Sunday, 27 April 2008

Teapot Afternoon

The light is curious this afternoon, yet utterly beautiful. Sitting here on the sofa, snuggled up in my corner of the living room, I am opposite our beautiufl large window. The day started bright, but suddenly clouded up and rained hard. Now the rain has stopped, the skies are still grey, but the light is suddenly bright as though it was sunny. Grey isn't really a good enough description for the colour of the sky just now. It is the kind of grey that Persephone Books are, flushing to a darker shade in places, just above the rooftops and between the trees. It is as though the patch of sky I can see is an artists palete, and here and there the dove-grey of Persephone Books has been mixed with a few drops of blue, the blue of the teapot which is keeping me company this afternoon.

There are a few streaks of dirty white in the sky, a hint of clouds which aren't laden with rain. It is dark enough to need some lights on in here, but by the outside light it still feels earlier in the day than the half-past six which it is.

Earlier today, my sister and her fiance came to visit us, and I made pork and peanut noodles for lunch, followed by chocolate and hazelnut pancakes, enjoyed while we watched the Spanish Grand Prix.

They went home a few hours ago, and since then, I have been in my corner with the Sunday papers, and all the things I need for tea. The jug for my milk is special to me as it was a wedding present- it is patterned with pink and blue hydrangeas, which were my wedding flowers. My cup and saucer are pink, patterned with a paler pink map of Paris, and decorated with deeper pink shoes. It is such bliss to sit and sip tea, read through papers, and make plans for the coming weeks.

This Friday, I will be attending my Aunt's funeral. There is not going to be a wake or gathering afterwards, so we- me and Carl, Mum and Dad, Becky and Roger- are going to have coffee together instead.

I am lucky enough not to be working the weekend, and I am hoping we can go to Dedham, with a picnic, and go rowing on the river as we did last Easter.

In a weekend or two, there is a local food-fayre at Cressing Temple Barns, which we plan to go to. It is lovely to meet people who are so passionate about the things they are making, and scrumptious to be able to sample things!

There was a particularly lovely article in the May issue of Country Kitchen magazine about cooking with roses and violets. I first had the idea for violet ice cream last summer, and I hope to experiment with this over the next week or two....once I have ordered some violet syrup!

Can it be that I have not yet mentioned my fabulous new lunchbox that I ordered online this week? I am the proud owner of a Laptop Lunchbox. It is not very vintage unfortunately, but it is a very pretty shade of purple. The box holds a spoon and fork which come with it, and five containers; two larger, two smaller, and one just the right size for some dip or salad dressing. Some of the containers have lids so I can pack things like yoghurt, others don't, but the box that holds all the containers is made so its lid acts as a lid for the lidless containers. A bit complicated to explain, but easier to understand when you see it! I am really looking forward to making up lunch next week. I really like the idea of having lots of little bits to nibble on for my lunch. The box is ecologically friendly as well, because it means no cling-film or foil wrapped packages, and so less waste.

Expect lots of pictures of lunch this coming week!

Miss Austen Regrets is finally being shown tonight on the BBC, I can't wait to see it. It is the story of Jane Austen's life, with the focus on her romantic life, and why she did not marry. It has already been shown in America, so we are a bit behind here. It is a shame that it clashes with Midsomer Murders as that is one of my favourite Sunday evening treats!

Whether it is raining or shining, the sky blue or grey, I hope you have a delightfully cozy evening, and a scrumptious Monday tomorrow.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Sunshine and Showers

The last few days have been a real mixture of sunshine and showers, and I am pleased to be able to say that they have been of the weather variety! Yesterday and today have followed the same pattern- glorious sunshine in the morning, followed by heavy rain at lunch time; a brighter afternoon followed by yet more rain.

This evening, on my way home from work, the sky was blue, and the sun was shining brightly, and yet it was pouring with rain. It really reminded me of Barbados, it is just the same when it rains there.

