Wednesday 30 January 2008


Beautiful roses to cheer a cold, blustery day. I may have to make an early dash for home if the white stuff begins to fall here in Sheffield, if I'm going to have a hope of making it back over the hills tonight. (Yippeee!)
A bargain ebay buy, these tiny cigarette cards are a series of old fashioned roses and I could happily have every one in my garden, if only I had the space.

I'm not completely sure where they will find a home but I think they may appear in the corners of a few mirrors or picture frames, perhaps on a shelf, even on the bookcase. But I'll have to be subtle though because Woody has a pathological hatred of roses, mostly the planted kind - I must be careful. I think it comes from too much pruning as a teenage Saturday gardener.
He even wants to put a stop to any in the garden but as he doesn't have a single green finger he can whistle! I think I can hide some in amongst the perennials and a climber over the garden shed should be ok, anything but those standards in the middle of a bed in the lawn that were my grandad's pride and joy.
I can't wait to get into our new garden and start sorting. At the moment it's very square, very bare and very brown. Everything is in straight lines and really bland so this book has given me lots of ideas and inspiration. I think the author used to be the gardening columnist for Country Living, fancy me liking this book so much!

What a dream, a border like this! My plot is rather small though so the ideas need to be radically scaled down. I'm pretty much a novice but I've made some plans and lots of lists (I love a list) of what I'd like to see flowering each month and as soon as the nurseries begin to fill up, my teeny monthly treat fund with disappear into their tills rather than ebay!

Cow parsely is my favourite wild flower and this pink version will definitely be squeezed in

Of course I could get ahead and plant some seeds but there is something you must know- I am rubbish with seeds. Much compost is bought, many packets perused, mulled over and savoured. Beautiful packets, brightly coloured and full of summer promise are neatly packed into my special tin and even arranged in date order for planting. Even the boys join in with the sowing and watering and wondering what will appear..... and then I forget about them until a couple of weeks later when someone knocks a tray of very dry and dusty compost into the kitchen sink and shouts "uggh what's this!"

I know - useless! You wouldn't believe how often I've done it so no more.

(Readers of this blog may have realised by now that I'm the sort of person who loves thinking of new things to do but might not really be the best at finishing them! I'm determined to have some finished projects to share in the near future though - I promise!)

(This is top of my wish list - an oriental poppy called Patty's Plum)

Fortunately mum is a bit of a plantswoman with overflowing borders that often need thinning out so lots of plants are on their way in the spring. At the old place we planted a bed together that flowered from May to October with just a bit of deadheading and watering required. It was completely glorious and I'm hoping I can do the same at No 25. This is what I'm aiming for so we'll see!

Thanks ever so much for all the brilliant advice and hints about embroidery and especially the link to Primrose Design which has the most brilliant online photos of how to do stitches (thanks FK - fantastic!) You're all so kind and the encourgement means the world to me, (husbands I find don't really appreciate embroidery after a long, hard day.) I'm sorry if I haven't managed to write back to everyone individually but hope you'll take this thank you as your own, from me, from the heart.

While I'm waiting for the vintage embroidery transfers to arrive I've been having a little practice on an old sheet. French knots (which I now know are what the little bobbly stitches are called - how embarrassing!) didn't prove too difficult and I've managed to do lazy daisy stitches to make flowers (going to be very useful!). It turns out that my bargain embroidery silks are too fine, even using all the threads they're too narrow for the look I like. I want something a bit woolly and chunkier. Oooooh - I feel a shopping trip coming on....

Monday 28 January 2008

And for my next trick...

For what feels like about 3 years I've been searching for a pair of pretty vintage pillowcases with a spray of tiny embroidered flowers adorning them. I am quite fussy about what I want, no morning glories, no crinoline ladies, no flower baskets.
Something like this is actually what I want (on ebay) but there is only one and I probably won't win it. Hmmmm...maybe I could make my own I found myself imagining the other day. Ambitious?... Moi...?
Well it seemed like a sign when I found a huge bunch of embroidery silks for 50p each in one of my favourite charity shops on Saturday. Such pretty colours, perfect for the job, (sorry no photo because my rotten camera won't do close-ups!).

