Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Zippity Doo Da !

Oh what a glorious day... the sky is grey and the ironing pile is making a small mountain in my kitchen... BUT.. I am feeling so buzzy and alive today!...

Reasons being...

1.Parcels are ready to go.. packed twice due to unobliging courier who won't take BIG parcels... never mind.. they are going today. .... Yippee !!!

2. I have been waiting days for Louise's Craft Challenge Day at Beachy's Cape Cod Cupboard... today is the day and I have created this wedding vignette from the photograph that Louise offered for the challenge.. Unfortunately I couldn't fit the whole wedding photo in the frame so some of the guests were left out... sorry!
I have printed it on to Linen and embellished inside the frame with buttons, beads, charms, flowers etc...It was great fun taking part and I am really excited to see what the other challengers have created ...go visit Louise at BCCC blog and see for yourself!

3. Spring is springing in our garden.. the snowdrops are out, the daffs are well on the way and there are a multitude of bulbs popping up... remember me planting them back Nov ? It seems an age ago and yet a blink of an eye.. but they will be here in all their glory in the next few weeks bringing some colour and life back to my waterlogged and lifeless garden.
This photo was taken last summer but I hope it looks just as good this year if not better..

4. I slept well last night... the best night I have had for ages.. I am a terrible sleeper and wake easily to lie and fret about numerous monsters that visit my mind in the dead of the night... last night I slept like a baby and it makes all the difference.
This is one of the most beautiful rooms I have ever slept in... last summer in Tuscany Italy ..

5. I have just heard the most wonderful news... it is going to snow on Friday.
I know we have been here before and nothing happened but I naively believe the smiling weather lady this time...
So it's time to find the old tennis rackets and convert them into snow shoes... is it not !?

6. Master chef is on telly tonight... we are all hopeless addicts in our house.. even Pickles enjoys his viewing of the culinary variations of fish dishes..

Tiramisu.. my favourite .. eaten on a warm sunny terrace in Tuscany last summer.. bliss!

7. I finally got round to listing some more items in my web shop yesterday..something I have been meaning to do for ages.
This Home Sweet Home is just one of my new cards...

Well these are all reasons why I have a skip in my step today and I am a very happy bunny indeed.. I hope you are too for all sorts of reasons..
Have a lovely day Y'all!

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Time out..

This weekend started with a whimper and ended with a whimper..in fact there were no bangs to be heard apart from my head imploding today as I embarked on packing my recent card orders into numerous cardboard boxes ready to be shipped to London tomorrow morning.. As I counted the orders out and packed each one into a separate box I had an uneasy feeling that I had miscalculated my production ...and so it was.. the final count should have been 1036 cards and I ended up with 1060 cards..
Either this meant that I had left some out of certain boxes or that I had made too many.. At this point I have to admit that I was close to tears.. this final stage of the whole process was most unwelcome on today of all days.. when the sun was shining outside and I could hear the world going about it's recreation whilst I spent several hours rearranging boxes to fit into one large container...
Well now I can say.. it is done and dusted and a huge weight has been lifted from my mind... I set myself a deadline and I met it... but I think next time I must learn to pace myself because my nerves are shredded and my family have talked about leaving home.. due to the psychotic tendencies I have shown over this past week..

On a much brighter note...
Yesterday I wanted to salvage some of our weekend together and so we headed off to the fantastic National Trust Estate of Stourhead in Wiltshire...It is a magnificent house and parkland designed by Capability Brown.. the finest landscaper of the British countryside.
The sun shone through and despite the protestations of my darling 13 year old son.. who would much rather have remained welded to his computer for the day.. we all had a thoroughly enjoyable walk around the lake and woodland of this fabulous landscaped setting..
The snowdrops carpeted the slopes and rhododendron flowers were bursting into blossom...magnolia buds waiting their turn.
Spring really felt as though it had sprung already.. despite the nippy wind blowing.

Snowdrops galore..

Must return soon to see these Magnolia buds opening..

One of the finest examples of Palladian architecture to be found in the pavilion next to the lake

Now I could happily move in here..today?

Lovely mossy bowers cloaked with ferns..

This brief outing was the perfect antidote to a very stressful week and it managed to recharge my batteries so that I could face the final onslaught today.

I hope that you have all managed to have a restorative weekend and I look forward to catching up with you all in good time..XX

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Light relief..

I sense that maybe I have bored you into submission with my rantings about work recently so I feel a responsibility to lighten up a bit and change the subject so you don't abandon me in your droves... wouldn't blame you.. I wish I could escape me sometimes!

