Saturday, February 28, 2009

Other people's blogs, and give-aways!

The Farm Chicks are two very charming and entertaining Americans who seem to have become popular just for doing the things they love - baking, making, generally enjoying vintage-type stuff. They are great fun and their blog is well worth a read - the link is there, just click on their name (above). At the moment they're doing a give-away, which is one of the very exciting things about blogging! I will be one of the hundreds who enter the give-away, so I will tell you if by any chance I win!

'Twas on a Saturday morning

That we finally got our internet connection back! To celebrate, I've put a week's worth of photos and news on today. There's troc shopping, crafting, family, traditions, weird scientific experiments... all the normal stuff of a week at home...

'Twas on a Saturday morning

...that Dr Strangelove invaded my sewing area...

Actually, I encouraged Ben to set up his heated mats and lights on timer switches there, because it gets a lot of natural light too. He's got tomatoes and goodness knows what other veg getting off to an early start there.

'Twas on a Friday lunch time

... that I picked up some lovely, lovely fabric for making bunting in Veti'Relais, my favourite troc shop... The wonderful blue and pink flowered bedding informed the choice of the other fabrics:And on the other side of the bunting I'm going to make it darker, so that I can turn it round and have some winter colours too. This lot comes from my fabric stash and needs an iron:
I've discovered that the blue flowered pillowcase perfectly fits the smaller cushion on my rocking chair, so that solves the immediate problem of how to cover those cushions! I'm going to have to use the sewing machine to make the sheet into a cover for the larger one, though (gulp).

'Twas on a Thursday afternoon

... that I had a trip down to some friends who run a small church and community group amongst the English speaking people to the south of here (nearer the Pyrenees). They hold a secondhand English book sale four times a year, and it's well worth a visit!

I got some good books, and had a great, if brief, tour round the ancient market town of Samatan on my way back. Sadly, I didn't take my camera.

'Twas on a Wednesday evening

...that I finished my little patchwork 'make do and mend' bag. It has a huge mother of pearl button...
I am in love! Many thanks to Happy for her continued encouragement to 'make do and mend'!

'Twas on Shrove Tuesday evening

that we made and ate yet more pancakes!The French have a pancake day on Candlemass (la Chandeleur) which is the 6th February, so we get two pancake days every year!

'Twas on a Tuesday afternoon...

that I picked up a shadow box with glass (my main criterion, as an anti-dusting measure), and altered it using a French crochet mat and a Chinese button.
And here it is on the side of our chimney breast, housing a very eclectic set of collections - sharks' teeth collected on a US beach, Native American arrowheads, Roman coins, a Napoleonic rifle flint (British, don'tch'know) mother of pearl buttons, a flapper's sequinned star...

'Twas on a Monday morning...

that I went back to work!

Wearing a lovely outfit mainly bought in Edinburgh charity shops at summer and Christmas time - pity I haven't worked out how to get a better photo of myself, yet!

Saturday, February 21, 2009


I opened up my Grandma's old black and gold Singer sewing machine today and found this tiny text inside its box:

It's about the size of a large stamp. I've stuck it in my bedroom with my other inspirational cards, including pictures of blossom and words from the Bible, Martin Luther King Jr., Ghandi, Calvin and others.

Next to the set of inspirational cards is this eclectic mixture hanging from our low beam: a wire and bead heart, a Valentine's card from a few years ago and a Fu Dog puppet I bought in the school Vide Greniers last year.

Friday, February 20, 2009


Last week Son 1 and I were searching for some 'jewels' to add to a 'Celtic Goblet' he had thought of making. I opened an old Quality Street tin, which held some of the beads I'd collected in my teens:

Don't you think the combination of 'treasures' is amazing? He was immediately drawn to a red plastic dog bead and the diamantee, but I'm afraid I kept the diamantee strips for myself! What do you imagine they came from?

Also in the tin were African glass beads, sequins, plastic 'Hamma' beads, carved wooden ones, pieces of abalone shell and the tiny red tin which held vitamins long before I was born. We love opening up boxes of treasures like that!

