Sunday, 31 August 2014

Summer holidays under the Tuscan sun

Last week I stumbled back to Dorset tired but still buzzing from a week of endless fun. Sun kissed cheeks still hurting from a week of laughter, sea swimming, gelato eating heaven. Family and friends said I would fall in love with Italy and I did...deeply. The brightness of the sun, the soft amber glowing farmhouses, the joviality and animated way the Italians talk, the time they have to share their country and the love they have for food and family. There really was nothing not to like.

We spent our days cycling to the beach, singing silly songs, tasting the amazing local produce, making camp out of drift wood and laughing a lot, laughing so much there was a high risk of drowning in  the sea. When night time came we cycled to the local tavernas in Principina a mare  altogether on our rickety bikes, making sure we all got their safely or we cooked a massive feast and danced with watermelons.

The night I will remember most, was the night the owner of the farm kindly took us on a road trip to the most incredible town on a hillside, followed by a hairy twisting drive in a summer down pour of thunderous rain to Terme di Saturnia. We hesitantly stripped down to our cosies, our eyes searching in the dark for this magical place we could only imagine. Our noses being tickled by the sulphur of hot steam, our eyes cleared the mist enough for us to make out smiling faces submerged in water, bodies relaxing in the natural heat of the river. The sound of the waterfall 800 litres of water a minute fell from the hillside as we laughed some more and gingerly let our feet find themselves over the rocks readying for us to plunge into the natural springs, we stayed there till gone 1am in the morning, allowing the thunderous power of the natural springs to pummel our aching bike peddling muscles. I am glad we have no photos of this, just the memories off our laughter and surprise on our faces. 

It was Bellisimo! 

Thank you to everyone of you for making this a holiday with memories so funny I will catch myself remembering and laughing to myself like a mad women when winter comes .

See you next year our secret farmhouse under the Tuscan sun

I hope you've had a lovely summer and the memories keep you going when the rat race tries to win your thoughts over

Gem x

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Making Paper Mache Animal Heads

This project for some reason has taken us months to finish even though it really is very simple. During the rainy months of February, inspired by the ever interesting pinterest, we decided to make some Paper mache animal heads like the ones that adorn Anthropologie (But way out of our budget). We also had a lot of help from a certain little red haired boy who loves Peter Rabbit. And so Mr Todd and Tommy Brock were born. 

 Our inspiration (Image from Anthropologie)

We started of by making rough shapes with rolled up newspaper and tape

We worked out that the best paste was good old fashioned  flour and warm water, we dipped kitchen roll in the mix and added to our paper models 

To speed up the process we baked them in the oven on a low heat till they were slightly toasted

Beginning to take shape!

The final task was the painting. We finished Mr Todd this afternoon (Tommy Brock will have to wait for another day). We are all so pleased with how he turned out! The little guy wants to hang him on his door. Fine by us!

Would love to hear about your crafty endeavours this summer

Maria & Gem x

Monday, 11 August 2014

...guest blogging for Gas and Air

Check out my birth story-this week's story of the week on 

...going to weddings!

A few weekends ago we went to a good friend's wedding. It was a beautiful day full of eating, drinking and celebrating the beginning of an exciting new chapter. There were so many things that I loved about this wedding; the setting, the food, the endless prosecco, the handmade decorations. But what I will remember most are two things-
1. This dress!

(photos are a bit blurring-shows how fun it was!)

2. This poem that the bride's sister read at the ceremony. For me, it is so fitting and really sums up what a happy and lasting marriage is about. I hope you enjoy.

There is a kind of love called maintenance
Which stores the WD40 and knows when to use it;
Which checks the insurance, and doesn’t forget
The milkman; which remembers to plant bulbs;
Which answers letters; which knows the way
The money goes; which deals with dentists
And Road Fund Tax and meeting trains,
And postcards to the lonely; which upholds
The permanently rickety elaborate
Structures of living, which is Atlas.
And maintenance is the sensible side of love,
Which knows what time and weather are doing
To my brickwork; insulates my faulty wiring;
Laughs at my dryrotten jokes; remembers
My need for gloss and grouting; which keeps
My suspect edifice upright in air,
As Atlas did the sky.

UA Fanthorpe
Congratulations Kate and Adrian!
Maria x

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Learning stone sculpture with my dad

A couple of weekends ago I was at my favourite little pub, The Square and Compass. It was walking past the back yard with all the stone stacked ready for their Stone Sculpture weekend  that inspired me to take a trip home and learn from my Dad.

I have been wanting to have a go at stone carving for years, having watched my dad chip away for some time now. I love the sound of his 78's whirling on the record player with the familiar constant sound of his hammer hitting a stone that in time will evolve into one of his characterful forms. I had the idea of making a simple pear shaped sleeping Dachshund, but like any new artistic endeavour things changed a little.

The process of  building things up from clay I am used to so I  was unsure how I would take to  chipping away. The process is physical and very rewarding. How a raw shapeless stone, jagged and frayed can with some grease and vision turn into something so smooth and tactile, is amazing. No wonder people get hooked, I could happily spend my days making, throwing clay, chipping, sanding, carving.

My dad is my biggest artistic inspiration, self taught and hungry to learn from his favourite artists. He has always gone out of his way to inspire us and evoke a sense of curiosity and wonder. We were never too young to hold a hammer, a saw, a paint brush. For this I love him dearly! x

To begin with I used the mallet and these lovely chunky chisels to get the weight of the stone of. 
This is the tricky bit as you don't want to break the stone.

Dad used his stone grinder to get the raw shape I wanted 

By sun down it was beginning to take shape, early that day the stone cracked in half but left a perfect sleeping dog shape. So my original idea morphed into a sleeping spaniel, I didn't mind at all. It is true the stone will tell you what it wants to be in the end. 

Once the initial carving has been completed the next stage is sanding and smoothing down the edges. With water and lots of elbow grease the stones true colours raise to the surface, and you begin to get the natural shine of the stone. 

Pit stop during the rain - Listening to 78 of Bringing It All Back Home

I am so happy with my peaceful sleeping dog, I will ensure that it is patted for years to come

Here are a few of my dads lovely sculptures that settle in our house and give us much cheer! 

Thank you dad - All my love

Gem x