Archive for December, 2012

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A Neat Little Box of Pears

One of our neighbours gave us this lovely box of Pears for a Christmas gift. Such a simple but beautiful thing, I was a little jealous I hadn’t thought of it first. The red blush on the fruit sets off the green packing nicely and gives it the perfect Christmassy feel.

Fruit is such a decadent thing that it’s the perfect Christmas present. When you think how long it takes to grow this many Pears (three years for a tree to come into fruition at least) and the care and attention that someone put in to produce such blemish-free fruit. They really are a treat and something to be celebrated, boxed up and given to friends and neighbours.

Once my fruit trees are producing enough I’m definitely doing this with my own fruit. I might even have a little photo on the lid that says ‘from the orchard of…’ Love it.

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Father Christmas Mugs

Merry Christmas Eve! We’re spending most of today sitting around the fire, watching Christmas movies and drinking eggnog.

These are my vintage 1950s Santa mugs from Japan. They make the eggnog taste sooo good!

We’re so excited!

You could never buy eggnog in the shops when I lived in the UK so I always made my own. Here is my Eggnog recipe if you feel like giving your relatives a delicious, heartwarming treat!

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My Stone Fountain

At long last we have our lovely stone fountain working again. When we moved into the house it was looking very sad. It was full of soil and weeds and the pump was on the floor beside it. It was also in the middle of a very overgrown garden and so you couldn’t really see it.

We dug the soil out and it turns out that the bottom level has a wonderful aqua colour to it which makes the water sparkle blue.

It looks a little bare now that the plants are all gone. But pretty soon, once we start planting again it will be back to its former glory and take pride of place in the middle of the kitchen garden. And even though the summer feels like a long way away I bet we’ll be thankful for the tinkling water sound when the sun is beating down. I’m so happy to see it working again and restored to its former glory. It feels like the right thing in the right place in the right garden again.

Here’s a shot of how it looked when we first moved here.

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Introducing Freeway

This is Freeway. And this is her, ‘love me!’ pose. We got her from the Humane Centre here in Portland about two weeks after we arrived. She was in an enclosure with another dog that barked at everyone when they walked past. Freeway just sat there and watched.

When we finally met her she was very sweet, quiet and gentle with the children – despite their best efforts to faze her. We decided to adopt her and it was the best decision for everyone.

She has settled in very nicely. She adores my husband (to a worrying degree) and is a cuddly companion for me. She tolerates the children’s antics with mild disregard. And does her duty as a dog – she barks at other, bigger dogs then runs away, hates the UPS guy or anyone daring to drive a brown van and generally secures the perimeter. She eats like a hound, runs faster that I thought possible even for a dog, scratches up the lawn and sleeps in all the places she’s not supposed to. What more could you ask for from a dog?

She wasn’t found on a Freeway (although that would make an interesting story) she is merely named Freeway after my childhood obsession with Hart to Hart and the fact that I wanted to be Stephanie Powers for years and years. Now that I’m resigned to never actually being Stephanie Powers I’m happy to have a dog with the same name as hers.

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Greenhouse Beginnings

A very inauspicious beginning to my beautiful greenhouse. These concrete slabs will eventually be lovely, brick walls. And the greenhouse on top of them will blend seamlessly in to its surroundings.

Unlike this base which seems to be the antithesis of lovely right now. One day it will be as gorgeous as this.

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Early Morning Christmas

I woke up early this morning. Around six actually. I was woken by a small boy in my bed asking me to, ‘find his blanky’. Well, I couldn’t refuse and so up I got. When we came downstairs the sun was just coming up and the sky was a perfect dark blue. So we did the only thing we could do, we turned on all the Christmas lights snuggled and watched Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas (again). And it was lovely.

The strange light outside made all the decorations look different.

These are my Simpich Dolls which were a gift from my husband’s mum. She had been collecting them for years. They make me think of Dickensian London.

This is some mistletoe that our neighbour gave me. I love the Scandinavian style ribbon on it. And the candle is a Christmas spice that I bought from a friend’s daughter.

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Fresh Christmas Wreaths

As part of a fundraiser for my local pre-school I’ve been selling Christmas wreaths. This kind of thing is fairly new to me but I had so much fun doing it.

As someone who’s new to the neighbourhood it was a great opportunity to get to know people. I knocked on doors around the area and sold beautiful, fresh wreaths and for a good cause too! Most neighbours invited me in, sat me down infront of their cosy fires and offered me tea, or wine or eggnog or both! I got to see inside some homes that I’d never been in and now I feel like I really do know my neighbours better.

When the wreaths arrived I enlisted some help to help me deliver them.

And we took a lovely family walk delivering our Christmas goodies. It almost felt like bringing a gift. And if no-one was home we even hung them on the door for them – now that’s service!

There is something special about fresh greenery on the door at Christmas. It’s so inviting and colourful and smells wonderful too. Christmas is my very favourite time of year!

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Christmas Cookie Time

Christmas cookies don’t last long in our house. I made these little blue ones as a trial run for the cookie exchange that my neighbour is doing next week. I used the Sugar Cookies recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. And they were amazing!

They went missing in about five minutes. With only a tiny blurred hand as evidence.

I think I know who did it!

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My Planting Plan

The garden redesign is really split into two parts, the ornamental garden with the lawn which is where we will play, eat and hangout. And the kitchen garden where I’ll grow our vegetables and fruit. The two will be split up by the greenhouse which will effectively be a barrier between the two.

I will be planting up the kitchen garden but today I received the planting plan for the ornamental side of the garden. It’s very exciting and there are a lot more plants in it than I expected.

Some of the plants on the list I recognise, like Flamingo Heather, Green Orme Hebe, Hydrangeas, Camillias, Hostas, and Cypress. But some are new to me like Spike Witchhazel, Diablo Ninebark, and Japanese Barberry.

One striking thing about this part of the garden is that it has six Flame Amur Maple trees around the edge which I think will make a dramatic backdrop in Autumn.

I’m also planning to switch some of the traditional planting out in favour of some more edible plants. I’ll be putting in a Flowering Quince tree next to the greenhouse, a Medlar tree, a Black Cherry on the north side and replacing some of the Sweet Box edging with evergreen Blueberry. I’m also making room for a Marionberry.

I’m hoping to buy around half the plants soon and get them in before the frosts come (not much time!). And the perennials will probably have to wait until the Springtime.

…my snow village is out. When I packed up all the delicate little boxes last year, knowing that they would have to make the long and bumpy ride to America on a container ship, I feared for them. I’ve made one every year for the last few years and while I’m handy with a pair of scissors and some glue I’m no miniature model-maker. So as you can imagine they are pretty but not too sturdy.

When I unpacked them here they were in perfect shape. Like they had never been on a journey at all. I had to buy some more twinkly lights to go underneath the snow, since the old ones had a UK plug on, and I had to re-apply some spray snow here and there to touch up the gaps. But other than that they look very at home on our new book shelf.

Infact… the new bookshelf is so long that the snow village could safely double in size and still fit. So I’m looking forward to a few more years of sticking and gluing and spraying. Last year we made this little snowy cottage. This year I’ve got my sights on something a little grander. Maybe a turret or two? We’ll see.