Tuesday 25 February 2014

Happy Things

I thought I'd share some things currently making me happy and thankful.  A yummy Victorian sandwich cake...
 ...and flapjack.
 Some cheerful yellow daffodils.
 Crocuses coming out in the garden.
 Buds of Prunus Incisa 'Kojo-no-mai' starting to green up in the sunshine.
 Silky flower buds of Magnolia 'Susan' against a beautiful blue sky.
Snowdrops in the garden - this one is a double.
 Tulip buds hopefully promising a colourful Spring.
Flower buds from Blueberry 'Blue Pearl'.  
 A little china pot bought for £1.00 in a local antiques shop.  It was so pretty, I just had to buy it.  It will look lovely with primroses and grape hyacinths in it.
 My seasonal tree, full of wintry-coloured decorations.
Finally, a pretty mug from my friend Alison.  Lots of happy things.

Sunday 23 February 2014

Stitching Sundays 25

 Stitching Sunday is here again and I have finished my bird and snowflake decorations at last...
 Here they all are and I am pleased with the way they have turned out, although there was one alteration along the way.  I originally made this bird shape below in the blue felt and embroidered stars on him.  However, seeing him on the tree with the others, I noticed he wasn't hanging straight and he was just too different from the others, so jarred a little.
 I unpicked him and cut him out into the same shape as the others, adding a similar swirly pattern.
Much better, I think!
Yesterday, in our local bead shop, we saw some felt balls at 10 for £1.50.  Now I know what you're thinking - 'you make felt, Ellie, so why didn't you make some?' -  I should have made some but actually, I couldn't make them as cheaply as that.
 We chose some pale colours which would go with the other decorations.  To allay some of my guilt for buying them, today I decided to pretty them up and put my own stamp on them.
Here they are, after being prettified.  I have sewn sequins on three and done swirly embroidery on the other three.  The flash doesn't help in picking out the details, but hopefully you can see some.  Now all they need is a hanging loop and then I hope the tree will be finished!  (As it has taken me quite a while to make the winter decorations, I may keep them up until nearer the end of March).

Tuesday 18 February 2014

First garden visit of 2014

On Sunday, my good friends Katy and Alison and I set off for our first garden visit of the year to Hodsock Priory, to look at the snowdrops.  We have been visiting there for quite a number of years now. Above is the lovely gatehouse.
The woodland walk with the drifts of snowdrops is what Hodsock is known for and they are very beautiful.  There were a lot of the double snowdrops this year. 

 This bit of woodland made me think of fairies or hobbits!
 There are also a lot of cyclamen coum in their lovely shades of pink and white.
 This was one of the larger snowdrops - S. Arnott.
 Narcissus Cedric Morris was flowering away on this bank.
 The spidery flowers of witch hazel looked vibrant against the blue sky (when it eventually appeared).
These trees looked as though they were going to be felled, but made a statuesque addition against the sky. They reminded me of the totem sculptures by Henry Moore which I saw at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park back in 2008.
Here's a photo I took from the 2008 visit - can you see why the trees reminded me of these?
The bare trunks do look rather majestic.
 More of Henry Moore's sculptures at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in 2008.
When the sun came out, it did make some rather nice shadows across the clumps of cyclamen.
 Here's a snowdrop which Katy very kindly bought for me - I love the blob of green (no, I won't be turning into a galanthophile, but I did like this pattern).  This one is Galanthus Elwesii and will be added to my garden soon.  It was lovely to be out and about.

Monday 17 February 2014

Stitching Sundays 24 (on Monday, again!)

 Well, I have managed to totally confuse myself (not difficult to do!)with Stitching Sundays this week.  As I would be out on Sunday, I did my stitching on Saturday but then didn't have the chance to write the post until now. Anyway, moving quickly on...
Here's the next three decorations - another little bird and two more snowflakes.  I have one more snowflake to do and then I am thinking that some pom pom snowball decorations might be just the thing I need to fill up the seasonal tree.  I used back stitch and split stitch on these decorations and I am pleased with the way they have turned out.  I do like this combination of colours - normally, bright colours seem to appeal most, but these blues, greys and whites seem to be working well for me too.

