Sunday, 7 November 2010


I didn't mean to be away for so long, but I have been distracted...

by Audrey Hepburn, my daughter's new kitten, who likes to be at the centre of all that we do;

knitting and crocheting for rebeccamaryjane's

and making and creating with the children at my after school art and craft clubs.
It's been a busy time.
It has also been a very stressful and emotional time: my husband's brother has cancer and it has shaken us all to the very core. He is battling hard...and we are all trying to carry on as best we can.
Back soon,

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Back to School...and a sparkly sink!

Both my youngsters returned to school this week, my lovely daughter to Sixth Form (I still don't know quite how that's happened so quickly!) and my teenage boy to Year 9! Next week, it's back to school for me too as my after school art & craft clubs begin! Once all four clubs are up and running, I shall be making and creating with up to 80 children each week...and I am so looking forward to it!

I love to hear the children's ideas and to see what designs they come up with! Last term, we made coasters using old CDs and DVDs and, as the World Cup was underway, I had made a football-themed example and mosaic example for those that were not into football.

Without exception, the boys all made football coasters and the girls made mosaic ones!
I have always been fascinated by the "nature versus nuture" debate...are boys and girls conditioned to have different tastes or are they just born that way? What do you think?

I am a keen recycler and this crosses over into my after school art & craft clubs, not only because it is eco-friendly, but because I aim to show the children that you don't need a lot of expensive materials and equipment to be creative and have fun!

We made football trophies and goblets using plastic bottles, recycled cardboard, masking tape and papier mache - they looked fantastic once they had been painted gold and silver!

The children did some observed drawing using a charcoal pencil: apple and banana in a striped bowl. I found the end results very interesting:

These are some of the drawings from the Foundation & Key Stage 1 group - children aged 3-7. I love the different interpretations...the way that some children have drawn the fruit and bowl as separate pieces and how, for some, the fruit was hovering above the bowl rather than in it! I was most fascinated by the drawings produced by twin girls who are the youngest in the group, which can be seen at the bottom of this photo. The drawings are so similar, even though they didn't draw them together - they didn't even see each others drawings until they took them home!

So my sink will be sparkling again next week as I wash the empty pots, sticky spreaders and dirty fact, it's not just the sink that sparkles during term time...glitter seems to get everywhere!

I'm really looking forward to going back to school!

Bye for now,

Saturday, 4 September 2010


As you know, I love old books so I always have to have a good rummage through all the boxes of books whenever I'm in a charity shop, or at a jumble sale or flea market!

Just over a year ago I bought a 1949 edition of Dorothy Whipple's Because of the Lockwoods - you might remember me blogging about here. It's taken me a while to read it, not because it's a difficult read, but mainly because the only time I read is at bedtime and I tend to fall asleep, which is most annoying! Anyway, such was my enjoyment of this book from the outset that I vowed to look out for more of Dorothy Whipple's work. I have since purchased the Persephone edition of Someone at a Distance, but I really like to get my hands on old editions...there's just something about the old ones! So you can imagine how chuffed I was to come across this one recently at a local fleamarket:

No dust jacket and a little bit of damage to the spine, but I'm not bothered about that...I'm a book lover, not a book dealer! It has an inscription inside the front cover: "To Dad, With Best Wishes from John - Christmas 1941", which just makes me love it all the more! And, at 50p, I was even more chuffed!
I couldn't resist bringing home the needlework and dressmaking book - again 50p! It was a text book at Bingley Grammar School for Joan, Kathleen, Mary and Barbara, girls of Form 5A - I cannot be sure when, but the book is the 1937 edition. It is full of useful information, as well as snippets that make me smile, such as the advice when choosing the style and colour of a garment: "The Stout should always avoid bouffon style. Taffeta, for instance, is never a suitable material for a stout woman"!
I'm home alone today so, if I finish this now and speed through all my chores, I must just have time to read a little without nodding off!
Back soon,

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Goodies from France

When my daughter's boyfriend asked if there was anything that I would like him to bring back from France, I couldn't resist asking for a copy of Marie Claire Idées, which is always inspirational, and some soap...I love French soap, particularly the handmade lavender variety!

