Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Climate, compost, Crafts, Dogs, Edible Gardens, Garden, Inspiration, Permaculture, photography, Spring, Trees

A Day in Early Spring

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Juicing is a great way to ensure one has the maximum of vitamins and minerals and this is something I do every day.
It’s also a reason to keep greens growing all the year around, as even small bits can be added to the juicer and vital vitamins extracted.
I’ve used some small bits of Kale that have escaped the frost and storms.
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There is no waste in Permaculture, just compost and more vegetables growing! Compost is the food needed to grow food!
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Slowly, slowly the Willow is cut and stacked…time is running out as the buds thicken! Baskets, Fedges and Obelisks are standing here!
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These beds are fairly sheltered and continue to produce Kale, which is processed in the juicer.
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Fine Willow used in basket weaving waiting to be harvested. The gardens look colourful all the way through Winter, as the stems of Willow, Dogwood, Ash and Birch are revealed.
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So much rain has fallen here in Ireland this Winter and now, in the early days of Spring, the flooding has begun to dominate the landscape. Here at Bealtaine cottage I spent much time in the early days digging out drains and water channels, as well as keeping them maintained over the past ten years…and it has paid off, as you can see from the lower pond. The water runs free, out into the streams and rivers that take it to the Atlantic Ocean. 
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In sheltered areas all over the gardens the ferns have remained green, though a little bit droopy. The winter was mild and warm, with plenty of rain!
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This is the beginning of the wood pile for next winter. It comprises of coppiced logs of Birch, Ash and Hazel. The twiggy bits are thrown into the back of the pile as they make wonderful kindling! These logs may be small, but are perfect for a small wood-burning stove!
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I’ve been stocking up on straw recently, as this makes great mulch around the garden helping to suppress weeds and line paths.
www.bealtainecottage.comGreen Beech hold their leaves right through Winter, adding even more colour and shelter to the gardens! 
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And look who’s keeping an eye on me as I type…my loyal Jack!
Posted in Animals, Art, Bealtaine Cottage, Buddha, Cats, celebrations, Childhood, Christmas, Crafts, Inspiration, Life, Personal, photography, Spirituality, Thoughts, Winter

Midwinter Cottage

midwinter cottage 002

The air is still.
The storm has passed. 
Stillness and silence pervades the cottage.
Jack is in his bed, and the boys continue to doss away the morning in the Lodge.
A midwinter scene repeated all across the northern hemisphere.
midwinter cottage 006Someone remarked on the increasing silence they noticed in the world around them.
Midwinter is a silent time, suffused with echoes and occasional sounds from strange places.
Places that are more difficult to pinpoint on the landscape…it’s a trick played on us by Mother Nature as she paces the dormitories of sleep and hibernation.
midwinter cottage 014Candles illuminate the darkness, dispelling matt grey for moving shadows.
Jingles of Christmas on the radio, some lovely, most rapaciously dreadful, urging the listener to get out now and spend, spend, spend!
And so the radio is switched off and music switched on, low and evocative.
Midwinter enchants us all with memories of stillness and light, fires and food…times past, selected for our personal album of memories.
midwinter cottage 005I found this photograph recently.
It was taken around Midwinter, in a photo-booth in London, when I first ventured away from home and Ireland.
Scents were what I most missed.
The scents of home, like turf and coal smoke, wisping out of chimney pots on rows of terraced houses.
London was filled with new, more exotic scents, especially places like Portobello Road Market on a Saturday morning, where Patchouli oil perfume lingered in the air.
midwinter cottage 004Working patchwork, brings me back to early days, in London and the sheer wealth of fabric shops and stalls, Laura Ashley and the love of William Morris retro!
midwinter cottage 007Colours, fabrics and textures continue to fascinate.
midwinter cottage 003Natural fabrics hold most memory…perhaps because they are from the natural world, where energy is hosted.
midwinter cottage 009Sackcloth and old lace cover a jam jar, filled with Honesty.
midwinter cottage 010Cotton gingham of various colours in the kitchen.
midwinter cottage 012Willow, wood and clay pottery, mugs and bowls.
midwinter cottage 015The morning, washed by soft midwinter light…not to be bought and packaged for Christmas, but absorbed by the celebratory soul.
midwinter cottage 013Blessings from this midwinter cottage…
 
Posted in Animals, Cats, Crafts, Dogs, Inspiration, Ireland, Leitrim, Lifestyle, Thoughts, Uncategorized

The Heart of the Matter

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Leitrim Animal Welfare Centre is a wonderful place for any unwanted dog or cat to end up…because 97% of these poor, abandoned animals are re-homed!

Today I visited Christine Coulson, the lady whose dedicated commitment to the welfare of animals in this part of Ireland, made the sanctuary possible.

Chistine opened this light of hope for the unwanted and stray cats and dogs, back in 1997 and has worked continuously, for the protection and welfare of abandoned animals.

Back in September, I held an “Open Gardens” fundraiser for Leitrim Animal Welfare Centre and raised 610 euros…thanks to all the friends and supporters of Bealtaine Cottage, who came from all over Ireland and sent donations from all over the world!

Christine has been quite ill over these past few months and was only well enough recently for this presentation to take place.

I’m sure you’ll all raise a glass with me, in wishing this great woman, good health, now and in the future.

www.bealtainecottage.com 001Back in the cottage, I’ve been busy making cards.

www.bealtainecottage.com 004The theme of hearts is compelling for me…drawn towards the heart as a symbol, not just of love, but of compassion, hope and trust.

www.bealtainecottage.com 003Celtic designs are also a passion of mine…the intricacy of the knot-work fascinates and soothes.

www.bealtainecottage.com 006Hearts and cats…inseparable!

www.bealtainecottage.com 011And hearts and seeds, for the love of bees!