The thing is - I have never embroidered a thing in my life! I struggled to stitch my name onto the CDT apron it took my two terms to make at school! Maybe these will help though?
At Christmas mum re-discovered a beautiful tablecloth she'd made as a young teenager and its magnificent and completely inspired me. She told me all about embroidery transfers she used to use and I discovered these wonderful things on ebay and quickly snapped them up this morning. I already have a couple of vintage pillowcases ready to work my magic on (gulp!) and I'm even planning to make a separate picture with the lupin transfer. (Someone rein me in please!)

Have I bitten off more than I can chew though? Is it really difficult? I'm feeling a bit daunted. Just how do you make the stitches? The little bobbly ones are really foxing me. I don't think the transfers will come with a guide so there will be much guessing, I guess.
Yet again - wish me luck!

Tuesday 22 January 2008

Pretty, pretty, pretty

Dreary weather calls for drastic measures and for me that means only one thing -
flowers, and plenty of them.

Paper white daffodils here on my bedside table, well, chest of drawers strictly.

Gorgeous floral tea cups for £1.50!
Pretty Greengate and CK tea towels and some fabric too, all destined for new lives as cushions on the new sofa (thanks for all the brilliant ideas and advice on re-covering it - mum and dad were going to buy us new doors for our old house last Christmas but we never got around to it so they've very kindly offered to get the sofa reupholstered for us! Just need to pay a visit to the bargain fabric shop with my fingers crossed.)

Yet more floral china - rubbish photo sorry, but I couldn't resist these, every woman needs a matching china sugar bowl and milk jug doesn't she? It's the law.

And today, walking home from school snowdrops were popping up all over the place, as if they decided suddenly that today was snowdrop day and out they came. I know spring isn't nearly on the way yet, but just seeing that life is stirring is wonderful. Aaaaahhh, that's betteer.

Tuesday 15 January 2008

My space

One of my little pleasures is to sit at our kitchen table (well its in the dining room actually, next to the kitchen and isn't smart enough to be a dining room one), with a cup of tea or coffee in a pretty cup and have half an hour flicking through Country Living, gazing out of the window listening to the radio. My littlest man had a lovely long snooze after lunch today so I got to indulge myself with this month's edition, which is very gorgeous indeed.
But soon I will be abandoning my post for a new corner to lose myself in. What do you think of this as a spot?

I can't believe I own this beautiful little thing (ok the colour is grim but that will change).
Our conservatory is a lovely room, looking out over the garden and the hills and runs off the dining room and the kitchen. Its a bit chilly to spend too much time in there just yet but when it warms up I think we'll be in there lots with toys, plants, pretty things, music and books.

The hunt for a small, bargain sofa hadn't been very fruitful until Monday when someone was definitely smiling on me. I have a little dream in my head of coming in from my flower-filled garden on a lovely summer evening, with a cup of tea, my scrapbooks or a nice book, and relaxing on my pretty sofa and this is where I'll be.

Someone's cat's been having fun!
The best part of the story though is that I got it from the dreaded Oxfam shop that has so let me down recently. At first I thought it was a modern two-seater with dusty covers, but after coercing the shop assistant into moving the 27 suitcases displayed on it, we discovered it was a beautiful vintage style sofa with a drop down end (does this make it a day bed or a chaise lounge?) and dainty legs.

There was no ticket but I already knew it was coming home with me so the furniture manager was duly called.

"Very sorry madam we're not allowed to sell it as its been recovered at some point and the foam probably isn't up to modern H&S standards"

GULP - cue a weak moan of "oh" from yours truly.

"But if you're happy to acknowledge that, you'd be doing us a favour if you took it away, in return for a donation. I just can't give you a receipt."

GULP - cue a high-pitched, full of joy "oh" from yours truly.

