Friday, 30 December 2011

Birthday Celebrations

It's my birthday tomorrow!  I love having my birthday on New Year's Eve - whatever day of the week it falls on there is always loads to do and I always get the next day off work to nurse my hangover.  Most people are up for a bit of a party.  Christmas decorations and fairy lights still adorn the streets and everywhere looks twinkly.  Champagne corks pop and sequins are acceptable; expected even.  Need I go on?

A huge plus point is that I get to spend my birthday money in the sales.  A particular highlight a few years ago was a Rick Owens leather biker jacket that I bought at Harvey Nichols.  It was reduced from an eye-watering £1,100 to £300; still spenny at £300, I know, but I've worn it to death and love it as much today as I did when I bought it.  (In fact, I'll be wearing it tomorrow.)  A bargain in my book.  This year I've bought a blinging Swarovski cocktail ring and a dress - both were reduced by 25%.  Hurrah!

We're off to see the Wizard tomorrow.  The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.  I can't wait!  I adore going to the theatre and love musicals.  It has become a little birthday tradition for me.  It's a matinee performance so we are catching an early(ish) train and stopping by Liberty to empty my bank account before having a long lunch somewhere pre-show.   There will be fizz, there will be sherry and there may even be a smattering of sequins.

My age will, henceforth, be kept secret.

Unfortunately, gingerbread men are not known for being discreet. 

Thank you for sharing my blogworld with me in 2011.  Thank you for sharing your own bloglife with me, too.  It's been fun and I'm so looking forward to next year.

Wishing you all lots of love, luck and laughter in 2012.

Chin chin! 



PS  Did these photos take an AGE loading when you clicked onto my blog?  Was it irritating?  I'm so sorry.   I've been given a complicated new camera for my birthday and I haven't yet sussed how to adjust the resolution(?) of the photos.  Can anyone help please?

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Christmas Kisses

Checking out until the new year; I anticipate drinking a great deal of sherry, eating a lot of sausage rolls and wupping my sister's ass at Just Dance on the XBox.  

Sending lots of Christmas kisses your way.  Have a great one.



Friday, 16 December 2011

Christmas Decorating, Lush Hot Choc and a Sequinned Dress

The trees are up!  My favourite room is the living room.  This year I've used a garland strung with fairy lights across the beam over the fireplace and I love it.   
The first thing I always do when we've put the tree up is run outside and look at the house from the street.  Our house is on a main road and if we leave the curtains open you can see the tree and the fireplace as you drive past.  With the outdoor tree lit up and a little tree in the upstairs window our house looks a bit like a Christmas grotto!  That makes me very happy; it looks so welcoming! 

The tree in the living room is decorated in white and silver.  I was tempted not to use the baubles because I love the simple beauty of a real tree strung with white lights and nothing else but it seemed a shame not to let this little lady out of her cardboard box:
My favourites are the bird decorations.  I like to see the fat little birds nestled on the branches and I love this sparkly wooden miniature bird house.
I've gone for all out tackiness in the dining room.  A small pale pink tree with pale pink vintage baubles and a pink feather boa to cover its plastic legs.  Nestled amongst the feathers is a brightly coloured bauble of Santa in a space jet.  LOVE.
Isn't it difficult getting photographs of Christmas trees.  It's especially hard with an iPhone.  I have asked for a digital SLR camera for my birthday (which is soon!) and I *may* have spied the box for a Canon EOS under the spare bed.... I'm excited to get one but I'm also worried that I just don't have the skills or eye to be a good photographer and it will be a waste of money.  Got any tips for me?

Now, I wanted to tell you about the BEST hot chocolate.  It's nothing fancy, just a bag of little chocolate bits from one of my favourite shops:  Hush.  It is delicious; quite the most delicious home-made hot chocolate I've had.   Coffee is my hot drink of choice but I do like a chocolate occasionally.  
The little sprinkler contains a mix of cocoa powder, ground cinnamon and vanilla sugar.
Delicious and especially nice for frothy coffee, too.
Got to dash in a mo because I have the day off work (yipee!) and am meeting my mum for a bit of shopping.  Well, we've done most of our shopping - it's just an excuse to have a girly lunch together.  I'm so looking forward to it.  

