Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Stuff to do in the garden

 Just as I start planning what I need to do in the garden, the weather turns! We had some rain yesterday and it is forecast for the next couple of days. What I was going to do in the garden today will have to wait until next week. Anyway, the above photo shows the progress made with the tortoise enclosure. I thought we only had about 3 rocks lurking in the undergrowth at the bottom of the garden but look how many my husband found (he said they were VERY heavy). We have decided that the best way to keep them penned in is with decking boards attached to posts at each corner. We will then use some mesh to fit over the top, which can be removed when I need to get in and put them to bed at night. Once this is all set up, the tortoises can stay outside during the day but they will have to come back inside at night time as there is still a chance of frost. I think they will be quite happy roaming around in their new enclosure. They have already tested it out during the day and it was lovely watching them eating the leaves straight from the dandelions I planted the other week.
 My next job is to weed this area and get it level. This is the opposite end of the decking to the patio doors. We decided a while ago that we would pave this area to keep it low maintenance. Luckily, we were given these paving slabs absolutely free. You can't get much more of a bargain than that!
 Obviously, when these slabs were offered to us, we had no idea what they looked like but we couldn't turn down free stuff and we decided that whatever they looked like, we would find a use for them somewhere in the garden.
 They really are fantastic and will come in very handy. We just need to chip off the mortar that's left on them and they are ready to use. We are going to get some membrane to lay along the edge of the decking, lay these tiles on top with about a 3-4 inch gap between each one and fill in the gaps with shingle/slate chips. We have a bamboo plant that we will either plant in the ground (still in its container so it doesn't spread) or buy a nice pot to plant it in. This will give us/our neighbours some privacy as we can see straight into their dining room when we are stood on the decking!
And just so you don't think my garden is completely covered in weeds, here is a spot of colour. I did take some photos of some grape hyacinths too but they were all blurry. We seem to have hundreds of them though - obviously a previous owner of the house loved blue as we will also have hundreds of bluebells in about a month's time.

My daughter's sleepover party went really well - they managed 8 hours sleep which I think is remarkable for ten year olds! Lots of giggling, face packs, make up, decorating pillowcases with fabric pens, making shrinkies key rings, singing, dancing and eating went on. We supplied food and drink and let them get on with it. In hindsight, we would rather not do a sleepover the night the clocks change and we lose an hour (!) but on the whole, it was a great success.

My crochet blanket is coming along nicely, I'm loving using the Rico cotton. I have got the hang of the pattern now and it is quite relaxing to crochet the odd row here and there. I was asked what I wanted for Mother's Day and I think I may be getting some more wool. Possibly. Right, must finish there as I have a hairdresser's appointment to go to. Have a fun week. x

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Another use for cushions

Apparently, this is a stable for a toy sheep. Who would have thought cushions could be so versatile?

Thursday, 24 March 2011

New project

 Remember when I bought my Habitat Exmouth cushion and I was inspired to crochet a blanket using the same colours? A blanket which could be wrapped around us on a summer's evening whilst sitting out on the decking, reading a book or chatting (or crocheting perhaps?!). Well, I could not resist and went in search of some cotton yarn in just the right colours. I looked at quite a few different brands but was struggling to find a brand with the full range of bright colours that I needed. But...
 I found Rico Essentials Cotton DK at the bargainous price of £1.50 per 50g ball. It is mercerised cotton so has a slight sheen to it and it works up beautifully, just the odd splitting of the yarn here and there, but not annoying to use at all. I am really pleased with the colours I managed to get. Some are not exactly the same as on the cushion but tone in beautifully and I can't wait for this blanket to be finished so I can use it.
 Here's how far I have got. It is worked in a chevron pattern, which I have been wanting to try for a while, after completing an Attic24 ripple blanket. The pattern I found online stated using double crochet but I have been using the half treble crochet stitch instead, just because I'm awkward like that! I have to say this has been a tricky pattern to do, especially with constant interruptions. Counting in 14's is not easy when people keep asking you questions, but I am getting there with the odd mistake along the way. I am picking it up at every available opportunity and I get the feeling it will be finished fairly quickly. It's really nice to use such bright colours and also to use a different type of yarn.

