Friday, 20 December 2013

Introducing Kristen - Christmas in Arizona!

I am so pleased to introduce you to Kristen, my first guest blogger - enjoy this visit to Christmas over the pond!
K xxx

Hi! I'm Kristen from Whatever is Lovelier, and I'm your guest blogger for the day.
Thanks to the magic of the internet, Karen and I have become blogging friends
on opposite sides of the world. I enjoy seeing all the lovely photos she posts
here on her blog, as well as those on Instagram. Karen always captures
the beauty of Oxfordshire in her photos, which is so very different from where
I live in the United States. She has graciously handed over the reigns today
so that I can share with you my corner of the world and how we celebrate the
holidays here in Chandler, Arizona. I hope you enjoy! Then be sure to head
over to my blog to see Karen's post about Christmas in Oxfordshire.

Arizona is in the southwestern part of the county, and our capital city, Phoenix,
is a desert metropolis and the sixth largest city in America. Drive a few hours
south and you will find yourself in Mexico, or drive a few hours north to find
snow in our high country. Here in the city, we have an average high temperature
of 19 degrees Celsius in the winter! I moved to Chandler, which is a suburb of
Phoenix, a year ago and enjoy living and working in this multicultural city. My
house is minutes from the historic downtown Chandler area, and I visited the
weekend they lit their Christmas tree. You won't find snow here. Instead you
will find rows of stately palm trees, dressed in twinkling lights. We also like to
wrap our cactus in lights. Just be careful you don't prick yourself!

One of the most unique sights you will see in Chandler during the holidays is
the famous Tumbleweed Tree. That's right, the 'tree' you see above isn't really
a tree at all. The Tumbleweed Tree starts as a metal frame that is covered by
some 2,000 tumbleweeds, which are then spray painted white and decorated
with lights and about 65 pounds of glitter! I was fascinated to hear that all the
tumbleweeds were found right here in Chandler. I live in the wild, wild west!

While wandering around the downtown area, I found this western wear shop.
Sabas is the place to go if you are in the market for cowboy boots, hats, plaid
shirts or other assorted country western items. We don't all dress like cowboys
and cowgirls here, but the shop is fun to see decorated for the holidays. I love
the covered wagon in the window!

Here are photos of a few homes in my neighborhood decked out for the holidays. These are typical Arizona ranch style homes, with xeriscape landscaping. Xeriscaping is a way of landscaping that reduces the need for irrigation, essential for us desert dwellers. Most homes have rocks in their front yards instead of grass, accented with cactus and palm trees. I love the palm trees wrapped up in lights!

Luminaries are another common holiday decoration you will find here in Arizona. Luminaries are lanterns made out of paper bags filled with sand and lit with a candle, placed along a home's driveway or pathway to the door. The tradition of luminaries started when Catholic Spaniards introduced them to Mexico as a way to guide the spirit of Christ into their homes on Christmas Eve. In modern times, they are just a simple and lovely way to light up the desert during the holidays. Every winter, our local Desert Botanical Garden hosts a wonderful event called the Las Noches de las Luminaries where the gardens are lit each night with more than 8,000 luminaries.

Every family has their traditional holiday foods, enjoyed each holiday season. In my family, we have a roast Christmas Eve night and my mom makes the magic cookie bars that my sister and I look forward to the rest of the year. One food that almost everyone in Arizona enjoys during the holidays are Christmas tamales. Tamales are another tradition brought to Arizona across the border from mexico. these delicious treats are made of masa, a dough made of corn, which is filled with various toppings and then steamed in a corn husk. Most tamales are filled with either saesoned beef, chicken or pork, then various spicy (and I do mean spicy!) chili peppers are added in, as well as one token olice. Sometimes tamales are even sweet, filled with masa and pineapples. You can find tamales at the grocery store, but the real treat is finding someone who makes them by hand and is willing to share! Tamale recipes are passed down from one generation to the next, and are a very time consuming dish to make. They aren't something made in my family, so each year I go on a hunt to find someone who has made a batch and is willing to sell some. I have even bought them from a man out of the back of his truck! Nothing is better than a long day of holiday shopping then a dinner of tamales!

