Summer Holidays

Well, it has been a busy Summer so far! The end of term is always manic, not least because we have both the girls’ birthdays in July. We had a week of recovering and then a fabulous couple of weeks in France. We stayed on a vineyard near Saintes, which meant we had beaches, oysters, sunflowers and wine aplenty. We were near the town we stayed in for part of our honeymoon 18 years ago, so we went on a bit of a nostalgia trip too.

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IMG_7517IMG_7489This was the house we stayed in for our honeymoon in St Savinien, and it hadn’t changed a bit (unlike us!)

We got back from France on Sunday and popped up to Leicestershire for the day yesterday to fetch the dog, see my cousin from Australia who was passing through, and also to have cuddles with my lovely little nephew, Eddie.

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Here he is in his finished jumper – and doesn’t he look cute?! As a first attempt at knitting clothing I am quite pleased with this. It wasn’t straightforward, especially around the neck, but my mum is an expert knitter and was able to sort out any issues. The pattern I used was this one, which I adapted slightly to have the whole rib in green rather than just a couple of rows, and the yarn is Sirdar Snuggly. It comes in a great range of colours, and is lovely and soft – perfect for baby soft skin! I’m not sure he’s going to get much wear out of it as he’s growing at a rate of knots, but he looks pretty cute in it for now.

I came home to a bit of a surprise too. I had forgotten that Period Ideas were going to feature the photo shoot I had done a couple of years ago, but it was lovely to see how clean and tidy the house can look – it doesn’t quite look that neat at the moment!!

IMG_7644Well, as always after a break, there’s lots to catch up on – orders to post, emails to reply to and tea to drink. That’s the only thing I missed in France – a decent cuppa, so I’m making up for lost time!! Cheers!

 

 

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Remember Me?!

It’s been a while, so I thought I should drop in and break the radio silence!

I have always used my blog as a bit of a diary, and it occurred to me when I was looking back over the last few posts that I haven’t really updated the diary for a very long time! I’ll make it quick, and I’ll try to get lots of pretty pictures in, so please bear with me!!

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I turned the big 4-0 in October, and in true family style managed to spread the festivities out for several months! I was taken to Stockholm by my two fabulous besties, the Lakes by my fabulous husband, and Staithes by my entire fabulous family. I also managed to squeeze in the final celebration in February with a trip to Ragdale Hall Spa with my fabulous mum.

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In March I became an Aunty to this gorgeous little chap! Isn’t he adorable?!

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Obviously lots of crafting has had to take place as a result, and several visits to Leicestershire for lots of cuddles.

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Knitting has taken over from crochet as my yarny craft of choice (I’m sure it’s only temporary though), and being able to knit small things is a bonus as I am pretty slow still.

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Pairing my job in school with my business has been a time-juggling mission, but I am still spending lots of time in the garden (I even dead-headed in the rain the other day!), and my little postage stamp is flourishing.

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Not much has changed around the house – the garden is my main focus this time of year, but it still looks pretty when the sun shines in (even though the windows are a bit grubby!)

We’ve survived GCSEs – Grace has two more exams next week, and that’s it all over! She’s been very calm throughout and worked hard, and turned up on the wrong day for one, but fortunately a day early and not a day late!

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My business is going from strength to strength, and my stockists are increasing, which is exciting. I’m always on the look out for new ones, so if you know of any potential locations please let me know!

And that’s about it! I hope to be a bit more regular with the posting, but you know me…don’t bank on it!

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Jersey Fabric Novice

Ever since I started venturing into dressmaking I have been eyeing up jersey fabric and then veering away from it in favour of plain old non-stretch cottons. I had looked at the Girl Charlee UK website a few times, and seen loads of prints I fancied trying, but was put off by not having an overlocker, and by all the websites that tell you how hard it can be.

Well, I finally decided not to be so wimpy and to give it a go. I thought I should start with something not too stretchy or floaty. This charcoal and black stripe seemed quite sturdy, and had the benefit of being double layers, so warmer – something that is quite appealing at the moment as it has turned so chilly out!

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After a bit of research I also plumped for the Tilly and the Buttons Coco Dress pattern as it looked straightforward and the style of dress I like to wear. I should point out at this juncture that I had the pattern and fabric in my possession for several weeks before taking the plunge. I really hate it when things don’t go well and I ‘waste’ time by making something I don’t like or won’t wear. Anyway, I got to it at the weekend, and I honestly don’t know what all the fuss was about!

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I am sure if I had used really stretchy and floaty fabric that this would have been harder, but the fabric was very easy to cut, sew and finish. I used zigzag stitch and left the edges raw as there’s no fraying – a bonus that I hadn’t realised before I started!! It was a very quick and simple pattern, and very straightforward, and it took me just under 2 hours to make from start to finish. I really like the finished dress, although the hem is very slightly stretched and a bit too swingy. Next time I will bring the sides in slightly on the skirt and I will make it longer as I am 6″ tall and it is more of a short tunic length on me than a dress. I really like the arms though – I went for the three-quarter length as I am always pushing up long sleeves. The dress/top fits really well and is very cosy.

