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August 2011
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October 2011

You can find me here

Just down this lane

Down this lane is a pretty thatched cottage, not huge, just the right size. First you reach this shed made of oak beams and walled with long branches. Then curve around the pond on your right and 

Shed of branches

come up this path and through the garden gate; you'll find me making a morning coffee in the cottage up on the left.

Welcome path

Now let's walk out of the cottage across a big, beautiful kitchen garden and step into a gorgeous old barn. The barn's been converted for entertaining. This space is for big meals with friends gathered around a large table having long conversations lasting well into the night.

Horsey

And if you were to tiptoe past the barn as the sun is coming up you'll find a few cows in another barn and a couple horses in the paddock waiting to greet you.

In my dreams, this is where you'll find me.

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When I take a long walk through the village where we live I walk through a small wood then come across this house in the most wonderful setting. Every time I go past I can see myself living there, as clear as I see my hand in front of my face. Sadly it's been unoccupied for years now, except for the barn and stables that are rented out. The good news is that it's for sale, the bad news is it's so expensive it will probably stay unoccupied for a lot longer. 

When I win the lottery, because I fully intend to you know, I will buy this little piece of paradise and invite you all around for a good old "knees up" as they say in these parts.

If Pippi hadn't got the cows all in a twitter this morning I'd have showed you the house and barn too – next time.

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I can't believe it's nearly Thursday already. We had a fantastic weekend seeing the Antonio Forcione Quartet on Friday night, going to our school founder's day celebration on Saturday, and on Sunday we spent a lovely day with my in-laws.
And today I realized my small, Wednesday textiles class has grown from five to ten so my hands were very busy – I can't tell you how much fun we're having together. 
Also, I finally replaced my little digital camera so I hope to have nicer images again and not rely on the phone so much. 

Tomorrow I'm off to London to spend a few hours with a good friend and to celebrate becoming another year older :)

So happy Thursday to you in advance,

Jx

PS, back soon with an early Christmas treat.


My first loved book

GM-cover

Sitting on a small sofa next to my Auntie Sarah begging her to read this story yet again I remember like it was yesterday. Of course it was now decades ago but my love of this particular book has never waned. She was my grand aunt, her sons are my father's cousins and lucky for me her boys were grown and gone and she loved having a little girl to spoil. She spoiled me with her time, the chocolate kisses and snow caps in her glass candy dish were just an extra bonus. I still remember asking her to read it over and over again. After I was grown we often reminisced about that time, in fact when she passed away, at least ten years ago now, she left me this special book in her will. When I received it and held it in my hands again it returned me to that sofa, her voice and the chocolate too. 

Just-baked

I took the book to a book restorer to have the torn pages and cover repaired. The restoration gave it a longer life so my children have enjoyed it too.

Running-away

These illustrations are just as bright as I remember them being when I was a child.

Horse

This edition of The Gingerbread Man was published by Whitman Publishing in 1947 and it originally belonged to my dad's cousin Bill. The paper isn't the best quality, but the illustrations still look wonderful.

Fox

I never felt sorry for gingerbread man when he met his demise nor did I wonder how he came to life in an oven, I just loved his adventure and admired the fox for being so clever.

This book has now been loved by three generations in my family, I hope it lasts for many more.

Do you remember your first favourite book?

Happy Thursday to you!

Jx

PS, EDIT: Gracie's tutorial will go up later today is now up. Also, I came across a beautiful pot with a deer etched on it at school this week in the art department. When I turned it over to find the maker I found my boy's initials carved in it. I'm hoping he'll share how he made it on his own blog.


Give us a hand

Mummy's-hand
Mummy's hand, photo by Gracie

Gracie was working on a drawing and she wanted a hand model. I wasn't good at keeping my hand still enough so she photographed it instead. The clutter in the background is what my desk looks like when more than one project at a time is happening, which admittedly is often. I thought about Photoshopping it all out but I like real life better – though I often wish I could Photoshop it all out in real life and save the time of clearing up all my junk.

Surprise-tutorial
Gracie's hand, photo by Mummy

And speaking of projects, Gracie will soon be posting her first tutorial on her blog. The other day she spotted something at a shop that she really, really wanted and I said "No because I can show you how to make your own with supplies we already have and I promise you will like even more than the one in the shop." She wasn't convinced. I can't steal her thunder so I won't give it away but she's extra excited about her results and can't wait to share how to make them (although chances are you may have made them yourself already!) A tiny little thing, but it really ignited her enthusiasm to make instead of buy which of course made me smile really big inside :)

Phone-sleeve
A quick something for me

On Wednesday I spent a fun hour with six girls and their ideas for making things with old clothes; I'd hoped at least one boy would be in our textiles group but maybe some will join in time. One of the items I shared with them was this protective sleeve I whipped up for my phone. I've been wanting to make one for the longest time, I'm not crazy about the cases in the shops. This denim sleeve made from old jeans took me no time to make and even though it's very simple it's just what I wanted. It's been a long while since I made something for me so then I got right into another project just for me that I'll show soon. Two in one week, I'm getting spoiled ;)

Apple-thief
Apple thief

One last photo before I say goodnight. Hurricane Katia didn't effect us as much as the north of the country but it sure brought down a lot of apples. Too bad poor Pippi just found out she can't have the plums and apples any more, too hard on her tummy says the vet.

