Sunday, 4 September 2011

Christmas is a-coming.... ! Yes, already!

Yes, I know, it's only the start of September... grumble, moan, sigh...
I will freely admit to being one of those people who moaned every year that the Christmas frenzy was getting earlier and earlier each year, refusing to be drawn in to over commercialisation, yada, yada, yada...

But now that I have joined the ranks of the handmade businesses I have learned that you can never be prepared too early - a lesson I had reinforced just last week...

I was contacted by a friend who is currently pregnant and, with her due date slap bang around the end of December, is very wisely wanting to get ahead of the game and organise some of her Christmas presents as early as possible. And quite frankly, who can blame her! If I was in her shoes, well, I'd be tempted to cancel Christmas all together... except, of course, for expecting a lovely gift from my doting hubby, but hey I digress...

Her rather intelligent strategy, and subsequent question about what Christmas candle scents I would be offering this year, forced me to shift my bottom off the proverbial fence and actually make a decision.  I had been mulling over the question, having drafted out a (long) short list of contenders months previously; but now I have actually gone and done and ordered my fragrances! And I have to say I am rather pleased with my selections.

So without any more prevaricating, I can announce that
The Lime Garden Christmas 2011 Candle Fragrances are....

warm and sweet, but with an undertone of fresh greenery.

hot, sweet and a little bit spicy, yet fruity and mild at the same time.

ooooh... lovely warm, smooth, musky and sensuous.

crisp fresh apples and warm winter spices.

smells just like sounds - Terry would be proud!!

and finally, back by popular demand, last year's best selling Christmas scent...

warm sweet cranberries and fresh apples, yummy!

I have decided to add a little extra to my Christmas gifts this year too - as well as my Vintage Tea Cup candles, (cup and saucer, with candle in the cup) I have found some gorgeous Tea Cup Trios... That is, cup, saucer and matching tea plate - so they will still be vintage, they will still be candles, but they will be a usable tea set trio too!

A lot of people ask me if they can use their tea cups once they have burnt their candles, and the answer is - ...YES! The beauty of the soy wax that I use is that any residue left in the cup can simply be washed away with hot soapy water - please, please, please, never put your lovely vintage china in the dishwasher! I also take great care when I source the china - I never purchase pieces that are damaged with chips or cracks, so they are always able to be used for the purpose for which they were always intended - a nice, civilised cup of tea!

The beauty of my Vintage Cup Candle Trios is that the recipient, once they have enjoyed their lovely candle, will have a beautiful tea time set to use - perfect for that afternoon pick-me-up treat of tea and a slice cake! Gorgeous!

And finally, here is a few quick snaps of some of the lovely china I will be using...

[Just a quick additional note - I often buy part tea sets, just because I love the china and can use some of the cups and saucers for my candles, with the result that I find myself with a stock cupboard full of additional pieces of crockery. So if you would like to build up your own mis-matched vintage china tea set (very on-trend!) feel free to contact me, and I will let you know what I have... fact maybe I feel another blog post coming on!]

So, yes, it is very early to be thinking about Christmas,
but spare a thought for us traders - we're already on the case!

Friday, 26 August 2011

Folksy Friday - Perfectly Purple!

Anyone who follows me on Twitter (@thelimegarden) will know that I had a bit of a hair crisis this week... What was meant to be a rich mulberry brown home hair dye session, turned into a purple screamer! Yes my hair came out purple - no, not just a hint of, but real true "Cadbury's Purple".
The following day I rushed down to my faithful hairdresser (love her to bits!) for an emergency meeting - she eyed up my purple handbag, watch and nail polish (yes, purple IS my favourite colour, but not for my hair!!) and told me "actually, it looks pretty funky!" Once I had convinced her that, yes it was a nice colour (for crushed velvet!), but no it wasn't what I had wanted (waving the hair dye packet under her nose a couple of times) and telling her she could do whatever she liked to the colour, the length and the style, so long as the result was (a) easy to handle (b) stylish (c) suits me (d) appropriate for a 41 year old trying to be a taken slightly seriously business personage and (e) not purple, we booked an appointment for later today... I am hoping the result will still be Cadbury's - but more the chocolate, not the wrapper!

So, having had a very purple week, I thought I would bring you a great selection of purple accessories - whatever your hair colour might be!

(all items are handmade and can be purchased at - just click on the link below each picture to find out more...)

