Wednesday, 30 January 2013


All humans are equal, but some are more equal than others.  Women, for example!  I am currently making candles in my kitchen while writing my blog post for today.  I will be bobbing backwards and forwards, checking the wax has heated to the correct temperature and trying not to forget anything important, (like the wick), or make any mistakes with my writing.  I apologise in advance!

The sun is out and the sky is blue, but the wind is howling round the cottage and banging at the back door to get in.  Not a chance.  It isn't quite so cold today, and with the sun streaming through the kitchen window, I am nicely warm without too many layers impeding my movements.  It has been bitterly cold of late and even MAL has suffered.

She actually stayed like this all night!

The sun is starting to bring out one of my favourite coastal flowers, the gorse.  You know what they say about gorse?  When the gorse is in flower, kissing is in season.  You can find a tiny yellow flower somewhere on a bush just about any day of the year, so kissing is never out of season!  But we knew that already.

Yesterday, my sister drove from England to visit us all.  She stopped off at our house at five o'clock.  We didn't see each other over Christmas as she sadly had 'flu really badly, so we exchanged presents at last and had sandwiches, fruit loaf, chocolate cake and cups of tea.

This is all that is left of the cake!

I showed sis my candles and gave her one to take home and enjoy.  She has to have an operation next Tuesday and will be in hospital for at least 3 days, so hopefully my candle will help her relax and recover when she is home again.  She loved the candles and what I have done with them and we had a chat about where I could sell them; real shops locally and of course Etsy, (that is, if I dare!).

During the day, mum and I went to our favourite fabric shop on the island to stock up on gorgeousness.

I know these are new and not thrifted but they are for work and therefore it is important that I get lovely things that people will want to buy.  Although I did get this bag full of lace from the bargain basket, so maybe that's OK!  The ribbons were from the big glass jar on the floor, full of little bundles of ribbons for 35pence.

Now who could possibly be expected to resist such blatant temptation?  Not me.  The best thing is I know exactly what I will be using them for!  Much nicer than buying, putting them away and waiting for that perfect project, (although that is fun too!).

Puppy has been a bit bored lately.  He had such fun in the snow but then the rain came and the already sodden ground became even worse and even to venture outside to the shed required wellies and a coat.  The dogs had to be grabbed and dried off before they could be let into the house, but somehow there are still muddy paw prints appearing.  This morning, because it was sunny and dry, Puppy could go and play outside by himself for a little while.  He got a bit lonely though and went to call his friends.

I don't think they heard him though.  They didn't come so he came back inside.

I hope you enjoy your day, kiss a little bit and call your friends! xxx

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Creative, Cosy Corner

It was my mum's birthday last week, but because of the snow, we couldn't go to see her.  So yesterday the children and I and my brother and his family finally made it to give mum her cards and presents.  Happy Birthday mum!

I made her this notebook using materials already in my possession, so as promised, I didn't spend any money and I helped the planet a tiny bit!

Fortunately she was very pleased with it.  Mum loves bright colours where I love pastels, so this isn't something I would make for myself, but it was nice to use different colours for a change and I added some bright rainbow papers too.

She just has to work out what to use it for now!

We were all very noisy yesterday as 5 adults and 4 children all talked over each other and had different conversations going on at the same time.  Dad and Pea had a heated, but good natured, debate about evolution and global warming.  They are very similar and both certain of their views and neither likely to back down.  It went on for some time!  In the meantime, H2 and my niece got creative at the kitchen table with Lego and crayons.

We are quite a creative family really.  My sis-in-law, R, made a huge birthday cake for mum and my niece, CM, went a bit mad with the decorating.  Adults would employ good taste and restraint, but young children don't give a thought for all that nonsense and just have fun.

We all sang 'Happy Birthday' in Welsh and enjoyed the lovely food mum had made.  Sadly my sister couldn't be with us as she was at work, but we are looking forward to seeing her next week.

The afternoon was spent playing with CM's dolls and more talking.

I made the rag doll for her 1st birthday.  I am thrilled that she plays with it and that it hasn't fallen apart yet!

H1 drew some fab cartoons, but he wouldn't let me photograph them, so I can't show you.  Mum gave Pea a tiny bird skull that she found years ago.  We had a look in dad's bird book and think it may once have been a Brambling.  What do you think?