I hope you have enjoyed hearing about how we celebrate the holidays here in Chandler, Arizona. While there are so many holiday traditions that are universal, like the tree and caroling, it is also fun to look at the ways they are celebrated locally. I know that the readers of my blog will enjoy reading Karen's take on a typical Oxfordshire Christmas. Be sure to head over to my blog to see her post and photos!
And thanks again, Karen, for trading places for the day!


xoxo, Kristen

Tuesday, 17 December 2013


At this time of year I am a sucker for magazines, even more than normal. The shiny covers, the promise of inspiration, the helpful guides to perfection! And every year I read with envy about all the beautiful traditions that people have, the tiny repeated history makers and it makes me feel a little, well, sad that I am clearly not creating traditions for my family to remember and pass on.

But then I asked the children what they thought and realised that actually we do have our own traditions. They just aren't.... … traditional!

BC (before children) my decorations went up on Christmas Eve. It wasn't a bah humbug decision, just that Christmas started once work had finished. Now they go up in time for DD's birthday on the 15th. We make an event of it with music and laughter and birthday celebrations. There's a 1970's card which goes up every year and my tacky 1970's mouse decoration has pride of place!

Christmas Eve is spent at home, a film and hot chocolate followed by the playing of a really rubbish Disney LP telling a dreadful story with dreadful sound effects. But we laugh!
Christmas Day itself follows a pattern, sadly that has had to change now Noels Christmas Present is no longer prime time viewing. But we still have salmon and scrambled eggs and sparkly wine! (Well I do!) Dinner is a joint venture as they all know my cooking shortcomings. And Christmas Day tea is now what the family lovingly refer to as 'orange food' - cheap easy cook party stuff from Iceland!!!
It's fun and it's relaxed and mostly stress free. And surely that's the best tradition of all?

Monday, 9 December 2013

Getting ready.......

No one can fail to have noticed that 'it' is hurtling towards us at a huge rate of knots.... Yes, that special time of year is once more nearly upon us.

However, before everything goes a little too sparkly and glittery I am enjoying the last vestiges of the Autumn. There are still a few leaves hanging on and there have been some spectacular sunrises and sunsets. Sadly I have not managed to catch any of these on camera due to the fact I am usually busy driving to/from work and am unable to stop without causing massive issues to the vehicles behind :)
Still - I have enjoyed them and they have made me happy to be out and about at such unearthly hours!

At home we have been preparing for Winter. The allotment has been sadly neglected for a while but we have been out in the garden, being helped by the happy hens. DH has chopped enough wood to see us through a few fires and I helped by raking up some leaves - then kicking them all over the garden - then raking them up again. I don't care HOW old you are, kicking leaves has got to be one of lifes little joys...

Chicken (foreground) and Chicken (behind) lend a claw!

Inside we have now got Sloe Gin, Blackberry Whisky, Blackcurrant Brandy and Damson Gin all awaiting perfection. Regular taste tests are quite necessary :D I can also confirm the first batch of mulled wine has been made and enjoyed by the fire. I have discovered the usefulness of the slow cooker in creating mulled wine although having it bubbling away on the top of the Rayburn always seems the more traditional option.

So - with things sorted and tidied and put away for the Season I can now look forward to enjoying the build up to 'you know what'. And enjoy it I will!

Monday, 2 December 2013

Taking Stock - (from yesterday)

This post was written under the influence of a bit of alcohol.... then I had major problems with my laptop meaning I could not post it yesterday.
Today I am struggling to understand Windows 8 on DD's laptop and having to call for assistance every 10 seconds "help, it's all gone tiny", "How do I get back to....?" etc. I didn't want to waste my stock taking from yesterday so here it is, just 24 hours later. It's unedited and in all it's Sunday evening glory.

