The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


How to make green willow wreaths for Christmas

Posted in Christmas, crafts | 13 comments

How to make green willow wreaths for Christmas

  I’ve been ogling simple wreaths for weeks now. They are quite expensive but could be good for Christmas – small ones on the tree and a large decorated one on the door. But how were they made? A few weeks ago I cut some green willow from our tree and fashioned a little circle within minutes. I know that most things made with green willow split and bend in unconventional ways so I buried this little treasure in the spice bowl that is nurturing our pomanders. It is a seasoning and drying mix after all. Since then I’ve twigged that to...

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How to make homemade pomanders

Posted in Christmas, crafts | 8 comments

How to make homemade pomanders

  There are many beautiful moths that come into the cottage on summer evenings. They are welcomed and their beauty dazzles me and I hope that they will not drown in the washing up bowl. Then there are the clothes moths, the enemy that likes to guzzle our carpets and clothes. Any that I spot lolloping on the ceiling are killed by gently wiping my finger over them – yes our ceilings are that low. Despite the clothes moth murders hundreds of these greedy creatures manage to creep into our drawers and wardrobes each year with devastating...

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The potpourri project: Making my first batch of Cherhez’s Old English Rose Potpourri

Posted in Christmas, Flowers, Reviews | 7 comments

The potpourri project: Making my first batch of Cherhez’s Old English Rose Potpourri

  “I bet your house smells wonderful.” The lady in Holland and Barrett  exclaimed as she put my essential oils in a bag. “I’m making potpourri and our cottage is beginning to smell great.” The Holland and Barrett essential oils are very good quality and the scent lasts well. We use them for making essential oil recipes that I found in The Fragrant Mind by Valerie Ann Worwood. I will be using some of these recipes in my potpourris and scented bags as we have found that they are extremely powerful. It’s taken ages...

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Homemade Christmas marmalade with whisky

Posted in Christmas, Jam Jelly and Preserves | 8 comments

Homemade Christmas marmalade with whisky

  Last year I happened to meet someone who supplies citrus fruits to one of the largest supermarket chains in the UK. “How come their fruit and vegetables don’t last as long as those from Waitrose and M&S?” “Ah,” he said, “it’s all a matter of storage temperature. They keep the produce in vast stores with the temperature set very, very low. This means that they can store perishables for a considerable time. Once they come to room temperature they will fade far more quickly.” Fascinating stuff. The temperature in our barn...

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Best melt in the mouth vanilla fudge recipe

Posted in Christmas, Desserts, Sweets and Candy | 18 comments

Best melt in the mouth vanilla fudge recipe

Danny loves fudge. A few weeks ago he bought some fudge in Newmarket. It was inedible, chewy, tasteless stuff. Danny has a sweet tooth and a passion for cheap sweets and even he couldn’t get beyond the first mouthful and threw the rest away. Somewhere in the back of my mind I remembered making fudge as a child – or rather watching my mum making fudge. We used to make sweets as Christmas presents individually wrapped in cellophane like little jewels. I trawled the internet for recipes – there were millions of them but this one by Nick...

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Happy Christmas everyone

Posted in Christmas | 13 comments

Happy Christmas everyone

  Just a brief post to wish everyone a very Happy Christmas. My mum treated us to a wonderful Christmas lunch at the Bedford Lodge Hotel complete with crackers and those clever long balloons that drifted around the dining room ceiling wailing as they lost their air. These were politely returned to the tables from which they’d been launched. My first balloon didn’t make its first flight as it was accidentally punctured by the holly on my mum’s Christmas pud! But then disaster struck (don’t ask) and I finally limped home at the end of...

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The flash of red at the window

Posted in Christmas | 9 comments

The flash of red at the window

  Even though I knew that Father Christmas didn’t exist I was always fooled by my mum’s comment during the month of December. If we were being naughty she would glance outside and say. “I’ve just seen a flash of red at the window. You better behave if you want Christmas stockings this year.” This stopped all bad behaviour in its tracks instantly. So I grew up thinking that Father Christmas was rather a stern man. Being naughty was fun after all. There was also a Father Christmas decoration a hard rounded egg shaped body with...

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The run up to Christmas

Posted in Christmas, Cottage tales | 13 comments

The run up to Christmas

  “I’m more excited about the gate side stand than I am about Christmas.” Danny remarked as he carefully avoided an icy patch on the country road. We were driving back from the market laden with fruit as we’ve run out of some lines. I’m delighted about our stand too. Sales have been pretty good since I put out taster pots. I’m thrilled that people are buying our preserves and coming back for more. We are now making flavoured vinegars to sell when the bottle supplier is up and running again in January. I’m also experimenting with...

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