Tuesday 27 October 2009

7 Questions

Am I becoming a corset bore? Well I hate to say it, but all day long i've been working on another corset pattern - of my own design this time, and have just sewed together the first half. It's looking good, but now it's dark so I have to stop. Do you find you make mistakes when it gets dark? My mind suddenly goes fuzzy and i've learned that it's really best to quit while ahead and start again in the morning when things always seem a whole lot easier and less mistakes are made.

Off the subject of corsets, I've been given a couple of awards, strangely enough, both from bloggy friends with 'mummy' in their title! Thankyou Girls!! It's always lovely to be 'appreciated'.

The first is from Mummy Boo Bear at Stitchery Pokery who has said some very kind words about me. Thankyou!
And the next from Jenny at Mummy Daughter Time who has also said some very kind words - i'm sure overly kind!
This one requests me to tell you 7 things you don't know about me - hmm... well i'm not too sure you'd want to know those sort of things! You might never speak to me again!! However, at the risk of being sent to Coventry anyway, I thought it might be fun for you to ask the questions... So! Ask me a Question - any question" .. I'll pick 7 and answer them!

What would you like to know?

Thursday 22 October 2009

A Big Challenge

Today I received a very important email from a very dear and beautiful soul whom I have known for some time now, though I haven't seen her for a while.

I thought you might like her idea so I've copied the text below, and with it, ask for your help, as she has asked me...


Dear Friends,

I entered a cooking/language skills-swap idea into the '
Big Challenge' competition this year. Big Challenge is a chance for 16-25 year olds to win a year's mentoring and funding to carry out a project or scheme for positive social change. I thought I'd better enter before I get too old, and luckily I've been shortlisted.

The shortlist has just gone to public vote this evening, and it's up for 1 week only. Only a handful of projects can get funding, and whoever gets the most votes wins.

So, I desperately need your support! I want to trial a women's skills-swap scheme that brings different communities together; where migrant women can teach their native dishes and cooking techniques in exchange for english conversation over a shared meal. If you want to see a social integration project that brings people around the dinner table, then please vote for me!

My aim is to create and test a format that can be replicated by community groups across the country, in order to have maximum impact in the future. I believe it's important to look at what skills women bring to this country, and how these can be used to facilitate learning and enrich the wider community.

Here's the link, Please vote for me if you are interested in supporting this kind of project.

Huge Thanks!

Julia xx


I think this is a BRILLIANT idea and have already placed my vote. I just know that most of you will think so too! Go on ... VOTE HERE. Incase you get lost and find the short list, this candidates name is Julia Minnear. I have to tell you that for lots of reasons, just like this, Julia is one of the most remarkable young people I have ever met and if she wins (which I hope she does), she will do this challenge with bells on!!

PS: Do feel free to link to Julia's voting page (or here) from your own blog. This project is such an inspiration, it deserves to win!

Wednesday 21 October 2009

Deep Water

Water... There's not much I can add to the plethora of information you can find on the Web about saving water in the home - just google, and you'll find page upon page of instructions, hints, tips and techniques. Another google search asking "what is water?" will yield another stockpile of information on the properties and scientific facts of water. And ofcourse Rachel and Emma's posts on this subject over at That Little Bit Greener, do a good job of summarising the things we can do at home to be more conscious of our use of this valuable gift from Nature. No I don't believe that having water available to us is a right - nature doesn't care a jot for human rights. Water is a gift, and the best we can do is treat it as such.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again... Everything we can do to be greener boils down to MOTIVATION. We humans wouldn't do a thing without it. I don't mean the sort of motivation that is briefly encountered when we are told something that we 'know' to be "the right thing to do"... I mean the motivation which comes from deep within our psyche. The type of motivation which changes opinion into assumption and then forces us to do what we believe to be the right thing so that what we are striving to do becomes an automatic function of every day life - totally integrated, as normal as breathing, we then no longer think of the task at hand as something which is an effort, or particularly remarkable. But we have to find our own motivation, and the best way to learn is to do the research yourself.

