Thursday, 31 October 2013

Enjoy A Happy Samhain - Bright Blessings.

image martha stewart

Some seasonal wisdom from my friend Valerie who is a crystal healer.

Well here we are back again at the end of another cycle of nature, when we are preparing to move into the winter months and the colder weather. The days are darker and it is a time to go within to think very carefully about what we wish to achieve when the sun returns to warm us in the spring.  

For Samhain we make our healing mandala with crystals and tokens from nature like berries and nuts, such as acorns and hazels, found in the woods nearby to us on the common. The mandala is made in the shape of an eight spoked wheel or the wheel of the year in Celtic tradition. It represents the cycle of the seasons and the end and beginning of all creation. 

This time of the year represents the season when the sun gives us less daylight hours and we move into the womb of winter. It is a time of celebration to acknowledge the passing of all those who have gone before us and who will go after us. Remember that one day in the future we will be our families’ ancestors.  In the knowledge that death is but a new beginning, we meditate at Samhain to share this time with our ancestors and future generations of our families. 
The calendar marks the end of a solar cycle when we should get our affair in order. A time when fields lay fallow, nature takes a rest and we experience autumn mists with smokey colours in the sky. 

The mischief side of Halloween is there to respect an aspect of the god who wishes to teach us that he will not let us take ourselves too seriously – it is a time to laugh with your friends and community. In the old days apple bobbing, storytelling, cake making and roasting of nuts were part of the evening’s celebrations around the bonfire. 

Samhain also brings us gifts of wisdom, which can be bitter or sweet according to our circumstances and desires. It is now we consider death as an aspect of our lives and it may be that an old plan, habit or aspiration needs to die now. 

We are taught not to call the dead to us on this night, but believe if they join us freely, if they are able to and if they wish to, we should be open to receive this awareness. If a loving spirit should desire to come back and visit you will recognise them in your mind. If they choose not to come just remember them with love and accept their absence. 

Spend time in meditation thinking of friends, family and loved ones who have gone on to greater things. Keep firmly in your mind that the physical isn’t the absolute reality and that our souls never die. 

As you eat pomegranates consider the seeds as being ideas for your next cycle - affirm that they represent plans and creativities that will sprout and grow to provide you with your next personal harvest. 

Make a list of things you consider are standing in your way like anger, sorrow etc, then write them down and burn them in your the fire affirming that they are now in the past. Whatever you have asked for guidance in see it now replaced by new life and a new system whereby we teach do what you will as long as it does not harm another. 

If you can take time to light a candle maybe you can join us in imagining a new world full of peace, love and harmony with food and water available for all. Leave a plate of food outside the home for the souls of the dead, place a candle in the window to guide them to the lands of eternal summer and bury some apples in the earth to feed the ones who have passed on their journey to the light and are awaiting rebirth. 

In the meantime try to be happy, healthy and wise as you go about your daily routine. Most of all be grateful for all you have accomplished and for the ideas which will flow through you from your spirit guides, who come from the light, during the darker nights. Keep warm and snuggly like the seeds within Mother Earth. 

image mollie makes

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

You Can't Always Spot a Witch

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg and Howlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Cool it with a baboon's blood
Then the charm is firm and good.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Tasmanian Devil

Oh how I do love the old black and white Hollywood films. That is why Errol was simply irresistible when I spied him at the old Heathfield flea market last week. I've told myself to only buy essentials at the moment, trying not to 'waste' money, but a little bit of glamour in a girl's life is essential, no?
Didn't really have enough room for such a big picture either but he's managed to squeeze himself in next to Twiggy, of course he has. And he's giving her the glad eye.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Made By Hand - Lewes

If you are a lover of yarn and textiles this two day event is definitely one not to miss.

Featuring oodles of hand made wonderfully tactile items, some for sale. Plus commercial stands selling all manner of materials for your own projects.

I helped out for a short while this morning setting up the exhibits and managed to sneak a couple of pics.

If you're anywhere near Lewes tomorrow do try and pop in.

The Bare Bear

My poor ole bear is still bare. It's not that I haven't been working on his winter jumper, honestly. It's just very time consuming and I have lots on. Trying to sort out house projects and reorganising the studio, keeping on top of the garden, you know how it is.
He hasn't had a new bit of clothing for years and years so this little Fair Isle number is long overdue.
The pattern is from a 1990 nursery knitting book that one of my friends kindly gave to me a wee while ago. It's full of beautiful traditional knitwear. When I eventually have some grand children, a very long way off yet I hope, it will be be very useful. For now though the bear will be getting the benefit.

