Tuesday, 31 December 2013

I seem to have been away for longer than I thought.
Christmas has been and gone.
2013 has almost been and gone too.
I was going to do a review of the year, highs and lows that sort of thing.
But then I realised it would all be about unpacking boxes and living in chaos.
Starting your life up over again in a new setting is a lot more exhausting than I ever thought it would be. 
The year threw some curved balls at us too, horrible, shocking nastys, though we have ended the year welcoming a miraculous, marvel in to our inner circle, one who could possibly make up for all the head and heart aches this year turned up.
So I thought I would share the joy of a family Christmassy adventure on Eastbourne beach.
In between the storms and lashing rain there have been some beautiful sunny days.

Have a wonderful New Years Eve people and may 2014 be full of sunshine, beauty, smiles, laughter.
Love Nora

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Every year at college our technician Ralph organises a hand made Secret Santa for us tutors and the students.
This year we have a number of set design students studying with us.
Now the costume students are fab, they are easy. I know what to make them, pin cushions, needle cases, anything sewing related. 
But a set designer?
Especially one who is very allergic to sewing.
I had to scour the very wooly edges of my creative brain.
In the end I made a list of some of the things a set designer would use, scale ruler and scalpel were the only ones that interested me.

I ruled out the scale ruler as being too much of a fiddle.
So we were left with a covered note/sketch book with a machine embroidered scalpel.
The students excelled them selves this year decorating the studio.

They even made us a Christmas tree.
Love Nora xxx

Monday, 16 December 2013


I have so much to tell you about, I've done so much and exciting things have happened recently, however it would appear my old friends procrastination and inertia have snuck in with out me noticing,
I've got a couple of really complicated posts rattling about in my head but somehow I just don't seem to be able to order my thoughts and or photos.
Oh well, it's nearly Christmas and more or less every thing is going to start to slip soon.
I never post about food. I'm not one of those bloggers who post recipes and beautiful pictures of perfect food.
Do you know why?
Well, I'll tell you.
I can't cook. Not at all. The kids groan and the Hippy gets a haunted look in his eye if it is ever mooted that I cook dinner. I can just about make a sandwich but that is it.
But like all good and bad cooks I have a few signature dishes.
And trust me when I say I do them really really well.
I think I was once quite a good cook but 16 years of living with an excellent cook scuppered that.
So tonight I am going to tell you about one of the few things I know I can do.
Admittedly it involves no cooking, but y'know who really cares?
It makes a great present.

Nigel Slater's marinaded olives.
The recipe in his "Real food" book is for a modest 250 g of olives. 
I buy HUGE catering tins which involves a massive scaling up of ingredients.
Tonight I crushed 32 cloves of garlic!
I love it you just smash them up. No fussy garlic presses.
So here is the recipe:
4 cloves of  fat juicy garlic (smashed up in their skins)
1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon of finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 table spoons of extra virgin olive oil.
half a teaspoon of crushed dried chillies
250g olives.
The recipe says to use Black olives, but I often use green and it tastes just a delicious.
Any way put the whole lot in a big bowl, mix them up and then store in a clean jar. 
Leave them for at least 48 hours before eating, ours keep going for ages and the longer you leave them eventually the red wine vinegar turns the garlic purple.

After I had finished these I went on to bake literally acres of sausage rolls (another one of the signature dishes) over 50 of them.
Apologies for the crappy picture but it is really quite late. If you look closely you can even see the empty beer bottles not yet cleared away. Yes, I really am a slattern.
In my defence it's not just that I am very greedy, we are planning ahead for a Christmas for 10 for a week this year.
I hope your preparations are all going swimmingly.
Love Nora xxx

Friday, 13 December 2013

Once upon a time in the world of yarn, or to be more precise yarn bombing I used to be someone.

Whilst browsing the web I came across an image of a lamppost wrapped in knitting.
Something inside my head clicked in to place and I dashed off an email to several knitty friends and neighbours.
And the rest as they say is history.
We were fantastic, we were bold, we were daring, we were Ninjas
We knitted a car.
We made a film.
We decorated a street for the royal wedding.
We came out in support of local beleaguered businesses.
We made a giant scarf for peace.
We created Christmas trees for carollers.
And we made a knitted and crochet fire instillation for Streatham Festival.
Our numbers grew, many donned the uniform and turned out to lend a needle or hook.
And then several things happened.
One founding member and co driving force moved home to New Zealand.
Another founding member found herself snowed under with work.
While another ran away to the Southern Americas following a beautiful dream.
Two other members found their love of yarn having been rekindled was making other demands upon them.
And worse of all, well for me any way, I developed an industrial injury.
Months and months of constant crochet in every spare moment resulted in a nasty and lingering case of tennis elbow. 

