The weekend before last Anth and I headed up to Salisbury to see my poor Mum in hospital. She is back home now - still very weak and in a lot of pain but improving daily.
We awoke to a beautiful frosty morning and the view from Mum and Robin's balcony of the water meadows and the cathedral never looked more lovely in my eyes.
The walk into the city took me passed my favourite house on the river with it's winter garden going right down to the water's edge -
Hello, hello my friends - well I've been busy and there have been a few changes around here. Christmas does that to me; I suddenly get panicky and try and do all the DIY jobs that I should have done throughout the year in the month leading up to Christmas. So I have painted the floors throughout the house again (did them last in August) as I used a new paint which has proved to be RUBBISH (Ronseal Floor Paint in White - don't go near it as it shows every stain despite what it says on the bloomin' tin!)
Anyway, as you may have noticed the 'wall of flowers' has gone. It was getting on my nerves and looking a bit too cluttered so I have put my favourite mirrors up instead. I just can't enough of these mirrors.
We have also changed our rug and have only got a small one in front of the fire (yay, this is something I have wanted since we took the carpet up but everyone else wanted a big rug so I went with it as it is them who usually sit on the floor!) It certainly makes the room look a bit bigger but whether it will be practical and the vote will be to bring back the bigger rug remains to be seen.
I've changed my age. It was my birthday at the end of November and I saved some of my CK pillowcases bought in October for the very night!
Another new change for me and one that is causing me a lot of problems is this..
knitting on double pointed needles. I have never done this before and OH MY GOODNESS it's like trying to knit like an octopus. I'm trying to knit the snowman in the picture and had to start off with 8 stitches - well I must have tried 50 times but suddenly the stitches stayed on and I have done the head. I'm terribly slow and it's very badly done but I really don't care because I can almost do it!
And lastly, a very sweet change, well a very sweet find really. I needed my spirits lifting yesterday as my poor mother was having a second operation in 3 days and as I walked passed a charity shop look what I spied in the window. The best 50p I have ever spent.
And I then gazed adoringly at it the whole day, squealing quietly to myself with the sheer delight only a vintage pipe cleaner Christmas tree can bring.
Remember waaay back to last Christmas when I started my knitted dog? Well here he is..
He was a bit fiddly and I couldn't face sewing him up so he sat in pieces for months.
Until last week. I got to work and finished him and I'm so glad I did.
Thank you for all your kind words on my last post - it has really encouraged me. You are the loveliest readers a girl could wish for. xxxx
At the moment, I'm...
- loving & celebrating in the last 4 weeks, my sweet husband turning 50 and our 26th Wedding Anniversary.
At the moment, I'm..
- missing our lovely Lucy who is now at University studying medicine a long way away...but is very happy (phew!)
At the moment, I'm..
- very disappointed at Coldplay's new album Mylo Xyloto and shouldn't really stay up late and take photos of myself with Chris like a teenager, when everyone else has gone to bed. Wish they would forget the expensive producers etc and go back to what they used to be like. Ring me Chris!
At the moment, I'm..
- anticipating putting the above duvet and pillowcases (not the spotty ones though) on our bed on Christmas Eve. Sooo excited!! Sooooooo gorgeous. I've got to repaint our bedroom floor first though. Cath has made me have serious wanties this autumn in the bedlinen department. Bad Cath.
- delighted to be wearing my Dr Martens Triumph boots again, and this winter I have a brown pair too. So one day it's the brown and the next it's the black. I wear nothing else. Er, well I do wear dresses and jeans too!
- so happy it's my favourite time of year. The Christmas magazines are out, the leaves are the most wonderful colours, the smell of woodsmoke is in the air, the evenings are drawing in and everything is cosy.
- secretly confessing that I have already played some Christmas music and am loving it.
- touched by your concern by my long blog absence. I am fine but needed (and still need I think) to have a break from blogging. At the beginning of January I will have been blogging for 6 years - 6 years (!!) and I feel I have lost my blogging voice a bit. What can I say that I haven't said before? I don't live an exciting life and do anything different really from year to year. I don't want to give up completely so will keep on and just hope my mo-jo comes back! I may be just not as regular as I used to be. Thank you though for your patience and kindness. xxxxx
It's funny how life can be ticking along quite happily and then life trips you up quite spectacularly! Hence my blog absence for awhile and it may be a little sporadic in the coming weeks so please be patient with me. It's nothing to do with my health I hasten to add (phew). Anyway, I apologise for the lengthy delay in updating you with my comings and goings and I still realise I haven't done my before and after weight loss post which I will.
