I’ve been trying to be really busy trying not to think too much and I got to the point I am actually all caught up with the laundry (and the ironing!)… and don’t think that’s ever happened before so yesterday I was almost bored and felt quite bereft at the sight of silent washing machine. That’s not a good sign.
Ta dahhhh, enter THE POD…
I’ve used these babies before and as long as you don’t attempt to dye too much fabric in one go, the colour you get is really intense.
So.. I changed the life of a Cos t-shirt of one of the boys:
Then I dyed THE Zara dress, white, black dots… the one that everybody had last year… do you remember? I just couldn’t bring myself to wear it after a while, it was kind of like a joke… so maybe now I can wear it again. It’s a very flattering shape!
AND finally, and the biggest success, I dyed a gorgeous charity shop find… a vintage crochet thingy that looked really dated and now doesn’t anymore!
The colour you get will vary depending on the material and its thickness, but I’m really pleased with the evenness (is that a real word?) of the results. It’s a simple process too, you wash the items, leave them in the machine wet and add the pod on top (try to remember to remove the lid… just saying…), wash at 40C as normal, then add detergent and wash the items/fabric again, and then run another cycle at 60C to clean the machine properly … It’s not the most environmentally friendly thing in the world, but if you can revive old items and not buy news ones… it pays for itself like that I think.
Just under an hour from the centre of Hiroshima, half way up a hill, in a quiet residential street there is the most gorgeous ‘ryokan’ you can possibly imagine.
A ryokan is a is a type of traditional Japanese inn that typically feature tatami-matted rooms, communal baths, and other public areas where visitors may wear yukata, which are lightweight cotton kimono type garments. This the Wikipedia definition… and it feels a little dry. In the case of the ‘Sekitei‘ it just doesn’t do justice to the magic of the place. In fact it is probably my favourite place of all the ones we stayed in during our trip.
My photos have downloaded in mysterious ways so… well come with me on a tour…
When you arrive in a ryokan you take your shoes off and get given slippers to wear around the place (… they never fit big feet and No 1’s size 12 canoes looked absolutely hilarious in the denty little things, even the staff laughed every time he shuffled by).
We were then served a welcome tea, of green tea and salted ice cream in a waffle sandwich type thing. Delicious unless you don’t like green tea like 4 out of five of us. I do, and that one was particularly sweet.
our room/suite was simply divine. Seriously, I didn’t want to leave at all… it had a mixture of Japanese style furniture with some cracking mid-century pieces, a killer view, a quiet, zen atmosphere…
Not to mention the most amazing bath… that there is an onsen bath, a special tap would fill it with naturally hot spring water… bliss. There was also a separate shower room, because you must wash before relaxing in an onsen.
the beds were low… but super comfortable although I haven’t mastered a graceful getting up/lying down manouvre. Imagine an ostrich trying a futon and you get the idea.
… the decor, the garden… and then when you think it can’t get any better… the baths! Naturally spring water coming out of the ground at a perfect 40C, rich in minerals and really good for your skin.
They are public, male and female separate, although as I said you can use the wooden tub in the room if you prefer. I went in and ‘learnt’ from surreptitiously looking around… So, if you take the door at the end of the corridor, right in front of you…
You take off your house slippers and enter this cozy room, take off all your clothes and put them in one of the basket, grab a flannel, and a small towel and move on to here:
a beautiful wash room all in wood (it smelt so great) and wash yourself; I mean PROPERLY! I have never seen adults taking so much care in washing themselves over an over again… quite disconcerting at times, but nobody looks at anybody else at all and it’s strangely private even if totally public. When you’re sparkling clean you cover yourself modestly with a small towel in front of you and then you have a choice of an indoor onsen, or an outdoor one…
Aaaand relax… Absolutely bliss.
After you don your ‘yukata’ and chill in your room. The boys would probably kill me for showing you this but here’s them waiting for dinner in their Japanese garbs:
Dinner. Dinners are not just dinner… the chefs take as much pride in their presentation as they do in the food itself and whilst not everything was ‘agreeable’ to our Western palate, the look of the food was mind blowing.
I also opted for the ‘Japanese breakfast’ in the morning. Very nice indeed.
Last night I had a gorgeous night in the company of lovely women making Christmas Wreaths. Yeah I know… you just can’t have too many, I don’t care what you say.
