Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Autumn House Tour

I have kept our autumnal decorating simple this year. It's just what I felt I could manage, little touches using some of my favourite decorations, most of them handcrafted by me others picked up over the years. The reason why I add seasonal touches throughout my home is that it really is a celebration of the season. Each season is beautiful in its own right and I do like to pause throughout each day to appreciate little moments that could so easily be missed.

Watching the sunlight pool on the carpet, or gazing over the fields early in the morning that are cloaked in autumn mists, or perhaps watching a bumble bee visiting white clover in the grass and the butterflies flocking on buddleia flower spikes. So many little beautiful moments.

I've kept my front entrance simple with this stunning autumnal wreath I picked up at T Maxx about 4 years ago and my must-have autumn 'mums' and pumpkins.

Of all the different colours of mums, this russet colour is my favourite. Each year I think that I must perhaps pick a different colour but then I stand in front of the array of choice and I just cannot resist the russet ones. Perhaps next year I'll get two or three different colours and create a whole display on my front porch. 

Stepping through the front door you enter a large entrance hall off of which we have a guest WC, the passage leading down to the bedrooms on the right. The kitchen to the left and straight ahead we have the living room.

I have hung strings of autumn flower fairy bunting I made a good 5 or 6 years ago and to the left of the door pictured above, I have my welsh dresser. On the shelves, I have little autumnal touches, a garland of knitted acorns I made, a few cross-stitched smalls, and of course lots of tea lights.

Coming through into the living room, the mantle is all decked out with a display of cross-stitched pillows, hand knitted pumpkins and apples and a sewn corn on the cob, and another string of autumnal bunting I made a while back.

I haven't made any new autumn decorations this year which is a bit disappointing but I suppose understandable given that we were pre-occupied with our house move. 

Of course, there are candles everywhere because well...I like candles to brighten up these shortening days. Most of them are pumpkin spice scented so the house smells amazing this time of year.

I bring in branches of berries and grasses gathered on our walks. They usually find a spot on the mantle or on the Welsh Dresser. I like bringing nature indoors, its free and nothing can compare to its beauty.

 On the little coffee table in the middle of the room is a little display that I change up through the seasons.

Right now we have some pine cones, a little autumn stitchery, some autumn leaves and a gorgeous set of autumn leaf coasters gifted to me by a very dear friend.

So that's it for this year's autumn decor. I really wanted to do more but just could not do it with everything else that has been going on. We've been in our new home for just over 3 weeks now and I am finally beginning to find time to sit down and indulge in a bit of stitching and knitting. Today I even managed to dye some yarn for my Etsy shop! So I feel like I'm making headway. 

Brrrr! The temperature is beginning to drop. It's late afternoon and soon my evening chores of making dinner etc will need to be done. I think I'll quickly light a fire before I do that - it will chase the chill away. Until my next post, keep warm and take time to enjoy the small moments and happenings in your day.

Blessings to you all...

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Exploring Our Surrounds

Today pulled our wellington boots on, grabbed our cameras and walked across the fields behind our house to explore and enjoy our first proper autumn walk. It wasn't a 'nature walk' as such but inevitably we end up collecting natural treasures along the way and today was no different.

We are lucky to have quite a few walks around us, many of the public footpaths cross over farmers fields. Some are full of cows so we carefully skirt the field without spooking them. I've heard some horror stories involving walkers and cows.

The styles that you see in some of the photographs are a common feature in the English countryside. I had never seen one until we moved here, they were in all my childhood stories though. I remember the absolute delight I felt upon seeing my very first one when we moved here nearly 8 years ago. Funny how something so small and insignificant and bring delight.

The church pictured below can be seen from our living room window. It's about two, maybe three farmers fields away. We could see a small country church from our home in Chesterfield, which eventually became our home church. I don't think this lovely little church will become our home church though but we really wanted to walk around the churchyard and have a peek. Sadly the actual church was all locked up.

There was an amazingly beautiful Horse Chestnut tree in the churchyard. The ground was littered with leaves and conkers. We collected a good lot and popped them into a glass vase that is now sitting on my Welsh Dresser.

These days we tend to display our nature finds casually around the home rather than have a formal nature table display. A vase of hawthorn and twigs of rose hips, a hurricane vase filled with conkers. That sort of thing.

What is it about conkers that brings delight to even an adults heart? I think it is the childhood memories of autumn days spent engaged in conker wars in the schoolyard. 