These delightfully simple earrings caught my eye, being
almost the exact colour of my hair!
by Barton's Beautiful Bracelets

 This bracelet is cute and funky...
(perhaps my hairdresser would like it??)
by Pookledo

This felted brooch would add the perfect touch
of purple to a plain jacket or coat... 
by Hanapea

 This is a very pretty and cosy looking cowl scarf,
if my hair colour doesn't change, it will frame my face perfectly!
by TickledPink Sheep

 I just love this cool resin pendant necklace:
by Freak Carousel

 This is a gorgeous statement ring, and the pastel
colour is beautiful...
by Hand Over Your Fairy Cakes

 If you like your purples punchier, then this is a stunning
felted corsage - I love it!
by made by lolly x

 With autumn only around the corner, I think I may invest in
a pair of these...
by winternagel

 This purple bag charm would make the perfect
companion for my lovely purple handbag:
by sk designs

 This picture just about embodies my love of
the colour purple...
by Hazy View Images

 And this lovely wee purple cushion has a 
vintage feel about it - and I do love vintage too!
by Ronnieray Crafts

 This is another funky jewellery piece, I really like the
millefiori polymer clay look!
by Deborah Franks

 This is a pretty handmade purse - I wish my knitting
looked this good!
by Sarah Elizabeth Designs

 Another pair of earrings - but then a girl can never have
too many earring - and these are gorgeous...
by Purple Dandelion

 And finally, although I already have a purple handbag,
I am rather in love with this one too:
by The Leather Store

I hope I have brightened your Friday - either with my hair disaster story, or my choice of lovely purple gorgeousness found on - and maybe now you might have a bit of a purple passion too...?

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Chilli Choc Chip Muffins!

My regular readers will know that I a do try very hard to be as gluten-free as possible - it keeps my tummy fit and healthy. But I will admit that my one downfall is treats - biscuits, cookies and cakes in particular. So I have been playing around with some regular recipes, and converting them to gluten-free; and I must say, I am now quite the little baker...

Today I bring you an absolute favourite - Chilli Choc Chip Muffins!!

For your ingredients you will need:

225g Cooking Margarine (eg. Stork)
225g Caster Sugar
3 medium to large eggs
50ml Milk
225g Self Raising Flour*
1/2 teaspoon hot Chilli Powder**
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 heaped tablespoons Cocoa Powder
150g Plain Chocolate Chips

*I use Doves Farm White Self Raising Gluten Free flour, which is what I would recommend, and is widely available in many supermarkets, including Tesco - but you can try the recipe with other brands, or if gluten does not bother you, ordinary Self Raising will do just fine.

**The chilli powder is totally optional - these muffins are just as good without. It will give your muffins a little bit of bite, just enough to bring out the chocolate-iness of them. You do not want any more - it''ll blow your socks off!

Preheat your oven to 170 Centigrade.

Put your margarine into a large bowl, and beat as much as possible with a wooden spoon to warm and soften it.

Add the sugar, and mix in as much as possible with the wooden spoon. Scrape off the spoon and switch to a hand blender (your secret weapon for a light fluffy sponge!) - mixing on a low speed until you have a smooth cream.

Add the eggs one at a time, blending completely after each one -keeping your blender on a low speed!

Add in the milk (approx. 50ml roughly equivalent in volume to one egg), the chilli powder and the vanilla extract. Blend again with your blender. Once everything is mixed start increasing the speed gradually until you reach maximum. Continue blending until you have a light, smooth, fluffy mixture. Getting plenty of air into your mix is crucial to achieving a lovely light sponge.

Next add in the Cocoa Powder and half the flour. Stir this in with the blender tool, but without power - or you will get a good dusting! - and then mix completely with the blender on low speed.

Repeat for the remaining flour. When this is fully blended you can whack up the speed again on your blender and get as much air as possible into your sponge mix.

Finally, add your chocolate chips - sprinkle evenly over the mixture, and gently fold them in with a wooden spoon.

Divide your mix into your desired cake tray(s) and bake... you will only need about 2/3 the mixture in the tray to achieve the desired height/size - this mix will definitely rise!

My muffins are pretty deep (7 or 8cm) so I bake them for about 28 - 30 mins, but if you are using cup cake papers or a bun tray you may only need to bake them for about 15 - 18 minutes. Always time them initially for less time than you think they will take, you can always pop them back in for a couple of minutes longer!

