Monday, June 29, 2009

new shoes

new shoes

my new shoes are made of happy things. things like recycled tires and old carpet padding, bamboo and plastic bottles. ethically certified leather and recycled inner tubes, hemp and wheatgrass and bio-live organic yoghurt. ok, maybe not wheatgrass and yoghurt, but all the other things. they are happy shoes and they make my feet happy. they make my eyes happy too, they're so much nicer to look down on than the powder blue suede trainers that i've been wearing for so many years that they're not powder blue so much as yucky yucky grey now. and they had a rabbit nibble on the toe, which looked a little silly. yes, it was definitely time for new shoes. happy shoes.

. shoes - black leather Satire by Simple Shoes
. photo by me

Friday, June 26, 2009

White owls and Le animal

I love this eco-friendly wedding dress by Leanimal on etsy. Draping and folding are my very favourite things in a garment, followed closely by super soft silky fabrics that are good for snuggling in.

I also like old lace and recycled bits of stuff and these necklaces by Whiteowl are tickling my fancy...

. images courtesy of the respective sellers on etsy

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

It is big sky...

Orkney / This Life

It is big sky and its changes,
the sea all round and the waters within.
It is the way sea and sky
work off each other constantly,
like people meeting in Alfred Street,
each face coming away with a hint
of the other's face pressed in it.
It is the way a week-long gale
ends and folk emerge to hear
a single bird cry way high up.

It is the way you lean to me
and the way I lean to you, as if
we are each other's prevailing;
how we connect along our shores,
the way we are tidal islands
joined for hours then inaccessible,
I'll go for that, and smile when I
pick sand off myself in the shower.
The way I am an inland loch to you
when a clatter of white whoops and rises...

It is the way Scotland looks to the South,
the way we enter friends' houses
to leave what we came with, or flick
the kettle's switch and wait.
This is where I want to live,
close to where the heart gives out,
ruined, perfected, an empty arch against the sky
where birds fly through instead of prayers
while in Hoy Sound the fern's engines thrum
this life this life this life.

Andrew Greig
from Staying Alive (Bloodaxe, 2002).

. image by me

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

a humble request...

Where do you go to look at interiors? Where do you read about homes and look at pictures that leave you feeling inspired to paint your floorboards white and your walls mustard yellow? Where do you learn that we now call mustard yellow 'mimosa'?

We have lived in our house for two and a half years. It looks like a garage. When we moved in it looked like a 1960s homage to the Vatican meets an 1980s homage to the pub carpet. We ripped everything out and made a lot of mess and now that we're finally starting to get rid of the bags of old tiles and 40 years worth of lino it's time to start thinking about how to make it pretty again. Or possibly for the first time.

I've studiously avoided design and interiors blogs for the last two years because when your house looks like a decrepit storage container and you don't have any running hot water and you have to flush the toilet with a bucket of water, other people's perfect white spaces filled with light and beautiful things make you want to cry. Our house now looks like a decrepit house and we still don't have any hot water and the bathroom is still frankly treacherous but there is light at the end of the rubble-strewn hallway and colour charts and wallpaper samples no longer fill me with despair.

But I don't know where to look for the inspiration that we need. We have lived like squatters for so long that we have forgotten that a flushing toilet does not a beautiful home make.

Tell me where to go dear readers. Tell me where the beautiful people live. Or at the very least where the pictures of where the beautiful people live live.

Thank you chickens, x

* I'm a bad blogger. I have no idea where I found these pictures. In fact I think that they might have materialised on my hard drive as the universe's way of telling me that it really is time to throw out our collection of empty boxes and consider getting rid of the spare toilet that is sitting in the hallway. If anyone knows who to credit them to please do let me know.

* do I get a prize for using the word toilet 307 times?

Monday, June 22, 2009

In the woods...

Once upon a time a boy asked a girl if she'd like to escape the city that they lived in and go for a walk in the countryside with him and his doggies. They spent a glorious day sitting by the reservoir, stomping through the woods, exploring the ancient graveyard, trespassing in the grounds of private mansions and lying in the grass staring at the deep blue sky while the doggies sat nearby and scowled. Lying in the grass was not what they had had in mind when they were offered a walk.

The boy and the girl got to know each other that day, they traded stories about when they were wee and when they were middle sized and when they had been sitting in classes together the week before and then the boy drove her home in his big red volvo and said goodnight. The next day they took the dogs for a walk up the hill, except the boy forgot to bring the dogs so they just took themselves for a walk up the hill. When they were half way the boy told the girl that he liked her, quite a lot and then he asked her if he could kiss her. The girl was so very surprised by such a proclamation that she burst out laughing. She laughed as she ran all the way back down the hill. In hindsight she would come to realise that this was a bit mean. It would also take quite some time for that day to be mentioned without the boy regressing into quite the black mood.

The boy went home to his hamsters and decided that he might as well die. The girl went home to her hysterical flatmates, still giggling. At the end of that day, that longest of late Spring days, in the dark of a red volvo with street lamps bouncing their orangey glow on the black cobbles and the scent of the neighbour's honeysuckle drifting in on the breeze she leant over and kissed him. He couldn't see her blush in the dark but as she shut the car door wordlessly and peered through the window she could see his baffled grin in the dim light and bit her bottom lip, stifling a grin of her very own.

