Thursday 29 November 2007

Fewer words, more pictures

Finally one room at least is sorted! The dining room, with new white dresser (which needs another coat yet so please ignore the streaky paint) is pretty much done. It's lovely to have some of my nice things out at last and No.25 is beginning to feel like our home not someone else's.
So, here are the before and after shots.

This is the winter look, lots of red, white, cream and twinkly glass. The plan is to put my floral china, green and yellowey pieces out in the spring along with some beautiful flowery curtains I have too. The conservatory is still a mess as you can see but soon will be full of twinkly fairy lights and the Christmas table of my dreams (she says confidently!)

I'm really enjoying my new cushions although plainly I'm the only one as they end up on the floor as soon as we sit down - life as the only female in the house I suppose. Bless Barney though, he came in from school and said, "Wow mummy, the new dresser looks very fine." Not quite sure where he picked up the Victorian compliment from but it was so sweet.

This is the pile of festive inspiration I'm working my way through.

House Beautiful has been my favourite this year (I don't buy it usually though so lucky me), this picture makes me feel very festive. I love the paper on the top two presents and bought some really similar a few years ago but I've got no idea where it comes from - similar at Ikea apparently but our nearest is Birmingham! Can't go to Ikea just for wrapping paper can you - it'd be madness! Would it?

Country Living triumphed as ever and I have a daft plan in my head that I can make some crackers just like these (in what spare second I don't know - perhaps during the sitting down parts of the Christingle service?!)

Perhaps I could squeeze in making some marzipan fruits too - who am I kidding? If I keep my fingers crossed I can maybe stretch to sausage rolls - with a fair wind!

Friday 23 November 2007

Treats - because its Friday!

A bit naughty I know but I just couldn't resist treating myself this fabulous CK cushion I saw on ebay. Its a lot more expensive than anything else I usually buy, but, but... oh I'm so weak but I'm sure you'll understand why.

I'm having a bit of a cushion week this week and have made some for new ones for the dining room chairs from these beautiful Greengate tea towels, an idea I admit I blatantly poached from Jane's wonderful Posy blog. Do go and have a look at her archives with some amazing winter and summer cushions that make you want to immediately curl up with them. Mine aren't too bad even though my handstitching leaves a lot to be desired. I haven't got a sewing machine so I limit myself to making mostly square and rectangular things so cushions are a perfect project for me. Stitching the braid on was a great, therapeutic treat over the past couple of evenings, work's been a bit trying and the long dark drive home is hard work but soooooo very worth it.

This isn't my picture but is one of the views I'm treated to on my way over the Staffs/Derbys border at Hartington and is from the fabulous Lower Hurst Farm who sell amazing organic beef and I noticed this morning are having a Christmas fair in December...hmmmm, definitely another date for the diary!

We're supposed to be having broadband installed today (thanks for all the crossed fingers!) so I'm going to finish sorting the dining room this weekend and post some pictures next week. Everything seems to be getting messier throughout the new place rather than on the way to becoming straighter, so I'm determined to enforce a bit of order on the boxes/piles/empty bookcases etc. etc. I've decided to finally tackle painting my dresser because the varnished pine doesn't do my vintagey bits and bobs any justice. This is my latest find which I'm sure you'll agree would clash wildly with orange pine so it's going ivory - and I just can't wait to sip my coffee from this lovely cappuccino cup.

I meant to pop these on my last post, aren't they beautiful! Snowflake stickers for the patio doors between the dining room and the conservatory, or maybe for the conservatory windows I can't decide. And the best bit is they peel off and you can use them again. They arrived so quickly from the lovely Amanda at Decorative Country Living and are my best Christmas bargain so far.

And obviously I'm must have a Christmas book to immerse myself even further in the season so today I bought this ...

which sounds just lovely, an anthology of Christmas tales which from the Amazon description reads...

Taken from the original omnibus CHRISTMAS AT FAIRACRE, Miss Read's wonderfully festive collection of Christmas stories is packed with entertaining characters and enchanting stories. From the rural festivities in Village Christmas and Jingle Bells to the pre-war story Christmas At Caxley 1913, the intriguing The Fairacre Ghost and the poignant tale of The White Robin, Miss Read's wry wit and light touch is the perfect antidote to the long winter evenings.


Monday 19 November 2007

Hello Winter!

