Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Wreath

This Christmas I wanted to decorate with things I have found and made myself.  This wreath was made from things I have found on walks.  It's made from ivy wound into a wreath shape, with fir branches and holly and honey suckle berries woven into it.  It makes me appreciate how cool our front door is too.

oh tannenbaum

Believe it or not, we bought our Christmas tree from the Queen.  There is a Crown Estate in Dunster which is a village just down the road from us, and our tree was grown there.  So it's literally our Royal Tannenbaum.  
My first real tree!!!!  (sorry for the blurry pic)

Cozy as.

Thanksgiving and Beyond...

I had the pleasure of making Thanksgiving dinner for my new family and some friends this year--their very first one!  Since I was sort of homesick at the time, and I wanted to do something a bit different, these little guys were part of the feast:

The apple pies were a big hit, but unfortunately the pumpkin one wasn't so good this year.  I made it from a whole pumpkin which I've never done before, and it just wasn't quite like Mom's.

Everyone seemed to enjoy it, and discovered the beauty of Thanksgiving.  I already have people asking to be invited next year.  I do have to mention that my M-I-L made the turkey and it was gorgeous.
We had a hail storm last week which was exciting.  It's the closest we've gotten to snow so far.

This is the hail from our kitchen window.  Please excuse the blurry pic.

We also finally got a table and chairs last month.  It's an old farmhouse style kitchen table, and it has lots of character.  

Friday, November 13, 2009

Etsy Update Part 2

This is a bag I made from the sleeve of an old suit.  It's super cute.  If you'd like to see more pictures it's listen in my Etsy shop!

Etsy Shop Update

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Rag Rug

I wanted a little rug to put in front of the sink, I had some t-shirts from the same pile of old clothes that I used to make Sam's bag, so I made this:
It's a rag rug.  I remember seeing these a lot when I was little, and I don't mind that it's sort of old fashioned and lop-sided.  It's surprisingly comfy for the feet!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Making Apple Butter

Apple butter is such a misleading name for the delicious spread isn't it?  It isn't butter at all, but a glorious topping for biscuits and scones.  And pancakes.  And toast.

Last week Sam came home with a giant bag of apples that he received from one of his co-workers.  The next best thing to actually having an apple tree in your own garden is knowing people who do.  I couldn't justify making more than one apple pie (which I only justified making anyway because it was experimentation and research for the Thanksgiving meal I will be making for my first-timer English family members in a couple of weeks), so I had a little thinking session about what else to do with the heap of apples I had left.  It didn't take long to settle on apple butter as the correct route to go with these puppies, so I did a little of my usual online research and came up with this method which is a combination of several and a lot less work than some:

-Peel, core and slice the apples (I had about 12 giant ones)

-Put them into a slow-cooker on medium heat overnight

-In the morning add a reasonable amount of sugar, cinnamon, and cloves (about 3/4 cup, 1 TBSP, and 1/2 TBSP respectively, in my case)

-Turn the slow-cooker on low and leave it all day

I would stir the concoction whenever I happened to be in the kitchen, and by morning it was an incredible dark color which only became more rich as I added the spices and let it cook all day.

I also used a non-traditional way of canning them, and I hope it works.  I always save jars these days, so I chose a few that had lids and put the jars in the oven at a high temperature for about 20-30 minutes, and boiled the lids.  Then once I had filled the jars and put the lids back on I boiled them for an additional 5-10 minutes.  I used a set of sterilized silicone tongs to remove and attach things and to save my fingers.  I have no idea if this is in any way a good way to jar things, but I figured they are sterilized enough right?  Uh...

**By all means, do not follow my canning method if you are at all uncomfortable with it, I am just relaying what I did:)**

Anyway, the apple butter turned out wonderfully, and I'm so glad that I tried it!  It's so exciting to make things myself and to learn how things are done.  I have been inspired lately by Jimmy Doherty who is a farmer with a tv show on the BBC.  His programs are so interesting to watch.  He has this new one where he has designed a "food factory" (which is actually just a barn on his property) and he makes all kinds of things that are mass produced and sold in supermarkets, just to see how it's done, like  corn flakes, instant coffee and even coca-cola--the sorts of things that you would never ever think of making (and also probably shouldn't).  Anyway, it's so cool!  

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sam's Bag

I recently confiscated a bag of old clothes from Sam's parent's house that was about to be sent to a charity shop.  Sam has been asking me to make him a new bag to take his school books in to work since the one he has is torn and needs to be taken to someone who knows how to sew leather.  We came up with this design from an old pair of Gap corduroy cargo pants!
The big pocket on the front was once the cargo pocket on the side of one pant leg.  It's huge and can hold all kinds of stuff like wallet, keys, ipod, phone, calculator and other geeky items like protractors and compasses.
Sam required that the bag be big enough to fit A4 sized papers and books.  He is completing a math degree (maths if you're from the UK) so he has lots of workbooks and packets to carry around.
The inner pocket was once the back pocket of the pants, sized down to fit inside of the bag.  It's a really good size for pens and pencils and erasers.
The strap was part of Sam's snowboard bag that he never used, and is attached to the bag by two of the belt loops.  

