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The definition of peace

Last weekend, my boyfriend and I took a much needed break from the daily grind to go on a mini road trip. We started in Turin, Italy, drove through the Alps (literally, via the Mont Blanc tunnel!) into Bourgogne in France (more specifically, the Cluny and Macon areas) and back again for a night in Valle d’Aosta, in the mountains.

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Patches prep

As I mentioned a little while ago on The Secret Rose facebook page, I’ll once again be participating in Patches market’s Christmas edition, taking place on December 2nd. The weeks leading up to the event always resemble Santa’s workshop at my house, with preparations taking up every spare moment and my social life taking a serious back seat!

Still, taking part in Patches is always a highlight on The Secret Rose’s calendar, and all the hard work is certainly worth it in the end, once I see my (hopefully) prettily set up stall! There’s just a couple of weeks to go now, so Patches prep is really coming to a head, with new items being worked on daily.

This time round, I’ll be introducing a new product line of embroidered wall art displayed in upcycled vintage frames salvaged from many a thrifting trip. Two of these frames in particular needed some TLC, so they received a good scrub and shine with (fabulous discovery) white vinegar by the patient boy this weekend. The frames are twins, and the photo below shows the first having been newly shined, with its sister waiting in line – quite the difference, right? I’ll be posting the finished embroidered wall art to go in these babies soon.

Some of the other frames that will be gracing my stall come December 2nd are a large circular gold frame, bearing a chunky embroidered ‘Home Sweet Home’ message, and an embroidered botanical drawing. There’s loads more to come though, so stay tuned!

Sunday bakes & beyond


As I’m writing, I’m simultaneously attempting to get the last bits of dried dough out from underneath my nails… yes, another baking weekend! To start off – cheesy fennel scones, a recipe for which I had found and saved a few months ago. Finally having gotten down to making them, I can safely say that this won’t be the last time – they went down a treat (and I’m still being treated to the delightful fennel-y whiff coming from the kitchen!)

For a special lunchtime treat, I made homemade pizza. I had never made pizza from scratch before (sauce & all), and I woke up with a strange craving for it this morning, so I thought, why not give it a go? The resulting pizzas (with parma ham for the boy & plain cheesy margherita for me) were received very well, with even my little pooch Roky getting in on the action!

Away from the kitchen, I continue to work on that large embroidery project I’ve hinted at a few times now. Finally finishing the first stage of it, I got going on the next bit, and have set a deadline for completion (for my sanity if nothing else) by the end of the month. Can’t wait to share it with everyone once it’s done! 🙂

The Simple Things

I really enjoy cooking things from scratch, especially baking. Unfortunately, as is the case with my other (very many) hobbies and interests, I don’t get the chance to do it as often as I’d like to. Time is always an issue, but I’ve lately decided to try to keep Sunday as a day for doing things I love but often neglect. This should make the week ahead that much more doable!

Echoing this decision (and almost as if by fate) I happened upon a new magazine on a trip to the supermarket which I instantly fell in love with – both for it’s beautiful presentation and great message. Called ‘The Simple Things’, it focuses on the simple things that make life great. Indeed, it’s mission statement goes: ‘Celebrating the things that matter most…’, and I’m really going to try doing more of that whenever I can.

                                                                                Issue 1 of The Simple Things featured a recipe for a delightful sounding chicken pot pie, so I immediately earmarked it as a ‘must try’. I haven’t made a tremendous amount of pies in my life, but following the instructions to the letter, the result was a success (and was accompanied by much happy munching!)

 The kitchen adventures didn’t stop there however, as I went on to make a batch of vanilla cupcakes for my best friend’s birthday. She has an unexplainable love of sheep, so I decorated the cupcakes to look like a little herd of fluffy sheep using butter cream and rolling icing. I love their variety of expressions!

Last but not least is the first in a new line of products for The Secret Rose, set to hopefully be displayed for sale at Patches Christmas market. This time, I’ve decided to make an assortment of wall frames featuring an embroidered message. The frames themselves are recycled vintage ones, and I’m already itching to work on more!

Sunday morning market success

Every now and then, when it’s not too hot, I like to go on a jumble sale trawl. Having conveniently found a Saturday on which I miraculously didn’t have plans to go out in the evening (making the early wake up call on a Sunday morning relatively reasonable) a trip to the market was enthusiastically penciled in.

