Wednesday, 30 December 2009


I don't like 'em, the kids don't like 'em, but M and his family DO like brussels sprouts and as everyone would be joining us for Christmas, I resigned myself to having to cook these horrid little vegetables as part of the Christmas feast.



On Christmas Eve I happened to be reading the letters page in the Daily Telegraph and there, in a letter from a Stuart Gillies in Chester, was advice on how to get sprout-haters to eat them:

'Fry a chopped rasher or two of smoked bacon. Add sprouts, cut in half and fry a little more. Add enough chicken stock almost to cover and reduce until barely cooked and the stock is getting sticky. Delicious!'

And they were, too! The youngest even had a second portion! Thank you, thank you Stuart Gillies of Chester. We are converted. May sprouts forever grace your life.

I hope everyone's Christmas was wonderful despite burst frozen pipes, trees falling down and boilers going on holiday. Here're some pics of my pressies this year. I must say, I've been a very lucky girl:

The Cath Kidston bag, Make do and Mend book and jumper were from M (the jumper came from the Oxfam shop on the King's Road, London. Am SO going there in the New Year!).

My brother bought me this make-your-own Camper Van, which I thought was a great gift seeings how there's no way on earth I shall ever own a real one.

This adorable elephant pin cushion was from my sister-in-law and family. Not sure I have the heart to stick pins in him though.

And I happen to know this little cake stand came from the Country Living fair because I pointed it out to my mum at the time. Lo and behold, there it was Christmas morning underneath my tree. Thanks, Mum (and I'm pretty sure you didn't organise the fire alarms going off at the Fair, and consequent evacuation of the whole building just so you could buy this without me knowing. Pretty sure).



Andi xx

Monday, 21 December 2009

Merry Christmas
Happy New Year

Thanks for visiting my blog

See you all again in 2010

Andi xx

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Smile, please!

I have an album which comes out at this time of year. It's full of every Christmas photo I possess of the family, and begins with Christmas 1962:

Wow, just look at that fab kitchenette. I wish I still had it. I remember there was a turkey in the oven! The Santa sack was made of very thick paper and was great for sack races about three hours after we'd opened all our presents.

Christmas 1962 was spent at my grandparents' flat and was kept quite simple (well, there wasn't a lot of money around). Look at those vintage baubles. I've been a hoarder ever since I can remember, but sadly the habit hadn't kicked in when this photo was taken otherwise I'm convinced I'd own those baubles now:

My dad used to work part time as a photographer, otherwise I don't think we'd have these precious two photos of that Christmas. I think he was the only one in the family who owned a camera. My mum had a Box Brownie which was hardly ever used.

How different things are today, with CCTV cameras everywhere we go, mobile phones that can take pictures and computers that can send the images across the world in seconds. Our descendants will be swamped with photos of great-great-grandma. Wouldn't it have been wonderful if the ancient Egyptians had managed to invent the camera so that we could have had thousands of years worth of images?

My daughter recently took part in a show with her drama group. She was one of the first performers, in the first act, in the first show EVER in the brand new theatre. Parents were instructed NOT to take photos and to report anyone they saw in the audience taking photos as this was not allowed under health and safety regulations.

So no parent has any personal photographic record of their son or daughter taking part in this local historic event which, as you can imagine, was very disappointing for us all. What made me angry though, was the fact that a member of the Press and a theatre archivist - complete strangers to us - WERE allowed to take photos of our children. Twisted principles indeed.


Andi xx

Monday, 14 December 2009

Christmas Deliveries

Thanks everyone for visiting my blog and leaving comments. I really do appreciate them, especially as I've only just started blogging and am eager to 'meet' you all. I really enjoy visiting your blogs. They're opening my eyes to so many different things!

Christmas deliveries:

I came home from choosing my Christmas tree last Thursday to find a note from Postie:

'I have left your parcel on the back doorstep'.

Parcels in the post! Aren't they exciting? I rushed to the back door and sure enough, there was the parcel:

Seeing the pattern on the box was even more exciting:

I LOVE Emma Bridgewater designs and when I opened the box inside were two beautifully wrapped presents. One for me, one for husband:

Just look at those bows. I wish I could tie a bow as exquisitely as this (I'm sure there must be a web site to tell me how. Must remember to look it up):

There was an invoice which told me the gifts were from my lovely friend Roz and her husband, and also what was inside - Christmas star mugs:

Roz gave me permission to open them before Christmas Day because, as she pointed out, they are CHRISTMAS star mugs and we must get full use of them during the season (and in case you're wondering, I DID let husband open his!)

I'm looking forward to the weekend when we can snuggle down with the kids and watch Christmas movies whilst sipping our hot chocolate. Yummy!


Andi xx

Monday, 7 December 2009

Old Friends

When you unpack your Christmas decorations and treasures, do you sometimes get a lovely surprise because you've forgotten some of the things you'd packed away last year?

And they bring back lovely memories of flaming, brandy-soaked puddings and the kids' delight at having their own special Christmas plates.

Then there're the figurines that grace the mantlepiece and who only joined the household last year.