(I will be adding a little section to the top of the website especially for hand-made cards…X)

Posted in Christmas, Cottage, Country Living, Crafts, Gardens, Inspiration, Life, Permaculture, Thoughts, Winter

Fairy Lights

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Winter sunlight turns bare branches, that drip with rain, into fascinating fairy lights.

www.bealtainecottage.com 013Silver prisms of fantasy, dangling precariously from thin Birch trees.

www.bealtainecottage.com 012The days of light and dark are confused with bright full moons, illuminating the bare landscape…

www.bealtainecottage.com 015This is a delightful time of year, as the sun makes its steady progress downwards, ever down…

www.bealtainecottage.com 022Light is delicate and unpredictable, sometimes overwhelming in its glow, at others, just a whisper of the day.

www.bealtainecottage.com 011Entire worlds are captured in water droplets.

Fitting too, as water and sun give life.

www.bealtainecottage.com 026The coppicing continues and long branches are hauled up from the gardens to the dry environment of the veranda.

This is next year’s fuel for the stove.

www.bealtainecottage.com 036Seeds continue to be sorted and packaged.

www.bealtainecottage.com 037These are special little packs requested for Yuletide gifts.

www.bealtainecottage.com 038Poppies are easy to sow…simply sprinkle!

www.bealtainecottage.com 029Most of the second run of Christmas booklets have been posted… all over the world! https://bealtainecottage.com/christmas-book/

The few remaining will not sit here for long.

www.bealtainecottage.com 020It’s strange sorting seeds at this time of year, as it seems that summer was only yesterday…gosh but the time passes quickly!

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Cats, Cottage, Country Living, Crafts, Inspiration, Ireland, Lifestyle, Permaculture, Roscommon, Self-Sufficiency, Sustainable Living

Moving Forward…

Buddleia in a vaseThere’s a touch of early autumn in the air.

The air is cool and the sun is hidden behind low cloud and even a little mist.

I must admit to loving this time of year!

spinning wheelThe morning is filled with activity as I clear space for my bigger and better workshop addition.

This is all about living as sustainably as possible.

lodge at bealtaine cottageThe Lodge will now be that dedicated space that I have so long needed!

As more and more visitors make their way to Bealtaine Cottage, for workshops on sustainable living and all aspects of permaculture, a space that would define this was needed!

In order to live even more sustainably, I am aiming to install solar and wind power…upgrading the shop and workshop space will help me achieve this goal!

kitchenMoving furniture around is hard going, so I’ve stopped for a cup of tea, as the kettle has been boiling on the stove for some time now.

harvestI have spent some time building a small, sustainable business here at Bealtaine Cottage.

Tomorrow I meet with an advisor from Roscommon Enterprise…wish me luck!

 

You can find Bealtaine Cottage on Etsy… developing the range of Vintage Clothes and Cottage Bric-a-Brac…as well as lots of crafts and jewellery!

shop posterBealtaine Cottage Etsy

https://www.etsy.com/shop/BealtaineCottage

Posted in Art, Bealtaine Cottage, Celts, Crafts, Garden, Growing Food, Inspiration, Ireland, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Uncategorized

Cottage Garden Harvest

Cottage garden harvestRed onions and seeds dry in the heat of the afternoon sun at Bealtaine Cottage. cottage garden harvestThe Permaculture harvest is on it’s way.

cottage garden harvestI am saving lots of seed from the biggest, healthiest and tastiest plants!

cottage garden harvestThe rain came and has left a little water…not much, but enough to fill the tank in the loft!

Cottage Garden HarvestHerbs and seeds are coming into their own!

potato harvest at Bealtaine CottagePotatoes are appearing where none were planted…these have grown from seed dropped last year and have not been earthed up!

cottage garden harvestBlackcurrants are taking over the gardens!

Apple harvest

Apples are plumping out…

Runner beansRunner beans are seeking Heaven…

Raspberry harvestRaspberries are being eaten straight from the garden!

broad beansBroad Beans are looking monstrous!

potager beds at Bealtaine CottageAnd the Potager beds have received their second planting…

Bealtaine Cottage Etsy Shop 006My brother Hugh O’Neill has made some very special Bog Oak pendants for the Bealtaine Cottage Etsy shop.

Bealtaine Cottage Etsy Shop 003Hugh has carved some Rune and Ogham symbols on some of these special little pieces of Bog Oak.

Bealtaine Cottage Etsy Shop 004The wood is carved and polished by Hugh into these amazing pendants, each accompanied by glass or wooden beads…

Bealtaine Cottage Etsy Shop 005 A little piece of Ancient Ireland to wear around your neck!

Bealtaine Cottage Etsy Shop 002You can find these on the Bealtaine Cottage Etsy Shop…

https://www.etsy.com/listing/157732408/ancient-irish-bog-oak-pendants

 

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Crafts, Sustainable Living

Cottage Industry

Hand made earrings from Bealtaine CottageGifts from Bealtaine Cottage…

Lots of work going on here at the cottage making earrings…these are now in the Bealtaine Cottage Etsy Shop…

Bead Earrings

Bead Earrings
Bead Earrings Bead Earrings Bead Earrings Bead Earrings

Beautiful and very light-weight Bead drop Earrings with tiny bells on the end, that jingle softly as you move.
I make each pair with attention to detail and colour…you can ask for a specific colour blend if you wish!
These make exquisite gifts to post to that someone special…and can be posted direct from Bealtaine Cottage, set inside one of the Bealtaine Cottage Photo cards from this shop, to anywhere in the world!
Just write out the name, message and address when you pay…
Each pair is quite unique…this is the first to post on the Cottage Shop.

Link to click…  https://www.etsy.com/listing/154712794/bead-earrings

Bead EarringsBealtaine Cottage Earrings

Beautiful and very light-weight Bead drop Earrings with tiny bells on the end, that jingle softly as you move.
I make each pair with attention to detail and colour…you can ask for a specific colour blend if you wish!
These make exquisite gifts to post to that someone special…and can be posted direct from Bealtaine Cottage, set inside one of the Bealtaine Cottage Photo cards from this shop, to anywhere in the world!
Just write out the name, message and address when you pay…
Each pair is quite unique…this is the first to post on the Cottage Shop.

