Saturday, 30 November 2013

Keeping things real & grounded ....

I am a bit of a dreamer who also likes to keep grounded.  I appreciate the benefits of Capitalism but it has to be tempered with a touch of realism & humanity.

We volunteer at a local FOOD BANK where food parcels are packed up to be distributed to people whose needs have been identified by various agencies & it is always a frenetic packing time - getting your printed list - reading the details which could be any combination of

Family of 6; single person; adult & small child; 2 adults & 3 children; adult & 1 baby; adult & any dog food please and many other combinations too.

The parcels are packed with 3 meals a day for 3 days - short term help only. It is also sobering to read in the local press recently that many parcel recipients might not even have electricity money to heat the food so request tinned food like beans or spaghetti that can be heated very quickly.

Sometimes on a Friday there have been as many as 16 lists to make up & 6 emergency parcels for the weekend.  The times I love most at the food bank are when the big retail stores deliver generously & it is carried in en masse & the shelves fill up - I know just how much that food will be appreciated & also realise how quickly it is used up.

I find it very sobering that in a developed nation such as Great Britain, food poverty is still a problem.

The politics behind cuts & back to work programmes are a factor but there is also the human side of the lists - the requests for nappies & infant food, requests for a razor, tweets going out to ask for clothes to wear to a job interview ...

Last night, we joined the stayout2013 cause at our local shopping centre carpark to highlight the plight of those sleeping rough in our modern town. It was a bracing 6.5C outside with a cold wind but the folk there set to making their cardboard homes for the night - many had secured sponsorship for the sleep out.

My wondering star daughter signing in

A local band Loose Lips were keeping spirits high from their covered position

There was a good atmosphere as everyone chatted then fell silent as we listened to 3 former rough sleepers share their stories ...All young, all slept rough after family fallouts - one girl out on her own at 16 on the streets.  They spoke openly about their plight, the help they had received & how they are now giving back to help others - inspirational stuff.

The manager came out from the neighbouring McDonalds to offer spare boxes & they provided early morning breakfast ....

The irony for me was that this all occurred on BLACK FRIDAY - a day associated with mass consumerism that is catching on here too. The sleepout boxes in the car park were under the brightly lit McDonald's & BARCLAYS signs, with Christmas trees lit up on the carpark & late festive shoppers carrying their load right past, few even giving the event a second glance  ....

We all need to just S T O P and take stock of where we are at this moment in life & give thanks for our blessings, however small they are.

Chatting to many there brought home to me how easily homelessness can strike for many reasons & how we all just need to take a deep breathe & take stock of life again.

As adults & parents, we need to swing that pendulum back to what is really important & that will not be found in the halls of commercialism & greed ....

Never look down on a person unless you're helping them up!

Thank you for reading this - I hope it has given you some insight & that you will donate to a local collection. Spare winter coats, warm clothes & shoes will make a huge difference so sort out your wardrobe & donate them please ....

Dee ~♥~

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Painting a vintage gold frame ....

This vintage gold frame was bought as a possible one for my lady but not used. However, it is a stunning vintage frame & I wanted to use it in the lounge where a generous frame is needed so I decided to paint it.

The vintage frame had damage to the gesso so this made sense to up-cycle it by painting with Annie Sloan paints.

I used Annie Sloan's book 'Creating the French look' for inspiration.

I wanted to frame a piece of Lee Jofa 'Stags & Hounds' fabric that complemented our Ralph Lauren curtains in the bay window.

I decided the frame could be bolder so I started to highlight the raised detail with Annie Sloan 'Florence', 'Emperor silk' red & 'Paris Grey' to bring colour to the frame.

I must admit thinking that it was garish at this point but I decided to press on. The inner part was painted 'Florence' then 'Emperor Silk' to bring lightness to it.

The whole frame was then painted with 'Graphite'

While wet, I used my finger & a damp cloth, to take the graphite off the raised detail to expose the gold frame & the other colours underneath in places.

This is the first time I have done this but I proceeded with the knowledge it could easily be repainted if I didn't like the look.

I like the colour ranges that subtly appear - gold, green, red, grey which add tones to the frame.

Waxing time to seal it & enrich the colour - then the fabric was added in the hope it would look right in the lounge with its large red wall.

It complements the curtain fabric beautifully - similar colours & fabric. It also incorporates 'deer / stag' antlers elements that we have in the lounge.

The red wall is always a challenge in the lounge but I am pleased with this element that sits well with everything we have & most importantly - it is something I love.

Do you have elements in your home that are 'challenging'? Are you in favour of painting vintage things so that you will use them & get pleasure from them?

