Friday 28 September 2012

Frame-Cluster Friday!

I'm putting this post up as part of my 'I must post some stuff about things I made' series (all part of going back to the roots of why I started this blog two years ago).

I think I've started this post a few times, as the frame-cluster photo wall in question has been up for a while... but in truth, I'm not that happy with it, I'm not sure it's very me or that it works that well... so comments and suggestions of how to improve or change it are very welcome.

Hugh and I had a lot of pictures and frames when we moved into this house but we've been pretty hesitant about putting any up. So last year I went around and gathered together all the light wood frames I could and decided we'd just whack them all up on the wall together and then decide what was going to go in the frames later...

So last April... yep that's April 2011, this happened...

A rough arrangement on the kitchen floor...

Tested out on the wall in newspaper - and then replaced with the frames.
And then... we stopped. So for about 8 months we had lots of sideways pictures on our wall. I can't quite believe it, but we are slow movers in this house.

We had various thoughts about what to put in the frames... but after 8 months of doing nothing I suddenly just got very fed up with our inability to make a descision and did something else which is quite typical of us, I opted for another interim solution. I bought some grey paper and then collected together various photos we had around and used washi tape and photo corners to make some montages. A few of the frames already had photos and mounts in - so I just left them.
I also framed our Christmas cards from 2011 and 2012 - which my Dad was very quick to tell me was a bit strange...

Here is a more 'in situ' shot - (where I've cropped out all the mess in the rest of the room).
This is how the wall has looked since my 'interim fix' earlier this year.
I don't know if I should go all out and make it all family snap shots, or find 'proper' prints. I'm not sure if I should take a few of the frames down, maybe it's just too many? What's most annoying is I don't think this is going to be making it onto Frame Cluster Friday - which, of course, is my new goal in life!

Thursday 27 September 2012

She Rides Above It

I've written about my good friend Emily and her lovely son George who sadly died at just 14 months old here before...

Well spare a thought for Emily over the next couple of days as she is cycling from London to Bristol to raise money for George's Foundation - a charity that her and George's dad Mark set up.
She will be cycling 60 miles a day, along with another two friends of mine, in this horrid September weather, carrying all their supplies with them on the bikes. If you can then please go and sponsor them here - or another way to help is to just spread the word about George's Foundation

This is what Emily wrote about doing the ride - I hope she won't mind me sharing it here with you:
"In the months after George died Mark and I did a lot of cycling, it was pretty much one of the only things that was OK for us at that time. We bought a tandem (called "Wiggo"!) on ebay and went around on it a lot. I lost count of the number of people who shouted out "she's not pedalling!" but I honestly was. The biggest ride we did was from home in London to Bristol; it was the first time I had ever done any long distance riding at all. We did it over five days, camping and carrying all the associated stuff with us. It was a big thing for us at the time and this is part of why I wanted to do this specific route again. It really means a lot to me to be doing it, all under my own steam this time but remembering that journey with Mark for everything that it helped us with at the hardest time of our lives."

Every time I think of the summer of 2008 when I used to hold Coco so tight, knowing that Emily couldn't hold George the tears just well up and sting. And each milestone that we reach with Coco - like her starting school, however hard it is for me to watch her grow, I know that it's so much harder for Emily and Mark that they can't see George growing.


The image is of a print called 'She Rides Above It' by Chase and Wonder which arrived today and is sitting on the kitchen mantelpiece while I decide where to put it (older readers may recognise it from my post about the Renegrade craft fair about a year ago).

Monday 24 September 2012

A Fantasy Shopping List

I went to Tent London, part of the London Design Festival last week and saw a few things that I wouldn't mind having in my house...
First up, I quite fancy this 'Modern London' print by Kristjana S Williams

Then I'll take two of these tall boys on the right, one for me and one for Hugh, by Invisible City - I think I'd customise the colours of the drawers though, but obviously if you're spending £7,000 on a cupboard you can do that kind of thing.

I'm sure I could provide a good home for a few of these mirrors by Alp too...

I love the idea of this dressing table by House of Eden for displaying all the jewellery that I never wear (and the bits I do too I guess).

Finally, I've seen these lights by Roussel before, and I still like them, so a couple of these in our sitting room please.

So that's my shopping list for if I ever win the lottery; although there is an old Chinese proverb I believe, something about having to play the lottery to win the lottery? I'm not sure I believe it though.

Sunday 23 September 2012

Making Ink

Yesterday we went to The Whitechapel Gallery to their 'family day' for a workshop making vegetable inks.

I've been looking forward to being able to do these kinds of things with Coco - and it was a great workshop for her, very well run by Hannah and Ken from Hato Press.
As it happened because the workshop still had space Henry and Hugh joined in too - so the ages ranged from Henry at 20 months to a girl of about 15 and it was a lovely gentle couple of hours, we even got lunch made from the bits of veg we didn't use to make the ink.

Getting serious about preparing the red cabbage...

This girl got the beetroot prep job.

Ink cooking...

And meanwhile the leftovers were getting cooked up into a seriously good soup... (recipe available in this Studio Cookbook that Ken compiled.

Check out that beetroot ink...
A straw with the end cut off at an angle makes a surprisingly effective fountain pen - who knew!?

Getting ready to have our lunch...

To anyone interested it is surprisingly easy to make vegetable inks with seriously good colour. We used:
White onions - skins only
Red onions - skins only
Beetroot - peeled
Red cabbage

For the beetroot and cabbage you add just enough water to nearly cover the veg and boil for 40 minutes - then drain and mix in some salt, about one teaspoon for half a cup of ink, the salt helps bring the colour out. You can also add malt vinegar if you want to preserve your ink.

