Wednesday, 30 March 2011

My retro celebrations begin....

I would not usually make a big issue about my birthday but those of you who know me well may remember that I have a very special  FIVE O one coming up very soon. I hope you will indulge me sharing with you a few posts about  my birthday delights.

Well the day is nearly here and last Saturday I started the beginnings of my "Big" Birthday celebrations. My oldest dearest friend Karen and her Hb came over for a meal at our favourite Chinese restaurant. She had asked me if they could come over a little earlier as she had my birthday present. I was told that I just had to open it in front of her...even though it is a little early; she could not allow this to go unwatched!

They arrived an hour before we were due to go out to eat and she came bearing the most wonderful basket of gifts. Just take a look at this!

Everything was wrapped in blue tissue with gold ribbons, laid in a glorious hamper with more wonderful packaging. It was enough to make a grown (very much now) girl cry.

There was a card to open first ( I have a birthday card too which I will save for the day) and it read inside, ".. enjoy a fabulous retro birthday."

The card gave me a little clue as to what I would find hidden in my basket. Karen and I both love Ladybird books, Enid Blyton, etc etc, they are so part of our childhood. We have known one another since our earliest secondary school days and first became friends in 1972. We celebrate 39 years of friendship this September. We went to Girl Guides together, first discos, wore first fashion trends from minis to maxis and from flared trousers to the tightest fits. Our first loves were cried over and of course we met our dear Hbs. We went through all our school exams together, first jobs, our weddings, first homes, celebrated out childrens' births and more. It is a lifetime of friendship which I treasure.  
  She set out my parcels to open and I just had to show you what I unwrapped.

....on the back of this was a summary which make me smile so much. Have a read and if you are of a similar age it will ring very true to you too.......

How great is children would certainly not understand it!   It was the on the back of a beautiful birthday book shown below.

And yes I even remember wearing party dresses and hair
ribbons similar to this when I was around 6-8 years old. I always remember some of the fabrics used were nylon and itchy.
It was not too elegant having a scratch in your best party frock!

I can also remember my brother sometimes wearing little clip on ties but never a jacket!

My party dress for this weekend will certainly not be yellow and I will not be wearing a pink ribbon in my hair either!

Here are just some of the wonderful presents I found in my hamper.....a real retro delight, the sweetie jar was full of old childhood favourites and it even had a packet of smarties with a "J" on the lid!
And one other of my favourites is this fantastic old retro poster from the days when we all wore "ladybird" clothes...oh my just look at the fashions!

So now I am awaiting my Big Day  and then my Party Lunch on Sunday...just to give you a peep, these are the place names I have made.They are die cut butterflies which I have stuck little sparkly jewels to.
and I have also made some gifts for everyone.....without revealing too much here before the day, these are some in their little spring organza gift bags ready to place at the table.
I shall reveal their contents in a future post, after the event. They were such good fun to make and will give each of my 30 guests a little memento of my special day.

So I will be back soon to reveal both my birthday celebrations and also my party lunch. I will take my camera with me and take lots of photos to show you. I will also raise a glass of champagne to all my lovely blogger friends out there. Thank you for reading my blog, I so enjoy your company. I also want to thank you again for all the comments you take the time to leave, they are such fun to read and are so appreciated.


Bye for now,

Jane x

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Sunny Selfridges.... and the elusive tea towel!

My daughter and I have been enjoying some wonderful Thursday afternoons whilst she has been on her GP rotation as she has these afternoons off and I don't work Thursdays. We have spent a few of them up in London as it is easy for her to get up from Essex and the journey only takes me about 40 minutes.This is coming to an end next week as she swaps onto the A/E (accident and emergency) rotation so time off will be no more than 1 weekend in 4 and she will be working shifts again...all pretty normal for a junior doctor.

Last Thursday I decided I would meet her at Selfridges in Oxford Street. When I posted my wonderful wet afternoon post everyone enjoyed seeing London with me so I thought I would take you all along with me again via my new camera and show you some more sights of my favourite city.

The reason for heading for Selfridges was that I was on a mission to find a Cath Kidston Royal Wedding tea towel, yes seriously and I will explain why later!

For those of you who know the West End, Selfridges is such a great store. It is my 2nd favourite to John Lewis but it is my favourite building in Oxford Street.  It opened in 1909 and the outside is stunning. The entrance has the superb "Queen of time" clock as shown in these photos.

Here she is in close up.The actual entrance is again fantastic with the original revolving doors and some very cool lights.

When I was a little girl I always got worried that I would get stuck in the doors, I used to hang around my Mum's skirt just to make sure I got in OK!
Also when I was little I would go to see Father Christmas here, such great memories..and of course the shop window displays are works of art!

