Thursday, 31 May 2012

Jubilee Jollification!

Hello my lovelies! The past week has seen Jubilee celebrations reaching new heights here in the UK, and for us the highlight was a visit to the Jubilee Air Show at Duxford in Cambridgeshire. We love exploring this aviation museum, delving into the past as we take a walk down memory lane, for those who fought in the war, on land, but especially in the air. So, on Sunday we got up super early to beat the queues, and made it to Duxford for an early breakfast in the most glorious sunshine. A light breeze made it bearable in the sun as we spent a day picnicking and watching old and new aeroplanes painting the sky, as skilled pilots entertained us with their flights of fancy. I thought I'd share a few pictures of our day.

My favourite was definitely the Spitfire ensemble...they always are, but I equally enjoyed the more modern Red Bull stunt pilots who provided many thrills, especially the beautifully painted heart in the sky. The day was as perfect as it could ever be, with everyone in good spirits, a fabulous turn out, and the best of our British weather. I did however slap the old suncream on as a bit of an after thought, and ended up looking like the ripest sun-ripened tomato on the veggie shelf! You live and learn...


We are continuing celebrations into the weekend, and as today is the last day of school for our kidlets, they're also enjoying festivities of their own at school. They had to dress up today, in red, white, and blue, or anything 'Jubilee themed'. Now, the shops have obviously missed a trick here, because finding something with a little bit of Jubilee jolly, was not easy! In the end I had to raid their wardrobes and work with what they had.

I gave a white shirt a make-over by adding embellishments and a silhouette of Queen Elizabeth. My little honey was happy with her little outfit!

For my little man I made a Union Jack tie from two flags. The shops were full of these at least! We added a quirky make-over to his favourite hat, and of course a pocket hanky for a polished look.

And posers they certainly are! I wonder where they get that from? Hmmm...

So that's what we've been up to this week. What have you been doing where you are? Pop in and tell me all about it. I would love to hear from you.

Blessings and more blessings to you!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Feathering my nest

Hello darling friends! Yes, I'm chirpy today. That would be because the sun has at last decided to grace us with it's presence! Bye-bye rain (for now), hello sunshine! This week has seen us lighting the BBQ for supper, not once, but twice! When the weather perks up, so do I, so be warned, this post might be a lengthy one! I shall try my best to keep the waffling to a minimum, but I have been a busy little bee over the last few days, so there is an awful lot I'd like to share with you today.

As I may have mentioned, I have been on a bit of a nesting spree (no, there are NO new sprogs on the way!), so I have cleared out, cleaned and shuffled things around in our home. I'm not done yet, but I'll show you what has transpired so far! With having a clear out, I've tried to be a nifty thrifter, and have sold things we no longer use or need, and have ploughed the cash back into our little nest. So, a few new additions here and there, but they have cost me NOTHING! Yip, that's right. NADA!

My first little project was this little knick knack frame, as I like to call them. I remember these from way back, when they were filled with all sorts of curious things. I found one whilst bargain hunting one day, and decided to paint it white. I like a blank, white canvas. It then sat around for a good few weeks before I filled it with knick knacks. I decided to add a little British flair to it, as we are celebrating the Queen's Jubilee this year.

What do you think?

The background paper I used in some of the squares was a freebie in a card making magazine. The teeny British flag pin cushion was a steal from our local Cath Kidston outlet store.

Last week I showed you a few new corners in our kitchen, but there are yet another few new touches. These two cuties, bunny and kitty, were purchased from the Wood Green Animal Shelter Thrift shop, and I found them on two very separate occasions, probably a month apart! And they absolutely belong together, wouldn't you agree? And the best part, they cost a few pennies...literally!

Being a lover of all things vintage and retro, I couldn't wait to put up a new clock in the kitchen, one that I'd had my eye on for a while. So, after selling a few of my old bits, I thought I could finally justify getting the new clock...and the Cath Kidston enamel jug I've been drooling over. Again, thank you for a bargain Cath K outlet store! Now, my favourite new addition has to be the retro decal on the fridge. This was an Ebay find. Ta-da!

On a slightly different note. I found this cutie in a local Antiques Centre. It's a 1960's money bank, and cost a couple of quid as it looked a little weary. But, nothing that a bit of spit and polish wouldn't sort out. And it came up trumps!

As far as thrifty finds go, I have had a super run! I found some newbies for our bedroom too!

Everything's rosy...

