Sunday, 30 November 2014

Advent One

Although the first of December isn't until tomorrow, today is the first Sunday of Advent.

Today we light the first of our four Advent candles.  We will continue to light one candle each Sunday until Christmas and on Christmas Day we will light the fifth candle.

To me, Advent means many things.  It is of course the coming of Christmas, but it is a time to reflect and to think about what Christmas really means to me.

Lighting these candles gives time for contemplation and prayer.  I have much to pray for this year and much to be thankful for too.  I will also be thinking about where I have been, where I am going and where I want to be.  In this time of preparation, it is also a good time to do some thinking about the broader things in life too.

Of course tomorrow being December 1st means that I can have a piece of chocolate every day before breakfast with no guilt at all - just another thing to be glad about!


p.s. the observant among you will notice that these are my candles from last year, I wrote this in advance as I won't light this years candles until the end of the day today!.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Liebster Award

Recently the lovely Jodie from Lupey Loops kindly nominated me for a Liebster Award.  As I explained in this post, I am always very grateful to receive awards and to take part in answering the questions, but I don't chose specific blogs to pass any awards on to.  However, I would love to invite you to take part and answer Jodie's questions as well!  If you decide to have a go, leave me a link in the comments and I will pop by and read your answers!

Thank you so much Jodie for nominating me for this award, I really do appreciate it.  Make sure that you go and visit Jodie's lovely blog too!

Ok, so, on to the questions!

1. Why do you keep a blog?
I like to read other peoples blogs and see what they have been up to and to get inspiration for crafting and other ideas and I was inspired to take part and have a go myself!
2. How did you decide upon your blog name?
Well, I love my home, and it is love that made my home, my blog is about my home, so it just all seemed to fit really!
3. What is/are your favourite creative pursuit(s)* or hobbies?
I think that the header of my blog says it all really!  Crafting, homemaking, gardening, travel, depending on the day or the weather really!
4. How has technology affected your creative pursuit(s) and hobbies?
Learning to crochet via the internet has been a wonderful thing for me, I really enjoy it so much and would never have done it without the internet.
5. What has been your favourite creative project so far?
Whatever I am working on at the time!  Right now I am trying to finish a shawl - it should be done today I hope.  That is my favourite right now....
6. What are your favourite colours?
I wear denim jeans a lot, so as far as clothes go, anything that goes with denim blue.  Otherwise, I tend to the neutral tones and then add spots of colour in accessories, both in the home and garden.
7. What are your favourite clothes?
Oh, I should have read this one before I answered number six.  Jeans and in summer my birkenstocks, not really very fashionable perhaps but very comfy in both cases!
8. What's your preference: indoor or outdoor?
Winter = indoors, Summer = outdoors!  Best of both worlds that way.
9. What are your current reads?
Christmas magazines.  I have rather over shopped on them I fear and now that December is here on Monday I am trying to read them all!  I have also spent quite a lot of time poring over the pattern for my shawl to make sure that it get it right.  Not sure that counts as reading though!  I am of course always reading blogs too!
10. If you could meet anyone in the world, who would it be?
If I could go back in time I would love to meet Lady Iliffe who owned and restored the house where I work, she died before I started work there, but I think that she would have been a fascinating person to talk to.  As far as someone who is alive right now I would love to meet a really great gardener and have them come round and advise me on what to do and plant in my garden.  That would be really interesting.

11. What are your plans for 2015?
Some years ago we drew up a five year plan, but we have been rubbish at sticking to it.  One of the things was to go on holiday to Norway, so perhaps I might look into that for 2015.  I would also like to get a new lounge room carpet and to finish some of my WIP's and other crafting projects that are waiting in the wings.  Most of all I want to enjoy life and my husband's company and to spend time doing happy things.  I would also like to worry less.  I worry about how other people are, I am always terrified that I have offended someone or upset someone or other and it would be amazing to overcome that fear.  Sounds as though I have just come up with some new years resolutions!
Thank you again Jodie for nominating me for this and some great thought provoking questions!
I look forward to reading your answers dear readers, so go on, have a go!

Friday, 28 November 2014

Five on Friday

I have quite a lot of cookbooks - according to some people who shall remain nameless hubby - although, I think that compared to some people I don't think that I have that many.  They are all favourites though.  If I don't cook from them, if I don't like them, the recipes don't work or they just bug me I am afraid they go.  I need recipes that work for us.  They have to taste good, come out as promised and be relatively straightforward.

Of course there are also the books that I read like novels, never cook from and just have because I love them!

