Monday, 29 December 2014

Crimbo Limbo!

Hello there!

I have been very, very absent from here recently through being very busy in the run up to Christmas. I was all set to do one last post on Christmas Eve when I had trouble posting photographs. In short I gave up, and now I appear to be having the same problems!

Anyhow, we now find ourselves in that strange in between time which is not strictly the festive season any more but there is a little while until the celebrations for the New Year begin.I've already started thinking about the New Year and what it may bring plus how I can plan for it. I do absolutely love Christmas but I also really love the start of the new year and the positivity and possibilities which come with it and I've been searching Pinterest for ideas of how to start the New Year with a bang. During 2014 I have kept a Journal of Gratitude which has been great and I look forward to reading back through some of the entries. I don't go in for personal goal setting but I do try to think how I can improve myself, make myself think a little more and consider the lot of others, too. 

The whole thing about the New Year DOES also have something to do with the requirement of a brand spanking new calendar, a lovely blank diary and journals waiting to be written in for lots of reasons, be they important or trivial - I love either! I've also been getting my lovely Household Notebook spruced up a little with some new pages, these all being part of my home organisation which is so important to me for a well run house.

I'm in the process of covering my daily diary - can't do electronic ones. I have my calendar at the ready and it already has high days and holidays marked on it. (We just get over Christmas and then it will be Alfie's birthday - 7 this year - at the end of January!)

We are very hopeful we will be living a different life next year as we are filled with optimism for being in our new home by the autumn, if not before if we are lucky. House moving slows down during the run up to Christmas so we are keen to give it a push once January is here.

I have been neglecting my sewing which I was really getting into, apart from the table runner I made for Christmas Day, and my sister has bought me a great book which helps with the basics of sewing so hope to use that alongside some new projects. I have so much lovely fabric I don;t know where to start so need to focus! I also have to have a sort out of all my craft things with the hope of moving ever on my mind I need to downsize a little bit. Things are spread out a little too much but I have acquired a basket/hamper which may come in useful as I already have my fabric in another of these.

I must go as it is time for another pot-luck-from-the-fridge-left-overs-lunch. Mmmm, cold pork pie and cranberry sauce!
For what reasons are you looking forward to the New Year? I would love to hear your plans so do let me know.

Catch ya later! xx



Friday, 14 November 2014

Planning is afoot for the festive season!

Hello! (Bit of red for Christmas). This is the point at which I normally let you know there will be no more apologies for talking about the festive season. I think you have the measure of me by now and know that I just LOVE this time of year.

Well, seeing as Halloween and Bonfire night are pretty much a distant memory, I have begun my planning in earnest! Here are my planners, lists and reminders; obviously there will be some additions, changes etc here and there but always good to have a strong, basic plan.

We should be at home for Christmas Day by lunch time, after seeing some family on the Eve. I am already deciding on some yummy recipes for the big day and of course 
easy-to-eat, buffet style food for Boxing Day. I love having really yummy eats and leftover dishes that you can just go to the fridge for between watching films and not have to actually cook! I will be hopefully making and baking some more festive food for December 27 when we have some more family here for my Mum's birthday.

I think I may have mentioned the Christmas cake is made and getting fed weekly with Gluhwein. (Love that stuff; put it in my homemade mincemeat, the Christmas cake and the pudding!) I also have some Morello cherries soaking in vodka to give as presents to a couple of people, depending on the size of the bottles I use for the finished product. Both are now sitting on the designated shelf on the cellar steps so I can gloat at the tasty treats I am gradually preparing every time I go downstairs to the washer!

I took a few minutes this morning to look for some more traditional, nostalgic Christmas ideas in articles from Pretty Nostalgic. I subscribe to this wonderful compendium of gorgeous Britishness and have recently signed up to be a Pretty Nostalgic Pioneer. Check out their website for more information.
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 I collect recipes, decoration ideas and anything to make the festive season tasty and attractive so this is one place I go to. Of course, Christmas is NOT complete without  
Country Living. I subscribe to this wonderful publication, too, and admit I wait with anticipation every year for the Christmas issue!