But today I want to share with you some family news that's been happening over the last few weeks. Firstly, Alice left her secondary school in June, which sounds funny seeing she was still in primary school when I started this blog 5 and a half years ago (she will be going to a new school in September to do her A levels). In July she attended her Prom - such great anticipation! She had been talking about her dress for months, changing her mind on a weekly basis. She looked so grown up. She has suddenly matured in the last few weeks and is blossoming before our eyes. Can it just slow down a bit please?
Then we had Tom's graduation...can you honestly believe 3 years has gone by?? Anth, me and Granny went to the ceremony and our hearts nearly burst with pride. It hasn't been an easy ride for him but he stuck at
And whilst Tom was graduating, Lucy was sitting her driving test for the first time. Oh boy, the stress!!! 'Crikey dick' as my NZ father-in-law would say. But...she passed!! Yes folks, there were no otters on the roads that day so she passed! Woo hoo! And she HATED every blooming minute of learning to drive - though when she reads this she'll say, "No, I didn't!" But between you and me she moaned constantly. Every. Time. But we are also so very pleased and proud of her too.
Just wish we could afford to insure her now...
Anth and I are looking forward to a child-free weekend (yeesss!!) which means some high jinks are in order. Bring it on....
I got my knitting needles out last week after buying this;
and I was absolutely thrilled, THRILLED to find the 'Bloomer clothes hanger cover' I saw on Lisa's blog Mrs Bobo Bun and quickly got to work.
I can see my needles will be busy for a long time to come.
On the home front, Tom has come home. Yes, he has finished university..where have those 3 years gone?? Remember this post back in 2008? Well today Alice had to remove all her doilies and Justin Bieber posters and return the room back to it's original state. Scary. Now I am a mother with 3 children at home again until Lucy leaves for medical school in September. Alice left school last week. Tom meanwhile is looking for work...I wish time would just stand still for a moment so Anth and I could just relish the noise and laughter for a little while longer. Ah, but certainly not the mess.
my new cheap as chips dress(£5 from Primark). Just customised it by changing the buttons for some vintage ones and adding a ribbon and voila a little dress that looks like it could have graced the 50's. Well sort of!
Coldplay's new single coming out tomorrow - though I'm bracing myself for disappointment as I don't think they have really ever improved on Parachutes and Rush of Blood To The Head years ago.
::still laughing about::
The other week at school we were practising SATs papers before the end of term assessment. I had to take 4 six/seven year old children out of class to read the paper for them. When I came to Question 3, I paused...smiled.. and had to quietly sing the question..."Look at the stars,....and then added... look how they shine for you...!"
The children burst out laughing. Chris Martin. He gets everywhere doesn't he?
finally being able to drive the lanes in sunshine.
A few months ago I happened upon this wonderful vintage flowery sheet. It was quite faded in the middle but was far too beautiful and precious a find to pass up - besides I knew exactly what I would do with it.
Pillowcases. As if I needed anymore. I have come to realise that for me pillowcases are the equivalent of shoes and chocolate for other (normal) women! Saddo! Don't the flowers look great with my lilac candy stripe pillowcase? Makes my mouth water.
So it only took months to get around to making these and get my sewing machine out. First time this year but it was good - mainly because I managed to get access to the dining room table due to there not being a teenager/student hogging it.
:: looking for Goldcrests on Easter Saturday ::
We went to Ludlow for Easter to stay with my father and my younger brother Matthew joined us. During a rare break in church services we went on a Goldcrest hunt - (this being the bird Matthew and I are most keen to see) but didn't see any. The photos however, are hilarious of us scanning the treetops looking quite ridiculous. I burst out laughing when I look at them. My sweetest Ant looks the silliest..mmm perhaps though it could be Matthew..
:: Watching loved ones at 'the wedding' :: - so exciting and I loved Kate's dress.
So loved the most beautiful painted roof in the Guardian Angels Chapel
:: Gorgeous houses, window boxes and wisteria of Richmond ::
..and where do I start? I've pinned myself down onto the sofa for some blogging time, still in my pjs at 10.42am but you won't tell I'm sure.
Firstly, I have wonderful news - the answer to many, many prayers - you may remember this post written in March last year all about Lucy not getting a place to read medicine at university despite good grades. Well this year she has taken a gap year and has 2.5 jobs and is learning to drive (that is not going so well despite the lack of otters!) and has reapplied. We found out a month ago that she been successful in getting a place after an interview she'd had at the beginning of January. You may have even heard me squeal when she rang me to tell me the good news! I'm so grateful to God for His answer to prayer and His faithfulness.
