Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Crochet and Pears

Rummaging around in the cupboard under the sink, I found the above bird feeder which we bought in the sale last summer. We promptly put an apple in it, hung it up in the garden and the apple rotted away without the slightest bit of attention from the birds. So this time I decided to put a beautiful blush pear in it (no because it looked too perfect to eat but because I tried one of these pears and it was like eating cotton wool - yuck!) and see what happens. Anyway, in the meantime...
I bought some cotton yarn from the charity shop a few weeks ago. Four balls at £1 each - bargain. I pondered over what to make. Initially I considered a stash bag to keep some unfinished projects in, but I wanted to make myself something, something pretty. So I flicked through my crochet book (thanks Mum!) for inspiration.
There was a photo of a shawl in the book which was stunning, but there was no pattern for it - it was just being used as an example to show you how to join individual blocks. There were some close up photos of the shawl and I thought I would just have a go at copying the pattern as it appeared fairly straight forward. No harm in trying, is there?
And this is the result, after a couple of attempts I had got a version I was happy with and just kept making them, joining as I go. This is addictive crochet, that's for sure and it won't take much longer to finish. I have worked out that I have enough yarn to make 30 of these (hopefully) so it will be a shawl of three rows of ten. Knowing my luck, I will end up with 29 and have to take it all apart and rearrange it - I have already checked and this yarn is now discontinued! As you can see, it definitely needs blocking which I really dislike having to do as I'm lazy, but needs must. If I remember, I will post about blocking, as maybe that will spur me on to do it, rather than squirrel away the almost finished shawl in the unfinished projects cupboard.
And yes, the pear got nibbled, but we still don't know who did it. I keep looking out to see if there is a bird on it, but nothing. Will let you know (and try to get a photo) if I see birdie's mealtime in action.
Have a great day. xx 

Friday, 20 May 2011

How to...

 My youngest daughter is feeling poorly today - bad cold and certainly not well enough to go to school. Unfortunately she is therefore missing Hot Dog Friday at school today so I felt we had to push the boat out for lunch today. Here's my 'How to cheer up a poorly seven year old' guide.

Firstly, take some left over tortilla wraps (I prefer corn tortillas but any will do) and spread with passata mixed with dried oregano and seasoning. Sprinkle over some grated cheddar (or whatever cheese you have handy in the fridge) and bung on toppings of your choice. We had pepperoni. Cook at 200 degrees c for 8 minutes.
 Take out of oven, slice each tortilla pizza into four and slide onto a serving plate. Take into lounge with napkins and drinks.
 Sit on sofa and demolish pizza with abandon whilst watching Nanny McPhee 2. Eat some crisps.
 Previously prepared blueberry and chocolate muffins - left on rack to cool whilst cooking pizza. Dish out a muffin each and...
enjoy with a cup of tea (or elderflower cordial if you are seven years old). Upload lots of photos of unhealthy food and make note to self to remember to eat some fresh fruit later on this afternoon.

Little one is feeling a bit better but she looks extremely tired. I am sure an early night tonight will do her the world of good.

Hope you all have a lovely relaxing weekend. I'll be back next week with a crochet post - no, I haven't finished the chevron blanket yet, nearly there though! x

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Are you bored of gardening posts yet?

 All I seem to do is gardening at present, and if I'm not gardening, I'm walking round the garden seeing how things are growing and making mental notes of what needs to be done once we have turfed over the weed patch. There is just so much to do, the garden had been left to fend for itself for over 7 years so no surprises there. I went out for a wander on Friday evening and look who I found rooting around in the undergrowth. I'm now feeling really guilty about digging up his hedgehog restaurant - he's doing such a good job as I rarely find any snails or slugs. Maybe I could get away with buying some Hostas afterall...

I have been marvelling at what is growing in my garden too, especially of the edible variety - I think I'm going to have to grapple with the kids to get a strawberry off this plant!

The gooseberries are looking fabulous. another two or three weeks and I think they will be ready to pick. I'm really desperately hoping there are enough to make some gooseberry curd - doesn't it just sound heavenly? Imagine making a pavlova with whipped cream and some gooseberry curd dolloped on top - yum.

I think we are going to have a bumper crop of raspberries too, as I have managed to chop down all the tree shoots that were blocking the sunlight last year (and preventing us from actually finding these little beauties). Mmm, these would go nicely on a pavlova too.

This morning I decided we needed to tackle the ugly conifers along the back boundary of the garden. So I roped my poor husband in to saw down the lower branches which were encroaching a bit too far into the garden. I forgot to take a before photo, but the below photo was taken a few weeks ago - it's not easy taking a photo of someone on a swing, is it, or is it just me being useless?

You can see how close the conifer is to the back frame of the swing, with all the ivy growing underneath.

And here's what it looks like now - we have gained another six feet of garden and yet another giant pile of branches. We have plans to plant a honeysuckle (tortoises love to eat honeysuckle flowers) and a clematis montana, which will both hopefully grow over the conifers and make them look a little more interesting.

I will be back out in the garden this week, continuing the uphill battle of weeding the veg patch. I am half way there so I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I'm looking forward to watching the kids playing on their swing and slide on the newly turfed area. That thought is what is keeping me going with this project. I am certainly not the most enthusiastic gardener, that's for sure. I hope you all have a fruitful (!) week. x

Friday, 6 May 2011

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

In the garden again

 The kids went back to school last week - for two days - before another long weekend. I used those two days wisely and got out in the garden to make a start on the veg patch. This is how it looked after day one. There was so much ivy to pull up and lots of nasty weeds with deep roots - they reminded me of those mandrake plants on Harry Potter. Every time I managed to pull one out of the ground, I thought it was going to scream at me! Alas, the veg patch is currently not looking very much different to this photo. A few more mandrakes were pulled out the next day but I ran out of time and ran out of room in the green bin.
 There's quite a lot of weeding to do. I am thinking it will take me 8-10 days in total to get all the weeds out and level out the soil, ready for turf. We will have the border along the side, curving round into a border at the back of this plot too as this then allows us to have a level lawn without the need for a retaining wall (in theory - will get back to you on that one).
We have approx. 12 gooseberry bushes which we were going to pull up as they didn't do anything last year. Surprisingly they are looking good  though, with quite a few berries on so they are mostly staying, apart from the front 4 which will have to go as we are removing the patio in front of the greenhouse and turfing this area too. We don't tend to sit in the back garden, preferring the decking at the side of the house, but we do have a wide concrete path up against the back of the house which is big enough for a table and chairs. I am fairly confident that we will not miss this paved area so it is going. I have started stockpiling gooseberry recipes - gooseberry meringue pie, gooseberry curd, gooseberry and yoghurt cake, the list goes on. I am now guaranteed to get the most measly crop, barely enough for a crumble!

The street party that we went to on Friday was fantastic. The food was all so delicious and we had such a good time, we ended up staying until late into the evening. I really enjoyed the Royal Wedding and I hope the press with leave William and Kate alone to get on with married life out of the spotlight.

The girls went back to school today (begrudgingly) and I have spent the whole day crocheting and sewing - a little project which needs to be ready for the weekend. Will post about it once it is finished - hopefully all will be complete tomorrow morning. The house has really suffered over the Easter holidays - it needs a good spring clean and tidy. I certainly have my work cut out for me this week. No time for charity shop hunting, that's for sure! x