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It has taken me a couple of years but there are just some things I cannot do without on the table.

Oh, and I have been seewing a runner for the table this year and although it is a little basic I am chuffed to bits with it.
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I would love to know what your favourite things are to make and bake for Christmas. 
Is there something you just HAVE to have or everybody asks you to make?

Catch ya later!xx

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Hopes dashed in the wind and rain at the edge of the world.

So here I am finally getting round to telling you about our trip to Lewis last week.  I'm going to cut to the chase - it was not a success. The house itself was pretty much as we expected, if a little unkempt due to it not having been lived in for a while.

The first problem arose when Harry said he didn't like his room as it would have been in the extention and slightly away from the main part of the house.

Then as we looked around the areas outside it transpired we could not do as we had hoped with the land. It was so boggy we would have been unable to have pigs/sheep on it long term so there were pens closer to the house than we would have liked. Plus the field across the road had common grazing rights and we would not be able to put services across for  anything like toilets if we hoped to us it as a small camping area.

However the killer was that Harry got very upset. After talking to him he explained he wanted to do all the exciting things like climbing, fishing, beach-combing etc, but it was just too far out of the way for him. We think it was very brave of him, as an 8 year old, to say what was on his mind, even though it was a tough thing to do. We would never try and make the boys think it would all be ok, just because it had been a dream of ours for everybody.

So on our return, and after a few days thinking, we know we have made the correct decision for all of us not to move to Lewis.

Most people go an hour or so down the road to look at a house they may buy. We took the risk and made the commitment to go that little bit further! If we had not gone we would have regretted it we know for sure; you regret more the things you don't do that the things you do.

So onwards and upwards. We have hit the ground running, though, and are preparing to go see some properties very soon. We still intend to live our Good life of growing and making our own food, keeping a few animals and chickens and try to give our boys the best childhood we possibly can. 

So watch this space. xx

Monday, 27 October 2014

Our life-changing visit.

Good morning!

This is my last post of the month for a couple of reasons. My two liccle men are away with the Gramps until tomorrow, with it being half term; hubs and I are missing them terribly but know they will be having a wonderful time.

Therefore, with hubs back to work after the weekend I am having a little me time. I have just yesterday finished some Christmas bunting as a gift for somebody and I'm really pleased with how it turned out; hope to wrap that up today then add it to my festive stash!

The main reason I will not be blogging for a few days is that our trip to the Isle of Lewis in the western isles of Scotland  is getting very close, at last! Hubs and I are so very excited, all be it a little nervous, about visiting what we feel will be the place and home of our dreams. All our arrangements are made; accommodation booked, ferry travel sorted, visit to the school booked and of course estate agents contacted.

We have to be prepared for the slight possibility of arriving on the island and finding it is not for us after all. We were given wonderful advice early on in this venture -  

"houses (in that part of the world) generally sell well to very committed people, but usually it takes a while for the right people to come along; not everyone wants the remoteness, even in return for the safety and beauty!" - this is exactly what we are looking for!

Hubs and I have had such positive reactions about our plans from those who really know the kind of people we are, along with wonderful assistance and guidance from those helping us to arrange this adventure.

We feel deep down this is the right thing for us as a family. I really do become quite emotional when I think of the reasons why we truly hope it will be all we hope for. I wrote the following entry in my Smash Book I am creating for this journey - 

"life is truly too short to be afraid of who you want to be, or of doing what you want to do. Live your dreams and make them a reality" Now I am almost in tears.

Our wish for so long has been to have a smallholding or small farm where we can take ourselves back to basics, prove we can make our own food, keep animals for our own use and live differently from the fast pace of life of which we have always been a part. As well as this a huge part of our plans has always been to give the boys a wonderful childhood whilst they are young enough and hopefully provide them with some very different life skills for the future.

I can very much imagine some people may think we are living in cloud cuckoo land, fooling ourselves and basically just dreaming. As I write this I have butterflies in my stomach of expectation, anticipation and a hundred other emotions I cannot even explain. I believe these feelings will transform into a flight of life, not fantasy, and our aspirations and plans will eventually come together in a very positive way.

