Welcome to Cette Petite Maison


My name is Carol-Ann and I am a maker and crafter of all kinds of things and with Cette Petite Maison (This Little House) I hope to share a little bit of my life here in the beautiful rural Quercy Blanc area of France and introduce you to some of my neighbours and their wonderful produce.

I am trying a embrace a simpler lifestyle, working towards sustainability so I am offering a small range of items, made, grown and harvested locally by neighbours and friends and I hope that the phrase Products with Provenance resonates.

If you would like to follow along, it would be lovely to have your company, just add your name and e-mail to Follow my Blog below, and I promise not to inundate you with too many posts.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Let's talk about Lip Balm


I have been using Lip Balm for years, first as a part of my Nightly Skin Routine and then as I stopped wearing Lipsitck, during the day as well - I used to buy commerical brands and discovered that the more I put on the more I needed so I turned to HandMade Lip Balms and never looked back :)

I am now offering my own brand which I call Aromatherapy for Lips and which I have specially made for Cette Petite Maison, at the moment it comes in 2 fragrances - Rose and Lavender and I will soon be offering an unscented version for men. 

I'm not going to say any more but let my testers tell you what they think.....

I have recently been lucky enough to try a new lip balm produced by Cette Petite Maison and I can honestly say it's by far the nicest lip balm I've ever used. It's super hydrating and feels lovely to wear. I have the rose version and the scent is gorgeous without being at all over-powering.
Also, I don't find, like with some lip balms, that the more you use it, the more you need it. I am sure this is thanks to all the natural goodies that are in it, unlike the commercial brands. I shall definitely be ordering more and also trying the lavender version. I really highly recommend it together with visiting the Cette Petite Maison blog and shop to discover lots of other delightful products :)  AB

And 

I always have such dry lips in the winter and find the Rose Lip balm wonderfully moisturising and soothing. It’s non greasy formula is a pleasure to wear and the gorgeous natural fragrance of rose make it almost good enough to eat . Lovely product which is now a staple of my daily facial care regime. Highly recommended. LC

So if you are looking for a bit of Aromatherapy for your lips pop on over to the boutique or if you are feeling crafty you can make your own, here is a quick super easy recipe for DIY Lip Balms :)

Ingredients
  • 1 Tablespoon Yellow Beeswax Pellets
  • 1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil
  • For Rose: 3 drops of 100% pure Rose Essential Oil
  • For Lavender 3 drops of 100% pure Lavender Oil
  • 5 or 6 Lip Balm Tubes
  • A syringe or plastic cosmetic pippettes
Instructions
  1. Wash your hands and all of your equipment thoroughly.
  2. Place the beeswax pellets in a small glass bowl and microwave on high power for 45 seconds.
  3. Add the coconut oil to the bowl, and return to the microwave for another 45 seconds.
  4. Continue to microwave in 30 second increments until everything is completely melted.
  5. Add the essential oils and return to the microwave for another 15 seconds.
  6. Using a syringe, fill each lip balm container as full as you can without overflowing.
  7. If it starts to harden before you're finished filling the tubes, return the glass bowl to the microwave for 15 seconds to keep it melted.
  8. Once they solidify I would pop your balms into the fridge to harden off a bit more and voila you have your own Lip Balms.
 

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Making Magic with Artsy Craftery Studio

Sandi and I go back a long way as Virtual Friends - Do you happen to remember when we first met Sandi? Was it in the very early days of Zibbet?  Yes, I think it was at that site years ago when you ordered some seed saver envelopes from me and I ordered some vintage, yellow buttons from you.
 

I love this piece I bought from Sandi :)
I have always been drawn to Sandi’s positive energy which seems to echo my own in some ways, the art she creates is full of joy and speaks to my creative side. Thank you, Carol-Ann! I am a born motivator and enjoy encouraging others in all that I do.
 

