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A Tuesday Miscellany


We haven’t had a really sunny day since Friday when we went to Decoy Country Park.  Never mind, the daffodils here in the study – and those in the kitchen – have brought two spots of brightness into the house.

I don’t mind a dull day when I’m off to have my 6-weekly manicure.  It’s such a treat having one’s hands massaged and one’s fingernails manicured I really can’t think why I’ve waited until my middle 70s to indulge myself.  Well, yes I do know. We’ve always been careful about spending on luxuries and it can’t be argued that manicures are anything but luxuries.  But now I’m enjoying not having to hide my hands, ashamed of nails that are quite frankly ragged and unsightly; indeed, not even wishing to wear my rings because they’d draw further attention to my poorly kept nails.  Now I don’t have to hide my hands, I can wave them about with gay abandon and enjoy wearing my rings!

As part of the ‘treatment’ my lovely manicurist exfoliates my hands and arms as far as the elbow, and then massages my hands, creams and soaks the nails, pushes back the cuticles, buffs the nails, all before applying base coat, three coats of colour and one top coat of clear polish and, finally, applies cuticle oil.  So when I’ve returned home my hands are just a little pinker than usual, it’s as if my hands are have had a workout! (I have my nails short because age and chemo –  that I had over a decade ago, the effects of which are long-term – mean that my nails are ridged and split along the ridges if they are not kept short.  But they are neat and cared-for, that’s what matters.)

For a change from my polo neck jumpers today, I wore a cream round neck jumper although I’m not that keen on round necks, I prefer a V-neck, but I wasn’t able to get a cotton ribbed jumper with a V-neck and so I tend to wear round necks with a scarf.  This scarf is in navy, turquoise and sage green, and it goes very well with my navy winter coat and also green chunky bangle I’m wearing.

Speaking of my coat, I had laid it on the bed ready to put on when someone who was visiting decided he didn’t want me to go out …

Yes, it’s Barry-the-dog.  We saw him last week when we dog-sat for him in his home, but he’s not been here for a while.  Here he was on the point of nodding off in the sunshine which briefly shone into our bedroom this morning.  He wasn’t meant to be on our bed; he’d sneaked in there as dogs are wont to do and parked himself on my coat. Thankfully, he’s a short-haired breed (a Patterdale terrier) and my coat wasn’t covered in dog hair.

I have been having  a discussion or sorts on Instagram with a lady who collects vintage powder compacts.  I mentioned to her that I had one that had belonged to my mother that was also a musical box and played the song I could’ve danced all night from the musical My Fair Lady.  The lady on Instagram had bought a Max Factor Creme Puff pressed powder for her compact, but my compact (which I don’t use, and my mother never used it either; I think it was a gift from her elderly neighbour who might or might not have used it!) isn’t the right shape for pressed powder and, instead, inside, it has a little compartment for loose face powder, with a piece of gauze to place over the top and a miniature ‘puff’ although ‘puff’ is hardly the word as it’s very thin indeed.  But it’s all in original condition and I really love it just as a pretty objet de virtu.  I really admire the engineering which goes into something like this.

Lunch today was just sandwiches as I’d been out for my manicure and therefore wasn’t here preparing food.  But there’s nothing wrong with sandwiches and I will no doubt cook something this evening.  Yesterday I made cauliflower cheese and we had it with crispy bacon on top …

I found a couple of small baguettes in the freezer, so re-heated those.  It was very tasty and also very filling.  I used just Gruyere cheese for it yesterday, sometimes I use three different cheeses, but just the one yesterday, and I add one veggie Oxo cube to the sauce.

Out in the garden, our white camellia’s buds are fattening up and as soon as it’s warm enough, these will open and I’m really looking forward to seeing the flowers.   I just hope we don’t have a hard frost to blacken them, we’re only just past the middle of February, we’re not out of the winter woods just yet. Meanwhile, indoors, the tulips I bought last Thursday have opened up in the warmth of the house …

I love the combination of purple and red and, at the other end of the room, the amaryllis that was a Christmas present and which flowered some weeks ago has thrown up another stem and four more beautiful flowers have opened.

