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Removing lace window treatment with cornflour / cornstarch

Just a quick post to update you on how it went when I removed the lace window treatment with cornflour / cornstarch.


When it came to be time to move out, I sprayed the lace down with water and just pulled it away. The lace came away really easily but there was a lot of residue on the window. It took me a few tries to work out how to get it clean but what eventually worked best was a scrubby sponge and VERY HOT water (so hot you need rubber gloves). Vinegar also seemed promising but the hot water worked best.


While we were waiting…

Hello blog friends! I can’t believe it’s been so long since I last posted. I was a little busy growing a tiny human, but that’s no real excuse!

In and out

Baby Vita was born  in July, 13 days late at the end of a long, hot, heat wave. You should have seen the size of my ankles by the time he was born! Since then we’ve been getting to know each other and I am pleased to report that at seven weeks old he is a shmooshy, smiley little chunk. He probably won’t be showing his face on the blog, but trust me, it’s a cute one!

Unfortunately, as some point during the two-week wait for him to finally make his appearance, I got antsy decided to mess with the server of my blog and all the pictures from the last year or so disappeared! I will eventually get my act together and sort this out (for my sake, I’m sure you didn’t notice or don’t mind) but until this baby starts sleeping a little better, you might just have to bear with my sloppy appearance.

Here’s a few other things made while we were waiting for Baby Vita…

IMG_8937 IMG_8949 IMG_9011


I made the baby a quilt. It’s pretty big for a baby (lap size) but we’ve been snuggling under it together in the mornings and I really like it. IMG_9112

I made a pair of tiny harem trousers using this pattern (although I made it a bit bigger, which was lucky as Baby Vita was 9lb 6oz!). He’s wearing these asleep on my chest right now! IMG_9121_2

I made him a sunbonnet out of one of his dad’s old work shirts (using the collar for the stiff brim so I didn’t have to bother with interfacing). I used this pattern from Purl Soho, which I highly recommend. I made the neck ties velcro because my pregnancy hamster brain was worried about strangulation. (My new-mother brain laughed at this because my new-mother brain wouldn’t leave the baby alone wearing something as dangerous as a sun hat!)
IMG_9538I grew tomatoes, herbs and green beans in the garden. These lucky few made it into a bolognese, sadly the rest rotted on the vine while we were too busy keeping the baby alive!


I made these bloomers from this Knick Knack Knickers pattern from Anna Maria Horner, also using one of Mr Vita’s old work shirts (this was a Pierre Cardin, so nice to sew with!). Writing this reminds me that he hasn’t actually worn these yet, which is probably because they’re very silly! Luckily he will fit in them a while longer so I have plenty of time to embarrass my poor son by making him wear pantaloons. IMG_8499Finally I made these trousers from an old dress and this pattern. They are a little funky, but that’s the charm of homemade, right? Ask my baby again when he’s ten and I’m still making him wear mama-made clothes!

Wild swimming in France

Here are some more pictures of our wild swimming road trip around France. We were there for ten days, swam in five different rivers (and the sea!), covered about 3,000 miles, camped in four campsites, and… just had the best time. Hands down. Hands up. Best.

I thought, rather than giving you a day by day run down of what we did, I’d just post some of my favourite pictures, and tell a few stories alongside them.

It doesn’t even look real does it?

It certainly doesn’t feel real that just a fortnight ago
I was swimming here every morning in lieu of a shower!


Our first stop (after an early start, a ferry across the channel and a long day’s driving for Mr V) was a beautiful wooded campsite near Angouleme on the river Charente. There were four families there when we arrived and then we had the place to ourselves for the second night!

The river here was gorgeous. One evening, as we sat quietly by the water, we saw a furry little head bob past in the water – we’re fairly certain it was an otter or a eurasian beaver, but could have been a coypu. Either way it was one of those moments you know you’ll always remember.

The campsite itself was in an oxbow of a river (we could see and hear the water from our tent) and quite fast flowing, so on the morning we left we had a great time swimming round in circles (hop in upstream, drift downstream and then run across the narrow sliver of land back into the river upstream!). (This ‘method’ is recommended by Roger Deakin in his lovely book Waterlog, I’ll post his description of it sometime, because it makes me happy.)

While we were there, we also went into Angouleme for dinner. We didn’t see much of the city, but did enjoy the cheeky little bits of comic book graffiti around the place, like this funny little chap:

Doesn’t he look like Where’s Wally’s scruffy little brother?

After two lovely nights in the Charente, we drove in the pouring rain to the Dordogne. Luckily, this was the last bit of rain we’d see all holiday – something we were thankful for after a soggy few months in England!

We spent three nights in the Dordogne at a gorgeous campsite next to a clear, surprisingly chilly tributary of the big river. Every morning we’d wake up hot in our little tent and slip down to the river for a swim before hordes of children overtook it. Those morning swims are the thing I’m missing most now we’re back in the city.

