Sunday, March 31, 2013

Preparing for a lazy day

The clocks changed last night so we're now in British Summertime and actually the sun is shining out there for a change, though it is still bitterly cold. I had a nice lovely lie in this morning so I'm only just up and functioning, but I'm not planning on doing a lot just settling down for a lovely lazy day.

There will be chocolate consumption a plenty. I showed you the little Easter treat that I put together for James in my post on Friday, this is the lovely chocolateness that I received in return.
Some chocolate romance
And I love the beautiful decoration on the egg, it's going to be a shame to break that up and eat it .... but I'm sure I'll manage.
James is going to make me a nice roast dinner too, so you'll mostly find me snuggled on the sofa watching some TV, catching up on some blog reading and there will be some crochet thrown in there for good measure too.

Hope you all have a wonderful, peaceful Sunday xx

Saturday, March 30, 2013

'Cor blimey it's cold in the Cotswolds

The week before last James and I had the chance to spend a lovely day out in the Cotswolds. We're very lucky to live on the edge of such a beautiful part of the country.

First stop Bourton-on-the-water.  Such a pretty little village with river running through.
I can tell you it was freezing cold out so after a good wander round the village looking at all of the lovely buildings it was time to warm up with a cup of tea and a slice of cake. I so need to get myself a teapot and some sugar lumps so I can recreate this yummy senario in my home every day :)
Refuelled on cake we decided to go to one of the visitor attractions in the village, Birdland  We had such a fabulous time trying to speak to the birds, oh my we laughed until frozen tears rolled down our faces.
These Kookaburras were just amazing. 
There was a little sign on their enclosure, suggesting that if you whistle they might just start calling to you.  So a whistling James went ....
And oh boy was a racket these guys made, it was the strangest sound, just as though they were laughing with (or most likely at) us!

We decided to try and pose with the penguins ..... well we managed to get us but the penguins are just little blobs in the background which wasn't quite the plan!  I love this shot of us together though cold but happy.
Of course there were many more gorgeous feathered friends to enjoy...
Snowy Owl
Flamingos ....
They were all necks, beaks and legs :)
A golden phesant, giving me the evil eye for pointing the lens in his direction!
The Pelicans had different techniques for trying to combat the cold..... a bit of hiding
or the puff the feathers out technique :)
More lovely owls
And we couldn't resist going back to the penguins
After all the wandering in the cold we decided to go along to another village Moreton-In-Marsh in search of some warmth.  My darling man treated me to a fabulous lunch in front of the fire ..... the perfect way to end our adventure before heading home.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Happy Easter

Happy Easter weekend you guys!

Here in the UK we have a nice long weekend off work, so no work for me now until Tuesday. Happy Days.  I don't have any particular plans, after another terrible week at work I think I'm going to be mooching around the flat reading and stitching and generally having a nice chilled out time.
Do you like my little knitted Easter chicks?  You might remember I mentioned back here that I'd picked up the knitting needles again.  These guys came together so quickly and I just smiled all the way through knitting them up.  I was going to provide you with a link as they were a free pattern on the Deramores website but they seem to have taken the link down, or at least I couldn't find it :(  If you are a knit or crochet fan though I would recommend their facebook page as they have links to lots of cool free patterns of all kinds.
Did you notice the lovely chocolatey goodness in the photos too?  This is my bit of Easter fun for James.  I decide that a chocolate egg in a box was just a bit too boring, so I picked up a really cheap glass dish at one of the charity shops, you know the kind you use to put nibbles in, they have lots of different compartments.  I then raided the Lindt shop at the local outlet village and filled up the dish with eggs, chicks, rabbits and carrots all of the chocolate kind.  I hope he likes it!
Before I go I'm just going to share with you a picture of my absolute favourite thrift shop find, my dresser.  You might have noticed glimpses of it in recent photos here.  This was the first piece of furniture I bought after getting the keys to my flat.  James thinks I'm crazy .... I still don't have a proper bed, washing machine, table ..... the list goes on, but I'm so in love with this piece that I don't care if there are more practical things I should have bought first.

