Saturday, 31 December 2016

Christmas table

Dear friends, thank you for comments on my last post and for following throughout the year.
2016 went by in what seemed like the blink of an eye. I do hope 2017 slows down for all of us so we get the chance to enjoy the small things in life which give so much pleasure.

Christmas was a joyful time for our family. It takes careful planning to get two adult daughters together when they each have their own lives and partners and even more so when they live on the other side of the world. Tears of joy flowed as we spoke of what our hearts were full of, the love of family and spending happy times together. Next Christmas might be entirely different, but at least we have the memories of this wonderful time spent together.

I was totally unprepared for Christmas this year.  I had no plans, no vision at all, except for our visit to William Morris’s holiday home at Kelmscott Manor in the summer (which I’ll blog about next year) so I created my own version of a William Morris inspired table. A kind of vintage, Christmas in the country table, with a little contemporary thrown in for good measure.

I wanted green to be the main colour with pops of gold and a hint of red in the candles and the crackers, which is more in keeping with the traditional colours of Christmas. I didn't want to use white on white, so I bought the Copeland Spode ‘Byron’ dinner plates, side plates and gravy boat from Ebay. I loved the leaves and the green trim on the plates. Gold chargers ground the plates and give them more substance. I used my Burano lace tablecloth hubby bought me on our trip to Venice and used a deep green taffeta as an underlay.  Two contemporary green glass candlesticks from the Hambledon in Winchester added more green and I unpacked my crystal candlelabra that’s been boxed up for a few years. I wanted to mix various elements together and not use too many vintage or antique items, but keep it light and bright with more modern glassware. The square footed cocktail dishes are vintage. I used gold cutlery mixed with vintage for an informal feel. I kept the centre decoration quite plain, with just the addition of a few baubles as I didn't want to hide the beautiful tablecloth.

Last year's table was a favourite, that is until I created this one, which is entirely different, simple and more refined than Last year and if you'd like to see 2014 here it is and here, and remember 2013 when I pared it right down and created a more neutral look and then my pink table 2012

It's New Year's Eve, time to wind down and relax, reflect on the last 12 months of the year, the changes which have influenced our world, both pleasant and terrifying and look forward with anticipation to new stories and adventures with hope and faith.

I wish you and your families a blessed, loving and kind 2017 with good health and plenty of laughter.


Thursday, 22 December 2016

Christmas candles

Apologies for the long silence.  It’s almost time for Christmas lunch and I haven’t written since September.  In between it’s all been a bit of a fog.  Where did the time go?

A week ago, Honeybee arrived home for the holidays and we’ve been making and baking the entire week. We have nothing to show for it though since we’ve already eaten one batch of mince pies laced with dark chocolate shards and pistachio nuts and we’re about to start on the next dozen!

Last year we made candles together which we used in and around the home and the smell was divine and so this year Honeybee wanted to make some for her girlfriends as gifts so we used amber glass jars and added hand written labels for a personal touch.  I also used recycled glass jars as well as a few vintage marmalade pots I bought at a vintage fair recently.

So here’s what you’ll need:

  • Soy Wax Flakes
  • Candle wicks
  • Glue dots to secure the wicks - I didn't add a link because you can buy these at any stationery store.
  • Glass jars/stone pots – make sure they are able to take the heat.

  • Essential oils for candle making - I tried linking the oils I bought but unfortunately they are out of stock.
  • A double boiler for melting the wax or use a bowl over a pot of simmering water.
  • Wooden skewers to stabilise the wicks while the wax hardens.

You will need to measure two lots of wax flakes for each of your containers.Take one glue dot and press the bottom of the wick into the glue dot. Now press this into the bottom of your jar.  Do this with all your containers.Melt the wax in a double boiler or a bowl over simmering water.When it’s melted remove from the heat and add your essential oils. I always remove the little stopper on the bottles and pour into a teaspoon. It’s much easier and you’ll need a good few teaspoons for a decent scent in your candles. We used Christmas Spice and Cinnamon and Orange. Transfer the melted wax into a jug for easy pouring. Hold the wick steady while you pour in the wax. You need to work fairly quickly because the wax starts to cool and harden.To steady the wick, use wooden skewers or two knives propped each side of the wick to keep it in the middle of the candle. Leave to set for several hours or overnight. 



