Sewing, stitching, baking, cooking, gardening, shopping and general homemaking.

Monday, 26 April 2010

More Veg Gardening

Today I got my tomatoes and cucumbers put into their permanent pots.  I think it will be warm enough now for them to be in my unheated greenhouse.
These four pots will stay in the greenhouse (terrible picture and the plants are healthier than they look here, there is no damage to any leaves, think it is my photography).  There are three Roma tomatoes and one cucumber.  I've set them up with string under the pots that stretches up to a cross-piece, this way I can twist the plants around the string as they grow, my favourite way of training tomatoes.  I've never grown cucumbers in the greenhouse before so that will be interesting to watch.
These cherry tomatoes are in the window boxes.  I'm a bit worried that one window sill won't be sunny enough so I might have to change my mind about where to put it.  I think I'll probably put a fuchsia in the middle of each of these boxes.
I've got my lettuce in this grow bag so that I can have it near my back door, that way I can easily crop it when I need it.  The bag is quite deep and the only fault with it is that it could do with being a bit more rigid at the sides, it tends to bulge out a bit where the compost slips down and doesn't look as tidy as I would like.
I've sown some radish seeds up in the veg plot between the slower growing crops and I've sown some basil seeds in a half seed tray in the house.  If it's a really hot summer I will have the basil outside the back door because I love the perfume it gives off in the heat but if it's a cool summer I'll have it in the greenhouse.
Talking of the greenhouse - it tends to end up like a shed, with lots of things stored in it so that will need sorting out in case I decide on more greenhouse veg.
The lovely weather makes a huge difference to how I live my life, being able to have the back door open without freezing to death is a real pleasure.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

April And No Showers

I've had a funny sort of week, nothing much seems to have got done so what have I been doing.  One thing I had to do was get a new printer.  The Lexmark I've had for years finally conked out.  I have got a Hewlett Packard but I liked my Lexmark because it would take quite thick card, which the HP won't.  It was also getting difficult to find the correct Lexmark ink cartridges and I dislike buying the compatible ones because they are not always reliable.  The Lexmark is top loading that is why it will take the card.  Most of the printers I saw were those multi-function types, which I don't want or need.  In the end I bought a Canon and it works beautifully for my craft needs, plus it only cost £24.99.  So - I'm happy about that.
I spent some time making cards ready for my next craft group meeting.  A friend gave me a bow maker which I had to try - this is what I came up with
When I make cards my craft room always ends up in a terrible mess.  It's surprising how many things I need to get out to make cards, now I've got to put it all away.
Another thing I've just had to do is give the bedroom a good 'do'.  What a mess I get into, you'd think it was a laundry the amount of clean clothes that were hanging about waiting to be put away, I do annoy myself with this habit.  There are two rooms in my house that get very untidy, my craft room and the bedroom.  The craft room because I have too much stuff, though I do think it is because the room is too small but Graham doesn't agree with this.  And the bedroom because I just don't put things away properly.  In fact, even when the bedroom is tidy I'm not very happy with it, I wish I could get rid of everything in it and start again, what I'd love is to get an interior designer in who would be able to come up with a plan from my vague dream of the perfect bedroom, and do all the shopping for it of course.
The weather this week has been beautiful though cold.  My veg plot is coming along well and Graham is now making the paths for me - it's going to look great!  The soil here is very free draining so it dries out easily and I've had to water these last few evenings, we really could do with some rain.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Up At The Veg Plot

What a gorgeous day it's been, sunny, warm and still.  The temperature is 14C (57F) but it always feels a degree or two warmer up at my veg plot.  We live on top of a hill so it does tend to be quite breezy except for in the veg plot, it's surrounded by trees and hedges so it's nice and protected.
I used to have this damson tree in a big tub, it's one of those especially bred for small gardens.  A couple of years ago I decided it needed to go into the ground because it didn't look very healthy and always ended up with some sort of pest that made the leaves sticky.  Also, it never fruited.  This year it is smothered in blossom, I've never seen it like this before.  When I was a girl I lived in Shropshire and there seemed to be damson trees growing everywhere so I think wanting a damson of my own was a bit of nostalgia.
Sorry about the terrible picture but I'm no photographer.
Behind the damson is a Ribes, this is looking very healthy as well this year, loads of blossom on it.
The camellia is almost over now but that has flowered well too.
It does make me wonder if the harsh winter we had is prefered by a lot of our plants and trees.
Onion and beetroot bed
This is what Graham came up with to prevent the fox getting into my raised beds.  Even though I had covered the beds with the white mesh they were still getting into them at the ends.  I like having foxes in the garden so would rather go to the trouble of protecting my things from them than getting rid of them - they have as much right to live here as I do.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Volcanoes and Other Stuff

