Thursday, 29 March 2012

Hearth and Home.

Some there are who seek adventure, restlessly they roam. But in every woman's heart there is a love of home. Whatever her profession is or her philosophy - You will always find a streak if domesticity. 

Clever talk is heard where women gather to pursue - arguments on this and that. But what we love to do - is to talk beside a fire about our house of dreams. Of curtains and of carpets, pots and pans and colour schemes. 

It's a fundamental urge we feel instinctively. To build a nest however small and humble it may be .... It's because in making homes we find we can express - the greatest gift that lies within us: our creativeness. 

Patience Strong. 



Tuesday, 27 March 2012


From Woman's Day magazine. Week ending 21st February 1959.

Most people think "meek" means "mousy". They picture a timid little person saying "sorry" every other minute, and generally trying to keep out of the way. 

In fact, what Jesus meant by meekness requires more moral courage than most of us possess. He was Himself the supreme example of meekness. That is to say, He never stood on His rights. 

"Let Christ Himself be your example as to what your attitude should be," wrote St. Paul. "For He, Who had always been God by nature, did not cling to His prerogatives as God's Equal, but stripped Himself of all privilege by consenting to be a slave by nature and being born as a mortal man."

As far as He Himself was concerned He never exercised His rights. On the contrary, He allowed people to ride roughshod over Him, even to crucify Him in the end. 

He stood up fearlessly for the rights of others, but never for His own. 

That sort of behaviour seems to us to court disaster. It means letting other people "get away with murder." In His case it literally did. 

But in the end this meekness, this willingness to submit, bears fruit. It earths the charge of other people's ill-nature, it absorbs their malice, and so takes the sting out of many a situation, when a response of anger, even of "righteous indignation" would double the trouble. 

And "they shall inherit the earth." 

Having made no claims on anything, there is nothing the meek can be turned out of. So in a strange way they have a right to everything; a right which God recognises, even though the meek only experience it as the perfect freedom which their humble service brings. They are the earth's Freemen. 

I struggle with meekness and did, for a long time, view it as a kind of weakness. I find it so hard to let people "get away" with things. I don't want people to think that I am some spineless creature to be walked over. Perhaps I am to concerned with what other people think! Thinking too much of myself and how I think I deserve to be treated seems to be the opposite of meekness. It is putting myself and all my selfish wants at the centre of my life.

I am working on conquering this sin in myself. After all, compared to what Jesus went through, my daily struggles are not true suffering at all. Focusing on those small hurts means that they end up out of proportion and they are given more value than they should have. What right do I have to put my wants over God's plans for my life? None at all! It is pride and arrogance that makes me flare up when someone takes advantage. It is me thinking that I deserve more than I do. 

Meekness isn't weakness. It is a kind of strength! It is trusting in God and His plans and turning to Him and His wisdom in times of need. It is not trying to control life and people to try to get the result you want. 

Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
and He will give you the desires of your heart. 

Commit your way to the Lord; 
trust in Him and He will do this:
He will make your righteous rewards shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun. 

Psalm 37 3 - 6



Monday, 26 March 2012


I love the smell of hyacinths! With just a few flowers you can scent the whole garden. It is just a typically  sweet Spring scent whether the hyacinths are in the house or in the garden. It is incredible how much fragrance there is from each flower! They smell floral and old fashioned, delicate and yet lingering. It is a scent that is hard to describe but is instantly recognisable. 

I buy hyacinth bulbs most years and grow them in my room. After flowering they are planted out in the garden to be enjoyed year after year. My favourites are the blue ones but there are also pink, white and peach ones. They look so elegant with their covering of bell like flowers.  

Many of the bulbs I have planted out have split so that, instead of one large bloom, there are 3 or 4 smaller blooms. I really like that effect! Some people dig their bulbs up after flowering to prevent this splitting but, for me, it adds to the charm of the flower. 

I think that the colours in the blue flowers are amazing! I wish that they lasted longer but each flower takes it by turn. Soon there will be tulips and bluebells after the daffodils have faded. 



Saturday, 24 March 2012

Growing Strawberries.

This year, as part of my great garden project, I am going to try to grow strawberries. I am starting with two plants as I thought that this would be more foolproof than growing from seed. Plus I already have a long list of plants to grow from seed! 

After much deliberation I chose the variety called Cambridge Favourite. This is quite a well known variety and  is a reliable type that produces lots of medium sized fruit. It is also suited for jam making and freezing! It is fast growing and hardy so very good for a beginner like me. 

All planted up in their pots! I made a bit of a mess with the compost though! Luckily the compost that suits the strawberries will also suit the blueberry plant that is on the way. 

I am also going to try to grow some alpine strawberries from seed. Not sure how that will work out! These are very dainty plants with tiny fruit. 

Gardening is much more exciting than I ever expected! I am so glad that the evenings are staying lighter for longer so I can get out into the garden after work. 

What are you planning for your garden this year? 



Friday, 23 March 2012

Early Blossoms.

Trees here have been slowly coming into blossom. All week I have been so wishing I could take photographs of the flowers but generally I was scurrying to or from work. Finally I have had time to capture the fleeting blooms! It was a little windy so keeping the flowers in focus was a bit tricky but the blossoms looked like snow falling and were whipped up by the breeze until they circled and danced in the air! 

