the world's best umbrella

Well the prettiest anyway.  Isn't this a corker?

This is a very timely blog indeed as it has done nothing but rain, pretty much continuously for the past three weeks.  We are very tired of being wet, well apart from Tilly, she flipping well loves it. 

My umbrella?  Very boring, plain black and fits in my handbag...dullsville. So I found myself wishing I had something much, much prettier and off I went to find out where I could find the best umbrella in the world.

Well?  What do you think?  Some of these are just too pretty to use huh?.

If you would rather stay in on a rainy day I can recommend the following most delightful French film.

And my favourite rainy day activity (apart from watching the snooker, which is what I've been doing all day today), curl up on the sofa, get a cup of tea and read a brilliant book.  Enjoy.

ps. the world's best umbrella is the first one...of course.  Too darn pretty.


vintage love affair

I'm currently having a vintage love affair, I admit it.

I found this dress on Etsy, who I've been having a love affair with for ages (yep Mr P knows, it's old news now) and I liked it so much that I bought it.  My first ever vintage purchase and I love it.  Mr P on the other hand thinks it looks like a tablecloth.  Hmph!

So having Etsy to lovingly peruse every day is a comfort, but the only problem with it (and it's a minor one, I love that site), is that it's quite US focused - lots and lots of lovely stuff for sale in America, looks reasonably priced but then it costs a million quid to ship to the UK - not so reasonably priced.

Then, during a period of enforced bed rest (yes such a thing still occurs, sounds very 1960s), I discovered ASOS Marketplace.  What a find (probably old news by now), not only can you buy and sell lovely things on this site but if you fancy a clear out you can set up a page to sell off your wardrobe.

The best thing is most of the sellers on there are UK based, it is open to all countries but most are from good old Blighty and it's chock full of independent vintage resellers and shop owners, all in one place - brilliant!  I could spend all day browsing, just looking at pretty stuff (I like to think of this activity as "online rummaging"!).  

I've already bought a lovely blue dress from there, trouble is that it's a wee bit big - in fact it's loads too big and herein lies the problem with buying vintage clothes....the fit.

I'm seriously going to have to practice much more on my sewing machine and learn to make alterations because the sizing can be so hit and miss.  I've been looking around for sewing classes (with a view to dressmaking) and think I've found a place in Clapham so fingers crossed I can do that and pretty soon I'll be sewing up a storm!

Go and have a look anyway, it's quite good fun and has lots of stuff for men and women alike - somehow vintage stuff for men isn't as nice though, I don't know why but have a look and you'll see what I mean.

Meanwhile, I'm off to make broad bean pilaf!!  Never made it before, should be interesting.


Selina Lake's Homespun Style Book

I love this book.  You must try and have a nosey through it's pages sometime soon, perhaps over a nice cup of tea and a custard slice.  I did.

Selina has picked out some of the most beautiful homespun style homes and put them all together in this gorgeous book that I can't quite seem to put down.

source: Selina Lake Homespun Style p.95
The book is divided up into sections on Elements, Details and Spaces and gives lots of advice on how to get creative with your home design, everything from selecting colours and buying fabrics to super relaxed and colourful furniture.

We are particularly in love with the coloured tables and mismatched painted chairs in the book.  There are lots of examples of which the above is my favourite.

All of the images are taken from the homes of various designers, bloggers, interior specialists and stylists, of which Selina's own home is one.  Her home really is a homespun style dream and I heart it...just check out this table of hers with the cake stand made from vintage plates and saucers.  Lovely.

source: Selina Lake Homespun Style p.7
I'm not going to show you too make snaps of the book because:

a. there is just too much lovely stuff to choose from, and
b. you really need to go out and buy this book to appreciate it - only if you're into that kind of thing, obviously.

I couldn't resist showing you this bobble-edged scarf though, check out that beautiful and bright pattern..whoa there!!

source: Selina Lake Homespun Style p.14

The whole book reminds me of the famous William Morris quote that my friend Annie is particularly fond of:

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.

Exactly right Mr Morris, good chap.

Okay, here is where you can find Selina's blog which is chock full of more pretty things and loads of great snaps from her book which you can purchase from her blog (signed copies too..swoon).  She also has lots more style advice for your home, links to other great stylist bloggers and information on forthcoming pop-up shop events..which I really want to get too but haven't managed so far.

Happy homestyling.


a disastrous first knitting project

...and probably my last to be completely honest with you.

Looks harmless sitting there all nicely folded on the sofa doesn't it?  Well let me tell you this scarf was a battle of wits.  It took ages to make (mainly because I'm SO bad at knitting), used loads of wool and was a right bugger to stitch up at the end causing me to revert to my good old buddy crochet to finish it off.

