Wednesday, 23 January 2013

The beauty of paisley

I freely admit to always having had a bit of a soft spot for paisley patterns.

The New Oxford Dictionary describes it as:


Pronunciation: /ˈpeɪzli/

  • a distinctive intricate pattern of curved feather-shaped figures based on an Indian pine-cone design:

The pattern is common in ancient art from Iran & India where it has been used for centuries, sometimes called the 'curled leaf', ''kidney', mango' or 'teardrop' pattern. It is also used in traditional jewellery.

Early paisley designs were imported from the East to Europe in the 16th & 17th centuries; the intricate patterns & colours became fashionable but the pattern was difficult to copy until the 19th century when weavers in the Scottish town of Paisley made it their own.

Scotland has a paisley town / Paisley where according to Wikipaedia "By the 19th century, Paisley had established itself as a centre of the weaving industry, giving its name to the Paisley Shawl and the Paisley Pattern."

Many of us associate the paisley pattern with pajama's aimed mainly at the older side of the market & a silky type paisley dressing gown or ties ...

Last week, I received an unexpected gift from myra ahmad - please visit her amazing blog & read her poetry. She has already published a book of poems at just 18 ...

I digress

Myra sent a beautiful scarf from Pakistan in my favourite colours & I am very pleased with my gift - thanks Myra :)

While browsing today, I noticed that ralph lauren PAISLEY is also trending paisley this season.

Certainly no sign of the grandpa Paisley we often see, but up to date & vibrant pattern & colour - mixing paisley with modern prints ...

So my scarf is right on trend & I look forward to some vibrant patterns in the shops this season, though I am not convinced by Givenchy's ethnic paisley ....


Squidoo gives fashion advice on paisley-back-as-a-hot-fashion-trend

Are you a paisley fan or do you still struggle with its traditional image.

Thanks for stopping by, please follow & leave your link so I can return the visit.

Dee ~♥~

Monday, 21 January 2013

Snow time ...

Snow arrived in all earnest on Friday morning - the dusting became a blizzard & soon driving conditions were pretty dire.

It was a welcome relief to get back home after picking up daughter after her A-Level maths & physics exam, & to just relax at home.

Daughters took it in turns to help clear our long drive of snow - always a bit of a social time as neighbours stop by to chat & catch up.

We are fortunate to have a pretty lake close by so an invigorating Sunday walk was called for.
I remembered to grab the bread ends to take with so we were rewarded with squabbling ducks, swans & birds - always good for a photo or two.

These ducks on their bit of ice reminded me of all the global warming pictures we have on the news with bears on their bit of ice ...

Back home to warming drinks & candles to ward off the cold.

Shropshire has had a lot of snow so it was a massive relief to see the school closure last night - only open for exam students so we have a few days grace at the moment.

While looking out the main bedroom window that is over the drive, I noticed that we had our unwelcome nocturnal visitor again - an urban fox who has been seen on our lawn several times. We have a large clump of bushes in the front & he seems to favour that as a place to relax ...

Our two house rabbits stay in the double garage so the foot prints near the door means that he is well aware where they are ...

Had to fill up all the bird feeders at the back again - we fortunately have lots of birds & with the cold weather & food put out, we seem to have some new ones too which is always nice.

The above is a new visitor, I  think it might be a blackcap - supposedly a rare visitor - am I right?

The summer house / garden shed is still looking pretty with the front door wreath out on the door. It is always a shame to throw it while it is looking so good ... What do you do with yours?

Thanks for stopping by, please follow & leave your link so I can return the visit
Dee ~♥~

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Date, banana & cranberry bread

Winter has arrived in the Shire with lots of snow.  It is always so pretty & quiet when it snows & a perfect time for something comforting.

My favourite comforting bake has to be Date & banana bread.

This recipe makes two loaves or 1 loaf & about 6-8 muffins. I always use commercial loaf tin liners & muffin cases to speed things up.

Banana, date & cranberry treat

250g salted butter
260g brown sugar
4 eggs beaten
6 soft bananas - mashed
200g of chopped, pitted dates
480g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon (or other spices you like e.g. mixed spice, nutmeg)
a handful of dried cranberries mixed in at the end if you like them ...

Preheat oven to 170C - not too hot or it will not cook properly all the way through

Cream butter & sugar, add eggs, beating between & adding a little of the flour if it curdles.

Mix in the bananas & dates, fold in the flour,  baking powder & vanilla extract then mix in the cranberries.

