Sunday, 6 December 2009

Bringing Home the Tree

I recall nostalgic images from the past . . .
gorgeous sleighs filled with people, smiling faces, and warm blankets, being pulled by horses through the snow. And perched on the back, poking out in all its glory, was the Christmas Tree.
What a lovely way to collect the family Christmas tree and to travel in such a brilliant fashion!
Such were the times of our grandparents and great-grandparents.
Today, we have different methods of bringing home the tree.

So it happened yesterday, we went out for a ride to Church Lench to attend the tiny village's Christmas Fayre. It meant a ride through the barren countryside on a gloriously sunny day.
With so many leaves off of the hedges and trees, it is a good time to garner a glimpse of country houses and estates that you normally cannot see when all is in full bloom and blossom.

Seeing the rolling hills and the peaceful sheep in the fields, was like stepping back in time when Christmastime meant a different holiday, celebrated in much simpler ways than we celebrate today.
We had a lovely day out and about and on our way home, the clouds began brewing and a sprinkle of rain danced on the windshield now and again.
We happened upon a Christmas tree farm, very near our home, behind the hill where we live.
Even though it had not been our intention to buy a tree on Saturday, we decided to go in and have a look.

Upon driving into the car park, we knew there were some stares and some smirks - in fact - the young lad who approached us was outwardly laughing - he just couldn't help himself.
He asked us what we were interested in looking at, and Jim responded with something like, "A tree, naturally." To which the lad replied with a laugh, "What size?"
By then of course everyone there was having a chuckle, but we didn't care because we knew better.

Our darling little car had taken home many unusual things in the past so we knew it was wrong to try to second-guess whether or not something was going to fit in it.
Why, my boxwood bushes and pots and soil had all come home in little Smartie so why wouldn't a tree?

We selected our tree, and popped the roof open, and dropped it inside the car just as the rain really began pounding down. We closed the roof enough to keep our heads dry and motored off.
We knew the folks in the car park were still having a chuckle, but we also knew it cost us much less for petrol to collect our tree than it dod for our jolly counterparts in their big Land Rovers!
I only wish we had had some sleigh bells, hot chocolate, a blanket and some carols playing inside, too!
The modern age is upon us - we say, "Let's make the most of it!"

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Martha Stewart & Etsy Contest Finalist!!!

Oh I received the most wonderful news this week! I am so excited!
Well, saying I am excited about being a finalist in the Martha Stewart & Etsy collaboration contest would certainly be an understatement! I am beyond that - overwhelmed might be a better term to use to correctly describe my feelings right now.

I was contacted by a member of Martha Stewart Weddings on Tuesday about being one of the finalists in the contest. One of my wee Lucky Sixpence Books had been selected as one of 19 finalists and one winner out of thousands of entries. After some questioning I discovered that the announcement was going to be made on Thursday, today.
I feverishly began completing books I had very slowly been working on, in order to try to get them listed in my shop ASAP.

Of course, you know when you are busy, that is when all things come to a head: the phone rings a gazillion times, there are doctor appointments to attend to, tradesmen appear at your door, email builds up, the bank decides to ring you with am accident insurance policy to sell, birthdays, and even a very early Christmas coffee morning celebration, too!
So it was with great difficulty, with everything else going on, that I tried to keep working so that I would have some new additions for my shop by today.

You might imagine my surprise when I then discovered the announcement was made on Wednesday instead!
Oh well you know what is said about the best laid plans!

I have gotten a lot of work on the books finished and some are in the shop now and some more will go in this weekend - new styles and designs and custom covers as well as a new concept for design-your-own book.
Stop by Etsy and have a look - and thank you for letting me do the puffing peacock thing tonight!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

It's All About Katie

Yes, that's right, it is all about Katie today. Why you might ask and who the heck is Katie???
Katie is my beautiful daughter and today she is 24 years old. And I continue to be bewildered as to where the time has gone.

Okay so it's a bit cliche but it seems like only yesterday I was pushing her along in her buggy, or watching her tumble from room to room, or, play with her dolls, or dress the cat in doll clothes and hold him while he and she played Monopoly on the living room floor.
I remember fondly how she put herself to bed at night. Pleading to remain up just a bit longer was not her style; when she got tired, she took herself off to bed without a fuss. She was such a unique child and still remains so today as a fabulous young adult with her bright future all set out before her.

