Highlights

 

crochet ripple blanket

I managed to find a few moments, in the evenings of this hectic week, to make a start on my new ripple blanket. I am already completely in love with the soft waves of this pattern and the way that the colours merge together. This pattern is Lucy’s Cottage Blanket from Attic24 – you can check out her gorgeous blog here.

I can’t decide where this ripply goodness will live when it is finished, but it will certainly need to be somewhere where it can be picked up regularly and used for wrapping up cold feet and hands in the late afternoon.

GBHD Feast

Last weekend, we took a trip to the Great Big Huge Dorset Feast, hosted by Olives Et Al.  There was an enormous tent, packed full of local food and drink producers offering tastes and sips of everything they had on offer. Everyone was happy and cheerful and we met lots of people who were passionate about their products. We tasted beer from the Piddle Brewery,  incredible cheeses from James’ Cheese, beautiful teas from TeaTonics and so much more. Mr D-F carried around our cardboard shopping basket and once we’d filled it to the top, we joined the throngs waiting to pay.

Although I decreed that we should keep our box of goodies until nearer Christmas, I have already noticed bits and pieces disappearing… hmmm…

garden log book

I’m also starting to think about which seeds will need to be planted over the winter months. After digging out my garden journal, I recapped the jobs that I was doing at the start of this year. Hopefully, having this log to refer back to, will help me keep motivated and organised when the weather is cold and wet.  I hate getting to April only to realise I should have planted seeds way back in early February!

I hope you have had a brilliant week so far!

Cosy Afternoons | Stamping Christmas Cards

Christmas cards that christmas feeling

Some years, I hanker after the glossy, luxury Christmas cards on offer in the shops.  However, every other year or so, I want nothing more than to sit cosily by the fire in the late afternoons and make cards that are much more personal.  Obviously this notion appeals hugely to my craft-loving, stationary-obsessed self!

Usually, my self-made cards involve some sort of stamping.  I love the way that an image can be repeated using different colours to build up a big picture. I also love script and typography, so any stamps that have interesting lettering are first on my list.

inks and acrylic

This was my first attempt at using clear stamps on an acrylic block and I must say, this method had me hooked! Not only could I vary the position of the icons on the block, I could clearly see where I was stamping, so my final results were much more accurate than when I have used wood block stamps in the past.

Although I went a bit crazy when ordering my ink pads, I generally used the blues, reds, greens and purples the most. I also used my Ali Edwards word stamps to print words on the inside of my cards… such as MAGIC, BEST and SUPER.  I plan to add handwritten messages to incorporate the words… like ‘we hope your Christmas is PERFECT!’

Christmas cards tis the season

When it comes to Christmas cards, do you have particular favourites that you buy each year?  Or do you have a special recipe for handmade cards?

 

 

Dorset’s Delicious Bits | Moreton Ford

 

bridge over ford

… the bridge over the ford …

I have some very vivid childhood memories of this place.  I would imagine (through my 7 year old mind) that it was possible to catch a glimpse of a unicorn gently strolling through the shallow water.  Crazy thoughts, but the magic of this place seemed to inspire such things.

Although I could picture the scene clearly in my head, it has taken me quite a lot of research to find where this magical ford actually is. Situated quite close to Bovington, you reach the well-signposted village via beautiful tree-lined lanes. Here is a map if you like a bit more detail.

moreton ford 1

moreton ford 2

After the recent downpours, the ford was flowing quickly and although shallow enough for horses to wade through (which they regularly do), we had to take the route across the footbridge. We spent the obligatory few minutes (*ahem* half an hour) searching for fish, while also watching littlies with their fishing nets seeing what they could catch and whooping with joy when success had been had.

By both banks the water was shallow enough to experience it first hand.  So we stood on the shingle, watching the water flow past our wellies, amazed at how clearly we could see the details underneath our feet.