Scanning the shop I spied another vintage sofa for £85, (two in a week and none for months, honestly!), and began to panic that I'd gone and got myself into one of my regular, very English dilemmas, where I've engaged a buy/sell conversation that I probably can't afford but am too humiliated to try and wriggle out of. Is it me?

Nothing for it, go for it I must...

"Errm, how much were you looking for," (desperately scrabbling around my brain, trying to remember what state the bank account is in and how much in penalty charges I'm setting us up for).

"Would £20 be ok?"

THUD - me hitting the floor.

Can you believe this divine thing is mine for £20! I'm absolutely in love with it and I've spent too much time already just staring at it.

For the first time, Woody thinks I'm a thrifting genius, "looks really nice there doesn't it". (I nearly fell on the floor again.)

I've broached the recovering subject but typically he couldn't see anything wrong with it. I'm torturing myself over whether to cover it in a pretty floral fabric or play it safe and stay neutral so that I can swap cushion covers with the seasons (flowers in the summer, checks and stripes in the winter). What do you think?

New brakes and an exhaust on the car have cleaned us out again so I just need to Google - how to re-upholster a vintage sofa because I've got completely no idea! Wish me luck, with enough I'll hopefully be sitting on it before the London Olympics start!

Saturday 12 January 2008

Flowers and thanks!

Buying the first bunch of daffs of the year is one of my favourite things. A glimpse of spring when I'm trying hard to fight off the post-festive/grrr it's freezing and wet/doesn't everything look dreary blues. I really want to enjoy winter, I love the seasons but blimey Mother Nature really makes it hard in January so I enjoy the first bunch of daffs and take them as a promise from her of more beautiful things to come.

I love the smaller, daintier blooms so I've treated myself to a pot of paper whites that are just beginning to emerge, for my bedside table. As you can see, having taken down all of the Christmas decorations I'm sticking with the winter reds and whites and the snowflakes are still up because I am hanging on (and truly hoping!) for some snow. Driving home on Friday night it was white-over across the White Peak but frustratingly had turned to rain by the time I got in. Surely we're going to get some soon? Please?

When the crocuses and daffs appear outside, that's when I think I'll ring the changes and really welcome Spring into No. 25. Until then I'm enjoying rare pleasures like these and doing my best to see the beauty in the bleak, bare fields and trees and the stillness of it all.
My thank you is to everyone who's left a comment for me recently. Its wonderful to be in touch with such lovely bloggers and sharing beautiful things. Thanks for sticking with me, I never imagined people would be all that interested in my bits and bobs and I'm thrilled that anyone is! Thanks also to Rosie at Corners of My Mind who kindly gave me this Award, I'm really touched, thank you. I'm now supposed to tell you 7 weird things about me, I could probably go on for 7 pages but hope these will do!

1) I'm allergic to nuts, all types and turn into a bit of a foaming monster if I accidentally eat one. Its not nice but I'm very lucky not to suffer too badly, as long as I have pickles and lemonade in, things can be sorted out(you really don't want to know why!) The weird thing is that I didn't even know other people had it too - until I was 17! Yes, I have lived all my life in cave it seems!
2) When I change the sheets on our bed I must, must, thoroughly clean the bedroom too or that lovely, fresh, clean feeling is totally spoilt if you ask me.