The children and I left before it got dark as I didn't want to leave the dogs for too much longer, but we had had a really good day, lots of noise, laughing and talking.  And a bit of creativity too!

I hope you have a lovely day and thank you for

Friday, 25 January 2013

Bring on the Spring!

I honestly never thought I would say this, but...I wish the snow would melt!!!  I know!  What is wrong with me for goodness sake?  I spent all December wishing for white stuff and now we have had a full week of it, I'm not happy.  Typical.

It is slowly starting to melt, aided and abetted by the wind and rain, but it is still so, so cold.  Walking H2 to school this morning felt colder than it has done all week.  That wind is vicious.  Sadly, due to the amount of wet clothes, muddy boots and even muddier paws, I had to clean the cottage today.  Oh no.  It did keep me warm though and chasing after Puppy when he cleared off with my feather duster meant I could at last shed a layer of extra clothing.  I have now got a headache looming; a clear sign that cleaning is bad for your health.

 Crocheting dinky doilies however, is extremely beneficial to mental health, even if the physical side of it goes a bit awry.  I ordered 2 balls of Anchor Style Creativa crocheting cotton from Purplelinda Crafts, which came yesterday lunch time, just as I had cast on some knitting yarn to have a practice with.  Perfect timing!  I whipped off my scratty bit of wool and looped this sumptuous yarn onto my hook.  It glides smoothly over your hook and creates gorgeous stitches (even though mine are far from gorgeous).  I like the weight of it too and it sits flat and feels like a vintage doily that has seen a bit of life from pretty English parlours.

I know they are only small but I have found that blocking them works wonders.  You can ease them into shape a little more and they just seem more finished.

These embroidered flowers are the only sign of Spring that I can find in my home.  My nan stitched this tablecloth for me many years ago.  Funny how the person is no longer here, but she's still around in all her needlework and it's a lovely way to remember her.  I think she would probably fall off her cloud if she knew I sew and crochet!  I was pretty useless at it as a child and young woman, preferring instead to muck out horses, but I hope she would be proud nevertheless.

At least we are on the right side of the year now and the evenings are staying light longer.  Over Christmas it was dark by half past four, but now it is more like five or even after before it gets dark.  I am very happy about that.  I am longing to stay out in the garden until late, play Frisbee in the field with the children or just sit and watch the sky turn red as the sun sets.  Bring it on, I'm ready now!

Thank you for dropping by and have a lovely day. xxx

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Staying Cosy

The snow is still lying deep and crisp, but not very even.  It has frozen overnight, making it difficult to move about.  Black ice lies in wait on the lane.  H2 and I walked to school, well wrapped up against the cold and made it without being too late.  The school bus couldn't get to all the children and had to turn back, much to the delight of those aboard, no doubt.  There were only 17 children in school yesterday, and probably not many more today.

In the evenings the temperature plummets and we all feel it inside the cottage.  I am not one for whacking the heating up too much, so instead we drag our quilts and blankets off our beds and snuggle up on the settee, usually with a dog or two wedged in between.

I love this kind of weather.  It offers a bit of excitement to the usual routine and being a homey type person, I love doing things to keep us warm and snugly.  However, now that two of my children are teenagers, they don't take much notice of my efforts to keep them warm.  H1 wanders about without any socks on and Pea will wear a thin top that exposes her tummy when she moves about.  I keep banging on about how they will regret such behaviour when they are my age, but to no avail.  H2 is following suit and even the dogs reject my attempts to wrap them up.  Oh well.

This snowman was wearing more clothes than my children.

A little bit of love to warm the heart, even if the body is still frozen!

Back indoors, a little bit of crocheting was in order.  About 5 years ago, I taught myself to knit.  Well, when I say I taught myself, what I mean is I borrowed Pea's Beginners Knitting book and got myself in a right ravel . I asked the lady next door who told me I'd been knitting backwards.  Hmm, not sure how I managed that, but never mind.  Next mum had a go at helping me and eventually, with a lot of practice, I got the hang of it.  I made a few things and still wear the cardigan and jumper I made.  Knitting is all very well, but it made my arms ache and I found I wasn't that keen on following a pattern; too many things could go wrong, leaving me feeling inadequate at best.  I had a go at crochet and liked this craft much more.  One hook, one stitch; perfect.  Reading the blog 'Vintage Magpie' got me hooked on sewing and I haven't stopped crafting in one form or another since.  Thanks Nicky!

