Hello ........... You o.k? Perhaps you're sitting with a cup of tea, having a quick break from the chores, or work, or whatever? I'm sitting here, with my tea, in a multi-coloured spotted mug, having a little break from work. You may already know that I work from home, and have a studio in one of the rooms in our house? Yes? Perhaps you work from home too? The other day someone asked me if I ever get lonely, and I could answer that immediately, with great confidence. No, I never get lonely at home on my own. I'm not strictly on my own. I've got the dogs, but a lot of their time during the day, they are baby-sat by our neighbor, who I think wishes they were her dogs! Even when the dogs aren't here, I don't get lonely. I love being at home, and I love being in my studio, painting and drawing. Being in my little world, which is very secure, very safe, and very, very happy.
The photo above is the view from my desk, in my studio. Shame about those buildings the other side of the wall! It's the job centre, and sometimes I see people moving around inside. I find myself wondering if they ever sit there and look at me, working at my desk. There's something fascinating about each of us being able to see each other. Unless I have the blind down, because of the direct sunlight.
When I first moved into my studio, and positioned the desk infront of the window, I had a debate with myself about what I should put on the window sill in front of me. A debate? You might ask? It's not as strange as you might think! A window sill can be a depository for lots of distracting things, and distraction isn't good for me. So, at first it was completely empty. But that seemed a bit harsh, and totally uninspiring. Then I tried out various bits and bobs, postcards, ornaments. But I worried about them being damaged by the sun. So my bowls I use to mix large quantities of watercolour in, seemed to be the solution. I love these bowls. They're a mix of old french coffee bowls, and cheap and cheerful buys. The same with the jugs, which somehow made their way onto the window sill.
And no worries about sun damage with these, as far as I know.
Untill this morning, I've resisted putting flowers in the jugs............. if there's one thing I find distracting, and positively lethal to my concentration, it's flowers. I find myself sitting and staring at them, looking at how they're positioned in the vessel, which makes me want to stop work and paint them. Not good! Which is what was happening before I broke off from work to have a cuppa and a chat with you!
You know what I forgot to mention? The radio! That's one of the primary reasons I'm never lonely, I have Radio 4 for company. How could I forget my beloved Radio 4?! That station is a huge part of my life. I listen to the presenters voices, and have images of what they look like. I listen to the plays, the programmes, and my day is mapped for me. I know it's lunch time soon, because 'You and Yours' has come on. At the finish of the afternoon play, it's three p.m. Only an hour till my cup of tea! Radio 4 is like a friend, which might sound strange, but never-the-less, is true.
I think I'm very fortunate to be so contented and happy, aren't I? And to be doing a job I love. It's a shame I can't show you what I'm working on at the moment. I have to wait untill it's published before I can do that. I was just thinking about my crochet. Thank you so much for all your wonderful comments, you've all been spoiling me rotten with comments over the last week or so, it's been very exciting! I've been asked for the pattern for my crocheted granny quares, which on reflection, I can give you without breaching anyone's copyright. Because my square is partly a pattern that is a classic pattern, and one which seems to be in all the crochet books, so I'm guessing it's not a copyrighted pattern. And it's partly a pattern I've cobbled together from various different patterns I've seen, so in the process I suppose I've made it my creation, and again, I won't be breaching anyone's copyright by telling you all about it in a blog post. So I feel safe to tell you all about it, which I'm very much looking forward to! I thought I'd do the full picture and explanation thing, so that hopefully, anyone can do the pattern, whatever level they're at. That will take a bit of time to put together. So how do you feel about me working on it over the weekend? Then I'll put it on the blog for you next week? How would that be? Would you like that? I'll give you all the details of the yarn I've used, and any other info I think might be useful too. I'm so pleased I've been asked for the pattern, I can't tell you how great that makes me feel! Anyway my good friends, the doggies need a walk, and then I need to finish the painting I'm working on, I'm determined to finish it today. I'll have to love you and leave you I'm afraid. Love Vanessa xxx
Hello! I'm saying that in a very, very cheery mood because the sun is shining today! Doesn't it make such a difference when the sun is shining? Even if you have to be indoors most of the day for work, like I do, along with millions of other people on this planet, it's still sunny outside, and I don't know about you, but I can still enjoy the sun whilst being indoors.