After all of that fresh air, a cup of tea was needed and thankfully there is a charmingly lovely tea-room, just at the top of the lane.  Walk past the black bin offering free use of fishing nets and children’s boots and you won’t miss it!

welly boots

Go on… have a paddle!

How To Give Your Pots Some Personality

painted pot face1

I am starting to bring some of the succulents further inside, towards the warmth, as the weather turns colder and wetter. The slugs are beginning to stir again and would like nothing more than to graze on the juicy petals of an echeveria.

It’s always a bit of a juggling act when the plants come inside. Some have more specific light and warmth requirements than others and as I only have limited windows that face west or south, Mr D-F often finds himself waking up to the sight of a large palm or some other frondy-leaved plant waving around in the window by his head… he doesn’t even question it any more!

We have family and friends staying over Christmas and the guest bedroom window has an excellent success rate for keeping succulents happy over winter.  I didn’t want our visitors to feel as if they were living in a jungle for the Christmas period, but instead that the plants were an intentional addition to the room’s decor!

potface collage1

After collecting together some white ceramic pots and painting terracotta planters in various shades of Farrow & Ball, I set upon them with a permanent marker pen (I used a sharpie pen with a medium thickness nib). I have seen pots with sweet little expressions on the internet and wanted my plants to have their own personalities as well.

succulent collage

When it came to re-potting the succulents I used an equal mix of cacti soil, perlite and sand. Each pot also had a nice layer of stones placed into the bottom, to aid drainage.

pot people

They look like a little succulent family now and will hopefully entertain our friends while they are all roomies over the holidays!

Have a great day!

 

Dorset’s Delicious Bits | A Festive Fayre

local food

Shillingstone Christmas Fayre

~ Saturday 6th December ~

I am already very excited about this event and have been ensuring that all of my friends and family have written it firmly into their diaries! The Fayre seems to have grown into something that promises to be very special, with a huge range of local suppliers available to help you finish off (or in my case, get started) with your Christmas list.

Over the past few years, the lovely people of Shillingstone have run a Christmas bazaar with the aim of raising money for their church and funding their valuable outreach programmes.  However, they had ambitions to run something even better and even more special for local people and visitors alike. At the last count the Fayre planned to host over 35 stalls selling local food, drink and crafts by some very well-known names. These include Angel Organics free-range turkeys, hot-roasted chestnuts from Living The Cream, Sam’s Fudge, home-made delights from The Wobbly Cottage, Emsie Sharp’s stunning glass designs and Ed Duckworth’s incredible pottery.  You will also be able to buy beautiful handmade wreaths to take home and get your house ready for the party season.

festive crafts

All of this loveliness will be wrapped up in some serious Christmassy atmosphere, for both adults and children.  Visitors will be greeted with home-made, hot mince pies and mulled wine.  Santa has promised to visit and meet the children, giving them the opportunity to buy some reindeer food. He may even bring along his trusty, antlered friends!

The Fayre runs from 11am – 5pm and more information can be found on the website, here.  I can’t wait to see you there! I’m sure you will be able to spot me buying some reindeer dust or making a beeline for the raffle (there are some truly exciting prizes – and I’ve got my eye on spending a day with alpacas)!!

Have a great weekend!

Dorset’s Delicious Bits | Featured on Film

Clenston bw

… St Nicholas, Winterborne Clenston …

If you are looking for some breathtaking quintessential English loveliness, you need to take a trip down the Winterborne Valley.  Where, as you emerge from columns of trees lining the road, you will see St. Nicholas church in Clenston.  Set back, in amongst the fields, it is almost as if time has left this building completely untouched.

This church is so charming and unspoilt that it was used for the wedding scene in the 1996 film, Emma, starring Gwyneth Paltrow. Mr Knightley and Emma actually walked down this aisle to their happy ending!

clenston 2

… beautiful architecture …

clenston view

… the gateway out onto the car park …

If you fancy a visit, you can park in the grassy car park before walking through the wrought-iron gate and down the sweeping path.  Take some time to look at the amazing countryside that surrounds the church before going inside and having your own little Jane Austin moment!

