A Walk around Warwick

Last weekend I was up in the Midlands and ended up in Warwick.  We (me and my sweetie) were going to go and visit the locks on the canal, but we never got there as Warwick is so pretty and we didn’t have time!  Something to look forward to!

What does Warwick have going for it?  Well it is one of the oldest towns in England and it is really beautiful.  (Please click on my links to learn more about this place as I am not a Historian)  It has some lovely architecture…

Here are a few examples of the Medieval architecture that has survived a major fire in 1694.  The buildings are pretty wonky and absolutely stunning in design.

We came across an amazing garden when we arrived.  It just goes to show you that it is worth going down the road less trodden to find The Mill Garden.

It was amazing value at £1.50!  The weather was overcast and the ground was very wet as we had just had some rain, but the views and garden were stunning.  The people who own it were lovely and really like sharing what they have helped to create and maintain over a few generations.

There is a wide variety of flowers and trees and many places to sit and enjoy the views.  There are so many plants.

To top it all off, one is overlooked by the Castle.

How amazing it is to have a garden overlooked by the Castle!  We didn’t go into the castle.  It was rather steep at over £21 per person.  However there are deals if you book in advance online.

Fortunately, although the day was grey, it stayed dry, so we were able to wander around the town and do a bit of window shopping.  This is one town that I will definitely be visiting again.  Maybe I will even make it to the canal!

A Bargello Bargain

Today Dear Readers, we are going to talk a bit about embroidery and needlework.  You are probably wondering what the heck do I know about embroidery, and the answer would be more than you would think!  I know, how do I manage to fit it all in?!!

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will know that I am a first-generation American and that my family is from Hungary.  I grew up eating Hungarian food and my first language was Hungarian.  My paternal grandmother looked after me for the first two years while my mother worked.  Both sides of the family lived near each other, at first in a Hungarian community in New Jersey.  That is how Hungarian I am.  Because I was quite close to both of my grandmothers, I learned how to do a lot of things from them.  I learned how to cook.  I learned how to sew.  I learned how to knit and crochet, and I also learned how to do some embroidery.  I also learned a few choice Hungarian swear words, but we won’t really talk about that.

My maternal grandmother was the one who taught me all the needle work.  The styles of embroidery that she taught me are Matyo Embroidery and  Kalocsa Embroidery.  It is this type of embroidery that most people associate with Hungarian embroidery, although there are many other styles.  I used to own a beautiful gypsy blouse with the neckline embroidered in this manner.  I even had Hungarian dolls in traditional costume with lovely embroidery on.  I think I still have a couple somewhere.

Hungarian Bookmarks

These are a couple of bookmarks that my grandmother brought back from Budapest when I was a little girl.  The design on the right is in the Matyo style, or is it Kalocsa?  This is fairly easy to do as most of it is in a satin stitch, though there are many complicated designs too.  If you Google this style, you will see many beautiful works.  It is very colourful.  It is probably why I really love folk art and the art found on barges and narrowboats in the UK.  You can see some examples here.  (I think I even met this guy!)  Notice some of the similarities.  I could go on and on about my grandmother and her embroidery, but I will save that for another time!

So, what does Hungarian embroidery have to do with Bargello needlework?  Some might say nothing, but it is believed that Hungarian needlepoint had an influence on the work found in the Bargello Palace in Florence.  That is my segue. Heh!  Plus it is nice to talk about something different for a change.

So, I am out looking for two bedside tables that must be no more than 14 inches wide when I spy this little seat with a Bargello cushion!

Bargello Needlework

I love the colours!  After reading up on Bargello needlework, I can really appreciate the time and effort that went into making the seat cover for the little piece I found.  I took the cover off of the seat as it is a bit musty and worn on one side, but I want to clean it, and frame it, and hang it in the dining room as the colours fit in really well.   If you were to go out and purchase a Bargello cushion, prices could go as high as £200+ depending on the design and quality.  Just Google ‘Bargello Cushions’ and look at the wonderful designs.   I am so happy I only paid £5 for the whole seat!

I Don’t do Vignettes!

First of all, I am not a decorator or designer.  Although I did have a design and construction business with a partner many years ago, right now I am  just a lady who has downsized to a two-bedroom Victorian house in need of updating.  I am finally having the house that I always wanted.  Something colourful that represents me and yet has a semblance of elegance and homeliness.   And something that is a little bit off the wall.

