Monday, December 31

it's today. . .



No raucous fanfares to herald the new year,
no lists of achievements achieved
or opportunities missed,
just quiet contentment that another 365 days have passed
safely and softly.

We're no further forward
but we're no further back.
Dreams are still dreams
hopes stay hopeful
health is healthy
and you know what? that's enough for me.

Some years have been rollercoasters
some years have been tainted
but now. . .
I'm content with my lot,
lucky with my lot
and blessed beyond measure.

 
Thankyou all for your support
and comments and emails
and hugs.
For listening and laughing
and sharing snippets of your lives.

Wishing you everything you wish for yourselves in 2013
xx

Saturday, December 29

casualty

 
this wonderful old oak tree has stood for very many years
in the parkland outside our house,
but the exceptional rainfall and strong winds
this year are gradually felling it "au naturel"
 
 
when I come home at dusk the rooks are roosting in its
finger-like branches before nesting for the night,
 creating quite a surreal scene-
 backlit by grey skies and a hint of moonlight its like
something from Edgar Allan Poe!
 
 
The wood inside is quite dead and the tree has only been allowed to stand
in its decaying state, as a haven for wildlife, because its far away from
any area where the general public might stray

 
Nature looks after her own, but its nevertheless a sad sight
to see such a grand monument of the English countryside
gradually crumble back to the earth
 
 
I didn't hear it crash to the ground- there's an old saying that
trees don't make a sound unless there's someone to listen


 
beautiful textures of weathered old bark against the fresh wound
 
 
and beautiful patterns as the water cascades down the trunk
 

 
I suspect this weighty branch will be the next "casualty" to fall
 
 
hopefully it'll stand for another few days and achieve another notch-
I know rings appear in the wood so you can calculate age,
and had a funny thought that perhaps they magically appear
 at the stroke of midnight like an automatic calendar change?!

Sunday, December 23

Dead People's Stuff



Selling vintage treats with its air of gentle appreciation
is the best part of my Ted and Bunny business
because the "other side" is a lot more hard edged.

For many years we've done complete House Clearances-
collecting keys from solicitors or estate agents
and literally clearing a house and outbuildings of contents
and in doing so removing all traces of someones life.

The upside is that I never quite know what treasures
will be unearthed, hence my somewhat eclectic stock.

Being conscious that this was someones home
we've perfected an organised system
of sorting and disposing to ensure the days run smoothly
and the clearance is carried out in a respectful manner,
leaving a clean house on completion.

I'm ok with Dead People's Stuff
because call it recycling or upcyling or vintage or whatever,
 that's basically what the secondhand market contains.
When sorting through a house to clear in a business-like manner,
sentiment is an emotion that must be kept in check
and over the years I've learnt to do just that
until I find
the box of Christmas decorations in the loft.

Quietly they lay there.
A dusty cardboard box marked "DECS"
home to a million unknown memories.
Glass baubles, ancient tinsel and tattered paper chains
that served this family year in year out,
put away once again before twelfth night
with no knowledge that it would be the very last time,
and THAT is what gets to me
on every single clearance.



I yearn for a colour themed tree; something posh
something designer-ish, something serene.
In reality I have an homage to mis-matched kitsch
because from every box of decorations on every clearance
someone else's baubles still live on.
We didn't actually know Rita or Abe or Mrs Vinney
we never met the Harrises who went within days of eachother
or Miss Bush or Tom Baines or Jess and Jim
or a myriad of people who's names only remain on invoices,
but every year I feel they come together and collectively smile
because when their decorations were put away,
it actually wasn't for the very last time. . .



Wishing you all a peaceful, sentimental Christmas
with love
xx

Thursday, December 20

a little bit un-ho-ho-ho around the edges



I've bought the presents, I've wrapped them, I've unwrapped some of them
and wrapped them again because I didn't put the labels on
and forgot who they were for.
I've bought more presents because after wrapping I decided I didn't
really like the first lot very much at all.

I've given the front door wreath a makeover,
rescued it from the puddle in the front drive where the
wind gusted it, dried it with the hairdryer
and tied it back on the knocker with baler twine,
a look rather more rustic than festive but hey. . .