I had a go at making this coaster/doily, from issue 20 (I think) of Molly Makes.  They are really gorgeous and not too difficult, once I got the hang of what they were on about.  I'm not too thrilled with the edge though.  It looks a bit square and I prefer round.  I will have another go later.

Another thing I have been doing is making candles.

As you know, I love candles!

I plan to open an Etsy shop within the next month and have a go at selling my candles, so at the moment I am very busy making enough stock to warrant having a shop in the first place.  My friend came to see me last week and I warned her that I would be busy.  It was lovely; she sat in the kitchen drinking coffee and chatting with me while I worked.  I couldn't do that and sew, or paper cut, or crochet.  It is the perfect craft for me.  It doesn't give me awful back ache from sitting down too much, I can stand and move about, which I like, listen to the radio and talk to the dogs or anyone who happens to be about.  Yesterday, my neighbour came bearing a very odd gift.  He put something into my hand and grinned.  The mind boggles.

A moment of mild panic ensued, before I realised it was an egg.  Poor hen!  He then very kindly gave me four beautifully formed freshly laid eggs, which I used to make a huge cake with.

It may be cold outside, but friendship and kindness in all it's forms keeps us warm inside.  Now if you don't mind I'm off to finish my coffee and get my crocheting hook out again.  Practice makes perfect.

Have a lovely day and keep smiling. xxx

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Snow Angels

I woke at 7am and saw a ghostly light reflecting on the walls around my window.  I put my arm out from under the duvet and extra quilts to test the air temperature; cold, so I snuggled down again for a while longer.  It is Saturday, after all!  Half an hour later I ventured out of bed and drew my curtains.  The snow was lying even deeper than last night.  A snow plough drove slowly along the road, two fields away.  All was silent.

I went to let the dogs out and put the kettle on the hob to boil.  The snow cast an eerie glow in the cottage, the way only snow does.  Puppy was beside himself to find his new friend was still there and he threw himself into the drifts with sheer joy.  MAL, who has seen it all before, was a little more reserved and not thrilled to feel the cold and wet on her paws.  She didn't linger and soon came in for her breakfast.

No vehicles had ventured up or down the lane since yesterday afternoon and as the snow had fallen during most of the night, all previous tracks had been covered.

As the sun rose over the mountains, the snow turned pink and the animals began to wake up and slowly move around in the strange new world they found themselves.

Soon after, the farmers were driving their tractors and 4x4s along our lane and the road, with bales of hay and bags of feed to take to their sheep in the snow bound fields.  Unlike the rest of us, who can stay in and drink hot chocolate or play outside and build snowmen, farmers just have to keep going, no matter what.  Their animals still need food and water and shelter and they cannot be left to fend for themselves.  Even the ponies in the field needed extra hay and a cuddle.

Many years ago, in a former life, I taught adults and children of all abilities how to ride and care for horses.  Breaking the thick ice on the ponies' water bucket this morning brought back memories of painful fingers and frozen toes.  Not something I miss!  It isn't an easy job, looking after animals who live outside, so I take my hat off to those who do it every day, every year, for most of their lives.  They are the Snow Angels and without them, our countryside would be a poorer place.

At about 10am, the sun looked as if it was about to disappear for the day, so Pea and I decided to go for a walk while the going was still good.  We rugged up well and set off, minus dogs and boys.  What a treat!

It was absolutely blinking freezing! Hardly a soul about, apart from the aforementioned farmers, of course.  At first we walked down the tracks left by early morning tractors, but then when we turned off onto a tiny lane, it got heavy going.  The snow was at least a foot deep and where it had drifted across our path, significantly deeper.  It was exhausting!

How beautiful though.  Pea and I kept on saying 'Wow!' all the time!  I took loads of photos and we lingered as long as the cold would let us.  A robin stopped to say hello but the ponies nearby didn't even look up, so intent on eating their hay were they.

We turned for home when I got so hungry I thought I would faint.  I really didn't want Pea to have to drag me home by my heels and all I could think of was food!  The cold does that to you!

When we arrived home, we found the boys hadn't moved an inch from where we left them.  We had been walking for an hour and a half.  H1 sprang into action and made a tray of caramel shortbread.  H2 went and played in the snow. Pea and I stood in the kitchen, ate ham sandwiches and drank scalding hot tea until we thawed out.  Bliss.

