Finding work for idle hands: making, baking and more.

It’s in the post February 27, 2010

Filed under: Collecting — lauravw @ 2:48 pm

Not all post boxes are created equal: we noticed a few years ago that the post box nearest our house has the letters GR on it – while most of the ones in more modern housing developments say ER. And then this week when we were out and about near Nottingham Castle we spotted one that said VR.

These letters relate to the monarch who was reigning at the time the post box was installed – Elizabeth’s had a good long sit on the throne now (since 1952), and so that’s why her post boxes are prevalent. Our GR post box likely means that King George V was running the show when it went in – he became king in 1910 and remained so until 1936, and the houses on our street were built around 1930.

The Victorian post box in this picture must date somewhere between 1837–1901 – a rather large range of dates! I will try to take pictures if I spot any with other monarchs listed on them. Let me know if you see any unusual post boxes in your neck of the woods!


‘An act of cultural vandalism’ February 26, 2010

Filed under: Radio and TV — lauravw @ 5:16 pm

Sometimes it’s the simple things in life that give you the most pleasure. For me, that often means listening to something good on the radio. I have a couple of digital radios (I like the Pure ones, if you’re considering buying one) and I listen to BBC 6 Music all the time. I love it that the music they play is so diverse that you never hear the same thing twice within the space of a day, and that many of the presenters know a LOT about music.

I’m so sad to hear there’s a possibility that 6 Music may be closed down – and I am desperately hoping that it won’t happen.

Former 6 Music presenter Phil Jupitus has a lot to say on the subject: “As I listen to 6 Music today, I keep hearing tracks and thinking, where else would I hear this kind of radio during the day? The tragic answer to that question is nowhere. The end of 6 Music at this moment in the BBC’s history is not only an act of cultural vandalism, it’s also an affront to the memory of John Peel and a slap in the face to thousands of licence-payers.”

There are Facebook groups being set up, Twitter ribbons you can use, and all sorts of other ways to get involved if you want to. I think I’m going to send an old-fashioned letter.


Baking with vanilla paste February 22, 2010

Filed under: Food — lauravw @ 1:33 pm

When I was a child, I didn’t like vanilla-flavoured foods. I now realise that’s because I never really ate any of them – we used to have that vivid yellow ‘vanilla’ ice cream, and other food items that have never even been near a vanilla pod, but which are labelled as vanilla.

As I’ve mentioned previously, when I bake nowadays I use a proper vanilla extract, and it makes a world of difference. There are other sources of vanilla that I’ve had my eye on for a while, and I recently treated myself to a little jar of vanilla bean paste. This weekend I used it to make buttercream icing for a batch of Hummingbird Bakery vanilla cupcakes, and they were so delicious that all of them had been eaten before I even got the pictures off the camera. If you look at the larger version of this picture, you’ll even be able to see the little black flecks of vanilla – I must make another batch of these soon, because I’m hungry just thinking about them.


Yet more snow February 21, 2010

Filed under: Nature and wildlife — lauravw @ 3:20 pm

Some time before dawn today, I woke up and looked out of our bedroom window. Our security light had come on, which usually means one of the neighbours’ cats is walking across our patio. Sometimes it means there is a fox out there, so it’s always worth a look. This morning I didn’t see whatever it was that had triggered the light, but what I could see was that it was snowing. Again. At that point, everything just looked like it had been dusted with icing sugar, but more snow was falling.

A few hours later the snow was thick, and covered every surface – all the trees and plants, rooftops – even people’s washing lines. And it was still snowing.

We got up, put on our wellies, and headed to the park to see what that looked like covered in snow (even though it’s a sight we’ve seen many times this winter). Because this time the snow had arrived on a weekend, the park was full of people building snowmen. It’s been a very sunny day, so it’s all melting quickly – I don’t think those snowmen will be around for long.


Handmade Nation in Nottingham

Filed under: Crafts,Places to go — lauravw @ 9:03 am

Nottingham Craft Mafia are hosting an event at Nottingham’s Broadway cinema in March: they are screening Handmade Nation, and hosting a craft fair where you’ll be able to buy goodies made right here in Nottingham. It’s great to see things like this happening here – if you’re interesting in going, buy tickets soon as there are only 100 for sale.


Liberty desktop wallpaper February 19, 2010

Filed under: Interiors,Shopping — lauravw @ 6:40 pm

You know about this already I’m sure, but there are free Liberty-print desktop wallpapers available to download on the Target website. (Via decor8 and pretty much every other interiors blog I read.)

I find the idea of Liberty collaborating with Target bizarre. Part of Liberty’s whole brand is the way it is because it’s out of reach to most of us, so to see a whole line of pretty things for sale at affordable prices in Target is a very big change indeed. I can’t imagine them collaborating with a UK-based store that sells things most people can afford – it would be like them going into partnership with Next or Sainsbury’s.

Would it reduce the appeal of Liberty fabrics and other goodies to me if they became affordable – cheap, even? I don’t know. But I do know that I wish I lived near to a branch of Target. Sadly the Atlantic ocean separates us, but some of the collection will be available at Liberty in London, and I have a visit planned there for next month (fingers crossed it will have arrived by then).


Keeping up appearances February 17, 2010

Filed under: Domestic matters — lauravw @ 12:43 pm

The domestically-minded amongst you may enjoy, as I did, reading Hannah Betts’ article in Tuesday’s Times. She spent a day in John Lewis, being taught how to clean, mend and generally care for her clothes.

“My flat has gone beyond the point of looking as if I have been burgled and now resembles the lodgings of a truculent Shetland pony: all discarded drinking receptacles and strewn bedding.”

“A household of my size (er, one) should be undertaking three washes a week: a dust mite and sweat-busting 60C cycle for towels and bed linen, a coloureds wash at 40C, and a delicate cycle at 30C. …Those who merely chuck everything into a quick cycle — guilty as charged — are missing a trick.”

I really do chuck everything in the quick cycle (doesn’t everyone?) – in my defence, we bought our washing machine second-hand, and it did not come with instructions. And on the rare occasions where I’ve tried the machine’s other settings, it makes such a racket that I’m surprised local dogs don’t start howling.