Home & Life · Uncategorized

Decorating for Autumn

When my kids were smaller I used to have fun being OTT decorating the house for Halloween, the scarier the better. Now that they are older and not that interested in it anymore I was missing the decorating, so I decided a couple of years ago that I was going to decorate with an Autumn theme instead. I have picked up bits and bobs over the last few years and I’ve also made a few things, and each year I bring out whatever bits take my fancy to make the house all cosy and autumnal. I love all the rich reds, oranges, golds, greens and browns that this time of year brings. This year I have added a little leaf garland to the fireplace, added some orange candles from IKEA and put them in with some of the other pretty little things I had and I am pretty happy with the result. The red wall in my main room always comes into its own at this time of year and makes the whole room look very cosy and welcoming.

Decorate your home for Autumn with RecklessHen
Decorate your home for Autumn with RecklessHen

I have picked up bits and bobs over the last few years and I’ve also made a few things, and each year I bring out whatever bits take my fancy to make the house all cosy and autumnal. I love all the rich reds, oranges, golds, greens and browns that this time of year brings. This year I have added a little leaf garland to the fireplace, added some orange candles from IKEA and put them in with some of the other pretty little things I had and I am pretty happy with the result. The red wall in my main room always comes into its own at this time of year and makes the whole room look very cosy and welcoming.

Autumn Decor by RecklessHen
Living Room decor with an Autumn feel by RecklessHen

This year I made a few things to add to my collection. I made an Autumn printable that you can download here and I crocheted a few pumpkins too. You can find the tutorial for them here. I also bought a new candle that I spotted in TKMaxx. It is a lovely orange pumpkin spice scented candle that says ‘Give thanks with a grateful heart’ on it and the gold lid has the cutest, teeny, tiny pumpkin on it. I love it.  You can see it in some of the photos below.

In the rest of the house I added in some Hydrangeas from a friend’s garden, a jug full of Gerberas, some silk autumnal leaves, some greenery from my garden and some nuts and conkers. I love to settle down at night with the fire on, the candles lit and do some crocheting or knitting while the wind is howling outside and I’m all cosy indoors.

When it comes to looking for inspiration online for my Autumn decor a few of the places  I love to check out are Pinterest, Country Living, Martha Stewart, Pioneer Woman, Here Comes The Sun and Ideal Home. I also find that garden centres can be full of inspiration. I don’t know much about plants myself but their fabulous displays mean I don’t need to as I can just pick plants that are in their displays and know they will work in my autumn decor as well. We have some amazing garden centres here in Northern Ireland and three of my favourites are Creative Gardens, Camerons and Hillside Nursery. Here are some of the photos I took this year when searching for inspiration.

And did I mention that they all have lovely coffee shops and it would have been rude not to take the time to sample the coffee and cakes while I was there 🙂 Speaking of coffee, when RecklessHen went on a roadtrip the other day we stopped off at Starbucks for our first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season and Heather delved into her large handbag and out came some handmade autumnal props ready for an Instagram photo. The pattern for the leaves and acorns is from Just Pootling and the conkers were just made up as we went along.

Autumnal crocheted props
Autumnal props for our Pumpkin Spice Latte

Do you decorate for Autumn? Where do you get your inspiration from?

In the Kitchen · Uncategorized

The best Sweetcorn Chowder Recipe

I don’t know about your house but in my house at meal times I often hear that delightful refrain from my kids of “Yuck, I’m not eating that!” This is particularly true when vegetables are involved. There are not that many meals that everyone in this house enjoys with no complaints whatsoever but my Sweetcorn Chowder is one of them and for that reason it is, as far as I am concerned, the best Sweetcorn Chowder recipe ever.

how to make Sweetcorn Chowder
How to make Sweetcorn Chowder by RecklessHen

I can be sure that whenever I make this, there will be no complaints at all, just happy faces and full tummies. I don’t remember where this recipe originally came from but I am sure it was inspired by something I read or saw somewhere.  I have been making it for so long now that I tweak it from time to time or add something extra now and then, but the basic ingredients and quantities stay much the same. The recipe below is just how I make it, timings may be different depending on your cooker.

