Thursday, 24 July 2014

A sudden urge to paint...

I was in the middle of writing a post earlier and I suddenly got what I can only describe as 'the itch' - that really strong urge to pick up a paintbrush, and a picture forming in my head. It's not the most technically perfect or accurate picture but I am pretty happy with it anyway and I thought I'd share.

Happy Friday! 



Wednesday, 23 July 2014

The joys of silliness

I've mentioned before that I am lucky enough to have lovely in-laws.  My father in law and I don't see eye to eye on every issue, but often on the big topics - family, happiness, being kind and respectful to people - he comes out with something that really speaks to me. 

The last time my parents-in-law came to visit, we were walking the dogs and the conversation somehow turned on to the joys of being silly.  He said how sad it makes him when he comes across someone who feels too embarrassed to ever let themselves be silly or childish.  As he put it, life is enough of a challenge, without being afraid of what other people think.  It's important to let go.  This really struck a chord with me and got me thinking about the things I like doing that other people might think are silly - but that make me really happy.

I love flowers.  I'm not fussy, they can be wild or cultivated ones, and quite often I will stop in my tracks, even in the middle of the street, to take a photo of, or sniff, a lovely flower.  I especially love roses, bluebells and fuschias.  I love the feel of petals.  If you are walking along, and see someone's legs sticking out of a hedge, and the sound of a phone camera going off - there's a good chance it's me, taking a photo of a blossom on a branch because I think it's pretty.  I never do anything with the photos really, other than look back at them occasionally - but I really enjoy it.

I love fussing friendly dogs and cats.  No matter how tiny or how doddery, if an animal makes a fuss of me, I make a fuss of it.  And yes, if this is your pet, yes I will probably talk to it in a really silly voice.  I will definitely tell it how cute it is. And I might even get down to its height to give it a scritch on the chin or rub its belly.  I'm not so good at human interactions though - especially early doors - so don't expect great conversation!

I love bubble baths. And I take paperback books in with me, and damn the consequences!  Books, and baths, are for enjoyment.  People stare in horror at the bent spines and curled pages of some of my favourites - I just see hours of accumulated happiness.

I love making snowmen.  Wonky, badly proportioned, funny looking snowmen.  Snowmen made from three inches of snow scraped off the whole garden, with a carrot for a nose.  And I love making snow angels, and leaving hand shapes in the snow or frost on cars.  I love making the first footprints in the snow in the garden, and throwing big handfuls of it around. Basically I love snow, provided I don't have to drive in it - and I reserve the right to dive into it just like I did when I was five.

I love licking the spoon.  I think of it as the cook's prerogative.   If I'm making some nice cupcakes, or a chocolate ganache, or creamed potatoes, and I've finished dishing up, no matter who is in the kitchen with me, I reserve the right to get a good mouthful before it all goes in the dishwasher.  And Millie gets the tops off strawberries, carrots and potatoes. It's a thing.  Think of her as cook's helper.  

This is not up for debate, or subject to sensible conversations about calories or nutritional content.

I love snuggling in my pjs - especially under a soft blanket while watching films.  If family or friends pop round unexpectedly in the colder months and find me in this semi hibernated state, well, they just have to deal with it.  And yes, the pjs are covered in cartoons, or cute animals, or are very brightly coloured.  I am totally over the slinky pyjama phase of my early twenties.  Comfy and fluffy all the way. 

I love terrible jokes - including awful puns.  The kind that make you groan and roll your eyes.  I love cracker jokes at Christmas.  I am the one at the works do, resolutely wearing a silly hat (possibly upside-down), glass of wine in hand, listening to all the jokes to try to work out if there are any new ones this year.

I love watching my favourite films again - even if they are, in reality, a bit dreadful.  And if those films have songs, not only will I say the words to all the bits I know (in the case of Muppet Christmas Carol, which I have watched every Christmas since I was 8, that's just about the whole film) I will also sing all the songs.  If you can't stand that habit, well, best just put your fingers in your ears, because I just can't help myself!

