Sunday Sevens – Rejuvenation

Seven little things

I love reading the Sunday Sevens posts – the idea was created by Nat at Thread’s and Bobbins – a snapshot of everyone’s week. It’s been an amazing concept that has brought bloggers together as well as giving a regular discipline to blog regularly.

I have been a bit his and miss with my participation, mostly because my weeks aren’t all that fascinating! I grew up in a world before Instagram, Facebook and Twitter – there’s a small part of me that still feels a slight discomfort at the selfies and status updates, it all feels a uncomfortably narcissistic, but blogging is an opportunity to write. Given my love of talking… it is a perfect combination!

Rejuvenate

1 -My theme for the week

The focus of my week has been about rejuvenation and creation of self nurture rituals- from the wonderful book Well being by Barbara Close. It is a delightful read – a holistic approach to health by season. She describes the book as a Self Care Manual, to enhance your body’s ability to heal itself and reawaken your senses to the rewarding rituals of natural healing.

Rituals seems a rather strange in our modern thinking – conjuring up notions of witchcraft or religious ceremony, yet they form part of our everyday lives – brushing my teeth can be considered a ritual because I do it everyday. However, the invitation is to integrate the sacred into the every day, doing things that cultivate self care. It is the mindful attention that elevates any activity into ritual. In our time poor society, I am usually multi-tasking, but I notice that when I spend time focussing on one thing, it can be delightful sensuous adventure.

The problem with health is that we don’t really think about it until we get ill. In a week of near constant six days of migraine, health has been quite high on my agenda this week. As much as I would like to simply go to bed in a darkened room, I suffer migraines at least once a month and sometimes they last for up to ten days, taking that much time off is not an option. It feels like I am trying to do anything that will appease the Gods drumming inside my head! Mindful attention (or mindfulness) is a way to distract myself, and it sometimes helps.

 

Blood orange

2 -Sensual Experience

Scott came down with a bug this week, dosing up with Vitamin C is supposedly the best treatment.   Blood oranges are in season, they look amazing don’t they? We started on Monday, continuing most of the week, with freshly squeezed orange juice for breakfast.

I love doing this because recently I bought the most amazing juicer, (the dome ones that you do by hand) it is so good when something works! I cannot tell you how sensuous it was to press the orange and feel the give as  the blood coloured liquid poured out! You get sticky hands, I scoop up the pulp and eat it greedily. Blood oranges makes dark red juice – which tastes so intensely of orange,  refreshingly strong and not overly sweet.  It is a divine pleasure and after all that hard work, it feels luxurious.

There are fond memories connected with this sensual activity: my Grandpop  would deliver breakfast in bed to my Grandma every day – which included alongside the freshly squeezed orange juice, tea and special K cereal and always a single flower from the garden. My Grandma was like the queen: kindly and scary at the same time, she lived until she was 96!

moody beach

3 – Adventures beyond four walls

The evenings are getting lighter and I have adjusted my working hours to finish at 4 – so Barney and I have been going for longer walks. Last Tuesday the day was gloriously sunny but by 4 a sea mist had rolled in creating a strange atmosphere, there were a few people about but not many. We headed to the beach, as it was low tide, I enjoy the sinking sensation of walking on wet sand and you can walk for miles! The sun looked like the moon the mist was so strong, but I have added a filter to the picture, which has given it a strange glow!

Barney on the Beach

Barney doesn’t quite get the concept of paying ball, he believes the task is to catch the ball and keep it safe, so I end up having to walk to where he is and grapple to get the ball back to throw it again. I usually manage 4 times before he refuses to give up the ball.  He is such a smiley dog, making lots of friends every where we go, but as you can see he takes his ball guarding role very seriously!

Hot Chocolate

4 -This week’s bliss

We have the tiniest kitchen ever so I tend not to purchase kitchen gadgets – however I had my eye on a milk steamer for at least four weeks before buying one. It is the best gadget I’ve bought in a long while. We had a Tassimo but I dread to think what the pouches contain – I like to know what I am drinking.