Once inside I had to be careful taking any more photos so I just took one going down the escalator to show you how very modern this building is inside. It had a complete overhaul recently and is now really one of the brightest and best places to shop in London.
Just to the left at the bottom of the escalator is the large Cath Kidston section and yes I found the elusive tea towel. Now there is a reason behind this.... well actually there are 2. Firstly I do not need much of an excuse to buy something CK and when I spotted the tea towels in a magazine I thought it was a fun way to remember the upcoming Royal Wedding. I also like the fact is is useful and not just another trinket to find room for indoors. The second reason is that we are going to a party on the evening of the Royal Wedding. My daughter's future Father in Law has a "big " birthday on that very he has a Bank holiday of his own. His family are having a surprise party for him and I wanted to buy something fun as a present. How perfect is this...he is a great cook and the tea towel even has his birthday date on it. I think it will make him smile.

As we came out into the sunshine I took a few more photos of Oxford Street, there are huge rail link improvements going on at the moment to get things up to scratch in time for the Olympics.

This is the view looking down past Bond Street....

And this is looking back up towards Selfridges (Marble Arch). We loved seeing all the trees in blossom.    
                                 Of course we did a little more bridal browsing, had time for afternoon tea and then met my Hb from work and had an Italian meal together in Farringdon. A lovely day.

So would you like to see my booty from my trip......

............what's this?....

oooops , how on earth did all those extras get is the tea towel..

One for me and one for N but I also could not resist these London fabric cushions....

I think this fabric is such fun. It has also been discontinued so will not be available for much longer. No time like the present to make up one's mind is there?
There are also a couple of other CK bits I bought but I can't reveal them as someone I know might read this-LOL.
So here is one of my new cushions in place on the sofa

Honestly it just shouted...."Buy me" and then who could resist....;0)

We have "sprung forward this morning and the warm sunshine is is Billy enjoying it and sending a warm purr to you all

Bye for now,

Jane x

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Images of the moment, the simple things

There are constantly things I see around me which are so "of the moment". They are just so exciting to spot and enjoy. They allow many happy memories to bubble up to the surface and other new ones to be laid down. On occasions they are like spotting old, familiar  friends from the past and at other times they are just there for once in a moment, then gone.

 We are all so busy living our lives that sometimes it's just good to take a look around us at the simple things that bring us pleasure. Some are small material things, but many are there for free, if we stop and open our eyes. I try to do this regularly as I think it helps me be grateful for what I have. It is also a great thing to do after a tough day at work. My day job at times is very hard but very satisfying. The simple things put my life back into perspetive after seeing all the difficulties I find my patients face. They help me to stay strong, focused  and be of some useful, positive help to them. I also think it keeps me sane for my dear Hb. It is also such great fun!

These have been some of the ones I have found over the last week or so and I captured my "images of the moment" with my new camera......
The iconic Cadbury's creme personally I don't like them, they are just too sweet, but my darling daughter has a definite addiction to them. As soon as they appear in the shops she has a regular intake of them. When she was over for her birthday recently I bought one for her and before I even mentioned there was one on the side for her she spotted it like an eagle eyed vulture and swooned as she virtually inhaled it. I can never see a creme egg without smiling and thinking just how much she adores them!

I also received something special in the post (a secret for the moment) with the sweetest card, which made me smile so much, yes friends are the best!
Billy loves watching ladybirds doing just this as he dozes in the sunshine in the garden in the summer.

Now here is an image of the moment which makes me salivate - I took this photo at lunch time on is no more as I ate it pretty quickly!

Oh cross buns...but only the ones which our local baker Markus bakes. Markus' family have been baking bread and cakes in our local High Street for over 100 years and even today people queue to buy his produce. There is nothing quite like real on site baking. We have known Markus since we moved to the area in 1983 and he has seen my children born and grow up. His Dad retired a few years ago and Markus now has his own son who I really hope continues with his family business. When my daughter was doing her GCSEs many years ago she had to produce some coursework for her Food Technology. Markus allowed her to visit one night to see how he and his 2 helper's produce the baking. It was so fascinating and something she never forgot. He even paid for her to design a poster for the shop using some of the photos she took which he had up for many years as few people really understood that he truly works on site.
He only produces hot cross buns for a few weeks before Easter and I then have to wait a whole year for another one. They really are the best!

I also own a pretty little pot which my Hb bought for me many years ago at the Covent Garden, London craft market. I call it my "Season's Pot" as it features scenes of each of the 4 seasons. I have this pot in my kitchen and I display the face towards me showing the  particular time of the year. I was delighted this week to turn my pot away from winter and show this side..
I also planted up the chili seeds I bought a few weeks ago into the bargainous £2 mini propagator I found. It is sitting in the sunshine on my kitchen side.
I have a peep through the side every morning to look for the first stirrings of my's like waiting for news of a baby's birth.

