Wednesday 24 December 2014

Christmas message from the cottage ... and Ralphy

Ralphy the dog sporting his christmas hat
"Really?? you're making me wear this?? I'm so ashamed."

To my lovely readers. Before I say "toodlepip" and disappear into the bosom of my family for Christmas, I just wanted to say thank you, for following me this year, for engaging with me and sharing your thoughts and sometimes your friendship with me. It has given me great pleasure, and I look forward to all the adventures that may come next year. Try not to get too stressed over Christmas. If you're lucky enough to be with loved ones, hug them a little tighter, laugh a little louder and make the most of having them all in one place :-) 
Merry christmas!
Much love, Jodie May

Christmas message from Ralphy

Heloo ... ralfy hear ... id jus lik to say fanks for being my freids and likin my picturez ... howevr if i hav to dres up one more time im gunna bite dog mummies ankles off! i wont relly but im gettin a reputation in the parc.
im hungry.
luv frum ralfeeee x

"Ok, this is a step too far ... it doesn't even fit"

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Tuesday 23 December 2014

A handmade christmas + snow-covered branch + crochet snowflakes + felt decorations

Hello my lovely festive friends. It's a matter of days before Christmas, are you excited?? I cannot wait. When it comes to Christmas I'm a 5 year old in a 35 year olds body ...  and I still put a mince pie and glass of milk out for santa (and he still eats and drinks it!) This month I've been crafting away and transforming our little cottage with handmade decorations. Here are some of my crafty goings on in the last couple of weeks ...

A snow covered branch

When it came to decorating the house, I wanted to add more lights to our little mole cave. Do you recognise this branch? this was sitting in the garden in the summer. So I had an idea. I gave it a shower (be gone bugs!) then once dry I gave it spray with some fake snow ... I then wrapped some battery-operated LED fairy lights around it - they came on a copper wire which blended perfectly (£3.99 from Wilkos)

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Friday 19 December 2014

Last minute Christmas gifts for food lovers

I'm always getting stuck for gift ideas, and often find myself in that awkward situation of seeing friends last minute, yet I have nothing to offer them. So here are a few foodie goodies that have saved  the day in recent years. Presented in brown paper and tied with ribbon, they make a lovely last minute gift, and they'll never know you whipped it up last night ;-)  x

Last minute Chritmas gifts for food lovers

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Wednesday 17 December 2014

Wreath making with buddies + a dried Hydrangea heart

Remember how earlier in the summer I showed you how to dry Hydrangeas? well here they are in all their glory. This weekend, I spent the day with my lovely friends, in a quaint, picturesque cottage in the English countryside. My ladies and I were getting together to make Christmas wreaths, while our menfolk stood around the fire pit in the garden, supping ale whilst cooking us a scrumptious paella ... I think we got the better end of the deal, don't you? ;-)

How to make a dried Hydrangea wreath

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Thursday 11 December 2014

Handmade gifts + teacup candles + cards + sewing projects + tea caddy

Here are a few more ideas for handmade gifts. Some of these projects take a little more time than others, but all of them guarantee a lovely gift, and when you've made them once you'll make them again and again. If you're not a 'crafty' person, please don't be put off ... many of the projects I share on this blog, are things I've only tried once myself, and if I can do it so can you :-)

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Tuesday 9 December 2014

A Winter Spiced Biscuits Recipe

 It's about to get VERY Christmassy here at AHC headquarters! Now as you well know folks, my cooking skills are pretty dire at the best of times (I recently failed to boil an egg correctly - I blame Delia) but I am very good at eating! So let me introduce to you, the lovely Laura from We made this home blog. Laura is a graphic designer and lover of all things handmade and vintage, and she's the bringer of this most scrumptious 'christmas-in-a-biscuit' Winter spiced biscuits recipe. Prepare to fill your homes and bellies with seasonal goodness! Over to you Laura ...

Winter spiced biscuits

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Friday 5 December 2014

A potted christmas tree - for life.

