Saturday, 30 July 2011

Keep it fun and keep it inexpensive

Keep it fun and keep it inexpensive would be my motto for most things, but especially for flower displays.And keep it colourful !! .Here are some inexpensive  flowers I can recommend: Californian poppies( the bright orange) - super easy to grow annuals, and mostly self seeding once you have them.Crocosmia-a tuber/bulb ( the red flower) - almost a weed , once it is established- and fabulous ground cover.

AND , my  almost favorite because of the drooping  dark red tassels - Amaranthus- an annual which needs a bit of care - but really worth it... and you don't have to go really expensive for a vase- a simple Killner jar works just fine.

Here's another shot so you can see why I love Amaranthus.The vertical acccent just helps to tie everything together with all the other shapes in the flowers.

And just in case you thought I only love bright and bold, and that you have to grow everything yourself- I would also recommend keeping your eyes open when you go for a walk and collect what you think that looks interesting.So you can do a nice display for practically nothing.
Like this for instance:
Don't you just love nature and all the amazing shapes there are!I know...conkers ( chesnuts )..feels too much like autumn .. we won't go there ,hahaha!!
But marvel at this design!

All so pretty and for free!
So a win- win- my favourite situation!

Whatever you do, I hope you have a fabulous weekend!
Happy weekend!

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Simplify your kitchen window

Here's a a quick how to prettify and simplify your kitchen window-sill.
Mine was pretty awful- here is the before.This is real life, people! Hahaha!
A mix of different size pots, plants, some alive, some dead and some much too big .
They all grew too big for their pots which meant- too big for the window sill .  I kept on dreaming of nice cache- pots  but everywhere I looked I would have to pay at least  £30,- per pot-.So that was not going to happen.
So here's what I did:
I got 5 pink begonia's all of the same size and colour which set me back about £20,-.It's not my favourite plant by all means, but it was the cheapest .And hopefully the easiest to keep alive . It looked pretty cheerful. Plus my track record with orchids is not good.I only managed to keep 1 alive for a year , years ago.
Then I hunted for some terracotta pots from my garden, which were all old and a bit cracked.But for free!

I scrubbed the pots clean, then patched up the cracks with Pollyfilla. I then painted all the pots with "Blue Ground " from Farrow and Ball which I still had, and I painted the rim with a different colour, a cream called " Clunch " by Farrow and Ball ( where do they get these names from?!?" Clunch "! Eh ? ) ( Had a little tester pot which cost practically zero).

Then I filled the pots with some extra soil and the begonia's.
 Like this :
 And this.Pretty cute, eh ? Apart from the begonia. Shame. Maybe I should have gone for orchids..
I cleaned the widows inside and out ( last time this was done was 1985.. probably !! )
Then made myself some curtains from a " vintage "( 1992)  lace table cloth which I got for from a charity shop for peanuts..It had a big hole in it, so forget using it on a table. I managed to hide the hole with the curtain arrangement like so :
Then I took two tiny Christmas wreaths , and took all the fake pine off so I had two tiny twig wreaths.I gave them both a blue/grey/white striped ribbon and bow and hung them from the curtain rod.
And then put all the new pots on the clean window sill.
Here is the whole window
Now I just have to get used to begonia's :-).
Have a great rest of the week!
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Saturday, 23 July 2011

Happy weekend!

Pink macaroons! I may not be the only one to get completely cheered up by a picture like this !
You can find the recipe here on this super cute site full of free recipes and cute stationary downloads.

Happy weekend!

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Rose hip delicatessen

Sure, you can pick roses and have vases full of them- but eating them in the form of rose hip jam is just one step better  .  And you can get your jam making materials  from nature .Zero costs!
If you don't have a garden just have a look around on your walks for this shrub.

