Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Food, Food, Glorious Food!

Well, we all know about that at this time of year!  Although many of my US friends will have had their big meal on Thanksgiving, we in the UK will have ours at Christmas.

I grew up with the tradition of celebrating Christmas on Christmas Eve since my parents where from ‘abroad’ but nowadays, since I settled in UK many years ago, we celebrate on Christmas Day.  We start with the obligatory Buck’s Fizz, plenty of nibbles to keep the hunger at bay whilst we unwrap the pressies from under the tree and catch up on all the family gossip.

Before all the pleasantries comes all that preparation, angst, sorting, tidying to make way for more jumble, sorting or thinking up a new twist to the tradition menu, judging how many family will actually appear etc etc all for a few hours on the Day itself.  We then sit looking at each other stupefied having eaten so much food that we can’t move and vow to ourselves, never again!  So, what happens the next year?  We all do it all over again!

This year I am planning, well I have just about planned my menu.  We were supposed to be going to my daughter’s house but some of the family want to come here so she will be entertaining her in-laws for the first Christmas dinner!  Panic!!!

So, what is on my menu?  Well, we will be five adults with one very pregnant lady who will not be allowed to eat any shellfish.  Her husband is really strict on that, our #son who has firm ideas on the subject.  So, have you ever tried putting together a menu knowing that you should not use a certain food?  Why does fish always appear everywhere?  I have settled on making some homemade potato and leek soup to be served in a demitasse (small teacup!) whilst on the saucer will be placed a couple of small pieces of toasted baguette which has had olive oil and grained mustard spread on it.  This will be rather nice to dip in the soup.

Next, comes la piece de la resistance!  The TURKEY!  This year I was going to  serve just the crown of the bird since most of us like the white meat but for a change I am going to have  a whole turkey.  I noticed a lovely recipe whereby you lifted the breast skin to smear a mixture of mascarpone cheese mixed with friend pancetta, herbs and onions.  Not only will this infuse the bland turkey meat with wonderful flavours but also keep the meat beautifully moist.

I shall make a gratin of Brussels sprouts, since that can be prepared in advance, along with carrots cooked in brandy, butternut squash pureed and roast potatoes in goose fat.  The usual extras such as homemade cranberry sauce made with orange and port, bread sauce (might take a rain check on that one since hardly anyone really likes it!) and turkey gravy.  Since I will have the whole turkey I will have the giblets to make up the gravy.    Oh, did I mention the stuffing?  Yes, that will be homemade with special sausage meat, grated apple, chopped up chestnuts and herbs.

Another tradition that I started years ago and know the kids have continued with their families is to have a small gift placed at their places at the table.  Usually, something inexpensive but fun to open.  This year I decided that I shall do a couple of lottery tickets each…. with the proviso that a commission is paid to us on any winnings … did I just say that?????

The last serving on our groaning dining table will be the desert.  Always, everyone asks for Christmas pudding.  Now, I used to make my own but since we all only want a spoonful I now buy in that commodity.  In addition, I will serve a mango trifle and produce the small cheese board with grapes for those who still have the space to indulge.

After this feast, a quick clean up, chat, and off we all walk around the corner to my daughter’s house to continue the festivities and…. eating!

Did I tell you what she will be serving?  Some of Mum’s soup starter, followed by turkey (cooked by mother in law), a ham and all the usual additions including my cranberry sauce!  For desert she is going to try her hand at a delicious looking Irish Cream cheesecake followed with cheese and biscuits.  And then, the other members of the family from around the corner descend!

Happy Christmas!!!!

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Tatting – a dying art

I remember trying my hand at tatting.  My, what a laborious skill.  The trouble is these days we are all wanting instant satisfaction that often machine worked pieces are preferable to hand worked ones.  If only, because of price!

According to Wikipedia, ‘Tatting with a shuttle is the earliest method of creating tatted lace.’ 

To make the lace, the tatter wraps the thread around one hand and manipulates the shuttle with the other hand. No tools other than the thread, the hands, and the shuttle are used.  Some of the shuttles were made of bone and slipped easily through the loops.  Later, a tatting needle was introduced whereby instead of winding the cotton around the shuttle the needle had to be threaded.  Older designs, especially through the early 1900s, tend to use fine white or ivory thread (50 to 100 widths to the inch) and intricate designs. Newer designs from the 1920s and onward often use thicker thread in one or more colors. The best thread for tatting is a "hard" thread that does not untwist readily.

