Saturday, 17 January 2015

Four candles*

http://enversdudecor.tumblr.com/post/96421930370

My husband used to get very posh yoghurts as part of his lunch at work. They were so posh they came in their own little glass pots, he mentioned this to me one evening and I promptly asked him to bring them back home after he had eaten the yoghurt as I could use those little pots for a myriad of things. He must have brought back at least twenty of the little glass vessels and apart from a brief sojourn as tea light holders they have been languishing in a wooden chest for a few years.

Then, as I was idly browsing Pinterest, inspiration struck. Someone had refilled their own glass jars with wax and made their own candles! Such a simple idea, why had I not thought of it before? A quick scout around on eBay led to the purchase of some soy wax and perfume oils (apparently essential oils are not potent enough on their own for use in scented candles). I tried to find the most natural ones and bought Lavender and Night Scented Stock (inspired by some lovely little plants in my Dad's garden earlier this year).


Last weekend, our kitchen became alchemy centre with wax slowly melting away in a bain marie, the kitchen work tops littered with glass pots, wicks and perfume oils. I had bought a kilo of wax and decided to start with 6 candles which have all come out quite successfully, although I think I might have been too cautious with my perfume oil as they are very very subtle!
I have plans to make some of the other pots into citronella candles for use in the garden come the summer. And I also think that they would make lovely gifts tied with a ribbon and given to a friend when popping round to their for dinner!


*The title for this post is taken from the classic Two Ronnies sketch (it's only loosely based on the post as I actually made six candles but I couldn't resist!)

Monday, 5 January 2015

Hello 2015


The beginning of a new year not only fills me with anticipation (and impatience) for the things to come; spring, the first roses, warm nights, but also leaves me feeling slightly bewildered by how fast the year seems to have gone by. At the beginning in a gloomy January, I see the year stretching out ahead of me like a long windy path filled with possibilities (with probably a few trials and tribulations - although hopefully not too many!)


At this time of year, the time can seem to pass so slowly as I become blinkered to the season I am currently in and instead start to look forward to lighter mornings and longer days rather than enjoying the candle-lit cosiness of late winter. I think I have a bit of a grasshopper mind, as I tend to hanker after the things still to come rather than enjoying the present.
Of all my New Year's resolutions this year, then surely, to live in the moment and bring my grasshopper mind into check, is definitely the one to work towards.
Maybe that way, I will feel less shocked when the end of the year rolls round again!

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Joyeux Noël


I had planned to dedicate the whole of Saturday to decking the halls (or the downstairs of our little cottage) but some last minute wrapping and card writing put paid to that (although I love making my own hand-stamped wrapping paper and cards it certainly does make the whole process more labourious!)


Saturday evening saw me finally getting our tree up and wrestling the various boxes of baubles and festive fripperies out of our attic to be unpacked and pondered over. I find that my decorating process usually involves a fair amount of pondering. Although, despite my chin-scratching, things are pretty much the same as they are most years (we don't really have the space to move the tree to another location). But I have very mildly "shaken things up" with my garland placement!



I kept the dining room mantle piece simple this year with a pretty paper heart garland from Oyster Bridge & Co. I also hung a little jingle bell heart from the middle as well. The large garland that usually goes there has been moved to the top of the dresser. So far, I'm quite liking the result!
I've also put a little cut glass bon-bon dish filled with out baubles that can't be hung on the tree in the middle of our dining room table.




One of my favourite Christmas decoration purchases this year is a pretty paper bell from Found Country Antiques. I really like the simplicity of it, unfortunately there was only one left but I found some more in a slightly pink tinged white card from An Angel at My Table. Both these and the white bell are made from sturdy card and have little magnets to keep it folded out so will hopefully last for many years to come. I love the little Christmas trees!


 It did seem a bit silly to be getting all of this out since we are spending this Christmas with my family up in their lovely stone farmhouse in the Scottish borders, but I couldn't resist! Wishing you all a Merry Christmas, wherever you are spending it!

Friday, 19 December 2014

À bientôt Paris!


I've been back from Paris for a few days and it still seems strange being in the UK again. I feel like I'm stuck in this strange limbo with the afterglow of our festive Paris visit behind me and a slightly overwhelming Christmas rushing forward.


The French do Christmas impeccably, both my husband and I remarked that there does not seem to be as much advertising as back in the UK and it doesn't feel so "thrust upon you" over there. But maybe that is because we didn't watch any TV while we were in Paris and therefore avoided the worst advertising offender? I love how very clever the Parisians are with presentation, all of their shop windows were so beautifully set out and many of the shops were decked with fir garlands and lights. So tasteful and elegant!


