poirot-Again

Just heard on the Christie grapevine that the last scene of the final Poirot story has been filmed thus ending David Suchets long association with Agatha Christie's most famous detective. Boo hoo I say.

They have yet to film the four other stories that David is contracted to, but he apparently wanted to film the last story before the others.

Maybe it is because in the last story, Poirot's last case, he is totally immobilised by arthritis and has to rely on Captain Hastings, I think the little Belgian detective would feel that to be a very poor show indeed.

When Christie wrote the novel in 1975, ending the life of Poirot, The New York Times reported a front page obituary for the detective, How cool is that?

And how cute is this?

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Flute, Saucer or Coupe?

It's funny how your tastes change. I used to think champagne flutes were sophisticated, but not any more, I much prefer a saucer or coupe, even though it holds less and is more susceptible to spills.

And these 'upcycled' versions are just divine.

These little beauties are made from discarded cut glass stoppers, left overs from vintage decanters. Such a great idea.

Exclusively available at Liberty's, designed by Lee Broom for his 'Half Cut' range.

Legend has it that the coupe design is supposed to be reminiscent of a woman's breast, Marie Antoinette no less. But don't let that put you off.

I buy my saucer/coupe glasses in charity shops and at vintage events. They are all different designs, but always feel very special  and go down a treat at parties.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

And The Winner of My Christmas Book Giveaway

Is Rosemary of 'Where Five Valleys Meet'. Just let me know your postal address dear girl and your festive bible will be winging it's way to you.
For everyone else a thrifty tip. Second purpose your old post it notes by using the sticky end to remove dust between the keys on your keyboard.