I've got plastic wreaths for my in-laws at the crematorium
because otherwise the rabbits eat them
and spent some quiet time with my own parents
and decided it does get at bit easier as the years pass.

I've baked and cooked and baked some more
and eaten lots "just to test it you know. . ."
I've found a new recipe for boiled ham
even though everyone will say
"but we like it how you always do it"

I've decorated, found room for 5 sets of lights on the tree
(I do like a good twinkle)
revived Mark's childhood tree topper angel
for yet another year (she'll need radical surgery soon)
and hung multicolour baubles whilst wishing for
a serene, classy, co-ordinated designer look.

I've written cards (even to people who I pencilled out)
queued for the obligatory hour in the Post Office
bit the bullet at the price of stamps
and sent them with love.

I've dusted and polished and vacuumed (yes, I did behind the sofa)
and cleaned the cutlery drawer,
I've swept the front path so visitors can tread easily
and trimmed the climbing rose
so Santa of can find the chimney.

I've looked at everyone else's blogs
to admire pretty house ideas and crafty inspiration
and done mine same-old-same-old.

I know what I'm wearing to the parties
-something warm and something vintage
is my default outfit- and this year it'll
need to be blue to match my funky fringe.

There's enough chammy in the larder to toast Christmas morning,
Boxing Day lunch
(bubble-&-squeak with champagne is non-negotiable!)
our wedding anniversary, New Year and my birthday
plus a bottle left over "just because"

I'm  as ready as can be.
My trusty Christmas List says nothing to do last minute.
So why don't I feel in the least bit Christmassy?
No ho-ho-ho.
Where is it???
 

Monday, December 17

the Vintage Bazaar was fabulous!




 
"Where are the other teds?"


"They got sold at the Vintage Bazaar. . ."



". . .whats "sold"??"




Another great Vintage Bazaar day Lizzie and Clare
thankyou so much as always, for all your hard work,
and thankyou to ALL the lovely customers who came
and saw, and bought
and all the lovely people who came and chatted.

It gives me a lot of pleasure to make people happy
with something I've made or sourced
and of course its always uplifting to have a good day
financially (means I can go out and find more!)
so all the boxes got ticked for my last fair this year.

Looking forward to next year,
doing more fairs, meeting more people,
selling some more treasures
learning new crafts
a few new business ideas
and hopefully organising another
Vintage at the Village Hall.
2013? Can't wait!
xx

 

Friday, December 14

wet wet wet



I got wet today
then I got wetter
then I got wetter still
then I ran out of waterproof coats
and got wetter than I thought it was possible to be while vertical.

Now I've dried off, I'm about to get in the shower.

Where's the sense in that?

Sunday, December 9

Christmas Vintage Bazaar...Saturday December 15th



 
I had such a lot of suitable stock set aside for the
 
 
so I thought I'd better do a quick set-up to make sure
everything fitted on the stall!
 
 
Once again the shelves are heaving and even though I had meant to create
an artistic, spaciously displayed yuletide array

 
it looks more like a Christmas themed jumble sale!

 
hey-ho, you can only do what you can do and hopefully
people will be pleased with the pieces and prices!

 
I re-covered this dressing table mirror with a patchwork of vintage fabrics
but then of course, everything else got heaped-up in front including the
hug of bears I was supposed to sell last year (or was it the one before?)
but couldn't quite "bear" to part with them at the time. . .

 
and I also re-covered some old-but-plain vintage hat boxes
which are great for storage.
 
The Hermes gift box is also for sale. . .well, having a Hermes box
is better than no Hermes at all!
 
 
Of course, once the mock-up was dismantled and boxes packed
ready to load at the end of the week, somebody found another use for
the bag of Christmas fabrics!
 
 
Hope to see you there!
xx
 

Wednesday, December 5

bye bye wisdom. . .



boo blimmin' hoo
I had my last wisdom tooth out.

No escaping the fact; I feel a bit sorry for myself
I wanted to stay wise, but 'twas not to be.