I just wanted to show you a quick outfit... I went to a Christmas party last night.  It was the party of one of Andrew's customers and I had to do the corporate wife thing.  I was so nervous about it - I always worry I'll make Andrew look stupid by saying something daft - so I bought myself a new dress to boost my confidence.  

It is, quite honestly, the most fab Christmas party dress I've ever owned - a sequinned dress from Coast.  (Link).  It's out of stock online but if you happen to see it in the store I can definitely recommend it.  I really wanted a dress with long sleeves because I don't like my upper arms.  This is a wrap-over style with three-quarter sleeves; soft inside too when a lot of sequinned clothes are a bit scratchy.  I wore it with a navy blazer, some high platform shoes and kept my jewellery minimal - just a small pair of pearl studs and a big sparkly cocktail ring.
Dancing (well, swaying really!) with my man to the band singing Frank Sinatra's 'Merry Christmas', next to a big dazzling Christmas tree I felt properly happy.  And Christmassy!  Bring on the celebrations!



Thursday, 8 December 2011

Blog Swaps

Our internet is down indefinitely.  It is the most frustrating thing.  On Sunday the copper wiring from the Exchange was stolen and the village has been without telephone lines ever since.  It is annoying for me because I mostly work from home and rely on the internet to access my emails, including databases and programmes that I use on a daily basis.  I have had to go into various offices this week, all a considerable distance from home, and have popped over to my MILs this evening to use the internet for personal stuff whilst Andrew watches the football.  I've got Christmas shopping to do that just can't wait any longer!

I thought I'd take five minutes to do a quick update.  I have loads to chat about, as always, but just wanted to say a huge thank you to Angie for the blog swap parcels I received last week.  I took part in the Handmade Christmas Decoration swap organised by the lovely Laa Laa.  I am so glad I did - what a treat to receive surprises in the post!

The parcels from Angie were all prettily wrapped and it was fun opening them all.  Angie had made loads!  A gorgeous white fabric wreath (my favourite gift and it looks beautiful strung with fairy lights), home-made chutney, a lovely home-made card, cosy socks, pretty stars for the tree and lots of other little bits and bobs.  Angie even knitted four small stockings and filled them with chocolates (the actual stockings are exactly the right size and shape for my dog's paws and I've had to restrain myself from dressing her in them.  I know that would be cruel.  She'd slip, right?)
It is the first time I have taken part in a swap.  I admit to feeling a bit overwhelmed to begin with; I got too caught up in trying to second-guess what Angie would like and what would fit in with her Christmas decorating scheme at home.  Also, I have limited sewing and crochet ability - I am very much a beginner and many projects are beyond me.  In the end, I chose to make a few (safe) felt decorations.  Of course, it would have been rude not to include a gingerbread man... 
 The templates for the gingerbread man and the reindeer/moose came from this month's issue of Mollie Makes.  The stocking and mitten templates were downloaded from the internet somewhere.
I, hopefully, made up for my lack of ability by including a few chocolates and shop-bought goodies in the parcel for Angie and wrapped them as enticingly as I could.
I so enjoyed doing these decorations and, after the first one, they were quite quick to make.  I have plans for a heart garland to hang over the fireplace for Christmas.  I also have plans, however, to make a gingerbread house, two Christmas cakes and gingerbread biscuits (watch out for my next post when I'll share my super easy, delicious, recipe!).  Better get cracking.

We are off tomorrow after work to pick our Christmas trees.  I'm excited.  I intend to buy three; one for outside, one for the living room and one for the conservatory.  I also plan to buy a few more lanterns in various sizes to put outside the front door - they look so welcoming with huge white candles.  I will, of course, share pictures when I have finished faffing.

I love reading the blogposts with pictures of Christmas trees and twinkling lights and driving past houses seeing Christmas trees twinkling in bay windows is one of my favourite things about the season... Ahh! Christmas is coming!!



Sunday, 20 November 2011

Tinkerbell birthday cake

I've been making a Tinkerbell cake this week for my friend's daughter's birthday party:

I had known for about six weeks that I needed to make the cake.  I used a madeira cake that lasts a fortnight so, theoretically, I could have baked and iced the cake last weekend.  I could have spent the last month making sugarpaste decorations, they last such a long time.  So why did I start the cake at 9 o'clock on Wednesday night and then stay up until 1am on Friday morning decorating it?!  What's more, when I should have started baking the cake after work on Wednesday, I made some Cherry Menlove cheat's mince pies instead! 

