Home & Life · Uncategorized

Country Blog Retreat NI

It seems like ages ago that Tiny Little Lessons suggested that we go on an Instagram Retreat. I liked the sound of it but didn’t have a clue what to expect or who would be going and if I would know anyone or not. We booked our tickets anyway and I looked forward to it even if I was a little apprehensive about meeting so many new people. In the weeks leading up to it there was alot of surfing the net for something to wear and booking appointments to get nails done etc. When Sunday 24th September rolled around we loaded up the sat nav with the location and four of us set off on our road trip to the beautiful surroundings of Larchfield Estate.  Even though it is only 30 minutes from home I had never been to Larchfield before and I have to say I was so impressed with how beautiful it is. From the picturesque gardens & courtyard, to the fabulous orangery & barn, to the stunning guest cottages and Myrtle the glamping truck, the attention to detail was just perfect. It was all a real feast for the eyes and many, many photos were taken. I apologise in advance as this post is going to be photo heavy since there were just so many things to look and and drool over.

We started off the afternoon with welcome drinks and nibbles in the Orangery provided by Panacea Drinks, Clearer Water and Graham’s Bakery. They are three local companies and their drinks and food were really good and I will definitely look out for them in the shops now.

From the Orangery we headed into the barn which was decorated beautifully and all set up for afternoon tea. It was lovely to be able to put faces to the Instagram names and everyone was so friendly and chatty. After an inspiring talk from Anna from Blossoming Birds  we went on a photo walk in the beautiful gardens of Larchfield Estate. There were plenty of props at hand from giant balloons and letters to lovely lanterns. It was funny seeing so many Olympus Pen cameras every way we turned and boy were there so many opportunities to get some amazing photos. Here are some of my favourites.

After our walk we headed back into the barn for Afternoon Tea which was catered by French Village. The food was amazing and it looked so good no one wanted to be the first to lift something and ruin the photo ops but we forced ourselves 🙂 No words can do justice to how delicious these treats were so I will let the photos do the talking.

After lots of eating and plenty of chatting, we heard from some more inspiring local Instagrammers and bloggers. First was Kerry and Tara from Sisters and Sons, followed by Mel Wiggins and then a panel with Rachel from The Breton Bird, Laura-Ann from All That’s Pretty and Anna from Blossoming Birds. All had plenty of good advice and tips and lots of food for thought. We had a short break after this so it was off into the grounds again to have a look at the gorgeous cottages and Myrtle the glamping truck and to take lots of photos of course. First up is Myrtle. Wouldn’t you just love to spend a night here! You even have your very own sauna.

Next up is the cottages. All of them are absolutely gorgeous and I would happily stay in any one of them and be very happy indeed. The decor is flawless and the little touches and attention to detail are so perfect. It made me want to go home and redecorate the whole house.

After tearing ourselves away from the fabulous cottages it was back into the barn to hear from Andrew (@littlewoodmr) and Colin (@father_of_the_birds) with a light-hearted look at what life is like as an Insta-Partner.

All too soon it was time to depart Larchfield Estate with our goodie bags filled with treats and offers provided bygreat graet sponsors.

 

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Goodie Bags from the Country Blog Retreat NI (photo copyright @recklesskav)

 

It was an amazing afternoon spent meeting new people in fabulous surroundings, being fed delicious treats and hearing inspiring words. Thanks to Emma from Life at the Little Wood   (@littlewoodlife) for organising it all, can’t wait till next time.

I will leave you with this quote from Brene Brown that Mel Wiggins reminded us of

“Unused creativity is not benign. It metastasizes. It turns into grief, rage, judgement, sorrow, shame.”

In her book ‘The Gifts of Imperfection‘ Brene says that “I’m not very creative’ doesn’t work. There’s no such thing as creative people, and non-creative people. There are only people who use their creativity and people who don’t. Unused creativity doesn’t just disappear. It lives within us until it’s expressed, neglected to death, or suffocated by resentment and fear.”

I love this reminder not to let fear stop us releasing our creativity, to go full steam ahead and live our best life on our own terms. We will make mistakes as we go and that’s OK, just learn from them and move on. I’m definitely going to print that quote out and post it somewhere I will see it everyday.

Do you have any quotes that inspire you daily?

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.

Freebies · Uncategorized

September desktop freebie

Can you believe that summer is over and schools have started back already? I don’t know how summer flew by so quickly and I didn’t get to do half the things I had planned. Oh well, that’s life I suppose, at least it is in my house! Maybe you are more organised than me, I always have lots of plans and ideas and then things come up and things get moved about and changed a bit and chaos reigns. Even though I didn’t do all the things on my list I had a lovely summer. I spent time with family and friends, I took some online courses, I decorated, I did some pottery painting and some papercraft, I chilled out a bit, and I did lots and lots of crocheting. I even managed to read a book! I also designed an app which hubby is programming and I am soooo excited about that. There will be lots more news on that in the next few weeks.

I didn’t take as many photos as I usually do this year, perhaps because my teens and twenties are no longer co-operative in having their picture taken. One mention of Facebook or Instagram and they disappear from sight. Anyway, these are some of my favourite photos from summer 2017 (or at least the ones the kids allow me to share).

So now it is back to the routine of school runs, clubs, sports etc and before we know it Christmas will be just around the corner. I don’t mind that at all as it’s my favourite time of year. I’m a bit Christmas obsessed and even watched a Christmas movie (OK I admit it was more than one) over summer. But I shouldn’t get ahead of myself and miss out all the lovely things about Autumn – the wrapping up in scarves and sweaters to keep out the chill in the air, the crispy leaves under our feet when we go for a stroll, the fabulous colours as the greens turn to orange, red, gold and brown and of course the hot chocolate in front of the fire with the candles lit.

And what better way to start a new month and a new season than by getting our 200th ‘liker’ on Facebook. To celebrate we are giving away a September desktop.

september 2017 desktop 1600x1200

RecklessHen September Desktop 1024×768

RecklessHen September Desktop 1280×1024

RecklessHen September Desktop 1600×1200

I hope this is some use to you, feel free to share it and pin it. We would love it if you followed our blog, Facebook page or Instagram (or better still all of them ) and we love to get your comments and feedback.

How did you spend your summer?

craft · design · digital scrapbooking · Uncategorized

A blast from the past

I’ve been trying to organise all my photos on my new computer which is taking forever. I so wish I had kept them organised better over the years, it would have saved me so much time now. I have just reached 2009 and I’ve come across a few photos of something I had completely forgotten – I once had a digital scrapbook layout published in a magazine!!! Can you believe that – I can hardly believe it myself. It was a layout of a couple of photos of our last trip to Walt Disney World and I called the layout ‘Winnie the Pooped’.

I haven’t done any digital scrapbooking for a while now and finding this has really made me want to get back into it again. I have a computer full of great digiscrapping resources and they are going to waste if I don’t get back in there and start using them. Some of my favourite designs come from Weeds & Wildflowers, but I’m slightly biased as I was on the CT there until the designer took a break to concentrate on family life. I also love the designs of Kate Hadfield and she often has a freebie on her site too. If you haven’t tried digital scrapbooking and you want to give it a go there are plenty of free resources out there that you can use to see if it’s for you or not, just pop it into google and Hey Presto! I use Photoshop Elements and you can try it out with a free trial to see what you think. Here is a Getting started with PSE guide I wrote a few years ago. It is for an earlier version of PSE but it should help you get the gist of it. Do you digiscrap? If you do or if you decide to give it a go I’d love to hear how you get on.