As regular readers here may have realised, I am an animist. I do believe there is spirit in everything, and water, as one of the main forces of life, is obviously no exception. So my motivation started with exploring every aspect of the realm of water - physical, metaphysical, scientific and spiritual,

Meditate with water. No I don't mean clear your mind into a zen like status whilst humming over a tibetan singing bowl full of bottled spring water. I mean, find relationship with water. YOUR water - from the tap, from the puddle outside your house, from the dew on your grass, from right under your nose.... Think of all the things that water is to you, where does your water supply come from? How does it reach you? What does water do? What would we do without it? Why do we need it? What is it made of? What is in it? What are WE made of? What of the rain which falls so regularly on our little island here, how old is that water? Who lives in water, and who lives without it? Where is water? What of the places where there is no water, and the places where it is abundant? Don't stop at the scientific facts and figures, or the shocking realities which inform us of the millions of people who die every single day in parts of the world where there is none. Move onto the elemental lore of nature, the mythical and mystical properties of water, and the natural cycles which it is a part of. Where is the water around your home? The rivers, brooks, springs, streams, seas .... Can you feel the water? Does each source or body of water seem different? or the same? Does it change with the seasons, or the days, or the time? Just as you can talk to trees, sit by water, and speak to it - see what happens. Listen. Hold a glass of water in your cupped hands, and call to the spirits of water. You will soon feel the hum of it's energy, while little bubbles pop out from it's depths and float to the top, each bursting bubble inducing a child like wonder and delight. Just as we connect with friends and family, connection with water will change our attitude towards it.

Now extend your consciousness a little, into your shopping basket. Do you buy bottled water? Why? We live in a country where water is plentiful, where every second of every day, if we want, we can just turn a tap and out it pours, clean, fresh, life giving, drinkable water. How lucky we are!

Bottled water is my biggest water bugbear of the moment. There are many rapacious companies who, with questionable rights and even more questionable morals, buy water rights all over the world - particularly the third world, they bottle this stolen water in millions of plastic bottles, and fly it back to us in the west, while the people in the countries from where it has been robbed, die of thirst!! Scandal just isn't the word! Read THIS article and then this one. Bottled water is where we really need to be pulling the plug.

Monday 19 October 2009

Pimp your Pics!

Who needs a plastic surgeon when you have Photoshop in the house! Yes! You too can be a pinup with THIS TUTORIAL from Planet Photoshop! ... Here I have had extensive 'surgery'... my skin has been smoothed, eye's and teeth brightened, lips reddened, makeup applied, and eyebrows tweaked, all under a vintage film grain effect and not a Gok Wan in sight! ...

For seriously good photos, have a look HERE.

This Weekend I have been Mostly ....

While I have been consternating over which trims to use for the red corset (quick guide series to continue soon), I have been doing lots of other stuff...

Finding inspiration in the strangest places ..

Receiving beautiful parcels ... thankyou Tracy!

Thankyou Ginny!

Sewing up tons of stock for my shelf (terrible pic! - more soon),

And keeping Marley company ..

Thursday 15 October 2009

Opportunity has Knocked!!

Was anybody listening a few posts back when I mentioned that my red corset (under construction) is for "display" purposes?


I am extremely excited to announce that I have been offered a shelf in the Craft Gallery at Antiques on High in Oxford!

Antiques on High is a vintage emporium - a treasure trove of anything vintage you can think of, antique furniture, bric a brack and curios, vintage clothes, vintage jewellery, and crafts - the antiques and treasures of tomorrow.

So from now until 1 November, I will be busy busy busy, making a range of vintage inspired accessories which will be sold alongside my corset kits, and a few corsets! In the future, I hope to be able to hang a rail of corset muslins in different sizes to be tried on by clients and then made up in their chosen fabrics.

Isn't it EXCITING??!!

Wednesday 7 October 2009

Bags of Choice....

“The Earth is not dying, it is being killed,
and those who are killing it have names and addresses”
- Utah Phillips

Today's TLBG topic is Morsebags. Have you heard of them? I did, 2 years ago when they were featured in Sewing World. I made a few and gave some away. I have since made lots of other types of shopping bags, and I have given some away as presents, and I know lots of you have too, and continue to do so. I can't really add much to what's already been said about this campaign by Rachel over at TLGB, or by Morsbags themselves on their website which makes tragic reading .... but I can ask the question - what of the things we use our bags for? We may have ethical bags, but what about our shopping?

How can we shop ethically and where do we draw the line?

