Since I was a little girl I've been making dens....and don't think I'll ever stop..........

Friday, 29 January 2010

fantastic friday

What a great day Friday was. First of all I had some really positive feed back about the commission I'm doing. Then I popped into a charity shop and found an old leather doctors bag. It's something that I've been looking for for ages. Even better it was only £4.99!! I think that the volunteers in the Oxfam shop didn't think that anyone would actually want to use it as an accessory........ check out the label'll see what I mean.....

Then whilst driving home had the idea of writing another blog. When I first started 'making dens' a couple of months ago it didn't have a name and was intended to showcase my artwork. with time it's got a bit domesticated. So I decided that maybe I should begin a new blog dedicated to those more domesticated things thus the concept of 'cooking up a storm in a teacup' was born. So I beavered away at that all day...... you might like to check it out on let me know what you think.....

Sunday, 24 January 2010

They say that when one door closes that another one opens. Well that seems to be the case when it comes to doors belonging to book shops in Oxford. Which incidentally doesn't have a lack of lovely ones selling both new and old books. You may remember my lament recently over the closure of the local Borders Bookstore. Well we've discovered a new book shop that doesn't have it's own coffee shop or red leather club chairs where you can sit and read to your hearts content but it does sell ridiculously cheap books. Absolutely everything in the shop is an unbelievable two pounds! Book worm heaven....... well poor book worm heaven!

We walked into town on Sunday cos we had a birthday present to buy and on the way treated ourselves to a couple of books in said bookstore. Which I can't remember the name of but is opposite Christ Church on St Aldate's.

I bought The View from Garden City by Carolyn Baugh. It tells the story of a young American student living in the Garden City district of Cairo and details the lives of four generations of mothers and daughters who live there. It sounds really interesting but I plan to read The Archivist's Story first. Travis Holland's first Novel sounds intriguing. It's set in 1939's Moscow choice might be something to do with the current trend for all things Russian in the UK this winter.....or that Dr Zhivago was playing when we got home.....and that A's always being told that he looks like Omar Sharif....mmm

Saturday, 23 January 2010

I love saturdays

Hurray for Saturdays, an extra hour in bed, reading Von Goethe, birds singing and at this time of year the promise of spring and impending warmer days and time to watch a squirrel steal nuts off a woodpigeon twice his size and then hide them in a hundred different places.

As we're both fighting off bad colds that threaten to turn into chest infections, we indulged in some afternoon television viewing and watched Little Women. I love the 1994 adaptation with Winona Ryder, Kirsten Dunst, Claire Danes and Susan Sarendon directed by Gillian Armstrong. Love the costumes, love the house, the snow, the garden in summer........and isn't Mrs March just the perfect mum? Oh and I miss my three sisters too........

Then we enjoyed our current favourite quick supper dish that is a mix of East meets West. Which just about sums up 'A' and me too.....

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

What I'm reading at the moment.

'H' is half way through a Literature Degree in London and I'm working through her previous years reading list, if it's something I haven't already read. I started reading The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johan Von Goethe a couple of nights ago. It's semi-autobiographical and was written in 1774 in the form of a diary. It's a bit like reading an 18th century blog.

It is a bit soppy and sentimental with lots of moping about lying in long grass by a tumbling brook 'at one' with nature .......but it does get me longing for sunny summer days wishing that I could be lying in the grass listening to the bees humming.....or at least get the hammock out.....

Free Calandar From Something's Hiding in Here

Just a quick break from drawing to download a lovely calendar from one of my favourite blogs called Something's Hiding in Here. I like the simple use of the font. It's designed wth a vintage proofing press using wood and lead type. I love it....when I've time I'll experiment printing it on different types of paper...
I recommend looking at their blog they have some fun things going on like moustache envy!

You can check it out and download your own calendar on

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

After being snowed in for almost two weeks it was so good to be able to go into Oxford for a couple of hours this morning.

I had a quick look in Toast, they have lots of amazing new stuff. I decided to treat ‘A’ to a mille fois from Patisserie Valerie a couple of doors away. I love the way everything is beautifully packaged for you to take home in little boxes with pink curly ribbon, making it seem so special.

Had a quick look around The Covered Market.....which reminded me that Spring is on it's way.....

I would have liked to indulge in lunch at The Vaults and Garden Cafe. They do delicious organic food, including my favourite risotto, not to mention yummy cakes and coffee, but my car was parked on a two hour parking space by the river, so had to rush back......never mind...maybe next time.......

Saturday, 16 January 2010

I found this image in a copy of the St. Georges Magazine, for boys and girls August, 1911. An old lady gave me six issues a couple of years ago. I love the advertisements and will post more like the one for Paisley Flour sold in 7 penny , 1/2penny and 1penny packets, that tells us that 'home baking is a virtue that brings its own reward' .....I'll let you know what that reward is at a later date. For now the Birds Custard one looked appropriately seasonal.