For a long time now, I've admired all those crochet blankets people show on their blogs. I love them, and when I see them it makes me feel happy. I also seemed to spend a lot of time wishing I had, or could make a crochet blanket. I always felt it was something beyond my capabilities, so the whole crochet blanket phenomenon that is going on out there in blogland, seemed like a fantastic great big club that I desperately wanted to join, but thought was impossible. I've done a lot of free-style crochet, just using the single crochet stitch to make sculptural jewellery (which I must show you some time). But I'd never followed a pattern. When I first started crocheting I attempted to make a granny square following a pattern, but it all went terribly wrong, so I convinced myself I wasn't capable of reading a crochet pattern. Plus, there was the expense of all the yarn. It all seemed like a very costly endeavor to me.
Then something happened. In the process of doing the decoration and moving studio, I had to sort through my yarn stash, which I love and hate doing. I love doing the sorting, because I get to look at all my yarn, which is very precious to me. I hate sorting through my yarn stash because it's terrifying how much I have, and I'm always seized with a huge sense of guilt that I haven't used it yet. Then all of a sudden, I had a moment of revelation. I no longer needed to feel guilty about my yarn stash, because I could use it to do my longed-for project! A crochet blanket! I have absolutely no idea why this did not occur to me before............. maybe I had it fixed in my mind that I would have to buy special wool for doing a crochet blanket?
So I dug out all the double knit yarn, and assessed the situation. Yep, could get started, definately................ So exciting that moment, I can't begin to describe it properly, other than it being a tight little ball in the pit of my stomach. It was easy to find my crochet book on squares, it was right beside my bed, because it's a book I looked through every night, gazing at wistfully, and dreaming about which squares I liked, and would crochet, if only I was capable. The next stage was to learn how to follow the pattern I'd chosen.
It's always slightly uncomfortable learning a new skill, but like with unscrambling knitting patterns when I first started to learn to knit, it was much the same with the crochet pattern. Back and forth from the pattern to the instruction pages, bit tedious, bit frustrating. But got there eventually. And now following the pattern is not a problem I'm enjoying myself very much!
This radiator in our bedroom is a very comfy place to sit and crochet, when it has a cushion on it. I should drag the arm chair over to face the window, then it would be like sitting on a cloud, that arm chair is very comfortable. I draw back the net curtain completely so I can watch people walking by with their dogs, put the radio on, make sure my cup of tea is easily accessible, and hey presto! I'm happy, as happy can be!
I started the blanket with certain colours in mind. Basically, pink and green. Then I thought I should push myself to try other colours. Plus, to be honest, I got a little bored with using the same colours all the time. I've introduced darker colours, and blue, to tone all the bright colours down a bit. But my heart really lies with the brighter colours, I must be honest.
It's all about the colour isn't it? I know I've said that before, but it really is. While I'm crocheting I'm on something like a colour high! My fingers might be aching, but I'm hungry for colour, colour, colour! I'm now addicted to doing this blanket, which is probably destined to go on our bed. My knitting now takes second place. That's a bit shocking to me, as I used to be addicted to knitting! It must be the colour thing that has got me hooked. And of course, now I'm a member of the club aren't I?! The sisterhood of the crochet blanket! I'm so happy to have become a crochet sister! It's fantastic!! Oh, and incase you think you can't become a crochet sister, because you can't read the patterns, I have to say, if I can do it, ANYONE can! See you all tomorrow, I don't know with what, but I'm looking forward to it! Love Vanessa xxx
Hello! Your weather been playing up too? We had a weekend of pure, unadulterated sunshine, and now it's back to wellington boots and winter woolies! I don't know! Anyway, if you are experiencing drizzle and damp, let me try and cheer you up with the photos I took from this weekend just gone. What a weekend! I finished Friday, longing for laziness and languishing, with lots of crafty crocheting. And I got it! All the things we did, (and there seemed to be loads), were done lazily and languishingly. Honestly, we had a busy lazy weekend. And the weekend felt lovely and long, which it never does when we cram our weekends full of activities, (activities that aren't carried out in a relaxed fashion).
We spent a fair amount of time enjoying the garden, the sunshine, the decision to relax. Do you like my table cloth? A charity shop find from last year, which I love, but don't get to use much, because we're not blessed much with blazing sunshine. Maybe this year is going to give us lots of sitting out in the sun days. And maybe you're curious about the crocheted granny square? Meet my new obsession! A granny square blanket for our bed. I feel a bit like, why did I not know about this particular addiction before?! It's all about the colours isn't it? The blanket element is a nice part of it of course, the fact that this blanket will be displayed on our bed, is great, and I'm sure I'll have a sense of achievement when I've finished, but it's the colour! Playing with colour is such fun isn't it? This granny square on the table in the above photo, is me using colours I don't normally go for that much, so it's not very representative of the general colour palette of the blanket. I was trying to use cooler colours to tone the scheme of things down, but it's not one of my favourite squares. I'll show you what I've been up to in the crochet department later on this week.
