Thursday, 28 January 2010

Treasure Pleasure........ the sun shone over our little spot of the world & though it was a crisp day it had an element of Spring, fresh green grass,pastel blue sky-pretty! My heart & my head  flooded with  light & I sprung back to life....our home was washed with magic & the colours sang in its golden glow.I fell in love with my treasures all over again, & set to with my camera to capture some of the loveliness I rediscovered upstairs....I was still in my pyjamas & about to embark on some Spring cleaning! Having seized the day....tonight I am in need of my bed & book,virtually unable to blog & somewhat distracted by a gripping episode of 'Silent Witness' that Mr M is watching....hence I couldn't get this text to sit with my pretty pictures- (below)! Heres to many more sunny days ahead....
P.S click on the pictures to see them supersize & have a look at my dust!    

Eye candy........

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Be simple.....

.....well,well,well....I am in the workroom,not sat by the fire as I usually am these wintry evenings....I am multi-tasking,having tidied my Blog,Iam tidying my Life......!!!!! Anyway I just picked up this book,as oft I do-Aunt Kates Day-by-Day Book;'A thought,a recipe,a household hint-for every day of the year',so I turned to 27th January which in 1937 was also a Wednesday! When I read the thought for the day it seemed so very appropiate as I have just read a dear friends Blog-post about writing letters as opposed to keeping in touch by more modern means,keeping it simple,Its so easy to get pulled along on the current of the modern world,sometimes we need come up for air.....That aside,Aunt Kate also gives us a recipe for Chocolate Cream Sandwich,then very thoughtfully a hint for removing cocoa stains-for when we drop our choc sandwich on our pretty crepe blouse,whilst shovelling it into our mouth!(click on picture for a read)....more from Aunt Kate coming soon girls!
for BupBup....... 

Pull up a chair........

.......its amazing what you find down by the beach! Imagine my surprise when I spotted this pair yesterday morning on my way to school! I could think of nothing else as I taxied the little people up the road & bundled them off into the classroom.....what if a fellow chair-fancier (or Kirsty Allsop!) had salvaged them in my absence or what if they had toddled off for a stroll on the sand,maybe a dog in need of convenience had lighted upon their spindly pins! I was delighted on my return to find the dear souls still there taking in the view......what to do? First a little kerb crawling,drive slowly past  & oggle......then,park up at a stones throw,so as not to look too,alight car & walk past with a casual air,look out to sea-to blend in with the tourists.....turn,glance furtively around the deserted car park & up at windows to check for twitching curtains....get out mobile phone,take a photo,take a seat,phone mama to ask advice......look around once more,grab a chair in each arm & head for home! Oh the thrill-& so early in the morning too! This is becoming a habit (remember the coathanger in an earlier post?) I can only guess at their story,I was even a little sad to remove them-they were so perfectly placed for bay-watching,all they needed was a tartan rug & a Thermos to complete the scene,then it struck me that maybe this was some 'installation art' that I was disturbing! Then I was taken with the idea that a row of  'chairs' of different designs would make a wonderful alternative to the park bench- imagining them in a higgledy-piggledy line in parks & on seafronts.....obviously they would need to be nailed down,just in case they went walkabout!

So they both went slowly down,
And walked about the town,
With a cheerful bumpy sound
As they toddled all around
And everybody cried
As they ran up to their side
''See,the table and the chair
Have come out to take the air!''

Edward Lear-The Table and the Chair.     

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Please excuse the mess............

Essential maintenance work is being undertaken........

......oh dear me,the green eyed monster has reared its ugly head! I am currently experiencing some Blog envy.....yes,I am ashamed,but at least I'm honest! I have resigned myself to the fact that January has been pretty much a non-starter for me,certainly for 'paperdolly',I won't even try to excuse myself,instead I will look on this month of inertia as a period of contemplation & other words,I have been reading,watching,looking,drinking tea & spending my evenings by the fire-laptop perched on my knee-being drawn in to the world of Blog that Mr M likes to call-Bloggington! There have been brief daylight excursions into the workroom,some finishing off,some repairs,a modicum of tidying,but nothing of note & certainly not worthy of Blog-space! Meanwhile over in the shiny land of Bloggington....there is much happy-making afoot,those lovely little Blog folk-clad in polka dots & vintage florals-are stitching,knitting,baking,homemaking & then sharing it with those less fortunate,filling us with joy & eliciting in me those shameful, covetous feelings! I am now 'following' so many of these charming folk,that most evenings find me popping into half a dozen Blog dwellings for a little look around their wonderfully presented 'homes',with so much kerb appeal & such loveliness to be found within......then,while I'm there I have a little rummage around & take a peep at the Blogs they 'follow' & before I know it I've been whisked away on a Blog adventure again! So its time my Blog-spot had a little makeover,as I'm not too hot on technology it could get messy......
............sorry for any inconvenience!

Monday, 18 January 2010

Grey sky,red shoes......