Happy candlemaking!
Merry Christmas to you all and a healthy happy and prosperous 2017.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Tea parties and flowers

My blog has taken a back seat whilst I enjoy the summer and entertain my parents.  Every two years they visit their homeland to reconnect with family and friends. I have hosted a few afternoon tea parties, rustled up numerous cakes and pastries, reconnected with family last seen many years ago, enjoyed several picnics on the beach and drank enough cups of tea to sink the Titanic all over again!

Summer wasn’t such a wash out after all. We had lots of lovely warm sunny days, I even had a few intrepid swims in our Solent sea and surprisingly the water was quite warm.

My tiny garden has offered up the most delightful fragrance and supplied me with endless bottles and vases of sweetpeas, roses, cosmos and cornflowers but these last few days have seen the weather change especially early mornings and evenings. I am now more than ready to embrace my favourite season, Autumn, but for now, pretty flowers and tea tables.

Thank you Sarah from Down by the Sea for shedding some light on that lovely purple flower in my garden...the beautiful thalictrum delavayi.

Have a lovely week!

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Through the garden gate ...

and to the beach...

My garden is looking particularly lovely right now, and I can’t help but survey it with the satisfaction of one who has realised the pleasure that gardening brings rather late in life and I'm eager to catch up on what I've been missing all these years! I have been playing around with the flowers, constantly picking the sweet peas and the cornflowers. I’ve been a bit wary of picking my verbena bonariensis because they are so stately and regal looking that I don’t want to spoil the look of them as they sway to and fro in my little patch of cottage flower heaven! The vivid pink flowers I grew from seed which I might have received as a free gift and I cannot remember what they are called. They have multiplied abundantly and they are really beautiful and indeed a great cutting flower, if only I could get myself to cut more of them!   I have therefore also decided to participate in ‘through the garden gate’ but instead of leaving it in the garden, we shall go beyond the gate to visit my local beach.

The photos of the garden were taken the same day as the beach photos, in fact when I finished taking the photos of the garden, a little weeding and a little watering, I hurriedly packed my panniers with my beach staples; a blanket, a small cushion, kindle, flask of tea and my sunhat. The day didn’t offer up much in the way of sunshine, it was cloudy but warm and almost no wind, which is unusual when you live at the coast.  I spend a lot of hours cycling along this beach and it’s my favourite way to unwind. It clears my head, gives me much need exercise and makes me grateful for a whole lot of things. The cycle path along the promenade is long and almost straight, so one is free to view the beach on your left as you cycle with no fear of being knocked off or hooted out of the way by frantic traffic.

There is always something to see along the way, dog walkers, fellow cyclists, most of whom will give a friendly nod as they pass you by, windsurfers and the occasional speed boats.  But today was very quiet. Two lone fisherman sat staring out to sea, waiting for the big catch, hardly moving from their chairs. Shortly after I arrived, two ladies arrived with 8 children and they noisily splashed in the dark moody water for some time before it got too cold for them. The vast emptiness of the ocean looked so serene, so tranquil. It was hard to imagine that two weekends ago, the heatwave had us all outside and the beach was jam packed with people of every shape and size, umbrellas up, picnics out and plenty of noise. If you like people watching the beach is a great place to indulge in this without it being too obvious, but if you like reading, then it’s best to find somewhere else to sit unless like today, the rolling clouds guaranteed an almost deserted beach.

Does anyone know what this pretty purple flower is, it's grown very tall, about 5"10 with the tiniest of flowers.

The hollyhock is just about to flower, since taking these pics the buds have opened slightly and I can see the delicate peachy pink of the flesh. It's now about 5"10 high.

Thank you all for your lovely comments on my vintage Italian coffee set.
Have a great week!