I paid £80 for this at a local charity shop.  It's in amazing condition.  My original plan was to paint it, but this colour has really grown on me and when I decorate the living room it will be quite light colours so I think a bit of dark wood in the corner will look really nice.  I guess I'll make my final decision when the decorating is done.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Vintage Loveliness

I was having a little rummage around in one of the local charity shops this weekend and imagine how my heart skipped a beat when I found this lovely piece of vintage embroidery tucked away in a basket of pictures and frames.
Isn't it just adorable?  It's stitched on linen.  The linen has a few stains, but I'm hoping that I might be able to find some help online which will advise me on a way to get it cleaned up without doing too much damage.  Any one of my lovely blog readers have any tips?
The majority of the picture is made up of cross stitch with a few long stitches on the cute little blue birds.  It's been shoved in a clip frame but hopefully I can get it cleaned up and put in something a bit grander.
At the same shop I picked up these two unusual box frames.
I'm planning on removing the dried flower arrangements, and probably painting them and then I'm thinking I might work on a couple of new embroidery pieces of my own to fill them up with.

Before I go I'm going to tell you how much I spend on these 3 lovelies .... you might want to sit down for this......... they set me back a grand total of £1.50.  Can you believe I got that embroidery piece for 50p, unbelievable really when you consider how many hours work will have gone in to it.

Monday, March 25, 2013

What a contrary being am I

When I was a kid I spent a whole lot of my time wishing I could be a grown up. There seemed to be so many things that I couldn't do because I wasn't old enough, clever enough or didn't have my own money. Now I'm grown up I seem to be spending a lot of time hankering after my childhood. What a contrary being I am.

Take my kitchen for example ... I've spent the last few weeks collecting this set of soup bowls while browsing the local second hand stores.
We had a set of these when I was growing up and they immediately make me think of my childhood.  It took me a little while to collect the set, for some reason the onion soup and scotch broth bowls were everywhere but the others were more tricky to come by.  I'm thinking that maybe onion soup and scotch broth weren't so popular as the other soups, therefore got used less and avoided getting broken and chipped.

Now the soup bowls have been collected I'm going to be on the hunt for something else.  We had this fabulous and funky set of plates in our house when I was a kid.
So far I haven't been lucky enough to come across any.  An online search has helped me find out that this is a set by Washington pottery called 'beefeater'  I've seen a few on online auction sites but generally they are being listed at around £10 a plate which is just too steep for me at the moment.  I'll keep hanging on in there for now in the hope that I might come across a plate here and there ... we'll see.

The same company also made a set of fish themed plates 'aquarius' they're called so I might have to keep an eye out for those too.  Let's hope I get some luck and find some soon :)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Take Time finished

The tea cups cross stitch is finished :)
Not the best picture I'll grant you, we've had snow again this weekend and the skies are very grey and the light is very dull.

I really enjoyed stitching this one up.  It had a nice variety of stitches so a bit more varied than the average cross stitch and a bit of beading thrown in for good measure too.
Now all that's left to do is find the perfect frame.  I have an idea in my head of what I think that it, but I'm going to try and pick up a frame thrifting so it could be a while before I find the perfect thing .... but that's ok I don't mind waiting.

If you're in snowy climes this weekend, I hope you're managing to keep nice and warm x

Friday, March 22, 2013

Handmade accents

So I'm sure you've probably got the gist that I am mostly going to be kitting out my new home with second hand bits and pieces. This is a conscious choice as I think it's great to recycle and give unwanted things a new home, and the added bonus is it helps a lot when you are trying to do things on a budget.

But of course I'm as passionate about handmade as I am recycled, so when I have a few spare pennies or I feel like a treat I will be splashing out on some handmade pieces here and there. So I thought I might share the few things that I've bought in recent weeks.

