c Garden, Tea, Cakes and Me

1920's Christmas Attingham Park Mansion National Trust

Some of your may recall that I volunteer at my local National Trust Property Sunnycroft, an Edwardian Villa and neighbour to another Shropshire National Trust property Attingham Park and Mansion.
National Trust Attingham Park Shropshire Christmas
Entrance Hall to the Mansion 
As local volunteers we were give the opportunity to enjoy a preview of Attingham Park mansion all dressed up for Christmas. Styled in a 1920's theme with beautiful soft lighting, it was very atmospheric and very Downton Abbey.  Hats off to the volunteers that dressed the rooms, there were an extensive number of beautiful Christmas trees and floral arrangements throughout the mansion. 
National Trust Attingham Park Shropshire Christmas
Attingham Picture Gallery
The dinning room looked spectacular, the table set for a beautiful party and a several Christmas trees along with a display of period 1920's costumes. They were not your average tree decorations either, many of them were decorated to an unique theme. The tree in the library was included with berries, feathers and deer antlers. I am sure they must have quite a supply of these as the mansion in set in the grounds of a deer park. The tree in the boudoir was covered in dried flowers including large hydrangea flower heads, this tree was much admired by the ladies that create the flower arrangements at Sunnycroft. Sadly I do not have a photograph of this, it is a small room with many people.
National Trust Attingham Park Shropshire Christmas
The Library tree with berries, feathers and deer antlers


National Trust Attingham Park Shropshire Christmas

There were so many beautiful Christmas Trees, which must of taken a great number of hours to dress. But I know they will be much admired by the thousands of visitors over the next few weeks. The afternoon ended with a sing song of Christmas carols in the picture gallery.


National Trust Attingham Park Shropshire Christmas
Be sure to find some time this festive season to visit and enjoy the beautifully dressed mansion at Attingham Park. Or of course Sunnycroft which is on a much small but no less grand scale.  


National Trust Attingham Park Shropshire Christmas
Not local to Shropshire? Try one of the many other National Trust properties that open in December and host special Christmas activities.

I am sharing my five favourite at Christmas Trees at Attigham Park for this weeks Five on Friday with Love Made My Home (see link in my sidebar).
National Trust Attingham Park Shropshire Christmas
Atmospheric Dining Room with period costume display
Do you have a favourite National Trust property to visit during December?
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Learn a New Hobby - Alternative Gifts Ideas

Looking for alternative ideas for Christmas or birthday gifts? Why not give the gift of learning, a chance for your loved one or friend to enjoy your gift for years to come. This year I have been lucky to have learnt a few new hobbies, all on line in the comfort of my own home - flower arranging and crochet.


Learn a new hobby online gift ideas


Beginners Crochet Course
I recently learnt how to crochet on line, from a fabulous course created by Beautiful Things, taught by the wonderful Claire. Once you have successfully completed your beginners course you can move on to the intermediate level. Progressing to create a beautiful tea cosy or cactus garden. I have completed both the beginners and intermediate courses and can not recommend them enough, the course content and videos are so easy to follow, I am now a crochet addict! Read more about my crochet journey and my review of the course


learn a new hobby online crochet
Once you have successfully completed your beginners course you can move on to the intermediate level. Progressing to create a beautiful tea cosy or cactus garden.

Crochet courses start from £15, book your on line course with Beautiful Things

Flower Arranging 
Julie Davies Flower Arranging Workshop shows you how to get the most out of shop bought flowers or flowers you may grow in your garden. Learn how to arrange in vases, with flower foam and hand tied posy with the FlowerStart course. A 4 week on line  flower arranging course supported with video and a private Facebook group. 

Find out more about my flower arrangements and how much I enjoyed the course.
The course costs £99 you can either enrol directly or buy a gift voucher, so the perfect present, book the course on line. 

learn a new hobby online flower arranging

Gardening
There is a great selection of on line gardening courses to choose from running from 4 to 8 weeks in a range of prices.  Each course is a available to be purchased as a gift voucher, prices start from £99. I completed the Fruit & Vegetable Gardening for Beginners, find out more about the tasks and the course from my review.
learn a new hobby online gardening

  • Fruit & Vegetable Gardening for Beginners
  • Roses: A Comprehensive Guide to Choosing, Pruning and Caring For Them
  • Self-Sufficient Vegetable Gardening Growing Flowers For The House: The Cutting Garden
For more information about the courses and to purchase gift vouchers see the My Garden School website. 

