Patchwork Runner

We had a stack of large squares and triangles of fabric that didn’t get make into our wedding bunting so I whipped up a table runner for the dresser in our living room. Our walls are yellow and the curtains are orange, so our autumnal wedding colours drew them together well. It’s a bit lumpy, but it adds the splash of colour while protecting the wood.

  

New Area Rug from Remnant

For years, I occasionally thought about getting roll end carpeting for area rugs but got frustrated when it wasn’t possible to purchase them at the local chain home improvement store. This is where I had purchased them in the US. I simply decided that it was not a ‘thing’ in the UK when I found overpriced off cuts online.

Our laminate board flooring (the type that snaps together) was looking very worn and we do not have the fund to pour into something so cosmetic for a rental. An area rug was the solution. Fortunately, after searching, we found a decently priced website at last. Enter Burts Carpet Remnants!

We ordered a milk chocolatey brown that, upon arrival, we realised matched the carpeting on our stairs. At the haberdashery (yes, my town still has one!) we picked up carpet binding and got to work. With most of the carpet still rolled up, we started at one end. The red lines in the diagram are where we snipped. The dotted lines (The width of our ruler) is where we bent it back. We then taped over the folds to keep it in place. It worked great and we soon had an area rug.

The learning is that the tape was a bit less sticky than duct tape but more expensive, so we agreed that we would just use duct tape on the future.

Eclipsed

Today, the skies above the UK aligned perfectly to show us a solar eclipse on the first day of spring. I had taken the day off before I had heard about the eclipse so was quite pleased with the serendipity of my choice.

A few days before the eclipse, a colleague unwrapped a delivery and I squealed with delight for her that she had had the foresight to actually order something to keep her blinkers safe. She is a kind soul and handed me the glass to have. I thankfully refused but she said that she had a whole other stack to open, so I did accept it in the end. Last night I made a pair of goggles, packed my tripod and camera (I used the welder’s glass in front of the lens), and was ready to welcome spring.

Solar Eclipse 2015 in Stirling

This morning, I got out of bed soon after Honey got up to get ready for work and she said that she had a message from my mom. My mom said that I needed to call her urgently. This was our 7am, so my mom’s 3am! We asked what it was and I was told that my Nanny had passed away. I can’t really articulate how I feel about this yet as it is somewhat smoky and ever-changing. I do know that I am immensely sad for us and for her that she didn’t have the quality of life she enjoyed over the past few years (and was so very frustrated), but also relieved that she no longer has to be weighed down and held back. Every night this week I have been having dreams that she is younger, freer, and able to do the things she loved; always in a variety of settings.

I talked to my mom on the phone and sent Honey to work. She ended up missing her train and when she phoned in to work from the station, they agreed that she wouldn’t head in today. I was surprised but comforted when she walked back in the door.

Having Honey home meant that she could come with me to watch the solar eclipse. We packed thermoses of tea, a picnik blanket, eye protection and cameras and headed over to the old Abbey grounds. It was sunny and grassy and surprisingly warm (though I was wearing thermals) and the calm helped to ground me. We spent almost two hours in that quiet, private space, thinking about Nanny and talking very little but marvelling in nature and how precious life is. I imagined that the sad freedom I was feeling was what Nanny would be feeling as well.

It was comforting to have that space just to be and I was grateful that we were given such a beautiful event on the day that we begin to say goodbye to the last of my grandparents.

Solar Eclipse 2015 in Stirling, Scotland

Basque Region, France

We drove to the Basque area for the weekend while we were in France and were completely caught off guard by its beauty. Since we arrived in the dark, we had no idea that it was mountainous. We stayed at Maison Olhabidea in Sare, where our friends had their wedding, which was a beautiful farmhouse.

We had breakfast in the sunshine on the back porch, visited a beach nearby (Saint Jean de Luz), visited some caves, and partied until 3am at our friends’ wedding. 


One of the special things about the weekend is that I got to see two friends I hadn’t seen since I studied abroad in Mexico. I got to see one friend’s mother again, which I didn’t think would happen (a woman whose house I visited several times a week to spend time with my friends), and meet the bride’s hubby! It was wonderful seeing them and the mix of languages at the wedding was amusing. It was basically a trilingual weekend, with English, Spanish and French spoken in varying degrees by everyone present. Standing in a group, we would speak in one language and shift to another to accommodate a new arrival. Honey speaks English and some French and I speak English and Spanish and I would find myself speaking at her in Spanish and not realising. It felt good to be able to practice a part of myself that hasn’t had the chance to be expressed over the past decade here in Scotland. 