Anyway, before I go I just wanted to update you on my mini crochet project that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago.  Thanks Cuckoo for reminding me about this - I had completely forgotten that I hadn't taken a photo, probably because it is not made up into a cushion yet - cushion pad has been bought so there are no excuses now.
It's a bobble stitch cushion cover (another cushion I hear you say - and grey!) worked in Stylecraft DK. I got the pattern from the Compendium of Crochet Techniques, which my lovely Mum bought me for Xmas. I really enjoyed making this - very quick to do once I had mastered how to do the bobbles. My first attempts were fairly miniscule so I used double treble crochet instead of just treble crochet. I did have a go at doing coloured bobbles (which the pattern in the book suggested) with the grey background but the colours just didn't seem to gel, as my eldest so helpfully pointed out! Soon we won't be able to move in our house because of cushions and blankets. I have plans to sell some, don't worry.

Enjoy the weather wherever you are - hope it is sunny and brightens your day. xx

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

More cushions

 I bought the above cushion in the M&S online sale (they also did a matching throw - sadly, both are now out of stock). I loved it so much that I ordered it without checking the size. It was intended for the garden furniture but it is 50cm square and kind of swamps the chairs. I was going to return it as I couldn't find anywhere else in the house where it would go, but in the end I just couldn't as I love it so much. So I plonked it on top of the pile of floor cushions in the corner of the lounge and there it has stayed (still with the price tag on - must snip that off). I am quite happy with it there as it really goes well with the recycled newspaper woven baskets which hole the Wii/DS games. I am sure the kids will find it useful for lolloping on the floor whilst playing.
I also got this cushion from ebay. It is vintage bark cloth (I have a serious soft spot for bark cloth) and it's beautifully made. This one is definitely going on the garden furniture. Looking forward to some sunny weather, glass of white wine and some crochet time out on the decking. Just need the temperature to raise by about 10 degrees - not too much to ask?!

Monday, 21 March 2011

First gardening of the year

Yep, those are my wellies, plain green and muddy - I don't go in for these brightly coloured flowery ones! I made the most of the glorious weather last Tuesday and started digging up the garden. This little area is where the tortoise enclosure is going. Tortoises aren't keen on grass as it is boring - they like mud to dig in and things to walk around like rocks and plants. I have some rocks earmarked for this area but they are too heavy for me to carry, but I have planted some dandelions for the tortoises to eat. Not quite sure how long these plants will last once the tortoises move in. I will also be planting other stuff that they won't be interested in eating. They will need a basking rock aswell so that they can sunbathe. I wonder how much sunshine we will actually get this year. You couldn't really have said we had a summer last year.
 It did seem rather strange, lovingly planting weeds rather than pulling them out. Look how neatly I have lined them up! This area will need some wooden sides which will be set into the ground (to stop the tortoises tunneling out), a little glass topped house where they will sleep at night and some mesh over the entire area to stop crows and magpies from stealing my little ones. They are still quite tiny so a crow could easily lift one off the ground.
 I found this bird skull whilst digging. Never seen one before - I wonder if it was a bird that just died of old age or whether it was left by a cat.
I also had some lunch out in the sunshine and did a bit of crochet. It was a gorgeous day all round, although I did ache for a couple of days after because of all the digging. I really must do more exercise.

My eldest's birthday went well. She had a lovely time. It is her sleepover party this weekend so lots to do in preparation over the next few days. She is so excited I think she may pop! x

Friday, 11 March 2011

Using up leftovers

Well the weather has been strange this week - warm (10 degrees) and sunny one moment and windy, cold and rainy the next. The school run this morning was grey and rainy but an hour later it is glorious sunshine. Just as well as I need to hoover out the car - the glamour of my life! Anyway, I thought I would pop by to show you the results from using up the rest of the Stylecraft yarn. Actually, I thought I would pop by on Wednesday, but there were slight problems with uploading photos (I got quite annoyed after failing to upload them after four attempts so thought I would leave it for another day.)

