Wednesday, 4 November 2015

She's baaaaack!

Whilst on my blog hiatus, I realised one thing. Leaving behind one creative outlet, did not inspire me to continue with another. Since things went a little quiet round these parts I have found myself in a massive creative slump. I've barely had the energy to do anything majorly creative... writing, sewing, even baking has felt like a bit of a chore. But...oh no! No more! I'm not putting up with this any longer.

So, hey...I'm back!

I stumbled across this rather inspiring quote above a few weeks back and it has been rolling around in my head ever since. And being the ever impatient person that I am, I decided that it was high time to get back into the blogging world. 
It's been nice to see that people have still been reading this blog since I've been gone (Thanks Google stats), and I've still been getting likes and views on my Facebook and Instagram channels so, that definitely told me that people still want to see what I've been up to, and what I've got to say. Thank goodness!

I'm gonna do my best not to get hung up on the stats side of things this time around though. (Remind me of that in 6 months, yeh?) I'm gonna start things off slowly.Post when I feel like it, post about things that ignite a fire inside me, and hopefully inspire others to read on in the process.

Now, I've got a sexy looking mexican stew in the slow cooker which needs tending to but, I will be back soon with more creative updates from Homespun Hannah.

See you soon.

Go on, admit it. You've missed me, yeh?

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Adventure is out there!

This isn't goodbye...this is "See you again".

Just dropping in to share with you all some details on my new project I'm currently working on at the moment. I've been squirrelling away at our kitchen table/makeshift studio for several weeks now, working on a line of handmade kitchen textiles and soft furnishings which I will soon be ready to share with you all.
In the mean time, before the official launch, please take a look at my new blog over at Marsh & Harding, where I will be sharing lots of behind the scenes information a few sneaky snaps, and maybe even a giveaway.

I don't want to close this blog down completely, as it's been a lovely way of meeting lots of inspiring people over the past couple of years, and I may even pop back from time to time, but for now I'm heading off on a new adventure and I would love if you could all come along with me too.

I'll see you on the other side.
Lots of Love,
Hannah. x

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Get out in the Garden...

One thing is for certain, as soon as the weather starts to brighten up and the temperature begins to rise a thoughts are always turned towards the state of my little patio garden. It's definitely one of the perks of living in a ground floor flat, and I often feel greatful to have neighbours with whom I can have a natter with over the garden wall, and little pots of herbs by my back door to pick from when I'm cooking dinner in the evening.

So, this past week I made sure to set aside a little time on my day off to get our garden in order. I wanted to make sure everything was tidy and in order ahead of my visit to the RHS Show in Bute Park with my folks (but more about that later) so, any treats I bought could instantly be planted out to thrive in this sunny little spot of Cardiff.

With my new gardening gloves in hand, and a couple of handy little tools for clearing out between paving stones, I was ready to go. Nothing stood in my way. Dandelions and brambles were pulled from between the cracks of the patio, weeds and grass were tugged from around my little Jasmine in the corner of the garden, giving it more breathing space to grow and climb, and pots were cleared of old compost with crocks ready for drainage when the new arrivals came.

It felt like such a great sense of achievement, slowly filling up my bag of garden waste for the recycling men, knowing that all those pesky weeds would eventually become compost somewhere else.

After a good couple of hours slaving away in the sun, I enjoyed a cup of tea, sat on my doorstep surveying my handiwork. It looks like a completely different garden. So lovely and tidy. And even better, I had space and new potting compost ready to go should I find any treats at the flower show too. 
After my last swig of tea, I headed inside to sort through my seed packets and choose what I would like to grow on my window sill, ready to plant out when all threats of frost were well behind us.
I decided on sweet peas for their prettiness and scent, to climb up my little bamboo sticks in the corner of the garden, and to encourage bumble bees too. Marigolds for their colour too, and also because they deter beetles from lovely crops like beans and strawberries which I plan on growing later in the season. And a couple of pots of chives and parsley to live on my kitchen windowsill, and be used in a whole load of summery dishes.

After a sweep up and a scrub of my finger nails, I brought my little pots inside to sit in the sunny warmth of the kitchen window, and grabbed a cheeky little nap on the sofa feeling quite pleased with myself.

