Wednesday 28 July 2021

Live Green, Love Green, Quilt

This project has been a long time coming. I dragged this post from drafts dated way back in January 2019. Here is this quilt's story as it was written piece by piece so the tenses are all over the place because I have added bits here and there:

 Starting a new quilt is always exciting. My girls get the same feeling when they choose a new reading book. For me, it starts with looking at what fabric I already have to use up. I had a lot of green but then it is my favourite colour.

There was fabric from my cameleon summer dress; sixteen fat quarters I bought at a NEC craft trade show for £1 each in 2016; donated fabric from my friend Michelle and various other tit bits I had gathered along the way. 

The design I chose was from a magazine which I have since lost during our house move but I started cutting this in January 2019 and luckily had the foresight to make card templates. I had previously supported my friend along in making this design for her first quilt so I knew it would look pleasing.

With a little more quiet cutting here and there I only needed another three fat quarters to make the required amount. The triangle feature pieces were cut from navy quilt sashing offcuts and a little more from the magic 'Michelle Lockdown bag'

 In my mind it was going to be a lighter weight quilt for our bed because the one we have is very heavy. It turns out our new house is so warm we don't really need a quilt in the summer at all so I kind of lost the impetuous to complete it.

The topper came together very quickly making a generous double bed size in November 2020. I remember sewing it altogether while the heating engineer commissioned our hot water system at the farmhouse. Next I had to decide how to back it and quilt it.

By January 2021 we were back in lockdown. I asked if I could use the old school rooms in the village to spread out my quilt. The old school is used as a village hall and is opposite our house. The girls were at home so I knew I would have some helpers, albeit very cold helpers. I remember this day as being so very very bitter that I could hardly use my fingers to put in the safety pins. The girls wore gloves and brought a flask of hot chocolate with them.

Fast forward to June 2021 and the quilt was still folded up, all sandwiched but not sewn. Then my nephew's wedding plans got back on track and I decided to make it for their wedding present. They have a little camper van which they are going on their honeymoon with because they can't go abroad. Unfortunately of late I have had a bout of tennis elbow meaning I could not hand quilt it together. For one determined day, I machine quilted the whole lot, made a date plate and added a binding.

The binding was attached right side to right side for the first machine pass on straight stitch then folded to the reverse of the quilt and sewed with a zigzag which gives a little room for error but makes a nice flat border.

In my mind it has several 'camping' uses: an extra layer on chilly nights, a beach blanket, a picnic rug, a lap blanket or for simply wrapping round a couple's shoulders for drinking beers in deckchairs. 

I put it on our bed to spread it out and remove the safety pins.

For sure it would have been better hand quilted but it just wasn't to be and I think they will really like it. The happy, but slightly stressed-covid-wedding-planning-couple are coming to eat with us tonight so the quilt is wrapped with a hessian tie all ready to go.

That is the story of the Live green, Love green quilt.

Thanks for dropping by. I hope this story shows that if you have a long lost half made quilt, there is a chance that it might make it to completion one day.
Jo xxxxx

Saturday 24 July 2021

Our Salad Days

 My three word gardening post is rather veg heavy this month with lots happening in my new vegetable and fruit garden. I have been making this post for a few weeks now and every time I come back to add to it I realise my garden has grown again!

The plot has been newly dug this year from field to garden so there is a lot of weeding each weekend to turn the soil over and remove weeds. As of a couple of weeks ago the beans were making their way up the sticks, the courgettes are filling out and the purple sprouting needed a net before the butterflies made light-lace-work of it.

Three weeks after taking the garden picture above, we picked all of these vegetables yesterday. Everything is so quick after such a slow spring start.

I don't seem to have any black fly on my broad beans which is good and the potatoes have flowered and are ready to eat. We dug our first meal from them when we got back from our holidays and continue to enjoy them.

Meg commented that, when cooked, they tasted like they already had butter on them when we ate them in a nicoise salad with tuna. The variety is Nadine.

I am loving cooking with herbs again after a drought whilst we set up the garden. Potato salad with chives is a family favourite of ours.

We have a lot of lettuce; all different varieties and all at different stages of development thanks to some mindful planting and sowing. Big girl is growing veg as the skills part of her Duke of Edinburgh award so she is trying to provide a veg bowl every Friday for our lovely neighbours. This means some careful sowing to keep the succession of bowls coming. 

In the greenhouse I am watering morning and evening to keep my various tomatoes, gherkins, chillies, peppers and cucamelons thriving. There are tomatoes of all kinds: yellow, plum, cherry, beefsteak. These are all twice as big as when I took the photo. I have had a few cherry toms and they are delicious.

On the fruit front we had some strawberries but the first flurries were eaten by birds so we had to create some protection. They did not fruit wildly as they were first year plugs therefore I am surprised I am getting any which is a bonus. A neighbour had so many she didn't know what to do with them so we went and helped her pick them in exchange for a few pounds to make jam.

The same newbie story could be said for my rhubarb which is a clump I snaffled from another neighbour. I thought it would limp on in the first year but it is going crackers. I used a stick in my strawberry jam to help it set and it worked a treat.

It is the summer holidays here so the girls are put through their paces. They are very good (now that we pay them) at doing some of our self-sufficiency-style jobs. This was actually a paid job for a neighbour who asked if my girls wanted to earn some money. Hell yeah they said! They love doing a job for money and sat for two hours doing this top and tailing under the shade of the umbrella. 

In the borders there are some delights. The delosperma is wonderful in the mid day sun.

I was very taken with this plant in the garden centre. Had no idea what it was. Bought it. Then found out when I got it home that it is very invasive like lily of the valley. I was advised by the RHS website to plant it in a bucket in the garden. I will dig it up when it has flowered and do just that. My florist pal loved it and called it 'Star of Bethlehem' Do you know this plant?

