Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Could this be Spring?

Well, it's the 31st of January and boy, is it mild. I can't believe the first month of 2007 is almost passed, not that I'm particularly sad as I hate the long, dark, cold days of January. But amazingly after all the gales, snow and freezing weather we've had over the past couple of weeks it has now turned to be so mild and Spring like - what's happened, January is never like this? In fact it is so mild that I have taken my sewing outside to do. I just can't bare to sit inside when it's mild like this, the birds are cheeping away, the chickens are scratching about in the garden, and best of all the spring bulbs are at last starting to show (not that there's many as most of them only got put in the ground on sunday!!!). I've got a stinking cough at the moment so I'm a tad zomby like, getting outside will do me the world of good and hopefully waken me up a bit!

Just being able to get the washing out on the line is such a treat, I have to say, hanging out the washing is my favourite chore - peg bags are a must for this year and will definitely be crossed off the "to do" list! I've also decided to stick with my trusty "dotty" fabric. I've always worked along the lines of once a fabric is finished it's finished as I don't like the idea of churning out hundreds of the same product in one fabric (not that I ever make 100 of anything - I'm lucky if I make a dozen at a time!!). But, seeing as it is soooo popular I've decided to stick with it, a bit like Emma Bridgewater and her dotty china, everyone loves it and it's a bit of a classic in every country kitchen.

I've plonked a jug of my daffs on the table outside with me, seeing as there aren't any out in the garden yet, but it's something to look forward to - if the hens don't scratch them all up! I seriously think mother nature is fooling us though, there's no way it'll stay like this for next few months, I'm sure there'll be a cold snap just around the corner? But I'm going to make the most of it while it lasts.

Right, I think that's the bread maker I hear bleeping, fresh bread for lunch - outside of course, anyone joining me?

L x

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Maintaining a website

We've had the website for three years now, and as much as I love it, it's really hard work and I never really feel as if I'm on top of it. Because of the nature of what I do, I'm always creating and making new products, especially with new fabrics etc as you never know what lovely little gems your going to find when you're out for a rummage in the shops! New products just never seem to sit around for long enough in order for me to get some nice photos, either that or the weather is crap and I can't get outside to take the damn pictures!

I am soooo lucky that I don't have to pay someone a fortune to "do" the website for me, thankfully I have a very patient husband who has quite happily taught himself how to do it for me, if it wasn't for him I'd have no web site at all! We are always debating over the whole "click & buy" scenario too, but to be honest, I'm quite happy with the set up as it is - if I had orders coming in left, right and centre I wouldn't be able to cope as I never seem to have a massive pile of stock - it's generally all for a shop or for stock for a fair!

We spent last night getting rid of the terrribly out of date Christmas web site and making it a bit more spring like - but as usual while I was sitting updating all the text, I'm busy gabbering away to Gregg about how I want to change it before we do the Country Living Fair?!!

I am totally in awe of all the ladies out there who manage to create such beautiful crafts and maintain a web site too, how do they find the time? You should have a look at them, there's Cherry, Samantha and Tracey for starters and Donna, Fiona and Clare are busy working on theirs too, all very exciting.

So ladies, I'd like to pick your brains. I am very much of the opinion that because I am a very small rural business I get away with not being a fancy, slick set up, I don't do credit cards, it's payment by cheque or Paypal and I don't have a brochure (lots of people asked for them over the Christmas spell). I like to think that our lifestyle is very much a part of the business and the business is very much a part of our lifestyle - all very organic - if you see what I mean? Your thoughts on this would be very much appreciated, and thank you to everyone who comments on the site, it really does mean so much to me that people take the time to say their bit.


L x

Sunday, January 21, 2007

I've been tagged!

I was tagged on Friday by Nonnie

Here are the instructions - The Rules: Each player of this game starts with "6 weird things about you". Each person who gets tagged needs to write a blog post of their own 6 weird things as well as clearly state this rule. After you state your 6 weird things, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don't forget to leave a comment that says "you're tagged" in their comments and tell them to read your blog for information as to what it means. So here are my six weird things.
1. I adore my chickens to the point where I talk to them every day, I have wanted to keep chickens for years - but I don't actually like eggs! I'll go as far as having French toast and use them for baking, but a boiled, poached, fried or scrambled one just doesn't do it for me!
2. I get very attached to my socks, especially warm pairs, to the point where I will wear them until they are literally falling off my feet, I don't care if they've got holes in them!
3. I will only drink water if it comes from the kitchen tap, not the bathroom tap, to me it's just not as clean although it comes from the same source and pipe!
4. I wiggle my foot in bed to make myself go to sleep, it drives Gregg insane!
5. If I have a bath at night I love to go into a cold crisp bed, none of this putting the electric blanket on to continue the warmth.
6. And last but not least, I love to walk in the rain but only if it's not windy too.
So there you have it, 6 weird things about me, I found this quite difficult so maybe I'm not so weird after all!
I would now like to tag Donna, Samantha, Julia, Ginny, Jane, and Tracey.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