3) I am a medieval history nut and have often lived for a weekend as a peasant - well the last time was ages ago admittedly but it was tons of fun, even the evening when someone dropped an iron-tipped flag pole on my head and I bled for England.
4) Simple arithmetic is beyond me despite my mother being an economist and one sister a maths teacher. (I admit to failing GCSE Maths first time around - oh the disappointment!) I am firmly on the other side of the family gene pool; words/pictures/music speak to me. I have no idea what "the rhythm of numbers" could possibly be.
5) I used to scream inside when mum dragged me out of my teenager slumbers to come and gaze at a comma butterfly on the buddleja or a tree creeper on the old apple tree. I am now drumming into my little ones, in the most over zealous fashion, the joy of wildlife in the garden (now we've got one - yeah!). At the moment Barney is fascinated and is ticking all our visitors off in his little book, but I'm not so sure how long it will last. I promise not to drag him out of bed though...
6) I have an aversion to certain words and I don't really know why, they just sound weird. My worst ones are; pinny (yeughh!), bap, piece (as in 'a piece of jam' - Stoke phrase for a sandwich), There are more but I don't usually don't remember them until someone says one and its like fingers being dragged down a blackboard!
7) I nag my family into being cosy. "Ooh, don't you feel all snuggly?" I utter on bleak, dreary days and everyone rolls their eyes, especially my poor dad who yearns for spring. Actually its all his fault because, as with most things, he sparked my imagination with tales of rainy childhood afternoons with a pile of books, an even bigger pile of toast and a roaring fire - oh what bliss. Not that this happens much in thesedays as the parent of two young boys, but I've already got them in training. Barney loves to curl up under the snuggler (my eiderdown) and watch the tv and even my littlest man gives himself a cuddle when I say, "is it raining Arch?"

I must pass this Award onto 7 fabulous bloggers and apologies if they have already received it (lots of people I was going to send it on to already have) but here goes:
*** Jess at The White Verandah
*** Julia at Vintage Heaven
*** Faye at Country Chic
*** Jennifer at Buttercup & Roses

Wednesday 9 January 2008

Back in the old routine

(We went for a walk around this lake on Sunday and the boats were frozen into the water - brrr!)

Treasure hunting success, yippee! It's been freezing here this week, really damp and so cold its makes your bones chilly. Listen at me, I sound like my Grandma! Anyway, to cheer myself up (not that I really needed an excuse), I visited the fantastic charity shop for the local cats and dogs home. Its a complete Aladdin's cave and has the most fantastic china and glass and is ridculously cheap.
The owner is quite an eccentric character, sort of a local celebrity and just been given an obe for saving 30,000 animals in the past 30 years - amazing. She's quite wealthy apparently, made a lot of money in property and art dealing but is a complete slave to the animals. Lots of people help her out volunteering in the shop and their philosophy is that any pennies are gratefully received so they sell everything at bargain basement prices because so many people donate items they need to make space in the shop.
Over the past few weeks I've come away with the most lovely things, six pretty china plates for £1 (I was only going to have 4 but the chap serving said "take the lot please, you're doing us a favour"), this lovely china cup and saucer covered in pansies for £1 again, a pair of crystal sherry glasses and some balloon brandy glasses my friend is looking for, two lovely dining chairs for £7, pictures, linens, oooh its my favourite shop!
I had more joy in town, the green Woods pitcher reminds me of lots of china my grandma had, I bought this sweet little tea service for £2 and a found a beautiful, vintage, double strand pearl bracelet for £1.50 and this lovely painting, which was a wee bit more but I couldn't resist and it does look fab in our hall. One day, I will have a garden like this, honestly!
And I won this lovely embroidered tablecloth on ebay. I'm saving it until the spring, maybe for Easter when a huge bunch of daffs and tulips in my blue spotty jug will look just perfect with it. Roll on the next chocolate overload!

Thursday 3 January 2008

Oh blimey how did I forget this?!

xXx Welcome to the world new nephew xXx

Right, quick rewind to Christmas Eve... we have a wonderful new member of our family.

On Christmas Eve morning, Woody's big sister Jack had a little boy, a baby brother for Dan. Seth was born, very quickly, at home in Leicester and the most info I got from Woody's visit to see him on Boxing Day was that "he's lovely, not too wrinkly".

Luckily m-in-law was much more informative and Jack, her partner Tom and Dan (who's 2) all sound very happy and are settling in nicely together with the new arrival. What a wonderful Christmas present to us all and now with five grandsons my m-in-law is well on the way to her dream of an all-Woodhouse, England cricket team. Hopefully we'll be getting to see them soon.

How did I forget this... sorry family, I am appalling!

