Sunday, 30 June 2013

up-cycled lamp shades

I have bought second hand and upcycled all my life.  I was attending jumble sales before I hit my teens.  I can vaguely remember wearing a blue velvet jacket bought at a jumble sale before I was thirteen, this may or may not be before I began to sew, so I don't know if I refashioned it at all.  When I moved into my home, I did not have a lot of stuff to bring with me, so my love of upcycling was very useful as I did not have a lot of money either, but I have always wanted a home that whilst warm and comfortable was also indicative of my personality and love of second hand goods that have been rejuvenated and craft work.  I prefer a home to look lived in, colorful  and interesting and have character, I don't mind if the house is a little shabby ( I am not the tidiest person in the world).  My house from the outside is not full of character but I hope that the things I fill it with are.  Unfortunately living in this way means that it takes longer than usual to decorate and it can get a little messy, this may not be conducive to a harmonious home life.

Some years ago, I worked in a hotel, I needed some lampshades and I had the idea of using the wine labels as decoupage on a plain white shade.  My work colleagues thought I was mad, but were happy enough to save me any interesting/colourful labelled wine bottles that were sold so that I could soak the labels off the bottle.  I dried the labels out and stuck them to a plain white lampshade.

This is how that lamp shade looks today.


This lampshade sits on my very colourful windowsill, which I will blog about later in the year.

Have a good week!

Summer Breeze weekend 28 and 29 June 21013

Summer Breeze is the definitive summer song for me, and this weekend has been perfect summer weather in the garden.

The Philadelphus is flowering profusely, and its perfume permeates the whole of the bottom terrace.

The weather forecast was promising for this weekend, and the gods did not disappoint.  After a wet end to my working week, Saturday dawned a bit misty and murky, but the sky got bluer and bluer until it turned into a lovely day, with a little breeze and a little cloud.  Perfect for gardening.  I think that this years weather has been good for the Paeonies, the buds that were so promising developed into this.

Jobs for this weekend were:
cut back the Genista (Broom)
I usually  cut this plant back quite hard, but try not to cut into the old wood.  It is such a spectacular plant when in flower, it is worth taking the extra trouble.

Cut back Snowberry
This plant has a tendency to grow along the ground to some considerable distance, it is an unruly bush and suckers freely.  My pruning book, says to cut back up to a third every year in late winter to the base to control the size of the bush if required and to eliminate suckers, other wise cut out dead, diseased and damage wood.  I decided to ignore this advice this year and take out the majority of the growth in order to rejuvenate and tidy the plant.  This is a tough shrub so this treatment should work.  I will start again next year with more sympathetic pruning.  

Pot up the last 5 large pots that held tulips over the spring period.  I replaced the Tulips with Pelargoniums, some upright and pendula Lobelia, HHA Asters, HHA Phlox, Mignonette, Night Scented Stock, Nemesia, and Nemophilia.

As previously said, I take the tulips out of their pots over the summer and let them bake in the conservatory. I did this last year, so will do it this year as well to make sure the improved flowering was not a fluke.

Pot up my tomatoes
A bit late but better late than never.

Pot up any plants that need it.
I ended up planting some tall cornflowers in to a largish pot.

Plant my HHA Rudbekia 'Cherry Brandy'.  I had a high germination rate on these seeds, which produced strong, bushy plants.  I have put some into the garden and the rest will go into pots.

Exterminate slugs and snails!

The enemy
Favorite photos of the week:

Red Lilies, I'm not sure of the name of this one, I have had it a few years. I managed to escape the scourge of the dreaded lily beetle this year by constant surveillance, honestly its like being in 'The Bill'!  Flanked by Geum 'Mrs Bradshaw'

Nasturtium Strawberries and Cream in the terracotta pot, , Milkmaid in the green pot, and Empress of India in the concrete log.  Heuchera in the enamel pot and in the terracotta planter Bellis Perrenis (double daisies).  I think that the rose is David Austin's L D Braithwaite.  I have had it for such a long time the label has disintegrated.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Thursday 27 June 2013

My meal tonight is a simple one.  Pasta with tuna, lemon and dill.  This recipe is from the Good Food Website.  I use this website all the time.  I have found it to be an efficient way to organise all my recipes and experiment with new ones.  Whilst I fully intend to keep all my cookbooks, I have a large collection of magazines which I can now donate to charity as I have documented all the recipes I want to use to this website.  So freeing up more space for craftwork supplies and fabric (hmm not sure if its a good idea now!)


After work I don't usually feel like cooking but I still like to eat a fresh meal.  This is easy to prepare, uses store cupboard ingredients and is both tasty and nutritious.

For 1
Canned tuna   I usually use tuna canned in spring water, but I decided to try it canned in oil.  I used half a     can of tuna.
quarter of a lemon
1 onion

This dish is cooked on the hob.  The measurements are very general, as it really depends on your own taste how much tuna, lemon and onion you use.

I sweated the onion off, in some of the tuna oil, added the zest and juice of the lemon then the tuna and then added the dill.  I add the dill last to preserve its fresh green colour and flavour.

