Shoots and Teacups

The garlic has started to peek through but if you watch very carefully  you can almost see the shoots trying to hide from the freezing blasts of wind that have now come to torment us. Last year I used the Utility Room as a greenhouse with good success… but the Utility Room is now the Kitten’s Bedroom and as much as they’d love to have soil and seedlings to play with I’ll have to be more creative with space this year.

The “Nicola” seed potatoes from Sarah Raven arrived in the week so I’ve started to chit them in an old egg tray. I smiled when I notice that one was  heart shaped  as hearts are dotted all the way around our home and it seemed a good sign for the growing year  yet to come.

Garlic and Spuds

I’m quite excited because I’ve made some really tasty bread and it was soooo easy to do that it feels like I’ve missed the point! It’s from a book called Artisan Bread In 5 Minutes which shares the secret of a no knead method of bread making. I followed the most basic recipe and I’m hoping it’s not just a bit of a fluke but it was lovely – I’ll keep baking and let you know. Do you use this method of bread making, and if so, is it successful for you? I’m going to be a bit more adventurous with the recipe next weekend.

Crusty Bread

I seem to have acquired a new obsession – vintage teacups! I’ve decided to hold a small afternoon tea party in early Summer and this has given me the perfect excuse to collect them. I’ll be going full out – home made fancies, crustless sandwiches, scones and gorgeous little cups of tea. They’ll  be bunting, flowers and lots of vintage loveliness and weather permitting we may even be able to sit outside (okay, I’ll stop it now, I’m just getting carried away!).

Teacups

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My Thinking Place

The lid of the seed box barely contained the multitude of packets inside and I had a familiar feeling when I peeked in… you know that feeling when you finally open the Christmas decorations box? You’ve not seen these things for a few months and yet instantly know the magic is about to begin! This time last year I didn’t even have a seed collection which just shows you how far (or obsessed) I’ve come in a year!
I’ve spent quite a lot of time over Winter looking through various seed catalogues but before ordering any more seeds I promised myself that I’d sort out the packets of seeds from last year.

Seed Sorting

1. The seed packets were spread over the table and I discarded any empty packets and those well past their expiry dates. I managed to spill some delphinium seeds so if these start to sprout up from between the tiles at least I’ll know they’re not weeds!
2. They were then sorted into vegetables and flowers and packed away by grouping them into beds. If I was properly organised I’d file them in order of sowing but in truth I like shuffling seeds like a deck of cards and rummaging through them.
3. The lid was so much easier to put on… but I’m sure this won’t be the case when the new seeds arrive!
4. Mmm…. don’t kitten’s have the sharpest little teeth?
5. I highly recommend Mark Diocono’s book “Veg Patch: River Cottage Book 4”. I used this to help me plan what veg to grow this year. The rough plan is as follows:

Kitchen Garden Plans

There are a disproportionate amount of sofas in this house… especially when you consider how much time we actually sit on them. A really nice place to relax is on the chaise longue in the garden room. Feet up, a good book, mellow music and furry friends….. purrfect (well it was until I noticed my bum print on the seat!!). The only problem with a thinking  place is that it provides opportunity to change one’s mind so the 2013 Kitchen Garden plan has already been altered!

Winter Kittens

The view out of the window (as seen from the chaise) was taken a few days ago after another day of snow but it’s all green again now and the sun was out today… it must be very confusing for the wildlife. I managed to spend a few hours in the garden today, tidying the beds and smiling to myself. Spring is nearer than ever.

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Where’s your thinking place?

Vintage Typewriter ♥

Imperial Typewriter

I love vintage things and I’ve been trying to figure out the reason why.  I know that they have a certain look, feel and smell (yes, smell!) that appeals to me but it’s not just that. It’s hard to explain but these things are a link to a past I’ve never known but one that I belong to. It’s also because I get the chance to use things that have been used and loved before – there’s something that makes me want to touch and hold these things and they seem to sing when I do! I blame it on Bagpuss the old children’s tv programme – I’ve always loved this saggy old cloth cat and will probably add him to my blog some time soon (but I need to spend a good amount of time on it to do him justice!).

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To save the house resembling a junk shop I am disciplined and only buy things that really speak to me . This beautiful vintage typewriter came into my life a couple of weeks ago and all she really needs is a new ribbon… not bad for a 70 year old girl!

Vintage Typewriter

It’s so sad to think that many of these vintage typewriters are being snapped up by jewellery makers who then cut off their keys and make charms and pendants from them. I know some of these old typewriters will be in a terrible condition, and I’m a big fan of recycling things, but there must be some perfectly good machines being destroyed. I’ve promised my husband that I won’t  set up a rescue home for unwanted typewriters – but I would seriously urge you to rehome one if you can! These old typewriters take up very little room, don’t need to be fed very often (just the occasional sheet of paper) and are generally well behaved. On the down side you will risk breaking your nails when typing but most gardeners and crafters don’t have perfectly manicured nails anyway.

Tabby Kittens

 Happy Valentine’s Day x

(We’re also half way  through February – Hooray!!)

Flippin’ ‘Eck!

Shrove Tuesday is celebrated in many ways around the world and commemorates the Eve of Lent. Over here we usually do this by eating lots of pancakes and arguing about the best toppings! I always look forward to this day as eating and arguing are a couple of things I’m good at and it helps make the February Blahs better. In the past eggs and butter were amongst the foods that were forbidden during Lent so making pancakes was the ideal way of using up these ingredients.

Pancake Day

My husband is the best pancake maker EVER so he’ll be on frying pan duty tonight when he finishes work. I asked if he wanted me to make a start but he’s quite particular about his batter 🙂 In my opinion the most delicious topping is a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a sprinkle of vanilla sugar whereas the Master Pancake Chef prefers honey, syrup, treacle or chocolate spread (brute).
Here’s A Great Recipe and even if you don’t make pancakes tonight then it’s worth having them at the weekend – they’re lovely for breakfast with sliced banana, for dessert with icecream or even with a savoury filling and salad!