Well, I did try and still have the instruments for a rainy day!  Meanwhile, I inherited some old, antique lace from my late mother.  She lived into her 90s as did her mother.  So, some of the antique lace which in its day must have sat on lady’s collars etc seems to sit in a box in a cupboard.  As much as I can take out the pieces to ooh and aah over them, they always return to the storage in the cupboard.  This seems such a shame!  So, I am going to list some of these pieces in my Etsy shop and trust some buyer will come along who can fully appreciate the workmanship and beauty of them.

For instance, this tatted triangle is a fine example of the art of tatting and openwork.

bottom corner


Wednesday, 16 September 2009

It’s been so long!

I know, I know!  It has been an age since I wrote on this blog.  Well, I did have the best excuse in the world!  My little girl got married at the end of August and it got a little frantic towards the end trying to bring together all those last minute details but eventually we did!  Even though she was really unwell due to the stress of the wedding planning and the enormous stress at work we got through it and had the most wonderful day!

All done!

So, after all this time I decided to start selling some of my mother’s vintage items which often border on the antique.  First off is this delightful Japanese paper and bamboo fan.  Ideal for those days when you just want to move some cooler air around you but still stay ladylike!

open front

 Fan open reverseHere you see the fan displayed open.  The front shows a pretty bird looking over its shoulder at the flowers whilst the reverse is plain.

In fact when I pulled open the fan initially I did see some Japanese writing.



I promise not to leave it quite so long until I post again!


Monday, 3 August 2009

The Wedding

As many of you know, through my numerous postings on the team forum, the month of August is a very important month in our family this year. Our youngest, our daughter, is getting married later this month.

Panic has not quite set in yet! However, the days seem to be passing ever more quickly with only a short time to discuss and implement those last minute details. It is always the small things that seem to take the most energy and organising. Sometimes, you can’t help wondering if anyone would really notice whether the gold butterfly confetti was strewn on the tables or not? But, putting all these little details together does make a magical day even more magical!

In case there are other people out there who are looking for that extra something for their wedding day I thought I would stroll through the BBEST team to see what I could find. You never know, there might be something that we can’t possibly do without!!


Wedding Hoops by Jems by JB and Company

Lovely, white freshwater pearls with sterling silver components dangle from the hoops.

These would look so pretty with the bride’s outfit!


Roses Champagne Flute Glasses by Glitz n Glass

This pair of hand painted Champagne flutes would be just the thing to toast your love with. A single pink rose bud in a modern heart with a matching rose on the base. What could say "I love you" better than that?


White Cake Candle by AJs Country Cottage

Smells just like a moist, delicious white wedding cake! Tantalizing vanilla blends with a yummy almond note for a totally mouthwatering scent!

Positively edible smelling, not to be eaten!!


Ivory Bridal Veil by By The Way

An elegant, versatile bridal headpiece, this item can be worn either traditionally on top of the head, or at the back under an elaborate accent.


Champagne Gift Bag by BBesigns

Next time you need to say good luck say it with a bottle of champagne wrapped in this wine bag with a hand made tag.

The tag is hand painted champagne glass with a rhinestone embellishment. Good luck is printed on the tag and there is room at the bottom or back for your greeting.


Wedding Favour Bags by Fickle Faerie

A wedding favor that can be used over and over again!!! It won't be thrown in the garbage!

For a change, why not fill it with fruit instead of sweets?


Grace by Magdalene Jewels

Such a beautiful piece of jewellery. This graceful and delicate 17" Necklace would add sparkle to anyone who wears it.


Stained Glass Keepsake by Nonnie’s Treasures

Do you have a wedding invitation, or love letter that you want to keep forever? Don't put it into a plastic sleeve! This is a custom-made display, sealed on all sides with clear glass and trimmed with stained glass.

What a talented group we have in the BBEST Team! So many ideas, so much inspiration. I hope that you have enjoyed my journey and that you too have caught a little of the excitement that surrounds our household this month!

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

A christening!

The term properly refers to the acceptance of the recipient of a christening, or Baptism, into the church of Christ. It means to "bring to Christ."