There green branches everywhere…
First we had a lesson, which made me realise that the old ‘glue gun manoeuvre’ is not exactly the best method when it comes to ‘greenery’. (TBH… it always worked for me.. )
Then we started our own. We used a wire base, beautiful fragrant moss and meters and meters of florist wire. (I’m in love with florist wire).
I almost called it done I was so happy with how it looked at this stage (Moss wreath are a thing’, surely. If not they should be… but I soldiered on… and this is when it all went mad!
I don’t want to think what my friend’s dining room must look like this morning… in the light of day… last night it was like a forest, or perhaps like an explosion in a flower shop… with feathers! And gin. There might have been gin… what goes on tour stays on tour…
They all came out crazy beautiful. Big, small, all different too… I tried to keep it neat and classic…
(incidentally… since I bought these shoes… I can’t take them off. I mean, I can take them off but I don’t want to… they’re just the best)
This morning I had a bit of a crisis because the front door already has a wreath… and then I remembered the back door which faces the square (which I think at one point was the ‘service door?’ waaaaay back when people had staff… instead of just… mothers…)
Me thinks it’s fab. Not perfect… a little crooked and wabi sabi, but if the milkman complains he can forget his Christmas tip!
And I have all sorts of idea for next year/spring/Easter… you name it… it’ll be wreath city around here!
I’d like to get back to bed but I have a lunch date with a friend, a laundry room that is so full I need to excavate the washing machine in order to use it, half a dozen 13yr olds coming later on this afternoon for a get together (they’re not call parties anymore…) and a list of calls to make as long as my arm. One child is in Turkey with friends, one child is on work experience (I’m using ‘child’ in the loose sense of the word obviously) and one is trying to convince me that his friends don’t care if the basement is messy. That maybe so but I still need him to sort it out. And nobody likes warm J2Os… no matter what his lazy self tells me.
Also I must have gained 4lbs in the three days I was away and I’m trying to convince myself I’m not hungry.
The other reason I went was to help mum take photos of their Tuscan house to put it on the market. They settled really well in the UK and so this is the logical next step.
The house is gorgeous, an old stone house in the local style, with green shutters and thick walls, three double bedroom and a single, two lounges, an enclosed porch, two bathrooms… a lovely garden with a workshop and a shed…
and has the most amazing views (this was taken from my bedroom window on the 2nd floor just after dawn… pretty special, isn’t it?)
and it’s in a super cute hamlet, called Arsicci, about 40 min from Arezzo)
surrounded by other gorgeous villages,
(this is the atrium of their local church San Michele Archangelo in Badia Tedalda)
Interested? know someone who is? email me… I have tons of photographs…
In the meantime… cheers!
(dad is drinking a very red Campary and I’m on the Aperol Spritz of course)
Am I the only one who reaches the last week of school completely frazzled and confused? ‘My daily life is an endless round of washing clothes for various ‘sports days’ and ‘activity days’ which require ‘old clothes’ or clothes that can get wet or covered in paint or ruined (why??)… then there’s the daily search for non-leaking water bottles, big but not heavy, and shoes that ‘disappear’ on a regular basis, and sun cream that’s non sticky, nor oily, nor smelly… but lasts all day…
Seriously. It’s madness. All this demanded by teenage boys who don’t speak but grunt and expect you to read minds and remember everything because they’re too busy watching the demented and brain destroying Love Island or shooting each in other in ‘Fortnight’… don’t get me started on either of them. I was listening to Radio 4 this morning on the way home from dropping them off at school and one of the panelist, talking statistics, mentioned that since 2009 the rate of teenage pregnancy has halved. My theory is that kids don’t meet each other anymore face to face. They’re too used to ‘snapchat’ each other or text each other or just be in touch on social media… they can’t handle face to face contact. Do you remember when in order to see boys you actually had to go out? and meet them? in person? shocking.
How did I get here?… whatever… life is busy… yesterday I got sent out looking for red and white face paint (all sold out), England flags (ditto) and a teddy bear to use as mascot for the upcoming hockey tour No 1 and No 2 will be on next week. Then of course the aforementioned creature had to have a t-shirt made in same colour as the kit… and so that’s how I spent yesterday afternoon: crocheting a t-shirt for a bear. Lucky me. This morning will be spent attaching name labels to hockey gear. Lucky lucky me. Actually I don’t mind that too much, the boys will have such an amazing experience I’m really glad for them… (I wish I was going). It’ll be weird not to have them around Mr M and I will be taking No 3 to Paris via train… I think we’re more excited than he is… AND if you have any recommendations for quirky things to do in Paris please pass then on… don’t say the sewers as Mr M is claustrophobic and was really disturbed by those poor Thai boys stuck in the cave for three weeks. So open air/museums off the beaten track, cute places to eat… that kind of thing.
