Sunday, 29 November 2015

The countdown to Christmas begins with Advent ….

How suddenly the festive season comes upon us - once again, the first of the Advent Sundays falls in November & this day always heralds in the start of the festive season for me.

 It marks the first of the four Sunday's leading up to Christmas & is the perfect reminder to observe the real meaning of Christmas; not easy when the commercial message is so powerful with hugely expensive adverts competing for our patronage. This is a message I reflect on each year ...

However, setting limits on gift spending make it more about the occasion & take some of the stress out of the event with this helpful article …

If you light a candle on this first Sunday, just pause & then steer Christmas in the direction you want.  Embrace ideas that you would like to become family traditions & which will mark Christmas in your family for years to come.

I light candles in my Ethiopian candle holders for the Advent Sundays - a reminder of the deep devotion of the Coptic Ethiopians which touched me greatly on our many visits there …

We will soon be following traditions started by my late Mother in filing the girls (now both in their 20's)  advent calendars to give to them & burning a nightly advent candle. I like to just spend a few minutes each night being thankful & reflective while watching it burn …

Traditions last through the generations, they are the threads that bind us in a common history.

Be blessed as we celebrate the first of the four Advent Sundays!
Dee ~♥~

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Bringing the Autumn woodland theme indoors ...

Hi everyone, hope your week is going well?

It will be no surprise that I have been tinkering with the sideboard again. All our rear windows at home face the garden with its bird feeders & varied wild life visitors constantly entertaining us.

The darker nights & cold weather has reminded me how much our garden birds rely on the feeders.  They flit in & out of the numerous feeders all day, finding their favourite seeds, nuts or fat balls.  We are often woken by the noisy dawn chorus. We were visited by this Sparrow Hawk last weekend …

The 2 squirrels have been raiding the nut feeders & burying the nuts all over the lawns. The hedgehogs  love the untidy corner under the hedges with small woodpiles & fallen leaves for them to overwinter & shelter under or take up residence in one of the many wooden hedgehog houses.

I shared my lovely Spode Woodland plates last year and used them at almost the same time which just shows that this is the right time to show them off again.

However, I never use them in the same way twice so this is my take this year  ….

I used some silver bowls & dishes from the kitchen to brighten up the sideboard - some of the lovely large pinecones picked up on walks, along with some small antlers, crystal bottle stoppers & led lights.

This bowl has some more antlers & some of my Acer leaves I pressed last month as they dropped off ...

The luminous green & silver bowl is perfect with pheasant feathers & some pressed leaves from our garden …

Some familiar items - my large platter remains, along with some wooden bowls & some Autumn pressed leaves from the garden. A vintage Venetian green & silver glass set looks just right …

The Spode Woodland plates are just so Autumnal …

A few nice changes - the silver reflections are a welcome brightness as the nights draw in.

The sideboard will soon become more festive but for now, I am thinking of the woodland creatures of Autumn who make our lives more interesting.

Thanks for stopping by, I hope you are getting ready for the festive season too.
Dee ~♥~

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

A winters project ….

Hi everyone

This past year has been a very busy one but as Winter draws in, so does the longer nights & thoughts turn to projects once again.

I have been keen to get back to the Gentlework of hand sewing again which is perfect for evenings at home.  I spent a day doing a Gentlework workshop learning some of the techniques that the lovely Christine of Gentlework uses to make her wonderful creations & have a lovely stash of fabrics too ….

I also follow the lovely Viv of Hensteeth who is local & does amazing hand crafts too. I spied some lovely printed outlines in her EtsyShop and a project immediately sprang to mind.

Earlier in the year I had bought some printed images but never got around to using them.

However,  in this pack, I saw two bunny outlines & knew that was going to be my next project.

We love our house rabbits but unfortunately lost our Fred bunny last year but still have a very spoilt Vivaldi house bunny at home.

Her items always arrive beautifully packaged in pockets sewn from book pages ….

I have some vintage tins & am keen to use these pretty outlines in a bunny inspired project.  Pop over & look at Viv of Hensteeth's beautiful work & Christine's amazing Gentlework.

