Thursday, 24 February 2011

A little lift...

Just a tiny post today...SO beautiful outside, warm sunshine, soft air and the birds are singing so loudly - they are just joyous! As i'm typing, a ladybird has just landed on my hand...so hibernation is obviously over for some creatures too...me included! I'm just off to deliver desserts and taking Alice with me so that we can take a long walk in the beautiful surrounding farmland afterwards.I'm certain the weather will regress soon, so we have to make the most of it!

I just wanted to share this sweet little gift that my almost-3-year-old-youngest-nephew made me the other day...
Of course, you'll be able to see immediately that it's a hedgehog...!
I'm using it as a paperweight and smiling every time I see it. He was so very proud when he handed it to me on Tuesday, all wrapped carefully in kitchen paper. Like my oldest nephew (in Australia...how I miss you, Kip!) he's obsessed with animals and birds and already knows a lot about them.

I was very impressed with this...looks like we have a crafter in the family!!

Love to you this Thursday...I hope you're having a wonderful day xoxo

Monday, 21 February 2011

A gift from my garden and those giveaway results!!

It's a grey, gloomy morning here...and the rainfall started with a vengeance about half an hour ago. Alice is still in bed, snoring gently...she hates the cold and wet, so we won't be walking anytime soon.

Before the rain, I popped out into the garden first thing to take these pictures to brighten our Monday..above, the gorgeous Winter Jasmine which bursts along our garden wall at this time of year spreading sunshine & fragrance....
and here are the little snowdrops, which appear in tiny, starlike clumps all over the garden...more each February, it seems. Beautiful reminders that Spring is on it's way and that nature is moving  & working & producing all the time.

Now, on to my giant 100th post giveaway results!! I had 18 names to choose from this time....I added in even those who have won before, because I felt that you all deserved a chance to win as a thanks for all your support, love and wonderful comments. I put the names into the 'magic mug' and the first I pulled out is the winner of this bundle...

which will be winging it's way across the Atlantic to....Silke of the lovely blog Metamorphosis !! So happy you won Sweetie - of course, I'd have liked everyone to get a prize and I admit that I have butterflies in my stomach as I pull the name out of the 'hat' each time!
You'll remember that this time I had a second prize to surprise another loyal reader....this beautiful Susan Branch writing paper & Emma Bridgewater egg cup go to....

sweet Erin from I heart New England !! Yay Erin!

Thanks so much to you ALL for entering, and more importantly for reading and being so sweet about my blog(s). I really love to write them...they've become integral to my life, not least because I've made so many new friends through them...and you can never have too many of those, I think!

If Silke & Erin could e-mail your addresses to me at: theblueangelbakery (at) hotmail (dot) co (dot) uk I'll package up your goodies and send them on their way to you, with my love.

I'll be having another giveaway of course in the future...I love to plan them and think of things you'd love, so do watch this space. And have a wonderful Monday xoxo

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Despatches from a special correspondent!

Paul has been away for a few days (he's on his way home now...) staying in this beautiful old farmhouse in Penrith which is in the North Eastern part of our Lake District. Such an amazing part of the country...you may remember that we spent a week there, in the South Lakes, last June. Home to so many famous historical figures who took their inspiration from the breathtaking landscape...Beatrix Potter of course! And William Wordsworth...
this is known, apparently, as 'Wordsworth's Waterfall' but I'm not sure if that's because he wrote about it or lived near it!
Paul has been hiking around the hills and fells with a few like-minded friends...I couldn't go as I have too much work here and also dogs weren't allowed in the house (can you believe that?!) so it would have been no fun for Alice at all...but he has been sending me some beautiful photos which I thought I'd share with you.

These were taken yesterday on a long walk around Ullswater Lake....on one of the few sunny days they've had on the trip...





you can see why I fell in love with the area can't you?

The good news is that we've booked a (dog friendly) cottage in the South lakes again this summer...and after seeing the beauty of the landscape again, I almost can't wait!!

I also wanted to thank everyone so much for the lovely comments you have been leaving on my last post...I can't wait for the draw on Monday and only wish that everyone could win!

With my love for a wonderful Thursday xo

Monday, 14 February 2011

A Little Love Story....& a BIg Giveaway

It's Valentine's Day...and these are my sweet feet...another wonderful present from one of my Twitter friends, Rosinda!

I'm not a huge fan of Valentine's Day....I believe that if you love someone, you should let them know every day, not just once a year. I also am aware that those without a significant other can feel isolated and sad on this day when the world seems full of red roses and chocolates. That's why I prefer it not to be just about romance.I always send my niece and nephews a card each, with a funny message that says how much they are loved. I used to so look forward to seeing a red envelope in the mail when I was a child (usually from my dear Grandad!) I'm so happy to have received 6 cards this year that were all from girlfriends! They mean as much to me as the one I opened this morning from Paul.

