House Rules!

Just a short announcement about “House Rules”: all digital downloads have now been sent to the email address included in your Etsy purchase. If you have not received your first PDF then please contact me via email and I will forward it by return when I am back at my desk tomorrow.

Enjoy me Darlings!

Opulence Stoves

In my domestic dreams I am the proud owner of a darling little wood-burning stove. Nothing you see, makes me happier than finding myself sipping wine, late at night, in front of a crackling fire. But unfortunately I have to shuffle down the lane to seek such bliss as only my dear friends, The Routledges, are in possession of the kind of stove that makes my silly heart skip a joyful beat.

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I am currently making do with a tiny little cream electric imitation, and while it might look the part, it has neither the cosy aroma of a real stove, nor invites me to indulge in the comforting ritual that is putting another log on the stove and guaranteeing the rush that is watching fire take hold to warm the cockles of our hearts.

There is something about a real fire that puts us in touch with our most primitive selves and fire gazing is a form of meditation my entire being is relaxed by. While a traditional hearth might satisfy our need to lose ourselves in the crackling flames, a wood-burning or multi-fuel (wood-pellets, coal, or peat) stove is a neater, more manageable alternative to the smoky chaos we can occasionally endure when trying to light a fire in the draftiest of chimneys.

All that and oh how they they bring an air of yesteryear both to the rooms in which they are fitted and to the routines and rituals central to our day. No longer is bringing warmth to the room a matter of flicking a switch, but a task that can be undertaken slowly and meditatively: choosing and providing comfort for our family, in the same way we give sustenance in the kitchen.

With new technology constantly improving both the efficiency of such (gorgeous) stoves as those supplied by Opulence Stoves, and dramatically reducing the carbon emissions, we can now forgo reliance upon the ever-present larger energy suppliers and still consider ourselves eco-friendly. Even in the urban, no-smoke zones across the country.

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What’s not to love?  In my mind, owning a wood-burning stoves conjures up all manner of satisfying images from lying at the fireside snuggling in the depths of Winter, to traipsing through the countryside gathering bundles of twigs to burn on the crispest of Autumn days. Is it any wonder then that there days when I have to almost strap myself to the sofa in order to prevent myself moving lock, stock and barrel into the Routledges, and taking root right there in front of their oh so very cosy wood-burning stove?

This m’dears is what the good life is made of.

Kerfuffle and Calamity!

Isn’t kerfuffle a wonderful word? When I’m not having dramas, I am almost certainly caught up in some kind of kerfuffle, the kind of thing that can occasionally escalate in to a calamity, but more often than not causes nothing more than a minor commotion or diddly inconvenience.

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Life is abundant with potential for kerfuffle in my house. Take last week. In his continued effort to persuade me to buy him an XBox One to replace the XBox 360 he already owns, Finley said that he would happily forgo the Sky Television I have long paid for and seeing this as a huge stride towards maturity, I promptly hopped on-line and cancelled my subscription. Which was quite frankly a bonkers idea because before I knew it not only was access to all our channels restricted but the broadband and the phone were also switched off.

Still reeling from the hour long conversation it took to persuade said television company to re-instate me, and finally having to agree to pretend to be a brand new customer and not one of the fifteen years I have actually been paying them, (due to complications caused by a certain very badly behaved ex-partner), I came off the phone vaguely happier, but still not in possession of working WiFi until the 2nd of June. This then could be considered a self-inflicted kerfuffle.

And then there was Friday night. In an effort to impress my walking in the woods man, I decided to cook him a simple rustic meal of sausage harissa that the domestic goddess who is my sister frequently delivers to the table. I rushed about making the house sparkly and myself vaguely presentable, then assembled the ingredients in a roasting tray (peppers, red onions, little potatoes, sausages, bacon lardons and a jar of harissa) before popping it in the oven before he arrived. and arrive he did, and I sat on the sofa beaming at him and quite forgot to feed him until the smell of charred sausage drifted in to the living room and I had no choice but to serve it slightly black and beam at him even more when he declared it delicious even as it must have been cracking his teeth. This then has to be considered the kind of kerfuffle caused by a third-party because clearly it was his fault I lost my concentration.

And finally there is Finn. Spirited away by my Dad to sample the delights of a crocodile zoo during a stay at Helen’s house, my very own pair of happy wanderers were due back on Northern shores last night, but after a kerfuffle of the gluten kind, my little Coeliac found himself vomiting and quite unable to manage the delights of a three-hour train journey, and thus remains stranded, probably to his delight, in Oxford. Life, you see is one long kerfuffle after another.

But every cloud has a silver lining m’dears. Sky offered me a Samsung Galaxy Tab in compensation for my troubles, the walking in the woods man can only now be thoroughly delighted by all efforts that come out of my kitchen un-frazzled, and an extra night without Finn meant one lovely, long, early night in bed watching Adore (mesmerizing), sipping chamomile and smiling at my own ceiling.

Nothing like a bit of kerfuffle to have you counting your chickens. 

Pink Himalayan Salt

I forgot to tell you about the pink Himalayan salt thing didn’t I? I know. I also forgot to tell you what happened to Alice and who I have been holding hands with in the woods, but give a girl a chance won’t you? I will get around to both things very, very soon (though rest assured that Alice is happy and the man whose hand I have been holding is all kinds of wonderful).

pink himalayan salt

So yes: pink Himalayan salt. You see the day before my birthday I went to Kath’s house and for a reason I cannot quite remember now I took a plate, a loaf of walnut bread, and some blue cheese and had myself a solitary lunch at her kitchen table. That is obviously weird in itself because she was there watching me eat, and a person very rarely invites herself around to eat her own little picnic lunch in someone else’s house, but the only explanation I can offer is that my Mum had just died and I was all kinds of crazy.