Traditional celebrations always make me think back to childhood memories.  My good hearted parents kept making pancakes until we were all full up. Please bear in mind that this was no minor achievement as I’m the eldest of four girls so the orange quarters usually ran out before the pancakes! Even as I write these words I can hear a faint sizzle of a frying pan and taste the tangy sweetness of being a little girl again. As I close my eyes I can see us all smiling and asking for more… “more?? you’ve already had six each!” x

…. but Pancake Day is not what I’m actually saying Flipping ‘Eck to. The Pyjama Gardener blog is one year old! I can’t believe that this mile stone has been reached and I know the reason for this is down to all you guys who read the posts, comment so generously and inspire me to keep going so thank you. As a thank you I will send you all a virtual pancake, fresh from the pan – you’ll just have to let me know which topping you prefer?

Translation Note: Flippin’ ‘Eck is a phrase used in the North of England that is similar to Good Gracious, Oh My Goodness, Oh Dear… or any of the less polite phrases of surprise!

Craft It Forward

We all have different talents and it’s good to acknowledge these special attributes so they don’t become forgotten. My husband, for example, is an extremely practical and tenacious man which means that he can turn his hand to almost anything (…except the ironing which persistently confounds him for some reason). He also entertains me by turning his socks the right way around whilst putting his feet in them – although this has to be seen to be believed!
My talent is usually knowing what the time is (with an accuracy of less than 15 mins). I never wear a watch although I own several as many people feel sorry for me and buy them as gifts.  I’m also pretty good at matching colours without a swatch which means that I can walk into a fabric shops and just know what the perfect shade would be (this also makes it a nightmare for those who are with me- “it’s near enough” they say. “It’s nothing like” say I).
The kittens have a talent for being  effortlessly cute and cuddly as well as growing at least a centimetre a day! However, the chickens surely must have the most delicious talent  of consistently providing us with the tastiest eggs.

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So, you can imagine that I also have a very good idea of where my weaknesses lie. The top one (of a verrrry long list) is impatience. I have no patience for fiddling around with things like embroidery, sugar craft, jigsaws, sudoku, untangling christmas tree lights etc. It’s not that I can’t do them it’s more like I can’t be bothered to spend time doing them and there always seems to be more intresting and/or pressing to do.  So,  as much as I thoroughly enjoy reading all of the wonderful craft posts,  I know that deep down my talents lie elsewhere.

One of the blogs that I love is Gardening Nirvana and last week dear Alys was thrilled to be involved with a “Craft it Forward” project. She explained that the first five people who left a comment on her blog would receive a hand crafted gift and the only condition was the lucky five have to pay the  craft favour forward. Once the five bloggers had safely added their comments to Alys’ blog I contacted her to say what a great idea it was and then THIS happened! (the link can be found in the word THIS!). Thanks Alys x

Oh well, I like a challenge and it may just lead to a new hobby. If you would like to be involved then please hurry and comment – the rules are very simple:

  1. The first five people to comment here will receive a handmade gift from me at some point during 2013…. I apologise in advance for what the postman brings.
  2. You won’t know when, and you won’t know what, but I can assure you that it will happen…. heck, even I don’t know when or what!
  3. I will email you for your snail mail address so it will be private
  4. As one of the famous five you have to agree to do the same for five other people

There’s no time like the present – I’ve already thought about embroidery, crazy patchwork, stump work, decoupage and water colours. My Mum’s really good at crafts so I’m sure she’ll help me out and try not to laugh too much at my attempts.
Last night we went to a family dinner party and took along some champagne, a dozen organic eggs and a potted cyclamen. There’s no time like the present so I had a little go at glamming things up …. starting with the tatty recycled egg box.

IMG_4540I was pleased with how much improvement a simple decoration of flowery tissue paper, buttons and raffia made…

IMG_4535 … so the cyclamen plant was attacked next with some old brown tissue paper and more raffia…

IMG_4546… these gifts were gratefully received and it was nice to know that I had spent some extra time and thought on them. Don’t worry – you won’t get eggs or a plant in the post!!

So my main questions are

  • who wants to enter the Craft It Forward challenge?  
  • what on earth can I make???        🙂

February Blahs

February is my least favourite month. It has the fewest days compared to other months but somehow seems to drag on and on. Even when February seems to be trotting along quite nicely… bam! an extra pesky day sneaks in. Admittedly, this extra day only occurs once every four years but (come on!!!) couldn’t it happen during Summer when an extra day would be nice?!!
Maybe my aversion to February is because I hate having to wait for Spring… I have a whole list of things I can do in March but February delights in taking it’s sweet time :-). Am I the only one to have an unexplained aversion to a month? Surely not, but I confess that I also dislike Tuesdays (but that is less logical than the February saga)!

Feb View
The snow has finally gone, and although we’re expecting more during the week, it was lovely to be able to enjoy the green fields through the Garden Room windows again. It’s great to watch the storms roll over and try and guess what time the rain will arrive.
In the Garden Room, high up in the rafters, is a little carved wooden snail called Brian who looks down on us as we pass by. He moves extremely slowly so he’s usually not a problem to catch and dust.

Brian

Whilst I was wobbling on tiptoes with a duster in hand, I happened to glance across at the windows. The sun was shining through the glass and shaming me into wanting to clean the windows but for once I wasn’t too concerned because there was, quite obviously, a leftover Christmas sign!!
Eek! The question is – do I leave it up for the rest of the year (it has taken me until February to notice it!) or take it down and hide it in the rubbish drawer?

The One That Got Away