Anyway, back to the languishing. On Saturday morning, we did something we rarely do. We languished in bed listening to the radio, and while I crocheted, Hugo played on his brain train game. There is nothing more decadent feeling in my book, than just lying in bed, the doggies at our feet, listening to radio 4, and crocheting or knitting. And when I went down stairs to breakfast, I could see more languishing going on. I'm just going to ask you a quick question about the above photo. Do you think there's a strange trading of places going on here? With the dogs sitting on the window seat, and Hugo on the floor?!
After breakfast we all had a stroll on the beach. And kept on remarking to each other, "I can't believe this weather! It's glorious!" We just never tired of using these words. All the way along the beach, while picking up stones and sea glass, listening to the waves roll and the gulls keeling overhead.
That's Douglas, curious about the tide coming in. The tide advancing is a strange sight to behold, because it creeps along, finding its way through gulleys in the sand. It's amazingly quick too.
Here's Hugo. I wonder what on earth he's up to? I'll let you in on the mystery. He's making a sort-of box for the window sill. The window sill slopes down, so it's not great for putting plants on. I'll show you the finished thing, which I think is impressive, later on in the week.
Then another walkies, for us and the doggies. On our way to the river bank was the above scene of desruction, a massive landslide.
From the other side of the river we could see the full impact of the landslide. Apparently the road at the top just collapsed. It's so fortunate that no one was hurt, and no houses destroyed.
Apart from the shock of seeing the landslide, this was the most glorious, peaceful walk. We had the river bank all to ourselves, not another soul crossed our path........... I think Dandelion Clocks are magical, don't you?
We'd not walked along this part of the river bank before. We usually walk along the other side of the river, so it was nice to get a different view of the river, and come across this kissing gate. It felt like a bit of a find, such a lovely duck egg blue, and so beautifully designed.
Here's a clearer picture of it. Isn't it quaint? I like quaint things.
Strangely, Ellie and Douglas refused to go through the gate, even though it was possible for them to do so. So that's why Hugo is carrying them. That's Ellie in the photo above, my little girl! Posing beautifully for the camera!
I just had to show you the blossom on the trees. Then it was home for a cup of tea, a read of the paper, and some more crocheting for me. I have to say, leisurely days don't get much better than this. And the day was not yet over, and it was only Saturday! Life just gets better and better.
And our day was to end just as perfectly, with a barbeque, and eating out in the garden, whilst the light faded.
We always have a lit candle on the table when we're eating our evening meal. It just makes it so much more cosy, and conducive to relaxing. So I wizzed around gathering the candle and a few tea lights for our table. It was the perfect evening. Good food, candlelight, quiet. Even the Seagulls were calm as they got ready to settle down for the night.
We sat chatting, bundled up in woolly hats and warm coats, while it got darker, and chillier. Sometimes we just listened to the night descend.
Next morning, we woke to blazing sunshine! Breakfast in the garden, a browse of the paper, a bit of crocheting, and we were ready to venture out. There was a 'crank up' on at our local honey farm. I don't know if this is the official term for a vintage car rally?! We went last year, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, so thought we'd return. It's held in a huge field.
I'm sure there were more vehicles there, than last year.
I know nothing about cars, so I just admire them for things like their colour, their shape, how wonderfully retro they are, or their interior decor.
I'm not sure for certain, but I think that little green car furthest away in the photo above is a Morris Minor. Morris Minors are the sort of cars that make you go "aaahhhh". And, "I want one of those, I can just imagine trundling around in one of those". Of course, they don't have heating. I guess that makes them a summer months car in these modern times!
I liked the way this mans trouser leg matched the interior of his car!
This gorgeous green ambulance was my favourite vehicle on show. That green! I love that green! And it has been beautifully cared for, it must be owned by someone very devoted to its well being. The colour and shape are wonderful, but wait till you see the inside! We had to go round the back for that.
Isn't the interior extraordinary? All the original fixtures and fittings, just fascinating.
And here's a closer look incase you wanted to see a bit more detail.
Here's another photo, just to give you the full picture!
Now this I would drive! So cute, this teeny weeny Fiat 500. And the bright red colour is fantastic, gives this minute car a huge personality don't you think? I got Hugo to stand next to it to give you an idea of just how tiny it is. So the crank up was great fun, but we left when it got so cold, it was too much. Now, who would like to see a PUPPY? A six week old Jack Russell called Binky?
Binky is a dinky little girl.
Binky is adorable!
Binky is owned by Hugo's sister and her family. And everyone has fallen in love with her.