I must say that this bag was designed to Sam's specifications, and it was 99% percent his idea--all I did was put it together.  I did not know that my husband had a hidden talent as a handbag designer!  I will put him to work more often and maybe one day we'll make a business out of it!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Extreme Makeover: Broom Closet Edition

In our cottage, we have three closets-- a "wardrobe" upstairs, a cupboard/broom closet downstairs and an airing cupboard in our bathroom.  So not a lot of storage.  We have had to get really creative and very un-feng-shui (stuff under the bed, under the dressers, tools in the kitchen drawers etc.).  It doesn't help that now I have a heap of sports supplies to deal with: cricket gear, rugby gear, 2 surf boards, 3 snowboards, and a set of golf clubs.  I've never thought of guys having so much stuff as I didn't have any brothers, and my dad's always had a garage for all his stuff;)  Anyway, until yesterday, our downstairs closet looked like this:
We have had some really bad luck with rails, because the inner walls of our house are made of a chalk like substance that are about 2 feet thick, and a couple weeks ago the rail in our upstairs closet fell down, leaving a mixing bowl sized crater in the wall.  Sam fixed it with his magical powers, but it made me second guess my plan to put a rail up in the closet downstairs.  With our forces combined we came up with this:

That shelving unit had a 6th shelf, but it wouldn't fit, and since Sam can cut an incredibly straight line with a hand saw we made it work.  It's great!  I keep opening the door and looking in at all of the organization.  We were able to attach the coat hook because it's attached to the outer wall which had to be drilled through because it's solid stone.  There's no happy medium with our walls.  **sigh**  But I am obsessed with this house so I'll take it.  And now we have a beautifully organized closet:)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Confession

I cleaned the floors for the first time since we moved in this weekend.  What?

When Sam and I were sitting down and talking about budgeting and what we really needed and what we should save for, I offered that there was no urgent need to get any cleaning products at first because cleaning isn't a necessity really.  Of course Sam just rolled his eyes and proceeded to buy a washing machine and a vacuum and a whole slew of sprays and wipes, but to my surprise and delight he overlooked the broom/mop aisle, and I did not point that out to him.  It has been almost 3 glorious months of not even caring what the hideous linoleum floors in our kitchen, bathroom, hallway and conservatory looked like because we were saving money, and everything else was clean anyway.  It's not like cleaning the floors would suddenly make them look nice anyway, because like I said, they're linoleum.  BUT THEN, two weeks ago we happened to be picking up some supplies at our local home improvement store, and by pure chance passed a big, flashy display of brooms and mops on sale and I knew then that I was doomed.  Sam's eyes lit up and said something about not having cleaned the floors yet and they're "quite grotty at the moment" and I just scuffed my foot against the ground and pouted away to gaze fondly at new tiles.   But if you notice, we got the stuff two weeks ago, so I was able to put it off for a reasonably long time still.  

I am a pretty clean person, typically, and everything else has been cleaned regularly.  I even enjoy it now that it's our home and not my parents house or some crumbly old apartment.  I will admit that the floors do look better, they are a much lighter color than they appeared to be before, and it gave the kitchen a new sort of feel and brightness.  

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


There's nothing worse than stepping in dog poo.  Except for stepping in cow poo.  Apparently the same rules do not apply to picking up after your cows as they do to picking up after your dog.  But they definitely should.

Speaking of cow poo, when I was at the local college interviewing for a job (that I was not chosen for), I met a history teacher who is a massive fan of the US of A, and who has a rather impressive collection of memorabilia.  Including some "genuine cow patties from Texas."  I don't want to know how he got those through customs.  Or why.  But actually I do want to know why, because there is cow crap everywhere around here.  Hence the first paragraph of this post.

I live in the country ya'll.  

Materialistic Me

Although I appreciate raindrops on roses and brown paper packages tied up with string, they are not actually a few of my favorite things. My favorite things change often, hey I'm a woman. Since it looks like I wont be doing any shopping anytime in the near future (no job=no disposable income) I will celebrate a few of my favorites now, and perhaps they can become favorites for someone else too.
Cheap Mondays from Urban Outfitters. I'd sleep in these.

Positively Radiant moisturizer by Aveeno with SPF 15.

The Helmer by Ikea, one of the best storage solutions out there in my opinion.

Colorful wool socks knitted by my Auntie M., similar to these--I could use like 100 more pairs (hint hint mom).

Wellies:) A must in England.

**disclaimer: these are things that I actually own, except for the socks and Wellies which are similar. I would never promote something I did not truly love. These products have the Bethany guarantee, which doesn't actually mean much in the real world.

Update: Sam just read this and said "I'm not on there."  He also asked if these are things that I want for birthday presents (it's coming up guys, November 16), which just goes to show you that he hasn't noticed that I already have everything I love and desire.  Except for an old yellow Mini with rust spots that doesn't go over 40 mph.  And is automatic.  Or a border collie puppy, but first we'd have to have kids so they can take care of it, but that's totally out of the question.  

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Last 5's

Last 5 Books I've Read:

1. The War of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts by Louis deBernieres
2. The Righteous Men by Sam Bournse
3. The Prometheus Deception by Robert Ludlum
4. The Last Time I Saw My Mother by Arlene J Chai
5. The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb 

Last 5 Meals I've Eaten:

1. Chicken tikka masala
2. A southwest risotto (see, I love the stuff)
3. A pork roast with roasted veggies
4. Macaroni made with Gouda cheese and bacon
5. Pizza and Salad

Last 5 Blogs I've Looked at:

Last 5 Un-Funny Things:

1. The freezer we got for free defrosting
2. Still not having a job
3. Seeing embarrassing pictures of myself dancing on Facebook (they're mildly funny really)
4. Spilling sour cream all over everything in the fridge
5. Changing a disastrous explosive diaper (I have two more days of nannying)

Last 5 Halloween Costumes:

1. Lucifer (As in Satan, not the cat on Cinderella. And also the sexy female version not so much the scary real thing.)
2. A cat (Not as in Lucifer, the cat from Cinderella, but just an ordinary feline)
3. A gothic ballerina
4. A news agent (News Team ASSEMBLE!!!)
5. A cat (Same as number 2.  It's like the easiest costume.  All you need is ears on a headband.)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Etsy Shop Update

I have finally updated my Etsy shop with a few things I've made recently (with my lovely new sewing machine!!) and some wonderful vintage finds as well.