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Embracing coziness "How A Deer Cottage finds warmth in Winter"

As the cool embrace of winter descends upon A Deer Cottage, a magical transformation takes place. The crackling of the Mexican Chimera, the aroma of a hot toddy, and the soft glow of twinkling lights all come together to create an enchanting haven of warmth and comfort. It is during these mid-winter months that our little cottage exudes a charm like no other, drawing us into its embrace and inviting us to revel in the beauty of the season.

Nestled amidst a picturesque landscape, A Deer Cottage has become more than just a cottage; it's a sanctuary where nature's embrace is felt within the walls and around every corner. Here, winter doesn't signify cold and wet isolation, but rather an opportunity to savour the simple joys of life and find warmth in the most unexpected places.

In this July blog, we invite you to join us on a heartwarming journey through the chilly countryside escape that is A Deer Cottage. As we explore the delightful nooks and crannies of our home and garden, we'll uncover the secrets to creating a cozy haven in the midst of winter's chill. From winter gardening tips to the fascinating wildlife that graces us with their presence, each day brings new delights and treasured memories to cherish.

So, wrap yourself in a cozy blanket, pour a steaming cup of tea, and prepare to be transported into the heart of winter's warmth at A Deer Cottage. Let us embrace the beauty of this season together and discover how the coldest months can be the most heartwarming. Come with us to embark on this journey and discover the magic of winter life at A Deer Cottage.

As the July mid winter days blend into nights, despite the unusually wet weather, we have learned to adapt, finding beauty and joy in every experience. Nature's allure, blended with the cozy sanctuary of our cottage, brings a sense of wonder and appreciation for the simple joys that make life extraordinary. The outdoor bath, Mexican chimera, twinkling solar and star lights, and twilight picnics at dusk each contribute to the tapestry of memories we weave during this extraordinary season that we are thrown in.

As the sun begins to dip behind the horizon, casting magnificent golden and red hues across the sky, we venture to our cherished outdoor bath. Nestled among nature's wonders, the bath beckons with its promise of relaxation and rejuvenation. The cold air contrasting with the warm water, creates a delightful sensation on the skin, we can totally immerse ourselves in the embrace of nature's enchantment. The crisp breeze carries whispers of nearby wildlife, and the stars above twinkle mischievously as if sharing in our secret evening ritual. The outdoor bath at A Deer Cottage is a place where time seems to stand still, and worries are washed away, leaving behind nothing but pure magic. In the heart of the outdoor bath haven stands a Mexican chimera, the history of the chiminea trace back to ancient civilisations and as night falls, the chimera casts dancing shadows that flicker and play, igniting our imaginations with tales of the past. We gather around its warmth, sharing stories and laughter, feeling a sense of connectedness to both the earth's history and each other. With its radiant glow and comforting heat, the chimera becomes a focal point of solace, where we find refuge from the cold and embrace the captivating allure of traditions passed down through generations.

While the unusually wet weather might be discouraging, it has been great to find joy in every situation. Instead of moaning about the rain, we grabbed the opportunity to have a cozy twilight picnic at dusk. Armed with a rubber backed picnic blanket, cushions and some goodies, and the outdoor bath, and chimera adding warmth, we really enjoyed overlooking the picturesque Kaipara Harbour, the beauty and natural splendour, along with savouring the scent of damp earth mingling with the sounds of our beautiful nature, hearing the ruru, (morepork owl- In Māori tradition the ruru is known as the watchful guardian) with its distinctive call in this moment, and the solace in each others company, with the knowledge that the elements did not dampen the spirit of our togetherness made for a very special memory.

At A Deer Cottage, we have become acquainted with some of Kaukapakapa's most endearing residents. The fallow deer, with their delicate grace, have made the woods surrounding us their sanctuary. Though they often remain hidden amidst the foliage, their presence is felt through fleeting glimpses and the gentle rustling of leaves, this is especially so, in the early hours of the morning, or at dusk. Their elusive nature adds to the enchantment of our surroundings, and we cherish the moments when we catch sight of their majestic forms.

While wandering outside, Te Kani and I are accompanied by a chorus of the friendly Pīwawaka, fantail birds. These little creatures flit about with boundless energy, their tails fanned out like delicate feathers, creating a mesmerising dance in the air. Curious and unafraid, they follow us along the garden paths, seemingly intrigued by our every move, however I am led to believe they are waiting for the little morsels we flick up with every step. Their delightful companionship brings a sense of lightness and joy, reminding us of the magic found in even the simplest encounters with nature.

A Deer Cottage is also home to a vibrant community of feathered friends. Our mixed breed of Indian Runner ducks, with their cheerful quacks, and antics continue to entertain and charm me, I love how they follow me down to the pond for their morning breakfast.

Not far from the ducks, our free-range chickens scratch and peck, exploring the fertile ground surrounding the cottage. Their warm, earthy tones blend beautifully with the natural palette of the landscape, embodying the essence of country living. Among them, the roosters proudly announce the arrival of each new day, their crowing serving hopefully as a cheerful reminder of the simple beauty found in the everyday rhythms of our A Deer Cottage life, sometimes however, I am embarrassed by the behaviour of our friendly ducks, chickens, and roosters, and am considering providing throw away ear plugs at the cottage, especially if our guest isn't quite as excited about country living as we are. On a quieter note, amidst the bustling chorus of ducks and chickens, the gentle cooing of white pigeon doves weave their soft melody into the background. These gentle creatures are a symbol of peace and harmony, and their presence adds a touch of serenity to the vibrant tapestry of life at A Deer Cottage. I love how they hover over the dovecote at feeding time, waiting for me to leave their food and take Silver the cat with me....

