Wednesday, 29 February 2012

She's Arrived

Keira Marie Finnegan has arrived, and she's not too keen on sleeping just now, plenty of time for that after she's seen everything..... obvs.

image Mabel Lucie Attwell

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Special Delivery

Good morning lovely Sunday readers. I'm on tenterhooks at the moment, waiting for the news that one of my delightful friends has given birth to her first child. The baby girl was due on 19th February, and is now fashionably late.
Mia, or Pixie as I call her because of her diminutive figure and impish nature, has always known she has wanted children, so this baby is going to be really loved and then some. 

Her daddy (the baby's), is Irish and Mia is Danish and they live in Florence, yes Italy lucky things. So I'm wondering what nationality that makes da baby? It feels strange to think of it as Italian, but I suppose it will be.

Anyway as the daughter of a Pixie and a Leprechaun, yes Shane is quite diminutive too, it will no doubt have multi nationality status, including a light dusting of Fairy Land, in it's genes.
I have finished the blanket for da baby. Crocheters (is that a word ?) among you please do not look too closely at the edging.
Hearts because I love the motif  but also because I do love Mia, you couldn't not.
And have purchased da baby some strawberry shorts for the warm Italian weather.
And baby's first book. Mia is a very clever Pixie so da baby will need books as soon as it is born.

I'm away on my hols soon so I'm posting the parcel tomorrow, and will carry on waiting for news.

C'mon baby. 

stork image via 

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

New Cushions

It's a terrible thing to admit for such a thrifty girl, but I do tire of cushions very quickly. I don't mean the use of them, oh no, we all love a bit of comfort. It's just I have them for a while, then they start to look the wrong size, or colour and they start to irritate me.

Last summer I had this idea to throw frugality to the wind, and to ask a local maker to create some unique bespoke cushions, appliqued with images of my cat Pendragon and my beloved dog of choice the Wire Fox Terrier.
These examples are not they. Unfortunately within days of my asking Carola van Dyke to fashion my cushions, Mary Portas discovered her. And now they grace the House of Fraser at £70.00 a pop. Needless to say I didn't get my cushions, as Carola was rushed off her feet.

Almost broken but not beaten, I have continued my search for some new cushions. Today I found them, huzzah!
In the form of the humble postage stamp. Now if there's one thing I like more than a bespoke expensive applique cushion, it's a very cheap one with Royal connections. £8.00 at Matalan, I bought two, and I couldn't be more chuffed.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Baklava Muffins

Had a meeting this morning, so I quickly rustled up some muffins. Had a rummage around in my cupboards found half a pack of walnuts, had a quick word with Nigella and Voila - Baklava Muffins.

For the filling
100g chopped walnuts
75g demerara sugar
11/2 teaspoons cinnamon
45g butter, melted

For the muffins
210g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
half teapoon bicarbonate of soda
75g caster sugar
1 large egg
45g unsalted butter melted
250ml buttermilk (or 175g yoghurt and 75g semi-skimmed milk)

For the topping
125ml runny honey

Pre heat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6.

Mix all the filling ingredients together in a small bowl, and then get on with the muffins.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, bicarb and sugar. In a wide-mouthed measuring jug, whisk the egg, melted butter and buttermilk (or yoghurt and milk mix).

Make a well in the dry ingredients, pour in the liquid and mix lightly and gently, remembering to keep it bumpy rather than going all out smooth: anything more than the gentlest handling makes for heavy muffins.
Fill the muffin cases one third full, add a scant tablespoon of filling, then cover with more muffin mixture until two thirds full. Sprinkle any remaining filling on the top of the muffins.

Bake for 15 minutes, by which time they should be golden brown and ready. Put the muffins, still in their cases, onto a rack and drizzle with honey,

Makes 9.

I actually used olive oil spread rather than butter, it's a bit healthier :)

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

How to Find a Bargain

Since Christmas when I managed to find an online voucher code for something I wanted to buy from Marks and Sparks, I always google voucher codes before any online purchasing.

Today I was looking for some nice cosy socks to wear during long haul flights. Found the perfect pair but could I find any discount codes for the company? well sadly no. BUT I called the company and asked them if they had any offers for customers buying from them for the first time. YES said the lovely lady you can have 15% off with this code, which she proceeded to read out to me. Saving me a whopping £20.40.

Don't be afraid to be a cheeky monkey, remember "he who dares wins Rodders".

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Hockney & The Wolseley

Mr.S&P splashed out a bit today, we don't do it all the time, but days like today are why we save our pennies elsewhere. He took me and our lovely boy, who has been staying a few days, to the Wolseley for lunch. It's one of the places that you hear everyone talk about. It truly doesn't disappoint. 

Neither does Hockney.
The Royal Academy was absolutely packed though. I booked our tickets on line, thank god, otherwise I don't think we would have made it in. And I would have been so upset to have missed this extraordinary exhibition.

