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Spring cheer

2 Apr

Just popping in quickly this morning as I realise I have been a little bit moany and gloomy in my last few posts and definitely lacking in spring cheer.

daffodil

So just to say, I have finally been catching up on a bit of sleep (hurrah) as my mother-in-law has been staying for a few days and giving me a hand with the sproglet.

Daffodil | Wolves in London

I have also done all sorts of things like unpack the odd box, make some soup for the freezer (ready to be eaten when the next baby arrives), attend a midwife appointment without the sproglet in attendance, make some delicious rhubarb fool from my amazingly pink forced rhubarb (the glory of which you might have seen on instagram if you follow me over there…) and even managed to knit a few more rows of the new baby’s blanket

Daffodils | Wolves in London

Not only has my mother-in-law entertained the sprog, she also brought me a beautiful bunch of daffodils from her garden. Gorgeous aren’t they?

Daffodil bunch | Wolves in London

And with all that activity and the re-emergence of the sun, how could I not be feeling in good cheer once again?

Related articles:

  • Happier? Yes. As happy as the weekend of the mating frogs? Not quite. But I can always take a look at my photos to remind myself of their glory…

Feeling guilty

31 Mar

I’m feeling a little guilty this morning…

You see, today was my deadline to make something rather glorious from this heavenly peacock fabric.

peacock fabric

I’m ashamed to admit, I’ve not even got as far as ironing it still…

And what have I done with it? Erm, absolutely nothing.

A month or so ago, I entered the Hillarys Blinds country craft competition: you selected your favourite fabric from four options which was then sent to you for free so you could make something wonderful and blog about it.

Only, of course, I haven’t made something wonderful, or indeed, at all.

I was never in any danger of finishing ahead of time, but I did have what I thought was a genius idea earlier this week and was quite excited about the amazing entry I was going to submit. I ordered a lampshade making kit and planned to put the wonderful peacocks onto a big drum ceiling lightshade for my newly painted sitting room.

Only, when the kit arrived on Saturday, I realised I was going to have to cut off the peacock’s tail to fit it onto the drum. Which seemed a huge waste of the amazing fabric.

So, then, a little desperate for ideas with two days to go, I thought I might just whip up another bag holder (not glamorous, I know, but the peacock would have surely added an extra glam element to a rather pedestrian item).

And then, on Sunday, this happened:

Boxes

This is my sitting room. Honestly, it’s in there somewhere…

Boxes in room

And this is my bedroom. And, actually, I took this photo half way through the unloading. It’s even worse now

All our possessions that have been in storage for the past four months returned to our house. Simply clearing enough space to tunnel between the bed, the kitchen and the TV took up the entire day.

All of which, is a very long winded way of publicly saying, “Hillarys, I am sorry! I had no intention to deceive you when I ordered the fabric and I really did fully intend to blog about an amazing make. Thank you so much for the beautiful peacocks  and I promise that I will, eventually, make something lovely with it and indeed put it on the blog with a nice link back to your fine website. But, erm, just not at the right time.”

Sigh.

I hope you all had slightly more successful weekends than me.

Still, the sun was glorious here in London on Saturday and I got a beautiful bunch of Mother’s Day tulips today, so I’ll try and hold onto those thoughts entering the week ahead…

Tulip

Oh how I love tulips

Related articles:

  • Of course, another cause for my complete failure at making anything are my permanent levels of stress right now, which I wrote about a a few weeks ago: On being permanently stressed. I’d like to pretend that I’ve managed to calm down since then, but in all honesty, if anything, I’ve got worse… Late pregnancy hormones do weird things to you, don’t they?

On being permanently stressed out

18 Mar

Apart from a glorious weekend last weekend (see my garden moodboard or mating frog pics for more on that!) I’ve been seriously strung out since we moved back home…

Unpainted room

Just a few things to get sorted in this room…

Of course, it’s not surprising. The house is a tip, we’ve had workmen of one kind or other in here almost every day since we’ve been back, which not only means rooms are out of action, but makes it impossible for the sproglet to nap and puts a vast array of exciting looking power tools within his reach if I take my eye off him for a second.