Way back in an earlier post I was bleating on about not being able to sew and deciding that this year would be a good time to try this challenge.

I showed you a book that I had bought and was all of a titter about it in my usual Mr Toad way..(as in Wind in the Willows)
The book explains how to make sock and glove animals and is one of the range of Japanese publications that I find so inspiring. It was my intention (as always) to have a go and try using a completely different medium for a change.
I now have to confess that I have not picked this book up other than to gaze longingly at the enchanting little animals within and dream wistfully of the day that I take the plunge and MAKE ONE!!!!!
My pathetic excuse for not having achieved this yet .. is the difficulty in finding the right gloves.. they have to be cotton and handshaped (obviously.. you are thinking) in the form of a flat hand spread out..
Well you try finding these said gloves... c'est tres difficile n'est ce pas!!
I must add that I gave up pretty quickly and have buried the book along with others to the 'pending' pile!
Well my latest acquisition is a needle felt bunny kit...

This is not a totally alien craft to me... the felting I have already done by means of making slippers..

the needle bit.. I haven't done yet so .. dare I say watch this space.. and maybe .. just maybe a bunny will appear one day!

Don't hold your breath though!

Lastly ..here is another vintage box frame that I am hoping to list on my shop page ... when I get around to it!

This one is called..'Walking the Dogs'.


Monday, 21 January 2008

Works in progress...

... nine hundred and ninety nine, one thousand, one thousand and one, one thousand and two.........and counting!

Actually I have lost count now ( and my mind) but I know that I have made more than a thousand cards.
It would be all fine and dandy if I could count and have a memory of some kind.. but every time I start a re-count.. something distracts me and I have to start again... tiresome indeed!
All badges are now mounted on to their cards and next I have the daunting task of wrapping each card and envelope in a cello bag... watching paint dry would be much more fun and a lot more leisurely. I have had a great deal of sympathy and empathy for factory workers this last week... the endless repetitive monotony of production line assembly is something to be admired ... and avoided... Having said all that ... I love what I do with a passion and chose to do this work so I am really not complaining..
Well maybe just a teensy weensy bit then!

I managed to make another 'Cowboy' themed frame before the madness started last week.. I will be listing this in my Cowboys & Custard shop soon (see link on side-bar) ... just as soon as I can!..

Thank you for all your lovely comments over the last few days.. they have really buoyed me along and I LOVE hearing from you all ... and lovely to hear from new visitors too.. I will try and get round to visiting you all by the end of the week..

Dear Annie over at Saucerful of Secrets
(url is http://www.littlewrenhouse.blogspot.com or look at my blog link list...)
is having a fabulous giveaway with one of her wonderfully crafted cats amongst lots of other goodies..
Annie makes the most beautiful dolls, designed and sewn by her very fair and talented hands!! Please go and visit her... should would love to meet you and join in her giveaway..

Well it's 'Aurevoir' from me for now... I will be back, drooling and twitching after I have packed this lot .. and some !!

Thought for the Day....


Sunday, 20 January 2008

Sunday Lazy Sunday...

Well for now at least....
I am still horizontal with the laptop precariously balanced on my lap whilst I try to catch up with you all and start the day, gloomy as it is outside, with a smile and a skip!
I am going downstairs to have my bowl of porridge in a minute and placate Pickles with a big bowl of fish... spoilt moggy!
But before I do...my dear friend Michelle at Chellebez (Adam and Michelle) .. (sorry STILL can't link... anyone like to pop over and help ? has tagged me and I promised I would give it some thought and so here I am... thinking!
I am always a little unsure about what to say...I try to think of something interesting about me but .. No.. sorry... not much to write home about there..

Here are just a few random facts ..

**Please forgive me those of you who have already read this and noticed a few changes.. I keep changing my mind about what to write... now that is another fact about me in itself.... procrastinator of the highest order!

1. I am a country girl at heart. The great British countryside is beautiful and I dream of a day when we can move to Devon and live by the moor.. in peace!

2. I am very self- conscious and blush easily if made the centre of attention. I hate this about myself!

3. I developed a fear of flying when my son was born.. along with other phobias..! and I constantly worry about my health
(which hasn't been brilliant since my parents both passed away) I developed endometriosis a few years ago which is stress related.

4. On a brighter note..
I love my men..
My gorgeous handsome intelligent successful funny charming and most loving and loved man.
My gorgeous handsome intelligent successful funny charming and most loving and loved son.
My gorgeous handsome intelligent precocious furry eccentric loving and loved cat...

5. I have a gold tooth. Not on display.

6. Last but not least...
I fell out of a window, yes through the glass, when I was three years old.. I didn't suffer any scratches or cuts.. a miracle!

