In Celebration of Having a Pen Pal and Snail Mail

When I was about eleven, I had a pen-pal.

Remember those?

These days, the term ‘pen-pal’ is probably obsolete. In this digital age, people tend not to use pens to write letters any more. Emails are the preferred method of communication.

But anyway, I digress.

My penpal was Italian. She had long dark hair, tied back in a sleek ponytail and in the photo she’d sent me, she wore a sea-green sweatshirt . I can’t even remember her name — it was such a long time ago — but I used to love receiving her letters in the post.

They used to contain news of her life,  little Italian treats — stickers, scented rubbers or tiny sweets — and basically, in an age where there was no internet, email or social media of any kind, they gave the most enticing glimpse into the life of someone I barely knew.

Digital communication is good — amazing in fact — but these days everything is so immediate.

You can post how you feel — for thousands of people to see — and even have a face-to-face conversation, in real time, with someone who’s thousands of miles away. It’s the kind of technology they used to talk about on Tomorrow’s World.

Only now, it’s not ‘the future’, it’s the here and now.

Nowadays, there’s something utterly charming about an old fashioned letter.

So imagine my excitement when, last month, I received an intriguing box filed with the loveliest treats from my blogging friend Fionnuala, who lives in Germany.

Received in The Post










In Celebration of Snail Mail

She’d sent me a bag filled with fresh walnuts from the tree in her garden, a little parcel of chocolate covered marzipan (something we had a lengthy Twitter discussion about last Christmas) and a can — yes, a can — of Prosecco. A running joke and something that doesn’t seem to be widely (if at all) available in the UK.

I thought it was an urban myth until I opened the packaging!! But I can now confirm that it does exist — and also tastes very good!

I’d no idea that my friend was sending this little package of loveliness and it was such a treat to receive it.

Funnily enough, I used to take part in an organised gift swap which was very similar. The difference being that you had a good idea that someone was sending you something — albeit not what they were going to send.

Weirdly enough, opening this little box of treasures transported me back to being eleven again. Coming home from school to find a letter from my penpal. In this immediate, digital age, it’s not often we receive lovely and exciting surprises.

So thank you Fionnu. Thanks for being so thoughtful and taking the time to send such a lovely selection of little treats through the post.

It made my entire week.

Although the marzipan didn’t last that long ;)


Styling The Seasons — July (plus a mini greenhouse from Rose & Grey)

Well, we’re very nearly reaching the close of this month and I’ve only just got around to writing my styling the seasons post.

But hey. I’m consoling myself with the fact that at least I’ve done one this month!! I missed June’s completely!!

I was recently sent a mini greenhouse from the lovely interiors company Rose & Grey and asked to style it as part of their blogger’s styling challenge, so it seems a wise move to combine this with my styling the seasons post for July.

It’s such a sweet little object — almost like a miniature display case in a museum — and just begs to be filled with all sorts of treasures; jewellery, books, shells.

I think, eventually, I’d like to put tiny succulents in it.

I’ve been pinning away and you can get some really beautiful ones. So perfect and dainty.

I was obsessed with tiny, miniature gardens when I was a little girl. I loved our village show, where they had a ‘garden on a plate’ competition.

When I have more time, I will create a gorgeous garden inside this little glass house. But that is most definitely a project for another day.

So, for now,  my very favourite thing to fill it with is fairy lights.

Because until I can get around to buying coloured sand, pebbles and tiny little cacti and succulents, this little greenhouse makes the perfect nightlight.

mini greenhouse
Mini greenhouse? Or Nightlight?
a mini greenhouse from Rose & Grey
I love how the lights reflect in the glass — it will be lovely at Christmas
a mini greenhouse from Rose & Grey
This mini greenhouse also makes a very good book-end ;)

I was asked to join in with Rose & Grey’s styling challenge and was kindly sent a Mini Greenhouse, to complete my task. You can buy one for yourself — plus lots of other lovely products — from their website. Pop along and have a look

All photos, thoughts and words are my own.

110 weeks and 1 day | A chest of drawers makeover

The Easter bank holiday gave me so many opportunities to roll up my sleeves and get a little creative.

Four lovely long days, where my boy was at home to keep an eye on our tiny sons, which gave me the chance to crack on with some projects I’ve been contemplating for a while.

We made Easter bonnets and Easter salt dough decorations, to hang on a little tree. Plus I tried my hand at flower arranging for a styling challenge.

But the thing I was most desperate to do, over the four day bank holiday, was a chest of drawers makeover.

We’ve had two  IKEA tallboys for more than 15 years now and I love them — because they generously proportioned and can hold a lot of clobber — but they aren’t the most attractive pieces of furniture we own. They’re pretty enormous, which was fine when we first bought them. Our first home was the first floor of beautiful Victorian mansion block; huge rooms, with 12ft high ceilings, warranted large pieces of furniture to fill the space.

