Tuesday 30 November 2010

The Den, part 1…

So, The Den is the final piece of the jigsaw from when I decided to have a major sort out at home. 
DSC_0118 (2)

No2 had been on at me for a while that he wanted a games room.  I guess this is the progression from a playroom.  We umm-ed and aah-ed for some time, deliberating over where we could make room for such a thing and we finally decided that the study/dumping ground that was redundant would be the most workable.
 Messy desk
First stop was to re-house all the things in the study, namely a large, messy desk, lots of shelving, lots of stuff all over the floor and a running machine that served as a coat stand.
 Study before
Way back here, with the help of my youngest sister, off we went to Ikea to make far better use of an empty store cupboard.

Empty cupboard
A transformation and ├╝ber-organised! 

Store cupboard re-fit
Oh yes!  Shelves that reach the ceiling!  This sight makes me very happy.  It is a joy to find a light bulb… or a battery…

Store cupboard shelving
Next stop was to re-organise the room that I had started making into my workroom back here.

With heavy hearts, we began to take down all the multi-sensory equipment and dismantle the water bed.  That was fun – siphoning out litre after litre of nine year old water!  This was the more or less blank canvas I was left with.

Empty workroom
It was given a fresh coat of white paint and then I could start moving my desk in and repositioning my other worktable…

Workroom nearly there
…and finally organise my fabric stash.

Fabric stash (2)
Fabric stash

I can’t tell you how happy this room makes me.  I spend huge parts of my day in there (I’m sat at the table in the window with my laptop right now).  Still a few things to sort through and, ahem, organize but I’m getting there.  It feels like my playroom and takes me right back to the organised chaos of my office at work.

And so, then No2 got his den.  Another quick paintjob – the colours are by Crown and I’m loving the depth of them – and I have one happy teenager.

Charlie in the den!
The Den, part 2  will be about the cushions.  The Den is all about the cushions!  It is possible that No2 has a Den just so I could make the cushions.  That’s the way my head works in a roundabout way…

Sunday 28 November 2010


Eleven days since I last posted!  Eleven things that have kept me busy:

  • The one-step buttonhole foot on my new machine has been practiced with...

  • ...and mastered. 

  • I have been planting indoor bulbs now that all my outdoor ones are in.  Some are in the cupboard, in the warm but in the dark.  Some are in the greenhouse, in the cold but in the light.  Some are in the fridge, in the cold and the dark.  There is a bulb offer on in Marks and Spencer now - it is the same price as last year, but not such a good selection of bulbs, so I have refrained so far but would still recommend them as good buys for anyone that is interested...

  • I am looking for some nice moss around the garden to add to the paperwhites I have planted in baskets.  There is some growing on the wall that I will soon be prising off carefully.

  • We now have A Den.  This new addition to our living space has taken quite a few months to achieve and I think probably deserves a post of its own.  No2 is in his element and I am happy that he is now downstairs with me.  There is plenty of room for me to join him with my sewing as he plays on his x-box.  I don't last very long though...

  • Birthday cakes have been made and hideously decorated for my nephew and my niece, who share the same birthday.  The coiled snake was the highlight of the day for a certain 10 year old!

  • I have been slowly finishing off one of my Christmas quilts with some embroidered circles on the biggest square of the disappearing nine-patch.  All can be revealed very soon, just the binding to be hand-sewn.

  • I have had my November fix of Kew Gardens with Nancy.  You can read about our day here but I think these wonderfully purple berries deserve a second outing in Blogland.

  • It is f-r-e-e-z-i-n-g but a good opportunity to try and capture the sparkle of the frost in the garden.  I love this picture.

  • We haven't had any snow yet (it's forecast for tomorrow night, I think) but we are prepared.

  • Inspired from this gorgeous, gorgeous blog, I have been finding things from the garden to bring inside rather than buy flowers for my kitchen windowsill.

Wednesday 17 November 2010


I wanted to step outside the room for a moment and do this:

I have some exciting news about the book I am working on.

I met with a commissioning editor from Oxford University Press yesterday, along with my co-writer, and we had the most amazing response.  Having emailed some of what we have already written, she wants us to go ahead with a proposal for her to have peer reviewed.  Some of the communication we have had from OUP suggested that perhaps it was not the type of book that they could market as they deal primarily with professionals and academics.  I felt that I had to convince her that it was not intended to be a memoir in any shape or form and that I would like my contribution to be a credible account that professionals would not hesitate to recommend.

I think she understood!  We talked of production time lines, the price of paper (very expensive!), worldwide publishing (another squeal!), the fact that OUP have a very good coffee and cake shop.  All the important stuff covered then!

So, today I have felt most odd.  I have struggled to focus on any one thing and feel weirdly adrift.  A friend of mine advised me to enjoy the moment (which I did) and I really do feel as though I am starting a new adventure.

I'm in such a tizz, I can't think straight enough to post a suitable photo... so I won't this time.  I can barely string two words together...

Sunday 14 November 2010

5 a day...

My family like to come to lunch with me on a Sunday because they love the vegetables!  I love that they are in season, local and organic.  I love that they are things that, unless they were delivered to me, I perhaps wouldn't necessarily buy.

Acorn squash and sweet potatoes will be roasted in olive oil, with a sprinkling of herbs.