The shea butter soap (at the bottom of the picture) is in the bathroom at the moment and it smells gorgeous! I have had a quick flick through the magazine, but I'm saving a proper look in the hope that, by doing so, I can hang on to 'été' a little longer! Despite today's blue sky and sunshine, there's certainly been an autumnal feel to the last couple of days, particularly the evenings, which have found us reaching for our blankets to keep our flip-flop feet warm as we relax on the sofa!

Bye for now,


Saturday, 28 August 2010

Muddy delights!

Thanks to our allotment-keeping friends, whose son plays rugby with ours, this is what came home from rugby training on Thursday evening:

Crates of mud-covered beetroot, courgettes, squashes and spinach...a very pleasant change indeed from the muddy boots and dirty washing that usually lands in the kitchen after training!

Spinach and potato soup is simmering away as I type, the beetroot is ready for the oven and I've been consulting my Women's Institute Book of Preserves and Pickles for chutney recipe ideas as the courgettes are more of marrow proportions! I love pottering around in the kitchen...the simple things make me so happy!

Back soon,


Wednesday, 25 August 2010

I've fallen in love

...with Italy! Hubby and I have just had a fantastic weekend away in Milan!

The weather was hot!

The architecture was amazing:
La Scala
and Il Duomo, which was beautiful inside too!
We discovered a market just minutes from our hotel on Saturday morning with stalls brimming with delicious, fresh produce:
and how about this for a shopping centre?

Gorgeous food, wine, ice creams...just the two of us! It was a real treat and the first time that we've been abroad, child-free, since before they were born! We were sad to leave...
but our post-wonderful weekend blues were soon lifted by news of our daughter's GCSE results yesterday: a total of 7 A*s and 5 As - we are so proud of her!
Back soon,

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Beetroot & Being Bold

I enjoyed watching Alys Fowler's TV series so thought I would borrow The Edible Garden from the library. It's great to dip in and out of with its lovely photos, tips and recipes.

This, along with eating delicious vegetables from other people's gardens and allotments, has made me think about changes that could make in our garden. To have a good, regular supply of veg, rather than the dribs and drabs we have at the moment, we need more growing space. We also need to be more organised, which means that 'I' need to be more organised as, once the rugby season starts, hubby's weekend gardening time will disappear! We need to be bolder: we need to sow and plant more so that we are not caught out by pests (as we have been this year!) and so that we are able keep our plates full of fresh, home grown produce!

We bought beetroot from the market this week as ours, what the pests left of it, is not ready yet. Since buying Sophie Grigson's Eat Your Greens, I always cook it slowly in the oven,

which doesn't look too good at first,

but its skins just slip off

to reveal these beauties:

I can never resist popping one of the slightly warm, earthy beets into my mouth as I peel them! I love beetroot!
So we are going to be bold: we are going to dig up some lawn to give us the veg growing space that we need!
I could do with being a little bolder in other areas of my life too: I need to stop letting little niggling doubts and fears hold me back. Perhaps digging up the lawn will prove to be a catalyst!
Back soon,

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

What can you make out of England, France, Ireland, South Africa and Italy?

These labels were left over from something that my husband did at the rugby club a while ago and, not being one to throw things away, I have been using the plain white pieces to label the children's work at the after school art and craft clubs that I run. Today, I found another use for them.
I made labels for some of the tins that I am re-using to store bits and pieces that I use at the art and craft clubs - 'lids & corks etc.', 'card scraps' and 'felt and fleece' - I used 'l' and a 'y' to make the 'k' in corks and wrote the amphisand!