We could only afford a painter for our main sitting room and – after two weeks of the room being dust sheeted up and out of action – he has gone AWOL, never, I suspect to return, leaving the job half finished. We’ve run out of time to find someone else to take over, so our dreams of having just one room that was fully finished and painted before the next baby comes will remain unfulfilled.

To compound all this, I’m also knackered, at nearly eight months pregnant. I suspect looking after a toddler full time, even in a fully functioning, clean, safe and comfortable house, would be exhausting right now.

Any more first world woes to add to the list? Well, yes actually. The husband is working on some major deal at the moment, which means he gets home after 10pm and is also at work all weekend. So, no chance of house progression in any way at all until the deal is finished. Harumph.

As a result, I’ve turned into someone I dislike. Grumpy, short-tempered, permanently stressed out and worried because of all the things I want to get done, but can’t get done, either due to a sproglet in attendance or because my gigantic body runs out of energy within a few minutes of standing up.

I cast my eyes around a room noticing all the things I could be sorting out if only I had some time and energy: bare plaster walls, untreated wood skirting boards, light switches and plug sockets dangling a few inches clear of the wall. And I feel completely fed up. I can’t concentrate on playing trains with the sproglet because I’m making a gigantic to do list in my head. And then panicking because there is nobody to do the to do list.

So, rather than continue in this way, worrying myself into a gigantic hole which makes me thoroughly unpleasant for anyone to spend time with, I am going to try and force myself to think small and to appreciate the improvements that are already there.

45 minutes while the sproglet naps? Great, I won’t try and paint the kitchen (like I did yesterday) and then get frustrated when he wakes up early. Instead, I’ll focus on cleaning a single fireplace to remove all the grime and building dust. And then I’ll sit back, admire the sparkling fireplace, put my feet up and have a cup of tea.

And when I look at the sproglet’s bare plaster walls (in the photo above) I won’t stress about whether the damp patch on the ceiling is drying out or the lack of paint on the walls or the unoiled wood floor. I’ll think how nice the chair looks sitting in the corner.

It’s not a way of existing that comes naturally to me, focusing on the small finished thing, instead of tackling the gigantic list of unfinished jobs, but I’m going to give it my best shot… Wish me luck for the next six weeks!

And hey, after the new baby comes, I’ll be so sleep deprived I won’t notice any of my surroundings anyway.

Related articles:

Amorous frogs…

16 Mar

…it must be Spring!

Frog | Wolves in London

Wot yew lookin at?

It seems to be frog mating season in our pond; every time I wander down to the end of the garden I can hear a low melodic ribbiting and look over to the pond to see at least four sets of frogs, clinging to each other in an endless embrace in the sunshine.

If I walk too close and disturb them, they rush back into the depths, one still clutching onto the other’s back.

Mating frogs

They stay like this for hours, clutching on to each other…

The frogspawn multiplies by the day. When I first noticed it, there was one little ball. The following day, two. Now, the surface of the pond is practically covered with it.

A winter of neglect while we were away has meant the fish have died one way or other (I suspect at the hands, or rather paws, of the neighbours’ cats, since there is no evidence of fish bodies anywhere), the plants that are still there look very sorry for themselves and the water has turned a murky brown from all the decomposing apples we didn’t fish out.

But the frogs seem to enjoy the lack of competition as I have never seen so many of them in there…

Affectionate frogs

There’s something sweetly affectionate about the way the one on the right is touching the other one

Elsewhere in the garden, other wonderful signs of spring are everywhere. Nothing better than the fabulously blue sky…

Plane

The sproglet gets terribly excited by the sight of a plane flying overhead.

… the blossom on the tree next door…

Blossom | Wolves in London

A treeful of gorgeous white flowers

… and the acer buds starting to burst out against a backdrop of London rooftops.

