Wednesday, 31 December 2014

HAPPY NEW YEAR

photo credit: Jenny Ross

We don't go in for extravagant Christmases and New Years party's instead preferring cosy nights in and winter walks with friends and family. So as I sit here in front of a roaring fire watching truly awful TV, I'd like to wish you all a heartfelt Happy New Year for 2015 x x x

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

OUR CHRISTMAS


Here are a few Instagram pics of our Christmas! We've had a lovely time, lots of lovely gifts. food, family and friends, I hope you have had a lovely Christmas too?




We've played lots of games and been on lots of walks.



Made gingerbread houses and decorated the house with snowflakes!





and toasted our toes in front of the fire!

Monday, 22 December 2014

CHRISTMAS TEA-LIGHTS


I found these lovely little vintage French tin tart tins recently and immediately thought about turning them into lovely Christmas tea-light candles. I added a wick and a little wax with a few drops of mandarin and cinnamon essential oil in, to make them smell spicy and wintery. I'm rather pleased with how they've turned out!

ORANGE PEEL TINSEL



Inspired by Pinterest yet again we set about making some little star garlands from orange peel today for Ted's tiny Christmas tree. We cut little stars from the peel of our Christmas clementines using a star icing cutter from Lakeland and I strung them on to a length of burgundy cotton, using a needle, simple!

Friday, 19 December 2014

THE PERFECT PAIR!


It's official! Thanks to Fforest shop in Cardigan, Wales, socks are no longer the worst Christmas gift. The socks, aptly called forager socks, are made in Wales from a toasty warm wool. They come in three colourways, inspired by nature called berry, leaf and fish and feature a traditional Welsh motif deigned by Sian and Jackson of Fforest. They would be a perfect addition to a stocking or they are beautiful enough to actually be a Christmas stocking too! Check out Fforest stores for a wealth of gorgeous Christmas gifts with a natural, rustic, outdoorsy and Welsh feel.

THE CHRISTMAS TREE





In the dark and damp of the alley cold,
Lay the Christmas tree that hadn't been sold;
By a shopman dourly thrown outside;
With the ruck and rubble of Christmas-tide;
Trodden deep in the muck and mire,
Unworthy even to feed a fire...
So I stopped and salvaged that tarnished tree,
And thus is the story it told to me:

"My Mother was Queen of the forest glade,
And proudly I prospered in her shade;
For she said to me: 'When I am dead,
You will be monarch in my stead,
And reign, as I, for a hundred years,
A tower of triumph amid your peers,
When I crash in storm I will yield you space;
Son, you will worthily take my place.'

"So I grew in grace like a happy child,
In the heart of the forest free and wild;
And the moss and the ferns were all about,
And the craintive mice crept in and out;
And a wood-dove swung on my highest twig,
And a chipmunk chattered: 'So big! So big!'
And a shy fawn nibbled a tender shoot,
And a rabbit nibbled under my root...
Oh, I was happy in rain and shine
As I thought of the destiny that was mine!
Then a man with an axe came cruising by
And I knew that my fate was to fall and die.

"With a hundred others he packed me tight,
And we drove to a magic city of light,
To an avenue lined with Christmas trees,
And I thought: may be I'll be one of these,
Tinselled with silver and tricked with gold,
A lovely sight for a child to behold;
A-glitter with lights of every hue,
Ruby and emerald, orange and blue,
And kiddies dancing, with shrieks of glee -
One might fare worse than a Christmas tree.

"So they stood me up with a hundred more
In the blaze of a big department store;
But I thought of the forest dark and still,
And the dew and the snow and the heat and the chill,
And the soft chinook and the summer breeze,
And the dappled deer and the birds and the bees...
I was so homesick I wanted to cry,
But patient I waited for someone to buy.
And some said 'Too big,' and some 'Too small,'
And some passed on saying nothing at all.
Then a little boy cried: Ma, buy that one,'
But she shook her head: 'Too dear, my son."
So the evening came, when they closed the store,
And I was left on the littered floor,
A tree unwanted, despised, unsold,
Thrown out at last in the alley cold."