In this case, our latest grandson is due to be christened this weekend.  As a Church of England tradition the actual ‘christening’ will often be added at the end of the normal Sunday service.  So, hopefully we won’t have to wait too long as for other little ones it can be tiresome!

This ceremony does give the family the excuse to meet, join with friends and neighbours to enjoy and formally recognise the latest addition to the family.  Hopefully, the weather will be kind to allow a barbeque to be held outdoors otherwise it will be a finger buffet style meal indoors.  Either way, I am sure our grandson will be totally oblivious (he is only 6 months old) as it will be his nap time anyway!

Whilst strolling through the realms of this talented team of interior designers I came across some beautiful items that might be perceived for the celebration of a christening.


Stained Glass Manager by Creations in Glass.

A handcut beautiful opalescent iridized stained glass, for the base & foiling the pieces using the copper foil technique, and soldering to a music box base that plays away in a manger there are two wise men & baby Jesus.  Perfect for that Christmas christening!



Christening gifts can be difficult to source but what about this useful item?


The Owyn Toy Box by Mod Mom Furniture

The Owyn Toy Box is a modern organic-style chest designed for any room in the house!  Use it to store everything from toys to gadgets to blankets. It has two easy lift-off lids that fit the top like a puzzle. Easy for little hands to manipulate!  The Owyn Toy Box is separated into two convenient compartments under individual leaf lids.

Looking for something to keep as a memento of this auspicious occasion?  Why not this item which you will agree is a little diferent?



Decorative Silver Giraffe Flower by Yoola

The artist created it as most of their creations using the smallest crochet needle available in the market and a silver colored copper wire.




For a reminder of how we welcome cherish this new child into God’s midst this delightful image would be prefect!


Gift of a Child by DeborahVoizin

This is one of my most favorite images. It shows how tiny and fragile a newborn baby is, in comparison to adult size hands that will be caring and guiding this sweet child through life.




Perfect for that old fashioned style!


Victorian Style Crochet Christening Cape by Precious Quilts aka me, On a Whimsey!

Can you imagine your little one on their special day wearing this romantic Victorian style christening cape?


And, so I look forward to our family gathering next weekend!

Friday, 3 July 2009

Yogya Silver

Some of my more regular readers may remember that I spent much of my childhood, well my younger childhood, living on an island called Java in Indonesia. image  We used to live in Bandung but what I want to write about is Yoga silver which was worked in the town of Yogyakarta to the east of Bandung.

Silver was not really worked until the early twentieth century.  In fact, the 1930’s.  The art of silverwork or silversmiths had been dying out since it was the aristocracy who bought and used the local silverware.  However, as they lost their power to the colonising nations they lost their wealth to pay for commissions and luxury goods.  So, the native craftsmen lost their ready market and regular income.  Silversmiths became a dying breed since youngsters showed no interest in continuing the craft.

In 1930, the wife of the Governor of Yogyakarta in central Java in the Dutch East Indies took an interest in the revival of the art of the silversmith industry.  Her plan was similar to the one a decade earlier in Cambodia, where local artisans were encouraged to learn their historical aesthetics and to use the inspiration to create silver objects to cater for the European whims.  Although this remarkable lady departed Java when her husband came to the end of his posting, the enthusiasm gained momentum.  Local silversmiths now created the most beautiful artifacts for the local Dutch population as well as the American tourists.

After Indonesia gained its independence in 1949, the Yogya silver trade flourished and continued well into the 1960’s.  Since virtually all the silverware was purchased by foreigners, few examples remain in Indonesia.

Certainly, my parents bought a lot of the silverware which over the years was given away to other family members or sold.  Today, the ornate pieces would need constant cleaning and polishing which really would take up too much time and be so impractial since they were not dishwasher safe!

The silverware was part of my earlier ordinary day to day life.  So much so that it was not until we moved to Europe that I realised one did not use ornate silverware for every day tasks!

We still have a few of these around the house to open our mail.  image

A typical letter opener.







Several of these are gradually finding their way onto Ebay.  In fact, I have one listed there at the moment!

The casing can be slid off the actual lighter.


I also remember my mother using a tea service similar to this one, even after we moved to Guernsey.  It was only when friends came to visit that I fully realised that this was not the norm! image




Fruit used to be displayed in a dish similar to this!


