Thursday, 26 November 2009

All heart.

Hearts. Fabric hearts, knitted hearts, felt hearts, paper hearts. Hearts everywhere you go these days. I love the shape, and have used it in embroidery, crochet, tapestry, papier mache, and, as you can see, knitting. I don't normally bother with Christmas presents for friends, preferring to make more of their birthdays, which I see as being more personal to them, but this year I decided to send a knitted heart to a handful of my closest/oldest friends, and these are examples of them. Each one has had a few drops of scented oil added to the filling... I have used a warm-scented honey and vanilla, figuring it would make a change from the usual Christmassy scents. I'm quite pleased with them....

I shall wrap them in pretty tissue, tie with flamboyant silky ribbon and make hand-made gift tags of the luggage label shape, just to make them a bit more special.
But there's no escaping the heart shape.... it is a very popular shape in crafts as most will know, but originally, according to Wikipedia, 'The heart has long been used as a symbol to refer to the spiritual, emotional, moral .... core of a human being.' It was widely believed to be 'the seat of the human mind', the word now being used to refer to the soul, the heart symbol representing romantic love, seen most frequently around the time of St Valentine's Day.
There are literally thousands of sayings to do with the heart - a few of my favourites are ...
'Train your head and hands to do, your head and heart to dare'. JOSEPH COTTER
'Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year'. RALPH WALDO EMERSON
'Within your heart, keep one still, small spot where dreams may go'. LOUISE DRISCOLL
And where would poets be without a heart? One of my favourite is 'i carry you in my heart' by e e cummings, which I have included in a past posting so won't repeat here. And of course Mr Wordsworth's heart filled with pleasure and danced with his daffodils.
Wendy Cope wrote a short poem entitled 'Valentine', which begins and ends with the lines ..'My heart has made its mind up, and I'm afraid it's you'. And Christina Rossetti in her poem 'A Birthday' wrote in the first verse of having a heart like 'a singing bird.... an apple tree.... a rainbow shell'.
Musicians and song-writers too, have the heart to thank for success. Where would Billy Ray Cyrus be without his 'Achey, breaky heart'? Bonnie Tyler without her 'Total Eclipse of the Heart'? McFly had 'The heart that never lies', whilst Michael Nyman had 'The heart seeks pleasure first'.
Writers of television series have made good use of the word heart too... HEARTBEAT, WILD AT HEART, WHERE THE HEART IS to name but three. (Actually they are the only three I can think of off the top of my head!)
There are many sayings associated with the heart.... 'Have a heart', having 'a heart of gold', then there's 'your hearts desire'.
Oh, and on a sweet note, who could forget LOVE HEARTS?
So, dear heart(s)... this is my daft little posting about hearts. Enjoy the rest of the week, and your weekend, and thanks for calling by again and leaving your comments.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Presents and ponderings.

Well, it's not my birthday for a couple of weeks yet, but you know what it's like on Amazon, sometimes the prices of books goes up as well as down, a bit like the value of investments if you have any, and so I tend to look at books I want, and then buy them, just in case. Hence the delicious mixed bag below. And, it goes without saying that there will be a few more treats on the day itself - this is a warning as much of a hint to Himself who will be reading this I know.
Now for a closer look at some of them, well most of them really, I've left the ordinary modern fiction out of the closer look.
I loved the film '84 Charing Cross Road' with Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins, and after seeing the film got the book, which led me to more books by Helene Hanff. But as someone who has been penpalling for decades, I am attracted to books like the Helene Hanff, and the above, 'Dear Mr Bigelow' by Frances Woodford. This latter is a selection of penpal letters written in the years 1949 to 1961, between Frances, an unmarried woman living and working in Bournemouth, and a wealthy widower living on Long Island, an unlikely couple on the face of it.

And isn't the cover of this book just gorgeous? I know a lot of you are attracted to books by their covers initially, and had I seen this on a shelf in a bookshop, it would have caught my attention, for the cover and the author. One day Susan Hill was looking on her landing bookshelves, for a book to read, when she discovered quite a number of books she had either read and forgotten, or not read at all, and that was the prompt for this book. I did think it would be an interesting exercise to do the same myself in a journal; then I realised that I do keep notes of the books I have read in my daily journal, as I have read them, a brief resume of the book, and what I thought of it, not going into too much detail or writing an in-depth critique you understand, just enough to act as a reminder.
One day I will get an old copy of REBECCA, I know they are available from various online sellers, but I prefer, when buying old books, to look at, to handle them, rather than just going by a small thumbnail on a bookseller's site. I have a few old Daphne du Maurier books, 'Rebecca' is the one I want next, but for now, as I didn't have a copy of it, this new imprint will suffice. The Virginia Woolf diaries I filched from another blog, someone else I had been meaning to read for years and yet never got around to, now I have no excuse. The print is very small though, so it will be slow going...