Last year I had a course of medication that
didn't help my bone density one iota.
I realise now that unless you ask very direct questions
there are many things in the medical profession
that remain untold, because until it happens
you don't actually KNOW what questions
you should've asked-

but I guess that's one of the conundrums of life.

The dentist was gentle and the nurse held my hand
which is the simplest act of kindness
known to anyone.
She asked "would you like to take it home?"
 which threw me a bit because I don't know
how much the Tooth Fairy pays these days
and I couldn't figure out do you bury a tooth
or cremate it, or choose matchbox mummification,
or turn it into wall art. . .
but my mouth was so numb all I could do was
shake my head (sending the safety goggles flying across the room)
and look forlornly at my solitary friend
led in the dish, reverently covered with a pink tissue.

So today, I begin the rest of my life wisdom-less.
I might say the wrong thing
or do the wrong thing
or eat the wrong thing
or forget every thing. . .

no major changes so far then!!

Friday, November 30

Thankyous with a capital T



without wanting to be a bit (yaaaaawn) boring, those of you who have
followed our exploits know the road to Bruce's transformation from a
gallop-flat-out-cross-country-jumping-everything-in-your-way
hunter to a well schooled and confident riding horse
has been anything but straightforward for either of us.

We've both had to face some hidden fears-
me realising that I'm not as good or brave a rider as I thought
and his unaccountable panic attacks have brought to the surface
the simple fact that we both put on a glossy exterior
to hide the quivering jelly laying dormant underneath!

It's taken me a lot of work to accept and befriend that
quivering jelly (who used to be my arch-enemy) but you know,
she's proved more beneficial than I'd ever thought.

I've found being afraid doesn't matter, because it makes you listen.
Whether listening for clues to guide you through the situation
or for someone to say "you don't have to do this",
listening is something I've not done much before.

I talk, I busy, I potter and natter and do, and do more
and fill the space and time with busyness for which I've
rewarded myself in trophies of achievement.
Stillness has been an anathema, a waste of precious time

but listening- wow!
It terms of my journey with Bruce it's enabled me
to find immense pride in the smallest gains.
The flick of an ear back to me for re-assurance when he
stiffens with panic is a major breakthrough,
and spending 30 minutes riding circles in the paddock as the
wind blows a hoolie all around and his whole body says "run",
but there are tiny moments of joy when he relaxes enough
to do the stepping-under movements he finds so hard-
I never felt such pride getting 4 small strides of shoulder-in
when previously I'd have felt failure for not getting more.

To have him stand still when the pheasant shoot burst into
action across the hedge, quivering, trying so hard to
focus on the huge task I was asking-
to me, that was like winning the Olympics!

Listening to his breath change to a rythmic softness as I concentrate
my own breathing gently in-&-out,
listen as his walk and trot pace regulates when I mentally count the tempo,
listen to the amazing response when I think "halt" on an out-breath
and, relaxed and soft he gathers himself into a perfectly square halt.

And listening to advice and help?
phew! who sent those wise and wonderful people who showed me
actually, I don't know it all. In fact, I know very little but by listening
I can know more.

I won't deny I wanted to compete; I wanted to fly round
cross-country courses, take my beautiful horse show jumping
and have those stunning paces judged in dressage
but it aint gonna happen.
Instead, I've begun to enjoy the journey with him
and with my life in general, rather than fixating on the end goal
(for which we're endlessly moving the goalposts anyway!)
and it seems a more comfortable way to be.
I've not gone all new-age but I've got a useful way
to pick a path through my life.

They say you get the lesson you need when you need it
although you might not always agree at the time.

They say that as you grow up, you start to reach inside
and learn how to grow down.