I've been a champion of the potted christmas tree for as long as I can remember. My mum always preferred artificially ones when I was growing up, due to the 'needles getting stuck in me slippers!' but as soon as I had my own house, it was real living trees from the get-go. I not only name my trees, they are also addressed as one of the family .... "you alright Maud? not getting too warm in that corner are ya dear?" Yes I know I'm a big softie / crazy person but it makes me happy knowing this little tree is alive and kicking, and it makes me equally sad to see a strong beautiful tree adorned in all it's glory, only to then notice it's a ghost of a tree which has been cut off at the base  ...  and will soon be chucked out with the rest of the rubbish in a matter of weeks.

Wild camping in Scotland - A Handmade Cottage

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Wednesday 3 December 2014

Nature-inspired handmade gifts + quick and easy projects

Handmade gifts for nature lovers

 I don't know about you but I'm not at all organised for Christmas yet. I've been so busy working on the next video, I've yet to dust off my Christmas deccies! But when it comes to pressies I've been quite organised. In the next couple of weeks I'd like to give you some pressie ideas, all of which are easy projects I've made throughout the year (err except for the necklace!) The following gifts are all nature inspired and super easy to make, as I'm far too lazy to have it any other way ;-) so if you fancy whipping up any of the following, simply click on the links!

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Friday 28 November 2014

My month in pictures + A chilly November

Well it's almost the end of November. There's a chill in the air, the fires are burning and hot milky drinks have been keeping my cockles toasty. The autumn was lovely wasn't it? I think the reason I haven't started bombarding you with rustic Christmas delights yet is because I'm not quite ready to let the autumn go - but my inner child is screaming at me to put up decorations and watch Christmas films. How lucky we are, to be warm and loved ... and have such things to look forward too.  So before we begin the countdown into cosy winter madness, here's a look back over November ...

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Wednesday 26 November 2014

Rag rugging for beginners - with Jenni Stuart-Anderson

I've wanted to make a rag rug ever since I learned that my great grandma used to make them, while sitting in front of her fire. Like many people she couldn't afford to buy rugs, so she would keep her toesies warm by making rag rugs - for the lounge, bedroom and bathroom ... and all she used was some sack cloth, and some old duvets. Rag rugging is such an easy, pleasurable craft and anyone can do it. It's a rough and ready craft that doesn't require too much concentration so we can still keep one eye on our beloved Downton Abbey! 

How to make a rag rug

At my recent visit to the Alexandra knitting and stitching show, I took a 'rag-rugging' workshop (which is also known as 'progging') with the rag-rugging Jedi MASTER - Jenni Stuart Anderson and she very kindly said I could share it with my lovely readers. So grab ya bodgers (oh-err missus) and lets get progging! 

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Thursday 20 November 2014

A handmade holiday - Otter Cottage (Bwthyn Dwrgi) in Wales.

For some time I've been meaning to share some of the wonderful holiday cottages we have had the fortune to stay in. If you' have never tried a country cottage getaway and you are not sure if it's right thing for you,  then I'd suggest having a quick read of the handmade cottage guide to cottage holidays. Many associate a holiday with sun, sand, and foreign lands but once you dip your toe into exploring the UK, you'll not only find it's far cheaper than hopping abroad, but you'll soon discover a wonderful array of magical and mysterious places that are sitting just beyond our doorstep. 

Photograph Otter Cottage (Bwthyn Dwrgi) in Wales

'Otter Cottage' otherwise known as 'Bwthyn Dwrgi' by the locals, is a beautiful rustic family cottage situated in the Welsh countryside, a short drive from Hay on Wye. It has views of the Black mountain and a babbling brook running alongside it. I spent Christmas 2013 here, with Hubby, my parents, and the two dogs. It was our christmas present to ourselves. It's worth remembering that cottages differ in price depending on the time of year, so if you're watching pennies check for low peak seasons as they can be as cheap as £250 for a week.

Where is it: Wales
Sleeps: 5
Price from: 299.00 (based on minimum of two staying)
Bed layout: Master Double, Double and the Single only
Pets: Welcome (max 2 dogs)
Note: The stairs are quite steep, so may not be suitable for those with mobility issues.

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Tuesday 18 November 2014

A Brambly Hedge Haven - by Penny Perrett

In today's guest post I'd like to share some beautiful work with you.  I have a very crafty friend, called Penny Perrett, and while visiting Penny at her granddaughters house the other day I was lucky enough to see some of Penny's work. She showed me into her granddaughters nursery - and it was a very special nursery indeed. Penny had decorated the room with Mural's - all inspired by the lovely Brambly hedge! You can imagine my squeals of delight can't you? what a lovely nature-inspired environment for a child to grow up in. 

