Friday, July 21

{ happy friday }

ten lovely things that caught my eye this week.

{ 1 } Sssh. A freshly hatched little Hatchling, and ready to be adopted.
{ 2 } For summer playtime. This lovely linen pinafore from Moonroom.
{ 3 } For summer partytime. This fabulous frolic dress from Le Petit Tom.
{ 4 } Sigh. How beautiful are these silver spoons, and too lovely to use?
{ 5 } Lets go fly a { really lovely Sailing Ship } kite!
{ 6 } It's #shelfie love.
{ 7 } Etsy find of the week. BAGatelle Studio. Just love this Pride & Prejudice clutch.
{ 8 } Dare to fail. JF Kennedy.
{ 9 } Enjoy the ride. With these über cute embroidered bikes by Walker Boyes.
{ + } Weekend + Rain = Chocolate Pie #anyexcuse.

{ have a happy day }

Wednesday, July 19

{ inspired#16 . jane austen . reading & love }

. inspired#16 .
It isn't what we say or think that defines us
It's what we do
clockwise from centre
1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5

This year marks the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen's death.  Whether you have read her novels or not, you can't help but be familiar with her work; Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice { Her heart did whisper that he had done it for her }, the Dashwood sisters of Sense and Sensibility { I wish, as well as everybody else, to be perfectly happy; but, like everybody else, it must be in my own way }, Fanny Price of Mansfield Park { A fondness for reading, properly directed, must be an education in itself }, the matchmaking meddling Emma { If I love you less, I might be able to talk about it more }, Northanger Abbey, and her last novel, Persuasion { None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives }.

There was so much love for her on Instagram yesterday, the day that marked 200 years since Jane's last, and I'm going to borrow the caption from this picture, which sums up Jane in a way in which I think the author herself would approve.

photo credit // janice mier

' Ardently remembering a badass woman who has taught me so much. There were too many lessons but if there's one thing I'd like to share with your ladies, it is that we should love using our heart and our head. Do proper assessment of character. Know the difference between a man who has a plan and a boy who just wants to waste your time.

Thank you Jane for your books. For who you are. For everything you've done. I'm grateful you existed. '

You'll find lots more Austen inspiration on my pinterest board { inspired#16 } and to read more about the anniversary take a look over on Jane Austen 200.

{ have a happy day }

Monday, July 17

{ four I adore . Illustrators }

One of the exhibitions I'm hoping to see during the Summer is the shortly opening at Somerset House, featuring highlights from the World Illustration Awards. The shortlist featured many illustrators of children's books, something of particular interest to me. There were 26 talented artist in the category, which left me spoilt for choice for today's post, but as it's 'four I adore' I have picked my very favourites to share with you.

Duncan Beedie
The first is Duncan Beedie, a Bristol based artist, who has illustrated books, including two of which he is author, The Bear who Stared, and the wonderfully titled The Lumberjack's Beard. There are so many things to love about Duncan's work, but in particular I love his use of colour, and the quality of light he manages to bring into his work.

Carly Gledhill
Carly Gledhill's work was already familiar to me, through the quirky characters she creates for Corby Tindersticks. Equally at home designing for children's wear, as she is illustrating children's books, she is currently working on her first author / illustrator book, due for release next year. Oh, and if all that didn't keep her busy enough she's the co-founder of Dot to Dot. It's hard to say what I don't love about Carly's work, but her lovely quality of line, and fantastic imagination have me feeling a little envious.

Silvia Bonanni
Italian illustrator Silvia Bonanni, works creatively in collage to produce the lovelies, and intricately detailed artworks for the many books she's helped bring to life. Her illustrations for The Magic Flute are crafted from fabric, paper and small objects, and have such a charm about them, creating a miniature theatre on the page.

Lesley Barnes
My final artist is Lesley Barnes. An illustrator and animator whose work spans children's books, film, fashion and music, and whose style is recognisable for it's distinctive bright use of colour. There is a mid century quality to Lesley's work, and a wonderful sense of pattern and texture within her illustrations that you could imagine brought to life on fabric and textiles.

Sadly, and as a reflection of how high the standard was, none of my featured artists won their category, but I'm keeping my finger's crossed that some of their work will be on display at the exhibition at Somerset House.

{ have a happy day }

Friday, July 14

{ happy friday }

Ten lovely things that caught my eye this week.

