Thursday, 1 October 2015

Wear the clothes you want to be ...

.. or something like that . I think the original inspirational quote went " be the change you want to see' or some such.

I was reading my Brave Girls Club quote for the day and came across this article written beautifully by Kelly Rae Roberts ...

Wear Your Joy

A few years ago after becoming a new mama, I missed my old clothes, my old body. For well over a year, I dreaded getting dressed each morning. And over that year, I lost a real sense of who I was.Transitions do that to us. For me it was new motherhood. But for many it’s the process of conforming to “age appropriate” fashion rules. For others it’s transitioning into a “real job” with a dress code. And for many, it’s traveling through a major life transition (grief, caregiving, moving, new job, getting older, and more). Whatever the reason, when we lose a sense of who we are, getting dressed can feel like a chore, a burden perhaps. It becomes a moment – every single day – of unconscious, tedi ous, perhaps even gremlin-filled decisions and self-talk. Not a joyful way to start a day.So. One day, I started to get more intentional about what I was wearing, choosing only to wear clothes that delighted my spirit and lit me up. It was a playful experiment that soon turned into a daily practice. I started to share my discoveries on Instagram and Facebook. Others joined in, too, and a community was born. The results of this practice, I learned, was a way into Joy – not just in the mornings, but into my entire life.Who knew getting dressed could be a conscious meditation of bringing more joy and meaning to our ordinary days? Ultimately, this project reminded me how style isn’t superficial. It’s the call of our hearts, made visible – and wearable. 

Having experienced an ego squashing episode only yesterday as I pulled on a pair of shapeless sludge coloured Harem trousers designed to hide a multitude of sins but only serving to highlight the fact that I had enough wobbly bits and cellulite to feature on one of those banner ads for weight loss,  that proliferate our screens these days, as the ' before' picture. Is it any wonder we hate our bodies when we're confronted daily with a vision of how we think we should look ? When I lost 7 stone ( yes 7 stone ) nearly 5 years ago, I vowed I would never ever wear another shapeless black top or shop in Evans. My wardrobe is now filled with shapeless black tops but I haven't ventured back into Evans and nor do I intend to.  

Today I am turfing out the dark coloured disguises that are stuffed into my drawers ( as in chest of drawers not knickers although not that you'd know it ) and replacing them only with items that make me happy. So, in with the bright colours and out with the sludge coloured harem trousers. This may result in having nothing to wear for the next month but at least I won't start every day on a downer.

Here's the before picture ( clothes not me , you really wouldn't want to see the latter ) 

Friday, 25 September 2015

Let's Celebrate the Makers

Christmas is coming ( I know , it's still a whole quarter of a year away but I never have been good at that thing called delayed gratification ) and the High Street coffers will be getting fat , let's put a few quid in the crafter's hat.

I will be trying very very hard to shun the lure of online shopping and that well know department store's Monty replacement dreamed up by the marketing gurus in a city office sometime in July. Instead I'll be buying from my favourite crafters who were all out on parade last weekend at the Handmade Fair at Hampton Court.

I NEED to show you some of the fabulous thing they've made. Here are some of my favourites, photographed alongside their beautiful creations.

Allow me to introduce ...

Lucy Elisabeth , freehand wirework artist whose work I covet. You can find her creations at She also takes commissions for private work , such as this beautiful 'written' lyric - I hope my husband is reading this.

This is Kirstie Perry from Somerset , textile artist, one of whose fabric brooches I bought for a friend, in the shape of a hummingbird.

You can find her work at - what a delightful gift for Christmas and boxed too. I have my eye on the fox ... and the bluetit ... and a few others besides.

These caught my eye too. I've already bought a pattern to make a 21st birthday present for eldest son but the chances of being able to make it in time are diminishing. Rosy Hammersely at will do all the hard work for you , if like me you have a bulging drawer of unfinished crafts awaiting attention and too little time.

Elly VValler makes beautiful notecards - what a perfect present - beautifully wrapped. You can find her work on Etsy or contact her by emailing

These took my eye - always a sucker for a bear.

Here's lovely Isabelle from Creative Quilting in Hampton Court - a treasure trove of all things quilting and sewing - who used to come to my scrapbooking classes. You can find her here at She runs lovely workshops - a wonderful way to spend a morning .. or two.

Magpie and the Tambourine can be found on Facebook at Love their domed displays like this one ...

Who wouldn't want to find one of these delightful needle felt kits in their stocking on Christmas morning ? Beautifully packaged and very reasonably priced between £8.50 and £15 . Right to the top of my Christmas wish list. She makes the most beautiful crochet cushion kits too. 

More domes ... can't get enough . This sweet little Christmas dome is from Acorn and Will and I had to restrain myself from buying a Christmas decoration in September ... but I will be snapping this up come end of October when I'm allowed to go wild on Christmas.

This is Luna Russell from Silverdashery who had the most beautifully composed stall and the most exquisite jewellery for creative makers inspired by the world of haberdashery. You can find her work at

I have my eye on this pretty needle and three necklace.

So, let's here it for the crafters - I hope this has sewn a little seed of inspiration for your Christmas shopping. Thank you Sandra for my ticket - can't wait for  next year's Handmade Fair.
Managed to hitch a lift in Kirstie Allsopp's buggy when she wasn't looking - way to travel eh ?

Thursday, 24 September 2015

A Feast For The Eyes

I visited Petersham Nurseries last week with dear friends for a celebratory lunch ( surviving GCSEs ) and couldn't think why I hadn't been in such a long time ( until of course we got the bill for lunch ).

The space is divided loosely into room sets - every one a masterpiece of composition and design.
I'll let the photos do the talking ...