My project will take some time but I am excited & motivated.

Do you have a project that you are working on? Are some projects just Winter projects?

Thanks for stopping by, I always enjoy your comments.
Dee ~♥~

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Some favourite Portobello china ….

Hi everyone

My blog is my outlet for my creative spirit - I share my home, my projects,  my photography & am always pleased when a post touches someone to respond because they have enjoyed it or because it means something to them personally.….

This past week, a comment on a previous post did just that!

My post on Mother's Day breakfast setting showed my favourite plates which we use often at home - the gorgeous Portobello pattern by Portmeirion.

We once lived in a street called Portobello & these were bought so that we had something with that name on it.  However,  I only have 5 of the white ones & 2 of the green rimmed ones & a solitary bowl & a tea towel so it is very much a set only used for us at home.

However, regulars will have seen the pattern several times like this setting on my flickr, or this one with pancakes , or this breakfast one. The common theme seems to be pancakes :)

I digress - the lady who made contact was the designer of this favourite pattern - what a talented person Siobhan is . Please visit her stunning website April Rose Illustration to view her work.  I offered to send her some more photos so I decided to display them on my conservatory sideboard.

How beautiful is this pattern?  The plain white plates with an elegant border of flowers, the bowl is green outside & white inside with the single motif ….

I love to mix things up - old & new, vintage with modern. The Laura Ashley hangers turned around to their other side …

Bringing out the pink accents with some Ikea lanterns & battery LED lights that I love using in winter

A favourite vintage jug - found in a thrift / charity shop years ago & used often. Don't you love the relief pattern on it?

A modern jug & a vintage cut glass salt dish sit side by side …

Vintage family cutlery that we love using & which is often seen on our table settings

The plates need something so I teamed them up with large Royal Doulton charger plates

The sideboard with my few Portmeirion Portobello things - old & new meet on my sideboard

The vintage candlesticks are ready for winter too ….

I am in awe of designers who brighten up our lives with their beautiful designs & we should embrace & use our pretty things or at least have them on display to brighten up our spaces.

Thank you Siobhan of April Rose Illustrations or making contact - your designs are both beautiful & useful. Her greeting cards are absolutely beautiful - perfect for sending a beautiful note off to say Thank-You, I thought of you, Happy Birthday or much more …

Siobhan also sent me some gorgeous cards as a gift. I write several times a month to my Dad in South Africa so he will be getting some of these dropping in to his postbox & I know he will love them as much as I do.

Thank you so much, they are beautiful & there is nothing like getting a proper card or letter to lift the day ...

Has anyone else moved away from full matching sets to mixing up old & new so that things are used more often?

Dee ~♥~

Monday, 9 November 2015

Helping out with some projects …

Hi everyone
As my regular visitors know, I always have a project or two on the go all the time. I love changing things around & trying out new things.

I have always been keen to wield a paintbrush when needed & some years back, I did some Annie Sloan Chalk Paint courses to familiarise myself with all the techniques that are so popular because I believe that we should always be prepared to learn new skills …

Some of my projects include -
Creating a uniform entrance hall

Painting a vintage frame

Painting an elegant graphite mirror

A vintage suitcase is transformed

Updating a vintage sewing box

Updating a tea trolley

making a picture ledge

Emperor Silk for my personal desk

I am also happy to try my hand at various sewing projects which came in handy too

New cushions for the summer house

Making a fabulous new headboard for uni

My Friend Ellie has been busy on a project for a new built-in headboard.   She tells the story over on her blog

I was called on to help out with the painting as she has not used Annie Sloan chalk paints. We got advice - and paint from a fabulous local supplier who looked at the inspiration picture & advised on the steps we should follow to achieve the results.  I always like to consult a professional, independent person because their experience makes the process much more successful

Then, with a bag of Annie Sloan paints in my hand, we headed off to Term Cottage to begin the painting.  Ellie had bought some lovely mouldings from a local hardware supplier I had used for a previous projects so we first made some tea then planned the painting - important step to be sure what we were to do.