I cannot wait to share the experience of our trip with you when we come back.xx


Friday, 17 October 2014

I'm a Pioneer Woman!

My post today is about a very exciting project I have just become involved with. I'm sure you know I am a huge fan of the publication Pretty Nostalgic. 

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Well it has now morphed quite beautifully from a published magazine into a Society, a cooperative, of like-minded individuals. The thoughts behind the original issues continue with those who are keen to promote, amongst other things
  • all that is beautifully British
  • a make do and mend, waste not want not ethos
  • original creativity in a world of manufactured, mass produced sameness
  • an appreciation of the life and times of a bygone era.
Therefore, I have signed up to be a Pretty Nostalgic Pioneer! 

I hope to assist in spreading the world, and word, of Pretty Nostalgic. Why not visit their website and see what Nicole and her small but dedicated team are all about?

At the same time order a random back copy of the magazine in preparation for when the 1st edition of the brand new compendium is issued at the beginning of December - see here the front cover to give you the festive warm and fuzzies!

Personally I can't wait! You never know, once you see how Pretty Nostalgic can enhance your life you might like to become a Pioneer Woman, too! 

I hope you enjoy my post today? Let me know what you think and I hope you decide to become involved in some small way with the joyous thing which is Pretty Nostalgic.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

(Apologies for the gaps where there shouldn't be any, hate it when that happens!)

I seem to have been quite busy in the kitchen this last week or so.

On Sunday I made some Calzones from one of my the new cookery books I received for my  birthday, the fantastic Ree Drummond's Pioneer Woman

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These were my versions of Ree's Cowboy Calzones. They were really easy and quite delish with lots of scope for different fillings to suit everybody!

Next came Angel Cookies, again from Ree. Baking these had them turn out a little larger than I had intended, but to be honest if you're going to have a biscuit you might as well have a decent sized one!

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Yesterday was the school Harvest Festival assembly so I decided to make one of my usual baskets to add to those being delivered to the elderly. This year's consisted of a pecan and banana loaf cake, some oatmeal digestive biscuits, cheese soda bread, fresh apples and marmalade.  

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The latter was my first attempt at homemade marmalade and it was both fantastically easy and tasty. Just had to try it for my elevenses!

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 I wanted to make a little treat for a friend's birthday so I decided on sewing this little fabric envelope which could be for anything from keeping tissues in or nik naks in your handbag. 

That's all folks. Catch ya later. xx

Monday, 29 September 2014

Makes and bakes.

A great big hi there and hello to you!

Thought I'd catch up with a few things I've managed to make and do over the last couple of weeks. 
I've added a few more pages to my Smash Book so thought I'd share them with you. I'm really pleased with the effect I have created!

I decided that I won't use it simply for our road trip to Lewis at the end of next month, but for the start of the amazing journey we will be making as a family when we finally move there to start our new life, whenever that is - soon rather than later we very much hope!

I have also been baking and making things over the last week or so and these include the following.

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Yummy American style pancakes for breakfast with my niece and the boys.

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Harry asked for sausage rolls but with bacon and this is what he and Alfie got. Good result and a hit with the boys.


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Jon bought me a meat grinder/sausage maker for my birthday. Here was our first attempt. Definitely room for improvement in the seasoning but the overall look was quite good.

Then I gave my niece this apron I had been sewing as one of her birthday presents when she came to visit last weekend. She almost didn't get it as when I realised I'd sewn the tie tapes on the bottom and not the top of the apron it nearly went through the window. However I gathered, as Kate Twinset would say, and carried on regardless and all came out well in the end.

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I have cut out myself a new plain blue apron; this is more serviceable than pretty as is for when we move - pictures to follow soon. We are looking at not just growing and rearing our own food but also trying to make as much "stuff" as we can in every possible respect. This means I'm going to pick up on my sewing skills, but just found instructions for making a new ironing board cover so we're ok on that front!

Should go now as I need to get back to my in- anticipation-of-moving de-cluttering jobs!