These prompts were borrowed from fellow blogger Marylin at Softthistle (I've just worked out how to put a link into my text - yay, go me!!) (please let me know if it doesn't work btw)

Making: Fruit leather from the billions of apples I have in my porch. Getting bored very quickly with the peeling and coring however L

Cooking: A roast for 7 people. Getting everything ready at the same time is always a bit of a problem but I seem to have opened the cava a little early….

Drinking: A glass of cava…... Well, more than one to be totally honest!

Reading: Hannibal – for about the 15th time. I love this book. (Thinking now I should have put something more cultural??)

Wanting: All the elements of the roast to be ready at the same time. Just to prove I can do it.

Looking: Out of the window at DH cutting wood and filling our woodstore ready for the bad weather.

Playing: Ellie Goulding and Tori Amos alternately. Go girl power!

Wasting: Too much time on Facebook – the downside of having it on my smartphone.

Sewing: After the craft fair I am taking a sewing break. No more tweed hearts for a while.

Wishing: That I could decide which techno type tablet would suit my needs best. So much choice, so little technological knowledge. That and world peace. obviously.

Enjoying: Being in a warm busy kitchen after doing jobs in the garden earlier.

Waiting: For all my dinner guests to arrive – I’m actually feeling sociable (and a little fuzzy)

Liking: The fact Christmas is still exciting and I'm not too jaded with all the rubbish adverts/commercialisation yet.

Wondering: How much sleep I’ll get tonight – damn insomnia!

Loving: The prospect of a new photo prompt. Check out #decembermagic on Instagram.

Hoping: A certain friend gets well soon……

Marvelling: At the fact I have started my Christmas shopping and actually have some idea of what to get people this year.

Needing: Another glass of cava… this blogging lark is thirsty work…hic!

Smelling: Roast chicken and spicy fruit leather.

Wearing: Camo jeans (still think I might be a little old for these) and the biggest snuggliest jumper I own. Also very unfetching slipper socks.

Following: A whole bunch of new blogs – new friends, new links, loving it!

Noticing: The weekend is just not long enough.

Knowing: This week at work will be busy and I need to make sure I don’t overdo it.

Thinking: I really need another glass of cava!!

Feeling: Really inspired with my blog and wishing there was more time to devote to it.

Bookmarking: New blogs, Youtube guides on how to do technical type things and tablet type comparison sites.

Opening: My arms to cuddle stroppy teenagers… whether they like it or not!

Giggling: At the rubbish jokes we are telling each other. A frogs favourite footwear? Open-toad sandles!!

Hooray - now I'm off to dish up some parts of the roast, to turn up the oven on other parts and to refill that glass, just one more time I promise!

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Craft Fair Virgin!

I did the craft stall! And it was awesome :)

To recap - my workplace decided to hold its first ever Craft Fair last weekend and I decided this was the push I needed to actually put my craft items out there, in view, in front of real people not just my polite family.
The plan was to spend the preceding weeks gradually building up some stock - spending quiet Autumnal evenings creating and looking generally like something out of Mollie Makes magazine (think bohemian outfits, inspiring workspace and a photogenic pet lazing amongst the creativeness). The reality was I left it all til the last two weeks, had to downsize to half a stall and my house looked like a Hobbycraft delivery lorry had collided with, well, another delivery lorry from Hobbycraft.

DD stepped in to help and was a godsend of organisation and inspiration. She helped with packaging and aesthetics (those colours together? You ARE joking right?)
I had some great moments like when the vintage map bunting was finished and some frustrating moments like when the lavender for the lavender bags ended up mostly on the floor. The floor smelt lovely mind you, which was useful as I hadn't managed to hoover for two weeks!

Anyway - the day dawned. As a member of staff I had the pain of having to be at the venue super early but the pleasure of having first dibs on the tables. By the heater. Oh yes!
DD did most of the setting up. No detail was too tiny, her OCD tendencies meant all the left over map star shaped confetti was all right way up and placed at carefully measured intervals amongst the stock. And woe betide any of Joe Public who might upset this carefully crafted design! She did a fabulous job....