The Brambly Hedge Toy Box

by Penny Perrett

Brambly hedge Toy box

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Friday 14 November 2014

My thrifty finds + The chandelier, the silver tray & the hunt for the floral mohair.

Well it's been a while since I posted some thrifty finds - but don't let this fool you into thinking I haven't been a thrifty bee. Once bitten by the 'vintage thrift spotting' bug it's in your blood and cannot be denied! I'm not the only one - Mrs Miggins next door loves to blow her bingo winnings on thrifty finds ... at least it keeps her out of the betting shops ;-) So what's new in thrifty podie town?

Silver tray gives dressing table focal point

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Monday 10 November 2014

Shabby chic wooden heart GIVEAWAY - from Earths Deco.

 photo woodenhearts.png

I bring crafty good news! I have FIVE of these gorgeous shabby chic hearts to giveaway to five of my readers this week, courtesy of Earths Deco - a lovely cottage business who craft Home ware and Jewellery using mainly natural materials.  If you'd like one of these gorgeous trinkets to shabby-chic-up your Christmas tree, all you have to do to enter is:

1. Leave a comment below, telling me what you'd like from Santa this year.
2. Follow A Handmade Cottage AND Earth deco's page on Facebook! 

The competition ends at midnight on monday 17th November. Good luck, and don't forget there's 5 chances to win ;-) 

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Thursday 6 November 2014

NEW VIDEO: Making gifts from pressed flowers and autumn leaves

Hello all! Well I've been a busy bee filming this week, and I have several new videos on their way to you. The first, is about pressing flowers and leaves. The projects mentioned in this video are already on the blog, so forgive me for repeating myself. Only many of my youtube subscribers don't follow the blog, so I thought I'd make an autumn video and inspire you all into making some quick and easy pressed flower christmas gifts!  PS. Apologies for Ralphy's absence, he was away on business.

In this short video I show you ... 

1. How to press flowers 
2. Some simple yet beautiful gifts that can be made with pressed flowers
3. How to make an autumn leaf garland using pressed autumn leaves in 5 minutes.
To see the full tutorial on each of these projects simply click the links below.

JM x

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Tuesday 4 November 2014

Autumn leaf candle lanterns

With so many beautiful coloured leaves scattered around our feet it seems a shame not to put them to good use. Aside from the autumn leaf garland I made earlier in the month, I also like to decorate the fireplace with autumn leaf candle lanterns. They make wonderful centerpieces ... give a lovely warm glow on dark autumn evenings and in true AHC fashion, they're super simple and quick to make.

All you need ...

Autumn leaves (fresh or pressed)
Brown twine / string
Jam jar
Sticky pads
Wire and pliers (optional)
Small pine cone or berries (optional)

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Friday 31 October 2014

How to have a REAL Halloween + Ghost stories by candlelight

I love having a spooky night on Halloween. By that I don't mean dressing up,  or cosying up with a horror film. I mean a real old-fashioned spooky night; the way our ancestors did - with a candle and a ghost story. Sounds tame by today's standards right? yet this simple pastime can be far more terrifying than a mere film, because it involves the most terrifying tool of all ... our own imaginations. Back in the day families would gather around the fire to hear the same stories told and re-told year after year ... and it wasn't just because the story captured their imaginations, it was the crackle of a fire making them jump ..... the noises of the house ..... the shadows from the candlelight dancing on the wall catching their eye. So if you dare, read on for a few tips on setting the scene, as well as some skin-crawling ghost stories for you to print out and read ... scared yet??