Please tell us when you started Artsy Craftery Studio and why you started selling your work online. Artsy Craftery Studio began as Holland Paper & Décor Arts around 2005, when I started sharing pics online of my early creations. I then changed to Sandi Holland Mixed Media and I continued with that name when I began blogging in 2006. It wasn’t until 2007 that I first listed and made my first sale, at a defunct venue called Winkelf. I began selling online because it was quicker and more convenient than starting out at craft shows. I began to sell my products under the name of Artsy Craftery Studio around 2011 and changed the blog name to Living To Create.

What drew you to the materials you use? Since I use a variety of media, it’s hard to say. As an adult, I started out loving papercrafting and watercolor painting. As a youth in Girl Scouts, I learned simple crafts that I loved, like crewelwork and basket weaving. I took art classes in 7th and 8th grade and learned traditional craft techniques, like ceramics, collage and papier mache. Papercrafting is still my first love. I believe I was born with an intense craving for all things crafting

Have you always had your printable range or is your shop Printaphoria a new departure? I have been self-studying image editing and graphic design for many years. A few years ago, I began listing my surface designs at Spoonflower and then Society6. My real design love is for products that these sites do not offer, such as collage sheets, printable craft papers, clip art, shop web sets, etc. I launched Printaphoria in 2018 as a sales outlet for these types of graphics and printables. 

How does it feel to see the art and printable papers you have created being used by others in their work? It’s a dream come true, because it is how I want my work to be utilized! I can make pretty pics all day and show how to use my products and designs, and how they look in various situations. It is only when I see them used by others that the satisfaction is complete.
 


How much time do you spend working your designs? I can only describe it as day and night. When I’m not attending to needs, my mind and efforts are all creatively-directed. I spend massive amounts of time daily on the computer. My standard time that I stop working and go to bed is 2:00 am – 3:00 am. I get up from 7-8:00 am to start it all again. I dream of creations sometimes. I search my junk mail for ephemera that I can salvage. Ideas continuously run through my mind, so I really have no rest from creativity. It is blissful torture and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Like the interim name of my blog when it went from Holland Paper & Décor Arts and before the new name, I truly do Live To Create! 

You also have a Blog for Creatives and Makers can you tell us a bit about please. The Creative Seller started as Holland Paper & Décor Arts, then Sandi Holland Mixed Media and then Living To Create. It is a comprehensive website now, where I promote the creative life of crafting, writing, arting, designing, cooking, container gardening, etc. Most of all, I try to motivate others to understand that they too can create. The Creative Seller is a dot com Blogger domain website now that includes a blog page. The site also includes other pages that can be reached through the top navigation bar. I include regular blog features along with a variety of blog posts, tips & resources and products listings and shopping links. It is still in development, but I feel that The Creative Seller is the final incarnation of the name.
 

Please could you list all the places we can find you online. These are my fav links.
Printaphoria
Positive Words Artwork
Zazzle
Artsy Craftery Studio
Pinterest
Facebook  

And finally - what does the future hold for you and your artwork? More creating as long as I can see and use my hands. More online selling as long as I can endure technology. I will officially retire this year, so I am ecstatic by the freedom that will provide to explore new techniques and media. I will be able to truly create as my spirit flows daily, rather than rejecting ideas because they may not be immensely saleable.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Making Magic with Wivey Weaver – Yarn Alchemy

This is the second interview in my Making Magic series, where I chat to Crafters and Makers I admire and I hope you find their stories inspirational.

Today I would like you to meet Heather of Wivey Weaver - Yarn Alchemy. I was drawn to Heathers work not only because it is beautiful but because she epitomises HandMade. Heather is capable of taking a fleece, dyeing it, spinning it and weaving it into something truly extraordinary and she has my utmost admiration. This is her story.......

Tell us when and why you started Wivey Weaver – Yarn Alchemy? Wivey Weaver – Yarn Alchemy was launched about 3 years ago when I opened my shop on Etsy.  Up until then everything I made was gifted for Christmas and birthday presents but, there are only so many scarves you can give to people!  It took me another year to pluck up the courage to start taking my handmade items out to craft shows and actually face my customers personally.  I am a very private person so putting myself “out there” physically was way out of my comfort zone.  Gradually, I have got used to being “on show” but nearly always I have my spinning wheel with me at shows so she becomes the point of interest rather than me!

