Sunday, 29 November 2009

Oxford Charity Shops

As promised, photos of my charity shop finds from last weekend in Oxford. From top to bottom: fox shaped salt and pepper shakers (couldn't resist, loving all things fox-related since Fantastic Mr Fox!); a dinosaur mug (for the geek within me); a rose patterned china dish (to add to the ever growing collection of old crockery); a 1953 Coronation mug (I'd been totally inspired by the Liberty's Christmas windows, then on Monday read this post and realised it wasn't just me). I also picked up Ladybird book on honeybees. A pretty good haul all in all.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009


(image from here) absolutely where I would like to be right now. This one, belonging to Rita Konig, and written about here just looks so inviting. Very glad Rita Konig is back writing (after Domino magazine went bust) as I think her styling is fabulous.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Monday, Monday

Some chocolate cupcakes to cheer up this dark Monday evening. I baked them two weekends ago but as I haven't baked anything in the past week I thought I'd share. Hummingbird Bakery recipe again - if you don't have the book already, stick it on your Christmas wish list!
(And Alex, very keen to show you my charity shop purchases too - will share them as soon as I am next home in some daylight and can take photos!)

Student lifestyle

We visited a friend who is studying in Oxford this weekend. The weather was pretty grim, with wind and incessant drizzle, but I had a very enjoyable, albeit damp, wander down Cowley Road where I made more than a couple of purchases in the charity shops before heading to a branch of the fabulous G&D's Ice Cream Parlour. It may have been cold and wet outside, but inside was so warm and cosy and brightly lit that what was initially an order of 'one small hot chocolate please...' soon had added '...and a scoop of Dime Crunch with butterscotch sauce'. Yum.

The evening consisted of many ludicrously cheap cocktails at a college bop and dancing and dancing. Sometimes I get pangs of longing to be a student again, partying all night then spending the day lazing around with endless cups of tea - but then I remind myself that there was a significant amount of work to do in addition to all that and that there really are plus sides to not having an essay deadline looming.

Lazy, guilt free, Sundays most definitely have my vote today.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Vampires and Werewolves oh my!

(image from here)

Off to see New Moon tonight straight after work. Can't wait, especially after reading this review on Fat Quarter:

'the sexual tension, particularly between Bella and Jacob, twangs in the air with a series of near kisses and half touches'

Oh the anticipation! (though I know I should know better...)


A big thank you to Tooting Squared and The Wild Wolves for my blog awards, I am glowing with pride just like the little lavender cutting above (tenuous link I know, but I took the picture of my mother's green fingered efforts last time I was home and just wanted to share!). Tooting, I will try answer the questions as soon as I possibly can, but bear with me, I have lots I want to post about and seem to be so very busy at the moment. Wild Wolves, I can't seem to get to your blog anymore and so haven't been able to see the relevant post could you please email me the link ( teacupscupcakesblog [at] googlemail [dot] com)? Thank you both!

Thursday, 19 November 2009

State Opening

(image from The Guardian)

Yesterday was the State Opening of Parliament. Just after 11am we all piled out of the office and down to Parliament Square to see the Queen arrive in her golden carriage, flanked by guards dressed in scarlet sitting astride dark, glossy horses. Beneath the grey skies and surrounded by a sea of dark winter coats of the spectators, the royal procession stood out as though the pages of a story book had come to life to walk down Whitehall. In the middle of an otherwise ordinary Wednesday morning, another world, another era.

No-one does pomp and circumstance quite like the British.

Inspiring Women

(image from WI website)

Above is the Women's Institute's new logo, which will become active from 1st January 2010. I have been a member of the WI for just over a year now and feel that the new logo and tag-line are a great move forward, the phrase 'Inspiring Women' describing perfectly how I feel about my experience of being a member.

My early memories of the WI involve morning visits to the local WI market whilst holidaying in South Norfolk, arriving early in order to ensure that the baked goods stall did not run out of its famous chocolate cake before we had chance to purchase one. In addition to this, cheap plants that Mum eagerly bought for the garden, local grown fruit and vegetables and home-made preserves were also on offer, though admittedly we by-passed the crocheted toilet-roll holders!

