Monday, 27 January 2014

Little by little..............

Thank you all for your lovely comments in my last post, I hope you all had a good weekend.

Ours was quite a relaxed affair. After a busy weekend last weekend, when we visited Chartwell in Kent to see an exhibition of photographs from the finalists of the International Garden Photographer of the Year, in association with The Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, (well worth a visit if you live nearby as some amazing photographs from all over the world ) as well as shopping trips and lots of dog walks, we decided to chill out this weekend.

We got up late both mornings.............

...........went for lots of long walks ( Bella and I reckoned we clocked up about 9 miles!).......

.....lazed around doing lots of reading afterwards to recover (currently reading a biography of Diana Mosely by Anne de Courcy)....... 

.........and enjoyed cooking and eating lots of home cooked food (Chicken fajitas with all the "trimmings" one night, salmon with coriander pesto on a bed of spinach with sweet potato chips the next ) . 

We had green smoothies for breakfast each morning, made from spinach, frozen tropical fruits (mango and kiwi) and banana, all whizzed up with ice-cubes and some water in a blender - tastes a lot nicer than it sounds, and you can't taste the spinach at all....honest!  And you feel so healthy and smug afterwards so you feel no guilt whatsoever when you indulge in wholewheat pancakes with nutella and bananas to follow, he he!!!! 


Logan in the "recovery" position........

but only after a shower in the bath to wash off the mud, followed by a drying session in front of the fan heater....only then is he allowed on the sofa!

.......not another 3 miler...........

Yay, I have finished the reverse applique stage of the latest cushion, phew! 

Got there little by little, aided by some beautiful soothing lute music by John Dowland. Now for the fun bit, to play around adding a few finishing touches and see what happens!

Whilst out and about on Friday, I picked up some pretty primulas at the local garden centre for £1 each.......pots (above) and tray painted in Annie Sloan "Duck Egg"

..........and I supported the local department store by buying a few balls of yarn for my next crochet project, which I am still deciding on. 

I kind of know what I want to make in my minds eye - a simple throw from blocks, joining as I go,  just in these three colours - but I have yet to find a shape and pattern that is just right, so I will be looking for ideas on blogs, Pinterest and in books. Worse case scenario, I will pick a block from one of my crochet books and go from there.

The yarn is just sitting there waiting.............

........meanwhile the tulips are just starting to open up........

......and there is lots of cheerful colour in the sitting room now, thanks to the flowers and flowering plants, for the many dull and wet days that we are still having - although today was an exception with plenty of sunshine and blue skies.

Hope you have had some sunshine too!

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Cheerful Tulips and a Bit of Progress

I just couldn't resist these tulips in the supermarket this morning. Aren't they glorious?!!!!

It was pouring with rain when I went in, and the first thing that caught my eye were these beauties, and before I knew it my greedy little hands had whisked a bunch into my trolley.

They weren't cheap, but what the was raining! I wanted them!

They are making me happy when the rain is lashing against the window, and I don't regret my extravagance one bit.

So there. Sniff. 
(Just practising my defiant attitude for when the breadwinner comes home and says have you bought more flowers? Why do you need more flowers?......)

I'm making good progress with the reverse applique, but I have to be perfectly honest with you and confess that I am not really enjoying it.

It is turning into a bit of a chore, but I am determined to finish it!

I will not be defeated by it, I set out to do it and so I shall, but both my shoulder and my hands are suffering from the fiddliness of the work.

So I have had to stop for today as my hand is too cramped, and so I thought I would share the progress I've made in the last couple of days, as I am well aware that the early stages, shown in my last post, did not look too promising, or very exciting, and I can easily forgive you for thinking "what on earth is that all about"!

But I am now 3/4 of the way there with the reverse applique stage. I've started so I'll finish.
Where I take it after that I am not quite sure yet.

The boldness of the design makes me think of traditional appliqued quilts, so I may run with that theme and add some quilting.

I do hope it's going to be worth the effort and not turn into one of those half-finished, disappointing projects that gets tossed aside in disgust.........we shall see.....time will tell........

The poinsettia is STILL thriving. I am still in shock that it has lasted this long, as they are usually half dead by Christmas Day in my house.

And still loving the pale lemony colour. 

A new Greengate tea towel arrived all the way from Ireland yesterday, courtesy of the efficient Al at All Tea Towels. I find it quite hard to resist these lovely designs!

I have being buying the odd Greengate tea towel from Al for the last couple of years as they are always well priced and arrive the next day with free postage to the UK

One of my Christmas presents was this inspiring Annie Sloan book, so I'm sure it won't be long before I tackle another painted furniture project as I'm really looking forward to trying out a few ideas from it.