Can you imagine letting your little one feed themselves with this spoon? image



The table would be laid with cutlery edged with the ‘typical’ Yogya designs.  Even the salt and pepper condiment set would be placed on the table.  We had one exactly like this! image

So I think you get the idea of what life could be like.

Born with a silver spoon in the mouth, well not exactly but then it was a totally different world, altogether!

Monday, 29 June 2009

After a long absence… the Cuckoo!

I know I have been absent from this blog for a while but I have kept up my other blogs and thank you to those who read and follow me there!

Today with the advent of very warm weather for the UK I thought I would think about a bird that appears, although secretively, earlier in the year and then departs again at this time of year, the Cuckoo.

imageThe Cuckoo is a dove-sized bird with blue grey upper parts, head and chest with dark barred white under parts. With their sleek body, long tail and pointed wings they are not unlike kestrels.  Sexes are similar and the young are brown.  They are summer visitors and well-known brood parasites, the females laying their eggs in the nests of other birds.    When the Cuckoo nestling hatches, it instinctively pushes the other eggs and nestlings out of the nest and is tended by its ‘foster parents’ until fledging.  

Caterpillars and other insects such as beetles and ants form the major part of the Cuckoo's diet.  Many of the caterpillars are the hairy or brightly coloured poisonous ones, but their digestive system is specially adapted to cope with the hairs and toxins.

The female will also sometimes eat the eggs and nestlings of the host bird.

Cuckoos can be seen throughout UK  but especially in the south and central parts of the country.  The adults usually arrive in late March/April and depart in July/August with the young following about a month later, returning to central and southern Africa.

An old rhyme describes the Cuckoo's time in Britain:

In April I open my bill
In May I sing night and day
In June I change my tune
In July far far I fly
In August away I must

The familiar ‘cuckoo’ sound is made by the male.  The female will tend to issue a rich, bubbling sound.

It seems one too many birds may have flown over the Cuckoo’s nest, as the Cuckoo is now a member of the UK’s red list which contains the birds who are considered close to extinction.  This could be accounted for by other birds being in decline, the nests of which they used for their own young.

It would be interesting to hear how its American counterpart is faring?

Friday, 5 June 2009

Painted Lady

This week it was reported in the UK that we are being invaded by a beautiful butterfly called Painted Lady.image

The Painted Lady is a long-distance migrant, which causes the most spectacular butterfly migrations observed in Britain and Ireland.

Each year, it spreads northwards from the desert fringes of North Africa, the Middle East, and central Asia, across mainland Europe and reaching Britain and Ireland. In some years it is an abundant butterfly, frequenting gardens and other flowery places in late summer.  Well, this year, for whatever reason they have decided to come in their droves!  We even had one visit us whilst we were sitting in our conservatory reading the Sunday papers.  Luckily, we were able to release it back into our garden so that it could fly away to join its mates.  Apparently, they thrive on the common Thistle plant which grows in abundance everywhere.

In honour of this beautiful migrant I thought I would search the Design Style Guide team for further examples of butterflies.  Here is what I found!


Butterfly Garden Original Oil Painting







Blue Butterfly on Bevel Suncatcher


Sundance Reflections




Colorful Butterfly Window Cling Suncatcher with Stained Glass Effects


Clinging Images




Butterfly Pillowcases


The Closet and Curio Shop



Embroidered Clock, Floral Garden and Butterflies

Satin Stitchery



You can tell I like butterflies, can’t you?

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

The Ultimate Flower Show in UK

Some of you may have heard the name of the Chelsea Flower Show which is held annually at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea in London.  The show which is organised by the RHS or Royal Horticultural Society is one of the events to which many travel from all over the world.

Here up to date trends are exhibited featuring the latest and most desirable gardening products whilst creating an explosion of colour and scent.  The immense pressure on the growers and exhibitors culminates in them displaying their plants and blooms at their peak.  Growers appear from all parts of the United Kingdom so travel, storage conditions etc etc are crucial.  The actual show lasts for 5 days every May and is held in the grounds of the Royal Hospital at Chelsea.

Show gardens are created by leading international landscape architects and garden designers.  Imagine walking through these gardens and the inspiration they can give?  New varieties flowers and plants are introduced at this show such as this Clematis Fleuri image by Raymond Everison from Guernsey in the Channel Islands.