Enjoy!

The Highlights

house warming

… a happy new home …

This week has been full of excitement so far… Our friends moved into their long-awaited, beautiful new home and we were invited round for our first visit.  We all sat in the kitchen with heaps of cakes and tea to talk about where the sofa should go, which wall the prints and photos would be best displayed and how to choose paint colours for a calming, yet motivational home office space.  It was so nice to see our besties with grins of happiness at finding a house that they love so much already!

rose pruning

garden plan

For the remainder of the weekend, I spent the unseasonably warm days pruning back the roses quite vigorously. My aim was to leave four or five of the largest ‘trunks’ before removing any side stems back to the first healthy bud.  I also removed any stems that were looking leggy or unhealthy.  Any shoots that now appear will be left until Spring, when they can be pruned, less dramatically, to start to build next year’s shape.

All these long days in the garden, had me scheming of a new garden design for next year.  There are still some parts of the garden that aren’t working for me.  I need a planting section that can deal with some shade, as well as a re-design of the main outdoor sitting and eating place.  As the measurements have all been taken, I can spend some of the winter batting ideas around and mixing things up a little before a final decision is made. Of course, I will let you know what I decide!

Have a great day!

Dorset’s Delicious Bits | A Mediterranean Feast

ban the bland2

… Olives Et Al, Sturminster Newton …

The Olives Et Al shop in Sturminster Newton is like a refuge for me.  It’s the place I go to, not only for the great products but to soak up the atmosphere.  I linger, just to bask in the whole wonderfulness created by the friendly people and the delicious food.

The Olives Et Al headquarters is to be found just on the outskirts of the town (please see map and info, here). There is lots of parking and they are open from Monday to Saturday, 9am – 5:30pm.

The shop is just one part of a rapidly expanding, exciting business and, as locals, we are able to take full advantage of sampling the delights, almost as soon as they are created.  Seemingly, the shop sprang up as a bit of a happy accident due to people arriving at the factory doors and asking, very sweetly, if they could try bits and pieces and possibly buy some while they were there.  After mentioning this fact recently to my Mum and Dad, they looked a little sheepish and admitted that they had been guilty of doing just that!

great gifts

The shelves are lined with jars, boxes and packages, all with engaging labels and wrapping, making the deli my first stop when finding gifts for those who love their food.  While under the guise of choosing presents to go in a Christmas, birthday or house-warming gift hamper, you can secretly treat yourself to trying the huge variety of imaginative oils, nuts, bread and other tasty snacks.

find your favourites

The main hub of activity is around the ‘olive station’.  Bowls and bowls heaped with glistening olives are ready to be tried.  There is a very Mediterranean attitude towards shopping in this deli, as tasting and trying are positively encouraged.  How else can you decide whether you will love the olives with stuffed tomato more than the feta-filled variety? Complete strangers can be overheard comparing notes and views over the different flavours and bonding over the slightly naughty feeling you get when you try ‘just one more’ before buying the biggest pot on offer!

taste test

Everyone seems to have their own special favourite, which is put into the basket automatically, while actually on a mission to find something else.  Simon, the manager, is partial to the Putney Sauce (incredibly delicious with soft cheese), Mr D-F loves the Tapenade Provencal, while I cannot get enough of the Raspberry and Mint dressing, which enhances almost everything, including salads and fish dishes.

wow your guests

I was completely in awe of these beautifully coloured, massive meringues, all stacked up and looking tempting. The next time that I am in need of a pudding with wow-factor, I’ll definitely be dropping in to pick up one of these beauties!

save the date

To make matters even more exciting… Olives Et Al are hosting their annual Great Big Huge Dorset Feast on 22nd November.  Taking place from 10am – 4pm, they promise a huge tent, full of local food and drink producers, where tasting is a necessity.  I’ll be taking my Christmas list and my camera and will no doubt, see you there!