That's a nice rose hip there.Wild rose shrubs are full of them at the moment.
And making jam is a piece of cake.
Pick yourself a bowl -- or bag full of rosehips.
Wash the rosehips and take the top and the bottom off , and cut them in half.
Scrape the seeds out with small spoon.If you want to be quick, just throw the whole thing in the pan, as you will be simmer them and then put them through a sieve anyway.
Weight the rosehips.I had about 500 grammes from a small spate of picking rose hips which will give you about 1 small Killner jar of jam.

So with or without seed, simmer the washed rose hips in just that much water that they are covered.

Give it about 20 minutes or so then check if the rose hips are soft, if not, give it another 5 or ten minutes.
Pour off the water.Push the rosehips through a sieve so you have a puree.
Weigh the puree- and add the same amount of sugar.So  500 grammes fruit puree - then 500 grammes sugar.Or use jamsugar which is specifically for jam making.Again- the fruit/ sugar shoiuld be 50/50.
 Add a sachet of pectin or two if you just use sugar .You can buy them in boxes with sachets of 7 grammes each. If you can't find pectin, you can use agar- this is really more for jellies, but it does work for jams if you can't find pectin- I have tried.
Stir and bring to the boil.( the agar shouild be stirred in when the puree is cold, and dissolved, then put to the boil ).

Let it simmer for a bit- I would taste it - you may want to add one or two table spoons of lemon juice.Keep stirring and keep an eye on the jam.Then try the cold saucer trick to see if your jam is setting.Take a cold saucer out of the fridge, then drop half a teaspoon of your jam mixture on it and let it cool.If you can push the surface of the jam and it wrinkles, the jam is set and ready.If it doesn't wrinkle, you need another sachet of pectin in it.Mix well!!
If it wrinkles on the saucer, let it cool down a bit , then spoon it in ready and clean small Killner jars.

Now for the label.
The Wedding Style Blog is an Australian magazine and blog, and the girls there are so super nice, you can download all kind of pretty stationary and party designs from there for free! Although it's wedding related, you can easily adapt it.Which is what I did.
I used this , called " Pretty Parisian" - and then the placecard template -for a round label at the top of the jar, and half a label on the front.
This is how they suggest you use it for a wedding by the way.
                                             free download here
This is what you get when you print it off:
Use on for the top of your killner jar,cut the circle out, then write the date and the type of jam in the middle.


Use half of the label for the front if you use a small Killner jar,
and a whole if you use a big jar. You're done!
Enjoy your breakfast tomorrow morni ng with your own home-made jam!
Have fun!

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Monday, 18 July 2011

Colour me happy- yeah baby !

I love colour- it just lifts your spirits,. So when I was given some fold-away chairs  and a table top a friend wanted to throw away, I decided to follow my own advice and prediction for this year . Go for colour.

                                          Jonathan Berger's pink living-room
Yeah, baby !
There is a latent female Austin Powers - without the buck teeth- inside  me that just wants to live in the happy carefree sixties full of bright and cheerful colours.
Here is the before- the chairs.

And  the before- of the table top and table leg.

I used a base coat of Farrow and Ball's "Theresa's Green ".
Mainly because I had tons left  from here. Waste not, want not.
Then I did a simple bold design on table top and chairs.And made some cushions to match.

The fold-away bit of these chairs is really handy, and I have included the back of then seats in the design, so you can hang the chairs up to save space .

Here are some more pictures, I got rather carried away.

Here's the table with some Penguin mugs in the same colours.

Here's a table detail.

And here a  table close-up.

and another one.

With the weather being what it is at the moment in the UK, rain and rain more rain, I am keeping my chairs inside, but can't wait to drag them outside for the first ray of sunshine !

Have a great and colourful week!!



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Saturday, 16 July 2011

Goodbye to an old friend

Yesterday we had to make the sort of appointment with the vet that no pet owner ever wants to make- to make sure that our lovely cat Gibson about whom I wrote here would no longer suffer .
I am grateful for all he brought in my life, and extra grateful that he is no longer in pain and discomfort.

