Sunday, 20 December 2009

Happy Happy Christmas

Well, this is goodbye for now. I'm away from Monday until after the New Year. Unless something extraordinarily interesting happens to me in the interim, I will not be posting again until the 2nd January at least.

One of the things that gives me the most pleasure at Christmas is wrapping up my gifts as nicely as I can. I really like it when effort has been put into making a gift look special (it kind of distracts the recipient from the rubbish present inside!) Gift giving should never be about quantity nor monetary value, but about thoughtfulness. I'm not the world's best gift-giver but I try to make them pretty all the same. Here are some photos of this year's efforts, involving lots of ribbon, Korean printed paper and those little bug brooches I got from Shelf, which I see has now launched its online shop. How exciting!

Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year. Thank you for reading! I will be back soon, several pounds heavier and looking forward to a great 2010.

Friday, 18 December 2009


Some of these were taken early this morning, the last two later on when it was brighter. That is the back of our house with the snow slowly melting off the thatch.

Since we are talking about big black boots...

Let me indulge myself here (and this could be a very long post... sorry if you are male (or, indeed, female) and find all this terribly boring). I'll start with a statement. I do not, under any circumstances, want to become one of the Ugg brigade. I have a very short pair of sheepskin monsters that do well enough when it is freezing outside, but I am feeling the need to move away from such things. I get this horrid, creeping feeling that I look like an idiot when I am wearing them (especially since my old boss laughed for an indecently long time the first time he saw them :-/).

So. 1st choice was: brown, thick leather, pull-on country boots that are really more like wellies and very practical. Must be mid-calf length, loose and straight around the ankle, absolutely no biker buckles, not too loose at the top. To be worn with thick welly socks or leg warmers poking out of the top. Can I find any that fit all those criteria? Not a chance.

H by Hudson boots come closest after the Toast roper boots, and can look quite good, if a bit cowboy-ish and contrived - you know, the turned up sole, the artful distressing. And they are that little bit too expensive.

There is a cute-ish pair for £35 in Muji that I tried on a couple of months ago, but I think they look and feel a bit flimsy, a bit 'city' if you know what I mean. And those cuffs won't last a minute with me:

And if I don't want flimsy, how about super-hardwearing, gaiter-topped, waterproof clod-hopping leather Toggi boots (below)? I can get them for £85.99 on eBay but I fear they might make me look like a dwarf. They make me think I should grow a beard. Very practical, but perhaps a bit too bulky. I think I would actually have to own a farm to make them look necessary.

Now I have ground to a halt on the mid-calf front, the next option is a pair of ankle-height lace-up Victorian-looking brown jodhpur boots, under no circumstances to be worn with said jodhpurs. A bit boring? Do I wear too many brogue-style shoes? Will they make me look like some kind of country-chic wannabe? Probably. But for only £15.99, they might be worth a punt, worn with some chunky socks and tights. I don't have the world's best calves for this length, but I don't really give a shit.

And the latest one I'm mulling over is this somewhat military, cuffed number made by US company, Frye. Very expensive new, this pair could be mine for £55. And they look like they will take some hammering in a muddy field without taking too much damage. But will they make me look like a bloke, or a Communist? Probably. But I can imagine the ankle stuffed with coloured socks over grey tights, worn with something girly on top - might work; might look like an ugly joke. What do you think? Anyone got any ideas?

Bleurgh. That was a bit too self-indulgent and girly. Sorry.
We have had SNOW here and it is beautiful! I will post up photos later today as a kind of apology to those who find footwear a bit tedious :-P

Thursday, 17 December 2009


Well, OK, it's nothing that interesting. I heat-fixed my egg cups and packaged them up ready to give away.

And here is my latest sartorial creation, a loose fitting dolman-sleeved long blouse tunic thing made from the softest cotton lawn fabric. The buttons are from my recent trip to Newark - the top button is Czech. Don't look too closely at the hand-sewn bits!

