Tuesday, 31 January 2012

~The Versatile Blogger Award! ~

Thanks to Anne at Marmalade and Catmint, and Patricia at A place for everything for nominating my blog for this award!
The idea is to;
  •  pass on 15 newly discovered blogs...
  •  thank and link back to the award-giver...
  • and (eek!)share 7 things about yourself!
There are so many lovely blogs out there and so little time! I try to keep up as much as daily life allows me, so forgive me if I forget anyone! Some are very recent finds, some in the last few months...
So here they are...15 lovely reads...

About me...
1  Favourite biscuit - Fox's Ginger Crunch Creams.
2 As a 15-18 year old I loved The Smiths.
3  Favourite flower - Roses...as a new gardener I originally preferred
perennials but love of roses comes with age!
4  Guilty pleasure - baking whilst singing along to 80s music on Absolute 80s radio.
5 Love cooking and feeding people!
6 Covets vintage caravans - I just want a cheap old one to tart up a la Cath Kidston.
7. I'm a born worrier and over-thinker.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

~Crinoline Ladies~

I managed to buy this beautiful Gibson's teapot for £5 on eBay this week.  I love all things Crinoline Ladies as it reminds me of my Nana B's embroidery projects and looking at things through my childhood eyes...

This vintage embroidered cloth was a car boot sale find last year at Strawberry Fields near Bridlington.  The amount of work in it is colossal, this is just one corner.  It's a lovely heavy natural linen square tablecloth - I absolutely treasure it and need to think about how I could use it - maybe one of my afternoon teas could have a Crinoline theme?

Strawberry Fields Car Boot Sale , Kingsgate, Bridlington YO15 3NG
Easter bank holiday Mondays then Thursdays all summer till October. Tuesdays in June, July and August.
7am to 2pm 

~Thrifty Hot Water Bottle Cover ~

I'm really tired at the moment, but also relieved that I've nearly made it through bleak January without a meltdown. Thursday evening I was determined to sew, that feeling that you just need to make something and be creative.
My friend Claire, the 'Felted Ferret' made me a hot water bottle cover from a felted angora jumper last year, so I thought I'd have a go (as daughter L now pinches that one for herself).
I bought an angora/cashmere Principles jumper for £1 at a car boot sale last year, and have worn it to death for work until it's shrunk and bobbly -  so decided to reuse and upcycle it. I aready had the hot water bottle and other materials, so it's not cost me anything to make.
I washed it at 60 degrees, then did a bit of applique with vintage fabric, buttons and an old wool blanket...
I always use iron-on interfacing when doing applique. 
I used one of the frilly cuffs for the neck of the cover.
Here it is helping me keep cosy on the sofa with my favourite Greengate wool blanket...
Have a lovely weekend... I'm planning on pottering around and not doing an awful lot!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

~Teapot and Teacup gardening~

Succulent plants, such as sempervivums ('houseleeks') are ideal for container planting in
vintage crockery odds and ends.  I have a stone trough outside planted up with succulents and alpines, but they are also ideal plants for sunny indoor windowsills - mine are happy in an unheated conservatory in Winter, and spend June to October outdoors in a sunny spot. 
From one of our 'miscellaneous boxes' from a local auction (£1 for a box of random old pots and kitchenalia) came this gorgeous old teapot, missing it's lid. It's a beautiful Gibson's Staffordshire pottery teapot in an unusual hexagonal shape. I used a well-draining planting mix of 50/50 horticultural grit and compost, and just repotted the offsets that my other sempervivums have grown.  They root easily and soon grow over the container sides.  This one flowered beautifully in the summer...

If you look closely you can see the spindly roots that the baby plants are sending out.
I do the same with pretty teacups...

...dressing the tops with grit for drainage. I don't drill holes in the china - just make sure you hardly water them - do not overwater them or they will rot. They make lovely home-made presents too, or for a fund-raising plant stall. Does anyone else plant up bric-a-brac odds and ends?

Saturday, 21 January 2012

~Time for Tea - Jan event~

Six ladies sat down to tea today, for a lovely afternoon where we all tried (hard) to forget about diets just for a couple of hours...
Thankyou to all who attended and of course J for her help and donning her trusty apron again! Guests included Anne from Marmalade & Catmint blog, who has taken some photos and posted on her blog too here... Thankyou for the tulips Anne, seen on my new header, and also the wine encased in a cosy garter-stitched jumper!
The table was set with a red and green theme, using some of my favourite china and linens, including this Woods ware green cup and saucer.  Thankyou to Teapigs tea for their support too - guests took some teabags home too, along with polka dot packets of veggie seeds and leftover cake.
The theme was 'Comfort Food', so I had to include my favourite nostalgic treat - Battenburg!