They say rejoice in where you're at; don't worry about
where you aren't (Mark Rashid)

and I say a very very humble thank you;
I guess Bruce and I somehow found each other
(eyes across a crowded stable)
and Kirsty who found us both, just in time to save the day,
I'm eternally grateful- I couldn't have done it without you xx

Tuesday, November 27

briefly miz



I know it's always best to look on the Bright Side
but sometimes, just sometimes, I feel a very small voice inside
who wants to have a moan
and a grumble
and a bit of a stomp
for no real reason apart from the fact that
after all that rain we haven't got flooding
but we've got mudding
and incessant brown gloop has lost its fun-factor,
and the sun (in those brief seconds when it shines)
doesn't get above our trees all day and I long for it's cheery respite,
and I'm freezing now and its only going to get colder,
and the older chickens are mercilessly picking on poor little Edie
the new recruit who was "rescued" altho she wouldn't think it,
and I want to hide from Christmas
(I want to hide from my birthday too),
and there aren't enough hours in the day to do
all the things I want to do because I'm too busy doing
the things I don't want to do,
and Bruce is up to his old tricks again which is very unsettling
(not to say unseating),
and our phone land-line has a fault which can't be found
(is there a collective name for groups of BT engineers?)
and without a mobile signal at home there's no goss,
and the house so continually looks like an antique shop in transit
with fair preps and eBay packing and photo shoots
that I've forgotten how I originally furnished,
and I've developed an addiction to custard creams,
and I shrunk my cashmere sweater (major boohoo),
and no matter how hard I try my crochet squares look like splats,
and and and
and
and you know what I've just read this back
and laughed at the crap I've written,
maxed up the radio and danced round the room to Roxy Music
and actually I do feel lots better. . .

people who live in a field have to expect mud,
it's November,
there's no sunshine; get over it,
it's cold; get over that too
pecking order? the clue is in the words,
Christmas- its just a day,
Birthday- its just (a lot of) years,
not enough hours? there never has been and never will be,
Bruce; detach yourself emotionally and deal with it,
phone line? faults get mended,
a house top-to-bottom in vintage? some people's dream come true,
custard creams? enjoy and repent next month,
shrunk cashmere? find a small child,
crochet? aim for an abstract crazy quilt


ahhhhh, the power of blogging!

xx

Tuesday, November 20

ups-&-downs of a morning's work. . .



so, it's first thing in the morning
(well fourth thing really if you count doing Bruce,
 letting/cleaning out the chickens and eating breakfast)
and I've got the laptop in the kitchen
 checking my eBay sales from the previous evening.

All well and good;
lots of things sold, lots of things paid promptly, lots of parcels to pack.

Then I open two emails.

The first is from a newbie purchaser who bought her item
and then decided she hadn't really meant to do it-
it was "just a bit of a lark and she wouldn't
be completing the sale" but was "sure I'd understand".
I do understand
I am annoyed
(very annoyed actually)
but thank her anyway for letting me know immediately.
No-one died.

The second email
is from a bidder who missed the auction she was watching
and is annoyed (very annoyed actually)
because she really really REALLY wanted that item
and is "prepared to offer well over the winning bid price"
if I sell it to her
£50 over the winning bid price.
 
No, it's not the same item as above
that would only happen in a fairy story

I email her back to say thanks for the offer but I
wouldn't like to disappoint the winning bidder
and actually, that's not the way I do business
(Although £50 would be very useful right now)

I think about the ££s I had
the ££s I could've had
and the ££s I don't now have
and it makes me smile
because that's business I guess
and its all a blimmin' nuisance
but
I use my yardstick for not getting het-up about stuff
. . .no-one died.

The postman knocks at the door with a smile
(our postman always has a smile- must be from wearing those shorts)
and hands me the envelope.
£25 from the Premium Bonds
YAY!!
 

Friday, November 16

horse topiary!

 
it's that time of year again for
the-family-member-who-eats-non-stop.
 
The clippers come out and I spend a couple of hairy hours
giving Bruce his winter trim.

 
He doesn't get a hugely woolly winter coat but it is thick enough
to make him sweat when ridden, which then makes it difficult
to turn him out in the field afterwards (snug in a waterproof rug)
or leave standing in the stable wearing a thermal cooler
without a risk of getting chilled as he cools down.
 
I completely remove the hair on his tummy and neck
and leave a "blanket" back to keep him warm,
long stockings to protect against thorns and scratches
and enough hair on his face and ears to protect against the rain.
 
