Wednesday, 21 October 2015

The best party ever?

Eight years ago I went to the best - and the worst - party I think I'll ever go to. Hard to imagine something so beautiful could, in fact, be one of the most painful evenings of my life. 

It was a small gathering, just my parents and me, together in a small space, holding hands, laughing, crying, reminiscing, deliberating. So much discussion with, in fact, so few words.

We remembered family holidays - those camping trips in the 70's which were our own version of Emma Kennedy's The Tent, The Bucket and Me. My Dad would pack EVERYTHING into Mum's Mini, the tent taking up the whole boot, the car filled to the rafters with everything else. He would build me a seat on top of a few boxes and then pack the car around me! And we'd be off, 'up north' with several other families to a campsite (I use that term VERY loosely - my memory is that it was simply a field with one downpipe on the edge of a forest and near a VERY cold stream that we washed in - if we had to!). Oh my, what fun we all had, though! 

We laughed and remembered funny incidents..."D'you remember when Dad...?" "What about the time when....?" You know the type of thing.

We went 'travelling' together that night, remembering trips to the Algarve, Mallorca, France (remember, Mum, when you forgot what side of the road to drive on in Bordeaux and found yourself faced with three lanes of traffic heading your way?!!), me recounting my solo trips to France as a teenager and then my round-the-world travels after university, which then led to questions - I was so independent, how was that for you as my parents? How could you, Mum, feel comfortable with me doing that? How could you let me? At the time my daughter was 18 months old. I could barely cope with being away from her for the working day, let alone imagine her travelling the world as a young woman on her own. Really? Was I going to be able to do that for her? My Mum, with her usual strength of conviction, told me I would, that I would just know when the time was right for that to happen. That I would be able to give my girl the wings she needed, like she had given me, and it would be right. I'm still not sure I wholly believe her but I'm holding her words in my heart and trusting that she will be right.

And so it went on, our evening of extreme loveliness, heads together, remembering, imagining, dreaming and waiting. Waiting for the inevitable end that was coming but that none of us wanted to accept.

At the end of the evening, Mum said, quite clearly, "Thank you for coming to my party". The three of us squeezed hands and did our best to smile, despite the tears streaming down our faces.

My mum was at the end of her life. 

This party was the last that we would share in person. 

And it was beautiful.




Filling the time before lunch...

Last Saturday was a most glorious autumn day - slightly chilly but beautifully sunny. More of a lightweight cardigan day than the full on scarf and boots day the week turned into. 

Looking to kill an hour before lunch, I encouraged my littlest daughter and her friend to make an autumn mobile each rather than start watching TV. 

First up, we grabbed a basket and headed out in search of 'treasure'. As it turned out we didn't have to venture far before we found loads of gorgeous leaves; the colours a mix of reds and greens with a bit of yellow and orange thrown in too. We had such a lovely time sorting through the piles of leaves that our plan for a major nature trail soon turned into more of a 'find your favourite leaves from this massive pile'! It was hard not to pick them all up!


(You'll notice Fudge Bear, the class mascot, helping out too!)

Home we went and laid out our stick (that the leaves would be hanging from) on the patio table and sorted out our favourite leaves from the mass. That was a challenge in itself!

We were rather impatient which meant that instead of pressing the leaves so they would stay flat, we used sticky back plastic front and back to keep them from curling. You could laminate them too, if you've got the equipment (we don't so we didn't!!). It was a bit laborious and won't last forever, but it was a good temporary option.



So, each leaf was stuck onto the sticky side, then another piece stuck on top. Push them together to seal and then some scissor exercise by trimming around the edge - not too close though or the leaf will pop out!!



Once we were happy with our leaves, I used two strands of orange embroidery thread to tie all the leaves in a line, then wrapped this around the stick to hold them in place. 

My daughter also found some conkers she wanted to add. My challenge was to poke a skewer through the conker to make a hole WITHOUT stabbing myself in the process!! Thankfully I avoided any major incident.

Once the strings of leaves or conkers were tied into place, I added another strand of thread to make a hanger.



And then we were done! 