I thought that I would share five of them with you today.  First of all is this book.  The Good Housekeeping Cookery Book.

This is roughly the same age as me.  It has travelled far and wide and has seen a lot of action - the damage below was caused by being chewed by a puppy! - and also a lot of use.

It will always go with me wherever I go, despite the fact that quite a lot of the recipes are things that I would never cook.

You can see that the pictures have a very retro look to them.  Do you remember serving curries like the one in the picture above, with the obligatory shaved coconut and we also used to add slices of banana for some reason.  They never feature in my curries now!

There are also sections telling you how to freeze things, making massive meals for groups of people - beef casserole for 50 anyone? - and some very dated menu plans as well.  I love this book though.  It is comforting and I will always keep it and treasure it forever.

Second is a Delia Smith favourite, her Christmas book and the newer version.  I use this book every year to make my Christmas cake and some other things too.  I actually prefer the older book than the newer one.

It is interesting to see how times change though, the old book from decades ago includes game pie, which doesn't feature at all in the new version of the book.  Tastes and fashion change over the years and it is just the same for food isn't it.

My very first own cookbook is this one.  The Pooh Corner Cook Book.  I have to say that I don't use this one any more and haven't done for a long time.  Again I keep it for sentimental reasons mainly.  I remember receiving it aged about 9 I think, but I can't be sure!

There are recipes for such delights as the orange jellies above, basically jelly set in an orange half! and Upside Down Pineapple Cake which you can see that I tried to adapt to using cups for when I lived in the US and didn't have any kitchen scales to weigh things!

A few years ago now I came across the books of Australian Chef Bill Granger, and I have a lot of his books!  I use them all though and cook from them often.  In fact they are probably the books that by hubby and I are most likely to turn to.  There isn't anything that I have ever cooked from one Granger's books that hasn't turned out well or tasted wonderful.  These are books that I flick through and think, I want to make that and that and that and so on.  I think that is a sign of a good cookbook!

You can see that we use these books a lot!  This Baked Risotto is a favourite - you can see that by the state of this page.  You can also see of course what a messy cook I am!

Another of Grangers books contains this recipe for Fish Burritos and you can see that this page really has seen some action! 

 My final choice for today is this book by Nigella Lawson.  Again I have lots of her books, but I think this is my favourite.  Her writing style had relaxed a little from her first books, and I find that her more recent books aren't my favourites so much.  This one is just perfect for me though!

I make lots of things from this and I love all of Lawson's different recipes for ham's.  This one is especially good.  Her ones cooked in cola are also delicious, and there is another cooked in ginger ale which is scrummy too!

Although I have quite a lot of books, taking time to consider them I see that my range of authors is not that wide.  It does show though that we know what we like doesn't it!


This is my last solo Five on Friday post.  Next week lots of other bloggers will start to join in which I am really looking forward to!  I hope that you will enjoy reading the other posts too so join us again next week for more Five's!


Thursday, 27 November 2014

The sun is out!

The sun came out to play again!  After what seems like days of rain and grey weather the sun decided to pay a visit today, which of course meant that it needed to be photographed!

There are still clouds, but at least they are white and puffy, not grey and laden with rain.

There are still a lot of leaves on our oak trees, although you can see below that a lot of them have fallen already and are waiting for a dry day to be raked up.

There was almost a pinky tinge in the sky as well which was quite beautiful.

The birds are still enjoying the berries on the neighbours hawthorn tree.  I am surprised that there are so many berries left on this tree, as I think that every berry in our garden has been eaten - and all the grapes!

It is so lovely to see the sun shining after grey days isn't it.


Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Advent... minus a few days yet

As I shared yesterday I have been trying to arrange my advent candles as it is the first Sunday of Advent at the weekend.  Round one didn't really work!  I had an idea that I might try and use some tea lights one each day for the first week, two for the second and so on.

After some thinking though I realised that I would get through an awful lot of tea lights!!  So some further thought was required.  Last year, as in previous years I used candles in purple for the first two and last weeks, pink for the third week and a white candle for Christmas day.  Purple candles are now hard to find though in these parts it seems.  I did some reading and found that gold candles can also be used, and as I had some gold candles already that seemed to be the answer.

I love this bowl which takes four candles around the rim, so I added the gold candles.  With the addition of a red pillar candle in the middle - standing on a glass saucer for safety I might add - and some berry candle rings, I think that this will work.  We only light it for a little while and I will watch it carefully to make sure that the wax and flame stays well away from the candle rings!