The exquisite rose bedspread was a thrift shop find, all £3 worth of it! And, in mint condition! The antique sweets tray complements it well, and again, a thrifting treasure, but one I had to work for. Yes, when it comes to antiques, I ALWAYS haggle. It would seem rude not to! So, after a little bargaining, I got round a third off the asking price! On that note: Another haggling bargain, although, in all fairness, this one didn't really need much bartering. I found this treasure at a local spot where I have found many a bargain, and I think this one was a case of 'the sun shining down on me'! I have kept a keen eye out for a little bedroom chair for some time now. I spotted this in passing, and was pleased as punch that I could bring it home without having to trade a 'chicken roast dinner for beans on toast'! As we say in Blighty: Cheap as chips!
On a last cheerful note, I'd like to share one last treasure with you. I am always drawn to beautiful illustrations of nature, you know, birds, bees, butterflies, fauna and flora. None more so than those of Edith Holden. Edith was born in 1871, and lived in the small village of Olton in Warwickshire. She attended art school, and worked as an illustrator, with her drawings being published in several books.
Edith kept a diary, carefully written by hand, which included her favourite poems, personal thoughts and observations of the wildlife she observed at her home in Warwickshire and on her travels. Her paintings on the pages of this journal reflect her keen eye for the delicate beauty of nature. For seventy years, her unique diary lay undiscovered, and in 1977 it was found and published in a full colour facsimile edition that replicates the freshness, charm and beauty of the original.

Now, imagine my delight, when  I discovered a 1977 hardback edition in the thrift shop, in very good condition! I can pour over the beautiful pages, and her capture of nature! It means a little more to me too as I was born in 1977, and this was also the year of the Queen's Silver Jubilee! So, you see, I a lot of timely coinsidences!

So, a mouthful today, hey? Anyhow, thanks for stopping by for allowing me to share my nest with you. Hope you're tucked up snug in yours!

Blessings, Tania ♥♥♥



Sunday, 20 May 2012

Hearty Comfort Food

Today I thought I'd try something completely different. I always focus my blogging efforts on sewing, crafting, thrifting, and homemaking. Sometimes there's a dash of vintage styling thrown in the mix, as these are the things I'm most passionate about. But, I do enjoy spending time in the kitchen too, cooking and preparing meals for my family. Now, I am no Nigella, and my souffles are more sink-fles...(bare with me!), but I thought I'd share one of my favourite recipes with you. I have cooked this meal for our family for some time now, and it's what I would call 'hearty comfort food'. The plates are always licked clean when I serve this up, and the kids and hubby always show a lot of appreciation when this dish hit their plates. It must be a winner then, hey? So, here it is. Oxtail, cooked in Port. I use Port, as it gives a really rich, glossy sweetness to the meat, but you can use red wine instead if you prefer. Or, if cooking with alcohol is not your thing, you can omit it, but you will be losing a lot of the yumminess with it!


1-1.3kg/3lb oxtail, cut into chunky pieces (ask your butcher to do this for you, or sometimes the supermarket supply it pre-packed)
3 tbsp plain flour
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3–4 tbsp sunflower oil/olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced
3 carrots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 medium celery stalks, diced
4–5 sprigs fresh thyme (or ½ tsp dried thyme)
2 bay leaves
250ml Port/300ml red wine
500ml/18fl oz beef stock
2 tbsp tomato purée

Preparation method

1.Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas 2.
2.Wash the oxtail pieces and pat dry with kitchen paper. Trim off as much excess fat as possible. Put the flour in a freezer bag and season well with salt and pepper. Put half the oxtail pieces into the seasoned flour, toss well to coat then put aside on a plate. Repeat with the remaining oxtail pieces.
3.Heat two tablespoons of the oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Brown the oxtail over a medium heat for about 10 minutes, turning every now and then, until dark brown all over. You may need to add extra oil if the pan looks dry at any point during the browning step. Put the browned oxtail into a flameproof casserole dish. (You may need to do this in batches.)
4.Return the frying pan to a low heat and add the onions, garlic, carrots and celery. Add a little extra oil if necessary. Cook gently for 10 minutes, or until softened and lightly browned, stirring occasionally.

5.Tip the vegetables on top of the beef and add the thyme and bay leaves. Stir in the port, beef stock and tomato purée. Season with salt and pepper, put the casserole on the heat and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover the casserole dish with a lid and cook in the centre of the oven for 3 hours. Stir after 1½ hours, turning the oxtail in the sauce.

6.After 3 hours, the meat should be falling off the bones and the sauce should be thick. Remove the casserole dish from the oven and transfer the oxtail pieces to a plate, set aside and keep warm. 7.Skim any fat that has pooled on the surface of the sauce. I find that if you trim all the visible fat off at the start, you won't need to do this!
8.Divide the oxtail pieces between six warmed plates and spoon over the sauce. Serve with mashed potato and fresh vegetables.

