Monday 31 December 2012

happy new year

may you always be blessed ...
with walls for the wind ...
a roof for the rain ...
a warm cup of tea by the fire ...
laughter to cheer you ...
those you love near you ...
and all that your heart may desire ...

an irish blessing

Wishing you all a truly Happy New Year.  I hope it brings much happiness and joy. x

52 weeks of happy (13/52)

Timely.  My week 13 happies on the eve of 2013.

Four simple, happy things for my 52 weeks of happy.

Our surprise visitors on Chrismas Eve. Just magical.

A wonderful Christmas full of family, fun, food and love.

Beautiful blue skys on winter walks.  So lovely to get some fresh air.

A great day out to W5 in Belfast, an interactive discovery centre for the kids. They had an absolute ball playing and discovering and to top off a great experience we got to travel on the Winter Express train and meet Jack Frost.

Another week full of happy.

Wishing you all happiness for the coming week.

Friday 28 December 2012

christmas magic

On Christmas Eve we had two surprise visitors.  No, not Santa and Rudolph. We, like many homes were anticipating their arrival but our visitors were a genuine surprise.  In fact, they nearly gave Mr F a heart attack.

After laying out some hay and carrots on our patio table for the reindeer, and a mince pie and beer for Santa, donning new pyjamas and reading favourite Christmas stories, the little ones were tucked up for the night.

I was elbow deep in ingredients for our Christmas dinner when I realised I needed some parsley for the stuffing so Mr F kindly offered in sous chef capacity to get some from our vegetable patch.

He returned, a few minutes later, visibly shocked and exclaiming "you've got to see this".  Well, what could I do but have a look.  And there they were.  Our surprise guests enjoying a meal of reindeer food from our patio table.

Mr F thought they were reindeer at first, hence the initial shock.  He had just heard the munching and popped round the side of the house to have a look and was met with two hairy behinds.  Little wonder he was a bit shaken.

The little donkeys have taken up residence in our neighbour's field right next to our house.  He has kindly taken them in, for now at least.  We can only presume they have been dropped off.  A sad sign of the times. Once loved pets that have proven too expensive.

But they have been lucky to find their way here.  I will keep you posted on what happens.


I posted today on modflowers about some pretty things I love.  Gorgeous screen printed ceramics which are definitely on my wishlist.  Take a peep if you get a chance.


Thursday 27 December 2012


Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.  We had good times here.  Santa visited and was very kind.  We have ate, drank and made merry.  So today we are chilling.

I am guest posting today at modflowers.  I've shared a recipe for a lovely festive dessert.  Pop over and take a look if you can bring yourself to think about more food. 

Monday 24 December 2012

merry christmas : 52 weeks of happy (12/52)

Wishing all of you lovelies a very Merry Christmas and a stocking full of Christmas joy.  Have a good one.

My 52 weeks of happy.  I have had many happies this week but sadly limited photo opportunities, so for the record, week 12.  My four simple happy things.

Going to see our two boys perform in their school nativity play.
Seeing the look of delight in my little man's eyes when he won a prize in the school raffle.
Receiving lovely gifts in the post and finishing up school on Friday. A two week break from routine. Lovely.

I am guest posting today at modflowers.  I have been making paper stars.  It would be lovely if you could visit.

Sunday 23 December 2012

a little excursion

Just a quickie to let you know I am delighted to be guest posting over at modflowers today and during next week.  Pop over and visit.  I would love to see you there.

Thursday 20 December 2012

for the birds

Winter is here with its cold and frost so we've been making seed cakes for the wild birds in our garden.  I couldn't forget my feathered friends.

We used solid vegetable fat and an autumn and winter bird seed mix.  The process is simple so little ones can get involved and help.

With an adult's help melt the fat over a gentle heat until it becomes liquid and pour carefully into the seed mix. Stir well.  The seed mix should be well coated and appear shiny and wet.  This ensures it sticks together in the mould.

For fun we used christmas cookie cutters to make the seed cakes but you could use any container to hold them together.  Empty yoghurt pots would work well. The fat solidifies as it cools and holds the seed cake together.

