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Thursday, 30 August 2012

The three musketeers

We were in Sheffield yesterday, seeing my brother and collecting these three characters. I saw them in an auction catalogue a few months ago, and asked my brother to put a bid on for me as the auction house is close to his home. They are so threadbare. The bear has no ears, the little dog is missing an eye and the large dog has been loved almost to death.

I have plans for these chaps. They are going to have to earn their keep. 

I do have a favourite. Better not say which one, I don't want to hurt any feelings...

Love these faces!

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Bank holiday bonanza

Winning cupcakes with amazing decorations (tiny sandwiches!)

It was a packed Bank Holiday Monday, with friends, family, car booting and the Garden Show all in one day. Let's start with the Show. It was rather grey and chilly by the time the gates opened at 2pm, but as usual, the exhibits were looking good. More baking entries than ever before, but the garden produce was much depleted because of the terrible weather this year. But there were still some fantastic entries:

Lots of pots of jams, jellies,chutney, and curds.

How did we do? Mum took the first prize for her jam, and I was third! I got second prize for my raspberry and redcurrant cordial, and a big fat nothing for my Victoria sponge :) Better luck in the cards class, with a first and a second for my creations....but I should really add that they were the only entries in the entire class, so I am not sure that really counts. Outside, a cracking display of vintage cars....

Or how about something a bit smaller?

This beauty turned out to belong to my cousin. I didn't know he was bringing it along...seems that the vintage thing must be in the genes....

I was smitten with the picnic basket on the back seat.

Earlier in the day, I went to a vast car boot sale. It's held every August bank holiday Monday and rarely disappoints, although there was less old stuff there this year. I still managed to find some lovely bits and bobs.

These look lovely at Christmas time, planted with moss and little flowers. 

A nice old stool, pretty cake stand, tins and a jug. And I found just the thing to display my cushions at the sale I'm having soon. It is a massive basket, not sure if it was originally a bakers basket, but I love it, and I had to move quickly to snag this one....

I found some pretty old William Morris curtains, currently in the wash, and a rather nice old sign which was a real bargain. I will photograph it soon. I'm also fond of these jolly  souvenir tea towels...

 I was shattered by the evening, but it was a really lovely holiday....

No boot sale is complete without a vintage tablecloth....

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Sponge cakes at dawn....

Things are hotting up here for the village show on Monday. Entries have been very thin in recent years, but there could be an upturn this time, as I think people are inspired by the Great British Bake Off and there is definitely a greater sense of community since the Jubilee celebrations. At least three of my neighbours are entering Victoria sponge cakes, which has lead to some pre-show jollity on Facebook. Today, with husband working in Manchester, and the eldest away, I've had time to do lots of preparations and plenty of cooking.

I spotted the first Victoria plums on the market on Friday, so I bought a kilo and made some jam to enter. I love Victoria plums, their flushed skins and the fact that they are only around for the briefest time. Their taste reminds me of late summer, it's good to eat this jam in the winter months.
I've also made some cakes for the tea tent. The same stalwart team of ladies does this every year, and I realised guiltily that I have never volunteered, so I've been baking for that today. Date slices and sticky banana and chocolate cake.

Victoria sponge will be made tomorrow (blinds drawn and doors locked, safe from prying eyes)...and a few last minute adjustments made. It's all good fun.

The forecast is a bit dodgy for Monday, but the show will go ahead, rain or shine. The entries are always housed in a huge marquee. Do come along if you're local, it's always a great afternoon. The brass band will be playing, there will be vintage cars, stalls, a dog show and chance to look at all the gorgeous fresh produce that has been lovingly grown and presented. A real village day out.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

A little horse, and other tales....

This will be a bit of a patchwork post with no particular theme, as life is all over the place at the moment, typical summer holidays with no routines. 
I have made a little purchase. I saw one of these horses at a car boot sale in another seller's arms, and I just knew I had to try and track one down on ebay. I was quite amazed when I found one very quickly and nobody else bid on it. He was not exactly a bargain, but I am smitten.