Your muffins will be ready when they have slightly browned on top, and are "bouncy" to the touch! Alternatively, you can do the knife test - prod a thin blade right through the sponge, and if it pulls out clean your cakes are cooked - if it has mixture stuck to it, they need a little longer.

These muffins are perfect just as they are, however if you are creative with an icing bag there are countless ways you pretty them up - or you may wish to serve them warm with whipped cream or ice cream.... mmmMM! 


Sunday, 21 August 2011

Sunday Bookworm

Behind The Scenes
At The Museum
Kate Atkinson

This is my third Sunday Bookworm post, bringing you reviews of books I have recently enjoyed.  Following the recent BBC adaptations of Case Histories by this same author, I thought I would review one of Kate Atkinson's other books - letting you know that she is more than just a detective novelist, albeit a talented one.

Behind The Scenes At The Museum is the story of Ruby Lennox and her family. Not your usual family tale, but a heady mix of historical saga and present day grit. We learn about Ruby's life from childhood to adulthood, punctuated with landmark events and peppered with forgotten memories. Running alongside Ruby's tale is that of her ancestor Alice, and the story hops satisfyingly between the past and the present, pulling you into their lives, their stories, their trials and their tribulations.

This was Kate Atkinson's first published novel, and marked her out as a skilled writer and storyteller. This is not a detective story - although I would highly recommend the Jackson Brodie books as portrayed by the BBC, in particular When Will There Be Good News, which although well represented deserves a fuller reading - nor is it an historical novel. Instead it is a rattling good yarn, with wonderfully drawn characters to whom we can all relate. From the feckless father, to the frustrated mother and the bewildered child, as the story unfolds and the history is revealed they sit comfortably in context with their pasts - proving that we are not just who we are now, but the sum of the lives we have lived, and those who have lived before us.

This is a book that can be enjoyed on so many levels - simply written, and yet strangely deep - there is humour in the main players and the anecdotes of their lives, as well as sadness and situations that we all identify with. There is also mystery and coincidence, and the all different facets of this book make it sparkle like a diamond - it is simply a joy to read.

Please don't expect a plot as such, this is a story that tells a tale and recounts a history. The characters are not special, they are not stars in the making, they are real people - they could be me or you, or our mothers and fathers. There is a stark realism to the book, which only a talented writer could take from the everyday and turn into such a good read. It goes to show that we all have a story, and a history.

I urge you to read this book if what you have read about here appeals to you - you will definitely enjoy it.

You can find out more about the book, the author and her other published works at:

Next month's book will be something a little different - from the previous three books I have written about, and for me as a reader, but I assure you it is another cracking good read! Next month I will be reviewing

The Snowman
Jo Nesbo

I would love if it if other readers would join me for my Sunday Bookworm, so please leave any comments you wish about any of the books I have reviewed so far - or if you have already read next month's book, and would like your comments included in my review, please feel free to email me at
and let me have your thoughts!

My next Sunday Bookworm blog is scheduled to be posted on Sunday 18th September 2011.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

When Hooligans Get Rioting - Crafters Get Crafting !!

It was last Tuesday morning, and I sat up in bed watching the early news reports. All across the screen were terrible images from the last three nights of rioting across England. I literally had tears in my eyes, deeply saddened that people (or should that be animals?) of my own country, my home, could have sunk to such low depths of violence and disorder.

It is not my place to comment further on the causes, consequences, treatment or solutions to or of these events; however I will call on all reasonable people to stop for a moment and reflect on the situation. These events were barely a week ago, and yet while the politicians are still airing their own perspectives the real victims are just quietly trying to get on with their lives.

Many people were affected by these riots - from the injured, to the looted, to the just plain frightened. 

There are a number of ways that you can help these riot victims, from charity donations to actual physical clean up operations - but I would like to tell you about one special event that I have chosen to take part in. Whilst I was sitting shocked and saddened in bed, a fellow Twitter colleague was already making plans to help. Big plans...  

Zoe Grant - a talented designer and maker (amongst many other talents!) was writing this blog...
"...I feel so helpless, sat here at my desk in Suffolk. I want to go and help clean up the carnage, but I can't. And I know I am not alone reading tweets from friends around the country.

So I had a crazy idea, why not use our talents to help.  The clean up will take months maybe years as people are left homeless and have had their livelihoods taken from them.  My idea is to have a a big raffle or auction of donations from designer makers all over the UK..."

And so the Riot Raffle was born.

