Remembering…

dsc05339As the days grow shorter and the evenings longer there is a quietness in the gardens and around the cottage that is rather haunting.

winter sunrise at Bealtaine Cottage permaculture gardens Much of what I do now is centred around preparing for the Midwinter Feast and the continuing festivities of Yule.

BgQ7qv3CEAAL835 Family and friends will be arriving from as far away as Canada.

dsc05353 A house has been rented for the days that are in it, for Bealtaine Cottage is small!

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dsc05352Baking is underway in the kitchen, making full use of the hot oven in the even hotter Stanley stove that is burning constant to keep the cottage warm.

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dsc05329Cakes and bread are then being moved to the freezer in the barn and will be ready to assuage the hunger of visitors and guests alike. dsc05349The cake stand has been dusted off for the festivities.

dsc05331I am transforming the Lodge into a big dining room, moving beds and other furniture out and a huge extending dining table in.

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dsc05333dsc05334This was brought over from the tunnel where it had been in use for years as a potting table, but a good clean down and polish, followed by the adornment of a starched table cloth, has lent the old table an air of noble gentility.

dsc05335dsc05336Candlelight will soften the decrepitness of the piece and even add a touch of shabby chic!

dsc05337In the event it isn’t really about grandeur or showing off, but about coming together to celebrate…something we have almost forgotten how to do.

dsc05338The remembering that less is more…that a pot of well made soup and home baked bread is unique to that day and all who partake of the feast.

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dsc05345It is not about shop bought, ready-made food, or flashy decorations that will still be intact in the landfill when you are long gone from this sacred Earth. dsc05343

dsc05344My little bathroom has had a coat of paint applied and a polish-up!

dsc05346Remembering the importance of gathering and celebrating…this is real civilisation!

 

 

The Other Website… https://bealtainecottage.com/bealtaine-cottage-good-life/

 

 

 

Yule and the Turning of the Wheel

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Garden at Midwinter

Origins of Yule

The great Festival of Yule, beginning at the time of the Winter Solstice and lasting for a full twelve days, summed up the cycle of the Celtic year.

Bealtaine Cottage candles in the window

The word Yule, according to the Venerable Bede, came from the Norse word Iul meaning ‘wheel’ and suggested that this was the time when the Great Wheel of Existence had completed its circle.

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“In later Celtic folk-belief, Yule had a dual meaning, it symbolised the death of the old year and heralded the birth of the new…

winter sunrise at Bealtaine Cottage permaculture gardens

Although the ground was cold, it would soon be warm again and Nature would burst forth at the festival of Imbolc.

The low-point of the period of Yule became the central festival of a number of formal religions, one of which was Christianity.

Bealtaine Cottage Midwinter Garden

 

After Yule, the Great Wheel began to turn again, bringing the festival of Imbolc around once more. Gradually some festivals assumed less importance and four great functional festivals – Imbolc, Bealtaine, Lughnasadh and Samhain dominated the Celtic year. Many of these became major Christian holy days – Imbolc became Candlemas (1 February) with its own rhyme: ‘On Candlemas Day, Throw a candle away’.

Christmas Eve in an Irish CottageChristmas Eve, 2012 at Bealtaine CottageChristmas eve moon above Bealtaine CottageChristmas Angel 2012In Ireland, because of its close association with the goddess Brigit, it became Saint Brigid’s Day.

Where the festivals of local deities persisted, they became ‘pattern days’– the feast of a local or patron saint.”

From Complete Guide to Celtic Mythology by Bob Curran

winter solstice 2012 at Bealtaine Cottagemidwinter cottage 015midwinter cottage 012

The winter solstice, the rebirth of the Sun, is an important turning point, as it marks the shortest day, when the hours of daylight are at their least. It also the start of the increase in the hours of daylight, until the Summer Solstice, when darkness becomes ascendant once more.

Midwinter mist at Bealtaine Cottage

This Yule, my family will gather at Bealtaine Cottage for a coming together, a “gathering,” to celebrate and mark the Great Turning of the Light, before dispersing to celebrate with others the wonderful celebration of Christmas.

friday 10 12 10monday morn 6 12 10 014monday morn 6 12 10 006Yuletide continues to be marked at Bealtaine Cottage through to it’s end on the first day of January. A time of great hope and lifting of one’s head towards the ascending sun.

For lovers of Bealtaine Cottage, there is a second website, growing daily and now with over 85 new blogs and hundreds of unseen photographs, as well as podcasts and stories… Visit:

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Country Cottage Journal

Preparing the cottage for Yuletide and the Midwinter Feast has been underway for the past week or so.