Some more treasured memories from today: Son 2 'walking on the moon' in some sort of clever contraption which gives you the feeling of reduced gravity.

Son number 1 doing the same thing - he was only half a kilo too light to try the really big 'moon jump' experience, but he took the disappointment quite well...

And here are both boys setting off a water rocket.
This is all at Toulouse's 'Space City', which is the French Space Museum/Activity Centre. It's a wonderful place and we've renewed our annual family pass once again. It also happens to be about 10 minutes drive from our new church, and open on Sundays...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Rocking Chair Decisions (or lack of them)

When Ben was out buying our second-hand swimming pool last Saturday, I asked him to have a look at the 'rotin' rocking chair which was advertised for sale by the same family. I had searched through my mental vocabulary list and realised that 'rotin' means 'rattan', so I could more-or-less visualise the chair - one for the patio in summer, I felt.

Ben bought the chair for me, even though it wasn't quite what he'd visualised! (He was being kind to the vendors, see below.)

It's a lovely chair, and I'm terribly grateful for it. It became a second Valentine's Day gift, really! However, the 'comme neuf' cushion cover was far from as new, and I've temporarily replaced it in this photo with two random cushions. The cushion pads will do fine but the decision I cannot make is what to cover them with!

The vague plan is to make the cusions double-sided, with denim on one side (from a much-loved but now defunct skirt) and SOMETHING on the other side. That way I can change the look as often as I like.

I've had fabrics out, and even got them as far as the ironing board, but cannot come to any proper decision. Any suggestions would be much appreciated, please...

Signs of Spring?

All around the northern hemisphere, bloggers are showing some lovely spring-like photos. Obviously the winner for me has to be a Californian blogger who was picking the new-flowering Bird of Paradise flowers for her home, but here are a few early spring images from southern France. We aren't on the Med, and we do have frosts and a bit of snow.

I planted a few snowdrop bulbs in the autumn, without much hope, but I do have ONE snowdrop!

Both of the photos above are from my shady log-garden.

This is Ben's area - the front garden.

Son 2 picked me these willow buds from a fallen tree yesterday. I think they make the fabric rose behind them (which I wore in my hair for my sister's wedding last summer) look so fake - I'm going to need to get back to fresh flowers once spring really starts and the daffodils are out in the garden.

And the boys have a French friend visiting, so we ate Silver Dollar pancakes this afternoon... Yum.

A bit more Making Do and Mending

Once again inspired by Happy, our poor blanket basket has been transformed from this:

To this:

...using a lovely Ikea table runner I picked up for 50 cents in their remnants section! I bought three more the same, so look out for more of this great fabric in my make-overs.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Beautiful Button ideas

Ele at A Bit of Pink Heaven is the one who got me searching for my buttons, having seen her lovely button heart. I love the way she's put it on creamy fabric - I had thought that I'd need to use dark, but maybe I could go paler...

Wow! I think I made a proper link there! Click on the blog name and you should go straight to Ele's button heart. Blogger is beginning to make sense!

Isabel at Maison Douce has some wonderful button crowns part way down the post I've linked to here. I am beginning to envy these people who are making a living out of their collecting and crafting! However, I love my teaching and my family...

Charmander found my buttons!

Charmander is the little toy featured in the post below. In the photo he is looking at my 'third' sewing box, not the daily one, not the patchworking one, but the 'other', the point being that I don't look in it very often.

Drawn to it by Charmander and his pleas for mending, I looked inside and found my missing vintage buttons!

Here are the beautiful glass buttons my mum and I sorted from one of her button boxes this Christmas:

Here are some amazing Chinese ones we re-found at the same time:

And this is just a shot of one of my pearl button boxes:

Now, while I had temporarily mislaid the new buttons, I saw lovely button crafts on two blogs. I'm going to track them down and put some links to them here, and maybe it will all help me to decide what I'm going to do with my mother's glass buttons. All suggestions welcome...

Mend me!

Son number 2 found this little chap, broken, in his toybox yesterday. He asked me to mend it and I suggested he leave it on my mending pile. Later in the day I found this touching scenario by my sewing box! Needless to say, I mended it...

