Whiling Away the Winter Days

The winter days are lengthening finally.  We no longer leave for work and drive home in the dark.  But there is an icy grip on the land still, and whilst darling little buds are appearing in the garden (pinch me, I have a garden, with buds in it!) we are still cosying up for the final weeks of winter.  And the light has been low enough to warrant some mellow afternoons with candle power…and trains in the living room…and the toasty glow of the gas fire…and the eeiriness of a little iPad entertainment…

Wintry afternoons also call for a little home baking with Mama – and the wee one and I have tried our hand at gingerbread, choc-chip-cranberry-oatmeal cookies, muffins and shortbread – rolling and cutting out is the best part (apart from the gobbling down later).

There have been wonderful arty outbursts – wads of paper and oodles of ink later…

…and on the rainiest of days we have gathered together all the birdy friends in the living room for impromptu picnics…

…it seems that Pukeko are particularly partial to carrots…

…and of course, when the cars are out, sometimes they just need organising into a massive convoy…

So we are whiling away the winter days indoors, but also heading out into the chilly gardens and parks in anticpation of everything thawing out soon.  It has been the mildest of winters, so we have been lucky enough to spend much more time outside than previous winters – but the short days must also give way to warmth and hours of daylight to venture out after work and those days cannot come too soon!

Ten Things of Happiness

Thought it was time for a little summary of the things that make me smile right now…whether in fact or in wishful anticpation.

1. The weather is so lovely and warm and in the sunny springy mornings, I have been loving my walk to work.  I trundle through the ancient St Mary’s Quad, complete with bursting-forth magnolias and an abundance of beautiful spring blooms.  Then I walk across town – a lovely stroll through cobbled streets, down pretty alleys, past charming shop windows and more ancient stone wonders – like the glories of St Salvator’s Chapel.  On more organised days I can also wander along the East Sands and up past the cathedral.  It is a quaint little town and I love the peace of walking through such prettiness to ease me  into the working day.

2. My new hastily-chosen spectacles that are due to arrive in a fortnight.  I have had the current beloved Chanel frames for five years now, so I think I got value for money…but they have been mangled a lot by the pop, so hopefully the new eyewear will feel a little more robust. I am looking forward to that inevitable change of look that comes with new specs.

3. This teapot – the doctor is not terribly interested in homewares.  But when I showed him this teapot (and I am in dire need of a teapot for more than two…) he said ‘Amazing!’  Which I am hoping is shorthand for…”if you want to buy it, go ahead…”

4. We need a holiday sometime soon…it has been far too long.  Lately I’ve been flirting with the notion of a little glamping – my initial desire was a yurt in the French Pyrenees, but then I started thinking of being a little more ‘eco’ and going somewhere closer to home.  Like this fr’instance:

But it turns out the doctor, though a fan of camping, would rather be in something a little more concrete and secluded if we are not ACTUALLY camping…fair enough…I shall continue to dream…and probably plan a little cottagey hideaway instead…

5. Beautiful sunny days at the beach make ice cream an essential dietary requirement.  Here is the pop eating his first ever big-boy cone,  he LOVED it…and it was a very balmy 21degC out…perfect day!

6. A dire internet connection and a kinda sick again little boy brought a revival of They Might Be Giants this weekend – with Here Come the 123s featuring on the must play list (‘The numbers one Mama’) and the excellent Here Comes Science making a comeback too.  Love love love some silly singing combined with educational wonderfulness.

7. And speaking of silly and fun and educational and worky…have to say that perhaps against our own better judgement we are ALL loving Dada’s new iPad2…he was not a big fan of going down that route, but it seems to be revolutionising his work routines and the wee one had a happy little time on the weekend playing with the Eric Carle app – anything that is so functional and makes his little memory get going has to be a winner in my book.  Simple and stylish…typical…

8.  This summery elegance, of course I’ll never look this willowy and carefree, and our beaches are a bit cold for such frolicking, but dreams are free…


9. A new broom ALWAYS sweeps clean…and I am loving my new straw yard broom.  The chicken poop was getting a bit out of hand.  I love that they are free to range, and that our girls come up to both doors to welcome us whenever they see us coming.  But it was high time I had some way of restoring order so we can still sit outside in the sun – like we did on the weekend.

