Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Very sad news


Unfortunately this is not a pleasant blog post but it would seem that some people have heard already and, I thought it only fair that this came direct from me rather than 2nd hand rumors.

Sadly I need to tell you that my husband Mick died unexpectedly on Saturday September 11th.

He was out riding his motorcycle and had a heart attack. He told a friend he didn't feel good and was on his way home. He had been working away in the San Francisco area with his new job for the previous 2 weeks so I hadn't seen him. He flew in late Friday night, was tired and went to bed quickly. I only saw him for less than half an hour on the morning he died.

He felt fine. He only planned on being out a couple of hours and was then was coming back to do some dry walling. I was painting when the police man and coroner knocked on my door.

In those few moments my life changed beyond belief.

Last week I was busy dealing with the funeral arrangements so am sorry this has taken me until now.

Because I am here on my own and have no friends in the new area, my dear friend Patti flew straight out to me from the east coast. I truly do not know what I'd have done without her. I love you Patti.

I plan on returning to England as soon as possible. I came here to live in America 8 years ago to be with Mick and for that reason only. I have no one here and it would hurt to much to stay.

I have loved living in America and Mick took me to see so many amazing things. Hopefully one day I will be able to get past the pain and come and visit again.

But for now I have to get home. Mick's Mom is not in good health and has been unable to come here which has broke her heart. I have to get what I need to do here done as quickly as I can and take her Son home to her.

As you all know we were in the middle of renovating our house so I have so much work to finish so I can put it up for sale. Most of our things were still in boxes as we didn't plan on unpacking until we finished the house. Now Patti has gone home I have to go though everything we own and figure out how to sell it.

Mick was a wonderful man. He was kind, thoughtful, generous and extremely non judgmental. I am so lucky to have had him as my best friend for 30 years.

The things I keep hearing over and over from his friends are how thoughtful he was, how intelligent and knowledgeable he was and what a sense of humor he had. Mick was so much fun to be around and will be missed by many, many people.

Mick loved his job working on life support ventilators. He would tell me how lucky he was to not only have a job where he was able to help so many people but how it combined his love of physics, biology, chemistry and medicine. And the more problems that were thrown at him the more he thrived.

He once visited an 8 year old girl who, although on a ventilator, was mobile. She loved the band N- Sync but was sad that she couldn’t dance because the tubes on the ventilator weren’t long enough. Mick custom made new, longer tubing for her so she could get up of the bed and dance.

If you asked him why he loved his job so much he would say it was ‘because he was able to let little girls dance again.’

I loved him so very, very much and am absolutely devastated so please understand that I may not answer emails for a while.

Please. please, please tell your family you love them each time you are saying goodbye.

Mick Woodward
March 5th 1960 - September 10th 2011

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Indian room finished !

More or less :-)

As we had friends coming over from Australia I had to have one last mad push to get at least this one room finished.

As you may recall from previous posts, I purchased fabric to make the bedding and curtains. Hmmm that didn't work out as well as expected.

There were 2 lots of fabric...on patterned and one striped. I started with the stripes. It soon became clear that the stripes were not in the slightest bit straight. But I carried on and had to cut the fabric wonky to make a bedskirt and curtains with straight stripes. Problem solved...or so I thought !

Then it was onto the patterned fabric. Goodness me...had I started with this I'd have given up a lot earlier and wouldn't have wasted time with the striped fabric.

This patterned fabric just sucked...BIG time. It is woven but was woven so loosely I only had to look at it and it fell apart.

I tried....I really tried but after 3 weeks of battling with this and spending a fortune in fray check I had to give up :-(

I didn't particularly want to make it all myself but couldn't find anything ready made so bought this fabric. The seller is no longer online but claimed it was fabric left from making Oscar De La Renta bedding which retails at a crazy price. Oscar from Sesame Street perhaps cause if this is the quality of designer bedding I am glad I have more sense than money than to buy this junk.

But with guests arriving in a couple of days I had no choice but to go out and buy something so off I went.