There I was nibbling like a hungry squirrel and probably mainlining Kath’s delicious tea, when she remembered that she had a little something for me and with a ta-da she brought out a little bottle of pink Himalayan salt and presented it to a rather giddy little me. And we both agreed that something both pink and salty was a wonderful little Thursday afternoon gift for me, and then I packed my plate, and my bread and my cheese and my salt in to my cherry red bag, strung it across my body, thanked my friend most profusely for both her hospitality and her impromptu kindness and then headed over to my Dad’s where he and Helen were having a drink after spending an afternoon in Liverpool.

Now let it be known at this point that I am often the cause of both bewilderment and hilarity among family members and further let it be known that I usually dismiss the befuddled looks they give each other when I say or do something ridiculous because I AM ridiculous and that my friends is that.

But anyway there we were, in Dads kitchen, when my phone rang and I went burrowing in my vibrating bag to fetch it and failed to notice their stares of astonishment when I brought out plate, bread and cheese as the phone stopped ringing and the questions started. Why was I walking about with stinking blue cheese in my bag? Why did I carry my own plate around? What else did I have in there? And I laughed and said oh only a little jar of pink Himalayan salt  and they both stopped dead and looked at me as if I had admitted to carrying a collection of Ann Summers merchandise in the contents of my handbag.

Pink Himalayan salt you say? Said Dad.

Yep, I said, it’s salt and its pink and its from the Himalayas and Kath gave it to me because it reminded her of me.

Pink Himalayan salt?? said Helen, in the kind of incredulous tones usually reserved for those admitting to an affair with Sally Bercow.

And I said, YES. PINK. HIMALAYAN. SALT. Because my fuse was short and my Mum had just died and these two similarly grief-stricken imbeciles seemed to be having terrible difficulty understanding the concept of pink salt and I wasn’t in the mood to explain it to them, nor to work out why they were now looking at each other as if I was the one who had lost her marbles.

Turns out that on that very day they had bought me a jar of pink Himalayan salt themselves, and they were feeling proud as punch of said purchase until I blew the surprise by not only already owning one, but having it about my person on the same day. I thought they would never recover from the sheer coincidence of the matter.

So there you have it: if you have ever wondered what kind of condiment I am, the answer is salt of the pink Himalayan variety. My closest family and bestest friend can’t all be wrong now can they?      

Things I Have Been Doing

Worrying about Finley worrying about these oh so silly SATs tests he is currently having to endure. Planning a little surprise for him when they are finally over on Thursday. Making it quite clear to him that I do not give a flying hoot about how he performs in said tests…

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Refusing to tell anyone who I voted for and feeling quite appalled by Facebook politics. Dyeing my eyelashes sooty black. Smiling a lot. Clearing out my make-up bags and curtailing the urge to buy yet even more. Holding hands walking in the woods. Giggling like a pair of kids. Wishing I could tell my Mum about it. Drinking mint tea. Laughing when the dog sticks his head out of the car window and his ears flap about in a silly fashion. Breaking said car window so I cannot wind it down at all and then breaking window winder down button when I tried to fix it. Realising I am never going to be a mechanic. Joining the gym. No really. I. Joined. A. Gym. Eating kale even though I am fully aware that my thyroid considers kale to be a debilitating outrage. Drinking elderflower cider with my Dad.

Not regretting a thing. Getting tangled in Alfie’s lead. Falling over flat on my face when he spotted something exciting and dragged me with him. Pretending flat on my face is a good look for me. Writing. A lot. Planning a fragrant adventure in Jo Malone with Kath on Thursday and looking forward to a week-long seaside adventure in Whitstable at the end of July. Changing my phone number. Reading Eat. Nourish. Glow. and loving it. Singing I’m All About That Bass at the top of my voice in the car and watching Finn squirm in utter embarrassment. Saying hello to every single somebody I meet in the lane. Even the mean old man who scratched my car. Eating watermelon. And Green & Black’s Sea Salt milk chocolate. Watching Grace and Frankie on Netflix.

Gearing up for the first car boot sale of the season. Finding my new teeny tiny tumble dryer both hilarious and twice as effective as the previous monster of a machine I used to own. Missing the quiet brooding presence of Alice the cat. Shoving tea-towels through Kath’s front door because she loves a good tea-towel does Kath. Feeling stupidly excited about the arrival of this years Big Brother lot and remaining totally unwilling to apologise for adoring such vacuous nonsense. Putting the finishing touches to House Rules. Cutting Finn’s crazy curls while he has the kind of screaming ab-dabs unbecoming in a child his age. Having my own dyed back to their usual brunette state and vowing not to let my sister near my head again even if she insists I look better with flame red, frankly scary locks. Still searching high and low for the kind of kitchen bin the dog won’t/can’t raid on an hourly basis.

Anticipating all kinds of happy. Wondering how I own so many clothes and still never have anything to wear. Soaking Epsom salts in lavender and geranium oil for late night steamy baths. Head over heels in love with our little Clarry. Doing the Race For Life on June 21st. Loving the stark loveliness of baby’s breath in a white jug. Needing new bed-linen. Feeling frankly giddy about the coming Friday night. Feeling frankly giddy full stop.

The Dalmation Stapler…

From Anthropologie

Introducing my absolute, favorite thing ever, ever, ever: a spotty, dotty dog perched on top of an ever so useful stapler. Bought for me by she of good taste, Helen, and now taking pride of place on my desk.

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I love it so much, I could lick it.

Though Anthropologie, London please note, I once found myself unable to trawl your beautiful basement wares because I had come down in the lift, and could go no further that your tea-towels because there were a set of stairs I simply couldn’t manage with Clarry in his pushchair. I wanted to cry. But abandoning nephew in kitchen section to browse such beauty would not have been the done thing.

Note taken, pretty please?x