I hope all you lovely bloggers have had a great day too. Here is my fabulous Gruau card from my Valentine.
And here is the one I sent him.
They say it's Frank's world, we just live in it.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Between Two Worlds

Well it was very quiet at the Antiques fair yesterday, probably a combination of the freezing cold and lack of pennies in the pockets post Christmas. I still really enjoyed it though. Had a lot of compliments about the look of my stall, did I take a picture? duh no.

Also a lot of people liking my stuff even if they didn't buy yesterday. I always enjoy the day, probably because I don't do it that often but mostly because I love talking to people.

One of my work friends turned up and we were chatting about this and that, and in a swoop she solved a long standing mystery for me. 

Years...... ago I saw a great black and white film on the box about a cruise liner drifting in foggy seas. As the ship's journey continues, the individual stories of the ship's passengers are played out. The film has a massive and spooky twist at the end which I absolutely loved. But could I remember the bloomin name of the film? I recalled that Paul Henreid was in it, but that was that.
Turns out it's called...............................
It was originally a play in 1923, made into a film in the 1930's then remade in 1944, BINGO!!!!!
My friend's husband is in a revival production of the original play, on at the Finborough theatre in London, only on for another couple of weeks. I'm desperate to go and see it.
Here he is, David Brett. 'Time Out' magazine are loving him. And well they should.
The play is called Outward Bound.
See it if you can, it's an amazing story.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Shrimpton and Perfect at Lewes Town Hall

S&P will be stalling out at the Collectors and Antiques Fair this coming Saturday at Lewes Town Hall, East Sussex. I'm taking along lots of gorgeous and interesting vintage items including the hand made jumper above.
It's on between 10.00am-4.00pm come along and see me.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Garden Excitement

Our lovely gardening chum Willy came to the house at the week end to help us get a handle on our garden. We stuffed him with lashings of hot chilli and a little red wine to fortify him for his task. It was very cold on Saturday, just a few short hours before the snow arrived. But he very patiently took me and Mr. S&P round our own garden helping us to identify every single plant we have. It was totes amazing because nearly all the plants are just twigs at the moment , but he knew each plant and it's properties and yes, even the latin names.

We have lived in the house for 4 years this March and it has taken us all this time to earn the cash to restore it. It really isn't finished yet, we need to decorate the drawing room, which is quite bleak and unwelcoming. I hope to turn that into a little art deco haven where I can listen to the wireless, read and knit of course. 

But whilst we are thinking about that we want to get on with the garden plans. The garden I think will be a long and ongoing project. But we hope to grow our own veg, and maybe sell a little surplus. To have some flowers for the house and to have a few areas in the garden where we can sit out and enjoy the sun. We are slowly collating ideas and we will be visiting some luscious local private gardens when the spring comes, as part of the open garden scheme. But yesterday Mr. S&P utilised the snow to score out possible layouts, tres beans I say.
Monty Don is on board, good ole boy.
And Stafford Cliff.
The Dowager Duchess of  Devonshire even let us take a peek in her garden last year during Edensor day.
And we have been taking pictures of inspirational gardens for quite some time.
At last we are making a start and it feels very good indeed.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Keep Toasty Warm

Weather like this can paralyse activity outside the house, but it doesn't have to. It can also promote time spent on activities inside the house. Not just the usual chores we all have to complete. No, we can get crafty and make things that will help keep us snuggly and warm.
If you can, embrace the enforced time at home, take time out and relax.
It's freezy outside brrrrrrrrrrrr.

images Martha Stewart Living.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Easy Rhythmic Knitting

The first garment I ever knitted was a fair isle, I loved the look of it you see, didn't think about the angst involved.
This isn't it. This is a small piece of knitting I did when I had the idea of creating my own fair isle designs. I do love fair isle but it requires so much concentration everything else has to go on hold. I much prefer the kind of knitting that you can do whilst relaxing at the same time. I find knitting and my limited experience of crochet soothing.
This is my latest finished project, a jumpee for Mr. S&P. The first one I have ever knitted for him, (shame on me). This should have been a fairly straight forward garment, but the b****y pattern was wrong, grrrr. I thought I had misread it, then thought I didn't have the necessary skills to finish it, but after consulting my fellow knitters at my knitting group we all came to the conclusion the pattern was at fault. So I made some adjustments, left off the big shawl collar, simplified the neckline and finished it. Things like that really knock my confidence as a knitter and I've been knitting for a long while. 
Anyhoo I've moved on to a really simply sweet pattern now, nice and easy and I'm over half way through.
I'm making it in a pale mint green cotton rich yarn for my Danish friend Mia who lives in Florence and who is expecting her first baby. I have had the yarn a while, purchased for another project that I changed my mind about. Now that's thrifty and satisfying, the exact yarn I need, already in my stash.
The pattern is in this months Knitting magazine and is a great project for a beginner.
This is to be my next project, which I'm guessing will be easy once I know how to do it, right? I'm hoping to make some 'Blackberry Salad' cushions during a long haul flight I'm going on fairly soon. Of course the tricky part might not be the pattern, it might be getting the crochet hook on the flight in the first place. Anyone out there managed that recently?

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Winter Views Today

Sun on the door.
Burning garden cuttings.
Smoke on the water.
Frozen water mid air.