I think it is one of the hardest decisions to take  : to have to choose between a life full of pain that unavoidably will end, and a quick death that is the final step but that will bring the end of pain and suffering.I don't like to play God.
I know that if Gibson had the choice he would have like to have stayed healthy . Healthy and  alive. He was very annoyed that he was ill. He complained because he was in pain .In the end I just wanted him to be OK, - and there was no cure-  the only way was the thing I hate most, to go to the vet and put him to sleep.
Did you ever have to make this sort of decision? It's something that leaves you feeling very bad and awful, as surely everyone prefers life to no life.

I am grateful that he is now at peace and no longer uncomfortable.But I wish I could have given him a healthy life back.
I am also grateful for the embroidered and monogrammed linnen handkerchiefs my mum sent to the Modern Country Gentleman for his birthday.
I thought I would have no need for handkerchiefs .How wrong I was.
Did you ever have to make this sort of decision that I had to make this week ?
And  do you think we have the right to ? I still wish a merciful passing away for Gibson in his sleep would have been possible and achieved somehow .

I am , thought, very grateful and relieved he is no longer uncomfortable and in pain.And grateful for the great memories.The vet suggested to crack open the champagne and celebrate his life, as he lived to the old age of 16.
Not today.But tomorrow I may just do that.

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Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Things to grow in Denver when you're broke

On a budget and a big garden to fill ?? Here are some affordable things to grow ..not just for cool people in Denver by the way...but for everyone ..
-Daylillies. Get yourself some bulbs priced down in the spring ( half price at least )  instead of in autumn , plonk them in the ground with some manure and voila- no more work - it completely takes over.

Sit back and relax and pour that extra margarita- or moijito which you can now afford.
I have read you can make nice starters with day lillies filled with some creamy stuff and then eat them - but I would just go the safe road and stick to liquid refreshments in whatever shape.Tea is fine too.
You may have to get up from your deck chair next year and divide them and plant   the divided huge clumps in the rest of your garden.

-Shasta daisies.
I got them here. 750 seeds for £1.89, my kinda prices, hahaha !

If you want to lose awkward relatives in a jungle of a flower garden, just get yourself a packet of Shasta daisies, sow them, plant them out, wait a year..

Problem solved. Just send them to pick some nice flowers from your herbaceous border - you won't find them back ever-.
And I would recommend you keep children under the age of three on some kind of lead and accompanied by a sensible adult when they go direction Shasta daisies ...
Unless you really, really want a break from them.

Shasta daisies look a bit like a kid's drawing of a flower- all cheerful white petals and big yellow heart.
If you're sick of the relentless cheerfulness of it all, you can go all moody and edgy and grow yourself some stuff from seed that would grow everywhere anyway- thistles. This is an eryngium.
Same drill : seed packet--> sow- >plant out ->; and re-lax.

You can find it here. 15 seeds for £2.59
Perfect for the climate change as supposedly was to happen with Mediterranean weather and olive groves in the south of England.I remember that every time I put a bucket under my overflowing gutters in the torrential rain in the summers here .
So hot and dry is fine with the Eryngium- but  rain too- so it's a win -win.
There are loads more  thistles to grow from seed-Echinops ritro- like a blue spiky ball-super easy- I will post some pics of these once they come out.

And if you don't want to seem too scary to the neighbours, with an Addams - family style of garden full of thistles, you can go all cutesy - classic with the campanula.

I know it gets boring , but same here :seed packet--> sow- >plant out ->; and re-lax.
 I got them here. 1500 seeds for....£1.89.
 All these I have found super easy to grow.I had many more which did not succeed, like delphinium, and other stuff- but can't always win.
Last one I would recommend- although not as vigorous as the rest..
Echinea.  (Supposedly good against  respiratory problems, bronchitis, sore throat, ear infections  , hay fever etc etc etc . Who cares -though ..) Again : seed packet--> sow- >plant out ->; and re-lax.

Got them here. 50 seeds for £1.10

Hope you people get the seedpackets out this autumn! Have a fabulous rest of the week.


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