So far, so stereotypical, bearing in mind that this is an association that is over 90 years old, having arrived in Britain in 1915 with the dual aims of reinvigorating rural communities and encouraging women to become more involved in food production during the First World War.

However, there is far more to the WI than the ever-cited 'Jam and Jerusalem', and in more recent years its aims have broadened so that the WI now plays 'a unique role in providing women with educational opportunities and the chance to build new skills, to take part in a wide variety of activities and to campaign on issues that matter to them and their communities' (WI website).

The branch I belong to, The Shoreditch Sisters, achieves all these broader aims and more. Since joining in late summer 2008 I have, amongst other things, learnt quilting, corsage making, origami and urban cross-stitch, helped create knitted characters for Playstation's Little Big Planet, been on demonstrations against domestic violence, listened to a talk by the leader of the U-Turn Project and entered into debate with the author of a recent feminist text. I do leave every meeting feeling enriched and yes, inspired, eager to try out my new skills or investigate an issue further, and so in this way the new phrase is perfect; the WI is inspiring women everywhere to broaden their horizons or learn something new.

But I also think the phrase works in another way, as an adjective. Along with everything I have learnt, I have also had the opportunity to meet some creative, talented, brilliant women that, living in the vast sprawl of often-anonymous London, I would not, probably, have ever crossed paths with were it not for the WI. So, 'Inspiring Women' too as this collective of inspirational ladies that I have been lucky enough to meet.

I am not sure which way the creators of the new logo wanted 'Inspiring Women' to be interpreted, but I don't really think it matters, it works both ways, and either way it is an apt description of a great institution that I am happy to be a part of.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Bright Star

Oh dreamy. Billowing muslin through open windows, fields of bluebells, walks on the heath. Poetry lessons, cups of strong hot chocolate stirred three times clockwise. A room full of butterflies. Love notes folded into tiny origami and hidden under pillows. A lock of hair pressed between pages. A poet with sparkling eyes and a sideways half-smile. A heroine who knew her own mind and sewed her own creations. Fights in the rain and embracing under leafy summer trees. Velvet jackets and lace ruffles. Books to be treasured. Stolen kisses and a passionate love affair. And woven throughout, Keats' beautiful poetry.

Another Wednesday, another stunning film. Moving, tragic, but exquisite all the same.

(all images from here)

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Finds this week

Some autumn inspiration.

I have just joined this (starting to feel festive...must be the cold snap we've been having).

I'm excited about this too, thanks for the reminder Ray!

Katie, a friend from WI, is behind Fat Quarter, an online magazine, 'for and about intelligent, savvy, cultural, creative, crafty women'. Mosey on over and have a browse.

(Okay, the Hummingbird Bakery cupcake is less of a 'find' than a purchase, bought to cheer me up on an extended lunch break with M yesterday when I thought I was going to have to stay at work until the early hours of the morning and miss out on a previously planned cinema trip with Anna. As it was, things wrapped up at 8pm and I managed to make it, just. But I'm convinced the magic of the star sprinkles and cheery pink icing had something to do with it.)

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

(Belated) October BPS

My October Benevolent Postcard Society postcard which I received from Risa in Winnipeg, Cananda. It did arrive a couple of weeks ago, but I have just been slow at taking a photo and uploading it! Love the way her pretty blue collage contrasted with my October pumpkin. Thanks Risa!


I went a bit crazy in the charity shops when I went home for a dentist appointment on Friday, but in my defence, I haven't been charity shop shopping in a long while, the London ones just aren't of the same calibre as those in Norfolk so I have to make the most of it when I can!

Monday, 9 November 2009

36 questions

I have been given an award by Fay over at the very inspiring Dreaming of an Aga. Thank you Fay! Just going to rattle these answers off...