Despite the still-persistent heat (has the weather fairy not heard its supposed to be Autumn?), the turnout among sellers was a good one, and the football pitch that hosts the Sunday morning market in the beautiful Birgu was full of stalls carrying an exciting assortment of items. Fuelled by pastizzi and a very decadent pastry brought back from Sicily by the lovely Rachel, the morning was happily spent among dusty nick knacks, wartime relics and all manner of paraphernalia in varying degrees of vintageness.

I was, above all, on the lookout for vintage frames in various sizes, in order for them to be upcycled in a future Secret Rose project – and I wasn’t disappointed. I came away with 3 small and 3 larger decorative frames in all, and can’t wait to get started on what I have planned for them. Happy Sunday!

Spot of tea, dear?

 Yesterday, I crossed something off my ‘to do’ list that had been there fore quite some time – a full tea service at Palazzo Parisio. Fancy? Yes. Tasty? Ohh yes.

Having talked about going for a while, four lovely ladies and myself finally got round to booking, setting our hair and putting on our pretty dresses for a spot of tea and cake. Along with our own choice of tea (Jasmine green tea for me), we were treated to an assortment of gorgeous tea time treats. 

There were scones with jam and heavenly clotted cream, a variety of delicious sandwiches (my favourite of which being egg mayo & cream cheese variants), and this was all topped off with an array of tasty desserts including a cute carrot cupcake and strawberry tart.

Add to this some truly delightful surroundings, pretty but unresponsive cats, and the all-important great company, it was a lovely afternoon indeed!

When a man (or woman) is tired of London…

 This post’s been a long time coming – since I returned from a week in London almost a month ago, to be exact. Today, on the first day dedicated to relaxing at home in as long a time, is the perfect opportunity – as late as it is! 
London is one of the places I’ve been that feels like (a very different) home. Doubtless actually living there will be an altogether different experience – as I’ve grown older, my love for Malta has grown too – I jump at any opportunity to visit, and relish the surge in my creative juices when there, and upon my return.
 
One of the photos exhibited at Another London
This time, apart from a number of truly wonderful exhibits we visited (my favourites among which were Another London: International Photographers Capture City Life 1930-1980,Writing Britain: Wastelands to Wonderlands and Ballgowns: British Glamour since 1950 at the beloved V&A), I had actually put some money away – albeit it never really being enough in that city – to be able to bring home a few gems. Here are a selection of things that have found a new home in Malta 🙂
 A pair of two-tone brogues in the softest leather from an independent designer @ Sunday Up market; a 5-year memory book from the V&A; swallows necklace from a stall at the aforementioned market.

 A selection of cosmetics from Benefit; rose petal coasters by a nice gentleman at Spitalfields market; ceramic bunny necklace from a delightful little shop off the local market where we were staying in Honor Oak Park; gift wrap ring from the Ballgowns exhibit giftshop.

 The coveted razor pleat skirt with a (faux) leather waistband from another seller at Sunday Up market.

 Pretty Guess bag that has already become a staple in my wardrobe; winger leather shoes from a very cool but absurdly pricey shop off Brick Lane, housing items from a variety of independent designers.

 Two of the dresses brought back, both from newly discovered favourite dress brand Emily and Fin.

A few shirts for work and beyond!

Post-patches exotic reveal!

After a supremely busy few weeks in the run-up to Patches Summer Edition at which I was participating, and after the success and generally great day of the market itself, (pic of moi @ my stall below!) I’m so happy to finally be revealing the jacket I collaborated on with Babettopolis, the unfinished version of which appeared, quite teasingly, in my previous post.

As was the case with our previous project – Maria Giuliana’s wedding dress – the design for the jacket and its putting together was Maria’s doing, whereas the design for the embroidery, as well as the embroidery itself, was in my hands. The match, it seems, was made in heaven, and here it now is!

I’m immensely proud of the outcome, and hope to one day be able to dedicate the time to do something similar (with Maria’s help of course!) for myself. The brief for the design was wonderful – I basically had free reign to throw in as many exotic fruits, flowers & birds as I could – and boy did I! The embroidy, as you can tell from the photos, circles the jacket’s peplum and runs across both sleeves in all black thread. Maria did the design proud and put it together with her characteristic flawlessness, leaving me very eager indeed to the next time we can cross needles 😉