How could you not fall for that sweet little face?
Of course, we all wanted to hold her, give her a cuddle.
It must have been a tiring day for little Binky, leaving her mum, and going home with a new family, who all wanted to love her and hold her and play with her. From the little I saw of Binky, I think she's going to be a super little doggy. Well, that's all folks! My lovely weekend in one post. I hope you enjoyed it, and that you'll return for a look at the crochet I've been doing, which I'm going to show in tomorrow's post. Till then, take care, and cheerio!
Hello! Welcome to a new week! I hope you had a lovely weekend? We had the wonderful weekend I'd hoped for, very relaxing, but at the same time, we seemed to do a lot...........hmmm, bit of a contradiction that, I know. I'm going to have to tell you all about our weekend tomorrow, because I promised you photos of the newly decorated bedroom today, and I want to deliver on my promise!
So here we go! Imagine you're standing in the doorway to the bedroom, this is what you'll see. Well, this is what you would have seen directly after I had tidied up for the photos. It's quite scarily tidy isn't it? if it makes you feel any better, it was tidy like this for the photos, special occasion you see. It's normally a bit more relaxed looking.
Here's a photo just to give you a reminder of what the room used to look like! Gosh, there's quite a change isn't there? Actually, it pains me slightly to look at the photo above, because I find the old version of our bedroom quite depressing. Like the new colour in my studio, this new look in the bedroom has felt very positive. Our new bedroom actually feels cosy and happy, yes, a welcoming room to be in.
This is one of the quilts that I had hidden away in a drawer, under the spare bed. It's been there for years, and it's fantastic to finally be using it. The lady who sold it to me, told me it's a Bible Quilt. I'm in no way knowlegeable about quilts, the area is a beautiful mystery to me, so I don't know how common Bible Quilts are. (I should look it up on the internet shouldn't I? Rather than just languishing in complacent ignorance. I will look it up. Soon).
This quilt has quotes from the Bible printed in the white squares. Some of them are warnings not to be bad, some are about security. These quilts come with a lot of history don't they? Mystery history. Because I don't know who made this quilt, I can only imagine that person lived in a very devout household. (I just did a quick search on google about Bible Quilts, but the information I found only had floral designs, inspired by the Bible, nothing with printed text on them).
Anyway, you're probably wanting to get on with the tour aren't you? I'm going to do the 'wizzing round in a circle' thing, like I did when I showed you my studio in my last post. So off we go, anti-clockwise again. From the bed, we come to the wardrobe. This wardrobe is huge by-the-way, but it doesn't look it, because our bedroom is so large. It's a good six feet or so, can't quite remember.
Looks quite small doesn't it? This wardobe came from Scotland. The shop was a shack/warehouse in the middle of no-where, and we just chanced upon it. It was stuffed full of antiques mixed with junk. I saw this wardrobe, and I knew, that's it, that's the one. I'd been looking for a large wardrobe, and I'd found it in the wilds of Scotland! Luckily we didn't have to put it on the roof of our tiny car at the time. The dealer was coming our way with other furniture, and so he brought it down for us, dismantled into various sections. Hugo is used to the car being stuffed with my 'finds' on our holidays, but this would have been one step too far. I remember that shop we bought the wardrobe from well, because I came across a little black and white photo lying about. It was of Queen Victoria off-duty, I think she had a fishing rod or something. The man wouldn't sell it, which was a shame.
The little quilt you see in the above photo, is a Pram Quilt. So I imagine it's covered up numerous bonny wee babies in the past. Do you think a Mother sewed it while she was pregnant? It must have looked splendid in the pram. Or cot I suppose. If it was a pram, I'm imagining it to be an old fashioned Silver Cross pram, you know the one's that are more like carriages? This tiny quilt was a recent find, from our local curio shop. When we started to decorate our bedroom, we had no master plan. The main thing was to get the walls painted. Once that was done, well, the walls looked bare you know? I thought about the Bible Quilt I had stashed away, which was approved. Then on the off-chance, I brought out the remaining two quilts I had, all with the cream and red theme going on. We thought, well, why not try them? They were too big for the walls, so we lightly tacked them back, to make them fit the space better, and not over-power the room. Then I remembered seeing that Pram Quilt a few weeks back. It seemed like fate. Luckily it hadn't been bought. And now it's on our bedroom wall!
On we go. past the window. And on to the very, very comfy arm chair. It's so comfortable, I can see myself sitting there in the future, knitting or crocheting away happily, in that very peaceful room.