Dispatches from Ireland

Bealtaine Cottage hand made cards

One of the hand-made cards depicting images from the gardens at Bealtaine.

Bealtaine Cottage is also on YouTube…with over 100 videos about Permaculture, planting, growing and living.

Bealtaine Cottage Etsy Shop 004Sculpted from ancient Bog Oak…special pendants, hand-made here in the west of Ireland by Hugh O’Neill of Tyrone.

Visit the Bealtaine Cottage shop on Etsy…

https://www.etsy.com/shop/BealtaineCottage

Posted in Cats, Crafts, Food, Garden, Growing Food, Herbs, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Recipes, Self-Sufficiency, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Vegan

Framed, Raw and Rather Juicy!

Upcycling Old Picture Frames

I was given this beautiful old frame by a guy in a second-hand market in the local town.

It is one of the most beautiful picture frames I have ever come across.

Look closely at it, for it is a colourful mosaic of sea washed glass and shells.

The new chalkboardFor several years now it has waited patiently in the shed for someone with a good idea…who just happened to come along this week.

Cara was helping me to find a hammer in the outside shed on Monday, when she spied this frame and suggested it be used as a chalk board for the garden…all it needed was some board cut to fit, which could then be painted with blackboard paint and fitted into the frame!

Cara turned up with the finished, magnificently up-cycled chalkboard today and promptly fitted it onto the wall of the lodge under the shelter of the veranda.

Lodge VerandaDoesn’t it look great?

organic herbs from the permaculture gardensMeanwhile…in the kitchen I prepared some wholesome juice, using organic produce from the gardens…

After juicing organic apples and carrots, I add Kale, Apple-mint, Lemon Balm, Fennel and Parsley.

Juicing is a great way of ensuring a steady supply of the finest and freshest nutrients, especially using what is so easily grown in the edible gardens here at Bealtaine Cottage.

Preparing aVegan stir fry at Bealtaine CottageMuch of what I harvest is added to stir-fries too.

These are the ingredients for this evening’s meal.

Missy catMeanwhile, Missy Cat is enjoying the sunshine, while keeping an eye on me!

Posted in Abundance, Bealtaine Cottage, Country Living, Courses, Crafts, Food, Garden, Growing Food, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Recipes, Sustainable Living, Vegetarian, Wine

Bealtaine Cottage Fruit Growing and Winemaking Workshop

Bealtaine Cottage rhubarbGrowing food is important.

Bealtaine Cottage BlackcurrantsHere at Bealtaine Cottage there is another bumper crop of Blackcurrants, Rhubarb, Apples, Pears and Plums growing.

Bealtaine Cottage redcurrants from the permaculture gardensPreserving and using fruit is a challenge when the crops are this abundant!

Bealtaine Cottage wine makingMaking wine is one of the delights of summer, allowing fruit to be preserved in a unique and tasteful way…wine!

Bealtaine Cottage wine makingThere will be a day long wine making and fruit growing workshop at Bealtaine Cottage on Saturday, the 29th of June.

Bealtaine Cottage teaA Vegetarian lunch will be provided, as will morning and afternoon tea/coffee and home made cakes.

home made wine at Bealtaine CottageIf you would like to book a place, please email Colette on:

coletteoneill2010@hotmail.com

Posted in Animals, Cats, Crafts, Permaculture, Seeds, Sustainable Living

Magical Driftwood and Happy Cats

Herbs drying at Bealtaine Cottage permaculture cottage

As the weekend draws in, the clock tells me it’s time to make dinner and settle in for the evening…it’s Friday evening!

The day has been wet and grey and much of my work has taken place in and around the cottage.

Days like today are welcome though, as it allows a little bit of a slow-down and a time for reflection and making plans.

I have decided to tile the kitchen floor, using broken tiles from the local tile shop, Carrick Tiles.

It is a long task, but the best approach is to a little each day and try not to work too long, as this can inhibit the desire to return to the task the following day!

Missy Cat at Bealtaine CottageMissy has kept warm beside the stove.

This is the longest period of time without a visit to the vet.

It appears that keeping really warm by the stove eases her symptoms.

Doesn’t she look well?

Driftwood mirror at Bealtaine CottageSome friends visited last weekend and Nick brought me this lovely mirror he made using driftwood.

There is something so beautiful about driftwood.

Even the scent of this wood evokes the ocean.

It is magical to live this close to the Atlantic Ocean…about a 45 minute drive to Rosses Point.

kitchen at Bealtaine CottageI’m happy to tell you all that the “We Will Not Comply” petition now has over 4,200 signatures…not bad for a mere 8 days.

If you would like to add your name then here’s the link…

http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/We_Will_Not_Comply/?cCgoWbb

Have a good weekend everyone!

Bealtaine Cottage is also on YouTube…with over 102 videos about Permaculture, planting, growing and living.

Over 535 blogs from Bealtaine Cottage in the archives here.

Donations are always welcome.

Thank you!

Thank you for supporting this blog

Posted in Angels, Animals, Bealtaine Cottage, Cats, Cottage, Crafts, Garden, Growing Food, Herbs, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Spirituality, Uncategorized

An Angel in the Snow

Angel in the snow at Bealtaine Cottage

The wind howled all night as it carried snow in from the Atlantic Ocean.

The moon drifted downwards as the sun rose.

Somewhere in-between I got up and lit the stove, walked the dogs and returned to settle into a hunker-down day in the cottage.

Che Mousy Bear at Bealtaine CottageAs I write, the dogs are in their baskets and the cats are lounging on the sofas.

Animals know when it’s cold and really appreciate being indoors!

Che-Mousy-Bear is purring loudly on the sofa nearby my desk.

Sam sits opposite.

Stereo purring!

The porch at bealtaine cottageThis kind of weather often makes an appearance after Spring has been called.

