Thursday, 26 April 2012

Garden makeover: Part one

Well I'm sat here killing time until I have to go out this afternoon.... I have a dentist appointment which I'm really not thrilled about but has to be done! I always feel nervous before I go to the dentist, even if nothing ends up being wrong... that horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach is with me now, even though I'm sure it will be ok.

Anyway let's not dwell on that for the moment! Things have been really busy here this week but not just with my work... so sorry for my blogging absence... again!

When we moved into this house last year, the garden was literally bare, just soil (and crappy soil at that, half soil, half builders rubble). It is not a huge garden at all, and is kind of a funny shape as it wraps around the side of the house, but for us it is plenty to be looking after and after living in a second floor city flat for years it is so lovely to have a garden at all!

Anyway by the time we had sorted ourselves out after the move, it was then Autumn and the weather got colder and wetter and we just decided to leave it until Spring. I did a bit of research online and had almost decided to just put gravel down as it would be low maintenance. Neither of us really know anything about gardens or gardening - I would like to learn but Karl has absolutely no interest at all so it kind of just seemed like the easy option.  

So we dithered about for ages, I rang up some landscaping companies to see if they would come out and do the work but they were all busy... so we dithered about some more.... but then last week, Karl ended up having the week unexpectedly off work. So on Monday morning last week, we made a snap decision to 'do the garden' ourselves, deciding that turf was probably the easiest way to go. So we set about measuring and ordered three tons of topsoil that morning!

The weather did not help when we were trying to prepare the soil. We spent ages digging out all the weeds and stones - of which there were so many - and spreading all the topsoil - poor Karl shovelling three tons of soil by hand... all in the pouring rain! When it had dried out a bit, we levelled it, and tramped it all down, as instructed on the Internet, and awaited our turf which was supposed to be arriving on Thursday.

It came... at about five in the afternoon. After waiting in all day for it, the moment it arrived, the heavens opened and all our neatly levelled and flattened topsoil turned into a bog within about three minutes. 

That three hours work were some of the hardest I've ever done. Turf is bloody heavy!! I could barely lift each piece and it was a real struggle. I literally was close to tears, at the mud and the rain, which was ruining our neatly prepared soil and at just how physically exhausted I was. We had to lay the turf that evening as Karl was going away the next day and you can't leave it rolled up otherwise it will die. 

Anyway Karl was a hero and ended up doing most of the heavy lifting and putting the turf in place whilst I pressed it into place with the rake. Although the soil had so many footprints in due to torrential rain, when pressed down, it thankfully squashed them all out flat.

Having never had to put fresh turf down before, I kind of naively thought that as soon as you laid it, it would look like a beautifully manicured lawn! Wrong. The turf, obviously having been rolled in on itself was really muddy and dirty...

But in just one week, the rain, which has actually been a godsend, has washed it all clean and it has already started to grow. When we lifted up a corner, you can even see tiny white roots poking out! Hopefully in another few weeks it will become established and we will be able to walk on it.

It is obviously still a huge work in progress and a total blank canvas  at the moment but the hardest bit is now done. The bare bits of soil left are where we are going to dig out flowerbeds... we've got some of those little log things to put around the outside of them! Then I can start the bit I will actually enjoy - choosing flowers and plants. As well as the couple of large flowerbeds, I've got quite a few tubs and containers to fill, I want lots of colour so lots of summer bedding plants will be going in!

We have probably been the only ones who have been loving all this rain in the last week. Newly laid turf needs masses of water in the first week to help it root so it has been great timing (just not when we were trying to lay the stuff!) and means we haven't had to do any watering ourselves.

Sorry if this has been a bit of a boring post for some of you, I felt like I had to write it though, one, to document it so that we can look back on it and remember what it was like before, and two, as it took nearly the whole of last week, it just had to get a mention! Although it may not look it to some people, it feels like a massive achievement and I'm so happy to look out of the window each day and see green! I will be even happier once it is all done and we can sit out and enjoy it, but I'm really pleased with what we've got done so far.

Anyway hope you are all having a good week and keeping warm and dry in such miserable weather! I have had quite a productive week this week designing  new cards, mainly fathers day ones, which have actually been really fun to work on. I was going to add some of them to this post but I've now run out of time and need to get some lunch before I have to go to the dreaded dentist! Back soon xxx

P.s I've also (nearly) finished my patchwork crochet blanket, hooray! Though it has shrunk to a baby blanket size - more on that next time! x

Saturday, 14 April 2012

A day out in Bath...

So yesterday I took the day off and caught the train up to Bath for the day to meet  up with my mum and sister who were staying with friends in Wiltshire for a few days. I do love Bath... in fact I was actually born there, and although I've lived all over the country since, I'm really glad that we now live quite close again, it is such a great city. I try to go up about once a month, it takes about an hour on the train (a really slow one though that stops at every little town and village on the way) but the journey is really scenic so it doesn't seem too bad at all! I haven't actually been for a while though cos I've been so busy lately, but also as I'm now too old for a young person's railcard (sob!) it makes it quite expensive!

