Friday, 31 July 2009

Lavender's blue, dilly dilly

Lavender's blue, dilly dilly,
Lavender's green.
When I am King, dilly dilly,
You shall be Queen.

I've had some fun making a few little lavender bags. Once again, I've been able to make them from things already in my 'stash'. Old lace, ribbon and mother-of-pearl buttons are always to hand in my workroom and a little while ago I bought some reversible dots/checks heavy weave cotton-linen mix fabric from a seller on Etsy. I love the oatmeal shade of the plain linen and seem to be using it a lot lately! It's so soft to feel.

The English lavender came from Long Barn lavender farm in Hampshire. I'm (deliberately) spilling a lot on the workroom floor when I fill the sachets and the aroma is almost overwhelming - I'm in danger of keeling over if I breathe in too deeply! Fortunately the Test Match cricket against Australia is exciting enough to keep me conscious!

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Un ballo in maschera

Inspired by my efforts with the linen bookmarks and the gorgeous collection of paper ephemera I got in my recent swap with SmitoniusandSonata, I have attempted a little appliqued collage.

The delightful lady on her way to a masked ball is an illustration from an old Swedish book (courtesy of SandS) which I phototransferred on to cotton. There are a couple of gauze pieces too, some with ancient Latin script and a lovely morsel of a music manuscript. Some crocheted lace, a snippet of an old tray-cloth and the inevitable mother-of-pearl buttons were added for decoration. There's even some little pearls in there. I stitched round the portrait and went a bit mad with the french knots, but stopped short of adding any more hand-stitching. I'm never sure when enough is enough. Should I have put some more/different stitches on it? What do you reckon?

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Tuesday Flickr Mosaic

1 The Pharaoh of Science - Robes of Earth 2 Untitled - Boccacino

3 Captured in light - inspire*inspire 4 Corset et Dentelles - Boccacino

Goodness, don't Tuesdays come around quickly! This is my choice of four lovely photos from Flickr - all pinkandgirly this week. Go to Artmind-etcetera's blog and see who has left links to their own mosaics today on Mitsy's blog. It's always fascinating to see what people choose as their favourites.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Linen and lace bookmarks

A lovely and talented Flickr contact, ewa-christine, left a kind comment on a photo of a linen heart keyring I made and asked if I minded if she used the idea to make one of her own. So we did a deal. She had made some gorgeous bookmarks, using linen, applique, old lace and buttons. We share a passion for collecting old buttons and she has inherited a wonderful selection of old lace. I said I would be delighted if she made a heart - I don't have exclusive rights to heart-shapes! In return I suggested I could try and make a bookmark.
So yesterday, in between baking plum cakes, and having a chatty lunch with my sister and neice, I had a play. Isn't it great when you can just make something that takes your fancy without having to go out and buy yet more 'stuff'? Everything I needed was right there in shoeboxes on the shelf or tucked away in the secret hiding-place I keep my mother-of-pearl buttons. (You must hide them - you never know when the bad elves might come in the night and spirit them away. And while we're on the subject of bad elves - do they visit you? Are they the kind that drop your clothes on the bedroom floor after you've folded them neatly on a chair? What mischief do they get up to in your house?)
But I digress ... although I'm normally a bit possessive about some of the pretty bits and pieces I've acquired, the bookmarks seemed like a really special way to use and display them. And I only needed to part with some teeny bits of lace, which I'll hardly miss! So it was a delight, rather than a wrench, to pick out some bits to assemble my own versions. I'm very pleased with them, I have to say - and everyone will be getting a bookmark this Christmas!
Thank you to ewa-christine, who embraces the opportunity to share ideas and has been generous enough to encourage me. Please do visit her Flickr photostream and see some of the delightful and delicate work she does. I do hope she makes some hearts - they're sure to be very special and inspiring.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009


The time of year is arriving when there's a glut of plums in our garden. These little purple ones are first, then the greengages and then the Victorias. By that time we've all got tummy ache from eating them and are hoping the wasps will finish them off before we have to. We give loads away, make jam, stew them, turn them into chutney and sometimes I make a cake. This lovely recipe is from Nigel Slater and I made it yesterday with eggs from our very own hens. What a lovely 'Country Living' feeling that was!!

Moist fresh plum cake


150g butter
150g unrefined golden caster sugar
3 large eggs (I had to use 4 as my girls haven't got the hang of 'large eggs' yet!)
75g plain flour
1½ tsp baking powder
100g ground almonds
16 plums, stoned and quartered


  1. Set the oven at 180C/355F/Gas 4. Line the base of a square 20cm cake tin, about 6cm deep, with a piece of baking parchment.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Whilst this is happening, halve the plums, remove the stones and cut each half in two.
  3. Break the eggs, beat them lightly with a fork, then add them bit by bit to the butter and sugar.
  4. Sift the flour and baking powder together and fold them gently into the mixture.
  5. Fold in the ground almonds.
  6. Scrape the mixture into the lined cake tin. Place the quartered plums on the cake mixture.
  7. Bake for forty to forty-five minutes, then test for doneness with a skewer. If it comes out clean, without any wet cake mixture sticking to it, then the cake is ready.
  8. Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for fifteen minutes before turning out.


Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Tuesday Flickr Mosaic

4 Sharon Lapkin - The Heart of Baking

These are my favourites today to enter into Artmind-etcetera's Tuesday mosaic theme. It represents lots of the things I love - the colour blue, flowers, old papers, tin stars, hearts and CAKE!

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Bag for a Baguette

I fell in love with a craft book, published in Japan, called My Handmade Bag which I bought from an Etsy shopped called a little goodness (sadly no longer open). The instructions are all in Japanese, which can be a bit of a challenge, but there are good line drawings. If you study them carefully and have some sewing experience, you can just about get the hang of it.

One picture which particularly took my fancy was the baguette bag. I happened to have some thrifted calico, an unused teatowel and some webbing, so I rustled one up for our holiday in France. I kind of guessed the length of the bread that we usually buy for lunch, and lo and behold, it was inch perfect! It was in use daily and was was really useful keeping the crumbs off the back seat of the car on the way home from the boulangerie!

Seeing them pictured side-by-side, mine's looking a bit too neat, isn't it - I'll have to wash it and fail to iron it (which will be no hardship ..... haha)

Friday, 17 July 2009

"It's not easy being green"

"It's not easy being green" as a famous little frog once crooned. I don't make a fetish of it, but I do try to think of my impact on my environment, sometimes it's not top of my priorities - like most people, I suppose. It's always easiest to let it take a higher place when it doesn't cause major inconvenience and is fun to do. Etsy has lots of sellers who are ecologically-minded and it's always a treat to explore their shops and see some of the ingenious ways they re-use, upcycle and repurpose. Aren't they great terms?!

Greenbelts is an Etsy shop selling accessories with a conscience. This Etsian confesses to being 'a wee bit obsessed' with recycling - but just look what wonderful things this has led to! Please check out the shop - it's full of delights!

These recycled vintage envelopes from ScribbleShop in Australia really caught my eye. Carolyn is a fervent re-user and her philosophy is to use salvaged paper and cardboard as much as she can.

I love this seaglass necklace from newsprout, who loves to walk the Californian beaches searching for finds to recycle into her jewellery. She even ropes in members of her family to help out - but, hey, who wouldn't volunteer for a stroll on a Californian beach?!

Now how about these dinky little slippers from 4pippi. Aren't they cute? Catherine makes them from recycled sweaters and she is a dedicated member of team ecoetsy. Try using that tag on an Etsy search and see what you find.

There are loads of low-impact delights in Etsy shops. If you're in Britain and feel that you can't allow yourself to make a purchase that will need to be sent by air, try searching with 'eco uk' and wander through the over 350 items that fall into that category. I know you'll find something that will ease the guilt!

Clasheen's Summer Swap

Nicola from Clasheen (an inspirational feltmaker) is such an industrious lady, but still had time to organise a summer swap, which she invited me to participate in. My swap partner was the so-talented Jess from SmitoniusandSonata (I love that name!).

Well, what a lucky lucky girl I am! The postman brought the parcel yesterday and there was an undignified, unseemly and impatient few seconds when I ripped open the big padded envelope to disgorge the delightful contents. Jess sent me two gorgeous pieces of beaded jewellery, with her signature vintage button closer - how I love mother-of-pearl .... I'm a buttonaholic (did I ever mention that before ...?) and there was a great big bag of old buttons to croon over, oh such pretties! Can you see the fab Moleskine in the photos with the cheeky chook on the back? Isn't it great - and it stands a chance of turning me into someone organised! I'm nearly swooning at the memory of opening the parcel of paper 'scraps' - loads and loads of colourful flowers and birds, some charming vintage greetings cards, a quirky photo, some pages from an old Swedish book and lovely line drawings of historical costumes. So much inspiration there.

What a treat - thank you for your generosity Jess!

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

A Taste of France

The sights and smells and savours of a good holiday should last through the long dark days of winter and I think this little snapshot mosaic will take me right back to the soft sunshine when I need a boost watching the rain running down the windows in February. And I've got a big jar of honey from the region, so I'll only have to spread it thickly on some crusty bread, close my eyes, big bite ... and I'm back in Cahors!
Where are you going on your hols?

Monday, 13 July 2009

Back from our hols!

Yes, we had a wonderful holiday near Cahors in South West France, just in case you were kind enough to wonder! This is just a check-in, because there seems to be so much to catch up on since we got back - sales in my Etsy shop, new things to make for customers, re-taming the garden, answering loads of emails - you know the kind of stuff.

Be back soon ......