On the first weekend of April we went to Salisbury to celebrate Alice's 16th birthday, Matthew's 40th and Mothering Sunday.
Alice is 16 - gee whizz. When I started this blog she was 10 - look at this early post - she was still at primary school and in a few short weeks she will be leaving her secondary school. I haven't done her birthday portrait yet, but she is looking so grown up. She is studying like mad for her GSCE's which are next month.
Anth and I spent a lovely day together on Saturday. We caught the ferry over to Dartmouth
and had a mooch about. I had great delight in returning to a clothes shop that a year ago I couldn't fit into any of their clothes and got pitying looks from the shop assistants. This time around I could fit into their smallest but one size...(size 10) woo hoo! I promise I will do my weight loss post but I have to pin someone down to take some photos. I have no magic answers though - willpower, my medication and a restricted diet have helped me.
Then it was in the car and onto to Slapton Ley for a spot of bird watching. The drive was beautiful with the spring sunshine bathing the Devon countryside.
Hardly any birds were seen so when we got home we went to the bird hide where we saw the woodpecker and our usual friends for our bird fix. Then the next day I was struck down with a terrible cold which is lingering - just in time for the school holidays! Typical!
This is turning into a long and rambling post so I will leave you in peace now.
Hope all is well with you dear friends.
Has it really been a week already? Where does time go? It hasn't really been an easy week for my little family and I have had to call upon all of my 20 years (nearly 21!) of mothering experience to get me through - but I still seem not to make things better sometimes. Exams, auditions, university interviews etc the pressure is on in this house and it's awful being so helpless.
But that's what I signed up for all those years ago..but crikey dick (as my sweetest father-in-law says in his NZ accent) who knew it was going to be so hard as they got older! Not me. I thought the sleep deprivation for 12 years was pretty bad but worrying about their future happiness...well.
But enough of that now let's talk flowery Pip Studio towels shall we? Can you spot my new one? I was naughty and bought another on Saturday as we need to replace some of our towels but I don't think Anth was quite thinking Pip Studio...hmmm!
It's the white one. The pink one was my Mothering Sunday present last year. I do love it again better than the Cath ones.
I was given these wonderful booklets at school last week at our Ash Wednesday service and I was most impressed. They contain over 40 small things to do over Lent - so instead of giving something up you can do something meaningful instead. Read more from the website here www.livelent.net. We are doing some as a family.
Each daily action is one of 5 catagories - a home or family action; a workplace/school action; an environmental action; a community-focused action; a global action; and an action to encourage you to take time out for prayer and stillness in the week. Simple but effective.
My coathanger love is still much in evidence. This one was finished last week
I'm not following a particular pattern (for Maggie who asked last week) I just make a foundation chain of about 10 to 13 stitches depending on how wide I want it. Then I either double crochet or single crochet (US terms) the length of the hanger. Be warned. Simple but addictive. It's a very portable project as well. I love that too.
Bird news this week...very exciting..probably even better than last week really...this Sunday in the bird hide we saw a Great Spotted Woodpecker and some Nuthatches. I was so thrilled to see the Woodpecker though. The bird hide seems to be our weekly date. I get teased about it. As I don't drink and my ideal date at the moment is the bird hide in the local woods you can imagine I get a lot of leg pulling about it! Thing is Anth loses interest after 30 minutes but I could stay for ages. Come to think of it, I think it was the lure of the rugby on Sunday! Unfortunately, all is quiet at my feeders at home, I think it's the pesky magpies (we've got 4 of them) shooing everything away.
Another recent charity shop purchase I'm loving is this vintage woollen pink blanket all the way from Scotland.
It's just what this girl needs as I spend 99% of the time freezing. My feet actually make the bed cold! Anth thinks it has a slight hospital look to it but needs must.
Well, it's that or have my feet on him...and I know what he would prefer.
Until next time xxx
Hello - sorry for the long absence. Life is just so busy and sometimes my priorities have to lie elsewhere. I hope you understand.
But here I am with some things that are making me happy at the moment.
Crocheting coathangers covers...I'm so totally loving this at the moment and I can finish one in a couple of nights! Yes, me actually finish something. Heavens!
Last weekend I experienced a 'first'. Matthew came to stay and we went to our local bird hide and look what we saw - a Bullfinch! Our first, and what a handsome chap he was, much more orange than he looks in the photo. I was most excited. Matthew even sees Goldfinches in his Winchester garden...sigh...even though I have nyjer seed in one of my ahem..many feeders I doubt I will ever get any. Or even a Bullfinch for that matter, but at least I have seen my first.
