Sunday, 12 April 2015

time to get sowing

I did it, I finally banked enough time to dig over my veg patch and start sowing. I think I went a bit mad, this is what I have started with in just one bed, with room for raddish and something else! Sunflower Topolino (to attract the bees, we love bees); Broccoli Raab (that I bought last year or was it the year before?); Beetroot Boltardy (I've never had success with Beetroot so third time lucky); Carrot Cosmic Purple (left over from last year); Kohl Rabi (another packet from last year and something new); Chard Bright Lights (a favourite in my veg patch) And in two large tubs the Bearded Dragon's salad leaves (oriental and salad bowl).

my little veg patch

A nice little mixture to get me started, all covered to stop my inquisitive Springer Spaniel from looking! I haven't thought about toms and cues and courgettes but I do have all the seeds ready. One small step at a time. I feel so much better, something about digging around in the earth and being in the open air makes you feel so much better.

seeds sown today

I have spare seeds, fancy a seed swap anyone? This is what I have to offer, all in date and mainly Thompson & Morgan :

Butternut Squash
Salad Leaves
Beetroot Alto F1 Hybrid
Herb Basil Purple Ruffles
Pumpkin Mars F1 Hybrid

seed swap

I popped over to TK Max yesterday with Ian and Jack and found a new compost caddy, I love the colour, shame the camera couldn't capture it properly. If you want to seed swap please leave a message or email me

new compost caddy

Oh and some crochet in the sunshine, slowly but surely its going to be finished this month and have learnt some important tips along the way.

granny square blanket

Thursday, 9 April 2015

What's in my yarn bowl

My lovely yarn bowl (Little Wren Pottery England)

Last year I was lucky to receive a yarn bowl, not any yarn bowl but the one featured in Simply Knitting. My son, Jack remembered that I loved it and kept looking at the page saying "that's clever I need one of those" Well he remembered and bought me one for mothers day last year. It's perfect for small projects like the Birch Trees scarf pattern I originally blogged about here. That very blog post has generated over 400 clicks?!  It just goes to show that a good title and adding to Pinterest and being featured in Simply Knitting for my WIP scarf can generate a whole lot of interest in blog land. I never did finish it because although the pattern is very straight forward I managed to get it wrong and have tried to get back to where I was before it went wrong and couldn't. So I decided last night to start again but this time in Debbie Bliss Cashmerino tomato that I had in my stash.
Anyway if you haven't been given one of these yarn bowls you need to start hinting. Made in England, beautiful hand thrown pottery at its best. I keep mine on show in the lounge when its not being used, actually its there most of the time because its too lovely to put away.

P.S. I'm not endorsing this product just giving my opinion of a lovely, practical knitting aid and sharing my thoughts.

Spring has arrived in my garden
Spring has finally arrived in my gloomy back garden. Signs of new shoots are appearing and I really must catch up on some gardening jobs including finishing off digging my veg patch and to get sowing, I'm way behind where I normally am at this time of year. Not much motivation when its cold and swimming has kind of taken over with my Swimathon just around the corner. Enjoy the rest of your Easter holidays and sunshine.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Easter weekend, cakes, crochet and shopping

I love the long Easter weekend, four whole days away from work. I had a lazy Friday because Ian was due to go back on night shift. I spent the morning with a little crochet and ironing. Saturday Ian and me popped to Blue Water to watch a film but I messed up the tickets, I hate booking online. I managed to book the front row, doh! Anyway all was not lost because the nice manager could see I was having a hard time and exchanged my tickets for open ones to use another time. But we did get to eat at Eds diner, I love their milk shakes, a meal in themselves! There is the nicest cup cake shop at Blue Water called Lolas (in the Winter Garden area) and they had a lovely display of cakes, including this one. Very tempting but no prices so probably expensive.

cake shop at BlueW ater
It got me thinking about baking so on Sunday morning I made a Mary Berry Perfect Victoria sponge. You must try it the recipe is just so easy. I put everything into my little Kenwood Chef and it does the work for me. I use the same recipe to make butterfly cup cakes where you make a little hole in the top add jam then cream. A bit like miniature Victoria sponge cakes, and the recipe makes loads of them! Good for charity cake sales, I'll make some next week to boost my last weeks Swimathon total. Adding a vintage tint to my photo made it look burnt so the bottom one proves it wasn't and it was a whopper of a cake.

home made Victoria sponge, yummy
the inside story
Outside in the car park I noticed rows of blossom trees and had to pop outside to take some photos for my Japanese friend. A grey sky gave a good backdrop although blue would have been better.
cherry blossom at Blue Water

I even found some time to make more granny squares and the little jar of off cuts from sewing in ends is so cute and a good reminder of all the hard work that goes into making a granny square blanket. Its not finished yet, another couple of rows but no rush I like working on it.