Hope you like what you see!

Catch ya later!xxx

Monday, 8 September 2014

My first home made Smash Book! Eeeek!

I have had my eye on creating my own Smash Book for a while - the pre-printed ones seemed so expensive for what you got therefore, here you have my DIY effort!

I have made this for a trip I will be making with my family to the Isle of Lewis in the Western Isles of Scotland at the end of October - a little early to be done and dusted but you know me, I always like to be organised!

I have not bought anything to create the book. To begin with I had one of my favourite things to work with, a Reeves sketchpads in stock from when I used to make embellished journals. (Check out my Pinterest board here.) I wanted to show you the inside pages using a video link thing into my blog but have failed miserably. Instead here are a few of my favourite pages and I'll figure out how to do it another time - might see if I can get it onto Pinterest.

To start making something of the blank pages I searched through all of my papers, card, embellishments, stamps, you name it. I also took pages out of books I use for paper crafting and basically anything I had lying around that seemed appropriate. Luckily I am a bit of a magpie and usually have something of use! Again, as with any journals I have done in the past I tried not to make it look too contrived and I think I'm really happy with it. I have purchased a double-ended glue/pen pen to take with me 

and I have asked for a few things to make my entries special for birthday presents.

Whilst I'm at it I may as well tell you about getting set for the coming school term. We were given some weekly plans from school. as usual to keep tabs on what the boys will be doing each day but they are a bit plain, being black and white. Instead I found these on the internet so are now completed and placed on the wall under the calendar in the kitchen. This way the boys can double check what they are doing and I know when things have to be in school on what day! Love them. Good job I printed off an extra one last week as the tomato ketchup came flying out of the door shelf of the fridge yesterday in spectacular fashion and practically covered one of them. Funny?

Time to go but just have a minute to show you the first Gladioli I have ever grown and that I am very chuffed with myself. Love the colour!

 Right, must dash but hope you liked what you saw, especially the Smash Book.

Catch ya

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

It is that time of the year I love!


It's been a little while since my last post but my very favourite time of the year is upon us. 
I just love the new beginnings which come with September. The boys went back to school yesterday and I can't quite comprehend that they are in years 2 and 3! I'm slightly sad they will not see out their primary education in their current school because of our moving plans, but I'm making the most of things whilst we are still here. Two different playgrounds, a new book bag to buy and all the necessary lunch, PE kits etc made for the usually interesting morning at the beginning of a new term. Can't wait to get the raft of letters, which will duly arrive over the next week or so, about all the exciting things they will be doing, new class topics and field trips to be made. I tweeted a timetable I found yesterday so we all know what everybody is doing, seperate to the main home organisation calendar we have on the wall! Call me particular if you like! So,what have I been up to lately?                                                                                                                                                                                          
 I finally got round to a bit of sewing and decided to replace my ancient peg bag so ta dah!


I love the material and, though slightly wonky at the top, I am chuffed with it as it does the job. 

I've been working on something else recently but can't share it as it is a gift but pictures will follow later, I promise.
I found I had bought excess red onions and decided to make one of my fav recipes to use them up - red onion and balsamic vinegar chutney. Some of you may remember my tweeting about the last batch I made, once you get the onions but it's a piece of cake and very rich and yummy, possibly something to do with the glug of red wine the recipe calls for! I put the chutney in these oh so cute Kilner jars as they just give that extra zing when you have made something yourself and I love seeing them in the fridge. Have to check I open the right one as I use them for lemon curd too.


Well, must dash as need to get some lunch and am having coffee with a friend via the post office before the afternoon school run.

Catch ya later! xx


Thursday, 21 August 2014

Pretty Nostalgic, me and mine.

After a fairly turbulent time recently, the newest issue of Pretty Nostalgic will very soon be hitting the doormats of its new Society members all over the country. 

The changes being made by the wonderful Nicole and her team are so exciting and I for one cannot wait!

So in celebration of this fact I have been looking at just a few of my favourite articles and features, going right back to issue1. (I was lucky enough to get my hands on every back issue and my book case looks all the better for it!)