All I could find that was remotely suitable was a purple and gold set which peacock feather details. Quite amused me as I'd started off with peacock feather embroidered curtains and changed my mind. 

But, with nothing else about I had to get this set. I wasn't crazy on the purple and was worried it would clash horribly with the amber walls but wouldn't you know the gold in the set matched the walls just perfectly. More of a dull bronze gold than a shiny gold.

And once I'd made the bed up ...well, I was rather pleased with it. The blues in this bedding go well with the splashes of blue I'd already added to the room and I'd got peacock feathers from my original plan. Plus I'd bought a candle for the sconce that just happened to be peacock colors and have a little peacock charm on it.

So from absolute disaster it all came together just like that. Wish every room was so easy lol

And at night time...well I just adore it. 
So cozy I am tempted to move in myself :-)

I couldn't find any bedside tables that allowed me to tuck the stools under so just made 2 large rustic shelves and added carved trim to the front and sides.

The ceiling lamp was actually a candle holder but Mick converted it so I could wire it up to the mains. It casts such a beautiful glow on the room at night.

The side lamps were white and silver to start...couldn't find anything more Indian looking but with some jiggery pokery I made them the perfect color.

 The mirror was a bargain find and I love the shape of it.

 I've had this carved Buddha art for some time....just waiting for the perfect spot.

This vase was handmade in Bangladesh...the inscription reads....

I am Dipali Rani Paul. My father is the late Sachindra Chandra Paul. From my childhood I was inspired by seeing my father’s devotion to his work with terracotta. I am dedicated to keeping up my father’s reputation. Today on his blessing I live on making terracotta goods. The trade keeps us still alive." 

I love being able to support small artists.

Add in some dried flowers and some peacock feathers and we are good to go.

The hanging ornaments were a fit from Susan...thanks sweetie...
they are perfect in here:-)

 This sconce fits nicely in this small space...complete with peacock candle.

And that is pretty much how it is right now. I have many other Indian things I could put in there but for the moment I think I'll leave it as it is...sometimes less is more :-)

Our guests have gone back home now but took them on a fantastic  trip though the southwest. Managed to fit in the coast, Vegas, San Francisco, Yosemite and Death Valley and a wonderful time was had by all.

Now it is back to reality, work and home renovating.

I couldn't say much on the last post as we were still talking about it but Mick just started another job. Moving from a very secure career with a big corporation to a brand new company with a brand new product was a huge risk which is why it took us a while to decide.  Hopefully we made the right choice.

His new commute is longer than the old one though and that was bad enough. 120 miles a day is a lot of time to spend traveling on top of the long hours he'll be putting in....so we might be looking at moving house again. 

Biggest problem with this is he is working right out by the coast where the property prices are insanely high so we need to look into this some more. In the meantime there is still a load of work to be done here before we could even put this house up for sale.

So I guess I am going to stay busy for a while :-)

Friday, 15 July 2011

Home & Garden Updates

Just so you don't all think Ive been sitting on my backside watching TV and eating bon bons I thought I'd post some update pics of what I've been doing :-)

We'll start with the garden.

All of the flagstone is laid in the back garden. We still have the side garden to do but, as that is barely seen let alone used, that will be done once we'll used all the rock for the more decorative stuff.

It is actually a little further along than this. All the gaps have been filled and I've planted some elfin thyme. That is as pretty as it sounds. It is going to be pretty pricey to fill all of the gaps with thyme so I decided to just plant 2 flats to start with to make sure it will grow in my garden. I'd be really annoyed if I planted the whole lot and it died on me.

We plan on putting in a pond and making a waterfall with flagstone. However, there is a slim possibility we might not be staying in this house as long as we planned so until I know one way or t'other we're going to hold fire on that one.

When we moved into this house there was a hole in the wall between the room that will be the library and our living room. You can see how close it is to the front doors in this photo.