And there are the two other quilts. The one on the right was narrowed quite a bit. Those thick red stripes could have been too much, but I think it works o.k on a smaller scale. And the quilt above the fire place is actually my favourite, I just think it's so pretty. We had to reduce the size of that one too, by tacking it back with needle and thread.
It's slightly lop-sided, isn't it?! I think we can live with that, to be honest. I just can't be bothered to tweak it that centimetre or so!
I thought the finishing touch was my precious Deer. I bought the Stag and the Doe from a charity shop. When we returned from our outing, Hugo went on-line to find out more about them, and discovered there should be a Fawn in the group. So he went on to e-bay and secretly went into a fierce bidding war for a fawn he had found. And he won it! And it was a gift............ a complete surprise gift. I love this little family group, they're so beautiful, and delicate.
We've come full circle now.............. I forgot to mention the boarded up fire place! Well, that's a project for the future............ Big decision what kind of fire goes in there, we've been discussing it for years! But first we have to open up the fire place, and discover what lurks behind. I think we're avoiding doing that, if I'm honest.
And anyway, we need a rest from the decorating for a while. Still, it was worth it, our bedroom is a nice place to sleep now, and a lovely room to have a lie-in on a weekend. I love the combination of the red and blue. The red tones down the whoosh of bright blue, and the blue calms the red down so it's not too fiery. I do hope you've enjoyed this little tour........... it's not that often you get shown round someone's bedroom, is it?
Oh, I almost forgot, while I'm showing you our bedroom, why not show you my matching pyjamas?
See?! Matches the duvet cover! Not intentional when I bought them, I just love Gingham, and especially Gingham pyjamas. Another great happy coincidence!............ Hope you sleep well tonight, sweet dreams, and cheerio!
Love fom a sleepy Vanessa................ a cup of tea will sort that out xxx
Friday! Gosh, doesn't the week go quickly. Friday.......... (Please let this weekend be a weekend of gentle relaxation)............. we haven't finished hanging the quilts yet, so I'm very sorry, but I don't have any photos of the newly decorated bedroom for you. I promise, promise, promise I will put up photos for you on Monday afternoon. (Because I'm now putting up my blog in the afternoons, about four, or five-ish, more like five-ish, U.K. time. It's so it feels more real, and more enjoyable for me to write my day-to-day. Rather than what was beginning to feel like a series of essays, which I'd write the night before, and publish the following morning). So I thought I'd substitute pictures of the bedroom, with photos of my studio, which I should have really shown you a while a go. I kept on telling myself, as it wasn't quite finished, I couldn't show it, because I wanted it to look like one of those perfect studios you see on well known blogs.
This is the view from the door to my studio. I have to sheepishly admit, I did have a tidy before taking these photos, and a small amount of 'arranging' went on too!
Yep, it's about as tidy as it's ever going to be at this moment in time! It's a lot easier to keep tidy than my old studio, which I miss only a tiny bit. I love my new studio though. Those pink walls! I step inside, and the effect of the colour is "JOY"!
I'm going to take you on a 360 degree tour of the room now................ So, in the above photo we are standing in the doorway, looking in towards the left of the room. I'm now going to carry on taking you in an anti-clockwise spin.
Moving on round to my desk..............
............. My desk........... the window.............
My desk and the plan chests in the background. It is nice to have the plan chests in my studio. They didn't fit in my old work space, so whenever I needed a sheet of paper or whatever, I would have to fetch it from indoors, which isn't ideal in the pouring rain.
And glancing down to the floor, (breaking out of the 360 degree tour slightly), is a teeny tiny, itsy bitsy doggy. Douglas. He's always with me in the studio, Ellie, being the independent, fiesty little madam that she is, is usually somewhere else. Douglas is in his brand new polka dot bed. He had a really good long investigative sniff of it before he clambered in, very thorough he was. I wondered what on earth could be so fascinating in a new bed.
And on we spin, past the plan chests, round to the door. Oh look, there's all the stuff I dumped in the corridor to make my studio look tidy for the photographs, you can see through the doorway, not very good 'styling' that, is it?! We're coming to the part of the room where all the arranging took place. It's not quite finished, because I have stuff in boxes, waiting to be re-discovered. Maybe I should re-phrase that, I have more clutter waiting to clutter up my work space.
That shelving on wheels you can see in the above photo, it used to be brown. Brown didn't look right with the new look studio. So I went for bright turquoise, which felt a little frightening at the time. I even went through a "I don't know" stage............ But with things on it, and the shelves filled, the colour isn't so intimidating, it's gorgeous, (to me anyway!).
