Crochet Your Own Remembrance Poppy

I know it’s been ages since we’ve caught up. I have been feeling the pressure mount daily and I’ve missed updating the blog so much. However, sometimes you have to let a few things go while you are undertaking mammoth adventures and scheming clever tricks. That is the first reason and the second is that one of the perks of living in the depths of the English countryside is the intermittent internet, which lately, has been more off than on (please signal a loud harrumph here).

I am hoping with all hope that things will be finalised this week and I can start to share some of these excitements. I’ll write about a few at a time, like a little trickle. I don’t want to overwhelm anyone with a waterfall of new plans. We’ll take it slow with lots of cups of tea.

In the meantime, here is a post from last year, which was really popular with those of you who fancied making your own poppy to mark Remembrance Day.

crochet frothy poppy

Remembrance Day is not far off the horizon and it got me thinking about the number of paper poppies that I always seem to lose within minutes of receiving them.  No matter how carefully I pin them on, after a while of busying about, I look down to find the red petals missing and just a pin sitting there, not really looking supportive of Remembrance Day at all.

I thought it might be better, for this year, to crochet a happy-looking poppy that will stay on through thick and thin. I will of course still donate but will leave the paper poppies in their tray for someone else to come to terms with!

I found a beautifully simple but effective flower pattern on the lovely blog Very Berry Handmade.  I have kindly been given permission to feature it here on The Dorset Finca, but I have translated into UK terminology. So if you are into US crochet terms, pop on over to Very Berry using the link above. If you are happy with UK terms, please read on…

To make the poppy above, I used Stylecraft Special DK in Lipstick with a 4 mm hook.

Start with a Magic Circle and make 4 double crochet (dc) in the circle and close the circle by pulling the tail end (4 stitches).

R1: 2 dc in each dc round, join last dc to top of 1st dc with a slip stitch (ss) (8 stitches)

R2: 2 ch then 1 ss in next dc, 2 ch. Repeat all round then join round with ss (8 chain spaces)

R3: In each chain space make 1 ss, 1 chain (ch), 2 treble crochet (tc), 1 ch, 1 ss. Complete the round with ss into 1st ss. (8 petals created)

R4: Holding the flower facing you, take your hook to the back of the work and insert it round the 1st chain made in R2. Make ss round the chain, ch3, ss round the 1st chain underneath the next petal then repeat 7 times & complete the round with ss into 1st ss (8 chain spaces).

R5: Into each ch sp make 1 dc, 1 ch, 3 tc, 1 ch, 1 dc. Complete round with ss into 1st dc. (8 petals created).

R6: As in R4 take your hook to the back of the work and make ss round the 1st post of the 1st petal created in R5, ch 4, ss round next post then repeat 7 times & complete the round with ss into 1st ss (8 ch sp).

R7: In each ch sp created in R6 make 1 dc, 1 ch, 5 tc, 1 ch, 1 dc. Complete the round with ss into 1st dc.

Fasten off & weave in ends, except for the tail end.  I then used the tail end yarn to sew on my button to create the centre of the flower.  By adding a safety pin onto the back, the poppy should stay in place for good!

crochet poppy free pattern

… there are lots of alternative flower patterns on Pinterest if you feel like mixing it up …

After making one poppy, you will have no doubt mastered this pattern! Once Remembrance Day is over, you can change up the colours to create corsages for your coat or bag to brighten up the winter season.

alternative crochet poppy free pattern

Have a lovely rest of the week x

Autumn means…

… long walks amongst crispy leaves

… switching the morning espresso for a teapot full of tea

… becoming excited about scarves, hats and boots

Autumn leaves

… digging out favourite gardening jumpers

… whimsical jewellery

… using the dog as a hot water bottle for feet

whimsical autumn teapot jewellery

… warm afternoon sunshine followed by cold nights

… planning the next crochet blanket while still finishing the current project

… hot toast at 4 pm

autumn collection of leaves

… berry crumble

… an odd sense of renewal – even though the year is in its last quarter

Are you an Autumn lover too?  What does it mean to you?


So Long My Friend

It has been a rather sad few days at the Finca.  Our lovely hen Keith passed away during the night.  She was completely happy and well in the days before and it was a bit of a surprise when we went to let them out in the morning.

