Friday, 7 December 2012


Dear readers,
This exquisite pair of slippers, one of the many products of Lea Stansal's gloriously whimsical imagination, reminds me of the novel The Snow Child - yours is on its way, Melissa - which so many of you have read with great delight.  As I have already confessed I am a winter child at heart.  It is a season which encourages you to become a good beauty hound and gently compels us to enjoy the novelty of seeing everything from a different perspective, the twigs glazed with ice, the snow glittering like diamond dust. There is always pleasure to be found somewhere among the leavings; remains that tell a story.  The Alaskian storyteller, Eowyn Ivey, does just that: she spins a fairytale from the harsh reality of winter in Alaska and makes it into something beautiful.  She has a talent which leaves me in awe.
In The Children's Book (the only book which carried me through those first nauseous months of pregnancy three summers ago) A.S. Byatt writes:
"Olive was sometimes frightened by the relentlessly busy inventiveness of her brain.  It was good and consoling that it earned money, real bankable cheques in real envelopes.  That anchored it in the real world.  And the real world sprouted stories wherever she looked at it. [...] Yesterday's events had also transmuted themselves into story-matter, almost as fast as they had happened.  She had watched Anselm Stern's version of E.T.A. Hoffmann's tale with glee - her response to any performance, any work of art, was the desire to make another, to make her own.  She was in that world, watching, not in flat dailiness.  The gliding movement of the puppets, the glitter of the limelight on their silk organza dresses, the half-visible strings, like spider-silk, had transmuted into other figures in other lights in her head, almost before they had performed their own sequence of movements."
I have always admired a storyteller.  I may be a humble writer - a garden aesthetics journalist to be precise - but I am incapable of threading words together to make up a story.  I put down facts on paper, simple as that.  And what about those marvellous souls who snuggle down with their children in bed and make up stories in their head?  Oh my, I wish I could do that!  Tell me please, do you have that talent?
As you have all noticed I have temporarily put down my writer's pen and taken up my needles and thread these past few months.  The constant clamour of my spirited Angélique has made it more tricky to form (halfway intelligent) sentences but fairly easy to stitch. I may not be able to write tales but I do enjoy making up characters with a little fabric and yarn.
Most days I am glad to embrace the commonplace in the knowledge that it counterbalances a desire to keep company with my flights of fancy. The imagination is a powerful ally and an alluring friend and this week I have wished to part company with the mundane and its ceaseless sermons to keep one's feet on the ground. This character, Mademosielle Butterfly, has been living in my head for a while now (she is destined for a little girl named Matilda) and has kept me cheerful through the symphony of hacking coughs and broken nights.  When I look at her I think of skies in spring and holding a small, blue butterfly gently in my hands and watching it flutter.  As I stitched the last piece of lace on her skirt I realised with contentment that the interludes between coughing fits had lengthened, that my children had rosy cheeks one more. and that the sodden winter garden was filled with dazzling sunlight . Thank you Mademoiselle Butterfly for carrying me through a tricky week.
 And thank you too to Silke Leffler whose illustrations gladden my heart and inspire me.  If you are looking for good reading matter for Christmas presents may I suggest these two books?
I bought these for myself a while back but have watched with a happy heart Angélique fall in love with the pictures and the tales.  The Flower Ball is a clever tale of acceptance which uses rich imagary and words. Why Is The Snow White is an imaginative tale which celebrates snow and the sweetness of sharing.  You may find them both here and here.
And finally, please could you all gently wag a finger at dear Gaspard! 
 He turned one on the first day of Advent and spent the entire night vomiting his first birthday bone. Poor love! 'No more bones', admonished the kind vet the following morning. For the past few days he will only eat and drink water from my hands and turns his charming nose up at his dog bowl! The vet yesterday advised me to stop handfeeding him. Is my dear dog becoming a drama queen?
A bientôt,
Edit: I am wondering about stepping away from this space after Christmas...


  1. Each of your posts is always like a storytelling to me. Beautiful books! It's been so long since I bought beautifully illustrated children's books. That's what happens when the kids turn into teenagers I guess.
    Love Miss Butterfly.
    Happy birthday Gaspard!
    Love your new header as well.
    I should try to find the time to do some cross stitch needlework again. That can be so relaxing I remember. Love it.