Have a great week,

Jx

 


Tiptoeing through the toadstools

I couldn't help showing a few more of the agarics. There is a small wood that I visit when I only have time for a short walk – this is where I found the mushrooms from the last post. One section has a huge crop of these red fly agarics. Our recent storm on the tail of hurricane Katia dropped branches on to many of them but there are many more untouched, apart from the odd slug feast here and there.

Agarics-and-twigs
Agarics after the storm

Agaric-emerging
Agaric emerging

Agaric-pair
Twins

Agaric-umbrella
Agaric umbrella 

Agaric-window
Slug window

Agarics-in-sand
Agarics in the sand

If you're on the hunt for agarics the area where these are flourishing best is at the base of birch trees and in various mosses. The soil where they grow is well draining due to sand deposits in the area. I also spotted more in a small grove of holly trees. In both cases the agarics are along the edge of the wood, I rarely find them deeper in the woods where there is less sunshine.

I'm sure the attraction agarics hold is partly the surprise of their vibrant colour but it's also so easy to imagine tiny creatures carving out homes in them, the stuff of Enid Blyton and Beatrix Potter.

Recently I've also been really enjoying crafting with wood again, more about wood projects next month.

A-surprise

I'm returning to the classroom this afternoon teaching some after school activities. We'll be working with repurposed textiles and doing lots of hand stitching – I'm very excited about it, in fact I'd better get back to organizing materials.

Before I go, Tara is giving away some of her gorgeous soap, enter here. And Feeling Stitchy has an interesting stitched book cover contest starting here.

Happy Wednesday!

Jx 


Life continues, it's just different

Mushrooms-2

Just a week ago when I walked through this small wood there were a few mushrooms scattered here and there but nothing very special caught my eye. Today, I stumbled over so many more. All shapes and sizes including the amethyst deceiver (below right) that I've never found before. It was such a beautiful purple, the camera on my phone did it no justice. The camera I normally take on walks is broken :(

Mushrooms-1

Change is constant, sometimes even just a week makes an enormous difference.

Today, like most people, I am remembering where I was 10 years ago. I was blissfully looking forward to the birth of my second baby only weeks away and in nesting mode. 

When the Towers fell I prayed the sickening feeling inside of me wouldn't be felt by the new life growing in my belly. I'm sure most pregnant women felt the same as me, thinking "What kind of world am I bringing this new life into?" Then worried how the feeling of despair and sadness would affect my unborn child.

But my baby was and still is a happy, healthy little soul. She's strong, curious and smart too. The world she grows up in is different than the one I grew up in just as my world was different than my parents'. She already faces bigger challenges than I did at the age of 10, but she will cope and adapt because that's what we humans do and because life goes on.

My thoughts today are with a close friend who received very sad news this week and also with all those who lost loved ones 10 years ago today.

I hope your week ahead brings change in wonderful ways and that you give your families extra squeezy hugs as often as possible, I know I will :)

Jx


Autumn and a return to routine

Vetch-&-spent-hogweed
With such a cool August, very early apples and the demise of my geraniums it looks like October around here not September. Along with September come those mixed up feelings of dread and excitement that back to school time brings. There must be a word for it, maybe we could call it xreadment? 

Tutu
I'm excited for the changes autumn is bringing us, happy to be back in a routine, but also sad to lose our freedom. I'm positive I'm not alone in this and in fact I'm sure I say something similar each year;) I wish I could have all you other mothers (dads too) around for coffee after dropping our children at their first days back to school.

T-biking
And, if anyone has a trick for getting children out of bed in the morning please share it; if it involves bribing them with hot chocolate, that one no longer works for me. I'd seriously love suggestions.

Giant-damsons
The hedgerows are exploding with autumn colour already like these huge blue damsons yet there's still colourful purple vetch, honeysuckle and hog weed dotted about.

Hawthorn
Hawthorn berries are in abundance.

Elderberries
And so many elderberries I think the birds would spare a few for me to dye with again this year.

Slow-stitches
I've been working on a couple of new projects yet to be published and otherwise crafting little, except for these extra slow stitches started way back here. I'm hoping to now use our new autumn routine to schedule time for completing new projects and get back to keeping up this space including a new shop soon.

I tried to post this yesterday but our Internet service was out again. T and G have now finished a very happy first day of school and are really positive about the year ahead, phew :) 

If you're back to school this week too, hope it's a smooth one for you. Enjoy the signs of the new season wherever you are.

Jx

PS, thank you very much for the sweet birthday messages for Tristan, we both loved reading them.