In my quiet times, I have been reading, cooking, knitting on my socks, and chatting on the phone. Tomorrow I have to wait in for a nice plumber to come adn give me a new flue for our boiler, and then for our groceries to be delivered. I was hoping to enjoy experimenting with some recipes from Cupcake Heaven by Susannah Blake, but sadly our oven has stopped working at the moment. Instead, I am going to knit more on my socks, and perhaps make another little purse for emergency tea bags. Of course, there is a little hoovering to do, and also I plan on reading some of the most scrumptious book that arrived at the library for me this afternoon- the Cabbages and Roses Guide to Natural Housekeeping. It is the kind of book that is so utterly delicious, I can hardly bare to open it! I also want to polish my writing desk some more.

I have also been sitting at my writing desk, making a list of things to do on rainy days. It has been really good fun, and I think I will share some of them here. Top of my list is the right tool for the right job. So important, don't you think? And in this case, it has to be an umbrella that makes you smile every time you use it, a pretty raincoat, and a pair of whimsical wellies. Now I have my flowery raincoat, and my lilac polka dot brolly, but I have no wellies yet. I am keeping my eye out for the perfect pair. I think they will have flowers on them, but I would be happy with spotty dotties too! Who could fail to smile, splashing through the puddles feeling they look a million dollars in their special wet weather gear?!

I am funny in that I don't mind too much getting wet if I am on my way home, but I cannot stand it if I am on my way out. Ugh, squelching around all day feeling soggy! If I do get wet on my way home, the first thing I do upon getting in is to get even wetter! On goes the kettle while I damp my hair a bit more, and then rub some deep conditioner into my locks. I enjoy a hot cup of tea in a pretty tea cup that I keep especially for rainy days, and when I have sipped it all up, I rinse my hair and dry it. Sometimes, if I have got chilled and wet, I will hop into a hot bath for a bit while my hair is still in a towel.

I am sure all of you will know already about Sarah Ban Breathnach's comfort drawer idea, and I think we should all expand on it to have a Rainy Day box, corner, or nook, with some scrumptious treats put aside. Spring rainy days have a character all of their own, and call for some extra special treats. There should be a hair conditioner as I have mentioned, and a pretty mug or cup just for rainy days. Mine has tiny pink flowers on it. Maybe you will find a particular blend of tea to save just for today?

Although rainy days call for coziness and snuggling, I find I don't need as much warmth as in autumn and winter rainy days. So although I want a blanket to snuggle under, it needs to be soft rather than heavy and thick. To go with my blanket, I have a pile of books just waiting to be read; anything from Persephone books is perfect, but especially The Making of a Marchioness or The Wartime Diaries of Mollie Painter-Downes.

When you have had your fill of snuggling on the sofa reading scrumptious books, it is time for a little more action. A rainy afternoon is just the right time to turn out a cupboard or drawer. I find it scrumptiously satisfying to throw out any laddered tights, look over my underwear, and put it all back neatly into a freshly lined drawer, or to pull out my dry goods cupboard, and catalogue it all in my little household booklet before putting it away nicely. Perhaps I might find time to snip out of paper, or a length of ribbon to be a pretty shelf edging.

Of course, these days just cry out for a good black and white film to be watched, or maybe a Jane Austen adaptation. I have also adored I Capture The Castle and Mrs Miniver not forgetting of course The Enchanted April.

I like to have a little craft project to work on as well, something that makes you glad to be indoors, listening to the tip-tap, pitter-patter of raindrops on your windowpane. Crochet is very easy to pick up and put down again, or perhaps a little embroidery, or anything else like this that captures your fancy.

I love it when a rainy day has been passed in so much enjoyment, that I cannot wait for it to rain again!

Friday, 18 April 2008

Pitter Patter Raindrops

April seems to be a rainy month so far, in atmosphere as well as weather. Normally I quite enjoy a rainy day, as my previous posts will show, but last night, and today, the raindrops are not just outside, they are tears as well. I had a phone call last night to say that one of my Aunts had died that morning. She was in hospital, but not with anything life threatening, when a heart attack took her.

I am sipping the hottest cup of tea I could make in the hope it will shift my headache, which seems to pound in time to the click-click of the computer keyboard. Tea is a good balm for sore spirits, it warms and revives.

