Wednesday 16 April 2014

At the end of last year I found that my Hotbin was not working as well as before - it seemed to have stopped getting up to the 60 C zone despite my feeding it with compostables as before. I dug out the bottom compost and refilled it but it just did not seem to be working as well and would not go above 40 C any more.


I chatted to Tony Callaghan at HotBin and he suggested my Hotbin may have "stalled" - an unusual situation only experienced in bins which had been working correctly but had then stopped getting up to 60 C.

He suggested I join in a trial he was running to check out a "fix" for this very unusual situation. I was keen and so was sent a part which needed to be retrofitted to the HotBin. To do this I needed to empty out the Hotbin.


 It is quite easy to put the HotBin on its side.

Lots of compost in the bottom. Compostman dug it out for me and


I put it into buckets, waiting to be used for tomato plants.

We took out the base plate and when we looked at it, as expected the holes were clogged up and not letting water drain out or air to move up.

  The holes were plugged with a very gooey sludge like material which sat there and did not drip off.

 The base was very wet and the air mesh was blocked. This bin had definately stalled!

I gave the HotBin a good wash out

The "fix" is a length of perforated pipe, inserted through the Base plate and which sits in the corner of the Hotbin allowing more airflow through the material. Compostman made the hole and inserted the pipe.

HotBin put back togather and refilled with some compost, grass, paper and guinea pig bedding and droppings. Ambient temp was 16 C, HotBin thermometer within a hour of refill read 30C.

I also took the opportunity to have a tidy up behind the lean to and sort out the cold frames and potting area.

At the end of a hard afternoon of work it all looked much tidier.

I will update on how well the HotBin is working later in the week but it is all looking very promising so far.

Tuesday 15 April 2014

Today, 25 years ago this morning at 6.30 was the anniversary of my Mother dying. I am an Owl not a Lark but on this day I always wake early, so today I was up at 6 am and by 6.30 am was out planting, composting and growing stuff, with Cassi Cat, the feathery gang and some tea-and-marmite-toast to keep me company.

My way of coping.

Everyone else was (quite sensibly!) still asleep - but not me. I cannot sleep in on this day.

I find this date very upsetting and sad, but I cannot escape this day even if I did want to (not that I do want to IYKWIM) as it is also is the day 96 people died at Hillsborough for a still not yet established set of situations. I will just say - my heart goes out to all of those involved    - and 25 years is FAR TOO LONG to find out what really happened to your loved ones..

But obviously I personally cannot get away from this date as the media reminds me every year. Even if my own internal clock did not.

Today, (insert number of years ago here) my Mother died. I was only 26 when it first happened - now I am 51 and in a week or so will be 52. It hurts, every day. Some days more than others. Today is a bad day as it is an anniversary of her death.

Despite the difficulties this day presents -  and other various family stuff  happening as well (which seems is not going to change, sadly!) I have had as good a day as I could - helped by getting my hands very soil-y with planting and growing and nurturing. I also was helped in my distressed state by being able to spend an hour sitting in the wood, meditating, listening to the birdsong and just being. I am so blessed that I can have the luxury to do this.

I went down to the log circle mid morning  as I really felt I needed some help with how I felt and hoped for some renewal and healing. After the last few days which have been rather fraught, I needed it. I lost track of time - thought I was sitting there for maybe 10 mins? - was actually more like an hour. I think this was healing time for me and certainly I felt much calmer afterwards.

I wish those who were robbed of their loved ones at the Hillsborough disaster could find such peace. Sadly, I fear not.

Monday 14 April 2014

Saturday 12 April 2014

Thursday 10 April 2014

  Today we planted potatoes, Charlotte and Nicola, in these raised beds outside by the wood.

 25 of each, in each bed.

 I took the chance after the potatoes were in the ground to have a walk in the wood and admire the bluebells.

Then I got on the mower and cut all the grass.

 Also used the hand mower to get to the more difficult bits. I usually use the push mower, but my arm is still not up to doing that, so petrol power it was.

