23 May 2015

Have a Great Bearthday card

My Mum loves space, so it's surprising that I haven't made a space-themed card for her before! The idea for this card came from seeing some embroideries online of constellations, displayed in embroidery hoops. I thought of the Great Bear as an iconic constellation, then the "Great Bearthday" greeting for inside the card popped into my mind, which I thought was quite appropriate because my nephew has been referred to as Baby Bear, which certainly makes my mum Great Bear!

1. Draw a circle on plain paper, cut it out and draw a sketch of your constellation on it.
2. Cut a circle of navy or black card of the same size, and use the plain paper copy and a pin (or other sharp object) to make holes at the locations of the stars.
3. Sew the stars with a few strands of embroidery thread - I used a pale blue.
4. Sew the lines of the constellation with a single strand of embroidery thread - I used pale grey.
5. Add some random stars using a white or silver pen.

6. Stick the circle to the front of the card, and add the greeting "Have a Great Bearthday" inside using stamps.

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22 May 2015

Kimono photos

It was a beautiful morning, my cherry tree in the back garden was in full bloom, so I decided to take advantage of the lovely weather to finally get round to taking some photos of myself wearing the kimono that I bought in Kyoto in 2013. This is where it becomes clear how far in advance I start planning and writing my blog posts - this cherry tree is in flower in mid-April rather than mid-May! But my other cherry tree does flower about now!
This is only the second time that I've made a proper effort to get dressed in my kimono. It's a lot of work, and it's not easy doing so on your own! I don't have a proper collar to wear under it, so I just used a length of fabric folded over, which got a bit scrunched up as I was dressing myself, and I can never get the neckline to stay back from the nape of my neck like it's supposed to! And my obi was just tied any which way at the back to get it to stay in place - that's the most difficult bit!
After spending ages on my hair and makeup, and getting dressed in my kimono, I headed out to the garden. It was really bright, so it was difficult taking the photos. I did take a parasol out with me to try to shade my face in some of them.

21 May 2015

Recently thrifted

I have been looking for a vintage sideboard for quite a while, but just at the moment I started looking they seemed to no longer be available in any of the charity shops! I kept my eyes open, but with no success, until I started thinking about it from a different angle - what if I was to get a vintage dressing table and remove the mirror?

It proved a bit easier to find one of these - one of my favourite local charity shops posted a picture of one on their Facebook page. It was perfect, with the tapered legs I was looking for. Unfortunately I saw this after they had closed on a Saturday, and had to wait until the Monday (I was on holiday that week) to see if it was still there! Luckily it was, and I could see that the mirror would be easy to remove. 

It only cost me £40 plus £5 delivery, and the lady apologised that they wouldn't be able to deliver it until the following morning - which I thought was pretty quick! And I was able to get them to remove the big old TV unit it was replacing too!

In one of the cupboards was the original tag from when it had been bought for £30 in 1972!

Another fun little find was this little blue dish. I'd been admiring Komon dishes online, and this dish satisfied my desire for something similar, with a fairly simple graphic blue and white Japanese style design.

20 May 2015

Blue and white photo challenge

Another of this year's photography challenges was to take photos on a walk based on a particular colour scheme. Because I'd been thinking about blue and white items in my home, I decided on blue and white. I'm glad that the sky was really blue that day, because otherwise I think I'd have had trouble finding many things in that colour scheme! Maybe next time I will try green!

19 May 2015

I love... Blue and white!

I love the combination of blue and white - it looks so clean and crisp! I've got a few items around my home in these colours, especially on the bookcase in my hall. I also seem to have quite a few items of clothing in this colour combination!

Here are some projects that I've made in a combination of blue and white:
Fleur de Lis coaster
Scandinavian jumper card
Alpine bedroom
Mackintosh mosaic pendant
Mackintosh clay pendant

18 May 2015

Inverted reflections

Earlier this year I set myself a list of photography challenges, and one of these was to take photographs of reflections, and then flip the photos so that the reflection was at the top. When I took a walk in the town park recently, the water was really still, so I thought it was the perfect time to try this technique out!

17 May 2015

Christian Aid book sale 2015

I had a great day at the Christian Aid book sale again this year!