(Wow, I look so glum in this photo! I was going for serene water nymph)

That little pool above was right by our tent, but then we discovered this dreamy pool, and that’s when we knew we’d found a campsite we’ll be coming back to again and again.

During the day, we went to cafes in cute little towns, hired a canoe (I lolled in the bow taking in the scenery while Mr V paddled for three hours, it was perfect!), found little nooks in the river to call “our private beach” and did lots more swimming.

Dodgy picture taken on my iphone through its waterproof case!

Mr V taught me to skim stones properly here! I’m now obsessed.

When I call this a ‘wild swimming holiday’, that might be a bit misleading
as we mainly enjoyed floating our way around France. Just FYI!

The view overhead. Sigh.

This little fella was so hot and sleepy. We loved him!

After four dreamy days, we packed our little tent in our little car and headed to the coast. We camped at Ronce-les-Bains and, even though we thought the Dordogne was crammed with tourists, we soon realised that that was nothing compared to the crush at the seaside. After a swim in the Atlantic, moules frites on the Ile d’Oleron and a good night’s sleep, we hightailed it to the leafy Loire.

Ah! The Loire. I love the Loire.We hired a canoe again and literally paddled through the moat of a chateau. It was amazing (those pics are on my underwater film camera so not in this post). We swam in the Indre and the Loire, had lovely beers on leafy terraces and felt the last few days of our holiday slipping blissfully through our fingers.

We stayed at another lovely riverside campsite, this was the view from our tent

On our last day, Mr V bought me a basket at the market (I’m a bit obsessed with baskets) and we spent hours and hours with a picnic at another place that felt like a private beach, swimming and skimming and sunning ourselves.

I know you’ve seen this one before, but I really love baskets, ok?

Then the next morning, we woke up, packed the tent up while it was still dark and drove all the way home!

Man. I know I’ve already gone on about how brilliant this holiday was, but it really was magical. Ten shining, bright, beautiful days. We left the ipad at home and listened to audio books. We cooked simple meals over a teensy stove (more on this soon). We woke up and slept with the sun! Ah. I could go on forever….

Hip hip hooray!

House of Vita is officially back online!


In celebration I thought I’d show you a janked up panorama photo of our living room, taken with the iphone 4s and the autostitch app (love that thing). Everything is skewed and weird, but I hope you get a sense of the amazing scale and light of this room. The white shelves in the top right are temporary – that’s where my secretary desk is headed. I didn’t tidy for this photo, so excuse the clothes hanger on the table and all the other junk. We still have a lot to do but this space is already feeling like home.

Things we love about this room:

Fantastic windows! 11 foot high ceilings! Massive kivik sofa. Red ikea locker cabinet. Hand me down table and chairs. The shutters. Our one lace curtain. Old anglepoise lamp. Art on the walls. Charity shop granny square blanket. How our bookcase happens to fit perfectly in the window nook.

Things we want to change about this room:

More art on the walls. Hang the clock somewhere . More pillows on the sofas. Have more than one lace curtain up! Put my secretary desk in that nook. Finish up my little filing cabinet properly. Put away the boxes behind the sofa. Add one piece of storage for kitchen overflow items.

Although we now have the real internet, my real camera is still at my friends house. Never fear, the iphone is pretty good when the light is pretty so I’ll get some more detail shots of some nice things in this room (and things you can’t see from this angle) and blog about them this week.



These are a few of my favourite things


Top shelf: Mr V’s Buddhas; the carriage clock his parents gave us when we got engaged (did you know this was a tradition? I didn’t); a teeny vintage suitcase my mum bought me in a French brocante; a little wooden box we bought on our first camping trip. Bottom shelf: my engagement sewing box (I wonder how many people have one of them? It still has the note and ring box in it); a serving bowl I bought in a charity shop.


A sunny spot in the new flat; an old angelpoise lamp; my grandmother’s kitchen table; some old school chairs mum bought in Holland in the sixties; lilies and daffodils; some stunning china mr v gave me recently (more on this soon!); my framed canvas tote; our oversized date and time clock; a cork board full of pictures. 

Everything is still in flux (uh, the clock isnt staying on the radiator! I’m not too fond of the stack of boxes bottom right) but these are some things making me happy right here and now.

Happy weekend blog friends!

Our old flat

I thought now that we’ve left London I could share a few more details about where we used to live.


I loved our little London flat. Everyone else thought it too teeny for two but Mr V and I found it the most wonderful cosy nest for our first flat together (we’d shared a single room in a shared house for six months after all).

Our flat was a strange sort of fill in extension between two Victorian mansions in Putney, near the Thames. It was the windows that sold us on the flat and they were always my favourite thing about it (catch them in action here and here).