What drew you to yarn and which came first?
As a teenager I did a lot of crochet and cross stitch work but had always wanted to learn to weave.  Weaving classes only ever seemed to be held during the daytime when I was working so it wasn’t until I was sacked from my job in 2009 (therein lies a tale of unscrupulous legal firms!) that I had the opportunity to join a weaving class to learn the basics.  I took to weaving like the proverbial “duck to water” and, for me, it isn’t the complexity of the weave but just sitting at the loom and creating, even the simplest of weaves are a pleasure.  From there I got talked into learning to spin my own yarn and, lastly, about 3 years ago a friend loaned me some of her natural dyestuffs, jars etc. to encourage me to dye my own yarn … that started me down the path I now follow which is a virtually full time venture … a very slow process which I love and the circle now complete … though maybe slightly wonky in its path … I wash fleece direct from the sheep, spin the fibre into yarn, natural dye it and then weave it.

Can you tell us a little about using natural plant dyes?
Apart from sometimes being a very messy and foul smelling business, natural dyes are fascinating.  Virtually every plant from a garden or from the wild will give some form of dye … some you never want to use twice as they don’t give much dye, or it is a colour you would never use … others give the most unexpected colours, such as the berries from Leycesteria (Pheasant Berry) which are black but give a bright ginger dye on wool, or the leaves and soft stems from Griselinia which are a beautiful mossy green but give a deep pinkish brown dye.  I now try to dye with everything which gets cut back from my own garden (or anyone else’s garden when they will allow me in), both simmering leaves/stems/flowers on the hob or in a solar dyepot sitting in the sun.  It is a craft which you learn the hard way … if you have ever opened a solar dyepot with nettles or comfrey a few weeks after you first created it, trust me, with the smell of it you never want to try that a second time!  You also learn to open jars slowly and carefully outside as some can be quite “gassy” … my first ever solar dyepot of Goldenrod somewhat surprised me when I tried to undo the lid and it exploded out of the jar … I didn’t know what to clear up first, the side of the conservatory, the patio and table or me as it quite literally went everywhere!  There is never a dull moment, lots of lovely surprises along with a few unpleasant ones but, gradually I am building up a list of plants I use every year, many of which I am gradually planting in my own small garden and quite a few that I know I never want to try again!  Mother Nature throws a few curves too such as Dandelion flowers giving a wonderful dye the first year I tried them but, the past 2 years have given no dye at all … unpredictable but great fun … highly recommended for anyone with a garden!
  
How long does it take to create a one of your Luxury Hand Woven Scarf with Hand Spun yarn from start to finish and can you take us through the steps?
That’s a bit of an open ended question … it very much depends on the thickness of the yarn and the intricacy of the design you want to weave but … taking an average width, length and simple design scarf in, say, 4 ply/sport weight yarn, I first have to wind the warp (the length) of around 120 to 200 threads in the order required for my design, transfer that to my loom and then wind the full length onto the back of my loom, pull each individual thread through a heddle which is attached to a particular shaft of the loom (which gives you the design, dependent upon which of the 8 shafts of my loom are being used for that design at any one time) and then thread each one through the reed (which spaces the warp out to the correct width you wish to weave), lastly tie the threads onto the front beam of the loom and then try to get every thread tensioned the same.  After that you can start weaving!  I would say that there are around 5-7 hours work in getting the warp onto the loom before you start weaving with the weft and finally seeing whether you have done all of the above processes correctly … if not, you go back and correct the errors!  Weaving time for a fully hand woven piece ie. no automation, I would say a further 10 to 15 hours but, for something like the shawl in this picture made with my handspun merino yarn which is then natural privet dyed, the making time overall is more likely 30 to 40 hours for each shawl - definitely a "labour of love".