I'd love to hear what you lovely readers have been getting up to in your gardens? Got any tips for me and my little patio?
I'd love to hear from you.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Adventures in the Wye Valley

Sometimes it's nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. To get a bit of fresh air, and a change of scenery. So, on Sunday just past, the Mr and I packed our bags in the car and headed up through the Welsh countryside and just over the border into England, to spend a few days in the sweetest little market town of Ross-on-Wye.
Our days were filled with exploring and walking, and generally recharging our batteries. As soon as we arrived (after cooing at the lovely view from our bedroom window) we dropped our bags and went in search of a local pub so the Mr could catch some football, and I could while away the afternoon on Pinterest with a bottle of beer in hand.

The following day, we donned our walking boots and headed off for a gentle 6 mile ramble around the local area. We headed away from the town following the river upstream before setting off across the countryside through fields of blossoming Oilseed Rape, and past viaduct ruins, with paths laid with railway sleepers. 
We stopped halfway, on our walk for a spot of lunch on the river bank, watching mischievous lambs clamber across the steep banking before getting into trouble with their mum, calling out in matronly bleats. We trudged down tyre worn farm tracks, and past cottages and farm houses surrounded by nothing but fields and birdsong. 
As soon as I saw this house at the top of the track, I vowed to the Mr that we would one day live in a house like this. That's a promise.

Our evenings were filled with sunny drinks on the terrace of our hotel, soaking up every last minute of warmth from the sun before disappearing indoors to fill our stomachs with beautiful pub fayre including, scampy and chips, yummy grilled steaks and chocolate puddings to top it all off.

Although we were sad to see our mini-break come to an end so quickly, we made sure that our little holiday lasted as long as possible and took a little detour on the way home to the ruins of Tintern Abbey, a 14th Century monastery set in the bottom of a valley in the Welsh countryside. Here we enjoyed a little picnic, sat on our blanket amongst the ruins in the peace and quiet. It was utter bliss.

It was so nice to be able to explore places that are almost on our doorstep yet, feel worlds away from the noisy city life of Cardiff. It definitely helped speak to my inner country-bumpkin, and I think a little holiday was just what we needed.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Mid-Week Bliss: Girl Crushes

Girl crushes...everyone's got them. Most people are scared to admit they have them. Not me! I am definitely proud of my girl crushes. Personally I think women don't celebrate each other enough. We're all so quick to bitch about another's flaws; cellultite, not so flattering outfits, OTT make-up...but really, who cares?! 
It's time we started  recognising those women which inspire us, the ones we secretly admire in all their creative, geeky, glory. So, here's my list of girl crushes. These lovely ladies, I particularly admire for their individuality and for being proud of what they are good at. Don't be afraid to let your girl crush geek flag fly, ladies.

Rachel Khoo.
This probably won't come as much of a surprise to you but, I think Rachel Khoo is genuinely the bee-knees. Not only for sticking two fingers up to the fashion industry and saying "See ya, I'm gonna go eat cake for a living in Paris." (Not necessarily in those exact words) But, she has nailed the look of petite & curvy without going down the seductive route a la Nigella. Not that there's anything wrong with that but, a girl doesn't need to be sexy all the time. It's just too exhausting!
She's written 3 books in English, 2 in French, and produces all the illustrations for them too. Seriously,this woman is definitely a triple threat. Not only does she make me feel like it's OK, to pick at cheese whilst I'm cooking but, she also makes me feel like I'm not an alien because I still shop in the kids department for my clothes from time to time (i.e. that delicious yellow Petit Bateau coat she's always rocking). Thank you Rachel. We salute you!

Jessica Chastain.
This lovely red-headed lady is a true American Beauty and an acting inspiration too. From being bullied for her hair colour and intelligence during high-school she has grown into one of the most incredible actresses I have ever seen on screen. Not only can she tackle gritty roles like Maggie Beauford in Lawless, she can nail acting a southern belle like Celia Foote in The Help, and even mastermind the mission which captured Osama Bin Laden, as Maya in Zero Dark Thirty. 
If anyone can show those high-school bullies who's boss, it's this lady. She gives me hope that I will one day be able to show those who picked on me as a teenager, just how successful I can be, as well as being a great role model for others too.