  2. Lovely post : cute and interesting.

  3. I love your new header, so sweet. Mademoiselle Butterfly is indeed very Springlike such a lovely reminder of warmer days. :)
    I'm rubbish at making up stories and do admire so much people who can. I think you're wonderful in your use of words. I love those illustrations in the book too. They remind me of Rebecca Dautremer.
    I hope Gaspard has recovered!
    Jess x

  4. Beautiful post Stephanie, poor Gaspard, hope he's feeling better.
    Victoria xx

  5. love the new header!!! Happy birthday to your pup! Love all your stitch work and it almost makes me want to dig mine out-but I guess I'll keep on knitting for now ;)

  6. love de new mademoiselle butterfly early spring rabbit very pretty
    love storys too and a little bit novels who has a little fairytale expect in the book garden spells from sarah addison allen is also a beauty of a novel
    have a nice day leon10

  7. Your new header is delightful and the bunny is beautiful.
    I hope you and the puppy are feeling better.
    Have a wonderful weekend.

  8. oh I hope you don't, unless you really need to. poor little dog, we all spoil our dogs! hope he is using his bowl now though. Madamoielle butterfly is just exquisite. I like your header picture also, Heather x

  9. Oooooh! I love your Christmas mice in the new header! :-)
    I have to say that, from a totally selfish point of view, I do NOT want you to leave this space!

  10. love your new header!!!
    Please, think about your leaving...I've just met you!!!!
    happy weekend, xxx Alessandra

  11. I think you should carry on enjoying your blog as often as possible. There are times that I think about leaving mine, lots of excuses form in my head about how time consuming it is and is anyone really interested in reading about me and then I realise that the blog was and still is for me. There are days that I love to go back to events and read about them and they show me how much my life is changing, whether that is good or bad remains to be seen but it is changing, as is everyone's. It must be a lovely place to look at how your embroidery and how it has progressed. Sending love. xxx

  12. Dearest Stephanie
    As always I am bewitched by your latest creation - she reminds me of spring, although it seems a distant past and even more illusive future.
    Those shoes are adorable too. Having just finished the Snow Child I am still in a cabin in the heart of Alaska with its hauntingly beautiful tale of the little girl who can summon a snow storm at the flutter of her ice white eyelashes. Oh that book - its pure magic isn't it. I couldn't put it down! So beautiful and wintery and magical was the fairytale that graced its pages.
    As for Gaspard - well you know I have a certain weekness for Cavaliers, having lost my darling Harriet some years ago, so I will try wagging a finger and tutting, but I know it would be utterly futile should he look at me with those soulful brown eyes.
    I can say that my dear Hattie was a complete drama queen - its in the cavvy genes. I used to have to walk around at dog training class with a little mat because she refused to park her bottom on command if the floor was wet!

  13. Stephanie, I hope you stay. And maybe you could just blog when you feel moved to. No pressures, just share the joy when its too much to hold.
    Your unique insight and surroundings are always so welcome a sight in my reader's list. Lots of tea for that cough; and a tight hug for your perfect little Gaspard.

  14. The new seasonal header is beautiful. Please don't step away from this space permanently Stephanie. Just post a few times a year if you feel it is too much. You will be missed very much if you stop blogging. I come here for a bit of escapism and see the lovely things you have been making. I hope that your family are well and that little Gaspard recovers well.x

  15. Miss Butterfly is beautiful!
    I think you write beautifully! I've not been blessed with the ability to write down stories but my daughter has, she's only 8 years old but she already has the most beautiful story telling talent!
    I hope you continue to write this blog, it's beautiful.
    Have a great weekend! :)

  16. You must do what you feel is best for you Stephanie. It is obvious that you have little time inbetween your other roles in life and sometimes something must give. I would miss your words immensely if you did vacate this space but but you must stay for the right reasons and not because you feel guilty by going. You are a writer whatever you think about it yourself. You have a way with words and it has been my great pleasure to get to know you a little via your pages and your emails. Thinking of you and your family and your wonderful creations.x

  17. Poor Gaspard, it did make me smile though, the idea of him becoming a drama queen. ;)
    Mademoiselle Butterfly is wonderful Stephanie, her little embroidered butterflies are beautiful.
    I was never very good at making up stories, at school I was much better at numbers!!
    I would be sorry to see you go from this little space Stephanie, I'm sure you have your reasons but you do have a lovely blog.
    Vivienne x

  18. Sweet little Gaspard. He is adorable.

    Those slippers look too fabulous to actually wear! And the embroidery on Mademoiselle Butterfly is so charming.

  19. Gosh! I like those slippers!

    What enchanted storytelling. I feel a deluge of work approaching so stepping away from my blog may be a necessity... then again?

    I'm sure you will reach the decision that is right for you.

    PS I hope your little dog has soon recovered.