Boil pasta till al dente in salted water.

Add salt and pepper to taste to tuna mixture.

Drain pasta, add to tuna mixture.  Stir tuna and pasta mixture thoroughly.

After tasting the tuna, I decided to add some extra flavourings of my own.  I first added some parmesan, not to much just a teaspoonful then some Dijon Mustard again not too much, start off with a teaspoon, then add to your taste.

Although I usually buy tuna canned in spring water for health reasons, I am pleased that I used tuna in oil. Somehow the dish tasted creamier to me.  I would definitely use canned in oil tuna again for the flavour.

Have a good Friday

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Weekend in the garden 22 -23 June.

Well the week started of gloriously, Sunday was damp, but Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were hot and sunny and it wasn't windy HURRAY.  The garden is looking very nice at the moment.  There is still structural work to be done and developing of borders, but I think that will always be true wherever I garden.

I like a garden to have quite a strong structure to it, although I love flowers, shrubs and trees, I think that the hard landscaping is important to provide a balance to the composition of a garden.  When I first moved to this house.  The garden was very bare, there was a straggly grass lawn and the top terrace was unfinished.

The garden was eventually landscaped by my mum, dad and me.  I killed the grass, smoothed the dirt over and over and over and over! until it was as flat as I could make it.  I then covered it over with black membrane.  We had several tons of stones delivered one summer day, and we dragged the stones to the garden in a makeshift wheelbarrow.  The design is constantly evolving and I am sure that its current incarnation is not its final one.

and on to my favorite pictures from the week.

The Philadelphus is just coming into flower, and is already permeating the lower terrace with its perfume.

Have a good week and I hope the weather is favourable for any gardening or outdoor pursuits that you want to do this week.

Afternoon Tea at Eastwell Manor Ashford Kent

What a difference a few days make.  I signed up to go for afternoon tea at Eastwell Manor in Ashford a month or so ago with a group of approximately 10 ladies.  Eastwell Manor is an old country house hotel and I had been hoping to wear one of the pretty summer dresses that I have made and not worn a lot.

The beginning of the week was lovely, it felt like summer had begun and summer dresses abounded on the streets of Kent. What a difference a few days makes. Today I donned, a camisole, a long sleeved t shirt, tights, the dress, a cardigan, proper shoes, a raincoat, and a scarf.  Oh must not forget the cap and umbrella!  drrr. British weather.

Anyway off my soapbox and onto the hotel.  As I said Eastwell Manor is an old country house hotel.  It is set in the sort rolling fields reminiscent of a Constable landscape painting.

If you ignore the cars and street lamps and any other reminders of the 21st Century.  Oh and  I am still working on panorama photographs, so apologies for that.

The interior is beautiful, I arrived early, ordered a coffee and sat in a little nook to read   The coffee arrived quickly, in a 2 1/2 cup cafetiere, with a pretty china cup and saucer.  Not something that I am used to as usually coffee is served in a standard issue mug.  This was so much more elegant.

This is the lounge and reception area as you walk into the hotel.

Afternoon tea was served promptly at 3 pm, in this room.

It consisted of a round of finger sandwiches, one smoked salmon, one egg, one ham and a herby mayonaisse, and one cheese, 2 freshly made scones with jam and clotted cream, and 3 cakes.  My only gripe (if it can be called that) is that one of the selection of cakes was a cup cake.  Now I know cup cakes look very pretty, but what happened to traditional British fairy cakes.  It would be nice to see fairy cakes on some menus again.

It was a lovely afternoon, the service was friendly, efficient, and prompt.  The setting and interior was spectacular and I met up with some lovely ladies whom I had met earlier in the year and made some new friends.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Not lovin bloglovin

So I am still relatively new to blogging, I set the blog up in the depths of winter knowing very little about the whole procedure.  I believed what the blurb said, that I could add a custom domain later and change the name easily.  BIG MISTAKE!  DON'T DO IT. Don't believe the blurb, do some research of your own first.

I bought a domain name last week, and proceeded to follow the instructions to change the name of my blog, seeing as there were approximately 25 other 'read all about its' on the Blogosphere.

I did everything I was told (unusual in itself).  The upshot is my blog has a new name, and can be found on Google, BUT  it has been lost on Bloglovin.  I have put a support work call in, I got one email last Friday, asking for information that I had already provided, then nothing.  I think I know what the fault is but I have not got a clue how to fix it.  I have spent ages trying to correct the blog set up, but have arrived at the metaphorical brick wall and still nothing from Bloglovin.

So if you cannot find me on Bloglovin please accept my abject apologies.  Having read various other blogs whose authors are having problems, I am hoping that Bloglovin staff don't work weekends and will eventually wake up and realise that they need to be a bit more efficient and GET IN TOUCH with their existing bloggers who are having problems,  rather than scouting for new ones.  In the meantime, I am now on Google, and I am going to investigate Feedly and various other feeders.

Have a good Sunday and happy reading.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Long Weekend in the garden.