 Blondin and Sweetie admiring the fresh cut grass.

 Then we cleaned the outside of the polytunnel - it is amazing how much green manky stuff grows on the outside over a year!

Finally - tomato flowers on a Latah tomato plant inside the polytunnel :) Soon...

Tuesday 08 April 2014

So we managed to decide on a new (to us) car for Compostman - it is lovely, Compostman went and collected it yesterday afternoon and I have been ordered on pain of serious marital disharmony NOT to fill it with straw, compost bins etc... how long do you think it will stay pristine?

We have been married for 29 years so I am banking on a bit of mess not instigating Divorce papers.

We shall see.

New (ish) to us car is a BMW touring - lovely rear wheel drive again at last - both Compostman and I do not like front wheel drive cars - must be all those years of driving performance and racing cars! RWD does handle so much better :)

New car has very good fuel efficiency and low RFL as a result, nice interior with various luxuries such as mp3 etc - you can tell our cars are a bit old as we find this luxurious! Also it has lots and lots and lots of lovely space inside,  for  

 straw bales, tarpaulins, FS tool bags, compost bins, chicken food etc  

 bags of shopping and lots of really nice clean stuff. LOL.

 I had a surprise delivery today in the post - addressed to The Compost Bin ( I love it when that happens!) This time there was a postcode but sometimes I have had stuff get to me with just Compostwoman and Ledbury as the address :)
Anyway the parcel contained some Gardeners Hand Treats to review,  from Heathcote and Ivory.  A proper review will follow later in the week, but the products smell divine :) Lets just say my hands are lovely and soft and clean and sweet smelling, now ;)

Finally here is the view from the Study window for early April - blue sky  ( at last! ) as the pollution has finally gone away for now. The yellow is oil seed rape so more pollen loaded misery will come soon for me  :( Personally I loathe OSR - the pollen and then the horrible smell when it goes over, before harvesting . Ah well.

Monday 07 April 2014

As you know I often get asked to review items, sometimes gardening or chicken keeping equipment and sometimes books. Recently I was sent a press release for a new book by Phillipa Pearson, published by Dorling Kindersley called Small Space, Big Ideas.

The press release said the book would  provide inspiration and practical projects to get balconies, window-sills, porches, patios, roof gardens and even stairs and walls blooming. It also mentioned that the book had a crafty homemade approach to gardening 
I thought it sounded interesting so I agreed to have a copy to review.
When the book arrived I was really rather impressed with it - a substantial hard backed book with beautiful illustrations and a very comprehensive set of instructions accompanying each of the 40 gardening projects in the book.
This book does indeed have a very "crafty" feel to it - lots of the ideas would not look out of place in a craft magazine like Mollie Makes- but the the book is still very much oriented to growing and gardening. Both ornamental and edible plants are grown in the projects and there is an emphasis on being able to produce both food and beauty in even small gardens.

Although I have a large garden, you can see I have marked a lot of projects in this book which I want to try! I particularly liked the Colourful Salad Colander ( p32) - I first saw a similar idea at the Yeo Valley Organic Gardens cafe and I can vouch for how spectacular it can look.

The Saddlebag Balcony Planters (p 74) made from oilcloth and filled with plants to hang either side of a balcony are really great - I would be quite tempted to have some on my actual bicycle :)


The Portable Hanging Insect House (p 198) looks wonderful and would appeal to many a diy enthusiast as well as a gardener - and the finished product looks both effective and very stylish.

I really liked the Wildlife Hamper (p210)- insect attracting flowers growing in a basket  - I think this could make a wonderful gift if the basket were given as a kit with the seed packets in it. I did a similar thing last year to grow Celery, and it is still going strong in the polytunnel so I know this technique does work.

In fact I liked the whole book, I really enjoyed looking through it; there are some good ideas which I want to try and as an inspiration and source of ideas this book is really brilliant. 

