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December 2013

2013 – A year of changes..

2013 – A year of changes..

by Clare Mansell

2013 has been a big year for us. In  January we will still living in Northern Scotland patiently waiting for our tenant to move out of our house so we could relocate and start an exciting new chapter of our lives. Jim’s new job had started and so I was left 550 miles away counting the days till we moved south. We finally moved in on January 31st to a house that had, for the 4 years since we’d bought it, only really existed to us in photos.

We start January 2014 once again waiting patiently for another very exciting change to our accommodation. This time a six month complete remodel of our 1900s bungalow that will transform it into a New England style two storey house.

Enjoying the sunshine...

At the end of 2012 I had taken a break from blogging, but by April this year I resumed, tempted back by a bloggers competition. Although I didn’t win it, I did go on to become a Center Parcs ambassador, get a new office chair and win a house clean and John Lewis vouchers, none of which I could have done without the blog. A reminder to us all that blogging can be a powerful thing…

Although our house move meant I temporarily lost a dedicated space for sewing, it was still a busy year for my Pfaff. I completed two quilts, three pairs of shorts, two trousers, several bee blocks, three swap cushions and several applique t-shirts. By the end of next year Theo’s bedroom should have been transformed into my office and sewing space.

Several of this year’s highlights came courtesy of the brilliant and welcoming local community we moved into. There were tractor rides, woodland work parties, apple pressing days, open air films, bike rides and community picnics, nearly all of which we attended as a family, often roping in my parents too..

Maybush Copse picnic

And beyond the village we roamed the county on a (never-ending) quest to find the south-coast’s best breakfasts. Though the winter months have been quieter on this blog, as we head into spring I am looking forward to sharing tales of our build, along with cooking, photography, sewing and our life in the country. Our 2014 is looking pretty exciting already and I hope yours is too…

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And so this was Christmas…

And so this was Christmas…

by Clare Mansell
xmas_sunroom
Ugg gloves for xmas!
So Christmas came and went with its usual alarming speed. The run of ill health in this house continued with colds and coughs plaguing us. Jim did an excellent job of doing all of Christmas dinner himself (and clearing up on his own when I crawled to bed at 9pm) and our little house expanded at the seams to accommodate everyone for the day. Next year we shall be swimming in space… we hope!

Theo didn’t quite understand the fuss this year, but was more than delighted by the visitors. When he realised his cousins were coming for the day he camped out on our windowsill all morning awaiting their arrival.

In the evening, shortly after the last of out guests had gone, the skies opened for an almost apocalyptic downpour. The deafening sound of the heavens emptying themselves on our flat roof made me convinced it was about to cave in. When it had passed, we peeped outside and saw the lawn covered in hailstones.

The following morning it was still in evidence and so, with a leap of imagination, we were treated to that rarest and most surprising of things on the south-coast.. a white Christmas… or a white Boxing Day at least. I’m clutching at straws I know, but the boy enjoyed it…

boxingday_2

So with the festivities behind us at least we are battling to restore full health to everyone. We are halfway through Jim’s leave already and I feel like it is slipping through our fingers. So many plans, so many things we wanted to do and people to see… I must be patient.
 

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We’re off to meet Hugh!

We’re off to meet Hugh!

by Clare Mansell

You may have noticed I like to enter competitions, but I don’t enter them randomly. I only bother with ones that involve some sort of creative challenge and that are for a prize I actually want to win.

A couple of month’s ago I saw on Twitter that River Cottage were doing a competition to win tea with Hugh, a cookery class and tour of River Cottage. A prize I really wanted to win! To enter they asked for a photo that involved fruit and as luck would have it, I had the perfect pic – the one I took of Theo after our community apple harvest in October. So I entered it and tried my best not to obsessively stalk the River Cottage Twitter feed whilst I waited to hear who the winner was…

Yesterday they finally announced the winner and it’s US. We are so excited!

So next year we are off to meet Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall for tea, which will be a lovely excuse for a short break in the West Country too.  I cannot wait to share the whole adventure with you! What a year 2014 is shaping up to be already!

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This little gadget has changed my life!

This little gadget has changed my life!

by Clare Mansell

The other week I was asked to review a new gadget which has just been launched. I read the press release, watched the video and knew instantly that if it did what it said it did, I was going to love it!

But first a bit of background. As you can imagine as a military family we spend more time than most hanging pictures and we do it in a variety of surfaces. Everything from the impenetrable concrete walls of the houses in Cyprus to modern stud walls in Scotland. It is always a stupidly stressful exercise and it always results in messy holes which we have to cover up when we leave.

Even now we are in our own home, the hole creating hasn’t stopped and the walls of our house are peppered with messy scars in the crumbly plaster.

The gadget I was offered to review is called a Hardwall Takker and is in very basic terms a hand-powered drill. At its base it has a drill bit and there’s a wind up mechanism at the side which you turn to push the drill bit into the wall. It doesn’t sound like it should work, but it does on every surface we have used it on and it makes a really neat perfectly formed hole which you can then slot one of the provided “takks” in to. The result will hang up to 12kg in weight.

Since we received it we’ve used it on the solid walls inside the house (we fortunately have a couple of walls we are removing in the spring, so lots of room to practice!) and on the external wall of the house. I have used it to hang the Christmas cards display and Jim has used it (in preference to the drill) to hang our Christmas wreath on our outside wall.

It’s incredibly easy to use and so much quicker than charging up the drill and getting the extension cord out. In fact there is only one very small way I can fault it, which is that because the drill bit is in the centre of the base, if you want to make a hole in the corner of a wall close to the ceiling, you physically cannot place the Takker in the space, but honestly, I can live with that.

It may not be the most technologically sophisticated piece of kit, but its simplicity has completely won us over and we think it’s going to be a big hit, particularly with military families!

If you want to find out more about the Hardwall Takker their website is here.

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Brit Sewing Thursday Linky (12th December 2013)

Brit Sewing Thursday Linky (12th December 2013)

by Clare Mansell

So after a less than productive week last week, I am pleased to say I have had time back at the sewing machine! I have basted a quilt and I have finished the wonky windmill blocks for the mini quilt I am making for the doll quilt swap. I may have to juggle these blocks around a bit, but I’m going dizzy looking at them at the moment.

I think as we are heading into the Christmas period I am going to rest the linky from now until 9th January to give us all a chance to relax and/or catch up with our sewing, but I’m very much looking forward to hearing what you’ve been up to and sharing the quilt I have been working on in the new year…
Until then please feel free to share whatever you have been working on this week…


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