Monday, February 16, 2009

A bit of Make Do and Mend

I saw a wonderful denim/floral patchwork bag in Claire's Accessories the other day (of all places). Son number one, who was with me, said dubiously, 'It's very Mummy'. However, I wasn't going to pay the asking price, oh no! It was one of those 'I could do that myself' moments.

So far I have decided to use this little broken Roxy bag as a base. I looked at handbag patterns on the net but I'm not feeling like starting from scratch. I'm feeling exactly like 'make do and mend', so that is what I shall do.

I've drawn around the bag and cut out a pattern onto which I've pinned the pieces - it's a bit like crazy patchwork but with hems.

Now I have to start stitching, which shouldn't take too long. The real challenge will be fitting it round the base-bag. I will let you know if it works...

I've been very inspired in this by Happy of the great blog This is the first time that I've posted a link, so I hope it works! You'll really like her wonderful ideas and creations.

Crazy Patchwork

Well, I've just read on a lovely blog I've found (Sal's Snippets, see my blog list) that 'everyone is doing crazy patchwork'. I don't know if I'm glad to be part of 'everyone' for once, or annoyed that I had an idea that apparently isn't unique after all. For me and our younger boy, it started in the autumn, with a great second-hand book I'd picked up years ago and never used. We decided it was time to use the wackier fabrics in my collection to make a completely OTT cushion. We did:

In the photo you can see him working on a piece of starry pyjamas which he inherited from his brother which were, before that, worn by two older friends. Also visible are a piece of 19th century eastern European embroidery, the lacy hem of a girl's dress, several bits of ethnic skirts I wore in the '80s and a beautiful tie-died circle from a baby suit the boys were given from Thailand (thanks, Anna!).
The cushion has been finished for months and, to be honest, isn't holding up too well on the sofa. I think that little fingers can't resist fiddling with the treasures... But we still loved making it together.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Six Nations Rugby

Wales 23: England 15

Exciting Troc news

Following up an advert in the local 'kine' (physical therapist), Ben is currently buying and dismantling a small swimming pool from some local people who are on the move - only 80 euros!!! It's a splash pool not an olympic-type one, but 80 euros only, with all extras!!!... He's kindly decided to buy the rocking chair which was also advertised, not so much to please his wife (I am very pleased), as to be kind to the poor sellers, who are in some kind of tricky situation, he tells me on the phone. So, a small pool and a rocking chair, coming our way soon...

Prayers for the vendors too...

Friday, February 13, 2009

The 2 Euro Challenge - how to play

You will need:

Two euros per child (or one euro, if feeling stingey).

Children as available:

One Troc Shop/Thrift Store or other bric-a-brac vendor:

How to play:

Give each child the agreed amount of money and an opaque carrier bag (to hide the purchased treasure).

Set the criteria for the challenge - this time it was 'handmade items', but in the past various judges have requested: 'something that makes me laugh' or 'something that would look good on the mantelpiece' etc.

Slope off to the rest of the shop and enjoy your free time browsing while the children do their own shopping at the front!

Return when summoned by children and judge the purchases:

Well, I thought they all did very well! Frankly, two euros was too much! Everything they chose was handmade, although they found it quite a hard category. They seemed able to judge handmade pottery, but found it harder to tell if other things were handmade.

In the end the prize (a bottle of bubble mix) went to son number two, who had chosen the really rather lovely brown flowered vase, and the kitch but rather wonderful souvenier pin cushion:

It comes from Alins, which turns out to be just over the Spanish border in the Catalan region.
The house has been full of bubbles today! Everyone's a winner...

A touch of colour

After my somewhat gloomy relatives, here's a bit more colour...

In Veti'Relais (one of the Secours Catholic Thrift Shops) I came across these four crocheted mats. They seem to have found a natural home on my Kath Kidston ironing board cover...

To add to the candy-stripes theme, our younger son has been spending the holidays making and decorating biscuits...

They were 'maths biscuits' - here you see some of the mathematical symbols and a few numbers. We had to put them together to make sums with correct answers before we ate them...