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Saturday, September 29

Preparing the Christmas Cassis...

It's around this time of year that I start to prepare for Christmas.
As the days get colder and I spend more time inside,
I search the internet and my craft room for inspiration to make Christmas gifts and decorations for my family and freinds.
However, I couldn't resist buying this decoration the other day...
It goes perfectly on the dresser with my red and white china collection.
Today, I decided to make some "Christmas Cassis" - a blackcurrant liqueur.
A french lady taught me how to make this years ago and it has its origins in nineteenth century France.  It has many uses and can be drunk as a liquer, add sparkling water for a refreshing drink, plus it's syrupy texture makes it perfect for pouring over ice cream, tarts or meringues and a tablespoon added to a hearty beef stew will give your meal a real lift.
It is normally made with either brandy or gin, but you can also use vodka.  
To make it more "Christmassy" you can add some festive spice by adding a cinnamon stick and whole clove. (only one of each though, or it can be a little overpowering).
You will need:
450gms of blackcurrents
450gms caster sugar
600ml Brandy, Gin or Vodka
I use frozen black currants. (You can use fresh too, just discard all the stalks and leaves and give them a good wash).
Then into a sterilised jar, place the blackcurrants, sugar and brandy/gin/vodka.
Give it a good stir, crushing the blackcurrants as you go, then srew on the lid nice and tight.
Your drink will now turn a nice red colour which will darken over the next few weeks. You will need to let the fruit ferment for about a month, stirring and turning the jar two or three times a week.
After a month, you pass the mixture through a sieve into sterilised bottles and seal tightly.
At the end of October, I will be blogging about this and decorating the bottles to make a really personal gift... but first to find the bottles -keeping my eyes open for some nicely shaped ones!

Tuesday, September 25

Sid the hairy Scrap Slug, (tutorial)

You know how I hate to throw anything away?
Well, I was wondering what to do with the left over fabric from the sweatshirts I cut up the other day to make my cozy collar with...
there were loads of scraps from cutting out all of those circles!
I was left with the pile of scraps and some arms - I came up with this idea - 
he will probably get put away for someone for Christmas.
Meet Sid the hairy Scrap Slug...

The cat brought a slug in the other day and left it in the kitchen for me.
He was the usual, slimy type that make me shiver, 
not nice and cuddly like Sid the scrap slug.
Sid was born in my fabric cupboard, and there is nothing he enjoys more than a bit of scrap bathing (just lying about in the scraps).
He also enjoys a good game of monopoly and windsurfing at weekends.
If you made my cozy collar, and you too, now have loads of scraps - here's how you can make your own slug...

Cut slits along one of the arms

Thread the scraps through the slits and secure with a stitch or two

The more scraps you add, the hairier your slug will be
You should end up with something like this...

Turn your slug inside out and cut to the size you want him to be, tapering the edge into a tail

I stitched this seam with the sewing machine - but you can also stitch it by hand.

Then turn back to the right side, stuff well with stuffing (or more scraps),
turn his mouth under and stitch to secure.
Add two buttons for eyes and you're done!
If you are making this for a child under 3 you will need to stitch on the eyes instead of buttons to avoid a choking hazard.
Happy slug making!


Preparing the house for Autumn

Well, the leaves are (slowly) turning brown on the trees outside and with the shift we've had in weather this week, I think we can safely say that Autumn has arrived!
Mr Harry Grimwood "testing" the winter furnishings
The summer sofa covers and curtains have been changed for the cozy winter ones and cotton throws packed away and in their place wool tartan blankets strewn over the sofas.
All of those lovely spring and summer woodland walks with Mr Harry Grimwood have been worth it, as we've collected a shed full of kindling. I now need to sort them into bundles and tie with string. The kindling will then come inside along with the recycled paper bricks and logs - all ready for those lovely autumn open fires :-)
our favourite wood in the Spring
Every year I look at the pile of recycled paper logs and think "I wish I'd made more" and every year I end up making loads in September and October. I dry them in the oven when I'm cooking tea! I make them with a really cool mould that I bought on line for just £14.99 - well worth the money as it has saved me a fortune in logs and coal. You an get one from here 
These burn well for up to 2 hours on an open fire or in a woodburner and the great thing is knowing that they're made from rubbish post and flyers that come through the door (along with newspaper), so they are FREE !!!