crochet granny sqaures

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

my week so far

With only two weeks to go until my Swimathon event I was keen to boost my target. There is still time to sponsor me if any of you are feeling generous. I had reached my target of £400 but have since raised it to £500. Well why not, its a great charity. So more chilli jam was required, 4 batches and 650g later I've had enough (for now) of making chilli jam! Don't they look lovely with the sun shining through showing the little flecks of chilli. I made a batch of hot and the normal. The hot sold out quicker than the standard. A note for next time to make more hot.

chilli jam batch

I've got lots of little pieces of yarn from various projects, so a quick knit in about 20 mins is this little egg cosy. Since taking the picture the crème eggs have vanished :-)

quick knit, egg cosy
With the long Easter weekend I plan to get on with Megan's uni blanket, over halfway and its looking great. I have enough wool to complete it so trying to be good during April and not purchase anymore wool. Famous last words and all that. Enjoy your Easter and lets hope the weather improves.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Reptiles and gardening, an odd combination

What do reptiles and gardening have in common? They both like fresh food!
Not one to pass a great opportunity to grow fresh veg, and what better excuse than to feed our new house quest. I use the term guest loosely because Bearded Dragons can live to a ripe old age of 12 with careful care.

So drum roll ... meet Thor (lets hope he is a he and not a she!)

Hello I'm Thor

He settled in well on Sunday and he likes his new home, must seem huge to him a 4 ft cage. I wonder if they have a concept of space? Anyway he eats hoppers, yes live ones and salad. I researched their diet today (and he's not even my pet) but keen to make sure he gets all his nutrients I printed off a two page diet sheet. I was pleased to see it includes a lot of things I can grow in the garden veg patch at Eight-by-Six and we can get to try some new fruits too from the supermarket (treats to Thor). So its quite an exiting time in our household to be entering into the world of reptiles.

dinner time!

Sunday, 22 March 2015

chocolate and chilli

I started the day with a good swim, training for my Swimathon on April 19th. I did 1.5m in just over an hour, which was a great effort considering I was half asleep and wishing I was under the duvet. 8am is early or me, well swimming at 8am is. I like swimming, it gives me time to think, lane swimming to some is boring but not me. I plug in my waterproof mp3 player and that's it I'm in a world of my own for an hour or so. Other regular swimmers acknowledge each other with a nod or a smile, and let each other get on with their regime.

chilli jam
My sponsorship started off really well and now I've run out of steam and people to ask so a new plan was hatched whilst I was swimming. Bribe my friends with chilli jam £2.50 a jar and all the proceeds going straight the charity. And guess what? It worked!

So there I was still peckish after my second breakfast, making a batch of chilli jam (sold out before I'd even made it, walking around Asda buying the ingredients, phone buzzing with another request) drinking tea and eating chocolate biscuits. So that was my afternoon of chocolate and chilli!

More news next week to introduce our new guest called Thor, Jack's new room mate of the lizard variety!

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Mothers day

flowers and chocolates

I've had a lovely day despite the cold weather and hail stones. Such a shame because Saturday was lovely and sunny but still chilly, it is only March but having some sunshine does make it feel like spring is here.
Today started with a long walk with Ian, Jack and Moss, throwing sticks and getting muddy. On the way back through the Orchard we noticed the pile of compost from last week's community tree planting was still there. A note came up on Facebook to say help yourself, so we did just that. Popped back with the wheelbarrow and took two lots! It filled one side of my veg patch and I got soaked through digging it over and emptying the compost bin. I've never seen so many worms, it was alive! I didn't manage to empty it, got too cold and wet so came in to dry off grab a cuppa and a chocolate biscuit (shh) and sit down to do some crochet and get warm again.

Megan's blanket
I'm getting on well with my granny square blanket with only 3 rows to go. I plan to finish it over Easter when I have a long weekend. I'm still working on Megan's university blanket,  about half way now and I love the colours I've chosen. Once I've done a bit more I'll measure it on a single bed to make sure it fits. I have until September to finish it but I want to start another one so I need to finish this one first! I think I have enough Stylcraft wool to knit another two or three!


I took advantage of the 4 for 3 seed offer at Homebase yesterday, with the added 20% discount made a nice saving. Going to sow the broad beans next weekend,  they did really well last year and I didn't suffer with black fly. Not bad for my first attempt. Once it gets a bit warmer in April I'll start of my Swiss chard bright lights,  a good old favourite for the veg patch. Right now I'm curled up on the sofa full up with roast lamb, crocheting another rowith of the stripey granny blanket. I hope your mother's day was full of nice things too 

granny square blanket