Today I’m wearing trousers for the first time in almost three weeks. (I’d like to point out I was wearing dresses or skirts because of the un-English hot summer, I didn’t wonder around half naked). It feels very strange and constricting.
No 1 has passed his driving theory test. My baby. My first born is almost driving. Do you realise how old this makes me feel? Do you also realise that I have to remind him to put his towels in the wash every week and he could be soon in charge of a car??
For the sake of ‘true news’ I’d like to confess that my room doesn’t look like this at all at the current moment. I’m trying to remind myself of how nice it can be if I tidied up a bit and by a bit I mean a lot… still… one has labels to attach, right?
(And I just remembered I need to take the rubbish to the dump because NOBODY took the rubbish out on time yesterday morning.)
Whenever I’m come back from holiday I feel the need to ‘sort things’. I have the urge of diving into cupboards and purge things, throw away the surplus… start afresh. Now this could be a total denial of the amount of washing that five people produce in a week in a hot country I’ll be the first to admit… but I think that at the bottom of that is the feeling that holiday always bring on of a fresh start, of fully charged batteries, of a desire to put behind all the drudgery, to fix the broken and the wrongs and begin with renew enthusiasm. Sometimes it lasts longer than other and as I get older this blasted jet lag really knocks me for 6… but still the fire is there.
I made a list. A long list.
I’ve already nordered a new chest of drawers for our bedroom because I’m fed up of cardboard drawers in the dressing room shelves (yes, I’m lucky to have a dressing room but it’s not how I would have designed it and certain features – lack of drawers) really annoy me. So that’s one thing off the list.
And actually our bedroom got painted whilst we were away and I love it, so that is an item sort of out of a prequel list… if that makes even any sense.
Yesterday in between bouts of ironing (can’t stand having an ironing mountain, much rather doing it as it appears out of the dryer) I repotted a few of the plants that needed attention.
I’ve been a member of the Geo-Fleur plant club for a while now and all the little monthly plant the send are doing so well that they started to need a bigger home. Every month you receive a new plant in a gorgeous little pot and a few other little goodies. Great fun.
My pilea has been making babies at rabbit pace and my dad has been hinting rather loudly he’d like one to so….
… and this first born, which had moved into its first pad last year needed a bigger one too… ok… a prettier one… and I wanted my coffee cup back…
Then there was this ‘thing’ that had appeared on its one in the pot of a totally different plant. I have no idea what it is or how it ended up there, but it looks healthy and cute so it got its own pot too.
Any idea? you plant expert?
Anyway, I made a right Royal mess in the kitchen doing all this but it was worth it although I then moved into completely re-doing the shelves above the kitchen because… don’t know, just because and the whole thing took much longer.
I love quilts on wall. I love rugs on walls too but Mr M doesn’t like either of the options so the only place where I’ve been able to hang a quilt is the spare room. Lucky guests, right?
Because of this inexcusable aversion/taste lapse etc. I’ve had to wait for my dad to actually move to this country with his drill to realise my dream. (My dad loves his tools and is about to build a shed in his garden…do you get the picture?). Also there is nothing my dad likes more that spending time in a diy store so we were both happy at the end of our adventure.
There are plenty of tutorials out there on the big wide web, but this is what I did:
cut a strip of fabric as wide as my quilt and 8″ tall, I wish I still had some of the back fabric because it would have kind of made the hanging sleeve invisible… but hey… next time I’ll keep that in mind.
fold each short side towards the wrong side 1/4″ a couple of times and stitch down.
fold it in half length wise (WRONG SIDE TOGETHER) and press
fold each long side towards the middle crease and press hard
sew along the long edge of the strip with a 1/4″ seam allowance
lay the sleeve along the top of the quilt about 1/2 to 3/4″ from the edge, with the seam of the sleeve touching the quilt. You’ll notice there is more fabric on the top of the sleeve than on the back half, this is so the rod will not distort the quilt when you insert it/hang it. Pin it carefully.
by hand slip stitch the sleeve to the back of your quilt.
In the photo above you can see the rod poking out of the sleeve (it looks a weird angle… I had just folded the top of the quilt down) and the photos below shows you I simply slot the rod onto the little hook.
Annoyingly the quilt is not the right size… too small to hang behind the bed… visually at least it needs to be bigger, even if the colours do go well.