Tuesday, 30 September 2014

So much for the WIPs, I've started a new project!

 A few things to share with you today.

I've been wanting to grow some soft fruit for a while now. When I saw this gooseberry bush in the supermarket, I thought I'd snap it up.  Here it is planted in our old veggie patch. Let's hope it survives...the last one didn't!

I also planted this little shrub that my sister Ros bought me from the Highgrove Shop after our garden tour the other week. 

In the Highgrove gardens, they had it planted everywhere including under some trees so I thought I'd try my luck by planting under our apple tree.

I still have a few roses blooming in the garden....

I have three climbing roses. I've tended to just let them grow up and tie them up a bit haphazardly. I've been reading up on how to train them up the wall correctly and have been doing a bit of remedial work so hopefully next year we may get a better display.

This lovely rudbeckia is still blooming...

The main thing that's been keeping us busy this last week or so is the maintenance of the deck railings. 

We've had to pressure wash them, Chris is now sanding them and I'm painting them with wood preserver/stain. It's a long and laborious task and we haven't even touched the rails on the roadside yet. But hopefully it will be worth it and won't require doing again for a few years!

To counteract the effects of the deck railings task, I started a new project last night!

 I know...I showed you a couple of WIPs last time and I should be doing them! But this is going to be a tablecloth for the cottage kitchen in France. These fabrics have been in my collection for a while and I've sold a few metres of each.  I've been secretly coveting them and not wanting them to sell too fast as I knew I wanted to make something from them! I love the colours and patterns and they will be perfect for the cottage kitchen.

The fabrics are from the Mooshka Collection by Julie Paschkis for In The Beginning fabrics. 

I'm making the tablecloth by simple strip piecing.......

.....that results in 15cm/6" squares.

It's not finished yet. I have some more strips to cut and sew. The tablecloth needs to be quite big. I've estimated about 175cm by 175cm.

I've also had a thought that I might make a similar piece from different fabrics as the backing and then I can turn it over for a different look! What do you think?

Thanks to those of you who have checked out my new blog about France and for all your lovely comments. It's so great to see you over there! 

For those of you who haven't yet, I would love it if you popped over. The blog is called Brambling in Brittany and you can visit it by clicking on this photo:

Thanks, as always, for popping by!

Maggie xx

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

A French Farmhouse and Damson Gin

I'm back and I have so much to share with you!

The reason I've been away so long is that we've been in France for the last month.  I am thrilled to tell you we now are the proud owners of an old stone farmhouse in Brittany! 

We discovered it on our last trip to France in May/June this year. The house is beautiful but needs lots of work to bring it back to its best. It's going to be a long term project over several years.  We will be flitting back and forth between England and France on our mission to renovate it. It's so exciting. We returned just a week ago and I can't wait to go back already!

I have started another blog as I wanted record everything so we can look back and see our progress. My new blog is called Brambling in Brittany and is a daily blog with lots of photos about our adventures in France.

I've already written the posts but I'm still uploading them at the moment as the mobile internet we had in France was very intermittent. I've published a couple of posts so far and they'll be many more soon so please pop over and take a peek.

Please click here:

I will, of course, be posting on this blog too.

Since we've returned from France, we've met up with Chris's daughters Katherine and Hannah and baby grandson Charlie for a lovely lunch. Hannah is starting a new job abroad....wishing her all the very best.

My son George had also just started a new job in London so the very best to him too. 

My son Will whom I blogged about in the last post is now in Sydney Australia and is enjoying every minute. We have already exchanged FaceTime calls and it really doesn't seem so far after all.

A small area of our garden needed attention. It was awkward to reach and always full of weeds so we've put some weed control fabric down and then some gravel. It needs another couple of bags of gravel and then we will put the bird bath on it and maybe some colourful garden pots.

The damsons were ready to be picked when we came back so Chris got straight to it. 

I weighed them and there was about 1 kilogram although I had to throw some of them away as they were past their best.

After some umming and arring about whether to make jam or gin, damson gin got the thumbs up!

It's very easy. 

Wash the damsons, remove any stalks and prick with something sharp like a darning needle.

Put the damsons into a sterilised large Kilner type jar.

Add granulated sugar.

Add gin to the rim.


The quantities I used were:

660g Damsons

252g Granulated Sugar

800ml Gin

The recipes I found on the internet all seemed to have different proportions of ingredients so I made do with what I had in the end. I don't think you can go too wrong with these ingredients! Anyway time will tell. The damson gin is now is my kitchen store cupboard and I have to shake it everyday to dissolve the sugar. It has to be left for at least 3 months before being strained and bottled.

A few days later and it's already a gorgeous colour!

Look at Spencer! You wouldn't believe it but he managed to wrap himself in his quilt all by himself. He then laid there all contented and cosy.

We also picked the apples from our tree. Not too many but enough for a couple of crumbles.

Last Friday, my sister Ros and I took a garden tour at Highgrove, Prince Charles' home near Tetbury. Ros had treated me to the tour for my birthday and what a treat it was. No cameras allowed there though so here's my garden! Golden nasturtiums and marigolds.

A quick look at a couple of my WIPs. I dug out two quilts that I want to complete soon.

A new quilt for Spencer made from fabric scraps from my Mum. I've sewn them into random blocks but I should have enough for a quilt top now.

I made this blue and white quilt top about four years ago! It's quite big....about a double bed size....and at the time, I was daunted by the thought of having to quilt it. I've now decided I will hand quilt it. I know it will take a while but it will keep me warm having it on my lap now the evenings are getting chillier. Once finished it will go on the spare bed which has blue and white bedding so will be perfect.

And to finish for now, just look at these gorgeous berries I saw on the Common on Sunday.....beautiful Autumn colour!

It's nice to be back!

Thanks for visiting!

Maggie xx

Friday, 15 August 2014

Treasured Times and a Wonky Quilt Finish

I just thought I was getting into good habits and blogging regularly and then it all went to pot!

Last week my son Will came to stay for a few days........we had a wonderful time.......I treasured every moment as he's going to Australia in September and could be there for some time. I'm really happy for him but I'm going to miss him so much......

This week Spencer had his friend Ozzy to stay.........here he is snuggled up on the sofa........

The other day we saw some people doing exercises on the Common......possibly yoga.......sorry it's so far away......I didn't like to get too close!

And I have completed a quilt. This one has been several years in the making. 

It's a bit (actually a lot) crinkly round the edges. I didn't actually realise how crinkly it was until it was hanging on the line! What with the wonky log cabin blocks and the crinkly edge, I'm definitely going to name this quilt, the Wonky Quilt!

I think it's like this because this was my first (and only) attempt at freehand quilting. I found it quite hard which is why this quilt has been put away on the shelf several times! In the end I finished the quilting by doing wavy lines with my walking foot. otherwise it would still be on that shelf!

Very random, free and easy quilting.......which I enjoyed at first.......there was a freedom in it and it was an experiment!

The patchwork pattern is by Katharine Guerrier from her book Scrap Quilt Sensation.
I can remember piecing the blocks on my machine whilst watching the film, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.......it must have been about four years ago.......funny how we remember such things!

I enjoyed making those wonky log cabin blocks!

Well the quilt may be a bit wonky but Max doesn't seem to mind........

Sorry Max...did we disturb you from your slumber?

Yesterday I made some cakes and flapjacks and wrapped them in fabrics and ribbons as they're for gifts.

Look at these lovely cows enjoying the Common....

I'm taking a short break from blogging but I won't be gone too long.

Take care 'til then,

Maggie xx