I know you sell online and in person can you tell us all the places we can find you.
Etsy is currently my only online showcase and you can find me here WiveyWeaver but I still have a shop on Folksy which I might revive at some point in the future.  I am trying to start selling on Facebook whenever I have new handwoven scarves or handspun yarns but, at the moment that really isn’t proving very fruitful.  My main sales come from the craft shows I attend and there is a list of shows pinned to the top of my Facebook page.  Social media is not my favourite pastime, more a “necessary evil”, in fact anything to do with technology is a no-go area if I can manage to avoid it but it is an essential part of any business these days so I do my best to keep Facebook up to date and also use Instagram and, very occasionally, Pinterest  I would much rather be making things than be sitting in front of a computer!

What does the future hold for Wivey  Weaver – Yarn Alchemy?
The future for Wivey Weaver – Yarn Alchemy will not change dramatically from where I am now I think … the time it takes to hand make everything means that I cannot make items any faster or in larger quantities.  Unlike so many small enterprises, I am not willing to compromise on my ethics or using the best fibre and yarn and producing truly hand made, unique pieces and, at the same time, making them affordable.  I have seen many people fall into the trap of over-charging and they sell nothing.  I will continue in the same way as now … I definitely won’t be retiring early (if at all) as this is a business for those who create because they enjoy the whole process rather than aiming to make any form of profit.  So Wivey Weaver – Yarn Alchemy will continue to stand for “Hand Made With Love”!


Sunday, May 26, 2019

Orchids at Cette Petite Maison

We have a wealth of Orchids in this part of the Lot so this Post is going to be a work in progress as I add the Orchids I find around Cette Petite Maison.

Here are two little Bee Orchids for the collection and to note that these photos were taken late May. One of my favorites, the Bee Orchid is common here in the Lot. It flowers from mid May onwards and sometimes appears with white petals and sepals rather than the more usual pink ones and I am lucky enough to have both on my lawn.
Ophrys apifera - Bee Orchid

Ophrys apifera - Bee Orchid
These Pyramidal Orchids grow in abundance and I love their bright colours, they can also be pure white, though this is rare and if I do find one I will be sure to take a photo of it.

Anacamptis pyramidalis - Pyramid Orchid

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Making Magic with Elegant Pebbles

As you may know, I adore handmade items and the people who make and create them. The world would be a much poorer place without their vision, imagination and creativity.

This is the first in a series of posts I am calling Making Magic, where I will be chatting to Crafters and Makers I admire and I hope you find their stories inspirational.

Annette from Elegant Pebbles and I have been FaceBook friends for ages now and I have always admired the things she makes. Her jewellry and Cards are beautiful and I have always been amazed at how hard Annette works, she is the Mother of a young daughter and still finds time to create her beautiful things and keep her social media upto date but she also does stands and pop-up shops for inperson sales and now has a new venture in a Craft Cabin in a Craft Village.

This is Annette's story..... 

Tell us when and why you started Elegant Pebbles?
I was given a handmade beaded bracelet for Christmas back in about 2010. I absolutely loved it, but then it broke. I didn’t want to throw it away, so I started researching how to make bracelets and decided I could fix it myself, and I did. I found I really enjoyed going round bead shops and looking at the different sparkly things, but I was working full time as the Manager of a Pawnbrokers which was demanding and exhausting and I just didn’t have time for a hobby. I then met my future husband in the summer of 2010 and I quickly realised there was more to life than working myself into the ground!!! So, with the support of my future husband, I finally left my job after 11 years in 2012 and had a complete career change to working in a shoe shop!! I actually found I enjoyed it!


But then after 4 weeks into my new job, I found out I was pregnant!!! It then became torture going to work because the smell of the leather made me feel really really sick! By the September, I was really struggling with my back (I have degenerative spinal stenosis) so I went on maternity leave. I was so bored at home, couldn’t walk very well, so sat browsing on the internet. I suddenly thought about that bracelet I mended a few years earlier and before I knew it, beads and findings were arriving in the post!! I was really enjoying myself making bracelets and necklaces for myself and my friends.