I went up on the ten o clock train so I had some time to myself to do some fabric and yarn shopping before the others arrived... I have a few shops which I have to visit each time I visit Bath to get my fabric and yarn fix. One of my first stops was Wool, a relatively new yarn shop, located on Old Orchard Street. Being only quite new to the whole yarn thing myself, I've only popped in a couple of times before, but this time, I was on a mission! I was looking for yarn for a new project... I wasn't exactly sure what brand or colours I was after but oh my, I wasn't disappointed with the choice!

The whole shop was crammed full of delicious colours and yarns, with a comfy looking sofa with a colourful granny blanket thrown over... It has a nice relaxed atmosphere where I didn't feel intimidated by my lack of yarny knowledge! The lovely lady who owns the shop (in above picture) was really friendly and helpful but let me just potter about and mull over my choices.

There were so many different brands of yarn but I was drawn to the few makes I had actually heard of... One of which was Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino.... so many gorgeous colours and so, so soft! Really gorgeous yarn... I just had to have some of it! I had done a bit of research online before I went, but buying in person is always so much better as you can see the colours for what they really are and feel the texture and quality up close. I must admit that I do tend to buy quite a lot of supplies etc online as we live out in the sticks now, but I do love to support my local craft and yarn shops when and where I can.

Anyway I spent quite a while pulling out different colours, trying them out in combinations to see what jumped out at me. I'd decided before I went that I wanted a more muted palette than I've used for my recent stylecraft blankets, something softer, maybe greens and duck eggs... I also wanted to try out a 'luxury' yarn as opposed to my usual cheap and cheerful stuff!      

This is what I came away with....

Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous... aren't they! I must admit a teeny bit of guilt did go through me as I went to pay. It is quite an extravagance for me at £5.50 a ball, especially considering the balls are only 50g each. I haven't even tried it out yet but I can already tell it will be worth it, the quality of it feels so nice.

Anyway I'm really happy with my colour choices. Although most of you probably associate brighter colours with me, with the exception of my studio, which yes, to be honest, is full to bursting with colour, the rest of the house is actually quite neutral. I love the calming nature of these soft and beautiful colours, they are the colours I am drawn to for a lot of my soft furnishings. 

I think I am going to make a cushion with my yarn, something snuggly for the sofa. I would love to make another stripey blanket, or maybe even a ripple but I don't think I can justify the cost of using such expensive yarn for something so big! I am possibly going to add a little pink to the mix... I'm not sure though. I do love the greens and blues together, but I just wonder whether there will be enough contrast for me with what I have chosen. Will make up a couple of squares I think and then decide...

Anyway, I also popped into Country Threads too, my favourite fabric shop, and which handily, is right across the street from Wool!


It is a bit of a treasure trove as there is a whole room hidden away at the back of the shop, crammed full of all manner of quilting and patchwork fabrics, threads, ribbons, tools and books. I can often lose hours in here (not a joke). The staff are always really friendly but to be honest, kind of leave me to it, I am in there that long! Though yesterday I was actually quite organised as I had a project in mind which I needed some new fabric for, which I decided on quite quickly. I did also impulse buy some new 'London' fabric (new mirrors coming shortly!) some felt, some pom pom trim and some new scissors though but other than that I was really good and stuck to my 'shopping list', haha!

Oooh and I also popped into The Makery, another fab new crafty shop in Bath (readers of Mollie Makes will recognise it!), on Northumberland Place.

It is an absolutely gorgeous little shop full of cute fabrics, felts, buttons, trimmings and ribbons, and the window displays are always so creative too. So many lovely things to look at, you don't know where to look first! I got chatting to Kate who runs the shop when I was in a few months ago and she is lovely too. They also run lots of workshops for all sorts of different things, from embroidery and sewing, to felt making, lampshade making, bookbinding and knitting amongst many many more! Check out their website for more info.

Sorry for the lack of my own pictures on this post and of the insides of all these wonderful shops, but hopefully you will check out their websites, or even better, pay them a visit in person! They really are a crafty person's heaven!! Anyway I had a really lovely day out, and it was so nice to see my mum and sister again (even though I only saw them two weeks ago!) it was really great to catch up and spend the day together. Hope you are enjoying the weekend too, will be back soon xxx

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Time for tea!

Just popping in quickly with a project I designed for the March issue of Crafts Beautiful... a floral tea cosy and matching egg cosies!

Don't you just love the fabrics? I love the pink and red together, one of my favourite combinations at the moment!