A smaller stove has been installed in the sitting room and much of the furniture in the cottage has been moved around…a great swap has taken place!

The end of all this turmoil is almost in sight…I breath a big sigh of relief, for the organising of sleeping arrangements, food and fuel is next on my “To-Do” list!

This is a great time of the year for working indoors and in many ways it’s also a good time to prepare for the year ahead, get work done and a sense of order into the cottage.

The weather has been stormy and wet, leaving little time for any works outdoors anyway.

Despite this, it’s lovely to walk in the aftermath of such weather, as mists arise and sunsets glimmer…

Presents are made and wrapped and put to one side, to be taken out after the feast and distributed amidst excitement and anticipation.

Many of the gifts are cherished, home-made and unique.

It’s interesting to note that this appears to be much of a trend now as the big manufacturers are attempting to emulate the same “home-made, folksy, country craft” look.

It also shows that people are tired of the commercial glitz!

As I write, sitting here in the small study at the front of the cottage, the rain pours down from the heavens.

Storm Desmond is casting it’s remains down upon us!

I have posted Ancient Bog Oak pendants, hand crafted by my brother Hugh O’Neill, to many countries.

There are a few left should anyone want a gift posted from Bealtaine Cottage on their behalf, though time is limited to a few days for posting in time for Christmas.

This is the link…

https://bealtainecottage.com/craft-shop/

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Blessings to you all on this stormy Saturday…keep snug and warm!

Moving with Orion Towards Midwinter

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The signs are everywhere…

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Nights drawing in…

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Unexpected sunshine on frosted mornings.

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The bare beauty of trees silhouetted against clear winter skies. 

Full Moon at Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture

As Orion strides across the evening sky, we draw closer to the Winter Solstice and the darkest, stillest, nights of the year.

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Winter Solstice celebrations begin on the 21st of December, a time of hope and joy for all, regardless of belief or religious observances.

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Magical Midwinter!

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Ancient tribes all over the world observed rituals around Solstice time.

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We too can  celebrate Winter Solstice, integrating it into our own traditional celebrations.

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A chance to step outdoors and observe the night sky.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture landscape

An opportunity to nurture and develop connections to family and friends.

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From this day, there are 22 days to go before the descent into the Midwinter Solstice.

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Yes, the coldest days precede the Spring, so January rarely feels like the prelude to that beautiful season!

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture landscape

But, here in the West of Ireland, with Imbolc on the first day of February, the signs are there for all to see, as new life emerges from the frozen earth.

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Who Controls You?

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Midwinter approaches.

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The holiday season draws near.

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There is no television here at Bealtaine Cottage, so I am unaware of the masses of advertising you are being bombarded with!

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I realise that the pressure is upon you to spend, spend, spend!

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But, hold on a minute or two and think about this… Every pound, euro or dollar you spend this Yuletide will put you deeper and deeper into debt and force others to compete with the madness that is gift-buying!

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As you spend, so the debt piles up around you, pressing you down, deeper into the mire of anxiety!

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Many people spend to the limit on their plastic cards and spend the entirety of the following year just paying it back.

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This represents the most insidious form of control on what should be a life of choices and freedom.

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All the time you are controlled by debt you are enslaved…and for what?

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Most of what is bought at Christmas ends up in landfill sites over the ensuing months. www.bealtainecottage.com 014

Mother Earth pays a huge price for your debt slavery.

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Who controls you?

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The same corporations who pollute Mother Earth?

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Change begins with you and me and the freedom to choose!

The Great Collapse

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The great collapse of society, as we know it, is under way.

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Most people are unaware of this.

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Every aspect of controlled living is the same as ever it was.

Sammy-Bear says "Hello!"

The television keeps pumping out much of the same.

Supermarkets hum with shoppers.

Christmas lights flicker in shopping centres.

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The madness of more predominates a world in crisis.

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The populations of countries, channelled to look one way, as governments and the one percent carry on their relentless rendition of acquisition and destruction.

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Look at how we live compared to a few decades ago…

There is no longer a mentality of saving for one’s heart’s desire.

All is instant, right down to the way we satisfy our hunger.

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Hunger?

Merely a concept to most people in the western world.

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I dare not say developed, for that implies evolved and the fact is, we are not in the least bit evolved!

We devour resources, as we revolve.

March 2014

Society is revolving on a mad merry-go-round of consumption.

Revolving, not evolving!

March 2014

We all know, in our mere moments of sanity, that this cannot go on.

Eco-systems around us are collapsing.

