Sunday, 18 September 2011

Wild Cyclamen and Sugared Almonds

Writing a thesis has taught me several things: that having the freedom to choose your own subject is both thrilling and unsettling (I understand now why children crave structure and limitations), to love a (vast) subject with a passion whilst remaining concise and precise (the latter did not come so easily to me), and finally, that attention to detail is a marvellous thing but that one must know when to stand back and curb the desire to give too much detail.

I love detail.  One needs, however, to balance out embellishment with simplicity.  Details matter but simple pleasures are wonderful too, right?

Our walk this morning married the simple pleasures of being with loved ones in the sunny autumnal countryside and relishing nature's ornaments.  

Wild cyclamen.  In spring I hear tales of carpets of dainty bluebells in the British Isles which I have yet to hear in France.  While I miss that marvellous sight I know that come autumn the woodlands here are covered in heavenly pink and white cyclamen.The pleasure is just as intense.

The cyclamen's Greek name grew from encircling like the Cyclades which encircle Delos. Their old English name 'sowbread', however, is much less poetic.

Today these little flowers wove their magic on our children and the woods around us.
As always it was the children who first spotted the gifts lying in the dappled sunlight.

Why should we find a cupcake dress and an apron lying among the ivy and cyclamen?

 Who put the dress on the tree?  Some benevolent woodland sprites perhaps?
 Oh my goodness!  Sugared almonds?  Such kindness!
 A sugared-almond blue cardigan made from the finest fairy gossamer.
One finds the lovliest little people in these woodland glades.
 Whoever made these clothes loves giving attention to detail.

 Yes indeed.  There was magic in the woods today.
 Magic of the sweetest kind.

And now please tell me; do you prefer making things on a small or large scale?  Do you too love weaving details into your creations or, on the contrary, do you find embellishments too fussy? Please share your preferences with me.

A warm welcome to my lovely new readers and a big thank you to my loyal ones.

I cannot wait for dear Vanessa  to return and discover she has won the giveaway gifts.

Don't forget the Nursery Rhyme winner will be announced soon... very soon.

Have a beautiful week.

ps I made these doll's clothes for a wonderful friend, Zara, who claims they will be for her daughter Lucy's doll.  I wonder who will play with them the most? ;-)


  1. I remember well the struggle to balance wideangle and close up when I started my PhD. I love detail too :) But these days I don't get to make so many little things. My children are too old for doll-sized magic. Enjoy it while it lasts. And the cyclamen ... enjoy those as well ... what beauty :D

  2. Ma belle,

    I so love, SOOOOO LOVE the way you display your lovely wares in the setting of the simple beauty of NATURE....no need for a model for these dresses and cardigans, for one's imagination is gently challenged to envision that sprite or fairy that would so love to slip into that darling frock!!! AND I LOVE EMBELLISHMENTS HOWEVER, one must stand back and make the choices to either take out, or leave in. So I do love embellishments, but sometimes, simplicity speaks the truest poetry. Ahhhh......Anita

  3. what a great post; i love how you display your lovely and cute little outfits! like an enchanted wood :)
    i love detail, very much. perhaps it’s a sign of how curious we are about teh world around us?
    xo sandra

  4. So pretty! Your dolly clothes are nostalgic and beautiful. I actually think 'sowbread' is a lovely word too. I am rather fascinated by words.
    I wish I could do things on a large scale. At the moment I am not fast enough and I lack time. I love embellishments and detail, but I sometimes wonder if the things I make ought to be simpler, if they look too frilly and a bit naff?
    I love your blog and your world.It is so magic.It looks like the fairies live there. xxx

  5. Do you think the good fairies leave clothes for grown ups too? If so, name of the wood please?!

  6. Very lovely pictures. Reminds me that Isabella's 'babies' could do with some new clothes! x

  7. A wonderful post......I used to be verbose but I am worse now.....no, not really, but I have a love of words that sometimes gets in the way of what I actually want to say ~ it's probably the fact that I used to be an English Literature teacher. I actually like your embellishments, as they are adorning the simple. I love the little frocks with the sugared almonds, an ethereal post.
    Karen @ Lavender and Lovage

  8. wow those cyclamen are beautiful.
    I cant seem to keep them in my garden.

