Things that look nice in my house

When I started this blog I vehemently swore to Mr bear that I was not going to be one of those people “who take pictures of all their nice stuff around the house then goes ‘ooo! look at all my nice stuff! ‘” Not that there is anything wrong with that kind of blog, everyone likes to take a peek into other people’s houses. I just wanted my blog to be more about the crafty things I get up to and the thoughts that I have.

Well today I am devoid of interesting thoughts. I have one quilt on the go but I’ve posted pictures of it already. I’m being strict about putting pictures of little bear on my blog because that is what my Facebook page is for (I am officially the biggest baby bore over there) so that leaves me with…..not a lot.

Why not just wait until you have something worthwhile to say? I hear you ask. Well, I’ve got some nice bits and bobs in my house… and a camera to practice with…. so I shall place my hypocritical hat firmly on my head and proceed with “oooo! look at all my nice stuff!”

Love Susie xxx

*Please note: These are all close ups because around these groups of nice stuff is an awful lot of ordinary stuff. And baby stuff. And husband stuff.

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Wishful Thinking…

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We had a supermoon this weekend. That is when the moon is at it’s fullest and also it’s nearest to earth. We’ve had cloudy skies for days now so I wasn’t very hopeful that I would catch a glimpse but last night at about 12 o’clock the clouds parted and there she was! Sitting serenely atop a shining raft of silver cloud, not necessary the biggest moon I’ve ever seen but most certainly the brightest. We stood in the back yard and gazed for a good few minutes and I came back to bed feeling a little dazzled.

I’ve been moping around for the last few days feeling all weepy now that my maternity leave is almost over. I keep having to remind myself that it’s only three days a week and I am not sending my child away forever, merely dropping her off at a very lovely and capable child minder’s. Still, I have moments when I am unreasonably tearful whilst changing a nappy or wiping sticky paws covered in banana.

It’s at times like this, when a situation feels out of my control, that I wonder about Fate, or a higher being, or God. I have not been brought up to be religious but I’m pretty open minded. Faith can be a dangerous thing but it can also be  wonderful.  It is human nature to want to feel in control, believing in a being more powerful than ourselves is comforting and gives us a focus, a prayer, a mantra. It keeps us hopeful that by the repetition of words and ceremony we may yet be deemed worthy of a reprise. The words are within our power to speak, even if we believe the ultimate decision is not.

In my own way I suppose I do believe in Fate, because I make wishes. I have done since I was a child. I swear when I was young, everything I wished for came true. That may be because I had a very settled, happy childhood and my wishes were for small things that would no doubt manifest at some point anyway. Or maybe I was just spoiled.

Throughout my life I have picked up little bits from a lot of different faiths, folklore, and fairy stories. I really like the idea of an item holding power and bringing luck. I think that any object can become a talisman. It is a focus for your energy and through sheer force of will, anyone can instill power into the most ordinary looking thing. Even if it’s purely psychological, it’s still effective as a focus for manifesting what you want.

I guess I need to be clear, I do not use the term ‘manifestation’ in the same way that books like ‘The Secret’ do. I’ve read it, even tried out the techniques. It did not sit comfortably with me. I had real trouble imagining that what I wanted to happen was already happening, without once sparing a thought for how it was going to happen. ‘The Secret’ requires you to be very blinkered to any thoughts or feelings that don’t directly lead you to your goal, you must keep up an exhaustive mantra of positivity and never waver from it. I just don’t have the will power, or single mindedness, depending on how you look at it.

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What I have is a wishing bee and a wishing bowl. I have a lovely golden bumblebee from Alex Monroe and an alabaster bowl that looks like the moon. I put the golden bee into the bowl, make a wish and go to bed. Then the next day I wear the bee and I feel much better. It’s as simple as that. It’s a little ritual, a little bit of innocent hoping. It makes me feel like I’ve had a bit of a helping hand to get through something. Whether my wishes come true is for me to know…

Love Susie xxx

I Love Liberty

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Anyone who already follows me on Facebook or knows me personally will tell you that I am a huge fan of Liberty tana lawn fabric. I’m going to tell you about why my love for Liberty goes a little deeper.

When I was growing up in Cheltenham there was a Liberty store on the Promenade. Cheltenham is a georgian spa town, it was a very lovely place to grow up. Everything is very grand and expansive in the posh bits of Cheltenham, columns and stark white facades, high ceilings and marble floors, manicured lawns and trailing hanging baskets. The wide sweep of the Promenade with it’s tree lined pavements and high windowed shops make a lasting impression, especially when you are a small person. I remember Liberty so clearly because, upon walking through the golden doors, I was transported away from the pale, grand uniformity of georgian Cheltenham and into another world entirely.