In the UK we still have conker championships and festivals that are well patronised and enjoyed by children and adults alike. Isn't it wonderful how this small fruit of a rather majestic tree seems to be such an important part of the culture of this country?

After exploring the churchyard we headed back home. We got caught in a rain shower which is always fun when out on a walk. We met our farmer landlord on our return, he was telling us that there are quite a few good walks surrounding us and that he has a book of them all somewhere which he will dig out and give to us. Isn't that kind of him?

Even though it wasn't an official 'nature walk' it seemed to have inspired my girls to get out there nature journals and paint some of our finds. I love seeing them do that unprompted. Its been an age since I last worked in my own journal, I think I might get it out this week and follow my girls' example.

Have a lovely day everyone 😊

Monday, October 22, 2018

Autumn Traditions

One of the things I missed so much about the north when we were living in Devon was the very marked changes and differences in the seasons and rhythms of nature. I suppose it's what you get used to and when there's a change it just does not feel right.

For instance, bluebells bloom in May, that's bluebell month in the north. Down south it happens a good 4 to 6 weeks earlier because the temperatures are so much more temperate. That just felt so wrong to me.

Up north autumn is not only a riot of colour but the season also ushers in the first frosts much earlier than in the south. In fact, I can remember the number of frosts we had in the south - not many - whilst in the north, frosts are expected throughout the course of autumn and winter. In my seasonally attuned mind, that is part of the joy of autumn and winter. I love the beauty of a good old hard frost. 

We live just outside Chester and the countryside here is just beautiful. Everywhere is a riot of autumn colour. I simply love it here. What I hadn't realised is how close we are to North Wales. Chester borders Wales so it's exciting to know that we can easily explore this beautiful part of the UK over the coming months.

Today my daughters and I took a drive to the most lovely farm shop in North Wales, only a 15-minute drive from home. We had a coffee in their little coffee shop and then took a walk around the apple orchard and pumpkin field. We try to visit a pumpkin field each autumn. It's a little tradition left over from our homeschooling days that we started about 4 years ago.

I was very pleased to see that not only were was there a lovely pumpkin patch but rows upon rows of apple trees of all kinds.

We had obviously missed the best apple picking times as the branches were pretty bare...lots of windfalls. I will make a note in next years planner to come out in September and pick lots of apples.

At the entrance to the farm shop, there were crates of lovely farm produce. I was slightly disappointed with the high prices though. It's not like there are road miles or storage prices that need to be covered. I had ideas of stocking up on farm-fresh produce but decided against it after looking at what they were charging still, the displays were pretty.

One thing this trip did do was inspire me for next years veggie patch. I have oodles of space now so I will grow our own pumpkins and plenty of fresh vegetables. Home-grown is best anyway and the satisfaction in picking your own home-grown food is wonderful.

I hope that your week is off to as delightful a start as ours is. Remember to embrace the season as it is fleeting. Enjoy the small things and keep looking for beauty in the ordinary small things 😉

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Week in Review

We've had two frosty mornings this week and I have loved it! The frost arrives later in a coastal town, sometimes only once winter has arrived. Having lived in the north for most of our time in the UK I had grown accustomed to autumnal frosts and missed them like crazy when we were living in the South West.

This week was made all the better with a visit from a close friend. I really missed seeing her when we were living in Devon and it is so lovely to be able to spend more time with her. We have planned to go to the knitting and Stitching show in Harrogate towards the end of November so I'm looking forward to that. 

We've been exploring our surrounds which has been fun. My eldest daughter and I went to a lovely farm a few weeks back whilst DH was working and DD2 was visiting a friend for the weekend. It was lovely to enjoy some time together walking through the apple orchard which is a little past it's prime and picking out pumpkins for our autumn porch decoration.

With the end of October on the horizon, I am trying to savour every minute of the season. November seems to tumble quite quickly into bleakness as the autumn winds and storms pick up and make short work of the autumn colour that is cloaking the trees right now.

Both my girls have got jobs already and I'm so happy for them. They love to work and earn their own money. DD1 (above) is trying to figure out what it is she wants career wise. She is a creative and yearns to forge a career as a freelance illustrator. So she is giving herself that time by taking a part-time job in hospitality. She's loving her job and is contemplating pursuing it full-time should her freelance ambitions not work out as she hopes. As a parent, I am reminded how no matter the age of our children they will always need our encouragement and advice. I feel blessed to be able to support my children through this next stage of their lives as they figure out their way in the world.