Alys Fowler.
Last but not least is, the lovely, Alys Fowler. This lady has truly mastered the art of finding your niche and being proud of what you're good at. After completing her degree, she studied with the Royal Horticultural Society, and at Kew Gardens. She was awarded a scholarship with the New York Botanical Gardens, and moved to the states in 1998, before returning to the UK to take up her post as head gardener at Berryfields where, Gardeners World was hosted from. This lady is a true inspiration when it comes to letting your geek flag fly. She has made a career for herself out of something which is often seen as deeply 'uncool' with a younger generation, and has even broken the boundaries of traditional gardening by writing books and producing shows such as; The Thrifty Gardener and A Home Grown Life, which celebrate a more frugal way of both living and gardening. Something which we all know I am passionate about. Not only that but, she has such an amazing sense of style and is often seen pottering about in her garden in a vintage dress and wellies, with her adorable Jack Russel, Isobel following closely behind. She makes me feel like it's OK, to spend the day with dirt under my finger nails on my hands and knees in a vintage dress, sowing marigold seeds to keep the pests off of my peas. Alys, you are just too cool for words.

Come on then ladies, let me in on some of secret girl crushes, and tell me why you find them so inspiring. It's time we started celebrating each other's quirks!

Friday, 3 April 2015

Homespun Mess...

I've been thinking about blogging a lot lately. Thinking about what it is I want to blog about, how I want it to progress, and the topics I want to blog about. I guess it's been no mystery that I've been suffering from a small bout of 'Bloggers Block' recently, due to the lack of posting, and I couldn't quite put my finger on it until I saw this article from the lovely Gala Darling, and it hit the nail on the head.

I was burned out!

So, I expect by this point you're thinking...”What has being burned out got to do with photos of a messy bedroom?” Well here's the thing...this blog may be about living a lovely slower pace of life, and doing it in a homespun way but, I want to be honest with you readers, and share the behind the scenes with you.
There are masses of bloggers out there spreading a message of “Look how wonderful my life is, and it can all be yours if you live in London/the countryside, earn £100,000+, don't have children, will sell your soul for a decent advertising gig.” And that is not what Hannah's Homespun Life is about.
Yes, the slower pace of life is obtainable, and the picturesque surroundings are too but, this is me exposing what it can be like in our “dinky little Edwardian flat”, and boy is it small.

Those shots of feet snuggled under patchwork quilt are very lovely, and I thoroughly enjoyed sewing that quilt on cold Autumn nights infront of the telly but, sometimes our bed is strewn with damp towels, and clean laundry which needs to be put away, and hairdryers which get dumped there in the morning rush.
Sometimes, it's nice and neat, with fresh sheets, and the clean clothes get hung up straight away and you can actually see the floor in our tiny bedroom.
And sometimes, it doesn't happen like that.

Sometimes, the sun comes streaming through my kitchen window at the precise moment that I want to photograph the cake I spent the last hour baking. And sometimes a van parks infront of my kitchen window on the road outside, obstructing nearly all the natural light for the majority of the day. Sometimes shopping gets dumped, and I can't be bothered to move it until it's time for dinner and I'm sick of eating off our laps in the living room, and actually want to sit at the table. And ALWAYS, does my husbands expensive road bike live in the kitchen, cluttering up our small space because he's too scared to store it outside incase it gets knicked or gets rusty. (Calm down, Wiggo!)

And sometimes, those inspiring shots of books and diaries piled by my laptop are because there's no more room on the coffee table, for keys and mugs and post which needs to be sorted through. Sometimes, I'm sat at my laptop without brushing my hair or cleaning my teeth. Sometimes I procrastinate whilst watching episodes of Barefoot Contessa.

Sometimes it's ok to let the dishes pile up, or the laundry go un-washed for a couple of days. Life is for living. The housework will always be there. If you do it, one day, it'll be there again the next.
It's at times like these that I remember why I'm writing this blog...because I love it. And if I'm burning myself out, then it can only end in tears.
So I'll take a deep breath, put the kettle on, or go for a walk round the park, and just step away from it all for a minute.
How does that sound?

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Mid-Week Bliss

My brain is currently buzzing with a shed load of ideas. Projects I want to undertake, projects I need to finish, and a whole manner of new and exciting things on the horizon both personal and some-what professional.

I'm trying to shift things about here on the blog...get into a bit more a routine. I apologise if my posts are a bit erratic at the moment but, it might be like this whilst I try to find some kind of rhythm with my writing and the content which I share with you all on here.
With that said, I've decided to change the name of my Wednesday Bliss post, to "Mid-Week Bliss". This weekly installment was intended to be a bit of a boost, or a pick-me-up for you lovely readers, and I fear it has recently lost it's shine. So, a little name change and a little shake up, I think will do the trick nicely.

