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Posted on April 20, 2016

Making a moment for Matcha

I don’t care what they say about Darjeeling; for me Matcha is the champagne of teas.

It’s dark and green and brooding, all those bubbles bursting with antioxidants, mysteries swirling around like in a bottom-less fairy-tale pond. It takes time to make and I love the slow, meditative process of warming the bowl, adding the water, mixing up an effervescent paste. Sometimes I add a splash of milk.

Making a moment for matcha tea #japanloveI think I’m in love with all things Japanese and I didn’t even realise until now.

Geisha, sushi, Sake, Matcha, origami, kimonos, haiku, Murakami, Muji, SuperDry… I even drive a Toyoto! (I draw the line at the ‘Kawaii’ phenomenon.)

Then last month I spotted this beautiful tray in the window of a charity shop. The shop was shut. I was sad. The tray would be gone by the time I could visit again…

A few days later my Mum handed me a ‘belated Easter gift’, and it was the tray! I was delighted.

Making a moment for matcha tea #japanloveOK it’s old. It’s a bit stained. But look at the delicate hand painting and the inlaid mother of pearl?

I said to myself that the next time I serve Sake, I’ll serve it on my Japanese tray. I might also use it for serving Matcha. In fact, I definitely will.

And I’d love to hear the stories this tray could tell, of drinking games and secrets disclosed as spirits freed the tongue…

The pale wood matches the mini-hockey-stick scoop and bamboo whisk, the accoutrements (which I discuss alongside the hand-thrown Matcha bowls in my New York City Art Journal post) are so much part of the experience; the trees just a few shades brighter than the tea.

I like to whisk in the shape of an ‘M’ or a ‘W’ for maximum frisson of the powder.

Day 47/100 of #100daysofhaiku 2015

I can picture myself working away in one of those little houses across the yellow bridge, soft rain pattering on the roof, watching the sail boats as I glance up to the snow-capped mountains, listening through the rain to the haunting call of the birds.

I’ve written about trays before, and Japan is definitely on my list of places to visit…unless of course, it turns out to be a Chinese tray?

Even so, the story is the same in my head and I’m sticking to it #makingamomentformatcha

Posted on December 1, 2015

Thoughts of Advent

So the 1st December has rolled around again; the first day of Advent.

I can’t believe it’s a year today that I launched this blog, and published my first post showcasing the Christmas Stocking Advent Bunting that I’d been working on for weeks.

Christmas Stocking Advent Bunting

I’ll never forget how to make a lined Christmas stocking (after sewing 50 stocking shapes to make the outer design and also the lining). But it was worth it. It was made with love as a gift for my Mum, with the idea that she could bring it out each year. An advent heirloom.

This year I haven’t done anything so ambitious, thinking the stocking bunting would be the new eco way to enjoy advent, but, but, I couldn’t resist buying my Mum a real calendar too.

It’s a fun family tradition, and she in turn surprised me with this beautiful, traditional scene (the rocking horse! the dog!):

Advent Calendar 2015

My perennial image of Christmas is of a roaring log fire, a beautifully decorated fir-tree, candles lit, stockings hung, presents wrapped and a glass of sherry, mince pies and a few carrots left out for Santa and Rudolf.

It’s a bit of a naive image perhaps, rose-tinted and conjuring old-fashioned films like The Railway Children (I still cry when I watch it – always the sequence on the platform at the end when the steam from the train clears and… sob), but it’s how I love to think of this magical time of year: a big Victorian influence, and not a hint of chocolate in sight.

So behind the door for today: an image of Santa reading a letter, presumably a Christmas list from a child.

Advent Calendar 1st December 2015

I remember once asking for a piano… Read more

Posted on November 21, 2015

A Season of Magic: Fancy Faces & Glittering Eyes

The word ‘magic’ for me conjures thoughts of spells, rabbits in hats, the number 7, trees with eyes, trapeze artists juggling teapots, broomsticks, feathers, black cats, smoke and mirrors and vanishing acts to defy the most outrageous of imaginations.