The scariest, most terrifying thing that I fear? my imagination - Stephen King 

Ghost stories by candlelight

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Wednesday 29 October 2014

My month in pictures + An autumn story + October

An autumn story

Well hello my little autumn lovelies. Today I'd like to introduce a new feature to the blog!  Life can get a bit overwhelming sometimes, and I have to remind myself to slow down and take stock. So I thought a nice way to do this is a look back over the month.  There may be some projects you missed, so I've included links should you want to make any of them.
Here is my October - an autumn story :-) 

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Tuesday 28 October 2014

Wedding ideas magazine feature

 Earlier in the year Wedding Ideas Magazine had approached our Wedding Photographer Binky Nixon to ask we'd be interested in having our wedding featured in their magazine. During the making of our wedding I had referred to Wedding Ideas magazine for inspiration, so we were more than happy to pay it forward to other couples knee deep in planning. It's an 8-page spread containing Binky's gorgeous photographs and our story; how we made things, where we bought things and our advice for other couples. If you're getting married or know any couples that are, I'd highly recommend it.

Wedding ideas magazine feature

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Friday 24 October 2014

The magic of mushrooms - real and otherwise

There is something so lovely about about wild mushrooms. Aside from the fact little fairy families live under them, they possess a magical aura I think. There are many things I love about Autumn - and spotting little mushrooms growing in the undergrowth is one of them.  

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Wednesday 22 October 2014

The Alexandra Palace knitting & stitching show 2014

ribbons and lace from Namolio

On the 9th October I took the coach with my crafty pals to the knitting and stitching show at Alexandra Palace. This is the third time I've attended the event, and I have to say - it never gets tiring. Every year I am filled to the brim with ideas and inspiration and I leave with bags full of crafty goodies - even though I promise hubby not too (!)  I'd love to introduce you to some of the wonderful artists and makers from the event, and share some of my favourite moments from the day.

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Tuesday 14 October 2014

A handmade christmas with Laura Ashley

So last week I attended the Laura Ashley bloggers Handmade Christmas fair, which was held in Homemade London - a fab little craft shop in the West End. I didn't quite know what to expect from such an event. I'm not a fan of office parties and I avoid networking at all costs, but when Ms Ashley invited me to her bloggers Christmas evening, I knew it was going to be a fun, crafty affair ... and I was keen to meet other crafty bloggers.

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Thursday 9 October 2014

AHC magazine feature + handmade beauty gifts

Morning poppets ... I'm off the the Ally Pally knit and stitch show this morning! I'll tell you all about it soon, but before I go I just wanted to tell you, that this week A Handmade Cottage was featured in 'Make your own gifts' magazine! Remember when I gave you a sneak peak of my lavender and rose bath salts? well I made a 'Lavender and Rose beauty trio' for the magazine - which included Lavender & Rose bath salts, a moisturising Oatmeal body soother and an anti-aging Lavender & Rose facial cleanser ...
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Friday 3 October 2014

Pressed autumn leaves garland decoration

Pressed autumn leaves garland

Hellooo Autumn - Oh prettiest of seasons! 
You all know how much I love being cosy, and as much as I've enjoyed this unusually hot british summer, to be honest I'm itching to put away my summer dresses and get my woolies and warmies out! So to celebrate the change in the season I wanted to share the 'autumn leaves garland'  I've just made to decorate my fireplace. It took all of 5 minutes to make and really brings this beautiful season into the house.  It's also a great project to do with kiddies, though Ralphy wasn't too keen for some reason ...

All you need is: 

10 Autumn leaves 
Ribbon or string
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Friday 26 September 2014

No-sew winter curtains - in minutes (and they're beautiful!)

Morning autumnal poppets! Hubby's away at the moment so I've been having a good clear out, and I'm starting to cosify the house ready for autumn. So before I forget I wanted to remind you of a video I made last year, which has proved really popular with 40,000 views ... it's a short tutorial on making thick, warm winter curtains, without the need for sewing. If you can't see the video just clear here

So if you want to save a little on your heating this year don't rush buy new expensive winter curtains - This project takes minutes to do, you only need a couple of things and it costs very little money. It's looks much nicer too I think! 

JM x

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Friday 12 September 2014

How to make Blackberry jam

How to make Blackberry jam

I made jam for the first time this week. Now you know I'm a self-confessed terrible cook. I can make a hash of the easiest of recipes so it's no wonder I haven't attempted Jam before. But then I found out how you make it ... put berries in a pan + splash of water + lemon and sugar = pot of jam. I had no idea it was that easy. So under the guidance of my crafty jam & jewellery-making pal Yidan, we made jam!