As you know I have started sewing in the last few months and the regular A-Z feature in issue one was about haberdashery.  

There is just something about the idea of adding some nostalgia into a new project, I use these kind of items for things other than sewing, too. Vintage buttons and bows, fabric and fasteners. If you are looking for something special for your next project here are a couple of wonderful websites offering this type of sewing paraphernalia, Pocket and Pin and The Old Haberdashery. 

I have again chosen the A-Z feature in issue two as this is about afternoon tea. 

As you know I love baking and nothing beats a full cake tin when you need something yummy to go with a brew. One of my favourites has to be lemon drizzle, maybe because my boys and husband love it! Another regular bake is wholemeal banana muffins, often to be found in the boys' snack boxes on the afternoon school run with extra sometimes for friends at the park.

I am an established member of the #PostCircle scheme, thanks as always to the wonderful Anna from Tea with Miss Beatrix.

 I chose this feature in issue two about letter writing as I love writing to the eight or so people I have been regularly corresponding with for the last six months or so, due in part to Anna. I so enjoy opening my post box knowing the envelopes beautifully decorated with Washi tape, labels and stickers are from my #PostCircle and #happymail pals. We have great fun sharing our news and, as some of us are creative, we talk about our latest projects and I much prefer this to social media. I have no Facebook account and am seriously considering cancelling my Twitter account; only the other day I as explaining how I felt life is so instantaneous and there is no anticipation; that is what I love about getting a letter!

And lastly I chose an issue nine feature about Medical Memorabilia. I, too, have been collecting some sort of medical items because I bought a fantastic vintage first aid box. 

Since then I have been gathering things to pep it up a bit. Thanks to friends gifting items to me and buying some items from places such as flea markets, boot fairs and a website called
Vintage Purveyor I have amassed quite a collection as you can see. 

This is a really effective addition to my spare room.

I hope this vintage ramble gives you an idea of what you can expect as you turn the pages of this wonderful, soon to be, book. Join this Society which is helping us appreciate what went before, bringing it into the present and hopefully making our lives just a little Pretty Nostalgic!

Catch ya later. xx

Saturday, 16 August 2014

And we have returned...

So we are back from our summer holidays having stayed with Nana in Menorca. The boys had a great time swimming every day and Jon and I must have eaten our body weight in whitebait and squid tapas. Mmmm! 

I came home a proper pan and rice to make paella as I cannot visit a supermarket abroad without bringing home some kind of cooking/baking foodstuffs. Last year, from Spain, I unpacked and realised I had come back with Harina flour, Spanish sherry vinegar from Jereth, lots of yummy bread snacks and 4 terracotta tapas dishes!

We have two weeks before the boys go back to school so I hope we have some good weather during that time. The hottest day whilst we were away was the Sunday before we flew back and it was 46 degrees at 6.30pm!

Regarding our house, we have not had much movement but are confident somebody will soon spot it on Rightmove and think it is just the thing for them! We are so very keen to move by Christmas and I suppose we have quite some time yet for things to get going, but when you know where you want to be it is very frustrating.

I have talked about the kind of life that we are planning with our move and now I have to let you know, just because I can't wait any longer, that we are intending to move to the Western Isles of Scotland. Quite a move we know! We have not seen any properties in the flesh because we are waiting to get a firm offer on our place, plus we need to make a 12 hour journey to visit what we are 95% sure is our forever location. We have done an inordinate amount of research including using the Internet, emailing people who live on the islands, spoken to friends who are familiar with the area and looked at the school and there is nothing that has turned us off to the idea so far. We just want to go and visit!

But, we just have to be patient and are doing all we can to sell our house as soon as we can. It is so frustrating when the thing you most want is within reach but you can't quite touch it.

It is coming up to the time for coffee number three so I'll leave you to decide, though we are just so flippin' excited that we think of pretty much nothing else right now, if you think we are bold, brave or mad to have made this decision. 

Catch ya later! xx


Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Pre-holiday ramble.

