Friday, 18 December 2009

Deck the halls

A week ago we put up our Christmas tree, we were the first on our row of cottages to do so but I just couldn't wait any longer, plus there is this supposed tree shortage this year so we didn't want to end up with a really duff one.

It just about fitted in the car and we spent quite some time dressing it. It made me think about how Christmas when I was little and how exciting it was unwrapping the baubles that you hadn't seen for a year and carefully picking a branch to hang them on. I'm lucky enough to have quite a few baubles which were on my mums trees when she was little. As well as an ever growing collection of vintage ones from charity shops and markets. We also treated ourselves this year to some lovely ones which look old but aren't. I'm not one for themed trees, or people who end up buying a new tree colour scheme every year. Christmas is all about nostalgia for me and I treasure these decorations. They are so nice I thought I'd share my favourites with you.

I love this decoration, it always makes me smile. Half gnome half fir cone.

This one is about 70 years old, I love the shade of pink and the drop shape to it. It's so delicate and dainty.

This was one I was always wowed by, it's an Arabian palace made from glass. It's very old and I can remember there being more of these when I was little.

This is a very very old one that was my mums, it's a little basket with brightly coloured flowers in.
Probably my favourite one, it's quite large and again dates back to my mums childhood trees. It had to have a bit of a silver tape repair on the top as it had cracked and the wire loop wouldn't stay put. I hope to see this bauble every Christmas.

This funny little fella came from a charity shop and only cost 10p, he's made from a bauble and is playing a fiddle. I think he is American vintage. Cute.

Phillipa gave me two of these little fir cone people. They had been made for a church fair and the outer hoop is made from some recycled strips of plastic packaging tape. Ingenious.

Just to finish the room off we pinned up my Tunnocks tea cakes bunting. Fantastic. A real home made treat.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Christmas Fairs and Wares

Last weekend I took part in the Unfold Christmas Fair as part of a collective called Sewing Circle. We did the same fair last year and found it a good thing to work towards with our crafting plus a really great way to spread the cost of a stall.
We used a large dolls house (the kind any child would dream of having) as the central display, setting our work out inside it like a miniature department store. Here's Karen (KEB) peeping over the roof.

'Second Floor, Heavens to Betsy'- This year I started selling as Heavens to Betsy rather than Miss Pussycat (which I have sold under for the last 9 years) I showed a collection of necklaces and brooches made from Liberty prints, vintage lace trims and vintage buttons. They had all been made during my Wednesday Knit, Natter, Stitch and Chatter sessions as they were a nice small transportable project, perfect for pub sewing.

This wooden collectibles display unit was perfect for showing mine and KEBs pieces.
Karen showed some lovely whale mobiles. The whales were made from felt, padded and with the neatest blanket stitch round the edges. The main frame of each mobile is an embroidery hoop. In the background are Mrs Anderson's Owls and Spaniel, vintage toy patterns brought to life in Liberty print cotton with vintage button eyes.

Mrs Anderson's Bunnies, Harris Tweed products and Strawberry Knit bags.

Mrs Anderson's craft kits to get novices started on the road to creative stitchery. Resistance is futile!

Patchwork bag kit made up, each of the Liberty prints have been labelled. I think I'm in love with 'Lucy's Farm' print and must buy some this weekend.

We all sold pretty well but best of all was chatting to people about sewing and crafting and telling people about the Knit, Natter group.

Only thing is now the craft fair is over what shall I make on Wednesdays? Is now the time to start on some of the more traditional projects I've had in mind? A patchwork quilt? Some Crewel work? Christmas gifts? Decisions decisions.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Grand day out

A couple of weeks ago I went to the Knitting and Stitching show in Harrogate. It was amazing but so exhausting that I only now feel fully recovered to look at what was there and post it up.
We made it to Harrogate in good time (where it was a sunny, winters day) and piled straight into the International Centre. I cannot imagine how many stalls there were, not to mention the exhibitions. It was massive and everywhere I looked there was something to go mad over.
A real highlight for me was seeing the Royal School of Needlework graduate exhibitions, sadly photographs weren't allowed. The quality and detail of the work was exceptional, employing traditional techniques to produce contemporary pieces. The RSN, based at Hampton Court Palace, are so highly regarded they make all the coronation regalia for the monarchy. I'd love to have studied there.

Casting Off- 350 knitters from around the world knitted a sailing boat and the sea life to go with it.

I really wanted to bring this king crab home with me, what lovely crabby coloured wool.

Karen, Phillipa and I sat and ate our packed lunch in the Royal Hall, which had been turned into a tea shop/cafe for the show. It's a really amazing Edwardian Theatre, we sat on red velvet flip down seats to eat our sandwiches taking in our gold sculpted surroundings and planning the afternoons route round the stalls.

I bought lots of very special buttons from The Button Lady, her stall was dubbed 'the oooh ahhh stall' and it was just that. I totally blew my button budget without even a scrap of guilt. Watch this space to see what I have turned them into.

