Forced Hibernation.... A List That Makes Me Smile
At the risk of sounding like a tiresome Pollyanna, my recent week of forced hibernation was really not so bad. Not only did I have one of the sweetest, furriest, most devoted nurses imaginable, but the weather seemed to have heard of my plight and decided to send the rainiest, the dreariest, the coldest of its creations to my side. For days, a white wooly fog wrapped itself tightly around the cottage; the gas lamp in the front garden flickering like a beacon and casting shadows into the rooms that swirled and twirled like grey-gowned Russian dancers. A fire crackled in the old stone fireplace and the tea kettle whistled happily. While it was true that the medication I was on made me feel like another, slightly inconscient, version of myself, all in all, it could have been much worse.
During this week, I found many things to make me smile.
And what kind of friend would I be if I didn’t share some of them with you?
So here’s a list - highly subjective and a bit disorganized - of smiles.
Which one do you like best?
I recently discovered this photograph, released around Christmas.
I mean, really.
This adorable child has so much personality, so much confidence.
It’s as if he knows he’ll be King.
2. Vanessa Bell
Given my reverence for Virginia Woolf, I have generally regarded her sister, Vanessa, as a supporting player in her story. While I wandered through Vanessa’s exquisite Charleston House in 2013, my opinion changed and I began to see Vanessa’s place in history as much more important than I’d previously realized. I usually steer clear of fictionalized history, but this book caught my attention and I couldn’t resist. It’s marvelous.
3. New Old Pillows
I’ve just restocked the shoppe with several exquisite old pillows.
Trust me, they add something delightful to any room.
Find them HERE
Meryl Streep at the London premiere of Into The Woods.
This is what I want to look like when I grow up.
5. The Great British Bakeoff
Whilst in the UK last autumn, I overheard so many people talking about this program. The finale was about to happen and the air was practically buzzing with speculation on who was poised to win. Having never considered the enjoyable activity of cooking to be a competitive sport, I never watch these shows. But one night during my medicated hibernation I happened to switch on PBS and came across the first episode of The Great British Bakeoff and was instantly hooked. A group of very pleasant people baking British goodies underneath an Alice in Wonderland tent on the beautiful grounds of a country house in Britain. I mean, what’s not to like? Puddings and treacle, Victoria Sponge. Tartlets and chocolates and scones. The contestants are all so nice, so interesting, I want everyone one of them to win. Nobody yells, nobody acts like a brat. It’s wonderful.
The result of this, of course, is that I get so inspired the next day becomes baking day at The House of Edward. I’ve baked two loaves of Cinnamon Bread that made the house smell utterly divine and gave us days of delicious breakfasts. (You can find the recipe on page 126 of THIS BOOK.) And I made the most delectable sugar cookies. (Find them HERE. Note: I didn’t ice these, and I baked them a wee bit longer than suggested. The icing would make the cookies very, very sweet, and I wanted a crisp cookie for tea time. It worked perfectly.)
You can read more about The Great British Bake Off, HERE.
6. I Know Where I’m Going
One particularly stormy night, Edward and I curled up with The Songwriter in front of the fire (Apple underneath the piano) to re-watch one of our favourite movies, I Know Where I’m Going. Like a dream, each shot is achingly lovely and incredibly atmospheric. It stars Dame Wendy Hiller, she of the magnificent face, and was filmed entirely on Scotland’s Isle of Mull, one of the most wonderful places I know. So many of the scenes were filmed in spots I’ve sat, all alone, looking out to sea. It makes me swoon to remember. If you love Scotland, you’ll be intoxicated by this movie. And if you’ve never traveled to Scotland, you’ll be purchasing a ticket before the closing credits roll.
7. Nail Polish
In summertime, when my toes are on display in sandals of various shapes, I paint them discreet and quietly pretty colours bearing names like Sweetheart, Bubble Bath and Mimosa. But come wintertime, when they are forever enclosed in woolen socks and riding boots, I get a bit more adventurous.
This week they’re wearing a new colour from Nars.
A deep, earthy, verdant green that reminds me of
forests, moss, and skeins of Shetland wool. Love it!
See. This is why I knit!
A friend’s new baby wearing the cardigan I knitted for her.
Yes, this makes me smile.
9. A Fabulous Christmas Present
I adored The Grand Budapest Hotel when I saw it last summer. And I loved Tilda Swinton’s outrageous character, Madame D. So, a good friend’s delightfully talented daughter made me this for Christmas. I’ve put it next to the mirror where I get ready to face the day. It guarantees I’m smiling when I do.
(By the way: The fabulous frame this photograph is in? I received TWO of these for Christmas. From two different people who don’t know each other. What does that say about me do you think? *laughing*)
10. The Porch
10. The Porch
My Father always had a devil of a time raking leaves from our front garden. Just as he’d get a pile raked up, I would be disassembling it to create the house plan I was fashioning under the sweet gum trees. Rooms and windows, doors and porches… I laid them all out on the ground like a blueprint, making sure the room I chose for my own had the best view, naturally. It’s never been a secret that I love houses. As a child, there was nothing I liked better than riding in the back seat of my parent’s car at night, gazing into the windows of the houses passing by, each one different, individual, mysterious. When I saw the movie Out of Africa, while all my friends were swooning over Robert Redford, I was in love with Karen Blixen’s house. I have seen the ghosts of great men and great women drifting in the sunbeams of the houses in which they once lived. Hammersmith Farm and Monk’s House. Andalusia and Mendips. Red House, Leighton House Charleston House. Wandering through the rooms of these magical places - each so different, each so evocative of their enigmatic owners - gave me such inspiration.
Needless to say, my roots are deeply entwined round this cottage I call home. Each and every corner is imbued with what I find most beautiful, most personal, and I love living here. Any changes to the place are thought out and dreamed of with great seriousness. So in October, when we finally decided to release a particular dream from my imagination and make it real, we were most excited.
In our bedroom there has been, for years, a window seat underneath three large windows that looked over the back garden. In my dreams I saw one of the three windows becoming a door opening on a screened breezeway leading to a round screened porch, a birdhouse of sorts, just for us. Seeing this long-held dream blossom into reality was a thrill involving many serendipitous components: antique leading glass windows, handmade gothic chairs made of willow, a fir tree weathervane atop a large octagonal cupola that glows with a green light at night, paintings of Scotland on the new curved windowseat and, of course, two new large fat tartan dog beds. It is finished now; a thoroughly magical place that transcends my dream.
11. And then there’s this:
“How far that little candle throws his beams.
So shines a good deed in a weary world.”
Watch full screen if you can.
Find more of Matt's video's HERE
I hope you're smiling!