This week I have been having a huge sort out of all my art and craft club materials and equipment to make better use the space that I have available in the cellar and so that I can assess what I need to buy ready for September. I am pleased with how it's going so far:

these clear plastic storage boxes fit perfectly beside the freezer and, as you will see, from the photo of the tins, I even space left on my shelves too! However, that is not the end of Operation Sort Out...I need more, even bigger storage boxes for these:

lots of boxes, tubs and cartons,

bag loads of milk bottle tops,

and bags of plastic bottles!
I do keep a lot of junk but, as you can see, I can always find a use for it...the main problem is finding somewhere to store it all in the meantime! With four after school clubs running in September, I shall need all the junk I can get! I shall do a post soon showing some of the children's work from last was such a busy time and we had so much fun making and creating!
Time for a much needed cup of tea...
Back soon,

Monday, 2 August 2010

Home Grown Produce

We have had the house to ourselves this weekend, a situation that is becoming all the more frequent now that the children have grown and have busy calendars full of social events! Our daughter is jamboreeing in Norfolk for the week - camping is not really her thing and the weather has not been too good, but I do hope that she's enjoying the experience! We have no way of finding out until she comes home as, much to her disgust, mobile phones were not permitted! Our son is away in Wales with one of his friends and, despite the rain, we know that he has been having a good time from the texts that he has sent us!
We dug the first potatoes from the garden yesterday...well, hubby dug and I held the bowl! We must have looked a sight...both of us grinning with sheer delight as each little potato was revealed! It was very exciting indeed, especially as these have grown from a supermarket potato that we chitted! And, of course, nothing beats home grown produce! We had to remember when to stop digging as we are only cooking for 2 at the moment and not 4! On the way back to the kitchen I collected the few sugar snap peas that were ready - not enough for 2 helpings, but delicious to crunch on while preparing dinner!
We were also able to collect up the seed pods from the old purple sprouting broccoli plants, which had been left at the side of house to dry. We probably have enough seeds to keep us in purple sprouting broccoli for the rest of our lives! Now that we know what to expect, we'll probably give growing it another go next year as it was delicious!

We've also been enjoying home grown produce from some friends of ours: spinach and courgettes - long ones and round ones! We've not grown spinach before so, when we spotted some packs of seeds reduced to 19p each when we were out yesterday, we couldn't resist! I am going to plant some this week and see what happens!

I hope the spinach is a success as we've really enjoyed eating it torn into warm, griddled courgettes, peppers and red onions with some basil leaves, as pictured below alongside the home grown potatoes, which have been tossed in butter with mint from the garden...accompanied by a glass of something of course!

Over this weekend I have realised who makes all the noise, all the mess, all the washing and eats all the food! It is lovely having the house to ourselves, but I do miss them...they make this house a home!
Back soon,

Friday, 2 July 2010


One of the things I love about summer is watching the garden come alive with colour. I love the vibrant shades of orange of this gorgeous lily that has come into bloom this week. It was gift from a good friend of mine some years ago and I am always amazed when it bursts back to life from its seemingly empty, weathered terracotta pot that stands on the patio all through winter. This winter its pot was even piled high with snow and ice for days on end, but it's still grown back...the wonders of nature!

Another thing that I love about summer is being able to have breakfast in the garden...I sit on the bench and just watch for while...bliss! Ooh, and another thing I love about summer...the fruit: the other morning I had muesli with yoghurt and nectarine, which was delicious! I know you can buy so many summer fruits all year round now, but I tend not to: I prefer to keep to the seasons. It might be all in my mind, but I think the fruit just tastes better that way!

I do hope the summer weather continues as I shall be at Hooton Pagnell Summer Fete on Sunday and I've been soaked there too many times before! Hooton Pagnell is a gorgeous South Yorkshire village with a fascinating history and the Fete is always good fun...even in the rain!

I've lots to do to get ready so I had better go...

Back soon,


Saturday, 19 June 2010

Where's the sunshine?