Although not explicitly organic, I could see no use of chemicals (apart from paint and varnish) and lots of organic growing methods were mentioned, such as companion planting and attracting beneficial insects to the garden. Composting and maintaining a healthy ecological balance in the garden was also discussed and various methods outlined. The book has a useful section on how to grow and maintain plants, with general care and harvesting advice. It also has a very good contents list at the front and index at the back, along with a list of suppliers.

I do wonder if some of the containers could be obtained as easily as the book assumes (old zinc tubs are quite expensive and I don't often see them!) and I was a bit disappointed not to see more prominent mention of using peat free growing medium rather than just saying to buy multi purpose compost.

These are minor quibbles and this book would make an interesting and attractive addition to the bookshelves of a gardener and/or craft person or indeed to a beginner in either.

Small Space, Big IdeasAuthor: Philippa PearsonPublisher: DK Publication date: 1st March 2014£16.99

With thanks to Vivienne  at DK for sending me the books. More about the other book in another post :)

Sunday 06 April 2014

This is the entry Compostgirl wrote for the All Write 2013 competition.

She was a bit miffed when she read the entry in the book, as the last line was meant to be a repeat of the end of the first paragraph - but that's what happens if the author has no control over the final proof reading :)

This little gem was the very first story she wrote, when she was not quite 5 and a half. Even then she had an amazing imagination :)  I keep lots of her work :)

"At night all my toys woke up. They woke up at twelve oclock: The toys put on their clothes and go down stairs. They eat jam and then they run outside and play.

The end.

Very very proud of Compostgirl's creative writing achievements.

Saturday 05 April 2014

Yet more of the dust and pollution around here still, although nothing like as bad here as in Gloucester, where we spent a lot of time yesterday.

We are looking for another car to replace the one Compostman is currently driving. He has had the current car for 9 years and although it is in good condition and is very low mileage ( see last post!) he would like something a bit more useful, younger and which does even better mpg.

Compostgirl returned to school yesterday, finally feeling better after a nasty virus which kept her off school for most of the week. As soon as she had left the house we set off to visit a number of promising car sales places, the first group of which were in Gloucester so a bit of an outing for us. On the drive to Gloucester we passed through farmland which last month was underwater and we could see where the plants which had been submerged for so long had died. It will be a difficult year for food producers I think!

I like Gloucester and was glad to see that the flooding; so bad when we were there last month, had largely gone away, although there was a huge tidemark of debris alongside the road and around the banks of the River Severn.

Anyway, we looked around and at every single car sales place we were given profuse apologies for the state of the cars - which were filthy with sand and dust. Of course it was falling from the polluted air and of course there was nothing the car sales people could do about it.

By mid morning my face was tingling and itching, my chest felt very tight and my eyes were running  - the air quality in Gloucester was obviously a LOT worse than where we live!

So, during a very busy morning we looked at a number of interesting cars, drove a few and got some ideas about what we do and don't want. We also did some shopping in the city.

We then had to dash back to Ledbury to attend a school assembly which included a special presentation to  Compostgirl  of the certificate commemorating her All Write 2013 competition winning entry -

The head of her house read out her entry to the assembled school.

After that in the early evening we went out as a family for a celebratory meal and then after doing the chores we all collapsed in front of the TV to watch Marvel's Agents of Shield. It had been quite a busy day!

Thursday 03 April 2014

Dull and damp and dusty day here - like a lot of the UK we are getting high levels of pollution here - unheard of normally here in lovely rural Herefordshire but at the moment it  is like I used to feel when living in Worcester at the height of a photochemical smog day - my eyes are streaming, my chest is tight and my throat is sore. I used to have to use an inhaler when we lived in Worcester, but since moving to the much cleaner air of Herefordshire I have not needed one - but I wish I still had it today! There is a nasty chemically smell in the air as well.