The Primroses and Daffodils don’t seem to mind.

Bealtaine Cottage PorchThey know it won’t last!

The snow is soft and fluffy with little ice and no frost.

veranda at Bealtaine Cottage The wind has settled down and the sun is shining.

Today I shall work in the tunnel, sowing herbs and pumpkins…it’s Spring, even if there is snow!

Indoors I am sorting seed and making Smudge Sticks  for sale in the Bealtaine Cottage Shop.

A big pot of vegetable soup is on the menu…just the thing on a snowy day!

http://www.etsy.com/shop/BealtaineCottage

Posted in Animals, Cats, Climate, Country Living, Crafts, Dogs, Garden, Inspiration, Ireland, Life, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Winter

Missy Cat and Weird Weather

A snowy morning at Bealtaine Cottage, Ireland

Last night the rain fell hard, in fact it rained in a thunderous fashion for around four hours.

Somewhere in the midst of the downpour I went to sleep, safe in the knowledge that with the heavy rain came the assurance of a snow free morning…I was wrong!

Bealtaine Cottage permaculture smallholding in the snowThis morning the ground was covered with snow and so it continues.

How this happened is weird to say the least, but then the weather systems across the world have descended into chaos…nothing is as it used to be!

missy cat at bealtaine CottageMissy cat is very reluctant to venture out this morning.

She is making protesting meows each time I open the back door, as though to say, “Shut the door, it’s too cold!”

Missy Cat, Director of Bealtaine CottageI obey, She who must be obeyed!

Would you contemplate crossing her?

She bites those who attempt it!

Multifuel stove in the sitting room at Bealtaine CottageI have lit both stoves in the cottage and resigned myself to a day indoors…apart from walking Jack.

Flo, on the other hand, takes her wilful self for as many walks as she decides to!

light a candle at Bealtaine Cottage IrelandAs always, I have lit a candle for those I pray for. It’s also a good way of being mindful of concerns and wishes.

The Craft room at Bealtaine CottageI have some Lavender Hearts to sew, so I will be kept busy for most of the day.

I hope you’re warm and cosy wherever you are!

Posted in Art, celebrations, Celtic Mythology, Celts, Country Living, Crafts, Folklore, History, Imbolc, Ireland, Lifestyle, Saint Bridget Cross, Spirituality, Spring

Saint Brigid’s Day, Imbolc and the 1st of Spring!

Brigid's Cross made at Bealtaine CottageMaking a St. Brigid’s cross is a special traditional ritual here in Ireland.

The ancient festival of Imbolc reminds us that deep in the earth lie the dormant seeds of new life and creativity

Brigid, the goddess of fire, whose manifestations were song, craftsmanship, and poetry, which the Irish considered the flame of knowledge.

 Bealtaine Cottage stone circleThis ritual marks the end of winter and the beginning of early spring, 1st February.

Bealtaine Cottage SpringBrigid’s crosses are made of rushes that are pulled from the ground and made on the day.

The rushes must be pulled,rather than cut.

Bealtaine Cottage permaculture It is the custom to hang the cross by the door, as this is regarded to protect the house from fire and all negative energy.

Imbolc marks the centre of the dark half of the year.

Following the darkness of midwinter it is the time to prepare for growth & renewal

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture According to tradition a new cross is made each St Brigid’s Day.

Bealtaine Cottage spring wellThe old one is then burned to keep fire and all bad energies away from the house. Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture winter sun

Imbolc fell midway between the winter solstice & spring equinox of the Celtic calendar, but now falls on 1 Feb in the Gregorian calendar.

I have been making Brigid’s Crosses today  for sale in the Bealtaine Cottage Etsy Shop.

http://www.etsy.com/shop/BealtaineCottage

Posted in Animals, Cats, Climate, Cottage, Country Living, Crafts, Food, Garden, Growing Food, Inspiration, Ireland, Life, Permaculture

Bealtaine Cottage and Permaculture Gardens Photo Album 2012…February!

Looking back at the year…February photographsBealtaine Cottage Feb 12 005

February was mild and the Daffodils in the gardens of Bealtaine came up without damage

Bealtaine Cottage Feb 12 004

Ribes bushes throughout the gardens filled the air with a heady scent, enticing the Bees out from hibernation.

permaculture cottage, feb 12 015

Mizuna flourished in the tunnel, providing a green salad for the table throughout the winter months.

Bealtaine Permaculture Feb 12 002

Missy showed her first signs of being unwell and began a course of steroid treatment.

We thought we would loose her, but her spirit stayed strong.

Feb 2012 Permaculture @ Bealtaine Cottage 018

Weaving baskets from willow began in earnest at Bealtaine Cottage, putting newly acquired skills into practice.

Feb 2012 Permaculture @ Bealtaine Cottage 022

The water barrels kept filling and filling as the rain poured from the skies…

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Feb 2011 034

We had sunny days too…all the more appreciated for the previous rain!

Bealtaine Cottage Feb 2012 Thornhill

We went out walking and found old ruins from past lives, now stark and dramatic against the bright, February sky of 2012.

Bealtaine Cottage Feb 2012 Permaculture Bog Garden

The greening of the Bog Garden started in mist and frost.

Bealtaine Cottage Feb 2012

The heavily misted mornings were a beauty all of their own.

Bealtaine Cottage Feb Morning 2012

And the early sun of 2012 crept into the cottage…

Posted in Art, celebrations, Christmas, Crafts, Frugal Living, Inspiration, Permaculture, Recycling, Thrift, Winter

Ideas for Christmas on a Budget of (almost) Zero!

Christmas presents…simple painted stones that make paper-weights, door-stops or just lovely ornaments.

Here are some I made earlier!

Decorative Hearts made from scraps of material and stuffed with wool.

These make great presents and are easy to make.

Totally recycled too!

A cottage on a slate…simply stones glued onto an old roof slate, together with a mossy roof and a little painted door and window…beautiful and unique!

