All the “b’s” ..including the start of a Bobble Blanket

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It’s been a busy few weeks here at Holly Cottage, we’ve been giving our garden a bit of a Spring makeover (although like most places in the UK we are still awaiting the arrival of Spring!) Today has dawned lovely and sunny and dare I say …even warm!

So first thing this morning after our first bootsale of the year I set to baking some brownies and some yummy bread pudding from our leftover homemade loaves.

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I hate to see bread go to waste, but when you bake every day inevitably you will be left with remnants of loaves as you are tempted by the freshly baked loaf just made! The recipe I use is from the BBC Good Food website and is so easy and always produces scrumptious results.

Then it was out into the garden. Over the last couple of years we have collected old ladders from boot sales and painted them up to display plants on during the Summer months.

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However the winter this year has really taken its toll on them so we got some new paint yesterday to give them a bit of a spruce up…

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Whilst Mr Wonderful was doing this I was able to sneak indoors with a lovely cuppa to work a couple of rows on my new blanket which I am making for my brother.

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There isn’t a pattern as such it is just trebles and bobble stitches. I got the wool from Aldi last week…they had some balls of aran wool, 400g at £4.95 each so I snapped up two of the grey and two of the cream. Only problem being I probably could have done with another ball of each to make the blanket a generous size and now they have sold out and there’s no telling when, and if, they will have any more in.😦

I’ve also repurposed an old picture frame this week by covering it in some underfloor heating boards and then recovering that with some pretty fabric and ribbons to make a pin board for my garden studio.

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I have also finished another blanket, but haven’t got any photos of it yet…I’ll get them done for the next post.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend…lets hope the sun stays!

Nikki

Friday news and a finished blanket…

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It’s been a bit of a week here at Holly Cottage. I woke up on Monday with a terrible sore throat which has progressed into a rotten cold during the week..so am feeling more than a tad fed up and sorry for myself…

We have also lost two of our lovely chickens during the last week, the first (one of our younger chickens) to a respiratory infection, and despite a visit to the vets and antibiotics for all the hens we were unable to save her. Then another suddenly went downhill with different symptoms, but by the time we realised she was egg bound, we only had a few hours before she too faded away. So upsetting. We’ve kept chickens for over two years now and have never lost one, so to lose two in a week has been really sad.

Anyway, on to more cheerful things….! I am cheering myself up today with this wonderful bunch of daffodils…only £2 and part of that is donated to Marie Curie…aren’t they gorgeous?

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I’ve also finished the small ripple blanket that I started last week for my brother..

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It’s not huge, just big enough to snuggle under while watching TV.

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But I think it will do the job…

Hope you are all having a lovely Friday..it’s snowing here at the moment so I think all thoughts of venturing out are going to be put on hold and a day on the sofa doing some hooky and watching TV is in order!

Nikki x

Using up……using again….

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I couldn’t resist these hyacinths in the supermarket this weekend, I know it’s not very frugal to spend a fiver on two pots, but I eased my conscience by telling myself I can plant them out in the garden after they have bloomed and they will flower again and again each year – so…quite a good use of a fiver really!

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I didn’t have any plant pots suitable for indoors so I used these giant tea cups to pop them into. I have seen this done before on the internet but have always wondered about watering them and drainage, but I guess if I just keep them moist they should be ok. Don’t you think?

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I also dragged my stash out of the cupboard this weekend…..I am sure those balls of yarn multiply behind closed doors!

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I visited my brother this weekend who was suffering from man flu. Perched on the back of his sofa was what was supposed to be a blanket…honestly, it was no thicker than a duster and certainly not suitable for snuggling under to watch the TV! Hence my dragging out the stash to see if I had anything I could make up into a blanket for him.

I decided a ripple would be a little more “manly” than my normal granny square blankets so set to work…

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Not my “normal” pinks, blues and greens so wasn’t quite sure at first, but now I have done a bit more I think it will be fine…and certainly better and more useful than what he already has!

