The Adventures Of Brinks #1

So life has really taken off for the hound of the household. Not only does he get a lot of admiring glances and comments when we’re out and about, but he’s now taking his fame to another level.

The lovely Charley from *Artist Not Included has asked for him to be one of the coverdogs for her new line of Christmas cards. (Yes, for people who have to prepare products in time for December, it’s Christmas already).

It’s been a bit like Britain’s Next Top Model here at the Finca, with Brinks getting into the zone for his preliminary photographs.

‘Excuse me, what is my motivation for this shot?’

Brinkley posing

We also had to write a mini-biography of Brinkley’s character and mannerisms so that Charley could infuse her sketches with these details.  Her beautiful blog *ArtistNotIncluded will be documenting the whole process over the next few weeks and will, I’m sure, explain all of the fascinating, technical details that will go into the finished product.

For now, do you fancy a sneak peek at the first drawings?

Brinkley sketches 1

Eeek – they are so gorgeous and I am really rather overexcited!

Brinks is a bit nonchalant about the whole thing if I’m honest. He’s more like ‘is it walk time yet?’

Here’s a close up…

Brinkley sketches 2

So lovelies. You know what Christmas cards you’ll be getting from the Finca this year! However, if you fancy sending some of your own, Brinkley and the other coverdogs will be on sale at various local boutiques in the run up to the big ho ho ho as well as on Charley’s Etsy shop.

In the meantime, I’ll be making sure that this fame doesn’t go to Brinkley’s head too much.

Have a great day x


The Perfect Present For Your Pup | Fishy Treats

Before Brinks was born we did a lot of reading about motivating puppies to learn.

The general message of my research was… ‘Some dogs will be food motivated, others will work hard for toys or even praise.’ 

Well Brinkley is definitely in the food category. He likes to be told he’s doing a good job and he adores the games that we play with his favourite toy, but when training requires him to use his thinking brain, he figures things out awfully quickly if there is food reward involved.

He already woofs down his meals, which we get delivered from Lily’s Kitchen and in our last food box, we also received a recipe for Fishy Treats.  They were bound to be a hit, so I made up a batch straight away…

sniffing out treats

Here is the recipe…

You will need:

1 x 200g tin of tuna or salmon in oil

1 egg, beaten

100g flour

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 180 C and lightly grease a baking sheet.

Empty the fish and its oil into a bowl and flake with a fork. Add the beaten egg and stir well to combine.

Add the flour and mix together so that you have a lumpy dough. I cut out my dough into little bite-size squares.

Place the squares onto the baking sheet and bake in the oven for 20 minutes until golden.

Once they are cooled, you can keep them in a container, in the fridge, for up to 2 weeks.

fishy dog treats

They were so easy and quick to make. I love the fact that I know exactly what has gone into them and that Brinks will be getting one or two healthy snacks as part of his training.

I think I will also be making up batches to give to my friends who have dogs in their families.  They might catch on as the new hostess gift. Forget a bunch of flowers or a bottle of wine – nothing softens people’s hearts up more than gifts for their bestest buddies!

gift wrapped fishy dog treats

Might you give them a go?

Have a lovely weekend x

Party Drinks That Pack A Punch | Free Printable

So that was an unexpected surprise.

Suddenly, without warning, the internet and phone decided to stop working on Saturday.

‘But I have blog posts to go out,’ I shrieked. ‘Not back on until the end of the week?!’ I exclaimed before having to go and lie down with a bag of frozen peas on my forehead.

Luckily, the phone and broadband Gods were looking kindly upon me and a very, very amazing engineer got us back up and running yesterday. What a wonderful man.

So anyway, now we’re back on track, I can share these super cool, classic Batman-inspired cocktail stirrers. Aren’t they fab?!

bam and whack cocktail stirrers

I thought it might be fun to use these when you are serving up a range of cocktails for a party.  Your guests could choose one based on their Batman sound effect.  Sort of like a drinks lucky-dip.  Your party conversation could go like this:

‘Would you like a Zwapp, or are you feeling more like a Kapow?’


‘Ooh, you went for the Plop – very courageous!’

Plop cocktail stirrer

These could even be adapted for children’s parties – obviously with totally, child-safe non-alcoholic drinks of course. As long as you have a printer, some sellotape and some straws then they can be made in minutes.

After downloading the free printable: pow straw decorations

…cut them out carefully and stick 3/4 of the way up a straw. I used little cocktail straws, but striped paper straws would look brilliant too.  I attached them by folding over little bits of tape to make double sided sellotape and then used them to press the star shapes onto the straws.

Batman cocktail stirrers

I would love to see these cropping up at very serious parties over the summer.  

I hope you enjoy! Have a great day x

My Week On Instagram

Ok, so this is how this week has been shaping up so far on Instagram…

tiny buttercup

… a tiny buttercup which made me feel all bright and sunshine-y …


… the purple phlox which is out in full force along the Finca’s hedge line  …

Hydrangea Annabelle

… the hydrangea is currently at its best. This is its moment …

Brinks and crochet

… Ja-Ja Brinks (as he was cutely called this week) still loving a bit of a crochet snooze in the morning …

I hope you’ve had a great week and are looking forward to a relaxing and fun-filled weekend.

