Monday, 24 August 2015

Take 5

1) Ho, ho, ho and on we soap!
I've missed the last couple of months of 'Ho, ho, ho and on we sew', this is not good for my Christmas organisation, but I'm hoping to get back on track this month! So far in August, present making has taken the form of soaps and bath bombs though rather than sewing. Perfect activity with children on a rainy day (of which we have had many!)

It's also a great way to get them wanting to have a bath, too often mine don't see the need!

There are masses of DIY recipes available online and if you're looking for supplies to give it a go, we recently put together a bath bomb making present with goodies from The Soap Kitchen. They're a local company for us but with internet ordering, and I was really impressed with their customer service (I'm not in any way being paid to say so!). They do Bath Bomb Kits too if you're looking for a ready made present.

2) Hat Boxes
Latest charity shop buy - not one, not two but three hat boxes, of reducing size so they fit inside one another. 

Hat boxes are another weakness of mine at charity shops, they make handy storage containers, they're good for putting presents into and, depending on their appearance, they can be great to decorate too. We have couple in the house which I 'covered' in wools and are used to store toys.

A green flowery one with wool toadstools, which is home to some fairies and their fairy doors and accessories.

And an under the sea one...

Which houses some mermaids and other wooden sea creatures, as well as lots of shells...

Not sure to what use these latest three will be put. I think I've seen a lovely dolls' house created in one before, and a collection of hat boxes hung very effectively on the wall for storage. Or Maria might claim them, she seems to like them just as they are!

3) Daily fish
Since I just had an underwater theme going on there, I'll show you the one addition to my fish over the past couple of weeks, a crab...

He is in celebration of the many crabs which have been caught rock pooling so far in these holidays. Most of them caught by Theo, who is our expert rock pooler, though he does have a couple of crab claw wounds from some of the larger specimens!

4) ATC Swap - 'My Favourite'
The current ATC Swap (hosted by Very Berry Handmade, who also has a lovely Liberty fabric giveaway going on until Wednesday evening, so go have a look!) is nearing its end. Cards are due to be posted this week, and I have been frantically trying to get mine finished today. The theme for this one is 'My favourite'. And I bet you thought mine would have a sea or swimming related theme?! Well, no, not this time! Perhaps in an effort to not be too predictable, or perhaps because I was all sea/swimming ATC-ed out with recent wild swimming cards, I have gone down a different route. And here's a sneak peek at the closest I got to a 'mood board' for it...

5) And lastly, a photo catch up!
I've got lots of photos from the past couple of weeks that I could have picked out to include here, mainly very predictably swimming related, but we've had one particular day that stood out more than any other for all of us. One day when there was a wonderful combination of gorgeous weather, amazing surroundings and lovely friends. We went to an old quarry on Bodmin Moor which is fed by an underground spring and is now a beautiful swimming spot, with incredibly clear, deep water and loads of perfect jumping in spots.

Spot the 2 little heads straight in there!

The clear water made it easy to take underwater selfies!
If you look carefully you can see some of the many fish which swam alongside us, plus a duck! The girls enjoyed feeding them all.
A rare moment when all 4 of mine appeared in view at the same time!

This was probably the highest jump we all did, there was another one which I reckon was easily over twice as high as this one, but I was a mean Mum and wouldn't let the boys do it - I think they'd have chickened out anyway though, it was pretty scary looking down from there!

This one is actually me! I did my fair share of jumps too, it was lots of fun, but the only photographic evidence is this one which Venetia took from quite a distance, I'd just jumped from up where you can see those feet!

Lots of spectacular walking to be done all around too.

It was a very special day and definitely a place we'll visit again.


Monday, 10 August 2015

Sunflower Mini Quilt

You might remember way back in February, when I made my hanging Bat Mini Quilt, that I mentioned I had started the year wanting to add some variety to the shape/size/design of my Mini Quilts (if you're interested, find all the ones I've made so far at the bottom of my 'My Quilts' page). My bat quilt covered most of my aims on this front, but I still felt the urge to make a mini quilt which was long and thin in shape. At the time the obvious subject matter for such a quilt had seemed a giraffe, but that idea wasn't really inspiring me, and so it's been in the back of my mind ever since. At some time in the last couple of months the idea of a Sunflower Mini Quilt popped into my head instead - probably at about the time that we finally gave up on any of our real sunflowers growing this year!