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I will be planning my next Coco dress very soon, and am very pleased at this first attempt. I am actually wearing it as I am writing this post. The hardest thing will be choosing which fabric to go for next – there are several that take my fancy, and I have found a couple of other patterns which caught my eye. I may need to buy a bigger wardrobe!

Girl Charlee UK   very kindly supplied the fabric for me to review, but all opinions expressed are my own.

I must apologise for the quality of the photos – my camera isn’t working, the light is awful at this time of the year, and my phone did the best it can!

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Autumn Days…

…and the grass is dewy, and the silk inside the chestnut shell…..

Sorry for the radio silence, but it has been a busy few weeks. The end of the summer holidays seems to be a long time ago, and our trip to Cornwall even longer (which it is!), and the start of school has been a bit on the crazy side. I have started a new job, which I am loving so far. I am now a Pastoral Support Worker at a primary school, and I think I am going to like it.

That has meant that everything else has gone out of the window recently though. The house is a tip, the washing needs doing, and my poor business has been a bit neglected. I feel like I am getting my new routine sorted out though and normal order will be restored soon.

And it is Autumn, my favourite season of the year. I know that lots of you, like my lovely friend Heather from Pink Milk, hate the passing of Summer and wear flip flops until your toes freeze, but I’m not one of them. I love wearing boots, I love eating stews and roasts, soups and crumbles, I love dahlias, I love lighting candles, getting the crochet out and feeling cosy. It won’t be long until we have the first fire of the year. Bliss.

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I have been making the most of the blackberries this year too, and have even started thinking about Christmas presents. I usually make a few, and this year some lucky people are going to be getting my homemade Blackberry Vodka. I followed A Thrifty Mrs‘ recipe, which is as follows:

110g caster sugar

300g blackberries

50cl vodka

I used golden caster sugar as I didn’t have any white, and I used the cheapest vodka I could find. I did buy a pretty bottle to make it in as I didn’t have any jars free though! Put all the ingredients in a bottle or Kilner jar and shake until all the sugar has dissolved. Store in a dark place and shake every few days. Leave for 6 weeks, but longer is fine. Strain through muslin into clean bottles and either drink it or give it as gifts if you can bear to part with it! The blackberries can be used as a sauce for ice cream, or through yogurt (although probably not recommended for breakfast).

 

IMG_5701I notice the sloes are looking good in the hedgerows too, and as I drank the last of the sloe gin at Christmas, I think that could be the next Autumn make. That will be in a couple of weeks though, as I am being treated to a girly weekend in Stockholm this weekend by two amazing friends to celebrate a big birthday I have coming up next month. I am a very lucky girl!

Stay cosy xx

 

 

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Summer Holidays

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The holidays are half over already, and it only seems like last week the girls were breaking up from school. We have packed quite a bit into the holidays so far. We have just got back from a few days up in lovely Leicestershire, staying with my parents. They stayed with us for a few days first and we had our annual trip to Giffords Circus – the best night of the year in my book! I wish I could bottle the feeling that I get from the whole experience – and it is even better as it is something loved by all three generations in equal measure, and it isn’t often that we find something to please everyone these days!

While I was in Leicestershire I visited my old stomping ground of Leicester and met up with the luscious Heather from Pink Milk. It was the first time we had met, although we have exchanged emails and messages over the years. We hit it off instantly though, and soon abandoned all thoughts of browsing round the shops in favour of a good chat over cups of tea and coffee. We then hit Carluccio’s for lunch and a cheeky glass of wine, and by the end of the afternoon I felt like I had known Heather for years. Leicester was looking lovely in the sun, and I am looking forward to more trips there soon.

I also had to put in a gratuitous puppy shot of Molly, my sister and brother in law’s puppy. She’s 14 weeks old now and totally adorable, although I’m not sure Bodie agrees as he is now a grumpy old man and not very playful. Sorry for the slightly fuzzy photo – she doesn’t stay still long enough for a proper portrait!

So, back to it today. Whenever I go away I am always itching to clean out my cupboards and have a move around when I get back, so this morning has been mainly spent doing that. On my trip to Leicester I popped over to the market and came back with several lengths of fabric to make some more Dottie Angel frocks. I have made one already that I have barely taken off, and am looking forward to kitting my wardrobe out with several more, so that’s the rest of the week spoken for. I need a few new dresses as I have been living in jeans for the past year or so, but I have a new job starting in September as a Pastoral Support in a primary school, so no more jeans for me!

I hope you are all enjoying the summer, despite the patchy weather. The sun has just come out (finally) so I am off to potter in my postage stamp garden. Happy days!

 

 

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Flaming June

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June has been a bit warmer than May, and the garden is finally coming into its own. It may be very very small but I try to pack it with as many plants as I can. Some thrive and others flop, but I like the trial and error approach and it looks different every year. My roses always stay the same though, although they seem to be a bit later this year, apart from Gertrude Jekyll, who is in full gorgeous bloom at the moment. The radishes are doing well too. The peonies were an anniversary bunch from Mr P to celebrate 17 years of wedded bliss – they are my favourites, although not something I’ve had any success in growing in my tiny plot.