I'm off to a Christmas dinner with the husband this afternoon (oh, what to wear?!). I really should be working right now instead of pootling about here. I have been spending far too much time on eBay these last few days missing out on a nearly new pair of Toast roper boots (I was too much of a miser to go over £80), and then searching for an affordable alternative that won't make me look like a posh pony-riding girl, a biker or a cowboy. Not easy... I shall let you know how it goes. Bye!

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

as promised...

Here's a creature I did for a pitch recently. OK, so I promised I would draw something new, but I got too excited by the snow falling outside and went into the garden to freeze my ass off taking photos instead.

some lucky person...

is going to get these silly egg cups in their Secret Santa gift next Tuesday, complete with awfully hand-crocheted egg cosy hats and something else. I am having Christmas lunch with my dear old friends at 12foot6 during which the giving of useless and slightly ugly gifts is a tradition. Please excuse the terrible night-time lighting.

I have been working on a few small illustration projects, none of which have really yielded much to look at, I'm afraid. So I thought I'd share one of my favourite ever pictures of my sister and I. The colours, the poses, the hands, the clothes! Everything is just perfectly sweet.

I promise I'll draw something to put up later today. I promise!

Monday, 14 December 2009


I have loved living here in our little cottage for nearly two years now, but I am a nasty, fickle thing. I have enjoyed the pretty field view at the end of the garden, the perfect little vegetable patch and watching the husband regularly bang his head on the wooden beams in the house. We have been privileged to be homeowners, and to live in such a picture-perfect house, but some time during our trip this weekend I got a serious itch to move away from where we are now to somewhere in north Powys. OK, so I know it was a beautiful winter's day and I had my proverbial rose-tinted spectacles on, but seriously, it was just amazing.

Sadly, I am not a great photographer, and taking photos of scenery from a moving car never works, so I am left with these photos, taken from and in Montgomery.

In the area around Llanfyllin (pronounce that without spitting, if you can), the hills are spectacular. There, near Meifod, you can get this lovely farmhouse complete with land and a gorgeous view over the valley.

Friday, 11 December 2009

bye for now

I'm off for the weekend. Have been spending the day having my body seen to at the dentist's and the hairdresser, followed by a spot of blouse making (again! Am I getting boring?). Now I'm thinking about getting ready to go up to Birmingham. The husband and I have really been bitten by the Shropshire/Wales bug and our feet are itching to move house to somewhere in that region. We are spending the whole of Saturday having a nose around to see what it's like. It's been a long time since I was there, but I adore it, as long as we can find a property that is rural enough but with internet! Will try and remember to bring the camera this time :-)

The husband brought home a Christmas tree the other day. I am still a bit short of baubles, but I am fussy about what is allowed on the tree and tend to go for a minimalist look - baubles only, and each one special or beautiful in some way or other. Maybe one day I will make a chain of beads, maybe colourless crystals and pearls, to use as a garland. Last year we cut a gazillion surprisingly beautiful paper snowflakes to hang in the rear hallway with fairy lights. They kept very well, pressed underneath the baubles and have made a reappearance this year.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Some of my favourite stomping grounds

I am going to put up some pencil drawings for sale in my Etsy shop some time soon - drawings that I made on various trips to my favourite places. Firstly, the Hunterian Museum in Holborn, London is probably my favourite - packed full of jars of pickled animals and other medical specimens, it is both macabre and fascinating. I also used to draw at the Natural History Museum in London but the hordes of young children coming by to gawp and ask 'are you an artist?' drives me nuts after a while. It's quite a difficult question for me - am I an artist? - because I struggle with the answer all the time. I like to think I am...

Then there are other cities and other museums. I have a particular fondness for my old place of study, the University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge, where I spent many happy hours listening to the magnificent and fascinating Adrian Friday's lectures, or studying fossils, and snoring my way through tutorials, or supervisions as we called them. To go back there now simply to draw pictures is bliss. I do miss the old days when I used to KNOW something about the animals I was drawing, but really, my brain didn't have the capacity for it all so I'm better off as I am now.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

this and that...