This dish makes the most of this very economical meat, and is very easy to prepare. And the results: YUMMY!
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Thursday, 17 May 2012

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

I have to apologise for my slackness in posting this past week. I have felt a little fatigued after a very busy few weeks, and as not much housework got done I am playing 'catch up' in a big way! We're also in the middle of potty training, and I seem to be spending A LOT of time mopping up spills! I did catch our little man singing to himself yesterday: 'Well done me, well done me, I'm very proud of me. I'm very proud of me!' This was after he managed to squeeze out about two drops into the potty! Small accomplishments eventually become big ones I suppose! Anyhow, I have also decided to have a BIG CLEAR OUT! I'm tackling every room, one cupboard and one corner at a time, and the idea is to get my house in order. I shall apply this principle, and I quote William Morris:  "Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful."

Yesterday, I started with the kitchen. This is where I seem to spend most of my time, whether it's for it's intended purpose of cooking, or sitting around the table with friends enjoying a cuppa!  Now, my pet hate in the kitchen has to be the formidable 'plastics' cupboard! How is it that the Bermuda triangle of Tupperware exist in mine? There is always a tub without a lid, or a lid without a tub! Well, not anymore! I was ruthless in sorting it out, and all is in least until tomorrow!

I ALWAYS try to add a few new touches when having a spring clean. This is a little incentive for me to get the job done. There is nothing nicer than 'playing house', adding something new and fresh to a clean space. When the budget's tight, it might only mean moving things around a bit, or removing things, as the case may be...I did just that to one unsuspecting kitchen cupboard to create an open shelf...I removed the door! The only problem is that I now have to re-train my brain to stop reaching out for the cupboard door that's gone AWOL, as hubby so eloquently put it! I hate doors being left open, so this will take a little getting used to!

Voila! The 'new' open kitchen shelf!

A few new finishing touches...

...These hand painted wooden letters hang above the kitchen door. They were a little thrifted bargain!

'Baked with love'...a gift from a friend...

The light switchplate was crying out for a make-over...

And who said gnomes only belong in the garden? This one is a little touch of 'kitsch' for my kitchen...

So, the kitchen is sparkling, and now just the rest of the house to tackle! Thank you for stopping by. I would love, love, love if you'd say 'hi' and leave a happy comment. 'To gnome you is to love you!' Cheerio!

Tania ♥♥♥

Friday, 11 May 2012

A little sunshine to brighten a gloomy day!

This past week I was awarded the Sunshine award for my blog, by the very lovely Carolynn over at Chenille Cottage. I was very humbled by this, as there are so many wonderful blogs out there, very deserving of the honour she bestowed on me! I gratefully accepted, and in doing so I need to answer a few questions about myself. I will try my best to get it right! goes...

What is your favourite colour?

Hmmm...this is an easy one. Red of course! But a deep cherry red. I love red shoes, red lipstick, red flowers, red hearts, red everything!

What is your favourite number?

Now, this is a tricky one. I am not superstitious, so I do not have a 'lucky' number. We are constantly surrounded by numbers all the time, but I never give them much thought. Never did at school either. My Maths teacher will tell you that perhaps I should have given them more thought! Let's see...numbers apply to so many spheres in life. When it comes to my inner being, I'll say my favourite numbers are: 43:1-3.
'Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior'. Isaiah 43:1-3
This scripture has sustained me through my life journey so far, and I know that I will never forget these numbers. I recall them often enough!

What is your favourite animal?

The answer to this question has changed from one thing to the next over the years. When I was younger I was absolutely mesmerised by Bottle Nose Dolphins. Their friendly nature, intelligence and beauty was something I studied in depth. I was also privy to a side show in a little boat in the middle of the ocean one day, when a whole school surrounded us, leaping joyfully out of the water and splashing so near me that I got soaked! I do so love them still, but I admire the nature of elephants, their parental instincts, and how they look out for their young. I love deer, there delicate features accompanied by the sheer strength they can display. Oh my, I'm in a quandary...I cannot pick a favourite...

What is your favourite non-alcoholic beverage?

Coffee. Every morning. Every day.

Do you prefer Facebook or Twitter?

To me it has to be Facebook. As we live so far from our family in South Africa, and other places all over the globe, this is essential for us to keep connected. I still feel a part of their lives, as I can check in daily and see what everyone's up to. I know when a new baby is on the way, when someone is celebrating something important, and sometimes even what they've had for breakfast! You know, all the important stuff! :)

What is my passion?

One thing's for sure when it comes to answering this one. I am a very passionate person! I am passionate about so many things. Firstly, I am passionate about the gift of life that I have been given, a life full of love, joy and blessings. This life I have, I have through my Heavenly Father. I live to serve Him, in everything I am and in everything I do. I am very passionate about being a wife, a mum, and a homemaker. Everything I do, I do to serve my family and to create a happy home life for them. On a very personal level, I am passionate about creating. I believe that my Creator has created me with a deep desire to be creative, and I live this out on a daily basis. Making, re-purposing, sewing, cooking...and in doing so 'making every day beautiful'!