We made a hole by inserting a bamboo skewer into the seed cake as it set.  Once solidified press out of the cookie cutters.  They are best left overnight to harden completely.  Test them gently.  They should not be crumbly. Finally thread some string through the hole for hanging.

Hang out in the garden, sit back with a cuppa and watch the birds enjoying a winter feast.


My second little boy has a serious nut allergy so I sought out a seed mix which didn't contain nuts. Just something you should consider if any of you are in the same situation and want to make seed cakes with your little ones.

Monday 17 December 2012

a winner

Two posts in one day.  Must be some kind of record,  Anyway on to the business at hand.

With the able assistance of my eldest we popped all the names in the hat or stocking in this case . I thought we should keep it festive.  He dipped in and drew out a winner.

The lucky lady is Jo from Binds you to me.

So if you could let me know your address Jo I will pop your parcel in the post. Thanks to everyone who took part.  I will no doubt do another in the new year.

I'm off out later to the school nativity play.  Cue manic maternal pride.

52 weeks of happy (11/52)

My four simple happy things this week.  It's feeling festive now.  Joining in with Jen at little birdie.

Jen is guest posting at modflowers today and during the week, pop over and visit.

Taking the wee ones to visit Santa Claus at Castle Coole.  He was staying there while training the reindeer.

My granny and grandad's nativity, now mine.  I love it for the memories.

A beautiful gift in the post from the very lovely Caroline. Thank you.

Making with the little ones.  More on that later.

Hope you are all enjoying much happiness of your own.


I'll be back later with the giveaway winner.  I just have to organise the mystery hand.

Friday 14 December 2012


Things have gone a little quiet here lately.  I've been busy.  I'm sure you are all in the same boat. Time is rolling on and my little ones are counting sleeps until Christmas Eve.

source: pinterest -

I've been elving. Wrapping presents ready to deliver, writing Christmas cards and fashioning shepherds costumes out of teatowels and old shirts for the school nativity play.

Enjoying Aladdin, a school trip to a pantomine with my two little boys. Placing the order for our turkey and writing a list for the grocery shop.  And of course some baking and crafting.

I hope you are all enjoying the run up to Christmas, whatever that means in your home.

Pop by and enter my giveaway if you haven't already.  It will end this Sunday.


In the absence of any light to take photos I added this one found on pinterest.  I love the simplicity of the tree but I can't see the little ones going for it though.

Monday 10 December 2012

52 weeks of happy (10/52)

52 weeks of happy, my four simple happy things taken from a lovely relaxed weekend.

A lake view near where I live on a still winter afternoon. On days like this the water is like a sheet of glass.

An ivy leaf found by my eldest while out walking.  He thought it looked like an alien.  I love the bright yellow colour.

Crafting these little linen stars.

And the beginnings of one of my favourite meals, beetroot and goats cheese risotto.

What's making you happy at the moment?

Sunday 9 December 2012

o christmas tree

I'm feeling properly festive now.  Christmas had definitely arrived here.  The whole house had been cleaned from top to bottom, a little problem of mine.  I couldn't contemplate putting the decorations up until I have annihilated every little dust bunny which dares to bounce along the floorboards.  Do any of you suffer from this affliction.  It's the same when I'm going on holiday, I can't bear to leave a messy house behind.  But enough about my obsessions.

Our Christmas decorations have been gathered year by year since Mr F and I first moved in together. They are a happy mish mash of gifts from family, some belonged to my granny, some we bought on honeymoon. Each with a special memory attached.

On honeymoon, we met a lovely lady who told us she had bought or made a new decoration each Christmas for her son as he grew up, so when he left home he had a ready made collection to take with him and build upon.

I thought it was a great tradition so each year I like to choose an ornament or decoration for each of our little ones.  The fun is finding something a bit different.  Last years were these lovely little china snowmen.

And finally, our Christmas tree.

Don't you think the tree doesn't look nearly as pretty in the daylight as it does at night when it's all lit up and sparkling. Maybe that's the magpie in me. I will try and get a decent night time picture but for now I am too impatient to wait.

If you're interested and haven't already, don't forget to pop over and enter my giveaway.  You never know you might just be lucky.