And then....cue the melancholy music and sad face, I don't like it.

Ha! That'll teach me to try out something new.  Well I say something new but I think I got the pattern book, this one here..

....for a Birthday present, oh maybe nine or ten years ago (yikes), and I've never made anything from it so I felt that I should and see that lovely scarf she's wearing on the front cover...well that's what I decided to make - looks quite nice on her doesn't it??

Well that's because all the shots of this scarf don't show it's amazing and quite shocking length!!  Herein lies my main problem with said Berber Scarf (as it is known in the pattern world), and maybe I should have paid heed to the title of the book - it is huge, ginormous, massive and completely out of control.

Ha haa...I mean, really!   You start wrapping this bad boy around your neck and you pretty soon end up looking like a ninja with serious weight problems.  Oh yeah, I'm not kidding and I'm not even showing you the pictures because they are all so bad.  I tried to make the scarf look some kind of stylish but in every shot I look like I'm being eaten alive by a crazed yarn monster.

And....AND! it sheds like a thing possessed.  I made it in greys and black because I have two lovely black wool coats for the winter.....this scarf ain't going anywhere near them, it coats, literally coats, anything black in a thick layer of muted grey fluff, not a pretty look.

The hideous great scarf of Blooming Towers, sadly packed away probably never to be seen again.

Maybe I could give it away to an animal shelter, think how many puppies and kittens would be kept warm by just this one unwanted scarf.

So me and knitting, we've fallen out again.  I keep trying to be good at it and make something useful but every single knitting episode of my life has failed.  You just have to ask my Dad, who had the misfortune to receive my first ever knitted item, another scarf and also grey.  The scarf was so short (too long? too short? I need to get some middle ground here), that he literally had to force it to go round his neck and he faithfully ignored the holes and missed stitches whilst wearing it every single day to walk the dog!!  Thanks Dad.

I'm sure I will try again some time soon, but don't count on it, I've got millions of better things to be doing with my yarn stash. Crochet, I love you.


I heart The Little Paris Kitchen

My current favourite lady in the whole wide world is Rachel Khoo.  She is really awesome and has the best and tiniest kitchen ever - well the best Moroccan tiles in the best and tiniest kitchen ever anyway, check them out.

Yes that's right, we are looking at the tiles people, not Rachel's loveliness.

She is such an inspiration.  A Croydon gal who dreamed of living in Paris and learning to cook at Le Cordon Bleu so she just went and did it.  She now lives in a tiny studio flat in the Belleville neighbourhood of Paris which she turns into Paris's smallest restaurant in the evenings.  How cool is that?

Her aim is to show that French cooking doesn't have to be complicated and she proves that every time, and I'm a vegetarian so can't eat most of the stuff she makes (the French love meat and fish above all things, apart from maybe fags and red wine!).  My favourites so far are her lemon curd filled madeleines...

..and last night's lentil salad which I can't find the recipe for on the BBC website but will hunt it down and attempt to make it, she used beetroots, lentilles vertes and goats cheese and it looked divine!

She has written two cookery books in French and now her new book is out, the one that accompanies her BBC television show, The Little Paris Kitchen.  If you've missed it so far, check it out here.  Well worth a watch just to see what can be achieved with a tiny workspace with a miniature oven.
We salute you cool lady Khoo.

ps. The Little Paris Kitchen is not my current favourite TV cookery show (sorry Rachel), that position goes to the excellent Hairy Bikers and their Bakeation which is currently showing on BBC2 as well.  These guys combine stunning scenery with tasty baked treats and make me hoot with laughter every single time, you simply MUST watch this on the iPlayer if you can.


back from an extended break

I'm back, seemingly from outer space.  It has been a month since I last blogged and no excuses will be given, I have been neglectful.

And busy, we went here.

With her.

I got these.

And had to choose between these.

I made these.

And ate a bag full of this (courtesy of my gorgeous cousin) x

I also read these and loved them.

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2)Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3)

And watched this.

So a fair amount of stuff huh, but not enough to warrant a full month off blogging...yeah, well, as Socrates once said "Beware of the barrenness of a busy life" and remember that we all need to 'take some time to stop and stare' every now and again and I just did.

ps. I'm studying Socrates at the moment and he 'rocked' the fifth century BC.


He discounted the mythological gods by saying things like the clouds produced rain and not Zeus (it seems weird to not know this but this was unheard of at the time), he invented logic and reason, made some kick-ass quotes mostly recorded by his student Plato and then he miffed the rulers of Athens so much they put him on trial for not believing in god (or more to the point their gods) and sentenced him to death by suicide!!!  The man had to drink hemlock to kill himself (apparently not too horrible, see http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/socrates.htm for a full account), all for being wise and lovely.  He was 70.