Sunday, October 08, 2017

Autumn Home Blessings

Each year I bestow little autumnal blessings upon my home and this year is no different. I love to reflect the season's beauty in my home and each year I share what I have done. You can see past years here: 2016 and here, 2015 (not many pics here as we had just moved, 2014 and here, 2013 part 1, 2013 part 2

This year I get to decorate for autumn TWICE! You see, in three weeks we are moving home. We have found a lovely house overlooking the ocean, a short walk away from wonderful coastal walks and the beach of course. How could we turn down an opportunity to make it our home? This is the view from the house...

I will, of course, give you a tour once we move in, but for now, I thought I would give you an autumn house tour of our current home.

As you've seen before, my front door is flanked with some 'mums' I do love them and thankfully this year the slugs have not decimated them as they did last year.

On the front door, I have my autumn wreath that I found a few years ago at TK Maxx. 

I keep things simple in the kitchen, I have hung some autumn themed bunting above the kitchen door. 

My mother-in-law gave me this adorable fabric a few years ago and I just adore it. This has to be my favourite string of bunting.

 My Welsh dresser has a string of acorn bunting that I knitted a couple of years back along the top and some autumn flower fairy bunting along the bottom shelf, again, I made this a few years back.

We keep all our homeschooling books on this dresser as we do our lessons at the dining room table and in the living room. The top shelf has a tapestry I did in the first year that we arrived in England, I fell in love with this autumnal scene and really enjoyed working on this. It comes out every year, last year it was the centrepiece on my mantle.

The middle shelf has a string of autumnal leaves and the beautiful watercolour painting that my daughter did for me last year.

 On my coffee table, I added a pumpkin that a dear friend knitted and gifted me last year. The Yankee Candle that I'm burning at the moment is Pain Au Raisin - delicious! 

And in another corner of the living room...

I have grouped a few of my cross stitched seasonal cushions on a little wooden tray along with some autumnal leaves and battery operated tea lights (for safety of course).

This year's mantle has a string of autumn flower fairy bunting, either side of the fireplace is flanked with some cross stitched decorations. 

The mantle top is all about candles this year.

The three pillar candles on the autumnal centrepiece
 I picked up at TK Maxx, I just love the little charms that they came with, perfect for the season. 

And finally, some more candles and another cross stitched cushion decoration on the stairwell windowsill. Candles always create such a cosy atmosphere don't you think? Perfect for the shortening days.

I hope that you are enjoying these lovely autumn days my friends, it's such a lovely time of year isn't it, just so much to appreciate. Take care of yourselves until next time.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Oh Autumn! How I Love You...

It's been a busy but lovely week here in Devon. We've had showers, sunshine, and a little visitor to our garden...

I've been keeping an eye on this little one for a few weeks. He's awfully small and I've been seeing him more and more frequently out and about in the daytime. It's not good if you see hedgehogs out in the daytime. It means that something is wrong, that they are not feeling quite right. In this little ones' case, I suspected that it was because he has a shed-load of fattening up to do before hibernation time in November. They have to be 500g if they are to survive the winter. When this little hoglet made his daytime appearance on Wednesday, I scooped him up and popped him on the scales...254g. Oh dear, he is never going to double his body weight in 6 weeks.

I gave the vet a ring and she confirmed that indeed he would not put on that much weight and said to bring him in. Here in the UK, small wild animals can be taken to any vet and treated free of charge during practice hours. So it's good to keep in mind if you live in the UK and find a poorly hedgehog! 

This wee one will go to a hedgehog sanctuary where he will spend the next few weeks being fed and then looked after through the winter. In the spring he will be released back into the wild, free to live a (hopefully) long hedgehog life.

Autumn seems to have arrived all at once as it is apt to do in the northern hemisphere. We've been having a bit of unsettled weather of late and my garden... well, a picture says a thousand words so I thought I would give you a peek...

We have two beech trees in our garden and they are shedding their leaves at a rate of knots. Yesterday we picked up all the leaves and this morning, after some stormy weather last night, my garden looked like someone had dressed it as an autumnal scene for a movie. Very pretty but very messy!

Oh, who am I kidding? I absolutely LOVE it. Picking up fallen leaves is what you are supposed to do in this season right? 😄

We have a nifty way of picking up the leaves off the lawn...

We simply set the lawn mower onto its highest setting and run it over the grass. Picks up and catches all the leaves, perfectly processed for the compost heap.

