Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Christmas Eve at Ours.

Christmas Eve at last. I admit to enjoying the season and this year having more time to spend with friends and family has been great. I've made good use of my National Trust membership in the last few weeks and seen many a period house decked out for the festivities. At home It's been quite calm and relaxed and I must say all in all it's been a lovely lead up to our own Christmas celebrations.

But I'll be glad to see the back of all the frenetic shopping which seems to have been going on for weeks in the high street, which I've largely succeeded in avoiding.

We don't go mad on present buying in this house but we do try and get a few special things for our kin and friends. Brucels the bear has at last received his Fair Isle jumper. A little bit previous I know but it is cold.

Meanwhile Pendragon seems happy enough to have taken delivery of a new box to jump in. She will be getting some culinary treats tomorrow as well.

The rest of us are content to wait until Christmas morning for our gifts.

And to you dear blogging chums and readers, I wish a very happy Christmas. I hope you are all with the people you want to be with, enjoying simple pleasures over the holiday period. I'm looking forward to an exciting and positive 2014 and I hope you are too.


PS If you want to see a film that will warm your cockles, nip over to one of my favourite blogs now.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

One Day

My Dad always used to say that one day I would have a menagerie. Not exactly what I'm dreaming of. But at our next home, with the right amount of space, I would love to have a wide range of creatures. Maybe including some goats. How could you ever be miserable?

Thursday, 19 December 2013

World War 2 Thrifty Cake - Small But Beautiful.

My besty Linda aka Prof is mad for everything WW2. When she is not swooning over Lancaster Bombers (you'd have to meet her to understand), she loves nothing more than creating all things miniature.

This is her take on the cake of Christmas past. A 1940s recipe for a festive cake in the shape of an Anderson shelter.

I think it is super cute, especially the cabbages growing atop the roof. No space being wasted during the war. Should you wish to create your own Anderson shelter cake, or maybe make something called Mock Turkey, this is the book for you.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

I Could Have Done With Cary Grant Today

I love having a real Christmas tree and I always want it installed and looking wondrous for my birthday on December 10th. So the mister and I were out last weekend selecting a lovely specimen from a local grower.

So far so good. Out from the loft came the boxes of decs and lights and yes I had the good sense to test the twinkly lights before I put them on the tree. But alas after a few days they went kaput. Crikey, I needed some lights in a hurry, what with having a party at ours the next day. I couldn't find exactly what I wanted but picked up a box of red led lights which I thought might look like lovely little red berries on the tree. How wrong can you be? They were truly terrible. So I bit the bullet and went out the next day again in search of lights and managed to find some pretty replacements.

So for the third time the mister and I dressed the tree. Needless to say needles everywhere. But that was only the start of the demise of the tree. By yesterday our beautiful traditional tree was to all intents and purposes DEAD. This morning I was up at the crack of dawn and off to speak to my friendly Christmas tree purveyor. And God bless him he has given us a new tree. Which we have swiftly erected today and dressed again for the fourth and hopefully last time.

I'm relaxing into Christmas holiday mode again. That must be a cue for some crimble music. Look out for a magical Cary Grant in 'The Bishop's Wife', just a few minutes into this classic Christmas collection. Oh and don't miss Mrs. Clark Gable rubbing snow in her face a little later on.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Always Shop Around

The finished adorable blue door was in need of an equally adorable Christmas wreath. I thought this year like last year I would make my own. I already had a few nice little trinkets to wire onto a wreath and I bought some dried orange slices and some little golden bells.

Last week I had seen some basic wreaths at Morrisons. A good size, real foliage and with two or three pine cones already attached. Not a bad price at £7.00. I thought they might do. Or alternatively I could make it all from scratch.

But you know how I like to shop around for the best and most stylish deal. I popped along to our local garden centre with a friend on Monday. They had some lovely plain small wreaths in a bluey green pine. Exactly what I was looking for, but at a smidgen under £13.00 way too expensive. Just not good value.

Then on Thursday, BINGO. Lidl came up trumps with a gorgeous wreath fully adorned for under a fiver.

The only thing I have added are the orange slices. So I can save the bells I bought for another project.

The small ornaments are simply glued on and not wired on, I guess that's how they keep the cost to a minimum. But I hope you agree it looks just the Crimble ticket.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Bonjour Tout Le Monde

I have noticed of late that I'm getting a large number of French visitors to my blog. I don't have any French followers and nobody ever leaves a comment but I know you are there, so welcome and thanks for dropping by.

Today a couple of Christmassy pics to get us in the mood for the run up to the big day.

This little 1960s beauty was rescued from our local tip. I don't go there very often as the mister usually gets delegated any tip top jobs as it were, so it's lucky I did chance upon her. Soaked in rainwater in a flimsy sodden cardboard box. Nearly incarcerated in landfill. She now proudly adorns our tree. She has no underwear so I have to angle her netting to cover her modesty. I think she is super cute.

And this delightful vignette comes courtesy of my friend and fellow blogger, Fi.  Isn't it just the sweetest arrangement?