10. Mornings in the kitchen.  Here is a birdy still life…we have fresh eggs before breakfast every day, and we are often peering out into the fields and hedgerows to see details of birds we are spying out the kitchen windows…then checking the bird guides for identification.  It is never a dull moment in our kitchen…and the birds outside (of all persuasion) help to keep up the drama.

And of course…when speaking of happiness and things I love…I have to finish off by mentioning these guys…always make me smile!

Hope you have some things to love and bring you happiness this inter-seasonal period…

Back in the Garden

We have spent the best part of this summer in the Missouri Botanical Gardens.   We have been so lucky to live in a city with so many free activities in such gorgeous surroundings.  We have enjoyed many things about this beautiful spot.

In our first year here (pre-Kazuo) we attended the weekly summer Jazz sessions for an evening picnic in the park.  We had a fabulous weekend at the Japanese festival over Labour Weekend and brought many of our overseas visitors to the gardens to enjoy a stroll.

When Kazuo joined us, it became a favourite place to take some exercise, and we even managed a family portrait (thanks to our talented friend Denise) when the O’Connors visited us last March.

One of my favourite aspects of the garden is the variety of well-placed sculpture.  I am always drawn to the exuberant joy of this particular piece:

This spring we discovered the delights of the Children’s Garden and MOBOT has become a regular weekly destination that has featured often in my This Moment posts.  Kazuo loves this well-designed space.  Particularly the General Store where he can carry around fake fruit and vegetables to his heart’s content.  This has become increasingly alluring as his vocabulary has expanded to encompass most of the objects he is playing with.

Today Kazuo and I met ‘Emmy’ and her mama there for a stroll, feeding the koi/ducks/turtles and some free-roaming play in the children’s garden.  It was a beautiful morning – just the right temperature – and the gardens were teeming with locals enjoying the free entry on a Wednesday morning.  As per usual, Kazuo made a bee-line for the store, but we also managed a happy little interlude in the outdoor music area.

We are soaking up the sunny days in this magical place.

Charmed By…

With thoughts of creating a thrifty yet homely and hospitable space in Scotland that finally brings ALL our beloved things from around the world into one place, I have been casting about in my spare time for inspiration.  In the meantime, I have also tripped over a few things that have me longing for disposable income.  But since that may be a LOOONG time coming, I will just post them here and come back and daydream over them from time to time.  And you can enjoy them too.

  • Black seems a theme in our meagre decor and I really like how this guy has done it:

  • Am already dreaming of painting everything I find…so I need to have some good DIY tips to fall back on.  This post is really handy.
  • I would LOVE this beautiful stationery…

  • …and I have been dreaming of William Morris for years.  So if anyone feels like sending me this gorgeous book for Christmas…well you KNOW I will love it, hehe.

  • While seeking handmade double espresso cups, I stumbled across these beautiful Japanese-style pottery bowls…love, love, love.
  • Which reminds me of how grateful I was to receive these darling dishes from my sister when she came (not strictly a covet as I HAVE them…but I would love some more earthy gems to go with them…):

This Moment

{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

Check out SouleMama for the inspiration.

Ten Things of Happiness

Right now there is a lot buzzing about in my head…here are few things that are making me happy.  How about you?

1. The wonderful images created by Bianca Gomez, especially the wonderful birds she created for Poolga.com:

2. Cucumbers, they taste so good right now…looking forward to when they will grow in my yard:

3.  Hoping to find a spot in the new house for crafty things, and with this in mind, I want to source some better quality materials on our arrival, like this wonderful plant dyed wool felt.