Photography
Learn the skills to take amazing photographs. Courses available cover photographing children, animals, architecture, landscape and composition of photographs. Most courses cost £145, but it is worth checking for any offers. For more information about the courses and to purchase gift vouchers see the My Photo School website. 

Have you ever learnt a hobby on line? 
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Benefits of an Adjustable Bed

Sometimes you find yourself procrastinating over a large purchase for the home. Then within a few weeks of having taken the plunge you find yourself asking why on earth did I not do it sooner. That is how it was for me with my adjustable bed. I dithered about buying it, now of course I would not have any other type of bed.


benefits why buy adjustable bed disability home comforts reading bed
My Adjustable Bed and Me
The benefits for me as someone who has scoliosis (curvature) of the spine has been significant. I am able to adjust the top and lower ends of the bed, to support my back and legs. This makes sleeping, reading, enjoying my morning cuppa far more comfortable and relaxing.

The adjustable bed really comes into its own when I have a chest infection, usually for a period of 6-8 weeks I can not sleep lying down as this has an effect on my breathing. Using the adjustable bed during this period allows me to rest and have a supported and comfortable sleep. As such it is also good when you have a congested head cold, supporting you in a slight elevated position to allow congestion to drain away. 

Having had several knee surgeries there are times when my right knee is inflamed and swollen. I can pop upstairs and watch my favourite TV program on bed with the bottom of the bed elevated and my knee supported. 

Other days, when I am just too tired to sit comfortably on the sofa, I can be found crocheting, reading or watching TV on my bed - comfortably supported. 

I can even be found blogging in bed, well why not some days you should make full use of an adjustable bed and your laptop. 
Benefits buying adjustable bed disability reading in bed
Find a comfortable and supported position at the press of a button

Benefits of an Adjustable bed
Nothing beats a morning cup of tea as you sit up supported in a comfortable position. 


Comfortable nights sleep - great for supporting your back and legs in the most suitable position for you. 


Been on your feet all day or over done things and have tired heavy legs. Grab yourself a cup or tea or a book and have half an hour on the bed with your legs elevated up. All at the press of a button. 


A know someone who suffers from silent re flux and as it is not recommend to lie flat currently has (no laughing), the complete works of William Shakespeare elevating the top of the bed slightly. Would this not be so much easier with an adjustable bed. 

Struggle getting out of bed in a morning, that's physically not because you are a lazy bones! Using an adjustable bed can help sit you up in a morning so you are positioned more comfortably for getting up. 


Benefits buying adjustable bed disability reading in bed

Touch of a Button
It is so easy to adjust the top and bottom of the bed using the electric controls. Mine clip to the side of the bed or onto the handle of my bed side table. Easily within reach day or night.

Adjustable beds come with a variety of options, single, double, king size, different mattress types, even built in massage. One supplier being adjustablebeds.co.uk who manufacture their beds in Britain. You can choose one complete double bed with one adjustable mattress, or a double with two separate mattresses allowing for both people to adjust their half of the bed to their choosing. 

Have you ever considered buying an adjustable bed? 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. 
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Christmas Crafts Glitter Pine Cones Tutorial

This is such a simple and fun Christmas craft activity. Collect pine cones from your garden or in my case my sisters garden dot with a little glue, some coloured glitter and just 10 minutes later some fun and sparkly Christmas decorations. If you do not have a pine tree to hand you can find nets of pine cones for sale in your local craft store or online. 
easy pine cone crafts Christmas glitter kids crafts christmas

Christmas Glitter Pine Cones

Equipment Needed

Pine Cones  £3
Glue (PVA) £2.50
Glue Brush  £1
Assorted Glitters £1
Dish for glue
Piece of paper (to collect your sprinkled glitter)
easy pine cone crafts Christmas glitter kids crafts christmas
Get crafting...
  • Clear some space on a table.  
  • Make sure your pine cones are clean and dry if from your garden.
  • Pour some glue into a dish.
  • Using a brush dab the glue onto the ends of the pine cone.
  • Open the lid to your glitter, and carefully sprinkle your chosen colour over the glued areas on the pine cone. 
  • Place the pine cone to one side to dry.
  • Continue on with your next cone if you are using the same colour glitter.
  • Carefully pour the excess glitter back into the pot. 
I used pink glitter to match my craft room and have the cones lined up on my window sill. They look fun and funky for Christmas.