I did a little crafting last night, which I also find restorative. When I asked for a cup of tea after a meal at a noodle bar a month or so ago, they told me they only had jasmine tea. A friend mentioned that it is hard for her to find places that do decaffeinated tea, which she drinks because she is pregnant. It seems to me that it would be a good thing to have a little stash of tea bags in my handbag. But what to put them in- a little plastic bag? A piece of kitchen roll? Or a fabulous little felt purse, decorated with a felt tea cup, ric-rac and blanket stitch. No contest really!

I sat at my writing desk and toyed with a design on squared paper, then got out all my felts and embroidery threads, lengths of ric-rac and ribbon. It was so much fun to pick colours and sit and snip and stitch. I am thinking of making a few more tea-bags and perhaps offering them up here on my blog.... as well as tea cups and tea pots, I think they would look pretty with felt flowers, or maybe decorated initials.

Tonight I am going to knit on my socks for a little while, on a part that is not too complicated, because the rhythm soothes my mind. More tea, a hot bath and to bed, I think.

I can hear the pittering of rain again, tapping away on my window pane. It make me feel kind of cosy to be sitting inside- that cosy feeling is one of my favourite things about rainy days. They are just perfect for puttering about.....I am working on a list of ideas for lovely things to do on such days.

If it is raining where you are, I hope you have a deliciously frilly or scrumptiously pretty umbrella to shelter under.

Monday, 14 April 2008

A Beautiful Way To Spend A Sunday

Sunday was one of those days where it was brilliantly sunshiney one moment, then grey and overcast the next; one moment it was warm, another it was raining. We still had an utterly scrumptious day though, because it was the day of the Christening of a lovely baby boy we know. The church is in a little village about a half hour drive from us, and then there was afternoon tea in the village hall afterwards.

It was such a stylish day, full of vintage loveliness, from the silver cross pram that the little boy was brought to church in, to the vintage tea cups, bunting and embroidered tablecloths at the village hall. I think the lovely thing about Christenings is that everyone seems to dress up in beautiful bright colours and happy clothes (I know it looks like I am wearing black in the picture, but it was a black cardigan over a white and purple flowery dress!), to welcome the baby. One of the lovely things about this particular Christening was that the vicar had also Christened the baby's mum, and also performed the wedding ceremony of her and her husband. Amazingly, that wedding was five years ago, and it is already eight months since mine. Where does the time go? The wedding was at the same pretty church, and there was the same happy atmosphere of friends and family coming together to celebrate something wonderful. I do love weddings, but I think somehow Christenings are even more lovely.

When we got home, we drank cups of tea out of my birthday cups-and-saucers, and reflected on the day.

Friday, 11 April 2008

Rainy Friday

Today has been the most delicious of days. When I left our little flat this morning, to walk into town to meet my Mum, it was cool but the skies were bright. The pavements were dark with rain puddles, and the day had that bright scoured-fresh feeling. Bliss! Mum and I had a wander about town, just meandering and drifting, which was lovely. She bought a bunch of rhubarb from the market, as it is much cheaper than in the shops. I bought some yesterday and am going to make a rhubarb crumble for tea tonight.

We had lunch in a lovely little place; downstairs they make sandwiches to order and sell jams and so on, whilst upstairs they serve lunch in a little tea room. Unusually, we both fancied coffee, so we each ordered a different kind (Indian Mysore and Turkish Cream) so we could try both. The sky darkened while we were sipping our coffee, and the little square window pains started to spot with rain, but happily by the time we had finished, so had the rain.

I have been keeping my eye out for Lily of the Valley, but had not spotted any. Mum used to buy her Mum a plant every year, and I like to do the same. Mum spotted some on a stall in the Farmers Market, so we bought one for each other which was nice. Then she caught the bus back to Maldon, and I went to wait for the bus back home. As I got on the bus, the sky darkened once again, and rain came pelting down. Happily, as the bus drew up to my stop, it lightened, and just spat while I scurried home. Once I shut the front door, it came down full tilt again.