Make your own willow wreath and decorate it with ivy and pine cones…you’ll find instructions on how to make this on this site…

There is nothing nicer than receiving a beautiful table display for Christmas.

Scour local charity shops for a bowl or container, fill it with florist’s oasis and insert as much seasonal greenery as you like…with water in the oasis, this is guaranteed to last well into the New Year!

A few pine cones picked up in the woods and sprayed gold or silver will just top it off!

Hand-made gifts of jam, wine, sweets, woolly hats…be creative!

Who wants the same old chain store rubbish anyway?

Posted in Art, celebrations, Christmas, Cottage, Crafts, Inspiration, Permaculture, Self-Sufficiency, Trees, Winter

How to Make a Biodegradable Willow Wreath…easy and free!

Cut a range of willow stems, including Dogwood and any other bendy shrubs or woods you can easily access and lay them on the floor to grade them in length.

Take a long length of green willow and made a circle, twisting the spare of the length around the circle.

Following this,  insert another long length as you can see, and twist this around the circle.

Twisting long lengths to start the circle, strengthens the hoop and makes it easier to follow on with shorter pieces.

You can keep adjusting the circle to make it as round as possible.

The willow will bend and shape quite readily.

Keep adding in lengths, inserting the thick end in between the woven lengths.

Excess pieces of willow can be snipped off as you go or at the end of the work.

Try to keep the shape balanced by rotating the wreath, not inserting the thick ends all into the same part of the circle.

I use garden cutters to trim the thick ends of the willow.

Start to add the colourful willow slips.

You can also use any bendy plant strips and even fresh Bamboo.

Take time to experiment with as many garden materials as you can find!

If it grows and is fresh cut, then it’s fine to use as it will be pliable.

Now add the red Dogwood…

Keep winding.

Keep twisting.

Make the wreath thick and chunky, as it will make a good decoration base all the year round and last for years to come.

The wreath continues to be pushed into shape, making it rounder.

The wreath is now ready for decorating.

This willow wreath is 100% biodegradable and will last for years to come.

You can redecorate it as many times as you please!

Adding Larch

Larch is associated with integrity and vision.

It is also for protection, so lends itself well to a front door wreath.

Adding Birch

Birch is for healing and cleansing and Willow is magical and powerful, so already, we have a triad of good energies balanced within this Christmas, midwinter wreath.

Adding Ivy…symbol of the spiral path of the Self

I cut several long trails of Ivy to wrap around the wreath…symbolizing aspects of the journey of the self and new experiences.

You can probably begin to see and feel the powerful energy from this Circle of Willow and Nature!

The wreath is now complete.

All that remains is to add some more seasonal decorations of your choice.

This is how I finished mine…

What a beautiful welcome!

dsc04154dsc04151dsc04156Here’s another I made recently as a gift for a friend…

Bealtaine Cottage is free and has over 1100 blogs, as well as over 7,o00 photographs.

Bealtaine Cottage Good Life is a mere 12 euros per year and allows me a small income, to keep doing what I love doing most…writing about Mother Earth and photographing her.

To subscribe, a small donation of 12 euros per year, will add your name to the subscriber list.

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Posted in Art, Courses, Crafts, Garden, Inspiration, Life, Permaculture, Self-Sufficiency, Sustainable Living, Trees

How To Make A Willow Wigwam Plant Support…for Free!

Place a tyre on the ground.

This acts as a guide to the size of the wigwam.

Insert poles of Willow, Hazel or Ash into the ground around the tyre…it helps if the ground is soft!

Tie the poles together at the top, string will do, but I use a few thin ‘whips’ of Willow!

Now, you can begin weaving…

Starting with a long stem of Willow, begin to weave in and out between the poles.

Each strip woven in will begin to strengthen the support.

You can experiment with different weaves, but working with 2 lengths at a time, twisting together between each pole will make it VERY strong!

It starts to come together!

Mistakes are easily undone and made good…take heart.

My strong advice is to experiment to find the technique that suits you best…try using other materials as well!

Once the structure is fairly sound, you can continue the weave up to the top, like this, or weave separate rings into it.

Personally, I like to spiral the Willow upwards towards the top, using double lengths and twisting twice between poles.

Gently remove the poles from around the tyre…

And here’s the finished project.

Willow wigwam in a permaculture garden in February

 

Posted in Abundance, Autumn, biodiversity, Celts, Climate, Country Living, Crafts, Food, Gardens, Growing Food, Inspiration, Permaculture, Thoughts, Uncategorized

The Magic of Autumn, A Permaculture Floor and Free Rose Arch

Irish Dresser

Pumpkins take pride of place on my dresser back in 2010.

There is a brilliant Pumpkin season underway here in the west of Ireland, with some of the biggest and best being grown outdoors, despite the lack of sun this summer.

There was an almost full moon in the southern sky last night and the sky was clear and blue this morning.

However, rain and storms are forecast!

The moon last night was strong enough to light up the back of the cottage.

It waxed and shone brightly.

I am busy harvesting onions, garlic, herbs, potatoes, chard and loads of Apples.

Nights are closing in and there’s even a little frost on the grass some mornings.

This is my favourite season!

I wanted to integrate re-cycling as a theme in my cottage.

I feel strongly about the amount of waste that happens every day in our lives…”throw it away”…but where is ‘away?’

We all live on this finite planet.

We share the oceans…they’re all connected.

We share the air, good grief, we share everything on this planet, though some are greedy beyond belief!

These broken tiles were going to be buried in a landfill site…I needed a floor…and so a connection was made between some like-minded people.

This is the result, much admired by visitors to the cottage…my floor, a statement of permaculture fusion, permaculture art maybe?

Making a Rose Arch in the garden needn’t cost a penny!

This Rambling Rose is supported by a Ribes hedge and a couple of lengths of Willow.

There are several different kinds of flowering shrubs on either side to support wildlife and biodiversity, which is probably the reason why my Apple Harvest this year and every other year is so bountiful!

