Monday, February 28, 2011

Vintage Secrets

Collecting vintage can be full of surprises - you find one thing and when you really look at it you realise you've also found another! I've got three stories to tell you, but I'm sure you can tell me your own... Firstly, the famous bag of unfinished patchwork bought by my grandmother or mother at a Devon jumblesale in the 1980s - I decided to actually MAKE something with one of my favourite sets! More on that later, but here's what I found inside:
On magazine clipping with this black and white bike photo on one side and part of an article about London in the Second World War on the other...
Two maps of the Dorset/Devon border with information about walks in the area...
Inside a second patchwork set I spotted this piece from some camera instrutions, and the sweet little girl at the top of this post.
And to end this wonderful little time-capsule, a charming picture of a boy next to a Christmas tree. It all makes me think that this patchwork is earlier than the one I cut up, which seemed to have 1970s pieces of paper.
Now, you may remember this sweet Florentine mirror I bought in an Edinburgh charity shop last year:
When Ben and I took it apart to repair it we found this cardboard on the back...
Macnab seems to have been a dyer of wool for the tweed industry. The cardboard also had this postcode on it, which I've tracked down to North Berwick, near the harbour. Another time-capsule peep into someone's life, and in fact the life of the city of Edinburgh...
Finally, you might remember that I took some 1980s ikat fabric off a cushion I'd made, back in my teens... and this was underneath! I'd hated it at the time, I remember.
But I like it now, and when it was clear the fabric wasn't surviving life as a 21st century cushion, I decided to take it off to save it. I put a piece into an embroidery hoop, and underneath that fabric was another cushion, made of...
...vintage ticking!
That was full of holes too, so I washed, ironed and chose a good piece, and put that into another embroidery hoop. Both are displayed above my vintage fabric boxes, where I think they look quite in-keeping.

Do you have any stories of these little 'time-capsule' finds?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Bread for the journey

In December, or maybe even in early January, I finally read a little phrase which made sense of something important that has been happening in my life. Here's part of the quote: "Many of us will be aware in our own experiences of this food for the journey - the 'viaticum' of Catholic piety. When we needed it most, God fed us. Our 'manna' may have been literally the Eucharist... but it may also have been another's prayer, or a friendly visit, or a word of scripture... Like manna in the desert, it was not to be kept and hoarded: it was food for that day, and that day alone. Food is given to be gratefully consumed, to become part of us. As the modern health slogan says, 'You are what you eat'."
I can't tell you how much that quotation, from Hope in the Wilderness, by David Winter, jumped out at me! It applied so directly to the books I'd been reading, the blogs I'd found, and the support of some of you super bloggers out there. What had been surprising me all year was that many of the most profound things I was learning were coming from non-Christian sources, so how was God speaking to me through them all? That quotation seemed to put it all into context - these books and blogs and blogging contacts have been God's way of feeding me in a difficult year, and also of preparing me for both challenges and blessings which continue to come. Without them (and therefore without you, blogging friends), I don't quite know where I would be, or how my family would be coping. So this year I continue to gratefully consume what God is putting before me, even if the source of some of it isn't what I would have thought of as 'kosher' before this last year! I need to test it as I read, but that is second nature to me. The harder part is not rejecting it simply because it's not what I'm used to.j
Lent is coming - Mardi Gras is on Tuesday 8th March, the day we fly back to France. If you would like to join in A Pause in Lent with me this year, do have a look at this logo on my sidebar, because it includes a link to tell you more. Just leave a comment on this post or any later ones if you'd like to join in!

I nearly forgot - the photo at the top of this post is of Son 1 doing sit-ups in our Coulée Verte - the 'green corridor' provided for recreation in our market town.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Which came first - the sock or the egg?