To date, over 80 makers, designers, crafters and artists have pledged a piece (or pieces) of their own work to help raise funds which will go to Retail Trust - a charity that promises that 100% of all the money raised will go towards helping the retail staff and shopkeepers whose lives have been devastated by these awful events. And I am proud to say that I am one of those crafters.

We have all seen pictures and heard the story of the the Reeves family - The House of Reeves store in Croydon, South London shown blazing last Monday night. 140 years of family graft up in flames, all caused by mindless violence. We have seen pictures of smashed store fronts, heard stories of looting, vandalism and theft. Imagine if that had been your shop? If that had been your life's work, and your livelihood? This is what touches the hearts of crafters and makers like me across the community - and why we are trying to each help in our own little way.

Zoe has done so much, and you can follow progress on Twitter by following @RiotRaffle and buying tickets once the raffle is finalised and under way - I believe that they will be sold at as little as £1 each, and if we all spend just a few pounds, collectively we can raise a large sum to help people very much in need. There will also be a dedicated website coming very soon - gratefully contributed, designed and built by the generous @bwebsites .

I also thoroughly recommend following Zoe's own blog - a mix of crafting, beaching, baking, fabric and all things fabulous...!

Finally, just to show you what I will be donating, here are some pictures... may recognise this last picture - I use it as my Twitter picture (so much prettier than my face!). I am donating this lovely Vintage Rosebud Coffee Cup Candle, scented with a delicious rose fragrance. If you would like to know more about it, I have her sister listed in my shop right now... just click here.

Thank you for taking the time to read my rant, and my praises for those with the vision to do something about it, and hopefully to be inspired to take part in Riot Raffle.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Bad Blogger!

It has to be said, I have been such a lax blogger recently. Is it any excuse to say that I have been very busy?
Or that my lovely husband dropped my laptop, so it had to go to *hospital* (back fully repaired now, thankfully) ?

Well, I have sat down today and sketched out a schedule for the next couple of months... I just hope I keep to it! My next post - later this week - will be about a fabulous lady and her amazing response to help the poor independent traders who fell victim to the recent riots across England. And then this coming Sunday it will be my monthly Sunday Bookworm post - I can't believe another whole month has whizzed by so quickly! This month's book is Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson - so for any of you who became fans of this talented writer through watching the recent Case Studies dramatisations on the BBC, I hope you will enjoy hearing about this great book.

I also have plans to bring you some great wedding related features - hoping to introduce you to some different ideas to make your special day truly unique, and some gorgeous vintage (ahh, I do love a bit of vintage!) details, accessories and decorations, as well as a few do-it-yourself ideas for saving a few pennies. I will continue to post my occasional recipes, gluten free cakes and treats - that taste even better than the wheat varieties, so your wheat eating friends will, quite frankly, never know the difference!

Here is just a small sneak preview of my next recipe...

In between these posts I will resurrect my Folksy Fridays, fortnightly posts featuring all sorts of handmade gorgeousness from the talented makers as As well as bringing you news of my own new products, creations and business ventures... and there are some very exciting new developments coming soon (some of which I just can't reveal yet!!)!

So I do hope you are going to continue to watch this space, and thank you for hanging around !

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Sunday Bookworm

by Rosamund Lupton

This is my second monthly Sunday Bookworm, where I am endeavouring to review books that I have read and enjoyed, and hopefully start some discussions about them - so if you would like to take part, please either leave your comments about this book, or see the end of this post for how to take part in future reviews, and even have your own comments included in the post...

This book was introduced to my via an organised Book Club that I attended for a short while, in fact it was the second of the books that they read since I joined - the first going down universally like a lead balloon amongst all the members - so it was with mixed feelings and some apprehension that I picked it up.

One of my main aims in joining the Book Club was to discover some new authors whose books I could collect and devour, as well as generally broadening my literary mind...  I wouldn't exactly call this particular book mind-broadening - but I have added Rosamund Lupton to my list of authors to follow - which I think is a good indicator that I did enjoy this book!

Essentially you might think that the book is a "whodunnit".  In a nutshell, it charts the story of a woman setting out to find out who has killed her sister, and also why. But to leave it at such a short abbreviated summary is doing it a great dis-service. It is so much more than that.

I didn't know at all what to expect when I picked the book up - having been very disappointed with my previous Book Club read - and I started the book with the rather negative idea that I really wouldn't enjoy it.  And, probably only due to that very state of mind, at first it seemed that my fears were going to be realised.
But wait...