4. Gingerbread, and the little one’s delight at eating ‘Men’ – especially the overjoyed dance of foodie ecstasy:

5.  The gorgeous images at The Vintage Moth:

4. Finding some good thinking about eating locally has been going on at our destination.

5. My orange mint plant spilling abundantly out on the balcony – not much else can thrive out there, but this little hardy number gives me some hope!

6. I’ve not worn these for years, but they fill me with thoughts of sandy summer afternoons:

7. Slowly a little Autumn wearing for the wee guy is taking shape on my needles:

8. I know I am horribly conservative here, but my feet are so particular, and the last pair of these I owned were SO comfy that I overlooked the slightly less than stylish thing…and I could walk for days in them and they lasted AGES, it is time for some new ones this winter I think:

9. This bag – I know, not terribly practical, but rather lovely all the same:

10.  These guys…they ALWAYS make me happy…

Summer Days

While our heads are largely up in the cloud of moving-to-Scotland-in-September, the rest of us is down on the ground of our last St Louis summer.  With Kazuo asking about going to the ‘park’ (yes, his words are advancing) every waking moment (even when we are at a park, or on our way home from a park…it is rather relentless), it has had to have been in the high 90’s with 90% humidity to keep us indoors.  There have been plenty of those days in the past few weeks, and even then, we have gone to the park in the early morning and after tea when the sun has waned a little.  But this week – glorious.  Temps in the 80’s and crisp dry mornings have made for a lot more outdoor fun.

Tuesday we  re-conquered the City Garden with our friends Janna and Sofia.  The wee tots tootled about the sculptures.  Sofia larked about in the fountains while Kazuo edged in then veered away from the water in his usual fashion.  It was a delightful morning of sun, water and stylish sculpture.  A place that St Louis should be justly proud of and another space we know we will miss.

Getting Out More

After illness number four of the winter, I had a little bit of a meltdown about how confined I had felt this year.  Silly me.

But in his inimically pragmatic fashion, Akira insisted that the answer was just for me to get out more in the evenings.  Predictably, I balked.  He doesn’t get out much himself…It wouldn’t seem fair…and I am so tired at the end of the day…etc etc etc blah blah blah…

So I took him literally…and have been out three times in the past week – whew, I am tired!  Though in actuality the only night I went to bed later than usual was the night of laundry…and that was to be expected.

Initially it was the lovely Julia who hosted a girly night at her house last Friday – just wine, chocolate and good company.  Then on Wednesday I met this little fella:

He is our friend Ruthann’s tiny little darling and hanging out with them made me realise afresh that new born animals are as much hard work initially as newborn people…but at least a baby human won’t bite or scratch you to bits!  He really is the sweetest wee thing, and I am looking forward to him becoming friends with our little person.

Finally, last night Denise and her friend Ludmila took me out to a gallery opening, first one in a LONG time.  I wasn’t too infatuated with the styrofoam/plastic installation in the middle of the gallery floor (looked like something Kaz might do with the recycling in the kitchen) but the intricate images that Amanda Hughen created on mylar and the tiny worlds Carin Mincemoyer created in discarded packaging:

were quite ethereal and whimsical and worth the trip out.  I also loved the intimacy of the space at Good Citizen.

It is great to be getting out more…I may not take advantage SO much in the coming week (esp since Akira has a birthday coming up and deserves some time out himself) but it does make me feel a little less joined at the hip to Kazuo, and maybe a little more connected to the world at large.  Doesn’t take much!

Crafty Amazingness

Last year when I had a rare crafternoon with Julia (and my sewing machine jammed irretrievably), she was working on the most incredible paper cutting delights with some old Funk and Wagnalls Encyclopedias.  Imagine my joy when she presented us with our very own masterpiece for Christmas:

Here is a side view, including the lovely old book binding – I’m pretty sure my father sold Funk and Wagnalls in the 60’s, so it was a doubly poignant gift:

Today I finally made it a wall in our dining room of arty little companions that I had been collecting up for sometime:

Here they are looking very much at home. I am so grateful for Julia’s crafty contribution to our decor!