And I finally got round to making it last week.

I made it on a long, thin, vintage table runner. So that I kept the lace edging, rather than binding it in any way, I 'backed' it with a covered piece of wool, the exact size of the main runner fabric.

Here's the long, oblong wool piece in the centre with a larger linen piece underneath...

Then I just folded in the corners...

And ironed all the edges over, using a little spray basting glue to help hold them down (pins would do too!)

Then I used more basting spray to stick it to the back of my runner before quilting this fabric sandwich and adding the applique sunflower.

I did think about making the sunflower as a 'dresden plate' rather than applique, but I loved the wools in my recent sunflower cushions so decided to stick with them.

And, of course, all my Mini Quilts have some words or a quote on them. A sunflower gave me lots of possibilities here, but after browsing various quotes associated with sunflowers, I decided on this...

If you do a Pinterest search for advice from a sunflower, you'll see various gems of advice that a sunflower might give us! These were my favourites.

The advice also got me thinking - what else would give good advice? Maybe a tree? Or a cloud, rainbow, bee, butterfly, dinosaur, mermaid, the sea...? Or maybe a real person in history? It feels likes there's a child friendly art/writing project in there! What thing/creature/person do you think would give the best advice?

And speaking of advice, gardening advice this time, if any of you were looking at my tomatoes in my last post and thinking I really needed to cut off masses of those leaves then you'll be pleased to hear I have.

Thanks Emma!
Basically I had been growing a lot of beautiful tomato leaves rather than tomatoes! I usually 'forget' about pinching out the side shoots on tomatoes, it seems to be a blind spot with me. Not helped by the fact that my general style of gardening tends to be plant it and then let it do its own thing! And I always lack confidence in which shoots need the pinching out. But as with lots of things in life, gardening related or not, once you start doing something you find you can figure it out better than maybe you'd anticipated, it's just a matter of diving in and giving it a go. Perhaps that would be the advice of a baby penguin?! And hopefully I'll be more likely to get a better crop of tomatoes now.


Thursday, 6 August 2015

Take 5

1) It's been a long, long time since I shared any garden news or photos. And to be completely honest, I've not been out there much at all for probably most of the last couple of months - a mixture of being busy with other things, and a lot of very untempting weather as well. But despite the lack of attention (or because of it when it comes to the weeds!) most things are growing like crazy out there. The tomatoes are looking very healthy in the greenhouse...

They have had/still have lots of flowers, but so far there don't seem to be many tomatoes forming, just a couple of green ones hiding amongst the leaves...

I'm hoping they're still on their way but it is getting a little worrying, especially as we really do love tomatoes! Happily we have a tomato plant in a hanging basket which has been supplying us on a very regular basis for a few weeks now and it's still going strong.

The cucumbers in the greenhouse are also doing well.

We've eaten a couple already and there are plenty more small ones growing, good since we love cucumbers too (particularly Sam, who will happily munch his way through several large ones every day!).

Then down in the veggie patch, the sweetcorn and pumpkins are doing brilliantly in the new raised bed I built.

We are particularly excited at the progress of the sweetcorn since - guess what? - we love that too! 

There are also quite a lot of carrots tucked in amongst all that greenery, they seem to be coping with growing in the shadow of the sweetcorn, and I'm having to restrain children from pulling them, I think they're still quite small at the moment.

Then I did get round to building another veggie bed on my old bonfire site. Not only did it get built but I got some courgettes, more pumpkins and a butternut squash into it. All of which are doing really well.

We definitely won't be buying any courgettes for the rest of the Summer. And does anyone know if these freeze well in tomato sauce?

We've never grown butternut squash before but I can now understand why I tend to always see it climbing up things in gardens. Unfortunately I have it growing on the ground and I think it would happily take over the whole bed, luckily there's lots of room in this bed but I am a bit concerned that the squashes, as they grow down there, are likely to get eaten??? We currently have some very promising swellings and we're watching them carefully for signs of nibbles.