What I call the yearly bluebell cover of Country Living is out. They usually do a bluebell shoot around this time and it's my favourite because bluebells are my favourite flowers. Isn't it lovely? I do love their styling - they get it just right.
We have been bathed in sunshine these last few days which has also made me happy. It's amazing what a little bit of sun can do to your spirits can't it? I hope your week has been made up of some happy things too xx
First, I must thank you for such kind comments about my previous post and such boot love! I haven't been able to respond sooner as we have been in Ludlow for a week. My fab-u-lous ribbon-love boots are Dr Martens Triumph 1914. Expensive yes but worth every penny. You do need to allow yourself an extra 20 minutes to lace up the ribbons though but the ribbons 'make' them. My dress was bought from Totnes market and is from Zara Basic. Tights are from Marks & Spencer. I will do a seperate post about my weight loss and my new dresses. xxxxxx
One of my favourite things to do at school is listen to 'news'. This is where the children share anything they feel is interesting with the rest of the class. I love it, mainly because I get to know the children a little better but also because I'm nosey! Anyway, after Christmas we usually do the 'what did you get/do for Christmas thing' and of course I like to have my turn and I told them all about my special coat.
They were all really excited to see this special coat that Mr Goble had surprised me with, but unfortunately the weather had been rainy for ages and velvet coats (with added silk!) that need dry cleaning don't do rain. But hurray, the other week there was a dry day so the coat came to school with me.
It was treated like a celebrity. The moment I walked into the classroom they remembered. Ten pairs of hands immediately started stroking.
"Are your hands clean? I ask trying not to panic.
Later that morning I go out on playground duty. There are children coming up to me with milk cartons that need opening, oranges and bananas that need peeling and horror of horrors..snot. Rivers of it. The cry was heard many times "Don't touch the coat - I need to check your hands first!" Honestly, I was nearly grey by the time playtime was over.
Later that day I went to put my coat on and went to get it from it's special 'hidden under the desk on a chair out of harms reach' place only to discover this resting on it.
"Mum, would you pose for me for my GSCE (photography) coursework?"
"Well, are you sure one of your friends wouldn't be more suitable?"
"Not really, it will be good to have someone different."
"Mmm, well OK."
I await my instructions.
"Right, can you just sit and not smile."
Oh dear, that is not a challenge I usually win. We start.
The corners of my mouth twitch.
I cover my face..
"Mum, don't. Be serious."
"Sorry." Deep breath.
"Stop laughing! Try to look away and then look at me. I'll count to 3.."
I didn't even make 2.
"Look try and control yourself.." getting more cross.
"I can't help it!" I giggle.
"Can you do this at all without being silly?!! Let's try one more time."
I try to think of sad things.
It didn't work. We gave up.
She's going to try with Lucy who is a much more suited to be in front of the camera and I'm going to practise trying to keep a straight face when I told to!
Phew - they are finally up and it's only taken at least 5 or 6 years and the most part of the last 2 weeks. It all started with Caroline Zoob's kitchen curtains back in 2003 (written about in this post in 2006) and then a chance buy of my own on ebay not long after. Not quite as faded and beautiful as Caroline's but hey it's a start.
The piece measured 1 metre square with all the paper templates still sewn in and looked like spaghetti junction at the back. It still does really but I didn't want to line them as I felt it would block the light shining through which makes them look like jewels.
Most of the paper templates had been sewn into the actual patchwork and were a nightmare to remove and I won't tell you how long I have been removing tiny threads! And should I tell you I 'lost' them? I turned our freezing attic upside down for 3 hours trying to find them 2 weeks ago only to discover they were downstairs all along..what a saga! But today I finally put them up. Yay!
..lay in bed for just a little bit longer .
Wore a skirt instead of a dress. Shock.
Actually saw a Greenfinch in the garden for the first time. Oh the excitement - not that you can see it or any birds in the photo for that matter!
Drove to Sainsburys my favourite way - the lanes way.
And now it's time for some sewing in front of the fire. Bliss...
Oh my. Buttons. I'm so, so, so loving vintage buttons at the moment. Over the last few months I seem to have changed every button on most of my coats and cardigans and I love it. I'm loving the finding of buttons from charity shops (so love that bit!); then the choosing of what goes with what; and then the fact that my clothes are just that little bit different.
And the buttons - my collection is growing. I sit for hours in the corners of charity shops, often on the floor, with their button tins and a hopeful heart. This was me last Saturday taken by secretly by Lucy who was playing with my phone. *Note rather large bag of wooden coat hangers in second photo (it got fuller, see last post for hanger details!)