......January is the time for new beginnings,a fresh start,a clean page,the first chapter in the 2010 year-book,so much potential,my head is dancing with imaginings on a grand scale for this decade of dreams! Dreams of;stitching,drawing,making-sorting,gleaning,baking,writing-reading,reading,reading!!!!!! But January is not an eager participant in all this activity,it's brooding & sulky after all that December merrymaking-occasionally cracking a smile with some winter sunshine. My mind may be turning cartwheels but the flesh is weak & I fight a daily battle to stop me from doing this..................... ......& as well as taking comfort between the,all enveloping,pages of my new book,my ears are being soothed & caressed by the velvety tones of Morrissey,whilst I fritter away the first month of this year of promise.....its all in the planning!
.....however,having cast aside the brooch I started stitching during the 'snow' (it wasn't holding my attention) I took up with an old friend instead-this was a little vintage doll I started 're-dressing' last year,it was to be for my mama for Christmas until time ran out! This is a little 'hobby' of mine which I find very therapeutic-I buy old souvenir costume dolls,which are in abundance at car boots across the land,those funny little dolls brought back from happy holidays,cherished in childhood then abandoned.I strip off their 'national' attire & then make new tiny clothes for the plastic people,the dolls themselves are so charming with their chubby cheeks & quirky expressions,I have always had a soft spot for them and have adopted many dolly orphans over the years. Some of my favourites have macabre painted toes in place of shoes,this little cupie however has painted ankle socks & red shoes,she also has spiky fingers & a very stroppy demeanour-I love her! Here she is in my 'sofa-sewing' box,most cross at having to wait for me,originally she was dressed in a kind of Dutch costume but with a dear little felt pixie hood which I retained & trimmed-the red shoes & hat meant she was destined to become Red Riding Hood in polka dots...........,here she is today,all dressed up,just before going to live with her new mama-better late than never-such a cutie pie but still stroppy-mama is used to naughty girls,she had 2 of her own!

This big girl needs to pull her thermal socks up & seize the day before January becomes February,there will always be grey days but there beats within a bright red shiny heart!

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Back to life..... we ventured back into the real world..........the world that exists over the sea,beyond this tiny island I call home! Me & my little ones had last left the island last Monday before we were sent a small Mc-flurry of snow,however,it was not the snow that kept had us housebound but ice-our winding country style roads simply do not like it & the gritters save their grit for the more substantial roads. At times like these those much maligned,burly beasts-4x4 monster trucks come into their own & those of us sans 'Chelsea Tractor' must sit it out! School was shut for a week,the children were blessed,having only just emerged from the Christmas break,parents awaiting that back to school bliss,were less enchanted by it all! We had our day in the snow,then spent day after day,the 3 of us in the one room-the room with the fire lit-sure Country Living is all a bed of roses in Kirsty All-slops world,but in reality the idyllic country abode in winter can be as harsh as the snow queens palace! All draughty windows & doors & as for that rustic slate floor it simply transforms itself into floor level refrigeration,perfect for keeping ones feet on ice,3 pairs of socks & 1 pair of slippers (upgraded with sheepskin insoles) are no match for a chill which penetrates the bones! The woodburner was doing overtime providing us with 24 hr glow-wolfing down coal & logs,I provided my 3 hungry birds with homebaked crumbs from the kitchen-baking to keep warm,until the cupboards were bare,Mr M took on the role of hunter-gatherer venturing out to forage for food & rescue my mama from her hilltop home! Our enforced confinement took on a surreal & timeless quality,island life out of season is always secluded,in contrast to the months when we are just another stop on the tourist trail,but this was something else! Of course we are never really that cut off from the world in these days of virtual communication are we,as I type on my laptop-whilst watching TV with my mobile at my is ever far away. Just before Christmas I started a book about the lives of the Brontes-a gripping read,that had me longing for bedtime & sneaking little reads at every opportunity. I chanced upon the book in Oxfam when I was on a desperate search for reading matter having just finished a book,reading is an insatiable hunger is it not,whilst absorbed in one I like to have another lined up ready to be devoured-after a respectable pause of course! Having conquered Wuthering Heights earlier in the year,I was hungry for more Bronte & when I saw on page 1 of this dog eared paperback that their mother Maria Branwell was born in my own home town of Penzance,I knew this was my next conquest.Oh, what lives they led up on that bleak Yorkshire moor,at the mercy of the elements with little to comfort body or mind,all of them virtually blind & suffering the pains of illness & heartbreak-not a cheery read-yet still they had a passion to write as though their life depended on it & it did. So in the days of this recent cold snap I was eeking out the final chapters as the Bronte sisters were eeking out their final days-racked with consumption,consumed by unrequited love,isolated & without hope & suddenly my own discomforts seemed so slight. When the end came,the last page,the final word,I was as always bereft-especially as the weather meant that my new book from Amazon had not arrived,I was like Charlotte longing for the postman,alas I waited in vain.....then yesterday it arrived... 'The Collected Works of the Bronte Sisters' oh goodness it is a tome 1,475 pages! I am not even sure I will be able to read it in bed,it is worthy of a lecturn......obviously it will keep me well fed for quite some time.......& I am secretly wishing for more snow!

