Tuesday, September 29, 2009

stripes and roses: a high street grab

What's wrong with high street fashion this season? The colours are too brash, the music too loud, the racks of clothes too close together, the fashions too disposable. The fitting rooms are too near the back of the shop, and the shop assistants are too busy with Facebook on their mobile phones to help me.

OK, you're right, it's me. I'm getting old. I like to have peace when I shop, and room for my imaginary bevy of security guards and bag-carriers to follow me around without crashing into the eighties revival.

But I'm going to dash out for these lovely tights from Topshop. Worn with a short dark wool skirt, calf-length biker boots and a short belted coat, they might help me masquerade as a Bright Young Thing, just like you.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

nasturtiums on a cake & this & that

Tempted by the recipe at Some Say Cocoa, Some Say Cacao, I had a go at making Chocolate Guinness cake today.

I'm not of a disposition to sift or gradually add anything except in the case of particularly delicate recipes, so I did some brute force baking and topped it off with nasturtiums, that traditional accompaniment to Guinness. The problem now is that it doesn't seem right to slice it until the visitors arrive.

And in my sporadic look at what else is out there:

The new Toast video, spotted at Ill Seen, Ill Said, could almost be the film of an Elizabeth Bowen book. This is the landscape of where I live: the lanes, the clear grey and soft blue of autumn and winter, the inadequate central heating, the stone walls and the sea. And, of course, we are equally well dressed and on trend (she said, having proudly come home from town with a new grey lacy cardigan). But by God we will not wear those shoes.

Shell Sherree has opened an etsy shop of her charming drawings, whose lightness of touch and soft colours caught my eye even before I saw the Campari bottle.

Every fancy interiors shop displays oversized Frenchified kitchen clocks, but I'm not having them. A large and simple sticker clock from Not on the High Street, featured at Kickcan & Conkers, would be a lovely alternative.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

considerable social success

My considerable social success, if you'll pardon the untruth, is due entirely to this invaluable tip I read years ago: when at a party, you should always move about the place carrying two glasses of wine.

If you get trapped in conversation with a bore, you can remark with regret that you promised to fetch dear Martha this drink and will be right back. If this fails and he clutches your sleeve to finish his anecdote, you will have a second glass of wine to dull the pain. And if you spot an interesting stranger, you can approach them delightedly and offer them one of your drinks, "I'm so pleased to meet you; this is for you".

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

playing for time until the faux fur arrives

Although I've been too busy procrastinating to post, I've kept reading my favourite blogs and have gleaned that it's Autumn in the blogosphere and time to sprinkle some faux fur throws about the place and embrace purple. I have neither faux fur nor purple and won't be in town until Saturday, but we're marking our own change of season here in our charmingly dated way.

We turn up the range and abandon salads for toast, full of imaginary protein and vitamins and served with Grandma's raspberry jam.

Wellingtons are dusted off and the ladybird ones are fought over. My beloved beskirted coat reappears and I stockpile Benefit lipsticks in case of global shortage.

Books that everyone else has read years ago accumulate by my bed, ready to catch up with on rainy weekends. I adroitly change the subject when this year's Man Booker shortlist is mentioned. The assistant throws some purple food dye into the sea so that we may conform.

Moving on to bathroom matters, we're going for an old-fashioned bath with legs, thanks to all your kind input. The question now is what colour to paint the outside of the bath, so some dithering on this will follow soon.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

blue daughter & this & that

Blue Daughter doesn't understand about fashion yet, and that no one is making blue clothes for girls this season. There's no way she'll accept pink hand-me-downs from Pink Daughter. Luckily, she'll settle for teal, so long as she is given blueberries.

And now, in a burst of enthusiasm for what's out there:

Thursday, September 17, 2009

laundry day

Now that my new organic rose day cream protects me from taxation, I have money to burn. So I'm waiting for the postman to arrive with Laundry Day, a print on wood from Sascalia, which I discovered by the great power of the w w w via Green and Pretty.