 Then the doors were thrown open and the public flooded in. They actually did! Much to our delight the place was heaving. 24 brave stall holders put out their creative efforts to be judged by the public. It was an experience. One which taught me that my daughter is far better at selling than I am. I think I was too personally involved to really sell myself. What if people didn't like what I had made? What if they did? Then came back and complained it was crap? What if they loved it? That would be scary too! It was my own work they were judging with their purses.

The day passed quite quickly and at the end of it I was thrilled, astounded, chuffed even that I had sold a fair amount of things, I had even turned a profit!
I decided I'm not cut out to do this on a regular basis, but I might well have another stall when we repeat the event in the Spring.

And on the Sunday? I spent the day clearing up my house and working out how to display all the left over tweed hearts and map bunting :)

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Good Practice....Crap gig

Last Saturday was the night... We have been rehearsing a new choreography at my bellydance class for the last few weeks and this was the night we unleashed it on an unsuspecting public.
The dance involved some traditional Ghawazee stuff to middle eastern versions of 'Deck The Halls' (go on, you can imagine it!) which then led into the Cancan complete with bloomers and frilly costumes.
I had to make some bloomers from scratch. Don't think DH has noticed the missing white sheet yet. But he will. These turned out ok in the end after some swearing and scissor throwing action.

The gig was in Swindon. Yes, that well known cultural capital. Finding the venue had its own complications but we got there. We were 4th on the programme, just enough time for people to be lulled into a false sense of security before we came on and 'thrilled' them.

Those costumes don't adjust themselves you know.

The performance, in fairness, wasn't terrible but two sections of choreography involved swerve steps to the left which meant that some of us ended up in the wings. Actually in the wings. Unseen by the audience. The 45 seconds allowed for a quick costume change just wasn't enough. My hat fell off and I didn't have time to put the choker on. To my horror I also forgot to remove the long black underskirt meaning my beloved bloomers were hidden. Realising this I managed an elegant (read 'bizarre') move where I cancanned off stage to remove it then cancanned back on again :P

The full view.

But do you know, it didn't matter. I was dancing with friends and we had a laugh and a great time. The atmosphere was supportive and warm and we received as much applause as the most polished performance of the evening (in my head anyway). My slightly perfectionist dancing streak could point out all the bits I could have done better but my heart pointed out that I'd enjoyed it nonetheless!

Roll on the next performance - I don't even dare imagine what my teacher will come up with next.

Thursday, 14 November 2013


My lovely blog friend Kristen (hope you don't mind me calling you that Kristen!) from challenged me to a new photo prompt game this week on Instagram. It's called the #5shotchallenge and basically, if you should choose to accept the mission you post 5 consecutive pictures for your chosen word before passing the challenge onto someone else. My word has been 'curiosity' and has been causing me some deep thinking!
Today's posted picture needed - I felt -  a little more explanation which there wasn't room for on Instagram.

A couple of weeks ago I bought a beautifully embroidered silk WW1 postcard. When I got it home I was fascinated to read the message on the back of it.

"Dear Annie, will you give Lottie this card as it is from a friend far across the sea. Hoping to meet you someday soon or after the war Annie" then there is some rubbed out writing. The address section simply reads "To Lottie from William"

Who was William? Was Lottie related to Annie or maybe a friend? Did they ever get to meet each other? Did it end in a romantic way or not?

Part of me would love to know the story behind the card - part of me is happy to imagine and fill in the story for myself. Curiosity.......

Monday, 11 November 2013

A moment to stop and think.

Today is Remembrance Day and amid the chaos of a nursery visit to the outdoor centre where I work we found time to stop for a minute and remember all those who have defended our country over the years. It was quite moving seeing even the little ones pause and join together.
Today I feel so proud. 