I love poring over maps and imagining that one day I will go to the places on the map - and reading up on them, and even actually planning the trip, even if I never get there.  I had a whole trip to South America planned.  Even if I am never lucky enough to make it out there, I had so much fun reading up on the towns and cities I wanted to stop off at.  Maps are like the doors to adventure, standing slightly ajar. I've even been known to copy out maps and colour them in.  Oh yeah - that's another thing I love!

I love doodling and colouring in.  From plans of things I want to do to our house, to little pictures of flowers, dogs, cats, buildings and people, to colouring in the lettering on notebooks, I just love messing round with pencils and pens.  I have to keep scrap paper on hand as I am a little bit nervous I will doodle over something important otherwise.  I've had plenty of funny looks over the years - but I keep on pushing that pen around the page!

And lastly (for now, though I have loads of silly habits), I love making random lists.  You may have guessed this by now... But since I am great at stating the obvious, I thought I'd better mention it...

Anyway, I need to stop typing and get some rest - but I would love to hear about those things that rock your world regardless of what other people may think!

Looking forward to catching up on this week's blogs, lovely peeps


Friday, 11 July 2014

My 1950s makeover

I went to a lovely hen do for my fab sister in law to be a couple of weeks ago.  The theme was Tiffany's - both Breakfast at Tiffany's (so the bride-to-be had a gorgeous Audrey Hepburn makeover) and also Tiffany blue boxes with white bows.

As part of the celebration, the head hen kindly organised the opportunity to book a professional makeover and up-do ready for our 50s themed night out. Having had just one professional makeover in my life (at Bloomingdales in New York) and never having had my hair pinned up by anyone other than my mum (when I was aged 7 and under) and my good friend Emma, naturally I jumped at the chance like an excited puppy at a squeaky toy...

The artists

Hair by the owner of Butterfly's Cuts
Makeup by Hannah Mullet

Both these talented ladies work together and separately around the Yeovil & Weymouth and do a variety of different styles, not just vintage.

The face

This started with a light layer of concealer round the eyes (I had had a late night, which tends to make me look like some strange panda-human hybrid) and a layer of foundation, and she was so gentle on my skin I barely felt a thing.  She then began to focus on my eyes.  Now, I've tried the 50's flick at home a few times (or so I thought) but this lovely lady gave me a masterclass.  She ran a liquid liner along the edge of my closed lid and did two or three long strokes, then gave me strict instructions to keep my eyes closed long enough for it to dry so it stayed put! This was followed by a black mascara, loaded onto the top lashes but just applied delicately on the lower lashes - not something I would have dared to try myself.

Hannah chose a pink for my lips, which stayed put brilliantly through all the food, bubbly and cocktails.  She then highlighted my cheeks with a co-ordinating blusher which was pinker than I would normally use - and I loved her choice! Finally, a light dusting of bronzer, and the look was complete.

The hair

As a person who doesn't often experiment with my hair further than brushing it into a ponytail, I had no idea what to choose.  I left the decision in the hands of these two lovely ladies, who opted for a style called 'Victory Rolls.' I have to admit this does sound a little bit like some kind of delicious cake... to me at least!  The styling started with the top of my hair being pinned into loops; then, one by one, tiny pin curls were worked into the back of my hair at lightning speed. 

 I couldn't believe how dexterous and gentle this lady was, we chatted away as she pinned my hair bit by bit and in no time at all, I had an elegant up-do. The picture on the left is after about two hours of my seriously bad but enthusiastic dancing and as you see, it still looked amazing. I have never had curls stay in all night and it was so comfortable.

The final look

And now to reveal a few shots of the finished style...

I hope you can all forgive me for the ludicrous amount of selfies on this post, but I really wanted to share the fabulous work that these ladies had done and I enjoyed the transformation so much! I mean, I am lucky in so many ways and have a great life which I wouldn't change, but nonetheless I did find it fun to try on a totally different style (and maybe persona) for the day.