Steve is doing ok and is keeping her mind off things by scratching around for grubs in the soil.

Keith the hen


We will always remember Keith for maintaining her resolutely grumpy expression, even when presented with her favourite food – warm porridge on a cold winter’s day.

Keith dust bathing

We will miss you lovely Keith x


My Week On Instagram

What a sunny and beautiful week we’ve had so far.  Even though the leaves are beginning to turn crispy, the warm afternoons have felt as if they should belong to the last weeks of August rather than the beginning of September.

This is what I’ve been snapping on my phone this week:

late summer flowers 1

The late summer flowers are enjoying soaking up the rays and are bringing hoards of butterflies into the garden.

crochet cowl

As the evenings seem to be arriving earlier, I’ve swapped my cooler cotton and linen yarns for more snuggly merino wools and cashmeres.


This robin was carefully watching me as I inspected the broad bean plants – I think he was hoping that I’d throw him something tasty.

I hope you are having a great week so far too x


Pet Portraits With Personality

If I am totally honest, I’ve always been a bit sceptical of pet portraits.  I just didn’t think that a soothing watercolour painting of our pets would bring us much joy hanging up on the Finca walls (especially in the case of Ollie the cat, as he is usually sporting the most grumpy of expressions, that somehow also portray a lot of naughty swear words).

However, when Brinkley was asked to be a dog-model for a new range of Christmas cards from *Artist Not Included, I was surprised at how excited and exceedingly honoured I felt.  The process from getting his scraggy face onto that of a crisp card in time for December, also involved a portrait, which would form the basis of the image. Check it out…

Pet portrait Brinkley

Charley (who is the artist behind *Artist Not Included) is an actual genius! She turned a few photographs and a short biography of Brinkley’s personality into this beautiful pen and ink drawing.  It totally captures his mischievous nature and his fly-away fur.

… and we love it.

… and yes, we will be hanging it somewhere prominent!

After having so much fun doing the portraits in time for her range of Christmas cards, Charley has branched out into creating pet portraits for those of us who want our pet’s personalities radiating out of the pictures as well as their likenesses.  If you would like to know a bit more about the process, or would like to contact Charley about having your pet become a model, please use this link.

Artist Not Included Dogs in Christmas Jumpers

Artist Not Included Dogs in Christmas Jumpers 2

… and if you feel like sending some very trendy Christmas cards this year, pop on over to Charley’s Etsy shop to grab a few before they all sell out!

Have a wonderful Sunday and sorry for mentioning the Christmas word so early in September – won’t happen again (gulp, I don’t think).

A massive thank you to Charley of *Artist Not Included for the photographs and incredible Brinkley portrait. 

Top Tips On Treating Your Skin At Home

So yes, I’m still having a love affair with my Organic Almond Serum from Enchanted Plants.  I put it on every evening and feel all the goodness and wellbeing soak into my skin.  I call it a love affair, but that makes it sound like it’s a fleeting love and I don’t think it is. I think it’s in for the long-haul. It’s that kind of love.

Last week, I shared some of Jemma’s beautiful products with you.  You can find Jemma’s shop by following this link, if you would like another chance to browse.

… and while we were having our lovely chat about her favourite soaps, creams and oils, she also shared with me some top tips for giving your skin a little special attention at home.  Life is hectic. There is so much rushing around, jobs to be done and things to tick of a multitude of lists, but it is important to take time out, reflect a little and indulge yourself. I’m a firm believer that a bit of self-indulgence makes you more productive and a more thoughtful individual. If you are brimming with relaxation and joy, it’s easier to pass this on – don’t you think?


… the scent of lavender relaxes and helps you to sleep soundly …

Jemma’s top tips:

For dry and sensitive skin:

Calendula and Oat Milk Bath Soak

Take a handful of organic rolled oats.  Gather some Calendula petals from the garden, you’ll need about 13 petals or a good pinch. Put it all into a clean, cotton sock and tie the top in a knot. Hang over the top of the bath so that it just dangles in the water.  Relax!  Especially good for babies and children. 

garlic chive

… chives have great anti-bacterial properties …

For great skin protection and to maintain moisture balance:

Flaxseed and Shea Butter

By either making up your own lotion containing flaxseed and shea butter, or by sourcing an organic lotion that contains these two ingredients, you will be giving your skin a real make-over.  Both elements contain nourishing plant waxes that protect skin and keep its moisture levels in harmony.  Try to avoid bought lotions with harsh chemicals, parabens or phthalates.