But I just wanted to send a little tribute today to that man...my darling husband. Many of you will know that I had a very unhappy first marriage...for many reasons, with faults on both sides and mostly stemming from the fact that we were WAY too young to even think about marriage. I had some very dark times back then Until my handsome prince came along. We were friends for a long time before it became a romance...we would talk for hours about all sorts of things....and then, one day, we danced in the dark of a Monday evening and everything changed.
He isn't perfect. But he's perfect for me. One of his best qualities is his generosity and kindness. The first present he ever bought me was a dress. Not any dress....one that I absolutely adored and coveted (I still don't know how he knew as I never told him!) One day, there was a big carrier bag, filled with tissue paper - and underneath, although I could hardly believe it, there it was!
my dream dress in the right size (he always gets the right size!)....purple, sparkly, heavy, beaded...

I still, 12 years later, get so much pleasure from just looking at it. I'll pass it on to my niece one day, as I have no daughter of my own...but not yet!
That's Paul - my sweetheart, my dearest love. Other wonderful things about him: he LOVES to iron...he ALWAYS puts the lavatory seat down...he brings me a cup of tea in bed most mornings...he can tell when I'm tired and fed up and will just take over cooking supper, or run me a bath, or fill my hot water bottle...he warms my side of the bed...and if it's really cold, he'll warm my pyjamas on the radiator too. He's thoughtful and caring. Of course, he can be so irritating that he makes me want to scream...he spends longer in the bathroom than I do...and takes much longer to get ready on a night out...and the closet is 3/4 his clothes and shoes, while mine have to squeeze into the remaining tiny space...

But every day, I feel loved and special...and I know how lucky that makes me. xo

So, soppy bit over! This is my 101st post...I can hardly believe it...and to celebrate I wanted to have a special giveaway. Something that encompassed all the facets (or most of them) of Mozart's Girl...so here we go...

Firstly, it had to be my other Valentine, my darling Mozart! This CD is two of his wonderful piano concertos (21, the very famous one, and 22) played by an amazing young pianist, Jonathan Biss. I hope that whoever wins will listen and love it and think of me too! Next:

Emma Bridgewater. I love her. And this little tiny Union Jack cup is to celebrate her and the UK...along with

this little Cath Kidston pin badge which shows a lovely illustration of York Minster and would be fun to have on a bag or jacket...

For my beloved Australia there's this cute little notepad, with an illustration of a possum family. I bought it on my trip there, in the lovely hill town of Maleny. It has a magnetic strip on the back so it will stick to a fridge or somewhere else useful. And lastly....

one of my favourite books, always on my bedside table (this is a new copy!!) 'Stuffed- growing up in a restaurant family' by Patricia Volk. Warm, funny, sharply observed and filled with love, family and FOOD!
So that's my giveaway...but that's not all!
As 100 posts is a big milestone, I thought I'd celebrate properly by having a second smaller prize so that two people have some Mozart's Girl joy!
So, the 2nd person out of the draw will win...
this little Emma Bridgewater egg cup that has a tiny rooster and the words 'Wake Up Rise & Shine' printed on it - so sweet. Lastly....

a very special set of decorated notepaper and envelopes by my darling friend Susan Branch ! I think this was discontinued quite a few years ago so is probably now quite rare! There are 10 envelopes, with illustrations on both sides and a lovely pile of writing paper with watercolours and quotes in her inimitable style for those special letters - and everyone loves snailmail!

So, all you need to do to have a chance of winning one of these prizes is to leave me a comment on this post,,,anything you want, although I'd love to hear your favourite things about the blog, or if there's anything you'd like to see more of!

I'll draw the names a week from today , that's Monday 21st February....I can't wait to hear who wins!

Thanks so much for reading....this blog ( and my other one, Baking Brownies for Mozart) are such fun for me and such a part of my life now...it's great to have met so many new and interesting people through them xo

Sunday, 13 February 2011

A tiny taste...

of Valentine's Day. Tomorrow I'll be writing my special 100th post - complete with Valentine Love and a giveaway too....
this is my very favourite picture of Paul & I (even though you don't really see his face!) He's cooking at the barbecue..and I think my expression says it all perfectly!

The love of friends is SO important to me, and the many new ones I've made over the past year on my Twitter page are a case in point. We call our merry little band The Tweetettes and the friendship and support I've had from them is priceless to me. We often send little bits & pieces to each other...for the season, for a special occasion...or just to say hello! Valentine's Day has seen a flood of cards and gifts pouring through my letterbox - is there anything nicer than proper mail? So wonderful to look forward to the postman, rather than dreading the brown envelopes that shout 'BILL!!'

I've set up special displays in the front windows so that everyone can enjoy the cards and decorations. The beautiful crocheted string of hearts was sent to me by Regina, a friend in my beloved Salzburg. She has a fantastic online shop - Mia de Roca - which sells all kinds of interesting and unusual Alpine homewares and jewellery...also fabulous bags, one of which I am saving hard for right now. It will be my reward for finishing a writing project I'm working on!