chowder ingredients

Ingredients:

1 onion, diced
2 long celery sticks (or 3 short ones), diced
1 pack of 12 slices of smoked pancetta, cut up into small strips (or 2 of the small packs of ready cubed smoked pancetta)
A knob of butter or some olive oil
2 vegetable stock cubes
3 medium sized potatoes, cut into equally sized chunks
3 large corn on the cob (or you can use a couple of cups of frozen sweetcorn)
200ml double cream
1 litre of boiling water
Salt & pepper to taste

I have been known to substitute bacon for pancetta and have used milk when I have had no cream.

Method:

Put the onion, celery and pancetta into a large pan with the knob of butter (or oil) and sweat it slowly over a medium heat until the onion and celery have softened and the pancetta is starting to change colour. I usually do this with the lid on and check it regularly. It takes about 10-15 minutes. If it looks like it is starting to stick I add a little water to stop it.
chowder

Once the onion and celery have softened I make up the vegetable stock cubes in a litre of boiling water and add it to the pan. I turn up the heat and leave this to come to the boil and then I add in the potato. The potato acts as a thickener so if you like thicker soup you might want to add another and if you like thinner soup you might want to use one less. Trial and error is how I ended up adding 3 potatoes, as we like our soup quite thick.

chowder 2

Turn down the heat slightly and continue to cook until the potato is soft. While the soup is cooking prepare the corn on the cob by stripping the kernels off the cobs. If you are using frozen sweetcorn you won’t need to do this step. Once the potato is soft add the sweetcorn and continue to cook for another 10 minutes. At this stage you can add a little more boiling water if required.

Take the soup off the heat and use a handheld blender (or you could use a jug blender) to blend the soup until it is a consistency you are happy with. We like ours quite chunky but I know other people prefer it smoother so you can blend it as little or as much as you like. I do recommend that you do this very, very carefully as more than once I have ended up splattered with boiling hot soup.

chowder 3

Once it has been blended I put it back on the cooker, add the cream, heat it through for a minute or two and it is ready to serve.

We like ours with heaps of crusty bread just out of the oven. I often buy those packs of bread that are ready to bake but equally often I just buy a french stick or some other crusty loaf and heat it up.

chowder 4

I hope you can follow this and it turns out delicious. If you use the recipe I’d love to know.

Have a lovely weekend.

Crafty Inspiration · Tutorials

How to crochet an Autumn Pumpkin

Feeling very autumny, I spent a few happy hours last week on a Pinterest safari looking for crochet patterns for autumnal bits and bobs. I found loads of fabulous leaf patterns, acorn patterns, squirrel and hedgehog patterns and of course pumpkin patterns. A crocheted pumpkin seemed a good place to start as the patterns were all pretty similar and straight forward and I knew I had some orange wool in my extensive stash. So I got a cuppa, my wool and my hook and settled down to start only to realise that the pattern I had chosen was for chunky wool and mine was DK. Not to be beaten I decided to wing it and try to come up with something that would pass as a pumpkin.  I was really happy with how it turned out and thought I would share the pattern in case it is useful for you. First, here is what it looks like.

crochet a pumpkin
How to crochet an Autumn Pumpkin by Recklesshen

You will need:

Double knitting wool
4mm hook
Toy stuffing
Twig about 1cm thick and about 3-4cm long
Hot glue gun
Wool needle

Here is how I made mine.