I have found some beauties. I didn't think anyone could get quite so excited over buttons, but I do. If I feel a little low I just think about either going on a charity run to hunt some down or look through my own tins and glass jars and get a little giddy at my collection! Saddo..! Want a peak at my stash? Bear in mind you cannot see every glorious button but there some hiding in there.
We will start with the glass ones - with the odd plastic one too.
Then move onto my smallish favourites in my rosie tin
Isn't it a beautiful tin?
My slightly bigger vintage beauties should be in my Coronation tin but I'm needing a sort out due to a rather steady influx of buttons recently. O.b.s.e.s.s.i.o.n.
And then probably my favourite, favourite..the jar of pearl buttons. I wish I could show you some of the unusual shaped ones- they make my day when I find one of those - but I fear you are probably in some sort of stupor already!
I have the most wonderful vintage diamanté buttons on my black cardi which I wear constantly (cardi cost £6 from Primark, buttons cost £5 at a flea market!) but hard as I tried they wouldn't photograph in this terrible light.
So, if you see a woman sprawled out on the floor, or snuck in a corner with her head in a tin in the next charity shop you visit; perhaps dressed like Elton John - do come and say hello!
:: 5 things I would like to do today ::
(Gee whizz - reading this back I sound ancient! I'm content with a rather boring, sedate life! This the lifestyle of a granny not someone who's 'on fire' as in 'Whoa, Jane Goble's on fire..er' Should I mention I love the Antiques Roadshow too. Damn. I probably ruined my chances with Chris Martin now!
:: 5 things I have listened to in the last few days ::
:: 5 things I've watched in the last few days ::
:: 5 things that have made me laugh in the last few days ::
:: 5 things I have loved the last few days ::
Ahh, sparkles...I am always on the look out for extra sparkles for my chandeliers but if and when I ever find some they are quite expensive or I can only find one or two droplets. Oh the heartbreak. Then, my friends, around my birthday at the end of November I discovered the most wonderful, wonderful shop in Exeter called Otto.
Yes, this shop has been there for a long, long time and people have said to me "What, you didn't know about it - it's so you!??" and "I can't believe you've never been , it's right up your street."..blah blah blah...
Well, I went.
Oh such treasures. I also found a large glass jar of droplets. Heart in mouth I asked how much they were, expecting anything from £1 to £5 each only to be told they were 50p. Ooh. Not having much money on me I picked out 4 and went up to the counter to pay. The owner who I had been chatting with for sometime (the sweetest American lady) then told me that I may have them as a 'welcome to Otto' gift as it was my first visit. Such kindness.
I then spent the next few weeks kicking myself for not going back later that day and buying more.
Tom, Lucy, Alice and Matthew went up to Exeter between Christmas and New Year and I asked (read begged) them to go and see if they could buy me some more. Surely they would still be there. "Buy as many as you can!" I whispered to Lucy and I will pay you back (yes my daughter has 3 jobs and has more money than me!) She came home with the above brown paper bag with 25!! Yes that was Twenty Five. Most of the jar had been sold (darn it for not going back that day) and that lovely owner (I might even marry her) said to Lucy that she may as well have all the rest for £5! Some of them needed fixing but I still loved them.
Holy Moly I have loved that brown paper bag of five pounds worth of glass. It has just been sitting by my corner for a while so I could just peep into it, smile and imagine what my chandeliers will look like. Then they were all lovingly washed; new wire added where necessary and today was the day they were put on the downstairs chandelier by the front door.
Not such an easy job on the old arms I can tell you.
Hello! Ready for collection number 2? It's not a large collection as some of my collections can be (ahem, we won't mention my pillowcases shall we! It took me 2 hours just to sort out one and a half shelves of my linen cupboard the other day..and it's only a small cupboard!) - but it's growing. I can fit them into these two glass pots so really it's quite tame for my standards.
Hair grips - I used to buy them for Lucy and Alice, but over the last few months I have been keeping them for myself. In fact I've stopped wearing earrings and started wearing hair grips. How funny is that!
I seem to favour sparkly ones - no surprise there - and looking at them all I have to laugh because 50% of them are actually children's hair accessories as you have probably guessed. I would like to get some more - particularly some dark purple to go with THE coat and perhaps some green ones and obviously some with my favourite aurora borealis stones in them. Anyone know where you can buy good hair grips?
So between choosing what dress I'm going to wear in the morning, perhaps a necklace, then what tights and lastly what hair grips - it's surprising I get to work at all!