Craft It Forward

We all have different talents and it’s good to acknowledge these special attributes so they don’t become forgotten. My husband, for example, is an extremely practical and tenacious man which means that he can turn his hand to almost anything (…except the ironing which persistently confounds him for some reason). He also entertains me by turning his socks the right way around whilst putting his feet in them – although this has to be seen to be believed!
My talent is usually knowing what the time is (with an accuracy of less than 15 mins). I never wear a watch although I own several as many people feel sorry for me and buy them as gifts.  I’m also pretty good at matching colours without a swatch which means that I can walk into a fabric shops and just know what the perfect shade would be (this also makes it a nightmare for those who are with me- “it’s near enough” they say. “It’s nothing like” say I).
The kittens have a talent for being  effortlessly cute and cuddly as well as growing at least a centimetre a day! However, the chickens surely must have the most delicious talent  of consistently providing us with the tastiest eggs.

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So, you can imagine that I also have a very good idea of where my weaknesses lie. The top one (of a verrrry long list) is impatience. I have no patience for fiddling around with things like embroidery, sugar craft, jigsaws, sudoku, untangling christmas tree lights etc. It’s not that I can’t do them it’s more like I can’t be bothered to spend time doing them and there always seems to be more intresting and/or pressing to do.  So,  as much as I thoroughly enjoy reading all of the wonderful craft posts,  I know that deep down my talents lie elsewhere.

One of the blogs that I love is Gardening Nirvana and last week dear Alys was thrilled to be involved with a “Craft it Forward” project. She explained that the first five people who left a comment on her blog would receive a hand crafted gift and the only condition was the lucky five have to pay the  craft favour forward. Once the five bloggers had safely added their comments to Alys’ blog I contacted her to say what a great idea it was and then THIS happened! (the link can be found in the word THIS!). Thanks Alys x

Oh well, I like a challenge and it may just lead to a new hobby. If you would like to be involved then please hurry and comment – the rules are very simple:

  1. The first five people to comment here will receive a handmade gift from me at some point during 2013…. I apologise in advance for what the postman brings.
  2. You won’t know when, and you won’t know what, but I can assure you that it will happen…. heck, even I don’t know when or what!
  3. I will email you for your snail mail address so it will be private
  4. As one of the famous five you have to agree to do the same for five other people

There’s no time like the present – I’ve already thought about embroidery, crazy patchwork, stump work, decoupage and water colours. My Mum’s really good at crafts so I’m sure she’ll help me out and try not to laugh too much at my attempts.
Last night we went to a family dinner party and took along some champagne, a dozen organic eggs and a potted cyclamen. There’s no time like the present so I had a little go at glamming things up …. starting with the tatty recycled egg box.

IMG_4540I was pleased with how much improvement a simple decoration of flowery tissue paper, buttons and raffia made…

IMG_4535 … so the cyclamen plant was attacked next with some old brown tissue paper and more raffia…

IMG_4546… these gifts were gratefully received and it was nice to know that I had spent some extra time and thought on them. Don’t worry – you won’t get eggs or a plant in the post!!

So my main questions are

  • who wants to enter the Craft It Forward challenge?  
  • what on earth can I make???        🙂
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Footprints In The Snow

Snow in Kitchen Garden

Hopefully all the plants are tucked up safely and enjoying a nice sleep. I’m trying to enjoy the snow whilst it lasts… people grumble about the snow (I realise it makes life more difficult, travelling is a big worry and it will ultimately turn to a brown, messy slush….) but there’s really magic in each snow flake, you can see it sparkle, so I enjoy it while it’s here.

Garden Snow Collage

I love to see different footprints in the snow and I try to follow where the rabbits and foxes have been. It’s interesting to try and work out  who the little footprints belong too… although with my over active imagination I imagine following prints around the back of the shed and unexpectedly coming face to face with a Yeti!

Winter views

There’s not too many outside jobs to be done at the moment so I started to put together a wish list of  plants for the kitchen garden this year. I’m a huge fan of Sarah Raven so I’m starting with her catalogues as she has a great range of products and her customer service is brilliant. After what seemed an endless task of chores today I finally sat down with a cup of apple & ginger tea and started to paw over the catalogues… but more of that next time!

seed catalogues

This weekend is the RSPB Big Birdwatch so I’ll be spending an hour tomorrow counting our feathered friends (chickens not included) to see how they’re fending. I’ve never done this in the snow before and I’m hoping it will make the process easier! The results are sent into the RSPB and the information gained throughout the UK provides a useful snapshot of which species are in decline or booming!

SnowChicks

I’m sure Bella and Milo will want to join us in the garden room for a spot of birdwatching too but I somehow think that their furry minds may not be on conservation!