{ 1 } It's that time of year when the sun is still shining, but all the winter woolies start appearing.
{ 2 } But before they do, here's a lovely story to keep you in a Summertime Mood.
{ 3 } Cool bag via Goodordering Mini.  Cool kid via Lala Lingy.
{ 4 } The most beautiful illustration from What KT Does.
{ 5 } Etsy find of the week. Connie Mabbott Design. I spy hand embroidered loveliness.
{ 6 } The most perfect bag from Forestbound. . .
{ 7 } . . . Perfect for packing for a weekend escape to the beautifully tranquil Harp Cottage.
{ 9 } A new local(ish) flower shop which I may just need to visit to buy some plant babies.
{ + } S'mores mini cakes from my name is yeh.  Summer camp snacks for grown ups!

{ have a happy day }

Monday, July 10

{ hello . Miss Smith }

For the past couple of years I've had a yearning to start something for me. A small business, designing, creating and making things that I was passionate about.  A designer for more years than I care to say out loud, I've always worked and designed for others. Whilst I've prided myself on doing my best to meet the clients brief, that doesn't necessarily mean you spend your days designing things that make your soul happy.

It took a long while to decide what that small business would look like. Pages and pages of scribbles, doodles, notes, talking myself into and out of ideas as quickly as they came to mind. Although I am a children's wear designer by profession, and have toyed with the idea of my own collection many times over the years, the idea of this no longer held the appeal it once had. Slightly intimidated by all the amazing small companies that have sprung up over the years, designing the most amazing children's wear, and more than a little fazed by the idea of finding and dealing with manufacturers, I was looking for something a little simpler, smaller.

The idea that eventually took hold, was something I'd been interested in since I was young, something that pre-dated my children's wear designing days. My mum taught me to knit when I was small, and the fascination for the craft has never left me. I knitted through art college, originally applying for a Knitwear degree, before choosing Fashion, yet knitwear played an integral part of most of the collections I designed, including my final collection. Whilst not the most fashionable of things when I was at University, knitwear has seen something of a renaissance over the past few years. Companies such as LoopWe are KnittersWool and the Gang, and Purl Soho, have helped to elevate knitting from a singularly unfashionable past time, to an über cool hobby, helped in part by the move towards a slower, more mindful, way of living.

The scope that knitting now offers is vast, but I was particularly intrigued by the extreme knitting which I'd seen around the net, something which definitely hadn't been around in my Uni days. I started building Pinterest boards, for mood, for knitting, for colour, and started looking for yarns, for gigantic knitting needles, and I started knitting again.

And whilst progress has not perhaps been as quick as I would like, progress, of a sort, has been made. The images I collected have been sorted, and a selection made to give a snapshot of the impression I would like my business to make. Words have been written to define the brand I would like to be, and a name has been decided on. lily&Bloom has been my moniker since I started freelancing and blogging. Though I feel a great fondness for it, it didn't feel the right thing to take forward into this new venture. And so, and to my Dad's great delight, please say hello to the beginnings of Miss Smith.
I've loved my first go at knitting with jumbo yarn, and have loved discovering new stitches, techniques, and a whole community of like minded knitters. I've been playing with developing my own knitting patterns, and feel a style, and knitting handwriting of my own is starting to develop, though perhaps not quite there yet. I'm trying hard not to get distracted by all the wonderful knitters out there who are already selling their wonderful wares, knowing that I need, and want to offer something different from everyone else.

This post is, in part, a note to self to stop procrastinating further on this project. And perhaps to stop calling it a project, and start moving forward at a slightly greater pace than I have so far. There is a fear in putting yourself out there, in putting things you have designed and made out there, the fear that no-one will be interested, no-one will want to buy what you are selling. But if I never try, then I will never know.  I read an interesting post on Instagram, posted by @lisa_king_consultancy about how Starbucks began, and whilst the 'how it began' story was still interesting, for me it was the fact that it began back in 1971 that held a fascination. Whilst undoubtedly a hugely successful company for many years, when you read over their history, it took nearly fifteen years for the company to resemble the coffee stores that we now think as typical of the chain. Now I have no pretensions or desire to build a company as big as Starbucks, but I do think it serves as a reminder that things don't happen overnight, that it's easy to look at companies that are doing well, and are growing, and think that that has happened overnight. The word I used when commenting on Lisa's post was patience. Having the patience to take it step by step, moving forward slowly, yet surely.

I would love to hear your thoughts on all I've written today. Whether it's sharing your experience of starting a small business, or your thoughts on what I've shared above, a few words of encouragement, or even words of warning? 