Mom, the photos of this porch are for you- I think you would have loved it. It was big enough for us to have the wedding dancing there as well! 


Bordeaux

When we went to France for a friend’s wedding at the end of September, it was a beautiful break and it felt like we had walked into another world. The climate was amazing. We left chilly autumn mornings to arrive to 80F weather and full beaming sunshine. We wore sandals and shorts, soaked in the sunshine in our shoulders and felt the beginning outer shell of winter hardness melt away.
We spent time in Bordeaux and wandered, geocached, photographed, talked, dreamed and got inspired.
Some of our highlights…
The trams were wonderful. They were €1.50 for a ticket that could be used for up to an hour, which meant that you can transfer between lines on one ticket. This was a particular novelty considering we had just spent £5 to travel from town to the airport in Edinburgh! The trams connected thCe city really well and only took a bit of map gazing to figure out.
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These trees were the only indication that it was autumn, that and the fact that half the people were wearing trousers, and they reminded us to savour the gift of these last beautiful, warm days.
Fountain in Bordeaux, France
This fountain was designed so well that it creates rainbows whenever it is in the sun. That is a smart design! It reminded us a bit of the statues in the Ministry of Magic towards the end of the Harry Potter books, with the humans crawling around on the bottom. It was beautiful in the sunset and at full sun.
Miroir d'eau Bordeaux, France
Miroir d'eau, Bordeaux France
By the river, we came across the Miroir d’eau. It starts with a few minutes of flooding the paved area with water to create a reflective pool. At this stage, it’s great for wading, splashing or dancing. Then, once the water has sat for a few minutes, it begins to mist!
There were faces everywhere…
Bordeaux

Bordeaux, FranceBordeaux, France buildingMerman sculpture Bordeaux France building

and the balconies caught my imagination too.

Building in Bordeaux, France

Buildings and balconies in Bordeaux, FranceBalconies in Bordeaux, France

Little sis, this view made me think of you and your French inspired bathroom. I thought maybe you’d add the photo to your collection?

Maison Fondee en 1801. Building in Bordeaux, France

Bathroom Redo

Our bathroom was gross. The paint used before we moved in doesn’t seem to have been bathroom paint. To top that off, the fan had never worked. We had several different colour test squares painted on the walls for between 6 and 18 months. Honey sanded the mould off the wall once but it just returned  We decided it was time to fix things. 

Old bathroom

While the electrician sent by the landlord was fixing the broken stove switch in December, we asked him to look at and fix our bathroom fan. He took it away to see why it wasn’t working. In January, Honey sanded the wall again and we used a can of anti-mould undercoat followed by an anti-mould bathroom paint. He returned in February with a functioning bathroom fan and fixed our botched attempt at replacing a crumbling ceiling light fitting. Our bathroom was almost complete: we were only missing the new shower door that had less hinges (and therefore places to clean).  A friend came over the other weekend to help us put it up. 

Ignoring the random imperfections around the room (paint in the wrong places, paint missing from the right places, rust stains on the tub thanks to my kilner jar lids, and the ugly toilet seat…), I now present our new and improved bathroom! We were going to put photos of fountains up but have decided to let the walls breathe so that the fan can do its job by properly removing condensation. The plants add enough decoration at the moment. I moved the anthurium from a small plastic pot into a larger distressed terra cotta style pot. The ivy was a Valentine’s Day gift and is thriving here!

Painted bathroom with plants

bathroom tableAfter we removed the unwanted and created a clean space, we were careful to only add back on what we wanted or needed. We didn’t put the rusty shelves back up, have simplified storage, and have decluttered the products in the bathroom. Two woven baskets hold the items we actually need in the bathroom (like nail clippers) and extras toothpaste or soap is now stored in the pantry. On the sink only holds soap, things to clean our teeth, deodorant and a few meds. The tub similarly has had its clutter reduced and is restricted to bars of soap, shampoo and conditioner, razors, a pumice stone, some castile soap and a wine jug of apple cider vinegar.

newly painted bathroom. simplified toiletries

Plant in bathroom. tub with soap.

Dreaming of Spring

It was sunny and dry for most of the day today, save for a few sun showers, so we took advantage of it and did a few garden chores. I dug out the bottom of the compost and added that to the garden bed and honey dumped the pots from last year’s containers. We harvested the last of the brassicas, dismantled the bean trellis and Honey got our greenhouse frames ready for the 3mm plastic covers we’ll be building in a few weeks. All the while, our laundry hung out in the gorgeous fresh air. 