Observation is a key element in Permaculture.

It is also a great friend of any gardener, for observing one’s garden allows one to continually create small and interesting places from what grows and shapes itself.

Archways will form naturally and give a good indication of what is possible in that space.

A kind of evolutionary gardening if you like!

According to the Irish Calendar which is based on ancient Celtic traditions, autumn lasts throughout the months of August, September, and October, or possibly a few days later, depending on tradition….so the first month of autumn is almost over!

There is a heavy harvest of all berries this year…sign of a cold winter to come…but the birds will be fed well as there are simply tons of berries here at Bealtaine Cottage.

I began my work here providing nuts for the birds in feeders all over the gardens, but the shrubs and trees planted are all producing more than adequate food for the birds and all wildlife, so the bird-feeders have all been passed on.

Posted in Cottage, Country Living, cows, Crafts, Dogs, Frugal Living, Gardens, Inspiration, Permaculture, photography, Self-Sufficiency, Spirituality, Thoughts, Uncategorized

The Return of Romance

Simplicity of living is much sought after these days.

There are television programmes and magazines devoted to the simple life.

We are drawn towards images of romantic simplicity…think of all the wonderful books translated into gorgeous films that espouse life before the Industrial Revolution.

I have to admit an interest here, as my most read novel is Pride and Prejudice and favourite film is the translation of that book onto the big screen by Deborah Moggach, directed by Joe Wright.

It is simply exquisite in it’s attention to detail that reflects the beautiful simplicity of everyday life.

And that is what we have been seeking, through consumption, for several chaotic decades now…a return to the simple life.

So, let’s define the simple life.

Well, it is simple enough to define, for it simply means, “less of!”

Yet all the media, while espousing the simple life, cheer-leads us to consume more.

Individually designed Lavender Hearts for sale at Bealtaine Cottage on Etsy

So, I urge you to read the book and see the film.

Within the romantic idealism of past times there sits a very clear message…less is more.

De-clutter your life.

Embrace the sunrises and sunsets.

Open the door of your de-cluttered world to romance and fall in love with Nature.

All good will follow!

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Posted in Art, Cottage, Country Living, Crafts, Eco-Living, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Permaculture, Sustainable Living, Thrift, Uncategorized

A New Kitchen for 50 euros? Easy!

The walls painted and stencilled, the floor painted and sealed, there was little to do except sew the new curtains.

A mass of green gingham fell into my lap, enough for the job, so I set about sewing and hanging…

Frugality and simplicity are cornerstones of permaculture, so simple curtains, made from sustainable cotton are an easy way to complete a re-decoration.

The time sewing them was interspersed with baking a cake and listening to a podcast.

Multi-tasking is easy.

Life is simple and abundant.

The first curtains are hung on the west window.

I shall leave the top windows uncovered until late Autumn, just before the winter draws in…

Both windows are now finished and I even had enough material left for curtaining the sink area.

Now to find some nice material to sew a table cloth…

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I have completed the kitchen…new floor, new walls, new curtains and hangings and all for less than 50 euros.

Posted in Art, Bealtaine Cottage, Cottage, Country Living, Crafts, Frugal Living, Inspiration, Ireland, Life, Lifestyle, Permaculture, Uncategorized

Stencilled Walls and Stencilled Floors…yes, Floors!

Decorating the kitchen over the past week has been hard work, as a year’s worth of dust and grime was removed from the walls, shelves, dresser, stove and floor…not to mention the ceiling!

Everything has been moved around and the walls and floor painted.

The off-white paint has brightened up the kitchen and as a finishing touch I have added some stencilling in the form of trailing ivy.

The stencil was easy to make, using card, a cutting mat and a craft knife.

The paint was from the tin used on the floor, so there was no expense involved!

That’s useful to note, as I am not a fiscally enhanced person, but have the means in my head to do without the dreaded lucre!

Of course I donned my arty hat and decided to prance around with the stencil, adding bits here and there…

This bit stays as I imagine it to look rather romantic…

The floor will need another coat of varnish…and should be tough for a good year or so!

This is just emulsion type paint and I used a home-made stencil and some gold spray paint left over from the Yuletide festivities. The cost overall was minimal and the labour was my own.

It has charged me with energy to move onto the pantry…the bathroom…my bedroom…you get the picture!

Posted in Art, Cottage, Country Living, Crafts, Eco-Living, Ecology, Frugal Living, Inspiration, Permaculture, Sustainable Living, Thrift, Uncategorized

Cottage Interior Design using Permaculture Ideas…

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Decorating an old cottage on a budget of near zero…

The central design technique is simple…recycle and reuse as much as you can.

Here, the sitting room was given a wall mirror using broken mirrors that would have otherwise gone to the dump.

Cost: just the price of the tile adhesive and my time.

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A painted concrete floor and stencilled wall…stencils cut from card.

The floor stencil was spray-painted using left-over gold Christmas decorative spray.

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There is hardly a faster and cheaper way to bring beauty and creativity into your home than by putting together an arrangement of foliage and flowers picked from your own garden.

 Roman Blinds are the cheapest window covering to make as they only require material to cover the window and no more!

I made these for the kitchen windows.

The material was donated to me as an off-cut from a much bigger project!

This mirror was made in the same way as the bathroom one, but the broken tiles were stuck directly onto a sheet of wood…re-cycled wood!

It now decorates the veranda and reflects the light nicely.

The sitting room floor created entirely from waste…these broken tiles were destined for the rubbish heap before I rescued them and put them to good use. 

The sink is recycled and quite old, as is the draining board. As for the dish rack…it doubles up as a cake cooling rack…or is it the other way round?

And the ideas continue, making necessity the true mother of invention!

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Green gingham curtains and red geraniums…very Irish cottage!

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture

Painted stones on a window ledge…simplicity at Bealtaine Cottage.

Bealtaine Cottage

No fitted kitchen…just practical things all pulled together with a little colour.

Donations are always welcome and Blessings returned!

