Wednesday, 25 April 2012

The Three "Ss"

Hello readers!  It seems almost wrong to post these snaps on such a filthy rainy day but I need to reminisce already.  If the sight of sun, sea and sand (that is what you thought?) is going to turn you green, look away now!

Blimey, isn't this weather here in Blighty dire?  You might have warned me and I'd have stayed away!  Rewind two weeks and we were in need of a little...

Time to leave these shores, love them as we do, leave the office behind, the school yard, even (gasp) the Den and head West like heat seeking missiles...

What to do for two weeks?  Some folks wrestled with crocodiles...

... of the inflatable kind!

For me, there were a few reminders of my crafty lifestyle back home.  A few handmade touches abroad.  Along came the Kindle cover, the beach bag and a last minute kaftan thingy.

I had already picked up a cheap plain kaftan from the shops because I liked the style and thought it would be easy to copy so I simply laid it on top of the pretty Tanya Whelan fabric and cut out roughly the same shape.  I added a band of paisley fabric to the hem, some turquoise bias binding to the neckline and having trawled my stash for the perfect three buttons, I ended up using the buttons which are free with this month's Mollie Makes mag (which handily arrived in the post just as we were to depart).

On the beach, there were crafty makes by others to peruse and maybe purchase.  I did draw the line at the corn rows in my hair though!

The jewellery was very pretty and you can't beat being able to watch it being made right there on the beach.

For others, their holiday was not about being sedentary, especially not when there were rock pools to explore.

 Evenings saw us resume the Yahtzee challenge with the odd cocktail to quench one's thirst in that Caribbean heat.

And eating far too much lovely food, of course.  I love cooking but it's nice to have a break and there is a certain something about a beach bbq, sand beneath your feet and 25 degree heat through the night.

More entertainment came in the form of a spot of limbo dancing.  Strictly one for us old fogies to watch and marvel at, although the Munchkin did get up for a go (without the flames!)

Calypso dancing ensued (once again we watched while the youngster joined in.  Were those really virgin cocktails he was drinking?)

Ahhh, Barbados, we miss you already.  Especially in this darned rain and cold!  Now where did I put my jumper?

Monday, 9 April 2012

Easter Fun

Well, there's just time for a last minute post to record our Easter for 2012. It's been a rare treat to have four days at home to just kick back and relax and generally get ourselves organised. As we were at home for the Easter weekend, it was worth getting out the Easter decorations, not that we have many, and making a little effort at some seasonal fun decorating.

How do you like my new (old) furry friend. I found this lonely orphaned lamb at the Nostalgic Mix Fair in Totnes and home he came where I treated him to a cute velvet ribbon. Isn't he lovely? Some of his mohair fur is like new, other patches are delightfully threadbare. He's been gracing my Bagpuss table this Easter and is one item I won't be packing away now the celebrations are over.

The kitchen became the focal point for decorations while our family room is still out of action as the building works continue (if I can say "continue" given the infrequency with which the builders turn up to work)! All of the flowers and blossom came from our garden; it was a joy to be able to head out in the sunshine and snip a little posy for free.

It was brought home to me what fun it is to have youngsters around at this time of year. The Munchkin came home with this fab gift he had made for me. Contained in the egg he had decorated was this little Easter garden, complete with wooden cross and stamped out bunny and flowers, and the added surprise that the watered compost sprung up a lawn of cress! He also made a super poster with a picture of his version of a Faberge egg (you might just see it stuck up on the shutters in the photo above). I'll keep these, minus the cress, and bring them out each year. I'm acutely aware that he is getting older and it wont be long before he's not interested in this sort of crafty endeavour. Sigh.

We've also had fun in the kitchen, baking a Simnel cake, the Munchy rolling the marzipan balls which ended up startlingly huge. Very fat apostles. He really likes just eating all the marzipan trimmings! He was most interested in the choccy Easter nests which were pretty yummy, I admit.

We had a scrumptious roast for lunch on Easter Sunday so I put just a few decorations up in the dining room. Hmm, maybe I will get some more for next year.

Well readers it's time to love you and leave you while we have a little break. In protest, Jacky-Ginge is staging a sit-in on my new beach bag. Naughty tom. Especially as he knows he'll be thoroughly spoiled by our house sitter!

I hope you enjoyed a wonderful Easter. See you soon... xxx

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Bags of Spring

I could hardly believe it this week when I read that up North there was snow and freaky weather conditions. You poor things. We've been very lucky here and had a largely bright week. It made me want to change things round a bit at home and get out that box of Easter decorations. I decided to take off the sludgey quilt and cushions from the pew and instead adorn it with the vintage hexy quilt I bought along Bridport's street market. The fabrics and colours are beautiful, very 1930s. How do you like my new rabbit friend? I saw him, Bagpuss-style, in the window of a very unassuming shop in Totnes last weekend. My sister said "He won't be for sale", (the window was full of clothes really), but I was undeterred and soon after, Bunny was mine. I've treated him to a blue velvet ribbon and he's very happy on his comfy blankety seat. I'm loving the pew and being able to change it round and give our entrance hall a completely different feel with relative ease. A little money very well spent.

Like I say, we've had some pretty glorious days here recently (a few dull ones too, including today). This year, I made the effort to plant up some Spring plants in the patio pots and I'm so glad as it's been so cheery. I will definitely do this each year from now on as Spring plants are actually my favourites with their beautiful colours. The plants were all really cheap from Bridport's street market, 15 primulas for £5, you can't complain at that, can you?

The etagere is looking a bit more perky with a spot of replanting, after all my lovely geraniums succumbed to the cold. My auriculas are just flowering, such cute little faces. (Ah, well as you can see, one geranium is trying to hang on but looks very forlorn!)

