Friday 29 November 2013

My first crochet blanket ... a labour of love.

The ladies at my craft club taught me to Crochet ... and I LOVE it. 
It's easy, addictive and portable. It's a tricky to get your head around at first, but do push on as it soon clicks, then you're away!  I started a blanket of granny squares (a granny square is basically a small crochet square) and I thought I'd share my progress with you ... then I'll HAVE to finish it.

Just so ya know it looks messy as it's not sewn together yet!
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Thursday 28 November 2013

Christmas craft in the community: Sparkly tree decorations

Well since it's a bit cold and gloomy outside my window, I have two cheery things to brighten our day. The first -  it's 4 WEEKS TILL CHRISTMAS!!! (I love Christmas. I think you know that now)
and the second - the evening I spent with the 

Our display of deccies for their towns Christmas tree

Me and my crew of crafty merry men (well, ladies) headed down to spend an evening with the group which is run by the lovely Katharine Collis and Sandra Embleton. 
Our mission?? to take a simple craft project that would appeal to everyone.

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Monday 25 November 2013

How to make: Rose hip facial oil with Lavender & Rose - part 2

Morning all! So here are the instructions on how to make a basic anti-ageing

 * Rose Hip Oil - with Lavender and Rose *

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Friday 22 November 2013

My favourite fings - Tea, pastry and a great big mess

Hello Friday lovelies!!!

Well for todays edition of FF Friday I was planning to share a beauty product. 

However, I then started to sort out my fabrics and have a tidy up of my sewing room ... then things escalated. With the edition of tea and pastries I made a big mess and rather than tidy I had a play on my sewing machines. 

Yes I am hugging the machine ... and I talk to her (Bertha).

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Wednesday 20 November 2013

How to make Rose hip anti-aging moisturiser - Part 1

Hello lovelies, 

It's cold, our skin is dry and in need of a beauty-hug (?)
So I'm going to share one of my favourite beauty recipes of ALL time ... 
This is easy, cheap and VERY effective. The lovely, the luscious

 *** Rose hip Oil ***

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Friday 15 November 2013

'Taste of Provence' by Lily Flame

This smells like Pine forests to me ... it's officially Marjoram, Rosemary, Tarragon and Thyme and as scent is personal it might smell like loo-freshner to you but I love it. They usually RRP around £8 which isn't bad for a good candle these days. If you'd like to buy you can do so here. They do another on called 'Mistletoe kisses' which I also love but I always save that for December.

So there you have it!
Have a lovely weekend 

JM x

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Thursday 14 November 2013

AHC is in the Press!!!

I was just sitting here feeling sorry for myself (I have man-flu) when 'Home Sewn Magazine' came through my letterbox. Well, I say 'came through the letterbox' but in reality it was yanked out of the postman's trembling hand by a flying Jack Russell. Once I'd wrestled it from Ralphy's vice-like grip I was jumping up and down ...
Why?? because I have a full 3 page spread in it!!! 
(If I could speak I'd be squealing with Joy right now ... ) 

I'm so chuffed I had to share it with you. I started A handmade cottage in July 2013 (only 5 months ago) and I'm just so pleased I did. I've had two articles published this month which I'm over the moon about (it's so much fun being all *Carrie Bradshaw* in Costa Coffee) but more importantly I'm meeting some really lovely people, readers and bloggers along the way.

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Friday 8 November 2013

Decorating your home with Autumn delights

Autumn - Simply my most favourite time of the year.
 The milky light, the rainbow of colours on the trees, the slight chill in the air which of course means fluffy socks, hot-water bottle and milky drinks! ... but before thoughts turn to winter, it's worth taking a moment to savour these glorious days. If we learn anything from Autumn it is to enjoy things while they last.

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Monday 4 November 2013

How to have a stress-free Christmas

Christmas is in the shops. Like Marmite - some love it, some hate it, but for many it's a time of worry and stress. The fear of getting in debt, stress of catering for large groups, having to buy so many presents and it all gets rammed down our throats in early October. Christmas is in the shops. Like Marmite - some love it, some hate it, but for many it's a time of worry and stress. The fear of getting in debt, stress of catering for large groups, having to buy so many presents and it all gets rammed down our throats in early October.

            I LOVE Christmas and I strongly disagree that Christmas is just for kids. I'm 35 but I still revel is it's magic ... the crackling of fires, mulled wine, stockings (not the sexy kind) and I still put a mince pie out for Father Christmas (and he eats it!) and I still listen out for his bells (and I'm convinced I hear them). It saddens me to know not all share my enthusiasm so in the true spirit of Christmas cheer, rather than show you how to make a stocking (of course I will, but nearer the time) your Christmas fairy would like to offer some possible solutions and suggestions to help you achieve the Christmas you want, and deserve. I know it's only November but you'll be making plans soon so read on ...

Problem: Christmas advertising ... 