Bien! C'est tout.. mes amies... please forgive my school girl french.. xx

P.s Please excuse the scruffy bed.. this photo was taken two years ago not long after we had moved house and we had acquired the previous owners blinds now thankfully replaced with curtains.. the bed is my beloved oak and elm antique bed that I bought 23 years ago.. we now have a brass bed but I have kept the wooden bed for my son when he leaves home..
Now not sure you needed to know all that but there you go...

Saturday, 19 January 2008

A little bit bonkers....

I feel as though I have been in the ring with Mike Tyson the last couple of days.. now why is that I wonder ?
I ache from head to toe and not in a flu kind of way but a bruised and battered way. All I have done for the last two days is make badges and run back and forth to my ailing printer ...... not exactly an all body work out.
I suppose I am ashamed to admit that I have not done this much hard graft for a long time and my body and mind are complaining bitterly at the sudden change in tempo.
I have managed to plough through several hundred badges now and if I can keep this up for the next few days I should have finished this marathon by the end of the week... she says optimistically.

It is fairy typical and alarming that my printer decided to have the last laugh yesterday after churning out hundreds of printed cards..Instead of spewing smoke and grinding to a halt..which would be instant disaster... it has stopped feeding the card through automatically so I am now having to stand and feed each card through manually... very tiresome indeed!!
Maybe I am not cut out for this mass production but my pride and my bank balance will not let me give up now and I do recall saying to you, not that long ago.. (two weeks) that this year it was make or break for Cowboys & Custard..!

Enough talk of work... very dull.

I would however like to say how grateful I am and how proud I am to be part of this caring and generous community... your comments are always SO supportive and nourishing and are immensely helpful and welcome.. so.. Thank you all for your kind words.. they mean so much to me. I had such a wonderful response to my recent news about work... they are all greatly appreciated.

Changing tack.... Pickles has been very happy to join in with all the madness of late and has decided to ambush everyone who walks up the stairs... he camps out by the radiator on the middle landing and tries to grab anyone who passes..
You can see by the demonic look in his eye how much he relishes this game.

Wherever you are this weekend... I hope you are high and dry.. it has been the most abysmal weather this week and my heart goes out to all of you who are having to wear wellies indoors... I hope none of you are flooded out.. unlike our poor friends in the Cotswolds who woke up to several feet of water in their kitchen this week!! Awful.


Thursday, 17 January 2008

Yee haw!!!!!

****Stop Press****
This is just to let you know that as from yesterday...my fortunes changed in my small world of Cowboys & Custard merchandise.I am going to be eating, sleeping, dreaming ... and most definitely.. making.. greeting cards for the foreseable future... as an order for 936... yes that is nine hundred and thirty six .... greeting cards, came through from my agent..
So please forgive me if I am absent for a while..
It troubles me when I can't get to my blog and I do suffer from cold turkey syndrome if I don't communicate with you all on a regular basis...
I shall be complete gibbering wreck by the time I have finished this card order but hey....... I can't afford to turn it down.

So it's back in the saddle again and hi ho Silver ....

Much love to you all and hope to be back soon..XXX

P.s Dear Michelle from Chellebez ( Adam and Michelle) has tagged me... Thank you Michelle.. I will endeavour to fulfill this task over the next few days .... it will give me something to think about while I am slaving over a hot badge machine.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Reasons to be cheerful....

The last few days my mind has been in slide-show mode.... more pictures than words.. so please forgive my rather silent blog of late..
I think also the mind- numbing tax return has frazzled a few brain cells (all remaining!) so I am fairly monosyllabic and am just managing a few grunts ... Hopefully normal service will be resumed soon.

I did however have three good reasons to be cheerful today..

1. My new National Trust Catalogue and Guide arrived.. so I am off for some armchair travel this evening.

2. The first signs of Spring were evident today.. when I discovered that my hyacinth bulbs potted up in November are beginning to show signs of life.. I brought one indoors to force it on and save it from being completely waterlogged outside...

3. My old friends the frogs are back !!!! I spotted three of the little darlings hopping around our garden this morning.. surely it is a little too early for them to be thinking of spawning... I suppose Valentine's Day is not too far off so they are just getting amorous a little earlier this year!

I hope to be back ... bright eyed and bushy tailed... very soon. XX

Monday, 14 January 2008


Today was a day of plans and dreams. A day to tackle some of those neglected corners of my life....but alas was not to be...

I would love to have got out into the ...

Rather than be stuck here ...

....slaving over my tax return...boo hiss!!