I have never been one to follow the trends of fashion, in my home or attire.  If I look good in the clothes, that is enough for me.  Being a slave to fashion is too expensive and exhausting.  As for my home, I like to keep things clean and simple.   I hate cleaning.  Although I am very good at it, cleaning isn’t my favourite thing.  When times were tough, I had a few cleaning jobs and the one I hated the most was the one where the woman had sooooo many things on her shelves and counter tops.  She did not have vignettes, she had collections.  They were a pain to clean.  Too much stuff.

By the way, here are the definitions of Vignette.   For the sake of decorating purposes, the last definition, ‘a form of diorama’, is the one that decorators and designers refer to.  It seems that they, decorators and designers (hence referred to as D&D) have vignettes all over the place.  No flat surface is complete without a vignette.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term ‘vignette’, the most common one I can think of is when you decorate your house for Christmas and have little groupings of Christmassy stuff all over the house.  Some people take this too far and have vignettes for every holiday under the sun.  No sooner will Christmas be over than they are making Valentine’s Day vignettes.  Then there is Easter, some Presidents’ Day vignettes until they have gone through all the holidays and back to Christmas again.  What boggles my mind is:  How do these people find the time to constantly update vignettes for every occasion?  Where do they keep all this stuff?  And do they really have nothing better to spend their money on or their time to go out and get the stuff?  I have a friend who does this.  She doesn’t work and her husband makes a lot of money.  I say no more.

Whatever happened to just finding or being given stuff over the years and displaying it for your own personal enjoyment and leaving it in the same place for years?  All this decorating hoo-ha has gone over the top, in my opinion.  People are now decorating with books, and not necessarily in a good way.  It seems that no vignette is complete without a little book display.  I cannot understand how books with their jackets taken off and tied up with ribbon make for a nice display.  I don’t even want to get started about that.  I always thought that you had books to read, not to fill up a fireplace because you might think it looked nice, or using a stack of books to put a lamp on.  What is wrong with putting the lamp on the table top?

This is my favourite post on stacking books.  I have the exact same bookcase, so this post came in very handy.  I even went a bit wild and colour coded my books and totally went against my anal tendency to place my books in the case by alphabetical order.  The best thing about this post is that the books are in the bookcase, where they belong when not being read or they might be on a table or by the bed.  I do not use books to put my lamps on them or a vase of flowers or any other knick nack.  I use book cases for displaying my books and some things I have collected over the years.  If I didn’t have book cases, then my books would be all over the floor, and that would be a bit disrespectful to the books.  That’s just me.

There are people who go out and buy things because they think they need to have a vignette.  I say forget about that and get on with living.  If you find something you like that is beautiful and/or useful and you can’t or won’t live without it, then go ahead and get it.  You are the one that is going to have to clean it, unless you are loaded and get the cleaner to do it instead.  I don’t mind cleaning the stuff I really love and that provides me with a nice memory while I am cleaning it.

I am not saying that people shouldn’t have vignettes.  I am just saying that I don’t really do them.  I have a small collection of photos of my kids in the guest room on a dresser.  I have a lamp and a clock on a bedside table.  I have some hurricane candle holders on the fireplaces.  I place flowers on tables in the living room.  I don’t have a lot of stuff because I don’t like clutter and dusting and I would rather spend my money on other things.  Just not more stuff.  I also don’t have a lot of space for stuff.

Here is a photo of part of the guest-room.  I have a lamp, necessary for reading.  A clock, necessary for setting the alarm and knowing the time.  I have a coaster the shape of a heart that my daughter gave me which is useful for hot drinks in bed.   I suppose that could be classified as a vignette, but it is just stuff that I need.  There is no theme here unless you just classify these item as ‘necessary and useful stuff that looks nice and that has some sentiment.’

Before we had the internet and the whole blog phenomenon going on with people telling you how to do things and what to do with your things, people just got on with their lives and displayed their stuff.  Basically, we were just real people with our real stuff and not with stuff that we bought because some D&D’s told us we should because our homes would look better.  It is very nice to see all these design ideas on the internet, but really, how many people have homes that look that perfect?  It all looks a little bit too contrived.

So, as much as I love looking at other people’s vignettes and wondering where they store everything when changing things around every so often, I really don’t do vignettes.  Please don’t hate me.