A couple of new craft books caught my eye... actually about half a dozen caught my eye but I restricted myself to these two, for now. Looking forward to sitting snuggled in my chair with a mug of tea and a piece of home made cake to browse through these, leisurely.
And there you have it, my birthday books. Now for the pondering.
I was prompted into a train of thought on this subject after reading Mark's latest posting over at and the subject is FRIENDSHIP, or more to the point, FRIENDS, or even more to the point, what makes a FRIEND?
Youngsters these days seem to have friends by the score, people they meet on Twitter and Facebook apparently. Whatever these two are I have no idea, having only just come to terms with how to use a mobile telephone that has now been discarded, sits on a shelf, only to be used in times of emergency, when I may well discover the battery is flat, which won't be as much of a surprise as it might have been, as the thought it used batteries never entered my mind until my other half pointed it out to me. Anyway my mind is so full of STUFF that there's hardly room for anything that isn't absolutely Essential.
Right, off the rambling track and back onto the original ponder. These youngsters all consider these people, many of whom they have never met, and may never ever meet, as friends, people they know personally. Now had these inventions been around in my teenage years I doubt I would have had the same take on what makes a personal friend. I had penfriends, one a DJ on a pirate radio station and one a girl my age in California, but although the term used for them was 'penfriends' I am not sure I would class them as friends in the same way I use the word these days.
People I meet via blogging, people who leave comments on mine and who visit regularly, those who visit occasionally; people who write blogs I follow or visit occasionally; I don't actually consider them 'friends'. More acquaintances. How can they be real friends when I don't actually know them, don't know anything more than that they reveal via blogs and comments? Plus there is a certain amount of anonymity isn't there? Whilst we may know where each other lives roughly speaking, we don't share addresses for the most part, and if they were real friends, then you'd have addresses, birthdays, swap cards at Christmas and so on, wouldn't you?
Surely a REAL FRIEND is someone you know quite well? Your BEST FRIEND is someone you know intimately, someone who knows you inside and out, loves you warts and all, is there through the bad times and the good, always there when needed, and not there when you want to be left alone. A blogging acquaintance doesn't fall into that category, that's for sure... well, not in my case anyway, but as close friends will tell you, I am not the easiest person to get along with. (I can see you all now with a wry smile... and you know who you are!) So maybe I don't get as close to blogging companions/acquaintances as others?If they all stopped writing, I would miss them, but maybe I would miss them more for the approbation, admiration, support that their comments have brought, still bring, than for the person behind the blogging. Because do I really know the person behind the blog? In most cases, no.
There are exceptions, and I won't name them. But a few are actually what I would call close friends, either through longevity, or because somehow we just clicked and the blogging is only a small part of our friendship, certainly not the main part. But the majority I only know basic, surface stuff about them. And that's fine by me. But does that make them friends in the real sense of the word? And what is the real sense of the word, for you?
OK, end of rambling ponder. Enjoy your week, and thanks for dropping by, and a big Hello to the new followers, thank you for joining me!

Thursday, 19 November 2009

A touch of the blues, with some purples too.

Well, this opening picture may not be exactly blue, or purple (though there are some dark purply bits there) but I couldn't resist using it. Taken from my workroom window at seven thirty this morning, quite spectacular. At the back of the house, which I couldn't quite capture, it was dusky bluey grey with deep rosy pink brushstrokes of colour splashed across it. But the colours were glorious, whichever way I looked. What you can't see is the way the smaller clouds are scudding across the sky at a fast rate of knots, for it is windy here. Or was... it seems to have abated, after having sent a garden chair across the garden yesterday, and the mini plastic greenhouse upended. Today less windy, but even so, I gave up rescuing washing when pegs gave up the struggle and things were left hanging, well...not by a thread, but a single peg. Our postie declared it not as 'knackering' as it was yesterday, cycling head-on into the wind, but added that compared to some, we were very lucky. I know this from friends in the north-west who have told me of swollen rivers, flooded roads, and with more rain to come, a desperate time of worry over the next 48 hours or so for them.