Then I said: "Don't sorrow; at least you'll be
A bright and beautiful New Year's tree,
All shimmer and glimmer and glow and gleam,
A radiant sight like a fairy dream.
For there is a little child I know,
Who lives in poverty, want and woe;
Who lies abed from morn to night,
And never has known an hour's delight..."

So I stood the tree at the foot of her bed:
"Santa's a little late," I said.
"Poor old chap! Snowbound on the way,
But he's here at last, so let's be gay."
Then she woke from sleep and she saw you there,
And her eyes were love and her lips were prayer.
And her thin little arms were stretched to you
With a yearning joy that they never knew.
She woke from the darkest dark to see
Like a heavenly vision, that Christmas Tree.

Her mother despaired and feared the end,
But from that day she began to mend,
To play, to sing, to laugh with glee...
Bless you, O little Christmas Tree!
You died, but your life was not in vain:
You helped a child to forget her pain,
And let hope live in our hearts again. 

Monday, 15 December 2014

SUNDAY SEWING




I spent a really lovely afternoon learning how to sew a pair of knickers. The workshop took place at Atelier Stroud, a new space where you can take part in craft workshops from knickers to lampshade making or you can join as a member to use the wonderful workshop and its facilities. I've wanted to buy a sewing machine for ages, but I know I'll only ever get it out once in a while so this is the perfect solution, plus there are experts on hand to ask advice when you need it. 

The knicker making workshop was fab, run by knicker maker Rachel Prichard. All the equipment and materials were included and she guided us through step-by-step, from using an overlocker to sew the seams and gusset, then straight stitching in the elastic followed by a zig zag stitch to finish. Mine aren't perfect, I haven't used a sewing machine for ages, but it really didn't matter in such a relaxed environment and I soon had a pair of Liberty print pants to take home! Rachel also gave us a pack with templates in and more elastic so we can make our own at home too. 

I certainly want to make some more and have my eye on some of the husbands old shirts that he hasn't worn for years that would make perfect knickers! 

Saturday, 6 December 2014

MAKING SNOWGLOBES




Stanley and I made snow globes today, they are so simple to make with little hands. We stuck a couple of animals to the lids of a jam jars with blu tack, then added some water and a dash of glycerine (which is available from your local pharmacy and helps the glitter stay up) to the jar, as well as glitter and little stars, then screwed the lid on tightly before shaking!

Monday, 1 December 2014

ANIMAL ADVENT CALENDAR




When I thought of using the boys' animals in this year's advent calendar I had imagined that it would look more like a nativity scene, with lowing cattle and camels. Instead I found that we own quite a random assortment of animals (I resisted using the dinosaurs!). I set them up so that they each carried a matchbox wrapped in brown paper.

I had planned to gather lots of little bits to go in each matchbox, such as little Lego men, but I ran out of time, so I have filled each box with a smartie or minstrel choc for each boy. It doesn't look that Christmassy, but they loved it all the same, thank goodness!

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

A WELSH CHRISTMAS


I love the rustic styling of this gorgeous Welsh cottage over on Design Hunter. It belongs to Dorian Bowen, of The Welsh House, who built the Ty Unnos (meaning one-night house) between sunset and sunrise! We stayed in the cottage next door a few years back. The baubles made from books, the sheepskins on the wooden bench and the leaves cut from paper make for a perfect homemade Christmas decor. 







All photo's taken from Design Hunter and Under The Thatch, where you can book and stay in this gorgeous cottage.

Monday, 17 November 2014

A GINGERBREAD CHRISTMAS


If you've read this blog over the years you'll know how much I love gingerbread and making gingerbread houses. Like ice-skating it's grown into a family tradition that we look forward to each year. For the past two years, my friend and I have run a gingerbread house decorating workshop but as we haven't been able to include our children, we decided this year to gather at home and make them with our children instead.