Katie's friend Mary and Katie

If you knew Katie, you would know that she has many fine qualities and so many things that interest her. And how she loves to talk! She is in the right field at university studying Media and Communication - she will go far as long as she keeps on talking!

Things Katie Loves
Click on the image to see it larger and see the many things Katie loves!

I can remember when she wanted to be a pediatrician. My I was so proud. She had decided that herself. I wasn't a parent who suggests career goals as my children's dreams to them or to other parents - oh no! I used to hate those parents who told you that their two-year-old child was going to be a doctor (or substitute any other well paid profession here please) when she grew up!
How on earth would they know that?
But my little Katie, at about the age of seven or so, decided she wanted to help make children well as her life's goal. Wow!

Now I was a struggling, worked-to-death teacher with no life of my own and I knew how hard it was to teach and how many personal hours were spent doing the planning and paper correcting, et all. So imagine my surprise when one fine day Katie announced she had changed her mind and was now going to be a teacher! Uh oh - what happened to the pediatrician???

But eventually she came round to her new career choice and announced to me - "I want to be famous." and as simple as that she was on her way to becoming just that. And again, if she only keeps chattering she will be famous one day. But for now, she is 'famous' to me. And I adore her.
As do all in our family and her many friends and all who get to know her.

She is a perfect daughter; a wonderful humanitarian and all-around good person. She gives of herself to others and makes people feel good about themselves. She has a fabulous sense of humour and a giving heart, though she hates to admit it - that would be too fluffy and over-the-top. We are proud of her accomplishments and her desire to do well at school and to be the best she can be.
Here's to you, baby Katie: Wishing you a fabulous birthday with many, many more to come.
Wishing you all the cake you can eat!
We love you, little Goo.

Mom and Jim

Katie and Jim on her birthday last year

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Happy Halloween!

The air is crisp and there is a smell of pumpkins and candle wax in the air tonight.
I love Halloween!
In America, it is a night to go haunting your neighbourhood and visit neighbours you do not get to see every day.
As you walk with your little ones, who run haphazardly up sidewalks in order to be first to the door, you recall the times when you were young and the excitement you had doing the very same things your children are now experiencing. Ah, the memories!
As an older adult, we now see our grandchildren reliving those days as our grown-up children walk with them. And so it goes.

I can recall one Halloween night I was out alone with my younger brother. We were very young - maybe 9 and 11 years old, or younger. But in those days, parents allowed kids to go out alone - it was not unsafe. Some older kids grabbed my brother's treat bag and ran off with it. He stood there in shock not being able to say a word and then when he did, he simply let out a yowl and cried.
I insisted he remain right there and ran after the kids who took it. You know what they say about adrenalin in times of need? I cannot believe how fast I ran. It was like I had the wind behind my back. I caught up with the kids, and tore the sack from their hands and ran back to my brother who was still in the exact spot I had left him.
I marvel at how I had the courage to do that. The kids were older than us and much bigger. I think I surprised them, too, and they were caught off-guard and so hadn't the reaction time to do anything about it.
Tim and I headed back home after that. We had had enough excitement for one evening.

My first year in Birmingham, we had dozens of children come calling at our door and I was thrilled to see them. I had been led to expect not-too-much in the way of ghosts and goblins, being told this tradition was not as big in the UK as it is in America.
But last year and this year, we had only a handful of children calling out, "Trick or Treat" and I am wondering if the kids who were here the 1st year are now to old to come round, or if they have moved, or if parents are too afraid to allow them out with so much bad out there these days.
I do hope the tradition continues to live on. It is so much fun for the kids and so much fun for the adults, too.

Katie carved our pumpkin for us today and we made up treat pouches just like my mom made when we were little. I didn't have the same candies in them, but the meaning is the same; traditions carried on from mother to daughter, generation to generation.
Make your traditions memorable and all the best to you, too.


Thursday, 22 October 2009

It's Alll About Me!

Welcome to Natasha's Party! She reminds us that it is important to take time out for ourselves, and I will write more about this theme another time as I would like to elaborate upon it, but for now, a huge "THANK YOU" to Natasha for inspiring us to do a little something for ourselves.