And on the hall table, some hellebores from the garden …

With that I’m off to fill the dishwasher (taking care not to damage my newly-minted nails!  It takes a while for the polish to harden, I don’t have gel nail polish) and then I shall make us a cup of tea and I might watch Escape to the Country, i.e. feet up time.

Until next time.


About Margaret

Margaret’s main interests are her husband and family, her friends, her home, her garden, writing, literature, architecture, décor, social history, photography, historic houses and gardens, and towns, villages and the countryside. She writes about the things she enjoys: flowers, scent, fine soap, monthly style magazines, and other such small indulgences, such as afternoon tea or simply enjoying her summerhouse with a book. She invites you to enjoy this virtual visit to South Devon, England.

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  1. Oh, I do agree – a manicure is a wonderful treat. I had mine last Thursday and I love the massage. I could happily sit there for hours! As I tend to get it done late afternoon Husband prepares the meal on that day (well, sometimes I have already prepared it but he does the final bits and pieces and serves it up). I only need to say, “Nails today,” and he knows what’s expected! Haha.
    What a very pretty compact. I use a compact mirror (not powder) but it’s a modern one. I remember my mother having a lovely enameled one but I don’t know what happened to it. She only ever used powder and lipstick. Once she put a smear of blue eyeshadow on her lids but my Dad didn’t like it. She’d be amazed at the contents of my make up bag!

    • Margaret

      Yes, I tell husband I can’t do any cooking for an hour or two when I’ve had my nails done, they need to harden up. I just made some salmon sandwiches, taking great care!
      Compacts were de rigeur when I was a girl, and I had a lovely one for my 21st birthday from my husband, but goodness knows what happened to it. I think if was going to start collecting something, it would be vintage compacts, I love them. But I have enough ‘stuff’ to sink a ship, so I’d better not start on anything else although I dare say they would “spark joy”!

  2. That is a spectacular amaryllis!

  3. Manicures and pedicures are my little indulgence too (and quilting fabric but that is another story). They make me feel good. Your red and purple tulips look lovely together. I had a little laugh seeing Barry the Dog on the bed, they always seem to know how to find the most comfortable places even if its out of bounds.

    • Margaret

      How lovely to be able to quilt fabric, Pieta. I’m truly hopeless at any kind of needlework – well, you need patience for that and I find with me patience is often in short supply! Yes, Barry knows he should go on the bed, but he was searching for the sunshine as much as trying to prevent me from going out, I think!

  4. Perhaps Barry thought you needed some of his hair (and odour) to complete your outfit 🙂 He is such a cute boy, I’d find it difficult to rouse on him for making himself at home all over your clothing and clean bedding. Your flowers are very pretty and always such beautiful colours. I bought myself some roses from a road stall (a large road stall which includes a large glass-fronted double door commercial fridge to store the buckets of roses) about three weeks ago. They were beautifully scented and my car smelt so nice on the long drive home but they lasted only,a,few days due to our heatwave conditions. Such a shame. Until our weather cools down I will continue to enjoy yours. Your cauliflower cheese looks delicious with the added bacon. I will try and remember that tip. Your manicure looks very nice. You could have tried getting out of stacking the dishwasher for fear of damaging the finish ? I used to be a regular blood donor and one of the lovely volunteers who served refreshments after the donations suggested to us that we leave the gauze bandage on until the evening to get out of cooking and washing up duties, which I thought was clever 😉 I can remember my late maternal grandmother used a compact. Like Eloise’s mother, she used only powder and lipstick – she would dab her bottom lip with her finger after applying the lipstick, tap each cheek and then rub in, like blush I guess. Your mother’s compact is quite beautiful. Lara xx

