31 October 2011

Trick Or Treating in England + Post Of The Month Club

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

In Ireland and Britain
during the Middle Ages on Hallowmas { November 1 }
 people went door-to-door in costume
receiving food in return for prayers for the dead

Fast-forward to 1895
for the first record of 'guising' in Scotland,
where children in disguise visited neighbors

performing a poem, song, or joke
to receive cake, fruit or money for their efforts
{ practiced later in Ireland too }

They carried lanterns made of scooped-out turnips
{ which was on the menu the following day }

First record of guising in North America was in

Some point before 1940, guising evolved to 'trick-or-treating'
on Halloween night in the western US and Canada

Although this annual US event of
asking for candy without a performance was stalled
by sugar rationing from 1942-1947 due to World War II,

trick-or-treating picked up steam
with the mass production of costumes
and attention given to it in children's magazines and radio shows

firmly establishing it in American pop culture by 1952

Carving pumpkins is an American tradition, as pumpkins are native to America
{ and bigger than turnips }

'Trick-or-treating' in England is viewed as an American export
and not necessarily a welcome one

In 2007 the BBC News wrote
the 'authentically ancient festival' of Halloween
'has been hijacked by trick or treating' 
and cited
the 1986 House of Lords debate about
 trick-or-treating being not a tradition, 
but American for begging
{ Yikes! }

Do you know how many houses I've seen decorated for Halloween in England this year?

I believe Halloween is more of a dark occasion here,
which makes the older generations nervous about bad behavior
in a society that closely guards its privacy

Last year I saw 'No Trick Or Treaters Here' fliers distributed for posting on doors
{ but none this year }

To indicate trick-or-treaters are welcome at a home,
a pumpkin or lit candle will be outside the front door

I have to say, just since last year there seems to be
increased lightening and acceptance of this event

evidenced by more Halloween displays in store windows
and a whole half-aisle dedicated to bagged candy, costumes, and knickknacks

Although most English parents never trick-or-treated as children,
it seems to be catching on and their children are enthusiastic about it

Children's costumes are scary or gory
- skeletons, witches, ghouls -

nothing 'cute' like a puppy dog
and no Disney characters

Many houses have spooky 'fog machines'
{ well, ventilation for boilers, actually }

And I noticed their trick-or-treat bags are quite small,
humbly not expecting much
{ some Americans bring pillowcases to fill in the US }

English neighbors typically give one piece of candy or one coin

This year a few trick-or-treaters rang our doorbell Saturday
and a few more will tonight { Monday }

I expect only one-eighth of the houses on our street will participate
when we trick-or-treat tonight with friends

American readers are probably thinking
how nice it must be to avoid the heavy commercialization of Halloween,

but with no Thanksgiving in England
you can bet Christmas paraphernalia has been for sale since the beginning of October!

Happy Halloween, y'all :)

- all photos by me -

Source: Wikipedia 1, 2, 3BBC, Rampants Scotland

Linking to: MissElaineOusLife 

* Postscript: I want to mention that in the US, this holiday has nothing to do with remembering loved ones that have passed. Halloween is almost synonymous with trick-or-treating, which commonly is a festive community affair of seeing your neighbors :) Teenagers will go with friends to haunted houses for a giggly scare; adults may attend parties. Halloween has a really fun vibe to it and generally loved by everyone. Unfortunately the innocent gaiety of trick-or-treating may not have been exported with this American tradition...


Welcome to October's Post Of The Month Club!
I am pleased as Halloween punch you are here :)

Time for our meet & greet

* Bloggers, link up your best post of the month *
And see, you've already done the work

* Share the love by dropping by a few other blogs and say 'hi',
if you can *

* Would you mind adding my button to your lovely sidebar or post
so more can join the fun next month? *


Yep, we'll do this the last day of each month

* Don't forget to become a follower here too *

Happy November blogging, you warm autumn ray of sunshine, you

P.S. You can click here to see my current giveaway :)

Linking to: Sweet Shot Tuesday


27 October 2011

Listy Loo Strikes Again

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

Let's take something you are totally not interested in - say, The Dictionary

But did you know that before dictionaries were in the hands of most,
people in England wrote phonetically?