Tuesday 1 January 2008

Sunshine and Snowflakes

(Well stick-on ones, but the half-finished conservatory did in a way seem festive but full of New Year promise this morning.)
I hope everyone had a really fantastic festive season, we had a lovely time at No.25. I must admit the big day itself did rather pass by in a blur of cooking, serving up, washing up etc but it was really lovely to be with the family and the early morning bit with the boys was just a joy. All my childhood Christmases came flooding back as we padded silently down the stairs hoping that Father Christmas had managed to find our new house and wasn't still unloading because he delivers to North Staffordshire on the way home of course, not until at least 6.30am when the sun is waking up (thanks mum for reminding me of this fact!)

We were a very lucky household and received pirate ships, lego airports, teasets, mini ironing boards, CK washbags, and an EB teapot (I'll let you imagine what was for who!) and possibly my most favourite gift - a holly tree of my very own so that in a few years I can snip my own berries to bring inside (if I buy her a boyfriend to make berries with first though!). You're a gem Woodyx

Much turkey, cheese, pickles, crackers, salad, prawns, chocs, pate etc has been consumed, a few Baileys and glasses of rose quaffed, many pieces of lego have been painstakingly put together and best of all we've enjoyed a couple of days when the boys didn't even get dressed and we played and played in our cosy new home.

New Years' Eve is a bit of a non-event for us with having little ones (Woody actually filed his tax return at 1am?!) but it was also mum's birthday so we had a fun morning with her and a lovely afternoon being spoiled at mum-in-laws too, fine ways to see in the New Year.

Today we got out and breathed some much needed fresh air down in a very misty, murky Manifold Valley, splashing in muddy puddles and getting all excited about the snow forecast for the next couple of days.

2007 was a pretty good year for me and I'm really grateful for what a calm, happy, pleasant life I have. I thought I'd do a quick 'end of year review' type thing, not exactly Sky News but a nice chance to look back.

*** Blogging - my personal highlight of the year. It might sound silly but its changed my day to day life so much and I can't believe that I didn't used to do this and hadn't made such fabulous online friends before last summer. I've really enjoyed sharing everyone's stories, marvelling at the amazing crafty skills so many of you have, looking at gorgeous thrifted finds, drooling over beautiful homes and gardens and generally taking pleasure in the joyous things of everyday life. My little blog has brought me so much fun. It's joy to have somewhere to squirrel away thoughts, post reminders and memories of happy days and beautiful things and discovering wonderful new collections and obsessions. Thank you to everyone who has popped by and for letting me in on your own blogging life.

*** Port Isaac - I dream about the stroll we took in the evening to fetch the fish and chips and gaze down on the Platt. I'm not sure when we'll get to go back again but I hope its soon and for longer. I adore this lovely place.

*** Not so great - Woody's paper closing. A tough few months but we're back to managing again and his comedy nights start to run in January again, hurrah.

*** New home - Life in the new house and our new village is the family highlight without a doubt. Things are so different, we're closer to family, school, each other. We have peace and quiet, a tranquility we thought we'd never get and more space too. Very, very lucky Woodhouses we are indeed.

*** Treasure hunting - I've really enjoyed my thrifting expeditions and have found some beautiful things, I almost don't mind being a pauper. The joy of finding a pretty teacup smothered in dainty pansies for £1 is pretty unrivalled in my book.

*** Not so good again - the bloomin' summer. No floods here but dismal, dready, wet, wet, wet. Oh please let it be better this year, I've got a garden now that really, really needs some work!

*** My boys - watching them grow into such lovely little chaps who're such fun. Barney has found more confidence this year and got a bit braver (everything from making friends at school to really enjoying paddling) and seeing Archie's first steps and watching him change from a baby into a real little boy has been amazing.

I'm not very good at New Year's resolutions, I don't think I know anyone who really is, but this year I'm resolving to try and have a good intention instead. I NEED to be more organised. Our bills and paperwork are still in various bags and drawers and I've been putting off sorting it for far too long. I buy dairies and calendars but never really get to grips with using them properly. Far too many things creep up on me and send me into a flap. No more. I am going to try really, really hard to be more organised and everyone reading this can hold me to it - gulp!

Happy New Year!!