In the meantime, full of optimism, and renewed enthusiasm, I'm off to scribble down a few more ideas and thoughts.

{ have a happy day }

Friday, July 7

{ happy friday }

Ten lovely things that caught my eye this week.

{ 2 } Overload of cuteness?  I have to agree Billieblush.
{ 3 } I may have to give Emile et Ida a regular Happy Friday spot!
{ 4 } Spotted on Paul et Paula. Sweet Hannah B. ♥︎
{ 5 } Etsy find of the week. Lotta's House. Which I just Love.
{ 6 } Spotted at Loop Knitting. Bumble Bees. ♥︎
{ 7 } How much do I love people who still send old fashioned mail?
{ 9 } A lovely list on Frankie of books to read when you have itchy feet ( see above! )
{ + } The sun is shining and I think it's time to make cookie dough ice cream sandwiches.

{ have a happy day }

Wednesday, July 5

{ fabulous finds at the Summer Market }

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5

July started in the most summery and fabulous of ways, with the Derbyshire Summer Market, hosted by Deb of Fabulous Places. A slightly grey start gave way to a beautiful day, the perfect day to spend every single penny you have on the loveliest of things. As always, there was a lovely mix of food, to eat there, and to take away, things for the home, for you, and to buy as gifts, well, until you get home and realise that you'd really rather keep it yourself. Or is that just me?

There seemed to be a lot of new faces amongst the more familiar ones this time, and once again I came away spoilt for choice as to who to share with you today.  But, whittle it down I have, and here are my five, very fabulous finds from the weekend.

I'd already spotted Glosters gorgeous ceramics from Deb's Facebook feed, and they certainly didn't disappoint in 'real life'. Based in Porthmadog, North Wales, Glosters is Myfanwy and Tom, with Tom being the designer / maker of those lovely pots. So wonderfully simple, with a pop of colour, I must have stood in front of the stall for an age, picking up each vase in turn. I was feeling far too indecisive to make a purchase, but I'm keeping my finger's crossed they'll be back at the Christmas Market. Another maker I've seen before in Deb's photo's is Tweed Hands Co.  Beautifully simple illustrations and wonderfully worded typography, available as cards, prints and the sweetest banners. Yet another stall I hung around, walked away from, walked back to, and could happily have bought one of everything.

A new face at the market, but one that was familiar to me was Leah, of the eponymously named, Made by Leah. Like me, Leah is a member of the Clandestine Cake Club, and her sweet illustrations have been featured on the site. As a baker, a lot of her illustrations and cards are inspired by cake, cookies and all manner of sweet things, but I also have a bit of a soft spot for her fabulous flamingo's and her other cheeky animals too.

My penultimate fabulous find is Sophie Jarram Ceramics. As well as having the loveliest range of geometric inspired ceramics, Sophie was one of the sweetest stall holders I spoke with that day. Her passion for her work shines through. Working in porcelain making pots to fill with succulents and cacti big and oh, so, sweetly small.

And so to my fifth and final fabulous find, a familiar face that I've seen at every market I've been to since I first visited, Ruby Lou's Treat Co, also known as Yummy Little Cakes. They never disappoint, and always bring something new along to each market, this time bringing along their recently launched cookie dough. I lost count of the number of people I saw enjoying the 'dough by the scoop', and for a while I was tempted to 'forget' my current gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free status, thinking it was possibly worth starting three weeks of elimination all over again, for one delicious pot of 'the Dough'.

If you want to see more then take a look at Deb's post, and search for the hashtag #derbyshiresummermarket on Instagram.

Is it wrong that I'm already counting down the days until the Christmas Market?

{ have a fabulous day }

Saturday, July 1

{ hello July }

. hello july .

{ have a happy day }

Friday, June 30

{ happy friday }

Ten lovely things that caught my eye this week.

{ 1 } Even the prettiest of dolls needs a little lie down #talesfromtillywood.
{ 2 } Fabulous florals for next Summer from Christina Rohde.
{ 3 } Pretty polka dots and denim for this Summer from Emile et Ida.
{ 4 } Etsy find of the week. Standard of Grace. Lots of lace and linen loveliness.
{ 5 } When you wish you were going to the beach, just so you could buy this beach bag.
{ 6 } Divine doughnuts made by Melbourne's doughnut prince. P.S. and he's only 16!
{ 7 } It may be Summer, but I'm still hankering after cosy handknit cardi's, just like this one.
{ 8 } Lets hope so. I miss the sunshine.
{ 9 } Friluftsliv is the new hygge. And this Creativity Festival sounds very friluftsliv.
{ + } It's National Cream Tea Day.  Time to bake scones.