First step - a coat of Old White to cover the primer & to give it a good colour to distress back to.

Old White on the mouldings to give a colour to distress back to …

Then boldness - the colour Ellie chose - Annie Sloan Provence

The coat of Annie Sloan Provence now completely covering the Old White

Then dry brushing with Annie Sloan French Linen to give depth & age to the moulded details …

I like distressing by using a damp rag & wiping back gently through the paint layers because I find it less messy than sanding, and because I find it easier to control how much distressing is being done.

I wiped back the mouldings, going with the curves & lines to emphasise the lines. Some were taken back to the Old White paint, others parts less so, & French Linen was dry brushed in to the curves.

The main headboard part was brushed with French Linen to bring in the brown colour, done so that it blends in to give depth.

Waxing time - clear wax brushed on & gently rubbed to deepen the colour  ….

The last two are Ellie's photos  - the routed top board is added to the headboard which ties in with the French Linen colour used …

I left Ellie to add any further touches she wanted then returned to help with the cushions that hang in the middle.  I LOVE the fabric choice.

We cut & sewed 2 hanging cushions to form a padded headboard. The fabric choice is so lovely and the completed project is beautiful.

The paint work on this project was interesting to get the right balance between the 3 Annie Sloan colours of:
                  - Old White
                 - Provence
                 - French Linen

Once waxed with clear wax, the colours deepen too so I am very pleased with the paintwork, especially on the mouldings where there is real depth of colour which is reminiscent of old, time worn pieces.

A great project for the space & it looks fabulous & is functional as well ….

I hope this has given you some idea of how complex it is to see a project through from vision to completion. I am very pleased to have been able to contribute my skills to her vision.

Thanks for stopping by & for reading the post. Your comments are always appreciated.

Dee ~♥~

Saturday, 7 November 2015

A question of sherry ….

Hi everyone - thank you for stopping by & taking time to read my blog.

Cooler weather is sherry time in my house - particularly at the end of my working week when I just relax & unwind …

On Friday this was my photo of my relaxing sherry, & it prompted a discussion on glass size.

In my student days, I worked part time in a large upmarket department store & was a regular placement in their China & Glass department. This echoed my love of fabulous china & had me memorising various glass shapes & names; in those days, there were glasses for absolutely everything! We are all a lot more relaxed about general glasses these days.

This morning is wet & wild in the Shire - wind, rain & generally grim so I decided to do my own sherry test to see how glass sizes, shape & colour cloud our judgement of sizes.

My preferred glass - shown above - came from Olive's glass cabinet - one of a kind only but it is so perfect because of the rounder shape with a decent foot that sits well & a comfortable little handle - What is not to like about it?

I rounded up the sherry glasses in our home for my test: What is your predictions on how much they hold?

I lined up the ones I wanted to test along with my glass & then filled them from that to make sure it was all the same each time. My glass (vintage custard cup) is the tester one in each photo …

 A traditional tall stemmed crystal sherry glass

Another traditional sherry glass

A thin vintage etched sherry glass

A modern sherry glass with a lower stem & a green foot

My glass - on the right - against the slightly taller similar glass; it has a smaller handle & can hold more than my glass …. mmmm

Vintage thin, decorative pink sherry glass

Against the red & gold Venetian glass ones we use at Christmas

 Fascinating to see how our judgement is clouded by shape & colour - all conform to a similar amount of sherry but the bulbous shapes really cloud the judgement of volume.

I had brought through a washing up bowl to put them in as I finished each one (older glasses are not dishwasher safe so many have to be hand washed - this is the selection as I finished with them. The similar sizes are noticeable when they are on their sides …

The final question - is decanters?  To decant or not?

At Christmas, I decant sherry in to the red Venetian decanter which is kept out on the sideboard but I confess to seldom decanting spirits. It is probably fine out of the bottle;  the preferred sherry - full cream of course, I just like the creamy taste & a supermarket own one - Waitrose - is perfect!  :)

How do you like your sherry? Was your guess close?

Thanks for stopping by & taking the time to comment & ponder …. perhaps while you pour one yourself!
Dee ~♥~