Some time later, quite some time later, the boy and the girl packed up their car (a purple volkswagen this time) and headed to the countryside. That very same countryside where they had sat by the reservoir and stomped in the woods and talked in the grass and where the boy had spent his childhood, a childhood of puppies and horses and swimming in the river. The car was full of food and pillows and a magical tent that had been taunting them with whispered promises of woodlands and beaches and barbecued goodies for weeks.

They parked down a lane and stomped through a field. They stumbled along a path and down a winding trail. Under the shade of a towering oak tree they dropped their bags and there they made themselves comfortable, settling in for the weekend.

The next morning, as they awoke to the sounds of swallows catching breakfast and the river rumbling by, to the smells of dank fertile earth and fresh green possibility and with the sunlight dappling on the green and orange silk dome that was their very own home in the woods the girl turned to the boy.

'Remember the first time you took me here?' she asked. 'Of course' he replied.

'It was five years ago this week' she told him with a smile....

. pictures by her, except for the last one which is by him
. he lied about the slugs
. she utilised her remarkable powers of denial to pretend that they didn't exist
. no photos of the slugs were taken (that would have interfered with the denial, silly)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I don't have £150 to spend on a dress...
I don't have £150 to spend on a dress...
I don't have £150 to spend on a dress...

If I keep telling myself this then maybe I'll stop fantasising about the one on the left. Two weeks ago, when we had a heatwave and I realised I had nothing to wear but an old pair of linen trousers with a tea stain on one leg, I spent all day looking in every shop in town for a dress like this one. It's exactly what I was dreaming of and couldn't find.

I will comfort myself with the knowledge that the British summer is over. This year it stretched over a whole week. Last year, if my memory serves me, it fell on a Tuesday. A Tuesday three months prior to our outdoors, August wedding. Not that I'm still pissed off about that. Honestly.

a short story...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

fancy pants..

I like expensive underwear. I like silk and ribbons and lace and frills (somehow all of my pants are black cotton and arrived in my house via a shop that has distinct middle-aged to elderly connotations though. Sigh.) But as much as I may adore those tiniest scraps of luxury and as much as I lusted over the fanciest of pants in the run up to our wedding, I just couldn't conceive of spending £110 on knickers, for that would be madness people. Madness.

Cue Ell and Cee, delicious knickers (and brassieres and floaty things and pantaloons {pantaloons!!!}) that cost a whole lot less yet are still expensive enough to be quite the treat.

Delicious, no?

. all images courtesy of

Monday, June 15, 2009

Heavy Bread

Heavy Irish Bread.

Mix the following....

200g of plain white flour
350g of wholewheat flour
50g of wheatbran
25g of wheatgerm
2 heaped teaspoons of baking powder
half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon of salt


1 tablespoon of sesame seeds
1 tablespoon of poppy seeds
2 tablespoons of sunflower seeds
2 tablespoon of linseeds
2 tablespoons of pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons of unshelled hemp seeds

mix it all up

Add one tablespoon of molasses or treacle

and 650ml of water

mix well
(it will be very sticky but it's supposed to be)
then empty into a 2lb loaf tin.

bake at 180C for 1 hour then test with a skewer and if it's still sticky bake it for another 10 minutes or until the skewer comes out clean.

Allow to cool on a wire rack then smother a slice with marmalade and enjoy with a cup of tea.


* any seeds in any quantities will do really, as long as they add up to about 10 or 12 tablespoons. I love unshelled hemp seeds because they're so crunchy and have a delicious nutty taste but I've yet to make a loaf of bread that hasn't had at least a few very mouldy tasting ones in it. Those few seeds are horrible but they haven't killed me and I feel that they're an adequate price to pay for the yummy ones. If you object to the occasional mouldy mouthful you might want to replace them with something less high risk.

* the bread will keep for three days maximum before it starts to go bad. If you won't eat it that fast then cutting it into slices and then freezing it is a good idea as it makes delicious toast, although it will resist. This is hardcore bread which needs a firm hand, toast it once to defrost it then twice more to turn it crispy. Do not give it, do not show weakness, you tell that bread who's the boss.

*it's not necessary to line the tin with baking parchment, I don't think that the bread sticks. I just don't trust non-stick coating and I haven't managed to find a bread tin that isn't non-sticky yet.

* this recipe is adapted from Avoca's multiseed brown bread with fruit recipe. My version has more seeds and no dried apricots or sultanas. It's vegan and it comes out of the oven cooked rather than raw in the middle. It's better.

. image by me

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A wee cottage

Remember last month, when I was blue (or grey)? And I said we were going on an impromptu trip? I never did show you the pictures or tell you about our little adventure in the Scottish countryside.

It was nice. We stayed in a little cottage, a pretty little cottage with white walls, fancy art, lots of books, a gimongous atlas, feathery soft pillows, tweety birds by the window and the loveliest bath in all of the world.

We were quiet, doing very little but lying around (mostly in the bath) or sitting with the great-big-worth-more-than-our-car atlas planning the route we'd take around the world in a sailing boat one day.

We ate yummy food, simple food like pasta and sauce with big bars of chocolate for pudding and we sat at the table and we didn't have the radio on and the tv was silent and there were no puters and emails went unread and it was heaven. And then, the night before we left, when it finally stopped raining, we went for a walk to the beach, through fields of many rabbits (and the occassional rahter large cow) and we watched the sun dip below an ocean that we dreamed of bobbing away on one not too distant day.

. images by me
. come and see more of our photographs of the cottage here.