In the dark rainy-afternoon light, our little flat seems extra cosy. I made a pot of tea, and sat down with the post- a lovely note and cd from Tash- thanks Tash, I can't wait to listen to it, what a lovely idea- and then switched on the laptop. What do I find, but lovely comments from kindly blog friends? I am so lucky. Then, I made a batch of peppermint creams, just because I felt like it, and sat down to watch 'I Capture The Castle'. It gives me the same feeling that I had when I read 'The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets'- I didn't want it to end. Have you seen it yet? I suspect you have, I think I have discovered it late indeed, but in case not, do try it!

I am going to make a chicken stew with dumplings for tea, then retreat to the bathroom. I am going to scent my bath with lavender bubble bath from Cath Kidston (thanks Anna!) and light my teacup-candle, and read 'The Kalahari Typing School For Men'. What a lovely evening to look forward to.

If you are looking for something delicious to read on a rainy April afternoon, then I cannot recommend this highly enough: Make yourself a pot of your favourite tea, and enjoy...

Thursday, 10 April 2008

My Writing Desk

This is my birthday present from my lovely husband. I first spotted it in the Oxfam shop six weeks, maybe two months ago, and fell in love with it right away. I took my Mum in to see it, and she agreed, it is lovely. I took Carl in, and whilst I was not directly asking if I could buy it, I was hoping that it might come up once he saw it. Alas, he agreed that it was very 'me' and lovely, but that we really didn't have room for it. Perhaps, he said, if we were to get rid of one of the bookcases.....which of course, would never do!

Imagine my surprise when I was presented with it on my birthday! Not only had he decided to buy it the moment he saw it, and kept his secret very well indeed, but he managed to get it back to our flat, and all wrapped up all on his own.

There are two drawers underneath the pull-down-desk part. I am going to use one for my craft projects, and the other as a comfort drawer. Until then, it is holding Carl's Easter chocolate. There is a tiny drawer that holds my Cath Kidston address book, and lots of little partitions to put letters and envelopes in.

I can imagine myself sitting at it to write out Christmas cards, make lists, write letters, so much. I just had to share it with you, it is so lovely!

Talking of lovely things, I was walking to work yesterday, enjoying the fresh air and blue skies, when I suddenly realised that I am really ready for some of lovely Alison's puttery treats. Our little flat is so neat and tidy at the moment, and some of her treats would be the very thing indeed. She must have known, because when I visited Brocante Home later that day, she had posted some new treats! Go on, treat yourself too!

A Knock At The Door

Today, I am so sleepy, my eyes are tired, and I feel ravenous; and it is all down to a knock at the door. Last night, I had just gone to bed with my book (Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith) and dear Carl was having his nightly potter as he switches things off, locks the door and so on, when the buzzers to the front door to our little set of flats starting sounding. Because we are on the ground floor, when someone buzzes any of the flats, we still hear it. It sounded like someone was buzzing every flat in turn, and I was just about to go and investigate when it stopped. Suddenly, our doorbell started to ring, dingdongdingdongdingdong.

Carl answered it, as I was still tucked up warm, and I heard such a commotion. It was the sound of a man, shouting, panting, running. He burst into our flat, and told Carl that there were men outside trying to 'beat him up'. I got up and put my dressing gown on, but Carl made me stay in the bedroom. He came to tell me what was going on and to give me a hug. There was a car full of men revving up their engine in our car park, apparently waiting for this man, who had ran away on the rail tracks that run to the back of our flat, climbed over the fence and ran to the first door he could find. Carl told him to phone the police, but he would not. He phoned his girlfriend, who he thought had set these men upon him. He phoned his brother, and his father. None of them wanted to help him. He phoned his mother, who sent his father to collect him in his car. I was so glad when he went away.

It was nearly midnight by the time we got to be after this happening, and we lay there, very close to each other, shaken by what had happened. We may live very sheltered lives, but we just don't live in a world where people go round 'beating each other up'. I really felt like this man had brought danger into our little flat. This is our home; there is peppermint and nutmeg spray for the pillows; a phone pad with a border of pretty primulas; lavender scented handcream; tiny cake forks to rest on your plate. This was all so alien to the little world we have built. I would not ever want to turn away someone in danger, but I would much rather that trouble did not come knocking on our door again any time soon.