I love the contrast between the pure blossoms and the weather worn and mossy bark.  I tried to experiment with focussing on flowers in the foreground and blurring those further away. Some of the shots worked! 

Some of the trees have only a few blossoms scattered along their branches but others where absolutely covered! Walking under those was like being under the prettiest umbrella especially when the sun was shining though. 

I just want to be out taking photographs every day. Spring is amazing! 



Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Cute Erasers.

Saw these and just couldn't resist them! They are from Accessorize and there is a lot of pretty pens and stationery on there at the moment. I will have to avoid the site for a while as I spotted some lovely handbags and I really don't need another! 

They come in a sweet little pot. I love anything like this to be honest! Why have something plain and dull when there is a pretty alternative? 

Smiley little bunnies! Not sure I will dare to use them. Might have to force myself as I am working on not keeping things just for best as they end up dusty in a cupboard somewhere. 



Monday, 19 March 2012

Farm Visit.

I took a trip to a nearby farm shop today. It is surrounded by fields and has sheep and a few little piggies nearby! 

I love visiting this shop as all the vegetables are so fresh and very good value for money compared to the local supermarket. Unfortunately, all of the fruit and vegetable shops in the town have closed down. They just couldn't compete with the supermarket prices. I understand that everyone has to be careful with money in this economic climate but I feel that something special has been lost. That personal side to shopping and knowing the name of the shop owner and being able to ask which local farm the produce came from.  

Society has lost something and I don't think it will ever get it back. These local shops were reducing in number when I was young but the next generation won't have any memories of them at all. Imagine only knowing supermarkets! Being so removed from your food all packaged up neatly and flown half way around the world to get to you. 

My dream would be shopping in little village shops with a wicker shopping basket over my arm! Shopping with the seasons rather than everything being available all year round. 



Sunday, 18 March 2012

Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies.

As it is Mother's Day I asked my Mum what she would like me to bake for her. She asked for something with chocolate in it! I made a variation of cookies that had the yummy combination of chocolate and shortbread. 

I like to have all the ingredients out before I start baking but I am terrible at remembering to pre-heat the oven! Bare foot and baking in the kitchen while singing along to Doris Day, Petula Clark and Connie Francis. I must be a funny sight dancing around the kitchen in a pink spotted apron!


100g softened, unsalted butter
75g caster sugar
100g sifted plain flour (I sift mine into the bowl)
25g cornflour
50g dark or milk chocolate chips. 

That is it! Such a simple recipe and I think that it is one that children would enjoy. 

1, Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 3 1/2 (170 degrees Celsius). Remember! I am normally half way through baking before I think to switch the oven on. 

2, Add the sugar and butter to a large bowl and cream together until light and fluffy. 

3, Stir in the flour, cornflour, and chocolate chips. Keep stirring until the chocolate chips are evenly distributed and the mixture forms a rough dough. 

4, Lightly flour a work surface and turn the dough out onto it. Gently knead the dough until it becomes smooth. This dough has a bit of a strange feel to it almost like fondant icing and it isn't sticky. No sticky hands!

5, Roll into a sausage shape that it about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. 

6, Slice at 1/4 inch intervals and place on two non-stick baking trays. 

7, Bake for around 15 to 20 minutes until they are lightly golden. These biscuits only need to stay in the oven until they have colour around the edges. Leave the biscuits on the baking tray for a couple of minutes and then transfer them onto a cooling rack.  

Somehow, whenever I bake, there is a little left over. Yum! Uncooked cookie dough! 

I also made my Mum a Mother's Day card! My cross stitching skills are improving slowly but surely. 



Wednesday, 14 March 2012

The Bride's Book.

This book was a little eBay bargain! I love the idea that a new bride in the 1940s having this book and studying it while moving into her new life. It has certainly been well read! It is still in lovely condition though and whoever has owned it over the years has really taken care of it. It is my responsibility now! 

The book covers everything from preparing for the wedding including dress and trousseau to beauty and health right through to home decorating and recipes! It was published in 1938 and it is a glimpse into the past. 

It teaches the young bride how to plan meals for a week and how to organise your shopping list as well as basic cookery skills and plenty of recipes. Some are a little strange and call for eels or rabbit!

I can imagine this book being so useful to a bride who was moving out and into her own home for the first time. It must have been exciting and scary all at once to have all that responsibility! I think that this book would have been referred to again and again. 

I love this advertisement! The table is set, the flowers are arranged and the hostess is dressed prettily. I found the chapter on the supply cupboard really interesting. I try to keep all of the basics in stock plus things like tins of soup, fruit and vegetables. After all, some days are so busy there isn't time to prepare a meal from scratch! 

As I am learning to sew, the home dressmaking section came at the right time! It assumes that you have basic skills though which I am sadly lacking. It explains how to use paper patterns and equipment needed as well as how to choose the colours that will suit you. For my colouring and brunette hair it recommends rose, pale grey, jade and mauve. 



Sunday, 11 March 2012

Early Morning in the Garden.