I am off now to bake a chocolate and nut steamed pudding for tea.  We will have it hot with whipped cream.  Oh yum, can't wait!  Have a lovely weekend, and thank you for dropping by. xxx

Friday, 18 January 2013

Snow! Snow! Snow!

At last, the weather forecast was accurate;  snow was expected and snow we had.  Mainly expected in the South with the North getting barely a mention and the island not at all, but who's complaining!  It began snowing at 7.50 this morning, but it didn't settle.  The children went off to school and a normal day lay ahead.

At 9 O'clock, I took the dogs in the field.  There was a slight sprinkling on the ground, but mercifully the roads were still clear so I decided to go to the butcher which is about 7 miles away.

I was surprised to find that it was hardly snowing at all when I arrived.  I did my jobs and drove home.  The nearer I got the more it snowed and the whiter everywhere looked.  The snow was starting to settle on the road, which is always a worry and I was glad to turn down our little lane and get home.  It was definitely coming down now.

During the morning a gritting lorry drove up the road, having decided that the weather meant business after all and we weren't going to escape it this time.  The temperature was dropping and I put on an extra jumper and drank lots of tea.  I finished mum's birthday present and waited for the schools to ring to say they were closing and sending the children home.  They didn't.  I kept looking anxiously out of the window.  The snow was getting heavier and deeper, but still they didn't ring.

Eventually, after checking my mobile was working and picking up the phone to check for the dialling tone several times, the Headmistress from H2's school rang to ask me to fetch him as they were closing the school.  By this time the snow was too thick for me to risk driving, as my little car is pretty useless in snow and wet mud, so I walked and took his wellies with me.  He was thrilled to be coming home early and even more thrilled to be walking in it.  We arrived home with very rosy cheeks and frozen fingers, but H2 was desperate to go out and play in it.  After making sure he was so well wrapped up he could hardly breathe, I followed him into the garden.

He made a very odd looking snowman that Puppy took great delight in chewing and digging up.

I received a text message from the senior school, saying the pupils would be sent home at 1.15, after lunch, which was cutting it a bit fine as the snow was lying thickly and still coming down in a blizzard.  An hour later, I was getting a bit worried.  By 2.45 I was getting really worried.  The journey from school takes half an hour on a good day, but with the snow I estimated an hour, so when almost two hours had gone by, I thought something must have happened and tried very hard to keep calm and not let awful images enter my head.  Standing by the window hoping to see them walk down the lane, I saw a 4x4 truck pull up outside the cottage and H1 got out.  I was outside before he had even opened the gate!  Was he OK? Where was Pea?  

He said Pea was on her way in another 4x4 as the bus had got stuck on a hill, along with other cars, and the children had been sitting in the bus for an hour.  The driver, who we all know and is lovely, was seriously considering getting quad bikes to ferry them all home, but on reflection, he thought this would be a bit dangerous, so he rang round for men with 4x4 trucks to come and rescue them!  So they arrived home safe, frozen but none the worse for the experience!

Once all my brood were in and safe, I could enjoy the beauty outside.  We spent ages just staring and marvelling at the snow drifts by the outbuildings and how the blizzard made it impossible to see the mountains or fields further away.  The sheep seem to be coping pretty well and are head down, burrowing through the snow in search of the grass underneath.  And still it snowed.

The children were well fed, warm and comfy and safe in our cosy nest.

It is dark now, but still snowing!  I love the total silence snow brings.  All sounds are muffled and only the faint pattering of snow falling on snow can be heard.  I saw a pair of bull finches in the hedge outside and a flock of lapwings flew over the garden.  In the field several Redwings were flying about and doing their thing. I love how the birds take on stronger colours in the snow and you see things you could easily miss on a sunny day.  

I don't know if all this will still be here when we wake in the morning, but it has been beautiful to watch.  I had a snowball fight with H2, albeit a pathetic one on my part.  I am a bit too girly to really throw myself into such things and kept exclaiming that I wasn't ready when he successfully landed one on me, but we had fun and H2 knows what I'm like!  The dogs had great fun, especially Puppy, who has never seen snow before.  He tore round the garden and shoved his nose deep into it and ate great mouth fulls of it. Then collapsed into a happy heap by the fire and slept for ages.

Isn't it strange that snow can make such a difference to a day!

Keep warm, stay happy and love your life. xxx