Sunday, 27 September 2015

Make Bake Sew Grow

Hello you lovely lot! I hope you've all had good weekends? I received a rather surprising and delightful email a couple of days ago, telling me I'd been shortlisted for the Amara Interior Blog Awards! Well blow me down, I am completely and genuinely flabbergasted. And I have you to thank, for voting for me. Thank you. Thank you very much. 

{ Make }

Right then, on with the normal order of things. We are making plans to decorate the hall, stairs and landing this autumn and will wallpaper one small wall at the end of the hallway, so it's the first thing you see when you open the front door. It's a small, gloomy corner which only gets light from other open doors, so it needs to be fairly colourful and cheery, with a nod to retro pattern in keeping with the style of the house and era in which it was built.

Top row: Orla Kiely, middle row: Marimekko, bottom row: Mini Moderns, all samples ordered from John Lewis.
I usually love that John is so interested in interior design and that all our decisions are mutual, but sometimes I just really wish he'd let me have my own way. We can't agree. More samples will be ordered. 

We've been making improvements to the house, just small ones but exciting none the less. Our 4 metre wide living room window had a kind of UPVc bottom half which we never liked as it looks so white and plasticky. This is the best photo I could find, annoyingly, taken just after we'd decorated.

We had it boxed in with plasterboard and it looks a million times better already, more like the rest of the room, more substantial and more like a proper wall not a sheet of plastic.

Most excitingly, it gives me a long, long windowsill! I never thought this would matter so much, but hurrah, a big surface to display stuff on. It doesn't make for very exciting photos, though, does it. Sorry.

I have been making purchases and plans for Christmas. (I think it's ok to say the word Christmas now that we're officially in autumn - people get really funny about early references to that festive holiday, don't they?) A colleague recommended Edward's Menagerie to me and I bought a copy. It's great, really fun with little descriptions of each animal's character that tickled me no end. Bella and Angus have already picked out which animal I am to make for their Christmas presents. No pressure then...

{ Bake}

My shopping lists lately have included a lot of dried fruit and spice. Cranberries, dates, and sultanas, ground ginger, cinnamon and cloves - the flavours and smells of autumn cooking. I made tea loaf, an old favourite and one which I turn to when busy as it's so easy, and like to eat so heavily buttered that you can see teeth marks.

I also made a batch of cranberry chutney yesterday. It made the house absolutely stink of vinegar though - and I'm glad the weather was good today because I had the doors and windows opened wide - but it's worth it because it is so delicious, and almost more fun to make than jam. You don't have to watch it and fret about it setting, you just stir it all together and leave it to simmer for an hour then go off and do something else. Like open the windows. 

{ Sew }

I appear to have downloaded a pattern for a poncho, bought the yarn, and am in the process of teaching myself how to do front and back post trebles to make the rib stitch. I did not see this one coming at all! But I'm just desperate to make this right now so that I can wear it while it's still autumnal and not freezing cold.

{ Grow }

Wow, it's all go in the garden! I've bought bulbs. I've planted wallflowers all over the border in the back garden. These scrappy little things will apparently bring colour to my border throughout the spring. Hard to believe, I know.

This hydrangea was a gift from my mum. My parents have a huge one in their front garden and every year the blooms are magnificent. I've planted this in a sunny, roomy spot and I have high hopes. I also deliberately planted it right by the front door so it greets me every time I enter the house. 

Also, this is the kind of area where front gardens are immaculate and I feel the pressure, frankly. 

The sedum is flowering. I don't really know a lot about sedum (or any plant, let's be honest) but I really like it. It's shape and slightly faded pinks and greens remind me of the kinds of plants that grow wild by the beach, like sea cabbage. I have no idea why. This one was from my sister's garden and it's growing well in it's new home. 

So another weekend of pottering draws to a close. I wish weekends were longer. My hours at work have increased to the point where I am almost working full time and I'm feeling  the difference. Everything it rushed and time snatched in an hour here, half an hour there. I will be glad when things eventually settle back down to how they were before.


  1. Well done on the blog award shortlisting, it is very well deserved. Love what you've done with the window, and a windowsill is a great place to put pretty things. The sedum's nice, should be excellent for bees once it's open. I like the look of the tea loaf, I think I might make one this week, I know it would be popular here. Sorry work's so busy, I do hope it calms down soon. CJ xx

  2. You're getting an amazing amount done, even if you are pressed for time. My sedum just started blooming in the past few days too. I hope your work calms down soon, it sounds a bit stressful. I'm sure you're doing a great job with it all. Hope you have a great week.

  3. A blog decorating award! How lovely for you, as the house is coming along so nicely. The cake looks delicious and I can't believe the beautiful wools you can get over there. Unless we pay an arm and a leg for ours, the less expensive ones aren't as nice, but I'm on a budget these days, so have to take what comes. (I'm taking part in Jo's crochetalong over at Through the Keyhole). Your garden is starting to take shape and I must get another Sedum after seeing yours, oh and some hydrangeas. Take care.