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What are you using up your stash to make?

Nikki x

Wonderful Weekend Book Giveaway

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Everyday I spend a a while looking for new blogs to follow, but I’m one of those “I wonder what I’m missing out there” people! So, I had a thought this morning, that most of the people I follow write blogs about their lives, their crafting, their homes and families; their desire to be frugal or just their love of thriftiness and car booting!

I decided that it probably stood to reason that all of those people, probably followed similar blogs and that wouldn’t it be great if I could get a recommendation list from them; the very people who are probably best placed to tell me “what I’m missing out there”:-)

So, I thought I would have a little giveaway to thank you for recommending blogs to me that you think I would like. I decided upon the “Wonderful Weekend Book – Reclaiming Life’s Simple Pleasures” by Elspeth Thompson.

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All you need to do is to follow me if you aren’t already and/or reblog this post, leave a comment with a link to your recommended blog and a week from today, 13th February, I will choose a winner to receive the book.

Am really hoping that by this time next week I will have a whole new set of blogs to add to my favourites!

Nikki x

A Busy Weekend Crafting

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This weekend seemed to whizz by and before I knew where I was it was Monday morning again. I had thought that I hadn’t really achieved much in terms of crafting this weekend, but I think that was because I didn’t have any large blocks of time for crocheting, rather I snatched an hour here and there, but they do all add up I suppose.

A large chunk of the weekend was spent painting some bedroom furniture for a client using Annie Sloan Old White paint. I do love this paint and am so glad I discovered it – it is so versatile and cuts painting time down enormously. Before I had always used Farrow and Ball or Laura Ashley paints for furniture, and I’m sure I will again if the shade required dictates it, but for now I am an Annie Sloan convert!

I will post some photos of the furniture when it is all finished, but it is at the waxing stage at the moment and scattered everywhere waiting to be buffed.

I ordered an Annie Sloan book too which arrived today “Creating the French Look” – I must admit that I ordered it in a bit of a hurry and was hoping that it would give me some inspiration for new furniture projects – I’m saving it for bedtime when I can sit back with a large cup of tea and drink in all the lovely photos.

I had such lovely comments and emails about my little lap blanket, that I decided as I have plenty of yarn left over that I would start another, in the same colours, but with a different pattern for the blocks…what do you think? There’s something so soothing about creating all those little squares (not so soothing when you have to sew in all the ends you haven’t managed to catch behind the stitches though!)

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I made a quick dash visit to my sister’s as well yesterday as I had a little flower headband I had crocheted for my little great niece who is just about 4 months old now. She looked adorable wearing it but I got to thinking that in this cold weather a little beanie would be more appropriate! So when I got home I raided my stash and whipped up this little hat for her….

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I didn’t follow a pattern as such, I just knew that it needed to measure 7.5 inches across and 5.5 inches high so made it up as I went along. The flower though is loosely based on Lucy at Attic 24’s Flower thought didn’t do as many petal rounds as Lucy did as the hat was quite tiny.

I hope my little great niece (and her Mummy) like it…might make one for myself if the weather gets any colder!

Nikki x

Super Frugal Soup

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Inspired by Sue at Our New Life in The Country, and her dilemma about what to cook with her leftover onions, I was reminded of one of my favourite frugal soup recipes.

Now, before we start, I have to tell you I am no Delia or Nigella…I’m not great at following recipes, preferring rather to make them up as I go along! So bearing that in mind here is my “recipe” for my Chicken, Onion and lentil soup (without any chicken but with the aid of chicken stock or stock cubes!). I did warn you!:-)

You will need:

1 onion
Red lentils (I tend to use 3 part water to 1 part lentils, but it will depend on what consistency of soup you like)
Chicken stock or stock cubes (I use 3 cubes)
Water

That’s it……(apart from chilli powder to give it a bit of a kick)

Put the lentils water and chopped raw onion in a large soup pan or pot and bring to the boil.
Once the soup is boiling turn down the heat and simmer for about 45 mins, stirring regularly otherwise it will stick!
Add in chilli powder (the amount will depend on how spicy you like your soup …add it in in very small quantities until you get your desired taste)

That is it! As you can see…super easy and super frugal, but incredibly filling and tasty.