Well I wasn't really expecting it for a few more weeks yet but autumn has come to a pretty abrupt end in the Moorlands. Winter has well and truly arrived. I knew the snow was falling when I went to bed last night but this morning the view was as green and brown as ever so I thought we'd missed it. Oh silly me, I forget were living down in the hollow so it was a bit of a surprise a mile up the hill out of the village when I hit the white stuff. Yippee!
I get very silly about snow. I absolutely love it and even though I'm now the ripe old age of 33 I still act like a 7 year old when it comes. This morning over the tops it was lying thick as a blanket covering the fields with not a blade of grass to be seen, just how I like it. The views weren't up to much because the fog came too, quite a murky, dreary old day but this is what I really love on a winter's day. I know most people like the bright, sunny, crisp winter days but I'm the opposite and long for snowy days when the sky stays low, heavy with snow-laden clouds and the promise of more to come (like the picture above). Its the type of dark day that makes me want to run home and light the fire, butter up some toast, curl up with a fabulous book in a pair of comfy socks and every now and again stare up at the window to watch the curtain of snowflakes drifting silently to earth.

Ok, admittedly today was more of a pea-souper than misty and romantic and it'll all have melted by the time I head home because it's not that cold, but its has got me feeling really rather festive. It's so soon isn't it? Where did October go and how come we're over halfway through November already ? A slight panic is gripping me which I resent because I love Christmas so much I can't bear the idea of it being tarnished by stress. But I've only got a few presents in my hidey hole and we're having the family over this year but the amount of sorting out to do is a bit of worry. I just have to have everything right for Christmas. Its my favourite time and I look forward all year to getting home feeling so cosy and pretty for the celebrations.

It's exciting having a new place to "do" though so tonight I'll be sitting down with The List and planning my attack (mostly online now I've discovered all the wonderful things my blogging friends create) to get the shopping but done by the end the month so I can concentrate on my favourite bit - decorating! I do enjoy shopping at Christmas but not Christmas shopping if you know what I mean and for once I've properly planned ahead for a fantastic treat. On 1st December I'm heading up to York with my dear friend Lucy for a trip to the St Nicholas Fayre with nothing more on our agenda than lunch, coffee, treasure hunting, mooching around the Minster and Barley Hall and some serious widow shopping. I've always wanted to go and as my proper shopping should all be squirreled away by then I can thoroughly immerse myself in the spirit of it all. Merry Christmas!

Still no housey pictures yet but so I thought I'd share some pics of things gorgeous things I had for my birthday. It was just before we moved so all my beautiful presents were packed straight away. I was so lucky, people were really kind and I had a lovey day pottering about Ashbourne with mum and went out for the most amazing meal I've ever eaten with Eechie and Lucy at Den Engel, the Belgian bar in Leek (sounds mad but its a wonderful continental bar and restaurant) . Still daydreaming about the food now...

Mum and dad bought me this most fantastic hat that I've been day-dreaming about for ages.

A lovely robin mug for my Christmas hot chocolate and a Matthew Rice biscuit tin from my darling hubby who really knows what I like. The boys gave mummy these smashing EB oven gloves and I had and the most beautiful, blue spotty mugs and a jug (perfect for a bunch of spring daffodils) from my wonderful m-in-law who also knows my sort of thing very thing very well.

My lovely sisters came up trumps as ever, Eechie gave me a wonderful Greengate apron and tea towels in this fresh, springy green and Susie sent a Hugh Fearney-Whittingstall (my celebrity crush!) book to add to my collection. People worry about getting things housey things like tea towels and aprons but for me they're perfect. I can spend hours cooing over a jug.
What a lucky spud I am!

Thursday 15 November 2007

Back in the land of blog!

Hurrah - we've moved! And unbelievably it all went really smoothly. This is just a quick post to say thank you so much for all the good wishes I think they must have really helped because we hardly had a hiccup and already the new place feels like home. I'm sorry there are no pictures with this post but we don't get broadband connected for a couple of weeks (groan!) and I can't upload my photos but I've got tons to share.