Once Olivia arrived in December 2012, I was back to no time for my hobby. But once she got a bit older and routines settled down, I started making again. I ended up with boxes of made jewellery and my best friend suggested I should try selling my makes at craft fairs! I said don’t be daft, but the more I thought about it, the more I quite fancied trying. So, I found a local fair, had a stall and sold a few pieces. I was so happy! Lol! From that moment, I was hooked. My husband and I spent ages trying to think up a name and settled on Elegant Pebbles because everyone likes to feel elegant in their jewellery and the beautiful stones are like polished pebbles. So, in August 2013, I set up my Facebook page and the rest is history, as they say! :)
 

What drew you to the materials you use in the charms and jewellery you create?
I especially love agates. The internal markings are amazing. So a lot of the jewellery I make is with agate. I try to have a variety of other stones such as Jaspers and fossil coral, but its the agates that sell the most and I’m always drawn to the agates so the majority of my jewellery is made with agate.
 

You then started painting on Silk and creating Keep-Sake greeting cards, tell us a little about that.
Years and years ago, I think I was in my teens, I was on a day out with my parents in Matlock and we came across a shop that sold painted silk scarves and art work. I was fascinated, it was all so beautiful. I always fancied a go but never found any where that I could try it out. Then last year, I spotted a taster course at Cannock Chase Museum, and got excited. I managed to convince my best friend to do it with me and we both thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. It was a lot of fun, and we finished the course having made 3 cards each. I chatted to the course leader and found out where to buy the paints and the templates, and carried on practising at home until I was confident enough to offer the cards for sale. I love painting them, its relaxing, and I feel I’m getting better as time goes on.


I would love to learn to draw my own designs, maybe that’s something I can work on in the future, but for now, I’m content to paint the available templates. They always turn out differently to the last one, as I mix the paints to get different colours.

How much time do you spend working on Elegant Pebbles?
I don’t very often get chance to work on things during the day while my daughter is at school. House wife duties have to come first. So once my daughter is in bed, I may make a few bag charms or necklaces while watching TV and drinking coffee! I try to post something new on Facebook everyday. I rarely get chance to make anything at weekends or during school holidays.

I know you sell online and in person can you tell us all the places we can find you.
You can find me on Conscious Crafties. I also sell on eBay and I have a Facebook Page, I’m also on Instagram (but not very often these days) I sell at craft fairs and have a regular spot on Stafford Railway Station.


I try to make sure all the events I attend are listed on my Facebook page. I also have stock permanently in Cotton’s Crafts Cabin which is a brand new venture for me, and is located in the new craft village in the Plant Plot Nursery, Lichfield.
 

What does the future hold for Elegant Pebbles?
I really enjoy what I do. I would like to keep going for as long as I possibly can. I don’t tend to think too far ahead as you never know what is round the corner, but eventually, I would love to have my own permanent spot somewhere, just like Cotton’s Crafts Cabin. Nothing big, just a little place to call mine :)


Saturday, May 11, 2019

Rose Essential Oil

The Beautiful Rosa Damascena             ©Kurt Stüber
While I adore Lavender I also have another Essential Oil Passion and that is Rose so off I went to discover the source of the best Rose Essential Oil in Europe ( Virtually of course :) and this is what I found.....

The best Rose Oil is produced from the bloom, Rosa Damascena which has a long history with origins as far back as Ancient Persia. In the old times, rose oil was produced through a simple, single distillation process which gave minuscule amounts of rose oil – the most desired scent in ancient times.

The modern production of a high quality rose oil otherwise known as rose otto by using a double distillation method began in the 17th century.

This oil is still regarded as precious and retails at approximately € 2 150.00 per 100ml for certified oil.

Did I say precious? I should have said.......Very, very precious!

Due to the favourable climatic conditions and other natural factors, for the past 350 years Bulgaria has been and still is regarded as the classical land of rose oil production and the home of the beautiful Valley of the Roses is a region in Bulgaria located just south of the Balkan Mountains and the eastern part of the lower Sredna Gora chain to the south.