We normally eat it with just chunks of warm homemade bread, but you could easily grate so e cheese on top or add so e croutons if you wanted to.

Also, don’t worry if you make too much, the leftovers can always be frozen or used as a base or bulking agent for a warming casserole.

P.s. I haven’t suddenly become a professional photographer…this is a stock photo as I wanted to post the recipe today but haven’t got time to make the soup!

What are your super frugal recipes?

Nikki

Blanket Tah Dah and Frugal Furniture

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I’ve long been a fan of the super talented Lucy at Attic 24, in fact it was Lucy’s blog that inspired me a couple of years ago to teach myself to crochet. I loved her gorgeous blankets and wanted some of my own so set about learning how to crochet granny squares with the help of her blog and the wonderful YouTube.

My latest blanket, which I mentioned in my last post is now complete – it is more of a lap-blanket size, easy to fold up on the back of the sofa, and handy to snuggle under on damp dark days like today has been.

So, here it is…my latest creation…

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Can you see one of my little dogs just peeking out from underneath…who just wouldn’t budge for me to take the photo?:-)

I’m going to start on another blanket of the same size for my other sofa, but although I will be using the same colour way it will really be more for my lovely other half to use so am thinking it might need to be a little more masculine….perhaps with solid squares? I’ll see…maybe I will experiment and post a photo and see what you think?

On to our other recent project. I had a lovely oak dining room table and chairs, but the chairs were too modern for my liking (the dining set was bought several years before I moved to my little Victorian cottage) and really didn’t fit in with my current furniture.

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We heard about a local household and furniture auction being held at the Ardingly Showground in Sussex not far from where we live and decided to go and have a look to see if we could find some suitable replacements. We were lucky and found 6 mahogany chairs with some rather ugly brown seats…we bid on them and managed to win all six for just £60!

Here is one of the seats before we started our makeover…

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We used a Laura Ashley eggshell on the chairs after much sugar-soaping and cleaning and a light sanding. Next I needed to find some fabric and decided that it would be nice to use the same Laura Ashley fabric that I have on the scatter cushions on my sofa (all EBay finds). As luck would have it this was around Christmas time and Laura Ashely had an online sale on some of their fabrics so I was able to bag a metre for just £15 instead of £30! By careful placement and cutting I was able to cover all 6 from the metre of fabric…

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Next we painted the legs and underside of the table, just leaving the top unpainted…

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And voila!….our new table and chairs for just £90!….except it wasn’t….a friend’s daughter heard I was looking to get rid of my old dining chairs and gave me £60 for them, so in fact my six new chairs cost me just £15 (and some time!)

I’ve got a couple more frugal furniture projects to show you next time, would love to hear about anything similar you might have done..

Nikki

Hijacked by Pinterest….

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I have been very remiss recently in keeping my blog updated but if I were to tell you that I was momentarily hijacked, seduced and kidnapped by Pinterest I am hoping that it might just strike a familiar chord with you?

I have never known a website (apart maybe for Facebook!) which can literally steal hours of your day without you noticing! If you haven’t yet ventured into the world of Pinterest, then do…it took me a little while to get going but once I did, I couldn’t stop! I haven’t been spending all my time on Pinterest though…I have completed a couple of renovation projects on furniture and have just finished sewing up my latest little lap blanket from these squares

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I’m always daunted when I see those piles….

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Bit it’s never as bad as you imagine…especially with lots of cups of tea and a couple of episodes of Downton Abbey!

I’ll be back very soon to show you the finished blanket and the furniture projects that I have been working on

See you soon,

Nikki

Edited….for those of you who have asked my Pinterest name is Nikkira …please don’t forget to let me have your names so I can visit you on Pinterest!