Well, maybe it is only partly about me! I can't get used to the idea of bragging on myself, so-to-speak.
Oh the plans were in the works after reading Natasha Burns idea to host a party featuring the things we said we would do by today.
Well, for me, that meant wait until the last minute because naturally other things came first.

Because I had said I would join the party, I was in a panic yesterday.
No, the stairs were not refinished as I had thought they would be. The day I had set aside to work on the stairs was taken by an emergency and then never got replaced. But the chair - oh that darned chair - it was staring at me throughout all of the six weeks we had been given to complete our projects and still went untouched.
So yesterday I began my work in earnest.

This is the chair that needs attention . . .
In this picture it is all clean and ready to go.

I scrubbed the chair and set it to dry in front of the fire.
I plodded through mounds of fabric to determine which I would select for the cushion.
I chose a vintage cotton chintz that would look nice with the paint colour.

Then looked at the paint I had on hand.
Then today, bright and early, I set about some light sanding and some final cleaning before I began the process of painting the chair.

Farrow and Ball Traditional Paint

The chair has been painted, and the sewing has commenced, but alas, I have failed the challenge as my chair is not yet complete.
I will continue working on it later tonight and add photographs of the progress.
Then I will visit your little websites and have a look at what all of you have managed to complete. I can't wait! It is so exciting!
More to come . . .

Addendum: Well, the best plans are well . . . stopped! LOL!
Oh the mistakes I have made on the chair's cushion!
You can see from the image above that I had cut out shaped, fitted cushion covers. My intention was to make a proper fitted cushion cover complete with piping.
But since this is a rather low sitting chair, I wanted to try to raise it up a bit. So I figured that padding the springs first would be a good idea, and then, topping that with my lovely cushion.

Umm, well, that didn't work out visually, although it did make the chair oh so comfortable to sit upon! With the added height, the cushion looked awkward and too high on the seat, so I have decided to scrap that idea and just wrap the cover instead.
I haven't done it yet, well not to any sort of professional-looking product, anyway, but I have taken a photo to show you how it will look, (even if a bit frumpy right now) when it is completed.
At least this way you can see the paint, too!
I am off now to have a look at your lovely creations and to be inspired!

Saturday, 10 October 2009

German Potato Salad - Warm Comfort Food for Autumn

There's a chill in the air and some mornings reveal a icy coating of frost on the grass these days.
It can only mean one thing: Autumn is here and with it, comes the warm comfort food we love.

Today I discovered some bacon near its sell-by date and decided it was time to make some German Potato Salad. If you have never had it, but if you like the sweet and sour sauces, you will love this simple, delicious dish.
There are only three main ingredients: potatoes, bacon, & onions, so you will probably have them in your larder right now.
You will also need some corn starch (corn flour), cider vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper.

It is a simple recipe but with many steps so it does take some time to complete.
If you don't have a lot of time, all in one go, then simply cook your bacon today and finish the rest tomorrow. But make sure to save the frying pan in which you cooked the bacon - including the bits - don't wash it!
Also, this dish is perfect to make ahead one day to give the flavours time to all blend together, so it works well for company. Simply reheat it on very low heat or place it in a slow cooker.
I will place the recipe at the bottom of this post and show you how it's made beginning here.
Mine came out superbly today - I do hope yours will, too!

Chop the onions and set aside.
Mix about 2 tablespoons of cornflour with some water to make a thin paste and set aside.

Select some new potatoes or salad potatoes to use. Waxy ones work best.
Scrub and remove eyes and imperfections. (I leave the skin on but you can remove it all if you wish)
Boil until just barely done - 'al dente' so-to-speak - they continue cooking even after the heat is off so it is best to remove them from the water and the heat once they have finished cooking.
The reason for keeping them as firm as can be is so that later they don't break apart in the sauce. It is really difficult to get it right so if they are over done, don't worry about it, they will still taste fine.
Place the potatoes to cool in a colander and rinse out the pan they cooked in.

Once cool, you can either slice the potatoes or cut them into quarters to have ready to mix in the sauce in the last step.