Wednesday 5 December 2012

lovely things: sanna annukka and a giveaway

Another lovely thing.  One of my favourite artists is Sanna Annukka. I adore her beautiful screenprints and have been a fan for a long time now.

The colours, patterns and style of her work really appeal to me and her new prints feature birds.  Be still my heart.


I had mentioned a little while ago that I would host a little giveaway.

I would like to send one of you a copy of the lovely new book illlustrated by Sanna Annukka which tells the story of The Fir Tree by Hans Christian Andersen. Some of you may already know it.  It is very beautiful and a joy to own.

So to take part all I ask are two things.  Please leave a comment on this post and follow the linen cloud if you don't already.

The closing date for the giveaway is 16th December when I will choose a winner at random.  I will let you know who got lucky in a blog post on Monday 17th.

So good luck lovely people.

Monday 3 December 2012

52 weeks of happy (9/52)

My simple happy things for this week.  I never imagined when I started this how quickly the weeks would fly by but I love the process of choosing four things which represent the happiness of the past week.

Thank you Jen for inspiring me.

My four happies.

Brotherly love.  A really sensible man to man chat about superheroes.

Daffodil and narcissi bulbs which we planted this week.  I'm looking forward to a burst of sunshine yellow in the spring.

A beautiful, structural seed head.

A little bird found at a local market for peanuts.  With my love for birds, I couldn't pass it by.

Hope you all have a happy week.

Friday 30 November 2012

goodbye november

November has been and gone making way for December.

We've had fun this month with big family birthdays.  My dad turned sixty.  We've had family days out enjoying the crisp, frosty days lit with watery winter sunshine.  We've been baking, cooking, crafting and generally doing our best to stay cosy and warm.

But December begins tomorrow and brings with it the excitement of Advent and the run up to Christmas.  It seems like the right time to get properly festive.


We have a tradition for Advent.  Each day of Advent 'Mrs Christmas' leaves a little treat in her pocket for the wee ones.  Sometimes sweets, sometimes a tiny little toy or handmade gift and other days a handwritten promise of fun for that day.  Maybe Christmas crafting, the annual visit to Santa, a winter walk. You get the idea.

The little ones love the excitement of rushing downstairs to see what's in her pocket each day.  It doesn't need to be much.  It's a great way for them to countdown to Christmas day.

Do you have advent traditions?


Our advent calender is by Gisela Graham, bought a few years ago.  We named her ourselves.  'Mrs Christmas' is not her official title.

Apologies for the atrocious photos.  It is dismal here today, dark, grey and wet.  Bring back the frost and bright skies.

Monday 26 November 2012

52 weeks of happy (8/52)

 My happy things this week.

My Kimmidoll.  My little fairy says the doll looks like her.  That makes me smile.

 My owl brooch from a lovely friend.  Thank you.

Our West German vase.  I just love the colour.

Reading the current issue of The Simple Things.  There are some lovely features included.

As always I'm linking to the lovely Jen at little birdie.

Hope you are all having a happy week.

Sunday 25 November 2012

stir it up sunday

Today I am custodian of two bubbling saucepans containing my Christmas puddings.

I love the process of preparing and steaming the puddings, from getting the dried fruit drunk on rum the night before, to measuring out and mixing all the ingredients in my granny's old pudding bowl.

It is a tradition in our family to make the puddings on the last Sunday before Advent, stir it up Sunday.

Since I was a little girl I watched and later helped my lovely granny make the Christmas puddings. She continued making them until she was ninety when the baton was passed on to me. 

Granny passed away three years ago but I still love stir it up Sunday. It is a wonderful way to remember her.

The happy memories baking 'stirs up' please me no end, so for me it is stir it up Sunday in more ways than one.

My granny always insisted that all the family took a turn to stir the pudding whilst making a secret wish.

The pudding was always stirred from east to west to represent the journey that the three wise men made to Bethlehem and often had a coin hidden inside for wealth, health and happiness.

So the pudding making today and the delicious smell which is wafting through the house as the pudding steams means the festive season is firmly on its merry way.  Oh sugar.  I better get organised.

Thursday 22 November 2012

making mania

Just a quick post on what I've been up to lately.  I've been crafting like a mad thing for the Hookin' with Laa Laa Advent swap. 