So, let me share with you, a few things which I am feeling particularly blissful about this week, and it all comes courtesy of a little bit of inspiration from the Pretty Nostalgic Society, of which I am a Pioneering member. If you'd like to know more...just leave me a comment below or visit the website.

1. Spend wisely. The Mr and I are really beginning to think seriously about looking for a house of our own in the not too distant future. It's been lovely daydreaming about where we might live but, now I find it's time to get down to the practicalities of it. Needless to say, we are making sure we spend our pennies a lot more carefully than we used to, so we can make sure we put as much into our savings as possible. We've been finding lots of lovely things to do for free on our days off, enjoying several date nights at home with a bottle of wine and a new movie on box office, not to mention taking full advantage of our unlimited cinema cards.

2. Waste Less. I've always been a bit of a thrifty being. I think that comes from my maternal Grandmother and her wartime experiences. In the spirit of thrift, I've been playing around in the kitchen making scrummy stews out of Sunday roast leftovers, making us eof my staple baking items in the cupboard to make biscuits and cakes to go with a cuppa, instead of choosing shop bought ones. I've even cut up old scraps of fabric and threadbare garments into hexagons for another patchwork quilt project, instead of just chucking them in the recycling. I always end up feeling such a sense of acheievement, and it's even nicer to see a few more pennies in my bank account at the end of the week.

3. Appreciate More. Frugality in the home has definitely taught me to appreciate things a bit more. I literally count down the days to Friday date night now, taking a little more time to choose that bottle of wine on my way home from work. Homemade cookies are savoured and truly enjoyed with a cup of tea in the evening. And dare I say it, but I've even started to think about coming birthdays and even the C-word...Christmas, and how I might find thoughtful gifts for people which didn't break the bank, and that I know they will truly love. 

Here's hoping.

I'd love to hear what you would all apply to your own little guidelines of Spend Wisely, Waste Less, Appreciate More. Feel free to drop me a comment. I'd love to get a good discussion and share a few more ideas about this.

Have a lovely rest of week. I hope this helped you get over the hump.
Hannah. x

Monday, 30 March 2015

Easter Baking: Mini Simnel Cakes

Aside from Christmas, Easter is one of my favourite times of year. It marks the beginning of a new season, changing weather and lots of new adventures soon to be had. Growing up in a small village setting, our social calendar centred greatly around the church calendar too, and many a coffee morning or 'Lent lunch' would be enjoyed as a child with big cups of squash to wash down wedges of cake. Yum!

So, it seemed only fitting that I share with you all a twist on a favourite,classic Easter recipe...Simnel Cake! Think dinky little fruit cakes topped with marzipan make the perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea, or can even be given as Easter gifts instead of chocolate eggs. They look just luscious wrapped up in a little cake box with some ribbon, or tied in a polka dot cellophane bag. I always prefer giving homemade edible gifts to shop bought pressies.

So, why not stick the radio on, don your apron and get baking. I'm sure this will help keep the kids amused for a couple of hours during the Easter break too. And you'll have cake as a reward at the end of it too.
Enjoy! xx

100g self raising flour
100g plain four
1 tsp cinnamon
3 eggs (+1 for egg-wahsing the marizpan)
150g butter softened
150g soft brown sugar
200g sultanas
100g raisins
50g mixed peel
500g marzipan

Pre-heat the oven to 160c, Gas Mark 3. Grease and flour a 12 hole muffin tin. 
Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add 1 egg to the butter and sugar mix, and beat in, followed by half of the flour and tsp of cinnamon. Add another egg, and the remaining flour, and mix in. Followed by the 3rd egg, mixing everything thoroughly. 
Mix in the raisins, sultanas and mixed peel until everything is evenly distributed. 

Half fill the muffin holes with the cake mix. Then take a piece of marzipan and roll it into a ball the size of a large marble. Flatten the ball between the palms of your hands to form a small disc. Place the disc of marzipan on top of the cake mix in the muffin holes (as shown), before topping up the muffin pan with the remaining cake mix.
Place in the oven for 50mins - 1 hour, Check on them after 50 minutes to make sure they don't catch around the edges.
When the cakes are cooked, remove from the oven but, leave the oven on whilst your prepare your decorations.