First off this lovely handmade ceramic salt pig for my kitchen.
Every Sunday there is a farmers market at the Swindon Outlet Village.  A few weeks ago I was stood admiring the wares of a local potter and fell in love with the cute little salt pigs he had on display.  I didn't like the colours of the ones he had but I liked another range in lovely blue shades, and he offered to make me exactly what I wanted.  Fast forward a couple of weeks and voila the lovely piece above now sits pride of place on my kitchen work top.

Next up a beautiful stitched wall hanging that I fell in love with over at Terri's page
I've know Terri via blogging pretty much since I started blogging which is many moons ago now.  Her work is always so lovely, and I just knew this little bird had to fly over the pond and come live on my bedroom wall.  My photo does not do this piece justice as I took it at night so the light was crummy, but I'm sure if you have a look around Terri's blog you'll find a better picture.

Finally another piece of wall art.  Unfortunately I have no idea who the maker is, this was one of my thrifting finds.
This gorgeous needlepoint piece is huge.  It's been well framed in this gorgeous heavy wood frame.  I couldn't believe it when I came across this in a charity shop for just £5 what an amazing bargain for all that hand stitched loveliness.  Trees and the colour orange are two of my favourite things so there was no way I was leaving the shop without it.

How about you?  Have you bought anything handmade recently, what was it and what made you fall in love with it?  :)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Wiltshire Downs

What's it like in your part of the world today? Here it's cold and grey and seems to have been for many, many days. I'm starting to crave the warmth of the sun. With rain forecast for the next few days it seems unlikely that I'll get my wish any time soon. So the closest thing I can get is looking at a few photos taken on a wonderful wander through the Wiltshire Downs last year.
Not the sunniest of days I'll grant you but it was really warm.
Just looking at these transports me back .... oh to be out wandering coatless through the countryside again.
Lets hope that some warm spring days make an appearance soon.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A little bit of happy.

I've had truely the most awful couple of weeks at work ever. Nothing I do seems to be right at the moment, no matter how many hours I put in or what it is that I do somehow it just doesn't seem enough for my employer right now. I do count myself lucky to have a job in this tough economic climate and I try not to be too ungrateful but it has really been dragging me down the last couple of weeks.

Lucky for me I have lots of good friends and family to see me through. And also I have my fabulous blogging friends some of who have really brought me little pieces of happy over the last few days.

Over the weekend I was busy catching up on a little bit of blog reading (as usual I'd fallen a bit behind) I hopped on over to Celia's place and was really delighted to spy in the picture of her workspace a little cross stitch that I made and sent last year.  I love making for other people and it made me silly happy to think of my little piece on display in Celia's home on the other side of the planet.  Thanks for bringing me a smile, Celia.

Shortly after my visit to Celia's place I went for a little wander over to Wildwood.  Imagine my delight when I read that I had inspired Janice to pick up crochet hook, what a thrill to know that the gorgeous pink granny squares that are being made over in wildwood came out of some of the nonsense I like to post here.  Thank you for making me jump up off the sofa and do a little joyful jig Janice.

And last but by no means least a huge thank you to the lovely Kate who sent me not one but two new cross stitch charts to keep me busy.  I don't have a picture right now as I've left my camera at home (I'm blogging from James' at the moment as I don't have an Internet connection at the new place yet), but I will starting one of the charts in the next couple of days so pictures to follow soon.  How fabulous to get home from work to find such a lovely gift in the mail, thanks for making my Friday afternoon wonderful, Kate.

And just because I don't like to post without a picture.  Here are a couple of other things that have been bringing me a little bit of happy.  Beautiful spring daffodils, bringing a little bit of sunshine indoors
And the knitting needles have been dusted off for a fun little Easter project which will hopefully take no time at all to complete.
I hope your week too is full of little bits of happy.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A hint of handmade luxury

A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to meet up with my good blogging friend Vicki.  If you haven't visited Vicki's blog you really should, she makes the most beautiful dyed fabrics, and posts about quilting and other crafts.