Also a very rich Brownie Cake...
I ended up substituting Yorkshire Fountain's Gold cheese for Swaledale, also from Yorkshire and still as tasty with the green tomato chutney.
Looking forward to February's event - time to get my thinking cap on!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

~Catching Up, Baking & Charity Shop Karma~

After a busy here-there-and everywhere week, I have a day off to bake tomorrow in preparation for Saturday's afternoon tea. Just making some teacakes now, so can't stay long...
A quick blog catch-up and say hello (and thankyou xx) to new followers of my blog.  Also thanks for great comments - I'm still losing comments that I try and leave, frustrating to say the very least, but I am keeping up to date reading all your blogs. A message to Jan on the lovely blog Stand and Stare about the perils of crochet... I agree with Scarlet that YouTube is good for tutorials, also VideoJug, just search the name of the stitch such as 'treble crochet'.  I have given up (shame) as I find my crochet inadequacies far too difficult to face! Knitting for me!  My attempt at a granny square ends up as a tight tension circle, which my small dog could wear as a beanie hat. Let me know how you get on Jan, and I might feel more inspired to have another go!
After some disappointing charity shop visits, which we all have had recently,  I had a good day yesterday.  I visited the deli/cheesemongers/cafe  Love Cheese on Gillygate in York (@LoveCheeseYork on Twitter) to buy some local cheese and noticed a charity shop next door...   Of course I went in.
I got this Laura Ashley cardigan for a reasonable £3.50.

 Charity shop Karma I believe, as I coveted it earlier this year in the actual shop and couldn't afford it.  It's part of their nostalgic 'Archive' collection which is ....'a range of dresses, shirts and cardigans using prints from a bygone era. Beautiful bird, butterfly and floral prints reference this season’s passion for Botanicals, with delicate vines, sprigs and roses'
So chuffed with it.  It's a tad too large but never mind. So I'll pass my good fortune on, and inform you of the lovely things in the RSPCA charity shop on Gillygate, York. Highly recommended and Happy Thrifting!

Monday, 16 January 2012

~Hopes & Aims Shame~

Thankyou to lovely new followers of my blog, I'm so pleased  that you take the time to read my ramblings.
Daughter L is disgusted with the aged nature of our PC (8 yrs old) and to be fair it is playing up a bit.  The screen switches itself off 20 times when you turn it on, and it freezes and crashes more and more... I'm having trouble leaving messages on some blogs, the comments window will not load, so apologies if I haven't commented on your lovely blogs as much as usual.  One of our friends came round to mend it at the weekend- he tinkered with it a bit in his clever way, and then apparently 'de-fragged' it.  This made me laugh as I had a mental image of  it being the process of removing these little creatures...

...which must have taken up residence in my hard drive.
I have to honest and admit that I have had a couple of wobbles in my good intentions for 2012.  I bought a dress today, granted it was a cheap F&F Tesco one, but we have a family Christening ths weekend and I needed something comfy as I haven't lost any of my Christmas poundage yet.  Second shame is that I am finding it hard to motivate myself.  I would happily sit in my PJs from 5.30pm, but my friend C has chivvied  me along and shamed me into going to circuits tonight. And bless daughter L again, as she's just forcibly retrieved a Creme Egg from my hand before I had chance to eat it!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

~Thrifty quilt TaDa ~

Thankyou for all the lovely comments on my last post - I think we're all floral fabric addicts, and it's clear that there are lots of us with unfinished projects too!
Today whilst 9 year old J used all the blankets and cushions in the living room to make 'Yoda's Hut' (?!?) I escaped upstairs to finish my quilt, first sewing achievement of 2012!
I'm proud it's not cost anything to make;  a real make-do-and-mend affair, I love it though it's not perfect and a bit wonky in places! The backing fabric is an old sage green cotton sheet that I was given - it's really good quality, soft and well-washed.  The padding is an old synthetic single duvet cut down to fit with the raw edges zig-zagged on the machine.  It'll be easy to machine-wash when needed. I then machine sewed the patchwork to the backing, leaving a gap to slip the duvet in - I slip-stitched the opening...

