Tag Archives: home

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

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

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!

Weekend Pottering

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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…

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Pottering in the kitchen….

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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..

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

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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.

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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 …

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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…

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Have a lovely Sunday,

Nikki x

Downshifting

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….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…

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And this…

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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!)

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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!

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

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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…

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And finally they ventured out!

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

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A bit of hooky time…..

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… 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!

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Hope you all had a restful Sunday, Nikki x