I also purchased a contemporary stitch piece of a Blue Tit by Catherine Ellis Roberts. I kept pondering over it all day but decided in the end, given that Joey seems to be single handedley annihilating our local Blue Tit population, it was just too lovely not to have. Will post a picture up when the little blue fella arrives in the post.
You can see more photos of the day on my Flickr page, there were too many to post them all on here.

My absolute highlight of the day however was the hairstyles of these two elderly ladies. It was amazing, sections of hair pinned into tiny curls from the crown, like a little hair hat.
To be honest I lost track of what I was there to look at and just followed their hair around for a good half hour. I've never seen anything like it and especially not in duplicate. Karen said they were probably spinster sisters/best friends who lived together and did each others hair.
I so wanted to be in their hair gang.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Bear faced gossip

Jill has just let me know that the talking bear and his friend have noted my September post about them, Free fun along the Piccadilly Line, on their gossip page.

Bearsac and Debra get just about everywhere and although some people, like me, don't like to chat with them at the time (well who would know what to do when faced with a talking bear asking for a sip of your drink or telling you about his recent bearmitzvah?) these same people then go home and blog about them or comment on forums and community boards. Seems they are causing quite a stir wherever they go.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Just Peachy

I've wanted to blog about this for a little while now but have only just managed to get a hold of the photo, anyway, I walk past this little cottage every day, sometimes twice a day, and have always admired it's peachyness.

It's not a colour you see painted on houses very often and I always thought it looked so lovely and vintage. Sort of like the colour of a twin set, a matching handbag and shoes, a pair of cats eyes sunglasses or a Triumph Herald motor. Most days a different vintage peachy something would enter my mind as I hurried past to and from work.

So imagine my worry when a few weeks ago (just before the weather turned) the house had ladders against it and sheets down with a pair of decorators stripping back the paint work! I considered intervening, making my colour recommendations to them as they scraped away with fags in mouths and radio blaring. I resisted giving exterior design advice and thought as I walked on 'Well it was inspirational while it lasted' teamed with 'Why didn't I take a picture of it???'.

Imagine my surprise when the next day I saw it had been repainted in the exact same colour choice!! I wanted to knock on the door and congratulate them on making such a fine choice in the face of new trends, colour mix machines and (the worst ever) plastic windows.

It reminded me of when I used to work in an interiors shop, how often older couples would come in clutching a sample of worn out but well loved fabric looking for it's exact replacement. So attached to their colour scheme as though it were an old friend, setting the tone in albums worth of photos of the festive family, the Jubilee buffet, any old knees ups and get together. Always there at the end of a long day, their choice, and they will stick by it. Lovely.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Love it!

I must share with you my friend Lizzie's blog, it's called Lizzie Loves...Fashion

Lizzie recently made the bold step to leave her job as a journalist to pursue a career as a freelance fashion writer and features writer. I think she made a smart move, her blog is the perfect place to visit to hear about fashion trends, must haves and her witty musings on style and the world of fashion. I just love her style of writing, especially her nod to the twin sets and pearls brigade.


Just look at what we saw when we opened the curtains this morning, (you can just make it out on this rather rushed picture) the end of a rainbow right across the field from us! Or was it the start of one? I wonder if they always form from one direction? Important to know so you don't go running in the wrong direction after the pot of gold.

Myrtle wasn't sure what all the fuss was about but took a look anyway. She looks a bit like a shaggy sheep in this picture.

Whilst all this was going on Joey had helped himself to another blue tit, it's so sad and is the one thing about cats that I do not like. There are mice a plenty around here but he prefers these brightly coloured little fellas. He doesn't even eat them, just enjoys the rush of the kill.

Did you know that for every bird a cat kills it means there are seven less next year. This was his third (that we know of) so that's twenty one less little blue bods at Oakbank next year.
Naughty boy!

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

I am experiencing trouble posting comments on any blog, ours or others, and have done for some time. It's very frustrating, there seems to be endless amounts of bloggers reporting this in forums but no one seems to be able to fix it.

I've typed countless comments out for Flying Eagle Woman, Jill and Sharon (I look at your blogs almost every day) to name a few but they have all just disappeared into the ether, like lost texts circling the earth forever.

So whether you are a faithful Heavens follower (you know who you are) or you occasionally stop by thank you, thank you, thank you for your lovely comments. It's amazing to think of people all around the world reading about our adventures.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Babble and Squeak

My new boots had their second outing today. Aren't they fine, I like them because they look like if you were to draw some walking boots, just really simple. They fit so nice too, much comfier and warmer than my old ones.

All the way along our walk I could hear what sounded like dogs, but really far away. Maybe a hunt or a trail? I kept Myrtle on the lead as I wasn't sure where they were.

Its amazing how much everything has changed here in just a week, we have had strong winds and heavy rain which has stripped lots of the leaves off trees and bushes, everything seems so open. The nice thing about it is that the bareness reveals little secret things that we've walked past every day before but never noticed. These bright red berries curling around a tree branch like a fruit vine had been obscured by a lovely thick Beech bush.