You can use these pretty glittery pine cones to decorate your tree, tie a a piece of ribbon around them. Or use them in a glass bowl placed on a side board or table.
easy pine cone crafts Christmas glitter kids crafts christmas

I am joining in with Handmade Monday and Cooking & Crafting with J & J, links can be found on the badges in my sidebar to the right.

Looking for more Christmas craft ideas follow my Pinterest Board. 


This post contains affiliate links.
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Autumn Crochet Craft Inspiration

I can not believe just how much I have progressed with my crocheting since completing the beginners and intermediate crochet course on line. I think I have already started to pick up some crochet bad habits, like suddenly acquiring random balls of wool simply because because I like the colour!

So what have I been up to? 

Autumn Colour

Thanks to Julies Creative Lifestyle blog for sharing her find of an Autumn Leaf crochet pattern. I did have to convert the pattern into UK crochet terms but that is pretty straight forward as there are many free conversion charts on line. I did learn a number of new stitches for this creation including the picot stitch, used to create the pointed edges of each leaf. I made these to prove to myself I could create something that was more of a crochet challenge. I have since seen these leaves used to create an Autumn Wreath, another crochet project to add to my every growing list. 
Crochet_Craft_Ideas_Patterns_Autumn_Fall_Leaves_Poppy_Pumpkin


Pumpkins

Yes I joined in with the Halloween celebrations by creating myself a crocheted pumpkin - much easier and less messing than carving a real pumpkin. A pattern and tutorial for this pumpkin can be found on the Bella Coco blog. Quite pleased with how this turned out although I do think is slightly resembles a satsuma!

Remembrance Poppies 

For the last few years I have admired the beautiful crocheted poppies I have seen many people wear. So I was delighted that this year I could make my own, in fact I made a number of them for members of my family. My niece proudly wore hers as she marched with her Brownie pack in our local Remembrance Sunday parade. The pattern  from Bella Coco was easy to follow and the full video tutorial is in both UK and US terms. Another idea for the leaves is to use them to create an autumn display or wreath.


Autumn Cover Up
The pattern for this item of clothing can be found in the October 2016 issue of Knitting & Crochet Womans Weekly. It is worth checking with your local library if you are in the UK as this publication is one of many available as a free e-magazine you can download to your tablet and read in the comfort of your own home. I'm not sure but I think this maybe an Australian pattern. The wool it suggested was


Although this pattern was listed as a beginner, I did find it tricky to understand and I am pretty sure I made one or two mistakes.  The yarn suggested using bulky yarn, which I believe in the UK is chunky, so that is what I used. Now I realise that I made a mistake, clearing I should of used a lighter wool. The garment is quite structured in its shape, I think it may have draped off my shoulders better if I had used a lighter weight yarn. Lesson learnt! I will still of course wear my cover up even if it is around the house - it is certainly warm and I do love the teal colour.


Crochet Hooks
Whilst I have been crocheting away, I have been using the Clover Amour crochet hooks that I had as part of the learning to crochet course. They are brilliant, so comfortable to use even for prolonged with there soft coated plastic handle. Some of the projects I have worked on above required different sized hooks, so I needed some more. Having looked around in craft shops and on line I soon appreciated there is a vast selection! I have a chunky 9mm Knit Pro hook from Minerva Crafts which cost £3.09, also with a soft coat plastic handle but in a different shape to the Clover hooks. Still quite comfy though. 

With more crocheting patterns waiting to be tackled I realised I should probably get myself a set of crochet hooks. I definitely wanted the soft plastic handles and ideally Clover Armour hooks, but looking at the price I could not justify paying £39.29 a set of 8 Clover hooks. I think this comes back to the cake decorating hobby I had, I paid a lot of money for some of the top branded equipment when I first started and ended up using the items a hand full of times. So I did not want to repeat this mistake with my crocheting, having looked around I settled on ordering the set of 9 CCINEE plastic coated hooks for just £4.99, if they turned out awful I could send them back. Actually they turned out great, I have used a number of them and the handles are comfy. I have since found one of the metal hooks had the smallest area of a rough edge, but actually once I used it smoothed of. In a few years time if I find myself still crocheting I may upgrade this set to the Clover hooks, but for now I am more than happy to use them. 


My crocheting creations have been influenced by the season, though I probably should of starting making them sooner. I future I need to be ahead of the game to ensure my crocheting projects are finished and ready to be enjoyed for the occasion.

I am joining in the Handmade Monday linky at Sum of their Stories. If you have been crafting why not join in too.

If you want to see more of just my crafty creations follow me on my Instagram craft account ShropshireCrafter.

Do you have any crochet supplies or pieces of equipment you think are a necessity?