My hot chocolate could not be any easier to make – I put the cup in a bowl of boiling water, and pop three or four Montezuma’s dark 73percent Couverture buttons to melt. (I don’t have a microwave) I pour a cup of milk in the steamer and press the button, in less than a minute the milk is hot just like ice-cream! It is heavenly.

Reading for pleasure

5 -What I am reading..

Last month at our WI – a lovely lady did a talk on patchwork, it was fascinating! She gave us a potted history of Quilting and how the tradition travelled with the pilgrims to America.

What I didn’t know was how quilting bee’s  brought the communities together – women were so isolated when they headed West – quilting was a way you could get to know your neighbours. Quilts were also used to cover the wagons because they offered protection from arrows!

She mentioned, in passing, the Little House on the Prairie which I adored when I was growing up. I never read the books so I decided I would give it a try, starting with the first book The Little House in the Big Woods it is a charming book! Living in England it is so hard to imagine living anywhere so far from neighbours or civilisation! The cosiness of the little wooden home and the way she describes  -it is captivating. I think it must have been an extremely hard life, especially for her mother, but it is wonderful adventure to enjoy, in bed under my warm quilts!

I’ve become not just nostalgic for the TV series (yes it is onTrue Entertainment 7am! followed by the Waltons!) I feel the urge to make one of those those gorgeous holly hobbie rag dolls!

Leek and potato Soup

6 – Seasonal Pleasures

Chicken soup is the soul food when you are feeling poorly, however, in true pioneer style, not having any chicken in the house, I decided to make do with what we had! It wasn’t any hardship. We get a delivery of organic fruit and veg to our door every Thursday, from a local farm in Oving. Having tried Able and Cole and Riverford, I have to say this is a better supplier. I think it is because they are small and genuinely local less than 5 miles away. It is a good way to connect with the seasons and so we have been living on potatoes, leeks, swede and carrots for a while.

Soup for the soul

I made leek and potato soup – the leeks smelt divine I am certain they were in the ground the previous day! I added in Tumeric and garlic because they are both anti viral foods, and while it might not have been up to Mr D’s impeccable standards, (he is the chef in our house and bears the sole responsibility for my waistline) the soup made me feel better. The sore throat, that had developed on Wednesday was gone by Friday but sadly the headaches have outstayed their welcome.

Home spa

7 – Highlight of the week

There is nothing more rejuvenating than a bath – what ever has happened in my life – laying in hot water has always helped me to pick myself up again. Well being includes many bath recipes – you can either make your own mega tea bags – which allow the herbs to seep, or you can hang a jelly bag over your taps and let the water flow through the herbs. Once again, it makes taking a bath a sensual experience, if you also combine a few drops of essential oils – it is simply soothing to the weary body and soul.

My personal favourite at the moment is oats, milk and rose essential oil, oats are alkaline, and they soften the skin which it is especially good for eczema. After you have let the water run through the oats, twist it closed and wash your body with it. (Dried powdered milk perfect – as is ordinary oats!) The Rose oil is the most expensive item, and expect to pay around £15 for a small bottle, anything less and you aren’t getting the essential oil. You can even add rose petals which float around you for that added luxury. (although it is wise to cover the plug with one of the sink stoppers to save blocking the drains… explaining to a plumber why your drains are full of rose petals might not be the such a pleasant experience!)

I would not have survived without peppermint oil this week – applied as a cold compress with a flannel, it has lifted some of the nausea enough to be able to get on with life.

Next week’s theme is playful…

Happy Sunday..

ttfn x

Susanna

 

 

 

 

Sunday Sevens- March 2016 -Country walks and sewing

02-IMG_2775

What a delightful spot – the millpond on the South Downs was a perfect start to our Easter Break – the weather forecast suggested that Friday would be the best day so I escaped the sewing room for a while and headed to the Downs. This picture doesn’t capture the beauty and serenity that had us pause for a while – watching ducks take flight, while the soft clouds drifted ahead – sunlight glinting off the water and dancing on the bank.