{ have a happy day }

Wednesday, June 28

{ my june }

June has been a somewhat puzzling month. We've had the most glorious of sunshine, yet also had some grey, drizzly, wet and windy days. It felt as if Summer had arrived, then left as quickly as she came. It has not been the super productive month I'd hoped it would be. Perhaps next month, instead of hoping for a super productive month, it might be better to plan and prepare for a super productive month. Then again, I do like to feel I'm doing my best to support the #slowliving mantra so popular at the moment.

{ blooming }
The mix of sunshine and showers has proved a winning combination for the garden, and I've tried my best to fill this month with as many flowers as possible. The peonie season is short but oh, so sweet and the blooms lingered for many many days, brightening many corners of my home, as I couldn't resist moving them to places I could enjoy them most throughout the day. My garden is more of a haven for wildflowers than anything else, but I've enjoyed pottering around my mum and dad's garden, tending to their geraniums, and whispering words of encouragement to the stocks seedlings, so tentatively planted by my dad, who believes he never succeeds with anything grown from seed. Happy to report the stocks are thriving and proving him wrong.

{ reading }
The second meeting of The Little Book Club discussed The Little Paris Bookshop. Unfortunately the overwhelming feeling was a book which promised much, yet disappointed. I enjoyed it in parts, loving the descriptions of Paris and the journey the book takes down to Provence, yet the story seemed one of too many different story lines, ones that never quite came together. Earlier in the month I'd read The Bookshop, by Penelope Fitzgerald.  A much gentler, slower read, set on the East Anglian coast, telling the  story of Florence Green, who, despite opposition from most of the town, decides to open a bookshop. It has one of the saddest last lines I've ever read, but was a wonderful short read. I'm currently intrigued by the going's on in Peyton Place. Set in New Hampshire, it tells of small town life, of the secrets and hypocrisy that takes place.

{ painting }
The knitting has been put to one side for now, as a little design work has trickled in over the last few weeks. It's so lovely when a client wants a print or design that is hand worked, and it's been the perfect excuse to dig out the watercolour paints and paintbrushes, and sit quietly painting, instead of the usual pen, tablet and laptop.

{ picking }
As well as the flowers blooming, June has been a month for the Summer fruit and vegetables to ripen ready for picking.  Broad beans freshly podded, were enjoyed in a Summer salad, and tayberries, or loganberries, we can't quite decide which, have been enjoyed with a simple dollop of yogurt on top. After finding a local PYO farm, strawberries were picked and quickly made into jam, and the beginnings of a strawberry wine, with a few making their way into a cake, drizzled with champagne, to form a rather delicious, edible, Strawberry Bellini.

I'm not sure if I should make any promises for July.  At the moment it looks a rather quiet month, though it has the loveliest of starts with the Derbyshire Summer Market, hosted as always by Fabulous Places. After that, we shall have to wait and see what the month brings.

{ have a happy day }

Friday, June 23

{ happy friday }

ten lovely things that caught my eye this week.

{ 1 } Summer musings from one of my favourite books, To Kill a Mockingbird. 
{ 2 } Smudgetikka gives a peek at next Summer's collection from Iglo+Indi.
{ 3 } And for this Summer, super stripes from Monkind-Berlin.
{ 4 } I think this has to be one of the most Adorable collaborative collections Ever ♥︎
{ 5 } Happy Birthday #OneGoodThing. Celebrating the little splendid everyday things.
{ 6 } Alice in Wonderland + stripes ♥︎
{ 7 } Etsy find of the week.  Jessica Hogarth Designs.  My favourite, these cute coastal cottages.
{ 8 } Note to self!
{ 9 } If only the sun would shine for a few days longer I could justify splashing out on these.
{ + } Wondering if this would work with homemade strawberry jam instead?