I also have witnessed my potted acers bursting into leaf in the garden.

The new spring colours in these delicate leaves are so bold and beautiful.

Down at the Ponds  further signs of spring are appearing everywhere. If you look closely (click on them to enlarge) there are 2 ducks in the bushes beginning to build their nests

And our busy, feisty coots and moorhens are gathering together an assortment of twigs to make their nests too. Over the coming weeks I love watching them sit on their eggs and then the dear chicks emerge and take their first swim. I shall keep an eye on their progress and see if I can capture that moment in April/May.

We also witnessed the "super moon" at the weekend where the moon was the closest to the earth  for 20 years.

We were over at my parents that evening and spotted the moon through the trees in their garden..

It was a clear evening so the view was perfect. I love the way the branches are silhouetted in front of the moon in these photos.
That is a moment I will not see again for many, many years but it was one that I really savoured.

I wonder what are your "images of the moment? Try just looking around and seeing the little things that really do give us pleasure. Sometimes they are around for some time, others just literally for that moment. Whatever they are I hope you find some to smile at and they bring you as much pleasure as mine brought me.

Sending you some of the wonderful  sunshine we have been enjoying this week, wherever you are.

Bye for now,

Jane x

Sunday, 20 March 2011

♥♥♥ My Spring Daughter ♥♥♥

Hello and welcome to the official start of spring, or as it is also known, the vernal equinox. This is so called as the day and night are roughly equal, 12 hours each. It is the beginning of the wonderful increased hours of daylight and continues right up until the longest day in June. After the harshest, longest winter I can remember for many years it is sooooo welcome.

 I do love this time of year as there is a promise of change in nature. Birds start nesting, plants budding and the sun shows real warmth in its rays. I will be able to get out in my beloved little garden again. In Latin vernal=spring, equinox=equal night. (My dear Hb is a fountain of all things Latin, he studied Latin at school and is still really good at translating). It is always amusing on our holidays in Italy as I can speak a little Italian and order food etc and he translates all the inscriptions on the ancient monuments! He would be rubbish though at asking directions unless we bumped into someone 2,000 years old.

This year the exact time of the start of the vernal equinox is today, Sunday, 20th March at 7.21pm. And guess what -  this is almost the exact time of the birth of my darling daughter. She was born on 20th March 1986 at 7.25pm....I really do have a spring daughter this year.

We celebrated her birthday early with us on Thursday evening as she has been whisked off for a surprise birthday weekend by her Fiance to London...she is enjoying a 5* time and having a ball!  We had a lovely evening out with her ...eating of course..joined by her brother and his girlfriend and me and my Hb. I thought your would like to see her card I made which she will open  today.

I commissioned my talented New Yorker artist Vita to paint me one of her  "Teapot Princess" ACEOs. There is a pun here...until a couple of years ago my daughter did not drink tea or coffee. As a doctor she realised this does actually limit her socially, especially when dealing with some situations. There is nothing better that discussing something over a cup of tea. Once she started drinking it she soon became the top tea drinker in the family. I even bought her a teapot for Christmas. I love Vita's painting, it really sums up my daughter and has such a spring feel to it. I was able to match the colours too with the papers I used.

Here is a close up. I asked for an "English" rounded tea pot and a Princess with dark hair.
Also of interest my daughter's middle name is Sarah which means Princess so it is very apt indeed. Her first name, Emily means industrious and she is indeed one very industrious princess, she was born wanting to be busy and has fitted so much into her life already. Once she has finished with her card she can take off the little painting and either frame it or use it as a book mark. I love the little cup with the hearts on too.


This  photo shows a little more detail of the card. I used teapot and heart themed backing papers and made some interesting lacy patterns with my trusty punches.
I also bought some Mulberry paper flowers which I made into a little arrangement on the left - you can just see them here and also in the first photo.
So Happy Birthday  Milly ♥♥♥ and welcome spring; you have been missed!

spring in the park - yahoooooo!!

Bye for now,

Jane x

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Variations on a theme

I enjoy taking commissions for my jewellery making and often they evolve from something I have already made and sold. At my friend Karen's jewellery party last autumn I put out a set of one of a kind glass beads I bought from a talented lampworker I regularly buy from. They were this set below. Sometimes I do this, rather than make up a finished necklace, as people have different ideas as to finished pieces. Buyers then get their exact piece of unique jewellery.

