Thursday, 31 October 2013

Happy Halloween!

No fancy dress parties for us this year - just a cosy night in with a pumpkin and a glass of something warming. It's been a busy few days and last night we had a no-show (we were expecting a couple to come and view the house at 6pm). Maddening, especially when you've been rushing around and then waiting for nothing.

I suspect we'll be getting lots of knocks on the door tonight. 

Enjoy your Halloween, however you plan to spend it :)

All photos taken at Dunham Massey, Cheshire.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Almost Halloween

It's the day before Halloween. The pumpkin's been brought in from the shed ready for carving, and the forecast was for rain this afternoon so this morning Joe and I went on a little walk. We spotted lots of lovely things: I want one of these trees. They remind me of candelabras somehow, especially once their leaves have dropped.

This is one well-stocked woodshed. Well, barn. They must have a serious log burning stove in their house. 

Speaking of houses - this might be my perfect place for a Halloween party. Apple-bobbing and so on. And cocktails and costumes.

Someone even managed to keep a hat and mittens on. Cobbled lane + snuggly footmuff = sleepy boy. He'd better be awake for the pumpkin carving later.

On the subject of hats, I've just finished this for someone we know with a new baby girl. Looks simple enough. It took me three attempts with a lot of unravelling ( of knitting) and fraying (of nerves). My second attempt at a pattern. I had to increase stitches on a purl row. It floored me.

I got there eventually. Thank you, You Tube.

Monday, 28 October 2013


Hygge: it's a Danish term which roughly translates as 'cosiness' and refers to good food, good company, warmth and soft lighting. In other words, a feel-good approach to the dark, cold months which are fast approaching.

We've all been battening down the hatches of late, what with the storms and rain and gloom. I had the sewing machine out yesterday and made some cushion covers with fabric remnants. Perfect for a cosy winter bed.

I was caught twice in downpours today, despite having an umbrella and wearing a parka, woolly hat and big boots. When I got home I had pilchards and toast and a cup of tea. It helped.

The fairy lights in the kitchen have added to the hygge at home. As have Gardener's World and hot baths. Oh, and an order for Narcissus Paperwhite. I'm looking forward to a display of those on the mantelpiece come Christmas.

Speaking of which... I was at a local garden centre 'lifestyle store' recently and they were having their Grand Christmas Opening that very afternoon (9th of October). Barely even a nod to Halloween. I got Joe and myself out of there well before midday. But now there's no escaping it I suppose: TV adverts, shop windows... as yet the only whiff of it in this house is the smell of satsumas. I'm hoping to keep it that way until December. We've still got bonfire night to go!

Until then we'll be keeping warm, eating well and taking it easy when we can (not that often with a one-year-old crashing around). 

The wardrobe's been cleared of summer clothes. The warm pyjamas are back in circulation. And Joe's wearing lots of layers. Can't let those little fingers and toes get chilly.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Nature in the Home: Week One

Nature in the Home is back - hooray! It's always good to have a bit of focus when Joe and I are out on our walks.

Lou encouraged us to get out there and see what we could find to reflect the season (as opposed to visiting the florist). Not a problem for us as we always bring home some gifts from nature to display around the house.

Today we brought back a few little bits and pieces: a sprig of blackberries in various stages of ripeness; some oak twigs complete with leaves; seed heads; more honesty and some elderberries.

Scouting around I realised that this year had been a bumper one for conkers. Either that or I'm just noticing them more. And there were lots and lots of ladybirds. In fact there was one wandering around our kitchen ceiling when we got home.

As well as the little display for Nature in the Home, my dried collection (which resides in the kitchen) continues to grow.

I still can't get enough of the honesty heads - little paper moons. They look pearlescent when the light shines through them. Maybe I'll try growing some. Speaking of dried arrangements I love dried hydrangeas but we don't own a hydrangea bush and I'm not keen on the idea of sneakily snipping some from a stranger's garden (or - gasp - a churchyard). Maybe I'll ask around and see if any friends or relatives have some. Ideally in pink or purple.

I don't ask for much...

Tuesday, 22 October 2013


I can't believe it's mid October already. Lots of little things going on at the moment: Joe's becoming quite the accomplished walker. I spend much of my time watching him. An extra pair of eyes (in the back of my head) would be useful.

I've seen lots of vivid autumnal colour in the form of berries but also leaves - on my way to collect Joe from his grandparent's today (after a window-dressing session) I saw a spectacular Japanese maple. It lit up someone's garden on a gloomy, wet day.

I'm not tired of treacle toffee yet. Latest incarnation: lollies.

Two lemon polenta cakes. One to take to our friend's house (we were there for an autumn barbecue on Sunday) and one to keep at home. Jay insisted. He has a very sweet tooth and, fortunately for him, a very fast metabolism.

We've been out walking (in between rain showers) and spotting little seasonal details.

Like frilly funghi...

And more substantial-looking examples. In fact we also spotted a forager with a bag full of various funghi. I hope he knew what he was doing.

I'm excited about this one: we're going to the private view of Angie Lewin's upcoming exhibition at Yorkshire Sculpture Park in November. I totally 'get' why people keep invitations on their mantelpieces. Not to impress others (I just emailed to request two places for the private view) but to enjoy the anticipation every time you notice them. Nice picture, too.

I'm still knitting. This one's for a Christmas present. Rowan's 'Cocoon' again, shade: Seascape. I couldn't resist anything with that name.

