Monday 14 December 2015

Lavender Bags, Christmas Cake and Our Lovely Italian Farming Neighbours~

Well, already it's the 14th of on earth did that happen?!
Summer seems like only yesterday, I was planning another swim over in the Cinque Terre!
The year has flown, but I expect you are all saying the same.

I haven't even finished making my Lavender bags, some of which need to be posted very soon and the Christmas cake only just in the oven!
And before you queen bakers out there tell me...I know it's late!

I had a hitch with the base of my cake tin..... I can't find it!
Called by to see Laura this morning and got delayed, well actually I was enticed to stay for lunch.
It's like this, Laura asks if I would like to stay, I spend a second or two politely saying, "oh no I couldn't possibly", the next thing is I am sitting at their kitchen table tucking into their home grown borlotti beans served with the best olive oil I have ever tasted and lemon chicken!
Saying, "no" to Laura is something you just don't do and anyway, turning down her delicious food is pretty impossible!
We talked about the wonderful olive harvest, as well as Christmas amongst other topics.
How shall we organise ourselves this year?
They must come to ours to eat, give my favourite lady a rest.
I told them about my cake tin saga and how I had driven into town only to find a 20"or 28" tin, not the 23" I was after.
Laura disappeared to rummage in the kitchen above, returning with a brand new 26" tin!
So I have used that and for some strange reason, my mixture totally filled it!
Alberto asked if it is the fruit and nut cake with the icing I made last year, (he loves it), but of course, I will be giving some to them.
Thought about making two smaller cakes this year but somehow there is something rather nice about sharing one cake cut in half.

And now my friends, I must leave you there, the light has dipped and I must have a blast around the Torre with the dogs before putting the hens to bed for the night.

Enjoy your week, time is precious. X

Tuesday 21 July 2015

The Sewing Room Outdoors.....

This afternoon I was inspired to set up a sewing studio outside.
Having hung linen curtains one side of the table, I was able to 
enjoy some shade from the intense heat of the July sun.

I couldn't resist buying this beautiful antique cotton night dress from the last Antique Market I went to in Lucca.
So beautifully trimmed around the neck and sleeves, 
handiwork lovingly created by someone with the initials, MJA.
The initials are surrounded with chain stitch decorated with a flower and leaves...exquisite.
Just one had what looked liked almost scissor cuts through both sides of fabric in two places!
I could not walk away though, the rest was perfect and the nice lady on the stall offered it to me for only 3Euros!

So, here I am in my element, surrounded with baskets and interesting boxes full of antique trimmings, ribbon and lace pondering the best solution.

Another piece of old cotton would work, various possibilities but none work as well as the hand made trim with leaves.
I cut longer lengths than was necessary thinking it all looked more pleasing on the eye and got down to hand sewing the trim in place.
I'm not bad at judging distance in relation to where it should be placed, then secured with bobble headed pins, which I love!

I find hand sewing very and out the needle goes, through the fine cotton, making tiny stitches with thoughts of my Nana Brown.
My Nana loved sewing too always had something pretty on the go, a new dress for one of the little girls in the family.
I loved peering into her sewing box, running my fingers through her button tin examining spotty ribbons admiring her hand smocking.
I am certain my love of sewing came from my Nana.

 Collecting old trimmings from my occasional visits to junk shops and trawling around antique markets thrills me with sheer delight! 

The vase of wild flowers sitting on the table next to me, in itself I find inspiring, not necessarily with this item of clothing, but to embroider or appliqué the bottom of another antique piece.
I am so often enthralled by nature and all surrounding me up at Torre di Monte Vignale.

I cannot wait to secure the end of the cotton and trow this lovely piece over my head!

It feels lovely, the natural fabric flowing~

LoVe the big scooped neckline~

I wear it with pride, to a cool summer dress, this very old, once a nightdress!

Wandering back at home through our woods, my thoughts turn to the person who originally made the new, beautiful addition to my wardrobe.
I wonder who she was and what she loved~ 

Wednesday 8 July 2015

Cleaning Out The Potting Shed and Preparing The Raised Beds...........Joy!

Morning song of the birds awakens me to the idea of clearing out the Potting Shed.

Hargs wants to start digging the new beds into the bank, down in the orto.
It will be lovely working side by rarely happens.

We have breakfast together, savour the flavour of the last mouth of coffee, wander down to my very favourite place, where the energy feels strongest...quite magical!

I pull everything out of my darling shed, distracted from time to time by the stunning mountains directly in front of me.

Sweeping and cleaning......doors on two sides, I am crazy about doors opening out on to any patch enabling us to step immediately onto the garden....a strong desire to bring the outside in and the inside out.....that brightest blue sky, lush greenery linking us to the sheer joy of nature.

I am bemused at the fluttering of butterfly wings dancing and bees drawn to the Borragio, bright blue clusters of little star shaped flowers. 

In and out I go carrying white canvas deckchairs, garden tools, lanterns, baskets, (crazy about baskets!), old jam jars.

A beautiful stained glass panel, a much treasured gift from my old friend Mish, a piece her husband Arthur had crafted years earlier.

Time for a break, a fresh fruit smoothie made with strawberries and banana.....mmmmmmm have you ever thought of adding a fresh sprig of Basil?! 

