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 have come to realise that although the world is very complicated, on some levels it is very simple and this year, 2019 I am going to try and embrace that simplicity, working towards sustainability in my own way and offer a small range of items, made, grown and harvested locally by neighbours and friends and I hope that the phrase Products with Provenance resonates.

So 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.

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 :)

Thursday, April 4, 2019

A fleeting and tender beauty

Walking down to see my horses this morning I was stopped in my tracks by this beautiful Apple Blossom.
The tree is an ancient Apple and the only ones who enjoy the fruit are my horses, however this blossom more than makes up for the rather small, bitter fruit - I hope you enjoy these pictures :)

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Honey and Hayfever

Gorgeous local Honey produced by Marie-Hélèn's Bees
The question is....."Is Honey a cure for Hayfever?" and to be more specific "Is local Honey a cure for Hayfever?"

Well Science says no and I quote "No. The myth is that local pollen in honey can desensitise the allergic reaction, but there’s no evidence to support it. A 2002 study at the University of Connecticut compared locally-produced, unfiltered honey, with nationally-produced, filtered honey and honey-flavoured corn syrup. In double-blind trials, there was no difference between the three in reducing hay fever symptoms. The pollen in honey is nearly all the heavy, flower pollen that doesn’t cause hay fever. The pollen that sets your nose running is much lighter and comes from grasses and trees that bees don’t visit."

However I beg to differ, as I honestly do find that a teaspoon of local Honey helps my Hayfever symptoms, granted I only suffer mildly but after a teaspoon of Honey I can go from being stuffy to breathing clearly within a matter of minutes.

 Placebo? ... perhaps, but if it works why not :) Trying a teaspoon of local honey to cure your Hayfever symptoms can't be a bad idea because even if it does not work for you, you still have some delicious local honey to spread on your toast and you will be supporting a Local Producer :)

The Honey in the photo comes from Marie-Hélen's little Black Bees (Well they are not exactly black but they are much darker than other bees) and the good news is that her hives have survived the Winter, however there is still the danger posed by the Asian Hornets (Vespa velutina) that have been decimating hives acoss France. So fingers crossed her little Bees have a happy, healthy year ahead of them.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Free Pintables - A Little Bird Told me - Birthday Cards

Instead of supporting huge corporations like Hallmark et al, printing our own cards, stationery and pictures has never been easer.

Most of us now own printers, and getting hold of card type paper is now fairly easy too, I get mine at my local Supermarket. It their own brand 180g A4 white drawing/watercolour paper with a slight grain, Canson make similar paper so it is easy to find.

And as for pictures to put on cards, well the internet is full of images, BUT these are NOT always free to use unless it specifically states they are. However, sites like Etsy and Zibbet for example have loads of very talented artists who offer downloadable art at very reasonable prices, so it is just a case of choosing an image that you like, buying it to print at home.

Here is a link A Little Bird Told Me... Printable Birthday Cards  two FREE Birthday Card Printables that I have made for you. Just click on it to open the PDF file and click print, this will give you 2 x A5 cards with a very faint horizontal line between the two cards to show you where to cut. These fit neatly into A6 envelopes.

Have fun with these and see you soon with more printables and if you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact me :)

Please note: That Screens and Printers sometimes show different colours, so what you see on your screen might not be what your printer prints, however I'm happy with the results and I hope you will be too.