Wednesday, 26 November 2008

A gentle weekend.

The children recovered from their colds as quickly as children invariably do. I on the other hand grew feverish, sneezed with a highly tiresome regularity and turned my nose into a festive rendition of Rudolph's own with my endless wiping of the poor thing. I usually get a cold about once every one or two years which lasts for precisely one day and is thus indulged with snuggling close to the fire and a delicious hot toddy or three. To my utter disgust this one ran into day two and continued its merry way into day three for good measure at which point Mr Davey insisted I take to my bed, something I have to be forced to do as I love the idea, but can only endure it if I am well enough to actually enjoy the experience! Hence, it never happens. Sunday saw me ensconced beneath our quilt with a pile of knitting and the Country Living Christmas edition, and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed myself despite the exhaustion of endless sneezing fits. I did however get up for a brief while in the afternoon with the appropriate permission from Dave to make the Christmas pudding; well, it was Stir Up Sunday after all.

Dave and I both love cooking and have devised a plan to enable us both to get a bite of the Christmas cherry so to speak. This year it is his turn to cook the Christmas dinner and mine to make the pudding, such an enjoyable task that I was not about to give it up because of a cold. Goodness it was good to get back to bed after all that mixing though. Wishes were made whilst stirring by the children who were present - most of them on this occasion - and those who were absent received phone calls telling them to imagine they were stirring (while we actually did it for them) and make their wish that way. And here is the delicious end result: Mr Dave's Figgy Pudding,a gorgeously unctious mix of figs, nuts, zest and alcohol all made to his very own recipe.

And again...

And here is one of the bowls we use as we always make two

I also have moved forward with the little rag doll I am making for isabella and she now has a dress and hat trimmed with lace that once belonged to my Grandmother and now belongs to me.

Her face is yet to be finished, but she now has a little mop cap with a tiny bow nestled close to the brim. I so love making this.

A pair of lace-trimmed bloomers

So she is almost complete now - I hope Isabella loves her as much as I have loved making her.

I also managed to get some more paperwork done and some business planning for next year. How lovely to be trapped in one place and able to let the ideas just flow. I got increasingly excited at the thought of moving things forward, seeing where I could take my little business which has steadily grown over the last year and taught me so much about everything concerned from packaging, designing, making...oh the list is endless, but perhaps most important of all is what I have learnt about myself. I realise I am far more of a perfectionist than I thpought I was, far too hard on myself when things invariably go awry once in a while and far too ready to work myself to an early grave. On the positive side though I have noticed a gentle increase in self-confidence, always a huge problem for me, so Hooray for that!

Have a lovely day xx

Friday, 21 November 2008

Colds and Christmas.

The two little girls have colds of the nose-streaming, shadow-eyed variety. And so do I. The kitchen table is strewn with paperwork for the business which I have let slip a little recently and last night seemed a good time to bring it back into order as Mr Dave was away for the night due to work. It had obviusly slipped a little more than I thought as I finally went to bed at a quarter to twelve and there is still a small amount left to do. Still, no matter; I like the feeling of restoring order into chaos and that's just as well with a family this size. So, today two young ladies snuggled under covers on the settees (even though they are feeling fine in themselves, hence Isabella leaping around like a banshee every so often) and Mama has supplied copious plates of vitamin laden 'snacks'. They are like me in that they never lose their appetites through illness (depression, happiness, get the picture).

As I raced out to get some work in from the sewing room, I noticed this broad bean growing - well, flowering actually - by the steps. How many times I must pass this spot and yet only today did I notice just how well this determined self-seeded bean is doing. My mouth waters at the possibility of an out of season mini-feast.

Things are creeping along slowly on the Christmas present front with orders obviously taking priority. My recent foray into appliqued houses originated in this partly completed draught excluder I am making for my daughter, Lauren, who has the most enormous gap beneath her door in her student house. I am hoping it will eliminate the howling gale currently sweeping through her room and enable her to feel her Mamma is with her, keeping her warm as she works. More pictures when it is eventually finished, though I must say I find this kind of work extremely trying when attempting to get decent pictures - any tips most gratefully received please.

Other gifts in the making include this diminutive young lady for Isabella who absolutely loves dolls and has a mother who absolutely loves rag dolls. She will soon have her face, hair and some clothes to keep out the chills...

...and will also be wrapped up with her own quilted cot cover and embroidered pillow.

It's reversible too.

