Sunday, 31 January 2010

January garden update

Well, here we are on the very last day of January, and I've finally managed to get out in the garden for an hour. You wouldn't think it was difficult, it's such a tiny garden, it's right outside the back door, but what with snow, PhD starting again, along with Job 3 resuming after 9 months off, this is the first time I've had a proper poke around.

And oh, it was good! I'd forgotten what wet earth smelt like.

I didn't actually do much, just pulled out some things I battled with all last summer (fighting a losing battle, probably, but I thought I'd try for a bit of a head start). Oh, and lopped off a bit of the acer that was hanging over the path, just at tripping-up height. And hacked away at the impossible-to-destroy roses.

And stood back with a cup of tea and had a good look. Because that's what gardening's all about, right?

The sage doesn't seem to have been affected by being buried under several inches of snow for a few weeks.

The chard, though, hasn't fared quite so well...

And look at this! New growth of fennel, nestled away in the corner. How exciting, I can almost believe spring's on the way!

I'm planning on doing a bit of a garden update at the end of each month this year... more to make sure I keep getting out and doing things than anything else, that's what this little blog was for, after all! I think there'll probably be lots more photos as I get out there more in the next few months. I've got lots of plans for the garden this year...

In other news, all my family Christmas presents have finally been delivered - hooray! Which means I'll be able to share them on here, hopefully in the next week or so.

And I've promised myself a post about goals (again, to make sure I actually reach some!), so I'll try for that this week too...

(and I haven't forgotten the bodging tutorial, but as I'm not going to undo part of my old rug, I'll have to start a new one (!) for that, so it'll have to wait for this week at least!)

(I know I don't have to start a whole new rug to show you what I did, by the way, but it might be just too tempting not to. We'll see...)

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

More to follow...

Thanks for all your lovely comments about the purple rug last week, both here and elsewhere! They are much appreciated :)

There's been a few requests for a bodging tutorial. I'm honoured to be asked, and flattered that people think something I did is worthy of having a go at :)

I haven't got any photos to share today, it's a busy week, and I only ever seem to be at home in the dark, and the lighting in this house is, er, atmospheric rather than illuminating, but I wanted to pop in and say that I promise there will be a bodging tutorial very soon (well, I couldn't not after you all asked so nicely!)

Also, the time I'm spending at home this week is a bit of a flurry of last minute Christmas present making (yep, you read that right). I'm nearly there now, apart from the edibles, which are on the list for Thursday. I'm trying to get photos of everything before it gets delivered to the recipient, but with the dodgy lighting and everything, I might have to ask my family nicely if I can borrow their presents back to take pictures of them. Is that a bit too bizarre??

So anyway, bear with this sparse and non-colourful blog this week, and I'll be back next week with photos of all the Christmas presents that finally got made, a bodging tutorial if I get time (and if not, it'll be the week after), and maybe even some photos of the garden!

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

A purple flower border rug

Well, can't you just tell I've gone back to work? No posts for over a week!

Still, I'm here now, and bringing a Christmas present success story!

Remember back in August when I mentioned my Mum had asked for a rag rug for by her bed? Well, I finally got round to making it. In December.

A couple of old purple-ish sheets, a large piece of hessian, a blunt pencil (and a shaped dolly peg when I finally found it), and so, so SO many hours sat on the sofa bodging and bodging and bodging, and finally it was done!

And rather fetching, I thought!

I started with quite a dark purple, and rather than going in rows or anything sensible, bodged a nice swirly pattern over the whole hessian. Which promptly got lost when I started filling in the gaps - you can see it nicely on the back, but the front looks like just a splodgy mass of purple.

Or, as mum suggested, a flower border.

I made a much smaller rug several years ago, which now stands in front of the kitchen sink. That one I did as stripes - and the pattern is much clearer.

But I enjoyed this one much more, and managed to finish it in about six weeks.

It's made me realise that actually I love making these rugs! They take rather a lot of time, quite a lot of fabric, and I ended up constantly covered in frayed bits of old sheet, but there's something so soothing about bodging the bits of material through the holes, seeing the pattern grow, cutting sheets into strips, bodging and more bodging...

I think there'll be another one of these in the future :) But there's some other Christmas presents to finish first!

Friday, 8 January 2010

Unexpected events

I snapped this picture when we went for a walk yesterday. It's taken from one of my favourite benches, not far from the house, quite high up, looking out over one of the valleys. I know I promised no more snow pictures, but I got home and realised I'd taken one from exactly the same place in the autumn, and it does show the seasonal changes rather nicely, don't you think?

(I'm afraid that after 3 weeks of snow on the ground - highly unusual for round here - I can't imagine ever being without snow again!)
This week has carried on in a mellow, relaxed way, as befits the final week of the holidays. A gradual sliding back towards work mode, with the decorations slowly coming down, a tiny bit of cleaning, and a bit of reorganisation ready for a few new routines.

There's been a couple of small unexpected events too. A phone call from Spain, from a friend I haven't spoken to for a long time. And on a cold, snowy night in the local shop, when I popped in for some milk (they didn't have any), a man ahead of me in the queue handed me a bunch of flowers. I never did figure out why, but it was exceptionally cheery, and they're easing the transition away from the winter festivities nicely.

