Monday, December 30, 2013

It's been a while and I'm back!

Life as been busy for us at home - I've been working longish hours and have had long journeys to work. Our young people continue to keep us busy- having four children very close together has often meant lots of attention needed all at the same time and I had in my foolishness thought that the times when they were young were going to be the hardest!! I had no idea what was in store for us.

Start of the 2014 preparations- onion and garlic bed
Last year despite my best efforts, my trips down to the allotment were few and far between.
You've guessed right - one of the plans for this year is to spend more time down there. I really find it very therapeutic to be there - away from home, work and back to the simple things in life. Children, work, life will just have to wait - I need my 'Me ' time and the allotment so fills this need.
Over the Christmas holidays, hubby and I had planned to get to grips with the allotment and make it ours again as opposed to the wild wilderness it has become.
I'm rather ashamed at how bad it was!

 So over the last couple of days we have both been down digging sometimes together and sometimes separately and how lovely it was too. One of children asked recently what were we going to do when they had all left home- ' as you don't have a lot in common!'. Well how wrong they are - and we are trying hard to spend more time together - and the allotment is a great place to start! Just as long as we don't get like other allotment couples - some of which can be heard bickering away very loudly at times! 

This is my neighbours plot - we think he works overnight on it - it always looks good!
We divide our work Mr H is in charge of structures layout and buildings and general up keep .We agree on what we are growing and I am responsible for sowing  and planting. It seems to work well for us !
 So lots of digging being done - the soil is lovely now after years of  applying manure and lots of digging. Even after all the rain we have had, it's an absolute delight - its dark, crumbly  and lovely .
When we first started it was full of stones, rocks and flints! It's just the weeds we need to keep on top off and that's an on going battle. Even after a couple of days digging things have improved so much. 

It was a very cold and frosty start yesterday!
It was soo cold after yesterdays digging I was inspired to make some "new" wellie socks from old woollen jumpers destined for the charity shop ( sorry charity shop- I have sent you other things !!!) . There are lots of sites giving instructions and I had to look at them all for inspiration. Beware some sites offer instructions for leg warmers instead of socks! It was my toes that were cold not my legs!!
Tubular socks made from woollen jumper sleeves
Eventually I went for the tubular ski sock idea, using the sleeves and the ribbed cuff as the sock top. I tried the sleeve on inside out and pinned the garment so that it fitted around the leg, ankle, around the foot and toe area. I have made two pairs a shorter pair and a longer pair and  I am so hoping I don't have cold feet next time I go digging. I was on a roll and I had  previously thought about upcycling mittens  so whilst the jumper was there and the machine primed I also made these:

Mittens made from up-cycled woollen jumper sleeves
So hopefully no cold hands either!
 I am already starting to plan what I will grow and watching Nigel Slater on his new years day cooking programme ( I do enjoy watching his programmes ) he has further inspired me to get planning. So onto the Internet I go! I love looking for new seed packets  and  deciding what I will grow so that's what I'm up to  for the next few days ! I'm so glad to be back and have missed talking to you  and catching up with old friends! Looking forward to seeing what 2014 brings !!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Sunny days - and cooking

It seems to have a been a little while since I last posted. I have had a busy month at work and slap bang right in the middle of the lovely warm sunny weather I was hit by the vomiting and diarrhoea virus. This then swept like lightening through the rest of the family and has taken us all a little while to fully recover.

Our sunny days here in Hampshire were glorious and as you can see involved flower picking _ even though it was a dandelion and our lovely cat posed beautifully and patiently for us. We could almost see the thought bubbles above his head-"Lets hope this will be quick -I  need to flop in the sun somewhere and catch the rays" Its amazing how much he will put up with for certain members of the family.

Daisy flowers were made into chains and ankles were decorated

 Some people - much against their Mummy's advice turned a little pink in the sunshine.

 And then the sunshine disappeared and my thoughts turned to cooking and a batch of plum chutney was prepared and made

 Daughter made some coffee cupcakes:
 The preserving obsession  has begun to bite again and a batch of apple and chilli jam just had to be made:
 This mouli device was a present from my sister some years ago. I wasn't very sure of it at first as I have a blender as well as a hand blender-I'm ashamed to say that I had even thought of getting rid of it but this has been so useful especially when making apple puree  and most of all when making my apple and chilli jam!