Carrots and the most photogenic cauliflower will be steamed.

Green cabbage plus a few curly kale leaves left from last week, will be lightly cooked in boiling water.

And the onions?  Three of them will go into the pot of goulash that is cooking slowly in the oven.

After all that goodness, I think we deserve a sticky toffee pudding...

Happy Sunday!

Thursday 11 November 2010

My creative space...

...is still all about chopped vegetables.  I have got four cushions to make and the grey linen is the common fabric to them all, to which I am adding an assortment of other prints including these mustard, grey and brown ones, and these ones that I started earlier in the week.

The third cushion will feature these fabrics and the fourth one, a combination of them all.

More creative spaces here.

Tuesday 9 November 2010


...by this gorgeous grey linen coupled with this groovy organic cotton...

...that is yielding this pleasing pile of scraps...

...as I make these cushions for some furniture that is arriving next week.

When I should be writing, cleaning, ironing, baking or any number of other jobs that really ought to take priority.

Saturday 6 November 2010

An alternative...

On the lane that takes you into the village that my friend lives in, there is a sign on the left-hand side that has always piqued my interest.  For almost four years I have driven past it but a couple of weeks ago I decided to stop and look.

The sign says Natural Burial Ground and I have slowed my car to watch with interest what has been happening in what seemed at first, a rather unkempt field.  As my friend and I walked in, along with her young son, we were greeted by a softly-spoken lady who was treating a wooden post.  She enquired as to whether we were visiting someone or would just like to look around - which we were more than welcome to do.  Over on one side there was a gathering of what looked like a family and so we respected their space and explored the rest of the site.

In the roundhouse, pictured above, were slate plaques with inscriptions: some simple and other more poetic.  It seemed that a wonderful assortment of people had chosen this to be their final resting place.  We smiled at one that simply said a fine man  and then actually giggled at another that said Mickey the roofer.  I liked the plaque on a wooden post that said that the lady would be remembered for her wit and charm.

I remember when I was arranging Tom's funeral that I think I stunned the funeral director by requesting a woven bamboo basket instead of a wooden coffin for him.  It just seemed wrong to have my last memory of him in an ugly wooden casket.  Instead, my memory is of a wonderfully natural basket with a calico lining and smothered in ivy and sweet peas.  Had I known about this, I think I would have chosen it as Tom's final resting place.  I love the philosophy behind its creation:

    A nature reserve burial ground is not only a place of peace.  It is an extraordinary memorial to those who have gone before us.  It is an important gift for our children, their children, their grandchildren.

As we approached the gate again, the lady who had spoken to us earlier came over.  She introduced herself as Emma and I asked about what her vision was for this area.  She told us about the plans to create a woodland and nature reserve and that they had recently created a pond at the bottom of the site.  I found myself telling her about Tom and how much I would have loved to have him here and she suggested that I could consider a memorial tree.  I loved the sense of peace that I found there and the openness with which I felt able to talk about such things.  It is a part of the country that has many strong memories and ties for me so although it may seem far from home, the thought of being part of a landscape is very appealing.

As we were walking around, we noticed that there were fossils amongst the stones on the paths and Emma told us that this area was once an inland sea and evidence of that was all around.  My friends son found an unusual looking fossil and we were told it was known as a devil's toenail!  You can imagine how much this appealed to an eight year old boy!

I hope it isn't too early for me to consider that I would like to become part of this landscape too and I am glad that my mind is open enough for me to consider it. I guess because I am writing about death and grief, I feel strangely comfortable talking about it and I will definitely be discussing this alternative in the book.

So far, what we have written has been met with a really positive reception and we have a meeting scheduled for the week after next with an editor at a rather prestigious publisher.  But that's all I'm saying at the moment as I don't want to tempt fate.

A weekend of writing awaits...

Wednesday 3 November 2010

It's official...

...because these arrived with yesterday's post.

The Christmas issue First Day Cover featuring Wallace and Gromit by Nick Park.

This is my favourite one of Gromit carrying a Christmas pudding!

When No2 was a baby, he loved Wallace and would show all his new teeth off in a Wallace-stylie to anyone!

I've said before how much I love the thought that goes into the postmark for each issue and when I was at the yurt last month it was just a couple of miles from Bethlehem so I couldn't resist a photo opportunity.

Tuesday 2 November 2010

A rainbow from my garden...

I have a late entry into this year's garden flowers.  This cosmos has all of a sudden grown to be about 3 feet tall in one of my wooden barrels and has decided to have a final flourish.  It is wrong of me, I know, to want to hurry it along so I can plant some more bulbs in its place!

I played around with the shape collage software one day and created a rainbow from the flowers from the garden over the summer months.
I think it fits rather nicely in with Splash of Colour for November, don't you?

Monday 1 November 2010

Splash of colour...

I've been very excited about joining in with Silverpebble's Splash of Colour project and have already added some photos to the Flickr pool.

This columnar tree is at the back of my neighbours garden and it borders on my side fence outside my greenhouse.  Last week, the changing leaves looked spectacular against the brightest of blue October sky.

Today they are giving me a jewel-like carpet to look at instead and for some reason I don't have the heart to go and sweep them up.

So I think I'll leave them be.