There has been lots of comment about the Sahara dust being the problem, but actually the UK has been exceeding pollution levels for a long time. In February, the European Commission launched legal proceedings against the UK for failing to reduce levels of NO2 air pollution. The Sahara dust is the "last straw" - we are damaging the air we breathe by our own actions, mostly to do with driving cars.

I drive so I am also responsible BUT I do limit the miles I do and, even living in a very rural setting we do less than 4000 miles between us - and that is ALL miles; business miles as well as domestic trips. It is still 4000 odd miles too many, but it is not much for a two car family who live where there are no longer very many buses at all. I wonder how many other people in a similar position do so little mileage?

Rant over.

It started raining late afternoon today, but not hard enough to wash the air clean.

I collected new varifocals yesterday (from Ledbury and combining the trip to do lots of other shopping!) and am finding them a trial.

The bad news is I am tryng to prick out seedlings and keep on missing them

The good news is that they are much better for close up work - I took in my crochet and a book to show the optician what my problem was with the old prescription and he has come up with a good solution

so now I just need to get used to the new lenses. If I could change just one thing about myself it would not be to be thinner (nice though that would be) but to have perfect vision. I have been using eye correction since I was 10 and I don't like it.

At least the new glasses have anti rain coating, so I can see in the wet, now! Although not if the rain drops are also dusty...! I do not want to scratch the (very expensive) many coatings on them...

off to sew the last batch of tomatos seeeds, some (very late) celeriac as I only have had 20 plants germinate and want more, and some more leeks. I suspect the sowing may be a bit random due to the new glasses! 
And then to settle down and watch the new Big Bang Theory :) And eat some more fresh PSB :)
Have a good evening xxx

Wednesday 02 April 2014

Tuesday 01 April 2014

April has come in with a damp and dull start, not sure if that has any significance other than being dull? I was really hoping for more good weather as I want to get on with the veg garden.

Compostman dug over some of it today, so I now have somewhere to plant out the broad beans. he has prepared the onion patch so when we next get some dry weather I will lay down some compost and wood ash and get planting onion sets. I have quite a few already growing in modules in the polytunnel along with onions grown from seed so I am trying lots of different methods this year.

The cockerels continue to crow at random and early hours of the morning - or even middle of the night - last night Blondin was crowing at 2 am! I think I am going to have to re home at least one of them as the pair of them sit and crow at each other, sometimes they crow in unison, just for a change :)

After I was woken by Blondin last night I got out of bed and tripped over Tabitha Cat; she was fine but I wrenched my right arm and it now hurts. Ow. A shame as I wanted to get on with clearing up the path down to the log circle in the wood, but my arm hurts too much and the rain is horrible so I won't be doing that today.

I had another walk down and around the wood and admired the daffodils, no bluebells yet but some lovely primroses and the start of the wild garlic - yum!

I also spent a fair amount of time listening to the Buzzards calling as they wheeled and soared overhead.
I then went and hid from the rain for a bit inside of the polytunnel and potted up some plants and had a tidy round.

I have a poorly Compostgirl at home, she had to be collected from school yesterday and has been sick several times and is not a happy bunny :(. Lots of bed rest is in order but I suspect we will watch a film, later.

No April Fools , here- I did not see any really good ones this year - anyone spotted a cracker?

Monday 31 March 2014

If you remember, I was recently sent some lovely fabric by Hillarys Blinds as part of a competition to design and make a craft item from a 100 x 100 cm piece of fabric chosen from one of their fabulous Country Retreat fabrics.

I chose the Wild Poppies Vermillion design and have had such fun over the last week or so making things with it.

I love a challenge so I decided to see how many items I could make from the square metre of fabric. I also decided to have a go at making or crafting things I had never made before and to use recycled materials wherever possible in addition to the sample of Country Retreat fabric I was sent (ambitious, or what!)

I have written here  and  here  about my efforts so far; this post tells you more and reveals what I managed to make. So read on...