Species extinction is a runaway train-wreck.

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Another Christmas looms, as people prepare to celebrate the birth of a baby with an orgy of consumerism!

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We should take a bit more notice of that collapse and extinction, for anyone with common sense knows who’s next!

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Future generations will look back upon this time and refer to it as the Great Collapse, much in the same way as we refer to the death of millions in The Great War.

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And, as we all know, there was nothing great about it!

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Bealtaine Cottage is also on YouTube…I have posted over 120 videos about Permaculture, Sustainable living practice, planting, growing and living.

I write to encourage, help and inspire mindfulness for our beautiful world and have photographed and written almost 800 blogs on this Bealtaine Cottage website.

As an advocate for Mother Nature, Permaculture, Sustainable Living Practice, trees and wildlife, the smallholding of Bealtaine Cottage receives no grant aid from either the Irish government or EU.

Everything created here is self-funded, with a little support from occasional donations..

Any donation, no matter how small, goes a long way in sustaining and developing this site.

Blessings

Angels and Animals in an Irish Cottage on Christmas Eve

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Christmas Eve at Bealtaine Cottage.

Snow has fallen.

The air is cold and a bitter wind blows.

It rained hard last night and the streams are in flood.

The blackbirds are hungry and have taken to stealing cat biscuits from the bowls on the veranda!

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The blackbirds are clever creatures and have watched both cats enter the lodge through the cat door, where they now sleep away the day, their bellies filled with food and milk.

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Jack stays by my side, in and out of the cottage, as I work.

Jack looks out for me and is a wonderful friend and guardian angel!

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This is a difficult Christmas for many who are without basic necessities.

I am thankful to have a well stocked pantry and woodpile.

For many, food and heat are major problems in their everyday lives.

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 It’s good to give thanks for a warm home and a full plate.

May you all enjoy both this Christmastide…

www.bealtainecottage.com 003An Irish Christmas Blessing

The light of the Christmas star to you
The warmth of home and hearth to you
The cheer and good will of friends to you
The hope of a childlike heart to you
The joy of a thousand angels to you.

Happy Christmas!

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This will be my last blog for a little while as I am taking some time out.

Blessings to you all X

Lifting the Spirits

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Midwinter is over.

For many the celebration of Christmas has begun.

Last minute frenetic shopping today and tomorrow…

The days here at Bealtaine are beginning to lengthen.

Not tangible as yet, but optimism for more daylight has taken hold and sometimes that is enough…simply knowing that the darkness has passed.

The cottage remains in a post-midwinter party state, with chairs pushed back and floor-space revealed.

It may be a day or two before this is sorted, for I want to escape outdoors, despite the stormy weather!

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The lush greenery on the mantelpiece will stay in place for as long as it retains life.

Replacing the candles daily is a small task and keeps the soft light there to lift the spirits.

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A small sadness pervades the air, now that family and friends have gone.

We all enjoyed the coming together of our midwinter feast, with music and bonfire and soft candlelight…a magical time that lifted the spirit.

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Rich food and drink will now give way to simple soups and tea…a sort of cleansing of the palette and system, together with late winter walks, to appease the feasting of recent days.

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Venturing out this morning, into the wind-driven rain, fresh in from the Atlantic, amid the sounds of birds fighting over food…time to scatter the scraps from the feast around the gravel by the cottage for my hungry and cold feathered friends.

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Parsley, Kale and Chard all continue to grow abundantly in the Potager beds…no sign of prolonged frost to diminish these green gifts.

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The Chard is particularly beneficial to the body at this time of year, as it contains generous amounts of both Vitamin C and Iron…the Vitamin C is necessary for the body to absorb the Iron.

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I use the Kale in the juicer each day…a great supplement to my diet, as it charges my energy!

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Do you recall the ground I mulched with cardboard and shreddings?

Well, here it is this morning and as you can see it has now transformed itself into a bed ready to be planted out in the Spring…how easy was that?

There are several hundred blogs on this website about mulching and preparing ground for planting using the easiest methods that I have tried and tested.

To access them simply type key words into the Search Bar at the top of this page!

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Thank you for supporting Bealtaine Cottage

Here’s Why…

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The morning is cold with a spectacular sunrise that washes the sky with shades of red and orange…this is midwinter in all it’s glory!

I’m sat by the computer with coffee, as oftentimes I do in the early morning, uploading photographs and thinking of what I shall write for you.

www.bealtainecottage.com 016There are times when I think to myself, “why continue writing this blog and forever taking pictures and waiting endlessly for uploads and…” but then I get a message, a letter, a card, an email and I am reassured about what I do…

This morning, the writing is done, not by me, but by one of you…my friends, who share this healing journey with me…a winding path, back to an understanding and love for, Mother Earth.