  9. how pretty all these photos are!

    i love to make projects on a smaller scale.adding embellishments and making something really special.i love all the little details :)-also because i get bored really fast,lol ;)

  10. What a pretty, pretty wood, full of Cyclamen and sweet little clothes. I love making little things, newborn babies up to perhaps a year old and embellished with little flowers or buttons. You live in a very enchanting place.
    x Sandi

  11. Wild cyclamen, how absolutely wonderful, they are so beautiful!
    The little clothes are ever so pretty and will be loved by both mother and daughter, I'm sure.
    As you know Stephanie I love making smaller items with pretty little details, much more fun I think. :)
    Now this week I need to buy some cyclamen for my pots to brighten up the coming seasons. I also think I need some sugared almonds now too!!! ;)
    Vivienne x

  12. Lovely post and great pictures. Those clothes are fabulous and I would love there to be a magic fairy round these parts.

  13. I really loved the precision of language required in writing a PhD, and my approach was always one of close reading contextualized - attending to the tiniest detail of the text was bliss! And then shaping the whole into an argument, and keeping all those strands in your hands, weaving them together - the best three years of my life!

    Pomona x

  14. I love wild cyclamens. I live near a church and during the latter part of the last century the old vicarage was known as one of the most beautiful "wild gardens" in East Anglia, to which gardeners flocked ( alas the garden is now a small housing estate ). Colourful little cyclamen in the church yard are a legacy of those times.
    Beautiful little creations by you. What a delight in the woodland. I prefer making things on a small scale, there is so much I want to do!
    Much love.

  15. I always have to fight the urge to add too much detail being it in writing (as you can probably tell from my blog) or creating. I love embellishments, that little flower on the apron is lovely and sets it off just perfectly.

  16. Your woodland walk sounds delightful! Those wild cyclamen simply beautiful. Your dolls clothes pretty as always. Such a pity my daughters do no longer play with dolls. I would have loved to make clothes like this.

    Happy new week!

    Madelief x

  17. Oh, I forgot to thank you for the book tip on Rosie Thomas. I will check out Amazon!

    Lieve groet, Madelief x

  18. Such pretty pastel sugared almonds. I'm not too keen on them personally, but I could fall in love with a pretty jar filled to the brim with them.

    Nina x

  19. I love visiting your blog, it is just like a fairytale x so pretty.
    Those little clothes are divine, just perfect for little fairies!
    love jooles x

  20. I have always loved the detail, but as a decorative designer that comes in useful most of the time! I loved your post today, with the beautiful cyclamen, sweet little children, adorable doll's clothes and scattering of sugared almonds..lovely!
    Enjoy a happy autumnal week.
    Helen x

  21. Thank you for sharing those beautiful pictures. I just bought some potted cyclamen for my front porch - have never seen them growing in the wild like that. What a treat!

  22. Beautiful pictures and I love the dolly clothe; the colours, the elegant simplicity and they are very pretty. Thank you for asking me to come and see, now I have found another lovely blog.

  23. My little girl would have loved to have gone on that walk!

  24. Yes, magic in the garden, in deed! I love the week people there. The doll clothing is beautiful. Sometimes I like to add fussy details, sometimes I don't:) Sometimes I have no patience:( Have a nice day! Twyla

  25. I wish I could see what you are talking about but the photo's wont upload for me. I'll have to have a look at my computer settings and then come back.