Friday, 15 January 2010

The Cosy Bag Company

Becky at The Cosy Bag Company has just updated her website with some new goodies. She finishes her bags so beautifully. I wish that I had her patience when it comes to sewing!I love the fabric that she's chosen for her Ecosy's. It takes me back to my trip to The Cloth Shop in Portobello Road and all the lovely textiles you can find there.....I must go back soon.
You can check out her website on:-
Her collection of tweed bags with a slightly retro Scandinavian twist is really worth looking at.
I also like her reversible linen bags.....I might treat myself for the Spring

Thursday, 7 January 2010


I know that I'm becoming a snow bore but I promise that this will be the last posting on the subject. It's just that this snow is so different from the few centimetres of snow that we usually get, which stays for one or two days before turning into grey, slushy mush. This is magical snow, it's all fluffy and sparkly, I swear it's got glitter in just keeps glistening..........and everyone is off work. I keep seeing families pass the window carrying cameras with long lenses and children tobogganing down the road, everyone in the village is even more friendly than usual they seem to be finding any excuse to stop and have a chat.....maybe it's just that the Christmas holiday has been extended because the snow has closed everywhere......even the hospital is closed except for emergency operations. Last night it was one degree warmer than the South Pole here in Oxford at minus seventeen degrees centigrade......I wonder how long it will last?

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Twenty three centimetres of snow had fallen in our garden overnight. Beautiful powdery white snow......

Snow day

Well the forecast was right, and it started snowing beautiful big white flakes of snow last night and it hasn't stopped yet. Almost all the schools are closed and six to twelve inches have fallen over the county. Whoopie........

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow........

It's another beautiful sunny day and I can actually hear the birds singing their little hearts out, but it's absolutely freezing cold, and heavy snow is forecast for tonight. 'A' is praying that it will be really heavy so he can have a snow day tomorrow, and that's after only one day back! Me too it's ages since I had a good snowball fight. But a shame because we'd planned to go and see Nine or
Sherlock Holmes tomorrow evening.
I thought that a spot of home baking should keep out the cold so raided the pantry for whatever fruit was available. I found apples, cranberries and peaches and made a flapjack crumble. It's so easy to make, you just cook the fruit with honey or sugar until soft and then put into an oven proof dish. Meanwhile melt equal quantities of butter and brown sugar(about 75 to 100gms), in a saucepan and add the same amount of oats. Mix together and put on top of the fruit. Then bake at 180 degrees centigrade for about half an hour. When it's ready it has a yummy, chewy, crunchy topping and is delicious with custard or homemade ice cream.

Even more comforting when eaten out of a set of 1930's Alfred Meakin desert dishes that belonged to my maternal grandmother.

Monday, 4 January 2010

whoopido.....just received a belated extra Christmas present from H's boyfriend that had got delayed in the post. A DVD of my current favourite French film Otar Losseliani's Gardens in Autumn, can't wait to watch it again.

We awoke this morning to a scene from the Chronicles of Narnia.....oh and hair like Tim Minchin's! (me that is) ........when the sun came up it looked even more magical........and puts me in a really energetic mood that makes me want to spring clean the whole house, even though it's only January.

After everyone left yesterday we took down the ornaments off the tree, and boxed them up to go back in the loft until next year, and put the tree to recycle in the woods. All in an effort to try to get back into some form of normality.

'A' went back to school this morning but doesn't begin teaching until tomorrow. 'H' has decided to stay another week at home before going back to University in London and her boyfriend stayed over last night. I'm so happy that the house isn't totally desolate. And to have her for another week is amazing, hope we can do some fun stuff together in between her essay writing and my drawing.......which incidentally I should be doing now.......but have somehow persuaded myself I have to totally clean the house from top to bottom before I start.....oh and write numerous blog postings.......

Yesterday morning we awoke at 4am to take the last of our visitors to Heathrow Airport, and then bid them goodbye for a while. Then breakfasted at Cafe Rouge, a Parisian style bar complete with Toulouse Lautrec prints, black and white floor tiles and a faux glass ceiling. That, and the general buzz of the airport, got us wishing that we were boarding a plane to somewhere interesting. Not surprisingly our thoughts went to Italy, a country that even though we love the UK, are both obsessed with.

It's been creeping into my mind quite a bit over the last few days. Maybe something to do with the sunny new year weather, with beautiful blue skies that has put me in a very optomisitic frame of mind for the new decade.

Could also be something to do with the fact, that a couple of nights ago I awoke at 3am disturbed by the full moon, having gone to bed not long before. Being unable to get back to sleep, and anxious not to wake A, or any one else. I decided to go downstairs, curl up on the sofa with a big mug of green Tick Tock tea, and watch the cookery channel. I began to watch Giada's tour of Italy showing some of our favourites haunts, from St Marks Square in Venice, Morano and Florence to Rome.....reminding me how much I miss the place, the people, the hospitality, the food, the fashion, the culture....... I must have dozed off, but awoke a couple of hours later to the dulset tones of Antonio Carluccio....maybe it was all a kind of subliminal messaging making me long to go back, but think it's probably just lots of happy memories.

To satisfy my craving I took out another of my Christmas Gifts 'a little taste of ....italy,' which is not only full of amazing recipes, but also lots of beautiful colour plates. And of course had to reach for 'falling cloudberries' again and check out the section on Italy. Not surprisingly I dished up steaming bowls of spaghetti for tea that night and looked back longingly on our 2008 summer holiday photos..........mmmmm........

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Steampunk Art in Oxford

We visited a cool exhibition of Steampunk Art at the Museum of the History of Science in Broad Street Oxford today. It was curated by the American artist and designer Art Donovan and runs until the 21st of February. The attention to detail in some of the work, like that in the small models below was amazing.
...Shades of Wallace and Gromit and the Wrong Trouser.