The pampas grass is looking spectacular - I love this autumn flowering grass. The flowers are so whimsical. I love how they are catching the leaf fall...

And surveying the autumnal garden...

Is my lovely little Cleo cat. She loves sitting on that table watching the birds at the feeder and leaves drifting down into the garden. I have to say that I have caught myself standing at my kitchen door on more than one occasion doing the same. There is something very peaceful and therapeutic standing quietly watching the leaves dropping and drifting. It's one of those 'simple things' that I get great pleasure from.

Autumn blessings to you all...

Monday, September 11, 2017

Cosy Days on the Way!

Hello lovelies! This post is all about seasonal bits and bobs and some lovely autumnal yarns so if you are a lover of yarns and all things knitty then stick around.

Autumn is happening! It's everywhere, leaves are turning, there is a chill in the air and the days are noticeably shorter. If you follow me on Pinterest you will have seen that 'autumn' and general coziness is definitely on my mind at the moment. My lawn is already strewn with leaves, the 'big-continual-leaf-pick-up' has started! 

This weekend I paid a visit to my local garden centre to pick up two beautiful pots of 'mums' as I do every September. They flank my front door, a cheery welcome to all who come knocking. I adore the burnt orange flowers. In fact, I have a few skeins of yarn in my shop that I dyed up called 'Pumpkin Pie' that is fairly close in colour and reminds me of my chrysanth's ever time I look at it.

This year, in the hopes of prolonging the flowering of my mums, I have decided to snip blooms regularly and bring in little posies to decorate my home before I put up all my autumn decorations in a few weeks time.

As you might know, if you have read my blog for any length of time, my eldest daughter is at art college, she is so creative and I love seeing what she comes up with. Every so often, when she has time, she makes some of the cutest little stitch markers for my Etsy Shop. She made this adorable little autumn inspired set...

and one set of the very popular cinnamon swirl buns...

Aren't they just so cute?! I love the icing and texture of the pastry, they really do look good enough to eat 😋.

And if you are looking for some lovely autumnal yarn squishiness have a look at some of these OOAK's (one of a kind so when they're gone they're gone!) that came out of the dye pots last week...

Apple Orchard - every possible apple colour in one skein! I can just imagine it knit up into a pair of cosy socks.

Woodland Glow - Oh so pretty! If you visit the listings you will see that each yarn has a little story behind the inspiration. This one brings to mind a walk I went on around this time last year. The sky was blue and the leaves of the woodland all turning burnt orange, yellow and reds. 

Then we have the autumnal plums and blackberry purples. This yarn above is called 'Blackberry Brambles'. I was inspired by the stains that are evident on your hands when you go blackberrying.

And what about this lovely 'Elderberry Punch'...

Oh's so hard to let all these lovelies go, but seriously, I couldn't knit long enough to use up all this squishiness 😆.

What seasonal observances are you seeing at the moment? Do you find that the cooler weather and shorter days wake the urge inside to create?

Blessings to you all today...

Monday, September 04, 2017

Monthly Meal Planning

I mentioned in my rather long multi-faceted planning post that I did my meal planning on a monthly basis. I also promised that I would be back with a detailed post on how and why I do this, so here it is.

I've been meal planning for years and it serves two purposes, the first being that it helps me keep to a budget. I know exactly what I need to buy in my grocery shop and therefore don't go putting things into my shopping trolly that are not needed.

Secondly, I know exactly what we are going to be eating each day, I don't have to think about it at 5 o'clock after a long day. I guess it saves on brain power and gives me peace of mind in this area. As mom's we are always thinking of what to feed our family so by meal planning I am cutting out a lot of needless thinking 😁.

I do my meal planning the day before my husband's salary get's paid into our account so that's usually around the 29th or 30th of each month. I'm going to lay out my planning process so here goes:

I use a calendar to plan out my monthly meals and this calendar hangs in my kitchen. The first thing I do is gather my calendar, favourite recipe books, recipes I've printed off in the past and I have my Pinterest board up with stacks of recipes that I have pinned and want to try out at some point.

I then fill out our 'regulars' for example, Fridays are homemade pizza or burger evenings. We alternate, one Friday it's burgers the next it's pizza. Every Sunday it's a roast dinner. So that's already 9 days out of 30 (in the case of September) planned for.

Next, I open my planner to the month @ a glance and see if there is anything I need to be aware of. This month we have friends coming over for dinner a few times so using a brightly coloured pen so that it stands out I write that into my meal planning calendar. I, therefore, know that I need to sit down and plan out a menu for that evening.