Nevermind eh... tomorrow is another day !!

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Thought for the day...

I have just come home from an evening of mixed emotions.. and rushed to my blog to see if anyone had called by... and yes my lovely loyal friends have been and left offerings of humour and empathy and so much more...
I honestly don't know what I would do without you all...
Thank you ... is all I can say... I am so touched by your enduring company and words of kindness and friendship..
You make my world go round...


Two Bees...

Or not two bees.. that is the subject!

My man and I share a love of bees... not sure where this comes from and I may feel differently if I was on the receiving end of one of their stings.. but the humble bee is a wonderful thing!
Did you know that a bee hive is a 'hive' of industry with every member having a role to play.. a fairly democratic society I would say....however..15% of bees do not take part in the day to day household chores and choose not to dance or take part with the rest of the colony.. This anti-social behaviour is vital for the survival of the colony as these non conformists go their own way and find new sources of food and habitats. Without 15% of anarchic bees the hive would die!!! Now what does that say for our society??

The Christmas before last .. I wanted to give my man a special gift from our favourite artist.. Cleo Mussi.. so after a few clandestine phone calls and emails I commissioned Cleo to make a mosaic bee for my beloved. I told her of his love of bees and she made a magnificent specimen that I hid away until Christmas day. On exchange of our present to each other .. I discovered much to my astonishment, delight and roars of laughter.. that we had both commissioned Cleo to make each other a bee.. so we now have his and hers bees each with our initials and small symbolic decorations..i.e mine has the initial M and 15% incorporated in the mosaic and his.. a heart and the initial P ... Now isn't that a case of knowing your partner well.. I think so!

This bee theme was presented to me this Christmas with one of my all time favourite books and the first book that I can remember having as a very young child.. 'One, two, three with and and bee'... a classic story for young children about ant and bee and a shopping trip that went horribly wrong (sounds familiar).

This page is so, so nostalgic for me and is imprinted on my memory as one of my earliest...

What is it about nostalgia that can be so comforting...? Is it that childhood was a time of innocence, endless days and no worries... I love it as you already know from my subtitle.. A childhood revisited.

Here are some more bee items that we have collected along the way..
A rather unconventional Valentine that I made for beloved last year..

And lastly.. a honeypot..

Friday, 11 January 2008

A little bit of wonderful....

I virtually swam into town this morning... flippers, snorkel and goggles would have been far more appropriate than my tweedy coat, velvet scarf and leather boots..
I was a very soggy and sorry mess by the time I got home clutching a parcel from the parcel depot that was close to turning into papier mache. Deciding not to walk home after getting a good soaking and missing the bus home by seconds... too old to run for buses these days .. I decided to kill time in Waterstones until the next bus came..

I am always asked what I would like for Christmas and my quick and trusty reply is .." A book token please". This is invariably met with " Really ? " in tones of amazement ! Well .. Yes.. REALLY ! I ♥ books and chose my early profession to indulge in this passion of mine... I became a Bookbinder/Conservationist of Antiquarian books way back in the early 1980's.. It was this apprenticeship that brought me to Bath having applied for a job as a 'Bookbinding Assistant' advertised in the Daily Mail.
I worked in a wonderful 'old curiosity' type of shop... crammed full of dusty second hands books and with a working bindery within the shop.
I was very fortunate to work with such wonderful specimens... old crumbly leather bindings that clothed parchment pages.. vellum covered works, buckram and linen bindings.. I cut my binders teeth on them all... Not literally you understand!
Unfortunately the shop closed down many years ago and after three redundancies in my bookbinding employment I turned my attention to other crafts and have not bound a book since.

So.. sorry .. wandered off there a bit..

Back to Waterstones... I have had a book token burning a hole in my bag since Christmas so I ventured into the wonderful world of Waterstones wall to wall books and seized upon Nigel Slater's new book entitled 'Eating for England' .. .... The Delights & Eccentricities of the British at Table. I shall so enjoy reading this new book of his.. having read his semi-autobiographical book..TOAST.. a bitter-sweet account of his childhood growing up in the 1960's where food was his consolation.. a poignant tale. This latest book of his is sure to be a treat ...anything to do with the British and their eccentricities is a good read.

Next to a jug full of Daffs, a hot cup of coffee and a choccy biccy... who could ask for more !

P.s After reading 'Good Intentions' you will see I am losing the fight with the biscuit tin devil... It was only one choccy biccy M'Lord.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Love and kisses...

Just sending a little love to you all xx

Monday, 7 January 2008

Good Intentions...