I frustrate myself so much leaving everything to the last minute.  I am the same in every aspect of my life and whilst I know that I put myself under unnecessary stress, I can't seem to change it.  It comes up in every appraisal at work.  My boss, kindly, tells me that it's against my character-type to plan in advance, so I need to work really hard at it.  I agree.  The truth is that I can't get motivated to do things until the last minute and I work best under pressure.  

I am pleased with the cake even though I spent the whole of Friday exhausted and bleary-eyed.

It's a simple two-tier madeira cake with vanilla buttercream and strawberry jam filling.  I was asked to provide a three-tiered cake but decided to use a bigger board and decorate that rather than a third tier (it's an 8" cake with a 5" tier - that's a lot of cake!).
I made all of the decorations from sugarpaste or flowerpaste (the figures are plastic) and the water is blue-coloured buttercream.  There are two Tinks (?) on it - I was only going to use one (which makes sense to me) but Andrew assured me that a 6-year old little girl would rather see as many Tinks as possible than just one, however unrealistic.  

He was right - I dropped the cake off on Friday night and my friend's daughter had waited up to see the cake.  Her face when we took it out of the box was an absolute picture.  She was delighted.  It made the stress and the exhaustion worthwhile.  I crawled home, ate noodles and fell asleep in front of a DVD.  

So, Cherry Menlove.  I saw her mince pies in the Hobbycraft magazine but then discovered Cherry's blog accidentally a couple of week's ago whilst looking for blanket stitch tutorials.  Her blog is so cheesy and cheerful - I love it.  I thought I was the most shameless Pollyanna but she clearly beats me hands down.  I have a little bit of a girl crush.  

 The mince pies are made with shop-bought pastry and mincemeat.  The only thing I had to make was a little buttercream which is piped on top.  They were a bit burnt overdone but they still tasted lovely and I will definitely make them again.  They are worth making just for aesthetic purposes.

All weekend I have been sleepy and craving cosiness (how on earth I used to go out til the early hours of the morning three nights on the trot at the weekend I do not know).  My mum and sis picked me up on their way to Milton Keynes yesterday afternoon and we went to the little Christmas section that has been set up outside John Lewis.  It is lovely for children; they can see Santa and look at the cute moving Christmassy scenes.  There are loads of fairy lights and a very pretty, proper, carousel.

We took my niece on and she loved it.  We sat in a little Cinderella coach and she put her bunny, Joseph, on her knee for the ride.
We went for eggnog lattes at Starbucks (the red cups are back, hurrah!) and wandered around one or two shops.  It was crazy busy (Christmas madness) but we had nothing specific to buy.  I did pick up a few fun decorations from Paperchase and swooned over the gorgeous babushka stationery.  It's a good job I don't go to the shops very often, I could have spent a fortune!

Today we're just having a quiet day at home but popping out to the garden centre in a moment for a little mooch.  By 3pm we'll be curled up on the sofa with an old film on the box - can't wait.  Might even make myself a snowball!

Hope everyone's having a good weekend - isn't the weather Christmassy!  Cold and foggy... switch on your fairy lights and get cosy.



Sunday, 13 November 2011

Worshipping my yarn stash

We are finally straight at home.  Hurrah!  After three months without a dining table, a month without even a dining room floor and an enforced week away from home due to damp-proof work we now have a fully functional dining room.  Want a little peek?

Thank you, Shabby Chic Sarah, for your advice on spraying the mirror, it was black before!...  And thank you, Cuckoo, for the egg basket/fairy lights idea...  Love pinching ideas from my bloddies! 
We have still got curtains and window-seat cushions to sort but I am thrilled with the result so far.  Positively skippy.  

The floor is a huge improvement and having a thick base layer of concrete has really warmed the room up.  We had a wood burner installed in there earlier in the year so, with a fire going and the fairy lights twinkling, the room can actually be described as cosy!  Sooo happy.  I have spent loads of time in there already -  I feel the cold really easily so I plonk myself in the chair closest to the fire and sit reading, crocheting and sewing.  I've even watched a bit of TV in there on my laptop.  (One of my favourite things to do is watch TV on my laptop.  We have three proper-sized tellies in the house but I just adore sticking my big headphones on and watching one of 'my' programmes on the laptop.  I usually snuggle up in bed to watch it but I've also taken it into the bathroom occasionally and watched from the bath.  Bliss, I tell you!)  I've got loads to do at work this week and I can't wait to spread out my papers on the dining room table, light a fire and tackle my spreadsheets.  Sad, I know.

