Thursday, 26 April 2012

Believing in Spring!

Hello there from a cold, wet, blustery north! I know much of the UK is sharing this nasty spell of weather with us and it's hard to believe it is Spring, but today I wanted to show you some of what I have been up to outside despite the weather. Hubbie & I finally got the potatoes planted, there in those two beds covered in the black plastic...
Not very pretty at this stage I know, but it won't be long before that is hidden by the potato plants & I find this method works a treat. First we weed & dig over the bed, then cover it with black plastic (we use the cheap packets of weed control sheeting a lot of the supermarkets sell off at the end of the summer!). This helps warm the soil up over the next few weeks until we get a time to plant. We cut a cross shape in the plastic & bury the seed potato about 6" down. Apart from watering that is job done for the season. No earthing up as the potatoes are already totally covered from the sun, & best of all no weeding! 
We also planted our onions. I love the look of a freshly prepared bed! But once the onions are in I cover them with fleece so that the birds can't pull them out. Once they have developed roots the fleece can come off & I can watch them grow :) This year we discovered mice had overwintered in the fleece I normally use for the onions so it was wrecked, but I found a fleece cover for one of those growing rack units we no longer have so we cut that up & used that instead. The green zippers look a bit funny but our neighbors are used to seeing odd things in our garden!
Then the rain returned so after a cuppa it was into the greenhouse for me.  First off runner beans...
 
I think they must be one of the most beautiful seeds :-) So colorful, the dark reddish pink with black markings on that glossy lozenge shape - no wonder Jack believed they were magic! One by one into their own little pot they go... Next up tomatoes...
 The seeds are rather tiny & plain in comparison but the end result will be yummy, sweet, juicy cherry tomatoes hopefully! So one little tray of pots all ready to hop into the propagator...
 
The rain continued outside so on with the seed sowing. Next come the courgette seeds... 
Fairly large & with a flat shape, these do best sown standing on edge so they don't rot... 
After the courgettes we have the cucumbers. I have had mixed success with these over the years, it really depends on how the summer turns out as to how many we get, but cucumber is one of my favorites & homegrown is just so much tastier than store bought so I have to give it a go and hope for the best...
 Then comes something I haven't tried before. The tiny black seeds of purple basil. Hubbie loves the smell of basil in the kitchen & these caught his eye in the garden center so here goes...
 Back to the old familiar seeds now, little round cabbage seeds - you can see the picture on the packet below...
These next seeds are slightly odd looking, they are the herb borage. I grow it as an annual each year because I love the blue hairy flowers, I have no idea what it tastes like!  
 Last but not least come these strange cluster seeds - can you guess what vegetable they are?
They might look like chunks of granola but they are beetroot seeds! Yes, I kid you not! I was rather surprised on opening the packet the first year I tried these ;-) But I promise you they will grow into deep red globes of beautiful beetroot that we will be eating next winter :-)
The leeks I sowed about a month ago are growing well, & if you're wondering about the guttering along the front? There are peas planted in there! They get a good start in here safe from the mice & when they are a decent size & it's a bit warmer outside they slide out of the guttering into a shallow row in the veg bed! 
So despite the rain I managed to make a good start on the veggies for the year. Some of these I will sow again in a few weeks so that we have a succession of produce in the summer, but for now the greenhouse is starting to look more like it should in spring!
Hopefully it will start looking & feeling more like spring for all of us this week, but wherever you are I wish you happy days! 





Monday, 23 April 2012

Winnie the Pooh & the b-e-a-u-tiful buttons!

Hello hello! It's the start of another new week, April is really whizzing by isn't it? As our daughter-in-law's due date fast approaches I am trying to ensure I finish some of the projects I have in mind for this little fella before he arrives (my daughter's birth sampler wasn't finished until she was 12!). I haven't been able to stitch as much as I would like recently due to my migraines playing up, but last week I did manage to finish something for the nursery wall. They have picked a Winnie The Pooh theme for baby's room & I saw this chart on ebay & couldn't resist...
A map of the Hundred Acre Wood as pictured in the front of the books! Here are some close up shots of it...