I never liked it at all but one day Aydn said that it reminded him of a doctors or hotel reception check in desk. He was right and that was it...now I really hated it lol

Mick, on the other hand, didn't care one way or another and it has taken me almost 2 years to convince him it had to go :-)

And go it has :-) I now have to plaster over the entire thing and make it invisible lol. I've started but that will take a while as I am learning as I go along. You can see I've also started painting this room. The wall on the right looks darker but only because that has only had one coat of paint around the edges. Took me a long time to decide on colors and I love how the color has turned out.

Then in between all of this I started the guest bedroom. My Indian room :-) I hadn't planned to have taken this on just yet with all the other things I am doing but friends from Australia are coming to visit mid August and need somewhere to sleep. So I had to add this into the mix. I don't mind as this will be my favorite room :-)

The colors in the guest room are the same as the library. As a lot of our house is open plan, I will have a very simple palette of no more than 3 or 4 colors throughout the house. This is part of the reason it took me so long to decide on colors....they have to be suitable for all rooms in the house.

And the guest room needs curtains. You might recall me buying all this fabric over a year ago. Time to dig it out and get sewing. A task made extremely hard by the fact this fabric is twisted. The stripes are not straight so it took me forever to cut the fabric just so the stripes laid straight. I am not a seamstress at all but figured curtains were just a square right so how hard could it be....famous last words.

This is me trying to battle 19 yards of heavy upholstery weight fabric ugh. It is cut out now and I spent the best part of yesterday hand sewing the 4 hems. That was hard...2 layers of this fabric plus heavy lining. My fingers are very sore now...and after I'd done I found I had a thimble lol

You can see in this photo that I'd started cutting in the red color for this room. That was before I knew I had to do the guest room so that is on hold for now lol.

And now I need an opinion. I have this wonderful Indian screen that I no longer have a place for. I planned on using it as a headboard. I am not sure if it is too high or not. My friend loves it. And Mick hates it. What do you think...does it work or look silly.....yay or nay.

So as you can see I've been a tad on the busy side of late :-) I have one mini I have to finish then that is it for a while while I carry on with the house.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

I interrupt this blog for a proud Mama moment :-)

As some of you know, my Son Aydn is in college studying fine art.

Aydn is way, way, way more artistic than I can ever hope to be. I like to think can appreciate art but I am not arty enough to understand the depths at which some artists work.

Aydn set up a blog as a way to electronically journal his work. When I read it I am struck by how little of it I understand. And even worse, how grown up and smart he seems. I am not one of those Moms who babies their child and I understand that he is growing up, but even so it sometimes takes me by surprise to know these words come from my boy. At times he is so philosophical. Guess it is time for the tables to be turned and for me to start learning from him.

Aydn has just completed this years work and received his results today. I am so proud to say he got 6 distinctions and 2 merits and an overall grade of distinction.

And on top of this he received the Student of the Year award.

And if that wasn't enough, he has just finished exhibiting some of his work at

While I was there he went for the interview with them and had his work assessed. He was over the moon to be chosen as an exhibitor.

I am sad I was unable was able to go to see his work in the gallery but I have no doubt that this won't be the last time.

When I was 19 I was dawdling along with no idea where I was going in my life and certainly hadn't achieved anything as cool as exhibiting in a major art gallery.

The theme of the exhibit was about unfolding angst, hidden layers of excessive regulation, rigid conformity and mass persuasion.

Aydns piece was titled "Our guardian, our frame" and this is how he describes it.

My work portrays new direction and hope; often it’s hard to find an escape or somewhere to hide. I aim to point out the fine line between opportunities staring us in the face yet commonly appearing transparent.

If you are curious, you can read more about the concept and ideas behind this on his blog

Well done Aydn.....
I am so proud of the man you've become and I love you loads xxx

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Busy in the garden of life

Sorry I have not been about as much as I'd like to be but life is keeping me very busy at the moment.

You may remember we bought a house about 18 months ago. At the time I was super busy with my miniatures and didn't have time to do much of the work that was needed.

