Saturday, December 28, 2013

A List of Nice Things

I have a note on my phone titled ‘Nice Things for Me to Do’.  About 18 months ago I decided to try and do something nice, just for me, each month.  They didn’t need to be big things, just nice things that weren’t work or business related (all work and no play etc etc). 
Looking back at the list I can see that I managed to do something most months; some were planned in advance and some just happened, some were with friends and some were by myself. 

They included 3 theatre visits (I also saw Billy Elliot but didn't have a photo), 2 exhibitions, finding a dragon, the Sudbury Light Night, walking in a blue bell wood, discovering a lovely new garden, trips to Snape and the seaside, our annual trip to the Knitting & Stitching Show and a lovely evening in London meeting up with my cousin and his family over from America who I hadn't seen for 10 years. (I also did a wonderful 'bat walk' one evening with a friend but didn't take any pictures!)

I already have some things planned for 2014, including 2 trips to the theatre in London (going last year reminded me how much I love this), going to the Textile in Focus exhibition in Cottenham (I couldn’t go last year as it was during a work week) and a possible visit to the fashion museum. I also know that we’ll go to K and S again and that many other things will just happen spontaneously throughout the year.

Writing them down has made me realise what a lovely year I’ve had - here’s to another lovely one next year, for all of you as well as me.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

What No Christmas tree?

Shock, horror - no christmas tree?  "But you must have a tree!" said many of my work colleagues when I said I was planning on doing things differently this year.  I'm not a huge fan of Christmas decorations but I did want something, so I decided to keep things much simpler this year and this is what I've done.

I picked the red stems of cornus elegantisma from the garden, wrapped some lights around them and hung a few small gold or wooden decorations from them, including some gold skeleton leaves.

The table candles have been given a wrap of ivy (my garden has loads!),

and the stairs have their usual garland.

I sprayed some agapanthus seed heads (again from the garden) and put them in a vase with lights and gold chains (next to Mrs Bovver Boots Angel),

added some more ivy above some pictures and mirrors and put some of the unused baubles onto a platter.

It's simpler, it's more me, and I'm happy!  Now I still need to tackle wrapping presents and doing some cooking, oh and watch the Strictly final too :-)

Happy Christmas everyone - have a wonderful time whatever you're doing.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Wrap Me Up!

Hello, it's me, I'm still here! I'd like to tell you that I've been really busy making lots of wonderful Christmas presents and decorating the house beautifully - but I haven't. I've been really busy at work (with the day job) and really busy with our business, The Treasure Tree (hope to have some news about exciting new developments to share with you in the new year).

So what would any sane person, who has done very little so far for Christmas do on a free evening?  Probably not block their knitting which was what I did!

This blocking called for wires, but I don't have any proper blocking wires so I made some from this:

Garden wire!  It was a bit bendy and difficult to control but I got there in the end.  And after leaving it to block overnight this is what I've got.

Blocking it so severely has given it a lovely drape and it's going to be just the thing to wrap up in during the cold weather.  The pattern is Guernsey Wrap by Brooklyn Tweed, and I treated myself and used their yarn which I bought from Loop.  I've never been to the Loop shop, but intend to change that during 2014!

Now I really must go and do some Christmas bits - there's still loads of time isn't there?!

Friday, November 29, 2013

It Started With A .......

Tweet.  This tweet actually.

I'd spied two key words - 'free' and 'multiyork'.  I had a multiyork sofa in my previous house and I loved it. Sadly it wouldn't fit in this house so I had to get rid of it.  I still miss it and in a few years time I plan to buy another, but having owned it I knew that multiyork are a:  built to last, and b: have removable and replaceable covers. So after a few more tweets I set off to Nicola's (only about 40 mins away) and returned home with the chair.

After a run through the washing machine (yes they said 'dry clean only' but I took a risk) and a few days drying, the chair was given the feline seal of approval before it had even got into the lounge!