Acer in bud | Wolves in London

I think these will be fully unfurled by next week

London rooftops | Wolves in London

Sigh. If only every day was like this…

Days like these warm the soul, don’t they?

Related articles:

Home

11 Mar

I wrote this and took the photos a week or so ago, but couldn’t find my camera lead to download anything… Pleased to report that *some* progress has since taken place!

I’ve been a little quiet this week, because last Saturday we moved home.

After three months away, we’re finally back in our pad.*

It was a week earlier than planned, as my Mum’s house – where we were staying — was clogged up from the flooding and the drain situation was getting a little unpleasant. So, everything wasn’t exactly finished when we got back here.

There’s still quite a lot of this…

Hole in the wall

What a lovely hole in the wall

building work

Oh no, this sort of thing isn’t at all dangerous with a toddler running round. Honest…

new plaster

This is one of the “good” walls. Nothing, but nothing is painted yet… I think they look quite beautiful though.

 

But also lots of lovely renovations already completed, like this…

Fireplace tile

A tile from our reclaimed fireplace, brand new in the sitting room

Parquet

Newly laid (and newly mopped) parquet floor that runs throughout the downstairs of the house

Shower valve

A shower! We finally have a shower

Fired Earth tiles

And this is the bathroom floor, fully covered in Fired Earth tiles**

radiator valve

Most exciting to me: though slightly dusty, this is one of our lovely radiator valves because, hooray, we finally have central heating

So, there’s still a way to go, but we’re in, we’re heated and we can wash. What more do you need than that?!

I’ll show you some proper photos of completed rooms when (or if) they get finished…

*A fact that always reminds me of the amazing Robert Lowell poem, Home after three months away. Check it out if you like a bit of modern poetry.

** If you like these tiles, I’m selling our spares on eBay right now!

Related articles:

  • A bit more about our house and everything we needed to do to it…

Wolf & Ink

14 Feb

Those of you who’ve been reading my blog for a while might remember my hugely talented sister, Letterpress printer extraordinaire and maker of my wedding invitations and business cards.

Letterpress balloon

Like it? Hey, you can buy it!

Well, she’s put me to shame once again for, while I’ve been wittering on about starting a fabric business for more than a year but done sweet FA about it, she’s spent the past six months setting up her own stationery company, Wolf & Ink.

Letterpress wedding invitation

I love the bus on this…

Wedding invitation stationery

Save the dates, RSVPs, and so on…

Personalised Letterpress CD case wedding favours

This is a super cute idea: a wrapper for your CD of wedding songs

She makes bespoke wedding invitations (plus save the dates, RSVPs, menus and the whole caboodle, which I believe is more officially referred to as a “suite”) but you can enjoy some of the Letterpress loveliness even if you’re not getting married as she’s also launched a range of cards and notebooks.

Letterpress notebook

Just think of all the lovely notes you could write in here

Personalised note cards

Personalised note cards

Letterpress notecard

This is my favourite of the bunch…

Taxi notecards

Taxi notecards

You can find her at her own website: Wolf & Ink and she’s also just started selling an exclusive range for Not On The High Street.

But of course, all this creativity and get-up-and-go doesn’t make me feel even a tiny bit jealous. Honest.

*Retires to sofa to dream of a better life*

Related articles:

  • I’m a real fan of Letterpress stationery so, naturally, I’ve got a whole Pinterest board dedicated to it. Check out some more beautiful designs here: Letterpress inspiration.

Water and working

12 Feb

Friends, this post comes to you with the exciting news that the sproglet is having a nap right now and I am… …not revising!

I spent all of yesterday huddled over a chair, with severe thumb cramps, scribbling, scribbling, scribbling away, trying to write everything I knew about winter cabbage and pruning blackcurrants and the limitations of establishing lawns from seed and many other things that made my brain ache by the end of the day.

But, finally, after a good two months of revising at every second I could get, my horticulture exams are over. Results in the day before the next baby is due, so it could well be that by then I don’t care too much that two of the exams didn’t go terribly well. And, hurrah, I’m back in the world just in time for Spring to arrive. Right? Come on Spring…

Flooded driveway

It’s rather beautiful, isn’t it?