 For more crafting ideas, go to

Anyway I told you it was only a super quick visit today because I'm busy making crochet hearts at the moment and I've only done two so far this evening because one, I'm not very good at reading the pattern, and two, I keep getting distracted by other things... Not sure what I am going to do with them yet but they are just so cute I'm sure I will find them a good home! Will hopefully have pics soon xxx

Monday, 9 April 2012

Giveaway winner

First I've got to say a massive thank you to all of you who entered my Seaside Home book giveaway this week, and a big hello to new followers too! As someone who loves the sea and the beach very much, I have so enjoyed reading all your fantastic entries, thanks for putting so much effort and detail into your answers, I really have loved reading them as they have come in!

Anyway,  down to business... I've assigned each comment a number from 1-134 (includes one facebook entry) and let the random number generator do the hard work - phew no writing out names for me this time!

So the winner is.....

Number 23 - Rosa Lily

Congratulations, I will be in touch soon to get your address!

Anyway thanks again for entering if you did and I hope you've all had a nice Eastery weekend. Ours seems to have flown by without actually achieving much, though I did spend a couple of hours having a bit of a sort out this morning (for more pics, click the 'Studio' tab under the header image!) Oooh there's nothing like a bit of colour organisation is there :D Back soon xxx 

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Happy Easter!

I did do a little Easter decorating this week, though sadly my Easter tree ideas never made it to fruition. I actually couldn't find any suitable twigs - the ones around here were too 'leafy' already! I did buy a few new hanging eggs though like these cute vintage  looking chick and bunny ones..

...but without a 'tree' to hang them off, they are actually hanging off the bunting on my dresser for now!

I wanted a dresser for so long, and saved up lots of pennies to buy this lovely one from Laura Ashley last year... I really love it but now I have it, I do find it difficult to decide what to put on it! I don't have much china to display so just normally go for a random mix of cups, jugs, cards, candles and other bits and bobs. It's much more difficult than I thought it would be to create a good display though!

Another Eastery touch around here is these sparkly little eggs which were a pound shop bargain...Cheap and cheerful displayed in a jug but they were calling out to me!

So anyway... my Easter weekend has been so nice so far, hanging out with friends, a lovely pub lunch, some gardening, and now I am currently lounging on the sofa watching tv with a big bag of mini eggs for company... somehow I've got through almost the entire bag already! The sooner I eat them though, the sooner they are gone and I can get back to trying to tone up for the summer :D we booked flights to Portugal in July so need to get back to my bikini body!!

Anyway, am feeling a little tired but content knowing that I have the entire evening stretching ahead to work on my patchwork granny blanket, it is a happy feeling. I do so love being at home... being comfy and cosy, there is nothing like it...

I still have quite a way to go on the square making front because I've not done any this week at all - think I was all crocheted out after the 90 I did last week! I laid all the squares out on the floor so I can see how they work together and how many more I need to make of each colour... I keep popping in just to look at them... happy sigh! I've added in the meadow green again as I thought it looked a bit pastelly - what do you reckon?

Anyway hope you are having a fab Easter weekend too whatever you are doing. Thanks so much for popping in as always and don't forget to enter my seaside giveaway if you haven't already! Have loved reading all your comments so far, so many fellow seaside lovers!! Am very jealous of all of you living by the sea though, it is my dream... one day! xxx

Monday, 2 April 2012

'Seaside Home' Book Giveaway - Now Closed!

So whilst I was away last week, a very exciting parcel arrived for me. It's been something that's been in the pipeline for over 18 months!

Way back in 2010, I was asked to contribute a project to a new seaside sewing book called 'Seaside Home', part of the Design Collective series by Stash Books. My project was to be my Beach Hut cushion (or 'pillow' as it's called in the States!) And finally... after all these month, the book has been published!

I am really quite excited to be part of this book, especially as it is such a lovely book! To be honest, I still am excited whenever and wherever I see my work in print, whether it is for my textiles work or magazine commissions, I don't think it will ever grow old! I would love to write and design my own  sewing/ craft book one day too...

Anyway there are 25 sewing and craft projects in the book, all with a seaside theme, including quilts, cushions, bags, and garlands just to name a few. All the projects are step by step with clear illustrations, beautifully styled photos and templates so it is perfect for both experienced sewers and beginners too, it really is a lovely book.

Anyway here's the best part... I am giving away a copy of the book to one lucky reader of my blog!

All you have to do is leave me a comment on this post telling me what you love most above the seaside. You don't have to be a follower of my blog but I would love it if you were!

For a second entry, you can blog about my giveaway. Feel free to use the top image if you want, and please link back to this post and leave me a second comment to let me know you've mentioned it!
The giveaway is open internationally, and will end in one weeks time on Easter Monday, 9th April, 7.00pm UK time.

Thanks so much for entering and good luck!

p.s If you can't wait and want to buy your own copy of Seaside Home, you can find it here (US readers) and here (UK readers) xxx

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