Vintage ~ Handmade ~ Homes ~ Gardens

Sunday, 28 November 2010

An autumn day in London Town

With the prediction of snow over the next few days it's nice to sit by a cosy fire and reflect on what a fabulous autumn we have had this year. I'll never forget the beauty of Dartmoor last month - English countryside at its best. But cities have their own charms at this time of year and none more so than the fair city of London. I took these photos in the Temple area of London, an area where all the legal firms are based and of course Temple Church made famous by the De Vinci Code. Georgian architecture, quiet cobbled tree lined streets, the Temple is a world away from the normal rush and bustle of London living.

When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.
Dr Samuel Johnson

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Watford vintage fair

After a bad bout of flu I was glad to be out and about today and as Watford's first vintage fair was being held I decided to pop along. Despite the freezing temperatures outside, the hall was packed with buyers and I think its going to be a very successful regular event - but with so much interest I think they're going to need a bigger venue!

As it was so busy it made it a little difficult to take photos but here are a few I managed to snatch on my iphone.

There were lots of scarves..

Tons of jewellery - I think this was the most attractive stall...

Clothes galore...

And umpteen hats and handbags...

I didn't buy anything as I have so much vintage stuff at home. In fact I'm seriously thinking of getting a stall next time and selling some clutter!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Salt 'n Pepper

I love Bakerlite don't you? I've bought loads of it over the years and these salt 'n pepper shakers are part of my collection. They've been on display in a kitchen cabinet for so long that I'd not paid them much attention, so this afternoon I took them out for a dusting and photographed some of my favourites for you to see.

I've bought most of them on trips to the US.  I have a couple of favourite antique haunts that I frequent when I'm in California. A 90 minute the drive up the coast from LA takes you to Ventura, a positive Mecca for vintage lovers and where some of my collection was found.

Another favourite spot is San Juan Capistrano (below), south of LA on the way down to San Diego - you can take the coast train from LA's amazing art deco railway station. I never leave here empty handed!

I've saved my favourites for last. I adore this pretty pair of angels - lovely for a Xmas table. And who could resist the cute penguin set?

Sadly this chirpy fellow has lost is other half :-(

Tuesday, 16 November 2010


I love religious icons and often pick them up on my travels. I particularly like the folksy tin ones that you can pick up in Mexico. I don't collect them for religious reasons - although it's comforting to have them around the house - but I find the beautiful colours and imagery quite captivating. Here are a some from my collection

My favourites 

A beautiful Mexican wooden angel bought in Old Town, San Diego years ago and this pretty tin icon from a folk art shop in Pasadena CA.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Bits and bobs

It's been such a busy couple of weeks since I got back from Devon. The day job has been exhausting (but bills have to be paid) and I've had little time to indulge in craft making. Still I did get around to starting on some homemade Xmas gifts this weekend.

Using scraps of material - some pretty hearts

I keep all my sewing bits and bobs in the old tins I collect

One Xmas gift that family and friends are guaranteed to get is some of the soap I made on my course at Odds and Suds in Tavistock. They have posted some photos of our workshop on their Facebook page. Here we are learning how to decorate soap.

I had my Cath Kidston notebook ready to jot down the recipe.

The workshop was in the beautiful kitchen at the back of the shop.

Some of the pretty soap on display in the shop

These look good enough to eat!

They also have a shop in Ashburton and you can see Jennie from Odds and Suds showing Kirstie Allsopp how to make soap here:

Don't the weekends go too fast? 

Friday, 5 November 2010

Thatched cottage heaven

I can't resist a thatched cottage can you?   They are so cute and quintessentially English I come over all Miss Marple at the sight of one! While I was down in Devon (boy did I pack a lot into a couple of days!) I drove through the pretty little village of Dunsford and spied these beauties.

The village shop was closed for lunch but produce was left outside on display - a rare sight these days.

This roof was being re-thatched. Thatch lasts about 30 years.

 Dunsford is surrounded by beautiful hills and woodland.

Red telephone boxes are sadly a thing of the past but Dunsford still hangs on to theirs - hurrah!

A beautiful little village I'll think you'll agree.

More tea vicar?


With all the excitement of meeting The Boss I haven't told you about the wonderful soap making workshop I attended in Tavistock down in beautiful Devon last week. The workshop was run by the lovely Jennie and Carol at Odds and Suds, a very pretty soap and interiors shop. The shop smells absolutely wonderful!

Tavistock is a small town situated on the edge of Dartmoor National Park. It was a long 5 hour drive down there but well worth it.

Lot of lovely old buildings and little windy streets to explore

There is great indoor market and lots of good independent shops like (Suds sister shop) Odds and Buds below 

I bought this lovely ribbon and selection of pastel coloured buttons in the market.


The actual process of soap making is a bit like making a big cake - except that one of the key ingredients is caustic soda so eye goggles and masks are necessary! The morning was spent making the basic soap recipe: soda, water, coconut, olive and sunflower oils. When that is all mixed together it has to be stirred  continuously for 45 minutes! This was a good opportunity to chat to the other lovely ladies on the course and get lots of soap making and business tips from Jennie and Carol. We then went for a delicious lunch at Browns Hotel (where I stayed during the trip) - the yellow building below.

After lunch it was back to the shop to add the essential oils to our soap mix. Wonderful aromas! With all the mixing done we poured into our plastic containers to take home. The soap has to be left to set and mature for 6 weeks. With the time left we had lots of fun learning how to decorate and wrap our soaps with all sorts of goodies - poppy seeds, rose buds, ribbons, raffia and string. 

My first attempts - I brought the pretty wire soap holder from the shop.

I definitely need more practice!

Back home again and the huge blocks of soap are out of the plastic moulds and ready for cutting and storing until ready to use. 

Lemongrass, honey and oats...


 Gardeners Soap...

My first enjoyable steps to becoming a soap maker. I can't wait to get making soap at home!

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