Finding somewhere to hang it to take a photograph wasn't so easy, but I'm sure you get the drift.

This was SO simple and SO lovely to do. I recommend it to everyone, whatever your age!!


Tuesday, 6 October 2015

San Francisco, I love you!


Now, if you were to ask me what I loved most about San Francisco, my answer will always be "my best friend lives there"! Since you're about to visit, you would also ask me what you should see whilst you're there, and that would be trickier to answer. There are so many great things to see and do whatever time of year you visit. To be honest, though, I could happily do nothing more than hang out with my BFF drinking lattes and martinis (not at the same time, I hasten to add), but that's not so helpful, is it?!

Places I love to visit in SF

Golden Gate Park : take a stroll (or run!) through the park, breathe in the smell of eucalyptus, catch a glimpse of Tai Chi in action, soak up the sun through the trees and enjoy! 

For a bit of culture (and a great view over the city & Golden Gate Bridge) head to the De Young museum and up to the viewing level. Amazing, every time!
 

There's also a fantastic slide in the Koret Children's Quarter, as well as lots of other fun stuff.

Coit Tower : another great spot for fabulous views of the city. It's so calm up here, I love it. 
And if you do go, just imagine a limousine trying to get around that tiny roundabout, getting stuck & having to offload its passengers! Yup, that was me on my bachelorette party!

Crissy Field : a view of the bridge, a walk in the sand, just lovely. Now part of the Golden Gate Recreation Area, this used to be a military airfield. Hard to imagine that now.


Alcatraz : no really, trust me, it's REALLY worth it! I'm not really one for doing the tourist trail, but a trip out to Alcatraz is, honestly, good. Make sure you get the headphones for all the gory sound effects! And,make sure you book early - everyone wants to visit Alcatraz.

Downtown (Union Square, Market Street) : I love the hustle and bustle of Downtown SF, the high rise buildings, the sound of people and cars and fire engines (boy, are they LOUD!). You can get everything downtown - from a Tiffany necklace to Ghiradelli chocolate, designer stores like Coach, Kenneth Cole, Kate Spade - and Old Navy!

If you get a chance to head out of town, pop over to Berkeley or take the ferry to Sausalito. If you can, take a trip to the gorgeous town of Sonoma. If nothing else, it'll be a good excuse for wine-tasting. 

Places I love to eat

Blowfish Sushi (on Bryant Street). I love sushi but still don't know how to order! Hence I have to go with my BFF who does know how... Oh and it's worth visiting for their cocktails alone!

Humphry Slocombe ice cream : oh my, this is the best ice cream (apart from my own salted caramel of course) and the flavours are just ace! There are now three locations in the city. You really should check them out.

Mel's Drive-In : because, well, you just have to! A good ole American diner with several restaurants throughout the city.

Super Duper Burgers : again, there are several of these throughout the city. I like the one on Chestnut Street as it is good sustenance to aide the shopping spree!!

Toy Boat Dessert Cafe : No website but you can find this cute little place on Clement Street in the Richmond District. 

I have fun memories of this place (& still have a t-shirt somewhere in the back of the cupboard). On my next trip, I'm going back just to update my memories (I'm told the desserts are STILL good some twenty years later!).


Places I love to shop

Those of you who know me well won't be surprised by this list...for those of you who don't, I love shoes, handbags, paper, pens, craft supplies, homeware (especially little bowls!!). This list is by no means exhaustive, it's just MY list!

Ambiance  : a lovely boutique in Noe Valley or Chestnut Street selling goregous clothes, shoes and handbags. What's not to love!?

Crate and Barrel : a big US chain but nonetheless I love it. I'm reminded of the Habitat of old. 

Paper Source : the American equivalent of Paperchase. For those who know me well, I don't need to say anything more! Plus it's got so many craft supplies I could spend hours there. Oh yes, I did, didn't I?!

Books Inc : Another place to get lost in. Book shops are just ace anywhere in the world. This one, also on Chestnut Street, carries a wide range of beautiful books.

Trader Joes : Sad but true, I love looking in supermarkets when I'm overseas.