A long time ago, I was reading several posts on a similar theme: comfort, security, and the home. Alicia at mentioned an article that said the trend (pah, trend!) for vintage things after September 11th was a reaction against danger, a nesting and comforting process. Alison at wrote a beautiful post, in which she said that we make our homes havens for those we love; we may not be able to stop the wars and danger out there, but we can make our loved ones feel safe and secure, and shut out the troubles as we close our front doors.

Corners Of My Home

Aren't these darling? My lovely Mum sewed them for us last year. For our wedding, I wanted to have fabric hearts hanging from the backs of all the chairs for decoration, and also for our guests to take home afterwards. You can buy them of course, but they often cost around £5 each in the shops, and besides, they were more personal this way. For Carl and I, she used silk, instead of the floral prints everyone else had, and she embroidered our names on them. Mum also sewed yards and yards of bunting to hang in our reception room; some of the fabric she used she saved from when she used to make my clothes as a baby. Above our bed is a cupboard with three doors; from the centre door hangs a wooden heart which is painted with our names and wedding date, which my mother-in-law gave me. It feels good to go to sleep surrounded by love.

Friday, 4 April 2008

Pretty Maids All In A Row

One of my favourite blogs to visit is and a while ago, Alicia posted about a pattern for paper doll softies that she had produced for a book, Softies by Therese Laskey.

When I was at the cross-stitch show in London last week, I kept my eye out for pretty felt and rick rack so I could make some this week in my time off work.

It was lovely having my writing desk to work on; there is just no room in our dear little flat for a big sit-at table, and normally I use a tray on my lap or sit at the coffee table. These little dolls are quick and easy to make, and I had such fun choosing the colours and trimmings for them. I think I will make some more, and put some dried lavender in with the stuffing that goes in their skirts, add a loop of ribbon on the back, and I can hang some in my wardrobe.

Please do not run away in horror if I also say that it has crossed my mind that they might make lovely little Christmas gifts. I would not mention the C-word now if wasn't for Nigella- I visited her website yesterday, and read that she is writing a Christmas book! Which got me to thinking about hand made little gifts....

Although these little dresses are easy to make, you can get very absorbed in beading and so on, and before I knew it, I had watched three episodes of 'Emma'!

Due to this wretched cold, I have absolutely no sense of taste or smell at the moment, but Carl tells me that the tomato soup I made yesterday is nice, so I will share the recipe with you. I like to try and cook seasonally, and I know that tomatoes really are not in season at the moment, but I had this for lunch when I visited a dear Aunt a while ago, and it was so warming and savoury, it was just what I fancied eating. She was kind enough to give me her recipe, and here it is, for you.

Aunty Dottie's Tomato Soup

1 lb tomatoes, quartered

1 medium sized potato, diced

1 small onion, chopped

1 rasher streaky bacon

1/4 pint water

1/4 pint milk

1/2 oz butter

pinch sugar

1/2 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp celery salt

1) Tie on your prettiest apron and switch on Radio 4

2) Melt the butter, and cook the onion and bacon for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3) Add the diced potato, quartered tomatoes (skins, innards and all) sugar and water.

4) Simmer gently until the potato is well cooked.

5) Take off of the heat, add the seasoning, and blend with a stick blender.

6) Add the milk and blend again to mix.

7) Pass through a seive, return to the pan and warm through.

This soup is really delicious, and I put my own twist on it by adding a pinch of chilli flakes at the seasoning stage.

It seems to be sunny and beautiful again today, so I will take a gentle walk into town later for a cup of tea, although I hear it is going to be really cold next week, so I will need to stock up on hot chocolate for then. This evening is book club; we read In The Company Of Cheerful Ladies which was the first Alexander McCall-Smith novel that I have read. It was gentle, and not at all what I expected, and I have ordered the rest of the series from the library.

I hope the sun is shining on you this morning, and you have a really scrumptious day!

Thursday, 3 April 2008

As Good As My Word!