With embroidered flowers on the pillow. Oh, I mentioned that already. Dire light in this room today, but I am trying to avoid Isabella seeing.

The quilt I am making for Isabella is almost ready now, I just need to find a fabric for the back. Dave and I have our eyes firmly fixed on some beautiful Japanese material with cherries scatterd over a white ground...just lovely, but we shall see.

(Nearly there, I promise). A Christmassy door hanger...well, it could be hung anywhere actually - over a mantle, from a tree, on the wall.

And just so you don't think I play all the time, here are just a few of the huge pile of lavender and chamomile sachets to be completed for an order wending its way to Richmond later today. Can't even smell them my nose is so bunged up. Hot toddy tonight, mmm.

Bye for now xx

Wednesday, 19 November 2008


I love the word serenity. I love the way it sounds, soft and lyrical like the sea gently surging against the shore before slipping away ... away ... away. This morning dawned with a serene light of ochre peeping through silver streaked sky and as the deeper blue of night disappeared once more I felt the need for the freshness of sea air against my skin. Once Lucy was safely delivered to school Isabella and I headed off to the beach where the soft sand was ours to enjoy as we were alone apart from the oyster catchers dipping and diving for their breakfast feast. We sat on the steps watching the waves lap sleepily at our feet.

The tide was slowly making its way out leaving tangles of burnished seaweed, shells and sea-smoothed pebbles in its wake. We collected our favourites to take home, chatting about where we would put them with Isabella determindely insisting they would be best in 'my rooms' which would be about right as she seems to occupy far more space than the rest of the children stowed away in our tiny house.

I tried to teach Isabella the art of skimming stones, but I fear we have a little way to go yet. To be fair, her teacher is completely useless at skimming too and eventually we abandoned our game in favour of other things...

such as finding unsual flat winkles. These pretty shells are abundant on our coastline and come in a range of colours, the most common being yellow, brown and orange toned. Today Isabella and I found these little white ones scattered by the receding tide, their pearly insides matching the soft white exterior so that I almost missed them, mistaking them for pebbles.

So quiet was our time together that we felt the need to just sit for a while, soaking up the warmth of the sun and scanning the horizon for the ships ant-like in the distance, only the shushing of the sea breaking into our thoughts. Even my little livewire child was still for a moment, just a moment. I wonder what thoughts went through that ever-busy mind?

All too soon it was time to head for home and leave the quiet of the beach behind for another day. It is not easy to persuade any of the children, young or older, to leave the sea at the best of times, but today Isabella was happy to come as 'home' meant a cup of milk and one of Daddy's chocolate brownies - clever Daddy who also knitted the lovely scarf Isabella wears every day and which can be seen in these pictures.

Such a lovely start to the day. Such serenity.

Have a lovely Wednesday x

Monday, 17 November 2008

A quiet weekend.

Christmas fast approaches now and things are hotting up in the sewing room with things being made for orders and me still ploughing away with the Christmas presents for our own friends and family. We took some time out yesterday to sort the garden while the weather was fine. Yet another roaring bonfire was the result of much pruning of our huge bay hedge, though I kept a large pile of the clippings to dry in the kitchen. The smoke curled through the garden, pefuming the air with the wonderful smell as Dave and I worked away. The leaves were raked into enormous piles by Lucy and Isabella gamely dug the bed I had just planted with chives and bulbs and oregano...thank you Isabella.

It was just so peaceful out there with the sun weakly shining down, the crackling of the fire and the hen scratching around where I dug. The hen pen also had a good clear through and we finally moved the new house Dave and Elias had built into place. Discovery rewarded us with one beautiful warm egg which Dave found as he placed fresh straw inside and we shared it later with buttery soldiers to dip into the deep yellow yolk.

Other good things this weekend included making this wallhanging for a little friend's first birthday. I wanted to make a picture to hang in her room which included applique and hand embroidery (of course) and have been slightly obsessed with these houses - they are beginning to appear on a number of things in the Pipany sewing room of late. The pictures are dire for which I heartily apologise. I had not realised there were smears on the lens until after the present had been given and am now waiting for better shots to arrive from Celia's lovely Mummy. In the meantime, here's a close up of one of the houses with a purple flowering plent twining its way up the walls (perhaps it's a cup and saucer plant).

I particularly like this higgledy-piggledy house and the tree with its underplanting of flowers.

Oh those photographs truly are awful...sigh. Clicking on the images to enlarge gives a better idea of what it looks like. Ah well, it is very pretty in 'real life' and I will just have to check the lens in future won't I?