Still using my planner I check to see which are our busy days and therefore require an easy crockpot meal. I take into account activities that might have us out of the house in the afternoon. We have some favourite crockpot meals which I have shared the recipes for in my Crockpot Chronicles series of posts if you are interested to see what sort of things I cook.

Once that's done I plug in some family favourites. I try to keep Saturdays as a pasta night because it is easy to throw together if we have been out enjoying the day. It's also one day in the week where I choose something easy and quick to reduce time spent in the kitchen. My 'day off' so to speak. 

That brings me up to needing to find 4 more meals. So far every meal except the roast dinners and pizza/burger nights have not been repeated. So we have a varied and exciting menu that no one should get tired with.

With only 4 more meals to plan for, I refer to my Pinterest board and find some new things to try. This month I'm going to try 'Low Syn Chicken Korma', 'Beef and Potato Pasties', 'Grilled Apple Cider, orange and thyme Glazed Pork Chops', and 'Meatball Bombs'. I mark all the recipes that I use from Pinterest with a 'P' on my calendar so I know where to find the recipes.

Finally, I use some of the other columns on my calendar to note down things I want to bake in the month, freezer meals I want to make so that I have something to pull out should the wheels fall off my day and a list of lunch options that I can draw on for those of us who are home during the day.

I then pin up my calendar onto the inside door of my grocery cupboard so that I can easily refer to it each day. It's as simple as that. That whole planning session took me about 30 to 45 minutes and is going to save me hours of 'wondering-what-to-cook' time. 

Last note on my meal planning. There is flexibility within this plan. I will swap and change meals from within the same week if, for example, a day has turned out to be a bit busier than expected and we need something quick and simple to cook. Because I shop weekly and my shopping lists are drawn up from my meal plan I know that I have all the ingredients for each meal that I have planned for that week so swapping out meals is no problem for me.

Wishing you every blessing today...

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Goodbye August

It's hard to believe that today is the last day of the month! August has been lovely, we've had some lovely weather, lovely friends visiting us from afar and lovely seasonal observances to enjoy that are unique to August.

August Collage
We've enjoyed watching a family of hedgehogs fatten up for the coming winter, we stayed up late to catch the Perseid's Meteor Shower, We enjoyed Plymouths annual fireworks extravaganza, the long, warm summer days, and gathering in free foods from the hedgerows and trees surrounding us. It's been a good month. 

I feel that I have finished off the month in the way I hope to go on into September, feeling peaceful, content and productive. On Sunday I finished off this adorable little cross stitch which I will finish off in some creative way yet-to-be-determined and add to my autumn decor.

This is a free chart that I have on my Pinterest board if you are interested.

This week we started back at lessons so I spent Bank Holiday Monday putting the final touches to our learning plans. It was a glorious day - actually quite hot so I was glad to sit in the shade of the Hawthorn tree sipping coffee and doing one of the things I love best - planning.

While I was sitting here I heard some rather strange noises coming from the shrubs, upon investigating I found this little fellow tucked away sleeping. Perhaps he was having hedgehog dreams.

And last but not least, I finally got round to making my Apple Bramble Jam yesterday. Oh my goodness! Our family LOVES this jam. All ingredients save the lemons and sugar are gathered from the hedgerows which is half the fun and seems to make the jam taste better.

I used 400g of blackberries, 400g of apples, 500g sugar and the juice of one large lemon. Bring to a gentle rolling boil and let that cook down until the fruit has broken up and you have a thick sticky mixture that has reached setting point. Then ladle into null jars.

My fruit made three and bit jars - three for the grocery cupboard and a bit to enjoy right now on home baked scones. This is my youngest daughters favourite jam, in fact, she will only eat this apple bramble jam 😋.

Now I am super excited because... tomorrow marks the meteorological start of autumn! I am simply giddy with happiness. The autumn equinox (perhaps the official start of autumn) is only 22 days away, there is no doubt that signs of the season are already creeping in. I am completely tempted to crack open all my autumn decor but I will restrain myself and only do so in celebration of the equinox as is our custom. Until then, I'll be content with pinning beautiful and inspirational pins on my 'All Things Autumn' Pinterest board and keeping my hands busy with another autumn inspired cross stitch decoration to add to my autumn decor stash 😀. 

Blessings to you all this lovely last day in August.