{ have a happy day }

Wednesday, June 21

{ inspired#15 . strawberry fields . pick your own . & . summertime }

. inspired#15 .
She was a curious girl, a wanderer, who spent her summers
chasing fluttering pieces of prose, and eating strawberries.
clockwise from centre
1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5

Tomorrow I'm going strawberry picking.  It has been many many years since I went last, but it was a regular trip for us when I was a child.  Loading up the car with the empty fruit baskets, a picnic packed to enjoy after the picking, never really knowing which fruit farm we'd end up at, or whether it would be a bountiful year, or a less than blessed year for Summer fruits.  There are perhaps, few things in life lovelier than a freshly picked and eaten strawberry, and those few lovelier things perhaps being the lovely things you can make with those freshly picked strawberries.  My mum is planning a jam making session with her few baskets worth, my dad will make a few bottles of strawberry wine with his.  And me? I'm thinking a few jars of jam, and then a wonderfully indulgent strawberry cheesecake, and if the sunshine stays a while longer perhaps a homemade strawberry icecream. 

I could perhaps go on, but lets see how many strawberries we pick first eh?

There is a little more strawberry & summer inspiration on my pinterest board { inspired#15 }, pretty prints, nostalgic images of strawberry picking, and more recipes than you could possibly pick fruit for.

Oh, and happy first day of Summer ☀️

{ have a happy & sunny day }

Friday, June 16

{ happy friday }

ten lovely things that caught my eye this week.

{ 3 } This reminds me of me as a child, sitting reading, and my sister, whispering, 'come play'.
{ 4 } Happy Birthday to The People Shop.  Celebrating this weekend with cake, drinks, and tunes.
{ 5 } Every dad deserves a 'Best Dad' trophy, particularly one as lovely as these from RE.
{ 6 } Celebrate the sunshine by being silly with some homemade bubbles.
{ 7 } Etsy find of the week. Reker Drees Design.  Beautiful botanical drawings.
{ 8 } Every moment matters. After events this week this is especially true. You can donate here.
{ 9 } The most beautiful paintings emulating the loveliness of embroidery. By Kirstin Lamb.
{ + } It's apricot season. Which means it's also Apricot Shortcake season. Obviously!

{ have a happy day }

Monday, June 12

{ a cornucopia of cupcakes . ten delightful cupcake recipes for cupcake day )

This should have been a fun post to research and write, instead it's been a huge reminder of all the delicious sweetness I can't indulge in at the moment. I'm on week four of an elimination diet, to see if there is a particular food which has been causing me to feel, well, not quite myself. Most of the time the no gluten, diary, eggs, sugar, caffeine and nuts has not been too much of a problem. Unfortunately baking, and particularly cakes, is one of those areas where gluten, dairy, eggs and sugar are fairly key ingredients, and my attempts at baking without them have not proven too successful.

So I will resolve myself to a few more weeks without cake, and whilst I won't be able to join in with the eating of cupcakes on Cupcake Day, thankfully it doesn't preclude me from baking some to raise a little money for the Alzheimer's Society. This year Cupcake Day falls on 15th June, and people up and down the country will be baking, buying and eating cupcakes in order to raise money for this wonderful cause. And to help you on your way I've compiled a little inspiration, a cornucopia of cupcake recipes, from the most classic of vanilla, to one's brightened by berries, those of the darkest chocolate, and a few more besides.  Surely there is one here to tickle everybody's taste buds.

Victoria Sandwich Cupcakes . Baking Mischief .
Vegan Funfetti Vanilla Cupcakes . Minimalist Baker .

Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes . Sugar & Charm .
Olive Oil Cupcakes with Berry Frosting . My Name is Yeh .
Lemon Cupcakes with Blueberry Buttercream . This is Sweet .

Chocolate Cupcakes . Sophisticated Gourmet .
S'mores Cupcakes . Call me Cupcake .

Snickers Cupcake . A Cookie Named Desire .
Café au Lait Macaron Cupcakes . Butter and Brioche .
Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Toasted Marshmallow Frosting . Foodess .

So which is your favourite?
I don't think you can beat a classically simple Vanilla, but then again that Chocolate Cupcake looks so incredibly inviting.  But can you beat the combination of cherries and chocolate?
Can I have more than one favourite?

For lots more tempting cupcake inspiration pop over to take a look on my pinterest board.
Just maybe eat first, so you don't drool too much whilst looking!

{ have a happy day }

Friday, June 9

{ happy friday }

Ten lovely things that caught my eye this week.