I felt as if I had been whisked away on a flying carpet into a sultan’s opulent palace. Everywhere, gleaming against the dark polished wood, were splendid displays of colour and texture in wonderful toppling piles. Silk scarves, forbidden for me to touch with my sticky child’s fingers, floating gently in the magical air. Oriental rugs hung from the walls and a smell of spice and exotic perfume. Up a staircase with a golden banister to where great, fat bolts of fabric rested snugly together on the shelves, positively glowing with joyful print and colour combinations.

The overriding memory of being surrounded by this much gloriousness was that I wanted to eat it all! Like my eyes wouldn’t open wide enough to take in all the sumptuous delights so I should cram some in my mouth as well to really get my fill before we had to leave.

Looking back that is a very odd and very vivid memory. My mum has reminded me that I really was quite young when we were going in there, only about six, and also that we only ever went in when there was a sale or if she needed a very small amount of fabric for something special.

I’ve made myself sound like a poor street urchin in a victorian novel, nose pressed up against the brightly lit window, hungry eyes devouring the unattainable riches! I really do remember it like that though. A lot of memories from my childhood are very sensory, often accompanied by a kind of mouthwatering taste that I can’t identify.

Liberty fabrics still evoke that emotion in me now. They make me hungry and I love to mix all the prints and colours up together to a level that is just short of a clash-overload. I made two cushions recently from pre-cut squares of tana lawn that I purchased on Ebay. They are seriously clashtastic and I love them! Next on the list is a quilt made with Betsy and Mitsi prints.

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Now for a confession. I’ve never been to Liberty in London. I have stood outside and marvelled at the huge tudor-revival building and admired the incredible window displays (I am a trained visual merchandiser so I was jumping up and down with glee at the sight of them!) but I didn’t walk through the hallowed front doors and explore the wonders within. I was in London for a job interview that day and I was just too nervous to really make the most of the opportunity to go in.

I suspect that when I do finally visit, I’ll probably explode with pleasure. If it’s anything like what I remember from my childhood then it will be a complete sensory delight. I hope no one minds if I only buy a couple of fat quarters though, I think everything else may be a little out of my league!

Love Susie xxx

A wedding of three parts

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Well we are back home in Devon having spent the last week preparing for my sister’s wedding. What a gorgeous wedding it was! A truly happy day filled with such relaxed and joyful celebrating.

This blog post is not going to be what I intended it to be. I wanted to photograph all the amazing homemade flower bunting and the stunning woven flower arch. I wanted to capture on film the way the light filtered through the arrow slits of the 17th century barn at Lyde Court where they tied the knot. I wanted to show off Helli’s fairytale inspired gown and my own lovely, floaty, rusty rose bridesmaid’s dress, both made by our mother. Mr Bear looked very handsome in his suit and little bear was so cute in her little floral pinafore.

The truth is, I was so busy trying to balance bridesmaid duties, motherhood and having a good time that my camera got completely neglected! I am notoriously bad at documenting big occasions because I get so caught up in the festivities and this time was no different. It is the first big event that we three have attended as a family and I think Mr Bear and I had a major “Oh my god we’re parents” moment.

He spent the ceremony outside because little bear was very overwhelmed at first. I was otherwise engaged in doing my sister’s hair and getting her into her amazing gown, then preceding her down the aisle and beaming at her all the way through the ceremony. They had a re-working of ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’ by Edward Lear as their reading and Rich’s sister delivered it brilliantly.

Eventually, after much wandering around,  I located them in the car park where Mr Bear was doing a stirling job of calming a hysterical baby in the back of our car. I suppose there was just no way to predict how she was going to react to 160 odd people all in one space and to her credit, once she’d had a bottle and a nap she did brilliantly for the rest of the day.

The speeches were sweet, heartfelt and hilarious, the hog roast was delicious and the musicians were talented. I drank a glass of champagne and half a cider, felt a bit tipsy and panicked about dropping the baby. Mr bear looked on longingly as other people knocked back their beers, knowing that he was responsible for getting us home at the end of the night. A wedding, especially an important one, is very different when you are sober, although in no way did my sobriety diminish the magic of the day.

In the evening there was a traditional Irish Ceili, which was brilliant fun, completely knackering and once you’re into the dance it’s almost impossible to escape as each one leads into another. I skipped around and made an idiot of myself for three dances before slipping away to locate my family, Mr bear having made a bolt for the door at the first fiddle started up!

I found them both outside in the evening air, little bear completely KO’d in her carrier. We’d made it to 9pm and now it was time for bed.