Its been over a year and no hooky action what so ever. I decided to take some tiny tentative baby steps.
Christmas stars.
I used this pattern from The Royal Sisters.
It felt good to be crocheting again. 
But, yes there is a but, there have been worrying twinges in the elbow region.
So teeny tiny these steps will have to be. 
May be they will go some where, may be they will go no where. 
Only time will tell.
Love Nora xxx

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Remember this?

Remember how it was too bright and lairy for me?
Remember how I asked for your advice.
Well, I went off and ignored pretty much all of it.
All except that of Lazy Daisy Jones, who told me what I already knew, but somehow couldn't find the information in my brain.
One big pot of grey dye and a happy hour spent with a nutmeg grater later and it is now more or less exactly as I imagined it in the beginning.

Though I may need to do a little more distressing to those still slightly too perky suffolk puffs. It may not be to every one's taste, but I feel much happier now.
Love Nora xxxx

Saturday, 7 December 2013

On Thursday as I rushed along the wind swept path that leads from one of the classrooms where I teach to another something wrapped its self round my ankle.
I stooped and picked it up and was surprised to find well groomed men lifting another well groomed man on to a stretcher.
It was a little battered and a little tattered but I decided it must want to be my friend. Possibly a rather needy friend given the way it was clinging to me, but who am I to judge? It was very cold out. So I scooped my new paper friend up and stuffed him (with all those well dressed men how could he be a she?) in to my handbag.

Later as I was making a mad dash down the dual carriageway to the post office in my lunch hour I spotted something flapping at me from in and amongst the road side bushes.
A relative of my college friend I thought.
And I was right.

On the return journey from said post office I spied from the corner of my eye another papery something  hanging about by the bottom of some chain link fencing. Oh Joy, a dashing young man with a poorly arm to add to the gaggle of new friends.

Who knows what these pages were doing spreading them selves so randomly over such a wide area.
Who knows where the rest of their family were. I do hope they too all found new homes.
Now I am wondering what the heck I am going to do with them. Several ideas are rattling about in the old noggin at the moment, but they will have to wait till next year. Time is ticking and there is much shopping and stitching to be done.
Love Nora xxx

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Tuesday, 3 December 2013


I know I mentioned it yesterday, but really the excitement levels rolling like huge crashing waves from our youngest son are simply astounding.
Every night when I take him to bed he casually says "Mummy can we have a chat"
"Yes darling, what would you like to chat about tonight?"
"Umm" pause for cod thinking and head scratching" Christmas?"
Then starts a long process when we both have to list any thing between 5 and 2000 things about Christmas.
And woe betides anyone who repeats or rehashes what they said the night before.
This has been going on since OCTOBER.
He drew these pictures on the chalk board about a month ago. 
I can't bring my self to rub them off.
Messages and shopping lists are now conducted else where and using a different medium, or not at all.
Love Nora xxx

Monday, 2 December 2013

On the first day of Christmas my true love brought to me

Driftwood in the shape of a bird and

Slices of cake as big as your head.
On the second day of christmas my truelove brought to me

A gap toothed little monkey and

A Hippy in a hat cooking sausages.
No idea why he needed a screw driver to do the job, but he loves a tool than man of mine.
Excitement in our house has reached possibly unsustainable levels and we haven't even started to put decorations up yet.
Frantic preparations are underway as we try to organise the house in readiness for the Viking  invasion that will be Christmas this year.
Furniture has been bought, boxes unpacked, rooms cleaned, shelves put up.
I have been working hard at this every weekend for the last 3 weeks and the house still looks like a tip!
What has your advent been like so far?
Love Nora xxx

Thursday, 21 November 2013

I recently had a very successful morning out rummaging around old market stalls.

I love old packaging, especially any to do with sewing.

When every thing was home and being given a closer inspection I noticed all the old linen I had bought had laundry marks stitched on to them.