Beat the remaining egg in a mug and use it to adhere discs of marzipan to the top of the cakes in the same way you did before. Then take another marble sized piece of marzipan and roll it into a sausage, recreating a ring shape on the top of the marzipan disc. Make little snips around the edge of the marzipan ring so it resembles a birds nest, before brushing the whole top of the cake with the egg wash.
Do this for all 12, before placing back in the oven for 10 mins. Set a timer, as a few seconds over could mean the marizpan goes from beautiful and golden to burnt and bitter.
Once the marzipan is gently browned remove the cakes from the oven and leave to cool, before decorating with mini chocolate eggs.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

A Cottage to Call My Own

Lately, I've been finding myself dreaming. Dreaming of a thick stone walled cottage, with a pile of boots by the front door ready for walks in the countryside. Of a wood burning stove roaring in the living room, and a cast iron kettle sitting on top, whistling it's head off, waiting to make steaming hot cups of tea. Big squishy armchairs, antique rugs, exposed beams, flagstone kitchen floors, toasty range oven to warm your bum on when you walk in the door from work. (This is the point where I let out a sigh of despair.)

How I love our dinky little flat, in all it's draughty glory but, something just doesn't fit anymore. We're both getting itchy feet (myself and the husband). We're both longing to set down roots and somewhere we can call home. I love that old saying "Home is wherever I'm with you", and for us that is definitely true but, we're both longing for somewhere that we can put our stamp on. Somewhere we can adorn the walls, with art and wedding photos without having to worry about what the landlord might say. Somewhere where we can choose the furniture, and the colour of the walls, and rip out the garden if we do so wish.

Until we find that place, I shall emerse myself in hexi-quilt sewing, and baking bread, and growing herbs by my back door. I shall light my candles in the Welsh slate hearth of our bricked up fireplace, and pretend it's really logs burning. I shall take a stroll to my nearest park and pretend I didn't hear those sirens over the birdsong.

Here's to daydreaming. It's ok to do it once in a while y'know. 

Until next time,
Hannah. x

If you're looking for a bit more cottage inspiration then visit my Pinterest page, where you can find all the above images too.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Soul Searching

It's been a strange couple of weeks. I haven't spent a great deal of time online, and haven't really wanted to. It's been so nice taking a break from normal hum-drum day to day life and to get stuck in with the things which make my heart feel fit to bursting.

It was so nice getting to spend time with an old friend at the Country Living Fair. We had such a brilliant catch up, and have vowed to make time for plenty more new adventures together. I didn't take a great deal of photos on the day (apart from one or two of me grinning with delight whilst snuggling a lamb), and I don't feel a great deal of guilt about it.
Sometimes it's nice not to post everything about my life on the internet. Sometimes it's nice to keep a few things for myself, to print out those photos I've been snapping on my phone and display them in pretty picture frames. Sometimes it's nice to just disappear for a day or two without any real plan and just see what lays out ahead of me. 
For me, that truly is a 'homespun' lifestyle. We have the luxury to design a life we why not grab it with hands and run with it!!

Happy Saturday everyone. I hope your weekend is full of adventures and happiness.

Hannah. x

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Hannah's Hectic Life

The above phrase is very fitting to how things have been of late. The last few weeks have been packed to the brim with cottage hunting, tube riding, Harry Potter nerding and Nostalgianeering.

Let me explain. It all began back at the beginning of March when myself and the Mr hopped on the Megabus Gold to London to visit my sisters and to take a trip to the Harry Potter Studios in Watford (my Christmas pressie from my lovely husband.) We had a delightful weekend, full of lots of eating, guinea pig snuggles, hot croissants and cups of tea, lovely sunny riverside walks near Epping Forest and piles and piles of Harry Potter nerdiness.

Myself and the Mr are HUGE Harry Potter fans so this present was as much for him, as it was for me (but I know he'd never admit that) and we had such a brilliant time. We caught the tube into London on Sunday morning, stopped off at M&S for some bits for our packed lunches, and off we went to Watford. I was completely in my element all day, and as you can see, really got into the spirit of things by donning my Gryffindor scarf and t-shirt pretending I was a Hogwarts student for the day. I won't give away too many spoilers or bore you with tonnes of photos from the day but, by far my favourite parts were the Gryffindor common room, and the boys dormitory...but above all it was The Burrow where the Weasley family live. The attention to detail throughout the whole tour is second to none, and I urge anyone who has even remotely enjoyed the Harry Potter films let alone read the books, to visit. And the Butterbeer, isn't too bad either.

