Garden joy

Over the last few weeks, I have been spending lots more time in my garden.  We saved up a couple of years ago and last year had the garden re-landscaped to a design of mine.  It had been devastating over the last few years as the amount of rain increased and the time taken for the water to drain increased with it.  At some points I think we were flooded for several months at a time.  We even had a regular heron visitor, but the icing on the cake was when we had a pair of mallard ducks swimming around where the lawn had once been!

We took the decision to do something which had to include some drainage solution and I put together a few sketches of ideas we could work with.  It was certainly a big plan and one we couldn’t have done ourselves, but our landscaper was fantastic and he was able to do all the drainage works and (with a few modifications) put my sketches into place.

The garden has now been put into zones.  We have a patio (using stones from the original garden), a border, a wildlife area and a grassy arbour with seat (daughter’s zone).  And I love it.  It’s such a great space to be and somewhere I’m thrilled I have in the current times.

We reused as much as we possibly could from the garden -well what had managed to survive the constant waterlogging anyway and it’s been great since to see what is popping up around the place.  Some of the offcuts from the sleepers used to raise the zones were used to make a seat and a little raised bed which we planted with strawberries and they are doing fantastically this year – we planted the runners from the original plants and they are obviously happy.

Equally happy are the cats.  This is Lily enjoying the sleepers, we often find her hiding under the plants or rolling about on the lawn, which is also doing well now we have better drainage.

My wildlife pond looks good too.  I’m amazed how much life there is in it considering it’s only been there for a year.  We have found several frogs and newts too, as well as lots of little bug life – pond skaters, water boatmen and whirly-gig beetles are a regular sight.

I have taken the time to plant some seeds this year too.  We have a patio up by the house and the rest of the garden is down a few steps and as we face south it is a fabulous sun trap.  So I have decided to see what comes up from several old packets of seeds from the garage.  I love poppies and I was pleased to see this little beauty pop up in a trough of seeds for the bees – although not much else seems to be joining it at the moment.

Before we ended up in lockdown, I bought some seeds from Aldi which had several different vegetables and herbs in.  I only planted these broad beans about a week ago and they are already showing their faces.

I am so pleased with the way everything is growing so well this Spring.  And I hope I will see some more flowers soon as well as the blossom on the trees.  Fingers crossed we also get some rain to add to all the sunshine as I could do with a few days indoors catching up with all my indoor projects too!

Stay safe and happy crafting

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Back to School Crochet

Back to school and all the extra-curricular activities are back on again as well.  So it’s back to dancing class both for Alice and for me, but I’ve decided to carry on working through my draw full of knitting and crochet kits.

As it’s dancing on Saturdays, the next make I’ve chosen is a little ballerina cat from an old issue of LGC Knitting and Crochet magazine.  I am still loving practicing my crochet and I feel like I am beginning to speed up a bit.  Alice is completely cat mad and it was her that really pushed me into making this cat.  I think it might go down quite well with her dancing friends too!

I find that crochet is a great activity for long car journeys, and we had a run down to Bristol to visit the in-laws, so this was the perfect accompaniment. I managed quite a lot on the way down as it was a very bright fine day (for a change).  The kit contains a lovely collection of yarn and I love the combination of pinks with the bright purple.  It’s a lovely weight yarn too and it’s been easy to crochet with.

The kit also came with a white fluffy yarn which I added to the end of the tutu with a double crochet stitch.  The ballet slippers were finished using a strand of light pink yarn and tying them to resemble ribbons.

This has been a fairly simple pattern to work through and I’ve loved adding in my own take on the facial features.  I’ve made the eyes using an embroidered chain stitch which I think matches the other embroidered features.

This little one has now joined my other summer creations.  My shelf is filling up quite nicely now.  I think I’m going to enter the Toymaker of the year competition in LGC magazine too, but my problem now is deciding what to make!  Time to get my thinking cap on!!