As I looked at the very lovely fabric, the design of the flowers simply begged me do something involving a frame and paint.  So I decided to mount some of it in a frame and hang it as a picture. I selected and cut out some of the fabric and mounted it onto canvas using pva glue. When that had dried I began by adding some gold fabric paint as a colourwash over the cream background.

Mounted and waiting for inspiration
Once that had dried I then used a selection of fabric paints and metallic acrylic paints, which I got from the Scrapstore some time ago, to change the colours and alter and (hopefully) enhance the fabrics. I wanted to end up with some original artwork which reflected and echoed the pattern on the soft furnishing item I also planned to make from the fabric (but more of that later on).

The fabric before I got to work 
 and after
(colours are not this orange really, I am afraid it is the artificial lighting)

I also did two smaller pictures and experimented with altering the background colour using fabric paints as well as adding paint to the surface of the fabric.

I reused some old frames from prints I found in a charity shop to add the final touches to the "paintings" I had made.

Having satisfied my painting urge I went back to playing with the fabric. I used a kit I had previously found in a charity shop from a craft magazine (Mollie Makes) which contained the materials to make a small metal clasped purse. I used "my" fabric rather than the one in the kit, and after choosing a striking flower from the design and cutting it out of the fabric, a bit of hand sewing and gluing of the clasp produced this.
Small change purse

Next I decided to make a slightly larger, zipped purse. I have put in a few zips on skirts (many years ago!) but have never made a lined purse like this. No pressure then!


The size of purse I wanted to make was dictated by the recycled small zip I had to use - so I cut out the fabric and recycled liner freehand to fit it and then put in the zip by hand, as it was a bit small and fiddly to do on the machine. I also like hand sewing! After a bit of thought and head scratching and looking around online, I worked out what to do next to sew up the liner and fabric so they would end up how I wanted it. I did actually get this bit wrong a couple of times, but that is what a seam ripper is for.

I put the right sides of the liner and patterned fabrics together (as above) and stitched around the hem.

 ...leaving a small gap in the liner to turn it all " right way round" by pulling the whole lot through the liner hole. Which is harder than it sounds!  I then hand sewed up the inner hole in the liner and stuffed the liner inside the purse having turned it the right way round.

I knew I also wanted to make a cushion and a tote bag from the material and looking at my fabric, I could see I would have around an A4 sized piece left over.

After a bit of thought I decided to make an A5 notebook cover.

I cut out the fabric so it was slightly larger than an opened out A5 hardback book and hemmed all around the edge - I used a 1 cm seam allowance.  I then folded the top and bottom over the book cover to mark where to stitch and then made a small pocket to slip the edge of the cover in each end.

Here are the notebook, metal clasp and zipped top purse waiting to be finished off. Lots of loose threads to tidy up and lots on the floor, the rug, the cats, me...

 I felt flushed with success at my efforts so far :) So I decided  to have a go at a simple envelope type cushion cover. I looked at a pillowcase and worked out how to make it and got cutting. I used a cushion pad I already had, free hand cut a rectangle of material slightly larger and then hemmed all around it.

I then turned over one end to make a pocket and pinned it , then with the rest of the fabric right side to right side I hemmed around three sides ( not the opening side, of course!) 

 Cushion waiting to have the ends sewn in, with the fabric pocket for the pad now hidden inside at the top.

I had planned to have just enough material left over to make a small tote bag which would hold a magazine and purse, phone etc. I cut two strips for the handles and hemmed them all around, folded them wrong side to wrong side and stitched along one side as close to the edge as possible.

Bag handles
I made a simple bag shape by hemming the rectangle of fabric all round, folding it in half lengthwise and then right side to right side stitching the two long sides. I attached the handles and squared off the bottom of the bag inside by stitching across the corners. I then attached the handles to the inside at the top.

 After all this flurry of activity I had some very small scraps of fabric left over - about 20 cm x 20 cm. I had to think very hard what to make with them.

 But I did use them up :)


  So - the big reveal! How many items did I manage to make from a metre square of fabric?