When the weather turns colder he has an insulated neck cover
attached to his outdoor rug- there's no danger of him
not being molly-coddled for one single minute!

 
and does he mind?
 
tucking into a a tasty net of hay
he's completely laid back. . .
until the next frosty morning that is,
when his antics make it quite obvious
he's feeling a draught somewhere!

Tuesday, November 13

this week. . .mainly wallpapering. . .& it's only Tuesday



 
well it all started when I found Amanda's fabulous blog

 
and saw the wallpapers she has for sale in her Etsy shop

 
I mean, a girls gotta do. . .

 
(but the dilemma is,
do I leave this pine cased set of mahogany drawers in it's paint
or. . .???)

Sunday, November 11

Remembrance




My dad used to march with his ex-servicemen's regiment
each Remembrance Sunday.

I suddenly thought of it when I let the hens out this morning
and felt the cold frosty air on my face.

Childhood memories of the feel of that same frost against his cheek
as I kissed my daddy, and patted his medals
and felt proud

all those years ago.

It seems like he died yesterday;
 that awful black day is etched forever in my soul,
and yet it could've been 100 years back
because it's put away,
firmly put away in the place I don't care to go.

Remembrance Sunday
all those people
all those memories

and today, one more that I hadn't expected
 

Thursday, November 8

mainly milking...




how will I be spending my afternoon?

Well,
today I'm soooooooooooooo excited
cos
I'm going to learn
how
to
milk a goat!

(Peapod, I promise to warm my hands first!)

how are you spending your afternoon?
xx

Friday, November 2

unashamedly pimping VINTAGE SHEETS



 
Ok, so we know each other well enough by now. . .

 
you all know I sell on eBay and you all know I started out blogging
to shout it from the rooftops (or the laptops)
and then found out how nice blogging was
just for blogging's sake,
and that unless I had something so
super duper extra deliciously special
and couldn't contain my inner Power Seller a moment longer,
photos wouldn't spill over onto these hallowed pages. . .
 
 
well, things don't get much better than vintage Dorma sheets do they?
1970s originals
Double size
Flat 70" X 100"
Unused
New-Old-Stock
in their original packaging
 
one fabulous sheet?
Noooo
 
two fabulous sheets?
Nooooooooooo
 
but
 
wait for it
 
THREE
TOTALLY FABTASTICALLY FABULOUS SHEETS
 
all identical
all listed this week
 
 
 
phew!
with my head held high I hit the publish button.

Unashamedly pimping vintage sheets
 
 

Monday, October 29

cheap 'n' cheerful foodie post



 
I've got an absolute passion for both beetroot and hummus
so how better to satisfy both cravings than a BIG bowl of. . .
beetroot hummus!
 
 
 
My culinary skills are a bit haphazard so if you need exact quantities
you'll have to Google your own recipe,
but this is how it works for me. . .
 
I soak and cook dried chickpeas cos I have the Rayburn running 24/7
so for me it's much cheaper than tinned,
 and I use about the same amount as in one tin
which I put in the food processor along with
one clove of garlic peeled and squashed
one big cooked beetroot quartered
a large tablespoon tahini
a glug of good olive oil (my one weakness is GOOD oil in hummus)
a few grinds of ground black pepper
a decent pinch of sea salt
and as much natural yoghurt as you need to make
the consistency you require.
 
Blitz to your hearts content, scraping the sides down
to get it all into the blades.
If you don't have a processor, a hand blender works
but chop the garlic first.
 
In the photo below I omitted the beetroot and instead added
a handful of stoned olives and a generous squirt of tomato puree
to make olive and tomato hummus to go with the
honey and walnut soda  bread. . .
 
