Friday, January 20, 2012

How Does Our Garden Grow?

Even though it's Winter here in Ireland, it's been really mild so far, in sharp contrast to last year when it reached -16 and killed off quite a number of our plants.

This year we have, in January, daffodils out!

We also have some crocus and narcissus blooming - how strange it all is:

In fact, this narcissus was out at the end of December and several more have since joined it.

We have had a lot of rain and wind. One morning we headed off to Ennis and the bottom of our drive had been washed away and turned into a stream! We had to bump across it. During the next couple of days I barrowed some stones down and it's now all filled in - until the next deluge I expect.#

Our drive goes off to the left.

Back to the garden..

Here is our poly tunnel with the evening sun shining through it. We have had wonderful produce from inside. For our Christmas dinner we had home grown carrots, chard and a few brussels - gorgeous.

Here's the chef Jim with the carrots and chard.

And Buster with his new Christmas tiger! His friend Max, a local Labrador, came and called for him and they went off to play! Here's Max:

You can see how fast his tail is wagging - it's a blur.

Nasturtiums tumbled over the wall in our front garden - this was in October before they became too straggly and I pulled them out.

Just to remind me what the garden looked like in the Summer:

All lush and green.


We have been feeding the birds as usual throughout the Winter and there seem to be dozens of them permanently in our back garden. I took a bit of video yesterday so I'll see if I can download it for you.

It's been dowloading for about half an hour and still not worked so I'm afraid I've had to give up on it. Maybe it was too long. I'll try again next time. Suffice it to say there were goldfinch, chaffinch, great tits, siskin, coal tits and greenfinch. We also have 2 very large resident magpies.

Home Improvements

Jim has finished the new staircase and banister which leads up to his new office. It's quite small but it's warm and cosy up there.

New stairs and banisters. My doorway is on the left.

As you go up the stairs this is what you see. Jim's office chair on the right.

The cupboard contains the hot water tank and is a great airing cupboard, or hot press as they call it in Ireland. Jim has made all this - what a clever boy he is! He also raised the centre of the ceiling as prior to that, he couldn't stand up in there. You can see it in this photo.

Downstairs again and we now have a new kitchen cupboard. I can at last put my hoover away! It's also the store for cat and dog food, which used to hang about all over the place. We recycled these doors from our old shower room.

Our 'flying ducks' are a bit of a joke! I used to buy boxes of china and odd things from the Worthing auctions and sell them on ebay. These ducks were in one box and got badly broken. Jim stuck them back together and they became part of our 'bad taste' collection! They look rather good flying up the stairs!

The last room to do in the cottage is Jim's old office at the opposite end. It has always been damp and dingy in there so we have new, larger windows to go in. It has an upstairs too, which was reached by a ladder, so another staircase to build! The walls will be dry lined and the floor will be laminated wooden boards, in keeping with the rest of the cottage. It would make a marvellous room for a teenager with the upstairs for a bed and downstairs with a settee maybe.

Right, that's it for today I think. I have some papier mache on the go, so am going to give the pieces another coat. Have a great weekend everyone.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Crafting, Knitting, Crochet and Messing About.

Gosh, two blog entries! I thought I'd do a post on my various crafting exploits. For Christmas, I made my Granddaughter Kitty a 'Jessica' doll and I also made on for a lovely friend Beverley who lives in Batley, Yorkshire for her niece. Here are the two in question:

I ventured into purples for Kitty's doll.

Jim holds Kitty's Jessica for a photo!

Bev's niece's doll.

I also knitted quite a few pairs of slippers. See 'Knitting' below.

I belong to a great women's group called Milliande. We often have 'swaps' of all sorts of things. Before Christmas we did a 'witchel' swap and here is mine:

I adapted a cardboard cut out that I already had as I was short of time and it went off to Canada.

My latest swap with Milliande is for 'pins'. These are sort of little brooches with a maximum size of 2". Here are the 3 I've made so far:

This started out as a collage of all sorts of material on top of black felt. I think melted it with a heat gun and put some cellophane on top which I also melted! I found the lovely glass button and added that to the top and did some sewing in thick gold thread. It's quite funky I think!

This pin is a little collage of papers, tissue and a curtain screw! I then sewed with pink thread on the top and added beads and the other glass button I found.

This one is rather like a shield. The silver centre was a large earring which I straightened out and cut in half. Jim made holes in it so that I could sew it to the felt. The background is a bit more of the collage in the first brooch.