We all live within the boundaries of our own ethics, whatever they may be, and becoming an ethical consumer is a gradual process. It is also different for everyone and whilst the accepted definition of ethical purchasing is: “buying things that are made ethically by companies that act ethically”, the concept of “ethical” is a subjective term, both for companies and consumers. In its truest form it means “without harm to or exploitation of humans, animals or the environment”. In practical every day life for example, this could mean that it is ethical both to choose a meat free lifestyle or to only eat locally produced organic meat, or to buy your petrol from BP instead of Esso, etc. etc., Finding your own ethical limits is the first step. Sticking to them is the difficult part.

I don’t believe we should spend excessive amounts of time compiling lists of who makes what, and therefore what to avoid. As I have said before, this is a lifestyle based upon choice, not denial – look at all the things you CAN have instead of the few things you can’t have. Look elsewhere. Do some research. What are the alternatives? Who are the companies who pride themselves on their quality and their ethics? And who are the ones who are covering up? There are many small companies who make goods of a much higher quality and for not much more money than anything you can purchase from a supermarket shelf or a high street store. Organic Box Schemes, farm shops, markets and health food stores are ways of shopping for groceries which avoid the weekly horror of the supermarket – and although these options may at first glance look more expensive, consider how many things you buy at the supermarket that you don’t need when “double bonus points” or “buy one get one free” offers make certain goods irresistible. It's all about quality not quantity (I've said it before and i'll say it every time!). Ethical shopping can save money and finding ethical products can turn into quite a fun challenge, made even easier by the internet, with many goods and services being available directly from the manufacturer. You will soon find just as much choice – if not more – than before. One of my biggest bugbears in life is when I hear someone saying "I can't afford to shop ethically - it's too expensive" when they have 3 cars on the drive, and/or enjoy 2 holidays a year... Choice... it's all about choice.

Monday 5 October 2009

Mooning Around

Good grief! what a weekend we've had at the House of Marmalade ... i'm putting it down to the Full Moon.

On Friday night, Mr Marmalade and I heard a terrible commotion outside the house - we live next door to a pub - and presumed it was just a young man's brawl. Which it was. It wasn't until Saturday morning that we discovered the 'trail of vandalism' they had left behind - over 20 cars in the village badly damaged using keys or knives, and ours was no exception! It turns out that they were a gang from town who came here specifically to cause trouble ... WHY??!

On Saturday, more mindless carrying on as Mr Marmalade was called in the middle of the night to a fire - 50 tons of straw!! The 6th case of straw arson in as many weeks. Our Farmers are in despair! There is a straw shortage already due to the unfavourable straw growing weather of this year ... What is in the minds of these people? Do they even have minds?

Although crime figures do officially rise at the time of the full moon, the high energy ensures that lots of good things happen too, and so I am pleased to report that good things did come out top this weekend.

Jimmy started his first Saturday job - he walked into a car garage last week - unbeknown to us, asked for a job, and they gave him one! He is doubly pleased as the cars are "prestige" and like many boys of his age, cars are one of his favourite obsessions - so much so that I sometimes think Jeremy Clarkson has moved in with me, I hear his voice so often, then I realise it's just Top Gear on the TV .... again! We've had our moments with Jimmy over the last year, since he turned 'teen', there was the famous gin incident, 2 school suspensions the most shocking moment of my career as a mother to date - the time that he was brought home by police at 2am after having escaped from his room to meet some friends! But all in all, it's moments like these that make me know without question that there IS light at the end of the 'terrifying teen' tunnel and that with each teen horror, a 'bursting with pride' moment will be just around the corner. Thank goodness!

I also received a few orders from my website, so I've been busily packaging them up and sending them off!

And Val's seed swap arrived!! I say seed swap - I think she's sent me a garden!!! And the most beautiful beaded bracelet too - an unexpected surprise! The seeds were packaged in the most lovely little origami envelopes, which I have shamelessly copied to enclose the seeds that I am swapping with Ginny, as her swap partner dropped out. Thank you so much Val! I can't wait to plant all my new flower seeds next year. Most of them will go in the allotment as our garden is being re-designed (Mr Marmalade + new shed). Now I too will be wafting around with my trug and secateurs in a Sarah Ravenesque cutting flower manner. Hurrah!

I have really enjoyed the Seed Swap, to me it's an expression of the abundance that we can all share as a community at this time of year, the late harvest, not just food, but joy and beauty too. I hope to do another next year, so anybody reading this who wants to join in, remember to save some seeds!