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Work in progress...... last there is some stitching going on here! After a frolic in the snow,me & the snow babies spent an afternoon infront of the goggle box,fire blazing up the chimney,chipping away at dad's Toblerone. I started on this brooch last night,late last night-a habit of mine,I am an owl never a lark. Wonderful to wake the next morning & remember you have a new project in the offing,like opening your eyes & seeing the shoes you bought yesterday,waiting to be worn-since childhood I have left new shoes where I can see them when I wake. While the mornings chores were carried out, the sewing was begging my attention downstairs,while upstairs my book was trying to get me back into bed-as it was I managed a bit of both,it is a very good book! As for the brooch,the idea is a kind of cameo,the pendant part attaches onto the bow by means of a very vintage hook & eye,which is part of a large ebay haul I never knew what to do with-until now! The 'portrait' is drawn & stitched,I am unsure how to finish the raw edge-blanket stitch maybe-as the pendant can be unhooked & turned round I can put another design on the reverse. A nice little project to start the year & get 'paperdolly' up & running (ok jogging) again. If only I could read at the same time,I can hear the Brontes calling me up to bed.......

.....just sometimes you get what you wish for!

Today the little folks got their much longed for snow...............not alot of it,but it worked its magic & set little hearts aglow!

......dear little birds perched on the bare branches,chests puffed,added a sweet song to the winter wonderland!

......snow rocks & icy sea!

......snow mummy,in need of tea & a macaroon!

......numb toes,wet gloves,red nose...time to go home!

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Baby its cold outside......

.....poor brass monkeys! Not a single flake of snow falling from our little piece of Cornish sky-just chilled rain,however after just one day in the classroom,my little dears get to stay at home with Mummy again! A Mummy with dreams,dreams of getting the dec's down & getting down to 'work'....the plans of mice & men eh? Like the Grinch I de-Christmassed the house with glee & robbed the tree of baubles(carpeting the floor in needles in the process),every year I pack the frippery away with the same thought, wondering what life has instore before those same boxes descend from the loft again in December. So having already put the rest of the days plans on hold,I decided such a cold day needed some comfort in it.....baking......warm kitchen,nice smells,yummy cake...... ......but first,hot tea & a flip through my new book for inspiration. This is a charming book which manages to combine two of my great loves,old fashioned childrens books & cake (no surprises there!). 'Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer' by Jane Brocket,celebrates the foodstuffs of classic children's stories-the wholesome picnics & nursery teas,enjoyed by Famous Five & the like,after an adventure or a bracing walk! Many of my own childhood memories are caught up in the pages of a book,or more often something lovely to eat,best of all a story with food in it! In the 'My Naughty Little Sister' books by Dorothy Edwards,is a story about an impish boy-Bad Harry who pilfers his party trifle,a creamy,spongey trifle with silver balls on the top,I didn't need an illustration of that trifle,words were enough! One of my very best books is Nigel Slaters,'Toast'-the story of a small boys hunger-never was food so lovingly & laughingly described,including a trifle that would have Bad Harry reaching for his spoon! As my own naughty little children were at home & I am trying to be good,I decided I would make jam tarts-their favourite,but not much of a challenge-except the tarts here are made with sweet pastry which I had never made! When my aunty came to visit recently she brought a little tin of macaroons she had made to use up some egg whites & two from a batch baked by my cousin Jack (baking genie) when he was home for the holidays-both scrumptious! I remembered this as I read that the sweet pastry uses two egg yolks & looked up macaroons-two whites-perfect!
As I have mentioned I am a baking novice,each new recipe is a new adventure,I tend to avoid the mountains & go for a leisurely stroll instead,so if a recipe has too many ingredients or tricky instructions I pass by & head for more familiar ground! Egg whites,icing sugar,ground almonds,almond essence-nothing scary there-however I have managed to get this far in life having never separated an egg or then beaten the white until it 'forms soft peaks'-two tiny hillocks I have climbed today!

The resulting Macaroons looked nothing like either Kaths-slim & biscuit like,or Jacks-plump & perfectly round.....mine are lumpy & as bobbly as an old cardigan! What I like most about Janes book is that there are no glossy photos,the recipes are accompanied by reproductions of the illustrations that inspired them,less chance of feeling a failure when you remove your baking tray from the oven! Thankfully,looks aren't everything......beneath that old cardi,lay a heavenly body!

My sweet pastry lay chilling in the fridge,a little unecessary given the temperature in my kitchen today,my icy hands perfectly suited to the task of handling it. I was struck by how yellow the pastry was,helped by free range yolks & marbled with butter,& when the tarts were baking they smelt like shortbread & appeared to be almost 'frying' in their patty tins! There was enough to make a tray of mini tarts also,half of which I filled with Seville marmalade-Nigel Slater again-I thought the bitter orange would be a nice contrast to the sweet pastry. The eternal wait for the molten jam to cool....then.....oh heaven,it was like eating hot,buttered toast & marmalade....a little too hot,as my tongue will testify! Now I have made this pastry I doubt I will stray onto the shortcrust path again! Not that my naughty little children seemed to notice that I had upgraded the humble jam tart,as for Mummy she was a very naughty girl & had another.....tomorrow is another day!