A cushion

Tote bag, notebook and zipped purse

Large framed painting on fabric,  next to cushion to show size


A very small fabric chicken :)
Small framed paintings on fabric
Collection of things I made
Large painted fabric

From a square metre of Country Retreat Wild Poppies Vermillion fabric I ended up making 

A cushion (35 x 30 cm)

A tote bag (30 x 40 cm)

An A5 notebook cover

A small clasp purse

A small zippered purse

1 large (35 x25 cm) painting

2  small (15 x 11 cm) paintings

and a very small chicken !


and I have two fabric scraps left over measuring about 10 cm x 3 cm which I might turn into bookmarks...

I really enjoyed making items for this competition - I must thank Hillarys for sending me the georgeous fabric to work with - I have no idea if I have satisifed the competition rules as I don't really think I have done anything "original" - all the techniques I have employed are all "out there" somewhere, but regardless of that I have really enjoyed myself. Everything I have made (apart from the chicken) was the first time I had tried to make that particular craft item.

Tuesday 25 March 2014

Today has been a mixed sort of day, sunshine and showers, good bits and bad bits.

I got up and went outside to let out the hens, as usual despite me shutting the gate to try to persuade them to stay in the wood, they all ignored me and straight away flew over it into the garden. The attraction is the bird feeders, the chickens go and hang around there and eat the dropped seed.

Ho hum.   I collected the eggs (thank you girls!) and had a look in the polytunnel to see what we might have to eat for later. I wanted to know what fresh veg I might need to buy from the shops, also.

 We are getting towards the end of the Kales - the outdoor plants got smashed to bits by the heavy rain during the winter but I always have a few inside and they have been giving us a good crop - but are going to seed now.


Kale tips can be eaten like purple sprouting broccoli - I also had a few spears of that to cut so we will be eating fresh greens tonight. There are enough pickings left on the plants for a few more days so no need to buy any brassicas from the shops, although we have just finished the last of our stored potatos so now will have to buy some. We usually only have to do this from March to June, so not too bad. We still have fresh onions, squash and apples in store as well as loads of stored fruit and veg (in the freezer or dehydrated)

There are still salads left but again with the warmer weather they are begining to bolt, so I sowed more salad seeds to take their place. I also sowed a load more brassicas in modules. We still ahve lots of fresh herbs.

 Lots of herbaceous perennials waiting to be planted outside, as soon as the soil warms a little.

As well as some of the scented geraniums which live in pots on the patio ( The new patio! Which we will be able to sit on come the summer!)

After a quick cup of coffee mid morning, I hung out a load of wet washing and put some more on to wash, then we went to Hereford and did some shopping. We had lunch out and also went to a DIY store to look at stuff so we were gone for several hours.

This trip out took it out of me a bit as I have not been well lately and still find I get very tired, very quickly. So the rest of the afternoon involved sitting down with some computer work in the (still tidy) Study :) 

After our evening meal we sat and watched some "Big Bang Theory" which we all love and Compostman and Compostgirl then watched an episode of  "Blandings" I love the books but somehow can't get into the tv series so I went off to the study and did some more work on  my Hillarys Blinds competition entry. This involved experimenting with fabric paints and pens and gold paint on a scrap of the fabric, to see how it would look and how the fabric would behave.

I like the way the test piece is coming along.

I got some inspiration for what I want to do; I also worked out which techniques needed to be done in what order, so as not to ruin the previous work.

All of these paints came originally from the Scrapstore and live in the Cupboard of Doom - it is a good job I hoard stuff! It always comes in useful eventually. I love the idea that this project uses lots of salvaged/recycled materials to embellish and enhance the new fabric.

Later on still Compostman and I watched The Great British Sewing Bee -  I love this programme and think it is really good - better even (dare I say it) than Bake Off ? I had to stay off the computer while in the study,  as we watched it a little later than it aired on tv and I did NOT want to read any spoilers about it in Twitter or Facebook!