A new 'chameleon' heuchera bred in France. In spring the chartreuse-green foliage is striking, but as summer fades the foliage imagetakes on a chocolate hue before turning to frosted verdigris in winter when the veining is most prominent.


Iris Coeur D’Or is a spectacular navy blue and pure white bi-colour as seen in this photograph.







Remember the comedy show on TV called Keeping Up Appearance featuring Mrs Bouquet?  Well, another prominent character  known by his stage name of Onslow had this beautiful An orange-striped sweet pea, christened 'Geoff Hughes' after him. 






Lupins are always associated with a true old fashioned English Cottage Garden and this specimen is very striking!  Named 'Thunder', a moody purple with a yellow fleck.






A soft-pink shrub that can also be used as a climber this Wedgewood Rose is described as having an "almost gossamer-like quality with a lovely fruity fragrance on the outer petals and a clove-like scent at the centre".  This rose celebrates Wedgwood's 250th birthday. 





Now does this photograph of the Girl Guiding Centenary Rose remind you of an artist’s work who belongs to the BBEST team on Etsy?  You know who I mean?  Yes, Zudagay!!

This is the flower image


and …… this is Zuda’s.  No, it isn’t a rose but the quality is similar, don’t you think?image








Well, I could go on and on but as always all good things must come to an end!

Maybe, one day you will be able to visit, if not in person, then via television or just by reading blogs like mine!

Thursday, 7 May 2009

A wonderfully unexpected present!

I had been out and on my return home found an official note from the Postman to say he had tried to deliver a package but it was too big to push through our letterbox and so I would have to make arrangements for a later delivery.  This was Friday afternoon before our Bank Holiday weekend.  I thought and thought about whether I had ordered something that I had forgotten about it or what on earth was I due to receive?  I just drew a blank all the time and all through the weekend my mind kept coming back to what it was the Postman had not been able to deliver.

Through the internet I managed to arrange delivery but it wouldn’t be until the following Tuesday!!!  The whole weekend my mind worked overtime!

Then Tuesday arrived and the door bell sounded.  I ran down the stairs, opened the door and smiling acknowledged the Postman!  Amongst the normal mail he passed to me a squarish looking package.  Then I saw the name and address of the sender!  The excitement juices were really working now!!!!

Rushing up to my workroom I picked up my scissors to carefully unwrap this well packaged parcel.  The brown paper came away to offer a box that gave no clue to its contents.  Carefully I opened the box which revealed a beautiful parcel in pink tissue paper tied up with a gold ribbon thread.  My fingers were shaking I was so excited!!!!

Carefully I removed the tissue paper, ribbon and all was revealed!  The most beautiful stained glass ACEO and stand.  I was speechless!P1020907

I won’t go into the story as to why I was the incredibly lucky recipient of this ACEO but suffice to say it made me so happy!  It was ‘Nonnie’ from a group called Boomers and Beyond Etsy Street Team (or BBEST for short) who had so thoughtfully sent me the ACEO and its very own stand.  She is such a talented artist which I am sure you will agree when you have a look at her shop called  ‘Nonnie’s Treasures’.  And, above all a thoroughly lovely person too!P1020908

THANK YOU, Nonnie!!!




Nonnie specialises in custom and commissioned stained glass.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

A Walk in the Park

The sun did shine this weekend and I couldn’t resist going for a walk in a park to see what nature could show me! I was not disappointed. There was an amazing tableau of colour presenting itself to us all as we strolled along the paths.

bluebells and others along the path Bluebells and magnolia P1020902

close up bloom White rhodadenrons P1020905

Apart from the breathtaking flora I had to say, ‘hallo’ to my friend the duck who was napping!

Afternoon siesta for this duck

Then we strolled by a nearby lake and look what we found!!! Millions of tadpoles…


If you click on the picture to enlarge it you will be able to make out the black dots with the wiggly tails.

Even the water lilies are trying to open their petals.


Sale Corner!

Occasionally I will show items that are for sale from me direct which can be paid for using Paypal. Always check to see shipping charges which will need to be added to the item amount!

For regular prices check out my Etsy shop, as well as my sister shop on Etsy which also sells encaustic art

Some paintings can be bought directly from my website

Some samples of my present & past work to give you inspiration for that special gift!
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