So, most of my wonts are satisfied by the a list above. I have yet to find a good fabric store (apart from Britex, which I find blinding, it's SO huge), so if anyone can recommend one (or two or three) I'd be grateful - because I need more fabric!!! And I'll be heading back soon...


This is by no means an exhaustive list; in fact I could go on and on about places you should see, you MUST see, but I'll leave it there. Suffice to say, if anyone has any other 'must see' places, please let me know. I'm heading back next month for an overdue martini with my BFF. I can't wait....






Thursday, 23 July 2015

Mrs Rich's world famous and most delicious granola!

It's true, this granola is my favourite and my best and has been enjoyed by many the world over. Just about everyone who tastes it loves it (I don't think there is one person who hasn't yet) and then asks for the recipe, so I thought I would share it with you, lovely one. This is your lucky day!! 



It's the simplest recipe - but aren't they often the best?!


Ingredients

300g porridge oats
100g flaked almonds
50g sesame seeds
50g sunflower & pumpkin seed mix

125ml maple syrup
2tbs runny honey
2tbs vegetable oil
1tsp vanilla essence

50g dessicated coconut
100g dried berries (we love cranberries but you can use any!)

Method

Mix together the dry ingredients (but don't include the coconut or berries) in a bowl.

Mix the liquids together well then add them to the dry ingredients. Give a really good stir, making sure that all the dry stuff gets covered in the syrupy mix.

Then tip the mix onto a baking sheet so there is an even layer. I use two for this recipe.

Place in the oven and cook for 12 minutes. Note: My oven is quite hot so you might find you need to cook yours for a little longer. Just keep an eye out that  the edges aren't getting too brown. 

Remove from the oven and sprinkle the coconut over the part-cooked granola. Give a good stir to mix the coconut in. This also helps if some of the edges are a bit browned. You can move the granola around to achieve it cooks more evenly.

Place back in the oven and cook for a further 8 minutes. When done, take out of the oven and sprinkle berries over the top. 

Leave to cool and then tip into an airtight jar.



You can download the recipe here.

Enjoy! 


Monday, 20 April 2015

Week Two : 100 days of LOVELINESS

Another week of really lovely things. Here are the photos from this last week - 


8/100 Crafting for pre-schoolers celebrating the sunshine
9/100 Letter writing - an off overlooked craft
10/100 Water fights in the back garden
11/100 Fundraising for Water Aid at a Pamper Night
12/100 Liberty fabric
13/100 Homemade Granola
14/100 Sewing at home
15/100 Hanging washing on the line to dry


More loveliness next week.

:-)








Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Week One : 100 days of LOVELINESS

The first week of LOVELINESS is over and, I have to say, I'm really enjoying this project - it's been so nice thinking about all the lovely things that happen every day. And sometimes, it's surprising just how many lovely things there are, too! 

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you'll have seen my photos every day. In case you don't, here they are:


1/100 Mells Daffodil Festival
2/100 Bath Abbey
3/100 a day trip to Weston-super-Mare
4/100 exploring with friends at Willsbridge Mill
5/100 teaching Grandad to play Temple Run on the iPad 
6/100 my Nan (who would've been 98 on that day)
7/100 reminiscing and enjoying the view

Hope you're enjoying it so far!!

More next week....








Monday, 6 April 2015

And so, 100 days of LOVELINESS begins...

"100 days of what?" I hear you cry! Well, I've decided to join in with a new project being run by The Great Discontent magazine and Elle Luna. It's called the 100 Days Project and we are being encouraged to 'make' something for 100 days. You can read more about it here and more about Elle here. It begins today so that will take us up to sometime mid July.

Now, whilst I'm thoroughly liking the whole concept and completely relish the idea of 100 days of making, I also know my limitations very well.  I always have the very best of intentions but, more often than not, don't manage to adhere to them. (I still haven't managed to sit down to write a proper old-fashioned letter to my best friend yet this year and I fully intended to do that at least once a month - to top up the more regular emails, you understand...) 