The fragility of modern life has once again been exposed.  The Icelandic volcano has disrupted all air traffic in our country.  It is also a bit of a coincidence that the prevailing wind has been from the north/north east.  Even in the depths of winter we mostly get a westerly wind (in my opinion).  So, the ash from the volcano has been swept our way.  We keep being told by politicians that globalisation is here and that we all depend on each other.  That is until something like this happens.  Apart from people not being able to travel we will soon be experiencing 'shortages'.  A lot of our food comes in by air and we have come to accept this and expect it.  Many of us worry about this and we have been proved right.  The agriculture in this country has been dwindling since the end of WWII, farmers have even been paid to not grow anything, to diversify and, I imagine, to lose the skills of previous generations.  It's been wonderful to have all the cheap and, sometimes exotic, fruit and vegetables that we never used to be able to buy.  It only takes a disaster like we are experiencing, to bring it home to us how unrealistic this is.
The Internet is another example.  I often imagine what could happen if we lost it for some reason, for some natural disaster that we can't even imagine yet.  A lot of friendships have been forged globally.  Yes, we could still keep in touch by 'snail mail' but that would also depend, largely,on air travel.  How much mail is stacking up while our aircraft are grounded?
Not only would these two scenarios affect our country, they would affect the 'global' economy.  No more imports/exports to and from far flung places, no more easy travel to tourist areas, no more quick travel on business and, in the case of the Internet, no more global shopping.

I do worry about all this and what better way to take my mind off these worries than a bit of gardening, baking and crafting :)
At the moment I'm enjoying my dolls house miniature hobby.
A good friend I have made (because of the Internet!) sent me a little tea set that I have glued into this corner cupboard/hutch.  Rather than have these tiny things put away and waiting for the ideal opportunity to do something with them (which never seems to come) I'm using them and enjoying the results.
I went to this website and admired all the fab things this person has made.  She also gives instructions on how to make stuff and I couldn't resist having a go at her cakes
It really was fun making this chocolate and cherry cake!

Garden Report  The foxes are still having fun leaping around all over my raised beds.  Today I'm spending time up there coming up with ideas for stopping them getting under the netting I've got covering the beds.  So far I've planted cauliflower, cabbage, beetroot, onions, broad beans, peas and potatoes.  We could do with some rain, the soil seems very dry and I might have to water today.  The weather is a bit warmer today and it's nice and sunny.  The wind is from the west.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Stitching Season

Today is dull and cold so I won't be doing any gardening, I'm also a bit tired, I think I need a break from all the physical activity I've enjoyed recently.  I'm amazed at how well my back has behaved, I think going to the chiropractor did help.
It's about this time of year I start thinking about what stitching projects I want to do over the summer.  I spend about one week each month away in our caravan in Norfolk from April - October and always take plenty of stitching projects with me in case of bad weather when I can't get out and about (which, in recent years, has been more often than not).  Last summer it was cross-stitch.  This morning I decided to sort out some charts in readiness for my stitching season and came across quite a few that I had stitched but not used in a finish.  This is a bit of luck really because I have an exchange coming up, I'll be able to use something already stitched if I want to.   Here are three of them.
A free chart from Nathalie

I love this one from Mon Ami Pierre

This one is very pretty from Elizabeth's Designs

You will notice that I like cross-stitch that has alphabets or writing on the design.  I only stitch small cross-stitch designs, it would get on my nerves to do anything big.  I don't stitch anything that will end up as a picture in a frame either, it would be put away and never seen.  I incorporate these small designs into something that can be used, that way I feel that my time hasn't been wasted.