It was really cold when I arrived, and as I was waiting with the other regulars I wished that I had gloves, a scarf, and long socks! But once the sale started I warmed up a lot, and eventually I noticed that the sun had come out.
One of my big finds of the year was one of the Chalet School books I still needed, The Chalet School Does It Again, which means I only have two left to find! It was found by one of my friends from the queue, who came rushing over to me with it because she knew it was on my list! Even though this was more expensive than my usual buys, I ended up staying within the £40 budget I'd set myself. As usual, my ability to carry the books home was also a limiting factor!
I found a good few illustrated children's books, a couple of guidebooks that will come in handy for places I'll be going, and a few Japan related books including one with photos of traditional houses in Kyoto, and one all about kimono - it's really in-depth with loads of diagrams, and I don't know why I haven't bought it before as I have some of the author's other books. I also got a home decor book from 1975, which is full of amazing interiors that were the height of modernity then and are now hugely retro but still very stylish.
Something else with a touch of retro is the wooden cutlery tray I bought from the 20p box! I'm planning to upcycle it a bit as it is somewhat grubby and the paper at the bottom doesn't fit very well. But the paper is so amazingly retro that I don't want to remove it altogether. The tray has a homemade look to it - perhaps some pupil made it at school many decades ago? I'm thinking of using it to store craft supplies.

Another Night Before Christmas by Carol Ann Duffy illustrated by Rob Ryan £1
Invitation to Machiya in Kyoto £2
Barbapapa Les Animaux £1
Barbapapa Le Cheval £1
The Chalet School Does It Again by Elinor M Brent-Dyer £20
Kimono by Liza Dalby £2
Cheltenham Spa Official Guide £1
Florence & Tuscany £2
Winnie the Pooh in Japanese (book 9) £1
Winnie the Pooh in Japanese (book 12) £1
Morning is a Little Child by Joan Walsh Anglund 50p
The Tales of a Furry Friend by Viorica Tomescu 50p
Dean's Gold Medal Book of Fairy Tales No 2 £1
Dean's Gift Book of Pussy and Puppy Nursery Rhymes 50p
Design for Modern Living by Gerd Hatje & Peter Kaspar £3
Ladybird We Can Cook 40p
Cutlery tray 20p
Previous book sales:

16 May 2015

Book review: The Lady and the Monk

I recently read The Lady and the Monk, by Pico Iyer, which I'd bought secondhand a few years back but not got round to reading. It’s based in Kyoto, so this book was one that was destined to appeal to me. But I also found it very strange. The book started out as a travelogue, a type of book that I enjoy, and the author talked about the places that he visited and all the interesting people he met along the way. He was looking to learn more about Zen Buddhism, but in some ways he learned more about the parallels between Zen Buddhism and romance.

Early in the book he met Sachiko, a married woman with two children, who found western culture exciting and interesting. She seemed bored with her home life, so she kept making plans to meet up with Pico. The book revealed a lot about women’s roles in traditional Japanese society.

I had read that Pico later married Sachiko (real name Hiroko), so I was interested to see how their romance would develop. This was where I found the book quite strange, because the author didn’t really give away much about his own feelings towards her. She kept making grand gestures, in her words and actions, and I kept waiting for him to do the same but he never did. At one point it seemed that they had kissed, and late in the book they seemed to be sharing a hotel room, but I could see no sign other than this that there really was a romance, and I couldn’t understand how they ended up married.

I found the book very beautiful, but frustrating too! I loved Sachiko, with her constant enthusiasm, and the way that she seemed to be storing up every experience in her memory, knowing that it might be fleeting. I also loved the changing seasons through the book, which really gave a sense of time passing, and it made me want to spend a whole year in Kyoto!

15 May 2015

Painted frames and vintage postcards

As part of a little freshen-up of my living room, I gave these wooden picture frames a coat of white paint to brighten them up. 
Then I used them to display these lovely vintage postcards that I think I got from my grandparents many years ago.

I've kept them in the same layout, hanging in pairs with S-hooks, an idea my Mum and I got from an Ikea store back when I first moved into my house.