After such a lovely weekend, both relaxing and tiring in it's own right, we climbed onto the coach home, only to receive a call from the estate agent to confirm our viewing of a dear little mining cottage in the village where I grew up. My heart was all a flutter, and my head was mighty confused as I'd received a message earlier in the week to say it wasn't available anymore.
I tried to contain my excitement and not get my hopes up as I knew as soon as we got home from London we would have to drop our bags and run out to meet the estate agent at our potentially dream cottage.
But our dreams were sadly not fulfilled. The cottage was not at all what we expected and we strolled home to my parents house a few minutes away, as I wiped away a few disappointed tears. (Oh well, there'll be more pretty cottages, I'm sure.)

Which almost brings me up to date. More recently, I've been involved with the wonderful Pretty Nostalgic Society. I've been reading this beautiful publication for many years. So, when the lovely editor of the magazine, Nicole, sent out an appeal for members to become more actively involved I jumped at the chance. Our most recent event has been at Lou Lou's Vintage Fair in Cardiff's City Hall, this past Sunday. We had a brilliant day and met so many lovely Nostalgianeers, spreading the word about the society. I can't wait for the next one now. And I've even signed up to do a couple of events around the country too.
If you'd like to know more about the Pretty Nostalgic Society then you can read the latest issue of the compendium online for FREE, for one issue only. You can pre-order a printed copy on the website, or sign up for a yearly subscription here.

So, there you have it. That's where I've been disappearing to recently. My next adventure will be to the Country Living Fair this coming Thursday, and I cannot wait!. Goodness me, I think I need to slow down.

If you need me, I'll be in bed with a cup of tea, watching Harry Potter films back to back.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Lazy Girl's Bara Brith

When it's cold and grey, and a little miserable outside, nothing lifts my spirits like a good baking session. I pop the radio on, tie my hair up and don my pinny to while away a few hours in the kitchen. This recipe is great because not only is it easy to bake in the first place (add a few tweaks) but it delivers on taste too, and slathered with a little butter is enough to brighten even the grey-est of moods. The name Bara comes from the Welsh word for bread, as it is traditionally baked in a loaf tin. And I first fell in love with this Welsh delicacy aged 7, on a school trip to a local open air museum with it's very own Victorian PopTy (Bakery). It was love at first bite.

The lazy girl label comes from tweaking a few ingredients to what you might have in your cupboard already, so when the moment takes you, this scrummy fruit loaf can be rustled up at the drop of a hat. The usual self-raising wholemeal has been substituted for white self-raising, soft brown sugar for standard caster sugar, and rather than worrying about having fresh lemons in your kitchen, a spoonful of squeezy Jif lemon leftover from pancake day will suffice. I apologise in advance to any Welsh ladies' relatives who may be turning in their graves at my meddling with such a classic recipe. I mean no offence. I just love cake, and sometimes I need right now!!

You will need:

300g Dried Mixed Fruit.
400ml hot tea (black)
350g self-raising flour
1 tsp mixed spice
1tsp lemon juice
100g caster sugar
1 egg

If you're not champing at the bit for a cake fix and can wait a few hours then, steeping the fruit in hot tea and leaving it to soak overnight is ideal. If you really can't wait that long, then simply a couple of hours will be enough but, the cake won't be as moist.

The rest is simply the work of moments. First things first, preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4 or 180c. Add the rest of the ingredients together, in a large mixing bowl. Then draining with a slotted spoon add the soaked mixed fruit, making sure to keep the tea to add in a second.
Slowly begin to mix everything together, adding the reserved cold tea bit by bit, until the mix loosely drops from the spoon. (Don't worry if you use it all. This is sometimes not necessary.)

Pour the mixture into a loaf tin and bake in the oven for 45-55 mins.

This scrumptious fruit loaf is best served warm, slathered in butter and with a good strong cup of tea to wash it all down.
Yum! You know where to find me on St David's Day.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Hexies: My latest crafting addiction...

I know things have been a little slow here on the blog lately. Needless to say, I've been whole heartedly embracing the 'Go Slow' mentality recently. The day job has been taking over a little, and by the time I come in the door, I'm almost instantly ready to crawl into bed.

A little light crafting in the evenings, snuggled up infront of the telly has certainly been helping to lift my mood, and switch my brain off from anything work related. I've been going through piles of scraps which have been saved in bundles in our spare room. Not bearing to part with them, in fear that they may come in handy one day. And they most certainly did. For any thrift-loving crafter, a hexi-quilt is the perfect excuse to use up any left over scraps from a recent project, and even better, each little piece of fabric can tell a story. From that favourite pair of pyjamas that have seen better days, to a left over scrap from a project you gifted to someone else but wish you'd kept for yourself.