More than a decade on and we live in a tiny cottage — with fairly low ceilings and modest room sizes — and as a result, one of these poor old chest of drawers now lives in the shed!

The other sits in my dressing area and was just looking a bit tired and — dare-I-say-it — orange boring.

chest of drawers makeover
The ‘Hemnes’ chest of drawers (ignore the cardboard under one of the legs – we have wonky floors in our cottage!)

So I figured it was time to give this badboy tallboy a makeover.

Get rid of the orangey pine finish — and dull handles — and treat it to a little up-cycling magic. I’d seen lots of chest of drawers makeover ideas online and dresser painting ideas, so thought I’d bite the bullet and give it a new look.

So this is what I did…

chest of drawers makeover
Got myself some paint — Annie Sloan Chalk Paint is fab paint for a chest of drawers makeover.
chest of drawers makeover
And a decent brush!
chest of drawers makeover
Put some floor covering down as I was painting in our dressing room.
chest of drawers makeover
Gave the piece a first coat of paint. Fairly roughly — you don’t need to be too careful for the first coat.
chest of drawers makeover
And a second coat in Annie Sloan’s ‘Paris Grey’.
chest of drawers makeover
Next, I painted the drawers in ‘Old White’ — Annie Sloan again.
chest of drawers makeover
Chalk paint is perfect for a chest of drawers makeover — gives a lovely vintage, matt finish.
chest of drawers makeover
Painting all finished and waiting for drawer-knobs.

I was so pleased with it, once it had been painted. Much fresher than it had looked in years and finally starting to look less like a mass produced piece of furniture and more like a lovely get a personality all of it’s own.

I’ve up-cycled furniture in the past, using Annie Sloan paint — have a look at my desk up-cycling project — and used the clear soft wax after I’d painted. This time though I left the paint in it’s raw state. I love the matt, chalky finish and didn’t want the sheen that the wax gives.

Also, rather than use the original handles, I’d decided to search for some new ones and came across a fabulous online shop, called Trinca Ferro, which had so many different styles of handle, I was totally spoilt for choice.

Here is a little selection of some of my faves.

chest of drawers makeover
All the pretties — so hard to choose!

So many different kinds, I was like a kid in a sweetshop.

Ceramic, vintage, glass, bone , acrylic — in so many lovely shapes and designs. But I eventually narrowed it down to two that I really loved and kept coming back to.

chest of drawers makeover

chest of drawers makeover

And — as very often happens, in life — I found it just too difficult to decide between them. So ended up having both. Vintage style drawer-knobs in pink and green candy colours with intricate patterns.

They look so beautiful against the grey and old white and, in retrospect, it would have looked a bit bland to just have the same kind of design.

The two different colours and styles sit so nicely together.

chest of drawers makeover
My chest of drawers makeover complete!

chest of drawers makeover

chest of drawers makeover

chest of drawers makeover

chest of drawers makeover

I was generously gifted these beautiful drawer-knobs to complete my chest of drawers makeover. Trinca-Ferro have  so many lovely designs to choose from — pop along and grab some inspiration from their website Trinca Ferro

All photos, thoughts and words are entirely my own.


100 weeks and 6 days | Vintage style for the home

I love new things for my home. Better still I love finding vintage treasures for my home!

I love finding the perfect piece for a room, especially if it’s something I’ve had in mind for a while but haven’t been able to find!

Sometimes it’s easy to style a room, things just click into place and a corner can take on a lovely coordinated look without much thought.

Other times, things just don’t sit nicely together and it takes a bit of time to get everything just right.

I’ve had that quite recently with our grown up sitting room. I have lots of cushions on the sofas in there but wanted something a little bit different for my favourite chair. I had tried various cushions with it but none of them really floated my boat and were just what I wanted. I was after something quite unusual — wasn’t sure what though.

A vintage style of your own

A beautiful original piece of embroidery that has been reworked into a cushion cover. To say it’s beautiful is an understatement. The craftsmanship is extraordinary.

There are lots of modern alternatives out there — in places like IKEA for example — but they’re mass produced by machine and are just not quite as beautiful. The needlework on this piece is exquisite; someone obviously spent a long time creating all those tiny stitches! My granny was a talented embroiderer — we’ve got quite a few pieces that she crafted — perhaps that’s why I was drawn to it?

I LOVE vintage finds for my home. Don’t get me wrong — I love modern pieces too — but mixing things up a bit gives your home a unique personality of it’s own. Too much matchy-modern will have you feeling like you’re living in a show-home and too much vintage style will make your home feel like an antique shop.

An eclectic mix is a lovely combination. Strike a balance between old and new and you’ll end up with a gorgeous home, that reflects your personality.

Anyway. Delighted with my new — old — cushion!

Now to find the perfect side-table! ;)