  26. Could you email me? Just wanting to ask you some questions regarding the dolls and a bit of advice for selling some of mine. My email is on my sidebar.
    I was also thinking of organising an international Christmas swap, if you're intereseted. xx

  27. Hello dear one..what magical woods you have. I adore your wild cyclamen, especially in their sweet gentle monochromatic splendour. I am so delighted to have been able to "see" them. Lovely shot of your two sweeties sitting on the grass. There's a time for large & a time for small. I will always remember an early time in our lives using my favourite fabrics to make a patchwork for our bed, yet when I see the little crocheted booties or the wee smocked dress that I made for Anna I am immediately reminded of the sweet days of her babyhood. Now, I frequently prefer to embellish other woman's work ..vintage pieces re-envisioned & loved & enhanced...gives me great joy. Such a sweet pink with the spots. Your post makes my heart sing...thank you . x0x0x

  28. Love the cyclamin flowers! I just bought one in a pot last week to brighten up my windowsill but they look lovely growing wild. Such pretty woods too.
    The clothes are gorgeous, I love working on quite small things and love details, ribbons, buttons and beads are wonderful :-)

    Thanks for entering my giveaway!

  29. What a wonderful sight, wild cyclamen. Your first pictures did bring to mind the carpets of wild bluebells in our woods in springtime. What beautiful little clothes, first of all the cupcake dress, but the little apron which covers it is simply delightful. The little rosebud is just right. Sugared almonds always remind me of Christmas, I've bought my dad sugared almonds for Christmas for as long as I can remember, his favourites. I much prefer making small things, big things take too long and I don't have the patience. I love embellishments, but not too many, understated is often better.

  30. The dolly clothes are beautiful. And the children searching for them so sweet!
    Making very large (King size quilt) or very small (doll clothes) is much harder than making something in a normal size. And I appreciate detail, even if I don't always have the patience for it.

  31. I love making things on a small scale - sometimes the smaller the better. I do enjoy adding some details, but being a minimalist by nature do not tend to embellishment.

    Lovely cyclamens! I had no idea they were an autumnal flower.

    Your comments on thesis-writing could also apply to blogging, and to good writing in general. I've been working on a post dealing with the subject of personal obsessions - or possibly compulsions - or do I mean passions? It was going swimmingly until I realized I didn't yet have the right word to describe the central topic, which is my own personal passion for/obsession with words and language.

    What is the correct term for something important to an individual, something central to one's nature, in which one can't help being interested, about which one is always willing to take time and care? Neither obsession, nor compulsion, nor passion, nor impulsion, seem exactly to fit the bill.

    Concision and precision - I see by this comment that I need to work on those. :)

  32. Such a lovely post! I´m fascinated by the wealth of wild cyclamen and the way you present these pretty doll clothes in between. There is always something very special about your posts, I love their atmosphere.

    Liebe Grüße, Bärbel

  33. I love wild cyclamen. I keep trying to establish them here as I am sure my conditions are ok for them but so far I have only three, not the rivers and pools and swirls of my imagination. As to detail, I like people with an eye for detail and I try to really look at things myself. I have never been one for buttons and bows and tiny embellishments though. I love simplicity and perfect plainness. Sadly simplicity is the hardest thing to achieve and shows up my technical inadequacies when I sew or knit!

  34. wow! how lovely! Here Cylclamen is sold as a tropical plant. I've never seen it just wild like this! What a lovely sight :)

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  36. Sugared almonds and cupcakes and fairies and little magic people, what a magical post Stephanie! And opening up my email to see I'd won your giveaway was just the most wonderful surprise, because it can be bittersweet returning from holidaying can't it! It's lovely to be home, see the doggies, be amongst my things, but leaving behind a wonderful holiday and the escapism of a holiday was harder, so the news I'd won your giveaway, well! What wonderful news, thank you so much Stephanie, I am sooooo looking forward to receiving my prize, actually, I'm very excited about it! Thank you soooo much! Vanessa xxxxxxxxxxx

  37. What magical treats your children always find when they go for a walk in the woods! Sweet little dolls clothes!
    Beautiful cyclamen too - natures magic.
    Although I like to generally keep things simple when making things, for there is beauty in simplicity, just a few little details can be the perfect finishing touch.
    Lovely post!
    Gill xx