As there a is distinct lack of sunshine outside today, I thought I would post a couple of sunshiney, yellow photos to brighten things up a little! After lots of delicious purple sprouting broccoli, we have enjoyed these pretty yellow broccoli flowers, which are almost at an end now:

The bees have loved them, but I think any remaining flowers will be gone by the end of today because it's so windy...and it's chilly too! However, that's not a bad thing, as it means that we shall be able to pull up the rather large broccoli plants to make way for some more salad, which seems to be coming along nicely now in other parts of our small veg plot.

I shall definitely be planting some more rocket, which we've used lots of this week in salads... and I love it in an egg mayo sandwich as an alternative to watercress!

Time for lunch...

Back soon,


Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Proud & Smiling

At the beginning of May I taught my 9 year old niece, who lives on the Sussex coast, how to knit. We began with my very simple egg cosy topped with a pom pom - she seemed to grasp it really well and has been knitting ever since!

This morning I received such a lovely surprise in the post...a knitted lavender pillow accompanied by a handwritten letter from my niece! I am so touched, especially as it is her own adaptation of the egg cosy pattern...I shall treasure it!

I think that her knitting has come on beautifully and I love receiving handwritten letters because, as you know, I'm an old-fashioned kind of girl!

Back soon,

(proud & smiling auntie!)

Friday, 11 June 2010

The Devil Makes...gorgeous scarves!

Just before the bank holiday, I was lucky enough to be the winner of a giveaway on Facebook...and this week, a pretty pink parcel arrived, making a delightful change from the all the boring brown envelopes and bills!

Inside was a pale blue tissue paper parcel from the lovely Woo of The Devil Makes Work...

inside which was this beautiful Hand Felted Mohair, Merino & Cotswold Lock scarf!

The Devil Makes...gorgeous scarves - I love its emeraldy green colour (although it looks more turquoise in the photo!), which suits my auburn complexion perfectly! Thank you so much Woo!
The Devil Makes Work is one of many small businesses that are using social media to promote their work. If you like my gorgeous scarf, you might 'Like' The Devil Makes Work's page on Facebook...who knows, it could be you that is the next winner of one of the giveaways!
Speaking of giveaways, I am having a monthly giveaway for people that 'Like' my rebeccamaryjane's page on Facebook...June's giveaway is a Vintage Embroidery Handbag Mirror.
I do hope the sun shines this is June after all! If it gets any colder, I might be needing my new scarf!
Bye for now,

Friday, 4 June 2010

Gifts from a handsome, young man...

my 4 year old next door neighbour gave me a love heart that he had painted and a bunch of radishes from the garden!

I was so touched!

Bye for now,


Friday, 28 May 2010

Quick catch up & I'm off to Wentworth

It's been a busy few weeks...

I've been rummaging for vintage bits and pieces in charity shops, where I found, amongst other things, a delightful pattern booklet entitled "Senior Knitteds - For the rich in years", which includes this pattern for knitted kneecaps!

I've been making hearts using vintage linens, lace, mother of pearl buttons and filled with lavender from my neighbour's garden

I've been preparing for some new workshops and working on my website

My school art clubs have been keeping me out of mischief...

we had lots of fun with salt dough a couple of weeks ago!

I've been enjoying time in the garden...planting, pruning, relaxing, sewing, crocheting...

and picking a few of my favourite flowers for the mantelpiece...buttercups, bluebells, lily of the valley and some of the pink hardy geranium that is beginning to flower near the pond. I am always amazed at the wonderful scent that comes from those tiny, almost ball-like lily of the valley flowers - gorgeous!

And, at the moment, I am preparing for a craft fair in Wentworth on Bank Holiday Monday - more details of which can be found here - I shall be in The Rockingham Arms Barn. I'm looking forward to it and hoping that it will be more successful than the Saltaire fair, where I only just about covered my stall fee! If you're nearby, why not pop along and say "hello" - it would be lovely to see you!
Back soon,