{ 1 } Cute little Clover bunny with her pink cheeks embroidered so beautifully by Posy+Petal.
{ 2 } So many things about this room I'd like to borrow for my room.
{ 3 } So many things from this collection by So Sense I'd like in my size.
{ 4 } Oh, and ditto this collection by Annice.
{ 5 } Is Peggy Porschen's the prettiest, and the pinkest, bakery in London?
{ 6 } Strawberry picking plans on hold due to weather.  Consoling myself with this sweet print.
{ 7 } How much do I think I'd like The Old Haberdashery?  Quite a lot I think.
{ 8 } Thought for today. Just be kind.
{ 9 } How much do I love this dreamy botanical print by Danse De Lune?  Quite a lot I think.
{ + } Weekend baking goals; gluten, dairy, egg, and sugar free Beetroot & Chocolate Cake.

{ have a happy day }

Monday, June 5

{ local ♥︎ . meeting makers at the Makers Market }

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5

Writing about my first Summer market seems strange, as I'm listening to the wind gusting, and the rain lashing against the window.  Then again, isn't this what we expect from a traditional British Summer?

That said, I'm pleased to say that the sun shone for most of Saturday, and I strolled along to the Quartermaster's Artisan Makers Market wearing sunglasses and eyeing up the coffee and croissants being enjoyed at the tables set up outside most of the Jewellery Quarters coffee shops.  The market was held at the very lovely 1000 Trades.  My first visit to this friendly neighbourhood bar and kitchen, which is housed in a converted jewellery workshop, and does much to support local artists and crafts.  

Whilst the market may not be a big one, there was a really lovely mix of artisans there;  painters, embroiderers, ceramicists, illustrators and sign makers.  Set over two floors, it was busy enough not to feel conspicuous, not so much so that you couldn't have a good look at all the goods on offer.  The makers were wonderfully friendly, chatting and taking time to tell you a little about their crafts, and very obliging of my ( slight ) re-arrangement of their stalls in order to take some pictures for this post.

Dolly and Beau is Georgia, or as she describes herself on her Etsy shop, one mama and her sewing machine.  Named after her daughters, she makes baprons ( it's a bib and it's an apron ) in an array of super soft oil cloth prints.  However, it was these cute, monochrome cushions that caught my eye. Perfectly soft and squishy, and doesn't that panda almost say 'take me home'?

Emma Blue seems to be a girl after my own heart, and my denim jacket is now adorned with 'dream' and 'bookworm' badges courtesy of a small purchase at the market. Making things from paper and fabric, she is inspired by books, libraries, music, tea and maps. Another book inspired maker was Tigerlily Makes, who's Alice range I fell a little in love with. Inspired by the classic Alice in Wonderland, is a range of cards, clothes and china.  I particularly loved the china mugs, and teapots, all illustrated with either Alice, or the White Rabbit.

One of the first stall's I stopped by was Chloe's.  Her quirky illustrative style can't help but draw you in to look further, and I was very tempted to buy her 'Do What You Love' print for myself. And probably would have done, if not for treating myself to a fabulous floral embroidery hoop from The Barmy Fox. Tory's stall was full of tempting delights, with the sweetest, and sassiest, embroidered badges sitting alongside more embroidered hoops.

Now to save my pennies back up again for the next Summer market which is just next weekend! Shall I start praying now for another sunny day?

{ have a happy day }

Friday, June 2

{ happy friday }

ten lovely things that caught my eye this week.

{ 1 } Etsy find of the week.  Snowdon Prints.  Loving her latest botanical print
{ 2 } Gorgeous on-trend volume sleeve blouse that begs the question 'Does it come in my size?'
{ 3 } Perfect for Summer layering, in the prettiest shade of Rhubarb Juice ♥︎
{ 4 } A little in love with everything Désuet, an on-line vintage store you'll lose yourself for hours in.
{ 5 } A lovely review of Anita Brookner's Hotel du Lac on Toast *pops on To-Read list*
{ 6 } And a lovely chair for curling up and reading away the day, from Rockett St George.
{ 7 } A look behind the scenes of taking that perfect IG shot, with The Bookish Baker.
{ 9 } A lovely review of The Pig Hotel from Wuthering Bites *pops on To-Visit list*
{ + } Celebrate strawberry season with The Kitchen McCabe's Lilac Scented Strawberry Shortcake.

{ have a happy day }

Thursday, June 1

{ hello June }

. hello june .

{ have a happy day }

Wednesday, May 31

{ my may }

Reading back over my goodbye April post, it feels my thoughts on June might have been somewhat prophetic.  My diary stayed quite quiet, and the month did indeed lead to much knitting, reading, and gardening.  This month I proved myself very much a homebody, in fact if you took a look at my IG feed, I look as if I've barely left the house.  

