Wednesday 30 March 2011

a labour of love

I can now share a project I completed before christmas. It's been under wraps as these were presents for my three sisters - as I was ill, I never made the christmas family gathering and present giving. Finally, I visited this last weekend, but this is really a post about my Mother and a love of cooking which she has passed on to all of us.

My Mother was an accomplished and creative cook. She loved to cook for family and friends, and frequently entertained. She kept books full of notes from every dinner party and family gathering she gave - who was present, what she cooked, recipes, likes and dislikes. It makes fascinating reading and also shows how tastes and fashions in food changed over the years. One of the ways she kept track of recipes was this little box of recipe-filled index cards, and loose pieces of paper.

In fact, it had contributions from all of us over the years, including recipes we brought home from school. I'm not sure who's writing is on the subject dividers, but it wasn't my Mother's! She died four and a half years ago, and this little box is one thing that would be impossible to divide up fairly between us, so unbeknown to my sisters, I decided to create a 'cook box' for each of them (I've yet to do one for myself). Anyone who reads here regularly will know that I have a passion for paper and card, and using my scalpel and cutting mat, so creating these boxes has been enormous fun, if emotional in places. Each box was made to measure, starting with flat greyboard, cutting the template, and then assembling the box. I've always loved bookcloth, so knew what I would choose for the covers.

I wanted to add some history, and something very personal to my Mother, so I lined each box with pages from her childhood books, along with the inscriptions from her parents (each book I chose was a christmas present from my Grandparents to my Mother in 1944, when she was just eleven years old).
Some of the pages are marked with age, but it adds to the sense of history. In each box I also used pages from the same book to make the subject dividers (mounted on to card, for strength).
Then I copied some of the recipes on to card, and also some of the loose papers with notes.
There are plenty of blank index cards just waiting to be filled with more favourite recipes.
As you can imagine, each familiar recipe, along with my Mother's handwriting, brings back so many childhood memories. I'm really pleased with how this labour of love turned out - and even more delighted that each of my sisters loved the gift. Now I must make my own, and one for each of my nieces, as they've each requested one.

Wednesday 23 March 2011


I've found a new-to-me favourite soap. It's full of invigorating herbs grown by a local herbalist, and is made by soap-maker Jean Barry, who has a shop in Penzance. Her workshop is in a converted and restored barn just outside St Just, on the Tinner's Way, a path which follows the ancient route taken by the tin miners to transport copper and tin from the mines on the cliffs around Botallack, to the waiting ships in St Ives.

This soap is bursting with the fragrant smell of thyme, and is my go-to soap for my morning shower.

* * *
I'm pausing now until next week - a family visit beckons. When I get back I can finally share a project very dear to my heart, which I've frustratingly had to keep under wraps since Christmas!

Saturday 19 March 2011

the mount

This is my favourite view of St Michael's Mount, taken from a back lane, looking down the valley. In the background is Cudden Point, and beyond that, faintly, is the Lizard - ending in the most southerly point in England.

Thursday 17 March 2011

supporting japan

Like many other bloggers, I will be having a day of silence tomorrow, in support of the people of Japan, and to raise awareness of my local charity, Shelterbox (which I've mentioned before).

You can find out more here, and donate here. Please join in. Thank you.

Wednesday 16 March 2011

busy, busy

Sometimes it's only when I take a look backwards that I can see how busy life is. I've had little time for blogging this past week, but I have found time to get outside in the brighter spring weather. I also had a little trip up to Dartmoor last sunday, to meet up with some special old friends. It was one of those perfect spring days, not a cloud in the sky. A morning walk, followed by sunday roast in the pub, then more walking in the afternoon through woodland of twisty trees, moss-covered boulders, and Dartmoor ponies.

My eye was drawn upward to the treetops, and the very different shapes these branches made against the sky.

Near the end of our walk we wandered into the beautiful graveyard surrounding the village church at Sheepstor. Ancient hand-carved gravestones were interspersed with daffodils and crocuses. It was good to spend some time in a  very different landscape from home. Immersing myself in nature seems to sharpen my senses, and rejuvenate both mind and body.

Monday 7 March 2011


A walk in my favourite woods, looking up through the branches.

The shapes remind me of pieces of a jigsaw neatly slotting together. My camera battery ran out of juice after the last photo, otherwise I would have taken more. 

Thursday 3 March 2011

violets for spring

Fifty pence worth of spring cheer.

I picked up this tiny bunch of violets at the market this morning. This tiny mug was the closest thing to hand to pop them in when I got home. The proportions are all wrong, but I like how they look. They may just stay there.

Tuesday 1 March 2011


Can it be March already? It certainly is. I'm welcoming it in with new socks on my needles - the Paul Atwell socks. I love this pattern already (thanks Susan!), and Asti's yarn is a delight to knit with. The semi-solid colour (water kelpie) is perfect to show off this pattern.

These have been nicknamed my seaside socks... can you see the gulls? Wings down as shown above!