June 15 to June 19

I have a few days off, the weather forecast for this weekend is not good, but although Friday began on a variable note weatherwise, it slowly improved throughout the day until when I got home it was a lovely evening.  I was out all day on Saturday and Sunday and  I went to my favorite garden centre on Monday, so gardening had to be left until later in the week.

On Monday I bought some more plants to replace some that I need to dig up in the garden, namely the Ribes that has never flowered in 7 years.   I knew I should not buy it because I was not sure of the reliability of the store where I bought it. (deserved, as it turns out, although this was over 6 years ago and I think that management strategies have changed since then).

I also bought another broom, (Cystisus) in a different colour, they are such a shot of colour in late spring.  But they have a tendancy to sprawl as they get older.  I always thought that it was not advisable to cut into the old wood  of a broom, but at the garden centre they had done just this and the cut branches were beginning to sprout, so I will probably have a go and see what happens.

The perennials I bought were two Dianthus, a Corydalis,  and a Veronica.

 As a gardener I always have to plan ahead, which suits my personality completely as I like to make lists and plan things and now is the time to start thinking of next years spring bedding.  I want to grow more Bellis Perrenis (Daisy), Honesty, Cheiranthus (Wallflower), next year and I am thinking about trying some Brompton Stocks and Violas as well.

I tend to buy more winter, late spring and early summer shrubs and perennials as I sow such much from seed that the garden is quite colourful throughout mid summer to autumn anyway.

and finally pics of the weekend.

Have a lovely week everybody.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Birmingham meet up

What a day.  As usual I caught an earlier train than I needed to get to Birmingham.  Although I was booked on the 0943 and did not need to be at St Pancras until 0900 I was there at 0800.  I walked to Euston from St Pancras and passed this as I did so.

  Pretty funky for a bank eh!

When I got to  Euston I checked with the rather surly information man if I could upgrade my ticket and without a smile he told me that the tickets were non transferable.   So I kicked back my heels for a while and had a coffee in the multi lounge they have set up there and did some people watching which is always very interesting in London.

The journey from London to St Pancras was uneventful and speedy.  I arrived at Birmingham New Street Station, and after checking in with Claire we met up with Rachel of and proceeded to Barry's fabrics.

Now I had had a chat with myself in the morning, that I do not need anymore fabric to add to my already overflowing stash, but (and I know I am not alone in this) when you are confronted with this!

 all thoughts of self denial fly out of the window, and this is only 1/4 of the shop, if that.

But I was very restrained, I only bought this:
 and this

after drooling over the beautiful fabric in this fabulous shop, we decided that we had better listen to our rumbling stomachs (mine was anyway by this point) and get some food.

A table had been booked up for us at Cafe Soya, where the food is plentiful, tasty and cheap and just as importantly the tables are not packed in like sardines. Over much regaling of sewing adventures and  hilarious child rearing anecdotes with Jo of http://theamazingtaracat.wordpress. and Louise We (me) ate till stuffed and then we astounded the rest of the very busy restaurant by pulling out what seemed like a mountain of fabric and patterns over the two large tables and proceeded to swap our hearts out.

We then went to the rag market, aided by the maps prepared for us by Kat and Marie
Where amongst other bits and bobs I bought this

Then to The Fancy Silk Store

Again this is only maybe 1/2 of the downstairs of the shop, apparently there are 2 or 3 more floors, I was too tired to investigate this.

Where I bought my find of the day

How could I leave without it?

And, finally, exhausted to the Birmingham New Street Station where we ended the day with much hugging and promises to meet up again soon.

All in all a fabulous day, and much thanks to Claire, Kat and Marie for arranging and organising a herd of chatty dressmaking, crafting women around a well fabric stocked and busy city.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Weekend in the garden 8 and 9 June

Its been a lovely week weatherwise, but it is still very windy, we have had to contend with winds blowing at 20+mph all week, which does not sound much but it feels as though it is gale force and because it is from the North East It is cold as well.  As I look out of the window I can see the trees swaying madly in the wind against an azure blue sky.

I'm still carrying on with planting, making sure the watering and feeding is kept up to date. with it being so windy, the pots dry out very quickly. I use every aid  that I can to assist with watering and feeding, crystal gel water granules and slow release fertilizer at planting, then a pinch of high potash feed every week.

I potted up some Thunbergia and planted some more of the hardy annuals.  This is the seed packet picture for the Thunbergia, wonder if the reality will live up to the the photo.

Some of the Virginian Stock I planted up a few weeks ago have started to flower.

The Peony in the front garden has just started to flower, but look at the buds on the Peony in the back garden, if the weather is kind it is going to be spectacular.  I have to stake both Peonies, because with it being so windy  they will get battered if I am not careful.

I grew these Aquiligia from seed a few years ago and I am very pleased with them.   I also grew some Lupins but they were decimated by slugs.  I am going to try again, but maybe leave them in large pots and see how they get on.

As I have said previously, I used to have an allotment but gave it up several years ago.  The fruit came home with me though and and look at the flowers on my blackberry.  It is in a large pot and will be planted into ever larger pots until it is producing enough blackberries so I have enough to eat and cook with and have enough left over to make jam.

And last but not least is this

I do like bright colours.