Sunday, 22 May 2016

Art from unusual sources

My regular readers know that I am a bit of a restless soul - I love to change things about because I believe that you should enjoy your home & the things you have. My style is definitely eclectic with strong global / tribal leanings because we have lived in many countries due to work.

Some years back, my sister visited & gifted me some plastic shopping bags from South Africa that were made by WoolWorths (the UK equivalent of Marks & Spencer.) This was WW art bags - showcasing South African artists.

The bags were carefully rolled but not used & when I recently came across them, I knew it was time to enjoy them for their artistic value.

You can feel the energy of the Tea Party by Lundi Mduba - the sense of cake & gossip being dispensed in equal measures ...

Selwyn Pekeur is an acclaimed artist who 'observes incidents in everyday life, exaggerates and represents them to us in a style of compelling vigour and humour in his art.'

 I framed one from each side for myself & they really are iconic South African images that bring a smile to my face with their bright colours & cheerful subjects.

 They sit on our picture shelves between our two doors, along with various other bits of art that we enjoy.

A family visit by the Hatters was surprising. My b-i-l collects various art too & everytime he passed them, he commented on how he enjoyed them.

I knew that the second side of the bags would be going to a good home. This is how I did the art.  Ikea have lovely easy to use, light frames.  I could not justify the cost of professional framing for all my art changes so I use affordable Ikea frames, all in black to keep a constant colour in our displays.

The image was cut from the bag & then glued on to the back paper that came with the frame, then trimmed to fit.

I photocopied the back art detail to paste on to the back of the frame.

The pair of images, framed up in black frames, ready to be gifted to another art lover ...

These are my ones on the picture shelves - affordable art from unexpected sources. 

If you enjoy an image, find a way of displaying it.  I hope this inspires you to enjoy various forms of art which is by definition is ...

the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

Thank you for stopping by, I would love to see what art you have in your home. 
Dee ~♥~

Friday, 20 May 2016

Transforming a vintage suitcase for stationery ...

I love my job working with Elective Home education students but I love my Friday off so that I can relax, clear the mind of all the paperwork & details & just enjoy doing the things I love.

I recently found this vintage suitcase which was small & in good condition except the inside which was dated with paper lining & a name in the top which was definitely past its best.  However, I needed a stationery suitcase so this was always going to be used.

I admit to being a bit of a hoarder & knew that I had the perfect paper to reline the inside.

This paper with script writing & colour change which looked quite aged was in fact the paper from inside an Urban Outfitters box that had contained some shoes. I had rolled it up & added it to my paper stack a while ago because it was thin with an 'aged look. ' I knew it would go perfectly to line the case.

I had everything I needed, including some lovely sunshine in the conservatory so I got out my pot of trusty Mod Podge & a pack of very useful Ikea brushes. The glue was slightly thick so I watered it down just a little to brushing consistency.

A rough size measure for the base of the suitcase & another for the top section convinced me that my two pieces of paper would suffice.

I first lightly glued in the original lining where it had come away to give a firm surface.

Next I cut the paper to a workable size, the edge had a cut in to make them fold smoother.

Mod Podge was brushed over the surface in light, even strokes then I lined up the paper & eased it on to the glue. It is not easy to move it so best to take your time to line it up.

I did the bases then I cut strips to overlap for the sides & glued those in.

I dried the glue with a hair drier till it was no longer damp, made a cup of tea then brushed some more Mod Podge over the top to seal the surface then dried it again.

I am very pleased with the result & I know exactly what it will be used for. I have some lovely coloured pencils & stationery that needs to be kept in one place so I use it more often - this scripted case looks just lovely now ...

It is also the exact size to hold coloured crayon boxes as well as the thin brushes needed for water colour pencils which I used with a vintage glass salt holder ...

Useful & beautiful - what more can you ask from an afternoon well spent.

Thanks for stopping by, what projects are you working on?

Dee ~♥~

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Have you been bowled over?

I'm sure you all have come to realise that I am a huge china & crockery fan. I also love collecting & using china in my tablescapes - mixing old & new items to create the look I like at home.

I host a Thanksgiving for a friend & that is always as formal as we are likely to get for 12 guests  ...

This week Mary Portas put forward the idea on her TV programme 'What Britain Buys' that bowls are now in great demand  because more & more of us are eating out of bowls rather than off plates!