The pattern isn't difficult but you do have to concentrate as it's fiddly. I have attached a small length of the different coloured yarns to the page so that I can check more easily when I need to change colours.

I've used alternative colours to those in the book to give the garment a more vintage look and the front will be one V necked piece instead of two.

Close up of Fair isle.

This is the finished unblocked back which has taken me the longest time to complete. I'm gonna be much faster with the front, you wait and see.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Apple Harvest

This beautiful old apple tree has been in our garden for many years, long before we bought the house. Every season there is a glorious crop of apples, only we haven't always made the time to harvest them properly. Shame on us.
This year I am determined that no apple will go to waste. I HATE to see waste of any kind and now we are down to one income I am doing my best to maximise just about anything that can save us money. I have  more time now too which is a great asset when you are looking for money saving deals and bargains. Time is the Thriftanista's friend.

Last weekend I invited a lovely lass from my knitting circle to come and take some apples. Apparently she makes an amazing home brew apple wine. She filled two large sacks and took all the wind falls as well. Whilst she collected and picked I made a pot of tea and sliced up some home made cherry and almond cake to fortify her. In return she will be giving me a few bottles of the wine. I think that's a great deal, so does she.

I had it in mind to juice some of the apples as well but unfortunately we do not own a press. I'm reluctant to buy one as we will be moving from our lovely house in the next couple of years and wouldn't I'm sure get the use out of it in the meantime.

So I asked for help on Freegle and Brian and Jane who live just up the road from us, came to the rescue with their hand made press.

The Mister took our apples round to their house on Saturday and spent a couple of happy hours chatting and chopping apples with them. They very kindly helped with the whole process.

I now have 6 bottles of pure apple juice from our own tree sitting icily in our freezer. Which I'm super pleased about.

The lovely apple press folk understandably refused our offer of juice but we gave them a big box of Turkish Delight which they truly deserved.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

A Little Bit of History on Sunday

The mister and I were all set to go on a nice local 5 mile walk today. I found the details of the walk in a local magazine. The walk starts in Forest Row, Sussex, goes through the local countryside down meandering lanes and past a Jacobean ruin. Which until I read the article I had never heard of.

Brambletye House was built about 1631. Sadly only part of this once magnificent building is still standing. It is listed as an 'at risk' building. I should say it is.

We didn't get to see it today because the rain put paid to any idea of venturing forth, but that hasn't stopped me already fantasizing about buying and restoring the building. Imagine how thrilling that would be? Naturally Kevin McCloud would want to be involved.

We did manage to sort out a different piece of history today though, which I'm very pleased about. The mister and I finally put up the servants bell box that we bought at Ardingly a good few months ago. Just in time for Downton tonight. I feel it brings me a little bit closer to my beloved Carson.


Friday, 11 October 2013

Tearing and Sharing - Olive Fougasse.

I've been making bread again but this time from my own pantry staples, no packet mix involved. Do you know what? It's just as easy to put your own ingredients together and probably cheaper. Everything I used for this bread I already had lurking in my cupboards. 

I impressed myself with this wonderful bread. It tastes exactly like the small squares of posh bread you get in the fancy schmancy restaurants, you know the kind, that you dip into Balsamic vinegar or olive oil. My Balsamic vinegar was purchased at Lidl for under a pound. It's an absolutely pukka product though, made in Modena and has the certificato da organismo di controlla autorizzato dal Mipaaf and I.G.P. Makes me wonder why it's so expensive elsewhere? Perhaps there are different grades to it? My palate is not that sophisticated where vinegar is concerned so I'm more than happy with my Lidl version.

Anyhow, I digress.

My beast of a loaf.

The recipe was as easy as can be and the whole process took under two hours, which includes the proving time.


Strong white bread flour   450g
Sugar (the recipe called for unrefined golden granulated but I used caster) 15g/1tbsp
Sea salt plus some for sprinkling  10g/2tsp ( I used less salt)
Easy Bake yeast  7g (1 sachet)
Olive oil plus additional for drizzling  80ml
Warm water  225ml
Olives chopped  15g
Rosemary chopped 15g ( I just pulled mine apart by hand)

1. Put flour, sugar, salt and yeast into a bowl.
2. Mix to a soft dough with the oil and water.
3. Turn onto a floured surface and knead for 10 mins, adding the olives and rosemary as you knead.
Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel and leave to prove in a warm spot, for 30 minutes to an hour, until double in size.