In the centre, my Grandfather. A member of the Home Guard. 

Sunday, 10 November 2013


Just a quick update today... I decided to go ahead and sign up for Susannah Conway's Blogging From the Heart e-course. A week in and I already have lots to think about including some quite deep questions about the motivation for my blog and the creation of a 'mission statement'. Motivation so far has been to share some of my pictures, talk about my stuff and to revel in the wonderful ordinariness of my life!
I'm thinking maybe my pictures should be bigger?!? :)

Shadows on a sunny day

My impending craft fair stall has inspired me to new heights of industriousness. The teacup candles are finished, I have created some fab vintage map bunting (it might not even make the stall) and have all sorts of other goodies in a variety of stages of complete. On the downside the house is a complete mess and the cats are begging for attention (the children are just making the most of extra tv time).
Photographs to follow (of the crafted items, not the children watching tv)

The sudden rush of enthusiasm has also spilled into my gym routine. I have to admit the first flush of gym bunny fever had passed and I was making more and more feeble excuses to miss my sessions. So, I booked a refocus session for today and blimey, am I now refocussed! And unable to walk! Or lift things... Seriously, it was really useful and just what I needed. Sophie showed me lots of new equipment to try (me and a cross trainer...ha ha ha) and got me doing excercises which involved a balance board, a medicine ball AND some step ups. I have never felt so co ordinated.

My #alphabetofme photo project has now reached S. Apart from one missed day I have managed to post everyday and I am still enjoying the challenge. I have to say, it has shown just how much random stuff I do like and that's without sharing all the really weird bits!

And I said my life was ordinary??!!

Friday, 1 November 2013

All in the Presentation...

Wow - for someone who has virtually no social life I have been very busy recently! More film nights at The Bobbin. They had their Hallowe'en season and featured such classics as Young Frankenstein (so funny) and Nosferatu. Each film is preceded by a vintage public service film which causes much hilarity!
I am back at The Bobbin tonight with DH for another Burlesque Night. I thought I had missed the October one but they had to postpone it due to heating problems (no one wants to see a chilly burlesque performance) and luckily I managed to book a table. Whoop whoop!
My workplace had a film event too. The Blair Witch Project, outdoor in the woods on Hallowe'en... The rain kept off, the wind was just enough to add atmosphere and although the film is not one of my favourites, it worked brilliantly.

I have managed to sneak a few days off over the school hols and have spent much of it pottering and relaxing. Just what I needed! I have lots of craft stuff planned as I have booked a table at an upcoming craft fair (more of this later). I figured booking a table would give me the kick up the behind I need to get started and make stuff. I will make stuff. This weekend is the plan... watch this space to see if I need to reduce my table to half a space! :-)

DH took me to visit Tetbury yesterday. We have driven through a few times and marvelled at the amount of antique shops. It was a good day but many of the shops were way too expensive for my budget. We found a fabulous vintage clothing shop called Qetty Bang Bang. Great displays - I especially liked the wall covered in old photographs - and some beautiful clothing too.
As lunchtime approached we found a little place called The Blue Zucchini. Another hidden gem. They had some awesome music playing, I did ask what it was and can now recommend 'Dirty Honkers' to those of you who like swing music with a modern twist. The decore was eclectic and the food and drinks were served with style!

Loved the presentation.

Coke in a jar! With a handle!

I have been brave and had my hair cut to its shortest length for, well, ever! Am loving my new bob although I cannot get it to look as sleek as the hairdresser. She used things like hairdryers and round brushes and (gasp) straighteners!! Looks like I'm going to have to learn some girly skills.

Selfie showing off washed neck!

The #alphabetofme photo project is going well. Some letters are easier than others. I have been jotting down ideas in my journal as I am inspired although some have several options and I cannot decide which I like best. I am keeping it to one picture per letter but maybe some deserve two!?