The best are the views, just unbelievable and the first thing I do every morning is gaze out of our huge window across the houses to the rolling hills and distant views of the Churnet Valley. Its glorious. This morning I was greeted with frosted fields, misty hollows and a reddening sky complete with a skein of pink-footed geese heading towards the river meadows. My second favourite thing is the walk to school, a total thrill after driving 30 miles there and back everyday since September. Again there are fab views and I love walking into the old part of the village down the tiny footpath across the fields, past a row of old cottages and the 12thC church. All week Woody and I have found ourselves stopping for a second saying "I can't believe we live here now, can you?"

The house is beginning to get into some sort of shape and I'm getting used to living in a '60s house. Feels a bit odd but it's quirky and a few metres of fabric and some paint will change it hugely. I've already started painting it cream to show off my treasures(couldn't live with the peach/orange dining room for a minute longer!). Yesterday I made a brilliant find in my favourite little shop in Leek. Pretty Chic is a mine of vintage fabrics and beautiful bits and bobs, everything from china to furniture and ornaments so I have to pop in when I'm in town. It's one of those gorgeous shops that when I walk into I want to squeal with joy. I couldn't believe my luck when I saw, the sweetest, glass-fronted, white painted cabinet for sale. It was just meant for me, the day before the owner had reduced it from £60 to £25 and I just had enough spare to afford it. Its living in the garage for now but its new home will be the dining room, lined with pretty paper or fabric, not decided yet, and will be the perfect treasure trove for my rose china and vintage glass.

I'm back at work for the first time in a week today so did a trawl of the Broomhill charity shops in Sheffield and yet again left Oxfam empty handed and a bit annoyed. Too expensive and nothing very nice actually so I have transferred my affections to the Save the Children around the corner which is staffed by the loveliest ladies and I treated myself to a lovely embroidered green cord skirt I saw in M&S last winter and toyed with getting but never did and regretted it, picked up another glass candlestick for the collection and found a lovely crocheted blanket for Archie's' room for just £1. Wish I could pop some pictures on but I promise to be back as soon as BT get a wriggle on and wire us up. Off now to catch up with what everyone has been up too, I feel like I've been on the moon for a week.

Thursday 1 November 2007

Remember, remember...

...the 9th of November - because we'll finally be moving house!
Ok, not quite Bonfire Night but I feel like celebrating. Yippee!! Finally, after tons of pushing we have a date. Failing natural disasters we exchange contracts tomorrow and the move is on for next Friday. Only a week left on the far side of the hills and then we'll be back in the Moorlands, just down the road from mum and dad and m-in-l. Hurrah! So from next weekend we'll be -
  • looking out onto rolling fields and hills
  • have a garden
  • 3 bedrooms instead of 2 and a bit and a conservatory (blimey!)
  • living in a lovely village with a 12thC church, community spirit and plenty to do and see.
  • only a short walk rather than a long drive from school and be
  • just two miles from Leek and its great farmer's market and weekly market, sweet little shops and the wonderful charity shops that I practically live in thesedays.

When I heard yesterday I was hysterical - I was so happy I think Archie thought I'd lost the plot, daft mummy jumping around the kitchen shrieking. All my precious, pretty trinkets are stashed away ready to be unpacked at the other end to make the place feel like home. Its been grim living in boxes and half empty rooms for ages, finally we're on the move!

These are my latest finds and I can't really believe I got them for just £2 each. I won them on ebay and they're the most beautiful vintage embroideries which, from the writing on the back were destined to become tea cosies. They're mounted on firm card and I think look perfect just as they are. Can you believe no-one else bid for them? Not sure where they'll go yet, that's my favourite part about moving, choosing how to put the new place together. They're already packed so these are ebay pics and I've removed the tatty packing tape and they're just lovely. I also picked up a lovely cushion cover in a charity shop last week with beautiful pink and lilac foxgloves and other spring flowers. Not had chance

to take a picture yet but its beautiful and like these the work involved is amazing. I do feel as if I'm cheating someone getting them for so little but I will love them forever.

Not content with wanting to decorate my entire house in Cath Kidston ware, I'd love to dress in her clothes too! I got this beautiful top on ebay from Kelly over at Vintage Lifestyle by coincidence. Its brand new and I'm saving it to wear on Christmas Day. That's one of my little traditions, I always treat myself to a new top or outfit. Nothing too smart as I spend most of it sitting on the carpet playing with the boys or sweltering in the kitchen so it needs to be practical really. Me and my sister Rachel always look for new Christmas clothes, the priority being cosy, comfy and a bit special. I think my new CK top has that written all over it.