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Thrifty Christmas

The tree went up today. I really enjoy putting the decorations on it, as most of them have special memories. I'm not the kinda gal that buys new decs every year to introduce a theme and ring the changes. I want the comfort of familiarity and tradition. The first ones that go on are the ones my boy made at nursery and primary school.

Then a couple my Mum gave me years ago. She died over 20 years ago now so her decorations are like a Christmas message from her every year.

I don't go over the top at Christmas with decs or anything else for that matter. We have a few extra treats and because we don't buy mountains of food and drink we don't stuff ourselves or waste anything. More is definitely less at this time of year.

I have been doing a bit of sprucing up on the house front but still haven't spent loads. Finally got round to painting the two front doors of the house. I bought the paint ages ago whilst Homebase had a special offer on. Here is a before, during and after.

It took over 5 hours to rub the doors down properly, but elbow grease is free and I'm really pleased with the finished result. The little cream 'trowel' door knocker on the small side door was purchased over 5 years ago, it's finally been put to good use.

We were also very lucky this weekend to bag a lovely pure wool rug from Freecycle. Initially I was beaten to it but the person couldn't be bothered to collect it, her loss I say. I left a very polite request with the owner and he got back in touch. It has a small bit of damage and smelt a bit musty, but the mister has given it a good shampoo and it looks brilliant. Now it has the whiff of Highclere about it. And it's very cosy underfoot.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Masquerade Ball at Chatsworth

This is a picture of me and the mister grinning from ear to ear like a pair of silly lemons because we had just entered the magical world of Narnia, not the actual one you understand, but the 'pretend' one that Chatsworth is hosting this year.

Now the thing is we went up to Derbyshire to visit Chatsworth in September, so strictly speaking we weren't due another trip up until next year. But the clever events peeps at Chatsworth organised an Enchanted Masquerade Ball. Well obviously we had to go. Well obvious to me anyway. The mister took a little convincing as it takes about 4 hours to get there. But it was so worth it.

It was truly a magical experience and I don't bandy the magical word about lightly.

The ball was for one night only but the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe experience is on until December 23rd. Do go if you can - it's gorgeous.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Vintage Event Middle Farm

It was terribly cold at the weekend event but everyone involved worked very hard to make it a great success. Some absolutely gorgeous things but I was very restrained; I am after all decreasing my vintage stock not adding to it. Honestly.

One purchase from Faded Rose Vintage. If you look closely at my expertly captured atmospheric image you will see 'him' on the top shelf left. A push-along Wire Fox terrier. 

To fund my purchase I sold some old favourites, who have gone to really good homes. Well, the squeals from the ladies who bought them make me think they have anyway.

Actually, the Polish rag doll is still with me at the moment, but she is currently looking for a new home before Christmas. Ebay are helping her with that.

I was a bit sad to see Mrs Bunny go, I mean look at that nose. But I must be brave and only keep the things I totally love and can't live without. No nonsense.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Perfect Antidote to Celebrity/Reality TV.

Now don't get me wrong, of course I love modern technology, otherwise I couldn't be a blogger. But the things I love to share through my blog aren't very often related to technology. Unless I'm highlighting a bargain or a wonderful opportunity I have discovered through an e-flyer or newsletter.

In truth I would dearly love the world to slow down a bit. And I do worry about the way the 'youf' cannot seem to function without being attached to an electronic device.

It all has to be extreme non-stop stimulation. But what are they actually getting from it? Except the need for yet more stimulation.
It's a very passive form of entertainment which never seems to satisfy.

I feel the same way about all the 'shouty' TV programmes too. Can we all just calm down a bit please. Yes, wake up and smell the coffee but take some time to drink it and enjoy it. Simple pleasures are best.

I was totally chuffed to spot an article in 'The Week' magazine about a 'slow tv' movement, right up my street and a perfect antidote to all the shouty programmes I loathe.

The Norwegian state broadcaster, NRK, cleared it's entire prime-time schedule for a live, nine hour show on knitting. Yes, knitting.

The aim was to beat the world 'sheep to sweater' record. With a team of people shearing a ewe, spinning the wool and knitting a jumper. They didn't quite make it in the time. But hurrah the show was really popular.
Slow TV is a big movement in Norway. Since 2009 they have enjoyed ten hours of footage from the top of a train, twelve hours of a burning log fire and eighteen hours of salmon spawning.

I'd love to see something like that on British TV, but I can't see that happening any time soon. I totally agree with Stuart Heritage (The Guardian) "watching Saturday night TV in Britain is like being trapped in a burning cell with a crying, attention-seeking lunatic who screams and punches himself in the face whenever he thinks you're about to look away".

I would like to champion a 'Let's Get Real' campaign. Read a book, take a walk, cook, craft, mix with real people and talk to them.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Well I Didn't Know That

image via altfg.com
I was astounded to discover recently that Hollywood movie star Hedy Lamarr was a women of great depth and intelligence. Tis true she was a beauty, but surprisingly she was also a visionary inventor.