You may have noticed on my instagram feed, that I finished my very first hexi quilt just before Christmas. Many an evening is spent snuggled under it with my dear husband, in our draughty living room. It now permanently lives on our bed too.

It's such a great sense of achievement seeing a pile of paper pieces turn into lots of lovely tacked little hexagons all lined up in my favourite Emma Bridgewater tin. It's even more rewarding to see them in all their glory as a quilt too. And what's even better is that they can be taken anywhere with me, so long as I can rest my little tin on my lap. The husband is much happier too, as I can quickly tidy away my mess at the end of the evening, packing all my sewing bits into my dinky little Peter Rabbit house tin, and I can sort all my hexies into colours too.

You'll be surprised how many hexies you can tackle whilst watching an episode of Friends on Netflix, or in half an hour whilst dinner is in the oven. I was even more surprised that I managed to complete a Moses basket sized topper in just over a fortnight's worth of evenings. I can't wait to see the look on my friends face when I give it to her before she goes on maternity leave in a couple of weeks.
This lovely blog post was one of my main sources of inspiration whilst learning to make my first hexi-quilt. Not to mention the fact that she uses the cutest fabrics.

So what are you waiting for? If you're looking for a craft project that won't leave you chained to your sewing machine, yet gives you the biggest creative fix, then this is definitely one for you.

I'll be sure to keep you updated on the progress of the quilt as it grows and grows. Enjoy your weekend lovelies.

Hannah. x


Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Wednesday Bliss: Looking forward to...

This week has been a strange one. Not really filled with anything exciting. Just hum-drum day to day stuff...a comforting meal in the oven, a cuddle on the sofa watching Broadchurch, tackling a mountain of laundry. But nevertheless, my attempt to slow down last week has finally started to pay off.
On Sunday, myself and the Mr enjoyed a lovely chilled out day which began with a scrumptious breakfast of French Toast and coffee, followed by a trip Aldi for our fortnightly shop (well, there is only two of us) listening to Stephen & Emma on the Radio. We then vegged on the sofa watching Netflix before strolling into town to catch an afternoon showing of "Selma", where we munched handfuls of sweet popcorn. And finally, we returned home to prepare lunches for the working week ahead before crawling into bed for an early night.

So, this week I am still very much in a cosy and leisurely mood. Here's a few things that will help lift me over that horrible hump in the middle of the week, and bring me safely towards to comfort of the weekend.

No plans. Yes, that's right. Having nothing planned. Absolutely nada. Zip! My day off during the week usually falls on a Thursday and this week I am pleased to say, I have literally nothing planned. No doctors appointments, no errands to run, no important phonecalls to make. I cannot wait! I'll probably fill the day with lots of other nice things but for now, I'm feeling quite content in the knowledge that I'll just see how the day pans out.

Spring! I can feel it. It's just around the corner. Shrove Tuesday has been and gone, much to the delight of my waistline. Bunches of daffodils are finally starting to appear at my local greengrocer. And the days are slowly starting to get longer. No more walking home from work in the dark. Yippee! I'm craving those days where I can sleep with the window open, and snuggle down in my duvet against the early morning chill. Or an evening where I venture out for milk in just a chunky cardigan wrapped tightly around me. Come on Spring. Hurry uppppp!

Birthdays. I turn 26 in exactly 6 days!! I've always been a big kid when it comes to Birthdays but this year feels a little different. I've been rather grown up and asked for 'tasks' rather than gifts. From my husband, a home cooked meal, so I don't have to lift a finger...and from my sister, a birthday cake made by her own fair hand (my sister makes the best cakes). We will be sharing a special birthday lunch at my parents house, and then travelling up to London a week or so later to stay with my eldest sister, and visit Harry Potter World! Yaaaaaay! See I told you I was a big kid.

So, let's use this week ahead to hunker down, and find out the little things that make our day a tiny bit brighter. Or slow down and take a look at the things which you didn't realise had happened at all but, actually turned your day around for the better.

Have a lovely week ahead. I'll catch up with you all soon.
Hannah. x

P.S. Check out this lovely blog I discovered while perusing Pinterest. I may not be able to understand the Finnish but, her pictures are truly beautiful. 

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Wednesday Bliss: Slowing Down

This weeks theme for Wednesday Bliss is all about slowing down and appreciating the simple things in life. As you all know too well, this is something that is particularly close to my heart, and one of the main objectives I set myself when starting up this blog. 