Unpacking my china and organising the dresser and sideboards was a particular highlight:  

I have a sorted my china by colour.  It took ages but, oh!, how I loved unwrapping each and every piece.  I have a cupboard full of pink china and another completely filled with cake stands.  Simple pleasures...

I think that living in disarray for such a long time brought about a slight meltdown and I have been on a mission to regain order.  I decided to create a 'crafty corner' in the spare room so that I can faff around with fabric and yarn to my heart's content without messing up the whole house.   I bought, on impulse, a vintage teacher's desk on ebay, a pretty green chair and an oak bookcase.  The husband was coaxed into helping me move furniture around the room and a new place of worship, for me, was born.

Seriously, I keep just popping into the spare room to admire my yarn stash:

....sigh happily over my labelling system....

... and open my desk drawer to run my fingers over the spools of ribbon and washi tape:

I need to get a life, I know.  



PS Hello to my new followers!  Thanks for stopping by.  I'm always thrilled to find new blogs so I'll pop over as soon as I can.  Getting close to 100 followers now and I'm planning a giveaway when I reach the magic number!

Have a great week! 

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Cosy by the fire

Cosying up by the fire now, after a fab - busy - weekend.  The weekend, in a nutshell, has involved bonfires, fireworks, champagne, friends, chilli, wine and a lot of laughing.  Today I've been sorting out my yarn stash and having a thoroughly lovely time. 

Just popped by to check in but have got lots of chat and will be back soon.

Hope everyone had a good weekend.



Monday, 31 October 2011


I have a big cake tin full of fun-sized sweets and chocolate bars.  I carved three pumpkins and they form a spooky pathway up to the door.  I've been ready and listening out for the door since about 5pm.  

I have heard nothing.

Not a sausage.

The scariest thing to appear at my door today was the moustachioed gas man. 

I'm a bit disappointed. 

Happy Halloween.



Tuesday, 25 October 2011

'Wedged in a window' and other stories

It is so nice to finally have time to blog, although I admit that given my frame of mind over the past couple of weeks it's probably a good thing for everyone that I haven't had time.   I've been a right Moaning Minnie (as Mum would say).  If I was a cartoon, there would have been a little black raincloud above my head for the past two weeks.  Nothing has felt right.  We haven't been eating properly, I haven't kept on top of any household chores.   I haven't been baking or making.  We have spent our evenings eating chocolate and/or fast food, downing sherry and/or wine and watching a lot of TV, trying to ignore the smelly damp bombsite that has been our house.

It was only the dining room floor that needed work but it turned our little world upside down.  A particular low point, for me, was when we were forced to enter the house last Saturday by clambering through the living room window using a stepladder, carefully negotiating the three rosebushes below. (The dining room floor wasn't dry as quickly as expected and we couldn't use the front door).  I, having opted for what I considered to be the most ladylike way to climb into the window*, swiftly became wedged at an awkward angle.  One leg in, one leg out.  Like the hokey cokey but less fun and atop a step ladder.  Embarrassingly, I had to back my way out of the window and down the stepladder so that my stepson and husband could climb back out of the living room to help me get in.  It was like a real-life Professor Layton puzzle, though far less dignified given that we live on a main road.  Not my finest moment.  I dealt with it in a very British way, however, and managed a chirpy 'hello' and brisk little wave to the passing neighbour walking her dog.   She called a jolly 'hello' back and, in a similarly typical British fashion, did not mention the fact that I was wedged in the window, seemingly all alone.

Thankfully, the work is almost finished (just the edging and a threshold-thingy to fit) and our furniture delivery is imminent (maybe this week, I'm told).  Yay!

So things are slowly being put back in their proper place and I am looking forward to having a dining table again.  The room is much warmer now that it has a proper floor and I am pleased with the way it is taking shape.
Having to vacate the house for long periods of time has had its plus points, of course.  The dog has enjoyed a lot of walks through the village, for one thing.  I remembered to take my phone last weekend to get a few photos.  
We walk this way every single day and I like to pick out reference points where I can watch the seasons changing.