  • Make a slip knot and place it over your hook.
  • Chain 68.
  • Slip stitch into the starting chain to form a circle.
  • Chain 2. (This becomes your first DC)
  • Work a DC into the same stitch as your slip stitch.
  • Work a DC into each stitch around your circle to the end.
  • Slip stitch into the 2nd chain of the chain 2 at the start of the previous round.
  • *Chain 2.
  • Work a DC into the same stitch as your slip stitch.
  • Work a DC into each stitch around your circle to the end.
  • Slip stitch into the 2nd chain of the chain 2 at the start of the previous round*.
  • Repeat from * to * until your crochet measures as long as you want it to be.
    The longer the crochet is the taller your pumpkin will be. I kept going until mine measured around 30cm.
  • Finish on a slip stitch and fasten off your wool.
    You will now have a crocheted tube.
  • Using the same colour wool and a wool needle, do a running stitch around the edge at the bottom end of the tube. Gently pull the wool to gather the edge until it is as tight as it will comfortably go. Fasten off your wool.
  • Using toy stuffing, stuff your pumpkin right to the top so that it is full and plump.
  • Using the same colour wool and a wool needle, do a running stitch around the edge at the top end of the tube. Gently pull the wool to gather the edge until it is as tight as it will comfortably go. Fasten off your wool.
  • Take a long strand of wool and beginning in the centre of the bottom of your pumpkin, join your wool to the centre and then take it up the outside of the pumpkin and down through the hole in the centre at the top, and out through the bottom.
  • Pull this strand of wool and you will see it pulling the pumpkin and forming a segment.
  • Repeat this step, taking the wool up the outside, down through the centre and then pulling to form a segment.
  • Work your way around the pumpkin until you have as many segments as you want. I mad seven segments on mine.
  • Fasten off the wool securely at the bottom.
  • Using a hot glue gun, put some glue on your twig and place it into the hole at the top of your pumpkin.
  • And viola, you have a lovely autumn pumpkin

If you use this pattern we would love to see a picture of your pumpkins.
Happy Autumn 🙂

Home & Life

5 things I’ve learned

I have read so many of those ‘things I have learned’ posts over the years and I always find at least one thing in those lists that I completely get. I was thinking about that the other day and started to make a list in my head of what lessons I had learned in my five decades, and I actually surprised myself when I realised that I had learned some big lessons in my own life. Lessons that totally reinforced what I had read and heard from so many people. It made me ponder about how we can live in different cultures, have very different lives and yet we can have similar experiences. So I decided that I was going to commit my list of things I had learned to paper (or screen to be completely accurate). This is just my list, I’m not saying it should be yours or telling you how to live your life, it is just my observations on my journey so far.

Anyway here goes my list of 5 things I have learned, in no particular order……..