On her visit Vicki gifted me with a couple of her lovely hand made soaps, and I have to confess a new love affair began.  Ever since I have been treating myself to handmade when it comes time to replace the soap bar.  Granted mass produced soaps are a whole lot cheaper but the variety of fabulous fragrances and colours that handmade soap makers come up with is just wonderful.

Every other Sunday there is a little market held just round the corner from my home.  There are only a few stalls and I wouldn't say that the market is worth a special trip but as it's only a minutes walk from my front door I usually end up there and more often than not come away with something, usually one of these lovely apricot danishes

At the last market there was a lovely lady selling some of her handmade soap so I just had to indulge.  She had some really cute little bags full of some of the end cuts of her bars, which I thought would be a great way of sampling a range without having to spend a small fortune :)
Here they are nestled in a lovely bowl that was another thrifting find.  Don't these little yummies look good enough to eat?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A room with a view and next on the hook

One of the things that made me fall in love with my flat when I was looking round for somewhere to live was that it had two lovely big windows in the main living room.
As I'm on the second floor I get to sit on my sofa and look out over the roofs of the lovely old building across the street.  The pictures above and below show the views from the two windows
One of the first jobs I did was put up some curtains.  It's not as though I'm especially over looked but as the evenings are still mainly dark and I need lights on when I'm at home I didn't really want people to be able to look up and see me wandering round the place :)
I've gone for curtains with a bit of green in as when I get the money together to decorate I want to stay mainly neutral with a hint of green in this room.  As you can see at the moment I've gone for floor to ceiling curtains but I might eventually take the curtains up as I have an idea of getting some small units made to fit in the space under the windows to house some of my books.

Why am I telling you about my windows you may well be asking?  Well a couple of weeks ago I picked up this cone of yarn for the fabulous price of £2 while I was out thrift shopping. 
At the time I didn't have anything in mind for it, but when I put the curtains up I had the idea of making some crochet tiebacks to keep them gathered and out the way in the day.  It occurred to me that this yarn might be the perfect match as it has some green running through it.

I'll need to do a bit of experimenting to see what works but hopefully I'll end up coming up with something useful.  Coincidentally since i had the idea two magazines have come out both featuring tieback projects so I might incorporate some of the ideas from those.  I'm sure I'll share some of the results from my hooky playtime here soon, so watch this space I guess.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


A few snaps from my day out in London a couple of weeks ago.

We crammed in lots of stuff but the highlight of the day was by far and away our visit to The Shard.
It really is an impressive, imposing building.  Standing outside and looking up it just seems to go on forever, up into the sky.
The viewing platforms are on floors 69 and 72.  There is a timed entry system which is really good as it means there aren't hundreds and hundreds of people crammed in.
Our tickets were for 5:30pm, which turned out to be a great time to go at this time of year.  The sun was just about ready to go down so we got to see the views out across and around London in the last fading light of day, and after dark too.
The views were just breath taking.
The viewing floors go all around the building.
There are so many iconic London buildings to see in this 360 degree view.
The best view of all for me .... James with a huge smile :)
We had a brilliant day, it was just the sort of fun I needed away from the madness of moving which had been all consuming over the previous couple of months.

The only small annoyance on the day was the closure of the Circle line on the underground for 'essential maintenance' a common occurrence on the underground system at the weekends.
But finding alternate routes around the capital took us to stations that we wouldn't have otherwise gone to.  Including Baker Street.  Loved these Sherlock Holmes tiles.
Our day ended with cocktails and dinner at a lovely little brasserie near Paddington station before we had to get on the train for the journey home.
We had a brilliant day and I can't wait to go back at the end of May. We've got an overnight stay booked as we're going to see an orchestra at the Barbican ..... exciting.