The miniature rose brings a little green into the house - I'm not a big fan of houseplants (I never have much luck with them and they gather dust...I feel so guilty when I kill them!) but the rosy buds on this one won me over.
Join me tomorrow, if you can...until then, have a wonderful Sunday xo

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

A few more favourite things...

This is one of my favourite things...I LOVE Emma Bridgewater (who doesn't?!) and the British Bird pattern is just gorgeous. I also particularly like the rounded, tactile shape of this jug. It sits on top of the kitchen shelf...unless it's needed for holding milk or gravy or cordial.
This little mug is nearly 34 years old ( what a thought!) In 1977, when our Queen celebrated her Silver Jubilee, all the schoolchildren at the time were given one of these. I've always loved it and kept it very carefully through my various house moves. I'm so happy it's survived! Graceful and pretty...and 2012 will be her Diamond Jubilee! What will the children get to commemmorate 60 years I wonder?
Militza (our adopted Serbian grandmother...much more about her elsewhere on this blog!) gave me this delicate candlestick many, many years ago. Like the Jubilee cup, it's travelled everywhere with me. And you can imagine my thrill when I found this little coffee pot in the same pattern last year...and in a charity shop too! It cost only a couple of pounds. Pure serendipity.
I suppose that one of the reasons why objects are so precious is the history attached to them...the remembrance of the place they occupied when I was young, or the person who gave them to me. This little Delft lidded box, for instance, was always on a shelf in my grandparents sitting room in Suffolk. It held little bits of broken china and other scraps that they'd found and not wanted to throw away. My mum knew that I loved it, so when my Grandad died she made sure that it was passed to me. So the history continues...

More blue and white. Spode, this time. It was difficult to capture the size of this cup and saucer in a picture...but this is HUGE! It holds about 3 pints, and for this reason it's not often used for tea! But I've planted primroses in it (indoors) and it's always around as it makes me happy. It was also given to me by a dear friend...those memories and attachments again!
And finally, for this post, our newest acquisitions...

We stopped for a night in Carnforth, Lancashire last sunmer on our way up to the Lake District. In the clear, sunny evening we went for a post dinner stroll around the town...and happened upon an antique shop (closed) with this pair of 1920's vases in the window. I was absolutely captivated by the strong colours and beautiful, autumnal pattern. There was a note on the door, stating the (very limited) opening hours and the telephone number of the shopowner. Paul wrote it down, and we vowed to go back.
A few days later, on a rainy afternoon, we did just that after arranging an appointment with the owner first. And the vases were ours (very reasonably!) Their joyous vibrancy gives me so much pleasure.

What a glorious day today...the sky is clear blue, the sun is warm, there's not a breath of wind and the birds are absolutely revelling in it....of course, we may be knee-deep in snow this time next week, but it does wonders for the spirits however long it lasts.

The next post will be my 100th. I'm putting together a very special giveaway...so I'll see you soon with the details!
Thanks so much for reading xo  

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

My Garden in February...& brighter days

This is what I can see as I write this morning...SUN! Birds singing and the gentle glow through the blinds...now that February is here, I can feel the very early stirrings of Spring all around. The snowdrops in the churchyard are now joined by a carpet of tiny yellow aconites under the huge, ancient beech tree. Hope is everywhere.
Unfortunately, when I took pictures of the garden yesterday, it wasn't so beautiful!
Gloomy is the word. It looks very much like the January garden, in fact! But there are a few subtle changes...at the weekend, I dug over the raised vegetable bed. It's now rich, dark & weed free so I covered it with a tarpaulin

which will inhibit weed growth and help the earth to warm up, in readiness for planting new seeds later..

I also pruned all my roses...

they are old-fashioned, heavily scented bushes...my favourite! Unfortunately, I can't tell you the names! Paul bought me several of them for Christmas a few years ago...he thought he bought Winchester Cathedral...pure white, just beautiful. They were labelled as such! But that first year, when they flowered...they were a magnificent pink! I don't mind a bit...they have an amazing fragrance and look gorgeous. But we still don't know what their name is!

I love hellebores, and my parents bought us this wonderful Christmas Rose for our anniversary a couple of weeks ago. They love the cold, wet & shade...perfect British winter plants!
I try and plan for little splashes of colour year round...but it can be difficult!
Still, every little helps...
As inside the house, Wolfgang Amadeus watches serenely over our garden...

a bit of a Victorian image of him...not so handsome as the real man...but it comforts me anyway and makes me smile!

So that's February. Hopefully there will be some more signs of Spring by March...
To make up for the general dinginess, I like to have plenty of flowers inside...especially hyacinths because I adore their heady scent and vivid blueness!

The little robin sculpture is so lifelike isn't he?

I hope that you are having a wonderful week. I am thinking especially of Queensland in Australia today...of those who are living in fear of the biggest cyclone ever which is due to hit that beautiful coast in a few hours. Thankfully, my sister and her family are out of the danger zone. But so many aren't. Spare a thought if you can. We can only hope that it's not as bad as expected...

With love xo