And no, this isn't a blue movie, but the DVD is a rather fetching shade of blue, don't you think? This is one of my favourite old movies of all time, and so I couldn't resist getting it, along with another Julia Roberts for the collection, ERIN BROCKOVITCH, though as she's in a bright hot pink case, wouldn't quite fit here. Do you think that Cary Grant would have resorted to Botox, had it been around, to fill in the chin dimple as a certain celebrity chef is said to have had done recently?
Well, this definitely falls into the blue and purple category. A throw recently finished. I had the idea for the colours in my head, and so made up this design, with a separate flower attached to the central square, as you will see from the photo beneath this one. It is done in quite a thick DK wool, lovely and soft, and somehow looks a bit Red Indian-ish to me... maybe the colours? Maybe just my weird imagination. Whatever.... I had originally thought to try and sell it, but now think I might just keep it.

Some of you will have seen this fluffy, heart-shaped cushion before... it fitted the theme of the posting so I have included it again. I made a few of these, was going to make one in a rose pink shade for my granddaughter, but those of you who know me will know why I decided not to bother.

The pudding was more purply than it looks here, honest....

I have got back into the baking habit lately. I used to bake cakes and so on when the children were small, but when it was just down to us two old fogeys, I stopped. But now I am back into it again and happily spend time on a Saturday morning, whilst himself is out in the garden usually. I am tucked away in my lovely snug kitchen, making a mess, happily baking away. But I do like my short cuts too, and this pud was one of them, since the spongey bit was from an old Yorkshire Farmhouse Kitchen recipe book (is there anyone out there who also used to watch this I wonder, back in the seventies?). It involves one egg, two ounces of butter, three of sugar, four of flour, all chucked in a bowl and mixed up, with a little milk added if it needs it. Hence it's called 1-2-3-4 sponge!!! I also use cake liners courtesy of a certain company in the North West, so I have no tins to grease, or greaseproof to cut. I simply put a layer of blackcurrant jam on the base, then added cooked plums, pears and apples, tipped the sponge on the top, smoothed it out, and baked. Delish served warm with custard, or cream, or ice cream, though it's not really the weather for that, more a comfort food time of year.

Now this is definitely blue, and shows how changeable the weather is. These were taken a week ago, when we had days of glorious sunshine, which had been preceded by misty grey and damp days, and were then followed by this wet and windy stuff. But the leaves of the birch are still hanging on, despite the strong winds.

Well, this is me for now, hoping you are all safe from floods, not losing your electricity or roof, and thanks for popping in, as usual.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Talking music.... does any of this strike a chord with you? (Sorry!)

These days I rarely listen to music. At one time it was there most of the morning whilst I worked at whatever I was doing, and always, always out in my little Mini I would have music playing, usually something with a good beat, deep bass notes... that would get me dancing on my bum, tapping the steering wheel with my hands, singing - badly and loudly. Yes, I was one of those annoying people I now berate who seem to find it necessary to have loud music in their cars, windows open, destroying the peace for old fogeys like the person I have now become!! Now all I listen to in the car is the strange noises it seems to make... 'What's that knocking sound?', 'Did you hear that?' etc., etc.
Of course, there is an exception to my preference for silence... it's coming up to that time of year when I like to have something a little seasonal, these are just a few of my current favourites which will be played as background to my baking days in the kitchen, to my addressing and writing Christmas cards in the conservatory, blog writing and reading in my workroom. Ah yes, she who must be obeyed shall have music wherever she goes!

My husband's music collection includes everything by The Moody Blues (some of which I love to play loudly on a summer's day with the windows open!), George Benson, he even has a couple of ZZ Top albums. Ah, ALBUMS.... there must be some of you old enough to remember buying them?????
How about this little group, anything you had in your collection, still have maybe?

Then of course CDs came along, and the advantage to them is that they are small and take less room, but somehow lack the romance of vinyl. But shown here are some of my favourites, and you can see, I have a wide range of tastes!

Some is for bopping about to, some for exercising to...
And then there are those you just play when you want to sit and be quiet and relax, nothing with words that can distract you, just gentle music to wrap itself around you like a comforter. It could be classical like these...

Or not....

And then there is my collection of spiritual music, music as a background to meditation...

Music for whatever mood I am in. When I am in the mood for music that is.
Just a short one this week, to maybe jog a few memories? Have a good week and thanks for popping by again.