Then pondered about whether I should quilt through the layers...Eventually I decided to just make 6 suffolk puffs (or yo-yo's) out of some lovely Robyn Pandolph paisley fabric. Each suffolk puff has a vintage mother of pearl button at the centre, which is sewn through all the layers to keep the padding in place.
So here it is on my bed....
Overboard on the chintz and florals do you think? ...Never!
I think it'll be a lovely snuggly lap quilt when I get my caravan...
All the fabric has been bought second-hand - the Sanderson curtains were charity shop bargains last year and the Cath Kidston and eiderdown fabric were York car boot sale finds. A nice way to use and look at your very favourite fabrics.
Then I had a cuppa and a slice of this...
Hope you've all had a lovely weekend x

Thursday, 12 January 2012

~Thrifty quilt~

I'm a bit slow to get going with creative projects so far in 2012, but I decided to invade my fabric stash (which occupies a whole wardrobe) and make a quilt-cum-eiderdown-cum throw for my bed.  I've used Sanderson fabric, a bit of Cath Kidston, vintage linen and eiderdown fabric, with the general theme of cabbage roses and a pink/green/red colourway. I've tried to be haphazard and random, using pieces of fabric as they are. This is it so far...
I especially love the linen grey rose fabric with the pink background, and the turquoise stripy rose eiderdown fabric.
The idea is to complete it with no cost to me except my time.  The padding will be a single duvet I already have, cut down to size (approx 1.5m x 1m).
I'm just about to go to circuit training for the second time this week to shift the marshmallow muffin-top I've acquired.  I've just been quickly reading my favourite blogs - see Frugal Queen's current struggle with her patchwork quilt - hmmmm  maybe I don't really need to go to Keep Fit, I could just continue wrestling with sizeable pieces of patchwork on the floor, periodically jumping up when I kneel on a pin.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

~I ♥ Vintage China~

If I'm out and about shopping in the nearby small town of Tadcaster, I can't resist a quick mooch in my favourite charity shop. Today I am really pleased with this Colclough bone china tea set for £2...
...incomplete, but there are 16 pieces and it will happily fit in with all my other mish-mash of vintage roses china.  I also got a few bits of kitchenalia for pence; including this lovely baking tin and long palette knife...
and this Grindley 'Ivory' sandwich plate...

I picked up the Sainbury's magazine today which has an emphasis on frugal food and eating on a tight budget. If you get chance have a read of the article by Fiona Gibson on p31.  I think Fiona was a features writer or editor on Just Seventeen magazine in the 1980's (remember that?) and now she writes about her family life in rural Scotland.  It's a very amusing description of the new phenomenon of yummy mummies who appear to be competitively bargain-hunting, so-called 'bric-a-braggers' who truthfully, or not, boast about their charity shop finds and harp on about foraging, thrifty living and frown on extravagance.  She suggests it's now more socially unacceptable to be seen spending money, and that even if some are still spending they may be pretending not to, and concealing their purchases.  Very interesting and very funny!  

Sunday, 8 January 2012

~Tin Duck SupperClub~

Firstly I shall apologise that my camera never came out of my bag.  Very remiss of me, but I was too sidetracked by the good company and excellent food. What a rubbish reporter I would make. Easily distracted...

Image from Tin Duck Supper Club website
 We arrived at the Tin Duck Supper Club at 7.45pm having received an email with details of it's York location a few days before.  The other guests were already uncorking their vino (BYO) and we were welcomed in by Rob who made us feel at ease.  Rob & Kirsty's period house is comfortable and cosy with a lovely woodburning stove in the through lounge/dining room.
Starter - Aubergine Parmigiana with homemade Pesto
I loved this...an individual (generous) layered stack of gorgeousness! The aubergine was substantial and meaty, if you know what I mean; the pesto was delicious and dotted around the tower of aubergine and tomato layers.
Main - Beef Shin Ragu with homemade Papardelle
Generous portion of ragu and papardelle - the beef had been slow-cooked until it shredded and fell of the bone.  Well seasoned with a rich peppery aftertaste. Delicious robust pasta. Served with a side plate of warm caramelised onion bread.  We were all stuffed after we'd cleared our plates, so had a break from the food and were joined by the hosts Kirsty and Rob before we had our dessert. Main topic of chat was food and wine and shopping locally. We recommended various York and North Yorkshire foodie places to each other, which was informative.
Dessert - Plum & Almond Tart with Vanilla Mascarpone cream
I'm a pudding-girl and a lover of all things almond; so this was heaven for me.  Rob had made a fantastic job of the pastry - crisp and very short, made with butter.  Very jealous of the pastry! The plums were sweet and tart, and I loved the soft almond layer underneath. 
Overall, great inventive menu, great tasting food and chatty interesting company.  Relaxed homely atmosphere.  Kirsty & Rob have an obvious passion and interest in food, wine and travel and are keen to source local Yorkshire ingredients, including their own allotment produce. Their events usually seat 6 and have a minimal donation of approximately £20. I would highly recommend a trip to this supperclub... The Tin Duck SupperClub website is here with details of menus and how to book. 