I really do seem to have had no time for blogging since my last effort, what with getting ready for our holiday, tomorrow! Plus, the boys went away for 4 whole days with the Gramps and I spent most of the time doing stuff around the house. I know I probably should have taken some time for myself but I'm still having trouble focusing on things when we are constantly thinking about selling the house and preparing for our holiday! We did manage to go and see a film which was not aimed at children which was great but I still hate how much it costs!

The for sale board went up yesterday. We decided not have one initially but have thought it might be a good idea as we do get quite a lot of passing traffic because of the little pub across the road. Wouldn't it be just wonderful if we received an email whilst we are away to tell us we have had an offer? We live in hope.

The boys and I took time to go to the park with a friend of mine and her little boy today. We had a lovely time chatting and had a coffee while the three terrors ran around like maniacs for an hour -  and we just managed to miss a short shower, too.

In a short while I have the boys' beds to change so they are done for when we come back and right now they are downstairs turning each other into mummies by wrapping double sided sticky tape on their faces! The packing is all but done except the toiletries tomorrow and then a quick whip round the bathrooms and a vacuum and we are done. Can't leave the house without being cleaned when we are going away, plus we may have some viewings so it needs to be spotless!

Sorry for ordinariness of this post but hope to have some holiday memories to share with you on my return from sunny Menorca.

Catch ya later. xx

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Busy, busy, busy and news!

Phew! The last week or ten days have been rather busy. During the middle of last week we started getting the house clean, spick and span because on the following Monday we had an appointment with an Estate Agent. 

Yes, our house is on the market again and this time we will definitely be going ahead!

We are very excited as we are continue our search for just the right property. We really hope to find the right place which will give us the means to grow as much of our own food as possible, I can keep my chickens and the boys will be able to have a very special time for the rest of their childhoods. We have not made any decisions yet but myself and my other half are still very excited about the prospect of  living the life we have hoped for since we met, and creating a special environment for our boys; I will keep you posted on any developments.

Summer term at school is drawing to an end as I have mentioned previously and last Saturday was the summer fayre. I went to help out on the Tombola for an hour and I also took the hamper I was baking for to be a prize in the raffle. What do you think? 

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 I even used some fat quarter fabric to sew a lining for the basket!

Of course I included an old faithful, lemon curd, but everything else I had made before but not included in any of my hampers. (If you check out my Pinterest account there are some I have made in Summer, for Christmas gifts and raffles etc.) However, this time I felt like making some more savoury things so I plumped for Sweetcorn and Cheddar scones, with a little kick thanks to a shake of paprika, Soda bread which I make a lot but this time with pistachio nuts and sundried tomatoes and then red onion and balsamic vinegar chutney - a kilo of onions gave me a lot of pain and just about two jars of chutney! The cake was a little departure for me as I am known for making loaf cakes but went for a round one this time. Described as a cut-and-enjoy fruit cake it's the ideal recipe to go with a brew or as part of a tea party occasion. I am hopefully going to put the recipes on my food page in the next couple of days. Please keep checking as I tend to take a while to do this - may just have to resort to taking a picture of my recipes if that works! #lazyblogger!

I have been gardening a little and planted some Hollyhocks called Creme de Casis and a Veronica called Shirley Blue and really got on with some proper weeding. It's looking really quite nice at the moment, and I want people to see it looks good WHEN they come to view our house, SOON I hope! Here is how it is looking just now.

Unfortunately the Hollyhocks are planted in the bottom right of the first  picture but I couldn't show them as they were in the shade. Not a good sign for the future, perhaps! The Veronica is hidden beyond the first chimney pot - really must work on my camera skills!

I love the Corduline in the above picture. It was just what I wanted and at £6 from Asda I thought it was a steal.

I hope some colour will be injected into this end of my patch soon when a couple more things, like the geraniums I have planted, come into flower.

Ok, I need to get changed from my painting clothes, yes, me, I have been painting the walls in the cellar. Not a job I normally undertake but all hands to the pump when you want to make your house look the best you can.

Hope you liked what you saw, let me know!

Catch ya later! xx