The rose gardens and processing factories are all located in this Valley and according to the official statistics, there were about 3,700 ha of planted rose gardens in 2016.

The main geographic and climatic factors which determine the excellent development of the oil-bearing rose are the following:
  • the mild winter with average annual temperature 10,6 °C;
  • the high humidity in May and June - the rose-picking season;
  • the light sandy soils that do not retain water.
The nature of rose oil production is such that the proximity of processing facilities to the raw material source is one of the crucial factors for cost-effective production.
What really determines the quality of the Bulgarian Rose oil is:
  • Fresh flower material (roses)
  • Proper distillery equipment
  • Strict quality control
  • Bulgarian know-how
  • Quality of water used for the distillation process.
You can read more about Rosa Damascena and its impact on Bulgaria’s Rose Valley here The Rose Festival of Kazanlak

And while I am not offering Rose Essential Oil at the moment, you can get a sense of this glorious scent in my AromaTherapy for Lips range of Lip Balms which you will find here Rose Lip Balm

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

The Ice Saints of May

The story......

We must go back as far as 500 AD to find the first traces of these beliefs related to Ice Saints. 


At that time, people began praying to St. Mamert for protection of crops. Not always winning their case, they found that the weather deteriorated and the temperature sometimes dropped to freezing and below so they then added  St. Pancrace and St. Servais.

The Ice Saints dates for are the 11th, 12th and 13th of May and the sayings are as follows:
 
May 11, "Be careful, the first ice saint, often catches you by surprise"
May 12, "Saint Pancrace often brings ice cream",
May 13, "Before Saint Servais no summer, after Saint Servais no more ice".

May 25, which is not an ice saint but attached to it, says: "Mamert, Pancrace and Servais are Ice Saints, but Saint Urbain holds them all in his hand".


I have just looked at the forecast for Ste. Alauzie and it's showing Min.12° Max.18° for St. Mamert, Min.8° Max.19° for St. Pancrace and Min.6° Max.20 for St. Servais so perhaps we have escaped this year :)

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Healthy Pure Honey Flapjacks

I work with horses and sometimes need a bit of extra energy, I used to buy energy bars until I decided to make my own and they are Delicious :)

250g porridge oats
200g butter
6 to 7 tablespoons honey (I use 6 spoons)
15g Raisins
10g Dessicated Coconut
A pinch of salt

1) Pre heat oven to 180 C / Gas 4, and grease and line a baking tin. (I use a shallow Silicone Muffin Pan which is why my Flapjacks are round :)
2) Melt the butter over a low heat and then stir in the honey and salt and mix for a few minutes over a very low heat.
3) Add the coconut and raisins and lastly the oats, stir well until oats are evenly with the mixture.coated.
4) Spread the mixture evenly on the tin, (I divide the mixture as evenly as possible between the molds of my Silicone pan) and press down.
5) Place in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until the top is slightly golden.
6) Leave to cool completely and then cut in to squares (or pop out of the Silicone molds) and enjoy

We have a Winner :)

Sandi H is the winner of the first Cette Petit Maison Give-Away and there is something really rather serendipitous about her winning as Sandi is the creator of the beautiful papers I used for my lables and wrapping paper.

I am so happy for you Sandi as now you will be able to see your work in action :)

And for those who did not win, stay tuned I will be doing another Give-Away very soon :)

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Welcome to the New Subscribers

A warm welcome to the new Subscribers and a reminder that the prize draw will be on the 1st of May which is when I will announce the winner of this gorgeous duo :)

And if you are already a reader, never fear your name has already been entered into the Prize Draw  :)
If you aren't a subscriber and would like to enter the draw just sign up to my mailing list on the right before noon on the 1st of May 2019.

Best of luck to you all and if you don't win, the Lip Balms and Lavander Essential Oil Roll-Ons are available on the Shop Page :)