Also time now to start making some of the (dare I saw it?) Christmas presents and decorations, so watch this blog for caramel vodka, christmas cookies and decorations to make over the next few weeks.
Top Dog Christmas Dickie Bow

Sunday, September 23

Recycled Cozy Collar Tutorial

I brought all my Autumn/Winter clothes out of the loft this week and, because I have put lots of weight on, since gving up smoking, I now have a number of cotton fleece/ sweatshirt tops that no longer fit me. The good condition ones will go to the dress agency, to earn a few pennies to buy some bigger ones - but the others are going to be made into "Cozy Collars".
These are perfect to just slip over your head before heading out into the cold - really snuggly and warm.
I've put a tutorial together so you can make your own - however if you are not confident in sewing, I would be happy to make you one on commission in your favourite colours.
Cozy Collar Tutorial
First lay one of your sweat shirts out flat. cut a bib shape from shoulders to whatever size and shape you want your cozy collar to be.
 Trim the surplus fabric from the back as shown in the picture.

Now comes the labourious part! Cut approximately 100 circles from however many sweatshirts you wish to use. I used two brown sweatshirts - but you could use a selection of any amount/colour.
I used a tumbler to draw around, but you could use any size circular object. All of my circles are the same size but you can mix sizes as well as colours to give a more textured look.
Lay one circle on top of another and fold in half
Then fold in half again
(sorry not sure how those old ladies hands got in the picture!)

Then stitch each folded piece onto the collar at random intervals. Once you have stitched a few on they will "fall into" each other and give a great ruffled effect.
Continue adding the circles until the whole of the bib is covered

When finished you should have something like this...
Hoping for a chilly day tomorrow so I can wear mine!
I'm really pleased with how it came out.
Recycled, unique and cozy warm :-)

Tuesday, September 18

I Miss You...

I was clearing out the "odd bits" drawer today,
you know - the drawer that everyone has,
here you put everything that doesn't have a permanent home. I found this...

Old and broken, but I just cant bear to part with it.
One of the first mobiles I owned.
You couldnt take pictures on it and it didn't have a touch screen.
I loved this little mobile that looked like a compact
(and just happened to be pink!).

Pink & Green Wedding Bunting...

Just finished this commission for Pink and green wedding bunting - has now been posted off to Wales, to Dee for her Top Table.
Made from all vintage linens, lace, buttons, beads etc
I like the cream shabby chic cherubs on the central pennant, above "Mr & Mrs"

I'm happy to take commissions for this in your own colourway and if you can't live without it, you can order it by the meter (£10 per meter), from my shop at

He never spoke about it...

I picked some Phlox and Elder from the garden yesterday -
sometimes I prefer garden picked flowers to shop bought ones -
they feel more "homely". Although I have to admit, I do find it difficult to walk past the small florist across the road from me, without popping in - even if just for a look at the latest blooms :-)
I think they look really nice on this old table, with a photograph of my grandad and his brother. 16 and 18 years of age, in 1914 and they were preparing to go to war. His uniform is drowning him! He died when I was young, so I never got to speak to him about it. Probably best, as apparently he never breathed one word to anyone about his time away. 
I would have liked to have known him better, I can vaguely remember him. Tall, white hair and wellingtons, a very quiet man, with a really kind smile - always in the garden with his dog, Meg, or tending his pigeons.
He loved his pigeons, and an American came over to buy his most famous bird in the 1950's- who was called "Annie" - she was a well known champion in her day. But grandad just couldnt bear to part with her.

Monday, September 17

Mmmmmm Curry to die for!!