The beginning of this year I decided I had to concentrate on one thing or another as trying to do both just wasn't working out.

I have been making some minis but have kept it to commissions only and  where people were in no rush. As it turns out I am making a lot of minis that will be presents for next Christmas so I can't even show any photos lest I ruin the surprise for the recipient...many of whom are blog readers.

So, rather than vanish completely I thought I'd share my current project...the garden. This isn't something that will be finished quickly but it has come a long way already in the last week or so.

We have a large area  at the back that I wasn't sure what to do with. Living in California I am very careful about wasting water ....even though the City isn't grrr. So I didn't want grass like most of the neighbors. We have no kids or animals that might want to play on grass and with the water it takes to maintain I just couldn't justify it. But I didn't know what to do..... until I saw these photos.

That was it...I now knew what I wanted. All I had to do was find the right stone. After many, many trips to stone merchants I found it. This was actually really fun. I love rock and could happily spend a day in one of these places just admiring the rock. And it seemed so reasonable...I started looking at some that was about 70c a lb. Until I realized I needed 16,000 lb of it lol.

So the garden was cleared...boy was it a mess but it got sorted. This is what we started with.....

And this is how we were looking after the jungle was cleared.

And look what amazing treasures were buried amongst this lot....

Yup those are grapes and limes....lots of limes actually lol. And teeny rosebushes pushing up from the ground. And gorgeous circles or roses.

This plant I believe is a Lady Banks rose. It has white flowers and no thorns.  Amazingly all of this plant comes from one small trunk ! I cut it right back and attached to to the fence...hopefully form here on I can train it better to cover the fence.

Then the rock came....all 5 pallets of it lol. And we got started on laying it. This isn't that easy. Aside from it being physically hard, and it was 88 degrees out,  it is like a huge jigsaw with 5 pallets of pieces. I'd put one down then find a better one. Then decide to remove another and replace it. This is as far as 3 of us ...2 of them professionals...got on Saturday.

I have the help of a wonderful gardener but I am not the kind of person who will stand by and just supervise because I am paying them. Nope not me...makes me feel far too guilty and I have to help.

So this is where we are at currently. We'll attack it again this weekend. Aside from laying the rest of the stone, there will be a pond built just in front of the shed and to the side of the shed will be some kind of arbor with a gate. Something to trail roses over and kind of make a secret garden effect.

Then I have to think about plants....that is the hard part lol. I will be trying to recreate an English style cottage garden in California...hmmm.

And, if that wasn't enough to do I started tackling the room that will become a library yesterday and removed all the chair rail ....now to learn how  to plaster lol.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Dear Steven Tyler

… You know I love you & think you are really hot

… You know I love what you wear

… You know I love your hair with its feathers & charms

… You know I love your music

…You know I’ve loved being able to watch you on Idol every week

… You know I’d love to sculpt you ....no that isn’t a euphemism ;-)

But…..sorry…..your book really sucks !

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

I'm back...kinda

Hi Folks,

I am back and have been so for just over a week. I have just had a lot of personal things to deal with since I got back, hence no time to get on here :-(

And I am off to Vegas this weekend to meet up with one of my English friends who is coming over here. Then we are flying up to Minneapolis for a while to see the Trans Siberian Orchestra again...yes they were that good lol

We had a wonderful time, visited lots of places and met up with some bloggy friends which was perfect.  I have loads of photos to show you all, including some awesome old buildings for all you house builders  :-)  I just haven't had time to sort though my 1000's of photos as yet :-)
 I was going to add just a couple of piccies but Blogger wants to lay them all sideways on here, even though they aren't they way to start with ugh. If I rotate them then it changes all the size and aspect ratio. See some things never change and blogger is as temperamental as ever lol

So..I'll just have to leave it as this for now but I'll be back as soon as I can :-)

Toodle Pip xxx

Wednesday, 16 March 2011


Hi everyone...remember me :-) 

Although I was planning a short break I have also had awful computer problems of late so had little choice. I am still not fully sorted but better than I was.