You can see how this would be problematic
when pronunciation of words varied so much within the country,
even within London

(and explains why I have trouble reading old English literary works)

in Wiltshire

Samuel Johnson's A Dictionary of the English Language (1755) 
is hailed as the first modern English dictionary, 
written with reliable text references and arranged alphabetically, 
instead of by topic as organized previously

It was the standard dictionary for 150 years 
until the Oxford English Dictionary was published in 1928

Taking nearly 50 years to complete,
the OED is the most trusted English language dictionary today, 
revised and updated every three months

In the US, most Americans are familiar with Noah Webster, 
the father of the American Dictionary
{ think Webster Dictionary }

After twenty seven years of writing 
and learning twenty-six languages to evaluate the etymology of words,
Webster published An American Dictionary Of The American Language in 1828

Winston Churchill indulged his passion for writing and painting here at his home, Chartwell

Previously a teacher, Webster found English spelling rules 
unnecessarily complex, too aristocratically British, and with the need to be controlled by the people

Therefore, he intentionally accentuated differences in meaning and pronunciations of some words

One hallmark was altering the spelling of words such as 'colour' with 'color', 'centre' with 'center'
Webster added American words such as 'skunk' and 'squash' not found in English dictionaries

And interestingly, Webster included technical terms from the arts and sciences 
rather than just literary words

Truly transforming American English

At the time, Webster's dictionary was seen as radical and political 
during a time of national identity crisis and instability 
after American independence in 1776

Today, Webster dictionaries sit on the shelves in countless US homes and schools

Who could say the history of the dictionary was dull?

aka English Oak with its lobed (not sharp) leaves

I mention this because my 'Listy Loo' today is filled with
interesting words that hurled me to the nearest dictionary

Let's start with the adorable word, Wendy house

It is a general term for a playhouse, 
named after the house Peter Pan builds for Wendy in J. Barrie's Peter Pan
Love it!

Available from Blue Forest

Wattle and daub is the interweaving of twigs 
plastered with a mixture of clay, lime, water { and sometimes straw } 
to form a wall of a building

England's period timber framed houses were often made of wattle and daub

It became less popular by the 17th and 18th centuries due to 
the popularity of brick and stone construction
the risk of fire
and the problem of criminals breaking through a wall
{ yikes! }

It remains architecturally charming to me

'Wattle and daub' likely used in this timber framed home

Fairy cakes are similar to the American cupcake
often with flat hard icing

by Jessica's Cupcakes in Oxford

I was surprised how the European Robin looks so different from the American one,
so small & dainty and much revered in English folklore

via Wikipedia

The Common Blackbird is unrelated to the obnoxious New World blackbirds

These lackluster birds shine with their absolutely beautiful melodic song in early spring mornings
- a great way to start the day -

via Wikipedia

Not winning any health awards,
I need to try a Chip Butty - a sandwich of french fries
common in Birmingham and northward

via wikiHow

This interesting 'hatted' building is an oast house, designed for drying hops
Not in use anymore, but really picturesque in the Kentish countryside

Oast House at Sissinghurst Castle

During the summer riots in London, I heard the troublemakers referred to as YOBs

You may have noticed this is 'Boy' spelled backward, 
to indicate the antithesis of what a good boy should be
-rude, obnoxious, violent, and stupid -

Apparently it was coined in England in the 18th century 
when it was popular among the upperclass to speak backward 

Yob is still a word used today

I love the idea of speaking backward to indicate an opposite meaning, don't you?
Perhaps my gibberish really means something?

And last, this unusual conifer originates from Chile
 and first planted in England during Victorian times

Its common name, the Monkey Puzzle Tree
was given by a group of friends in Cornwall in 1850 
figuring it would be a puzzle for a monkey to climb

{ although I'm pretty confident monkeys don't live in Chile }

Monkey Puzzle Tree at Leith Hill

I have many many more words on my list, 
but I will stop here
leaving you wondering the meanings of 
haw-haw (ha-ha), cordwainer, and twee

- probably all known by my British readers - 

all photos by me unless otherwise stated


See you Monday for Post Of The Month Club


And click here to see my current giveaway  :)

Have an awesome day!