Spoon into the lined loaf tins & bake in a preheated oven for about 55 minutes, less for the muffins. Test with a sharp knife to see if it is baked through.

Cool slightly in the tins then turn onto a cooling rack. Really lovely eaten warm with some butter.

It keeps well for a few days & I also slice any remaining loaf & freeze it so a slice or two can be enjoyed at any time ....

Date & banana bread for tea

What is your favourite family bake? Please share & leave your link so I can return the visit.

Thanks for stopping by,
Dee ~♥~

Saturday, 12 January 2013

A small matter of bunting ...

All the festive bits have been taken down & the house seems rather bare - especially our inglenook fireplace where the large wreath hangs

Time to look out some of the bunting I have ...

I rather love the brightness of this Laura Ashley crocheted one but it is just not right.

One strand seems too little, two strands - well even worse so down it comes.

Next strand - bunting from vintage embroidered fabric - still wrong as it is way too long & not the right colours so down it comes too.

Not quite right - you know that feeling when it 'will do' rather than being perfect for that spot but for now this vintage fabric one 'will do' while I scour EBay for some new bunting.

Perhaps the bright hyacinths will distract me from the bunting issue ...

Perhaps it is time to rethink the decoration on the mantle - I had some home made music bunting but it is 'missing' ....

Does your house also feel bare after the decorations come down & it is not yet ready for Spring colour but not ready for bare either? What do you do? How would you transition the changes?

Thanks for stopping by; please follow & leave your link so I can return the visit.

Dee ~♥~

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Liquid gold ....

While out browsing with friends, this book caught my eye. I freely admit to loving perfumes & wearing some every single day ....

Like most women, I have my favourites of the liquid gold in their often stunning bottle ....

My special ones are on a little silver tray so I can enjoy their beauty & have them close at hand to use everyday.

The silver mirror & brush belonged to my husband's grandmother & they look just right next to the silver tray with my favourites.

 Can you spot any favourites that you share with me?

 I was gifted a bottle of the traditional 4711 after my mother in law visited the Cologne & brought it back especially for me.  It is a familiar fragrance that my grandmother always wore & has not changed in decades. I am sure we all know someone who wears this still ...

 These long leather gloves are old family ones too with their pearly buttons

My favourite perfume remains - OPIUM - I just love its heady scent & have worn it for years & might just have a bottle or three handy :)

My friend gave me some Beautiful & it is lovely - one of those easy to wear perfumes that is not too powerful.

 The classic Chanel no5 is another favourite too but for some reason I was unable to locate my bottle when I did the photos ....

 I recently bought this Dior Escale aux Marquises after trying it at duty free in Paris - a subtle lighter fragrance that is perfect for warmer weather & as you can see from the bottle, it is already a favourite.

 Another favourite by Bvlgari 

A slightly heavier perfume is Givenchy's Ange ou Demon - again it is an rich, sweet oriental type perfume like Opium ....

Gianfranco's Ferre is another floral perfume with hints of yang-ylang but it is not as concentrated as the oriental perfumes so is a favourite everyday wear ...

Elizabeth Arden's Red Door is another favourite but it can be a bit overpowering as it is quite strong so I tend to avoid it on tutoring days when I work in small spaces as my students say this one is 'strong'

Gloria Vanderbilt's Vanderbilt is another floral favourite - don't you just love the bottles?

 This is the background information which makes interesting reading as several of my perfumes have strong floral under tones.

Perfumes should be kept away from direct light & heat, keep them where you enjoy looking at &   wearing them as the bottles are so beautiful too.

What are your favourites? Are you swayed by celebrity perfumes or do you stick to favourites? Tell all please ....

Thanks for stopping by,
Dee ~♥~

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Twelfth Night is upon us ....

Happy Epiphany or Twelfth Night everyone.

Epiphany marks the end of Christmas when the Magi or 3 Wise men brought gifts of Gold, Frankincense & Myrrh. Many cultures mark this time with special ceremonies like Chalking of the Door & special meals - in our home it is the time when Christmas is packed away.

This is traditionally the time when all our decorations should be down & put away for another year, or they are supposed to stay up for the rest of the year (according to my late grandmother who liked such rituals).

The festive plates on  the sideboard have given way to our normal ones again - for now ....

I think it looks rather plain without the ivy along the top.