Dough after first proving.

4.Punch down the proven dough and stretch out into an oval on the baking sheet. Slash the dough and open the cuts to form a pattern.

Dough after 'punching'

Before second proving.

5. Cover with a tea towel again and prove in a warm spot for no longer than 30 minutes.
6. Preheat oven to 220C/200C Fan/425F/Gas Mark 7.
7.Drizzle a little olive oil and sprinkle a little sea salt over the dough; bake for about 15 minutes until golden.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Keeping Posted

I get an email now and then from the master of thriftiness Martin Lewis. He alerts me to any special deals that I might have missed, very kind of him methinks.

Just last week he told the tale of the mucho cheapo fabled Terry's chocolate orange, £1.00 only. In milk, white or my favourite dark chocolate.

This week he has done even better and because of his marvellous newsletter I have ventured two thrifty purchases.

The first will be a C*******s present for one of the family kinder.

This complete set is available through Sainsbury's Entertainment site, £3.00 including delivery.

I adore these stories, so I must remember that this set is NOT a present for me.

The second purchase was for a huge parcel of vegetable seeds, over 8,000. Following the success of our veg growing this season we have decided to try and grow even more.

The pack from Park Promotions Ltd includes beetroot, butternut squash, cabbage, carrots, courgettes, parsnips, peppers, radish, turnips, onions and lots more.

The 17 packets of seeds come in at around 44p a packet, £7.49 including postage and packaging. Fantastic value. They will arrive the first week in November so I'm hoping there may be some Winter cropping varieties that can be planted up lickety split.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Important Business

Settling down to the important business of committing to paper some sort of plan for my future this morning when the lovely Mister brought me a delicious breakfast.

Free range egg fried in rapeseed oil, grilled mushrooms and a plump grilled Freedom Food Black Farmer premium pork banger. Amazing.

I made the Ciabatta bread from a packet mix (slightly out of date) on Friday night and added some sliced black olives and a little olive oil to the mix. I used the whole pack and it made two big loaves. I thought to myself we'll never eat all that, I'll probably have to freeze some of it. But do you know what? It's been quite a success, no freezing required.  :)

Friday, 4 October 2013

Not Quite But Almost

After much procrastination all the furniture that needed shuffling has been shuffled, the many 'valuable' pieces of textiles, buttons, belt buckles and yarns have been picked through, so all is now ticketyboo on the studio front.
The Mister and I had a small glass of sherry on Wednesday evening to celebrate. He had a whiskey actually but you get the picture.
I'm just on the lookout now for a nice retro inspired cd player and an eccentric looking standard lamp to nestle between my two cane peacock chairs and the whole affair will be finished.

I picked up a glorious rug for the studio from my local chazza shop on Wednesday which I'm thrilled to bits about especially considering I didn't even realise I 'needed' a rug until I saw it, who'd have thunk it?

Anthroplogiesque rug £15.00 only.

So a small tour is in order. I have of course removed from sight four LARGE bags of yarn and three bags of buttons that haven't quite found a nook of their own yet. I'm terribly keen for you all to think my life is perfect after all.

Centre of studio as you look through the doors, please note my antique Art Nouveau Grandfather clock.

To the left, inspirational craft and fashion books, textiles and craft materials.

Working space and sherry drinking area.
Sensible corner, featuring my Grandad's chair and a Chatsworth comfy fleece. (Yes that is a large mermaid carved from a tree in the background).

Right hand corner with vintage stock including clothes and accessories.

Now there is the simple matter of organising all my papers and flyers etc, then I shall move on to the next phase, a business plan and upgraded website.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Studio Update.

I did manage to pick up a few things at Homebase during the weekend, but sadly no Farrow and Ball paint, as Nilly mentioned not much in the way of choice of colours. But fear ye not I did get 15% off a few garden bits and pieces and some Dulux paint that the nice man at Homebase mixed up specially for me. So the doors are next on the list, once I have finished the studio revamp, which I'm hoping to complete today.
This is how the studio looked yesterday, a right ole mess.

I worked on it yesterday afternoon and have been in there most of today. It's starting to take shape now and It's looking really gorgeous. I just need to transfer all my yarn, fabrics and craft books down from our spare room and it will be finished. Can't wait.