Well good morning everyone! I am curled up on the sofa this morning with all the windows open so I have a beautiful breeze drifting through the flat, and have my favourite flowery mug at my side. This morning, however, it is not filled with tea but lemsip, for I have a blocked up nose and a groggy head this morning. I am quite cheery though, and most of that is down to all the lovely comments you have so kindly left since last night! I was so worried that I had been away too long and there would be nobody here any more!

In answer to some questions, my birthday was on Sunday, and an Oxfam shop is a thrift shop, and the money they make goes to help third world countries.

I have been rather busy this week, so today I am planning on puttering about and enjoying some home time while nursing my cold. I have 'Emma' on dvd to watch- the bbc version from the seventies- and am going to have a long hot bath with some of my birthday bath goodies later. I am also going to be visiting one of the most scrumptious places on the internet-

Amy used to do this magazine a few years ago, and I loved it. She has little projects, craft ideas, recipes and general snippets of loveliness. Do go visit, and before you know it you will be rummaging out your scissors and glue!

Another rambly little thought that came into my mind, was a post that the lovely made: I read it a little while before I did my seasonal scrub, and it was lovely, so delicious, to be given permission to feel a little out of sorts with the place that usually I love to call home. I had the same not-quite-ennui-but-something-like-it feeling. Just acknowledging that this was how I was feeling was enough for me to start planning my declutter and seasonal scrub, and now I am in love as ever I was with our little flat again. So thanks Alison sweetie!

I am going to try out a new recipe for tomato soup for lunch today, so soon that will be bubbling away on my stove. If it works out nicely, I will share the recipe with you all tomorrow.

I hope you are having the most lovely day!

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Another Day, Another Baby!

I was sitting on the train today, on my way to visit my lovely friend Angela who gave birth to a baby boy a few weeks ago, when it suddenly came to me that I am grown up now. I have these little moments. Before this, it was having a telephone of my own. Today though, I realised that yesterday I had had a friend and her baby to lunch, and today I am visiting a friend and her baby. My friends are having babies! I have a darling little flat to have them to tea in! I can go on the train on my own to visit them!

The train journey is only ten minutes or so, so I barely had time to think about this before I had arrived. I had such a lovely visit, lots of baby cuddles and catching up. It occurred to me that when you are a parent, you never get a hot cup of tea! Every time I made us a drink, baby Ben decided he wanted to eat, or a clean nappy, or just a cuddle! Perhaps the thing to buy new parents would be those insulated coffee mugs, so they stand some chance of having a hot cup of tea!

When I got home, I had an eBay parcel- the Dec 1998 issue of Martha Stewart Living Magazine. I settled down with a cup of tea and decided to take advantage of the quiet time to catch up with my blog. Carl has come home now, and I will make us some dinner in a moment. It has been so good to catch up here. Outside, the light is somewhere between dusk and twilight. I like this peaceful time of day.

Oh, while I remember, I have just finished reading The Sinner by Tess Gerritsen. I really like her work, it reminds me a bit of Patricia Cornwell when she was on form. If you would like my copy (trying to keep clutter free!) I will post it to the first person to comment that they would like it. I hope you are all having a lovely week.

Scrumptious Day

I was shelving some books at work last week, when I had a sudden thunder-bolt of a thought. In my week off, I could have my lovely friend Anna to lunch. I telephoned an invitation, and started to plan what I could make. She came yesterday, and we had a lovely day.

She has a gorgeous little boy, Aaron, who is all gummy dribbly smiles and gorgeousness. He played on his activity mat whilst we drank coffee and caught up. We ended up swapping Christmas presents (it has been too long since we got catch up last) and she also gave me some of my favourite Liptons Yellow Label Tea which you can only get abroad, and a wonderful birthday present. Anna is one of those people who gives gifts that make you feel like she really gets you. She wraps things in tissue paper of varying shades of pink, and makes you feel so spoiled. There was Cherries in the Snow nail polish, a simply marvellous book called 'Mother Tells You How' based on a strip from Girl Magazine from the fifties (do check it out on amazon!) and another book, on style, by Christian Dior. Not only this, but Christmas gifts too! Cath Kidston bubble bath, bath confetti, and some eye make up in fabulous blue vintage-style tins with 'taste the glamour' written on them.