So, I pondered long and hard about what to do. 100 days of making? Sounds divine, but making what exactly? Dinner?! I definitely do that every day but I'm not sure that counts as a challenge. 100 days of sewing? That would be fabulous but reality says I'd be lucky if this happened once a week, let alone every day. I went all around the houses and came right back here - such lovely things! At the beginning of the year I promised you more loveliness and, as I mentioned earlier, I haven't quite done all I intended. 

100 days of LOVELINESS is my intent - and I'm determined to stick with it. I'm going to be posting every day on Instagram and on Facebook. If you would like to follow my quest - and offer encouragement - you can find me on Instagram here or using the hashtag #100daysofloveliness or on my Facebook page here. I also hope to bring you a weekly update every Monday. I won't promise!

Wish me luck....

Just to save you hopping around, today's LOVELINESS was an afternoon at Mells Daffodil Festival. The sun shone, not only that it was warm, we were all feeling well (our house had been renamed 'the sick bay' for the last two weeks) and we had fun with our friends at an amazing festival in a tiny village nearby. Check out their website for more details. It was properly ace! 



And this picture sums it up for me - at the end of a sunny day, a hint of a cheeky grin from my biggest girl, peeking through the bunch of daffs, held by a pair of grubby hands. What could be lovelier??

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

A little box of loveliness.

Loveliness....after my promise of more loveliness this year, I've been a bit slack. That's not to say there hasn't been any, just that I haven't told you about it. Yet!

So, today's lovely thing is this box of food. It's Wednesday, which in our house is swimming day. Both girls have lessons straight after school. Unfortunately they're not at the same time so my afternoon is spent poolside. 

And since the last lesson finishes so late, I need to bring their food with us. I love making these boxes. Neither girl particularly likes sandwiches so it's always a challenge to find something they'll eat and with enough variety.

Here's today's offering:


Houmous wraps (cream cheese for my littlest), slices of ham rolled up, cucumber, red pepper, a little pot of joy (almonds, sunflower & pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries) and a KitKat. 

Yum! I wish that was for me!

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Love is..... a crochet heart

Happy Valentine's Day, lovely people! 




My current love is these gorgeous crochet hearts. I determined to work out how to make them and now that I have, I can honestly say that they are SO easy!! One of my friends teases me whenever I say this, but, believe me, it really is easy - once you know how!!!

I found a great video tutorial that I watched several times before realising she was talking American-crochet-speak. Once I'd wired out the UK equivalent, there was no stopping me!

Here's the link to the video tutorial : 

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=23EvTAIFM_U

For those of you who prefer either the UK version or in written form, here's what to do -

Make a magic ring
Chain 3
Double treble 3
Treble 3
Double treble 1
Treble 3
Double treble 3
Chain 3
Slip stich through the centre of the ring
Pull the end tight to close the ring and form the heart, then tie off.

See, I told you it was easy!!



These photos aren't the best but they show 1) & 2) making the magic ring 3) having chained 3 and double trebled 3 and 4) half a heart.

The size of your heart will depend on the type of wool used and also the size of your crochet hook, but rest assured, anything goes. You'll soon have a little pile of gorgeous crochet hearts to play with!

I crocheted a long chain and attached the bigger hearts to make some lovely bunting (photo evidence to be added later, sorry!). I added brooch backs to the little ones for Valentine's gifts. 

Crochet-love is a real thing in our house. I'll tell you more next time!

Much love for a happy Valentine's Day.

Friday, 30 January 2015

2015 - a year of loveliness, please!

Oh my gosh, tomorrow is the last day of January! Can you believe it? Already? Is it too late to wish you a Happy New Year? Probably, but I will anyway, since this is my first post of the year...

HAPPY NEW YEAR! 

Here's hoping 2015 is a good one for all of you. At least, let's find lots of loveliness in our days. That's my intention for this year, not a whole load of unrealistic resolutions but an intention to find as much loveliness as possible.
And it's started well... I live in the beautiful city of Bath and these lovely sunny winter days make the whole place shine and, most importantly, make me smile.  





I have a long list of lovely things to share with you. Watch this space!

In the meantime, I sincerely hope your year will be full of lovely things, too.

:-)