I feel a new collection collection coming on - fell in love with these translucent milky green glass vases.

I can never resist taking a photo with me in shot hiding behind the lens.

 Even housework would be appealing using one of these brooms ... who am I kidding ?

We had to laugh at the price tag on this mirror and even more so when we realised we'd missed the one at the front ! Anyone got £1,500 to spare ?

Lunch was sumptuous too but blind yourself to the total and remind yourself that you're worth it .

Monday, 21 September 2015

Head and shoulders knees and toes ...

... knees and toes.

Funny how things happens eh ? I'd been dreading renewing my Driver's Licence in the almost certain knowledge that it would require finding a Post Office that processed applications, queueing up at said Post Office, finding somewhere to park near said Post Office when raining or all three.

I should have been relieved that I'd get to replace my old photo which looked like either all the blood had drained from my face , or I was off to a Halloween Horror Fancy dress party or that I'd just been told I'd be stuck in a lift with Simon Cowell for at least 3 hours.

But I shouldn't have worried because it was all relatively painless and involved no Post Offices whatsoever. I did it online and I am now officially registered with the Gateway or some such which means that I'll never be able to appear on that telly series Hunted where you have to evade capture from  a fiendish team of ex coppers and MI5 people. Presumably I can no longer be considered invisible ( technalogically at least if not socially )  as all of my most personal details ( apart from bra size ) will be available for opportunist cyber hackers logged on to some invincible computer system buried deep in a bunker somewhere under the Mojave desert. Phew.

Not only that but all of my vital organs are now available for hire  donation if I get gunned down by a bunch of disgruntled cyber hackers, ex coppers or MI5 people ... and all because as I was about to log off, a casual little question, casually tossed onto the screen at the penultimate stage of interrogation, asked me if I'd like to save a life or two by donating my vitals and as I was, at that moment, overwhelmingly relieved that the whole process had only taken a few minutes and not the three hours I'd envisaged, I was only too pleased to say yes.

So, if at some distant date you see a knock-kneed, large breasted, blue eyed, wide-hipped person hobbling towards you with a wonky shoulder and ankles that look like they've just endured a 23 hour non-stop flight long haul flight , they may just have received some of my organs - poor buggers .

Thursday, 17 September 2015

No sooner has ...

... your sixteen year old received their GCSE exam results than the rhetoric begins. First we get the newspaper headlines that tell us that passes are up but grades are down or grades are up but passes are down. Then they're picked apart by the statisticians for anomalies or trends . The cockier students will post their results on Facebook or Snapchat or LookathowbriiliantIam social media sites and parents will bask in their children's reflected glory ... or otherwise. Nothing new here and if your children have worked hard and tried their best then why shouldn't you rejoice in their success ?

It's the 'otherwise' that upsets me. The students who tried their hardest but didn't quite make the grade . Or those whose brilliance is in the creative arts , the poor relation of the academic subjects ... sadly. The Holy Grail of a pass in both English and Maths , required of every sixth form, can prove an insurmountable hurdle to those whose sixth forms hopes have been dashed on enrolment day by a refusal to accept them onto their chosen courses because they failed to grasp the finer points of a simultaneous equation or only managed to list 14 of the 15 points in the pre-determined list of things you should have spotted in a written passage if you've got half a brain.

And then there are the schools' own websites  where the Heads wax lyrical about their students' achievements and why shouldn't they if it has been earned and well deserved ? But this is where my despair reaches new depths as I read the following in my son's school newsletter.

The GCSE grades were equally impressive with 92% of pupils achieving A* to C grades. We also saw a significant increase in pupils achieving the very highest grades with 102 A* grades awarded to our pupils. This is particularly pleasing because in the last two years we have worked hard to stretch our brighter and more able pupils.

Oh dear. Did no-one pass this by the ' this is guaranteed to piss off all parents and pupils who didn't manage to reach the giddy heights of excellence' voice of reason ?  
So, if you're gifted, bright or able and managed a long list of A* grades - you can be classified as 'pleasing' but anything less and ... well , draw your own conclusions.

How sad that only the 'brighter and more able pupils' were stretched. If you fall into the 'must try harder' brigade you're damned to an eternity of under achievement. And incidentally, have humans not evolved beyond the 'must try harder' ignorance of public school education of the last century , when you'd be treated to a lashing if you hadn't memorised Homer's Iliad by the age of 8 ? Why not go the whole hog and make them stand in the corner on a stool wearing a pointy hat with a large D on it ?

So, the 'brighter and more able pupils' got stretched whilst the less bright and less able got what? In my book, I like to consider exam achievements as falling under the Comparatives and Superlatives headings of ...

GOOD - A student who can achieve an A* grade without getting out of bed - minimum effort required because he/ she has memorised every textbook to within an inch of its life on first reading and who thinks revision is for wimps. 

BETTER - a student who has managed to achieve a decent grade by working hard and being conscientious.

BEST  - A student who can pass an exam despite having spent most of their school life believing ( and possibly being told ) that they'll never amount to much and that their E grade in the mock exam is their own fault because they haven't put in the effort despite knowing full well that said student is dyslexic or dyspraxic ( or possibly both ). Their C grade is worth a million A* grades and just think ... they may well have actually achieved this despite being tossed onto the forgotten pile of those not considered to be 'brighter and more able' and been totally unstretched to boot.

I seem to write a post like this every year and it never seems to get any better . So, in my loudest voice possible ...


As Rudyard Kipling once wrote  - Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Hey Little Magpie - September Blog post

Take a peek at my layouts for Hey Little Magpie over on their blog today.