Friday 31 January 2014

A cup of tea

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Mid afternoon and early evening are my most favourite times to stop, and make a pot (not cup) of tea.
Preparing my lovely little teapot with loose leaf tea, and choosing which pretty cup is all part and parcel of this little ritual that marks some 'time out' for me, and it's one that I've come to really love. 

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Tuesday 28 January 2014

Beginners guide to Polymer clay (Playdough for adults!)

This week my crafty crew and I spent a lovely day playing with grown up play dough! It's called 
 POLYMER CLAY. I hadn't even heard of it until today, but our fab FIMO expert Fiona (you can check her crafty blog out here!) showed us the ropes. I'm always astounded by how easy it is to make lovely things. You can make all sorts - buttons, brooches, jewellery or crockery.
Here's a step-by-step guide on how we made these lovely things.

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Friday 24 January 2014

Old family photographs

This is the view from where I sit at the piano, and it's one of my most favourite places to sit. 
Around me I've placed old photographs of my family. My parents on their wedding day, grandparents, my great grandmother (who I'd give anything to meet) and other family members; some whom I've never met, and some I miss deeply. 

My family photographs - where north meets south
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Wednesday 22 January 2014

The Waltham Abbey Wool Show

My crafty pals, AKA The Bishops Stortford Craft Club and I headed out to the Waltham Abbey Wool Show this weekend. It was such an inspiring afternoon I had to share it with you. These women blew me and my crafty pals away with their skills, their creativity and how that they've turned their passions into thriving business. Read on to be inspired!

This lovely stall above belongs too Namolio ... they make accessories and sell gorgeous supplies for sewing, knitting, crocheting and other related crafts. The ladies below are from the West Essex and east herts guild of weavers and dyers. It really made me want a spinning wheel ... possible new hobby coming on.

This lovely lady from sells gorgeous knitting kits! Look at this beautiful doll! If I hadn't found her at the end after I'd spent all my budget I would have bought this in a heartbeat ... isn't she gorgeous?! Hubby - next birfday perhaps??! 

This gorgeous woman is Jeannette Sloan of ... she's a knitwear designer and  sells all sorts of lovely kits - I have my eye on quite a few of them (especially the fingerless mitts and the shawls!).

This woman is my hero. She is Gillian of Pintail Designs and she is a Fair isle knitting ninja. Not only does she makes beautiful things, she also runs workshops. I WILL learn to knit Fair isle and this lady is going to teach me! (she doesn't know it yet.)

This cheeky chap-ette is Sarah from She and her business partner Jane run a company selling beautiful yarn (I bought 6 balls of it) which they hand spin themselves. They also run courses : )

Finally we have this clever woman from Shamu Makes ... She HAND-dyed every ball of wool you can see in that pile and no two are the same. They are such beautiful natural colours ... some of which will be turned into Welly toppers very shortly!!

As for me, I now have enough wool to fill a field so I better get cracking on my spring blanket!!

JM x

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Monday 20 January 2014

The best natural beauty brands and where to find them

Ok folks, let's have a quick recap. So far, we've talked about the potential dangers of chemical-based products in Becoming a natural beauty and we learned how to really read labels in Chemicals to avoid and understanding the labels. So now it's time to get on to the fun stuff! Now the good news is natural beauty brands are well and truly on the rise. The bad news is they can be a little bit more pricey than your regular high products, and it's not because of their packaging. It's because when it comes to natural ingredients, you really do get what you pay for.

Neal's Yard remedies is a lovely brand and uses quality ingredients.

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Friday 17 January 2014

My new toadstool lamp by White Rabbit

In November I saw this lovely little Toadstool lamp by White rabbit england in a local craft / nice fings shop. I immediately took a picture and put it on my Christmas list.

Toadstool lamp in red (they also do blue!)

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Monday 13 January 2014

Beauty products - Chemicals to avoid + how to understand labels

Ok so we learned in last weeks post Becoming a natural beauty that chemicals in products are no good for us. They are a potential danger to us and our environment. Cosmetic manufacturers are fully aware of this, but in many cases you'll see the words 'PURE' 'NATURAL' 'ORGANIC' plastered all over their beauty products even though it's jam-packed with chemicals. The laws governing the labeling on organic foods do not extend to beauty products so if a brand uses a tiny amount of an organic ingredient, they can call that product 'Organic.' Even brands that base their entire image on being 'pure and natural' are legally misleading us with their packaging ... and we of course believe it, thinking we're being good to our skin. 

Once I cleaned my bathroom cupboard of all things chemical, this is all
I was left with ...  ok so I left my perfume but small steps people small steps! 
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Friday 10 January 2014

Mason Cash bowls (in the forest)

I'm a sucker for ceramics ... mugs, jugs and bowls especially. When is comes to bowls you simply can't go wrong with Mason Cash. Established in 1800, this iconic brown bowl has held our cake mix for decades. I was always on the lookout for a classic brown Mason Cash bowl in the charity shops but I had no luck. Annoyingly my best friend did and she clearly took pleasure in telling me so!

Photograph from Mason Cash

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Monday 6 January 2014

Becoming a natural beauty

Laugh lines or wrinkles, call them what you like, we don't like them. Like most people I had tried all manner of things to prevent age showing on my face. I'd like to tell you I eat vast amounts of organic veg and drink kale juice but that would be a lie. I don't drink much water (unless there's milk and a teabag in it) and I eat cake. So like most women I try to make up for it with what goes on my face instead. When I gave up smoking (I was a young musician) I also gave up chemical products at the same time and became a natural beauty. As a result my outlook and way of life completely changed, as did my skin.

My wedding morning ... I even used natural products on my big day.
Photo by Binky Nixon

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Friday 3 January 2014

Change and the adventure it brings.


Some people are afraid of change. As a people we seem to thrive on routine and often associate change with something bad.  I'm also a creature of habit, I like my little rituals but I like change too. I embrace it ... If I didn't I wouldn't be writing this blog. Now and again I feel there's something in the air ... like in Mary Poppins when Bert says in his extremely convincing cockney accent ...

' Winds in the east, there's a mist coming in ... like something is brewing,  about to begin '
Then Mary pops by and does fabulous magical things. I admit to a small crush on Bert (Hubby's disgusted at my taste in men ...?)

One man band Bert sensing Mary's arrival.
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Wednesday 1 January 2014

Beat the Jan blues and have a HAPPY new year


I have just returned from the bosom of my family. We stayed in a lovely secluded cottage in the welsh countryside for Christmas and it was just lovely. I'm now home, a bit fat (as we all are - just don't look down, or in a long mirror until February) and though I'm getting the itch to take down the deccies and spring clean I shall refrain and make the most of the festivities while they last ... cue Mary Poppins, feet up!

It's tempting to do some housework ... but I won't.
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