Well, in this case, I think it was clearly the egg! We have a chronology here in the picture - 2011 Marks and Spencer socks, 1970s flowered sewing basket, and pre-1950 French darning egg. The pack of otherwise super M&S mail-order socks included one that sprang a hole almost the moment Ben put it on. I was all for sending it back and complaining, but Ben thought it wasn't worth the trouble ("c'est pas la peine") and asked if the sock was at all mendable.
I thought I'd give it a go, as I'd mended a lot of sock seams in my time, and had 'sort-of' darned a few things, and had read instructions in both 'Make Do and Mend' and 'How Green are my Wellies?'
Picking the right darning wool for a sock which is red, pink and black, was no trouble at all, as I could only find white in my vintage darning wool 'collection'!
And it turned out all right. The proof of the darning was in the wearing - I said to Ben one evening: 'Have you found that sock I darned yet?' and he replied that he hadn't realised I'd done it. He took off his shoe to check which socks he'd been wearing all day and, lo and behold, he'd been comfortably walking around for the last 12 hours without realising he had a darned sock! So I'd say it worked.
Thanks for your continued, much-valued comments. We are now on holiday, and the reduced timetable of the last few school days meant that Son 2 could pop in and out of school whenever he had a lesson, which meant we could also manage his painkillers and general exhaustion. My father has been discharged from hospital and the boys and I will be flying out to visit him on Tuesday! We are very grateful.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Blooms, Birds, Blessings and Blue Pottery

Well, after all the excitement of hospital trips and pain-filled nights earlier in the week, things are finally settling down! Son 2's antibiotics and painkillers are finally up to the job of keeping him asleep at night and fit for school in the day, and the nurse came to our house yesterday to change his bandages - I think both boys instantly fell in love with her! Thanks so much for all your kind comments for me and the poor injured boy. Either you're going to look at the picture above and notice the pretty flowers, or you're going to notice that I need to weed! Cup half full, or half empty? I planted the bulbs right next to my washing line, so that I would see early blooms when hanging out the washing. Sadly the washing has been sitting on the line in the rain for the last 18 hours - I got caught out yesterday, and decided to risk leaving it there in the hopes that today will be a better day. I'm not sure, though...Now, in advance of Son 2 damaging himself, I had a smashing time myself last weekend, breaking a small coffee pot, a glass and one of our last good-sized serving dishes.
It was time for some shopping, and fast - Ben was threatening to go out and buy a whole new set of serving dishes! New??? A SET????? Shock horror. Action was needed to keep up my thrifty-eco-eclectic image.
Thankfully, the troc shop came up trumps. I was looking for a theme that would fit what little is left in our collection (mostly white or with small blue flowers) and I came back, delighted, with this lovely tagine-style casserole, the Crown Derby 'modern' casserole you see above and two hand-painted plates.
There's a lot of north African pottery in France, of course, given its colonial history.
Each piece I've bought is different but is hopefully united by the blue and white and the hand painting. I'm looking forward to finding some more pieces to add to the collection now!
So things are looking up. Son 2 and I have caught up on enough sleep to see the bright side of life again. Son 1 and Ben can look forward to having a bit of attention again! And the holidays start on Saturday, and my dad seems likely to be well enough to leave hospital and get home before we are due to vist him. I am very grateful for all these blessings, the big ones and the blue plates too.
And a final blessing is this regular visitor to Son 2's birdfeeder - a blackcap. It's either one very hungry one or several, taking it in turns. They are wonderfully elegant little birds and very welcome!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

What a week - and it's only Tuesday!

I'm sneaking very quietly around the house as Son 2 finally got to sleep at around 5am this morning. He and I spent yesterday afternoon and evening at casualty ('urgences') in Toulouse Purpan, after a summons from school to tell me he'd shut his finger in a door and they were going to call an ambulance if I didn't get to him within the next five minutes. I got there. We then spent hours waiting in casualty, because of course an injury that looks pretty nasty to a school nurse looks like no big deal to triage nurses dealing with flu-ridden babies. But everyone, from the school staff to the nurses to heroic Son 2, did very well, and he now has a very clean wound with one stitch in it! However, it hurt and he couldn't sleep for ages, but now he's down and out in our bed and I'm leaving him there! So I have no inspired pictures to show you myself, although I did visit a flea market this weekend - you'll just have to wait until I get sunshine and more than a few hours' sleep! But here are some pretty pictures from other blogs: Winniebriggs House is having a first anniversary giveaway that looks absolutely super!
And I was given this award by the lovely Lemonade and Lamingtons - thank you so much!
You want to know seven things about me? OK, but I think they'll be pretty narrowly focused this morning...
Unlike my sons, I have never:
1. Broken a bone.
2. Damaged sinews.
3. Had stitches.
But I have:
4. Fallen off a bike into a canal when attempting to learn how to cycle at the age of 16.
5. Fallen out of an ancient apple tree when the Coast Guard maroon went off in my grandparent's town of Brixham (and still have the scars to prove it).
6. Fallen out of a weeping willow tree where my dad had built a platform, causing my mother to insist he took the platform out again.
7. Fallen off the top of a slide at the playground.
Clearly, my friends, I bounce!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

All well...