My mini greenhouse is bursting with seedlings and plug plants although my dahlia tubers want some more heat and are steadfastly refusing to show their faces yet. Every year I swear I won't buy plug plants, they're a lot of work and you seem to end up with far more than you need, but to be fair, this year I stuck to the larger sized ones and bought just a few in small numbers. I can never resist once the first few rays of Spring sunshine break through and all those plant catalogues fall onto the door mat. Know the feeling?

Spring weather meant it was time for a pretty new handbag, too. I picked up this pattern at the Exeter Quilt Fair and can you see that divine vintage fabric in the background? I found that at the flea market at Shepton Mallet, it was virtually the end of the day and the stall holders were packing away. I'd run out of cash (oops!) but the lady kindly took a cheque. I just had to have that fabric, it was the find that made my day! Such wonderful clear, pretty colours. The rest will be used to make cushion covers once our sitting room is redecorated but I couldn't resist a bit for a bag right now.

It was quite a strange pattern, in terms of construction, but not really that difficult. So, the lovely vintage French floral fabric, some linen and some bits 'n' bobs later...

I found a pretty floral fabric for lining amongst my stash (I LOVE that I have just about everything I need in my Den once I decide to make something) and added four pockets to the interior. The original pattern had a linen pocket on the front but I didn't like that and could see it would obscure the design on the vintage fabric.

The most fun, of course, was adding those bits 'n' bobs to the front. A few buttons covered with yummy vintage fabrics, a lace bow, some Cath K badges and yes, a few more buttons are the finishing touch. The pattern called for some piping along the seam where the two main fabrics join but I didn't have anything I liked. I thought the blue gingham binding was perfect though, so I just sewed that on flat instead. Doing your own thing is what actually transforms these patterns, I think.

On a completely different note, prize for cutest furry friend of the week must surely go to Charlie-Boy, (nicknamed Mr Lion himself), who seems to have taken rather a shine to vintage lion!

It is of course, Easter Sunday, so I'd like to wish a very HAPPY EASTER to you all. I should be writing a blog post containing suitably Easter-y scenes but I'm behind with my blogging so that will come next if I can fit it in before we head off for the hols. Have a lovely, realxing, choccy-filled day, please. That's an order!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Light My Fire

Well, it's been a busy few weeks, in fact scrap that, just where has this year gone so far? The latter part of last week was largely spent having fun in the West Country: attending quilting and vintage fairs, mooching in my beloved Bridport and car booting, too. I picked up some new bag patterns at the fair, alongside some fabric (who'd have thought it?) I decided it was Spring and that means new bags and clothes as far as I'm concerned, especially now holiday time is nearly here. I bought most of these fabrics you see in this picture at the fair, including the bag pattern, which I partly followed. I may have become better at sewing over the years but I've become worse at being prepared to follow patterns! I like doing my own thing. The most pleasing bit of this beachy bag is the buttons, I feel; salvaged from old cushions and recovered with delicious vintage fabric. Yum.

Books, that's what we're really looking at today, well sort of. I love books and reading, I really do, always have. Luckily, Mr HH is the same and the Munchkin has followed suit and has always been an excellent reader since I taught him about age 5, and always has his head in a book (if not in Lego). I tend to that school of thought that there's nothing like sitting down with a good book, feeling its pages between your hands and poring over pictures. I have a fair few crafty books in my Den, we have a huge floor - to - ceiling wall of books in the sitting room, Mr HenHouse has walls full in his "Man Den" and the Munchkin has five bookcases. I do hope the walls of this old Victorian house are good and sturdy!

Having said all this, I wrangled for some time before plumping for one of these which arrived this week...

Yes, it's one of those new-fangled e-reader thingies. I've had many years now of shoe horning as many heavy paperbacks into my holiday suitcase as possible, finding my case is too heavy, taking out a few pairs of shoes and re-packing it all again. Whilst I am happy at home with real paper pages between my mitts, I couldn't deny the attraction of this tiny little gadget which will hold several thousands of books. No good for pretty crafty or interiors books, of course, I will always want the real thing there but for my chosen chill-out reading matter (rubbish chick-lit, I'm afraid), this Kindle is really rather fab. The "books" download via wifi in a matter of seconds and if you are choosy enough, there are many for free and the first I bought was only 99p. It's nice and light in my arthritic old hands but more importantly, I soon realised that every Kindle needs a Kindle-Cover, no?

Ok then, too exciting for words, time to faff with bits of pretty vintage fabric, draw up a little pattern taking all of three minutes then get sewing. I settle on simple strips to let the pretty patterns do the talking.

Things get more involved though when I decide a bit of vintage embroidery is called for. Oooh, but the decision is agonising and takes far too long to be sensible. I have certain cloths I don't cut, certain ones which are too big or too small, certain ones with colours which may be just right or well, just wrong.

Et voila, a few hours later and the Kindle is now decidedly cosy with its cover.

It's strippy both back and front (more fabrics to choose, you see), I backed the patchwork panels with leftover cotton batting and made a little tab closure with the vintage embroidery (allowing the cover to be safely closed) with an inch or so of velcro underneath.

I lined it with a bit of old rosebud-patterned cotton pillowcase. You know, I rather like the idea of my Kindle getting cosy inside its own rosy pillowcase once it's ready to go to sleep!

Well, all that was rather exhausting so maybe a spot of cosy mid-afternoon-sofa-bound reading is in order?

Or I could just moon over my new patchworky cover?

Or maybe some-furry has other ideas so errm, none of those things?