03-IMG_2776

Further round the pond was a big level dock – where two fishermen were dangling rods in hopeful contemplation. The cascade of water was exhilarating standing on the plank just above the water lock – watching reeds dance around the rusty bars with their coats of weeds.

We followed the footpath through woodland eventually coming out into Burton Park, an old Manor House (now converted into flats) that had a lovely little chapel in the grounds.

04-IMG_2779
Burton Church

 

It was a quaint old building – obviously built for the Manor House, but they hold services in the chapel once a month. These places have a sense of timelessness about them -carvings and painted walls – hard church pews – nothing has changed for at least a 100 years. I felt if I sat long enough I might just travel back in time! We ended the trip with a lovely coffee at Petworth – we bought mountains of cheese, crisp fresh bread and feasted on them the whole weekend.

3-IMG_1934

I popped to my to my Son’s Salon for a hair cut (he has been quietly turning me lighter over the last year), he is such a talented young man!  We had a lovely family gathering my daughter and son-in-law also had their hair done – then went out for a meal to celebrate his upcoming birthday before he headed to Valencia.

Every month they have a Vintage and Very Nice Bazaars at Chichester Assembly Rooms, we slipped away from the rain one dreary March  Saturday,  meandering through the stalls; bric a brac, old maps and relics from the past all cleaned up and ready for sale. I wonder if any of my beloved items will be prized by a stall holder years ahead?   I spend a great deal of time looking at vintage clothing – there were so many lovely dresses,  especially this unapologetic cashmere soft girlie jumper!  (It would not fit me, sadly!)- the lady kindly allowed me to take a few photos.  I really liked the neckline and have a cashmere jumper at home that might just be the transformation it is waiting for.

4-28-IMG_2729

I also cherished this beautiful Kimono – which came home with me! It feels luxurious to wear – I have never looked so elegant in my pjs!

7-Kate Jersey dress finished front

I completed this jersey dress – the embroidery detail was inspired by my trip to the Museum of Fashion and Textiles at the end of February.

07-IMG_2756

I made a lovely wool skirt with a bit of embroidery to avoid the classic  librarian look!- it has taken me quite a long time to complete but it fits like a glove.. will be posting on my sewing blog.

1-IMG_2807

We had visitors and family most of the holiday – it was good to have a break from the sewing room for a while.  Monday I fished out an old UFO – this little lap quilt! It has tiny cakes, cups of tea and little patterned fabrics! There was no real game plan, but I worked it randomly among the fixed blocks of cakes and coffee cups.

It is mostly the quilting that is taking the time – my sewing machine has had a few hiccups and hissy fits during the process -lining up the quilting blocks and squeezing it into the tiny embroidery frame was challenging!  – It was the project that made me realise that my sewing machine was faulty which is why it was discarded a few times. Two new motherboards and a couple of services in the years in-between and thankfully it was progressing much faster.

Free motion quilting

 

It was easier to simply free motion quilt it –  by the end of the day it is just a little hand stitching  to bind it. It is far from perfect, in fact it is more wrong than right, but I can’t discard the hours of sewing I did to put it together; in a strange way, the imperections give it a sense of the journey it has been to complete it.  I have learned a lot since I began the quilt back in 2006 I have far more patience and skill lining up the quilt in the frame. If there is a slow sew movement to grow alongside the slow food movement – I would be a paid up member.

March is going out like a lion – thankfully just a few roof tiles and bit of fencing our only casualties in the storm, but oh my, spring is definitely here.

ttfn x

Susanna Signature

 

 

 

 

The Last Runaway – Tracey Chevalier


the last runaway

Oh my! What a read – I am almost jealous of those who have yet to pull back the cover of this brilliant book and journey to America with Honor Bright! (ok so the name is a bit odd, I grant you)

I loved this book – which meant I read it in a day and now I am bereft! My dear friend N, gave this to me with the words “it made me want to take up quilting’ and I know what she means!

