Sunday, 9 December 2012

The advent of Christmas

Hello dear blog, and even dearer readers who still occasionally pass by! (Thank you!)

Well, can you believe it is December?

Uh uh, me either!  It really is true that time goes quicker as you get older.  This time last year I was crossing my fingers and toes that our house would complete so we could be in by Christmas (we weren't), and while it seems as though this has been our home for a long while now it also seems hard to believe we've been here nearly a year.

But December it is.

Now, normally, I am quite strict about exercising restraint when it comes to festive celebrations and suchlike.

I remember when I was little I had the 'Now That's What I Call Christmas' cassette tape (full of 80s festive classics!) which I loved, and I used to force myself to wait until at least December 15th before I was 'allowed' to listen to it.  In my family, the VERY earliest the tree went up would be 2 days before Christmas (even that usually involved no small amount of pleading on my part), and I've always stuck to holding out until fairly late in the day before cracking out all the festive shenanigans.

But today I have decided that what life needs is a little festive cheer!  As good as life is these days, it is still an ongoing battle to keep my mental health in check (I have struggled with anxiety and depression since my teens), well, perhaps battle is the wrong word as for the most part these days I am able to manage it, but the last month or so it has got the better of me a little.  So I am throwing Christmas caution to the wind as a little extra colour and merriness is just what I need.  I've made Finnish Christmas stars, I have mulled wine, and I am listening to the Messiah...


Happy Advent everybody!


Sunday, 21 October 2012

Rest in my arms, sleep in my bed...

 An extra quick post following that last rather long one, but right now seems the right time to share this - late at night, staying up waiting for George to come home from work to say hello and then go to bed all cosy under warm quilts, just the perfect song.

I think 'Michigan' is one of the most beautiful Autumn/Winter record there is.  I heartily recommend it (along with everything else by Sufjan Stevens), and if you don't own it you should go and get it now so that it can soundtrack your changing seasons too.  You won't regret it.

Night Night x

Saturday, 20 October 2012


Print by Ingela P Arrhenius

Have I mentioned that I'm quite fond of Sweden?!

The week before last I went on my third annual trip to Stockholm, the first time I've been in the Autumn and it didn't disappoint!

I wanted to write a post about why I'm so drawn to Sweden so much but I'm really struggling, there's no one thing I can pinpoint, and I've been fascinated by it for as long as I can remember so I can't even remember when or why it started!  The dramatic landscapes, all cliffs, lakes and pines, the design, the extreme love of coffee to the point that it's pretty much a national pastime, the social responsibility, the architecture, the strong sense of home and family, the way everything just works (the public transport is like a dream compared to the UK!), the contrasting extremes of the long, dark Winters and laid back Summers lived outdoors, the importance of maintaining traditions to mark the passage of time... I could go on and on, but these are all things that feel important to me, basically everything I set up this blog to be about (see this post for more on that note).


Visiting Stockholm somehow seems to restore my sense of 'me' and I always feel like I'm at home when I'm there (which is why I seem to have fallen into the habit of a yearly visit!)  One of the major things I love about Stockholm particularly is the way the countryside and the city are so intertwined, I grew up surrounded by fields and forest but love the more busy life of the city, Stockholm really has the best of both.

The place where we were staying really typified this - a 20 minute T-bana ride from the very centre of town but surrounded by trees and a five minute stroll from Lake Söderbysjön in the middle of the Nacka Nature Reserve.  I think my favourite part of our trip was the first day we were there, still sleepy from 30 hours awake/travelling we decided to take it easy and wander towards the lake but somehow took a wrong turn to ended up wandering around Kärrtorp suburb, among wooden houses and falling Autumn leaves, oh I was so happy!  Sometimes I feel like my obsession with all things Scandinavian seems to manifest itself in more of a consumerist way than I'd like, my trip reminded me that it isn't just stylish homewares that I like about it but something much much more.  Saying that I did spend an enormous amount on homewares whilst there (which may well get a post of their own), but hey, I need something to remind me of all the other things right?

Anyway, kind of the main point of this post is that my trip really reminded me of why I started this blog in the first place, to write about the things that are important to me and document my numerous attempts to bring a little more of the Scandinavian lifestyle into my life in the South West of England (whilst dreaming of one day moving to Stockholm), and it made me extra determined to devote a bit more of myself to it.  That's the plan anyway!

Lastly a great big thank you to anyone still reading this - both this rather epic post and my blog! xxx

Monday, 15 October 2012

hej hej!

Well gosh, I can't believe my last post was August!

My excuses are that firstly my computer broke and I had to wipe it completely to mend it, woops!  And then September was an odd month of almost back-to-back illness, first a cold, then a stomach bug, and finally over a week of migraines which nearly drove me mad, I think that was the worst of all, and definitely not conducive to looking at a screen!  But I do hope to get things a bit more back on track as I have missed my little blog. 

But despite those things I have had some lovely times too, two little trips away and generally enjoying the transition to Autumn - both trips really made the most of the new season.  The above picture is from my most recent trip to Stockholm (my most favourite place in the world), and there was also a tiny adventure in the Wye Valley (although this also had a hint of Sweden too as I was staying in a Swedish designed cabin surrounded by pine trees!).  I think I will do separate posts for each trip as I have lots of pictures to share, I promise this will be very soon!

Sarah xx

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Sunday Night...

It is Sunday night, the streets are quiet, my chores are done - recycling sorted, laundry hung up, dishes washed...

I've been a-busying thinking more over some of those plans I mentioned before, I feel like I have lots to share and I most certainly will, but for now I am off to bed.


Night Night x

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Scandi Stitches

Now that I have given this to my pal I can share it here!