I enjoyed my 50s style makeover so much that when my husband took me to the cinema the other day, I tried some of the makeup tips Hannah gave me.  Sadly, I had no chance of recreating the wonderful hairdo (I wish) but still! It was really fun to take time to make myself up, which isn't something I do too often. I quite liked the results! So, thanks to Hannah and Butterfly's Cuts, I have some new looks and style tips I can add to my (very limited) repertoire.  I would definitely recommend them to anyone looking to have a party involving makeovers if they live near enough.  The package they offered was fantastic value for money, and their professionalism and friendly approach was second to none.

Anyway it's way past time for me to finish this post, feed the dogs, and get some rest ready for a busy weekend ahead - I hope that for you the sun is shining, the weekend either bustles or hushes - as you prefer - and I look forward to reading your blogs when I get half a minute!


H xxx

Thursday, 3 July 2014

So, what have I been up to?

I have been rattling on about how busy I've been, but not actually mentioned any of what I have been up to! I thought I would write a quick post with some of the bits and bobs I have been doing...

First and foremost, the play unfortunately had to be postponed.  The good news is, we do still plan to put on a play at Christmas - a panto of Robin Hood.  Fairly different from Shakespeare for sure, but I am hoping we'll still manage to have fun - and this time have the momentum to put on a great production.  

At the moment we're doing some fund raising, ready to start rehearsing in late August - meaning I have had to do some home baking and also attend a food hygiene course.  I actually wanted to do this for my own reasons, as it is a useful qualification to have, but I have been informed by the council that if I intend to make cakes 'as many' as three or four times in a year for fetes or fundraisers, I need the certificate, and may also need my kitchen inspected.  Seems a lot of fuss for a few cupcakes, so after this local fete, maybe we need to go back to the drawing board in terms of fundraising!

In May I went on a girly weekend, offshore, for the first time in ages.  My lovely sisters in-law arranged a trip for my sister in law to be, as a sort of secondary hen do. I really welcomed the chance to spend time getting to know these three wonderful women better.  It was also an opportunity to slow down almost to a stop, as we were on Sark, one of the smaller channel islands.  There are no cars allowed on Sark, but at just two square miles in size, it's easy enough to get everywhere on foot. 
My sister in law Liggy was our tour guide, as she has actually lived on the island for the tourist season a few years running. She is a font of knowledge, and showed us the quiet paths and beauty spots she fell in love with while she was there.

The pace of life feels very natural and relaxed.  We popped to the local Friday night disco at a pub called The Mermaid, where the DJ, Roger, is in his 80s, and plays everything from the Beatles through to Tiesto, quite a playlist!

It was an interesting walk back to the B&B, as there are no street lights, and at night everyone navigates the roads by moon and starlight; due to the lack of light pollution, the island was the first place in the world to have designated Dark Sky status.  You can see well enough to walk, although avoiding puddles (and horseapples) can be somewhat challenging... It was a fantastic weekend away, and so nice to recharge my batteries a little.  I have so many lovely pics, I will have to try to make time for a whole post about the island later on.

I've also been attempting to get my allotment slightly more under control in the last month or so, and though I haven't done brilliantly at that, I have managed to harvest some crops.  I am a little disappointed in myself that I haven't made time to get it really sorted, as this year has been the first really good spring since I took it on, and we could have had fantastic yields if I had managed my time a bit better (and also not been unwell, which I have less control over).  But as with everything else, it's been a learning curve.  We've had some really good soft fruits, and for the first time this year I have enough blackcurrants to make a whole batch of jam, which I am really pleased about. It also looks like it's going to be another good year for blackberries and crabapples, which is great.