Funny little bird place holders go back up above a door~

Ruby comes to find us with Georgie trotting behind~

Lovely old wine bottles waiting to be filled with tiny white lights~

Hens and Rooster wander through they all feel something is going on!
Slipping back inside my shed thought runs through my head, I could sleep in here...bone dry and such a happy place.
I can see Hargs now through one of the windows, now sitting, a better position for levering yet another huge rock from the bank...happy in his work.
Our Canadian HelpXers Mary and Tony gave us the idea of building beds into the bank. Mary had spotted the idea, a terrific solution to a difficult and otherwise wasted area, which was always tricky to maintain.

So here we are Hargs and me peacefully creating something new ever continuing to improve our surroundings.
I clean an old snail shell, place it on the narrow windowsill, the shape inspires me.
This haven is a place I wish for others to be inspired.
Paint, brushes, all creative materials boxed separately returned to clean shelves.
Luna steps inside to have a nosy around, she would be happy sleeping here too, those warm empty wooden boxes, empty baskets, places perfect for cats.
The Lavender drying boxes a reminder of when my old friends came to stay, Mish, Ju and Lena and I got them each to paint one!
I had found them in a dirty old state by the bins a pile of wooden boxes too useful to be thrown.
Fortunately Lauren was with me and happy to help stack them into the boot of the car, the others would have moaned!!!

Already time to light the BBQ...

Sit back, take pleasure from our day, enjoy a sip of one of Hargs best G&T's and a little something to nibble!

Oooo look, the girls have left us a gift!

Ps.Where does all the time go?
Finally posting, two months on, potatoes planted, watered, felt the heat of the sun, grown taller, flowered, died off and now ready for digging up!
Fancy a taste? 

Monday 23 March 2015

Louis XV1 ..will turn in his grave!

Following my introduction to the fabulous Swedish and French Decorating page, and the amazing subsequent flurry of 'likers' and decorators interested enough in commenting, (to the tune of 190!), on the two bedside tables I purchased, (very reasonably!), from a local antique market,........... I have decided to paint them! 
I should take this opportunity to thank Diane Llewellen Grover so very much for suggesting I join the  group in the first place and Meranda Devan who started it!
Fabulous to be part of a sensational community of inspiring women and men!

  I spotted these two at Filetto Antique Market one is slightly taller has a marble top and shelf inside and the other is smaller but both seem related by numbered information on the back of the furniture.
The fact was I didn't know anything about them until one of the ladies on the decorating page, (who used to import furniture), very kindly gave me the run down.
They are apparently French, Louis XV1 style late 19th to first quarter of the 20thCentury and to quote  my expert, a "beautiful find"!
Well what transpired was me falling into a quandary as to what to do next...should I paint them as I had first been inspired to do using Annie Sloan's fab paint or leave them be, as a few of the Swedish and French Decorating group almost pleaded me to do.
Or should I sell them, one or two had expressed a great desire to buy!
I deliberated for some time at one stage deciding I should leave them as they are, however, I kept coming back to the fact that when I first clapped eyes on them, I saw them Annie Sloaned!

My dear friend Laura arrived in the meantime with her man Paul, having driven over from England with pots of precious Annie Sloan Provence paint for our kitchen walls and a couple of tins of the fab Country Grey.
Laura agreed I should go with what I had intended and what's more, they are the perfect, maximum size Harg's and I can fit either side of our bed.
So, last week I got down to it!!!
Setting myself up on our Roof Garden I stirred up the Original Chalk Paint for my base coat.
Whilst that coat dried I basked under the Tuscan sun, tapping away on my laptop filled with a terrific sense that I had, in fact done the right thing.

The most wonderful paint to work with, it was soon dry enough for me to put on my top coat of the beautiful Country Grey.
I took photographs of the various stages becoming more and more excited as I worked!
The sun warmed my back!

The next stage was to start sanding using fine sand paper, although I have to say, I had no real idea of what I was doing, it seemed instinctive but this was to be my very first piece of furniture... so very much an experiment, anything could happen!

I Loved the freedom of using the sand paper it allowed me to be creative deciding which part of the furniture would suit hard should I press how much paint should I remove.

Homer, our cockerel was voicing his excitement too.
Whilst the ladies just sat watching him, "we have heard it all before" they clucked!!

Time to work on the drawer.

And I have an idea......
My signature on all the furniture I paint will have a message somewhere!

I am working on this piece for my husband, Hargs who is patiently waiting for somewhere to put his cuppa in the morning!

I could hear the sheep in the land adjoining ours and the birds were singing, I really did feel like I was in Seventh Heaven!

Continuing with the sand paper I accidentally on purposely hit the handle, wow that improved with a rub as well!

Must keep working


Before and After...

And in place~

It had been a full on day, hands were in desperate need of some hand cream, hair needed washing, it was sticking out with dust at a rather eccentric angle, but boy was I haPPy!
I need to have another piece of marble cut for the inside shelf, it's too marked and beyond for my liking, but hey ho Hargs has a place to put his plectrums, leads, his Minnie Mouse,(as I call it), and a cuppa!

Some of you will of course think I have committed sacrilege using paint in the first place,and Louis XV1 will turn in his grave, but I have created exactly what I originally planned, with a big helping hand from Annie of course,... and had the best fun along the way!

My thanks go to Annie Sloan, what an amazingly inspiring woman who has designed the best paint ever & created the most fabulous community of like minded women. To my dearest friend Laura Lawrence for driving from England to Italy with a car load of paint and to her man Paul for putting up with it!

Now where is my cabinet?!!! 

Ps...For those of you inspired to have a go yourselves, a little pinch of advice, don't get as carried away as I did painting the entire cabinet.......the drawers have no leeway and will not open smoothly!!!