Friday, 9 April 2010

A Beautiful Day

It's been an absolutely gorgeous day.  The temperature at 7.30 this morning was 46F (7C) and now, at 5.30 in the afternoon, it's a warm, sunny, 60F (16C).  Yesterday I went to Timmermans Garden Centre and bought some veg plants to supplement the ones I'm growing from seed.  I decided on cherry tomatoes as I've got three Roma plants from seed that are coming on well.
I chose Totem and Tumbling Tom Red.  There was a Black Cherry tomato that I was tempted to get but managed to resist.  These plants will go into the window boxes I have just outside my kitchen.  They are as much for fun as for harvesting.
The fox had been having a good time in my veg plot.  The garden fleece that I'd used to cover the onions and potatoes that I'd planted was ripped to shreds.  Last year he didn't seem to bother with anything covered in fleece so I'm wondering if it is the same fox or one of the offspring.  Because of this problem I came up with an alternative that will, hopefully, keep off the fox and keep out any insects when I start planting up my other veg.
It's a fine mesh that is a lot more sturdy than the fleece and designed for keeping out insects.  I'll have to come up with something better for the ends but as long as I can keep the fox off until things grow enough to deter him I think it will be ok.  The fox did sneak past on the other side of the hedge while I was working up there.
The daffodils are out everywhere now, I don't seem to have as many in the garden as I thought I had though.
Well, I finished my second week of jury duty and I'm glad it's over.  I didn't get to actually sit on a jury so I count the time I was there as a total waste.  The good thing was that I only had to attend for a day and a half altogether but, because it was during two weeks, I couldn't settle to much at all the rest of the time.
I was just about to ask if anyone knows why I haven't got a spell check on blogger, then I noticed that there is a spell check on the IE toolbar - for goodness sake, why didn't I look there before?

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Shadow Box

 This is the first shadow box I've made.  It's not too bad but I think it could do with a bit more in it.
Also, the reflection on the glass spoils the look of it, I don't know how to stop this so the next one I make I'll take the picture before I put the glass into the frame.  The whole thing, frame included measures 8 1/2 inches high, 10 1/2 inches wide and 3 1/2 inches deep.  It was fun to make and I'll enjoy looking at it.  In my shed there are lots more miniature items I want to use for scenes like this, it seems such a waste to just have them put away.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Good Friday

I didn't know that Simnel Cake was originally a cake that young girls made for their mothers on Mother's Day, which here in the UK is the fourth Sunday in Lent.  I've never made one of these cakes, one reason being that marzipan used to be very expensive and I only used it for Christmas cake.  However, now that baking ingredients seem to be more affordable, I can be a lot more adventurous in my baking.  My new cake recipe book has a recipe for something similar to a Simnel cake so DH decided he would have a go at it.  When we bake one of us is the baker and the other is the assistant, this way we don't get too tired by the end of a baking session and it becomes an enjoyable experience (we are not as fit as we used to be).  The baker does all the mixing and the assistant does the weighing and reading out the recipe. 
This is the cake DH came up with
It tastes as delicious as it looks
It has cherries and a layer of marzipan in it - I bet you would like a piece!!!  The recipe book tells you how many calories for each slice and this one is 407 calories per slice.  There is a chocolate cake recipe that has 703 calories per slice, that one should be interesting!

One of my hobbies is dolls house miniatures.  The problem I have with this is that the houses take up so much room and one of them has been relegated to the garden shed along with most of my miniature making stash.  I often feel guilty that I don't do anything with my miniature supplies and have been thinking of a way to use them that doesn't take up so much room.  One idea was to make scenes that would fit into a shadow box.  I didn't want to spend any more money on this hobby and wondered if I could find an idea for making my own shadow boxes.  As usual, a search of the internet gave me just what I needed and I found a great tutorial.  I'm part way through making an adaptation of the box shown in the video and feel very enthusiastic about it.  That's what I'll be doing today, I was hoping to get out into the garden but the weather is so horrible, I'm glad I've always got my hobbies to keep me occupied.