For the onion skins you need to add more water, but apparently these don't need so long to cook - 20 minutes will do, add salt and vinegar as above.

All this was totally free, so good. We'll be back! 

Friday 21 September 2012


It's been an emotional week.
Coco starting school x the dreaded peeemteee.

I'm sure all the other Mums who've been there will understand, and of course there are lots of them, thousands upon thousands - and yet I've felt very very alone this week.

Coco on the otherhand has taken it all happily in her stride.
The second morning she could hardly contain her excitment, today she asked if she can stay for lunch (she doesn't actually start full days until next week). She stares in wonder at the kids in the playground, asking me what they are doing running and screaming in big groups (playing British bulldog I think)? She wants to know why there are lines drawn all over the playground and when I asked her if she'd been to assembly she asked 'what's assembly'?
She has proudly shown me her peg and the toilets "this is the one I normally go in Mummy", and told me that her hair sometimes gets wet when she drinks from the water fountain. On Wednesday she hugged her teacher goodbye.

Oh, and I've already been told off by a dinner lady.
It's a very strange feeling being back at school.

I seriously CANNOT believe that I've got the point in life where I've taken the obligatory photo of my child's first day at school... I still feel 19... how did this happen!?

Friday 14 September 2012

Peas for Supper

Our veg patch hasn't exactly been abundant this year, but we've had a few bits and bobs - and our second lot of peas (the first lot were planted by my sister and this lot by Hugh's sister) are just finishing now - this photo was taken the day before we went on holiday over three weeks ago.

Most of these peas were eaten while Coco and I podded them, with a handful actually making on to the table for supper.
Fresh peas from the pods like sweets. yum.

We didn't have much fun with our broadbeans - too much blackfly, and our bolotti beans produced a measly harvest, not sure we'll bother with either of them again.
Carrots, which were excellent last year, have got root fly this year. Bug are so boring.

We had two potato plants - again from Hugh's sister - which fed us for a few meals, pink fur potatoes in a niscoise salad. Tomatoes are finally ripening in the last days of sunshine and we are currently running at one beautiful yellow courgette a day along with a fennel every few days.

So after the second summer of veg growing I'm still not very convinced that we are going to be that  successful in our veg patch endeavours, but we'll keep going (and of course we have a few bits of winter veg planted...) maybe Henry will stop stomping on the veg beds and become a green fingered helper...

Wednesday 12 September 2012

The Cushions

Way back in the mists of time - well about two years ago - I bought some beautiful fabric which was destined to be blinds for Coco's bedroom.

In my pre-Henry nesting phase I (slightly madly) joined a sewing club. The main aim was to learn to make blinds, which I did. But I got strangely addicted to the place, it was a sitcom waiting to happen with it's fair share of clich├ęd characters but also some genuine left-field oddballs and over the couple of months I went I got quite hooked in to their story lines. If only I was a scriptwriter.

Partly to keep up with the gossip but mainly as I totally over-bought on fabric, once the blinds were finished I felt there was there was nothing for it but to make some cushions...

These ones were my 'practise' cushions.
Unfortunately they are also my only cushions. I haven't quite got around to making anymore. But they do have piping, yep, I sewed some piping. Not sure I'd be able to do it again...
They also have very over-priced buttons (£2 each if I remember correctly)!
The other fabric is by Designers Guild (which I got very cheap at their warehouse sale - makes up for the over-spend on buttons) it's possibly a bit too Cath Kidston-esqu but kind of works with the scandi trees too.
So there you have it, two decorative cushions which mostly end up on the floor or getting lost under a bed/sofa.

(As promised - this is one of my 2 year blog-anniversary 'something I made' posts - for the month of September I'm trying to do a few more posts about things I've actually made... true to my original mission!)

Tuesday 11 September 2012

Making Whirligigs

OK. I promised some things I made posts over the next month... I'm easing in gently here with a slightly once removed step as this is really something Coco made.

We are working our way through our new OKIDO magazines and the first up is all about the weather so we made some whirligigs. Perfect for a four-year old activity, quick, not too messy and fun to play with once they are done. (Tick, tick, tick) Grandpa made one too.

Monday 10 September 2012

Waterbabies - Then & Now

I was searching for some old photos yesterday when I came across these pictures of Coco. She is the same age here as Henry is now... they both love a bit of water and a few stacking cups.

I'm going to miss summer and my bucket-of-water child-minder (safety first)!

Friday 7 September 2012

Two Years Old

It's two years today since I started this blog.
152 published posts, which is just over one a week (plus 15 drafts, must do some housekeeping).

So, this blog has taken on rather a life of it's own - it's not exactly what I set out to do, but I like it all the more for it, it's encouraged me to do stuff and to take lots of photos, it's made use of my obsession with documenting and it's kept me thinking creatively. I've met some really lovely people, found kindered spirits and spent hours-upon-hours reading other peoples blogs.

Of course I want this little blog to be better (a re-design is so over-due) and updated much more frequently - but I have a bit of a problem with high expectations...
Contrary to it's name this blog hasn't been as much about the things I've made as much as I wanted it to be - but hopefully over the next month (I'm not setting my expectations too high here with days/weeks - see what I did there?) I'm going to make an extra-special effort to share some things I've made but for one reason or another have never made it on to the blog.
It won't be the most thrilling series... but we'll see how it goes!

That's me and my messy mantlepiece at 6.15 in the morning. Been up since 5.39am when I finally gave up on trying to go back to sleep. There is too much on my mind - various worries on Coco starting school, the long list of things that I need to be doing, new business ventures and a mish-mash of 'what am I actually doing with my life' thoughts and all those other middle of the night demons.