I had to share this really, easy, peasy, limey, squeezy, recipe with you
- which makes the most gorgeous curry.
You will need:
500gm Butternut Squash (also nice wth pumpkin)
400gm nice, big, mampy, raw tiger prawns
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 Tblsp Sunflower
1 garlic clove, crushed
50 pence pice size of ginger, grated
1 Red Chilli, seeded and chopped
1 Tsp ground corriander
2 Tsp tumeric
2 Tsp light brown sugar
400mls fish stock
400ml coconut milk
1 lime for zest & juice
Fry the onions in for about 5 minutes. Then add ginger, garlic, chilli and all the spices and cook for 1 minute whilst stirring.
Add the butternut squash and give it a good stir so that all the pieces are covered in the spice mixture.
Slowly pour in and stir the coconut milk and fish stock. Add the sugar and grate the zest of the lime into the pan.
Bring to the boil and simmer for about 15 minutes.
Add the prawns and cook for five minutes.
Stir in the juice of the lime to taste.
Garnish with some chopped fresh coriander. I used the coriander that I had grown in the garden this year :-)
Just looking at that last photo makes me think I should get into the shed while the weather is still fine and sort out all the kindling into bundles ready for the woddburner in winter.
Collected most of it whilst out walking Harry in the woods. Promised myself I would collect a shedful this year and I'm nearly there!
Winter...Brrrr.... cold just thinking about it.

Saturday, September 15

The simple things in life...

I've decided to embrace a simpler way of life.
So over the next few months I shall be making a real effort to take time to really enjoy what's around me Things that I normally take for granted.
I started the morning, meeting a freind for breakfast, at Blanchards, a small tea room, in Sleaford.
Here's a picture of her enjoying the sunshine.
There's a lovely courtyard out the back , where the owner grows tomatoes and strawberries - and it's a real sun trap.
We were lucky enough to have the courtyard to ourselves this morning :-) even when the cafe was near to busting inside.
I hope I've done the right thing sharing this great little place with you -
because as much as the owner deserves it to be jam packed,
I don't want it to get too popular so that I can't get in next week!
As we chatted a lovely, homely, smell of freshly baked bread was filling the air
and I had to give in and try another of her takeaway loaves.
This one was brown wholegrain - and delicious!
 I love the very personal way she wraps her loaves - in greaseproof paper packets with pretty string.
Then home to housework and gardening. At least the weather was good enough to dry the washing on the line (always smells so much nicer that way). 
I'm starting to prepare the garden for autumn now - I really do need to get some top soil and plant up the bulbs I've got in the shed... maybe next weekend

Saturday, September 8

Crystal drops and candles...

I've decided to make sure we eat al fresco as many times as posible before we loose the summer altogether. We just don't seem to have spent that much time in the garden this year and so today I decided to make our garden into a hidden oasis :-) for when Steve gets home tonight!
Aiming to stay out there for most of the evening and enjoy each others company, the garden/wildlife/food and wine
Steve wanted spaghetti tonight so I picked up some beautiful, freshly baked, tomato and parmesan bread from Blanchards Cafe this morning to go with it- if you live near Sleaford then my advice to you is to try it - gorgeous! Had to take the picture quickly - it was still warm from the oven and now it's not as "complete" as it was!
I couldnt resist a small piece with pesto on for lunch!
 Laid the garden table with a vintage linen table cloth, some pretty red and white crockery and picked some flowers from the garden to put in the old ironstone jug that I "thrifted". Put some more candlesticks out, ready for when the sun goes down at about 8. ..
 Oh... and I added some crystal chandelier droplets to the plant pots - these will catch the light and sparkle when the candles are lit this evening.
Steve's chilling swing is all ready for his return from work and
a cold beer in the fridge -
perfect after a hard days work!

Gertie's pinched my comfy seat - I dont have the heart to move her -
sewing will have to wait until she moves on

All ready for our evening meal and of course a couple of sneaky wines...
... and relaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaax  

Red sky at night, Annies delight :-)