Monday, February 28, 2011

Now for something a little bit different


Pleated Smocked Dress Ivory & Red

*pretty frocks*

Polka Dot Silk Party Dress Ivory & Red

*that aren’t from the high street*

Polka Dot Sailor Dress Blue

*that are swirly and twirly and elegant and childish and grownup*

Floral Embroidered Dress Ivory & Yellow

*and would work for guests, flower girls, bridesmaids and mini-hangers-on*

Scalloped Dress Periwinkle Blue & Ivory

*and are hand-made and designed by British designer Rachel Riley*

Classic Ribbon Dress Ivory & Blue

*and are such stuff as dreams are made on*

Pleated Party Dress Coral

*and range from £59 to £139*

Cherry Ruffle Dress Multi Coloured

*and are available here and through links on the pictures*

Coral Embroidered Dress Ivory & Coral

*and make me want to be eight years old again*

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Wedding blanket pondering…

My best friend is getting married this year. The date is to be confirmed once a location has been sorted, but I have already started pondering the present. I made her a patchwork quilt for her 21st birthday so was thinking a woolly throw/blanket may be a chic contribution to her rather lovely home that she is renovating with her fiancee…

One of the reasons that we work together so well (I think!) is that we are quite ying and yang in terms of taste… Or maybe at least different edges of the same side of a coin. We both love style, elegance and ‘good’ pieces, but her taste tends towards the chic, elegant and understated end, whereas mine is rather more thrifted, bright and garish.


An example: within the space of three months we had both happened upon similarly shaped rocking chairs going for a song at a couple different charity shops. Mine was taken home, immediately adorned with cushions and throws and now sits in Tilly’s room, having undergone little more than a quick wipe with a jiffy cloth. My friend took hers home and got to with the sandpaper and Farrow & Ball to create a rather more perfected, gorgeous item.

And so it is with her home. It is a Victorian end-terrace and they have, slowly and deliberately, taken on one room at a time, ensuring each and every installation is to the highest specification. They have lived there for five years now and have so far rewired and insulated, but, due to their finances, only really ‘finished’ the bathroom.

I heartily and admirably look on as they save for each room in turn, preferring to live in the current state and wait for the quality they want, rather than make do with low-cost quick fixes that won’t stand the test of time or taste.

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All of which leads me to my blanket choice… After much pondering, meandering, sighing and wishing, I think this one from the White Company may make the final cut in terms of ‘inspiration’ piece…

The blanket manages to be delicate and weighty, intricate and understated and neutral and detailed, all in the same fabulous piece…

If they’re happy putting off their wedding until 2013 at least, I may be setting forth shortly…

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And as we went to University in Leeds, I’m thinking this yarn in Ecru or Mink could be fabulous for provenance (but not so great for washability or potential for shedding), or this one for elegant shades (I’m thinking Oyster or Cream), thrifty price-tag, and smooth non-pilling warmth

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And as for patterns… I’m so far mulling over the possibly-a-little-bit-out-of-my-league Hemlock lace throw here (which could fulfill one of my 30 before 30 attempts, but even so…), the baby chalice blanket here which may not be quite ornate enough or any suggestions that you lovely people may be able to come up with…

Other design inspirations that didn’t quite make the grade…

From the top:

Breezy baby blanket design at Pickles

The fabulousness of a brights-with-neutral-border Granny Square Afghan

Knitted bedthrow from Mias Landliv and her stunning bedroom chair corner

Friday, February 25, 2011

Here comes the Sun

Beautiful garden games set will ensure the competitive spirit remains lit for your sunny celebration…

Sack of outdoor games

Pimp your jam jars to make beautiful nightlights and ensure your guests don’t stumble into the undergrowth…

Paper lanterns

A load of low-priced, high-styled and long-after-life products to be found here. Oh so pretty.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


I’ve been enjoying my attempts to do something new most days. This week it was a double whammy of a new recipe technique and a new knitting pattern.  P1060293P1060297

I was given a book of Whoopie Pie recipes for Christmas and thought a bit of experimentation and delectation was in order for Valentines celebration. I turned my hand to the Red Velvet Whoopie Pie recipe but they sadly didn’t turn out quite as luridly ruby coloured as I had hoped.