Completing Another Crocheter’s Creation

A friend contacted me to ask me to complete a blanket that her aunt had made for her son before passing away. I was honoured that she would entrust this important project to me. Before she sent the blanket, she sent photos and I realised it was Tunisian crochet. I have done some basic Tunisian crochet before, but wasn’t immediately sure how to do this basket type pattern. After some googling, I found that it was Tunisian entrelac.

As I awaited the blanket in the post, I began to familiarize myself with the stitch. After a few blocks I realised that, unlike regular crochet, Tunisian crochet is single sided. Since I was completing someone else’s work and I would need to use the same ‘right side’, I would have to crochet right handed! Teaching my non-crochet hand this was a very slow process and my gauge was quite tight. When the blanket arrived, I was ready to add on to the stitches but had to go up three mm hook sizes to match the existing stitches with my amateur hand. I crocheted about 3/4 of the outer block layer, did a single crochet edge, and wove in the ends

Entrelac Tunisian Crochet baby blanket

It was an interesting process, completing someone’s creative investment. Generally, when I crochet something, I think about the recipient. This time, I thought about the original crocheter and imagined her making the blanket and pouring her love into her gift. I’m glad I could help her gift become the completed blanket she envisioned.

Valentine’s Day Date

When I asked Honey on a date for Valentine’s Day, I kept the plans secret. I wanted to surprise her with the sort of day that we would have on holiday. When we go away together, we enjoy not being connected to the Internet, seeing some sites through geocaching (which does involve some connectivity), visiting historic or artistic locations, and trying out the food.

Bridge statute near Kelvingrove Park

Bridge statute near Kelvingrove Park

To create this, I took Honey ‘away for the day’ to Glasgow. I wrote about the city and the sites that we would visit in the itinerary as though it were a completely new city for us. The bonus was that we were in an entirely new part of the city for Honey. We started the day with geocaching through Kelvingrove Park, went in to the Kelvingrove museum and gallery for a picnic lunch and photo scavenger hunt, then finished the day off with a trip to the Bier Halle for pizza and a selection of imported beers (one of Honey’s Favourite things to sample abroad).

Fountain in Kelvingrove Park

The geocaching took us through Kelvingrove Park to learn about the historical figures commemorated there. It was a nice wander outside and something Honey really loves. The cache we were looking for had a series of clues that we would need to decode and then find the final cache. We found out towards the end that the actual cache had been removed, but the walk was enjoyable.

Organ at Kelvingrove

Egyptian god at Kelvingrove

Egyptian mummy at Kelvingrove

The indoor picnic was a nice bit of downtime, finished off by an organ concert in the Kelvingrove’s main hall. Turning to the scavenger hunt, we had five serious Valentine’s Day clues such ‘Venus’ and ‘the weirdest heart piece’ and three humorous ones like ‘a prepper’s dream’. With our separate index cards, we wandered the gallery together, pointing out things of interest while also giggling as we snapped up a find or in response to the puzzled look of the other. Eight was the perfect number of clues and Honey remarked that we should make a themed hunt a gallery tradition. It did help to focus our visit in a way that we wouldn’t necessarily approach a general visit, meaning there is wider scope for the same gallery time after time.

Mask at Kelvingrove

Face bowl at Kelvingrove

Crystal glasses at Kelvingrove

We headed to the Bier Halle, thoroughly feeling as though we had had the day away somewhere new. While waiting for our food, we went through the scavenger list revealing our finds one by one. This was a really cool way to not only review the day but to connect with the other’s experiences in a creative way. From there, the conversation moved into our general museum review about what we loved best, but the game had been fun to play together. Honey loved the beer selection (They even had a non-alcoholic beer), and the pizza was nice. The Bavarian pretzels, however, were not Bavarian pretzels. As a Philadelphian who knows her soft pretzels-and has also sampled and approved of Bavarian pretzels in Munich- I would urge caution when ordering these bread-like things with far too much baking soda or lye in the wash process.

Pizza and pretzel at Bier Halle

Beer at Bier Halle

With all the photos of the day, I seem to have focused on faces. I spent the photography day trying to get a better grip on spot metering and actively choosing my white balance. I haven’t quite figured out how to work well with my camera’s white balance settings because they always seem a bit off so I generally shoot in auto white balance. This was fine when iPhoto could easily change the white balance settings in the editing process. Without that app, I am on my own and it is time to figure it out! I do think the photos give a nice idea of our day through my eyes.