  20. Poor Gaspard I hope he is now feeling better. I love your posts they always brightened my day, but blogging can be so time consuming and everyone has many other priorities as the previous comment states you need to do what is right for you.
    Sarah x

  21. You are such a quadruple threat! You write so lovely, you sew creatively, you cross stitch wonderfully, and you knit prettily!
    Sorry Gaspard spend his first birthday ill. Poor baby.

  22. Hi Stephanie,

    Mademoiselle Butterfly looks enchanting! What a lovely outfit she is wearing. I like the beautiful embroidery on her skirt and the little lace edging to her trousers.

    The illustrations in the two books look wonderful. I have quite a row of childrens' books in our cupboard too. Some purely because of the beautiful drawings! Do you know the 'little golden books'? They are among my favourites. Perhaps I will do a post about them some time!

    Hope Gaspard is feeling better?!

    Have a lovely weekend!

    Madelief x

    Mademoiselle Country Garden is enjoying the warmth of a candy striped bedroom at the moment :-) The garden house was a bit too cold for her!

  23. I can only echo what those before me have said. Everything you make and post is absolutely beautiful, if you visited this space just once each season to update us on you, your family, and your magical hares we would rush to hungrily devour your words. Take as much time away as you need my friend but try not to desert us entirely x

  24. My oh my.....your header dearest, DID YOU STITCH THOSE MICE? This is magical, every bit of your post today! I missed you! We have all been so busy, but I so enjoy taking the time to come to blogland to see all of you. Things are still rather busy for me but it is all good.

    Mademoiselle is as sweet as ever and those slippers....oh my, HOW WHIMSICAL INDEED! Mille bises, Anita

  25. Dear Stephanie, every post you give us is so magical - how lucky we are to have discovered your wonderful online journal ... however blogging can be very tiring so please take all the time away that you need and be gentle with yourself ... perhaps just leave your existing posts online while you're away and decide later?

    Snowy wags his tail in greeting to the adorable Gaspard (and commiserates - too many cherry plums which had fallen in the garden!)
    Barbara x

  26. Oh! another graceful Mademoiselle hare. Love every detail, the lace, the butterfly, the ladybird, and the delicate colours. This post is full of marvels.
    Should you leave "Millefeuilles", I'd miss you terribly, your hares, your words, the treasures you share here and the unique and precious atmosphere of your world. So as a Christmas wish, I hope you'll take it easy, but still share your talent from time to time...
    And I also love your winter cross stich mice.

  27. Your sweet Gaspard is like our shelties - they just cannot tolerate certain things-sensitive little tummys...hope he is feeling better by now.

    Like so many others, I look forward to your latest posting...your words and images take me to another place. But ultimately, blogging is time consuming - in the creation of it and keeping track of what others are up to. I join with the suggestion of posting only when you the proper time and inclination. Each of us has enough other pressures from day to day...and we all understand that of one another.

    Lovely Spring Bunny -

  28. What a beautiful hare, Butterfly is exquisite. Hope poor Gaspard has recovered.
    I shall buy myself a copy of Snow Child, thank you for the recommendation.
    Carol xx

  29. Stephanie, I first looked at this post hours ago before I had to rush off to the subway ride to work. I promised myself that I would return here this evening to tell you how much I loved this post.

    The new header photograph of the Christmas mice in a scattering of embroidered snow flurries is so very well done. You've a great mix of expert stitching, quiet humor, and appreciation of the finer aspects of design and of this lovely season.

    Then...to read on about your tending children who were not 100% well, while knitting and thinking creatively was very moving. You express yourself so very well.

    Your newest Mademoiselle is exceptionally fine...from the tips of her ears down to her embroidered ankles (is ankle the proper word) to her toes. How lucky is the person who'll be able to see this Mademoiselle every day!

    Let's see, what else. Gaspard, of course. Who would not spoil a pup with a face like that? Perhaps your vet will provide some sort of counseling to you and the rest of your family to be able to resist Garpard's appeals...for his own good, of course.

    And then,what's this hint about a new year without these posts? I am hoping that I have misread your hint. I would hope that you'd continue to put up a post from time to time...whenever your very full real life allows.


  30. Dear Stephanie, I have loved all your hares. They are so graceful and adorable. I have long yearned for one for myself. The latest one is so sweet and I'm sure the little girl she is going to will love her very much.

    Poor Gaspard! I do hope his tummy is better. So sad to get sick on your first birthday. How can you not spoil that precious puppy?

    I hope you only take a break. I would so miss your posts and your lovely creations. I think each of us needs a break now and then. As a new blogger, I don't post as often as others do but I can see that taking care of children, doing your beautiufl needlework and general everday life can wear on you.
    Please pop in once in a while and let us know how things are going.


