Every Monday afternoon …

by Helen on July 15, 2014

Every Monday afternoon I say farewell to my two furry friends and head off into Kingsbridge for an afternoon session as a volunteer at the Oxfam Bookshop.  I really enjoy these sessions as I meet lots of interesting people – many visitors to the area drop in to pick up new holiday reading as well as locals who almost treat the shop as a library – returning a bag of books for resale before choosing more.  I also enjoy browsing through the books myself and usually come home with two or three (at least!).

This week I thought I’d share one of my finds with you – it’s a Country Living Book entitled “Country Colour Combinations.”  My edition is a bit faded along the spine and dates to 2003.  As the cover makes the rather ambitious claim “classic colour schemes that never fail” I was very interested to see what was inside as most interior books become very dated …

The photography is stunning – as you’d expect from Country Living, and the colour schemes still look attractive, though there were one or two pictures that did look a little dated.  I loved the way the schemes were named – after all, who wouldn’t enjoy “chestnut and copper beech”, “rosehip and crab apple” or “rockpool and driftwood?”  And what’s not to like about “raspberries and cream,” “strawberry, apple & mint,” or “lilac & primrose?”  All the schemes were grouped into palettes, and my very favouritest one was of course “sun, sea, and sky …”

… including “sky & sunshine,” “shell, sky & sunset” and “storm cloud and sea spray”.  This book is still available to purchase from Amazon, though I was surprised to discover that although the cover and title are identical, the author name has been changed from Caroline Atkins on my 2003 copy to Kate Butcher on the current edition.  How odd – I wonder why?

But I haven’t just been lazing around in the summer house idly flicking through my “new” books.  Oh no, a major relocation exercise has taken place here at Coombe Leigh.  Rosie’s wedding arch was getting a little blown about at the front of the house – it’s quite exposed facing the prevalent south-westerlies, so it’s now been moved to the back ….

And made quite a lot taller with the addition of its legs!  The silk roses still look nice around the top and the sweet peas smell wonderful as we brush past them.  In typical country fashion I use the back door much more than the front so I’m really enjoying having the arch where I’ll see it every day.

And I’ve also been busy with new projects for the August Bustle & Sew Magazine….

These little bunnies are waiting for some clothes.  The girl has cute little red shoes and will wear the same dress as Mabel Fox, whilst I’m planning some dungarees for her brother.  The embroidered heart is also for the magazine and is waiting to be added to a project.  Rosie’s wedding may be over, but there’s still no shortage of activities to keep me busy, including a bit of painting – ably assisted by that mischievous Miss Daisy ….

What can I say?!

And to finish, I’m delighted to report Ben is recovering well now.  He’s back at the vet on Friday to have his stitches out, whilst his tooth extraction doesn’t seem to have affected his ability to hoover up his food at teatime -it’s nice to see him back to his old self again!

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This is a post of three parts – though in the reverse order to the title above – so first the (temporarily) ugly.  Yes, that’s Master Benjamin who, although he is feeling much better, is looking extremely odd.  The vet had to shave his face fur around his eyes before his surgery and his eyelids are bristling with stitches that won’t be removed for another week.  He’s out and about again now and here he is earlier this morning …

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… enjoying a nice amble through the woods.  I am sure that if he could, he would want to join me in thanking all those lovely people who sent their best wishes for his speedy recovery.  Thank you all, your kind thoughts meant so much to us at a worrying time.

The second part of this post then, is the bad bit.  As I am lucky enough to have customers worldwide, but mostly in the USA, I set all the prices on my website in US dollars.  This in itself is absolutely fine, as PayPal or my other processor 2Checkout, do all the whizzy currency calculations for me and convert to sterling.  The problem is that for the last year the pound has been getting stronger – and that means that my income has been falling.  This time last year I was receiving 66p for every dollar, but now its more like 57p – a drop of 13%.  I’ve been able to absorb this drop up until now, but I simply can’t do so any more.  So I’m afraid that my prices will have to rise next month.

I feel really bad about having to do this so before then, and in honour of “Christmas in July”, here’s the last, and good, bit of this post …..

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I’m having a Christmas in July sale with 25% off everything in my store except magazine subscriptions.

This will be the last opportunity to stock up on Bustle & Sew patterns at these prices, so please don’t miss out as the sale is for one week only.  Just pop across to my store now where I’ve opened up my Christmas patterns section too and enter code XMASJULY at checkout.

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Paw Ben and Calorie-free treats

by Helen on July 9, 2014

Thank you everyone so much for all your kind wishes for the big furry one’s speedy recovery.  All went well, and he’s home from the vet now, but feeling rather sorry for himself ….

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After a rocky 24 hours when he refused to drink he’s now feeling much more like himself, and is a total menace in his plastic cone.  So far he has barged into (and destroyed or damaged) two terracotta pots (complete with contents), one small table, pile of laundry in its basket waiting to be hung on the line (had to be washed all over again) and made a large scrape along the side of the house.  But I will have the last laugh.  His weight check before his operation revealed that he had put on the pounds and now weighs a portly 77 kg (that’s 168 lbs or 12 stone exactly).  This is too heavy and he needs to lose half a stone at least.

So we are all now on diets, and cake is a thing of the past … unless of course it’s cake with no calories like my Celebration Cake pattern from last month’s magazine …..

And to help with extra inspiration I’ve started a new board on Pinterest called Calorie-free treats – they’re all so lovely we’ll be slender before we know it!

Yum!

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Someone’s missing …..

by Helen on July 7, 2014

Today we went down to South Milton Sands.  I had some forgotten bits and pieces (including two unopened bottles of champagne – woo hoo!) to pick up from The Barn after the wedding reception, and thought it would be nice to fit in a trip to the beach as well.  The beach was stunning as always, and not at all busy as we were there quite early.  I say we … but someone was missing …..

There was no playing at speedboats – “that’s no fun by yourself” thought Daisy …

And no charging in and out of the waves.  Just a wistful gazing out to sea, hoping her big brother would somehow miraculously appear.  We both missed the big furry one – and he’s not home yet :(

This is because Ben is spending the day at the vet for a couple of minor operations.  His eyes have been very red and itchy and he’s suffered a series of infections – apparently as he’s got older his eyes have become baggier (I can so relate to this!) and his bottom eyelashes are turning inwards irritating his eye.  Luckily this is a minor procedure and the problem can easily be corrected.  But poor Ben is also having a big back tooth extracted – it has cracked and decay has set in.  He has been very quiet for the past few weeks, and although he hasn’t shown any sensitivity in that area I think it is causing him some discomfort.  So he’s going to be very sore when he returns home and Miss Daisy will need to be gentle and considerate until he’s feeling better.

So to take my mind off poor Ben, I decided to assemble the first project for the August issue of the Bustle & Sew Magazine – and began by painting a hoop (something I promised myself I wouldn’t do again for quite some time after we painted nearly a hundred for the wedding!).  Then after binding the bottom part and inserting my embroidery it fitted beautifully snuggly as a lid for one of the Ikea jars left over from the wedding sweet table ….

Useful as well as beautiful (to paraphrase William Morris!).  And it’s sitting on some of the blocks for my new quilt.  I might need to go and piece some more now to occupy myself whilst waiting for the vet to call and tell me it’s time to pick up Ben, who will need a lot of tlc over the next few days.  The pattern for my button jar top, as well as instructions for assembling it into a well-fitting jar lid, will be in the August issue of the Bustle & Sew Magazine.

 

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