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You can’t possibly eat Santa’s face

6 Dec

Number 2 has just reached a certain state of maturity (age 4) at which this occurs to him…. “I can’t eat the face!” We reply “But it’s just a gingerbread man. You always eat it all up.” But Secondo cannot be persuaded. He has turned on a dime from bloodthirsty thug on a testosterone high into sensitive soul. Waitrose’s seasonally themed gingerbread range are always a source of pleasure in our house. But this is the first time they’ve sparked a philosophical debate.


Sugru hack vintage style

2 Sep


My porcelain pencil sharpener… Take one 50p boot sale Royal Worcester porcelain pot, one pencil sharpener and half a sugru sachet. Sugru’s that mouldable silicon that air dries as a flexible waterproof tough heatproof form. Think useful plasticine. Think ‘I can mend or hack anything’. So now all the pencil shavings collect daintily and usefully in the pot. Hurrah. Sugru is wonderful and inspiring.

Bring the lavender up to nose level

22 Jul

Lovely idea just spotted outside Janey Mac cafe in Kinsale. The scent of lavender (at nose level!) made me turn my head. I want one!

Vintage breakfast encore

5 Jul

We had such a good experience of our last Vintage Breakfast that we are doing it again… See you on Sunday 14th July. (If you missed last time have a taste of what it was like… Will be much better at taking photos – eg of lovely ladies sporting our vintage scarves – this time.)






Skyscraper seedlings

24 Jun

Ripped this idea from the first series of the killing. I should have been wringing my hands with Pernille over the disappearance of her kid but was actually more attentive to her kitchen window with the shelves spanning the glass to cram in more plants. Now we can house more sprouting lemongrass (just shove one from the supermarket into some Innes number 1), geraniums, cucumbers, sunflower seedlings… One small snag.. The free mdf from the free wood bin at Homebase bends rather but we will upgrade at our leisure to a piece of unyielding marine ply.

Work in progress: harlequin dinner service

30 Sep


Thought I would share a work in progress. I am assembling a harlequin set of antique porcelain dinner plates. The advantages being… it is cheaper picking up odd, charming plates; I like not having to choose one design when I like so many; if I break one it is less devastating than if I have created a hole in a matching set. The postman thinks I am strange though. Last weekend 10 bulky fragile packages turned up the same morning. I am picking up large dinner plates, dessert plates and, for soup, desserts and pasta etc, the large style of soup plate with a wide ‘brim’.

What to do with old kids’ tights

1 Apr
Rug made from old children's tights

Rug made from old children's tights

Number 1 just shot up several inches making a whole drawer full of tights somewhat indecent. But they were such lovely colours I couldn’t bear to bin them and didn’t somehow think the charity would be interested. And so, ta-dah! The old tights rug. Colourful, non? Was going to put it in Number 1’s room but it adds a lovely splash of colour to our newly restored library instead.

Plaited rug in progress

Making your own: 1. Cut the legs out of the tights, cutting out the toes, thick waistband elastic and the ‘seat’ (Can’t bring myself to write crotch!) 2. Cut the  leg tubes into 4 strips. 3. Sew a few pieces together and plait three different coloured strips. Continue until it’s all plaited in a big ball. 4. Coil the rope – I found it easiest to do this on a large book on my knee – and stitch with strong quilting cotton (this stuff is ideal because it does not snap) 5. Keep going until the rug reaches the size you want. Make sure that you keep the tension easy or you’ll end up with a basket not a rug. This is hardest and most important in the early stages of coiling at the middle of the rug. If you’ve made a plaited rug like this before you’ll find it a little different with the stretchy kids tights fabric. But the fabric is very easy to stitch so the rug comes quite quickly.

Plaited kids tights rug in library doorway

Plaited kids tights rug in library doorway

Bell ropes

1 Apr

I’ve long wanted to put something up through the narrow soaring stairwell of our house. Our house… it’s a narrow tall chimney. 3 floors. Lots of stairs. High ceilings. Good light at the front in the morning. Good light at the back in the afternoon-evening. The hallway is somewhat dark. I wanted to make a virtue of the height. I was thinking about prayer flags, ribbons, Tricia Guild’s colourful pom-pom frill bell ropes in her stairwell, I’ve tried strings of laboriously hand stitched patchwork pieces, I’ve tried spiralling paper …

I’ve also been thinking lately about the words that get me through. I’ve always collected consoling or uplifting or provoking words from things I’ve read. I write them all down in a clutch of little red slub silk covered books. They help. They always help. But they’re trapped in these little books. I wanted to bring them out and make them part of our house, especially for the children to be immersed in these words I’ve loved. This is the beginning of such a project.

I think of them as bell ropes which romanticises my hallway as a bell tower. But, note this Numbers 1 & 2, they are not for pulling!

The paper is the wonderful security prints from the inside of bill envelopes (which I know some people collect – but I’ve not patient enough to accumulate it), music scores from a clearout of childhood papers, textured papers from unbidden upmarket catalogues, scraps of handmade paper & card saved for no good reason, thick cartridge paper from the reverse of estate agent’s circulars…. lots and lots of places you can find wonderful paper.

28 Oct

A dazzling folk art image blog. [Tumblr interesting. Too invested in wordpress to play around though.] Love the piecemeal textile creations here: It’s made art by the triumph of compulsively worked-at craft over the poverty of the materials. The very opposite of what’s true of great food. Already inspired to weave great complex creations of bamboo for the sweet peas to smother next year.

Cabbage cushions

21 Oct

Anthropologie napkin cushion

“Cabbage” is the mainstay of my making. It’s the old name given to any little scraps of fabric. I love making patchwork, fuxico, collage fabrics out of these charming but scrappy fragments. Not strictly cabbage, but Anthropologie, ‘never knowingly undercharging’, does yield some wonderful inexpensive treats if you keep an eye on their table linens. This napkin made a perfect cushion. It sits on a big patchwork mostly made from cabbage scraps. I sit on top!

And I’ve finally been making use of all the lovely (free) fabric swatches sent me by the likes of Tinsmiths and Sanderson over the however long. (I did actually buy fabric as it happens so don’t feel too badly for them!) The cushion below is one such, with all those glorious sunny yellows, in my yellow room, with the lovely yellow morning light. See another scrap patchwork quilt behind it.

Fabric samples cushion

There’s mileage in some exchange on inexpensive sources of wonderful fabrics. I’m at Ardingley in a week and a half’s time – they have good linen and vintage fabric there very often. My sister is fetching over more surplus clothes over the weekend. Hoping for more of her jeans to make into kid clothes. Her jersey dresses make great pillowcase frocks for Number 1. Other than that I’m down at Ikea, scouring every fabric sale and trying to make £2.95/m gingham look less like school uniform or LittleHouseonthePrairie! Anyone?