The results of your own crafts from a few years back:

Here's an item I bought a few years back from a charity shop. I liked it, but I didn't love it. The decoration is spoiled, I think, by having been sewn on off-white aida, but I bought it because of the work that had obviously gone into sewing it:

I've always kept it in the Christmas box because the cross stitch is so festive, but I've never really known what to do with it. Actually, I don't even know what it's for. It measures about 3 1/2 feet by two and it only has a frill at one end. Some red tatting:

So I doubt if it's a table runner. It seems too large to be a chair back cover. I just couldn't bear the thought of someone's hard work being left in the charity shop.
Anyone got any ideas what it might be?



Tuesday, 1 December 2009

One for Sorrow, Two for Joy

I had a suspicion I was in for a rough few days when I looked out of my bathroom window first thing last week and saw this guy sitting on the roof outside:

One for sorrow. I looked around desperately for his mate, but the garden, trees and sky were empty. Ohhhhhhh dear!

Downstairs, I was greeted with a broken down washing machine still full with water, suds and clothes. Took me the good part of an hour to get the water drained and the door open so I could rescue the clothes inside. The machine had been quite ill for a few months and as it was an old lady, I decided to put her out to pasture and order a new one. Express delivery. Cost me an extra £20.

A couple of days later I had a trip to the dentist where I had a wisdom tooth extracted. I kept the tooth (Alas the Tooth Fairy didn't call. I'd hoped for paper with a nought on it. Damn that magpie!) and I thought about putting a photo of it here, but didn't want to spoil your breakfast.

Sunday I hunted for a pattern to make a robin. I could only find a regular bird pattern at Spool and my first attempt looked rather like a very sad and lonely budgie:

So I adapted the pattern to make the neck and tail shorter:

Slightly more the shape, but still not right. The poor thing looks one tweet short of a song, doesn't he? And is that what's called a Roman nose?

Third attempt, and I think we're getting closer to what I had in mind. Got to get some decent eyes:

And hearts. I had a go at some hearts. This is the only one that came out well enough to be shown. It was supposed to be snowy/Christmasy, but I think it looks more like a wedding heart:

Oh, and my cooker broke down. They're coming to fix it tomorrow. It's an Aga and the kitchen is so cold and sad without its constant heat. Can't wait for it to be fixed. HOWEVER, looking on the bright side, I now have the chance to give it a thorough clean while it's cold - something that's difficult to do when it's working. And....

The magpie's mate appeared! Hallelujah! Nice things began to happen.

Through the post came a parcel from Sarah at The Blueberry Patch. It was the lovely reindeer I'd ordered and he just looks great on my mantlepiece along with the Cinnamon Colonial Candle I found in TK Max (am I being stupid or is Colonial Candle almost impossible to find in the UK?)

Another parcel in the post was this lovely snowglobe advent calendar that I also saw on Sarah's blog site and immediately sourced it and bought my own:

Then, for the first time since I was small my mum bought me an advent calendar. So now I have two! This one is from PastTimes and is the real old fashioned type that you stick to the window and the light shines through the little pictures and illuminates them:

And today my copy of How the Grinch Stole Christmas arrived. This is the original version with Boris Karloff narrating. I've never seen this movie so I'm really looking forward to a cozy afternoon with the kids next weekend, by the fireside, homemade cake and possibly hot chocolate:

It's beginning to feel a bit like Christmas! Happy December! And God bless us, every one.


Saturday, 21 November 2009

I Don't Do Pink!

What can I say? I know pink is a very much loved colour in the creative/thrift/shabby chic corner of blogland, but I have to admit it is not my favourite. It's way down there with peach and yellow. I much prefer blues, greens, blue/greens, browns, orange and ivory. I avoid pink. I believe some shades of pink can actually make my teeth hurt.

I went around the house today collecting every possession of mine that's pink. Dear reader, the following photo shows the sum total of the pink I own:

How about that? The coathanger was knitted by my Nan sometime in the 70s (the fabric is nylon offcuts she got from the bargin bin at Brentford Nylons - anyone remember them? Of course not - you're all far too young). The perfume is Agent Provocateur; the rainhat (top right) came free with the Lady Penelope doll in the 60s, and the collection of boxes within boxes (centre bottom) was made by my son about ten years ago and two of the boxes are pink. The perfume bags and dog were a pressie and the sissors and tape measure were accidents.

Also, two of the dolls I have from childhood wear pink. This is Angelina who comes from Austria and Jane who's wearing a 60s Faerie Glen dress.

I do possess some pink underwear but I didn't choose it. Enough said, let's move on....

But something is happening now that I've discovered blogland. I visit all your blogs and see wonderful photos of things you've created, treasure hunted, transformed, bought, and they're beautiful; and many of them include pink. I think...perhaps...the thought that pink might be OK is seeping into my brain, because look:

A quilt and shams I bought last week in the local charity shop.

It has pink in it!

The hat I had to buy in TK Max last weekend:

I can tell myself the velvet trim is a raspberry red but that twinkle in the flower center is definitely pink.

Even my camera case (a Christmas pressie last year) has Cath Kidston pink blooms over it:

And then the beautiful quilt (yes, another one) I bought at the Country Living Fair from Forever England is green and pink:

As long as it's subtle and there're plenty of other colours surrounding it, I think I can cope. One step at a time.