Happy Monday xx

Monday, 10 November 2008

Oh to sleep perchance to dream.

It has been a little trying here since Firework Night; each night has consisted of the fizzing and banging of varous displays, both public and private, and I sit here now pondering on the fact that Bonfire Night was surely the 5th of November, not several days later, and if the dislays are to include children how come they are still going on at 10 o'clock? The reason I am beiginning to lose the plot (no pun intended) is because Isabella has now decided to play up at every bedtime, dreading the raucous racket which will surely follow. Most upsetting as prior to this she slept so well, but I think we are beginning to get there...I hope.

The weather over ther weekend has been dreadful, so much rain and howling gales, though I mind these far less than the rain I must admit. Berries still cling to the hedgerows with the rosehips slowing turning darker and losing that wonderful vibrancy. I will pick more to freeze today ready for when I have a little more time to make syrup otherwise I think they will suddenly disappear for another year. The ones I hung earlier in the season in the kitchen to dry for decorations are almost ready for use.

The odd spot of sun on Friday provided a chance for these pictures of burnished leaves and cotoneaster berries all grwoing around the boundary of our front garden in what could loosely be termed a hedge. This overgrown patch is shading the grass far too much to allow it to dry out, but I can't make myself cut it back until the colours have faded and the foliage will be used for Christmas anyway, hanging in swathes on mantle and windowsill and scenting the rooms with a freshness that mixes with the spices from our ever-present pan of mulled wine which begins on the 1st of December and ends with the decorations coming down....Mmm.

In the meantime, I shall continue working away on such things as children's bags and Christmassy stockings and a variety of other things which have been ordered and hope fervently that the fireworks have now been put to bed for another year, leaving Isabella with a peaceful night to dream a little dream.

I hope!

Happy Monday xx

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Bonfire Night

Such a lovely day yesterday. Isabella and I were heading of for a walk on the beach in the morning, but as I lifted her out of the car I realised I had forgotten to put any shoes on. Stockinged feet on a cold beach didn't seem such a good idea, so what to do with one disappointed toddler. Little in the world is as good to Isabella as a play on the beach, generally involving water, shell collecting and...water. We went home to have a rethink over boiled egg and 'toldiers'.

The sun shone, albeit with that cool gleam which bleaches colour out of the leaves and a hint of mist circling through the branches, but it called to em nonetheless so wrapped up in gardening coats and wellies we ventures forth for a (long) overdue clear up. First the ducks needed feeding, not easy when the bin is as big as you.

Next there were leaves to rake up which Tiger Lily the Pestilent insisted on helping with. Lucy and I are going to place some piles at the end of the garden at the weekend in one of the many overgrown areas for our resident hedgehogs to hopefully use this winter, but there were plenty left for the bonfire tonight.

We spent a happy hour or two together, me planting and Isabella removing in favour of her own sticks. Later in the day, once the hen had taken herself off to bed, I lit the campfire and we burned sparklers which Dave had found in the garage. Lucy and Isabella shrieked as the sparks flew and the fire roared, the first time that Isabella really understood what it was all about. Sam and I stoked the flames until finally there was nothing left to burn and then we all trailed in for jacket potatoes by the log fire in the sitting room.

A perfect day.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

A bit late...

Hallowe'en has gone for another year and much fun it was too. The highlight of our evening has to be playing Banana Pinata, that little known game where you and the children spend much time glueing and sticking endless torn pieces of newspaper to a balloon in order to create a skull to fill with aweets. The general idea is that the pinata - should be a squiggly thing over the 'n' but can't do that on my keyboard - should be hit by all present till it breaks revealing the sweeets. In our case Dave decided we should take it in turns hitting it with a banana...hmm. It was very funny if extremely messy and a perfect game in the lead up to our favourite one of Bite the Apple which always provides plenty of shots for the family album where we apparently torture our children.

As to dressing up, we had a monk, a devil or two - very cute ones in the form of Lucy and Isabella though her outfit lasted all of two minutes before she stripped off the dress and accompanying Father Christmas hat! - Rasputin and verious other witchy people present. I was a black cat, though as usual I left getting ready to the last possible moment and then rushed so had no tail or ears.

All good fun, but now I must turn my attention fully toward Christmas as I always do when the half term holiday is over, and judging by my order emails I am not the only one. A Christmassy picture as I head off on the school run before settling down with the sewing machine and Radio 4.

Bye for now x