  4. You amaze me with what you get done, and working too. What a Wonderwoman! So delighted about your being short listed, what exciting news! I often wish I could just get on with decorating our house to my taste, as my husband and I have very different opinions! We try to meet in the middle, but sometimes it is hard when I just Know my ideas are better than his! X

  5. Oh well done on the shortlisting, that is good news. I wonder what colour your wallflowers will be? I've just moved some blood red wallflowers into their flowering position at the allotment (they are very easy from seed) and I'm going to plant some deep red tulips among them to bulk up the display and give me some cutting material too. Love seeing all your ideas, everyone a winner to my eye.

  6. Huge congrats to you and well deserved i do hope you go on to win!!
    I have made that poncho and have been wearing it recently, its great fun to make and i am sure you will enjoy hooking it up?
    Another coincidence in this post I have that mini moderns darjeeling wallpaper in the same colour in our kitchen..we love it, difficult to choose from samples...lots of luck !
    bestest daisy j xx

  7. Last year at about this time when I was visiting NW Missouri, USA, I saw a pretty patch of flowers that my friend told me were sedum. There were an array of colors and full plants that looked hardy. I was going to investigate whether I could grow them here in Oregon, but haven't yet. Now that you have reminded me of them by showing some of your lovely pink sedum I will do some Google searching after leaving here. I admire your award nomination and your cooking and decorating projects. Also, I am sympathizing with your challenge in adjusting to your new schedule, Gillian, remembering how it was for me years years ago when I made a similar job transition. I am cheering you on from across the pond! xx

  8. Lots to keep you busy with yarn over the next couple of months there then.
    What a good idea to have the plastic white boxed in and a real bonus getting the new log shelf.
    Out of all the papers I love the one which looks like daffodils, good luck with the selection process.
    Lisa x

  9. The wallpaper samples are a great idea - my personal favourite would be the one on the left in the bottom row. Flower patterns are great, too, but somehow I always think they will look "out of season" in winter.
    Congratulations on the new windowsill :-)
    It was a very good idea to have the plastic part covered. Will you still be able to open the windows easily when there are things on the sill? All my windows open to the inside, so the only window sill I ever put anything on is one of my two kitchen windows which I very rarely need to open.

  10. what a lovely post x the window transformation is amazing, love how it looks part of the house now, and that window sill, oh yes!

  11. You are my first post read of the week and that has set me up nicely Gillian. Have a good week. Jo x

  12. Wowee! Many congratulations on being shortlisted for the interior awards. I shall keep everything tightly crossed for you my clever stylish friend.

    Re the wallpaper, I'm sure it will come as no surprise that it's a no brainer for me - Orla's pink flowers, every time. It's just perfect and there's lots of white in the print which will help make your hall lighter. Am I helping?!

    Keep an eye out for my Yarndale blog post; I got to meet (and take a few photos of) a lot of Edward's Menagerie in the flesh and they are just adorable. The rabbit and the sheep were my favourites.


  13. Love how crochet projects just happen to happen, eh? Funny thing that is! It will look gorgeous! Enjoy the making! And congrats on the award shortlist! Well deserved!!

  14. Well done on the blog shortlisting, much deserved :) Can't wait to see your poncho progress, I still want to make this one myself but am a little apprehensive of front post crochet! And I am super jealous of your windowsill! x

  15. Front and back post stitches are just changing where to put the hook, easy peasy. Nothing different to the stitches themselves.Two minutes and the idea should be in your head. There is very little in the crochet that is not basic crochet. It's not really much of a learning curve. Anyone who can crochet can do these stitches too. Just read where to put your hook and look at some pictures or watch on youtube - In through the front of the post of the stitch below and around it (instead of the loops at the top of it), or in round the back and through to the front. That is the only difference. No more scary than the original learning of crochet stitches, easier in fact as they are already known.

    This information is easily found in crochet books, on line and often on the pattern.

  16. Hi I would chose the bottom right one, but I don't hate any of them. I love your renovation photos, please keep posting them...

  17. Congratulations on being shortlisted for the blog award - very well deserved. I like all your wallpaper samples and look forward to seeing which one you eventually agree on. Your chutney and tea loaf look delicious - I'm really impressed by how much you get done despite work being a bit hectic at the moment. Have a great week. xx

  18. Congratulations on being shortlisted for the blog award. It'll be hard to decide on a paper to use and even harder to get agreement! The poncho looks lovely. I'm hoping to rip out my disastrous Aran coat and make a poncho instead.

  19. We do the wallpaper taped to the wall, I think it's the best way to decide. I understand and share your window sill excitement, your 'new wall' does look good. Congratulations on the nomination xx

  20. Mini Moderns do great designs, don't they? I love that yellow Marimekko one too though...
    Thanks for the idea by the way. I'll have a look at John Lewis as I'm thinking wallpaper for the new place, just on the odd wall.
    That tea bread looks delicious and yes, thickly buttered is most definitely the way to go.
    Congratulations on the award nomination too :)
    S x

  21. I love the idea of wallpapering just one wall... I can't wait to see which paper you choose! Your new home is so lovely, and I now you are enjoying decorating it. I just love the smells of fall baking/cooking... they are the best!