… Rosemary is wonderful for relaxing tired muscles …

For relaxation and hydration:

Rose Geranium and Rosemary Hand and Body Lotion

If, like me, the thought of making up your own body lotion at home does not fill you with joy, because you are sure to end up with a congealed mess that definitely doesn’t look appealing, you can buy this little beauty.  This organic Rose Geranium and Rosemary Hand and Body Lotion will be quickly absorbed by your skin leaving it feeling smoothed and refreshed.  Ahhh, I feel more relaxed already! 

trug with rose

 I hope you have a very relaxing Sunday – you deserve it!  A huge thank you to Jemma, for all of her brilliant tips. x

Super Colourful Crochet Coasters

What on earth has happened to the summer weather?  Blankets, hot chocolate and a feel-good movie has been necessary after every dog walk – as we have returned home, on most days, pretty soaked.

With Brinks snuggled up next to me, I’ve been whiling away the late afternoons with some crochet cosiness.

I seem to have quite a few projects on the go at the moment, including an Autumnal hat and a ripply blanket, to name a few, but these little beauties have really been capturing my mood…

crochet coasters

The inspiration for these came from this post on the Haak Maar Raak blog, which contains a really lovely pattern that you can follow. I needed to adapt it slightly as I wanted an edge of original colour around the outside, but that was an easy little fix.

Anyway, I think they are the FAB-BEST!

roller coasters 1

roller coaster 2

… and because I used cotton yarn, they are wonderful insulators and will protect the furniture from all of those hot cups of tea (and chocolate)!

What projects do you have on the go at the moment? Is there anything you turn to when the weather starts to look more gloomy?

Happy Wednesday!


Sooth Summer Skin With Organic Skincare

As September is peeking out from around the corner I have been reminiscing on all of the fun that we’ve had over the summer. No, there hasn’t been a long, extended heatwave in Dorset and we haven’t spent every day basking under warm rays, but we have been spending most of our time outdoors never-the-less.  Lots of our friends have been on hot summer holidays in faraway destinations and have returned all brown (and sometimes a little crispy) looking.

All of this element exposure, has been making me think about my skincare routine and how much I take my skin’s health for granted.  I thought that it was about time that I found out a bit more about the best ways to sooth summer skin and keep it replenished and healthy.

I headed off to see Jemma Cannon (owner and founder of Enchanted Plants hand-made organic skincare) for some skin health advice and for a chance to sample some of her incredible organic skincare range.

Enchanted Plants Chamomile Soap

Over a relaxing cup of herbal tea and with Brinkley settled on my lap, we chatted about Jemma’s range of hand-made soaps and what inspired her to start the business in the first place. It became clear very quickly, with her degree in Herbal Medicine and her passion for creating soothing and healing products, that Jemma was extremely knowledgeable and puts a huge amount of care and attention into the recipes of her soaps.

It had occurred to me before, that commonly bought shower gels and soaps could be very drying on the skin, but I hadn’t really considered why this was the case, or what the alternatives could be.  Jemma carefully explained that, often, the key ingredients that your skin needs to flourish are taken out when products are massed produced, and then sold as by-products (glycerine for example), leaving a harsher, less nourishing soap.

‘But shower gel can be so convenient can’t it?’ I asked. ‘I mean, you can just put the top back on after your shower and it doesn’t go all squidgy and runny like a traditional bar of soap.’

Jemma patiently told me that if soap is kept in a soap dish and is not left to sit in water, it will last a surprisingly long time. She also explained that it is harder to produce good quality soaps in bottles with pump-action dispensers or squeezy tops because you are not able to put in some of the raw organic ingredients. Bottles like that need smooth liquid without any bits…

…and sometimes the bits contain all of the goodness.

Enchanted Plants Honey Lavender Soap

So I was sent home, very kindly, with some soaps to try. In the shower. Instead of shower gel.

Eeeeek – I was very excited!

I chose to start with the Honey Lavender Organic Soap (as shown above). I felt like I needed a warm blanket of Honey Lavender that day as the weather had been particularly dismal and I had bathed Brinks for what seemed like the thousandth time (he has a penchant for rolling in fox-poo).