    • Margaret

      Oh, how lovely to have found scented roses to buy, Lara! Here, 99% of roses that are grown for commercial purposes have no scent, it would appear to have been bred out of them, which is such a shame because as well as looking beautiful, roses are loved for their fragrance. Oh, that would’ve been a crafty move – leaving the gauze bandage on our arms after giving blood! I used to give blood until I had cancer, I have my “50 Donations” pen (a gift from the Blood Transfusion Service, along with a little gilt badge) on the desk here next to me. It’s a nice ballpoint pen (I’ve had it for years) but it’s one of those ‘slippery’ ones and my fingers slide up and down it when I’m trying to write with it, so next to it it my Lamy fountain pen (bright yellow) that I use all the time.
      In the 1950s, powder and lipstick were mainly what ladies wore. It was considered ‘fast’ to wear eye makeup, something to be discouraged. And as a child, my mother would only put a slight dab of lipstick on and then smooth it across her lips with a finger, almost as if wiping it off, it was something still not really acceptable for her as she’d been a child of Victorians (she was born in 1912) and all makeup was discouraged, it was what actresses wore, and ladies of the night. Yes, lipstick was also used as rouge, or blusher we’d call it today.

  5. Your scarf is a beautiful colour and it looks lovely with your hair.
    Ah, nails! I’ve tried having gel nails a few times and I did like the colours, but the damage they did to my own nails! Also, I found the whole process very boring. I’ve never though of having a traditional manicure – I’ll look into that.
    Your compact is a beautiful design.
    Last year my mum gave me her mother’s powder compact. It still had some of Gran’s powder in it and it retained its lovely smell. My dad gave this compact to his future mother-in-law in 1957 and I’m thrilled to have it and keep it in my handbag because the mirror is very useful. (I removed the remains of the powder because of hygiene.)

    • Margaret

      No, I would not have gel nails, they are wonderful in that they don’t chip but yes, they do damage the nails – or so I’ve been told. I actually like the process of having my nails done, I find it relaxing, letting someone else do the work while I just sit there. It’s very soothing when my hands are massaged, and even my short nails look lovely when they have been filed professionally (much neater than I can manage), the cuticles cared for, and the nails buffed so that the ridges are removed (well, for a time as they do return). It takes a little over an hour, but I really enjoy it. Years ago, hairdressers would do manicures while their clients sat under the hood hair dryers, but these are seldom used these days with hair being blow dried, so manicures in hairdressers are now very much a thing of the past.
      How lovely to have your grandmother’s compact. 1957 was the year I started at grammar school, so I can remember that year very well!

  6. We have a visiting dog doing something similar just now Margaret, they always find the good spots. It was nice to hear about your manicure, I can well imagine the relaxation it brings. I think I would enjoy it too but I can’t wear nail polish for long, it would soon chip and annoy me so it just appears on my nails for high days and holidays (more likely a wedding.) I wish I’d kept a compact my Mum had when young, I can remember the blue enamel and filigree work, very pretty and always that powdery smell inside, I think Mum’s had a rouge compartment too. I expect we dabbed it over our faces for the rosy cheeked effect!

    • Margaret

      I think we always regret those little things we parted with, Heather, thinking them of little use to us. I know I got rid of all kinds of things when Mum died, simply because there were far too many items to fit into our home. But I have a lot of her things, as you know. I never used to wear nail polish, it’s only in the last few years I’ve started to wear it because it actually protects my thin nails from breaking and flaking. I also chip the polish easily but I touch them up and then do a complete re-polish about once a week.

  7. That little Barry man is so lovable. I love his little paws. Your manicure is pretty, and I think well cared-for nails give the nicest appearance! I’ve a need to have mine done for sure! The cauliflower dish looks delicious. I don’t know what an Oxo cube is though. That white amaryllis is just beautiful and so is the little compact. So feminine.

    • Margaret

      Hello, Kay, and thank you for your kind comments regarding Barry – I will tell him be is gathering a world-wide fan base when I next see him! Thank you, also, for your comments re my manicure – I never used to indulge in such things until about a year ago and now I really enjoy having my nails ‘done’ and it makes me more aware of keeping (or trying to!) my nails neat.
      Oxo cubes are stock cubes, dried stock that has been compressed into a little cube that you unwrap and crumble into soups and stews. Some companies make stock ‘pots’ of liquid stock, but Oxo are dried stock cubes. Knorr is another company who make them, but I’ve always found Knorr rather too salty. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with Kallo stock pots and have to say I’m impressed with the dishes I’ve made which have included those.

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