During my week off I made this teatowel from the 'Scandinavian Needlecraft' book that George gave me for my birthday.  I'm really chuffed with how it turned out!  It was all done on the machine, using 2 very fine lines of zigzag stitching in blue and green.  I love the pattern - it was inspired by Scandinavian ceramics from the 50s and 60s.  Luckily the scribbly design was very forgiving, it's the first time I've tried machine embroidery and the circles in particular took a while to get the hang of!

I have all sorts of plans for my own designs now using the same technique, it's very simple but really effective I think.  I also want to put this pattern on a table runner.

Last week in pictures

It has been good times in the Harvey-McKenzie household!  And outside of it too...
Mainly outside of it in fact, for the sun has shone hard on little Bristol.

So there've been trips to Avoncliff for river swimming ( I was brave and entered the water the extreme way by leaping off a rope swing), an unexpected jaunt to Ashton Court to soak up some vitamin D, and many nice candle lit suppers outside after the sun has gone down.  Just lovely.  Even with all the bitey insects that seem to like our little garden (and our bare arms and legs) so much.

In other news I am making PLANS.  An Autumn trip to Stockholm, and some very early and tentative plans for a recipe book, who knows what will come of that but thinking about it is fun, not to mention tasty.

Stockholm plans are making me very excited, it is joint my favourite place in the world (with Bristol!) and at the moment I am missing it very much... I am trying to bring as much of the Scandinavian into our little house as possible to ease the withdrawal symptoms.  My lovely friend Rosie pointed me in the direction of Krims Krams, a beautiful blog written by a Brit in Norway, her pictures are truly stunning and make me long for wooden beds in the roof and dips in the fjords, not to mention all manner of beautifully designed Scandinavian homewares.

Photo by Lisa Kjellerod
I shall have to make do with a trip to Ikea to stock up on coffee and a wander round bargain corner :D


Tuesday, 24 July 2012

There's nothing like the sun

Yesterday was the most perfect day!

A lazy lie in, cider with a much missed friend in a lovely beer garden, then a jaunt to Portishead Open Air Pool in the world's tiniest car, rounded off by a chip supper and Uno battle in our garden.


Sunday, 22 July 2012

First attempts at lino cutting

I did some lino cuts!  They may not be the best prints ever but for a very first time attempt I am pretty pleased with them.  And the main thing is I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  The cutting was easier than I thought, and the printing harder!  I've signed up for a workshop at Paper Village in September which should help me along a little.

I've had the whole week of work and rather than going away decided to have a 'creative holiday', which meant investing in art, craft and sewing material, and it's been really fantastic.  I'd forgotten how much I love just getting totally absorbed in making something, it is the best way I can enjoy my own company - something I sometimes struggle with.  I realised I spend a LOT of time on the internet looking at prettty things I want, or reading craft books and just passively consuming things, in theory it's supposed to be 'inspiration' but so often it is just another way of not doing things myself.

And I want to change that!

I tend to think of myself as not artistic or creative enough to have a go myself, but I've read a few books lately that have really inspired me to just get on with it and learn through having a bash.  'Lotta Prints' is particularly excellent (have I mentioned before how much I love Lotta Jansdotter??) and I highly recommend it for someone with no knowledge of printing processes who just wants to have a go.  Not featured on this blog are the potato prints I did to build myself up to the lino cutting!

I also have something slightly more sophisticated that I've made and would like to share, but as it is a present for someone I think may read this blog I will have to hold off for now....

The best thing of all is that it is Sunday night (just! So very nearly midnight), but there is no Sunday night feeling for me as I'm not back in work until Thursday, woop!  Summer has finally arrived in the UK which I'm hoping means the next few days will be all about picnics, walks, suppers outside and hopefully a trip out to this lovely place to jump in the river - one of my all time very favourite things to do.  It's the first time this year that it's even seemed like an option due to the weather being so rubbish, but the forecast for Wednesday is 28 degrees(!) so leaping into cold cold water could be just the right thing to do.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Al fresco

On friday night it stopped raining long enough for us to have dinner outside!

I have the next 10 days off work, it would be really helpful if it could be good weather for those too.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Walk, don't run

I love my walk to work.  I have carefully refined my route to include as much green space as I can, and it's really one of my favourite parts of the day.  I used to walk another way which was greyer and busier and generally a bit rubbish, until I found out I could walk along the river almost the whole way and now I love it! I try to vary my route slightly to keep things interesting - at its best I walk through 3 parks and hardly any roads.

This week we had some rare sunshine in between all the rain and clouds and so I took some pictures of my favourite bits to share.  Bristol is such a good, green city - I love how lots of the green spaces are a little bit wild, not all carefully maintained lawns and flower beds, but overgrown hedgerows and long grass.  It's really easy to forget you're in the middle of the city sometimes.  Hurrah for Bristol!  And hurrah for walking to work.  A zilllion times better than sitting in traffic. 


Sunday, 8 July 2012


I'm an accidental collector of teapots.

I'm a bit bored of the one I mainly use (Cath Kidston), so currently covetting any of these guys:

Top L-R: Vintage Denby, Dahlhaus Ceramics, Orla Keily. Bottom L-R: Marimekko, Vintage enamel, House of Rym. 

Sadly they are all either rather expensive (I  L O V E  the Marimekko one but just couldn't justify £60 on something I am damn likely to break!), or vintage pieces not widely available.

More affordable options would be

Vintage Denby - more common than the one above!


Not too keen on the Ikea one as it is, but for £6.99 it could be worth seeing what I can do with some bake on china pens?  I've been wanting to give those a try since getting my new Lotta Jansdotter book, 'Handmade Living' - not sure my designs would be as good as hers though!