It's now in residence in the lounge, covered in a throw whilst I decide what fabric to get new covers in, and looking very 'right' for the room :-)

But this meant that I had to find a home for the other (cheap, temporary) chair that had been there in the lounge for the last 5 years.  In my brain a plan was hatching - in the dining room there's a space under the stairs,  which had always been home to the stereo (rarely used now thanks to itunes) and the shoe basket etc.

After a little re-arranging of the dining room furniture the oak coffer is now in situ on the other side of the room and this is what the space under the stairs now looks like

Somewhere snuggly to sit and read.

Thanks Nicola for the chair - and good luck with the shop move in the new year.

Monday, November 18, 2013

No More Burnt Hands

A little while ago I was given a very cute little enamel saucepan with a metal handle - cue lots of 'ouching' as the handle gets very hot and using a tea towel to hold it is a bit risky as it tends to catch in the gas!

So at the weekend I had a lovely few hours sifting through fabric scraps to and sewing them together to make a pot holder.

A mix of vintage and new,

quilted, backed and edged.

No more burnt hands

and it looks rather nice hanging up too.

I also made this card for my Dad's birthday, from silk tops and threads worked together on the embellisher with beads and wire hand stitched on.

I hope he likes it as the beads made it too thick for a standard stamp and it cost me a fortune to post it!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Autumn's March.

My garden is quite sheltered and, although we've had some over night frost on the cars, the garden seems to have escaped so far.  It is however full of the berries, hips and seed heads that signify that autumn is well and truly marching on.

The rose hips are wonderful colours and shapes,

The miscanthus grass seed heads are being pecked at daily by the birds 

and I love the wackiness of the clematis seed heads,  a cross between a bad hair day and a tutu!

The detail in the monarda seed heads is amazing if you look carefully

and the bright orange berries from the Iris Foetidissima (Stinking Iris) are wonderfully bright.

The viberunum is flowering and the scent wafts up the garden as I approach the greenhouse

and the berries of the honeysuckle

and the ampelopsis look almost good enough to eat! (I think the birds have already eaten lots of these blue ampelopsis berries already as there aren't many left)

But then there are some oddities too.  There are bedding fuchsias still flowering

and roses too.

It's as if they are trying to cling on to summer and resist the march of autumn.  I wonder how long they'll manage it for.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

After the Storm

Yesterday's storm passed through here with very little immediate effect - a few branches down in the street and that was about it.  But a 5 min walk to the river Stour today showed just what power it had.

Willows have been cracked and snapped.

Some have already been cleared from the path and cut up - left for wildlife to snuggle down in during winter I hope.

But it wasn't just willows that were damaged, across on the other bank a broader leaved tree (an alder I think) has had a limb snapped and is resting in the river.

I was pleased to see that the swan family were ok, although there was only 1 adult around today (if you enlarge the picture you might be able to see the now rather large cygnets in the background).

Today everything had returned to a restful calm.

The trains are still not running and there was no sign of anyone clearing the branches up from the line (I guess as a single track branch line we don't have priority) - I wonder how long it will be before they're back?

I hope you all survived the storm ok.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Apple Days

I don't have any apple trees in my garden but the house next door but one does.  When I moved here an elderly gentleman called Arthur lived there, he'd planted the trees many years ago. Arthur died a few years ago and his house is now rented to a very pleasant young couple who have absolutely no interest in their garden at all so they let my neighbour and I pick as many apples as we like.

Yesterday, mindful of an approaching storm, we picked the final ones.  

One of the trees we think is an egremont russet

One is possibly a cox

And one is totally unidentified; a redish, very juicy eater

But the best of all are the cookers.  

They are much sweeter than normal cookers and hardly need any sugar at all but we have no idea which variety they are.  They're the size of a bramley but yellower in colour - anyone know what variety they could be?

I made chutney from some of the windfalls

And will freeze some of the other cookers for use over the winter, but I'll keep some to bake later, filled with some dried fruit and brandy - yum!

Friday, October 18, 2013

And the Winner Is...

It's been a bit of a busy week and I'd meant to draw the winner of the needle case on Wed but, better late than never, tonight I drew the winning name out of the cup.

Cathy Daniel of Potter Jotter is the winner.  Cathy, if you email me your address I'll get it into the post for you.