Notes from behind the hanky...

Sometimes we go and sit upstairs in our favourite cafe - a wonderful place, home to fresh milkshakes and excitingly filled paninis - and look out of the sash windows at the back, into a side street where our first house here stands, the place where we lived with Zebra-girl when she was very small. Zebra gazes at its creamy lime washed walls and tiny front garden and longs to be back there, up in her cosy old bedroom or sorting her toys in the tiny playroom at the back of the house. No amount of discussing the benefits of our new house (of which there are a great many for her) can sway her in its began a dissection of what exactly it might be about her old bedroom that made her long to back there...and eventually we realised that the difference was in the floor covering. Part-way through our refurbishing programme, we had yet to tackle the final issue of the flooring, which is an unbedroomy laminate, and so this weekend has been one of tearing up both that and some old carpeting (for it has propelled us into tackling other areas of the house too), followed by trips to the tip. It has also been one of a swelling face and streaming eyes, so allergic have I become in the wake of the dust that flew up in great plumes as the carpet was lifted from the stairs. Mr Teacakes dispatched me to Sainsburys in the hope that a sterile environment might still my dancing histamine, but, as well as the dangers of driving in such a state, we had also forgotten about the flower section as you enter. As I pushed my trolley round the aisles I became aware of people staring at me...(I checked and I definitely hadn't gone out with this accidentally left up my nose and I'm sure there was no way of them knowing of its presence there only 1/2 an hour earlier)....and I wondered at what it must be like to have a permanent facial disfigurement, for people are so very rude and tactless, and I was surprised by quite how long people found it acceptable to stare for. But back to the stairs...beneath the carpet were these lovelies, which admittedly would need some work, but how very tempted we were to call a halt to the carpet that is destined to be fitted over them.

There's something so lovely about their treads and carefully rounded edges...but I can imagine also something very drafty about them in the winter...

It always seems a shame to cover up wood, no matter what its has so much character and natural elegance. But instead I will content myself with keeping out this wonderful darning mushroom, sent to me by my Aunt, which delights me not least because it has such mushroom-like markings on the underside...I could look at it all day...I would like to do a darning mushroom/button mushroom photo next time I remember!

Too sneezy to be useful, Mr Teacakes very kindly sent Zebra and I off together to do something of our choosing while he made up the packed lunches for tomorrow. With a request from Zebra-girl to sew, a link on the Crafty Crow to an activity that Anna Maria Horner did with one of her children instantly sprang to mind and it appealed to Zebra-girl too. The idea of sewing around the borders of flowers printed on fabrics seems a much better way to practice precise hand sewing than simply sewing up and down in straight lines. Anna Maria had sensibly picked a flower with a much more clearly defined edge to it, but as Zebra wanted to use something from her own fabric stash that Hazel had very kindly sent for her, then I let her choose which print she wanted to use. After she'd carefully sewn around the edges, she then decided that she wanted to pick out some of the inner petals. She is now expert in tieing knots in cotton and threading her own needle and has extracted a promise that we will move onto picking out the leaves with an apple-green thread tomorrow evening.

Below is her little fabric stash (such lovely colours together)...folded and refolded with great pride of ownership! One of my favourite posts from last week was reading about the sewing box, full of so many special things, that Annie created for her daughter's birthday. I am so looking forward to doing this for Zebra-girl as I know she would treasure it and Annie's beautiful gifts have given me perfect inspiration. I remember very clearly the sewing basket that was given to me by my grandmother when I was about eight years old and it pains me that I no longer have it. Wicker on the outside and red satin lining within, and little elasticated pockets containing a rainbow of embroidery floss and a pack of pearly-headed pins.

And finally postal goodness....already knowing Lisa and how efficiently she runs her business I was predisposed to think that any U-handbag purchases might be sent out speedily, but how surprised and delighted I was to find a delivery man at the door at 8am the next morning bearing my parcel....and look at these lovely cherries she put in - thank you Lisa (The little Teacakes have of course stolen them already...but perhaps you knew that might happen!). The bag snaps I am hoping may be an answer to magnetic problems...I have found that the 18mm bag snaps that my local shop sells can be too heavy for a silk I am hoping that these less fiercely snappy 14mm ones might be better.


  1. I have to know Florence, does that Medinose thing work? My hayfever is so bad at the moment, I would gladly have mine permanently sealed if I thought it would help.

  2. oh poor you with the "dancing histamine" (made me laugh though!) - have you tried nelson's pollenna? I find it great.

    Glad you liked the sewing kit I put was so much fun...and my daughter absolutely loves it - it is great to see the care she takes over it. An unexpected upside is also that, as she is much tidier than me, I can always find a pin, or needle when I need one now!!!

  3. oh poor you, I hope you feel better soon, I remember the horrors of pulling up a carpet in the last house we lived in, and the nasty rubber backing had disintegrated into a layer of thick black dust, yuck.

  4. Lovely stairs! Although, be warned, bare stairs can be quite slippery (depending on what they're painted with). I slipped down ours last week and have a HUGE bruise on my behind. They hurt a hell of a lot more than if they were carpeted too! Good job I wasn't carrying the baby!

  5. Hey Florence, we too found lovely stairs when we recently did our might want to think about a runner? We did this so that you still get to see the loveliness of the wood (rounded edges are so pleasing aren't they) - but you get the warmth and snuggliness of a carpet of your choosing. If you do, then don't limit yourself to "runners" specifically - you can get any carpet you like "whipped" at the edges.
    Take Care
    Clare x

  6. I can't wait until Hope can sew...It will be so exciting... I love the little fabric collection... Even now Hope likes to pick out fabric :)

  7. What a great sewing tip for beginners, sewing round designs, just about right for me I think! Your gift idea for Zebra Girl sounds wonderful. I got a wooden stationery box when I was 10 and it was like a box of heaven and possibilities!

  8. Oh our stairs looked just like yours when we lifted up the psychedelic carpet that was on them. We were considering putting a runner up the centre and having either side painted wood. We decided on full carpet in the end because the sound of Beanie's doggie claws going up and down the stairs drove us bonkers!

    Glad they liked the cherries :)

  9. Your daughter's sewing is lovely! My girls have a lovely collection of fabric each and get little scraps when they come into visit me at work. They love pulling them in and out of their special boxes and matching them - just like me!! Love the stairs! I have only one small rug in my house and the rest is floor board - much easier to keep clean! Hope you a feeling a little better.

  10. Oh I hope you are feeling better...I have a terrible allergic reaction to one thing and it makes my face swell terribly so I felt for you and I laughed, not being insensitive but because I know that feeling and the awful stares and it's almost comical at how unaware people can be of their own thoughtlessness....

    I want to hear more about all of your adventures...I so enjoy your words and creative ideas...please be sure to come back to play at

  11. When you mentioned your new Singer on a previous post I mentioned the one I left in England and I also left my sewing basket too ( you may remember me mentioning it) Mine was also wicker on the out side and red satin inside! We must be about the same age! The stairs are lovely but beautiful as they are I can hear my mother worring about children slipping down them. A pretty runner maybe the answer until the children are older. My daughter also has her fabric stash and tomorrow I have 4 children coming to my house for three after noons for learn to sew lessons. One of their high lights will be picking from my stash, their own stash of fabric because heaven forbid should they want to sew at home and have no fabric! ( a fear of mine!) I am sure they will cherish their 'stash' also and the little sewing boxes I will give them.
    I love all the links you give to other blogs....thank you!


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Florence x