I also mused on what I could make with the Hillarys fabic which involved sewing. I have plans ( but not a blouse, coat or anything involving a suit!)

So all in all, a more productive day than I have had in the last few weeks,

Anyone else enjoying watching  The Great British Sewing Bee?

Monday 24 March 2014

 Best job done? The one Compostman did to fix my heated propagator cover so it can be used again :)

Other jobs included me putting on one of my volunteer hats to sort out the Love Food Hate Waste cookery demonstration items and box them up so we can store them safely. I purchased a lot of the items,  after discussion with the other volunteers and our Council manager, to make sure we had the most useful set of kitchen equipment for what we needed to do. It was quite difficult to whittle down what we needed to a minimum of useful kit which would serve our needs and be storable as well. I got a number of plastic storage boxes, which are easy to keep clean and sanitised ( important with food handling and preparation). Also they stack! 

One box for clean pots and pans, one for dirty stuff  ( waiting to be washed) after events, one box for clean plates, cutlery, aprons etc and one box for cleaning supplies and other non food items. I have also sorted out the HACCP file and the risk assessment template for the events so we have a folder with all the essential paperwork inside. This can live in one of the boxes.

I am not going to store all these boxes at my house as I do not have the room to do so and so I will be handing them over to Ste the County Council officer for him to find a safe storage place at County Hall. I already store a lot of the Master Composter spare stuff here so have no more room. I have enough "stuff" of my own to find a home for :)

I am still working on the Hillarys Blinds competition fabric - have another idea to try out in "rough" to see if it will work. I knew all those old sheets would come in handy, one day! And what a good job I tidied up the Study of Doom, so I could find the box they were in ;)

In other news,  both Compostgirl and I have been poorly so we watched "Catching Fire" on dvd yesterday - excellent film, nearly as good as the book. Well worth reading and watching, if you have not already.

Sunday 23 March 2014

 I dropped one of the heated propagator lids today.

Onto a tiled floor.

 Blast it.

Compostman is going to try to fix it for me.

Saturday 22 March 2014

Yesterday I was sent some items to review from the Aldi UK  gardening products line which are in their shops now.  I was amused as, despite knowing my real name, Aldi sent the parcel to "The Compost Woman"  lol .

There are a range of products available which should appeal to anyone looking to give their garden a kick start this spring.

I was sent a selection of items; some plant pots - which are, well, plant pots. Not much really I can add to that except to say they are sturdy and not flimsy pots.

Also some bypass pruners - these look robust and cut well and I was impressed with their action. I will probably keep them for cutting flowers and shrubs to bring indoors as decorations as I prefer to keep flowers and edible plant pruners seperate.

I was also sent a Greenhouse - and several spare covers. When I opened the box the contents were sturdy and easy to put together, but it has been so windy here I did not dare to put the errected greenhouse outside. When I do, I will post a photo and let you all know what I think. For now, I can see it will be a handy place to harden off plants before planting them out in the veg patch or garden and also as a useful sheltered space to house the surplus of plants I always end up with! I have already thought of a place I can site it, along the back of the barn near to the polytunnel for ease of access.

The Greenhouse is £19.99 and the spare covers are £4.99 so not overly expensive;  also the covers say they fit most 4 tier greenhouses so not just those from Aldi I guess.

As far as I know the gardening offers are in store until the end of March so get along to Aldi and have a look - there are lots of other items available and they look to be a good price.

I was sent these items to review by Aldi UK.

Friday 21 March 2014

 Spring is Sprung! Today is the Spring Equinox, when the days and nights are of equal length. For now the days will get longer and the nights, shorter.

My first batch of tomato plants are growing very well and I have potted them on once already. They are nearly ready to go into larger, individual pots.

 Some already potted into 3 inch pots.

More tomato and pepper seedlings in the heated propagator - see Creosote the Cockerel in the background? He appears as soon as I go into the porch and stands, watching me - I think he is waiting for food.