I am debating on whether to enrol on Susannah Conway's Blogging course. I had it in the back of my mind as my next thing to do but noticed today that it starts on Monday.... Not sure if I will have much time to devote to it at the moment but equally it gives me an excuse for spending time on something for me (and you guys, my readers!!) I will ponder over the weekend and see if I have divine inspiration!

Sir Stanley Sparkles - before being mounted (on the wall!)

Well, off to spruce up Stanley now, the latest addition to the House of Stuffed Stuff. Sir Stanley Sparkles as the rest of the crew have christened him (don't ask!). He will fit right in!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

New Projects and Creepy Dolls.

I have spent the last couple of weeks trying desperately to fit some interest and creativity into a very busy time.... I'll admit that my secret aim to take at least one photograph a day to put on Instagram has failed somewhat. Even my journaling has been a little hit and miss, some days with only a few lines, some days of furiously scribbled rantings and ravings :-S

However, here I am... ready and inspired!

I have seen an idea on Instagram where someone has done an alphabet tour of their (very beautiful) home - what a cool idea! Now, I don't think I could manage a whole tour of my home like this. I'm sure there's only so many stuffed creatures you guys can take. But I did think I could do an alphabet tour of things I like, just for fun! In truth, I quite like having a prompt for each day, it gives me a focus....
I will post these pics on Instagram #alphabetofme but will copy some on here too! (At least, that's the plan!)

We welcomed a new, non stuffed, addition to the household on Friday. During a mostly unsuccessful tour of some charity shops I came across these two beauties.

Hans and Leise... we can dance you know!

I have a largish collection of costume dolls in a box under my bed (shameful, I know) and these just made me laugh. In a creepy way... Imagine my delight when I got them home, took them out of their boxes and discovered they both had keys, you could wind them up and they danced!!!
Well, dance is possibly stretching the truth a little. They vibrate. A lot. It's really quite strange, especially if you put them together. I'm sure you can imagine.......

Still, a little light relief at the end of what has been quite a week was most welcome!

Wednesday, 2 October 2013


My Great Aunt Babs passed away recently. We attended her funeral this week and I have to say I think we were all quite shocked by the poor eulogy.
So I thought I might add a few words here.. not sure if it's the right place but it feels like the right thing to do..

I remember she used to make the best cakes ever. And there was always so much to eat! "go on, have another bit!" The table was always spread with proper cups and saucers, side plates, cakes presented on china and pristine table cloths. Now I know where I get it from :-)
Her kitchen was quirky - dominated by a huge 1930's cupboard then down some wicked stone steps to the sink.The dog used to have his bed alongside the huge fireplace. There was a set of shelves with so many photographs of all the children in the family! The rest of the bungalow was pure vintage - from the wallpaper to the picture rails, the black and white bathroom with high up cistern and pull chain. Everything was beautiful and in it's place but still she made it comfortable and welcoming. I remember she had a hubbly bubbly pipe by the fireplace in the living room which always seemed a bit exotic and exciting! This room was where I best remember Uncle George, her husband, sitting on the stuffed chair and chatting to us.
Babs was always dressed nicely - nothing fancy but practical and smart. I know she worked really hard and was willing to have a go at anything. The garden was big and she did much of it herself for as long as she could. I remember exploring the garden as a child - the heavy soil with huge stones, the trees, the hedges to hide behind, the greenhouse, all of it an adventure!
I used to stay with my Uncle in High Wycombe during the school hols and a visit to Babs was always part of the week. We would get the bus, then walk part of the way. We would visit the school in the village for me to play on the hopscotch whilst the school was closed - it seemed a little strange, a bit like trespassing but huge fun! Just us and the whole playground!

I remember Babs had a lovely sense of humour - was a truly wonderful lady and will be missed a great deal. If I can grow older with only half her grace and tenacity then I will consider myself blessed indeed.

Flora Kate Pearce - 'Babs'    8th June 1919 - 14th September 2013

Monday, 30 September 2013

'Game', Set, and Ploughing Match...