Just a quick update to say my dad has turned a corner and is making real improvements now - thank so much for your prayers and thoughts.

Friday, February 18, 2011

News plus Handkerchief Q and A!

Super responses to my handkerchiefs post, below - thanks so much! I've also sold a good number of sets from my shop, although there are still more, and a cute sent of kitchen cansiters, waiting for a buyer!
Now, the news is not so good - my dad is ill with pneumonia (and some complications). He's being very well cared for in hospital and my sister, aunts and uncles are around for him, but it's a worrying time. Your prayers would be very much appreciated.
But I can still talk about handkerchiefs!
  • So, lots of people use them, and others are freaked by the germ issue. Understandable. My mum would never let us use cloth hankies (memories of nasty ones from childhood I assume) but I had a friend whose mum always kept a bucket of disinfectant/water in the bathroom and the used hankies got thrown in there until wash day, which seemed one way to handle it.
  • I have learned, since going over to the cloth hankies, that there are certain habits you need to get into if the hygiene is going to work out. NEVER leave one in your pocket when you take off a piece of clothing! Rediscovering an elderly used handkerchief is a total no-no! (And, Sarah, for me pockets are best if but all else fails sleeves will do - the problem comes with summer dresses...)
  • On those terms, there is no way I am getting my boys to go over to cloth hankies. Their hygiene standards do not meet my own (see below) and they are going to have to stick to paper tissues thrown straight onto the fire after use. Anyway, they don't do the dainty, ladylike, keep a hanky in your bag just in case thing... The one time I had a really bad cold since I had handkerchiefs I used loads in one day and put them into a tub to soak before washing on that same day. I'm really only talking about general, light, everyday use, here.
  • I wash mine on the normal wash (eg quite ecological low temperatures) but line dry them (I agree with Sherri B that the sun is a disinfectant - so do the 'experts' I've read) and I also iron them very hot, which is going to have the same effect.
  • Having used cloth nappies and gone through similar concerns about the hygiene there, and with having a biologist husband, I am fairly familiar with what ACTUALLY makes us ill rather than what we might just feel is nasty. I have a fairly sturdy approach to hygiene, the way I like to imagine our ancestors did in the days before antibacterial kitchen sprays. However, each to his own - if it feels yucky for you, it is yucky, so fair enough!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Joy of Handkerchiefs!

Oh, the joy of having washing on the line again! And, perhaps more of an eccentric pleasure, the joy of having a neat pile of ironed handkerchiefs ready to go back into the drawer for daily use...
Shall we have a little peep at this pile of hankies? They're just the random results of my washing and ironing over the last week:
At first, I switched from paper tissues to cloth handkerchiefs for environmental reasons - we'd been using regularly-washed cloths instead of kitchen roll for years.
Then we replaced 'kiddy-wiping cloths' at the table with proper cloth napkins - just as good for the environment but a bit more grown up!Having more or less eliminated paper kitchen rolls in this way, it seemed a bit silly for me to be using a pack of paper tissues a day, so I decided to look out for vintage cloth hankies in the charity shops.And there they were, in beautiful detail and appropriate quality!
At first, I'll be honest, I didn't iron them, or the napkins either. They were a 'green' necessity, not something else to go in the ironing pile. But something strange has happened in the last few years.
I've read a few books and blogs. I've realised that being fairly tidy and organised can be rather more of a delight than a bind. I've discovered that, for me, ironing my well-chosen handkerchiefs and napkins is a simple pleasure, which makes the day seem that much more pleasant.
You don't have to feel the same way - isn't variety the spice of life? But you might like to Google 'handkerchief quilts' if you're wondering what to do with your handkerchiefs that you don't want to use on a daily basis!
You might also like to pop over my blog shop, because I found so many handkerchiefs the other day that I've finally felt generous enought to share some of them!

