Sunday, 9 March 2014
I was reminded this past week of the delight one can take in the simple activities that bring pleasure. When one lives in a busy city like London, it can be easy to be swept up into a pattern that seems to revolve around work commitments and commuting. Even planned social events can sometimes take on a feeling of responsibility rather than enjoyment. This seems compounded after several conversations with people for whom there seems to be a level of competition over who is the busiest or having the most difficult time at work.
This week I was given some reminders of the benefit and importance of balancing what I need to do with what I enjoy doing. Firstly, we seem to be in one of those infrequent periods where there is actually quite a few lovely television programmes to watch. I've been watching the Great British Sewing Bee for the past few weeks - which has whet my appetite for some more dressmaking. This past week also saw the first episode broadcast of Mary Berry's new cooking programme - I loved it. The episode focused on afternoon tea, but it was more the grace and experience that this wonderful lady portrays - you can see that she still takes so much pleasure from baking and cooking for her family and friends.
Yesterday, I returned to the Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court Palace for the third time. This time I was undertaking an introductory course in goldwork. Again, I was surprised at just how quickly six hours can pass when engaged in an activity that I find so enjoyable.
So this afternoon (after I had caught up with yesterday's postponed chores), I have spent a happy few hours finishing off my goldwork sampler. I had an audiobook playing for company, and outside the sun is beautifully shining, heralding spring's approach.
It was a nice reminder that building in these opportunities into my week makes the rest of the more mundane tasks much more palatable...
Sunday, 23 February 2014
When I was in Sydney last October, my mother allowed me to go through my grandmother's old knitting patterns and keep those I wanted. This was perfect timing, as I was looking for a small project to take with me as I travelled on the the US for the rest of my scholarship trip.
It was lovely to go through this legacy of patterns - my mother was able to recall which garments that either she or my grandmother hand knitted my sister and I over the years.
This one above was a particular favourite of my grandmothers - fortunately, there were two copies for some reason, so my mother was able to keep one also. This was a layette that was knitted for me when I was a baby. The pattern is dated from 1948 - costing 6 shillings (and obviously predating Australia's transfer to decimal currency).
Traditonal layettes are not particularly popular anymore, but I thought that the matinee jacket could be easily modernised by the choice of wool. After visiting the local wool shop, I was prepared with a few balls of a beautiful soft gray marled wool to take with me.
I think it now a nice mix of traditional with a hint of modern country.
And in today's other news...
Wednesday, 19 February 2014
While I was in Sydney, one of my mother's good friends had a baby grand-daughter...so I offered to embroider a couple of vests/singlets for her to give as a gift.
These are so quick and relatively easy to make - and the added fine ribbon really adds to the cuteness. They probably took me less than an hour in total to complete.
Bullion roses, stem-stitch, lazy-daisy and a few french knots and a lovely, personal gift is ready to be given...
Thursday, 13 February 2014
...and back to this sadly neglected blog after another hiatus...
I've spent the last three weeks in a mainly sunny and warm (and occasionally very hot) Sydney visiting my family. It was a busy time as I was helping my mother complete some redecorating and decluttering. We decided to refresh the paint in half of her home - so I had my very first attempt at proper painting (painting is one of the activities in which my father never let us participate...I think he probably had visions of either a very poor finish or paint everywhere). But, my mother was happy for me to give it a try. To be honest, I really don't know how people redecorate for a living...it was exhausting! However, the end result was worth it - the rooms look so lovely and light and fresh. Not to mention, good practice for when I have my own home to renovate! I'll complete the remainder of the house on my visit next summer.
Having no current outdoor space, I also enjoyed spending some time working in her garden. Is is a little embarrassing to admit how much I like weeding? There was something very satisfying about achieving a lovely cleared flower bed. I think it is probably akin to my like (not quite love) of ironing and bringing order to all of those wrinkles. I also helped with planting some new shrubs. Both my parents and grandmother have/had a green thumb - something I am hoping rubs off on me when I have a garden of my own.
It was also my mother's birthday while I was in Sydney. For one of her gifts I embroidered her this cushion. In terms of the required timeframe to have it ready for her birthday, I had to complete it before I undertook my recent course at the RSN...but in retrospect I didn't make any glaring mistakes.
The design is based on a traditional tudor design, and adds a little brightness to her study.
We also held a birthday lunch for close family. I made smoked salmon blini's for the first time as an appetiser, along with some mini-quiches.
This beautiful platter belonged to my great-grandmother. It is such a joy to be able to use my mother's collection of antique serving and glass ware.
Lunch was boned and stuffed roast chicken, accompanied by my sister's fabulous potato bake and a spinach and strawberry salad. It was the first time I had made the salad which I saw on Jenny's blog last year, and it was fabulous.
Obviously, we rounded off lunch with a birthday cake. Another first attempt for me in baking a Victoria Sponge - I was attracted to the slightly modified version that Lauren had on her blog last year...and so were the rest of my family if the proof is in the eating...
The three weeks in Sydney passed all too quickly. I'm now back to the rain and horrendous winds in the UK. I am fortunate to still have no detrimental effects from the flooding, unlike so many other poor people in parts of the south-east of England.
Monday, 13 January 2014
Well, that was a slightly longer blogging break than I originally anticipated. But, the weather has been so hideous here in the UK, that I've been very disinclined to set foot outside of the house other than when I absolutely had to (e.g. to get to work). However, I have been very fortunate that despite only living a two minute walk from the Thames, I suffered neither the power loss nor flooding that affected so many homes over Christmas, and which is still causing problems in Surrey, Oxfordshire and Berkshire.
However, Saturday dawned as one of those lovely bright winter days, so it was well timed that it coincided with my return to Hampton Court Palace for another day programme at the Royal School of Needlework. I completed my first programme at the RSN in August - and enjoyed it so much that I immediately enrolled in 3 subsequent day courses.
This course was an introduction to Jacobean embroidery. I have done crewel embroidery in the past, but I enjoyed learning a range of new stitches and refining my technique...
Lunch time break... Not quite half completed
I finished off the embroidery on Sunday, and was quite pleased with the result. Now I just need to find time to take it to the framers...I was thinking that having it placed in a small wall frame would mean that it could be part of a gallery wall in my future home (for which I am still hunting)...
Roll on March and April when I will be back at the palace again to learn about silk-shading and gold work...
Monday, 23 December 2013
Friday, 20 December 2013
On Wednesday evening I attended the annual Christmas carol service held by the charity that supports the hospitals for whom I work. It was as lovely as usual, but also as per usual it included a full rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas.
Midway through verse 10, I was reminded of these amusing thank you notes from Emily to Edward in response to his generous gift giving.
I hope you find them as gently amusing as I do...