She cited the popularity of food images on Instagram, as one of the factors, saying that food looks better in bowls!

Several broadsheet newspapers agreed with her -

The Telegraph reported on how-bowls-replaced-plates-in-our-kitchens

The Guardian saw it as How bowls replaced plates in our kitchens

The iconic ceramic makers Denby confessed that 

Housewares supplier Denby is certainly benefiting from this boom. Denby senior designer Nicola Wilson told Mary: “We’re really starting to see a trend in the UK for using bowls in the home - almost over plates - and this has been fairly recently. We’ve seen it in our sales figures: we now produce a lot more bowls than we ever did. It’s now totalling about 32 different bowl shapes than we’re slowly introducing into the UK market.” 

While Habitat commented that:

Habitat creative director Polly Dickens said the chain’s experience reflects this trend. “People are eating ‘internationally’ so we’re eating laksas (a noodle dish which is a combination of Chinese and Malay cuisine) and Japanese rice as well as risotto, pasta and main course salad – and all of these foods look better in a bowl.” - 

Which foods do you eat out of a bowl? Do you have several different bowls for different uses?

Whitebait served as a starter in a restaurant ...

Beef salad at home

So where do you stand on the bowl vs plate discussion?  Are they more acceptable for puddings / desserts?

Favourite vintage bowls because they are a good size with a nice rim & pattern ...

Small Robin bowls that are a sensible small portion ...

My A Wondering Star daughter has a stunning Portmeirion Sophie Conran dinner set which is beautifully modern & it has several bowl options which they use very effectively. They have a mixture of the white & pink items which all look so lovely together. Anything would look wonderful on these plates & bowls.

Her Sophie Conran set by Portmeirion is modern, has a great design & various bowl sizes & shapes

Salads are definitely easier to eat out of a beautiful bowl  - especially a bowl that is good at portion control. How lovely is this fig-and-pear salad or the beautiful bowls used when she bakes?

I am pondering whether this is just a natural progression in our eating habits - few of us even have a wide range of glassware these days & our flatware / cutlery has become more standardised from the Victorian obsession with so many items of cutlery ....

Is this trend driven by social media like Facebook & Instagram to photograph every aspect of our lives?

Is it just that our eating habits have changed?  Spaghetti is easier to eat out of a bowl & our salads have evolved in to meals in their own right.

Perhaps it is because our busy lives don't allow us as much free time to just enjoy leisurely meals?

What do you think? Have you got a growing selection of bowls? Are all bowls the same or do you have various ones for various purposes?

Tell all ... I would love to hear your thoughts on the bowl phenomenon.
Dee ~♥~

All photos are my own or A Wondering Star - please ask if you want to use any! 

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Supporting granny chic doilies ....

Warmer weather means jugs of iced water or drinks to hand but there is nothing worse than finding a bug in the jug ...

My regular visitors will recognise my granny chic doilies.

I know - so many have said that there is nothing chic about doilies but they serve a valuable purpose and with no modern equivalents, they are always kept handy for summer drinks.

These were my Grandmother's ones - possibly made by her or my great grandmother & they are just perfect. I love the pretty coloured beads on the edge. I think back to the time when these were all handmade by women sitting in parlours, making special things for their homes.

My collection has come from my mother, grandmother & from my mother in law.  The heavily beaded green, yellow & blue ones are from South Africa where they are widely used in the Summer months on juice or milk jugs.

I will be using them all summer now & who knows,  I might even convert some others to their essential use & purpose. Are there any modern versions for jugs of juice?

Thanks for stopping by & taking the time to read & comment,
Dee ~♥~

Saturday, 14 May 2016

My garden is buzzing ...

Hi everyone

At last, some gorgeous weather with blue skies, sunshine & .... bees.  I appreciate their place in the ecosystem but like most of my family, I am allergic to them so tolerate but don't encourage them.

The visiting VizslaApollo and I were  unaware that they had colonised a bird box & while working in the garden & Apollo playing a lively game of ball, we were suddenly set upon by some bees.

He managed to escape but I had several stings in my neck as a bee got in under my hair as I was running inside.

I immediately took my prescribed anti-histamines to calm it all down & then used various methods to get out the sting (which was annoyingly far back by the neck hair so not good to see)

I applied some frozen peas to cool & calm it while the medication worked & continued with medication for several days until I felt more normal.