See you soon x


Summer Inspiration | Pen Pals

Summer is the time when I tend to be at my most whimsical. Sudden fads take hold of me and I focus lots of time, energy and excitement on my latest project. Sometimes a whim can last for the summer and some can be a real surprise and stay with me forever.

This year, it’s the summer of the Pen Pal.

I know that you are well aware of my giddiness over stationery.  I also love the timelessness of a well-written letter. It’s almost meditative to sit down at a desk, with the sunlight streaming in through the window, with a cup of mint tea or freshly brewed coffee and communicate with pen on paper. The letter and envelope become their own work of art.

addressed letter pen pals

… this is obviously not the name/address of my Pen Pal – I made this one up …

After doing quite a lot of research, there seem to be a few easy routes to setting yourself up with a Pen Pal:

  • Re-kindle a friendship with someone who moved away
  • Begin writing to a relative in a different country
  • Be brave and start corresponding with a total stranger

I went for the last one.

Isn’t the phrase go big or go home? Is that appropriate for here? It seems to fit, so I’m running with it.

I decided to put up my details (only your email address, birthday and country of residence is needed) onto an online service which matches you with potential Pen Pals from around the world.  There are lots of these websites out there, but I chose to go with PenPalWorld – mainly because they are free and they received good reviews.

decorated envelope

I’m really excited about who I may get to write to and what stories they might have to share. I’m slightly worried about personal information, because in this digital age, we are schooled to be cautious.  I think I will just have fun with it and go with my instincts.

I’m even more excited about the potential for exploring a whole world of letter-writing stationery. Stamps. Pens. Paper. *Breathe

I think I may need a sit down.

lettering pens

In readiness, I have been practising different lettering techniques and trying to figure out the styles that I like (this is a whole project/fad/whim of its own).

At the moment, these are my two current, favourite pens for lettering:

I can’t wait to update you on who I write to. Do you think this is a fun project or do you have reservations? Are letters still cool or am I stuck in the dark ages?!

Have a great day x

Easy Hot Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

Do you sometimes wish for that perfect moment of housewifely-ness?

That instant of knowing that you are totally in control of your day?  The yes, I have time to make delicious pastries from scratch feeling? The yes, you have just caught me wiping my floury hands on my handmade apron and looking like I spend all day doing this sort of thing feeling?

This recipe promises to do all of this and, on top of that, provide you with the most deliciously special breakfast (or afternoon tea) that you can imagine. It’s that sort of recipe. A life changer.

hot cinnamon buns

For the Dough

1 cup warm milk
1/4 cup warm water
1tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter, room temp
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
5 cups bread flour
3 tsps quick acting yeast

If you’re making this in either a bread maker or an upright mixer then all you need to do is pop all the ingredients into the bowl and have your machine mix it all together until it forms an elastic ball of dough. If it looks too dry then add milk, a tbsp at a time to achieve your desired consistency. If it is too sticky, add flour, a tbsp at a time until it is ready.

Next, leave your dough in the mixing bowl and cover it with cling film to rise for 10 minutes, somewhere warm.

Whilst you wait for the dough to prove you can lightly oil a work top space ready for kneading. You can also prepare the filling.

Cinnamon Filling

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed soft brown sugar
4-5 tbsp cinnamon.

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

Now back to your dough. Again if you are using machines you can set them to knead for you, I prefer to do this by hand though. On your oiled work space, knead the dough firmly for 10 minutes. Now you are ready to roll it out into a large rectangle shape approx 2cm thick.

Next, leaving a small margin all the way round the outer edge of your dough spread your butter thickly. Then liberally cover your butter with the cinnamon sugar, (I find there is often too much cinnamon sugar and so I use what’s left over to sprinkle over the rolls once they are cut and in the tray ready for baking). You can now roll up your dough lengthways into a firm sausage shape. Be careful not to roll it too tightly though. Pinch together the end of your roll with the body of the sausage, (like pleating pastry on a pie crust) and you can begin to cut your rolls now.

Using a serrated knife cut your roll into slices, about 3 cm thick and place carefully onto a greased baking tray, evenly spaced out, to allow rising. Sprinkle with any remaining sugar and pop into a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees C, they will need 10-12 minutes to cook.

Now you can make the frosting.

cinnamon bun cross section


1 packet of salted butter
2 tsps vanilla extract
1 500g box icing sugar
2 tbsps milk.

This is mixed up like a normal butter cream and spread onto the hot rolls as soon as they come out the oven.

If you want to make it in advance, it is possible to freeze them pre baking. When you are ready, just thaw and bring to room temp before cooking as per instructions.

Happy baking! x

This recipe was kindly provided by the wonderful CakeNess. Find them on Facebook here.

My Week On Instagram

Is it almost the weekend already? What fun things do you have planned? Cocktails? The polo? A roller derby? No, me either.