They were very pretty lentil beads with blue murrini pieces in and some flashes of silver mirror glass.

 At the party a lady admired the necklace shown below, which had already been sold.

 I knew I only had 1 more of the spider agate coin beads at home so I could only re make a similar necklace with one bead as the  focal. She was quite happy for me to make this as she really loved the bold rock quartz shards I had used. The necklace re made is shown below.

She also wanted a matching bracelet. I explained that I did only have the one coin bead left. I tend to buy lots of "one off" unique beads at bead fairs and once I have sold them I do not (and usually cannot ) replace them.
She decided that she would like to have a bracelet made using the same chunky rock crystal and she then spotted the loose glass lampwork lentils on the table. It was decided I would use 3 of these in a bracelet.

This (on the right) is what I came up with and she was delighted with it.

Now whilst I was working on this commission the dangerous situation arose that my daughter came to stay and of course was interested in my work in progress.
She loved this bracelet and I heard enough ooh and aah hints to realise that a similar necklace and bracelet would be a very welcome addition to her Christmas stocking. 

So I got busy making and came up with this chunky necklace...

and this matching bracelet below.....

Now the story does not stop there as whilst I was making my daughter's jewellery I had my own open house and a lady there spotted my WIP and asked if she could have the same glass lentil beads but with black onyx. Now this did create a slight problem as by now I had also run out of the original lentil glass lampwork beads. Luckily I was able to contact the maker who was able to make up a few more....they were not identical (they never can be and that is the beauty of one of a kind glass lampwork beads) but just as pretty.

So  I was able to make a final necklace which was totally the design of my buyer. She wanted just very simple small black onyx beads with the lampwork.

And here is the very final necklace. This is a close can see the lentils are slightly different but still very beautiful. It is so interesting to see how different  it looks to the rock crystal versions.

And here is the necklace full length.
I do find it so fascinating to see how projects just branch out one from another. What started with just glass beads on string became no less that 4 very different items of jewellery.
Real variations on a theme!

I hope you are enjoying some of this glorious spring weather which has arrived. Despite chilly nights the sun is warming up. Today is no exception, the cloud is breaking up and the sun is being to glimmer through into my garden...bliss! It makes me even more grateful of my life here when I see the events in Japan at the moment. My thoughts are with the Japanese people and I hope they can start to recover from this terrible tragedy soon and start to rebuild their shattered lives.......

Back on a brighter note no doubt my Billy will be out and about in the garden  later, he sends everyone a purr. He is also looking forward to getting back out in the sunshine too....

Bye for now,

Jane x

Thursday, 10 March 2011

The colours of spring

Although today has started very blustery and grey we have been enjoying some wonderful sunny almost spring weather for the last week or so. My forsythia is in full bloom showing off its glorious yellow flowers. For me yellow is the single most colour that signifies spring for me...I just love it....
Wonderful yellows in my daffodowndillies too!

You can almost smell the gentle spring warmth here and the yellows and greens gives me a real "mmmmm" moment.

I also indulged in a little retail therapy  recently when my Hb and I took a day off from work and travelled up to the designer discount shops in Bicester, Oxford and found none other that Cath Kidston at discount was sheer retail heaven. I bought the above oven gloves and a set of real napkins to go in our picnic basket (yes I really do have one called Al, I will explain later on in the year). We always try to have some picnics in the summer, food taste SO much better!
I also bought us a new CK hand towel for the bathroom with a wonderful retro sailing ship pattern on.
It makes hand drying much more interesting.

At the garden centre I spotted a rose being produced for the Royal Wedding this year...I'm not sure about the colour but I think everyone is really looking forward to the Wedding of THIS year ;0) We even get an extra bank holiday for it.

I also love the colours I saw here..

Primroses are also such a happy showy flowers and there are so many colours to choose from. I also spotted some Daphne Odora (below) which has the most amazing scent and I treated myself to one.

And last but not least look what else I have bought...

Yes it's nearly seed time. I only have a tiny garden but I love growing chilies in pots and this year I am going to try some from seed. I also grew gourds as a child and love the weird and wonderful fruits they produce in the autumn. Luckily the gourd seeds can be sewn straight into the soil so my mini indoor greenhouse will not be too cramped. The little propagater will sit by my kitchen window basking in the sun. I plan to sew my little friends this weekend.

Sending all my blogger friends out there some spring sunshine. I always love having you visit me here and I so enjoy reading your kind comments. Thank you. Also to those who "silently read" a big smile and a wave hello to you all too. I am off this afternoon to meet my daughter. We are continuing our quest for the perfect dress for THE wedding of 2012.

Enjoy exploring the signs and colours of spring around you too,

Bye for now,

Jane x