With this frosty bout of weather, we have enjoyed our first fires of the season. We have lots of wood knocking about our property so we have spent a few hours gathering it up to one place. I've also managed to plant out 100 daffodil bulbs this week. I shall look forward to the display in spring! November will be tulip planting time as they can go in a bit later than most spring bulbs.

My Etsy shop re-opened this week which I'm thrilled about, two lovely skeins were shipped out this morning to their new home, I still get excited when I make a sale. I really need to have a big dye session next week and stock up the shelves, my Etsy shop is looking like it needs a bit of attention. I need to have a think on how I'm going to schedule my working week as I have quite a bit going on. DD2 is pretty independent with her studies so I try to work on my law degree while she is working on her stuff. That leaves the afternoons free to get the rest done. Problem is the 'rest' is never ending! There are those things that simply MUST be done and then those things that would be lovely to do like knitting, sewing and stitching...and blogging of course. So much living to get into 24 hours!

What I am going to do right after I finish this post and wish you goodbye is finished this pair of socks that have been on my needles! I just have the toe to do and then they will be given to DD1 who loves to wear hand knitted socks. I shall cast on the next pair straight afterwards because let's be can never have enough knitted socks, especially when winter hits.

Wishing you a lovely warm weekend...until next time.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Sunrise, Sunset

As I made my way to the kitchen this morning, I splashed through puddles of sunlight in my entrance hall. The soft golden glow greeted me through the kitchen window as I switched on the kettle for my first cup of tea of the day.

As I waited for the kettle to boil I was transfixed by the scene that lay outside my kitchen window. The autumn mist shrouded the countryside making the barns and farmhouse across the way seem surreal. 

Dew lay thick on the grass and for a few moments, all was still. The stillness was soon broken as a tractor drove past just at the bottom of my garden and I reflected on what a wonderful place the English countryside is.

We have been in our new home for a week now and I keep thanking the Lord for the blessing of this home and its location. I am a true country girl at heart. I love the stillness at night and the busyness of farm life during the day. It reminds me of my childhood where holidays were spent on my aunt's farm in the Eastern Cape. 

The move went really well and by lunchtime on day two, I had unpacked the last box. The only things left to do as it stands now is to hang pictures and sort out the garage. Those things might take a few weeks as the next few weekends are booked up with visiting university open days for the girls. But I'm not too fussed. We generally feel settled and everything has a place that works. I've even managed to get my autumn decorations up but I'll leave that for another post.

On Friday, two days after moving into our home, we collected our kitties from the cattery. They were so happy to be home and with us after 5 weeks of cattery living! Poor things, I felt so sorry for them but they were healthy and still fat so they couldn't have been too unhappy. Right now they are housebound for at least two weeks, preferably three while they get a true sense of home before being allowed to go outside to explore and meet the farm animals. Heart-stoppingly, one of them got out yesterday but we managed to coax her back inside. She was pretty chilled when she was in the garden but I certainly was not!

Meet our curious neighbours. They are all too sweet. These young bulls sleep in the barn that runs along our drive. We love to visit them each day. They seem to enjoy our company and are ever so curious when we arrive. They spend a bit of time staring at us before all crowding round sniffing and licking our hands. Cow 893 (standing staring at the camera) is super friendly and enjoys a good head scratch. So sweet!! I just love these little fellows.

This morning I dug my bird feeder out of the garage. We have a little-hedged garden (well it will be a garden, right now it's a hedge and a square patch of bare earth) outside our bedroom window. The birds absolutely love it there, so far I've spotted our resident friendly robin, some cheeky blackbirds and a small flock of sparrows that frequent this little patch throughout each day. I thought I would see how the bird feeder fares here. I'm hoping to be able to lie in bed in the mornings and watch the birds visit. 

As I type up this post I glanced out of the window and saw this such a beautiful sunset! I dashed outside to capture the moment noticing how quickly the sun slips away once it's decided that it's bed time. I just caught the tiniest slip of the sleepy sun before it tucked itself up for the night.

We have two horses that live in the field and this one was curious as to what I was doing. He came on over to investigate further. They are quite friendly and come over to say hi when we are on the patio. Occasionally we treat them to a carrot which probably makes us slightly more 'interesting' then if we didn't 😁...the way to a horses heart!

I have to say that I am inspired by my surrounds, I always have been inspired by the English countryside. I have a bucket list of things I want to do, ideas, blog posts, crafts, stitchery's but frustratingly, I feel like I have a million things I want to do but not enough time to do it all. I think that must be a common problem that most creatives face.

Anyhoo, I am going to love and leave you for today. Wishing you all a lovely evening.