Wednesday 12 February 2014

Send a Little Love Blog Swap

 I signed up to take part in Tracy's (from Mad about Bags) 'Send a little love swap' in January and was partnered with the lovely Melanie (from The Patchwork Robin). We needed to send a minimum of 5 things, including a heart shaped/themed thing, a delicious edible, something handmade and something red. As is usual for a blog swap, we emailed each other to arrange dates for the swap and to find out whether there was anything we shouldn't include.  Then we got on with making, choosing and buying.  Swaps were duly wrapped up and posted and then received.  Here's what Melanie sent me...
 ...beautifully packaged in red and gold.  It was so exciting!
 What was inside those parcels? A beautiful hand made notebook cover around a very useful notebook, chocolates and jelly hearts, a little red bucket containing some CK tissues and some pink heart ribbon, a white heart decoration and two sweet little heart-shaped tart tins.
Here's a view of the inside of the notebook.  I was so lucky to receive such lovely things and would like to say a HUGE thank you to Melanie for her generosity. So, what did I send her?
Red heart cotton material and heart pins, ribbon, buttons, washi tape, notebook, some flower seeds, stickers, heart cutters, a heart ceramic magnet, some hot chocolate and some chocolates, a bracelet, some earrings, a felt heart and a polymer clay heart.  I did wrap the presents in heart gift wrap, but forgot to take a photo.
Thanks to Tracy for organising the swap, which was great fun and thanks to Melanie for being a great swap partner.

Sunday 9 February 2014

Stitching Sundays 23

 I have made a little progress with my winter decorations today, while listening to the radio and watching television (not all at the same time, I hasten to add!)
 Here are my bird decorations made from my hand made felt and then embroidered with simple patterns. I really enjoyed making them as they were quick to make and I am really pleased with the finished decorations.
You can see I used a purple pen to draw a rough guide, but it didn't really like the felt much, so it was very much a guide.  It should fade in a day or so.  I used back stitch for this pattern and straight stitch to make the stars on the blue bird.  I have a couple more to make and some more snowflake decorations too.

Tuesday 4 February 2014

Spring Green

 I know that it isn't Spring and I still think that we'll get Winter with snow and ice - it's not over yet - but I was cooking Leek risotto and was struck by the lovely vibrant green and white of the leeks.  (Unfortunately, once incorporated into the risotto, they go a rather sludgier green which isn't so attractive.)  Anyway, this got me thinking about green and I had a wander in the garden to see whether there was anything to report.
 I'm not sure what this is - it is in a pot where I planted lots of Anemone Blanda, but whether it is one of those, or whether it is a rogue plant from somewhere else, remains to be seen. So far, it is the only pot in the twenty or so which I planted showing any signs of doing anything.  It is in a rather shady part of the garden, so the flash kicked in, hence the rather bright highlights!
 My crocuses are starting to grow.
 Now this photo represents an amazing thing.  It may not look much, but these are hyacinths which we bought last year at The Garden House, Saxby.  Once they had finished flowering, I wasn't sure what to do with them as in the past, I haven't successfully grown hyacinths in the border.  This time, not wanting to get rid of them, I thought I'd plant them, which I did, with no thought of ever seeing them again.  However, here they are and  I am really delighted!
Here they are from February 2013, having just been purchased.   I'll keep you posted on their progress.
Finally, I couldn't post about Spring and Green without mentioning my favourite flower from Winter/Spring - the humble snowdrop.  These were given to me by Mum, from her garden and they are quite large ones.  I love to see them every year as they look so delicate but are, in fact, incredibly tough plants, bursting through the soil despite whatever the weather can throw at them. You have just got to admire their tenacity.

Sunday 2 February 2014

Stitching Sundays 22

Sundays do seem to come round quickly, although when I can have a day doing what I would like to do, it's wonderful!  I spent this morning lazing around in my dressing gown, thinking about my next embroidery project and investigating my home made felt stash to find suitable colours.  
This afternoon, having got dressed (!) I made a start while listening to the Classic serial on Radio 4 (Anthony Trollope's Barchester Towers), which was so enjoyable! If you missed it, here's a link - well worth a listen.  Anyway, I digress...
I chose four colours from my stash and found that I had subconsciously chosen exactly the colours I had used in my winter bunting!
 I also found out that the colours seem to be popular in Scandinavian craft work.  I am making circular decorations with different stylised snowflake patterns on them and so far, I have finished one.
I also really like the little Scandinavian-inspired birds featured on the background and am going to make a couple of them to join the Winter seasonal tree.  These are from one of the gorgeous books my lovely husband bought me for Christmas.
 Here it is and if you like 1950s and 1960s inspired designs and the cool colours of Scandinavian interiors, I can guarantee you'll love this book!  Details can be found here.  So, a really nice project to be getting on with, while listening to the machinations of the clergy in Barchester. A perfect Sunday, really.