Also what is with Blogger lately ? In my dashboard I used to be able to view all the blogs I follow and  could  literally scroll down and go back through weeks worth of posts making it fairly easy to catch up.  For some time now my dashboard has only been showing the last 20 blog updates.....and seeing as how I follow 300 different blogs I miss loads :-(

When my time is limited I don't get chance to manually look for all the blogs I want to read :-(  I guess this is a new thing rather than a glitch and I don't like it.

Anyhoooo, I'll be away from here for a little while longer because....

I am going home. Yup I will be flying back over to England next week for a 3 week vacation.

I've not been home at all since I left 7 years ago and I can't tell you how excited I am.

There are sooo many people and places I want to see that 3 weeks will go past in a whirl I am sure. 

We will be meeting some friends in London to start and then going to see  the Trans Siberian Orchestra again. I was looking forward to this already but now I am even more excited as Wendie will be there and we'll be staying in the same hotel....how much fun will that be :-)

And the food...oh how I've missed the food. I am not a food person at all...I used to eat perhaps once a day and ate because I had to , not because I wanted to. Yet the thought of going back home and getting to eat all the food I missed had me drooling. Walkers crisps, buttered teacakes, scones and clotted cream, real fish and chips, pukka pie, mushy peas, real chocolate..then with these thoughts came the realization that I'd end up putting on 40lbs.

Not good seeing as I have already put on almost 40lbs in the 7 years I've been here.  So I decided to go on a diet.

Yes, yes, I know I should be losing weight for health reasons, to look better etc etc but the motivation just wasn't there...until I wanted to stuff my face with yummy English food while I could.

So I started dieting on January 13th and so far have lost 26lbs...another woooo hooo. I still have 11lbs to get to the weight I was when I moved here but I've gone from a size 12 jeans down to a size 8 which is unbelievable. I am surprised the store staff didn't come into the changing room when I first tried on a size 8 cause I was squealing so much lol. For the Brits, that isn't as impressive as it sounds though...sizes here are different so now I am a UK 10 but still down from a 14 :-)

And it has been the easiest dieting I've ever done. Had to learn to eat more than once a day and eat more than I ever have but I managed.

A huge part of it being easy has been the energy I've gained. I am sure some of that is from not having to lug all that flab about  , and some of it is because I am so excited but I am literally bouncing off the walls with energy and find it hard to sit still. Good thing really with all I have to do :-)

And I couldn't have done it without my friend Patti. We may be on different coasts but doing this diet with her has helped so much. We hold each other accountable and it has proved much better than any dieting group :-)

Meeting some fellow blogger friends is going to be so much fun. I also come from the same area as Debie so will be meeting up with her as well....gosh I so can't wait :-)

And... if this wasn't enough excitement for one person, ,for the first time since he started studying fine art at college I will get to go with my Son Aydn to an art gallery. He is much more knowledgeable about art than I am so this will be a fun learning experience for me . 

He is doing extremely well at college and while I am there he will be having his work assessed by Walsall Art Gallery with a view to exhibiting there which is really exciting. He has exhibited there before when he was working on his homeless project. This was very successful and when the Director of The Big Issue heard abut it he came along to take a look and loved it.

I always expected that he'd become an engineer like every other man in our family so I am very pleased he took after me :-)

Well, a week today I'll be off so I best get cracking. We have a house sitter so I have to clean and get the guest room ready as well as pack.

Toodle Pip...see you soon xxxx

p.s...we'll likely be whizzing all over the country so if anyone else is interested in meeting up just shoot me an email :-)

Friday, 21 January 2011

You may have thought

I'd fallen of the edge of the world. Sorry I've been missing long enough that a few people started emailing me to make sure things were OK.

Everything is fine...just having some 'me' time and sorting out some things.

I am doing some art but at 4 feet tall it is not a miniature and will be going on my wall rather than in someone elses dollhouse :-)

I'll be back when I have something more interesting to say .