Follow my Crochet Tips and Inspiration Board on Pinterest 

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Tied Flower Posy | My Final FlowerStart Project

How to create a Tied Flower Posy? This was the final homework for the on line Flower Arranging Course I have been taking part in.  As with many of the homework projects on the FlowerStart Course from Julie Davies Flower Workshops it encourages your creativity. 

Hand Tied Flower Posy Arrangement
 Roses and Carnation Tied Posy
Creating a Hand Tied Posy
The aim of the tied posy theme was to create a posy you could give as a gift or keep for yourself. You have to treat the flowers differently to a standard flower arrangement. As you are arranging them in your hand and turning and adjusting them it is best not to use delicate flowers.  It was quite a challenge and I had not quite mastered the placing of them at an angle to start with, and decided to start again.  Fortunately I had chosen roses and carnations that were up to being handled repeatedly.  I re-watched the video and re read the notes. By my second attempt I was quite pleased with the results. Finally snipping off all the stems to an even length and securing them together with my garden twine.
Julie Davies Flower Arranging Courses FlowerStart
This arrangement was made using flowers from my local market, with winter beckoning there are virtually no flowers available in my garden. But oh how I can not wait for a new gardening year  when I can grow a good selection of cut flowers. 
Hand Tied Flower Posy Arrangement


Hand Tied Flower Posy Arrangement

My Flower Arrangements
I have succeeded in learning to condition my flowers, which flower food works best, arranging flowers in a square glass vase using wash tape, a flower arrangement in a jug, a teacup arrangement using flower foam and finally a tied posy. 

Flower Arrangement Teacup Flower Foam

Benefits of the FlowerStart Course 
One of the main benefits of the on line FlowerStart course from Julie Davies Flower Workshops is that you can complete it at your own pace. Which I am so thankful for, although I started the course at the beginning of September I became ill early in October and was not able to participate until mid November.  I felt I was not rushed or under pressure to complete my homework or lessons, you really can work at your own pace. I could still interact with the group and enjoyed seeing how others were progressing in the FlowerStart Facebook group. 

I have learnt so much during the course, I received such positive feedback from family and friends who have seen my arrangements and flower experiments. My virtual friends on social media have all been so supportive too. 
Flower Food Experiment Home Schooling
Pushing yourself to learn a new skill or hobby is so rewarding, I found the course informative and friendly and a supportive way of finding myself a new creative skill I can use again and again. 

Join In
If you have any questions about the course please post a comment below or email me and I will do my best to help. Or read Julie's FlowerStart Frequently Asked Questions, where I am sure you will find all you need. You can sign up to the 4 week FlowerStart course for £99.

Try a free 5 day mini course and receive 5 emails on how to make your flowers last longer.
Hand tied posy flower arrangement in jug
Hand Tied Flower Posy FlowerStart Flower arrangement idea.

Follow my Flower Arranging and Inspiration Board on Pinterest


Disclosure: I received a subscription for the FlowerStart course in exchange for this review.
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When Should You Put Up Your Christmas Decorations?

When should you put up your Christmas decorations? 
A question sure to spark a debate. For me anytime from the 1st December is OK to start adding festive cheer to the house.  You may choose to start with the Christmas Tree or maybe like me in early December you like to get out the Christmas tablecloth, kitchen roll, hand towels for the bathrooms and of course an advent calendar or advent candle.
When should you put up your Christmas decorations
Maybe you are a traditionalist and like to decorate from the first Sunday of advent, or are you a wait until Christmas eve kind of a person.  Sometimes it can just be a case of when you have the time. There is no right or wrong answer.

2 Weeks Before You Put Up Your Decorations
Which ever date you decide on, it is so worth getting your decorations out of the cupboard, loft or garage a fortnight before you plan to put them up. This allows you time to remind yourself what you have and also to check:-
  • Check the fairy lights work
  • Check for broken/damaged decorations that need replacing.
  • Do you need batteries, for any lights or musical decorations. Add them to your shopping list along with replacement bulbs for lights.
  • Do you need to order a fresh wreath for the front door, or wreaths for family graves.
  • Check your stock of Christmas cards & gift wrap left over from last year.
Christmas garland with lights mantle piece staircase buy
photo credit: House of Fraser
This extra time will allow you to replace any Christmas decorations or lights whilst there is plenty of choice and stock in stores. This year I need to look to replace the Christmas garland that is weaved between the banister rails of the staircase, it also includes fairy lights which looks just magical all lit up in an evening. It is quite a few years old and is rather shabby now with bits falling off. I did look last year but left it far too late and all the good quality garlands were out of stock. I am rather taken with one that has the lights within the garland - as currently I have to thread a separate set of lights through my Christmas garland. 