At last, it has arrived! We had a smattering yesterday morning along with a lovely sunny day, but since we got up this morning the snow hasn't stopped, there's a good couple of inches lying now. The chickens are not too pleased and are grumbling away in their house, but the geese and ducks don't seem too bothered. Chrissie is in her element bouncing about in the snow, she looks so cute with her little snow covered face. The cats have the right idea, they are curled up in little balls sound asleep!
The only hope now is that it is a tad colder up at Glenshee, ideally it needs to freeze to make a good hard base and then more snow on top so that we can get a bit of ski-ing and snowboarding done this winter! So fingers crossed!

I just love it when the spindly bare branches of the trees are covered in snow, it's just balancing there so delicately. There is a special kind of silence when there is snow, it really is magical. Can you tell I LOVE snow!

I definitely think a bit of sledging will be required this afternoon, it is just the best fun ever. When my mum and my youngest sister visited over Christmas last year we spent a day out in the field sledging, we even managed to get my mum on the sledge, she screamed all the way down the hill!

The stove is lit and all the wet outdoor clothes are drying off in front of it, I always think that the cottage has the feel of a ski chalet at this time of year, there's always wet outdoor gear drying off in front of the fire!

Right, I'm off to get on, a big pot of soup to be made and then on with the sewing, lavender hearts today I think!

L x

Monday, January 15, 2007

Spring flowers

It's the start of another week, the bed is stripped, the washing is done and the bread maker is on, filling the house with the gorgeous smell of baking bread. The stove is lit as it is yet another grotty day, windy and raining, grey and dark, oh how I wish for spring.......
At last the planning for the Country Living Fair is now in full swing (thankfully!) so I'm feeling very inspired and raring to go. I spent Saturday afternoon in Borders book shop with a friend, we had a lovely time looking at so many interesting books and dribbling over the stationary in Paperchase! I bought a couple of lovely craft books, hence the inspiration!
We had our first little flurry of snow on Saturday night, it was only on for about an hour and didn't lie as the ground is just too wet, when is the rain and wind going to stop? It's no wonder we all hate January!
The only way of brightening up the cottage at the moment is to fill it with spring flowers, beautiful red tulips in one of the kitchen windows and blue hyacinths in the other, the smell is fantastic.

I have yet to get my spring bulbs into the garden, hopefully there might be a dry day this week but the ground is just so wet, what can I do? I have bought a lot of spring bulbs this year as last year was our first spring here and we didn't know what was in the garden. So the plan was to plant daffodils all down the burnside as you come in the front gate, I have a feeling they might be a little late in flowering this year.........................

Oh well, off to get on with the sewing, I think I'll have a day of making new products today and planning what new fabrics and trimmings I'm going to order later in the week, one of my favourite jobs.

Enjoy your Monday.

L x

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Panic stations...........

It arrived in the post this morning, the Country Living Spring Fair Exhibitors Manual, we have officially arrived at the panic stations! It also means having to spend time filling in copious amounts of forms, time that could be spent sewing, chunter, chunter, chunter..............!

Never mind, it made little butterflies flutter away inside me and a big broad smile spread across my face, I absolutely LOVE it all, the stress, the manic sewing until all hours of the morning, getting to be creative, but best of all, the fact that people also love and appreciate what you make, it's what makes it all totally worthwhile. Right, I'm off to get on, have a fab day whatever you're doing.
L x
P.S. I adore the little stickers that they give you to put on your mailings about the fair, ooh how the simple things in life give so much pleasure......................... x

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Fabby weekend

Friday morning arrived, and for once we were organised and away almost on time on our treck up north to Thurso. We stopped at a lovely little place on the way up called The Storehouse of Foulis for a bit of lunch and a look around the farm shop, I would definitely recommend stopping there if you're in the area. We also stopped off at ANTA in Tain, a Scottish company that have their own range of fabrics, pottery, furniture, handbags and scarfs. The Showroom is lovely inside but a bit dissapointingly messy outside! I did however get a few bargains as they have their sale on at the moment. I got a lovely little jug to add to the collection, a christening gift for friends and some gorgeous fabric to make a curtain to go over the dining room door. Here is a picture of it with some lovely horn buttons I've got that I might use to trim it, we'll see!

We spent a fab weekend with Graeme, Julie and little Innes (commonly known as Inky Monster!). We went along to John O'Groats on Saturday and walked out to Duncansby Stacks, and also along the "shell beach", so much beach combing was done, with Julie and I oohing and aahing over our finds!