As I love the garden, and the wish to become more and more self sufficient, I am aware when the outdoor temperature drops, I find protecting my garden from the cold becomes really important, I have found one of the most effective ways to keep my plants insulated from the cold is with mulch. Applying a layer of organic mulch, such as straw, hay, or leaves, around the plants helps retain soil moisture, regulating temperature fluctuations, and protects the roots from the cold temperatures. Te Kani made me a clever little cloche a few years ago out of an old window frame, and I have planted some garlic bulbs in the cloche. During a nice fine day, I can open up the frame, put some bird netting over to stop any naughty chickens from digging them up. Recently I bought from a junk shop, an old glass light fitting, I have used this for the beetroot plants, adding a layer of mulch here also adds a perfect growing environment not only for winter chill protection, but a barrier against those pesky slugs and snails....

One of my other garden hacks is a worm farm, adding a worm farm to your winter cottage garden is a wonderful eco-friendly initiative. Worms play a vital role in composting and enriching the soil with their castings, also known as "vermicompost", however during winter, worms slow down, so you need to ensure to protect the worms from the extreme cold, I have done this with a layer of straw and cardboard. It is also important to control water logging in your worm farm, I bought mine as a kitset, my worm farm has a tap on the bottom layer, which makes it easy to reduce the liquid, also I love to use the diluted worm pee .

Worms slow down in the cooler months, so be mindful of how much you feed them to avoid food waste rotting in the worm farm. Even during winter, your worm farm will produce nutrient-rich worm castings, however as the worms are less active you might notice a slower buildup of compost. I find having a worm farm is a win/win situation, I love the rich vermicompost and being able to add it to my winter garden not only enriches the soil, but also boosts plant health, the worm castings provide valuable nutrients and enhances the soil structure, and this is especially beneficial during the colder months when plants may need extra nourishment. Having a worm farm is a fantastic addition for my cottage garden, being great for all seasons. I believe my worm farm helps me with my commitment to sustainable gardening, testament to this, check out my beautiful orchid plants that are loving the worm pee, and are providing many flower spikes for me to share with family, friends and guests.

As the sun sets and the winter chill deepens, coming inside A Deer Cottage you will find warmth and comfort. The soft glow of the lava lamps, and bedside lights creates a serene and inviting atmosphere. A gorgeous woollen rug adorns the floor, and provides a soft touch for your tired feet, along with the woollen crochet rug adorning the couch, nestle up with a good book or great conversation with your loved one. A Deer Cottage embraces winter as a time for solace, reflection, and togetherness. Inside A Deer Cottage we will shield you from the cold, hopefully as well, you will find your spirit nurtured, and a sense of contentment as you find comfort in the pleasures that define life at A Deer Cottage.

If you wish to find out more about A Deer Cottage in Kaukapakapa, only 52.9 km from the busy hustle and bustle of Auckland, New Zealand's largest city, please do so here

Before I wind up this blog, I have been actively working on my A Deer Cottage marketing, I have been told by friends and people in the business to think about setting up an "A Deer Cottage Vlog" with its own Youtube Channel..... My siblings and my kids have had a bit of a giggle at this, and me, well to be honest it terrifies me, I don't like seeing myself on video....however I am going to go outside my comfort zone, and trust that my friends know what they are talking about. Last week, I got out my fabric pens, fabric and the iron and got to work, I washed and scrubbed a white baseball cap, and t-shirt, hand painted a couple of A Deer Cottage Logo's, stitched them onto the hat, and t-shirt, with the plan to wear them when I do my vlogging - please let me know what you want to hear about...

To conclude our July Blog, and as the Winter season continues to turn, A Deer Cottage continues to bloom, Te Kani and I are about to embark on a personal journey of learning and discovery participating in a special three-day event in the serene ambiance of our home, Waihora Lodge and A Deer Cottage. During these transformative days, we will learn all about the ancient art of Shiatsu massage, immersing ourselves in the principles of healing touch and energy balance. We will also be introduced to the realm of food science. Te Kani and I are hoping to seek a deeper understanding of nutrition and its profound impact on wellbeing, we both anticipate we will expand our knowledge and skills, along with this ancient healing Shiatsu practice, we hope to not only nurture our own wellbeing, but also to offer a rejuvenating experience to those who grace our cottage with their presence, if they wish.

Looking ahead to the sunnier days of summer, I have a delightful surprise in store – custom picnic baskets! Each basket carefully curated with delectable treats, refreshing beverages, and cozy blankets, these baskets will be the perfect companions for leisurely picnics either at A Deer Cottage, or perhaps the nearby Omeru Falls. Whether it's a romantic escape for two or a joyful gathering with friends, these baskets will add an extra touch of magic to your A Deer Cottage experience.

Te Kani and I have discovered the art of cherishing the simple joys of life and embracing each season as it arrives on our doorstep. As we nurture our souls through Winter and beyond, we bid farewell with heartfelt love (aroha) until we meet again 🦌❤️🦌.

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