1. Your hair: brown, shoulder length
2. Where is your cell phone : on the desk beside me
3. Your father: an architect and fan of classic cars
4. Your mother: teaches English as a foreign language and loves growing things - fruit, veg., flowers, everything!
5. Your favorite food: Italian
6. Your dream from last night: I think I was probably too tired to dream!
7. Your favorite drink: a cool glass of water on a hot day
8. Your dream/goal: Oh to own a bookshop...
9. What room are you in: still at work. Sigh.
10. What is your hobby: cooking, baking, taking photographs, charity shop browsing, knitting, sewing, reading
11. What is your fear: making wrong decisions. I am pretty hopeless at decisions.
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years: still happy.
13. Where were you last night: on the sofa watching the final episode of Mad Men Series 1, eating risotto and lusting after the costumes.
14. Something you are not: decision making (see above)
15. Muffins: Ooo yes, what Fay said, apple and cinnamon (though never had Baker and Spice ones)
16. Wish list items: still a freezer
17. Where did you grow up: London, NW3
18. Last thing you did: Drank a cup of tea!
19. What are you wearing: Smart work stuff, heels, black tights, pencil skirt, black top, and pearls. They make me feel professional, like a 1950s secretary!
20.Your TV: A rather old one.
21. Your pets: none as I live in a fourth floor flat and don't fancy a hamster.
22. Your friends: so glad that so many of them have now moved to London!
23. Your life: happy, mostly.
24. Your mood: hungry...
26. Missing someone: my sister who has just gone off to university.
27. Vehicle: not in London though there is a car in Norfolk at my parent's that I'm insured on. No idea what type. It's blue.
28. Something you're not wearing: fairy wings?!
29. Your favorite store: Daunt books.
30. Your favorite colour: it depends on the context, but green is good.
31. When's the last time you laughed: at some doing impressions in the office today.
32. When's the last time you cried: can't remember but I just bought Bambi on video in a charity shop so I'm sure the tears will start flowing as soon as I stick that on!
33. Your best friend: I would class lots of my friends as 'best', for which I count myself very lucky indeed.
34. One place you go over and over: Columbia Road flower market.
35. One person who emails me regularly: my sister, since she went to uni.
36. Favorite place to eat: Mai Thai on Parker's Piece in Cambridge. Sadly I haven't been for awhile as I am no longer living there. Checking out a Thai place near me with some girlfriends later this evening which I'm hoping will prove to be a good substitute!

Phew, lots of information there! Think I might just open it up to all you readers as I have lost track of who has received which awards and you are all lovely! If you do answer the above questions let me know and I will link to your answers in a future post. Sorry for being lazy, it has been a long day...

Squash and sparklers

A weekend of misty mornings and early dusk. Of home grown squash stored in a cool conservatory, surrounded by fallen paper-dry vine leaves. Hydrangea heads drying on a wooden table, petals still tinged with pink.

A weekend of wrapping up in knitted things, scarves, gloves. Of wellington boots and a muddy park. The smell of sparklers and firework smoke. Explosions in the sky, loud and colourful. Once or twice, tearing my gaze from the magnificent display above to look back at those around me, faces upturned, eyes wide, lips parted slightly in wonder. Chips in paper, scattered with salt, dripping with vinegar. A late night arrival to a friends housewarming, and even later departure in the early hours of the morning. A lone urban fox, that paused and held our gaze for a split second, before darting away on the rain glossed tarmac.

A weekend of cozying up on sofas. Sunday morning with pancakes and a videoed episode of TV drama. Sunday afternoon catching up with some girlfriends with knitting needles, wool and lemon drizzle cake warm from the oven. Sunday night risotto supper and the heating turned on for the first time.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Worth being late for

I am struggling with the lack of daylight I seem to see these days, restricted as it is to mornings and weekends, and the knowledge that soon it will be weekends alone. On mornings like today, when the sky is heavy and cloud filled it seems like those dark mornings are already here. Monday however was bright and crisp, and I decided to take the camera on my walk to work to capture the turning leaves and morning sunlight. Though it did make me 5 minutes late, it was worth it to feel that I had done something before 9am, tramped over dew-damp grass and made eyes at a squirrel, rather than having the extra 15 minutes in bed and nothing but trodden-on toes from a cramped tube journey to show for it.

(I know this has been mentioned before here, but don't you agree the buildings of Whitehall viewed from St. James' Park look absolutely like something lifted from the pages of a fairytale? I have long thought so, just never before had my camera to caputre it.)