Hello dear readers, I'm back from truanting from my blog, and I'm very sorry. I've been busy working on a painting for my etsy shop, (which is now empty, thank you so much to those of you who helped to empty it, I'm very much obliged to you!). Actually, busy rejecting two I made a start on, and busy persevering with the third. That's the thing about doing these paintings, there's quite a high mortality rate amongst them! There's a slightly different look to this new painting, but I'll show it to you when it's finished.
And now to the big present showing, because you HAVE to see these gifts I received from Hen on Monday. Many of you will know that Hen, from Hen House blog, and I, have a swap going on, which not only involves swapping handwritten letters, but gifts too. I still haven't shown you the gifts I sent Hen last month, I keep on meaning to, but something else always seems to get in the way. As I'm itching to show you Hen's gifts first, I'll wait to the end of this post, to show you what I gave Hen.
Yes! All those gifts above arrived in one box, ALL those gifts!
Once I had opened the box, I was greeted with Hen's great big envelope, decorated, front and back, and full of magazine clipping joy, (loads of lovely imagery), and the very stylish notebook and badges by Petra and Boase. And of course, a very chatty card and letter.
I'm quite self controlled about looking at the envelope and it's contents first, I'm quite proud to say, because my urge is to go to the gifts first! Though, the contents of Hen's envelopes are always full of gorgeous imagery, so it's just like unwrapping a gift when I open up the envelope.
Aren't those sweets so stripily beautiful? I actually have a collection of sweets that are too pretty to eat. The trick for preserving them, I find, is to keep them in an air-tight jar. Left exposed to the air (as I found to my cost once), and they go all gooey and stick together, the colouring runs, and you're left with a right royal mess. So 'air-tight' is the key. These will be added to my 'air-tight' collection.
And the pegs? Well, you try breaking up that lovely line-up of colour, by using them! I'm not saying this is a certain, but maybe one day they will be used. For now, they're pure eye candy.
And that Angie Lewin sketchbook........... I LOVE Angie Lewin's paper goods, they are just sooo stylish, so quality, so yummy. Notebooks and sketchbooks. That's another collection I have! All unused, much too nice to use, though in many ways, it would be nice if they were filled, wouldn't it? The rate I'm going, when I'm a little old lady, I'll go on an antiques television programme, and find I have a valuable collection, (but be told they'd be much more valuable if they had been used!).
I was telling Hen, in my thank you e-mail, that I was really rather thrilled to receive such a stylish calendar. I explained that I normally go for the cheapest option, which has absolutely nothing inspiring about it, other than when I write in it, things like 'holiday'. So receiving this extremely stylish calendar was very nice indeed, I will now have something to inspire me when I turn to each new month. Hurrah!
And don't you think the socks are priceless?! Dachshund's in little stripy jumpers! As we have two Dachshunds ourselves, these were an immedite hit! I wore them yesterday, and they're very comfy. I was wearing boots all day, so I couldn't see them, but when it came to bedtime, I took my boots off, and there they were! I did smile, I must say.
Aaaahhh yes! I am, the very, very fortunate recipient of some of Hen's extremely stylish tea cup candles. Not one tea cup, but two! And a box of matches covered in gorgeous vintage fabric!
Aren't they stunningly gorgeous?! I lit one last night, and Hugo and I ate supper with it sitting on the table between us, burning very prettily. When they're lit, the flame makes the cup glow, it's a beautiful effect, and I must take a photo to show you.
Hen makes these tea cup candles herself, and sells them in her on-line shop. I've seen tea cup candles like these for sale, pictured in magazines, and they are more than twice the price of Hen's, and you don't get the pretty matchbox with them. So for a very, very competitive price, visit Hen's shop, here.
Now, I'm ever so sorry if the above image makes you jealous! Yes, it is two GORGEOUS handmade stockings, made for Hugo and myself, by Hen! They are just scrumptious, I LOVE them. I'm pretty sure Hen even dyed the wool fabric herself, which impresses me greatly. I love the embroidery, the detail, the precious and lovely vintage fabrics, the design, the colours, and the fact that hen made one for Hugo too! How generous is that! (Hugo loves his stocking by the way, and was very touched that Hen should go to all that effort so he could have a stocking too).
And Hugo's stocking, below.
Hugo and I have never done stockings for each other before, so we both agree that this is a good time to start. (To not use these stockings would be criminal of course). I already know where I want them to hang. In this room I'm sitting in now, a room I'm developing slowly as a 'cosy room', and a room I spend a good deal of my time in, doing my blog posts. Hen has been so extraordinarily generous with her gifts, and especially her handmade gifts, I really am the most fortunate penpal in the world. The swap we do, isn't only about gifts though, it's about sharing similar tastes, in things bought and collected, and about making things with love, which be both value highly. We both know that when we make something for each other, the reaction is going to be one of tremendous appreciation and sheer delight, so it makes the making, a very enjoyable thing to do. There's none of this nervous"oh I hope she likes it", no, we value the handmade, the time and effort that goes into the creating, and the fact that we think each other is worth making something for.
And that is why, when it came to making a scarf for Hen last month, as part of her box of goodies I sent her, it seemed like the most natural thing in the world to do, and a very good use of my time.
Do you remember me working on my 'Sarah London Scarf' last month? Well, it was intended for Hen. I thoroughly enjoyed crocheting with all that colour. It's made using the good stuff, Debbie Bliss 'Baby Cashmerino', which is lovely to crochet with, so soft. There's also some Sirdar 'Sublime' in there, and the Turquoise is Rowan Cashsoft (I think). Hen loved the scarf, as you can see in her blog post here.
The Stanley tin from Cath Kidston was bought for Hen, because I know she's very partial to cottages, whether they be real cottages you can live in, pictures of cottages, tea cosy cottages, or anything else cottages. And the candy canes were so pretty, they had to be popped into the tin.
Paper napkins! Well, posh paper napkins. I bought these for Hen, because I see them in gift shops, and always think it too extravagant to buy them for myself, but to buy them as a gift is perfectly reasonable. It made me laugh when Hen told me that they were going to be strictly for her own use, not for the use of unappreciative male family members, they will get the cheap napkins. Very sensible, and very amusing!
Those were my gifts................... Ooohhh I need to stretch my legs, and I'm off to my Wednesday night knitting group.
Just before I go, I thought I'd mention this. One of the books I've illustrated was read out on t.v! I've done a series of books with the author Jonathan Emmett, about a mole and his friends. I love little mole, and feel an affinity with his small stature, and courage against the odds! Jonathan sent me a link to a reading of one of the books, on Cbeebies bedtime stories, and I had a look. It's read by a rather handsome actor called Tom Ward, whom they show plenty of shots of for the benefit of female viewers. He's reading "Diamond in the Snow", and as he's reading it, (from the unusual location of an ice rink), you also get to see my illustrations for the book, which is nice for me! Would you like to ogle a handsome chap? You would! Well, here's the link, just click here, and it should take you right through. (Just as an aside, it's VERY exciting when a book you've illustrated gets read on t.v. like that!).
Well, I must be going. Take care, and toodle-loo............. Love Vanessa xxx