 Although the chart has instructions for stitching it on 14 count aida I chose to use 28 count evenweave, in part to give it a an older feel, but also because the dotted line footpaths that trail all round it consist of half stitches. If I had used 14 count aida I would have had to pierce each aida block, but because it is stitched over two threads on the evenweave there is no block to pierce - much easier! I also changed a few of the colors, I used blue around the POOH compass in the top left hand corner instead of pink, and used two different greens for the trees to give it a more spring like feel. The stitched design measures around 10.5" by 8". I can't frame it just yet as my daughter-in-law is also a stitcher & has stitched a lovely picture from the Winnie The Pooh watercolor range for the nursery so we will need to pick a coordinating frame for this one.
Like many crafters I do enjoy the diversity of materials available these days through the internet. Last week I decided to go button hunting as the selection available locally really wasn't fitting the bill. I found just what I was after on ebay, but while I was searching I saw some other ones that I just fell in love with. I had never come across buttons quite like these before & my mind started racing with ideas for using them. So I just had to order some, and to my great delight some of them arrived the other morning! 
Now my family know how to make all the right noises when shown craft materials, they really are very tolerant of my inability to pass an open craft shop & appreciative of the finished projects I produce. But when I was oohing & ahhing over the new buttons singing a little song of " b-e-a-u-tiful buttons" I got the look reserved for over excited younger children. I didn't care. I took them upstairs & photographed them so I could share them with you :) Here are the ones I originally went button hunting for...
A big pile of 9mm round brightly colored buttony goodness...
  ...and some little flower shaped ones that are slightly bigger.
Then I saw these little wooden butterflies... 
 Aren't they cute? Oh I'm going to have fun with these! But the trouble really started when I saw these ones... 
 Hand painted wooden flowers - just gorgeous! Here, have a closer look...
Sorry it's a bit blurry, I've been having issues with the camera this weekend. My heart just does a little skip of happiness every time I look at them :) Oh they also come in heart shaped...
 
How beautiful are they? *Big contented sigh*
Five little boxes of b-e-a-u-tiful buttons! 
I have so many ideas for these, I can't wait to start using them :) I am going to try & be good & finish off something else for the baby first, with the emphasis on "try" ;)
Thank you for visiting me here today, I hope you all have a good start to your week & come back in a few days to see what else I've been up to!






Thursday, 19 April 2012

The story of a kitchen

Hello there! It's a cold grey day here but so far it is dry, & I was lucky enough to spy Mr Heron stalking slowly through the shallows of the river as I walked the dog earlier. I always stop & watch him for a little while if I see him when I'm out, but once again I didn't have the camera with me to capture a picture of him. Now the household chores are caught up on and I have a kitten sitting washing herself on one side of me & a big cup of tea on the other so I'm ready to share a story with you. Are you sitting comfortably? Right then we'll begin...
Once upon a time (well all the best stories start that way don't they?) a family moved into a rather shabby, unloved, worn around the edges kind of house. Bit by bit walls were painted, tattered carpets replaced, and a house became a home. There were some big jobs that were completed & some that had to wait and sorting out the kitchen fell into that last category. The appliances had to be replaced one by one over the years & we were very lucky to inherit some leftover worktops from a friend but it was starting to become very apparent that the actual cupboards were in need of some major attention.
Hubbie & I made the rounds of the DIY stores, planned out the changes we would want to make, & came up with a shopping list. Then, with my stomach in knots, partly from the total & partly in case we had made some glaring mistake, we placed our order. The delivery by a local carrier arrived about three weeks before we had been told to expect it & the two very efficient chappies filled the front room with flatpacks & helped me tick off every single box & bag of fixings from the invoice. Then the fun began.... 
I rounded up some big boxes & plastic tubs from the shed and started emptying the kitchen contents. As the family continued to want fed over the next few weeks (how very inconsiderate, right?) I needed to know where to access most of the said contents. We decided to put two of the removed wall units on the table to keep the plates, bowls, mugs & the like in & sat the cutlery drawer on the top.
The fridge was moved out into the hall & the business of making up the new units & fitting them began.
The front room became the workshop area for me to build them up...
And hubbie had the "fun" job of fitting them to the uneven walls...
"Look dear this is how I spent some of my day...
and this was how we spent the evening!
With one wall completed the new sink went in :) 
Ok it wasn't anything like that simple, but we got there in the end without any major floods across the floor. Then the rest of the cupboards went in fairly smoothly (maybe we were becoming better at this, maybe that wall is just straighter!) and finishing touches could be thought about. 
Originally we had discussed painting & thought we might just do one coat all over to freshen things up when we were done. But after a few days of having doors on the new cupboards I decided the orange & blue walls had had their day. Now anyone who has known me for a while will know I LOVE bright colors, they put a smile on my face & make me feel warm & happy inside. For many years this has been reflected inside my house and the children have grown up thinking turquoise walls & silver skirting boards are totally normal. I never batted an eyelid when the boys picked red, grey, & blue for their room - the only way for them to show teenage rebellion on their bedroom walls in this house would have been to pick magnolia! So why was I ready to paint over the orange which I loved so much? It didn't clash with the new doors, it was fine, but....ummm....it was ok, but not WOW perfect! I couldn't explain it better than that to a rather perplexed & tired hubbie who had believed we were almost done with the kitchen. I wanted to make a complete change, and only use colors I would normally have as the pale color in a room. I think that confused the family the most - what? no deep strong color for the kitchen? was mom sickWe spent Easter weekend with paint brushes & rollers in hand & when we were finished my doubts were gone, the family agreed, it was WOW! Would you like to see? Oh all right then... 
Would you like to see the other side of the room? Ok, just for you...
Even with everything back in there & the wolf pictures hung on the walls again it didn't feel like my kitchen. Oh don't get me wrong I LOVED it! A huge grin crept across my face every time I passed the door, but it still felt like someone had come by & swapped out my kitchen for this gorgeous showroom style one. Maybe that was it, it needed a little handmade touch?
I had made some little crochet hearts at Valentines from a pattern here but not really found the perfect place to hang them and I had really liked the little Easter flower pattern Lucy posted here a few weeks back. So while hubbie applied the iron on edging strips to the cupboards I sat at the kitchen table with some yarn, ribbon, & laptop to have a play....
As always Lucy's instructions were so clear & easy to follow that a short while later I had a pile of flowers & a pile of hearts. (If you haven't discovered attic24 yet may I encourage you to pop on over & enjoy!) I made little hoops in the backs of the flowers & hearts & threaded them onto the brown gingham ribbon. I tied a bow in each end of the ribbon & used some extra sticky double sided tape to attach it to the shelf edge like this... 
And this is what I ended up with...