I feel like we have eaten more than our fair share of patisseries and hot chocolate while we were there so it is nice to get back to having some healthier food - especially since the gourmand splurge of Christmas is literally days away! But we will miss our local pastry shop - Stohrer Patisserie. It had a beautiful interior as well as having a stunning array of sweet and savoury morsels to tempt every palate!


 We visited so many wonderful museums, for me one of the highlights was visiting Musee Cluny and seeing the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries which were stunning. When we visited there was also a small concert being held in one of the rooms featuring Ensemble Diagolos who played such wonderfully rich and beautiful medieval sounding music adding to the atmosphere and making our visit feel very special.


The Jacquemart-Andre musee was also lovely to wander around and while we were there had a special exhibition on Renaissance art which was stunning to behold. I loved the tea room which seems to be permanently fragranced by the perfumed teas that can be ordered there.

Now I need to catch up with the rest of my Christmas cards and decorating!

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Rushing by


Time seems to be rushing by for me just now. At the end of November my Mum and Dad came to stay and tested out our garden room. We went to see D'elisir d'amore at the Royal Opera House and had dinner in the Crush room which was amazing. I took Mum to Libertys which unfortunately coincided with Black Friday so Regent's Street and Oxford Street were heaving which was quite a shock for Mum! We met up with some friends and went to see the Wildlife Photography exhibition at the Natural History Museum and lost ourselves in the wonderful Jewellery section of the V&A.



I also managed to fit in a trip with Mum to the Winter Brocante in the grounds of Petworth House which we though was lovely. It was just as well Dad and my husband decided to stay at home as I'm not sure we would have been able to fit them back in the car as there were so many bags!


The day after the fair I then got back on the train with Mum and Dad to Carlisle, and from there we drove to their farmhouse near Kirkcudbright and stayed the night there. Followed by a mammoth eight hour drive the next day up the road to their home in the Highlands! They have recently sold their property there so I went to go and help with their computer and have a quickly rifle through my old room. Since it hadn't really been touched since I left for university more than 10 years ago there was a lot to go through!
I only managed to get a short time off work for that trip, so I was up in the Highlands for only a day catching the evening flight from Inverness and getting home quite late in the evening ready to fall into bed for work the next day!

http://uk.pinterest.com/pin/381046818447286403/

In a few days we will be on the move again, as my husband and I are celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary so we will be rushing off to Paris for 5 nights for a romantic break before Christmas. Phew!

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Papery promises


I do love bulb planting time. So much so that I tend to start thinking about it around mid-summer, when I realise, all too late, that I should have bought double the amount of drumstick alliums and begin putting together rather ambitious bulb lists in my head. It's at times like these that I am glad I only have a small garden and that I can think in numbers of 20 or 30 rather than 500 or 1000! Kinder to my trowel and my bank balance too!


With the building work this spring, I ended up losing most of the bulbs I had planted. A few Rip Van Winkle daffodils were salvaged and potted up (they should have really been in pots anyway as they always looked a bit lost in the flower beds). But only one of my Purple Sensation and Violet Beauty alliums survived the transplantation process and went on to flower last year. I planted the other sad looking, straggly things back in the beds anyway but I've ordered some back-ups just in case. The Purple Sensations had all sold out at Peter Nyssen and since I wasn't won over by Violet Beauty (which I purchased a few years ago in place on Purple Sensation) I ordered some Allium Aflatuense instead.

Image from Peter Nyssen
I've also ordered some pretty little Katherine Hodgkin irises which have very delicate sky blue and yellow colouring. I tend to forget about making potting up spring displays for the garden so hopefully I will at least now have something for when the weather gets a bit warmer. I may even use them in our window box. It's lovely to think that I have these little bulbs full of the spring to come tucked up in their beds of compost, so that on the darkest days of winter I can turn my mind to those little papery-cased promises that I have planted in our garden.

Friday, 7 November 2014

All the small things


Sometimes, usually on Sunday mornings while I'm listening to the Archers omnibus and finishing my cleaning with a quick dust and polish. I like to take a moment to look at the little details on certain pieces in our home. The delicate brush strokes on a hand painted plate or the pretty moulding on a French mirror.


Noticing these small things and appreciating them in new lights certainly makes that household chore less onorous! On closer inspection, I find myself identifying certain things; those pretty blossoms are actually Forget-me-knots, or the border of another plate is trimmed by Lily of the Valley.


I used to be much more frivolous on my buying forrays to antique shops and fairs. Procuring anything I remotely liked the look of without really thinking about where I was going to put it. Now I am much more restrained and only buy something which I really love. Occasionally, I walk away from something that I should have really bought and regretted it later. But at least I no longer have a horde of items that I bought without really thinking about how they would fit it.


I find that now without the clutter of things that I only kind of liked, I can see the small delicate details of the things that I love. They give me a little bit of joy when they catch my eye, whether it is while cleaning or while I am heading out of the door on a Monday morning.