{ knitting }
So my promise to share a little more of my knitting on the blog this month didn't quite happen, though I did share a little look at the mood board I've been putting together, and some of the very very lovely yarn I've been ordering.  Some sneaky doubts have crept into my mind this month, and although plenty of knitting has got done, it doesn't feel it's got me to the point I'd hoped to be at.  And with the distraction of a little paid work I've found myself procrastinating over the To-Do list I'd set myself this month.  But writing this, and looking back on that mood board, has given me the impetus to re-focus a little, remember the simplicity of those images I pinned, and remember the excitement I felt when I decided to start knitting again.

Oh, and I promise to share a little more in a post or two next month, starting with the finished blanket you can see partly knitted above.

{ baking }
The beginning of the month did see me venture away from home, for a little clandestine cake eating. A small group of bakers gathered to say a belated Happy Birthday to the Queen, with a Best of British theme.  A wonderfully classic Victoria Sandwich was joined by an equally classic Parkin, and I made the Queen's favourite chocolate biscuit cake, adorned with a very chocolately Union Jack. Another lovely Clandestine Cake Club event full of coffee, cake and chit chat.

I had been dreaming of another British classic, Madeira Cake, when as luck would have it { thank you Cake Gods } a recipe from Donna Hay popped up, and it just seemed rude not to.  This is a super easy cake to make, but I do have mixed feelings about it.  On the one hand it is just so lovely, light, tasty, and my addition of a yogurt drizzle added a wonderful fresh tanginess to it.  But, I'm not sure I'd call it a Madeira Cake as I know a Madeira Cake.  Which, now I think about it, gives me the perfect excuse to make a classic Madeira Cake.

And speaking of perfect excuses, Real Bread Week gave me a whole week of reasons to bake bread, but the highlight was definitely this Fig & Walnut Loaf, which was devoured enjoyed for breakfast topped with ricotta, pear, pecans and honey.

{ reading }
I think I could sum up May as a month of quietly sitting reading, or as the pictures above show, quietly sitting reading and eating. Three Agatha Christie's have been enjoyed this month, The Secret of Chimney's, the incredibly clever Murder of Roger Ackroyd, and the slightly silly, though not intentionally so, The Big Four. The interesting thing about reading these in the order that she wrote them, is you can see that The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, lauded as her best work, was then followed up by a 'less than best' Big Four, which though enjoyable, is best described by this review on Goodreads;

" Once upon a time, Agatha Christie stayed up way too late, drank her way through three bottles of Chardonnay and watched a Sean Connery James Bond film.  As she was going to bed, some time about 3am, her eyes rested for a moment on her typewriter.  I would not be in the least surprised if that was all she remember about this book.  For shame, Agatha.  This is exactly the same reason I'm not allowed whisky and Twitter on the same evening any more. " Fiona 

In addition Ms Christie, I read Raffaella Barker's From a Distance, a story which moves between Post-War Cornwall, and present day Norfolk, revealing family secrets which knit together the two strands.  Rather like The Muse, the second novel from Jessie Burton, which tells the story of a painting through the eyes of Odelle, an immigrant living in London in 1967, and through Olive Schloss, living in Italy in 1936.  This was also the first book read by The Little Book Club, a newly formed book club in Harborne, and another of my few ventures out of the house this month.  I've been wanting to join a book club for a long time, but have felt intimidated by the larger, more established groups in Birmingham.  To be able to join one from the start, with such a lovely group of people was a Saturday morning well spent, and I'm already looking forward to reading our next book, The Little Paris Bookshop, before meeting to mull over our thoughts and feelings once more.

{ foraging }
May has been a month of flowers, admiring the gardens at the Chelsea Flower Show, all be it from afar, and watching my IG feed fill up with the most fabulous flora and fauna. A little foraging of my own has allowed me to fill up my window sills with May posies, dotted all around the house. Outside the pots have been tidied and planted and are coming into bloom. Elsewhere in the garden wild flowers are proving a haven for the bees, or so I tell myself, and that will continue to be my excuse reasoning, until I can find the time to tidy up a little more.

And so tomorrow will be June, bringing with it the first of the Summer Markets, a second Book Club, and at the end of the month, just after we say hello to Summer, another cake club, in a city centre Secret Garden, of which I'm a little excited about.

{ have a happy last day of May }