The parcel contents are top secret.  They must remain a surprise for my swap partner.

It has been fun trying to make little gifts which complement my partner's likes and dislikes.  Hopefully I have got it right and she likes her gifts.


I'm so flattered.  I have 100 lovely readers.  I never imagined anyone would be interested in my ramblings. As this is my first big milestone since I started blogging I think it may be cause for a little celebration, so I will organise a giveaway soon.  I will let you all know when I get organised.

Once again, thank you all so much for reading and to all of you who take the time to comment, I love to hear from you.  You really make my day. 

Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday 19 November 2012

52 weeks of happy (7/52)

The happiest people don't have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything.

Hope you are all happy this week.  Here are my happy things.
A gingerbread person my eldest decorated at school.  He is reading the story and the teacher brought them in so the little ones could get creative.  I say person because I can't quite identify gender due to the placement of the Smarties.

The vibrant red of these dogwood stems, more striking without leaves.

A beautiful rose blooming happily on a very frosty Sunday morning.

And enjoying doughnut muffins.  They went down a treat with the little ones.  I used Gilly's recipe.  Thanks for sharing.


Before I go, thank you for your lovely compliments on my Christmas wreath post.


Thursday 15 November 2012

christmas wreath

So last night I escaped to the handmade Christmas class at my local craft shop for a few hours of blissful cutting, pinning, stitching and gluing.  And my creation, a Christmas wreath.

It was a lot of fun to make and was quite easy to put together in one evening. So what do you think?

I'm off now to watch Kirstie's Vintage Home on +1.

Before I sign off for the night I want to say hello and welcome to my newest followers. I hope you enjoy my ramblings.

Monday 12 November 2012

52 weeks of happy (6/52)

What are your happy things this week?  Here are mine.
Admiring beautiful Georgian architecture.  I love the simple clean lines.

Finding some fallen lichen while out walking.  It seems to be lit from within.

A huge mug of hot, hot tea and a Toblerone.  What's not to love?

Cooking warming vegetable soup and eating it with buttered bread.  Just lovely.

Short and sweet this week as I'm rushing out to a meeting at playgroup.  Wishing all of you lovelies a happy week to come.

Linking up to the lovely Jen at little birdie.

Sunday 11 November 2012

november weekend

Our weekend.  We had a lovely visit to Florencecourt House and Gardens.  We headed off early and enjoyed some lovely sunshine.

We admired the beautiful colours of autumn.

 And kicked through the millions of fallen leaves.

 We wished on pennies at the old watermill.

And played follow the leader.

We had some fun in the adventure playground and came home for lunch.  Now the little ones are all cosied up in their pyjamas after a bath and are playing snakes and ladders in front of the stove.

I have a late tea in the oven for Mr F and I and I am surrounded by crafty bits and bobs, making for the advent swap organised by Hookin' with Laa Laa.

I love that our weekends seem to follow the same pattern this time of year.  I hope you are all enjoying your weekend.

Thursday 8 November 2012

lovely things: abigail brown

As you may have guessed I have a bit of a thing for birds.

I seem to be inexplicably drawn to all manner of beautiful art featuring our feathered friends so today I thought I would share one of my absolute favourites, Abigail Brown.

Abigail is a continuous collector of fabrics, either bought new or used items she gathers to give new life to. Her pieces might be formed from her old pyjamas, someone's curtains from the 1970's or her friend's old skirt. She loves the colour and vibrancy of the new fabrics but the life that still lives on in an old garment or piece of cloth, and enjoys the process of turning it into something new. Her work centres around animals because they fascinate and inspire her.

Her work is all hand made; hand sewn by Abigail herself in her studio. Each piece is exquisitely crafted with great love and attention to detail. Whilst pieces are often replicated, no two will ever be the same and that is what makes each one such a treasure.

Abigail is very talented, creating her beautiful little creatures using preloved materials and her amazing skill.  I find it astonishing how real the birds look. Pop along to the website and take a peep.  I promise you won't be disappointed.

source: all photographs property of Abigail Brown

I have one of the beautiful owl prints and I hope to save my pennies and one day give one of Abigail's little birds a home.
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