Lots of seedlings on the grow in the polytunnel as well - various brassicas, broad beans, onion and leek seeds as well as lots of herbs and salads.

Such a shame that today was horrible weather though - we had rain, hail and sleet this afternoon. Still the nice days are beginning to outnumber the less nice days at last.

Oh and I noticed the grass needs mowing :)

Hello lovely people, been a bit of a gap since I last wrote anything - I have been very busy with outdoor things now the slightly better weather has arrived; I have also been unwell with a tooth and sinus problem and have spent a few days where I didn't do much at all so all in all a bit of a mixed week this last week.

Car insurance renewal, Dentist and optician appointments are coming up in the next week, not helped by the fact that I could not find my diary to know when, exactly !  I knew it was somewhere on this desk (Gulp)

So I realised I needed to have another go at my desk and the Study in general.   I have been attempting to declutter this room again,   I do this so often and yet the "stuff " just keeps on creeping back. I have no idea why

The Study contains a lot of stuff. I store a lot of crafting, Forest School supplies, books, computer (in there somewhere!) my desk (somewhere!) and lots of other essential stuff. I regularly file and tidy away yet it usually looks like a bomb has hit it after a few days. 

I can't even blame Compostman, as this is MY side of the Study! He does not dare encroach onto my patch but keeps to his own half. His is a bit tidier...

I loathe tidying up as it is such a waste of valuable growing/composting/chicken cuddling/crafting/cake eating time, but needs must. So after I filed and tidied up and put away all the stuff on the desk ( and found my diary!) ,  I got to work and sorted out and put all my knitting and crochet yarn into their storage boxes. I have two of these full of yarn as well as the "works in progress" yarn which is downstairs. These are just the spare yarn boxes.,

These are some of the quilting fabric stash - there are two large plastic boxes full of cotton fat quarters etc as well as several bin bags of sheets, shirts etc in the loft.

The needle felting box. This is the stash box. I have a small box with what I am currently working on downstairs.

Main crochet yarn stash box and needle felting box tidied away neatly under the computer desk. There are several wallpaper pattern books next to them which I use in my paper craft workshops

Still lots more to tidy up and give/sell/recycle away but at that point the sun came out so I went outside into the Polytunnel to prick out some tomato plants.

More from the Study of Doom, next time...!

Thursday 20 March 2014

I was browsing the Internet recently (as you do) and spotted a competition being run by Hillarys Blinds

The competition involves designing and making a craft item from a 100 x 100 cm piece of fabric chosen from one of four fabulous Country Retreat fabrics.

I chose the Wild Poppies Vermillion design which arrived at the weekend so I have been very busy since it arrived thinking about what to make. It has been such fun !

It is very pretty fabric which I would like to see as blinds in the guest bedroom I think - pity there was not enough fabric to make a blind as my competition entry!

I will blog about my finished item(s) before the end of March, but for now here is a taste of what I have been up to.

Lots of ideas and experimenting happening at the sitting room table!

A small purse is all I have finished so far

Oh and while I was thinking about my competition entry I also made a needle felted broach. It needs a bit more work to finish it off yet but I am pleased with it so far.

I also had to go to the Optician today and have had to order new glasses - but hopefully I will be able to see better to do close up work ( like sewing and crochet) as I have been struggling a lot lately with my current prescription.

  • 100cm x 100cm (39” x 39”) piece of the chosen material will be sent to your chosen address.
  • Using the fabric and any other required materials, put your creative talents to the test by making an original craft design.
  • - See more at: />
  • 100cm x 100cm (39” x 39”) piece of the chosen material will be sent to your chosen address.
  • Using the fabric and any other required materials, put your creative talents to the test by making an original craft design.
  • - See more at: />
  • 100cm x 100cm (39” x 39”) piece of the chosen material will be sent to your chosen address.
  • Using the fabric and any other required materials, put your creative talents to the test by making an original craft design.
  • - See more at:

    Omlet Cartoon