The River Sprint was so full today that the redundant overflow section (which would have once been used to channel off water to the farm) was overflowing. It's the first time I've seen it like this. Myrtle wasn't interested as you can see. She wanted to go in the river but it was too fast for her, I just can't bear the thought of her getting swept off so am always on the cautious side where swimming is concerned.

Oh yeah and the dogs I could hear, it was only on the home stretch I realised it was actually a weird squeaky noise from my new boots!

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Goodbye October

Just look at my friends beautiful shop window display. The shop opened a couple of months ago and it is filled with uniquely designed lampshades, mirrors, cards, tea towels and much more. It has the feel of a Brighton home wares boutique, tucked down a cobbled alley here in sleepy old Kendal. The entire outside of the shop is decorated with an eye catching design by local artist Rachel Kelly.

The window has a distinctly seasonal feel with exquisitely upholstered floor cushions in fabric printed with squash and pumpkin design.

On the way back to the car I sampled some of South Lakeland Orchard Groups freshly squeezed apple juice. They were hosting a stall with the local Action on Climate Change group to show what can be done with all the windfalls this time of year using manually powered machines, just like what has been used for hundreds of years.
First the apples (a local mixture from orchards as far north in the county as Tebay) were chopped by Edward (who owns Sprint Mill, which I blogged about in my first ever post)

Then the chopped apples are transferred into a press where all the juice flows out and into a big vat.

The juice tasted fresher than fresh, deliciously tangy and heavenly scented. A real taste of the Cumbrian autumn. I love living here.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Poorly lugs

Myrtle has been a bit poorly with her ears lately which culminated in sedation and a short stay at the vets yesterday. The house is a bit of a tip as I've finally moved all my stuff into number 5 but amidst all the chaos Myrtle has managed to claim this new addition to the furniture.
Still not herself today, here she is, a poor brown shaggy dog, recovering in 'her chair'. Please note an envious Joey at the window.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Spring forwards, Fall backwards

I always remember which direction the clocks change by that little saying, I love it.

There are cows in Myrtles field so I've been walking some different routes. I feel apprehensive about being near cows with her, even on a lead. I am the type of person to get chased by cows, as that's the same type of person who gets hit on the head with a football whilst walking through the park.
Anyway so back to the walks, since the clocks went back on Saturday the season seems to have really kicked in.
The trees are all fantastic colours.

It rained quite heavily overnight so the river was very fast flowing but it didn't put Myrtle off going in for a swim. She loved swimming against the current and was so proud of finding her stick .

This is my favourite tree, it's a Larch. I love the way it looks so feathery and soft, it has little cones growing all over it now.

I love this time of year. It makes me feel excited to know everything is changing and Halloween, Bonfire night and Christmas are all on their way!

Time for Breakfast

I'm off work this week and next moving all my stuff out of my old house and into number 5. My house sale is due to complete next Friday. It's pretty tiring stuff so am taking the day off from lugging boxes to catch up on blogging and also get some sewing done.

One of the best things about being off work is making breakfast, I generally don't like eating before 10am so on work days I don't bother, so having the time to make it is a real treat. The neighbours are away so I popped round to check on the chucks and got myself four eggy weggs. I'm going to send the feather to Jill, she sends me fantastic postcards.

A few minutes later breakfast was ready; scrambled eggs, wholemeal toast, orange juice and earl grey tea (loose of course). Served on my favourite tray from when I was a child (it has a design of gardening tools and plants on it with a wicker edge). It's so nice having my special things around me again.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

On Saturday we...

.....went to Kirby Stephen to look at Rayburns and freestanding kitchen units (not an easy thing to find) while we were there we spotted this bunting and some very inventive signage to entice people into a fundraiser. It made us smile, I hope it does for you too.

Soup is hot.

Did you know the word sweet is often misused to describe a pudding or dessert?

Massive spoons ahoy, there's some charity eating to do!

On Sunday we...

...decided to have a go at home made pickled onions as it was rainy outside.

After much searching online I found this simple recipe for just the right quantity of pickle.

1.5kilos of pickling onions
1.5 litres of water
50 grams of pickling spices
1 litre of malt vinegar

Joey was of course on hand to help, which just means oversee to cats, so it was left to Mr B and I to peel the onions. A fiddly job to say the least but we managed to get them done without shedding too many tears.

Boil up the water and salt until the salt has dissolved. Once cooled the onions soaked in this for two nights to make them extra crunchy (make sure they stay below the surface by weighting them down with a plate)
Two days later sit a glass bowl over a pan of boiling water with the vinegar and pickling spice in it. Gently heating it through, take off the heat and leave to steep for about 3 hours (keep a lid or plate over the top to hold the flavours in)

While this cools sterilise the jars (difficult to say how many are needed as we re-used an assortment of old ones)
Rinse the onions and fill the jars with them, pouring the now cold, sieved vinegar over the top.
Then lids and labels on and they are good to go in about 2 months.

Perfect timing for Christmas presents x


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