The characters were clearly portrayed, and true to life, and there was definitely a plot brewing! The writing style is easy to read without being dumbed down, and there is a certain appeal to "ordinary people" rather then the sometimes trumped up characters you tend to find in some modern books.

My attitude to the book was being turned - so I rather imagine that if I hadn't started it with a sour mind I probably would have enjoyed it right from the start!

The story soon gathers momentum, and you are introduced to various characters along the way, and you soon become drawn into the twists and turns of the plot. By two thirds of the way through the book you will probably have drawn, and then redrawn, your conclusions about what is going on and "whodunnit" and as the book draws into it's final chapters you really do believe that you have it nailed.
But wait...

The conclusion to the book is very unexpected. I had the perpetrator well and truly wrong! But then this is half the fun of the read. It plays the "whodunnit" card in a new and inventive way, and I defy you not to be hooked! And the bit I love the most - a very sharp twist right at the very end... but you're going to have to read it for yourself, as I'm not giving any more away.

This is a very engaging first novel, and introduces us to an author who promises to play with our minds as much as entertain us with her story lines. Suffice to say, I shall definitely be looking out for more Rosamund Lupton books!

To find out more about this author, and her two novels to date, please visit

Next month's Sunday Bookworm with be posted on
Sunday 21st August
when I will be reviewing
Behind The Scenes At The Museum
by Kate Atkinson

If you have read this book and would like your comments or views included in my review (good or bad, I will accept all-comers) then please email me at:
...with the subject line "Sunday Bookworm" - I very much look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Keeping the headaches at bay...

For many, many years now I have been a migraine sufferer.  I started to get them in my early twenties, and they were hormone related - which meant that every four weeks I could be assured of an absolute stinker! And by a stinker I mean totally chronic - three full days of hell, with overwhelming nausea, aversion to light, blurred vision, dizziness, the full works. The best thing I could do was take to my bed and lie down - really until it went away.

The only blessing was I always knew exactly when one was going to strike - along with my hormonal cycle they were regular as clockwork - so at least I could plan around them. And with the help of my Pill I also managed to shift my cycle by a few days, so that they would get me mainly over a weekend and not cause me to have too much time off work!

Over the years (soon to be twenty! where has the time gone?!) I tried absolutely everything to ease them. From over the counter pills to prescription medication, herbal supplements, acupuncture, homoeopathy, reflexology, to name but a few. But, suffice to say, nothing really cut the mustard so I have just had to put up with them.

Until recently...

As I get a little older, other regular migraine sufferers will be glad to hear that they have become a little (only a little) less frequent, and a little (only a little) less intense. The problem now is predicting them - they don't hit on the same day each month, although I can be assured of one in any four week period, I never quite know when it is going to attack! But, OK, this is a better state of affairs.

Until recently...

In addition to migraines, I also so suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) although the two are thankfully not related! I won't bore you with the ins and outs of this condition - but I have almost completely cured myself by totally (and I mean TOTALLY) cutting out wheat and gluten. I have been tested for all sorts of things, including wheat intolerance, but nothing was ever conclusive - so I had to find my own relief.

It was about 3 months ago that I finally decided not to dice with the occasional pizza or sandwich just because I had the craving - because the side effects would be too painful - so I bit the bullet and have (with much will power) cut it ALL out.  No surprise then that I am feeling so much better, and can't remember when I last had an IBS attack!

Funnily enough, my migraines seem to be receding too!
Over the last 2 months I have had a couple of nasty headaches, but nothing that a couple of painkillers and an hour's snooze didn't put paid to. I almost can't remember when my last migraine was too!

Yippee! Hooray! Fantastic!

Now, as soon as I feel even the slightest twinge in my temple (and if you get migraines you will know that feeling - it's so not a regular headache thing!) I down some painkillers straight away. I don't even wait to see if it really is a migraine or not (as I used to) but I attack it straight away! I was always told that you should act as early as possible when a migraine strikes - I just never appreciated before just how early!

So I hope this little tale brings some relief to regular migraine sufferers (and maybe some IBS sufferers as well!) - you would be amazed what affects our bodies, and in what ways.