While the potatoes are boiling, cook your bacon. Place the pieces to drain on paper towels.
Cool your pan when finished cooking the bacon and pour away most of the fat from the pan, being careful to keep the bottom coated with a little bit of it.

Place the bacon pan back on the stove and warm it up again. Put the chopped onions into it and simmer until they are translucent.
Break up the cooked bacon and add the bits to the sauteed onions. Stir well.

Now pour the vinegar into the pan with the onions and bacon and bring to a boil, stirring all the time and cleaning the wee bits off the bottom of the pan with the vinegar/sugar mixture.

Pour the contents into the larger pan in which you cooked the potatoes.

Add the water and bring to a boil.

Add some cornflour paste you made earlier, a little bit at a time, until the mixture thickens.
Once it reaches a sauce-like consistency, and is boiling again, stir constantly for at least one minute before reducing the heat to a slow simmer. It is important to do this stirring/boiling for a minimum of one minute to eliminate the starchy taste from the cornflour.

This is another tricky bit: how do you know when the sauce is too thick or too thin?
It is impossible to get it perfect every time, but what I find that helps is to watch the side of your pan. If the sauce you are stirring seems to coat the side of your pan, it will also coat the potatoes, too. You can see this in the picture, below.

Add the quartered/sliced potatoes to the sauce. Stir and heat through being careful not to have the stove heat on too high and burn the mixture. It is finished! Yeah!

Some comments:
  • I never use as many onions as the recipe calls for although it will not hurt if you do as they cook down and look so much less once cooked than they do when you are chopping them!
  • I use less bacon - here in the UK I use two packs or 16 slices. I have made it with the full 2 lbs in the past though and it is really nice!
  • I have been trying to cut back on sugar so I reduce the sugar in the recipe to 1 1/2 cups and it seems to not affect the outcome in the slightest.
  • I always use cider vinegar as that is what I was taught to use. Experimenting with other vinegars might be good or bad - not really sure!

And now for the recipe:
Betty's German Potato Salad (from my sister, Elizabeth Schmidt)

2 lbs of bacon, cut up and fried

4 pounds of potatoes (approximate)

2-4 tablespoons cornstarch (approximate)

Some water to mix with the cornstarch to make a paste

3-4 baseball sized onions, minced/chopped

1 cup cider vinegar

2 cups sugar

1 cup water


Fry bacon, set aside to drain on paper towels

Toss out the bacon fat, reserving about 1 tablespoon of bacon grease (fat) in the same pan it was cooked in

Mix cornstarch and water to form a thick syrup in the mug; not too thick, not too thin

Boil peeled potatoes until just done – not so done that they fall apart and not so undone that they are still hard – sort of al dente potatoes!

Drain immediately and set aside to cool


Fry minced onions in the bacon pan with grease until soft and translucent

Keep temp up on the pan so it is really hot and add the vinegar, stirring until it cleans off all of the lovely bacon bits from around the pan

Add sugar

Add water

Stir all of it together until it is boiling

Add cornstarch mixture, a little at a time, stirring all the time until it thickens

(it will continue to thicken as it cools so not too thick at this stage)

Once the mixture returns to a full boil, stir for a minimum of one full minute and remove from heat

Set aside

Combine it all together:

Slice potatoes or cube them – whichever you prefer

Place in large pot and cover with the sauce mixture

Stir well and enjoy!


Thursday, 17 September 2009


Hello friends!

Jim and I expected to be home by now and I would be catching up reading your blogs and completing orders placed while I have been away, but nooooooo!
Jim has an ear infection for which the doctor seeing him has forbidden him from flying until it has cleared. We hope this will be by this coming Sunday, but one never knows. Jim is diabetic and might take a bit longer to heal than the average person.
So our extended stay is in Brooklyn, New York with our daughter and her husband.
Now these two have only been married for two weeks and we feel a bit like the guests who just won't leave, but they seem to be okay with it.

So much has happened!
We were quite busy our first week in America, helping Elizabeth and Joe prepare for their wedding. Then the rehearsal dinner and wedding came in a blink of an eye and we were oh-so-busy with all of it, and then before we knew it, the day was upon us and we were taking part in a beautiful wedding ceremony followed by a reception that was simply gorgeous with splendid food and fabulous company that included finally meeting a second cousin, Ed and his wife Janice, whom I had never met before! So much excitement for one day!

