My back yard

backyardafter1I haven’t written much about my garden this year, I know, but it’s still coming along and I’ve gradually been reclaiming it from the weeds and rubbish left behind by previous tenants.

Lately I’ve been on a Mission to brighten up my back yard (not least because it’s the best spot for taking those sewing-selfie-pics to share here with you!).  This little space leads from the alley by my back door through to my garden and also, in the higgledy-piggeldy world of 18th century cottages, is an Access for my neighbours’ garden.  This is what it looked like when I moved inbackyardbefore1Not exactly welcoming, I think you’ll agree!  So I began to gradually tidy it up, replanted the hanging basket with geranium cuttings and cheapie things from Aldi, and installed a big rainwater butt given to me by some friends who were moving.backyardbasketyardclearingI began to move a few plants in, although only one section gets any sun and I have to keep most of it clear as a thoroughfare.  What I really wanted, though, was a big ‘planter’ that I could fill with colourful scented annuals to make a bold, bright splashbackyardbetI saw some wooden ones at the garden centre recently – priced nearly £50!! This is roughly ten times my usual ‘makeover’ budget!  So one morning a couple of weeks ago, the rain held off long enough for me to construct this rather ‘rustic’ affair from bits of wood left over from making the second compost bin.  This wood was actually given to me by my neighbours, so I thought it would be nice to use it for something they’d see and get a smile from as they passed by.planterbuildingI planted it up with sweet peas and love-in-a-mist grown from seed, and made a wigwam of sticks for things to climb up.  Total cost: packet of woodscrews £1.20, 2 half packets of seeds £2.00, half a grow-bag mixed with garden compost £1.75 = £4.95!  Not bad, eh?  Here it is just plantedplanterplantedA week or so later and It’s all growing up nicely, hopefully soon to be full of flowers and wafting scent across the yardbackyardafter2Next step is to persuade my landlady to get the back wall painted for next year, and my mum has given me some planters to put up on it.  Goodbye dull, grotty old space: Hello cheerful, perfumed oasis!backyardafter3aWishing you all a bright & colourful week 🙂

Things I’ve been making this month

bluewaves#63Aloha, I hope you’re all having a lovely May and managing to squeeze in a bit of creative time, in whatever form takes your fancy!  As well as taking time out from the Blue Waves blanket (stripe No 63 in this pic, but 65 today!) to make some crochet  bunting, I’ve also been playing around with other kinds of making these last couple of weeks.

As reported last month, I am obsessed with my new garden at the moment.  Having cleared a HUGE pile of weeds that got thrown into a heap as I went along, I decided it was high time I had a proper compost bin.  I’d rootled through the ‘no good for anything but the bonfire’ woodpile at Tir Heddwch on my last visit and selected some choice pieces for this project, so with a wobbly hammer, some nails, a bowsaw and my trusty motto “How hard can it be?”, I set about the task!compostbinThe wonkiest compost bin known to Gardeningkind? – Well, quite possibly, but nevertheless I was pretty chuffed with myself and it does the job!

I’ve been getting a bit creative in the kitchen too, but don’t expect to see any baking pictures here!  Instead I’ve been cooking up some lovely rich moisturiser and sun protection balm, using natural ingredients.  Both use a simple cocoa butter/beeswax/oil recipe, there are lots out there but see this YouTube video for a very easy how-to.  For the moisturiser I added lavender and bergamot essential oils, and the sun balm is made using wheatgerm oil (SPF20) and carrot seed essential oil (SPF40), plus some lavender to mask the truly yucky smell of the carrot seed oil!  Really.  Trust me on this.

herbalmoisturiser

And what could be better than garden and kitchen together?!  I picked my first teeny bit of produce last week, which was exceptionally pleasing:  1stvegOK, so it was only enough for a little bit of side-salad, but I tell you what, the flavours in this chard, radish, & chive combo put everything else on my plate to shame!  Yummmm….!1stsaladHave a delicious weekend, everyone! 🙂

 

SO not sewing…

SoNotSewingHello!  Remember how, last post, I was all full of the joys of spring, and ‘hey look at me I’ve found my sewing machine’?  Ah, happy days!  Not so, this week.  This week I have been laying carpet tiles in my main room.  It’s been a nightmare!  Not the tiles, which are lovely, but the chaos of not having anywhere to put the stuff from the room except, er, in the room!  Can you spot the sewing machine in the above picture? – Nope, neither can I…

Not to worry.  It’s pretty much done now and next week I can FINALLY start unpacking and finding homes for things.  And finding things again, hopefully!

Wishing you all a sparkly Sunday, 🙂

 

DIY decals: budget décor, 70s style

decalheaderpicDon’t you love looking through all those home decorating magazines that purport to be for ‘ordinary’ and ‘real’ folk?  You know, the ones that say things like “Sophie and Brett have a budget of just £10,000 to restyle their kitchen”.  And then do you, like me, snort and throw them across them room?!   Yes?  Well, then, this post is for you! (With apologies to any real Sophies & Bretts).

I had a budget of about £10 to restyle part of my kitchen – who remembers this horror-show pic from last month?kitchentilesThis was stage one of my kitchen tile makeover.  A tube of ready-mixed grouting cost £5, then two Dulux match pots in lime green, costing £2.30, were enough to do two coats of paint over the tiles.

Now the fun bit!  I wanted some funky, 70s-style decals to zing up the tiles, so I turned to my vintage wallpaper collection for inspirationwallpapersI chose a flower motif from the sheet in the middle, traced it onto A4 paper and scanned it into the computer.  I had to go over the pencil lines with a felt pen first though, to make them strong enough for my picture editor to be able to ‘grab’ them for a colour fill.  I could lie and say that I deliberately gave them a quirky, child’s-colouring-book look, but truth is I’m just not that good at drawing!decalprint2

I enlarged the original, printed out a batch on ordinary A4 paper, and cut them out.  I wanted quite a shiny finish, so I used glossy decopatch glue to stick them to the tiles and seal them down.  I only did every third tile so I probably used ⅓ of a bottle, about £2.decopatchgluesMeasure and mark the position of your decal on the tile, then apply glue to the back of the paper cut-out with a small flat paintbrush.  Stick the decal onto the tile and work fast, this glue dries QUICK!  Brush the decal into place with more glue, smoothing out wrinkles as you go.  Keep a jar of water handy to clean your brush after each decal, as the printer ink can run and a stained brush will mess up your lovely colours!  I put a layer of decopatch glue over each decorated tile to seal it, then once it had dried I went over the whole lot with a layer of ordinary PVA to seal the paint as well.  I used ¼ of a tube of PVA or less, so about £1.

So…..Woohooo!!!  Behold, my £10 kitchen makeover:finishedtiles1I have to say, I am LOVING my new-look kitchen!  OK, it’s not a big-budget affair, and yes, those wobbly edges do show when you get up close, but now it puts a smile on my face every day!finishedtiles2