If you are being plagued, you could try some of these useful migraine tips:

Avoid the common triggers: Cheese, Chocolate (sadly), Red Wine, Oranges, Marmite...
Try taking a Feverfew (herbal) supplement on a regular basis.
Lavender and Geranium essential oils - either in a diffuser, or in your wrists, temples or a tissue, may help.
(DO NOT use these oils if you are, or maybe, pregnant!)
Sleep as much as is humanly possible during an attack! All day and night if this is possible!
Keep cool - sleep with a window open - use cold compresses on your face and head.
Wear sunglasses. Yes, even if it is not sunny! Even indoors! They are great if really have to watch the TV or use a computer, they diffuse some of the glare.
Drink hot water with a slice of fresh root ginger (with sugar tastes so much better) to combat nausea - this really works!!
And eating little but often helps nausea too.
Avoid caffeine like the plague during an attack.
Try some detective work to discover what causes yours - your hormones? certain foods? stress/tiredness?
Keeping a diary of foods, activities, emotions can help with this - tiresome, but worth it!
Think outside the box! (I cut out wheat for IBS, and it has helped my migraines - is there some other complaint you also suffer from? Could it be linked?)

More info (professional!) is available here:

And finally - if you are an IBS sufferer, please really do think about your diet! It has only been in the last 4 years since I met my husband ( a professional chef) that I have started to link my common ailments with what I eat. It took a lot of resistance, and many failures, to finally admit to the gluten factor. Yes, there are things I miss - but now I am much happier and healthier! Oh, and I just LOVE Genius Seeded bread! Gluten free, but tastes just like real proper malted grain bread - delicious, can't get enough of it! (And so much nicer than the white or plain brown varieties!) Another common trigger is dairy products - including eggs! - so have a think about that one too.

Find out more at

(and no, they haven't paid me to write this!)

Keep healthy... Keep happy....

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Sunday Bookworm

Welcome to my first Sunday Bookworm - where I am writing about recent favourite reads of mine, hopefully to provoke thought, and encourage others to pick up a good book. I will be announcing next month's book at the bottom of this post, so if you would like to join in the discussion please drop me a line at subject "Sunday Bookworm" and tell me what you thought, liked or didn't like about the book in question.

The Ice Cream Girls
by Dorothy Koomson

I first came across Dorothy Koomson as a writer when I read the much publicised "My Best Friend's Girl" way back when it was a Richard & Judy Summer Read - it may have been Ms Koomson's third novel - but for me it was her first, and it will always remain my favourite. I have been avidly collecting and reading all of the rest of her books ever since, and The Ice Cream Girls has been the latest one I have read. The writer likes to tackle emotional issues in her stories, although for me it is the depth of characters and realism that also shine through.

The Ice Cream Girls tells the story of two young women who were charged at a very young age with a brutal crime. One girl is convicted, and one is cleared. Now their paths cross again, and we are witness to the development and fall out that this brings to their lives. We learn the history to their supposed crime, told in sometimes alarmingly graphic detail, and are slowly drawn into their world - even thinking, what would I do in their situation?

This is one excellent novel! It is bold in the way it tackles a potentially very sensitive subject, and yet treats it with compassion at the same time. Personally, I thought it had a touch of "Martine Cole" about it - not in a bad way, but in it's realism, grittiness and down to earth nature - although it still retains Ms Koomson's own style and identity.

The characters are well drawn and totally credible, and the writer's ability to tell the story from two peoples angles, at two different ages in their lives, shows a lot of talent. The stage is again very credible - no yummy mummies, or public school off spring here (my banes of modern "chick lit") - set in Real England, warts and all. It is interesting to see how one act can touch so many lives, even years after it has taken place, and this adds depth and intrigue to the story. There are buried secrets and inner turmoils to be uncovered, moral avenues to be explored, and engaging people to meet.

Oh, and also there is a great twist in the tale at the end!

If you are interested in this, or any other book by Dorothy Koomson, or indeed finding out more about the lady herself, then she has an excellent website at which I urge you to explore.

Is My Best Friend's Girl still my favourite? Hmmm, to be honest, I'm not too sure any more!

Next month's Sunday Bookworm will be posted on 17th July 2011 and I will be reviewing...

Sister by Rosamund Lupton

I do hope you will join in and send me any comments!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

What's the meaning of it all...?

No, I don't mean life, the universe and everything - we all know the answer to that is 42 (and with that I've probably just given away my age!)...