Thanks for stopping by, I always enjoy your insight & feedback
Dee ~♥~

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Better late than never - potting up for Winter

I know - you might just be like me & leave things to the last minute but Summer rushed by & I just didn't even get to potting up any hyacinths that we always have indoors for Winter.  With our pair of resident squirrels helping themselves to my bulbs I have been a bit disheartened by their love of hyacinth bulbs.

I reasoned that seen as bulbs are cheap to buy in flower, it is not worth shooing off squirrels ....

However, this week while I popped into a local garden centre, I saw all their bulbs were now half price because it is so late in the season & so I decided to get a few late ones to pot up.

Potting up bulbs is one of those relaxing activities - a challenge to see if they will respond & it satisfies the gardener in me to see them thrive ...

Luckily there was just enough potting soil left in the bag.

I know the bulbs will be indoors so I potted them up in containers that were in a box for the charity shop as they are so seldom used - perfect!

The paperwhites & grape hyacinths together

My dear sister-in-law Ms M bought this delightful vintage container while on a visit some years back & it is always potted up with daffodils so that is what I did again. Don't you just love the pot?

My terracotta trays with last years crocuses & grape hyacinths that will be moved to the front porch have been moved from their place behind the herb planters to under the bench & covered with horticultural fleece for protection. Hopefully they will be as lovely as always.

My new bulbs are now on a shelf in the garage, out of the elements & away from the squirrels. I look forward to their colour ...

Do you plant up for Winter? What favourites will you plant or buy?

Thanks for stopping by, always appreciated
Dee ~♥~

Friday, 22 November 2013

Rustic & White Vintage French charm

Hello my lovely followers

Thanks for stopping by again to share my updates & adventures. This week, some sick students meant that I could just randomly take time to head off for some much needed calm space.

I had reserved these fabulous vintage zinc stencils at  Rustic & White in Shrewsbury so I seized the moment to browse while there.

Rustic & White is always on my way up from the parking & is always so interesting to look at her fabulous finds.

Her Christmas window is absolutely stunning so I asked to take photos for my blog to share her stunning wares ... enjoy

A gorgeous vintage Christmas display that is totally in keeping with the Tudor high street in Shrewsbury. Don't you just love the deer? I am totally in love with the gorgeous vintage bunting in her window - calm, neutral & so original - will have to make some me thinks ....

I love the beautiful 'wish bottles' with the messages & keys because they combine elements I love - music, keys, vintage things & originality.

I was so tempted by the vintage Steiff Deer but resisted. Isn't he just adorable?

Another of my weaknesses - beautiful frames. I just loved the selection of generous frames. There is something rather elegant & solid about a generous frame on a mirror or picture ... I need more walls!

All homes need fabrics & soft furnishings - some lovely bunting & fabric garlands in the shop. I love the calmness of the neutral fabrics. My inglenook fireplace usually has bunting & these neutrals are perfect. More on my to-do list ... perhaps I should do the 'bunting workshop' held at the sewing room at Rustic & White?

Dotted about the shop are interesting vintage metal finds - some zinc letters, old baking items, vintage French candle holders for the Christmas tree ....

Spoilt for vintage frame choice - I love the heavily detailed centre frame

 Vintage browsing in a lovely town is the perfect way to spend an unexpectedly free day - more so when you find a few things that are perfect for your own home. I will reveal my lovely vintage candle sticks I found very soon - those who know me will not be surprised by my choice!

Thanks for stopping by, please follow so I can return the visits
Dee ~♥~

Sunday, 17 November 2013

A hibernation home is needed ....

Some months back a wondering star daughter & I came in late one evening & I caught a glint of something in the lights - we checked & found a large hedgehog making its way along the path. It was the first time I had been up close to one & it was so sweet, making hog noises & nudging its way between the shrubs for protection.

Our neighbour confirmed that he has often seen them out at night. Barely a week later, I found one on the lawn one morning - looking unwell in the rain so I googled advice & then picked it up with thick garden gloves, put it in a large cardboard box inside a taller plastic tub & our vet took it on & nursed it back to health before releasing it.

Since then, I have become more aware of these nocturnal creatures whose numbers are falling rapidly & are in severe decline.

Our local farm shop had her brother make us a hedgehog house. When daughter & I picked it up we were astounded by a hedgehog mansion he had made but we made room under our front shrubs for it because we know that several pass that way ....

I have been topping up food in the house in front & have noticed that the twigs I put in front have been disturbed & the glass food dish I put in appeared at the entrance so I was hoping it was a hog in residence but I peeked & nothing ....