If you were very organised you will have a note attached to your Christmas decorations box, giving you a prompt or shopping list as you were putting them away the previous year. How super organised would that be! 
when should you put up your Christmas Decorations Preparing for Christmas
When do you like to put up your Christmas decorations?
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Vintage Sweeties Childhood Favourites

There is no denying it I think I have the sweetest tooth in my family. Since I was young I have always favoured sweet over savoury, and that temptation has followed me through life. There is pretty much no day that goes by without me enjoying a sweetie or two.
childhood vintage sweets
Vintage Sweet Love 
Even today the popularity of vintage sweets continue, visions of jars of sweets lined in a row upon shelves, in a local sweet shop. Time spent desperately trying to decide on which of the many on display I wanted. You see, I had many favourites:- sweet and crunchy Sweet Peanuts, Strawberry Bonbons, Cola Cubes, Milk Teeth, fudge oh how I love fudge, chocolate Limes and white chocolate Jazzles

My mum is partial to liquorice comfits, sugared almonds and toffees. My sister enjoys violet and rose creams, which has proved very helpful for birthday gift ideas. Now my brother combines his love for liquorice and sherbet and would choose a sherbet dip every time.

Children's Vintage Favourites today
Floral gums and cherry lips are my eldest sisters favourites, yet they would not make it into my bag of sweets far too fragrant. Yet these two sweets are some of my 10 year old nieces favourites, something most children would turn their noses at. She has clearly been influenced by sisters choice, so much so that your 7th birthday cake was decorated with cherry lips and floral gums. 
childhood vintage sweets strawberry bonbon
Dreams of a sweet shop
I always dreamt as a girl of owning my very own sweet shop, something children today still dream of. With fond memories of receiving my own toy sweet shop, there was a squeal of delight when my niece too opened her first toy sweet shop. Weighing out your chosen treats on the mini scales and popping them into a candy striped paper bag,  a quick twizzle of the bag and you are a happy customer. Before you know it you will be running or your own sweet shop, or thinking bigger a wholesale sweets business - maybe I've been watching too much of The Apprentice! 

I will have a quarter of Sweet Peanuts please. Yes I still want to order my sweets in quarters, now I know that is not very metric of me but I just can not help myself. Curiously though a quarter is 113gr in metric. Still time to learn something new every day. 

Do you have a favourite childhood sweet you still enjoy today? 
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Period Drama Love : Poldark Etsy Gift Guide

Hands up if you are a huge period drama fan? OK you can put your hand down now. Like you I love not only reading a classic period drama but I find sitting down to watch a well produced period drama totally absorbing. There is nothing that warms my heart more than to while away a few indulgent hours watching adventures of times gone by. 
Poldark Period Drama gifts Guide Etsy ideas
Photo source of products: Etsy
From riches to ruin, from love lost and found, television has bought to life some of literature's classic novels from our favourite authors - Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Edith Wharton to name a few. The BBC production of Poldark, now into its second series is set during the 18th century. We follow the scandal, betrayal and the harsh realities of life in Cornwall through the lives of the Poldark family. All filmed in the breathtaking and rugged scenery of beautiful Cornwall.


Slightly Poldark obsessed, since season one and having visited Charlestown during a recent holiday I have recently been exploring the wonderful world of Etsy. So many creative geniuses have captured the world of Poldark into their products, so for a little fun and some gift inspiration I bring you some of my favourite Poldark finds. 
You can never have too many tote bags in my opinion, particularly when they are this gorgeous!Poldark tote bag £12.
 
Captain Poldark Mug  £8.50 
poldark_necklace
What book lover would not love a Poldark Necklace (£7.00) to twiddle as they read. 

poldark_tshirt
Love the fuchsia pink of this T-shirt  £9.99 along with the sweet design of the heart.
poldark_iphone_book_cover
Iphone cover £24.31 which is also available as a Poldark Ipad cover for £30.10 

Although I may not have not read any of the Poldark books my sister has read them all. No matter how hard I may drop a hint about how I think a story line will pan out she will not give the game away. I hope that the BBC will be making a season three, four and five of Poldark and keep all us period drama fans happy. 


Poldark period drama love etsy gift guide Ross Poldark bbc

Prices correct at time of publishing, contains affiliate links.
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