Elizabeth looked just gorgeous and naturally, Joe was at his best, too.
A vintage Rolls Royce delivered Elizabeth, her sister, and me to the church after dressing at the country club where the reception was taking place. Later, the Rolls took Elizabeth and Joe from the church to the famous Brooklyn Bridge for photographs, and then to the country club for the reception.
A five course dinner was prepared and served as well as all the cocktails you might desire, with plenty of appetizers, and desserts, too.

Before we knew it, we were saying goodbye again to the happy couple and heading for North Carolina for a visit with our son, Jonathan, and his partner, Stephanie.
We had a lovely visit with them in the Raleigh area, which is absolutely beautiful, and while there, we also applied for some jobs.
If someone shows an interest in either of us, there may be a move to the US in our future!

Some of you know that Jim was made redundant last February, and despite 'working' everyday at finding a new job, so far, he has been met with disappointment. The recession is so bad in the UK, for each job he has applied for there are at least 200 other candidates. It is depressing.
Jim is a manager of manufacturing, and we all know what has happened to factories in the UK. His years of production management do not seem to matter when there are candidates much younger with degrees, despite their lack of experience.

I am a teacher with a specialty in Educational Technology and never dreamed I would be unemployed. The teacher shortage in our area is high but our council does not accept my teaching credentials from the US despite coming from one of the most respected states in the the US, so it will be necessary for me to return to school or find different work. They won't even allow me to do supply teaching!
So we have been looking for work while visiting here across the pond.

Jonathan smiling at the Raleigh airport at 3:30 AM - he is such a nice guy!

After our visit to North Carolina, we headed northwest to Buffalo to visit family and friends. A dear friend, Jeanne, invited us to stay with her and her lovely daughter, in her beautiful home. She gave up her own bedroom and allowed us to have it during our stay with her.
She even gave us a car to use during our visit - such generosity is rarely found and we love her for it.

Our visit to Buffalo allowed us to visit family, including my sister who is ill in a care facility, and also allowed us to spend some time with another sister and my brother. It was so good to see them both. We had a lovely dinner on the river in Niagara Falls, with most of the family partaking of a Buffalo Friday night speciality - the Fish Fry - which is much like England's fish and chips.

We also had the opportunity to visit friends we hadn't seen in a couple of years. Mike and Judy, my former neighbors and our friends, Bob and Rosanne, too.
But with time running out, we never got to visit many nieces and nephews and more friends, too.
Maybe next year???

We were able to attend another wedding in Wilson, New York (on Lake Ontario). Allison is the daughter of dear friends, Maureen and Randy, and her day was just beautiful.
The church was a true country church and the reception was held at the family farm, outdoors, on a cool September evening. It was a beautiful day and evening with everyone looking gorgeous.

Our daughter and son-in-law were also attending the celebration so we all drove back to New York together, making it in record time - Buffalo to NYC - in only a bit over 6 hours.
It wasn't until the next day that we discovered that Jim's ear had gotten worse so we would need to remain here an extra week. Some vacations just seem to be endless!


Friday, 14 August 2009

For the Love of Tile! Get to Homebase this week!

Hello friends,
This is just for my UK friends as it might be a abit difficult for shopping for those of you based in countries elsewhere!
We found a fabulous deal on mosaic tiles at HOMEBASE this week. If you are looking to remodel your bathroom or loo, get there quick before they're sold out.
Homebase put their own brand ceramic and glass mosaic tiles on clearance this week.
We were able to purchase a box of white, glass mosaic tiles, containing ten sheets per box, for only £3.20 in white.
We bought enough boxes to recover our bathroom floor and two small loos for about £32!
The ceramic was slightly more money, which was odd, since my research had shown the glass are usually more money.
I will post photos when we are finished with the work. For sure it will be a project for autumn as we are off to America soon!
Happy shopping!

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Oliver Twist is Looking for a New Home Could it be via Bookcrossing?

I have finally finished reading Oliver Twist and so now he is looking for a new home!
Have you heard of Bookcrossing?
I joined it ages ago and now I cannot remember my login informaiton and/or password!
If you haven't heard about it before, you will really love it!
The idea behind it is to share books for free. But the fun of leaving them is just as much fun as finding them!

