Thursday, 30 January 2014

A flowery week

It's been a flowery week this week.

Flowery cakes that I made with my daughter before she went back to uni

A flowery basket, a present from my lovely friend Gill when she came to see me.

And flowery crochet, inspired by a previous post on a rogue peony.

Hope all is well out there.
Jane x

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Sewing box - times past and present

For some time I have been looking for a sewing box and just before Christmas I stumbled on this one in a local antiques centre.

I wasn't sure at first, I loved the 1950s/60s style but wasn't sure how it would look with our other bits of furniture and so I left it.  I came to the conclusion that our style was what some would call 'eclectic' anyway and was pleased to find the sewing box still there when I went back.  When I opened it there were some bits and pieces still inside:  threads, buttons, a zip, poppers, hooks and eyes, some ancient rick-rack, bias binding, a packet of needles. 

There was also a glimpse of times past:  a darning needle, still with its thread from its last mending session (I wonder if, in this throw-away world we live in whether people still darn socks?) and these rather sturdy spare suspenders. As I don't have a girdle to attach them to (thank goodness for lycra), I won't be using them, or the elastic for that matter.

A quick clean and it's ready to go

But I can't imagine it will stay tidy.

Hope all is well out there.
Jane xx

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Now sowing ...

… Chillies.  I get these going early because it takes a long time for the fruits to develop, and when they do the more sunlight they get the better.  I grow chillies every year for two reasons:  (1) I love the plants and their glossy colourful fruits and (2) hubby is a chilli-head.  He likes the hottest and I’ve grown several (volcanic) varieties over the years.  This year I’m trying out Aji Crystal, described as having an ‘unusual hot citrus flavour’.  How the citrus flavour can be picked out from amongst all the heat I have no idea.  Apparently Habanero chillies (grown in previous years) have a ‘nice fruity flavour’ but, alas, I just get burning, on a massive scale, so I will leave it to Mr. T. to decide on the citrus content in this year’s crop (providing they grow that is).  

Outside, the garden is a bit of a mess.  In October a large chunk of a big old oak tree next door fell, demolished some of our fence and put a big dent in the chicken run (chickens fine, just a bit confused).  We've cleared what we can from our side and hopefully, next door's side will be cleared by summer. But there are a few plants that make the garden look a little less like Steptoe’s yard.

I'm on a mission this year to get scented peonies. About 3 years ago I fell in love with a peony that I’d seen either when visiting a garden or a garden show, can’t remember now (memory loss seems to happen all too often these days). Anyway, Paeonia lactiflora 'Duchesse de Nemours' is a beautiful white peony with a gorgeous scent (think lily of the valley kind of scent). I was delighted to find some at the local garden centre, but there were none in flower; however, they were all clearly labelled so I bought one.


I took little Duchesse home, planted her, nurtured her and protected her from the dog, who has a habit of plonking her great big bottom down on my favourite plants. Finally, last summer, she flowered and …



… after 3 dedicated years, it appears that my beautiful little Duchesse is a scarlet woman. After the initial disappointment I decided that she is beautiful enough to stay and will try again this year. This time though, to make sure she is who she says she is, I want to see flowers first.

Hope all is well out there ...
Jane xx

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Out with the old ...

I always feel a little bit sad when the last of the decorations and the Christmas china are put away for another year.

But then I think about the coming spring and all is well!

The paperwhite narcissi have just started to flower and the hyacinths and Tete a Tete daffs are not far behind. 

Trouble with paperwhites is that they flop all over the place, so I'm hoping that the twiggy nonsense I've stuck in with them will keep them a bit more upright.

The stripy blanket is growing; when I started this I was just randomly crocheting stripes, but now I've got to the middle I have a plan and hope to finish it soon. 

However, over the last week I've taken a little break from it and have been trying out some different grannies (the woolly kind, not the sweet little old lady kind). I fancy doing something with flowers, so had a go at one of the squares from Nicki Trench's Cute & Easy Crochet with Flowers, it was easier than I expected and now I can feel a 'Gypsy Queen Throw' in all its summery-looking loveliness coming on.

I have mixed feelings about the others. I quite like the circle-in-square or circle-in-hexagon as in the two on the left. These are both from Susan Pinner's Granny Squares. The two on the right are from Jan Eaton's 200 Crochet Blocks for Blankets, Throws and Afghans and I haven't done them justice at all (you can see what they should look like on pages 53 and 57). The one bottom right went decidedly frilly, which is a shame because the central circle looked lovely and then when I crocheted the square round the outside of it, it seemed to go horribly wrong. I might have another go, changing the way the square is formed around the circle.

Wishing everyone a happy and creative new year; a little late I know, it took me a while to get going - probably the chocolate, I think I ate record amounts of it over Christmas! 

Jane x