Once in the shower, not only did I not need very much soap at all, but the smell of the organic essential oils was amazing.  The soap was so smooth and frothy.  Jemma had suggested that I might find that I wouldn’t need to moisturise after a shower as much, now that the traditional shower gel wasn’t stripping my skin of all its moisture…

… and do you know what? I didn’t need any!

Two weeks later and my bar of soap still looks, pretty much, like it did when I took it out of its beautiful packaging… and my skin feels better already.

Enchanted Plants Organic Apricot Serum

If all that wasn’t exciting enough, I have something else to share…

Now this, my beauties, is the cherry on the top (and feels like a bit of a secret).  In the picture above is a little bottle of Organic Apricot Serum.  This is an amazing little product and I really urge you to try it. (I made my mum try some and she became all silly and shrieked about how she needed to get some right away – it was rather embarrassing).

I put a tiny bit on my face and neck, in the evening, instead of moisturiser.  It smells amazing, is incredibly non-oily, which was unexpected and has made my face feel like new. Bye-bye little crows-feet – I can see you trying to crash the party.

If you feel like trying some of these amazing products and want to challenge yourself to ditch the shower gel… you can find Jemma’s shop in Shaftesbury, you can visit her online shop,  or you can make friends with her on Facebook.

Next week, I’ll be sharing some of Jemma’s tips for treating yourself to some home-made DIY skincare.

Have a great day! x

Just a little note to say that this is not a commission based post – but I did get some free soap to try. I thought I had better declare this, just in the interests of transparency you understand! x



A Truly Foolproof Recipe | Marble Cake

I must start by apologising for this quick and rather brief post.  Things at the Finca have become a little, um… hectic in the last few days.  I’ll explain at a later date – promise!

However, this saviour of a baking book needs no apologies as it truly lives up to its name of ‘Foolproof Cakes.’

Mary Berry, of TGBBO fame wrote this book quite a while ago and it still remains one of the favourites in our kitchen.  Easy peasy recipes and pretty much guaranteed results. Perfect if you are a little nervous when it comes to cooking or baking.

Mary Berry Foolproof Cakes

Mary Berry’s Foolproof Cakes

The other day, we had friends coming round for cake in the morning and I had approximately an hour and a half to whip something up to serve and look all housewifely.

I knew this book would come to my rescue and I chose to make the Chocolate and Vanilla Marble Cake.  The pictures were enticing and the ingredients list didn’t have me running for the nearest shop, luckily I had everything in the pantry that I needed.

chocolate and vanilla marble cake

I did use slightly less sugar and butter than the recipe and the cake needed the full hour in the oven, but it came out well and looked great.

The best bit was when we sliced it up…

chocolate and vanilla marble cake slice

I couldn’t believe how the two mixtures stayed separate during baking – doesn’t it look cool (yes, this was my first time making a marble cake, can you tell)?

…and boy did it taste good?!

Have a great Sunday x

Garden Colour Palette | White and Green

For the last few days I have been dreaming of white and green gardens. There’s something so calming and sophisticated about the coolness of white flowers teemed with different textures of green foliage.

I love the thought of big terracotta pots filled with rosemary and thyme, flower beds filled with pale astrantias and lime green hydrangeas.

Maybe… I am actually just longing for a holiday and am having visions of a tuscan townhouse garden! This, I think, is quite a possibility.

While in my recent reverie, I spent time looking around the Finca’s garden and realised that it is giving off quite a lot of the green/white vibe.  I expect my subconscious was directing me when I was planting earlier in the year.

garlic chive

Hydrangea Annabelle

I also had a bit of a surprise when it came to my ‘Black Knight’ Buddleia (a beautiful variety with deep purple flowers)…

As the flowers started to emerge I was so eager to see them in all their purply lusciousness.

‘They’re a bit pale,” I thought to myself.  “I expect they darken as they mature.” I concluded.

vanilla scented flowers

Buddleia white

Errr… no, that didn’t end up being the case.

Instead of the Black Knight purple wonder that I ordered. I instead have a white buddleia (as you can see above).


As it happens, I am totally in love with it and it matches my need for all things green and white.  Bazinga!

Have a great day x