The horse often trots over to say hello, but then retreats when he realises that the poo bag we are invariably carrying definitely does not contain snacks.)

There have also been enforced shopping trips.  Ahem.  I have treated myself to a few new clothes.  This gorgeous oversized top from Topshop will look fab with my new leather leggings, some scary heels and messy hair.
I ♥ it. 
It's ever-so-slightly sheer but will be fine either with [attractive] flesh-coloured underwear or a black vest underneath.  (I can't tell you how cool I feel, owning a pair of leather leggings.  They are seriously amazing and I feel a bit Joan Jett in them.)

I've also bought loads of stuff from Joules.  Goodies for me, the husband, my niece and a little thank you present for my sis.  Three gorgeous dresses that I'm looking forward to wearing:

All of these are very flattering on, I'm so pleased with them.  They show off my legs (which are OK) and hide my cake-loving tummy.  Bonus.   They all look a treat with leggings, tights or skinny jeans.  I have also bought a sweater with ducks on, a floral shirt, the big chunky cardi in one of my previous posts and some amazing 'muck boots' which I'm beyond thrilled with.  I have to tell myself every single day that I am NOT jealous of my sister's job.  (I am.)

I have made a new make-up discovery, bought a few pieces of vintage china and stocked up on yarn to get me through the long cold (penniless, now) Autumn nights.   I'll save it all for another day because we're all off to Bedfordshire** now.




* There is not a ladylike way to climb through a window.
** A Bridget Jones term meaning 'bed'.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011


The saga of the dining room has almost reached its conclusion.  The relief!  

We did, indeed, go to stay at my MIL's for a week.  Such a good decision to scram from the crime scene.  The dust in the dining room and kitchen has been horrendous and it was such a smelly job too.  Now, the concrete has hardened nicely and the workmen are returning on Saturday to do the rest of the work.  It is anticipated that by Tuesday it will all be done and I can put the dresser back in there.  Yipee!!!!  Currently, my china is bubble-wrapped and kept in plastic storage boxes in the bathroom.  My kitchen paraphernalia is in the top room of the house, just laid out on the floor.  The furniture from the dining room is squashed into our, already very small, living room.  

But things are on the up!  

Just so pleased to be home and cosying up.  Everything is slowly but surely going back where it belongs.  We're expecting delivery of the remaining dining room furniture in a couple of weeks and I really can't wait.  

The weather has turned chilly here and I am so looking forward to lighting the fires and spending my evenings on guilt-free crochet, reading and Downton-Abbey-watching.  The little barn in our garden is all stocked up and we are ready to hibernate:

I'm also looking forward to cooking some proper old-fashioned, hearty meals.  I saw this book in a local (amazing) kitchen shop at the weekend and I can't get it out of my head:

The photo is taken from Amazon and, as you can see, it gives you a preview of the book if you fancy having look.  It is such a lovely read, loads of fab-looking recipes but it has that 'oooh' factor that makes you want to sit down with a cup of tea and devour it from cover to cover.  It has gone straight on my wish list.  As soon as I can fit back in my leather leggings (unexpected sojourn to MILs and a week of delicious homecooking has done wonders for morale but nothing for the waistline) I will be buying myself an enamel pie dish and cooking up a storm.

Hope that everyone is having a good week so far - have been checking in with a few blogs here and there but I'm looking forward to a proper catch up now.



Thursday, 6 October 2011

New clothes from Joules

I am beyond excited.  My sister started working for one of my favourite high street stores, Joules, last month.  She loves it there.  She is an accountant and works at head office rather than in an actual store but the perks they have at the office are fab!  One of my favourites is that she has access to the staff vegetable patch - how cool is that?!   My sis tells me that her colleagues are all lovely, friendly and (of course) fashionable.  I am so pleased for her.

Oh, what the heck, I'm pleased for me.  She gets a bit of a staff discount on the clothes.  WOO-HOO!!!  I've already got loads of Joules stuff in my wardrobe but I plan on trebling it.  I think sis has just become my new favourite shopping companion.

