October 2008

The first cold snap has truly arrived here at our London base and yesterday we went out to save some of the last summer blooms from the garden, which would otherwise have been spoilt in last night‘s cold. I am happy we managed to preserve some of the summer in a vase indoors, out of the cold.

Nasturtium, Scabious, Verbena and Chocolate Cosmos, in all its glory

We also managed to pick the last green peppers and here they are, proudly presented by J:

…and little Duchesse Teddy enjoys autumn evenings in the warmth of the indoors (maybe because of her drifter past) sniffing for mice, whilst Baronesse of Underbed prefers a snooze on my loom, probably not so good for my work? I must say Baronesse looks rather slim in this photograph; perhaps it will inspire her to eat less?


When paying a visit to my local artists’ supplier the other week I found these Reeves blank canvas sketchbooks and thought “what a nifty little thing! ” Here is a thick A4 sketchbook with lovely 120gsm textured paper inside and ready primed canvas boards as a cover that you can paint whatever you want on, ha! A perfect opportunity to make your sketchbook-out-of-heaven kind of thing. Mind you, I have to admit to not giving much thought to my own ideal sketchbook before getting on with it, but anyways, this is what came out of it:

It is a back to front sort of book, in that the picture that looks like it should be on the front is actually the back cover, so that rosy-cheeked little tea genie is on the front cover.

I know it’s only October and you’re not really supposed to mention the C word yet but when doing some general catalogue browsing the other day I came across these adorable glass Xmas tree decorations and fell in love. So that’s this year’s wishlist started: beautiful hanging glass birds..I must have!

We all have a responsibility to minimise the waste we leave behind on this earth and especially us crazy westerners (including myself) who consider every single comfort ever invented as some sort of  necessity of life without questioning it even once. Hopefully, if we at least acquire things that we really cherish there is more chance that we will waste less, in several ways; we will take better care of our belongings making them last longer, we might mend them if they break instead of getting a new one etc, we might even find a use for the packaging that it came in and this is the ethos inspiring this series. Everyone of us have some things around us that are precious to us. Some of them might not look like much to others but for one reason or another, to you, they mean the world… these are some of mine:

My kitchen cabinet.

This is one of the few pieces of furniture I own that I actually paid money to get and o was it worth it! It is such a lovely piece found @ Treacle last year. I keep cleaning articles in the long cupboard and although a bit wonky, the middle door folds down into a table which is one really useful feature of this gem.

My peony scented body mist.

What did I smell before I got this body mist? Maybe fenugreek, maybe old socks, (but definitely not rotten cow’s milk) I don’t know, but buoooy do I smell good now. I first bought this peony scented mist for the lovely illustrations on the packaging by Fiona Hewitt, but now I can’t live without it.

My painting robe.

People who know me in person would not believe I used a painter’s robe considering I always seem to have paint everywhere, including on my clothes, my hands and in my hair, but I do.. although I might just forget to put it on once in a while… This belonged to my late and very loved grandmother who was tiny, but it still fits me fine. It has been with me as a painting robe now ever since I first went to art school in the end of the last century (wow do I sound old).

Autumn has definitely struck here now and I am taking a moment to ponder back at the growing season that has gone. We have had an utterly strange summer here in my parts this year…to say the least, with almost no summer heat to speak of and heavy downpours alternated by really quite droughty conditions some plants have come through fine and others have stood sulkily in a corner all summer, either doing not much at all, or worse, succumbing to miscellaneous diseases. Tomato blight struck early, but better has it been for my courgettes (Am. zucchinis) and brassicas which have done well without much care at all. The latter of which I have still a lot to look forward to over the coming months; purple kohl rabi, swedes, cavolo nero, red curly kale, turnips and purple sprouting broccoli, amongst others, are all competing for there space in our forest garden at the moment.

Here’s one of our brussels sprout plants growing away next to potatoes earlier this year (although you can‘t really seen the actual sprouts because all of the greenery). We have been harvesting brussels sprouts for a couple of months already so it is good that I actually find them delicious no matter what any runny nosed school kid would call their ~hate food~. If you ask me, the secret to these is DON’T over cook; it’s that easy. During the winter one of my favourite quicky-meals involves stir frying these in olive oil with lots of garlic and something nutty that fortifies the nuttiness of the sprouts themselves, like sesame seeds, or sunflower seeds. It’s ready in minutes and so delicious. I’ll make sure to post a recipe later on for the few of you out there that actually understand this fineness that is the sprout flavour!

Another thing that has gone well is the Kiwano, of which we have had plenty this year. They normally seem to be compared in flavour to a melon but my palate tells me it’s a cucumber, only with a much nicer shape when sliced of course..a bit like a star. Beautiful!



As I am still waiting for my new printer to arrive which I need for my prints, I’ve decided to do a little cheat preshow in my new etsy shop, featuring some old favourites that have been available before at my market stall in Spitalfields, London, and at a few other shops around the UK. These little darlings are a favourite of mine as they are just so handy..you can bring them with you just about everywere…because of course every place needs at least one monster.


This supersized mister is lurking in my kitchen at the moment. This growing year has been fairly good for pumpkins – at least we’ve had plenty of rain! I am hoping to get time for him tonight. I will make lots of thyme infused pumpkin puree to freeze for winter soups..and maybe a pie or two..

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