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Monday, 29 August 2011

Good show!

My family acquitted themselves very well in this year's show. After all my soft fruit experiments, my raspberry and lime jam took a first prize, along with one of my home made cards. My son's chocolate brownies netted him a first and a little silver cup, and mum's apple pie, redcurrant jelly and lemon curd scored her a well deserved hat trick! There were a few lesser triumphs, too.

I love walking around the marquee with the prize dahlias and giant vegetables on display. Just take a look at these!

Outside, there was plenty to see as well.

I loved this car - a Singer, one of a row of vintage beauties.

A local lady has set up an artisan bread company and I wrote a small article about her in this month's magazine. She had a stall at the show and sold out of her delicious loaves.

The brass band played very well, as usual. 
And finally, what village show would be complete without an animal made from fruit and vegetables? This little bee was a just prize winner:

Saturday, 27 August 2011

It's (nearly) showtime

The village show is almost upon us and I am getting a few entries ready. I'm putting in a couple of jars of jam, two greetings cards and a victoria sponge. Much to my amazement, my younger son has also announced his intention to try his luck. I've spent years encouraging him to enter a painting or a plate of biscuits, to no avail. This year, I think he has his eye on the prize money (the princely sum of £1 for first place!).
My painted cards are just about finished. I added some bead details to this dress this morning:

The cards are usually trounced by jolly stick-on teddy bears and cross stitch scenes. But it's all good fun. We'll be baking tomorrow: Bank Holiday Monday is show day.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

A breather

In between work, ferrying children around and household things, I've been dipping into a lovely new book, from which the image above is taken. Recipes for Every Day by Jane Cumberbatch is a cookery book, with extra homey bits. Alongside recipes for pies, shortbread, biscuits, salads, fish dishes and soups, there are snippets about gardening, making chair covers and how to hem without sewing.

I think Jane Cumberbatch's first book was Pure Style. I bought it in 1996 and I still refer to it. She has stayed true to her deceptively simple aesthetic. The photography in the book is excellent, and though some recipes are rather basic, there are some tempting new ones to try. I've already made her lovely fudgy, lemony cake, and I have my eye on the apple and ginger sponge as our Bramley tree is loaded with fruit this year. I'm having trouble uploading photos tonight, so I can't show you any more lush photos from the book, but I'll have another try tomorrow. In the meantime, here's something else I've been doing today:

My son is collecting his GCSE results tomorrow, and I really needed to calm my nerves. Knitting, very basic knitting, was the answer....I hope this might grow into a blanket over the winter months.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

A breath of sea air

A flying visit to the coast today to wave goodbye to my sister in law who has been on an extended stay from Canada. We had a very quick walk across the salt marshes in Norfolk, in a bracing wind. The skies were mean and moody, but there is always something wonderful about the east coast, even in the bleakest weather.

My sister in law collected some samphire to eat for lunch, and there were so many shells on the shore - a beachcomber's paradise! Then it was back to my other sister-in-law's holiday home, which is lovely.

She has decorated it very simply, and it's not overly beachy or coastal. She bought it as a rather unattractive pebble dashed bungalow with swirly brown carpets and she has transformed it into a beautiful house, with old fashioned roses blooming in the garden.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Another splash of colour

Colour is busting out all over in our house at the moment: this cushion came from Dunelm and very lovely it is too. They also have some gorgeous 50s style metal stacking stools in primary colours (red, blue and green) for £3.99, but I couldn't think of a single nook in which to put one. Also, my favourite colour, the candy floss pink, appears to have sold out completely, even on the website.

Today, we did a family car boot stall. My boys were keen to raise some extra pocket money, so we did a big cupboard clear out and set our alarms for 6am. After an initial cloudburst, which very nearly soaked us, the sun struggled out and we all did pretty well. It was very enjoyable, too. My parents also had a stall next to us, all very companionable.  I even managed to resist spending my profits, even though there were many temptations around me....

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Late summer colours

My friend Tracey kindly allowed me to take some flowers from her cutting garden while she is away. It really is amazing at this time of year, with an assortment of hot coloured dahlias, old fashioned scented sweetpeas, and scabious. 

Friday, 19 August 2011

Rainy day project 2

Once I'd started sewing yesterday, I didn't want to stop. Another idea I'd had brewing for a while was a door curtain/blind made from this beautiful old Hungarian linen cloth. However, blinds are way beyond me, I just can't get my head around the instructions. So, I needed a more simple solution. I spotted a net curtain wire and two hooks in Dunelm (a brilliant shop if you look hard), which cost the princely sum of 99p.
I folded over my cloth at the top and machined it, leaving a slim gap, then threaded the wire through. Using the two little hooks and eyes it was supplied with, I screwed them into the door and just clipped on the cloth.

I now need to construct two little strips so it can be rolled up and down, but I've already got a plan for those.

Meanwhile, upstairs, my husband was adding some shelves to our tiny airing cupboard so my huge assortment of linens and bedding can have a slightly less chaotic home, and an excellent job he did, too. Thank goodness for rainy days!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Rainy day project

After a very long dry spell, it's finally raining here, and it looks set in for the day. The house feels very full of boys, piles of trainers, and husbands (well, only one of those, but you know what I mean), but I've had a little sewing project in mind for a long time, and today seemed like a good time to go ahead. I picked up a large piece of cheery 1950s fabric from Lincoln Homes and Antiques show, and I wanted to turn it into a curtain to cover a gap in two kitchen units.

I already had the dowel rod and two hooks in place, as my mum had made me a couple of these curtains already, but I really wanted to do this myself (yes, my sewing skills are very basic and so is my little machine!). The shots are rather dark, because of the rain.

I'll do some more pics when it brightens up. I'm fired up now, and I may well re-cover a stool this afternoon.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The last word

I won't keep posting about jam, as I know it may be of limited interest...but I am pleased with my store cupboard full of good things. Our annual village show is approaching, and I usually enter a couple of jars, so we'll see if all this jam-talk actually amounts to anything in the cut throat world of competitive preserve-making.

I have even found a use for my little lace mats, which I love, but never really know what to do with: they can be jam pot covers for now. Perfect.

Monday, 15 August 2011

When I saw your face....

When I spotted this tin emerging from a box at my local car boot sale on Sunday, I couldn't believe my luck. The seller appeared to be an antiques dealer who was selling off some stock, but I got this for £2 and my money came out of my wallet faster than the speed of light.  These little line drawings around the sides are amazing:

My other finds included an old red wooden train, a pine rolling pin and three pounds of damsons, which I've since turned into jam. I am fast accumulating a jam mountain in my cupboards.... 

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Garden of Surprises

We had a friend and her six year old son to stay this weekend, so we took them to Burghley House, near Stamford. To the side of this rather formal looking stately home is a special garden, full of water features and quirky sculptures, all of which have been designed to appeal to children. There is also a larger, wilder sculpture garden, ideal for a gentle walk.

Visitors are encourage to walk through the water 'gates.' The younger ones need no excuse!

Statues move, and there are mirror mazes and obelisks which spout smoke and light. Then there is the sculpture garden, which is my favourite area.

These cow sculptures are amazing, they're made from sacking, plaster and old tree roots. They capture the very essence of a cow...

Then there was just time for a picnic and a relax on the grass. It was so nice to appreciate some of the sights that we have close to home. Taking visitors makes you see them through fresh new eyes.