In my generosity to the human spirit, I can attest that Whoopie Pies are scrumptiously moist, terrifyling morish, not in the least bit good for the belly, and fantastically great for the mood! They are not biscuits, they are not cookies, they are not cupcakes. They are moist cake-pats that bring all the best elements of cupcakes into a little sandwich, traditionally claimed to make them more lunchbox-friendly by the Pennsylvania Dutch.

Cake batter is spooned flat onto sheets and then icing is sandwiched between two of the cake layers for little handheld morsels.

In my experimentation I discovered a few good tips:

  • Whoopie pie mix is thicker than cupcake mix and thinner than cookie batter. It self-circles pretty well on the baking sheet so you only have to be a little bit delicate when splodging out the batter.
  • The pie pieces are quite sticky so best not to pile them on the cooling tray in layers. Storage in between kitchen paper was better than baking parchment too as the paper absorbed extra moisture better than the parchment did
  • Buttercream freezes BEAUTIFULLY! I had a load left from Tilly’s birthday cake so I put it in a freezer bag and threw it in a freezer drawer, hoping for the best. Returned the bag to the fridge the night before the bake-off and there was no separation, curdling, lumpiness or any other problems that I’d feared. Well worth remembering as it can be a bit ‘cloudy’ to beat the icing sugar in, so making in bulk and freezing in batches is definitely a trick for the future.
  • Only missed trick was that I cut the top off the freezer bag and spooned it out, rather than snipping a corner and piping it through the small hole . Next time, next time.


The pies went down a treat with a mid-morning coffee and a speed-stitch for a newly arrived baby. Really enjoyed this pattern and the cheeky monkey it created. Think another for the nephew’s birthday along with a Curious George book or two may be in order…


Last to the Party (as ever)

There must be a pun out there involving my being late to the event that is the online shop of stationery behemoth Paperchase… If there is, it’s eluding me.

Suffice to say, finally exists as more than a store locator and jobs site.


Teapots snack boxes set for £7

My crafty life is now complete. No really. Honestly, I’m sure of it this time.

144 products in the ‘Crafts’ category

13 different themes in the ‘Collections’ category…


Overnight bag in Cacti Floral for £19.75

Prettiness abounds.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Happy as a Tilly in Mud


Life is good when you can get grubby with Daddy on a muddy February morning.


So much frockery, so many nappy changes…

And then on the baby-front, Monsoon has once again come up trumps, and once again exploded the myth that baby clothes should offer ‘value for money’…

Delightful but decadent favourites include…

A range of South Asia / South Pacific inspired woodblock prints and quilted cottons

Baby Girl Jocelyn Jacket

Jocelyn jacket at £26

Baby Girl Wendy Woodblock Blouse

Wendy Woodblock blouse £16

Baby Girl Wendy Woodblack Skirt

Wendy woodblock skirt £16

Baby Girl Wendy Woodblock Dress

Wendy Woodblock dress £26

And this swimsuit – which just lives in a world all its very own…

Baby Girl Rebecca Print Swimsuit

Rebecca print swimsuit £12

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

So much frockery, so little time…

From Anthropologie

Endless lengths dress £118

Irresistible Maxi dress £148

From Monsoon, with love

Kelly Dress

Kelly dress £110 – this was merchandised in the shop window with a coral pink cropped cardigan. Fabulous colour palette. Not sure why I’m loving the grey shades so much at the moment – but with the pops of colour, it’s just so satisfying!

Bloom Dress

Bloom dress £85

Keira Print Grey Dress

Kiera dress £75

Hmmm…. If it were for me, for a wedding in the UK, I would argue that the price differential would be justified in guaranteeing that you would not be wearing a gorgeous, but worryingly ubiquitous and ‘spottable’ item, as a Monsoon frock, to an English nuptial…

But either way, they’re all just gorgeous…

Friday, February 11, 2011

The best things in life are free

A wet day

A cancelled play date

A very hyperactive Tilly

P1060280A break in the clouds


A chance to see the world through Tilly-spectacles

A momentary marvel at the rivulet running down the gutter, and a dripping downpipe’s splashing potential

A look of DELIGHT with the potential for running upon arrival in the park

A realisation that muddiness is slippery and falling over results in tickling







Dirty fingers

Sticky derobing

Warm milk and biscuits on our damp return home



Utter, unadulterated, unrepentant and entirely unpaid-for delight

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tilly at Fourteen Months

Last February, we were slowly extracting ourselves from the snowbound horror of the first eight weeks of parenthood, and taking it in turns to stagger to bed for temporary nap sessions.