In my humble opinion, the constant bombardment of advertising stresses us all out and has the potential to spoil all that's good about Christmas. I resent being told what food / presents / clothes I need and don't get me started on the Iceland adverts. The Christmas I want isn't anything like the Iceland adverts! The kids see all the new toys and games coming out, and it all gets added to their Xmas lists! It's the adverts we're sick of, not Christmas ...

Solution: Turn it off / dump it?!

We dumped our TV in a skip. It may sound extreme but life is far sweeter without it. We still watch films / TV series via our laptop, we just don't get dictated to in-between.  Now if this is too extreme for you perhaps get a virgin / sky package that allows you to record programmes and fast forward in between. When you're not watching turn it off. This way it's not constantly dictating to you and the kids also won't see EVERY single new toy that comes on to the market. 

Problem: The huge expense 

Christmas is a huge expense for most families. Once upon a time we were overjoyed by a simple orange in our stocking! Now it's quantity over quality. We think the more we buy, the more it shows we care. In my family, we used to buy each other SO many presents that we'd spend the ENTIRE day opening presents, with a quick break for dinner. No time to play, relax, fall asleep. All emphasis was on presents; most of which wouldn't get used, the kids would start shouting 'next' and worst of all we probably all got ourselves in debt to make that happen!

Solution: A family discussion

My family had a discussion and agreed that Christmas isn't just about gifts (even if the TV keeps telling us it is). We decided that in order to get our Christmas back we'd agree to only get each other one big present or three little things, maximum. Three thoughtful little presents rather than 20 random stocking fillers. Now we have a lovely day and the children are no longer brats and appreciate their presents more. Also ... the reason I  have never been in debt at Christmas is because I'm not afraid of buying from charity shops. Most of what I buy is in brand new condition but at a fraction of the cost. If you're not used to charity shopping read my guide The art of thrifty shopping and you'll be a master in no time!

Problem: Cooking for the 5000

Don't be a martyr. If you've got 15 people coming over to you for Christmas dinner, or even 6 then make life easier for yourself and ...

Solution: share the load!

If each couple brings a dish you'll have it covered easily and no-one has the stress of doing it all themselves. Family will be more than happy to help (cos they can do the same when it's their turn!) One brings starters, one brings desert etc ... OR get them involved on the day. It's nice having Uncle knobby peeling the spuds while Aunt Doris rear-ends the Turkey, and you can put your feet up while hubby washes up!

Problem: Ever expanding gift list 

Every year my gift list grows. Not just family but friends, acquaintances etc it's never ending. So when it comes to groups of friends, a simple way to ease the burden on everyone is ...

Solution: Secret Santa! 

Suggest a £5 / £10 / £15 limit, all put your name in a hat and each pick out one person to buy for. Everyone gets a gift and you're not all in debt. Remember, everyone struggles at Christmas so people are relieved to hear solutions like this so don't be afraid to suggest it. Another fun solution ... agree to pay for yourselves to all go an outing instead!

Problem: Dividing your time 

So many people run around like crazy on Christmas day, trying to see everyone so they don't actually relax and enjoy the day themselves.

Solution: Alternate 

We used to struggle seeing Hubby's folks AND my folks on Christmas day so we just told them we'd rather relax and have quality time with them so from now on we are going to alternate. This year we'll spend the Xmas with one set (and the other shortly after) then visa-versa next year. They're happy with that as they get more time with us too.

How to have a stress free christmas


Problem: Lumbered with Mrs Miggins 

       At Christmas many of us often end up spending the day with people we don't particularly like, or want to be with. Now this is the tricky one as Christmas is a time for charity and kindness. HOWEVER, it is also your Christmas and if you'd rather spend it with just your close family then you shouldn't feel guilty about doing that. There is a solution ...

Solution: The 'happy' sandwich 

Try this. You'll find it useful in ALL aspects of life. When you want to get out of something try the 'happy sandwich' ...  say something nice, say the bad news, then say something nice. You don't need to offer an explanation. When I wanted to get out of something I always felt I needed an excuse as to why I couldn't make it, then hubby pointed out you don't actually need an excuse. Simply say "I'm afraid we can't but thanks for inviting us!" Back to the happy sandwich ....

For example;  'Mrs Miggins we love having you over at Xmas but we're going to do something different this year, however we'd LOVE to have you over for dinner in the New year if you're free?'

Also Share with siblings! If you always have your parents / grandparents try saying to your other siblings .... For example; 'We always get to have mum and dad at Xmas so we thought it's only fair that you get to spend Xmas with them too! Let's alternate and we'll take them next year!'

Ultimately, our happiness is in our own hands. I love Christmas because I choose too. I make the most of all the lovely aspects of it, and try to ignore what I can't change. 
I truly hope this helps some of you to have a better Christmas.

Your crafty Christmas fairy 

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