Happy crafting
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Summer Holiday Crafting

While I’ve been off my feet for a while this summer and since the end of the Olympics, I’ve been encouraging Alice to get a bit more creative. To be fair, it hasn’t been that difficult as we’ve had a few rainy miserable days here and it’s always fun to empty the making box all over the kitchen table.

Alice traded in some of her lizard cards from Explore Learning for a set of t-shirt graffiti pens, so we ordered her a couple of cheap white t-shirts to have a play with. They arrived earlier today so she had a great afternoon finding her inner fashion designer.

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I love how she put a design on the back too!

I’ve also encouraged her to start making cards for her friend’s birthdays. Her friend Daisy was seven at weekend and she wanted to make a bird card like the ones I’ve been making recently, so I gave her a choice of some of the girly floral papers to make one with. This is pretty much all her own work with the exception of the mounting for the happy birthday flag. Her friend loved the card and I do too.  I think it’s great how she made the bird fly, adding in a second wing behind.

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Another craft I’ve tried to do with Alice is some basic sewing.  I think it’s a skill everyone should master, even if it only means being able to sew on a button.  I know it is a skill that will help with her Brownie badges.  So on a recent trip to Clark Crafts in Ramsbottom, I found this little kit.  As she loves cats at the moment, this looked like the ideal kit to start with.

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It’s a pretty simple kit and comes with everything needed to make the cat, including stuffing and a needle (plastic).  It took a few goes, but she finally mastered the basic running stitch to put all the pieces together, then spent a good half hour deciding where all the embellishment pieces would go.  She loves the finished cat and it has slept by her bed every night!  I need to make sure she doesn’t lose this liking for sewing and get out some of the other kits I have hidden away that she hasn’t been interested in up to now.

Well it’s back to school next week, so it’s time for me to get on with some more sewing – name tapes in uniform!  And I must remember to get a new dance uniform too.

Happy crafting
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Paint-a-Pot

As we approach the end of the school year, we seem to be on a never ending run of parties – and not just children’s.

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What I am pleased to find is that now she’s seven, Alice’s party invitations have become a bit more adventurous than a soft play centre.  Today we’ve been at Emily’s Paint-a-Pot in Prestwich. Each child was able to choose an animal to paint and was given instruction on how to go about it. It felt far more grown up than the usual running wild amidst screaming kids of all ages! So we left them to it and had a stroll around Heaton Park before the rain set in and we headed back. The party room is upstairs and we could hear squeals of delight along with the traditional rendition of ‘Happy Birthday to you.’ They were all obviously having a great time. We stayed downstairs in the main painting room, where we had a very lovely cuppa and a look at all the drying pots. It’s a pretty little place and they don’t just cater for children. I was intrigued to see they run Pottery and Prosecco evenings. Something I quite fancy, I wonder why?!

Alice really enjoyed her afternoon. She painted a cat and can’t wait for it to be finished off in the kiln.

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It’s a great place to go on a rainy day, and while not a cheap activity, it is something different to what we generally do at home, so it’s definitely somewhere I hope to visit again. Next time I want to have a go too.

Happy crafting
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School Fair

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It was lovely to see so many parents and family members at school.  The fair itself was as manic as always. being straight after school it’s always very well attended.  This was the first year they’ve really invited parents to have their own stalls and it was great to see the variety of items available.  I was next to a lovely lady from Artysan Gifts who makes bespoke framed gifts. It was her first ever stall and she did really well. I wasn’t surprised as her frames are beautiful. I wonder if I can find a reason to order one for someone?!

There were two Asian food stalls and another card maker too. Fortunately we weren’t quite next to each other and our cards were very different in style, so we appealed to different tastes.

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I decided to go with a ‘name the cat’ competition in the end. It drew in quite a few of the children (and staff). He ended up with the name ‘Garfield’ and was won by a little girl from year one. I sold quite a few cards as well and some knitted and crochet items. So all in all it was a successful fair for me, as well as for the school.

I hope they invite us all back for the next fair at Christmas!

Happy crafting
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