I felt so guilty leaving before the bonfire and late night disco, especially being the bride’s sister. But my life has changed, I have a family of my own now and leaving early is something that comes with having very young children. That day, I was three people. A sister, a bridesmaid and a mother. It blew my mind slightly, in a good way.

And I did have just enough forethought to photograph my hand tied bouquet before it started to wilt. For the rest we will have to rely on the trusted talents of the wedding photographer. I promise to share this wonderful day in more detail then.

Love Susie xxx

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Logan’s Quilt

I am seriously busy for the next week, I’m traveling up the country for my sister’s wedding at the weekend and there is a whole barn to decorate so little bear and I are going up early to help. She can direct from her pushchair!

I’ve also had a few commissions to finish up before I leave, it’s been a bit of a mad monday but I’m really pleased with this bright little beauty, made especially for a one year old little boy called Logan.

loganquiltside loganquilthalf loganquiltfull loganquiltpileI won’t be blogging again until next week now, but then I will have a lovely post all about my beautiful sister and her gorgeous wedding.

Have a happy week,

Love Susie xxx

Wedding belles and floral crowns

Before little bear was born and I became obsessed with quilts, I was making bridal headpieces. I still do make them. My sister asked me to make her a comb for her wedding next weekend and it re-awakened my interest in the gargantuan market that is bridal accessories!

At the time I was working very long hours and although I had a fair few commissions, I was daunted by the task of selling myself in such a huge industry. Then I got pregnant and my ability to concentrate went out the window, so my headdresses got laid to one side.

The idea really started when I couldn’t find the ideal headdress for my own wedding two years ago. I wanted something delicate and floral but also unusual and most of all, not too sparkly! We had a country wedding so I really wanted to achieve a relaxed, pretty look. I did think about fresh flowers in my hair but I was worried I might look a bit bedraggled by the end of the evening. I looked high and low for the perfect ornament but failed to find what I had pictured in my head so in the end I made my own and I was pretty pleased with the outcome. I used polymer clay to hand craft each flower and leaf, semi-precious stones (faceted moon stones in my case) and wire to create my circlet. Photograph courtesy of Alice Deuchar Photography.

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This lovely commission for Lucy was such a breath of fresh air because she wanted something different and really bright, featuring buttons. Making this circlet was a wonderful challenge and she was very happy with the outcome, I think you’ll all agree that she looked beautiful. Photograph courtesy of Jon Rouston Photography.

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My inspirational friend and fellow blogger Franky, some of you may know her as Love Audrey, asked me for a circlet for her daughter Izzy. Franky had the most fabulous wedding on a crisp January day and the very gorgeous Izzy was to be bridesmaid. I made a sweet and simple circlet in muted pink and grey, featuring some lovely grey freshwater pearls. Photograph courtesy of Eliza Claire Photography.

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I surprised myself by loving all the sparkles in my lovely friend Deborah’s comb. It was definitely the right way to go with this piece though and the way the little swarovski beads caught the light was really rather stunning. Photograph courtesy of Elina Photography.

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I’ve also got a few pieces for sale in a gorgeous little studio run by the talented Erin Cox. the whole of Castle street studios is overflowing with talent and my work is displayed next to the simply dreamy creations of Phoebe Stockman, bridal Atelier.

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It fills me with a sense of pride to see such beautiful brides wearing headpieces that I made for them. Having a look back through these photographs has certainly reminded me that I may have been onto a good thing. I’ll probably get going on it all again soon. I think I’ll feel far more confident this time around.

Love Susie xxx

Silver linings…

Everything is all of a flutter in the three bear’s house right now and we are feeling the strain a bit. Mr Bear has lots of musical and academic ideas that are keeping him up late, I am preparing to go back to work after seven blissful months of maternity leave and little bear has so much changing for her that she doesn’t know if she’s coming or going!

I am trying to really appreciate all the twists and turns that my life is taking at the moment. I could quite easily become disheartened and cross but there are some things that I just cannot change, indeed, if I look closely I might see that what I thought to be just a big, black storm cloud actually has a bright silver lining. That is what I am chanting, mantra-like, to myself daily anyway.

And amidst all the change and turmoil I have decided to start a blog. Why put that extra pressure on myself? Because it gives me a sense of control, a feeling that although so many decisions have been taken out of my hands and I have to go back to working for the man,  I can also do this for myself. It will keep me focused on the things that make me happy. My family. My creativity.

Talking of silver linings, I’ve got some lovely projects to finish up and send off over the next few days, including a surprise for my sister who is getting married next weekend! I’ll be sure to share a few pictures as it’s going to be such a beautiful day.

For now, here’s some of my work in progress.

Love Susie xxx

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