Our real tree survived being indoor, dropped some needles & is now hugging the sheltered wall against the house, where it will remain while it gets used to being outdoors again, then it will be potted on in the garden.

My front door garland  a-gift-from-heart is still looking really lovely so it is now on our shed door so we can enjoy it from the house.

I always really miss the fireplace garland coming down because it really suits the fireplace & once it is down it all looks really dull ....

However, the scene is brightened up by the hint of my home grown hyacinth bulbs starting to show their colours. They were planted really late after the squirrels ate my usual ones  squirrels trying-my-patience.html & the replacement ones were planted & brought into the garage & 10 days ago, they came inside to the warmth & there is now a promise of both colour & scent.

After the festive red & gold colours, I love to bring in the bright greens & pinks - hints of Spring to just lift the spirits .....

I will make us a cake for Epiphany to mark the occasion - not a galette des rois (or kings’ tart) which is a traditional almond pastry cake, but a lighter sponge.

Are your decorations down? Do you change things to make up for the bareness left after the decorations come down?

Thanks for stopping by, please leave your link so I can return the visit.


Friday, 4 January 2013

“Do one thing every day that scares you”

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”  Eleanor Roosevelt

I was with friends recently, having a relaxing after supper drink, sitting around their fire & I shared this quote. 
This is going to be my mantra for 2013

For me the quote means to step out of the comfort zone often or we become too complacent.  We have an in built 'fight or flight' reaction to situations & this is what we need to learn to control.  

We all need to confront our fears if we are going to grow - we need to do things that scare us enough to make us do things that we think we can't. Once we do them, we realise that our fear was not as great as we thought & so we grow just a little stronger each time.  

By confronting our fears, we are willing to do more & we break down the barriers that hold us back - one fear at a time.

And so I leave you with words of wisdom from another great lady 

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” ― Marie Curie
My resolution for 2013 is to take the advice of these two ladies. I hope you will do so too - conquer one fear at a time!

Thanks for stopping by,
Dee ~♥~

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Setting the table

One of my flickr contacts asked in a message how I put together my table settings so here is a bit more information.

I love doing interesting table settings as it is always appreciated by friends & family to settle down to a lovely table. I have a growing collection of table setting / scape books that I browse for ideas before special events I set for so I have time to find additional items I might need.

I combine what we have with items I find from vintage or charity  / thrift shops & if I see something interesting, I usually have a clear idea how it will go with what we already have.

Our table is usually just set for an informal meal & I seldom use multiple glasses or cutlery settings ...

I always start with a place mat or a larger charger plate to protect the table & cloth from hot plates.

I am a bit of a hoarder & love interesting table cloths & crockery - we really are spoilt for choice.

I love interesting cutlery / silverware & have some vintage coloured sets. If there are many of us, I use a large canteen that I was gifted - a real pleasure to have enough of everything to hand.

I love to mix things up because few of us have large sets of plates that were popular gifts a generation before us.

I have lovely thin white plates which are often used with various other sets as I am particularly fond of layering up various sets ....

We have a large table in our conservatory that can take a 12 place setting but our normal dining-room table is a 6-8 place setting so I set to make it comfortable without unneeded items.

For New Year, I always like to add colour to the setting so this was my first setting ....

My trial setting did not work out - I started with a length of fabric I recently bought - it has various clocks all over it & although it is lovely with the vintage silver goblets with tea lights, but it was way too busy & I just knew that the plates could not be used with it so luckily I have not set so could change the cloth for something plainer.

This cloth would be perfect for a buffet style meal but it was too busy for now.

My second New Year setting started with a long textured white fabric - doubled over as it was meant for the large conservatory table but I loved the softness it gave to the table.  Our solid wooden chairs look too harsh so they had on their white covers & special settings always proper napkins / serviettes.

 The interesting part is then selecting the plates, glasses & candles that go together. I love the idea of TIME at the start of a New Year so it was a mixture of Ralph Lauren pocket watch plates. I don't have enough of either pattern so they are always mixed up.

Because I love the watch fabric so much, I used a panel of it on the dining room sideboard with pink candles & vivid decorations add some colour.

Pink candles just look right with my pair of deers ...

Bubbly with a splash of colour on the sideboard; I love the fun of the little decorations

 A coloured strand of beads that we always seem to use at New Year adds some brightness

I hope this inspires you to enjoy doing some interesting place settings because I just love sitting down to a special meal at a table that looks special too.

I love your feedback - please leave your link so I can return the visit.

Dee ~♥~