Next month we will be the parents of two teenagers, as Ruth turns 13 just after Grace turns 15. Amazing really that they are so grown up, and I am filled with mixed emotions about it all. On the one hand they don’t need me as much (other than for money and to remind them to do their homework), they don’t want to go out with us as much and they spend hours in their rooms or at the park/ pool/ cinema/ shops/ friends’ houses, but on the other hand this does mean that we have more ‘grown up’ time to do things we really want to do, without needing to book a babysitter. We now pop to the pub with the dog when we feel like it, have evenings out without booking weeks in advance, and we have been making full use of our National Trust membership at weekends when they are otherwise engaged.

The gardens and the cut flowers that they all seem to have in the houses have been the real highlights for me. If I lived nearer I would love to work in the gardens of a NT property, but our nearest one is a bit too far for me to commute. Instead I will have to stick to recreating my own herbaceous borders in my little postage stamp for now. Sadly, the presence of a house guest in the form of a very bouncy Sophie (the photo is a rare moment of calm) means that my plans for NT splendour have been thwarted a bit, but hopefully the geum and foxgloves will soon recover. The thorns on the roses mean they are well protected though, so at least that’s something!

 

 

 

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Blossoming

IMG_4607Cheltenham is a lovely place to live in the Spring. It is a beautiful town with lots of fabulous parks and gardens. These blossom trees are in flower for such a short time, but are breathtaking whilst in full bloom. We always have a really windy day just after they open out, and the garden looks like an enormous snow globe.

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IMG_4640The apple and cherry blossom in my own little garden is a bit more sheltered and hopefully will produce a couple of handfuls of sweet cherries in the summer, and maybe an apple or two. We have been so fortunate with our April weather, and I have spent as much time as I can find pottering outside dead-heading the pansies, inspecting new growth, and just having a quiet cuppa out there.

IMG_4648  I’ve even been able to bring in a few flowers for the house. These forget-me-nots are my ideal flower – they self seed everywhere, which is my preferred style of gardening. Nothing too formal or ordered for me. I cram as much in as I possibly can, and although it is a tiny space there is no end to the plants I can find a little spot for.IMG_4677When not gardening I have been busy planning new avenues for my jewellery business and trying to keep abreast of all the technological stuff I should be doing. It doesn’t come easy to me – I am not naturally talented in the techy department, but it is something I am getting much better at over time. This was a really useful magazine from Mollie Makes, and I have plenty of things to put into action!

 

 

IMG_4690This was my first attempt at making marshmallows. I used this recipe, and added raspberry coulis to one (cook raspberries with a couple of spoons of sugar and then pass through a sieve), and orange zest and essence to the others. I can see a whole list of potential flavours being tried over time, although I am a bit over sugar after eating a few of these. I did think ones with alcohol in might be interesting (although not for the children!), ones dipped in chocolate, peppermint flavour, strawberry, banana…my list is endless. It will be a while before I make anymore though – we are meant to be on a bit of a health kick, and I have joined Slimming World. I’ve lost nearly a stone in 5 weeks, but I think these are quite a few syns each!!

I hope you are all enjoying Spring (Northern Hemisphere) and Autumn (Southern Hemisphere), depending on where in the world you are. Happy days!

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Touches of Spring

IMG_1854 I can’t tell you how desperate I am for Spring to arrive. It has felt like a long Winter, and it hasn’t been the greatest year so far. Spring feels like it bring in new hope and life though – the sunshine makes everything seem brighter and the longer days are so welcome after the gloom of January and February.

I try to brighten our house up as much as possible with flowers and lights. This week I have a couple of bunches of daffs – they are really strongly scented and remind me of my Great Aunt Ruth’s conservatory. I moved some fairy lights and strung them around the kitchen doorway to cheer things up there too.

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IMG_1873Despite being full of cold I managed a trip to the garden centre to get some Spring flowers for outside too. The garden is slowly beginning to come back to life. Those of you who have read this for a while know that my garden is affectionately known as ‘the postage stamp’ – that’s about how big it is, and it seems like a waste to fill it with winter plants as we rarely go out there until this time of year. It is definitely a Spring and Summer garden. I’ve been watching Monty Don (and Nigel the dog) with pleasure – when Gardener’s World is back on I know it isn’t long until my ‘postage stamp’ will be back to blooming!

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IMG_1850The sunshine also serves to show up all the jobs that need doing – there is a reason it is traditional to do a Spring Clean! This corner is my favourite place to sit, but I think I’m going to dye the chairs – they have seen better days. Ideally I would sew new covers, but until I can summon up the enthusiasm a change of colour might perk things up a bit.

IMG_1856The books need a good sort through too. We are slowly being taken over, and I can’t fit any more in. I do like them though – the random mix of colours, old favourites, ones still to read, the smell. I find it hard to part with books, even to make room for new ones.

IMG_1861The same goes for the china cupboards. This is one of two and is the more sparsely filled. All of my photos seem to have a greyish hue today, which reflects the light outside, and also my mood.

So, hurry up Spring – and more flowers, sunshine and evening walks. The best medicine.

 

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