Some of the furniture in the above photo was in my old studio, some is newly acquired. Like the trolley with the Cath Kidston bag sitting on it. (My prize bag. A Birthday gift from my very generous sister). The trolley.......... well, that was a sale item from Ikea, once brown, now painted a blue colour. And the pink cabinet resting on the green cupboard? £45 from and antiques shop on our trip to North Yorkshire last month. I thought it was a good buy, and I didn't have to paint it, and I luv it............
My precious Cath Kidston bag is also doing a reasonably good job of hiding the ugly photocopier............... We're almost full circle............
Full circle! So there you go! The new studio on display! I hope you enjoyed the tour? Now for the weekend, which, in my head, I imagine is going to be relaxing and craft orientated. That's what I'm imagining. Whether or not it actually happens is yet to be discovered............. Have a wonderful weekend, and see you on Monday with pictures of the finished bedroom! Love Vanessa xxx
Hello, are you enjoying the weather? Have you had the sun that has been making everything grow? Our garden is so abundant, it feels very luxurious. We've still got a few Daffs and Narcissi strutting their stuff, and the first Tulips have made their appearance. This year I've promised Hugo to just let the garden be. I'm usually a bit too enthusiastic with the secateurs, resulting in bare patches, and a rather clipped, uptight feel to the garden. This year I'm hoping for a more relaxed feeling garden.
Have you seen this book, '100 flowers to knit and crochet' by Lesley Stanfield? It's made a few appearances on peoples blogs, and the cover design alone sold it to me immediately, I just love it.
I've only crocheted this one design from the book. It's project 59, on page 77, the Auricula. I'll definately be doing more, I really enjoyed crocheting it because I love Auriculas, and theses colours are beautiful.
Can you see the Auriculas in the pot? They're perfect for crocheting, because the petals are so uniform. And the deep purple Violas? Can you see them? I really, really want to crochet Violas, and Pansies. The Primulas too!
Theres's a pattern for a Tulip! So exciting!
These lipstick red Tulips are so bright and cheery, aren't they?
'Queen of the Night' Tulip, might be my favourite colour of Tulip. That deep plum looks amazing against the greenery. And it looks so velvety and sumptuous, I never ever get bored of seeing it in my garden.
There are even patterns for Daffodils and Narcissi, isn't that great?! I love this time of year in the garden. There's so much expectation with the bulbs flowering, the greenery getting its new shoots, that lime green contrasting with the darker green of the old growth. June time the Alliums will appear, their pom-pom shapes always look amazing on their long stems.
Here you go, a more expansive view of the garden.
And here's another look! The topiary is one thing I will allow myself to get the clippers to. I've been growing it all, slowly but surely, mostly from tiny plants that are sold in packs for hedging. It is a long slow process, but makes it more affordable.
These great big Box balls were grown from little plants. Looking at them now, it seems amazing. Apparently the trick with Box is to feed it, it's very greedy I've been told. Once or twice a year I give the whole garden a good spray with organic seaweed feed, you know, with that container you attach to your hose? Last year the garden was very much left to its own devices, because we were doing building work to our basement, and the garden was chock-a-block with furniture, covered with plastic sheets. It's lovely to be able to sit in the garden this year.............. I'm imagining warm Summer nights, sitting with a drink in my hand, listening to the birds tweeting away.
One can dream..................... In the mean time, back to crocheting flowers. And putting up quilts in the bedroom when Hugo gets home from work. The room is almost, almost there! And let me see, I fancy a cup of tea. No cup cakes today unfortunately, those store bought ones I photographed in yesterdays post looked very pretty, but weren't good, the sponge was dry and stale, and I haven't baked any myself. It's so quick to make them, I should make some tonight, after quilt hanging! See you tomorrow! Love Vanessa xxx
Hello, hello, hello! Lovely sunny day here, the sky is the same blue as our bedroom walls! This weather makes me feel wonderfully good.
This colour is the blue on our walls, close to the colour in the sky at the moment..................
(A man just walked past the window, smiling to himself, I like that, a sunshine smile).................. We're getting there with finishing our bedroom. One quilt is up. I dug out two more quilts I had carefully folded away, and they're going on the walls too. And today I found a pram quilt in our local curio shop, which also had the red and white theme. The room is going to be transformed. Much more homely and comfortable. I can't tell you how excited I am to have finally found a way to make our bedroom look cosy. But that aside, maybe you're a little curious about the first photo in this post?