This week has been full of lots of lovely things but, nevertheless I have been taking the time to indulge and enjoy the weeks events with a full heart breathing in every last lovely second of it.

Long & languid breakfasts. I'm more than guilty of being an espresso on the go kind of girl. (I blame my Italian colleagues for this habit.) Downing a hot coffee hit in one, whilst my porridge is spinning in the microwave. However, this week I've been making an effort to take a little more time. Such a simple act of mindless stirring with a wooden spoon making my porridge in a saucepan, and preparing my morning coffee in a cup and saucer completely changes my mood. I can go from fraught, rushed and snappy, to chilled and feeling positive in a matter of minutes if I change only a couple of things about my morning routine.

Coffee with friends. Normally gulped from a takeaway cup, whilst running to my next errand. But, oh no, not this week. Thursday, just past, I enjoyed a lazy brunch of toasted tea cakes and jam with some lovely inspiring friends. Which soon turned into a hefty lunch of fish finger sandwiches and macaroni cheese, hatching our plans for world domination. Knowing I had nowhere to be, as we scribbled ideas in our notebooks is one of the best feelings.

Evening Telly. Yes, I am one of those people. The sort that schedules social occasions around certain television programmes. And I am not ashamed in the slightest! "I can't tonight, sorry. Wolf Hall is on" has passed my lips on more than one occasion recently. There's nothing quite like the ceremony of rushing to get the kettle on, and hauling the patchwork quilt off the bed, ready to hunker down for the evening, nerding out to a favourite TV programme. 

What are your plans for the next week ahead? Have you had anything to look forward to and help you get over hump day?

Looking forward to catching up with you all soon,
Hannah. x

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Are you feeling Pretty Nostalgic?

I know I am!!

Some of the eagle-eyed among you may have noticed a couple of buttons on my sidebar about 'Pretty Nostalgic', so let me tell you all about it.

Pretty Nostalgic is a beautiful quarterly published compendium founded by the fabulous Nicole from South Wales. It features hand-picked content written by passionate contributors, and not just journalists, about a whole range of subjects which celebrate a creative and sustainable lifestyle. (Something we all know I rave about on here.) It doesn't feature any adverts, only promoting the wares of it's dedicated readers and society members, sharing and networking business amongst a growing team of artisans, crafters and generally fascinating people all over the country, and even further afield.

I stumbled across Pretty Nostalgic back in my Uni days amongst the likes of Cross Stitcher and Period Living magazine in my local WHSmith. It immediately caught my eye, striking a chord in my fashion industry exhausted heart with it's thick litho-printed pages, and beautiful images of vintage fashions and lifestyles. It was love at first sight. The magazine has since re-launched itself as a society, inviting its members to get involved in a community of like-minded individuals who crave a slower pace of life, appreciating good quality hand-made products from businesses who may reside on your doorstep.

The Pretty Nostalgic Society's motto is “Spend Wisely, Waste Less, Appreciate More” which is how I try to live my life every day, and is the general ethos of this whole blog also.  

It is passionate about living a sustainable lifestyle too. Paying a fair price for goods, and paying it into the hands of the people that produce those goods, so they can put their money back into the local economy. It's not just about the handmade either, it's about recycling too. From mending a moth-eaten wool jacket, to re-wiring an old radio, or even making a dress from a pattern and not just nipping down to your nearest shopping centre to pick something off the rack.
It's about celebrating our skills as individuals, and passing on a legacy to those that come after us. It's about showing that we are not just a generation of consumers, but showing that we appreciate the time and effort which has gone into making something, so the person that made it might earn a living.

If you're currently reading this, and thinking “Oh my goodness, I know exactly what you mean. I wish more people had this frame of mind.” Then you need The Pretty Nostalgic Society in your life.

  • The compendium is published in March, June, September and December.
  • It costs £12 for each issue, if you buy individually.
  • Or you can subscribe for £40 for the year, or 4 quarterly payments of £10.

Not only will you receive this beautiful publication but you will also be given discounts to Pretty Nostalgic Businesses, as well as being invited to local, regional and national meet-ups, getting a chance to meet like-minded individuals who are just as potty about being a Nostalgianeer as you are.

And just because I love you all so much, here's a sneaky peek at the cover of the next issue, due out in March. Be still my vintage loving, beating heart.

I'll catch up with you all very soon.
Take Care,
Hannah. x