While I’ve had my head in the books, water has been slowly rising up around my Mum’s house, where we’re in temporary habitation. The picture above is her driveway on Monday morning, the trees on the banks of the road opposite reflected in the 5cm deep water, and only a thin sliver of tarmac left where there is normally a pavement.

She lives on one of the flood plains by the Thames close to Cookham, so it’s not entirely surprising that the water is encroaching. Nothing inside the house so far, which is lucky, but the water table is so high that the areas outside the front and back doors currently have a new lease of life as paddling pools.

Flooding

Drip, drop… You can just make out the non-functioning drain hole at the bottom

Next door, the neighbours’ kitchen is under water, while two doors down have had loo paper floating out of the drain hole in the front drive for the past week and took delivery of a portaloo yesterday morning. So, really, we’re pretty lucky with this tranquil patch of still water.

Anyway, I’ve hundreds upon hundreds of things planned that I’ve been putting on hold “until the exams are over” — some knitting, some home organising, some baby preparation and various other bits and pieces — so I’ll be around a little more frequently in the coming weeks.

Hope you’re all well out there and see you soon!

AWOL

30 Jan

My lovely blog readers, it’s that time again… The second batch of my horticulture exams are in less than two weeks and, just like last June, I must bury my head in my books until then and concentrate on revision.

Cyclamen

Right this very second, I’m probably busy learning about such things as how to grow cyclamen for commercial production…

So no blog posts from me, I’m afraid, until some point after February 11th when I can think about anything non-plant related again.

Of course, I deeply wish I was one of those super organised people who would have scheduled a few posts for the meantime but — as you know all too well if you’ve been here a few times — sadly, I’m not.

So, have a wonderful fortnight, wish me luck for the day of exams and I’ll be back soon…

Vintage maternity style

20 Jan

In the early days of pregnancy – before the bump has actually started to show – I always pore over photos of effortlessly glamorous pregnant ladies and lust after their  clothes.

I dream of similar outfits for myself.

High waisted skirts and pencil belts, flowing capelets, and dresses with big collar dresses all feature heavily.

In reality, though, by the time a sizeable bump has appeared (and especially this time round with a toddler to look after as well) any ideas of sartorial snappiness have been abandoned and comfort is the order of the day.

Today, at about six months pregnant, I am sporting a classic Sabrina maternity outfit. A ratty old pair of ASOS maternity jeans that slip down at the crotch constantly, which I’ve been wearing for about five days now and which have the adornment of a toddler handprint in paint at the knee. (Yes, the paint will wash off. No, I haven’t put them through the wash since it occurred three days ago…)

The jeans are permanently topped with one of my husband’s jumpers, rotated fairly frequently across the week and washed at the weekend when he complains about having nothing to wear himself.

Accessories include scraped back, not-terribly-recently-washed hair, a pallid complexion and big purple bags. Very Kate Moss, heroin chic, circa mid-90s, I’m sure you’re thinking.

But of course there is the odd occasion where this wear-anywhere look doesn’t cut the mustard. And in April, two weeks in advance of my due date, I have one such event: a friend’s wedding with a 1940s theme.

My love for a 1940s dress outweighing even my usual pregnancy laziness (my own wedding dress was made from an original 1940s pattern), I’ve been scouring the internet looking for vintage maternity clothes.

It’s slim pickings out there, so I thought I’d share what I’ve unearthed, in case any other vintage lovers were in a similar predicament…

My first (and best) find is the website Tasty Vintage, which has a small maternity section: Tasty Vintage maternity.

This amazing 1940s green two-piece suit is just exactly the sort of thing I’m after.

Green maternity outfit

So cute it’s almost worth getting pregnant for if you’re not already…
(© Tasty Vintage)

Or this sweet pink rose 1950s dress would be excellent come summer time.