Bookcrossing uses the terms, 'caught' and 'released'. But it means the same thing. You either leave a book for someone to find or you find them.
Once you are a member of Bookcrossing, you print out little forms to identify yourself and Bookcrossing and leave it in the book you are about to release. It provides information for the person who 'catches' your book so that they can go to the website and leave information about where and when they found the book.

When I joined Bookcrossing a few years ago, I released some childrens books outside a WalMart in Amherst, New York, among the pumpkin display they had there.
I also released a book in Starbucks, on Main Street in Williamsville, New York.
But my favourite release was a book left in the center of an antique table in an antique mall in Jordan, Ontario, Canada. It was my favourite because I could spy on it from a distance as I walked about the shop, and even from the front door of the place. The woman assigned to monitor the section of the shop in which I had left the book, had a very puzzled look on her face as she discovered it. I am sure she was wondering how it got there since she had not seen me place it there! Curiosity got the best of her and she tentatively picked up the book, but she did not seem to 'get it' when she read the note inside.

But it was so early in the use of the Internet, not many people went on-line for much of anything, and so I never did get any follow-up on the books I released, which was disappointing.
But I may have to register again and give it another try - it is so much fun!
So what do you think I should do? Here are some options:
  • Donate to a charity
  • Release it via Bookcrossing
  • Give it to the first person who comments here that they would like it?
I sort-of like the last option so that one of you, who may never have read it, or who would like to give it a re-read, might have it and then pass it along.
It could be the book that travels from blog-to-blog!

It's good to be better and back!

Monday, 3 August 2009

Swine Flu

Hello my true friends!
I am happy to see that in my absence, sweet followers have not abandoned me! It seems like forever since I have written and even longer since I have had a browse on your blogs. But there is a reason: I have been ill with Swine Flu.

Jim's birthday is July 16th, and I had so many things planned but all got set aside when Jim came down with the Swine Flu illness. He was ill for his birthday and just a bit before that, too.
We aren't certain where he came into contact with an infected person, it really could have been anywhere.
Our grandchildren were by the weekend before he got sick, and by 16 July, our granddaughter and her dad, Jim's son, were said to have the disease. So that is one possibility. But Jim's other son had been in hospital with a sports injury to his knee, and Jim was in and out of the hospital visiting him, over a period of ten days or so, and could have caught the bug there. And then Jim himself, was in hospital as an outpatient, and at any time during his own visits he could have contracted the bug. So we aren't certain from where Jim caught Swine Flu, but for certain, I got it from him.

What began for me as a mission NOT to get it at all costs, ended when after a few days of nursing Jim. I busily worked at making sure dishes were fastidiously washed, and all bed and bath linens washed at high temps, and lots of use of bleach, but with no positive results as I , too came down with the flu.

So it has been weeks and I am out of practice typing and even doing the simplest of things!
Jim is well on the mend, with only the occasional cough, while I still cough frequently and require lots of medicine for the accompanying headache. Tomorrow is my last day of antibiotics, so that must mean I am improving!

I would like to pass along some first-hand information about this illness, so that you can be prepared to self diagnose and get immediate treatment.
I have had flu in the past - many times, in fact. So at first, I couldn't believe Jim had it. There was no obvious fever at first, and no vomiting nor diarrhea. He had a cough and a headache and a scratchy throat. Sounded like a cold to me, right?

But then the fever came along, and the headaches got worse, and his joints ached and he coughed up phlegm. A call to the doctor and a prescription was ordered for antibiotic and decongestant with the usual advice to remain in bed and drink fluids and salt water gargles.

By the time I came down with the bug a few days later, the government had the Swine Flu hot line up and running. I took the on-line test for my region of England, and was diagnosed as having Swine Flu.

Tamiflu was waiting for me with a secret number at a local clinic. The medicine was collected and I began taking the drug.

I got progressively worse - uncontrollable coughing kept me up all night long and after 48 hours of it I was a total wreck. The doctor was called and antibiotics and decongestant were ordered and I began a regime of those along with Tamiflu and a lot of pain medicine, too.
What I learned from this experience is that the symptoms are diverse and do not necessarily match and so it is difficult to self diagnose without some help.
Jim had a sore throat but I did not. My throat only got sore after constant coughing.

