Category Archives: family

family

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

Standard

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.

20130407-131944.jpg

20130407-132003.jpg

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.

20130407-132322.jpg

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…

20130407-132418.jpg

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.

20130407-132541.jpg

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.

20130407-132949.jpg

20130407-133017.jpg

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…

Standard

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?

20130222-094507.jpg
I’ve also finished the small ripple blanket that I started last week for my brother..

20130222-094801.jpg

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

20130222-094909.jpg

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….

Standard

20130210-081453.jpg

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!

20130210-081751.jpg

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?

20130210-082252.jpg

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

20130210-082432.jpg

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…

20130210-083430.jpg

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!

20130210-083545.jpg

What are you using up your stash to make?

Nikki x

A Busy Weekend Crafting

Standard

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!)

20130204-181035.jpg

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….

20130204-181511.jpg

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

Standard

20130130-142103.jpg

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

Hijacked by Pinterest….

Standard

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

20130127-215034.jpg

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

20130127-215147.jpg
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!

Weekend Pottering

Standard

It’s been much of a stay at home weekend this weekend. I have been pottering. Pottering down the garden to let the girls out to scratch about in the garden…

20121111-115631.jpg

Pottering in the kitchen….

20121111-115733.jpg

this was the beginning of my preparation for a yummy fish pie that we had for tea last night. I have to confess that I was so hungry I forgot to take a picture of the finished pie…but it Was decidedly delicious…even if I do say so myself!

I served it with thick slices of home baked granary bread and lots of butter..

20121111-115955.jpg

Today, I have baked some more bread and put a warming chicken casserole in the slow cooker for our dinner later..

20121111-120100.jpg

Now I am off out to my “shed” which is being redecorated and repurposed as a new office for me. When I first started my business it was run from this shed/office for a few years until we had too many staff to fit in it (and there was an overspill back into the house on the dining room table!) at which time the decision was taken to take “proper” office space elsewhere.

20121111-120401.jpg

If we take a peep inside you will see that it’s currently being painted out and at the moment has what is going to be my desk in bits, being painted …

20121111-120529.jpg

20121111-120552.jpg

I will bring you the finished article (and office) in another post!

Once I have finished another coat it will be back indoors for me and a bit more of this…

20121111-121006.jpg

Have a lovely Sunday,

Nikki x

Downshifting

Standard

….I’ve made a big work change in my life recently in that I have sold my interest in the business I created over 6 years ago now. For too many years I have been working flat-out, non-stop with all that running business brings – staff, cashflow, deadlines, always trying to stay one step ahead of the competition. Then one day I realised that I was working so hard, I didn’t have time to enjoy the things that I love. Wow.,.. that was a shock…I don’t know why it hadn’t occurred to me before. It was time.

The plan is that I will still work in the business…but part time. Which will give me the best of both worlds…continuing to work in the business I created AND having the time to give to the people I love, the things I love doing and the home I love.

I will have time for this…

20121030-161920.jpg

And this…

20121030-162348.jpg

However, changes like this come with their own “little” downsides….in that I won’t be quite as well off financially as I was before, BUT I will be a whole lot better off emotionally 🙂

However, this hasn’t been a quick decision for me…you see for a long time I have wanted to slow down, have more time to do the things that really interest me. One of these is for myself and Mr Holly Cottage to be much more self-sufficient than we currently are. At the moment our only nod to self-sufficiency is keeping our hens. But there is so much more that I would like to do, and so much more that I am sure I can do but just haven’t had the time to do up till now. So the adventure starts.

I have been researching this more self-sufficient way of life on t’internet and have found two amazing blogs which you may like to take a look at. The first is Frugal Queen This is written by an amazing lady called Jane who has paid off an amazing amount of debt (both credit card and mortgage debt) by just doing things differently. When I found her blog I spent almost two whole days reading it from start to finish! She too wanted a more simple life. Note that I say “simple” rather than “easy”. It has taken Jane an inordinate amount of effort to achieve all that she has – but I am guessing she would tell you she wouldn’t have it any other way. Because, she is now living her life on HER terms.

The other blog is written by a retired lady and can be found at Down to Earth. This blog also has a brilliant forum attached to it where you can register and join a community of people all looking to live a more simple life and to keep more of what they earn.

Both of these blogs have all the information, tips and advice that you could need to start your journey to a more simple (and frugal) way of living. Go have a look – you won’t be sorry!

If you know of any other blogs about frugal or simple living that you have found useful, please do leave a comment with the link to them…thank you x

A Stay at Home Day (and a first for the chickens!)

Standard

We woke (like most of the country yesterday) to about 6 inches of snow in our Garden so our much anticipated trip to a local indoor Car Boot Sale had to be postponed. Even if the main roads had been ok we live down a little lane with deep ditches on either side and absolutely no street lighting so you drive it in the snow at your peril!

So we had an unexpected day at home to potter and basically do not much else!

Of course we still had the chickens to feed and water so first thing we went down to see what they thought of their first glimpse of snow!

They were less than impressed to say the least!

20120206-173600.jpg

They sort of peeked out, standing on the very edge of their pen…patiently waiting for the grass that is normally there to appear!

20120206-173736.jpg

20120206-173755.jpg

We waited for them to come out. They waited for the grass…. In the end Mr Holly Cottage scraped a small path for them with a teensy glimpse of grass poking through the snow…

20120206-173947.jpg

And finally they ventured out!

The rest of the morning was spent baking a carrot cake with lemon cream cheese icing..

20120206-174109.jpg

A bit of hooky time…..

20120206-174213.jpg

… and finally we remembered that the chickens were still out. We rushed down the garden to see how they had fared in the snow….only to find them still standing, all 6 huddled up, in exactly the same spot we had scraped clear for them.

The day was so cold we spent the rest of it snuggled in the warm. Even my little demon (who would normally much prefer being in the garden guarding it from squirrels) was quite content to stay in her bed all day!

20120206-174615.jpg

Hope you all had a restful Sunday, Nikki x