I woke up to the dawn chorus and the promise of a sunny day! It would have felt like a waste if I had gone back to sleep for a couple of hours so up I got. I managed to get a head start on my list of jobs for the day. I was out and gardening while the grass was still shimmering with dew! 

My vegetable plot has been dug over and is just waiting for me to get on with the task of adding some stepping stones and deciding what to plant. I am not entirely sure what placement of stones to have. It is a small rectangle so I don't want to lose too much planting space but I can't reach all of it to garden. Will have to have a play around! The area of the garden where I will be growing salads is ready too. I have also ordered some plants! I can hardly wait for them to arrive. My order is for a blueberry plant ( I have the perfect deep blue pot for this) as well as three fruit trees. I ordered two varieties of apple tree and a cherry tree. I would have loved a couple of pear trees and a plum tree but I only have a small garden. Not suitable for a full orchard! I needed two apple trees as, around here, people are more likely to be cutting them down rather than planting them and two are needed for pollination. I was careful to pick two from the same flowering category! 

As I was out in the garden I decided to take some photographs too. I am sure this will shock you! 

Dew on a daffodil. I love that my camera can capture these tiny details. Before I started taking photographs I would probably walked past this flower without noticing that it was decorated with glistening dew. 

The first hyacinth to flower in the garden. There are so many more still in bud form. Pink ones, white ones, and more blue ones! Most of them started off in a pot in my bedroom and were then planted outside. They do so well! The bulbs seem to spilt so a plant that had one flower many have three or four in a few years time. 

I am scared of bees. Not as scared as I am of wasps but still pretty scared! Luckily this bee was sleepy and was resting on a daffodil to warm up in the early morning sun. If it had flown towards me I would have squeaked and run! 

A ladybird! Such a cute bug and seeing one always makes me think that Spring is well on the way. The tulip leaves are just emerging now and violets, cowslips and bluebells are not far behind. It is such an exciting time in the garden! 

A little bit of colour in the garden but the promise of so much more yet to come! There are so many plants just poking their leaves out of the ground to test the air. I imagine it is like me dipping my toe into the pool to see if it is warm enough yet. 

Just look at that blue sky! Not a cloud to be seen anywhere. I hope this means that the bad weather is behind us for the year. On to Spring, sunshine and picnic weather! 



Saturday, 10 March 2012

My Sewing Box.

With all my posts recently about fabric and dressmaking I thought it was about time I shared my sewing box! It sits on my hope chest in the corner of my room. I keep it in here as it is so handy if I need to sew on a button or fix a hem. That makes me sound much more domestically minded that I actually am! I am trying to improve my skills though. 

I had been looking for a sewing box for quite some time when I spotted this one and fell in love! It is just the cutest little cottage! It is a really practical size for a beginner at sewing. A more experienced sewer might find it a little small for all their bits and bobs. It is too pretty to hide away in a cupboard!

I adore the red fabric with white spots as it is so cheerful and inspires me to get on with my projects! I try to keep it tidy and to put things back after I have used them so that I can always find whatever I want right away. 

It is a little messy inside at the moment with random buttons floating about! Plus the gold jingle bells that I haven't found a home for yet. 

I am not entirely sure what these two elasticated pockets are designed for but I use them to store my coloured cotton! 

My new scissors and pinking shears! Love these and I made sure that I bought good quality ones. Also in the bottom compartment are some pins, neutral thread, tailor's chalk, various tins and some ladybird buttons. The buttons are destined to become part of an apron if I can figure out a design as cute as they are!



Thursday, 8 March 2012

Patterns and More Fabric.

So I went back to look at the new fabrics again. Not a shock really! I really like 8 of the 10 designs so at least I won't be buying all of them. I managed to resist for a few days at least. Once I decide what to make I will be able to go back and look at thread, ribbon, lace and buttons. So exciting! 

So pretty! I would love a room dedicated to crafts and sewing but, alas, there isn't the space available for that. I think I would be a lot more inclined to sew if the sewing machine was set up all the time. I have a little sewing box which has most things that I would need and last month I treated myself to some pinking shears and fabric scissors. 

This blue is the same pattern as the pink fabric I bought the other day. It just looks so bright and cheery without being overpowering. I think it helps that the pattern is small! 

There were quite a few variations of this fabric available. This one which is pink, a yellow one, a green one and a blue one. If I use this kind to make clothing it will definitely have to be lined as the sun would shine straight through it! 

The patterns are currently on sale for £2.95 each which is a big saving! It seemed like the ideal time to stock up as I only have a couple of patterns and rather a lot of fabric. These patterns are marked as "easy" so I thought they would make a good starting point for me. I do want to make a pretty apron though! 

I also bought these for when I am a bit more experienced with sewing. They look much more complicated but, to my unskilled eye, the easy ones don't look all that straightforward! The sale isn't on for long and, as they didn't have many patterns left, I hope they get another delivery before the price goes back up. I would love to make some nightgowns and then embroider details onto them. I am getting a bit carried away now! 

Now I am searching for a book on home dressmaking as there are no courses on the subject available around here. 

Do you sew your own clothes? How did you learn?