As soon as I could stand to sit up at the computer for a bit, I looked at the Tamiflu website.
It is a good resource for you to help self-diagnose. They have a graph there with symptoms of cold vs flu that is good for a self-check.
Reading what you can on the government hot line will help, too, especially taking the quiz.
And being aware in any changes in your body - especially fever - and then looking into Swine Flu symptoms will help you.

If you do get it, you know the drill - rest, fluids, and more rest is all you can do. I found sitting up as much as possible was helpful. Lying flat was the worst!
Wishing you all well and hoping none of you get this nasty illness, but if you think you have it, look it up fast and take all precautions you can in getting Tamiflu and medicine to help your body fight this thing. It really is a tough one and wears you down quickly.

I will be visiting your blogs soon!

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Busy as a Summer Bee!

Hello everyone!
Where has the time gone?
I have been remiss in not writing more but it seems the more I am doing the more I still have to do.
What is that old saying, "Ask a busy person to do something because she is the one who will get it done?" Or something like that. I am reminded, too, about goldfish growing in proportion to the size of theri bowl! The more complete in my tasks, the more there seems to be to still finish.

Sooooo here is the brief:
Katie left to spend the summer in America. It is a well deserved visit with family and friends, as well as to try to get some time in on a placement for an internship she needs to complete for university.
She took with her my hastily finsihed wedding invitations so that her sister woulf have them to mail out before July.
They turned out nicely and Elizabeth was pleased, so that is a job well done!

No sooner were th invitaiotn completed, then I was asked to work on revising and editing a manual for a new company my brother-in-law will be opening. Most of it is finished, but I still have more to do, and have been working on that feverishly so that they will have it in time for an upcoming audit.
I have been adding vintage items to my Etsy shop, EnglishPreserves, and when I can, I have been trying to add things to my handmade shop, SweetScarlett.
Recently, I had a request for a custom order, personalised, Wee Lucky Penny Book, from Julie, for her friends who just had a new baby girl.
I had a lot of fun making the book for her and the results are fab!
Here are some of the images . . .

The cover of the book

The end paper with the Queen Victoria Penny and the title page

The inside pages personalised with baby's name and unique message

The last page and end paper

There have been a few orders for custom printed business or calling cards, too, so that has been keeping me busy, too, and my printer gobbling up ink!
And finally, I have added a new design to my bookplates - it is from an illustration from a French nursery rhyme book from the 1920s - so sweet!

Let's face it, although the handmade shop is more rewarding, the vintage shop is where the sales are these days. So more of my time gets spent listing things in EnglishPreserves.
Which brings us nicely into an adventure my husband and I have had.
We attended our first local auction several weeks ago.
What fun!
We bought two boxes of vintage and antique linens and have been selling them on etsy and on ebay.
It is a lot of work - so much laundering and ironing - but allows me to keep a few for myself and sell the rest to get my money back, and it is so much fun to go to the auction, too!
I have no photos of any of them yet, but here are a few things to be found in EnglishPreserves, soon!

A darling little wooden box with carved lid

A fabulous little miniature teapot

My sister is slowly improving slowly - baby steps for her - and although her situation is quite serious, we are all thankful she is still here with us. And we thank all of YOU for your kind words, thoughts, and prayers for her. Bless you.

Until next time . . .

PS - what books are you all reading? I am afraid to admit that Oliver Twist is still about 20 pages from the end!

Friday, 3 July 2009

Thank you, Friends

Thank you to all who took a moment to send kind words to me. I appreciate all of your thoughts and prayers and kind words.

My sister, Betty, suffers from Epliepsy, and has for all of her adult life.
Additionally, a few years ago, she underwent heart bypass surgery and the surgery went well, but not without complications.

She was at risk because the mediceine she takes for Epilepsy does something directly opposite of what the meds she needed to prevent her from having a stroke during the heart surgery.
She had a stroke then and has several since then.
It seems that every time she gets a bit better and therapy seems to be working, she has another set-back. It hasn't been easy for her or her family. But she is a fighter.