Finally, this little one is just one inch square!

I only have to make 3 so now I have one spare.


I have finally learnt how to crochet - well, a little bit! Here is my first Grannie square:

Now I am crocheting a headband. I rather like the effect of the colours (lovely wool bought from WoollyGathering in Tuamgraney) and the spike stitch that goes over the row below. I haven't finished the headband yet!


Bev wanted a pair of slippers for her Mum who has quite swollen feet, so I made a wide pair with a slit down the front and apparently she just loves them! Another pair went to my daughter and another to my sister in law Miranda. Here is the first pair I made:

I think my daughter K has this pair. I found the pattern online and adapted it for size. Jim and I have a pair too and they're really warm and comfortable if not a fashion statement!

I did finish Jim's jumper quite quickly. The sleeves were too long but I soon adjusted those and he wears it quite frequently. I haven't a photo of it on it's own but here is Jim wearing it. We (the knitting/crochet group) met up one day in a cafe in Killaloe. Jim knitted a square!

You can see Jim's sleeves turned up!! I was knitting a pair of socks. They still aren't finished because I was supposed to do 'Kitchener stitch' for the toes and still haven't done it.

Messing Around

I love recycling as you probably know and I have collected all sorts of attractive carrier bags. I found a magazine article on fusing them and had a play. Here is my first piece:

This is melted carrier bags plus a bit of wool and some stitching over the top. I called it '3 squares' and rather like it!

A close up of one section.

The second piece I made turned into a document wallet! I'm not sure how that happened. I lined it with dark hessian.



Close up of a section.

I had a lot of fun making these and still have lots of bags left!

I think that's enough for now. I haven't mentioned all the beads I made or the dozens of key rings and fingerless gloves I've knitted....

Until next time.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Crafting, Christmas, Catching Up...

Yes, I am still alive. I am determined to start blogging again properly in 2012. There - I've put it in writing now.

August was my last post and how can I possibly fill in all that's happened since then? I'll just try some edited highlights instead.

Jim has been going to painting classes and this is his first painting since he was at school. It's Lough Graney from our gateway and I think he made a pretty good job of it!


Kitty and Jack seem to grow daily. I last visited them in December and of course a few photos were taken! Kitty has recently moved into Jack's old bedroom, which is now all pink and girly. She loves it of course and keeps running round the space in the centre - which she couldn't do in her tiny first room.

Me and Kitty. Jason and Sam had a pre Christmas party in the local hall and we were waiting to be ferried to the venue.

This gorgeous photo of Kitty was her nursery picture. I want to eat her!

Jack is doing very well at school, with a reading age of 8 (he is 6). Here he is having a hug from his Daddy Jason:

Jim's Family and Grandchildren

Before we headed up to Suffolk, Jim and I stayed a few days in Worthing and saw his 2 daughters and their families.

Here, Jenny is reading a story to Sonny. He is always smiling and an absolute delight:

Older daughter Ali now has Poppy and Thomas. We bought Thomas a new set of clothes for Christmas, and here he is modelling them recently:

Isn't he super?

Poppy is quite the young lady now and we had a wonderful if rather full on time at their house with Poppy, Sonny and Thomas.

Poppy, Sonny and Thomas on the settee.

Poppy is as pretty as ever:

Daughter K and family

I visited K and family in Chesterfield and spent a too short a time there. Luisa had to go to London for the day so K and I hitched a lift and went to London Zoo! I hadn't been for years and we had a lovely time - although the weather wasn't great. After the zoo, we visited K's dad, my first husband Ken in South London. He has lost weight and, since being diagnosed with diabetes, is feeling quite fit. Let's see what photos I can find:

I caught the train from Bury St Edmunds station to travel to Chesterfield. When I went to the zoo, I left my camera behind, so no photos of that trip!

Well, I can't seem to find any so here's one of K, Rachel and Luisa.

Poor Luisa is still not right from her operation. A day was spent in hospital yesterday for various tests. She is still in pain and has difficulty keeping food down.

Son Ben is still in Spain running his bar and has been reunited with long term girlfriend Hayley after a short time apart. I'm really pleased for them. I can't believe Ben will be 28 in February!


Buster is still as daft as ever - here is a photo of him with Jim. True love!

Sandy is also going strong. He spends much of his time curled up in his bed in front of the fire!

I have been doing a lot of crafting - making things for Christmas then learning crochet and just playing about! I think that's for another day though.