Had a wonderful weekend in Glasgow doing lots of girly shopping, chatting and eating far too much sugar. What a beautiful and interesting city Glasgow is - undeserving of its rough reputation, it really is a great place, if a bit rainy and cold! I have never in my life seen so many good charity and vintage shops arrayed in such density. I stupidly didn't bring a camera on any of my travels, though. I came home with a bright woollen Pringle sweater that was pretty much brand new with its original tags still on it. It all adds to the country eccentric look I have been obsessing about recently.

Newark last Thursday was amazing, but it was so damned COLD! Seriously, even with my winter gear and sheepskin boots I was so cold I could barely think. Plus being on my own was a bit sad - wished the husband could have been with me. I passed by a trio of lovely big pressed glass German jam jars with strawberry logos on them. I didn't ask for the price and when I came back later to do so they were, of course, gone. Bought by someone with a bit more gumption than me :-( What else did I not buy? Some beautifully soft hand-knitted French socks, two pairs of stripey bloomer/pyjama things, a large piece of lovely printed fabric (seriously rude dealer didn't deserve my custom, and I was only being cheeky with my offer!), and two amazing French wooden pull-along toys that, at £40 each, were just too much for miserly me.

In the end, I purchased five extraordinary chemist's bottles etched deeply with the names of the chemicals they used to hold. Real beauties they were and it took a bit of haggling to get them down to a decent price. All they need is a good clean. I also ended up with a selection of vintage buttons and two large serving dishes for when we have guests. Ah, such happiness in spending!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Looking back

I'm 29 years old today. When I was at home last weekend, my sister and I spent a lot of time poring over old photographs and laughing our asses off over our hideous teenage selves or our parents' fantastic early 1980s clothing. Some of the dresses my Mum wore were AMAZING - if only I could get my hands on those now, I'd definitely wear them. By my age, my parents had two very young children and were just starting out in England together - I'm nowhere near making a family of my own yet! I thought I'd share a couple of photos of my sister and I when we were as cute as buttons (if I may say that about myself). Why can't I be as cute as that now I'm an adult?

(left to right) My sister Wing, my trendy Dad and me.

Me and Wing.

Me and Wing.

An earlier photograph with all of us at a wedding.
More another time.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

fun and games

What have I been up to?

Seeing my family
Eating lots of food
Learning how to crochet really badly (I think I need a tighter yarn)
Nursing toothache
Watching a huge yellow moon setting this morning as we were...
Driving on the M25 again to see the husband off to San Jose
Sewing my own shapeless floral blouse tops with button-up necklines.
Finishing off the plushie clock I was making (it will go on Etsy as soon as I can be bothered!)

What am I looking forward to?

A lovely weekend in Glasgow with one of my bestest friends
Getting up at the crack of dawn for Newark Antiques Fair this Thursday
Seeing the husband again

It's my birthday tomorrow and I am all alone for the whole time. No, don't feel sorry for me, it's just another humdrum day at this age. That said, I have already received some lovely gifts from my family this weekend, including a gorgeous set of vintage style plates from my thoughtful sister and some new sketchbooks. Hm. Unless someone phones me with work (I'm waiting for the damn thing to ring, like, NOW) I might just do whatever I please tomorrow...

Friday, 27 November 2009


I have been spending far too much time on eBay recently, looking at woollen cardigans, vintage toys and floral blouses. Today I came across a pair of old bowling pins from France and followed the seller's link to this online shop that has just opened this month in France - Un-Siecle-de-Plus. Irritating music aside, it is a trove of beautiful French antiques, selling metal shop lettering, wire baskets, clothes hangers and shoe lasts amongst other things. Of course it's all in French so if you can't read it that's a shame, but the images are still beautiful.

The shop owner also keeps a blog with some lovely pictures of French junk, updates on new products and links to other shops.

I just realised how long it's been since I've posted up a random sketchbook drawing or any work - maybe I'll make amends next week. It's all been about houses and shopping here for too long!