After a night out in Thurso on Saturday we decided the best way to cure our hangovers was to got to the Surf Shack for breakfast and what a breakfast it was too! The boys were supposed to be going surfing but decided that they just weren't quite up for it, so instead we went for a lovely walk along Melvich beach in the afternoon. Gregg and I whipped up a curry for tea for Jules seeing as it was her Birthday and she more than deserved the night off!

We headed off on Monday morning, almost sneaking little Inky in the car, as I'd fallen completely in love with the little boy who spent the morning running around with my pink bra on his head! (sorry don't have a photo!) We stopped off at Dornoch to stretch our legs and walk Chrissie along the beach, another opportunity for beach combing and much photo taking.

I also wanted to stop in at The Village Green, a delicious little shop at Cawdor Estate, that opened just before Christmas. They are a stockist of our products so I'm always keen to meet the owner and have a wee nosy at the shop. As I expected it was gorgeous and full of all the quirky little goodies for the home that I just love. The shop was actually closed, but Jenifer very kindly came along and opened up especially, so if you read the blog Jenifer, thank you!

Unfortunately Johnstons of Elgin was closed for stocktaking so we didn't get to have a look round, probably just aswell as I'd have spent a fortune! Never mind we'll just have to go again. We eventually made it over to Gregg's mum and Douglas' in Monymusk just in time for dinner and we very gladly stayed the night as we really didn't fancy going back out into the dark to have to drive home. Instead we came home this morning to a house still full of Christmas decorations and in need of a bit of a spring clean. Between us we got it done in a few hours, and have hopefully managed to hoover up most of the pine needles! Both the fires were lit so we were nice a cosy by the end of the afternoon.

So, it's back to it now, orders to be done and the Country Living Fair to start planning for and getting stock made. I've got so many new ideas buzzing around in my head and also Valentines to think of, so it's going to be a busy old week. Here's one more photo of me enjoying the sunshine on Dornoch beach.

I've got a few other lovely photos but I'll share them with you later in the week, it's time to go to bed now. Graeme & Julie, thank you so much for a super weekend, we just wish the distance between us wasn't quite so much, but it just makes these weekends even more special when they do eventually happen! I'm missing the bletherings of the little Inky Monster sooo much you wouldn't believe it!

L x

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Trying to get back into the swing of things.

I'm trying very hard to get back into the swing of things this week but I'm not really getting anywhere! Yesterday didn't really turn out to be a very productive day as the weather was so rotten I ended up sitting at the fire reading a book most of the day as it was so cold and windy! Not a bad thing to do, and I did say to myself well this is the last day of my holidays, tomorrow will be all systems go again! Today, the weather has been a huge improvement on yesterday, our first lovely sunny day of the year, but sooooo windy again, I thought the roof was coming off at one point! Just having a bit of sunshine makes such a difference though, it really does lift the spirits.
So, I've managed to clear my work table so that I can get some sewing done and have made a few phone calls, I feel as if I'm getting there slowly! By the end of today I'll hopefully have a few parcels ready to go in the post tomorrow morning and a slightly tidier workroom than shown below so that's at least something!

I'm really looking forward to this weekend as we're heading north to Thurso to see friends we haven't seen for over a year, it'll be great fun. The boys will go surfing (too cold for me at this time of year!) and the girls will go beach combing, which I absolutely LOVE doing! We're also hoping to pop into ANTA on the way up and Johnstons of Elgin on the way back down so a bit of a working trip too, or so I tell myself!

I'll make sure I take lots of photos, especially at the beach, we might even get to fly the kite!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Another New Year lies ahead............

Another year has passed us by, our first full year here at Mill of Fyall................
It has been a great year, very busy, but a very happy one. We spent a magical Hogmanay "up the glen" at the Blackwater Hall, not far from Glen Shee. Lots of ceilidh dancing was done until the power went off at about 11.30pm, but it wasn't long until we were back in action once "the geny" was hooked up, all very "Monarch of the Glen" and absolutely wonderful!
2007 will hopefully be a good year, I'm really looking forward to getting stuck into the garden this year now that the veggie garden is built, it'll be nice to keep a diary of it all here. It will be another busy year with the business as we're doing the Country Living Spring Fair Scotland again at the end of March, which I'm really looking forward to. Gregg also has an exciting year ahead as he starts a new job at the beginning of March.
The photo above was taken this time last year when we had about a foot of snow, it was amazing! We congregated with all the neighbours and their children in one of the fields and had a mass sledging, snowboarding and skiing day, it was just fab! Unfortunately we've not had any snow yet this winter, but as soon as we have I'll post some pictures!
Well, all thats left for me to say is that I wish everyone a prosperous and safe 2007 and hope that you all stick to those New Year resolutions (at least until the end of January!).
L x