Ok I cheated. I liked the title but there is no actual game in this story. Unless you count my beautiful new stuffed squirrels. Do squirrels count as game?

So, my taxidermy collection count is now up to....hmm....lots! I am actually running out of room. I have this dream that one day I will have a house with a study/library so that I can display all of my stuffed loveliness alongside some weighty tomes and finish it all off with a wingback armchair, a sturdy desk and some important looking papers. Not to mention a whiskey.. or two!

The squirrels were a bargain find on a stall at the local Ploughing Match. I say 'stall' but this is allowing it to sound grander than it was. It was actually two blokes sat in the back of a car with the contents of a garage strewn around them on the ground. I suspect they made up prices on the spot - worked out from how genteel/poor you looked (hooray for us!). DS#2 got a bargain Mamod steam engine type thing and I spotted Blinky and Minky in their dusty case.

The Ploughing Match itself was a fun day out. A slice of English history where lots of people compete to create straight lines of ploughed field using a variety of methods. I always like to see the heavy horses. There's something so majestic about seeing these beautiful powerful beasts working in the fields like they have done for years. I also admit that I like the fancy bits and bobs that they dress them up in too!

A lot of time recently has also been spent creating lovely things from the fruits and veg that we have harvested. The blackberry whiskey has been made... I have some jams - damson, plum, bramble. We are keeping an eye on the sloes ready for gin, awaiting that important first frost!
I had a go at making some crab apple jelly too. I didn't have a recipe for my Tefal jam maker so I thought I would experiment.... I ended up with some very tasty crab apple candy. It's a lovely colour and the children have braved their teeth on it with the verdict that it does taste nice! I have found a more traditional recipe and so I will have another go in a more preserving pan type of a way.

Alongside this the coal bunker has been repaired ready to stock up, the chimmneys are about to be swept and I am reorganising the living room for the colder weather - I have to change furniture about so the open fire is accessible. It's a bit like the opposite of a Spring clean!! But there is something quite reassuring about all these preparations.. bring on the colder weather, we're ready!

Sunday, 15 September 2013

A Tale of Two Cushions....

I had a couple of days holiday from work this week. I had planned to chill and relax and be creative, however none of this happened... The past few weeks have been a bit 'eventful' and I found myself just wanting to hide under my blankets and be miserable :-(
Still, that seems to be just what I needed and I am feeling in a more positive frame of mind at the moment!!

Sad Sunflowers!
I have been out collecting the first of the blackberries. We made some lovely blackberry whisky last year and I am sad to report it is quickly disappearing. Especially since I found out how nice it is topped up with chilled prosecco :-)
The recipe is simple - fill a bottle halfway up with blackberries - add some sugar and top up with cheap whisky. Shake every now and then, leave for as long as you can bear (ours was about 6 months) then strain out the blackberries (and use in boozy puddings) and Bob's your Uncle...

I have moved from 'blue' to 'red' on my photo prompts and am now entering 'yellow'! Still trying to take photographs everyday and still finding things close to me that I had never really looked at.

Autumn is so inspiring for colour and texture.
So is rust!!

DH took me to Blenheim Horse Trials today. His work had a stand there and so he got cheap entry. I was mostly overwhelmed by the sheer amount of tweed and Hunter wellingtons. There were some nice stalls and some which clearly decided as you entered if you were likely to spend anything and so should they bother talking to you. Hmmmm.
However, I found the Thistles stall and was in Cushion Heaven (it's an actual place, honest!). They handmake tartan cushions with beautiful satin linings and also upholster furniture. I was in love with their whole range. The couple on the stall were very friendly, chatting away to us. I took a leaflet and then we walked back past the stall several times until I finally gave in and bought a pair of gorgeous brown and red cushions. We will be eating baked beans for the rest of this month but in fairness they are beautifully made, lined in stunning turquoise satin and worth every penny! And they have huge buttons on!!

Beautiful cushions. Am not letting the cats anywhere near these!
What more could a girl want? Maybe a throw to match.............!!