Thank you for supporting the Bealtaine Project

Posted in Animals, Books, Country Living, Crafts, hens, Inspiration, Permaculture, Poetry, Uncategorized

The Road Not Taken…

Spent the day learning more about basketry in another great workshop organized by Tom Browne at Corrigeenroe near Boyle, here in County Roscommon.
I am tired, but looking forward to day 2 of the willow weaving and basketry, tomorrow.

This is a fabulous, fabulous hen basket woven by Tom, to transport hens in…isn’t this just the best looking and most practical basket you ever did see? It has a gorgeous little door on the front and will hold several hens in pure comfort.

Something worth mentioning is the fact that the hen basket is a completely unique design…Tom’s own craft-work! Admired for sure and perhaps copied as well!

The beginnings of another basket..

Tea…hot, comforting tea…and a chance to put my feet up and contemplate my endeavours…I shall dream of willow and baskets and patterns and possibilities… 

I adore Robert Frost and his poetry…this is one of my favourites…I was reciting this in my head as I drove home from Corrigeenroe tonight…

It is, perhaps, one of the most philosophical poems I have ever read and loved!

Robert Frost

“The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
― Robert Frost

Posted in Animals, Cats, Crafts, Inspiration, Permaculture, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized

100,000 Visitors to Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Smallholding

Missy investigates the basket I made yesterday.
She may be sussing it out for a new home!

I noticed that she spent some time licking the new basket and wondered if she was in search of Aspirin, a drug derived from the bark of the Willow.

Visitors to Bealtaine have reached the 100,000 mark…almost…probably today, and you may be the one to match that number!

I am delighted that so many people seek out this blog, or even stumble across it and decide to re-visit again and again.

Interest in Permaculture and the resulting self-sufficiency and sustainable living is growing…

“Oh, well…back into this basket…I may decide on a tenancy, depends on the decoration…”

A big “Thank You,” to all visitors!

Posted in Crafts, Eco-Living, Inspiration, Permaculture, Uncategorized

Making Willow Baskets…here’s one I made earlier.

Day 2 of the willow basketry workshop. It felt great to be completing my first willow basket.

These are some of the stages in the process.

I’m still digesting all the information.

Tomorrow I will cut willow on the smallholding for using to make my own baskets.

The willow needs to stand for 8 weeks after it’s cut, before it can be used in the weaving process.

I have got to say that this workshop, has been for me, a really wonderful experience, working and sharing with some great people!

Despite the fact that we all began the process together, each basket turned out to be unique!

Working on the basket edge finish…a nice, chunky edge!

Top finished…now working on the bottom edge.
I have lots of ideas for baskets…using driftwood, fabric, wool, hedgerow materials…
If you are thinking of a Christmas present…why not buy a creative workshop course…I would heartily recommend it!

Posted in Crafts, Eco-Living, Permaculture, Self-Sufficiency, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized

Weaving Baskets from Willow.

I began a two day basket making workshop today.
Being able to weave baskets fro the huge stocks of willow growing here at Bealtaine has always been a dream for me.

This is the base of the basket.

I am hoping to make lots of baskets during the coming months as I practise the craft.


Inserting the uprights into the base…you need lots of space to do this!

This just a short diary update and will continue tomorrow with the finished project and lots of information!

Posted in Birds, celebrations, Christmas, Crafts, Uncategorized

Christmas Hearts and Bird’s Nests…

Here’s the hand made hearts made from scrap material, hanging above the hearth in a festive, jolly way…So easy to make and fun to create!

The last rosehips of the year hang ready for the birds and their midwinter feast.

My friend Thomas has recently made these shelves for me, for the pantry. They are made from 100% recycled wood, all collected and saved over the past year, from skips and builders yards.  The shelves are a great addition to the pantry and enable me to store a wider variety of food.

While cutting back some of the willow recently I came across this bird’s nest…aren’t birds ingenious at finding some great places to nest-build?

The wind turbines on Kilronan Mountain are shining white in the afternoon sun. The light is getting weaker as midwinter approaches but on days like today it’s worth being outdoors!

Posted in Art, Crafts, Frugal Living, Inspiration, Permaculture, Recycling, Self-Sufficiency, Sustainable Living, Thrift, Uncategorized

Crafting at the Cottage…Recycling Junk!

Bealtaine Cottage permaculture potagerJunk!

Lots of unwanted and used bits and pieces…I just find it hard to throw anything away…well, there is no ‘away,’ is there?

This is an old bread bin that the bottom fell out of…makes a great planter for tomatoes as it retains the heat.

The ghostly reflection of the cottage courtyard taken in the thin winter air of a rainy morning.

This mirror is reminiscent of the one belonging to “The Lady of Shalott,” in that it has cracked from side to side…but is destined to reflect the images found on the inside of Bealtaine Cottage once more.

Bealtaine Cottage mosaic mirrorFor it has become part of the Mirror Mosaic currently  constructed above the mantle in the sitting room.

A line of hearts ready for Yuletide and the Christmas decorations that will festoon the interior of Bealtaine.

All these have been made from recycled materials…old fabric swatches from a furniture store, buttons saved over time in glass jam jars and kapok stuffing removed and stored from old cushions and unwanted toys…

Bealtaine Cottage re-cycled tin cans

Nothing is unwanted really, even in a world of peak everything…for soon all will be of use!

Indeed it has begun to happen!

Tin cans have so many uses!

The cost of old metals has soared recently and as the world tumbles into recession, everything we have taken for granted will become of importance… 

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Cat...Missy

Up-cycled broken tiles…make a great floor!

Bealtaine Cottage re-cycled stained glass windows in a cupboard

Old and very beautiful stained glass windows are up-cycled into an equally beautiful cupboard for my bedroom.

Posted in Art, Crafts, Permaculture, Sustainable Living

What to do with a Broken Mirror!

Always trying to re-cycle…in this case broken mirrors! 