Pink rose maternity dress

Perfect for wafting around a garden party, virgin gin and tonic in hand
(© Tasty Vintage)

Normally, I’d shy away from geometric boxy designs, when large with child, but this jacket could well be calling to me…

1960s maternity jacket

Very Jackie O, no?
(© Tasty Vintage)

Etsy, of course, is another good place to trawl. My favourites, when I looked, were this super cute 1940s top / dress from Adelinesattic…

1940s maternity top

With a photo this great, it’s hard not to love the dress…
(© Adelinesattic)

…or this sweet blue maternity ’60s tunic, from SwizzleTimeVintage (based in America, so you’d have to factor in shipping…)

1960s maternity tunic

Perfect for the pregnant air hostess
(© SwizzleTimeVintage)

And then there’s always good old eBay. Discard all the “vintage maternity clothes” that really just mean “my old Dotty P jeans that are technically vintage because they’re not new any more” and you might just unearth a few gems.

Vintage inspired

If you’re not fussed whether or not your clothes have already been worn, sweated into and washed by another person, then go for “vintage inspired” which offers just a little more choice.

The brilliant blog Retro to Go showcases the best retro clothes from the high street. Keep an eye on the women’s fashion section, which sometimes includes maternity wear like this amazing (though now not available) dress from Topshop…

Topshop maternity dress

I would buy this in a second if it was still available…

The really excellently named website In Pig* has a small but gorgeous collection of vintage inspired dresses, like this 70s inspired smock in Liberty print needlcord.

Liberty print maternity smock

Hard to resist this, isn’t it?
(©In Pig)

And I spend a fair bit of time hopefully checking out the usual old high street haunts (Topshop, Dorothy Perkins and ASOS frequently do nice maternity clothes. H&M I find cheap and uncomfortable for maternity — though excellent for children’s clothes. Makes no sense to me…)

Occasionally you come across little gems like this cheery red 1970s-style flared sleeve dress from ASOS:

1970s maternity dress

If you’re feeling frumpy, chuck on a bright red dress and you’re bound to cheer up…
(© ASOS)

Sew your own

But the biggest selection really comes if — unlike me — you’re full of energy and you sew yourself some clothes. There’s a huge choice of vintage maternity sewing patterns out there, check out Etsy, Craftsy or eBay and you could soon be tripping around town in the likes of this:

maternity sewing patterns

Cape? Check. Hands in pockets? Check. Super cute? Check

Me? I’m in the jeans and jumper til April comes…

*I went through a phase of devouring every book by / about the Mitford sisters a few years back, and I always loved how they wrote to each other to declare that they were “in pig”. Such a wonderfully apt expression!

Related articles:

  • Fancy ogling gorgeous pregnant styles too? I’m set up a board on Pinterest: Pregnancy style

Frosty mornings

17 Jan

Urgh, all this rain! I can’t bear the sogginess of it all.

It’s cheered me up no end that a few mornings this week I’ve woken not to the interminable patter of rain on the roof, but to the sight of frost on the ground and the big orange sun peeping out through the trees opposite the house.

I wandered round the garden with my lovely macro lens (a wedding present last year) for a little close up look at some of the frosted bits and pieces last weekend.

Frosted garden table

The garden table, with the frost all lined up in rows

frosty feather

And a little feather trapped on the table

frosty leaf

Even the weeds look lovely with a little sprinkling

Frosty stem

And I love the way the little icicles point straight upwards

frosty tree stump

On an old tree stump at the bottom of the garden, the top was a layer of ice

Snail shells

The eagle eyed among you will have spotted these shells aren’t remotely frosty. I just thought they were rather lovely

So beautiful.

Come on January, more crisp cold days and less rain please…

Related articles:

  • I took my macro lens for a wander round my garden last year too (the pics from here are in my Mum’s garden as we’re temporarily staying with her). It was Autumn time and there was plenty of seasonal loveliness then too: Autumn in the garden
  • For even more garden photos, take a look at my recent garden moodboard (links within the post to more moodboards from other months as well): January moodboard
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