Saturday, 7 January 2012

~Secret Dining Tearooms & Supperclubs~

 Time For Tea @ Lavender Attic, my pop-up tearoom is taking place on
 Saturday Jan 21st 2pm - theme Comfort Food
also Saturday Feb 25th 2pm
and Sat 24th March 2pm
I seat 8 at each event. For availablility and tickets (£12) visit the supperclub website here or click on the link on my blog sidebar.
You can attend as a lone diner, or in pairs or groups; all that's needed is a willingness and desire to meet and chat with fellow guests and enjoy sandwiches, savoury treats and cakes.  I create a lovely relaxed and nostalgic atmosphere with vintage china and linen, fairy lights, bunting and music.  

As I've written before, I'm a member of http://www.supperclubfangroup.ning.com/ where you can locate all the secret supperclubs and tearooms around the UK and beyond. This growing phenomenon is a fab way to eat excellent food for a reasonable price if you are at least a bit adventurous and like meeting people, and having a nosey at other peoples houses!  People that attend are usually like-minded foodies who are secret-dining their way around Yorkshire and beyond. The OH and I attended Dinner at The Manor in Leeds prior to Christmas for a Delia-Christmas food night, which was our first supperclub visit, and turned out to be a real treat. We bumped into Jini, who I'd met previously at Clandestine Cake Club. I never got round to writing about it before Christmas, but there's a good review of the evening and photographs of the food, which was delicious, (especially the broccoli soup and the pheasant terrine!) on Jini's blog - The Munchy Medic. Jini also explains a bit more about how supperclubs operate.
Tonight the OH and I are zipping over to York for an Italian-inspired meal at The Tin Duck Supperclub including beef shin ragu with homemade pappardelle and plum and almond tart with vanilla mascarpone cream. I promise I will take my camera and write about our evening. I am driving but the OH will be taking a nice bottle of wine to enjoy.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

~Hopes and Aims for 2012~

Sorry before I start, but I have the feeling that my January blog posts will all be a bit all over the place and scatty; as that's how I feel as I settle into the new year ahead of me, and try to resist the temptation to make huge unsurmountable 'to do' lists...
Some of my hopes and aims then for 2012...
  • that I see the 'to do' list as 'Sally will try to do' not 'Sally must do'  - as there are only so many hours in the day and only one of me (thank goodness!)
  • To carry on growing veg, especially my beloved tomatoes - would love a small greenhouse this year if I can manage it, must get looking on eBay and local notice boards. We even had fresh parsley and rocket out of the garden on Christmas Day this year...
Bonkers weather though...not sure it feels right that calendula and rhododendrons are blooming in early Jan here in North Yorkshire...

Ah well, their poor petals will be scattered by morning with these 70mph gusts again.
  • To continue to spend less on food, use leftovers, minimise wastage and shop around for value.  I don't profess to be the most frugal of shoppers all of the time, but I do try.  I followed the reduced-sticker staff round the supermarket tonight and got some bargains for the freezer! And I did a big freezer cook-a-thon with leftover cooked meat and veggies yesterday.
  • To not buy any clothes for myself this year. This is one for me and my husband too, not the kids - as we have enough clothes and do not need anything.  Oh, the only thing I do need is to lose half a stone so the lovely clothes look okay on me! - I'm trying with the eat less move more too.
  • Contine to thrift, car boot and recycle, including with my crafting and sewing this year.  I have a massive fabric stash that needs using, not admiring. No more fabric purchases.
  • Lastly, I will get a caravan.  Main hope for family getaways and jollies this year. No big pipe dreams  just a little second-hand tourer that I can fix up with Cath Kidston loveliness, blankets and vintage treasures.

And lots of bunting of course!
What are your hopes and aims this year?

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

~Onwards and Forwards~

The wind is howling and it's raining sidewards - weather my Nana would have described as 'filthy' - so J and I have not ventured out at all.  Yesterday was a different day completely - winter sun, cold, but not too chilly for a nice walk.  We went to nearby Temple Newsam - a Capability Brown-designed 18th century estate now owned by Leeds City Council. All four of us and Small Dog had a lovely walk through the muddy grounds and then on up to the house...

This photo spurs me on to lose some weight and get back cycling as my bum is beginning to slide down the back of my legs!

We took the tree and decorations down yesterday too as I'm back at work on Wednesday.
OH returned to work this morning, and daughter L went back to 6th Form college.  I did get up with them but then couldn't resist sneaking back to bed with a mug of tea and my February Country Life, which arrived this morning.  I was soon joined by J for a chat and a snuggle under the duvet. J's Primary School are not back until next Monday...
Sorry for the late post as my PC screen is playing up and other blogs haven't been loading properly, so I'm only just getting going and catching up with everyone else's news. Happy New Year to you all, and I do hope we all have a happy and healthy 2012. Blogging has been a therapeutic process for me so far and I hope it will continue to keep me cheery through my usual miserable months of January and February...
I am determined to keep the mantra 'onwards and forwards' in my head for the coming weeks.