Andi xx

Monday, 16 November 2009

B is for Bath Sheet

It's Metamorphosis Monday over at Susan's Between Naps on the Porch and I'd like to take part by showing you my little project that took just about an hour one day last week.

First I have to confess - I had a bit of a spending spree at the Cath Kidston site. Not only did I order the blue polka dot quilt and pillowcases, I also got these two wonderful bath sheets:

Sorry the picture is a bit blurred, don't quite know what happened there. Perhaps I was trembling with excitement over my new fluffy towels with cowboys and polka dots no less. Yippee!

Anyway, now I didn't really need as many plain white bath sheets for myself, but my daughter did. Plain white is a bit boring for an eleven year old though, so I decided to make it a little more interesting.

Take one plain white bath sheet:

and an old blue hand towel that's always at the bottom of the pile because no one wants to use it. I'm pretty sure it's been washed enough times for all the excess colour to have come out (we're talking an old towel here):

Mark out a kind of rugby ball shape and cut out:

Then cut a weird shape out of an old black t-shirt:

Then take an old face cloth (why do I have so much old bathroom stuff in my house?) and cut out two discs (can you guess what it is yet?):

And two pupils from the t-shirt:

Attach the face to the bath sheet using Bondaweb and then zigzag stitch around the edges:

One happy daughter and a fun way to have celebrated Sesame Street's anniversary last week.

Saturday, 14 November 2009


On Wednesday 11th November I went with my mum to the Country Living Fair. We'd managed to get last minute tickets and, thank goodness, the industrial action on the trains didn't affect our journey in.

We arrived at 10.58. I know this because we stood in the reception area while the two minute silence was observed for Remembrance Day. This always moves me far more than the ceremony at the cenotaph.

Once we moved through the doors, we turned right and I bought something almost immediately. I found the booth for the Welsh company Calon ( Absolutely beautiful things for sale BUT the must-have for me was this fantastic doggie fabric:

Not sure what I'm going to do with it yet but it was so lovely I couldn't leave it there.

Next up was a tin sign from Live Laugh Love, ( a very busy stall with lots of lovely things. I just liked the humour of this sign:

Another of their signs balanced things out I think:

I've loved this saying since reading a biography of Edith Piaf years and years ago. I think she had a plaque or a heart brooch or something with this written on, and I thought, Yeah, that's a good thing to believe.

I also bought a little jug with violets painted on. That was put in my lovely new china cupboard and I forgot to photograph it.

Unfortunately, just after we'd had our lunch, the fire alarm went off. People were ignoring it until a security guard came striding through the crowd saying 'This is NOT a drill. Please make your way to the nearest exit'. Well, I don't know how many visitors the building holds, but it was a full but calm crowd that made its way down the staircase and out into the street. I guess we were out there for twenty minutes before being allowed back in. Perhaps the chef had burned the waffles?

We calmed ourselves down at this stall:

Selling Sloe Gin, Sloe Whisky, Sloe Brandy... you get the picture. Tasters!

My last purchase was a quilt from Forever England ( 'Chloe' in green. It should arrive sometime this week. Free delivery. Very excited.

Looking forward to reading other reports of the Fair, and perhaps seeing more photos. Most of the time it was far too crowded to allow photos to be taken.

A very enjoyable trip.


Andi xx

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Recycled Sweater

This week, for the first time, I am taking part in Metamorphosis Monday over at Susan's Between Naps on the Porch, so please click on the link and take yourself over to see all the wonderful ideas by those also taking part.

Months ago my husband had a clear out of his wardrobe and had thrown a couple of sweaters into the rag bag. When I saw them, I thought they were too good to just throw away, so I kept them with the idea of selling them at a car boot. Well, that never happened and then I read somewhere about felting wool. This involves washing pure wool items on a hot wash to shrink it and 'felt' it.

This is a photo to give you an idea of how large the sweater was to begin with:

Now the sweater above isn't the one I 'felted' because I forgot to take a 'before' picture of the one I actually used. This one is being used to show you how much the sweater shrunk.

I have to admit that even though the sweater was headed for the rag bag, I still had to steel myself to put it in the washing machine and turn the dial to the maximum programme. Could I really do it? Could I?

Well, I did, and here is the actual garment. Remember, it was the same size as the sweater you've seen previous:

I decided to use the main part as a hot water bottle cover and the rest may be turned into Christmas decorations of some kind.

Well, husband saw me in the throws of cutting up his sweater and wailed 'That's my jumper you're cutting up!' I reminded him that he'd thrown it in the rag bag months before. 'That's not the point - it's a good jumper and you're cutting it up!' I pointed out that after he'd thrown it out he'd have no control over what happened to it whoever owned it. He went off muttering under his breath and I carried on cutting.

My new hot water bottle cover:

And I have to say it is sooooo cosy, and in the middle of the night when a bare hot water bottle can feel soooo cold, this one now retains a little warmth and so it doesn't get thrown out of bed.

I realise this is a very small project compared to some of the wonderful things on Met Monday, but I'm very happy to have recycled with very pleasant results.