Honor quilts, her stitching is so good that other characters comment on it. I am not sure if it was the simplicity of the life depicted, where order reigned and women gathered together to sew that I was attracted to, or just the joy of reading about sewing, but I found it delightful.

STL24CHEVALIER_332035k

Chevalier really brought Honor to me in waves of sympathy –  being so seasick that she would never travel by sea back to England,  chapter one flew by in a blink of an eye and I was completely hooked.

We follow Honor, a Quaker, on her journey to a vast America only just independent from England, where slavery is still a matter of government debate that will eventually lead to war.

Honor brings to life the differences in culture, language and landscape – as she tries to adjust to her new life. She was supposed to be accompanying her sister, Grace to her husband in Ohio – but sadly Grace dies not far into their journey – leaving Honor travelling vast distances alone. She makes good friends along the way, a larger than life milliner who makes good use of Honor’s sewing skills and forges a deep friendship that overcomes the natural barriers of Quakers and ‘others’.

I felt sorry for poor Honor that she received such a lukewarm reception, not just form her potential brother in law, but the Quaker Community. I know Quakers are supposed to be quiet people but I don’t believe they are as sombre as depicted in this book – but it is a subtle influence to the plot and essential to the story. My best friend at school was a Quaker, as a family they were a happy bunch, quiet, unassuming and most of all warm.

335px-Undergroundrailroadsmall2

This story is not really about sewing – it is about the ‘underground railroad’ where runaway slaves followed a network of sympathisers as they headed from the South to Canada.  I know very little about American History but there are some interesting articles at the back of the book – if you want to dip your toe in.

It is about finding your place among strangers, finding courage to speak. It is about following your beliefs and how ideals are watered down by the nuts and bolts of living; something that has been a recurring theme in my life recently.

The-Last-Runaway_Slavery-e1357609955499

I loved the way relationships were echoed by the weather, the stifling heat reflected and intensified just how stifled Honor was feeling. How silence can be strangely liberating and smiling can mask underlying jealousy.

I think what works so well is that Honor is not able to express her views to those around her instead she writes letters; the tale of passive aggressive behaviour by women is so cleverly illustrated – Honor is a talented seamstress and a good home maker, but that doesn’t make her liked. But Chevalier gives Honor her voice in the letters she writes at the end of each chapter – she vents to her friends back in England and longs to  belong.

It has given me a new respect for Americans – the weather can be hostile and so can some of the animals, but its the attitude of picking yourself up and moving forward that comes across most. The optimism and courage to start from scratch and begin something new.

I know that it all sounds rather moral and boring, but it really is not, you will love it I promise!

This book is reviewed on Richard and Judy’s book club – here are the questions.

Question 1: Honor is in a very difficult position when she first arrives in America. Do you feel that she makes the right decisions?

Yes – she goes to the only person in the country she knows – the one person who is expecting her. I think she was incredibly brave to trust strangers and she was lucky with those she picked – perhaps she was a good judge of character.

Question 2: What role does faith play in the novel – both religious faith and faith in other people?

I think faith was the link between them all, they seemed to be searching to belong – but as the book illustrates it was also about cutting ties and upping sticks and moving on. It made people restless and disconnected.

I think their strong beliefs were being tested, none more so than the Haymakers – the father died for his faith and rather than feel strengthened by his sacrifice – the Haymakers retreated – which belief should you follow? The law of the land or faith in equality? I am not sure I could have chosen, I know I could not have ignored someone in need but then I hadn’t suffered for my beliefs either.

Question 3: Who do you think the ‘last runaway’ of the title refers to?

I think it is Honor herself – her silence did not work so she had to escape.

Question 4: Discuss the importance of quilting to the story.

Quilting was Honors comfort, even though it was different like everything else, it was familiar enough for Honor to feel connected. I felt that it also symbolised her adjustment into American culture, her enthusiasm for appliqué grew as she became more settled – it showed that she was ready to move forward.