Friday 11 November 2016

Eliza's Book of Whimsy - Q&A with author Elizabeth Henry

It has been a while since I've had a guest on the blog, and I'm super excited to be sharing this with you today. Today's guest is author Elizabeth Henry, who has recently published a book of poetry called 'Eliza's Book of Whimsy' which you may have seen featured in this months edition of Landlove magazine. It is an enchanting book, full to the brim with nature-inspired imagery and charm.  Elizabeth's philosophy on life is 'simple pleasure' and with that in mind she has fashioned a collection of poems to cheer, uplift and satisfy the spirit. With poems such as 'The faerie Glen', 'The Hedgerow' and 'The forsaken Garden' it would be a delightful read (or gift!) for adults and children alike, and the beautiful illustrations by artist Delphine Jones compliment the poems perfectly. Here's a sneak peek into 'Eliza's Book of Whimsy' along with an entertaining Q&A session with the author herself.

Eliza's Book of Whimsy

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Friday 12 June 2015

My fave reads: Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management - 1902 New Edition

There is something so wonderful about old books. The musty scent of the paper, how their history is etched into their worn leather and I often wonder about the various hands that have turned their pages through time, many of which I suppose are long gone today. Kindles and ipad just don't carry that kind of history, that's for sure. So when a friend of mine recently gave me this new edition of Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management from the year 1902, you can imagine how humbled I was. Here's a glimpse into the world of Mrs Beeton ...

Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management - New Edition 1902

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Friday 24 April 2015

The joy of pottering in the garden

I love pottering in the garden. When my hands are in the dirt, digging, sowing, clearing, it's one of the few times that my mind in completely quiet, and at peace. I seem unable to think ahead, or worry about pressing matters ... all is quiet, except for the occasional hum of the birds and bees. I think that's one of the many reasons why I, and billions of others, love gardening and pottering in the garden so much. I've loved flowers and being around nature for as long as I can remember ... my mum has always loved gardening and my nan could grow anything - the smell of tomato plants still takes me right back to my Grandad's old greenhouse. Handing down a love-of-nature to your children is a wonderful gift, and one that I've always been very thankful for.

My little 3 year old self - picking daisies in a church graveyard.

 Often in early Spring, I'll look out at the jumbled mess that is our garden and I start getting itchy feet, coupled with "oh but there's so much to do" and "where do I start? I've left it too late!" but once I start clearing the beds a fire ignites and I become a little garden ferret, fluttering around the garden at top speed until I have aching limbs and a crooked back. Miggins then tells me off for doing too much so I  hobble in, looking to hubby for sympathy, who in turns sends me off for a hot bath - but always, despite the throbbing limbs I know I will rest happy and content, for whether or not it flourishes, I know I've spent the afternoon doing something worthwhile.

JM x

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Friday 20 March 2015

Vintage crate furniture ideas!

I love crates. I've found them to be the most useful piece of furniture since sliced bread, as they are just so versatile. I realise that my ancestors will be looking over me now exclaiming 'but it's just an old wooden crate!' and miggins next door thinks it just looks like I haven't got around to buying furniture yet BUT, I care not, I love my crates. They're useful, practical and full of rustic charm!

Vintage crate furniture ideas

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Friday 6 March 2015

Builders tea with a cinnamon stick

I love tea, and I drink far too much of it. You just can't beat a good cup of strong-but-milky builders tea. Miggins next door is always telling me off for making hers too strong ... "Just show it the tea bag gal, don't stew it for gawd sake!" So when a friend of mine (who is of Greek origin) recently told me to go ahead and drop half a stick of cinnamon into my tea, I told her she'd lost her tiny mind. She insisted it's very popular in Greece and said people also like to add cloves to the mix! So I humoured her, and dropped half a stick into my tea - well oh my days, it transformed my plain ole cup of tea ... it was like trying on silky pants after years of old scratchy cotton briefs! I'm not sure there's any turning back now. Not only does it give tea a sweet exotic kick, cinnamon also has fantastic health benefits. It can lower bad cholesterol and blood sugar levels, it has anti fungal, anti clotting properties, and can reduce the proliferation of leukaemia and lymphoma cancer cells, and it can also eliminate headaches and migraines. But before you start chomping into it like a mars bar be aware it is toxic in large doses, but 'a little a day will keep the doctor away' - according to Miggins.

JM x

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Thursday 26 February 2015

Cockney Snowdrops & a delightful walk in Much Hadham, Hertfordshire

Well this weekend, our little trio headed out for a walk in Much Hadham, in Hertfordshire. It's one of our most favourite walks and includes woodland, tracks and arable farm land. I hadn't planned to take any photos on this particular day, as when you're a blogger you often find yourself living life through a lens, so I try to leave it behind now and again and just use my own eyes, but on this particular day I happened to have my iphone with me (turned to aeroplane mode of course!) and I snapped a few moments. This was our day of four seasons .... 

Much Hadham woodland - photograph by A Handmade Cottage

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Friday 23 January 2015

A little brown bear saves a mad man knitter

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Look who just popped into existence ... I made a little brown bear!!
He doesn't have a name as yet, so for now let's call him 'Bobo bear.' I made him for a friends baby and he's the second one I've made. I admit his arms are little long and he looks more 'mouse' than bear but there's no such thing as perfection after all. Aside from being impossibly cute, this bear comes with a heartwarming story ....

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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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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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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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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 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

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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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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 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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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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Friday 20 June 2014

Vintage tins + vintage tin flower pots

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I love vintage tins. They're colourful, have vibrant images, and are built to last. These are my tins and they come in handy for a variety of tasks. From left to right they hold pens, dressmaking scissors, fresh coffee, loose leaf tea and Ralphy's bones!

Pretty as a picture vintage tins. Ideal for housing not-so-pretty things.

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Friday 13 June 2014

My crafty dad 'Dellboy'

Me and daddykins on wedding morning. Photo by Binky Nixon. 

My dad is one of my favourite fings. He's lovely, and since it's fathers day soon I'd like to introduce him to you. Everybody calls him 'Dellboy' and you can too. He's a big jolly cockney and the biggest family man I know. Here he is below - being beautified with a clay face mask a week before my wedding ... one of the many things he put up with!

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Friday 6 June 2014

How to press flowers ... using books OR flower press

I used to love pressing flowers as a little girl and nothings changed. They're just so darn pretty! My folks would often take a book off the shelf, sit down for a read only to have their laps completely covered in pressed leaves as soon as they opened the book ... so they bought me a flower press. Now hubby's lap is getting covered in leaves ... so when I saw this in the charity shop I snapped it up. I see them in charity shops ALL the time, so keep your eye out.

So what can you do with the pressed flowers / leaves

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