Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Busy on the Allotment

I've been busy on the allotment today digging, weeding, making paths & generally clearing up. There were snow flurries throughout the day and it was bitterly cold but I kept going (anyone who saw me must have thought I was totally mad) and unusually for me I kept my woolly hat on all day! I'm planning to plant my fruit bushes soon (as long as the snow doesn't come) -blackcurrants, redcurrants, raspberries, blueberries & gooseberries and also some fruit trees that arrived today - apple, pear, plum & cherry. Hopefully I'll get enough fruit to make some lovely jam as I'm just on my last jar of apple & raspberry jam from the summer. 
Great Spotted Woodpecker © Colin Varndell
I've recently hang bird feeders from an old plum tree on my plot and saw lots of birds today - blue tits, great tits, sparrows & a robin. Also what I believe to be a Great Spotted Woodpecker that landed in an old plum tree a few plots away. Worth getting cold for! I wonder if it visits my bird feeders when I'm not there? I've been informed that there used to be lots of woodpeckers in the mature trees bordering the allotments but their numbers have declined over the years so I'm really pleased to have seen two recently (or maybe the same one twice). 

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Charity Shop Finds

A pretty floral top by Zara Kids for 60p. I really love the flowers (especially the pansies) and plan to use the fabric in a future patchwork project.
A bag of assorted tapestry threads for £3.00. My daughter has already started using them!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Vintage Embroidery

I've collected some lovely pieces of vintage embroidery over the years from boot sales, charity shops and craft fairs, some of which I use and others I keep in my fabric cabinet because the stitching is just so beautiful to look at. I'm always looking for new ideas to up-cycle vintage embroidery pieces into new craft pieces so if you have any ideas please let me know.

Covered buttons I made using two tiny vintage embroidered flowers from the corners of a chair-back cover.

Decorative hanging hearts I made from sections of embroidered vintage fabrics.
A beautiful example of vintage embroidery found on www.flickr.com. Aren't the colours exquisite? I particularly love the blue cornflowers & larkspur.

A beautiful tote bag incorporating vintage embroidery pieces by Suzy Spence. Suzy also incorporates vintage pattern packaging into her bags which looks amazing.

Vintage embroidered cushion found on www.folksy.com
Large image

Pretty Vintage Embroidered Pin Cushion

Bird Bag
Vintage Teapot Holder Pattern
Cup & Saucer Pattern
This is so lovely. I'd like to stitch several of these and use them as part of a patchwork cushion

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Seed Potatoes & Kaffe Fassett

I saw this beautiful painting 'Watering Cans' by Kaffe Fassett (http://www.kaffefassett.com) and thought it was rather appropriate for today's post as I've been busy preparing my seed potatoes for my allotment. As they are early varieties (first and second earlies) they need 'chitting' to start them into growth before they are planted. I've placed the tubers (seed potatoes) in seed trays and egg boxes with the bud ends (or potato eyes) facing uppermost.

Chitting Early Potatoes
The trays need to be placed in good light (not direct sunlight), in a cool, frost free place - mine are in the porch. When the shoots are about 2.5cm long and the weather is suitable (March/April) they will be ready for planting. I'm growing Pentland Javelin, Swift (both first earlies) & Maris Peer (second early). I haven't got my Maincrop potatoes yet but these will not need chitting. 
This painting as well as the lino cut 'Planting Out' by Clare Curtis below have inspired me to take more photos on my allotment this year as inspiration for art & craft projects.

Thursday, 19 January 2012


Just received some lovely Cath Kidston fabric in the post that I ordered in the sale. Can't wait to start using it! Planning to make some chair cushions and maybe cover an old lampshade for a floor lamp that I'm in the process of revamping.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Victoria Sponge Recipe

This is a great recipe which always works well for me. If you use fresh cream remember to store any unfinished cake in a covered container in the fridge.

225g (8oz) butter (or margarine suitable for baking)
225g (8oz) caster sugar (granulated sugar is fine also)
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
225g (8oz) self-raising flour
Filling & topping - strawberry or raspberry jam, freshly whipped cream, icing sugar 

1. Preheat oven to 180C (Fan oven 160C)/350F/Gas 4.

2. Grease and line two 20cm (8in) sandwich tins (4cm deep) with non-stick baking parchment.

3. Mix together the butter and sugar either in a bowl or in a mixer until light and fluffy.

4. Add the eggs to the mixture one at a time and mix well. Add vanilla extract and mix.

5. Add the flour and fold in using a large metal spoon. I add mine to the mixer and it turns              out fine but do not over-mix or the cake can become too crumbly. Add a drop of milk if the mixture becomes a little too stiff.

6. Divide mixture between both cake tins, level surface and bake for 25 minutes until golden. To test if they are cooked, insert a knife or metal skewer in the middle and it should come out clean.

7. Remove the cakes from the oven, set aside for 5 minutes and then remove from tins, peel off paper and place on a wire cooling rack.

8. When completely cool sandwich the cakes together using jam and freshly whipped cream (or your choice of filling) and lightly dust with sieved icing sugar. 

Lovely served with fresh strawberries or raspberries or a nice cup of tea!

Saturday, 7 January 2012

50 Today!

I'm celebrating my 50th Birthday today by publishing my first post! Or as the card from my friend reads "you're not 50 you're eighteen with 32 years experience". One of my favourite creative cards was from my very artistic daughter who made me a beautiful appliqué & machine stitched card which I'm planning to frame and hang on my wall for everyone to admire.

My interests include anything handmade and creative - I love making items from recycled fabric, sewing, visiting charity shops, baking and gardening. I acquired an allotment last year which I'm planning to feature on my blog including recipes from the produce I grow and pick. I also love recycling old furniture and have quite a few projects planned for this year which I hope to share with you.

Look forward to lots of creative posts.