Tell me - did you or do you use cloth handkerchiefs? What do you think about them? And don't forget to find out who won my OWOH giveaway, in the post below...

One World One Heart Winner

One World One Heart has been an incredible event - thank you so much to Lisa for organising it, and to all of you who came by to visit, leaving comments, sending emails, joining 'friendly followers' etc - as Lisa intended, it has been much more than a blog hop, and much more a way of meeting special people and beginning some new blogging friendships. And so, without further ado, the winner of my La Mode 1898 newspaper, and the French birthday candles, is:
Michaele, from the blogs Twigs and Tulle and Kindergarten's 3 R's: Respect, Resources and Rants! Congratulations to Michaele, who wrote:
'How wonderful! I love the vintage ladies, and the candles would be so much fun for my dear daughter's 17th birthday this year- she's taking French 3 and has filled our home with melodic conversation! '
What's really nice is that I visited Michaele's Kindergarten blog through the OWOH links - in the past I've worked with this age group myself so I really enjoyed reading the experiences of a teacher in another part of the world. It just proves the point that OWOH allows us to make connections we wouldn't make in other ways. I'll be emailing Michaele and posting off her prize now... Have a good day!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Valentine's Day in France is very much for lovers - even more so than in the UK. We don't send cards to lots of people, as I think you do in the USA. It's fun to see how it's celebrated in different ways around the world - and it is particularly lucrative for underwear salespeople here in France, I should think, judging from the advertising... So, last night I made a jam tart and decorated it for the boys - rather forgetting that jam isn't like fruit in a pie, and you really don't want TOOOO much of it!
This morning the breakfast table was decorated with some yummy Italian heart-shaped biscuits - Ben was travelling between Turin and Rome last week, for work... Thank you, Ben! And my contribution was this twig heart, made from the twigs he'd trimmed from his grape vine this winter.
I do have another small present on order from Amazon for him - ain't that just the way?
Happy Valentine's Day to you, however you celebrate it!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Back again!

How lovely to come back from my 'week off' and read your wonderful comments! Thanks for stopping by, on my Spiritual Sunday post or on One World One Heart. I'm going to have to take some time catching up, reading your comments properly and stopping by to visit!So once again I'm linking to Spiritual Sundays, and am trying to put into words some of the things that the last week has taught me. One is that I've always been one to 'put on a good front', to place looking good ahead of actually being good. I'm not beating myself up about this, as it's human nature, but I've been able to spend a week just living well instead of trying to LOOK as though I'm living well. In that spirit, I think I need to take a week off from other people's opinions on a regular basis, as the only opinions that really matter are first God's, then my own, and those I love... I've spent too much of my life worrying about what other people thought of me and have spent the last year learning that good friends can like the real me but that people who want to reform me in their own image aren't good friends. Bloggers - you are good friends! I look forward to spending the next few weeks with you, and then I'll go off again to make sure I'm keeping it real...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Off for a week...

Hello my lovely blogging friends, old and new. I'm just here to sign off for a week, because I'm going to do one of those blogging-free weeks that occasionally seem like a good idea.This one is unexpected - I don't have any sense of things getting on top of me or of excessive blogging (althought with OWOH going on there is always someone to visit!). Instead, I just read in Simple Abundance last night (yes, this is my second year in a row): 'Today, deliberately turn yourself away from the world... Wean yourself away from the opinion of others - however talented, creative and celebrated they may be - as you continue to journey within'.I have spent an odd 12 months, hearing the voice of God more clearly through non-Christian books and blogs than through what you might call the more 'usual channels'. It seems that God needed to get me out of a bit of a rut and surprise me! So, in a sense of obedience, I'm going to spend a week not reading my blog or yours. I don't expect mountain-top experiences, but do imagine that the pile of mending is going to look a whole lot smaller by this time next week! I will still be emailing, so if you and I are in email contact I will be replying to you... Have a wonderful week, my friends.


Floss (linking with Spiritual Sundays)