...What I'm talking about is "Vintage" and "Shabby Chic".
These terms are bandied about everywhere these days as popular terms for a new culture of, basically, old things. Or things that are a bit distressed, or pretty in a cottage-y kind of way, or... well, you name it, everyone has their own definitions! And I'm afraid that is my problem. We are straying too far from the real meaning of the actual words.

Going back to basics, and on the same theme, we all know pretty much where we stand with the term "Antique" - it is a word we generally use to describe anything of around 100 years old or more. Lovely, nice and clear. Done.

OK, so what about Vintage? Well, I have researched this one and, getting away from wine (which was difficult, in more than one way!) I can conclude that it is a generic term that refers, or should refer, to an item that is "of old, recognised and enduring interest, importance or quality". Perhaps not quite so clear, but it gives us a good point of reference.  I have often been worried that when I am selling "vintage" crockery (in particular my gorgeous tea cup candles) that I am simply picking up a term and running with it, probably for the sake of cashing in on today's trend for items with age, provenance and beauty. But, as you see, there is no age limit on being vintage (my major worry vindicated), and in fact it would appear to be a rather esoteric handle, that people can turn to fit their items (cars, furniture, clothing, wine... crockery!) just so long as they fit the broad spectrum of being a good example of their own place in time. I like that last phrase - for me that sums up vintage pretty damn well.

Now to the absolute minefield that is "shabby chic"; and I guess I am about to have a soap-box moment! You see this adjective just about everywhere. My regular readers will know that I have an Ebay addiction, so it will come as no surprise that my first gripe starts there. So many items are described as shabby chic - maybe because they are old, maybe because they are a little worn, maybe because they seem to fit the seller's perception of what this term means - but in my opinion, they live up more to the shabby and less to the chic!

Having trawled the internet for a true definition of the term, my old friend Wikipedia has come to my rescue: 
"Shabby chic is a form of interior design where furniture and furnishings are either chosen for their age and signs of wear and tear or new items are distressed to achieve the appearance of an antique. At the same time, a soft, minimalistic, and feminine feel is emphasized to differentiate it from regular vintage decor; hence the "chic" in the name."

It is the second part of this definition that I feel most often gets forgotten - so many people concentrate on the shabby, but forget the chic part. To me shabby chic should be "faded elegance" or "distressed beauty" - not crappy rubbish that might once have been quite nice, but now really is beyond all redemption!

But there is also a second detractor from the true essence of the term... And I will call this "The Cupcake Revolution".  Now I like a cup cake as much (if not more) than the next woman, and I do also like pretty home wares, and I'm not adverse to the odd biscuit tin or china mug depicting a cup cake pattern. But please. Come on. I will spell this out quite plainly...


 (Well, maybe give it 30 years, a few dents, a little rust, and you may have a nice retro piece of social history - but you get my drift.)


I have probably now alienated half of the female population, and my Twitter followers will be un-following in droves. But I just had to say it. I love vintage, I love shabby chic, I love faded elegance, I even love cute, chintz, kitsch, retro, classic and cupcakes - but please can we at least try to describe our products accurately?


And just to show no hard feelings against the humble cup cake,
I do happen to think these tins from Lakeland are pretty lush.
No mention of shabby chic in their description though....

Friday, 3 June 2011

Folksy Friday - Feeling Arty...

I haven't done a Folksy Friday post for a few weeks now, I'm trying to add a bit of variety to my blog, but I thought is was time to bring you a another selection of beautiful items from our wonderfully talented crafters and artists.

My inspiration for this week's collection came when I was researching items for another Folksy orientated blog that I write for (Found on Folksy - they publish a weekly Tuesday post) and came across so many lovely paintings and art works for my chosen subject (you'll just have to visit the blog next Tuesday to see what it is!) that I thought it was about time I showcased some of this amazing wall art.

I am truly astounded by the talent of these fabulous artists - personally I can't draw a pair of curtains, let alone know where to begin to create something this beautiful - so I am totally in awe of all the artists I have featured here. is bursting with similarly fantastic art pieces, and all at reasonable prices bearing in mind how much you would have to pay for one off pictures like these in a gallery. So support our clever artists, and next time you want to brighten up a room take a look!

by Cora Stone's Paintings

by Wellydog Gallery

by Posh Oxford

by Genevieve Cseh Art

by My Tweet Things

by Sascalia

by L F Studio

by ..........redpaint!

by cheery deary

by Vintage Twist art by Claire Barone

These are just a few of my favourites... click on over to to find yours...
...there are plenty more for you to discover!