Being a new year and as is the custom amongst so many of us to change our lives for the better with the coming year.. I am no exception to this annual tradition and have had many thoughts rattling around in my rather depleted mind these last few days..
I have learnt from several of you of your intentions to slow down and take life at a gentler pace and I would like to put my hand up and join you in this quest..
I fear that we (I especially) try to cram too much into our daily lives and often feel a failure by the end of the day.. by not achieving our tick list of chores or tasks..
So it is one of my many new year resolutions to slow down and take stock of what I 'do' achieve rather than what I 'don't '.

So here we are... another year... another list..
If I only achieve one this year.. it will be something to celebrate.

1. Stop wasting time... it is so precious and I let days drift by without any consequence.. seize the day !

2. Don't take life too seriously... learn to smile more and laugh at myself rather than berate myself for my mistakes.

3. Don't become a slave to my blog... This one is tricky! My blog has given me a purpose and makes my day eventful.
It has brought me more friends and mutual support that I could ever have dreamt of.... BUT.. it should be an occasion to
share the jewels of my life and not all the bric a brac.

4. Don't let a bad hair day become a mid-life crisis.

5. Don't listen to the devil in the biscuit tin.

6. Learn some more Italian.

7. Stop chasing dust.. and let the house clean itself ??????? ( I am the original neurotic housewife)

8. Avoid looking in the mirror from the waist down and neck up.

9. Stop worrying so much. Easier said than done.

10. Yes... very predictable.. lose weight.. My middle age spread is spreading too far and wide !

And last but by no means least...live by the wise words of Bonnie Prudden...

" You can't turn back the clock. But you can wind it up again."

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Love in a cold climate...

Thank you Nancy Mitford for giving me the perfect title for this post....

I started off on New Year's Eve with all good intentions for an upbeat start to this year and kick started my new intentions by sorting out the small mountain of bits and pieces, assorted ephemera, vintage puzzles, card games, charms, vintage plastic toys, dolls, books, printed matter, trimmings, ribbons and old Uncle Tom Cobbley and all... and re-housing them in an old chest of drawers that had become Pickle's winter quarters.. well one of the top drawers.. my old knickers drawer in fact. Now that's ruined his squeaky clean reputation.. I fear!

I digress... I spent the day sorting and collating, discarding and boxing others of the multitude of items that I have collected over the last year for my vintage themed box frames and by the end of the afternoon I was feeling very pleased with myself for having finished this reluctant task. Now I am like a child with a new toy box.. I keep visiting my newly filed items and admiring the collection in each drawer...

Old catalogues, comics and many more...

Games galore...

Plastic clowns, flowers and all and all ...

Well that was then and the euphoria of having a good tidy has worn a little thin now so I turned my attention to making some Valentine frames for the coming anniversary on 14th February... these I am adding to my web-shop page at Not on the High Street.. they are made from Victorian/Edwardian Valentines mounted on genuine Victorian love poems and embellished with vintage charms, flowers and buttons.

N.B Many thanks to all of you who gave me your local snow cast... I am happy for all of you who got to frolic in some of this wonderful white weather...
Lastly a HUUUUUUUUUUGE thank you ... for all of your warm wishes for the New Year... They warm the cockles of my heart they do.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

The calm after the calm...

Well what an anti-climax that was.... I was braced for a winter wonderland today and not one flake, not one measly flake of snow landed on Bath.. well not that I noticed. I frequently peered out of the window expecting to see a flurry though hoping for a blizzard.. mais pas de saucisse! Not a sausage!
Pickles acted as my barometer by going in and out to the garden and coming in bone dry.. therefore I knew that the white stuff had by-passed us once again.. Oh woe is me!
I LOVE snow and find the whole atmosphere of a snow storm very exciting and romantic..
Still ... I live in hope.. there is plenty more winter left and I have known it to snow in May... many years ago.
Those of you who live in privileged places and have found yourself gazing out on to a white washed world.. think of me please.. bereft and snowless and please post some photos on your blog so that I can at least see how the other half live!

Pickles is not fussed either way and preferred to stay indoors .

It is a tradition that we buy our cat a helium balloon each year... no, not to hear him speak in a Mickey Mouse voice .. he loves to jump up and catch the string in his mouth and pull the balloon along... very reminiscent of Piglet in the Winnie the Pooh story...
Unfortunately this year the balloon was short lived as Pickles got rather boisterous one day and wrapped the string around his leg.. panicked and ran full pelt out of the house with balloon attached. Being a helium balloon it didn't take long to detach from his leg and float away over the roof tops... going going gone...

Watching and waiting...

for that first flake... oh please, oh please...