There have been yellow roses in front hot bed and pink ones in the back border which were wedding gifts a few years ago and brought from our old garden.

The rose is next to the ever flowering geum and lemon lupins.

It's time for the Dahlias to put on a show. This was one of the first to flower called 'Arabian Nights'. Again, this is in the hot border adding some depth of colour.

The heat has eased off here today meaning I have so many greenhouse jobs to get on with now that I can stand in there and not actually melt.  

What is growing in your corner of the world right now? Jo x

Monday 19 July 2021

Hello lovely people. It has been end of term busy here with my little one leaving Primary School and my big girl hoping to be sent home from school to self-isolate! Her year group was the only one left by Friday so school closed early for the summer. She has home learning today. My post is a little later than normal but I had a few moments to share this weekend which I was waiting for...

Attending - my nephews wedding. It was such a hot day this weekend but we had such a wonderful time. The wedding was in an open sided barn to enable the wedding to take place. My girls and I are all handmade...of course. I ended up wearing an old favourite because I didn't fancy wearing my intended dress: a polyester, Audrey-Hepburn- Collared number with long sleeves on such a hot day. This cotton vintage one was just right.

Loving - watching the bride and her father with their band playing the opening music for the night. Soooo rock and roll. The female drummer, a bridesmaid, was the most sensational lead vocalist singing rock from her heart while thrashing out the drums. I sat next to my teary nephew as he cried through the opening song: proud as punch he was.

Making - hay while the sun shines. Andy left the wedding early to turn his hay and have a clear head for baling it the following morning. Our first cut at the The Croft.

Baking - a Guiness and gingerbread cake substituting the Guiness for this can of stout. It came in a beer box but neither of us liked the fudgy beer taste but you know me, I wasn't going to waste it so it went into this moreish cake.

Buying - the most stylish teapot. I have wanted a good teapot for loose leaf tea for ages and this one was a real treat. The perforated cylinder in the centre holds the tea.

Creating - some floral bedding displays for my father-in-law's tractor stand at a local show.

Cooling - ourselves down with a toe dip in a local ford one mile from our house. It is our favourite quiet spot for an evening walk. Our other new favourite place is our neighbour's pool for an evening dip.

Organising - my tomatoes, gherkins and cucamelons. They have become rampant and need constant care, water and tying.

Making - a pair of comfy stretch summer trousers called the Luna pants. It is an expensive pattern for one item of clothing but both Heidi and I have a pair now and I would like to make a viscose pair later in the year. Meg has her eye on them too but she hasn't hit the first size yet.

Working - on creating a video tutorial for making a belt.

Adding - to my visibly repaired jeans. I had been avoiding this area for ages. I mean how can you patch that area stylishly? It turns out you can't so I just went for it before an actual hole appeared making it more tricky. I will keep you in suspense with a photo because it is just too hot to put my jeans on!

Admiring - the view. It is of course an post therefore I hope you can join me in admiring the view. We can see right to the back of Long Mountain in Wales at this time of year.

Stay cool, stay safe and see you soon.
Jo xxx

Friday 9 July 2021

Happy Holidays

It has been a little quiet over here of late because we have been on holiday with all the preparation that entails. Our week in Aberdyfi in Wales was the most relaxing, well earned break. We missed our holiday to Switzerland last year and I decided way back in October, when I looked into my crystal ball, that we should book somewhere in the UK for a holiday. I kind of surmised that the whole of the UK holidaying population could not fit into the UK holiday destinations available in one summer season. I was right and in the end we went in school time because so many places were already booked up. 

Our other back up was to buy a camper van and an awning just in case we were able to get out for a few nights away later in the summer. We went in the van which was perfect as a modest wet suit changing cubicle, mobile coffee and sandwich shop and an all round mahoosive suitcase for taking fun things to do on holiday.

Holidays are a huge part of our family life. Bloke is a Key worker and so was I last year when I was teaching which has been very stressful so we just wanted to stop, take stock and look at ourselves for a moment. Big girl is thirteen and little one is 11, they still enjoy holidays with us but I know that won't last forever.

Anyway, less of the personal musings. We are all fit and healthy, happy and afloat so lets crack on with the photos!...

I know you will be disappointed to hear that that the photo of me in my wet suit was out of focus - that is my story and I am sticking to it. It was possible to get it on but the process was not pretty!

Little one and me spent a happy hour collecting and sorting stones.

Two van mugs were a very pleasurable purchase for someone who hyperventilates when spending any amount of money. I love them. 

There are bags and bags of shells...

There was a jellyfish sting from one of these compass jellyfish. Heidi informed me it was like lots of very hot nettle stings. For your information: you need to put the area in a hot bath, as hot as you can stand and it stops the pain which she said worked.

Crabbing was unsuccessful in terms of numbers caught but we just liked dangling the lines and watching fish eating all the bait - it seemed kinder somehow.

I may have over-egged the joy to be had at the Portmerion village to our children. Little one was so unimpressed for the first half an hour when she found out you couldn't just wander around inside people's houses and she was similarly unimpressed that looking at the view was actually the entertainment. Big girl loved it but she then she loves design, architecture and miniature things.

She warmed up a bit on a woodland walk and when we reached the centre of the village. It wasn't helped by my eternal optimism about the day's weather. I promised it would warm up, convinced her to wear sandals and her feet were cold. The again, so were mine but you don't go on holiday in Wales for the weather so I ate humble pie and apologised.

All in all the cooked breakfasts at the hotel just couldn't go on. It was time for a slow drive home. We had a fabulous holiday but we were all missing Beano our dog.

Thanks for dropping in. I will be calling in to see you folks this week. Jo xxxx