The stroke she suffered this time caused her to be flown by Mercy flight from her town to the hospital in Buffalo about 60 miles from her home. It appeared she was, at best, paralyzed completely.
Her husband was given the option of brain surgery that might reduce or even repair, damage caused by the stroke, or to just let her be and hope for the best.
Leaving her as she was, wasn't an option although the brain surgery was life threatening on its own.

Her husband opted for the surgery, that would hopefully give her a fighting chance at some kind of recovery. I understand that it is early days yet, but there seems to be some hope that she may recover to some degree, although it is not know waht that might be.
She is opening her eyes and recognizing people and nodding, etc, but as yet cannot speak.
In the coming weeks I will let you know how she progresses.

As for me, I have been busier than ever! And here in England we are having a heat wave! The heat makes me very unproductive as I prefer to sit it out - LOL!

I have completed designing and printing wedding invitations for my daughter, and Katie took them to her personally when she left for Brooklyn a couple of weeks ago.
I will post a picture of them soon!

Wishing you all a great weekend!


Friday, 26 June 2009

Tell Someone You Love

My eldest sister is seriously ill from a stroke and is in hospital as I type this.

I am thousands of miles from her and all I can do for her right now is pray for a miracle.
Although I would love to be with her right now, even if I was there, there is little I could do for her or even for her family.

But oh, how I wish I had been able to be with her and other sisters and family members when they visited in Florida this past Easter. That would have meant so much to her then, and to me, now. Why did I not find the resources to be with her then?

So my message is clear: Don't wait; go see that person you love.
Visit an elderly relative who longs for company, yet, no one seems to have time to visit.
Call a dear friend you haven't spoken with in ages.
And most importantly, tell someone you love how much he or she means to you.
Tell her why she means so much and how much she has influenced you all of your life.
Tell him the difference he has made in your life.

And don't forget to tell anyone you love that you love them.

Friday, 12 June 2009


Oh my! Where has the time gone?
First, my apologizes for not visiting your blogs of late, and for not keeping up with my own!
I promise to be by for a visit soon!

I have been remiss while time gets the better of me.
My days begin with promise of a long list of things to get done during the day and night, but somehow, at the end of the day, it seems I find myself playing catch-up with my own agenda!
I never seem to have the time to finish all of the many projects I have going on, and just wish I had a lovely workroom with loads of storage and works areas. It would be so nice to have everything organized just so!
But, I usually work out of the guest bedroom and EVERYTHING is in there:
twin beds, closets, computer, 2 printers, 2 sewing machines, tons of fabric and sewing supplies, paper, board, pens, trims, tissue and wrapping, envelopes, patterns, books, graphics, oh my!
And it seems lately it is all just taking on a life of its own and dragging me along for the ride!
I have now emerged from the room to take over the dining room table with my trimmers, and cutting boards and slicers!
So with that said, I know it is time for a clear out and also time for some cleaning up and organization.
Which brings us to the Yart Sale on Etsy this weekend.
Etsy is sponsoring a sale this weekend and everyone is invited to participate.
One of the conditions of the sale is that the seller includes free shipping.
So do stop by for a peek and get some bargains!
It is NEVER too early for holiday shopping and Father's Day is soon upon us, too.

I have already listed and relisted some items in SweetScarlett for the sale but I am getting tired.
So it's bedtime for me but I will be back on-line tomorrow, listing more things for the sale.
Ooooh - I have some fab vintage buttons and fabric to list in EnglishPreserves, and some other unique finds, too. So please stop by and have a browse, won't you?


Thursday, 4 June 2009

Cupcakes!!! A Tasty Book for Wednesday

Up too late so this will be short! (I know, I know, that's not like me!!!)
Wednesday book night has fallen by the wayside, it seems.
So tonight's book is:
Martha Stewart's Cupcakes: 175 Inspired Ideas for Everyone's Favorite Treat (Paperback)
You can get it at Amazon.
My sister has been writing to me, insisting I buy it! LOL!
Now you either love Martha or hate her and I love her, but no matter which category you fall into, you have to agree she has some of the best recipes out there.
So to all of my English and European friends, dig out gramma's old Imperial measures and get yourself a new book! I will be ordering mine very soon!
If you try a recipe share it with the rest of us, okay?