I have saved these fragments over recent years, knowing eventually I would find a project to use them in. 


Christmas Eve, 2012 at Bealtaine Cottage

The fragments of broken mirror are “buttered,” with tile adhesive and stuck to the wall, bit by bit.

Bealtaine Cottage mosaic mirror  To protect fingers from the sharp edges, I am edging the project with glass beads…though you can use any practical medium for this, including wood, sea-shells, buttons…whatever you have!

Bealtaine Cottage Missy Cat on the mantlepieceThis project, works really well above a mantle or shelf where candles can be placed in front to reflect magical light on a midwinter evening!

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture stove

Christmas Eve in an Irish Cottage

There was a time, not so long ago, when only wealthy people could afford mirrors.

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Recycling and upcycling is always the challenge here at Bealtaine Cottage…

Don’t Throw It Away…There is No Away!

Bealtaine Cottage is free and has over 850 blogs, as well as over 3,500 photographs.

Bealtaine Cottage Good Life is a mere 12 euros per year and allows me a small income, to keep doing what I love doing most…writing about Mother Earth and photographing her.

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Posted in Christmas, Country Living, Crafts, Frugal Living, Garden, Inspiration, Ireland, Permaculture, Thrift, Uncategorized, Winter

Country Living in Ireland and a Frugal Christmas…

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As the days darken and midwinter approaches, I find myself spending more and more time in the craft room at Bealtaine Cottage…

It’s a warm and cosy room and painting it orange makes it seem even more so…no better place to be on a winter’s day!

missy in the kitchen by the stove
 Melting wax on the kitchen stove to make an abundant supply of Christmas gifts… 

And continuing to enjoy the beautiful colours of a late autumn through the kitchen window as I work…

Bealtaine Cottage wood burning stovethe best things in life are free, so be frugal this Yuletide and make, bake, share!

Posted in Art, Christmas, Crafts, Permaculture, Sustainable Living, Thrift, Uncategorized

Country Living, Permaculture Style, in the West of Ireland

Aug 2011 Permaculture Cottage 001

Lots of cutting back to be done at the end of the season.

Masses of kindling here that will be stored to dry in the barn.

Aug 2011 Permaculture Cottage 015

The land is slowly returning to fertility as the trees grow and shed leaves each Autumn and the bird-life increases, along with insects and bees.

September 2011 Bealtaine Cottage 001Jack waits patiently for his walk as I take a rest from candle-making…the day is ripe for being outdoors…

There’s something quite delicious about sitting down with a cup of tea and putting one’s feet up…in this case on the coffee table.

I don’t have a television so keep an abundance of books around me…

The candle-making continues…tidying up to do, but not before a dozen or so big candles are made…

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Crafts, Permaculture, Personal, Uncategorized

Permaculture Cottage ~ A Message…

“I have a message from the bottom of my heart…”   “…all manifestations of life…”      Watch and listen…. http://youtu.be/KdGep07vBtY

My Sunday has been spent inside the cottage, with the exception of walking Jack…it’s stormy and the worst is yet to come…

This is one stormy old day. All photos of today are taken inside Bealtaine Cottage as it really is too stormy to venture out!

This is the Den, where I store all the crafty bits and pieces that inspire me to create, or, at least, attempt to do so.

It’s also a quiet little room where I sometimes curl up and read…

A messy window sill in the Den…but everything is there for a reason!

Did you know that laying sufficient mulch over plants will destroy them, and is more advantageous than using herbicide, cutting, mowing, pulling, raking, or tilling? This is how Bealtaine has developed into such a beautiful and bountiful smallholding and series of gardens.

Just a lazy sunday afternoon!

Listening to Moving Hearts…The Storm…click on the link for a listen too!    http://youtu.be/ynorPAwOyEA

Making compost…this can be made from: grass clippings, leaves, hay, straw, kitchen scraps comfrey, shredded bark, whole bark nuggets, sawdust, shells, woodchips, shredded newspaper, cardboard, wool, and also animal manure, etc…, just thought I’d add that!

As I can’t work outdoors…just looking out the front window…

Posted in Abundance, Animals, Bealtaine Cottage, Crafts, Eco-Living, Frugal Living, Permaculture, Self-Sufficiency, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized

Permaculture Cottage ~ Darning Socks , Sustainable Living.

Bealtaine Cottage homespun woolWool, my favourite textile for keeping warm!

I wear woolly socks on my feet and often need to darn them as they wear thin when I use them instead of slippers!

This little wooden mushroom has a detachable head. It is used in darning holes and threadbare patches, fitting up inside the sock…

 

All that is needed is some wool and a darning needle…which is a big needle with a big eye to take the wool through.

Oh, and if you’re wondering about all the little holes on the mushroom…Jack had a little taste and chew!

 

Woolen gloves, hand knitted at Bealtaine CottageSome interesting facts about wool…Wool ignites at a higher temperature than cotton and some synthetic fibres.

It has lower rate of flame spread, low heat release, low heat of combustion, and does not melt or drip; it forms a char which is insulating and self-extinguishing, and contributes less to toxic gases and smoke than other flooring products, when used in carpets.

This is one of the reasons why I used wool to insulate my loft!

It is also incredibly warm!

Pure Irish Wool Bootees from Bealtaine CottageWool is resistant to static electricity, as the moisture retained within the fabric conducts electricity.  This is why wool garments are much less likely to spark or cling to the body.

The use of wool car seat covers or carpets reduces the risk of a shock when a person touches a grounded object.

Missy Approved Baby Pixie Bootees handknitted at Bealtaine CottageWool is considered by the medical profession to be hypo-allergenic.

Premature babies are laid upon wool in incubators…it is comforting and natural.

Slouch Hat, handknitted at Bealtaine CottageI spin wool from fleece collected locally…spinning is a wonderfully therapeutic and relaxing craft to do.

Hand knitted shawl at Bealtaine Cottage Wool is a sustainable and natural product to help us live lightly upon the Earth.