Which made me ponder on days of yore when one could afford to have one's laundry sent out.
When I was a kid there was an amazing old laundry just round the corner from where we lived.
All year round steam would be pouring out of the ventilation grills and windows.
It closed down in the early 80's and was converted in to flats.
I used to wonder if all the posh people had become poor, or finally bought washing machines or just died off.
I now with the unromantic and analytical eye of an adult realise they were not washing the voluminous undergarments of old Dowagers but the sheets and towels of local hotels. They probably moved to one of the many industrial estates surrounding the old home town and made a splendid packet selling off their Victorian real estate in a desirable area of town.
Though secretly I hope my 10 yr. old thoughts are true.
Love Nora xxx

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

This weekend we walked on the beach, catching the sun. 
Its gone away now.
It turned in to a drift wood collecting adventure.

We weren't expecting to start a new collection.
But it just happened.

We drew the line at the huge splintery pine plank the boys wanted to bring home.
That got thrown about the beach, jumped on and launched like a rocket until it had broken in to smaller manageable pieces.

We left them on the beach to be washed back to sea. Eventually to return less splintery and huge for someone else to take home and start a collection with.
Love Nora xxxx

Sunday, 17 November 2013

I'm back.
A week late, but I am back.
Sorry I'm late with announcing the winners of the giveaway. Its been one of "those" weeks, well actually its been one of "those" fortnights. But now I'm back, somewhat frayed round the edges and with big bags under the old eyes.
All week long I kept leaving the names of those of you who entered the giveaway out hoping that the elves would come and do their thing while I slept.
No such luck.
Then I realised we are in the midst of Dinovember and I was looking for help in the wrong places.
So while the boys were out at school I wandered around the house telling every toy that would listen of my dilemma. I then left names and a camera on the bedroom floor and snuck quietly away.
And Hurrah it worked!
I'm not sure how they worked the shutter on the camera, but they are resourceful those Dinos.

First up, the roaring Jurassic park Dino, jumping bravely headfirst into an upturned monster foot  full of hopefuls with nothing but some selotape for protection.
It was ok though, there were many Batmen standing by waiting to jump to the rescue if they were needed.
And the winner of the first textile design is ......

Next up for the big jump

And the winner is....

And finally the jump for the buttons

So far things had run very smoothly.
Famous last words.

Uh oh! Somehow this Dino came out with two names on her back.

So I am going to find some extra vintage buttons and send them off to one of these lovely ladies, the other will get the original ones.
So Ladies please send me you addresses and I'll get your prizes off in the post asap.
Thank you to every one who joined in and a huge and massive thanks and round of applause to the happy troupe of Dinos who came to the rescue when I really needed a bit of help.
If you want to join in with Dinovember you can do so here.
Much Love Nora xxx

Monday, 4 November 2013

Remember my recent experiments with Suffolk puffs?
I fancied playing about with some Autumnal colours and I fancied doing something quick!

My other current project, the hexie skirt, is forever evolving in to something more complex than it was the last time I picked it up.
I used a cheapo top I bought in a high st. shop, mainly for the fact it looked comfortable and had pockets.
But after an afternoon of wearing it I realised it was missing something vital despite these two most wonderful of qualities it already possessed.
And that thing was colour, beautiful, vibrant, seasonal colour.

After rummaging in the overflowing scrap box I found a fitting selection.
But now I am thinking that this has been my downfall.

It all looks a bit too bright and lairy.
So now my quick fix has become yet another long term jobbie.
Hopefully not to long term though I just need some advice from a friend about the best way to take the colours down a little, make them slightly more muted but without loosing the autumnal feel or altering the colour of the tunic.
Don't want much do I?
I also think it could all do with a bit of hot wash to knock the stuffing and perkiness out of the little buggers.
Ho humm, one day may be I will find a quick project that will stay just that.
Love Nora xxxx  

Sunday, 3 November 2013

We have just returned from a wonderful end to the half term holidays.
A few days in Norfolk staying with the Boy's Nana and Grandad, with a side order of Aunties, Uncles and cousins thrown in for good measure.

A time of catching up, with family, with friends and with a bit of fresh air and time to think.

Nothing like the wide open skies of the flat lands to help blow away the cobwebs.

We picked apples

Chased rainbows

Caught the wishes trapped inside raindrops.

Fell in love with cheeky little girls in red coats (again!)

Splashed in puddles
(more reflections that didn't make it in to yesterday's offering)

And generally marvelled at the damp beauty to be found on a ramble up the lane.
Love Nora xxx