Even fourteen months into parenthood, the daily milestones are little altered…I find myself lurching with you from meal to activity to nap to the next meal and round and round. You woke up last night at 4 in the morning and gesticulated ‘milk’ for an hour. you were eventually settled not by water, or a nappy change, or cuddles, but just by MORE MILK. You were being quite clear. Silly Mummy.

You love your food so very much that I’ve probably been under-feeding you, so anxious am I to not allow you to fully satiate your appetite at all times of the day. If it were up to you, your rampant and universal signing of ‘please’ (which has rapidly come to mean ‘I want’) would result in a constant supply of biscuits, grapes, hummous, toast and cream cheese and diluted juice. As it is, we think of many and various ways to keep you away from the kitchen so you can’t get ideas from cupboards and shelves.

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Up there with the love of food is your love of wires, things that go ‘beep’ and things that have lights. Thus we are now into day three of Life Without A Remote Control. We look forward to the day that we can either encourage you to find language and tell us what you did with it, or (possibly before then) Daddy and Mummy’s subtle stalking of you of an evening will result in us discovering some secret hidey-hole and return us to the Twenty-First Century of sofa-based channel hopping. Mummy’s rubbish button phone is not nearly as exciting as Daddy’s iPhone, which is not nearly as exciting as the lato. That would be laPtoP but my fourth finger on my right hand is getting rather exhausted from the excessively firm key-stroking required to get the P to type already. Cheers for that darling. Most exciting of all is Grandma’s oven timer, a little handheld device that has four buttons that go ‘beep’ when you press them, and then, some specific time after play has ended, sets off beeping its alarm call, and summons you back for more playing.

You have been going to swimming lessons now for four weeks and love it. Blowing bubbles, kicking, splashing and gliding are all faves. I fear Mummy’s desperation to be ‘teacher’s pet’ may be backfiring on you, as I dunk and submerge you in more elaborate and extended ways each and every time we are instructed. If I get extra credit for being the BEST SWIMMING MUMMY then you will be a better person. That’s how it works.

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Speaking of water, you are a little sponge for information now, and as long as there is noone to witness the brilliance (Mummy, I DO NOT PERFORM), you have now quack-quacked your hands for ‘ducks’, mouthed little o’s for ‘fishes’ and replied ‘rrrrrr’ to my ‘ROAR’ for ‘lion’. Your parents were so delighted when you made the ‘ssss’ for snake in Where’s Spot, that you now make the ‘sss’ noise for every flap you lift in the book. Nearly, darling, nearly!

You are a magnet for all things dangerous and disgusting, and sadly your love of shoes has now reached its logical conclusion in LICKING. Welly boots are particularly attractive, but as they retain memories of Grandma’s chicken-coop, we were not best pleased with the licking. And thus you are not best pleased.

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Half your lifetime ago, Mummy was in a horrid place. The place was dark and bad and tiring and impossible to escape. The place was lonely and heavy and dangerous and Daddy came to find me and tell me I didn’t have to stay there. He told me I was better than that place and he helped me get out. He held my hand every day and told me where to put my feet. When you see any children by themselves at playgroups or playtimes, you ‘cuddle’ (translation: rugby tackle) them, and I realised that you have learned from Daddy how to make people feel loved and cared for.

You smile and giggle and laugh and cheek your way into everyone’s lives and no one can see you but burst out laughing at your mischievous glances. You know when you’re not supposed to be doing something and you just check, just make sure, just confirm that the boundaries haven’t shifted since you last slept. You are never malicious. You are never mean. You are boundless and enthusiastic and rarely stop smiling. Thanks for bringing my smile back, little one.

I love our little home. I love our little family. And I love that our little family has made sure it stays intact.To quote the current seasonal song on CBeebies  (my new BFF), it’s cold outside, but it’s warm in here.