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Friday 5 September 2014

My little red shoes

I love my little red shoes. The belonged to my 2 year old self. I keep these shoes on my dresser, to remind me of who I once was - a spirited little girl, running through puddles with an eye for adventure and imagination to boot.  I try hard to retain those qualities now - the ability to daydream, to see wonder in things, to appreciate simple things ... of course it doesn't always come easy, as life, news, work, chores, health and worry can dampen a spirit in a heartbeat ... so I keep these little shoes nearby, because in times of trouble they always remind me to try.

JM x

My little red shoes

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Friday 29 August 2014

How to dry Hydrangea flowers

I love preserving flowers, as often they mark a special moment in time. I still have a pressed flower I picked in Paris, during our courting days many moons ago. I also dried my wedding bouquet - so when I'm a little old lady, I can put a tablecloth on my head and relive the moment all over again ... 'dum dum de dum ...'

How to dry Hydrangea flowers + Hydrangea wreath

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Friday 22 August 2014

'Oak Leaf and Acorn' necklace by Glover and Smith

Well it's come to the end of another birfday week. 
I've had a delightful week with nearest and dearest - I spent time with family and picnicked with friends. How very civilised I hear you say? no not really, not when you throw a three-legged race into the equation ... I hope I'm never too old to laugh at such shinnanigans :-)  So today, for fave fings friday I wanted to show you a pressie I received this year. I first saw this necklace, and met it's maker at a Country Living craft fair, and it's been on my 'Podie's most wanted' list ever since.

'Oak Leaf and Acorn' necklace by Glover and Smith

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Wednesday 20 August 2014

Wilderness Festival - Mother Nature's Disneyland

 photo ff.png

I have recently returned from Wilderness Festival in Oxfordshire. The word 'festival' seems to conjure mixed emotions for many people - there are those who absolutely love them, and those who think it's a young person's game, wouldn't set foot in such places for fear of being trampled on by beer-swilling lager louts drugged up to the eyeballs on 'disco-biscuits.' These kind of festivals do exist of course, but there are others - others which are an adventure for man, woman, and child, and these festivals can be far more magical than the likes of Disneyland ....

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Monday 18 August 2014

Video tutorial - How to paint, distress and wallpaper furniture

Hi all,  Well I recently showed you my latest upcycle project - 'How to create a distressed wallpaper cabinet' and in this new video, Ralphy and I show you the entire process in just a minute! Should you want to try this yourself you can CLICK HERE for a full list of products and a detailed step-by-step tutorial with pictures.
Enjoy the film!

JM x­age

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Friday 15 August 2014

Why I love my birfday & the invention of birfday-week!!

It's my birthday today. I have always loved birthdays for as long as I can remember. While I admire those people modest enough to brush their birthday under the carpet I can never be one of those people. In fact, in our house I have (rather cleverly) invented 'Birthday week' ... which basically means the week following your birthday is still really, your birthday. This comes in very handy when you want a cup of tea, a third slice of cake or a hug-on-demand. You are more than welcome to borrow 'Birthday week'  and if you find loved ones are reluctant, simply try suggesting it on their birthday first ;-)

This was the morning of my first birthday ... I still look like that on my birthday morning!

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Friday 8 August 2014

The many names and faces of Ralphy Muss Muss

This is the first photo of Ralphy I ever took ...
I'd just found him and was taking him home for the
 first time. This is also the photo I texted hubby -
telling him he had a new dog : ) 

Today is Ralphy's 5th birthday. I don't need to tell you he is one of my favourite fings. If you follow my blog regularly you'll already know how much I adore this furry dog child of mine. I realise some of my readers may not be doggie people, so forgive my indulgence ... today I just wanted to celebrate his birthday by sharing just a few of my favourite photographs of him. Now don't ask me where these all came from, but here some of the many names Ralphy gets called in our household ...

Ralphy muss muss
The dog king
Dingle dangle dogmouse
International dog boy
Bobby dog friend
Dogson Phillips
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Friday 1 August 2014

Fibre east craft festival

One of the reasons I love craft so much, is because I love pretty things. Knitting, sewing and making in general means I can make pretty things. The process is enjoyable, it's highly addictive and at the end ... you get a pretty thing! If you're looking to get into craft, craft fairs are a great place to start. Craft fairs are shopping heaven for crafty folk, and this weekend my crafty pals and I headed to Fibre East - a festival of British natural fibre and craft, in Ampthill, Bedfordshire.