  • My mother really was always right, or at least she was right a heck of a lot of the time. The friends she didn’t like turned out to be crappy friends. The decisions she questioned often turned out to be mistakes. The time she wanted to spend with me would be time I looked back on now and treasured. When we are young we think we know it all and I wish I had realised then what I know now. That her advice came from experience and love, that she didn’t want me to make the mistakes she had, that she was only trying to make my life easier. What I would give now to have just one more hour with her. So lesson number one is LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER.
  • Tea really does make everything better. Now I am not a big tea fan, I’m a latte lover, though I take it with only one shot of coffee and most people say it tastes more like warm milk but that is beside the point. The point is that I have never really got the tea makes everything better thing. I’ve always thought that’s a bit tough on us coffee drinkers and how on earth could a cup of tea make anything better. But I was thinking about it yesterday and I suddenly realised that it’s not the tea that makes everything seem better, its the fact that usually we will be sitting down and sharing that tea with a partner, a friend, a parent or someone else important to us. It is the being with the other person that makes everything seem better, like everything will be OK and no problem is too big to solve. Perhaps I am the only person who didn’t really get this and you all knew what it was about, but I am a very literal person so to me it was really saying that tea actually made things better. Now I can’t believe I didn’t see what it was all about yonks ago. So lesson number two is DRINK TEA (EVEN IF IT’S COFFEE).
  • Friendship is a two-way street. Now it is inevitable that in the course of our hectic lives juggling a million different things that sometimes the street will be busier one way that the other. That’s OK as long as the traffic still flows both ways. If it turns into a one-way street that is not OK. If one of our friends lets us do all the work, always being the one to call, to organise to meet up, to ring for a chat then that person is not really a friend. It can be hard to step away from a friendship but when it is not adding to your life or making you feel good then maybe it’s time to re-evaluate why you are friends with that person. So lesson number three is BE A GOOD FRIEND.
  • Life is too short for regrets. This has been my mantra for the last 22 years. I lost someone very close to me through illness back then and in those final days one of the things that she said that really stayed with me was that she had no regrets about her life. I knew instantly that I wanted to be able to say that too and that if I kept on the path I was on that would never be the case. So I gave up my job to become a stay-at-home mum and moved closer to my parents as my dad wasn’t well. It wasn’t easy, to be honest it was really scary stuff, we were doubling our mortgage and halving our income at the same time but it felt right and I have never regretted it for a second.  For me all decisions are made using the ‘will I regret it’ measuring stick. I have found that, even when something doesn’t work out, I have no regrets now because I know I made the best decision for me. I am not saying that would work for everyone, we are all different, but for me it works. So lesson number four is REGRET NOTHING.
  • Don’t waste time worrying what people think of you. It really is true that the people who mind don’t matter and the people who matter don’t mind. It doesn’t matter if you are not wearing the latest trend, are overweight, too short, too tall, too bossy, too quiet, don’t drive the right car, don’t live in the right area, didn’t go to the right school, don’t work in the right job, don’t mix with the right crowd. All those things are just ‘things’ and the people who judge you on them have warped values and empty lives if that is all that matters to them. What matters is how you treat people and what you give back to those around you. It is better to really rock at being you imperfections and all, than striving to be something you are not to try to please people who will always find something else to judge you on. Hold your head high, dance to your own beat and let them shove their judgements. So Lesson number five is  (to quote Dr Seuss) “TODAY YOU ARE YOU, THAT IS TRUER THAN TRUE. THERE IS NO ONE ALIVE THAT IS YOUER THAN YOU”

Phew, so that is my 5 lessons and if you got through all that well done.

What would your 5 lessons be?

IMG_6679

featured · Freebies

Free Autumn printable

I just love the colours of Autumn – the reds, browns, greens, golds and oranges that seem to speak of cosiness and warmth and evenings indoors wrapped up on the sofa. I love the crisp cooler air that means it’s time to put on a sweater and get out the wool to knit or crochet a new scarf and hat. I love the crunching sound of leaves under my feet and sitting in front of the fire at night with a crocheted blanket on my lap and lots of candles dancing on the walls around the room. I love how my cooking changes as the days get cooler and the salads and barbecues of summer change to soups, stews and hearty casseroles to warm and nourish. I love getting out my recipe books and planning crumbles, pies and delicious treats to make use of all the amazing fruits of the season. I have many happy memories of coming home from school to be met with the smell of freshly baked apple pies and scones just out of the oven. In Autumn more than other seasons I find that the smell and taste of food evoke childhood memories.

free Autumn printable
Free Autumn printable from RecklessHen

At this time of year, I love to decorate the house with a few bits and bobs that bring the Autumn indoors. I try to find a new piece to add to the collection each year, this year it was some silk leaves in fabulous Autumn shades. I also made an Autumn themed printable to frame and put on the table in the hallway. I was so pleased with it that I thought it would be a nice freebie to giveaway so you can download it from the link at the bottom.  It is designed to be A4 size but I trimmed mine to fit an 8 x 10 frame as I found a lovely red frame hidden away in a cupboard that I had put away ‘somewhere safe’ and forgot about.

Free for personal use only Autumn printable from RecklessHen
Free Autumn printable from RecklessHen.

Our Autumn wordart printable is Free for Personal Use only.

You can download it HERE.

We hope you like it and can use it in your home, we’d love to see a picture if you do.

Leave a comment if you have an idea for a free printable you would like to see on our blog and don’t forget to follow us for updates.