See that bag? I found it, rummaging in a pile of fabric in a charity shop, and just had to have it, even though me and white, er, don't mix well, and it probably won't survive long. But it was 50p, it's handmade, by someone obviously trying out all the fancy stitches on a sewing machine far fancier than mine, and I couldn't resist.

I mean, look at those dogs!

My other handmade charity shop find this week was a bit more practical. Knee length, blue, thick, and warm.

(You'll have to excuse the slightly bizarre photograph, they only place in the house with enough light was standing against the living room window. And you'll have to excuse the chipped mug too - I painted it years ago, and it's been well used since then, and I'm going to keep it going as long as I can...)

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

More snow

Well, I know I promised no more snow pictures, but really, how can I resist?? And this is just a little nothing-much post to test out my return to the old blog editor - the new one pretty much defeated me yesterday!

This picture was actually taken yesterday, looking over the bowling green in the park as the sun was setting. The snow wasn't that deep there, and anyway, it's been melting and refreezing all week, and I thought we were seeing the last of it.

Well, this is the view from the living room window first thing this morning, and it hasn't stopped snowing since.

Obviously, that meant abandoning plans to rescue the van from the garage, and instead togging up and heading out for a Snowy Adventure. Or three Snowy Adventures, to be precise.

I never get bored of trees in the snow. This light isn't brilliant, because it was still snowing, and rather grey and gloomy, but I think the gravestones add to the atmosphere... (and is that far enough away to avoid being disrespectful??)

Anyway, I think tomorrow will bring more wanderings through the woods in the snow, and so probably more snowy pictures. There's also an awful lot of crafting going on round here, which I still can't reveal, and a fair bit of pondering plans for the year, and seeing friends.

There's also been a little bit of proper garden planning, like with a tape measure and graph paper (yes, in the snow), and even tracing paper. Like being back at school again. But I've got big plans for our tiny garden this year. I might even share this graph-paper-and-scribbles plan if I can get it to look vaguely recognisable.

If there's anyone out there keeping track (mother??), we've now been without central heating for 8 weeks and 4 days. Not that I'm counting. More on that later this week too.

But for now? More snowy trees I reckon.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

2009: A review

Edited to add: I give up. I switched to the new blog editor, believing, as it said, it would make life easier. I've tried and tried to reformat this post, and every time it's ended up with either huge spaces, or no spaces, or a mixture, and photos in the middle, to the left, and generally all over the place. So I'm going to apologise for the higgledy-piggledy-ness of this post, and move on, perhaps with a new template, perhaps with the old editor, perhaps with a new blog hosting thing. We'll see. That's all.

Well, here we are at the beginning of 2010! I love the new year, the possibilities seem endless, the year stretches ahead, and I tend to do lots of plotting and scheming and planning and dreaming of all the lovely things that will happen in the coming months. 

Being stuck in the house without being on holiday, I've already done a fair bit of plotting. And I will share some of it on here this week. However, I think it's time for a little look back at 2009 first, don't you? 

Oh, I've had such fun this evening trawling through my photos of this year, laughing at the endless blurry pictures of all kinds of birds in the garden, many, many attempts to get an interesting end-of-phd photo, pictures of grass, and sky, and failed baking fiascos that never made it as far as this little blog... 

So, 2009 brought this little foray into Blogland, where I've felt very welcome and at home, ambling awestruck around other people's blogs, and trying to find my feet and put a little bit of my world out there into the big internet world. The idea was to document what happened in my little garden, and to encourage me, well, to encourage me to spend more time in the garden, and less time staring at the computer screen (no, I'm not sure I can work that one out either). 

As always, to my surprise, I planted things and they grew! 

And by the summer, our little garden was overflowing with flowers and cheeriness. We even managed to grow some food! In a rather haphazard, stick-things-in-and-see-what-happens kind of a way. I think 2010 will bring a little bit more strategic planning for the garden (just a little bit, mind you, since I do so enjoy the stick-it-in variety of gardening!)

2009 is also the year I had a go at a few new things - mostly small cheery things which seem to run along a theme of doing-rather-than-buying, like making soap:

making clothes:

making jam:

and er, eating flowers:

There's also been quite a lot of sewing, especially since April, which was when I decided to make all of the presents I gave people for the whole year. Hmm - we'll have a review this coming April on how well that's gone... 

According to my photo archive, 2009 also involved a lot of baking, and sitting around drinking tea and eating the results of the baking: 

In fact, a fair amount of sitting around in general: 

I've also found a new appreciation for being at home this year, which is good, as I've been at home an awful lot. We've been slowly (very slowly) sorting out various bits of the house, boring things like putting in a shower, and a bathroom carpet, and more cheery things like sewing glamourous stripey curtains for by the bed:

and just looking at the sunshine on the living room floor (does that count as a project?? Probably not!)

And finally (for now, since this is getting ever so long, and I really should be doing something else), I've enjoyed watching the seasons change, the sunshine:

the autumn leaves:

and the snow, yes, snow, which is quite rare round here, and so Very Exciting:

So, I think that pretty much sums up the year - learning new things, having a go, growing a bit, watching to see what happens, a fair bit of work, and quite a lot of hanging around. 
Sounds like a good plan for 2010 too, don't you think??