As we help to heal her and make peace with her, so, in turn, she does the same for us…

Dear Colette,

I do hope that this (long overdue) email finds that you are in good form and that all is well with you ? My illness`have been kicking up a bit , not allowing me into the garden as much as I would like , but , still , any chance I get I plan , I plant (myself and my youngest daughter Daisy have gone on a frenzy over the past few months of planting all kinds of seeds, chestnuts, acorns, even apple pips, we plan to give them as gifts to people who DO have the space to plant them , thank you for the inspiration!

Martina 2

Next year (Spring) my husband is building me a small veranda (based on your own…I hope you don’t mind we “robbed “ the design? I just FELL IN LOVE with it!) at the back of our little cottage , I plan to show people that you CAN have the country and self-sufficiency in the town! We do get the “they are cracked” looks , but sure, whats normal really?

Martina 1I am sending you some photos to show you , our pantry is complete!

Martina 4And I managed to make some blackcurrant cordial and jelly (all gone now) , also my yearly elderberry cordial , I still have some hips in the garden and hope to send “himself” out with a bucket this week so I can make so rose hip jam , lovely 😉

martina 5Our ducks are huge now , no egg as yet , but Spring will come, all things in there own good time ! And our Christmas tree this year is a little 3 foot dote in a pot , ready to go to its new home in the garden after Christmas , I`ll find a space somewhere says you , there’s always space!

My husband won the Irish Red Cross “Carer of the Year”

The presentation was last night.

He really deserves it! No other carer in Ireland I`m sure puts up with , “no , that doesn’t look right , move that pot there instead” or “will you dig me another pottage bed please” ? 😉

Martina 3As I write , I have beside me Alice Taylor’s new book “The gift of  a garden” , like all her writing, its lovely and homely , if you get a chance I do recommend you read it!

martina 6We too are hoping it will be fine outside for the solstice , if not , we will make toast by the fire inside and tell stories by candle-light…

MartinaDo have a wonderful Solstice and Christmas season… bless you and keep you , and THANK YOU…when I am bed-bound, I read and re-read your posts , they give me SO much hope , in more ways than you`ll ever know!

Its like I am beside you walking in Bealtaine Cottage , soaking up the healing , and I can almost feel it running through my tired bones!

Take care , love from Tia and all in Moilligh Cottage xx

Midwinter Cottage

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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…
 

A Wish for The Children of Gaza

The full moon rises above Bealtaine Cottage.

Last night there was a new moon, somewhere in the sky.

Often times I watch the moon and think of all those it shines upon.

Many dark nights, when the stars fill the sky with their own light show and shooting stars leave a momentary arch in the night sky, I make a wish.

In the cold November air of a Sunday night in the west of Ireland, I made a wish, a heartfelt wish, for The Children of Gaza.

It was quite a simple wish too.

There was nothing of Christmas, Santa or presents galore.

Nothing to do with Disney, or mince pies, or turkey.

It was simply this…

That somewhere here in the western world, there will be one human being, one hero, one person of compassion and integrity, a leader, who will stand up for what is right.

One brave person and true… for there is one, at least…

Just one, who will say, “No more!”

One who will stand in front of the Children of Gaza and say…”You shall not pass…not on my watch!”

The days when one associated a political leader with integrity and justice are over.

Their mandate appears to be greed and psychopathy.

One can still wish.

Last night I made a wish…

Christmas Country Living Thrift Workshop…How to make a Table Decoration.

It’s time to get decorating…it’s that time of year, December and nearing midwinter.

One of the simplest decorations to make, for free, is what is called a table decoration.

This starts with a container or plate and a piece of florist wet foam. I have lined the pot with some plastic and cut a piece of foam to put inside.

The florists foam is actually called ‘Oasis,’ and holds a great amount of water. Keep pouring on the water until the foam can hold no more!

Next I insert pieces of greenery around the edge of the foam.

Keep building up the greenery and looking at your creation from all sides to ensure a balance…

I have used Teasel for the centre piece…you can use any seasonal flower, dried or fresh.

Try to include as many aspects of the season as you can lay your hands on…it’s not finished yet!

It is easy enough to insert a candle into the middle of the decoration, making sure it rises above the greenery so it can be safely lit on Christmas Eve.

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!

Country Living, Permaculture Style, in the West of Ireland

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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.

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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…