Above is a photo of me sewing on some vintage buttons to the cushion I made - look, it's a granny stripe cushion to match youngest daughter's granny stripe blanket - it looks beautiful on the end of her bed.
But on the reverse, it is a large granny square cushion to match her granny square blanket. Two cushions for the price of one! My new chair is coming in handy for staging lots of photos. I am sure I will be sad to see it go into the garden. Still trying to sort out seat cushions for it - I had an idea of recycling an old single duvet so I cut out two cushion shapes and zigzagged round the edges and sat on them to see how comfy they were but unfortunately the polyester filling is very slippery to sit on - who would have thought it? - so I bought a cushion pad from John Lewis but this also seems to have the same problem. I don't want to get a feather cushion pad as I am worried about it getting wet, even though I am planning to waterproof the cushion covers. What do you think? I always prefer feather cushions as I find them more comfortable.  
I have another mini crochet project on the go at the moment. I am hoping to finish it this weekend. My daughter goes to a music lesson on Friday after school with her friends and it is my turn to take them, which means I will have just over an hour to sit and crochet whilst listening to 7-10 year olds playing their violins. Luckily for my ears, they are surprisingly good, considering most of them have only played since September last year. Once that little project is finished, I will be planning my next blanket. I have already bought the yarn but I just need to finalise the design.

This weekend will see us going to a 40th birthday party. It is also kind of a leaving party too as the birthday girl and her husband and son are moving to Australia in a couple of months. It is also my eldest daughter's birthday this weekend so I will be making a cake on Saturday and we will be in full celebration mode on Sunday. She is so excited about being 10. We are all going to be shattered by Sunday night! Have a great weekend, whatever you are doing. x

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Unexpected trip = unexpected finds

 I got an unexpected call this morning from my friend Alison, asking if I fancied a trip into a local village which is mainly made up of gift/interior design shops filled to the brim with beautiful things. Of course I said yes (who wouldn't?) and off we tootled, looking forward to browsing the shops, mooching around the one and only newly opened charity shop (which was great - very good quality stuff, but priced accordingly) and having a cup of tea and scone at the cafe. We looked at some gorgeous things (mostly out of my price range - boo) and had a great time, deciding to pop into one last shop before heading back to the car. It was full of painted and distressed furniture and so so soft cashmere throws. It turns out that they run furniture painting courses and they use Annie Sloan paint, which I have been meaning to buy online since I read about it on a blog before Xmas. We have an ugly 1980s kitchen which needs ripping out, but whilst we are saving the money for a new kitchen, I am going to paint the cupboard doors to freshen it up. This paint is special as you don't need to prep the surface, apart from making sure it is clean. Sounds like my kind of paint. I will let you know how I get on. If it doesn't go well, it's likely I will never mention it again.

Once I got back I decided that I needed to go to Habitat to get some pots for my ever growing collection of herbs - I got the Jamie Oliver 30 minute meals book and have been buying herbs in pots to make some of the meals. Unfortunately I am not very good at keeping these herbs alive, they are looking a bit sad, even if they are in nice new pots. Must remember to water them more regularly.  Luckily the pots were half price so happy days.

Anyway, whilst I was in Habitat I had a quick look around as they have their new range in and found the perfect cushion for one of the garden chairs. It is called Exmouth and is very reminiscent of the old Railway posters that have come back into fashion. How much do you want to be sat in the sunshine on that beach right now? This cushion was a bargain and will just fit in nicely with the ideas I have for the chairs/sofa. I only wish they did it in another design so I could have two. I am so tempted to buy some wool and crochet a stripey throw in these colours to wrap round us on chilly summer evenings. I feel another project coming on...
Hope you have been finding some unexpected bargains too. x