I've been wrapping up in tartan. I love it, both to wear and as upholstery and furnishing fabric. In fact there's a very large piece upstairs in my fabric trunk. The colours are a bit blah but maybe I'll try dyeing it.

I hope you're enjoying the autumn. The only thing I'm not too keen on is the dark mornings. The evenings are fine though - the perfect excuse to hibernate. Warm clothes, hearty food, hot drinks... and very occasionally something decent to watch on the TV.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013


I'm surprised I've got any teeth left (admittedly, they have been a bit achey of late) considering the amount of sugar consumed in this house during the past week.

I ate the golden toffee apple. The red one belongs to Jay. He hasn't succumbed yet. This is known as Self Control. I've yet to experience it.

Plummy plums - how can you not buy them at this time of year? 

They're stewed now. I'm considering making a crumble (there's a bowl of Bramley and sultana compote in the fridge already so that's breakfast dealt with).

These are the culprits where toothache's concerned. Treacle toffee. Part of my autumn ritual. Strange, as I don't generally have a sweet tooth. I'd prefer to snack on savoury things like salted nuts or crisps, or cheese. Which is precisely the reason why I tend not to buy them for myself. Apart from at Christmas...

Jay's birthday cake ended up being carrot (with cream cheese frosting). I know 'frosting' sounds a bit American but it most definitely isn't icing. It's buttercream with plenty of vanilla extract and Philadelphia beaten in.

The cake didn't last long. It never does around here.

Monday, 14 October 2013

The Great Indoors

Because it's chilly out there. I've caved in and put the heating on. The joys of a warm bathroom cannot be underestimated.

And the autumn rearranging/nesting goes on: I dug out some cushion covers I made a couple of years ago from some tweedy remnants bought from an interiors shop. 

They've got vintage buttons sewn on too. I'm glad I kept hold of these (they were folded up alongside fabric scraps and embroidery silks). Stock rotation. And stock retention: we were all set to donate our 1960s sideboard to charity as there was no room for it after making a little desk area under the stairs.

But at the eleventh hour we realised we couldn't let it go. So it's back in its rightful place. I now work (awkwardly) from it. I'll cope.

Speaking of work, I love volunteering at the charity shop. Organising, rearranging, doing the window and shelf displays... I'm completely in my element. Next project: planning an autumnal window. Two actually. Pinterest, here I come!

I also took down some summery prints from the living room and drew some super-quick designs using charcoal. They look a bit childish I suppose but I like the simplicity of them.

I haven't drawn with charcoal for years. It was fun but very smudgy. I did some pictures for the bedroom too (but haven't photographed them yet). Total time taken: an hour, tops. Total cost: free. Lovely!

Chalk this time instead of charcoal. Simple food for this week's menu. The 'meals out' bit refers to a few family birthday outings: curry on Friday evening (just Jay and me - we enjoyed it but were pleased to collect Joe again afterwards) and a family lunch yesterday. Three courses. Sunday afternoon drowsiness ensued...

Hope you had a lovely weekend :)

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Eating, touching, observing, discovering...

I think that just about sums it up for the past four or five days... the honesty seedheads I collected whilst out walking - as well as looking pretty - are quite therapeutic. My mum told me about peeling the papery brown layers off each side to reveal the almost translucent discs.

It's one of those tactile, absorbing little tasks you could do for hours.

I'm waiting for these pears to ripen. The process is easier when they're sitting on this vintage dish (bought for £1) at a car boot sale we went to at the weekend.

Out in the garden the sunflowers are well and truly dried out. They've attracted a squirrel, now a daily visitor. The squirrel in turn has attracted a big black and white cat who sits and stares longingly but knows not to even attempt an ambush. It would prove far too embarrassing.

Some of the sunflower heads are now in the kitchen, displayed in another car boot bargain: a 20p cake tin. It's old, heavy and my mum forbade me to drill holes in the bottom to plant paperwhites in. Speaking of which - is it just me, or are paperwhite bulbs always hard work to get hold of?

I can't resist the violet of these little turnips when I see them. Grated with salt, black pepper and mayonnaise: winter salad/slaw. Very nice indeed.

This vase was my favourite car boot purchase of all. It cost £1. It's a perfect shade of petrol blue, doesn't have even a tiny chip on it and is now on the mantelpiece. It's also staying with me  - definitely not one for the next vintage and craft fair.

Made in Devon. Means nothing to me in terms of value - I'm a purely aesthetics-minded collector. I also came away with a pair of old wooden shoe lasts (£1) and a 50p bottle with a glass stopper which once lived in a science lab.

In the garden, the mini dahlias are still doing their thing.

And the spindly little fruit twig (it could never be classed as a shrub) has revealed itself to be a redcurrant. These few berries appeared after several years of nothing.

The chillies are continuing to fruit too. These miniature ones remind me of Christmas lights. I suspect they might be potent...

The pumpkin was a gift. I won't even pretend to take the gardening credit for this one.

We'll do a bit of viola planting this weekend. It's going to be wild and windy but hopefully dry.

I baked brownies at the weekend. There are few things that seem to work with gluten free flour but pancakes and brownies always come good. So good that they didn't last very long.

It's Jay's birthday on Friday so there'll be more cake to come. Not gluten free. Which means lots of choices and a decision to be made...

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