For lunch, we had salmon nicosie salad (nice and healthy) followed by hazelnut and walnut chocolate pots (not so healthy, but so rich and delicious!) which I made in tiny tea cups. All this was washed down with lots of chatter, and the time seemed to fly past far too quickly. Poor Aaron was teething and so a bit grizzly, but really such a lovely little boy you can forgive him some crying. I hope very much that children are in my future, and if I am lucky enough for this to happen, I hope I can be like Anna is as a Mum.

After they went home, I took a gentle wander to the shops nearby, and chose some flower buttons to make a birthday card with, and treated myself to a paper on the way home. I love to try and spot the April Fool stories!

Days spent like this, in good company with endless cups of tea and coffee are such bliss.


I was looking for some shoes to go with the dress I am wearing to a Christening soon.....and in Peacocks I came across some lovely vintage-style clothes. I could happily have bought everything I saw, but my wardrobe does not have a space, neither my purse enough pennies, so I contented myself with one perfect item. It is a cropped white cardigan, with black polka dots and black buttons on it. It is quite low cut, so I will be wearing it with a black vest top and black pencil skirt, and some black high-heeled peep toe shoes. I am almost looking forward to going back to work so I get a chance to wear my new outfit!

'Let Me Guess.....Are You 31?'

I was shopping for a dress to wear to a Christening, when a lady from a makeup counter seized me for a makeover. I am never adverse to dabbling with makeup, so I happily sat down. It came up in conversation that I had a birthday coming up. She said 'let me guess....are you 31?' I said 'no, 26'. She said 'so you will be 27?' and I said 'no....I am 25 now, I will be 26!'

The funniest thing is that on that very morning, I had used my anti-ageing facewash and day cream for the first time! Not a good sign!

Apart from apparently looking six years older than I am, my birthday was the most delicious day, and I really wish you could all have had a slice of my birthday cake (decorated by Carl) with me. I spent the day being spoiled rather more than is good for me, and having lunch with my family. Somehow out of two dozen vanilla cupcakes made by my sister, there were only 8 left! If you could have a peek at my presents, you would know they were for me! I had a beautiful cup-and-saucer set with pictures of shoes on them, as well as fancy tea bags and special biscuits. My Mum made me handbag with cupcakes on it, and bought me a pair of white embroidered vintage-style pillowcases. There was bubble bath, more tea things, and a lot of glitter and sparkles!

Everyone was so lovely to me, I felt quite teary once or twice. I had some beautiful cards, including some home-made ones which are always extra special to me, being a crafter. I am being taken to Bruges in May. Bruges is one of my favourite places in the world, and I am looking forward to buying some handmade lace and eating mussels and taking a boatride on the canals.

Carl really surprised me with his gift. He banned me from going into the kitchen when I got home from work on Saturday, and I must confess, I (rightly!) suspected a birthday cake was afoot. What I didn't know was that the kitchen was also hiding my gift- a vintage writing desk! I had seen it in the Oxfam shop a month or so ago, and fallen in love with it. It needs a lot of love, cleaning and polishing to make it scrumptious again, but even so, it is lovely. When I showed it to Carl, he agreed that it was lovely, but we really don't have room for it in our little flat. I had to agree, but still....I loved it. I have been visiting it every week and looking at it wistfully. Unbeknown to me, Carl had decided that he would buy it for me as soon as he saw it! I am so lucky to have such a thoughtful husband, but how good he is at acting is a bit worrying! Pictures, of course, to follow soon.

Every year as I blow out another set of birthday candles, I like to set personal 'new years' resolutions, relflect on the past and think about the future. I want to blog more often this year, and include more recipes and crafts and things. I want to make more things, cook new recipes and keep using my anti-ageing creams!

My Telephone

I am sure I must have mentioned that at last, at last I have a real proper telephone. Even more exciting than having a proper telephone number to give out, rather than just my mobile, is the telephone itself. Isn't it darling? It has a gorgeous tinkly ring too, and it is so lovely being able to chat properly at last! Just had to share it with you!