I've been doing some bits round the house, too; we have rearranged some furniture and also put up another shelf in the study.  I also made some cushion covers with a bit of Cath Kidston fabric I got in their sale (and have made about a hundred fantasy projects with in my head) and a random cotton fabric my mum brought over.  I used a mini cushion pad for the small cushions, and pillows for the large ones, as our sofa cushions are quite wide.

The Cath Kidston is a lovely hard wearing linen-cotton mix, which is so tactile - I don't know how you all feel about this, but personally speaking I only like to use fabrics I enjoy touching.  I am not a big fan of some of the man made fibres, no matter what results might be possible.  The fabric remnant I used on the reverse looks to me like an 80s bedsheet - a scarlet with white squares.  It has that lovely washed-in feel.  I was pretty pleased with how they turned out.

Finally, I went to my soon to be sister in law's hen party.  It was fab - I will do a separate post on the amazing 1950s makeover, with links to the ladies who did my hair and makeup, because I loved it so much! The lady who masterminded the whole day asked if I would make some Tiffany cupcakes - I think they turned out pretty well! I also made some Tiffany blue lemon cheesecakes, though they didn't look as neat as I wanted, partly due to the warm weather, and partly because I couldn't work out a way to get the bows on (I thought icing would be too sweet).

I will have to leave the rest of my news for another evening as this post is already getting very long, but I hope you have all had a fun couple of months and I look forward to reading all your blogs


Tuesday, 1 July 2014

I've been very kindly nominated for a Liebster award

So a few months ago I was very kindly nominated for a Liebster award by the lovely Zana of Zana's homemade, where you can find scrummy looking pickles, beautiful garden pics, and absolutely heavenly crochet using an amazing, fresh palette of colours... 

...and now the embarassing bit; I haven't managed a post since. Life has been super busy and it's been hard to find time for a lot of the things I love, including my fledgeling blog!

The Liebster Award involves answering the questions on the nominating blog, then choosing 5 - 11 blogs to pass it on to with 7 questions that you have made up and leaving a comment so that they know they have received it, including a link back to the person you received the award from.

Answering Zana's questions...

What is your favourite book of all time? - For me, this is such a difficult question!! I love reading and have loads of books... I'm leaning towards Equal Rites by the great Terry Pratchett - but if you ask me again tomorrow you might get a different answer!

What is your favourite colour combination?  Another really difficult one... probably cream and a lovely rich red (today!)

Who would you like to be stranded on an desert island with? Ray Mears. No question. I like my food - and he's the only one I can think of that would know how to find it! 

What is your favourite dessert (sweet)? Probably something simple and homely like a hot ginger sponge with honey and custard.

Do you have a hankering to see what is on the other side of the hill? I love travelling and have been to lots of wonderful places - and I am naturally curious - but at the moment I am just trying to focus on what is beautiful this side of the hill

What is your favourite breakfast? I think it has to be homemade eggs benedict - which I want to try with a homemade muffin as I suspect it would be even nicer...
Do you have any regrets? I try really hard never to have regrets as I think they are bad news emotionally speaking - but I did have a very old friend who I lost contact with, due to a complicated set of circumstances - and he died unexpectedly without me trying to set things right.  I regret it very deeply - but I have tried to learn from it by not sweating the small things and trying never to bear grudges.

Now my 7 questions:

What is your favourite animal or bird and why?

Who, outside your family, has inspired you the most?

What is one thing you have always wanted to do but never quite dared to?

If you could travel to any era, past or future, when would it be?

What is your favourite skill or hobby?

What song or piece of music really moves you (or moves your feet)?

Which woman from history would you love to meet?

And the 5 great blogs I would love you to check out:

The lovely, crafty Emma at Crazy Colour Crochet

Carrie's gorgeous allotment blog at Grow Our Own

Joy at wonderful Joyjinks Creations who is both kind and extremely creative

Misbah's fantastic foodie blog at Tales of a Foody Mama, which never fails to make me hungry

The fabulous Domestic Novice, with posts crammed with sumptuous photos and tales of adventure