  31. Dear Stephanie,
    what a lovely post!
    Those books are wonderful thank you for sharing with us! I love the way they are pictorial...great work!
    Your rabbitlady with all those tiny embroiderys is so adorable!
    Poor Gaspard! big hug for him and I hope he feels better now!
    Have a wonderful weekend,
    take care, and I hope to see more of your wonderful posts from time to time!
    Sending love and hugs

  32. What a beautiful pale spring-tinted hare, with such lovely lace on her skirt and pantaloons!

    I too greatly admire storytellers - I used to feel that I couldn't imagine a story to save my life. But in my last few years of babysitting I started (so slowly and creakily) to weave a few tales for the little boys I watched, and was surprised to find that with practice I could do it. (My tales were not at all magical, but sometimes they were pretty humorous. Most of them revolved around a pair of vegetarian penguins named Pucky and Penelope. I MUST have an imagination of sorts to have come up with that.) :)

    Dear Stephanie, I hope you don't disappear from Blogland. Your corner of it is so very beautiful and we all love to visit - but of course you must do as you think best.

    I am glad to hear that health is returning to all the members of your family.

  33. Dear Stephanie
    Your prose is beautiful and you are truly an inspirational writer. You may remember that I once wrote complaining that I spent too much money on your recommendations. I have just ordered the Flower Ball - but at a bargain price of 98p! You would be greatly missed if you leave blogland.

  34. Dear Stephanie - I have wondered how you can achieve so much.
    Writing your beautiful blog into which you put so much thought making it an interesting read and beautifully illustrated for everyone. Caring for your family - a little one and teenagers too, the wonderful needlework that you do, writing up your PhD.
    Hopefully you will not disappear for good, I have only just found you.
    However, everyone realises that it is important to prioritise the many demands on your life.
    Whatever you decide take care.

  35. I will miss you hares, your beautiful writing and your tales of family life if you have a break, I have to confess. But sometimes it is good to have a break from blogland too. x

  36. I too have been musing about having a break so I do understand. It is difficult to give the proper attention to all the things we love to do!

  37. Dearest Stephanie...You are indeed a silly girl, for the stories you provide with each and every post should be popped upon lovely linen pages and published ever so swiftly! Your storytelling...or perhaps the word-painted pictures are a blessed respite in the Topsy-turvey world.
    I love your new header, hares, and many book recommendations! Pup kisses to Gaspard.
    And PLEASE reconsider your "Edit."
    Sending love...

  38. Hello dear Stephanie,

    I struggle with story-telling, too. But the funny thing is, stories come in so many forms, and I always think that your weaving of events in your life through the photos of your artistic creations create an irresistible story that just keeps me coming back here.

    Today, I was inspired to look for the delightfulness in winter. I am not a natural lover of the season, & I usually do little more than wish it a hasty end. Your sentiments, however, give me the idea to take a second look at it.

    I hope you will consider continuing to post here, even infrequently, but I do understand how taxing it is. I have also considered a sabbatical from my own blog even though I enjoy it.

    Cheer to you and your family!

  39. Am i dreaming? or are there two of the cutest little christmas mice frolicking along the top of your blog?

    Oh nooooo ..... please don't go, you will be so missed, but sometimes it is jolly hard to fit everthing in x

    Mademosielle Butterfly is a healing bunny, so glad that you are feeling better.
    happy weekend
    love jooles x

  40. Totally enchanting, you have so many talents
    Special winter wishes
    Thea x

  41. Stephanie, those two charming Christmas mice, oh my, you have infused them with personality, you have!! You always astound me with everything that you accomplish, reading, writing, stitching, creating, mothering et al! Do what is in your heart, dear Stephanie, we will all be here waiting!! I wish you a beautiful Christmas season! N.xo

  42. Those books looks well worth searching out. I, too, love winter. Right now I am watching our first real snowfall, quite happily. Have you ever read A Winters Tale by Mark Helprin? It is one of my favorite books.

  43. Mademoiselle is beautiful! I love the ladybird on her paw.

    I am also a fan of Silke Leffler's work. I have one of her books which I bought in france about a bear who nobody listens to- one of my favourites! Thanks for sharing! :)

  44. NO. I'm going to just say NO, you will break my little heart if you stop blogging. And that would be sad, would it not?

    Your posts are beautiful. You would be so missed. Please don't go!

    These books. Oh I must look for these. Lovely!

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  46. Blogs like this are not only useful to Canadians but to those within other nations as well.


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