Despite my lack of snazzy weekend plans, I did get up to some fun at the Finca this week…

Waterlily dahlia

This waterlily Dahlia took my breath away. I am determined to grow some next year, if only to use as single cut flowers. Three of these down the middle of the dinner table in single bud vases would look A-MA-ZING.  Ooh, I’ve given myself chills!

dachshund by Artist Not Inc

My lovely and funky Mr Dachshund from *Artist Not Included gives me a lift everytime I look at him in my kitchen.

He’s the business.

If you’re interested in one for yourself or some of his pals, like Mr Pug, apparently there are lots more creations currently arriving in the shop in a huge array of cool colours.

hide the treat game

Although relatively new to the game, Brinks is already pretty good at finding the treat underneath one of the three cups. What helps is his complete obsession with Lily’s Kitchen training treats. YUM!

Yay for Fridays!

Enjoy your weekend x

DIY ‘SMILE’ Doormat

On Sunday, I was perusing Pinterest over a cup of tea and some marmite on toast when I saw a beautiful picture of the word ‘smile’ that had been painted onto a concrete pavement.

Yes it was probably graffiti… but what a way to lift someone’s day?! If I had stumbled upon this little message while walking through town, I would have felt instantly better, as if a total stranger had given me a no holding back smile. With teeth showing and everything.

‘I completely love this idea!’ I said to Mr D-F. ‘Can I paint this on the concrete front step of the finca?’

He gave me a mixed look that took into account my love of whimsical home DIY, while at the same time portraying a sense of how painting it directly onto the concrete might be a little extreme. And permanent.

With his sensible advice in mind, I decided to give our doormat a facelift instead. The DIY SMILE doormat was born!

Smile painted doormat

My first thought was to create a stencil using this great, free, online stencil maker.  You can change fonts and lettering to match your mood before printing it out. Unfortunately, we currently have no printer. Hmmm…

So I drew one instead on paper and carefully cut out the lettering with a stanley knife (a craft knife would be so much easier, and safer, but again, as I didn’t have one to hand, I raided the tool box)!

smile stencil

I messaged Mr D-F at work to ask whether he would like gold sprayed lettering (I still think that this would be super cool) or a Farrow and Ball colour that would look a little more sophisticated.  He went for the F&B option.

After debating between Brassica and Stiffkey Blue I went for the blue.  After being denied my gold shiny doormat, I was going to opt for the brightest colour I had in my paint store!

I made sure that I taped the stencil down firmly and put some double sided bits under the vulnerable cut-out sections of the E and M. The mat was put onto the kitchen table and the cat was encouraged to go and enjoy the garden. Knowing my luck, he would have sat on it and ended up with a blue bottom.

Using a stencil technique (I call fierce dabbing – but I’m sure that there is a proper name), I covered all of the areas showing through the stencil.  After 3 coats and a careful peel of the stencil it was finished.

smile doormat in situ

Now I get the warm fuzzy feeling whenever I go in and out of the door.  Hopefully our visitors will feel it too.

Are there any other tips for making guests feel instantly welcome – other than a big pot of tea and a huge slice of homemade cake? Do you have something lovely in your doorway that cheers you? 

Have a great day x

Garden Mood Board | Purple

As the garden is filling out and starting to look like the best that it will get for the year, I have been spending some time sitting back and thinking about how I would like to tweak it for next summer.

Plants that I imagine will take up lots of space sometimes don’t quite fill out enough and I find myself rearranging and planning on how to fill up the gaps to create the over-flowing look that I love.

The other thing that I think about a lot is colour. I go through fads of wanting bright zingy greens or shocking yellow borders. What I have noticed about this year is the abundance of purple in the garden. Mauve, violet and aubergine colours peek out at me and really make an impact when mixed with limes and apple greens.

allium from above

… alliums, my utter, utter favourites …

allium opening

The lavender borders are looking their best ever after their springtime prune. Not only do the plants smell incredible and attract bees and butterflies, but Brinks enjoys hiding his favourite chewy toys in amongst the stems!

lavender borders


The phlox is a great space filler and often will continue to flower well into late summer.  It works well as a cut flower and isn’t fussy about being used in florists’ foam. I have kept it mainly to the edges of the garden so that it doesn’t overpower the more delicate plants.

watching sparrow

The resident family of Sparrows have been keeping an eye out for anything juicy emerging from the garden. They are busily feeding their hungry chicks in-between dust baths.

Do you have a predominant colour in your garden?  Are you one for planting plans or do you just plant what you enjoy? 

Have a great Sunday x

My Week On Instagram

This week has all been about surprising weather, interesting drinks and sneaky self-gifts!

If you want all of this goodness, straight from the horse’s mouth (as it were), please follow TDF on Instagram by clicking the little camera button to the right.  See you there!

working glass jewellery

… too good to open? …

pressed flower

… pressing flowers ready for Wednesday’s blog post …

fruity ice cubes

… I am in with these fruity ice cubes …

Hope you’ve had a great week too.  What have been your highlights? x