A little piece of hooky goodness :-)
What do you think? The lighting isn't the best for a photo but by then (surprise surprise) it was raining so the lights had to be on in doors. This is the view of the whole back wall on a day when it hadn't begun to rain (yet)...
I have plans for a picture under the shelf but that is a work in progress. All the tools & bits & pieces have been sent back to the garage & I can get on with the business of actually living in my kitchen now. Some mornings when the sun streams through the big window I think I might just stay in there all day :) I certainly won't be stitching that sign " I only have a kitchen because it came with the house!" any more! 
THE END!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

A Scottish Spring

Hello there and welcome especially to my new followers!
Today is the first day of a new term, young folks back to school, hubbie back to work, & it is pouring with rain. For once I really don't mind, I had no intentions of going out today, this day is for being in the house & relishing the peace & quiet & space. The holidays were so busy, so jam packed with people and activity, it is refreshing to sit & listen to the rain, the hum of the washing machine, & the dog softly snoring. The weather has been very mixed over these holidays, we have had some days of warm sunshine followed two days later by snow (!) and grey windy rainy days thrown in too just in case we forgot what they were like ;) The kitchen work was declared officially finished last week & I will post some photos from that later, but we also managed to spend some time working in the garden, so today I thought I would share some of that with you.
 The greenhouse, unbubblewrapped, cleaned out & ready for a new growing season!
A new faerie to join the group...
Penn Dragon & Melissa Faerie enjoying some spring warmth. 
The sun shining through the daffodils at the foot of the apple tree.
Red tulips almost translucent in the sunlight.
More tulips, sorry but I love them :)
Tiny pale blue muscari bells.
Gorgeous globes of drumstick primulas.
 White amelanchier blossom against a blue sky.
Hoverfly busy on the pear blossom.
Pippa enjoying the warmth of the earth at the base of the cherry tree.
 The moon in a clear blue spring sky.
First flowers on the camelia.
Twisty corylis contorta branches will soon be hidden by the leaves beginning to burst from the buds. 

Winter returns - the daffodils faceplant in the snow.
Drumstick primulas recieve an icy coating. 
Muscari shiver in the cold.
It won't be barbeque for supper tonight...
...and we won't be planting the potatoes here today either, so I guess it's back to the kitchen!
Well whatever weather today throws at you I hope it doesn't spoil your plans... Thank you for dropping by and for those of you who take the time to comment, I really do appreciate it! I will be back soon to tell you all about my lovely new kitchen (yes it was worth all the hard work & chaos!) but for now a cuppa & some crochet are calling me :)