 
Walnut & Honey Soda Bread
 best eaten on the day baked but delicious toasted if you have leftovers!
 
about 100g walnuts
100g honey
250g flour- white or wholemeal, your preference
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch salt
 
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/ gas mark 6 and flour OR oil a baking sheet.
Put half walnuts into a food processor and crush to a coarse powder.
Break the remainder into rough chunks.
Put the honey in a pan with 130ml water and heat gently until dissolved.
Put flour, baking powder, salt and all the walnuts in a large bowl and mix.
Pour in the honey water and mix to a soft dough.
Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface,
shape it into a rough, round loaf and place on the baking tray.
Slice a deep cross into the top,
going almost right the way through to the baking tray.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, until risen and golden
(tap it underneath,it should sound "hollow")
Cool and eat,

we had it with the vegetable and barley soup below. . .

 
chop a red onion or two and soften in a pan with a glug of olive oil,
add teaspoon dried oregano
diced carrots and celery and as many chili flakes as suit your taste,
pop the lid on the pan and soften for 5 minutes or so.
Add a jug of stock (I save the water from boiling potatoes
but you could use proper stock, or a cube/powder- whatever you have to hand)
half a cupful of pearl barley,
 bring to the boil and simmer 20 mins or so until the barley is cooked.
Add another jug of liquid (I find this depends on how much
the barley has absorbed and how fluid you like your soup)
a handful of frozen peas
2 tablespoons tomato puree
tin of chopped tomatoes
any other leftover veg
season to taste.
 
This soup is best left overnight to steep the flavours
but if you want a quick cook-&-eat soup and don't have
an Important Meeting next day (as they do live up to their culinary reputation)
then Jerusalem Artichokes are great. . .
 

 
sweat a red onion in a glug of oil until soft but not brown
add a few chopped sticks of celery
half a dozen chopped carrots
a good pinch of dried coriander or a handful of leaves
about 1lb of peeled artichokes
and soften in the oil for 10 minutes or so.
Add a jug of stock
simmer til soft and blitz or blend
adjust the seasoning to your liking
but don't overpower as the artichokes have quite a delicate taste.
 
A dollop of yoghurt or a scattering of whatever takes your fancy
is good to serve
 
 
 
adapt, experiment, eat and enjoy!
xx
 

Saturday, October 27

now how good was that!




 
 
what a FABULOUS fair you made once again!
 
Loads of wonderful stalls, so much to see (and buy!)
gorgeous cakes and reviving cuppas
and 100's of great customers-
what more could a stallholder possibly want?
 
Yes, it is a faff getting everything sorted priced and packed,
yes confidence does flicker a little
". . .is it the right price. . .will people like it. . ."
and yes, it is a precarious way to earn a living,
(over the past 30-odd years [oh no, is it REALLY that long!!]
I've done more stalls than I care to mention)
but when you have people like this organising a fair
you just KNOW everything possible has been done
to ensure a good day and I feel really honoured to be
included in some small part of it.
 
Lovely to have a catch-up with friends but alas no time
for a full-on goss, and great to meet new people
and put faces to blogs.
 
My feet are KILLING me, I'm gonna have a large
glass of wine in the bath and then slob out in front of the TV
with a supermarket Chindian takeaway-
Chinese starters and Indian mains.
 
it was a great day!
xx

Tuesday, October 23

I'm selling on Saturday at Trull near Taunton!



 
After the overwhelming success of the last
run by Lizzie and Claire from The Vintage Bazaar
 
 
I couldn't wait to have another stall!

 
Well,
on Saturday 27th October the fair is being held once again
and I've been madly sorting through heaps of linens,
vintage clothes and textiles, boxes & baskets, beads & buttons,
sewing cabinets, projects-in-waiting and household wants.

 
I'm not best suited to an artfully arranged stall as my selling technique
has always been pile-it-high-and-sell-it-cheap,
so I feel no need to apologise for doing just that!
 
 
Having recently finished clearing the entire contents of a large house
and attics for someone drastically down-sizing 
I've got more stock than I have houseroom (or shedroom!)
so this is a great chance to grab a bargain and enable
my sitting room and guest bedroom to be
just that once again, hopefully in time for Christmas! 

 
It will be really great to meet up with old friends and customers again
and meet some new ones

 
so if you can fight your way thru the chaos that will undoubtedly be me,
please come and say hello
 
 
The location is

 
 
Look forward to seeing you there!
xx
 

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