We had four of those windows that you can see in this picture. Sure, our flat wasn’t as fancy as the ones in the old mansions themselves, but as soon as we walked in to view it we got the feeling. We fell in love with our flat hard, and even though leaving was the right thing to do and it was the right time and we had a titchy bit of a damp/mould problem caused by all those windows, we still loved it when we left. I got all defensive on its behalf when the landlord struggled to find new tenants. Who wouldn’t want our lovely flat?

Here is a picture of one of the mansions from when the founder of Jaeger (with the dashing hat and beard) lived there with his family a long long time ago.

Lewis Tomalin (founder of Jaeger) and family at 20 Cambalt Road, Putney, c. 1895

I hope they were as happy there as we were.

Kooktouw for everyone!


Remember when I wrote about finding bakers twine in the most amazing hardware shop we found during my Dutch holiday with Mr V?


Well! Imagine how happy I was to get an email from Bernadette, the owner of the store. She thanked me for writing about her shop, pointed me in the direction of some great pictures of it and said my post had inspired her to start selling bakers twine (kooktouw) on their online shop.


She said they post to the UK and over 60 other countries so if you need a bulk order of the stripey stuff at just € 2,25 a roll, head on over to her website (use a bit of google translate or email – their English is excellent) (of course).

Of course, if you buy it online you’ll be missing out on this real treat of a shop. If you’re ever in Holland and anywhere near Alkmaar, be sure to pop in for a visit. The floor to ceiling cubbies full of household goods and clogs will make your heart happy. Also make sure to check out the bike shop across the road, it’s a cyclists dream and has the same totally charming feel.


PS. Check out the amazing vintage till! I saved my hand written till receipt as a souvenir from our trip, I love it.


All images taken from J. Boom’s Google places page or webshop

Make a fabric party hat in under a minute


Ok, so there are other blogs out there where you can go for your perfect Martha-Stewart style crafts. I’m more of a I’m-already-five-minutes-late-when-inspiration-strikes kinda crafter. The sort you don’t feel in the least bit intimidated by, in other words (mainly because anything I make always looks a little like your average eight year old could have done better).

Anyway. The other day I was putting together a birthday parcel for my mum. As I was digging around in my wrapping drawer I found a bunch of ugly but fun party hats and some fabric I’d been saving (actually the cut off legs of a pair of pyjamas that had sadly died). Even though, as I said, I was already late, I thought I’d use the two to make my mum a unique little birthday hat to put on her cute head.


Here’s where we started. If you don’t have an old hat, I think the best template is here on oh happy day. (Whilst there, you can see the sort of beautiful hats you can make if you put a bit more time and effort in.)

The rest is so easy you’ve probably already worked it out, but just in case.


I lined up the already hemmed edge of the fabric (the bottom of the trouser leg) along the bottom of the party hat with a couple of centimetres overhang, then pulled it taut to the tip of the hat. (If you’re using unhemmed fabric it would also be fine, I just put my hem where it made most sense as I already had it)


Tape along that line with tape.


Line around the inside of the hat with double sided tape and rip off the liner bit of the tape. (Mine’s dirty from something in the junk drawer… luckily that was the bit that got pulled off!)

The next bit required two hands so there’s no pictures. But you need to stick the bottom of the fabric to that double sided tape. Then trim the fabric just past the point where the two ends meet (you want a bit to cover the masking tape.

Then I swept the excess height of the fabric up and around the cone (I was going for a princessy vibe!) and tied it in a bow.


Is it perfect? No. Would it make you smile if you received it in the post on your birthday? I reckon.

I’ll be back tomorrow or later in the week with more details with the rest of the party-in-a-parcel I sent my mum.

Here’s the finished party in a parcel!

Bakers twine and booties

So, it happened. I finally got my hands on some bakers twine. I’ve been refusing to spend more than, say, twice as much as I would spend on a normal ball of string on the stuff. (Seriously, Anthropologie, £15/$30 on a bit of string?) but at the same time just really wanting it.

So you can imagine my joy when I found it cheaper than normal string in Holland.


I forgot my camera this day so that blurry blackberry picture is the only one I have of the totally amazing shop where I procured this string for a mere €2.60 per roll. It had all manner of amazing household goods (and clogs…) piled high in wooden cubbies. And bakers twine at a price so cheap that when I asked Mr V what colour I should get, he said: “All three.” Yay!

I also found these truly scrumptious knitted booties in Amsterdam. It was love at first sight.


As luck would have it, two days after I got back from Holland, I was off to a baby shower for a dear friend in the West Country. So I bought those booties (for about €7) and put my bakers twine to good use when I got home.


Hip hip hooray indeed!

Sneak preview: massive map in the bedroom

Hello lovelies, how was your weekend?

We had a lovely one. We went to the Natural History Museum, my favourite of all London museums (I think). We also went to the most amazing steam fair, it was so wonderful and there will be pictures of that too. Plus we watched some films, ate some good food and had a good cleaning session of the flat.


And, we hung the massive schoolroom map we bought in France last year. Better pictures to come, but for now, here’s a little sneaky preview.