To make things a bit cheaper and to make my life easier with the anticipated chaos of six excited children in a small house, I have cheated and bought some gingerbread dough (£1.85/500g) and gingerbread house pieces (£2.45/house) from Ikea. Of course if you prefer to make your own you can buy our gingerbread house recipe and template that we have used in previous years.


I am also inspired to make an edible Christmas tree after seeing these amazing baubles below, I thought I'd either use some branches or a small tree to hang them on.

image from Pinterest

Visit my Pinterest 'I'm dreaming of a white Christmas' board for more inspiration. 

Sunday, 16 November 2014

THE THOUGHTFUL CHRISTMAS GIFT GUIDE

Each year I try and give thoughtful and meaningful gifts at Christmas as I can't stand all the commercialness and plastic tat! Here are some more experience-based ideas to inspire you this Christmas;



Every year we go ice-skating, it's our family tradition at Christmas and we love it. I have just bought these gorgeous ice skating cards by Stephanie Cole as I'd love to skate on a frozen pond like this! They would be a perfect gift for a family with gift voucher for ice-skating tucked inside, our nearest outdoor rink is Bath, but there are many others around the country that I'm sure would do gift vouchers.


I love these gorgeous Welsh blankets from Cold at Night, you can get them with a personalised label added and I'm thinking of pairing one up with a voucher for a weekend break for my husband at Fforest in Wales, where he can snuggle up in one warming his toes in front of the woodburning stove.


One of the highlights of my year was learning to bake bread with Tom Herbert, I can't recommend it enough, I learnt so much. Hobbs House run loads of different courses at their Chipping Sodbury based cookery school, where they share secrets, recipes and experience from five generations of bakers. If you don't live nearby then you can buy a small bread making kit for just £20 online, or take out a cake subscription where you get a different cake delivered each month from this award winning and family run bakery!


I adore this hedgehog stocking from Coral & Tusk you could easily personlise it too with a child's name on, obviously you'd need to gift it on Christmas Eve and I'd give this Hen & Hammock wooden sledge with it too for a fun-filled winter theme and cross my fingers for snow!


I always buy pyjamas for the boys at Christmas and just love these Hatley polar bear ones, you could pair them up with a WWF polar bear adoption for a wildlife loving child.


For my circus loving boy, I'm going to buy him some Giffords Circus tickets for later in the year as he loves it so much, along with a trapeze so he can practice his circus skills in the garden!

Last year we gave our friends some horse riding lessons, and are currently looking for new, inexpensive but beautiful ideas, I would love to hear all of your Christmas gift ideas.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

CHRISTMAS PAPER BAUBLES


How lovely are these paper baubles hanging on twisted hazel branches? I've just been sent some really lovely paper baubles from Hen & Hammock and am going to create a similar display this Christmas by cutting a few branches from my hazel tree in the garden and hanging them from it, I can't wait for Christmas this year! Thank you Hen & Hammock x

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

STYLING THE SEASONS: NOVEMBER


I love old man's beard - the wild clematis plant not just any old mans' beard of course! It grows in hedgerows and I always notice it when the sun is low in the sky, illuminating the silver white flowers. I have brought in a single tendril and placed it in the brackets above the fire as well as using some to do a  twig weaving with.


The boys are forever bringing sticks home, so we were inspired on Saturday to do some some weaving as it was literally pouring with rain all day. We used some Y shaped twigs and knotted some string across the Y shape to make the 'warp' paying attention to getting a good firm tension without snapping the twigs. Then we chose different wool, I choose plain parcel string for the 'weft', to weave up and under the warp, the boys have chosen different colours for theirs. I love the plain, simple, texture and it was so easy to do.



I've popped it on the mantlepiece next to the twig I wove old man's beard around too for this months 'Styling the Seasons'.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

WINTER IS COMING

Winter

It was cold today and whilst sitting in front of the fire all I can think about is Christmas and warm knitted socks! Christmas catalogues have started to arrive already and it's time to start planning gifts to make and buy. 


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