It's one of my prized Charity shop finds. Every time I look at it I feel very priveliged to be the owner of this beautiful tea cosy. It pleases me on so many different levels. To begin with, its price. £1. Yes, you read that correctly, £1. Crazy isn't it? So yes, the price was fanatastic, and I think I was very lucky to actually buy it. The lady in the shop said she had looked at it and wondered if she should buy it........... (I gripped on to it very tightly at that point). Part of me feels a little sad that it should only be valued at £1, because it is so obviously worth a lot more. But the 'finding a bargain' part of me takes over from that feeling of sadness! And anyway, it's gone to a very loving home, a home where the handiwork is admired and fully appreciated, and valued.
We all love a bargain, don't we? This tea cosy is the work of someone who is, or was, very skilled and patient. And what do you think? Maybe had a lot of friends round to her/his house for a cuppa. I say her/his, but I really imagine it to be a lady. I wonder if she lived in a house resembling her tea cosy? Or maybe longed to? I kind of want to imagine Miss Marple using this tea cosy, sipping her tea out of a fine bone china tea cup, with her knitting to hand.
Aren't these Holly Hocks lovely?! I love these flowers in a Cottage Garden, my favourite type of garden.
And the little green gate! Just perfect.
There are four sides to this tea cosy, and each one has been treated with equal love and attention to detail.
I think this side is meant to be the back of the house, with the little back gate leading on to the lane. This really is like something out of Miss marple's world isn't it? I love it!
And the tab to pull the cosy off the tea pot is like a chimney pot! How wonderful is that. I've decided that the person who made this tea cosy was a wonderful human being who I would like to have shared a cuppa with. But as the original owner is a mystery, I am now going to do the full tea pot and cosy with china cup thing, in honour of the unknown lady.
What could be more appropriate than a tea cup decorated with Holly Hocks? And a cup cake adorned with a flower, (I didn't make this cup cake, I just haven't had the to do any baking recently, I thought this cup cake was pretty when I was shopping)................. Here's to the mystery needlewoman who crafted my very treasured tea cosy, I will be forever grateful, and happy when I look at it. Cheerio!
Hello! Happy day for you today? ........... I hope so. I hope it's a lovely sunny, happy day where ever you are and whatever you're doing? There are lots of things that make me happy! Today it's all about the joys of the tea cosy. And more specifically, the joy of making a tea cosy for a fellow blogger.
A knitted tea cosy for Sarah, at rose petal jam. A while ago we'd exchanged some e-mails about tea cosies. I offered to knit her one for The Hideaway, her gorgeous cottage she rents out, where we'd stayed. Somehow it never happened.
Until our stay there again last month. Inspired by the gorgeous decor of the Hideaway, and as a thank you for a lovely stay, and remembering our previous e-mails, I decided that on our return home, I would find a pattern and yarn, and knit Sarah a little surprise gift.
I found a pattern in my local yarn shop. It's a 'knits and pieces' pattern, (which I've never heard of before). And the yarn I used is 'traditional Aran knit' by elle, colour Taupe.
It was surprisingly quick to knit, just a couple of evenings work, and it was all done. A good gift for a tea drinker, don't you think? And Sarah was delighted with her gift, which is a wonderful thing when you've made a gift yourself, isn't it? Time for me to make a cup of tea for myself now. Last week I would have said, time for a cuppa and a cup cake, one I had made myself. But over the weekend Hugo and I were so busy decorating, no baking was done. So I had no cup cake supply to dip into. I'd bought the sugar paste and apricot jam to do my version of a professional Tara cup cake job, but they're still sitting hopefully on the side, in the kitchen, unused. Well, I can still have a cup of tea, can't I? A lovely cup of Earl Grey, that's my tipple. Well, cheerio, and here's to tea leaves! Or tea bags!
P.s. Is there such a thing as 'tea cosy' envy? I'm experiencing it at the moment, cos I just saw Teena's find, the most gorgeous patchwork tea cosy that has to be the bargain of the century. It's featured at the end of this post. Feast your eyes!
Hello! I hope you all had a lovely weekend? Our weekend was about colour. Painting. Painting the bedroom. I'm feeling like a hamster on its wheel. Trapped on a wheel of non-stop decorating. If we jump off the decorating wheel, it will be too much effort to start it again, so we're just tiring ourselves out following the motion of the wheel. It is worth it though, because we are getting things done.
This is a photo of our bedroom before we got to work. We can't actually say this was the colour the previous owner chose. No. We chose it about four years ago! Now it looks to me like some depressing 70's bedsit. Funnny how tastes change isn't it? I think the idea at the time was that, it is a huge room, and by painting it a dark colour, it would make it feel cosier. But it doesn't work does it? It was only when we moved to the spare room, which has lovely bright colours in it, that I realised the colour of our bedroom walls was making me miserable. My clothes are all in there, and every time I went in to get clean clothes, or put clothes away, I'd feel slight despair. The power of colour hey?! So although we've been exhausting ourselves with decorating and DIY, the bedroom had to be done.