I am currently on the look out for a small double-door cupboard to paint for the upstairs bathroom, in which to store toiletries etc, but after that there is really no more room for any other furniture in the house unless I get rid of something we already have!

AAAhhhh, what will I do then????  Re-paint what I have?

Thanks for all your lovely comments on my last few posts, it's good to be back blogging after the holidays!

Here's hoping for some sunshine soon, wherever you are.........................

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

It's a start.......

At the beginning of each new year, I always vow to bring fresh flowers or a flowering plant into the house as often as possible. 

This time of year it often means buying from the flower stall in the big town 15 minutes drive away, or from the florists in the smaller, nearby town - a proper little town which boasts, amongst other things, a florists, a newsagents with Post Office, a butchers, a bakers, a jewellers, a good old-fashioned hardware store, and even a small family-run Department store.

It is a little gem of a place.

On top of all that, it has all the usual charity shops and banks, hairdressers and selection of take-aways.

It also has free parking, a railway station close to both the high street and supermarket, with regular trains to London one way and Ashford International the other, and a Waitrose within easy walking distance of all the above, as well as a huge Costa's with outside seating for warm, balmy days (but a wistful memory at the moment).

It really is a little gem of a place, a piece of Old England, a relic of what the High Street used to be a like a few decades ago before the out-of-town supermarkets and DIY stores came along, driving the smaller businesses and butchers, bakers and hardware stores out of business. Before the building societies, hairdressers, charity shops, and pound shops took over. 

It is not pretty, or picturesque, like many of the Kentish villages in the area. Lots of the buildings are plain and unattractive. But it is always buzzing. The little high street is always busy with people going about their everyday business in a way that is hard to do in most other high streets these days. You could shop daily here if you wanted.

You can get your shoes re-heeled, a key cut, a hair-cut, buy a ring, a joint of beef, and a bouquet of flowers. You can buy a mason jar for preserving, or a pot of paint for decorating. You can get your passport photo taken in the Post Office, send a parcel abroad or borrow a book on travel from the little library. You can buy a loaf of bread, or a loaf tin to bake a loaf of bread. You can hop on a train and be in London in less than an hour or be in France in just over an hour.

The coffee shop is always busy, the high street is always bustling, and you can buy anything from a carpet to a ball of wool in the wonderful little department store (where, incidentally, my daughter had her first summer job this past summer in the old-fashioned school uniform department, and where she took a record sale of over £1,000, right on closing time, from a customer from Russia buying uniform for their child off to boarding school nearby!).

So once I find my crochet mojo this year, I have somewhere to head for, to satisfy any yarn urges - not a huge selection, but I like to support the department store for fear that we lose this treasure of a shop. In fact I like to support as many of the shops as I can, as I realise how lucky we are to still have them.

These are the second pair of fingerless mitts I made from Cute and Easy Crochet by Nicki Trench, using the same pattern as before, but adding a contrast trim and thumbs.

Despite the weather, I have managed to get lots of long walks in over the last few weeks, choosing my moment, dodging the showers. It means a shower in the bath for Logan on return, as wherever we go, across the fields or through the many orchards, there is thick, squelchy mud and huge puddles.

Once dry, Logan is content to lie on a cushion on the back of the sofa and look out of the front window, where, even though it is a fairly quiet and narrow lane, there is enough activity to capture the interest of any self-respecting dog guarding his property.

A few cars and the odd lorry delivering to the pub at the other end of the hamlet, and dog walkers and horses. 

As you can see from the photo above, one of his favourite cushions of the moment (and I do change them around rather a lot!) is a vintage one I picked up recently.

A lot of work has gone into this one, reverse applique, white on white.

It is not perfectly executed, but someone had the patience and interest and skill to finish this cushion, and the overall effect is lovely.

Inspired by this cushion, and prompted by a very timely post by the talented Clare at Selfsewn, I felt inspired to seek out a book I have had a few years, and to have a go at some reverse applique myself.

Using a ready cut motif from the Alabama Stitch book, I transfered the design onto a piece of an old shirt of my husbands, and placed it over a large vintage orange linen napkin. 

(My regular readers won't raise an eyebrow at all at my choice of fabrics, knowing well that I favour using up-cycled and vintage fabrics where I can, giving them a new lease of life!)

And that, I'm afraid, is as far as I have got for the moment!

But it's a start.

I am hoping to find time in the next day or so to do a little more, but I think it will be a slow old project, and me being impatient me, I will have to start (or finish?) another, quicker project!

What are you working on at the moment?????