I am sure that my obsession dates back to childhood: my next door neighbour had a tin Mobo horse, the kind that 'walked' when you sat on its back. I wanted one so badly. It had very similar paintwork to this character, so perhaps that explains my slightly strange longing to own a tin horse. I saw a Mobo horse for sale on ebay, too, but they are quite large, and there really is no room for one at the moment.

I am not really on holiday any more, so there's work, and my sons have been out and about, having sleepovers and friends to stay. Eldest is getting ready for Reading Festival, his first one. I am trying not to be worried, although I am. Staying outwardly calm with some of my favourite books and magazines. I found this old Marie Claire Idees and it is full of gorgeous images. Two beauties:

And this one:

I borrowed this lovely book from the library, too. Well worth a reservation if you can (plenty to drool over):

And here is my own version of 'farmhouse chic...' pots on our little cream dresser, perfectly proportioned for our house rather than a mahoosive country residence....

I am in the middle of a painting project but it's taking me ages, so more on that soon (hopefully).

Thursday, 16 August 2012


A 'thank you' bouquet for a friend....too pretty to hand over before I'd snapped it. Thanks again, Foxtail Lilly, for the gorgeous home grown flowers.

Huge relief that eldest son's AS results were what he needed...a calm house once again.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Nearly show time

Every year, around this time, a schedule for our village show lands on the mat. There are all sorts of classes, from giant vegetables, to best sponge cake, scones, jams and jellies. I am always very glad to see the programme, because it never fails to spur me into action. Fruit is whipped out of the freezer or picked from the garden and made into jam, and arty projects that I've been meaning to tackle are started. Last night, I assembled some art materials and had a go at making some greetings cards for the crafts section of the show.  This is my attempt at a collage based on a dahlia from the garden (very therapeutic, tearing up magazines and making merry with the Copydex).  I shall continue with this, it needs a few more layers ...

Then I resurrected an idea that I'd had last year, and painted a new version of my fantasy high street. 

The show has been running for 132 years. There is always a sensational fruit, veg and dahlia selection, but the other classes are not overflowing with entries, so I always try to put something in.

This time last year, I was about to become very ill, and I'd already started having symptoms at the time of the show. I have been fortunate to get back to good health, and I never, ever take it for granted, so sitting at the table dabbing about with my paints, and feeling well, is something that I really value. 

Sunday, 12 August 2012

A whole lotta linen

Saturday night found us at a 50th birthday party in a beautifully grown up, sophisticated and clutter-free home in a very pretty village. Right, I told myself, as we drove home, that's it. I will not buy any more bits and bobs,  endless tablecloths, bits of lace, linen, old books or generally useless articles with which to add to the mayhem in our house. I will not go to the car boot sale in the morning, even if it is extremely sunny. I will stay at home, save my money for things like new taps and tree surgery, and I will impose order on our very un-grown up house. 
Well, that resolution lasted until I woke up at 6.30am to see the sunshine golden behind the curtains. That boot sale was just calling out to me. So, off I went, early-ish for once, with my empty basket and a few pounds in the purse.
And what did I buy? Yes, that's right: endless tablecloths, bits of lace, old linen and old books.  But who could resist a little stash of white linen, straight from an old trunk, the delicate old tissue paper still between the folds. Much of it was marked, or rather fragile, but at 50p and £1, it was too gorgeous to leave. This is just a small selection of my haul: 

As it was such a lovely day, I decided to tackle the washing of it straight away. My favourite item, a huckaback linen towel, was very marked with orangey stains. A soak in Napisan, my usual method of cleaning linens, didn't touch it. So, I decided to try boiling it, something my Grandma always seemed to be doing with her 'whites'. I put it in a large pan with water and a dash of bicarb of soda and some fresh lemon juice and gave it 20 minutes on the hob.

What a difference. It is currently blowing gently on the line, looking whiter than white.

I have to admit, apart from the linen, Lady Luck wasn't really smiling on me today at the boot sale and there were no spectacular finds (unlike one buyer I spotted who was carrying the most beautiful old painted horse on wheels). But I came home with a large bolt of old floral fabric, and some nice old annuals. And I do rather like this old ledger, unused. 

Who knows what on earth I will do with it, apart from admire the typography. Oh dear. That sensible, minimalist house is looking like it is never going to happen....