Thursday, 18 December 2014

O Christmas Tree!!

Well it has been several months since my last post, apologies again for my unannounced absence. Once again life and mainly work got in the way and now it seems to be Christmas! Despite my very best efforts including two days off work for the pre Christmas decorating clean and starting the actual decorating in late November, I'm still not done! 

This November I became full of decorating inspiration. You know how it is, virtual christmas house tours all over the net, festive blogs, pinterest, glossy christmas magazines, magical shop windows! So, I decided to shake it up a bit this year, change things around, make some new additions. So many ideas, so much to do, so little time. I was feeling a little Christmas anxiety in the last week and then I decided to give myself a break. I don't have to get all the decorating done in one night, it can be a process. I will get everyone's gifts, I always do. I might even share my own Christmas house tour! Some of it looks really good, at least it would if all the boxes were back in the attic.

 As with every Christmas it starts with the tree in the sitting room. We have done real cut trees in here, real potted trees and now we're back to the artificial tree again as I like to get it up last weekend in November. I have to say I miss the pine smell but I've got my fix elsewhere in the house. I love this tree every year. It's a great shape, it always looks full and symmetrical and we don't skimp on the decorations! I've often meant to count them but its alot! As this tree is in the window, we have to decorate all the way around, no cheating! We have our old favourites and usually add more each year. We just use golds and creams on this tree as it matches the decor best. Some came from lands far away, some made by our own fair hands here at home.

 The rest of the room gets its share too.

The Fireplace...

The Crib...

A Christmas Stocking...

And this?!..

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!!

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Horse Chestnut Series - September!!

Well Autumn is definitely creeping in after our Indian Summer here in Ireland. The September  Horse Chestnut tree has a few less leaves and ...absolutely NO fruit left!
I was going to tell you in this post that children nowadays didn't use Horse Chestnuts to play a game known as 'Conkers' but evidently it isn't true!
Every child in a 10 mile radius has carefully scoured every inch of grass beneath our Horse Chestnut in the past month and resorted to throwing a football to dislodge those that hadn't yet fallen! They even begged Mr. Auburn for his 6 ft 4 assistance.
Mr. Auburn did manage to salvage one for me, it may have been the puniest one on the tree but nonetheless "oddly oddly onker, my first conker", that's what you're supposed to say for luck when you find your first conker of the year. Good job I have a seasoned stash from last year!

Roald Dahl said '...a great conker is one that has been stored in a dry place for at least a year. This matures it and makes it rock hard and therefore formidable.'
To play, you make a hole in your conker and thread through a string with a knot at the bottom. We used shoe laces at school, usually the ones from the shoes we were wearing! Taking turns, one opponent dangles their conker by the string while the other player holding the string in one hand and the conker in the other strikes the dangling conker.

The aim - basically to destroy your opponents conker...
Not as easy as it sounds!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Decoupage and Craqueleur!!

This post combines two of my favourite crafts...

You might remember decoupage was my craft for 2013. Remember the eggs and the birdhouses?

2014's craft is Craqueleur, it started with the egg box and I'm loving it. I haven't perfected it but I'm loving it!

 Last weekend I combined the two! My mother had put these lovely papier-mâché letters into my Christmas stocking a couple of years back.

 I bought some beautiful Italian decoupage paper on eBay and started with the vintage hot air balloon paper. I liked the end result but didn't love it. As a result I didn't start the second letter until this year. When I discovered Craqueleur I knew it would be the answer.

 This time I went for the old map paper and 'decoupaged' like I was gift wrapping - much easier than all that cutting and I prefer the result. On went the Craqueleur in two stages (see here for details) followed by some dark wax. Quite a bit of dark wax actually but I like the really 'aged' effect it gives.

The J is a little 'mucky' in places but the M is good, I'm learning! Overall, I like the end result. Once again, dirty and aged fits in better at ours, noticing a trend?

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Gone Banana's!!

Apologies for the distinct lack of blogging last month, I was super busy with work and stuff. I am hoping that September will fare a little better as I have looooads to share with you and can't wait to catch up on what you guys have been up to.

So for today's quandary...what to you do with some ripe banana's?
A sweet treat for elevenses of course...
Banoffee Cupcakes!
Preheat the oven...
Line a cupcake tray with paper cases...
Mash two ripe banana's...