I chanced upon an article here, it is most remarkable. She was an early pioneer of wireless communications, playing her part in World War 2 against the Nazis. And it has been speculated that without her work we wouldn't be enjoying the benefits of Wi-Fi today.

I'm full of admiration for her and wonder how I had never heard of this before.

There is today a Hedy Lamarr Foundation that aims to deliver educational and inspirational information that promotes self - discovery and social accountability. I'm not sure if this is something she put in place or whether it has been set up in her memory. Either way I feel she would have approved. What a woman.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Barbie Snippets

I love this slightly mad jewellery by Margaux Lange. Although some might see her work as freaky or gruesome, I think it's imaginative and fun. Perhaps I'm just a little bit more eccentric than most. Not a bad thing in my book.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Introducing Lizzie Shrimpton

I can't believe it was as long ago as March that I made a start on my first felted doll. Poor felted beauty has been languishing in my knitting bag along side the bare bear's Fair Isle. This week I have been working on both projects. Tuesday night I set myself the task of finishing felted beauty's face and making her a body.

And here she is sitting on a chair borrowed for her debut from vintage Barbie.

She is mainly needle felted from wool tops, including her hair which is from the delightfully curly Wensleydale sheep. Her body is made from fabric scraps, stuffed with wool tops. She is indeed very sheepish. I did a little rudimentary stitching for her lips and eyelashes and her stockings are made from some off-cut cotton tubing that I purchased at the Guild exhibition last week, 3 balls for £1.00.

All in all I think she has turned out mighty fine for a first attempt. Now to make her a perfectly pretty dress. I'm thinking a small ditsy print would be best, possibly Laura Ashleyesque.

This is my first thought.

Not that I have a clue how to make a dress of any sort really but nothing ventured nothing gained.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Extraordinary Folk

You know how it is sometimes, you see an image and it just makes you happy. Here are my top three of the day.
Jim Henson & Bert
Charlie Chaplin

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Enjoy A Happy Samhain - Bright Blessings.

image martha stewart

Some seasonal wisdom from my friend Valerie who is a crystal healer.

Well here we are back again at the end of another cycle of nature, when we are preparing to move into the winter months and the colder weather. The days are darker and it is a time to go within to think very carefully about what we wish to achieve when the sun returns to warm us in the spring.  

For Samhain we make our healing mandala with crystals and tokens from nature like berries and nuts, such as acorns and hazels, found in the woods nearby to us on the common. The mandala is made in the shape of an eight spoked wheel or the wheel of the year in Celtic tradition. It represents the cycle of the seasons and the end and beginning of all creation. 

This time of the year represents the season when the sun gives us less daylight hours and we move into the womb of winter. It is a time of celebration to acknowledge the passing of all those who have gone before us and who will go after us. Remember that one day in the future we will be our families’ ancestors.  In the knowledge that death is but a new beginning, we meditate at Samhain to share this time with our ancestors and future generations of our families. 
The calendar marks the end of a solar cycle when we should get our affair in order. A time when fields lay fallow, nature takes a rest and we experience autumn mists with smokey colours in the sky. 

The mischief side of Halloween is there to respect an aspect of the god who wishes to teach us that he will not let us take ourselves too seriously – it is a time to laugh with your friends and community. In the old days apple bobbing, storytelling, cake making and roasting of nuts were part of the evening’s celebrations around the bonfire. 

Samhain also brings us gifts of wisdom, which can be bitter or sweet according to our circumstances and desires. It is now we consider death as an aspect of our lives and it may be that an old plan, habit or aspiration needs to die now. 

We are taught not to call the dead to us on this night, but believe if they join us freely, if they are able to and if they wish to, we should be open to receive this awareness. If a loving spirit should desire to come back and visit you will recognise them in your mind. If they choose not to come just remember them with love and accept their absence. 

Spend time in meditation thinking of friends, family and loved ones who have gone on to greater things. Keep firmly in your mind that the physical isn’t the absolute reality and that our souls never die. 

As you eat pomegranates consider the seeds as being ideas for your next cycle - affirm that they represent plans and creativities that will sprout and grow to provide you with your next personal harvest. 

Make a list of things you consider are standing in your way like anger, sorrow etc, then write them down and burn them in your the fire affirming that they are now in the past. Whatever you have asked for guidance in see it now replaced by new life and a new system whereby we teach do what you will as long as it does not harm another. 

If you can take time to light a candle maybe you can join us in imagining a new world full of peace, love and harmony with food and water available for all. Leave a plate of food outside the home for the souls of the dead, place a candle in the window to guide them to the lands of eternal summer and bury some apples in the earth to feed the ones who have passed on their journey to the light and are awaiting rebirth. 

In the meantime try to be happy, healthy and wise as you go about your daily routine. Most of all be grateful for all you have accomplished and for the ideas which will flow through you from your spirit guides, who come from the light, during the darker nights. Keep warm and snuggly like the seeds within Mother Earth. 

image mollie makes

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

You Can't Always Spot a Witch

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg and Howlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Cool it with a baboon's blood
Then the charm is firm and good.