P.S. Excuse the inconsistent spacing between lines - I've been unable to fix it

Linking to: Monday Rewind

22 October 2011

Giveaway + Other Goodies To Share

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

Living in England, 
I can't help but rekindle my love for the country cottage look

Smitten :)

Thanks to Englishwoman Rachel Ashwell,
shabby chic design has taken the world by storm for the last 20 years

Other English icons going strong include Cath Kidston and Liberty of London since 1875

Cath Kidston

by Liberty

Freaky cute, eh?

Check out Liberty's one-minute video on how to tie a cute head scarf
She makes it look so easy

{ if it were me, I'd likely get it fumbled around my limbs,
crashing to the floor in a muffled 'help help!' }

Here are a few more goodies I've come across lately

Have you checked out any online magazines before?
Here's a great one to whet your appetite: Leaf

Rochelle Greayer is one of the masterminds behind Leaf
- designer, turned blogger, turned magazine creator -

With a focus on the garden and outdoors,
this quarterly read is sure to bask in success for years to come

The first edition was released just this week :)

1. Leaf Magazine    2. Candle via Baileys    3. Tree Swing from Dirt Couture

I know, 'Mowed Grass'? Can you stand it?

And how adorable is that tree swing?!
I think everyday ordinary should be wrapped in such great design :)
Don't you?

Thinking this personalized 'Likes' print {below} is a perfect way to capture a current snapshot
of the ever-changing kiddos

And you know I'm all about the retro laptop case :)

1. Personalized 'Likes' Print by Rosie Robins    2. Ted Baker's Laptop Case

There's an interesting Etsy-esque website in the UK called 'Folksy'
See a few fun finds I found on Friday
{ like the alliteration? }

And those outside the UK may not be familiar with AGA cookers
but my, how it screams cozy country!

How I hope beyond hope that our next house will have one of these
to warm the kitchen 24 hours a day
{ it maintains a constant temperature }

I'd have to take special AGA cooking classes to use one, but that is okay by me
{ according to their website, coming to the US soon }

1. Chair via Folksy     2. AGA Cooker     3. Garden Potting Table via Folksy   4. Bedding by Pip Studio

Pip Studio from the Netherlands is another 'must have'
Fresh, adorable, bright design every single time

Now to my exciting giveaway :)

RamSign of Denmark

RamSign approached me to give one of my readers one of their lovely signs

{Squeal!} So generous! If only I could win :)

I am thrilled to offer this as a 'thank you'
for supporting my photojournaling, my soulfood efforts

RamSign will provide free international shipping
for one thick porcelain enamel sign
in that swoon-worthy traditional European style
{ winner chooses sign style and up to 5 digits }

Not just a great house sign,
but possibly a Christmas ornament or addition to a little vignette?
I'm sure the uses are endless, and you can view their samples here
{ worth $49/ 29 euros and up }

Open to bloggers and non-bloggers alike

If you are interested in entering the giveaway,
throw me a comment or email this way

{ extra giveaway entry if you include a link in your blog/post }

One lucky winner will be chosen randomly on November 2nd

Thank you, RamSign, for your generosity!


I know I think this 
every time each month
but wow, another month has flown by


Mark your calender for
Monday, October 31st

 to link up to Post Of The Month Club
{ insert leprechaun heel click here }

It is a great way for bloggers to promote their best work
and a place to meet & greet

{ easy peasy, you've already written the post }

Yep, right here :)


- more details here -

Now don't forget to enter for that awesome giveaway

Goodbye for now, chickadees :)


19 October 2011

Buying Vintage In England

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

In the US I always enjoyed shopping
in thrift shops and at yard sales,
finding interesting tidbits to add to my eclectic nest

Like a 'truffle pig' rooting for its delicacy,
I savor the forage of a good find with a
gentle price tag

{ and yes, I just called myself a pig :)  }

So naturally I was curious to see what this process would be like
in the fertile antique hunting grounds in the UK

Sunbury Antiques Market

A charity shop is England's equivalent to a thrift store in the US

There are numerous ones from which to choose
often on the High Street (main street) in many towns

- Cancer Research, Princess Alice Hospice, & Oxfam to name a few -

However, these storefronts often are quite small and rarely offer furniture
Mostly clothing, jewelry, shoes, a few knickknacks, and books

Nothing I'm looking for with a cool, vintage look

Sunbury Antiques Market

I've visited towns with a line of storefronts selling antiques
which rarely satisfies my quest for bargain vintage

So what's a girl to do?