Here is one of the outfits I'm going to be purchasing for myself:

They have a sale on at the moment and I think this dress might be reduced.  Love it.  Love the cardigan, love the tights and love the beads.  Here's the link.  Whilst you're there you might want to have a look at the gorgeous welly boots (I got a fab pair of navy stars and stripes wellies there a couple of years ago).  Ooh, I just love their stuff.  

Hurrah for sisters.



PS What do you think of my blog's new look?  Thought I'd mix things up a bit around here.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Sulking in the Bedroom

We have discovered a serious case of damp in the dining room.  If I recount the full story I will crumple to the floor in a wailing heap so I'll keep it brief:  floor to be dug up, new granite fireplace to be 'prised off' [builder's words], 4 inches of concrete to be laid, approx 75 days for concrete to dry, must vacate premises for approx one week, all to be done urgentlyenormous expense, moving in with mother-in-law temporarily, told off a bit by boss for needing to take time off at short notice, entire contents of kitchen and dining room had to be removed, whole house a tip.  Phew!  Other than that, everything's great!

In order to remain sane and keep the tears of frustration at bay I'm sulking in the bedroom with my Kindle, crochet and laptop.  (And a large bottle of Jack hidden under my jumper.)

I lit a few candles...

Switched on the fairy lights... 

And am ooohing and ahhing over my new CK bedding:

♥♥♥  Loving how it looks with my WIP blanket and the dotty cushions. ♥♥♥ Thinking that I could make a blanket especially for the bedroom and perhaps a couple of cushion covers... 
♥♥ Dreaming and planning... ♥♥ Love it ♥♥

Florals are gradually taking over my house.  It's an invasion that I am happy about. 

Something else that keeps making me smile is this photograph from a family barbecue I went to at the weekend.  It was lovely to see my great-aunt and the cousins I haven't seen since my wedding last year.  I had to take a photo when my cousin's little boy sat on dad's knee for a cuddle:

He is 14 and was born with a very rare chromosomal abnormality.  He is pretty well unable to communicate verbally but does so with sign language, facial expressions and, of course, cuddles!  I love that they are both wearing checked shirts and I especially like the photo because my dad just isn't one for displaying affection!

I'm off to finish my book now - it's so good.  It's called The Midwife's Confession and is by Diane Chamberlain.  I'm loving it and can definitely recommend.  What shall I read next?   Any suggestions?



Thursday, 29 September 2011

Bit of this, bit of that

As excited as I am to wear my new winter boots, legwarmers and knitted dresses,  I am loving this late September sunshine.  Fully expected to be wearing my denim shorts with tights by now but I've gone back to bare legs for a while! (The razor blade in my bathroom is enjoying a brief revival... tights really are a lazy groomer's best friend.)

I had to see the doctor yesterday morning and spent a few quiet minutes enjoying the view from the surgery.  The surgery is in a pretty part of the village, sits on a little hill and the waiting room has huge picture windows so that you can look right across the fields whilst you wait.  This big imposing house, next to the car park, looked lovely in the sunshine:

Look at the colour of that sky!  

It is quite unlike me to dawdle, in everyday life I mean.  I'm usually rushing from one thing to the next and I don't pay much attention to my surroundings.  It was so refreshing to take my time for a change, I will try to do it more often.

So last weekend was pretty full-on.  We had some utility china (an ebay purchase) to pick up in Somerset which is about three hours away from us.  We booked a lovely pub/B&B for Friday evening and made a night of it.  Best thing we've done in ages.  It was great to have such a spontaneous weekend away and the pub was a real find.

It was called The Three Horseshoes and was in a tiny village (with very narrow winding, spooky, roads) called Batcombe.

The room was nice.  Small, but very comfortable, with lovely views.

But it was really the pub downstairs, and the food, that made this place such a treasure.  We arrived at about 7pm, dumped our bags in the room and bagsied a lovely big scrubbed pine table in the main bar area next to the fire.

We started with a couple of G&Ts then moved onto a bottle of wine and a game of dominoes.

You do have to knock on the table when you can't go don't you?  That's the way we always played it with my granddad anyhow and that's the way I made Andrew play too.  I think he was a bit embarrassed in such a busy pub but you've got to play these games properly or not at all, in my book.