For the latest Get Messy Art Journal season – the Season of Magic, I had the perfect inspiration: a book of fanciful paper-makes with Pierrot faces and undecipherable scripts, stars, borders, glitter, stripes and miniature theatre cut-outs.

Here’s my first page:

Season of Magic Pierrot Art Journal Page

'Season of Magic' Pierrot Face

I love the colour combinations of black and gold with the checkerboard effect and the playing cards – red hearts that might lead to the Queen of Hearts and Alice in Wonderland and the Mad Hatter…because things are never what they seem. Read more

Posted on May 26, 2015

Beatroot & Lace Bazaar: accessories & vintage

Dainty Dora will be venturing out this Sunday to exhibit at the Beatroot & Lace Bazaar at the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow.

It’s been a while. There is a lot to prepare.

But when I started looking at my stock and working out what to take, I felt the frisson of excitement that I used to have at craft and vintage markets, back in the day, when I went by the name of Cotton Candy Corsage.

Dainty Dora fashion accessories

Such a silly name really. Frivolous and airy-fairy, but I loved it at the time.

The name ‘Dainty Dora’ came about due to one of the designs I christened that name. I think the name ‘Dora’ has lovely connotations of hapless Grandmas’ knitting and crocheting around the fire, weaving tall tales into blankets and socks and jumpers. And then there’s ‘Dora the Explorer’….

I’ve always been attracted to vintage things – shiny buttons, age-worn leather, brooches and tea-sets and trinkets with provenance and history and the smell of another time. That vintage smell. Not the overwhelming smell of mothballs, but just a light dusting of vintage magic.

Who owned this before me? What were they like? Where did they live? What places did they visit?

Here’s a taste of what to expect from Dainty Dora this Sunday 31st May: Read more

Posted on April 22, 2015

Nina Ricci Vintage Swimming Costume – swoon!

Glasgow has such an active and exciting vintage scene with so many places to browse and buy and be inspired by vintage and second-hand clothes, accessories, vinyl – everything.

After a recent wander through Glasgow’s West End with a friend, I came back with a rather eclectic haul of items, the star of the show being a Nina Ricci vintage swimming costume.

Or should that be ‘bathing suit‘?

Vintage Nina Ricci Swimming Costume Read more

Posted on March 17, 2015

The Incredible Vintage Hoover

When I think about how long domestic products are set to last these days, I can’t help but smile to myself when I consider a certain piece of household equipment which is almost deserving of a place in a museum: my Dad’s incredible vintage Hoover.

Perhaps it could feature in a display on ‘The Way It Used To Be’ or a humorous retrospective of ‘The Domesticity Of Yesteryear’?* Either way, I don’t think they make them like this anymore.

The item in question is a Hoover Hoover (or Vacuum Cleaner to be completely correct), with a blue bag-shaft, scuffed ceramic face and original red Hoover logo. It is a classic; a true vintage relic!

Vintage Hoover Vintage Hoover

When my Dad relayed the story of how ancient this (working) Hoover really is, I marvelled at the manufacturing mavens who produced such a quality piece of equipment. I mean OK, he doesn’t vacuum everyday, or live in a palatial mansion with endless corridors of carpet…but it’s still impressive.

Purchased for £14, it was already second-hand; a reconditioned model my parents bought when they were first married and setting up home together. As in before I was born. I am 34.

Every year Dad takes it to a special Hoover Man for a service and had the foresight to stock-pile the relevant dust bags some years ago when extinction of said bags was a threat on the ‘Hoover Horizon’.

His faith in the Hoover’s longevity is comforting and nice; a metaphor for a generation of trust in quality workmanship.

This unassuming, slightly  very, battered appliance is ripe for retirement in my opinion, but knowing my Dad, and he does like to get his money’s worth, it will likely have to carry on for another few years. It’s a Hoover-dream come true.

*If any museums are interested in the purchase of this fabulous example of Hoover history, feel free to make us an offer!

NB. I originally posted a similar article on my previous personal blog a few years ago. This Hoover is a keeper!

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