Sunbury Antiques Market

Ah, Antique Fairs... The first one I went to brought tears to my eyes
See all the cool stuff I'd love to just walk away with in these photos?
{ well, maybe not the ship painting }

Although vendors will often tell you
they know little about the piece and could only guess at its age
{ I like their honesty },

they do have a good feel what people will pay for their goodies
so there are few bargains to be had

{ One can haggle, but I stink at it }

My general rule is to buy only what I love, can afford, and can carry :)

Arriving early gives you the best selection, but prices drop as the day lengthens

And like most events in England, fairs are held rain or shine

My loot :)

There are antique auctions, which I would love to observe one day
weekend boot sales, where people sell unwanted items out of their car at a good price

If you feel comfortable going to people's homes,
there is always CraigslistGumtree and other equivalents

But in general,
real bargains are hard to come by in England

Not even a 'Free Kittens' sign to be seen

My newest acquisition :)

So if you plan to move here,
don't come without a dining room table with thoughts of buying one here
{ like I almost did }

Vintage purchases tend to be of the serendipitous nature

And ooooh, how I still revel in the hunt :)


Hampton Court Emporium, East Molesey
Princess Alice Hospice, Kingston-Upon-Thames
along West Street*, Dorking
The Antiques Warehouse, Farnham
The Packhouse*, Farnham
Snoopers Paradise Flea Market*, Brighton
The North Laine Antiques & Flea Market*, Brighton

Bermondsey Square (London, Fridays)
Portobello Road (London, Saturdays)
Sunbury Antiques Market * (Middlesex, 2x/mo)
International Antique & Collectors Fairs (various locations & dates)

Antiques Atlas
Antiques News

BBC’s Homes & Antiques Magazine (my fav)

With so many places to visit on my list, I marked the ones I've been to so far and worth a look (*).
I just had to share my complete list with you here :)

- all photos by me -

Postscript: Thanks to Gris Fleur for the tip of a Sunday Car Boot Sale in Walton-On-Thames here

Related post: Vintiquing In England

15 October 2011


Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

We visited peaceful, stately Longleat House
 once belonging to Lord Bath in Wiltshire

I know what you're thinking...
how grand 
how historical
how pastoral...

You would be right

But look what's really going on
at the property
(wink, wink)

These furry hoodlums jump onto every passing car,
'lifting' whatever they can get their monkey hands on!

It was outrageous!

Opened in 1966, Longleat was the first drive-through safari park outside Africa

With the idea that animals are in large enclosures and 
people are in 'cages' (aka cars)
you really get quite a view

Yep, quite a view indeedy...


Above, you can see a playset for the monkeys 
but with license plates, hubcaps, windshield wipers, and antennas to rip off
who needs a playset?

Worse For Wear: a dangling wiper and broken antennae
Hmm, does his insurance policy include monkey damage?

Cars can detour the monkey enclosure if desired

As you can imagine, the safari park takes no responsibility for damage

I've never seen anything quite like it!

 { they jumped on our car but didn't succeed in taking anything, those rascals }

While I'm not a big fan of zoos,
this seems an ideal setting for animals in captivity


This used to be one of the longest yew mazes in England

Although it may no longer hold that title, 
it was certainly the most difficult one we've tackled yet

To finish the day
we fed sea lions
walked among meerkats

It was an unforgettable day for my animal-loving kids

and for me, thoughts of monkeys from 
the Wizard Of Oz kept running through my mind :)

I wonder why...

- all photos by me -
More info: Longleat 

12 October 2011

Operation Autumn Color

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

I hopped, skipped my way to 
National Trust's Sheffield Park in East Sussex 

A dear Garden Club leader
tipped me off to this autumn wonderland
last spring

I'd waited 6 months to see this

In my corner of England,
autumn is primarily amber, caramel, & green

Yet at Sheffield Park, oriental maples (acers) don their scarlet wardrobe

As I walk around many of the parks in England on a weekday
I am often the youngest person by a mile

The elderly in their golden years may have
canes or wheelchairs
but they cannot be stopped
from drinking the tranquility nature offers

A wonderful way to spend the day
at any age

and definitely worth the six month wait 

- all photos by me -