valentines

An Eclectic Collection of Happinesses

My wonderful Valentine’s gift last week arrived at the foot of the bed in an enormous, dusty cardboard box, and gave me thrills; this vintage Imperial typewriter was a total surprise and is  - for me – the perfect choice. Grimy, weary and with a handful of stiff keys it will polish up a treat, and my mind is already racing with possibilities.  I think it will find a temporary home on the writing desk in our guest bedroom, perhaps with a welcome note typed out on it..

Typewriters

I’ve also been thinking ahead to the Easter holidays, and whilst we plan out trips and social events my mind has turned to decor, food and festivities; I’ve been having a go at making faux birds nests to fill with blown, dip-dyed & hand-speckled eggs; this (below) was an early attempt, and I’ll share with you the full how-to and some suggestions on materials and styling soon.  I think I’m going to place ours under the cloches we used at Christmastime, on a cake stand; but the possibilities are endless.

faux bird nest DIY

The weather briefly turned last weekend, shooting up a veritable 11 degrees and giving us a preview of Spring.  It was the only invitation I needed to brighten up the house, gathering these beautiful, vibrantly-Spring like hydrangeas from the garden centre, planting up a battalion of eggshell Cress-men to adorn our windowsills, and swapping my favourite woodsmoke candles for a hint of freshly mown grass.

spring blooms

Have a lovely weekend!

A Pocketful of Hearts

valentine

We’ve briefly come over all romantic this week, felled at last by the growing global momentum of Valentine preparations and the rosy hue of shopfronts as the world turns red for a week.  Valentine’s day here in the UK is still predominantly about celebrating grown-up, romantic love, but is gradually broadening to be a general celebration of love in all its forms.  Harry proudly – and very carefully – brought us home a large envelope containing a card he had made us at nursery which we are not allowed to open until Thursday (though Harry is adamant, in a moment of 3yr old confusion, that in fact we have to wait until Christmas);  he has red glitter in his hair and heart-shaped paint splats on his jeans, so I think we are safe to assume that Thursday is the day.

In turn, Harry and I have been busy crafting a Valentine card for his cool fairy Godmother; she’s the person in his life who brings him books about farting dogs and lollipops as large as his head, and believes that pyjamas should absolutely be worn all day if possible, thus earning his unwavering affection.

make a valentines card

To decorate the envelope, I drew a tiny heart shape on the tip of a pencil eraser and carved away the edges (do this in good lighting and when free of caffeine, red wine, or anything else that might cause your hand to twitch..). It’s soooo simple but looks great, and makes the perfect rubber stamp for kids (or adults) to push into an ink pad and stamp randomly over any available surface.  We used this ink, which I fished out of my old stamping supplies, and discovered as an added bonus that the colour turns from deep red to light pink as the pigment wears out, giving a lovely ombre effect.

make a pencil heart stamp

It’s been a while since we were active in the kitchen so we also knocked up some little meringue kisses to give to friends.  I used this recipe, which seems to produce drier, crispy meringues and allows you to whip them out of the oven sooner than usual, which is great for coloured meringues where you don’t want any browning or colour fade.  For the kisses, I stirred rose food colouring in just before the icing sugar stage, piped imperfect rosettes to fill a silicon baking sheet, and then when the meringues were baked and cool, I brushed edible glue around the base of each and rolled them in rainbow sprinkles before setting to dry on a cooling rack…

meringue kisses

little meringue kisses

With the leftover meringue, I spooned out dollops onto a baking sheet and then used a wooden skewer to swirl raspberry coulis through the peaks, giving this raspberry-ripple effect; as a treat we’ll have them with whipped cream, fresh raspberries and a glass of champagne on Thursday (after all, if you’re staying in you can afford to be a little decadent…)

raspberry swirl meringues

So, a giddy pink day to celebrate all things romantic.  Little does Mr B expect that Valentine’s Day itself will bring him the gift of 12 jars of marmalade in a vintage garden trug; I’m having to blow the dust off my Tracy Anderson bicep-building DVD before I can even contemplate lifting it…

Next time, by the way, I’m going to focus on answering some of the questions I’ve had of late about the fonts, graphics, camera and other tools and techniques I use here; if there’s anything you’re keen to know more about, please do shout and I’ll endeavour to cover it.  I should preface this by saying that those seeking technological enlightenment and cutting-edge wizardry should hastily look elsewhere; my secrets lie more in the artistic draping of bedsheets as backdrops, the procurement of free graphics, and in providing life support to an ancient entry-level printer – but that at least makes everything I do very accessible and highly replicable!

Have a lovely week..

Valentine’s Day Revival

It’s very easy when wrestling with jobs, toddlers and a crumbling, weary gem of a house to become a little, well, unmoved by Valentine’s Day.  The hustle and bustle of life combined with the unspoken thought that one’s Intended is not only now Intended but actually sort of already In The Bag can lead to a distinct lack of effort.

We realised we needed to remedy this and furtive, concerted efforts have been made in recent days, with much rustling and the occasional shriek of ‘don’t come in!’ when the other approaches unexpectedly.  The challenge we face is that of how to make grand romantic gestures on the deliberately austere budget we have agreed for such measures.  How dull.

My solution – at least in part – is to go personal with this homemade gift wrap, using a poem from our wedding, the lovely and highly unusual ‘Valentine’ by John Fuller.  Featuring the immortal lines ‘You are the end of self-abuse/I’d like to make you reproduce’, it certainly caused a stir amongst the congregation, and also a fit of choking in the Best Man who hadn’t read it properly before giving the reading.  Still, it has special memories so I played with some fonts and colours and printed it on A3 recycled paper, which just covers a box of the right size for my gift and has a suitably tactile texture. Let’s hope it does the trick..

More