As the arrangement is rather large and will be moved for meals I wanted something smaller to leave on the table so I added my old favourites.  These metal pinecone candle holders and some beeswax candles.

Overall I am happy with this arrangement, it looks pretty, and will function well each Sunday in Advent when we pause to light our candles.

So although decorating for Christmas is still some way off, and I haven't done the shopping that I should have, I have prepared for Advent, which is all about preparing for Christmas so perhaps the preparations can wait for just a few more days...


Tuesday, 25 November 2014

A bit of this and a bit of that.....

The weather is grey and wet again and I have the end of a cold - just the horrid itchy sore throat left.  I need to get some itchy cough medicine to clear it up I think.  My tour guiding is cancelled, as croaking tour guides are not an attractive prospect are they!!

So I have been staying inside and putting away the autumn decorations so that we have a rest before the Christmas things come out to play.  It all looks a bit bare now though, so once I have dusted I will rearrange a few things to make it a bit more cheery again.

As the first Sunday of Advent is this weekend, I have been thinking what I want to do for my Advent candles and having a bit of a play around.  So far I am very dissatisfied!  This arrangement is not going to cut it by any means.  I will keep playing around, I am sure to come up with something that will work.

Hubby chose this poster from the Museum of Fine Art when we went to Boston earlier in the year.  We had been to see the David Hockney exhibition, A Bigger Picture, when it was in London a couple of years ago, but there were no large pictures or posters for sale.  It was a lovely exhibition so this is a great memento of that and our holiday.  It has been for a very expensive visit to the picture framers and it is waiting to be hung on the wall - the cloth is a table runner just there to protect picture and wall for now!

A bit of crafting fiddling around has been done, but with mixed results.  These trees are wonky, even wonkier under the dome and the photo is terrible too!  This definitely needs more work!!

You may remember if you are a crocheting blogger that Nordic Shawls were all the rage earlier in the year.  I think that I started mine in about February, but I am only just on the border now.  It is OK, but I am not totally happy with some of my stitching.  I will like it when it is done though I am sure and I am looking forward to wearing it.  Nearly there now!  Hopefully the ta dah moment will include pictures that are actually in focus too...

I have also been watching television Christmas movies in the afternoons while I haven't been feeling myself.  I haven't started on the Christmas DVD's yet, although you can see they have gathered ready and waiting to be watched. 

You might remember that I posted a little bit ago that things were not going so well and that is why I took a little bloggy break.  I wanted to update you as I have had some kind e-mails making enquiries as to how things are now.  There isn't any real change, but things are no worse which given the situation is good news and there are some minor improvements.  I guess that the real change has been in coming to terms with things and being better able to cope with what is going on. 
My default when stressed is to get crafting, so I have been doing that in the meantime and I will be able to share the results with you in December as it is mostly Christmas related - apart from my shawl. 
Thank you so much for your kindness and continued support.  I really do appreciate it and thank you so much as I know that many of you have your own challenges to face too.  My hope is that people can support each other though, all around the world.
I also wanted to say that I have been totally overwhelmed - emotionally and with e-mails! - by all of you wanting to join in the Five on Friday and I have still got people getting in touch asking if they can join in.  The first 20 that replied and I have already agreed how we are going to do the posts in December, but given the level of interest, I really think that come January I will have to change up the plans to include more of you.  Please can you bear with me, this doesn't mean that I don't want you - because I do! - it is just that I wasn't expecting such an amazing response.  Your level of interest really has far exceeded even my wildest dreams and I need to get to grips with it. 

We are set up right now for December to post in groups on Fridays - and I will do my last solo Five on Friday post this week.  After that I think that I need either set up some sort of button that we can all add to our sidebars/posts or a link party.  If I haven't replied to you about this and you want to join in, please can you send me another e-mail as I am worried in case I have lost any.  I will make a list and come back to you either in December or in early January with details of how we are going to go forward.  My e-mail address is (no spaces) love made my home at gmail dot com. 

For those already taking part - you know who you are - there is no change for now!  I will send you an e-mail in the next few days. 

Thank you all so very much for your interest in this, I really do appreciate it, I just need chance to catch up!

Also, I posted the details of who is swapping with who in the Christmas Card Swap yesterday.  Please make sure that you check the post to see who you are swapping with and get in touch with your fellow blogger(s).  It is going to be a lot of fun to see all the different cards that are sent and received!!  I hope you are looking forward to it as much as I am.