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Wonderful White Stuff

The snow is lovely but the wildlife is certainly suffering a bit. The birds seem to strip the feeders as fast as we can fill them up and it’s a job to stop the drinking water from freezing. I’m giving them left over scraps and fruit cake so they’ve now invited their mates over too!
Goosey sadly died in the week. This was not unexpected as she’d not been herself for quite a few days, looked tired and frail. We gave her some extra vitamins and checked her over but at six years old she’d had a good life.  She looked like she had died peacefully in her sleep and I’m so relieved that she didn’t have to put up with the snow! The other chickens seemed a bit quieter than usual – I’m not sure if chickens feel loss but it wouldn’t surprise me as Goosey was their boss for a long time and it must have seemed strange to them. We built a little SnowChicken in the enclosure… Goosey would have pecked those little sunflowers seed eyes out in a jiffy!

snowchicken

We spent some time today in the chicken enclosure and cleared some paths for them to make it easier to walk around. They don’t seem too bothered about the snow although I’m worried about them getting hypothermia. The only one who doesn’t venture very far is Bluebell, one of the new girls, who has decided to have her first moult and looks perished… I’m tempted to knit her a little jacket but I know that she wouldn’t want to be seen in it unless she had the shoes to match!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted about Bella and Milo so here’s a bit of a catch up. They’ve both really made themselves at home and it feels as though they’ve been a part of our lives forever. They get on really well together and if they’re separated for any reason start mewling until they find one another. I can’t believe that they’re four months old already.

BellaCat

They both seem to have a mild obsession with water – dripping taps, water bowls, rain on the window panes. Milo especially loves to flick the water out of his bowl and even stands with his paws in it! They don’t bother with the sink in the kitchen but they love to sit in the utility room sink and poddle little wet footprints everywhere!

MiloCatI’m not sure why Milo looks a little cross-eyed in the photo above… he’s not normally!

What’s in a name?

There are certain years when I go mad with the decorations and every spare surface in the house is festooned with sparkly delights. Other years I am quite restrained and understated in my approach… and I never have a plan before I begin. I obviously channel Dolly Parton in my more colourful years (oooh, and I do love a bit of Dolly) but this year was more subdued like Grace Kelly so most of the bling has gone back to the attic.

Noel

The Christmas tree and hearth are pretty traditional but the rest of the house is decorated with muted gold and silver.

Wreath

The Garden Room has neutral furnishings so it’s easy to decorate it with any colour scheme possible. This year it’s simply twinkle lights and a seasonal display on the sideboard. The tree is situated at the other end of the room and I’ll post some more photos of that next weekend.

Garden Room

The kittens are doing really well and are so cute. There are little paw prints everywhere… and I don’t mind a bit! I’ve registered them with a vet and have booked them in for their vaccinations next week. We’ve finally decided to KEEP the names that they were given at birth – mainly because we couldn’t agree on any other names (what’s wrong with Arthur??).

Milo

So, finally (drum roll please….) the brown tabby boy is called Milo which means soldier.

Bella

… and the beautiful little grey tabby girl is appropriately called Bella.

They play really well together and curl up entwined, all paws and whiskers, to go to sleep. So this really is the start of another happy chapter but there is one thing that I need to get off my chest. My little sister visited last weekend and fussed over the kittens. She thought the names were great and said that they really suited them…. especially as they were obviously named after two of The Tweenies! Aaarrggghhh!!! LOL!

We love you anyway Milo & Bella x x

Tweenies

Christmas is coming!

TreesThe first weekend of December is usually when we fetch Christmas tree from the local farm shop… and we also would probably win the award for fastest chosen tree! We seem to have a talent for quickly spotting and buying a good tree within a minute and leaving the other customers to argue over the type of tree to buy! It’s all part of our Christmas traditions now…

When we arrive home the cheesy christmas music is turned on and I eagerly look forward to unwrapping the decorations and smiling at the happy memories that emerge with each one. There’s no colour scheme or fancy theme for the tree but simply the familiar act of pinning little tokens of happiness to the branches that  remind us of Christmas Past.

Christmas Decorations

For some reason this year has been especially busy and the Christmas cake, which is usually made shortly after Halloween, just hasn’t been made so I decided to try a different recipe. I wanted something simple and quick to make and found a great  Christmas Cake Recipe on the BBC Good Food website. As much as I love all-things-Delia I felt like a bit of a change in 2012 and I hope that the final proof will be in the pudding 🙂

Christmas Cake Ingredients

The fruit, butter, sugar, zest, spices and roasted macadamia nuts were slowly heated in a large pan on the stove until combined. The flour was then sifted and gently mixed into the batter until no further trace of flour could be seen. The trickiest part of this process was lining the cake tin!

Cake mixture

As the cake slowly baked the house filled with the delicious smell of Christmas…

Christmas Cake

It’s going to be an extra special christmas this year as we have two special furry friends to share it with. They make us smile each day and are so adorable! This morning they were curled up in the egg basket… and had even removed the inner tray to make it more comfortable. Luckily the eggs are no longer stored in the utility room!

Kittens in egg basket

Smitten

We’re now sharing our home with two beautiful 10wk old kittens. One is a grey tabby girl and the other is a brown tabby boy… and we’re completely in love already.

Their names are yet to be decided but I’m sure this will be easier once we get to know them a better (I’m secretly hoping it will be Mouser and Cuddle Cat LOL!!). It’s been an especially happy day today because it’s also my gorgeous husband’s birthday.

Many Happy Returns Bear! I’m sorry I haven’t had chance to make you a cake. I love you x