We've not finished the decorating yet, still got to finish the woodwork. But we're almost there! And the difference with the new colour! I was just having a look at the before and after photos, and wow, what a difference. The before photo makes me feel queasy, the after photo makes me think, "yipee!!!!!!!".
Here's the room from another angle.
And another angle again.
How did we live with that drab, depressing colour we used to have on the walls ?! HOW?!
Well........... the duvet cover on the bed is usually white, not the red in the photo at the beginning of this post, so maybe I thought it looked more stylish than it did in reality! Anyway, hopefully the new colour, and new bits and pieces on the walls will transform the room. I've got a red and white quilt that has been hibernating for a few years. That will hang above our bed. And the chest of drawers and arm chair will move to different parts of the room.
The colour we've used is called 'Blue Ground', by Farrow and Ball. Tonight I'll be doing more painting of the wood work............. We should be back in our newly decorated room by this weekend............... I can't wait, I just can't wait!
And I just had to show you the view from our bedroom window this morning.......... it's that bright sunshine! I don't know which one is making me more cheery, the new wall colour, or the sunny day?!
I promised yesterday I'd give you the recipe for easy and fail-safe cup cake sponge mix. The exquisite cup cakes I'm showing you here were made by Tara, one of my fellow knitters from Wednesday evening knit club. She makes beautiful cakes, and their decoration is always wonderful. I was sitting next to her a few weeks back, and we were knitting away and chatting. I knew she was an expert cake maker, so I thought I'd pick her brains to see if she could give me a quick and easy, (and fail-safe) recipe for cup cakes. She jotted a recipe down on a scrap of paper, but said I should wait before I made the cup cakes, because she wanted to test it, just to check it was o.k. and she'd let me know the following week, at our knitting night.
Well, I wasn't expecting the lovely surprise I got when I walked in to the knitting group the following Wednesday evening! Tara said she had a "little" present for me, and handed me a plastic bag. Inside was a cake box, in which were nestled these beautiful cup cakes!
I don't think I stopped oooohing and aaaahhhing and exclaiming my joy for a good ten minutes. I mean, just imagine receiving these beauties! So here we go, Tara's recipe:
Tara's fail-safe cup cake sponge recipe.
(Makes about 18 cup cakes)
2 large eggs
4 oz/110 grams Flora Original
1 teaspoon baking powder (sieve in with flour)
4 oz/110 grams McDougall's Sponge self raising flour
4 oz/110 grams caster sugar
Mix it all together in the same bowl, with an electric whisk
Place little dollops in the cup cake cases, up to about half way (or just over).
Bake at 140 C in a fan oven / 160 in a convection oven, for 20 minutes.
When they're ready they will be slightly springy to the touch.
Tara used ready made icing, called sugarpaste, which she coloured, and rolled out, then cut out circles with a cookie cutter. She then warmed Apricot jam (which had been sieved), and used that to stick the icing rounds to the tops of the cup cakes.
She said she has tiny cutters, and other things, to make the components for the flowers and butterflies, which are made from Sugar Paste.
When I made my cup cakes, I used the icing sugar powder you get in boxes. Unfortunately my icing turned out wrinkly, not smooth and perfect like Tara's. I've been given a tip for making icing, which is this. Heat up your icing sugar powder in a sauce pan, with a little water. The trick is for the sugar to melt completely, apparently. I haven't yet tried this myself, but will be giving it a go when I next make cup cakes, and I'll report back to you on how it went.
While I was photographing these little beauties, I'm afraid I lost my self control, and had to eat one. They were absolutely delicious!
And it wasn't long before Hugo and I polished off the rest, they were very "moreish" you know!
Anyway, I hope you enjoy making this sponge mix. It's so quick to make it's ridiculous, but very wonderful! Have fun!
Hello, my name is Vanessa Cabban, and I'm so pleased you've dropped by! I'm an artist and illustrator, working from home. I have two Miniature wire-haired Dachshunds, Ellie and Douglas. I love being part of the blogosphere, reading your comments, and feeling like I'm part of a community. I hope you enjoy reading about my small world.
AN IMPORTANT NOTICE ABOUT MY BLOG AND WORK: Please note that the photos and text, my creations and my art shown on my blog are copyrighted and may not be copied, in whole or in part, without my express permission. Patterns and techniques shown in my tutorials may be followed but for personal use only and not for commercial reward. Thank you.
Books I have illustrated!
The Best Gift of All
Book and dvd,(narrated by Kevin Whateley), of Bringing Down the Moon