Well, that was a lot of this and that wasn't it!  Not much to catch up on, but in other ways lots.  Thank you for stopping by and I hope that you are all well.


Monday, 24 November 2014

Christmas Card Swap 2014 - The Swappers!

The sign up for the Christmas Card Swap is now closed and I have matched up the swappers!  Thank you all so very much for taking part.  I was so pleased that there were so many of you keen to join in.  I hope that we will all have lots of fun sending back and forth.  I am looking forward to it and I hope that you are too!

The partners are all listed below in either pairs or groups of three, depending on how many cards you wanted to send.  I have only included people who expressly said on the sign up post that  they wanted to take part.  If you didn't specify a number of cards to send, I have assumed one only.  If I have missed anyone out let me know.

I know that there are some lovely people who would be kind enough to send more than a card, but this is just a card swap!  I suggest that we send cards no later than the first week of December - next week! - in order to meet last postage dates.  For example, last posting date from the UK to Australia is 4 December this year.  Please can you check your own last posting dates for your own country though.

I have not gathered any addresses, so please leave a comment on the blog(s) of those you are swapping with to exchange your e-mail address and then postal address, don't publish your postal address on your blog or in the comments on someone else's!

Hopefully that covers everything.  If you have any problems let me know!

Otherwise, Happy Christmas and Happy Swapping everyone!!!


The swap groups are as follows

Sending one card to each other are:-

Jane from Plain Jane and Gloria from Canela Kitchen

Alison from Life at Sylvan House and Teresa from Knit Bake Cultivate

Selma from Eclectic Home and Life and Jo from Through The Keyhole

Tanna from The Brick Street Bungalow and Dee from Tangled Up In Sticks And String

Rachel from Jaques It Rhymes With Cakes and Mamas Mercantile

Clicky Needles and Jill from Emerald Cottage

Helen from Woollybluebells and Lil from House with Hearts

Jane from The Maple Syrup Mob and Amy from Love Made My Home

Sending two cards to each other are:-

Elizabeth from Cornish Cream and Cate from What Catey Made Next and The Saver of Suburbia

Robbie from Polka Dotted Rainbows and Janet from MacQue and Christina from A Colourful Life

Sara from Sara's Crafts and Patricia from A Place For Everything and Debbie from Saylor Street Cottage

Angel Jem from Angel Jem's City Cottage and Sandra from Diary Of A Stay At Home Mom and Red Setter from Gone Beading

Patricia from Red Cardinal and Linda Kay from Senior Adventures and Zana from Zana's Homemade

Joanne from A Whole Plot Of Love and Linda from Linda's Crafty Corner and Amy from Love Made My Home

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Basildon Park - The Portico

Basildon Park has many secrets to share, and many little details that are often not noticed by either visitors or those of us who are there regularly.

Today I wanted to share some details of the portico here, the staircases that go up to the first floor and the area outside the door to the house that is called the Loggia.

When I took a walk one lunchtime recently, I took a different route than I normally do and left by the main doors and went down the stairs that visitors now, and in the past use to enter the house.  There are two of these staircases sweeping up either side of the ground floor door and up the first floor that is where the entrance to the house is.

This is the ceiling that is above you as you enter, it is often overlooked as you don't look up, you just focus on where you are going upstairs.  Because I was coming down the stairs for a change it really caught my eye.

These wonderful lamps are inside.  I love the style of them.

One of the hidden details are these signatures and other graffiti.  They were left on the columns and pillars by members of the Army stationed here in WW2.  Some are British and some are American and Canadian - as you will see!

As I have said before, I don't condone graffiti at all, but these are historic signatures, quite probably left by men going off to war who may never have returned.  They are also part of the history of the house, so it is important to preserve them.

These are some of the little details that are again easily missed.  Above is the capital of one of the columns.  I believe that this is an Ionic style of column.

These are some details from the pair of torcheres that are either side of the main entrance door.

Here you can see the stairs as they go up from the ground floor to the first floor.  This is looking out from what is now the tea room area, but which would originally have been the servants areas when the house was first built.

Visitors often ask if the stairs are original to the house, as they are not of the style that they have seen before.  The answer is yes, they are totally original to the house and this is exactly how it was designed to be.  They also ask where the cellars are for the servants.  We don't have any cellars at Basildon, that is why the ground floor of the house was the servants areas!


Just to explain to new readers, I am not compensated in any way for my posts about Basildon Park.  I just do these posts because I love the house and spend a lot of time working there.  Basildon Park do know that I exist because I volunteer with them.