  22. Yes many congratulations to you on being shortlisted, fingers crossed! Have you seen Orla Kiely's Acorn Spot wallpaper in Sea Blue/Poppy? I think it would be lovely in your space.

  23. Huge congrats! So much to see in your post, the lovely long windowsill, fantastic drool worthy tea loaf, chutney!! I love Edward's Menagerie, I shall be making another soon as my cousin has requested one for when her baby is born :-) Have fun making them. x

  24. Many congratulations on being shortlisted. How exciting. I think all the wallpapers look fantastic. I'm sure whichever one you choose will look great. You have such a good eye for what looks right. X

  25. Excellent news on all fronts. Congrats on making the short list and with all your wonderful yummy things to eat and crochet.

  26. Hey Gillian,
    Oh I do enjoy these posts of yours. Many congratulations on making the shortlist. What happens to the winners? I'm thinking that your chutney is something I'm going to make soon. I don't have Nigella's Christmas recipe book, so must get hold of it. We are in the throws of decorating and de cluttering here. It's all a pain in the arse to be honest. So much to be done. I'll be very interested to see the final wallpaper choice; I'm sure it will be perfect. You have such a good eye.
    Leanne xx

  27. I like the yellow floral wallpaper.. the perfect pop of color and so very retro..

  28. Loving seeing the house come together, the window looks so much better. I really liked the modern minis wallpapers!! Very well done on the short list. Xxx

  29. well done on the blog shortlisting. I love the look of that poncho.

  30. Well done for the blog shortlisting!! :-) That cranberry chutney looks yummy. I may just have a go...

    As for the wallpaper, I can't decide between the pink flowery one or the blue circles! If all else fails, put up some pictures or even frame your favourite wallpaper samples!


    Eleanor x

  31. Loved your kitchen photo! I don't know why but I love seeing what other's have in there!
    And it's definitely okay to start thinking about Christmas! I may or may not have been doing the same! :)

  32. Oo, exciting for the blog award, good luck! You have had a busy weekend, I agree the plastered wall does look more substantial than the plastic. And yes, buttered tea loaf must show teeth marks! Have a good week
    Caz xx

  33. great news on the blog shortlisting....a fantastic achievement. I love these type of posts as it makes me realise I'm doing similar things, and it's great to be part of a creative community!

  34. Love these posts... I totally get what you say about hubbies and house deco decisions..... It can sometimes be frustrating..... I recently started working at my kids' school and I am completely exhausted....omg! I can't wait for half term.... I love my job but after being a stay at home mum for a few years , I feel it is taking a while to get used to..... Your post has just inspired me to make a few preserves this coming weekend, my crochet mojo hasn't returned yet and that poncho and the yarn for it are also waiting for me in my cupboard.....
    Congratulations for being shortlisted! Brilliant news!
    Have a lovely week,
    Pati xx

  35. Excellent new on the the short listing, it is well deserved! For someone working full time you are doing an amazing amount of fun stuff :-) I do love the yellow Marimekko paper most of all, I would happily have my entire bedroom papered with it. No doubt Richard would disagree. Mmm tea bread. I wonder if I have all the ingredients... I prefer mine without butter but your photo with the bite marks made me smile. Here's to a new weekend full of pottering. xx

  36. Hi Gillian ,your doing a great job,well done on the short listing ,all the papers fab ,i,m not sure which i would choose ,and no i dont think its to early to think about xmas ,especially when your working ,there,s not enough hrs in a week ! carry on snatching an hr here and an hr there ,it will keep you sane ,x

  37. Congrats on being shortlisted Gillian. Well deserved. Despite the time pressures you still manage to pack a lot in. I really love the look of that poncho – I had a blue and grey one as a child and wore it all the time. Sedums are great plants and, thanks, you've reminded me to get some wallflowers! Sam x

  38. What an improvement to that window! Well done you, on thinking about using plaster board to fill it in and make it look like a 'real' wall!
    Mot sure about the papers on the wall, but of all of them I like bottom right, those turquoise blues in stripes. But they're not me, I'd not be able to live with them - they are a 21st cent interpretation of 1950s d├ęcor and they just miss (well, by a mile, really.) But they are colourful, I'll give you that!
    Oh, I hate to think of Christmas ... but already the produce and crackers and loads of tat are filling the shelves in the supermarkets and shops. Yuk! We've not yet had the vile Trick or Treat shindig, or Guy Fawkes' Night (much more traditional, let's keep the Bonfires Burning - to the tune of Keep the Home Fires Burning!) and forget the silly American nonsense, I say (I think I'll be on my own here, children seem to love all the tat associated with Trick or Treat!)
    Margaret P


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