Some research revealed that these are tree bumblebees who fortunately do not have barbed stings with unfortunately means that they can sting multiple times ....

It appears that local bee keepers are not keen to move bumblebees who can live for around 3 months.

This is the information:

Bumblebees are not aggressive insects and are generally only interested in finding flowers. The only time when they may act defensively is if something disturbs their nest so it can be a good idea to put some sort of barrier in place a few metres from where they are nesting so that any pets or young children do not disturb the nest. Having a bumblebee nest in your garden can provide a great opportunity to teach children about these vitally important pollinators. 
Please note we do not move bumblebee nests. Generally we do not advise that people move nests unless it is absolutely necessary. Most bumblebee colonies do not survive after being relocated so it is always better to let them finish their short life-cycles rather than move their nest. 

It looks as if my gardening is going to be curtailed or I might have to get a bee keepers outfit for gardening. Bees are vital for the garden & it is advisable to have medication to hand (I have a very capable nurse for a neighbour)

I suppose it is a compliment that they find my garden appealing but I hope that when the nest dies out, they will find their next home with my neighbours.  I hope your warmer weather is going better than mine, tell all & thank you for stopping by,
Dee ~♥~

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Growing some peonies

The warmer weather has brought lots of gardening jobs.
Spring brings renewed life & the promise of blossoming flowers after a long Winter.

Olive, my late mother in law, had been a Londoner born & bred before she moved to rural Dorset;  she brought some reminders of her home with her - handmade linens, china, silver cutlery, furniture & a beautiful red peony as a constant reminder of her childhood garden.

This plant & its offshoots, moved around with her & she was always pleased to see its Spring growth emerge after long Winters. If the winter had been mild, Olive used to put some ice cubes on her peony to make it grow & flower better ....

I now have some of the corms from this plant & have brought it back to Shropshire with me.  The corms were just bare roots when we brought them back a month ago & they are now showing great progress.

I separated them in to several pots to increase their success rate & buds are now showing that they have all taken & are growing well. 

With little experience of growing peonies, I browsed a local nursery & found this tree peony which I thought might be a good addition to the old one.

 The sleeve had an image of both white & on the reverse pink peonies so I will have to wait & see which this one is ... 

These two peonies were in tiny pots & they look promising too - I think they are both shades of pink but that is all I know of them as they came from plants in a local 'budget shop'.  I thought I would give them a try seen as they were cheap & cheerful ...

Promising buds on these plants too ...

I love peonies in vases & am looking forward to having some to pick - hopefully soon.

If anyone has some growing advice, please share it with me as this is my first venture in to peony growing ...

Please follow my blog so I can follow yours in return ...

Dee ~♥~

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Adding to my wooden board collection ....

Hi everyone

I hope you are enjoying Spring or Autumn, depending where you are reading this from.

While down in Dorset this past weekend, I headed out to the market to browse while enjoying the sunshine & atmosphere with Ms M.

As soon as I spied one of my favourite local craftsmen, I just knew that I would be adding to my wooden board collection which are often used for food presentation in our kitchen as they photograph well

He sources trees, some from farmers fields, and then makes them in to the most stunning items.

My regular readers will have seen my special boards already - made from a large fallen Dorset oak tree.

I bought some for the Wondering Star daughter for their lovely Jewellery Quarter apartment in Birmingham.

This blog post of hers contains images of their board which was cut from the same tree as ours ....

We use the boards at home because they are especially useful  & beautiful for snacks ...

We used the boards at Christmas for cheese & biscuits ...

Snacks with wine while we prepare supper with friends ...

My new addition is a lovely chunk of wood made into a shallow bowl ... 

The surface is silky & smooth with beautiful feel & look, the one side still hints at its raw state even though it is smooth, there is just a suggestion of tree bark  with a knot bump visible ...

It is slightly lighter than my others (having not come from the same tree) but its colour will deepen over time, especially when it is oiled like my others.

The bowls are a tribute to the tree once it is gone. These boards & bowls are made by someone who is passionate about his craft, who breathes life in to wood.

There is something intrinsically beautiful about solid wood & I like how it keeps a home 'grounded' in natural items. 

I can't wait to use my new item for a selection of nibbles - watch this space! 

Have a lovely weekend & support your local craftsmen & thank you for stopping by, 
Dee ~♥~