No such swellings on the pumpkins yet but lots of lovely flowers.

The peas were a big disappointment. After what looked like a promising start, they just never really took off. We've had a few, but only really enough to taunt us with how delicious they are home grown and eaten fresh from the pods, and to make us wish we'd had a bumper crop.

The beans, however, did take off. No beans quite yet still, but lots of flowers and many more to come I'm sure. I'm very much looking forward to these.

Other than that, our potatoes did pretty well, they've been delicious and we still have a good few meals to come from them. We managed to get one good meal out of our broad beans, and we had quite a few onions. And we're almost into apple season now too. The children are already eating fruit from our earliest tree, although I'm still holding out till they're a little larger and sweeter.

The odd ripe blackberry has also been found but I think they're another couple of weeks off general consumption.

2) As well as the garden, my daily fish sewing has also been seriously neglected of late. I decided earlier in the week to make an effort to sew one more farewell block and then accept that it just wasn't going to happen over the Summer, and plan to start again in the Autumn. So I sewed these 2 seahorses...

This one is double the height of my other blocks.

But I really enjoyed sewing it and remembered all over again how lovely it is to just have something little that I can pick up and sew in isolation whenever I want, whilst still having the satisfaction of knowing it's building slowly into something big. So I decided the seahorses aren't a Summer farewell after all, I won't stress about doing it daily, but I'm sure I'll do more some days.

3) I read an article recently that led me to Richard Shilling's Land Art Blog. Quite possibly you might have created some 'Land Art' at times without even realising that was what it was. It's basically art/sculptures which you create outside in nature, using items you find from nature - like pebbles, leaves, pine cones for instance. I hadn't heard of the label 'Land Art' before but it's very much something we do just as a matter of course, particularly on the beach.

However reading about it and seeing some of the images (have a browse on the blog in the link) took it to a whole new level. We've only ever made anything on the beach, or occasionally in the woods, and it's been fairly unconsciously.

There's also a link to a section specifically for children - Land Art for Kids.

Can you see Venetia's face way down there on the beach now?

I would love to just come across someone else's Land Art, perhaps a sculpture, whilst out walking; so the thought of making something that someone else discovers totally unexpectedly is very appealing. And I also love the idea of photographing any Land Art we make more. It's definitely something that I feel I'll now look out for opportunities to explore further, so watch this space! Is it something that you've dabbled with much?

4) It's been a while since I had a photo dump on here too (in fact it's been a while since I posted at all - we had family staying all last week, 4 extra children and a dog in the house is not conducive to blogging or sewing, but we did have lots of fun out and about!), so here are a few. Some in pretty poor weather conditions...

In fact lots of our swims have been like that! The river within walking distance is still too high and fast for the girls to swim in it. And for a good few days recently it was too dangerous for me to feel comfortable with the boys or me swimming in it. Our Summer doesn't really seem to have got off the ground yet, not round here anyway. But of course we are not letting that put us off getting out there!

And we have had a few blue sky days...

Which feel like quite a treat!

Theo celebrating a little sunshine with a skip and a song across the beach!

Although they're often not overly warm still - on this particular day, the fact that Sam is actually wearing a jumper in the photo below is very telling!

And neither does it put us off getting into the water of course!

But poor Maria is the one who's most affected, so often the water really hasn't been suitable for her to get in there. Here she is huddled on the beach, sheltering from the wind and rain under a towel!

She had at least spent quite a bit of time rock pooling before seeking refuge under cover!
So I am keeping fingers crossed for a week or two of consistently better weather before the end of the holidays. Hopefully you might be enjoying slightly better weather where you are?

5) Those in the UK might have seen that 'The Great British Bake Off' started again last night. It has been a long time since I've watched any tv (in fact I think the last thing was probably 'The Great British Sewing Bee' - obviously a theme going on here!), so I had no convenient hand sewing to pick up whilst listening watching. Cue a new hand sewing project. I've had a hexie urge for a while, so I cut out some of the scraps from Maria's quilt...

And started basting them on to my paper templates as I 'watched'...

These will become a cushion cover to go with her quilt. They'll keep me going through a few more weeks of the Bake Off first though! Those who watched it last night - have you picked out the winner yet?