It'll be perfect in the playroom: pink for one daughter, blue for the other, in that naive style that seems to be creeping up on me through exposure to etsy and craft blogs. Perhaps, when you visit, you'll have forgotten this post and I can claim to have created it myself?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

waltzing lampshades

I'm not a fan of the clutter and fakery of the shabby chic look, and nor, you mutter, are you, but don't run away yet. Just look at these lampshades from Rachel Ashwell (which I spotted over at Dwellings and D├ęcor), hooking up their skirts ready for the waltz, like Laura's Ma in 'Little House in the Big Woods'.

How's that for simplicity and jauntiness? You can just imagine how effective they would look lined up in vibrant colours in a more contemporary setting. But I'd settle for the whites and pastels if they were available online, and fall asleep feeling as though I were at an old-fashioned ball.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

distracted by the sea

America, I hear you remarking that you have had enough of the heat, but here it is this season's novelty for us to have a diamond sea.

So rather than browsing for images of bathroom tiles, we're making sandcastles.

And rather than looking for quotes for bathroom installation, we're gathering seaweed to make inedible soup.

And rather than debating the merits of Edwardian versus Japanese sanitary ware, we're rescuing hats that are swept out to sea.

But consider yourself lucky. I had considered posting a photo of the current main bathroom (clearly untouched since the house was modernised in the seventies) for your ever-helpful and imaginative suggestions, but it would really be very unkind to inflict it upon you. I doubt you've ever seen a bathtub in our particular shade of creamy puce before.

Friday, September 11, 2009

a sudden late summer

I'd given up on summer but here it is, large as life in my back garden.

This internationally renowned, bird-winning blog decided to have no profound thoughts today and spent the afternoon failing to catch butterflies. When it rains again I'll get back in with the in crowd and arrange my designer handbags magnificently on cushions.

Does anyone know how to dry a wine decanter? Google has some suggestions but they are very lame, and how can I be fabulous if I struggle with detail?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

pretending to have knitted a hat

It's a sheltered life I lead here, away from motorways, roundabouts and the scrum of city shopping. So when I bestir myself and enter the fray, it takes me aback. The ability to be in the right lane at the right time with the right determination wasn't sprinkled my way when personality traits were being doled out at birth.

We followed the hectic retail trail on a family trip to Scotland last week, and it struck me that although I may sometimes smile at the current crafting and upcycling trend, I'm all for it. All those shiny, flimsily sewn clothes in the high street shops, the flat-pack MDF furniture, this season's disposable accessories, the factory-produced art: they just bring more and more people out into a world of traffic and queues and frustration, and half price sales exist because the merchandise isn't worth anything like half of its full price.

And although it's more peaceful here at home, I could still do with a new table. I need old-fashioned emporia leisurely selling carefully made goods to fulfil the social function of shopping, complemented by a diverse, reliable online shopping service for items that require little experimentation or choice. Ireland may have some remnant of the former, but it's still lacking much of the latter. Reader, what shall I do until I've mastered making my own shampoo and ballgowns?

This is a hat I bought at the local market. My hope is that people will look at it and think 'Oh what a good mother, she must have knitted that charming hat for her daughter'. That's a start, right?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

theme mania: deckchairs

I'm sure you're all way ahead of me and have been idling around this summer in these charmingly retro Penguin Deckchairs.  If I had time to lounge, I'd be down the lane at the beach too, loitering gracefully on 'The Big Sleep' with a cool Campari & Soda by my side.   

But I don't, so I have Philip Dunn's deckchairs on the walls instead, soon to be joined by Annie's lovely image from her Brighton visit.  

Ever obsessive, I checked etsy for deckchair products and found very few. There appears to be a gap in the market for deckchair hairgrips, t-shirts and umbrellas, make your own deckchair kits, and a stained glass deckchair window for staring out to sea through (hello jaboopee).  Some of us, you see, can't resist anything that's striped.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

at last, a wall

The epic wall, bedevilled by rain, is finally finished, although the stonemason seems to have abandoned his tractor in our front garden.

Now all we need is some gates so that I can stop patrolling the perimeter of the estate for children escaping down to the main road for bigger, better blackberries, and settle back once more to catch up with a few episodes of When Good Tea-Breaks Go Bad.

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