We had a lovely dinner but our eyes kept moving to these beauties on the bar:

Forget smokey bacon crisps and salted peanuts (peeled from those cardboard sheets with topless ladies on), this pub served olives, pistachios and homemade pork pies as nibbles.  Amazing idea.  They looked so appealing and were even served on the most gorgeous small thick rustic wooden boards with a dollop of relish (got to get me some of those wooden serving boards...).  We had planned on making a long night of it but ended up crashing out at 10:30.  Must have been the fire.  Or the wine.
Always take a self-portrait when we do anything fun (well, not quite anything...)

Breakfast the following morning was equally delicious.  Again, a big scrubbed pine table, this time laden with coffee, toast, newspapers and juice.  We had a full English each but there was also a selection of cereal, fresh fruit, yogurt, toast and preserves.  Y-um.  I love having a leisurely breakfast at the table but we never do it, the furthest we get to sitting down for breakfast together is at the kitchen counter or sitting in the conservatory.  Setting the table for brekko is definitely on my 'to do' list when the new dining table arrives.

On Saturday we drove to 'the house of the utility china'.  Oh my.  There was such a lot of it.  The items were listed in bulk by a couple who were moving house.  They had collected loads of the J&G Meakin Glamour Rosa china and just sold the lot off.  I also bought a bulk lot of Meakin Glamour Celeste and some Johnson Bros Greydawn bits.  The lady I bought from was absolutely lovely.  We had so much in common and I could have chatted with her all afternoon.  Whilst Andrew and her husband were loading the car with my new goodies, I spent time looking at the rest of the lady's vintage china collection (she had yet more utility china), the AMAZING sugar flowers that she makes and photos of the cakes she has decorated in her time.  She has also been a member of the WI for a long time and we chatted about that too.  It was fab.

I loved unpacking my china when I got home but as we don't have any sideboards in the dining room right now, I just don't have anywhere to store it all.  I will do a proper post to show my beauties off in all their glory when the dining room is finished but for now I will share the JUNK SHOP that my home has become.  Spot the china piled under furniture and on the floors.

First up, the new dresser in the dining room.  Clearly not styled at all (sorry to disappoint), simply piled with china for storage more than anything:
There are books haphazardly thrown on shelves and we even have things thrown on the window seats too.  We are having the floor redone this weekend and I can't wait.  I know this parquet stuff is very old and expensive but frankly it's knackered and looks awful.

There's more china in the spare room:
...together with the booze from our drinks cabinet and the baking supplies from my baking cupboard.

The windowsill in the spare room is piled with cake stands, lamps and glassware.  It is driving me crackers.  I can't wait for the furniture to arrive but I've been informed we have to wait another month.  Arrggh!!

I will do some proper photos of the china when we get our house sorted for everyone who I share a utility china fetish with.  I  now realise that I have got loads of pink and blue china but very much need to build up my green items.  If you are interested in swapping a Meakin Glamour Jade, Grindley Almond Petal or Johnson Bros Greendawn item for something pink or blue, please get in touch!

So I've had a quiet week.  I needed it.  Read a fab book mentioned here on the Florence and Rose blog (it's a lovely blog, you might want to linger a while).  The book is called The Help and is set in Mississippi in the early 60's.  It is a story about race, class and friendship.  It's definitely a feel-good story and I'd recommend it.  Thrilled to hear that it has been made into a movie; there are some strong characters in the book and I'll enjoy seeing how they have been interpreted.   So now I need something else to read.  Any recommendations?

In between the reading I have been practising some Christmas crochet:

Ha!  Funny little thing isn't it.  I downloaded this stocking pattern from Ravelry.  There are a few tweaks I'll make to the pattern when I make them for realsies (I'll make them in thicker, neutral coloured yarn) but I'm planning on hanging these on my tree if they look any good.  Not bad for a first attempt (and if you'd told me last Christmas I'd be able to even make this, I'd have snorted derisively!).

We're planning a quiet weekend too.  I might nip off to the local car boot sale on Saturday morning but apart from that we're taking it easy.  My stepson, J, is coming to stay this weekend and I think he has school gossip for me - he texted me earlier this afternoon to tell me he doesn't fancy M as much any more (he has liked her for two years now) but he fancies K instead.  Love it when he tells me this stuff!

Still have loads to chat about but I'll be back in a few days.

Hope everyone has a lovely weekend.



PS And thanks, Sam, for the blog award!  Am thrilled. I'll do a proper post for it next time x