Do you prefer giving or receiving?

Receiving. Full stop. This shocks you? Let me explain. I suppose 'technically' I prefer giving. Nothing brings me more joy than to bless someone by giving to them, be it a gift, time, attention, love, hugs, the list goes on. But, what you receive in return, you know, a warm smile, a hug, a thank you, or the knowledge that you've made a difference to someone's day or someone's life, that warms my heart!

What is your favourite pattern?

Polkadots. And more polkadots. And polkadots!

What is your favourite day of the week?

Today. It's a gift from above.

What is your favourite flower?

Easy question! Ranunculus! They are exuberant, delicate, shaped to perfection! ♥♥♥

Name five of your favourite blogs?

Oh man...This is tough! There are way too many to narrow it down. I'll try...I'd love to nominate these for a Sunshine award: 

Sweet Vintage Rose Cottage
This blog is written by a lady with a beautiful soul, and an eye for creating beauty around her. Visiting her blog is like a big, warm hug!

365-Days of gratitude
A personal journal of gratitude and reflection. I get my daily dose of encouragement from this one!

Country Rabbit
Pure eye candy! Kazzy is a very creative lady, who lives in the most beautiful part of England (I think!), and she shares her life and loves with us. She takes the most beautiful pictures!

Hen House
For vintage loveliness and homeliness, the British way!

Tuppence Ha'penny
Charlotte is a lady with style and poise! A very inspiring blog for the vintage fashionista!

So, there you have it. A bit about me. I'd like to say one last big thank you to Carolynn, for nominating  'Sew a Little Love' for a Sunshine blog award. I'm chuffed to bits! Do pop over to my nominated blogs and say 'hello'. Just click on the links provided. Have a happy weekend my lovelies!

Tania ♥♥♥

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

May Fayre..but no fair weather!

Now, for those of you who have ever been part of, or planned an outdoorsy event, you would know the importance of having good, sunny, fair weather on the day. Unfortunately, it's out of our hands when it comes to ordering sunshine, and one has to resign oneself to the idea that you would have to get on with the show, come rain or shine! On Monday we woke up to reasonable skies, but teetering in the distance were those threatening rain clouds, edging nearer and nearer, just as time crept closer for the opening at noon. And guess what? The fair was opened, and not long after, showers descended on our lovely village May Day Fayre, and brollies, wellies and raincoats came into play! But, if there is one thing that I admire about the British, it's their resilience when it comes to days like these. The day went on as planned, and people turned out in good numbers considering that it was real duvet/movie weather!

The day was opened by local MP, Jonathon Djanogly, and the lovely, cheerful sounds of Morris dancers. It was truly festive!

The choir  cheered us all up with their singing!

What would a British fair be without traditional Maypole dancing?

...and cakes of course!

As you know, I've been sewing my socks off in preparation for this day, and here is my stall! Open for business!

Please excuse the windswept pin curls could not stand up to the damp weather! (...and yes, I wore heels, regardless of the soggy, wet grass! I did, however, abandon these in favour of Wellies to pack up at the end of the day!) 

Here is one last project I prepared for the fair, and haven't shared yet. A sunny, happy beach day collage titled 'Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside.'

...but NOT on a day like today! Hee-hee...

It might look dry and somewhat bright, but these pictures were taken before buckets of rain arrived. At one point the church choir were huddled under my gazebo, piano in tow, belting out Greensleeves while the rain streamed down our little tents. I kept having to lift the gazebo roof to get rid of the heavy puddles settling on top, weighing the roof down!

But, all things considered, we had a wonderful day, a truly British affair!

Blessings to you, wherever you are, rain or shine!
Tania ♥

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Procrastination at the sewing station!

I have to apologise in advance for what is going to be a very short, and possible haphazard post today! I feel like I am surrounded by a thousand Philistines, and don't quite know which one to have a stab at first! Such, it seems, are the many little jobs I still need to complete in readiness for Monday's May Fayre. I don't have all my ducks in a row just yet! So, just a quick one to show you what I have been up to this week! (And to procrastinate yet again!)

As most of you probably know, it's the Queen's Diamond Jubilee this year, which marks 60 year's of her reign. Celebrations will be taking place all over the UK. I have decided to make a special edition of these little mice to mark this occasion.

Little mice...

Jubilee Mouse 2012...

As well as lots of sewing, I also made these little button bouquet brooches for the May Fayre...

And little Posh Pooch Brooches/Keyrings...

A whole litter! ♥

I have sustained the odd injury in the process of abundant sewing. Boy, they forgot to put a warning on the new pack of needles I bought. It should say: 'Take care. Do not use when you're sooooo tired that you can see two of them!Sharp!!!!!'

Anyhow, loads to get on with, so will say cheerio for now. Have a super weekend wherever your feet may take you!

Blessings, Tania ♥