In another bowl, beat 100g butter..
..2 eggs, 125g self raising flour, 100g castor sugar..
 ..and a tsp baking powder until light and fluffy.
Fold in the mashed banana's.
Spoon half the mixture into the paper cases and add a spoon of Caramel into each.. with the remaining cupcake mixture and bake for 20mins.

Remove and cool.
To make the caramel frosting..
..beat together 100g caramel, 85g butter and 300g icing sugar.
Simply spread it on the cupcakes, put the kettle on...
 And Enjoy!!!!!!!

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Horse Chestnut Series - August!!

The August Horse Chestnut looks relatively unchanged from last month. Maybe a few less leaves from all the wind and rain we have had here in Ireland.
Soon all the leaves will be gone but for now I am still enjoying its rich greenness; the first sight I see when I draw the curtains each morning.
"Our chestnut tree is in full bloom.
It is covered with leaves and is even more beautiful than last year."
Anne Frank, 1944
The Horse Chestnut is popularly known as the Anne Frank Tree. From the window of the Annexe when Ann and her family were hiding from the Nazis, Ann could see a large horse chestnut tree. For her it symbolised hope...
"Nearly every morning I go to the attic to blow the stuffy air out of my lungs, from my favourite spot on the floor I look up at the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree, on whose branches little raindrops shine, appearing like silver, and at the seagulls and other birds as they glide on the wind. As long as this exists, I thought, and I may live to see it, this sunshine, the cloudless skies, while this lasts I cannot be unhappy."
Anne's tree outlived its namesake by over fifty years.
Over that period the tree developed an aggressive fungus and was weakened. In 2007, the local authorities decided that the tree needed to be cut down for safety as 42% of its wood was rotten. However, a group of supporters came together with a plan to build a support construction around the tree and take over its maintenance. Despite their best efforts, the tree was blown down in a storm in August 2010, breaking off a meter above the ground. It was thought to be 150-170 years old.
The Anne Frank Tree in 2006
Fortunately, a few years prior to the falling of the tree, the stewards from The Anne Frank House began propagating saplings from the tree. The saplings were donated to various locations across the US including The 9/11 Memorial Park in New York and so Anne's beloved Horse Chestnut tree lives on.
The saplings are "powerful reminders of the horrors borne by hate and bigotry" and "living monuments to Anne's pursuit of peace and tolerance".

Sapling from the Anne Frank Tree

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Horse Chestnut Series - July!!

"Summer has seen the flowers withered and died
But hides the new seed growing deep inside
Spikey green fruit swell with the sun and the rain
The circle of life coming round yet again"
It is now the end of July and officially the end of summer.

The Horse Chestnut now bears strange looking thorny green fruit; a result of the pollination that took place in March.

 These thick, fleshy casings have sharp little spikes on the outside to protect the precious seed within which will be released in the weeks to come.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Egg Box Three Ways!!

You know Mr. Auburn bought this lovely egg box back here and I said I would do something with it.
 Well I three times!
For a long while, it sat on our worktop just holding eggs perfectly well in its original pale wood state, then it got Annie Sloaned.

Cue Makeover #1.
In my wisdom I thought the ASCP duck egg wasn't a million miles from eau de nil, right? WRONG! It is 2 million. Also it was looking a little too pristine for our house.

 Makeover #2.
Perhaps if I tone it down by white washing over the duck egg, and distress the edges a little with some sand paper that will make it work in my kitchen.
(Sorry forgot to take picture at this stage, I was starting to get a little fed up by now!!)
It looked okay but still not right.
Who am I kidding, 99% of stuff in this house is off white or cream. Duck egg has to go!
Makeover #3
Repaint the whole thing in Original white and make it look old...
Once it was repainted in off white I decided to use some AS Craqueleur on it for some 'age'.
 This was my first time to use it but it was really simple and I love the effect it gives. First paint on the base coat in small strokes and leave to dry.  Then paint on the glaze and quickly dry with the hairdryer to make it crack! Thin coat = small crackles on small box.

Then the scary bit - dark wax. I was panicking a lot doing this thinking I had ruined it again at one point but actually you don't have to be scared. I just kept working it in and used a little clear wax on areas I thought were looking a little too mucky.

Loving Craqueleur!!
Third time's charm... dirty crackled off white fits right in I think!

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