This morning, while I popped into the garden, I caught sight of a hedgehog making its way down our side alley way that connects the front & back of the house.  I called daughter & her chap Andy but it was gone. We found it in the garden - some 20m from where it had been seen so I knew it was healthy to be going along that quickly.

The advice for hedgehogs out in the day

A basic guide is:
If the hedgehog is walking purposefully, looking like it is going somewhere, and is walking along the edge of a wall, fence, hedge etc then it may have been disturbed from its nest and looking for a new one.

If it has a mouthful of leaves or baby then its moving nests and doesn’t necessarily need help, just monitor it to make sure it gets where it’s going safely.

We fetched the dry mealworms & cat pellets I have been putting in the front & it gobbled them up hungrily before heading into the large piles of leaves I always rake behind the hedges over winter.

We all knew that we needed a hedgehog house in the back garden too so we quickly gathered some wood that had been destined for the dump & made one up with a removable front section to clean out, add food & check up on any sleeping hogs.

Daughter added her artistic touch to the house & it was placed beneath the side hedge with lots of leaves around it.  We could see the leaves along the hedges moving as he dug around for some worms then much later, after we were finished gardening, we saw him heading for his new home & munching on the treats we had scattered along the way.

This was as the light was dimming - hedgehog close to his new abode

I hope this sheltered, hastily made but warm & dry abode will be used as a hibernation home over winter. I will check on it & top up the food & water.

We will now have time to make a more sustainable, solid home for the garden for next year but this one will help out for this winter which has arrived rather quickly so immediate action was needed.

A Wondering Star daughter has her hedgie story too so pop over & visit ...

Do you have a fondness for such creatures?  What garden visitors do you have?

Thanks for stopping by, your comments are always welcome

Dee ~♥~

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Tartan for the dining room

I now have my tartan-surprise-win curtains up at home. I decided to use them in the dining room which is a neutral cream colour with cream curtains on the windows to the garden & the conservatory.

This was the page with the competition on facebook - don't you just love the fabulous colours? It makes me want to have a sofa like that instead of our practical leather ones.  The curtains are visible in the round mirror on the wall, along with the cushions covers on the sofa too.

The set of curtains are perfect for the windows that look onto the garden. The

I love this cushion cover with its fringed edge & large kilt pin.

Our Natural Calico walls are perfectly neutral & can take these colourful additions

Ms M, my dear sister-in-law & friend was visiting & she bought me this gorgeous stag tealight holder to  go with the new curtains.  My candlesticks look good too with it ....

These are the three patterns on the cushion covers - so beautiful

Ms M also found this gorgeous pottery platter down south for our new Croft look. She has strong Scottish roots so her suggestions were much welcome.

Our new curtains frame the garden perfectly ...

Some of the details - I love how it is reflected in our imposing gold mirror with the pair of large busts surveying the scene from the sideboard.

My great grandfather also seems to approve from his position.

I know I will change things around & find new things to complement the tartan plaid curtains but they are not something I would have gone out & bought yet I totally love their elegance & style. The bright plaids are perfectly modern, perfectly my colours & perfectly welcome for Winter elegance.

I think it needs a purple & green thistle - what do you think?

Thank you Country Homes & Interiors for your lovely prize.

Thanks for stopping by, I always love your comments & suggestions.
Dee ~♥~

Thursday, 7 November 2013

My lady is framed at last ...

I shared my delightful lady by the very talented Henry_Raeburn & henry-macbeth-Raeburn & I have been contemplating her frame for a long time.

She does not fit into our lounge with its red wall & black frames with maps & pictures.

However, she is perfectly at home upstairs above my shabby chic desk in my room - a calm, peaceful presence that I rather like.

Perhaps it is her elegant features & the calming colours that is so pleasing?

I always  have great difficulty deciding on pictures to hang at home because I like them to be things that are personal & individual & would rather live with a blank wall than with something that I am not happy with ...

I recently got quite excited at finding a vintage gold frame - truly stunning frame but when I got it home, I found it would swamp my lady.


However, getting her downstairs spurred me into action & I decided to take her to a local framer that has done several others of ours at maws-gallery.

After some deliberation & testing many coloured mounts & frames against it, I decided against a gold frame. Instead, I decided on an almost vintage chic one which will be perfectly at home in my calm cream bedroom.

As much as reason said she should be in a traditional black or brown frame, it did not look right & since she is entirely mine, I went with what I liked most; selfish pleasure because she is tucked away upstairs, away from visitors ...

So at last, after several years, my lady is properly framed & elegant once more.

She is back where she belongs above my desk & I think she looks like she is 'home'

Thanks for sharing this journey with me, always pleased to read your comments & to return the visits to your inspirational blogs.

Dee ~♥~