 I've been busy making more preserves but more about that later.

I still looking for my new chickens and have made a definite decision to get bantams . I'm just searching now about possible sources and hope to update you in due course. There seems  to be a shortage of them and apparently they are in very high demand this year!

 I'm sorry this is a short and sweet post but with the youngsters coming and going at home, time is short! Hoping to get back to you soon.............................

Sunday, April 21, 2013

At long last - Spring ( I think) has arrived!

 I have been so fed up with  the damp grey dark days! I began to think that Spring would never come and that some how we would be jettisoned straight into a brief Summer before heading for the end of the year again. I do hope that this will not be the case.

Last week we made a visit to Southsea  near Portsmouth- some of us to shop at Gunwarf ( a retail outlet ) and some of us to catch some fresh air. As you can see the weather was cold and grey and we are still wearing t winter coats.

Its lovely seeing everyone letting go and we have such fun skimming stones- its  something childlike and just plain good fun.

See how grey the day was!

In sharp contrast, yesterday was glorious and I spent an afternoon down by the sea in Bournemouth. There was almost a continental feel for the day. Its funny how a little bit of sunshine can raise spirits and how  magically everyone is transformed from their winter clothed selves into their Summer persona. How amazing is that little bit of sunshine! I even enjoyed a cup of tea sitting outside a coffee shop in the sunshine and just enjoyed watching the world go by.

I am sure Spring is finally here- evidence from my garden backs this up:

 Today I finally got the greenhouse ready ! No seeds sown yet - I am way behind but hoping to catch up this week.

 The primulas are flowering:
 The tete-a-tetes are still blooming - they were such a great buy in December. I planted the bulbs which had just started to grow in my hanging basket outside my kitchen window. They have been such a joy to  watch grow and flower.

 The sunglasses came out today:
 Someone even did a bit of revision in the garden:
 After they had a little rest!

 The pear tree is starting to burst into leaf:

 The forsythia is well and truly blooming:
 There was even some blue sky
 I know it must be spring as we've been trimming the hedges
 My elder daughter did some weeding!
 The bulb hyacinths are in bloom
 Such a pretty shade of blue!
  The japonica bush is in full  flower

 And the heather is also a mass of flower- amazing as we are on chalk and they tend to like acid soil!

 This I took to remind me that I really need to plant more daffodils for next year
 Even the daisies in the grass were smiling:

And  last but not least I know its Spring as Mr H used the lawnmower AND the shredder!

Spring has finally sprung!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Our cat!

Having started my new job recently- it was difficult to take time off this Easter. I did ask but it was  too short notice for cover to be arranged so I worked - I didn't really mind as I can have time off later. My hours do mean that I do get to spend some daytime at home with the youngsters - so we can still get out and about and the youngsters have time away from me too!- much to their relief.
Hence I haven't done much crafting but I did make a throw for the back of the sofa

 Our cat spends a lot of time sitting on the back of the sofa sunbathing and watching the world go by!
 The back of the sofa is starting to wear and I thought I had better make a throw for the cat to sit on-

 I made it using lots of scraps I had in the cupboard. I tried to choose mainly nautical type colours as the summer is coming and I love red cream and blue!
 I patch worked the squares and then backed the patchwork piece with a cream and navy boat pattern

 The cat has given his seal of approval but is not very fond of having his photo taken - he has a resigned look on his face!

 He has used  this quite a lot - so hopefully the sofa may last a little longer

We did get a bit of a surprise yesterday when we heard rumbling in the chimney in the living room. We were confused as the weather outside was still and sunny. The rumbling was accompanied by soot coming down the chimney and eventually a bird appeared.

 Our feathered friend was equally as shocked as ourselves. Daughter squealed and flapped around and the cat was delighted to have a play thing and immediately went into hunting mode. We eventually managed to separate the cat from the bird and then encouraged the bird to fly towards an open window. The bird escaped and flew up onto the roof of a neighbours house to recover.

 Even after we cleared up the mess the cat kept prowling around looking for his prey!
Needless to say I think he has forgotten about it today - I think it was too much excitement in one day for an ageing cat!