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Friday 25 July 2014

My floral fair isle cardigan + shopping for knitwear in Summer (yes that's what I said)

Oh my dear readers, look what Mr Postie brought me this week! I can say with the utmost certainty, this humble cardigan is, without a doubt, one of my favourite fings. You can tell I love it by how happy I look ... especially since it was one of the hottest days of the year at the time of this picture (it's roasting!) As well as being a 'favourite fing' it's also a 'thrifty find' because it wasn't just luck that brought me to this cardi, it was sneakiness! and here's how you can be sneaky too ....

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Thursday 24 July 2014

My rustic garden furniture - affordable, natural and easily sourced.

Rustic tree table - natural and easily sourced.

Tables and chairs ...

I needed to source some garden furniture earlier this year, and since I'm a bit of hippy earth-mother (as you know) I wanted to find some lovely rustic furniture that was, ideally, handmade. First I wanted some comfy seating ... and lucky for me I found a lovely three-piece bamboo suite from an ECCO charity shop for £50! The cushions were all handmade. Although meant for inside, I've painted and weather-proofed it for outside.

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Tuesday 22 July 2014

Love My Dress features A Handmade Wedding

I've been feeling quite popular this month! Last week I was Laura Ashley's blogger of the month (oh yes I was) and today our handmade rustic wedding was been featured on Love my dress! What is Love my dress? it's the largest, most widely read, multi-award winning wedding blog in the UK and world ... and today they featured our wedding! Here's a quick glimpse ...

Awww I want to do it all over again!

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Monday 21 July 2014

GIVEAWAY: Win 2 tickets to the 2014 Alexandra Palace Knit & Stitch Show

Morning lovelies! Well today I am super excited because I'm giving you crafty lot the chance to ...


I'm so pleased because I love the knit and stitch show and attend every year. If you love craft you will LOVE the show. It's a great day out and is full of demonstrations, workshops and wonderful stalls selling everything to do with craft. To see photo's and read my review of last years show you can do so here.  The competition will run for the 3 weeks and expire on the 10th August. The winner will be announced soon after ... see below to enter (it's easy and everyone has a good chance of winning - no favourites!)

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Friday 18 July 2014

An interview with artist Brian Seymour

I love surrounding myself with beautiful scenes and images that move me in some way. I don't pretend to know much about art, but I don't think you need to know anything in order to love, and appreciate something. Today I have a super special guest to share with you. His name is Brian Seymour (Uncle Titch to me) - and he's an artist. He is my uncle, and the man responsible for our beautiful 'wedding tree' (which you can view below). Today I'd like to share his work with you, some of which I'm lucky enough to own myself.

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Tuesday 15 July 2014

Laura Ashley's blogger of the month!

Well I am pleased as punch, because this month Laura Ashley are featuring me as their blogger crush - blogger of the month! Their feature includes piccies from my blog, plus a Q and A with yours truly, in which they asked questions like; how did it all come about? what inspires me? what do I love about blogging? and what blogs do I follow?  I've always had a soft spot for Laura Ashley; their floral dresses, their soft furnishings and not to mention their blankets (hubby knows he can't go wrong with one of Laura's blankets.) So for them to like my little blog enough to share it with their followers makes me feel very humbled indeed. Below is a glimpse of the feature but should you like to read it for yourself just click this link ... 

* Laura Ashley's blogger of the month - A Handmade Cottage *

JM x

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Friday 11 July 2014

The making of my antique lace wedding dress - Part 2

My antique lace wedding dress - The making of

Stage 1 -  Sourcing the fabric.

    So in part 1 I told you all about my search for the right dressmaker, how I went about designing my dress and finding the right fabric. Now it was finally time to make the dress! As we were using my Normandy antique lace bedspread to make this dress, our fabric needed to be supplemented with some more 'tulle' (very fine netting) as the bedspread alone wouldn't be enough. So I sourced some 'point d'esprit' - which is a tulle with tiny dots on. Adrienne, my dressmaker from Bridal path then dyed the tulle to match our lace with ... Nescafe coffee! It worked perfectly (though always do test run first!) We then sourced some lovely shimmery satin to use underneath the lace.

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