  38. Love those cyclamen beds. I have a little bunch of them in my own garden but the flowers have now gone and the beautiful green leaves are showing. When I look at that teeny tiny bunch I just imagine a carpet like the ones you're showing us here.
    Beautifully made little clothes. It must give such pleasure to be able to create something so exquisite and detailed and pretty.
    Love the fairytale-way in which you show us all this beauty!
    Glad I discovered your blog;

  39. Dear Stephanie,

    Loved seeing where you went for your walk and such a gorgeous woodland with all the pretty cyclamens.
    The photo of your darling children sitting on the hill is precious.
    The dolls clothes you made are so sweet.

    Have a happy weekend

  40. My goodness! What a profusion of cyclamen. I've never seen so many in one place. We have a couple of dozen under an old hawthorn tree. I'm a 'small things' maker with a love of decoration. Knowing when to cease adding decoration can be a probelem however and I sometimes wish I preferred plain and simple (it would be much quicker). Eli x

  41. Stephanie, this is a lovely post., just gorgeous (I loved your pudding post too). And yes, finding the balance between broad vs detail is a struggle for me too.

    As for preferred projects, it depends on my life at the moment. Currently my challenge is maintaining a balance between home, work, and lifestyle. This is reflected directly in the types of projects I take on. I get in whatever project time I can with whatever mental energy I have left. It’s all about finding that ever-elusive balance...

  42. I just adore your dolls clothes and wish I had a little girl to sew for. I love making things small and enjoy adding loads of details. Sugar almonds are yummy, I wish I could find them in this country.

  43. I have never see wild cyclamen before how glorious.
    I try for the perfect balance between the two? and sometimes I experiment with my ceramic art and add a bit more than I think I should or a little less. Sometimes primitive is more relaxing.

    I just joined your blog as a follower!

    Lorraine :-}

  44. Hi,

    I should have replied to your comment on my blog before, but I simply forgot it. So sorry!

    I would love to read your book by Rosie Thomas. It sounds beautiful. Perhaps we can do a swap? I recently read 'When god was a rabbit' by Sarah Winman, which is lovely. Is that a book you would like to read?

    Wish you a lovely new week,

    Madelief x

  45. love the darling doll clothes displayed in the wild cyclamen patch. so striking!

    i'm drawn to the details on things, but i believe simplicity is best achieved with a sense of restraint.

    sending you sunshine and blue skies.

  46. Hello lovely Stephanie!...It is so good to be back in the blogging world again after my Summer break and I am having so much fun catching up with everyone...and here I see another beautiful, inspiring post..
    I have to say that I love to add those little details in anything I make but I do have to restrain myself at times...It is a very fine line isn't it?...I sometimes struggle to find a balance..and become very indecisive!
    Beautiful work and as always I love your photographs...
    Wishing you a lovely day...Hope you are enjoying some of this lovely late Summer sun,
    Susan x

  47. What a beautiful post! I'm off to have another read and look at all those gorgeous pictures again.

    Lou xxx

  48. Ma belle,

    It was so wonderful to see your comment earlier....YOU SAID something in your comment that really made me think about my current situation. I am a full-time teacher and I am finding it hard have my creative time to write and illustrate. But you are so right in saying that it is through the relaxed state that we are most creative. I find that when I am rested and just let flow what comes to mind, things go better! But what is one to do when stress from work sets in???

    I love coming to blogs to inspire me and give inspiration to others..THANK YOU SO MUCH for visiting me and I wish you a relaxing Sunday ma chère amie! Anita

  49. You write beautifully, I love to be drawn in and read more. Your items are quite stunning, hardly any need for words! x

  50. Such a pleasure cyclamen and the dolls clothes magical

  51. This is absolutely lovely. I always think there is magic in every corner, and especially in a garden. Why else do flowers all have fairy names? (as Robert Louis Stevenson writes) ;-)



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