Easter Monday Tea and Cakes....and The Egg

Easter Weekend

Every other year, I have to work Easter Saturday. This year, happily, is one of the years where I do not have to work, so dear Carl and I had the bliss of a four day weekend! The first half of the weekend was given over to a Seasonal Scrub; we threw out lots of clutter, cleaned and polished, and our little flat is scrumptiously spick and span.

Having got everything in order, I decided to indulge in some puttery treats. My favourite thing was decorating my windowsill for Easter. I hung some decorated eggs from the curtain pole, and in the centre, a little fluffy chick in a hot air-balloon egg. A big bunch of daffodils in the very middle of the windowsill, and then a basket of decorated eggs, a velvet bunny from paperchase, and a little chick too. I love decorating my window for different occasions. The daffodils in the picture have died, and I now have a big bunch of pale lemony-cream daffodils there instead. I love daffodils very much, and although I think of the acidy-yellow variety as 'real' daffodils, I adore the many variations there are.

The second half of our weekend was given over to conviviality; Easter Sunday was a snow-flecked scrumptious day spent with my family and then Carl's. Dear, dear Carl announced that he was going into the kitchen for some time and was not to be disturbed the evening before; and I could not help telling everyone what he had been up to. He had made me an Easter egg! He blew up a balloon, covered it with clingfilm, and then painted it with layers of melted dark chocolate. Then when it set, he took out the balloon, filled it with chocolate raisins, and put it on a chocolate covered plate. Such thoughtfulness and creativity brought tears to my eyes!

On Easter Monday, we had an 'at home' day. The week before we let our families know that we would be at home all day with cake and tea, and they were welcome to join us at any time. This is the first time we have entertained like this, and we will definitely be doing it again! It was fun and relaxing. I made all the cakes- macaroons, scones (with little pots of jam left from our wedding!) a lemon drizzle cake, chocolate crackle cakes, and best of all, a chocolate genoise royale. If I had to pick one cake out of all the cakes I have ever made, that would be the one that I am most proud of. I had to make a chocolate genoise cake, then when it was cool, take it out of the tin, line the tin with greaseproof paper, and put the cake back in. Then I made a custard in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, and stirred in some chocolate and a splash of brandy. This then had to be poured over the cake, and left to set. I really held my breath when I took it out of the tin the next day, but happily it went ok! I wanted to take a picture of it to show you all, but it got eaten before I had a chance!

I hope you all had the most scrumptious and delicious of Easter weekends!

The Pause That Refreshes


I feel almost nervous as I type this in case there is nobody here anymore, that you have grown tired of waiting for me! If you were here with me now, I would pour you a cup of tea from my new blue teapot, and offer you a slice of home-made lemon cake so we could catch up.

The first couple of weeks I did not post, I was just so busy. I would form posts in my mind as I scurried from work to post office to shop to home, and then be too tired in the evening to do anything about them. Then there was a week or so when dear Carl was using the laptop, so no blogging for me! Then this last week has zoomed by. I have had a Seasonal Scrub whilst I have been away, and am now in the middle of a week off of work. While I was travelling home from Colchester after a work visit, it struck me quite suddenly that I really needed some time off of work. Although getting married was wonderful, I used up nearly all my leave, so the last time I had some real time off was August. I did not intend to have a break from blogging as well, but it came about spontaneously, so perhaps I needed it?

Anyway, the pause has been refreshing. I feel much happier for a few days off of work. I have been visiting, and been visited, pottered about, cooked and read. Oh, and had many cups of tea! I will post about these in a bit... I have been making blog resolutions too, and am all fired up to post more often, and with recipes and so on. I have photos to share with you, and little stories to tell, pictures to paint in words, and so much to share!

I feel this is a rather one-sided conversation. If I had you here with me, I could ask how you are, where you got that marvellous cardigan you are wearing, if you would like another biscuit with your tea...but as distance prevents this, I shall keep up my end of the conversation here, and promise you that if we ever do get to have tea together, I really shall let you get a word in edge-wise!