Thursday, 18 May 2017

Make, Bake, Sew, Grow

Thanks for your birthday wishes for Angus. Things are good here; busy, of course, with work life and family life, but low-level, manageable busy, not crazy-busy. As always focusing on home and all the warmth that domestic life brings makes me feel happier and calmer, especially when it's rained every single day this week. I hate rain in the summer. But then I found myself saying to a colleague - in all seriousness - that this rain is really good for the garden, and that is when I realised I had hit middle age.

{ Make }

I've been moving things around in the living room, trying to create a usable space in the large area in front of the window. Before, it was just somewhere to put the blanket chest which contains jigsaws and board games.

But it gets the best light, and would be a great spot for a chair for reading or sewing, so I am experimenting. Perhaps it needs a rug too, something to detract from the shiny laminate flooring.

Outside, we (well, John and my Dad) used a chainsaw to tackle the pile of wood and chop it into tidy stove-sized logs.

It's a massive improvement on before but that whole area under the kitchen and bathroom windows really needs something. It looks awful. Maybe some large planters and trellis on the walls, with some climbing plants?

{ Bake }

It's been all about the leftovers lately. After making spaghetti carbonara we were left with four egg whites, exactly enough for Cappuccino Pavlova as it happens. John and I made it together and ate it together, over four days rather than all one sitting, which I think showed tremendous restraint. Well done us. 

I think it might be one of the nicest things I've ever tasted.

Remember all those beetroots I bought for my crochet vegetables? Well they needed eating up, so I made beetroot and horseradish soup.

Gloriously pink and so good with sour cream and chives on top. I know May is not usually a month for soup but it's not been all that warm lately. April and May got their weather the wrong way round.

No photos, but we used the aubergines to make a thick, rick vegetarian pasta sauce with tomatoes, garlic, chilli and onion. It's really good with linguine. And the rest were used in a curry with chickpeas and spinach. Why don't I buy aubergines more? 

I had an urge to make shortbread today. I blame the rain and the fact that I'm wearing my slippers.

{ Sew }

It's mainly crochet at the moment. I have rediscovered a passion for it lately and have such a long list of things I'd like to make. Buoyed by the success of Dave the Seagull, I have started a Barn Owl from the same book, and it's to be a very late birthday present for my owl-loving god daughter.  This pattern comes from the intermediate section in the book and I am appropriately nervous.

I have also started these espadrilles from the fabulous Wool and the Gang. Now I just need some suitably sunny weather so that I can prance about in them and pretend I'm on holiday in Spain.

As soon as these are out of the way, I will make a start on my crocheted fruit. Bella has also commissioned a wall hanging like this one but bigger, in pink, grey, gold and white for her bedroom. I am only too happy to oblige, although where I'm going to find gold cotton yarn goodness only knows. 

{ Grow }

Indoors, the cuttings I took from my pilea over Easter are growing beautifully. I'm very proud of these babies and tend them lovingly, even rotating them so they get equal amounts of light. 

Outside, it's all going on. Alluims are popping up...

...and the little Red Robin tree produced the loveliest white blossoms this year, the first time it's ever done that.

The red and black currant bushes are looking good, although I'm going to leave the redcurrants for the birds this year. I still have all of last summer's redcurrants at the bottom of the freezer. I don't really see the point of redcurrants, if I'm honest.

And my sweet peas are growing! Oh, I am mothering these plants so well, encouraging the shoots to climb up the bamboo canes and watering them regularly. I took that photo at the weekend and, what with all the rain we've had, they're twice as big now.

I even bought a pretty new metal watering can. I am nothing if not dedicated.


  1. Nice job on the cuttings, and the pavlova too, I am writing down the recipe in my special notebook. Lots of green might look nice under those windows, including some evergreen stuff like box or yew so that you're not just looking at blank pots in winter. Maybe you could grow a wisteria as well, they look fantastic from May onwards. Just a suggestion! Love your seat in the window by the bookshelves, blissful. Good to know things are busy but good. Hope you have a lovely weekend. CJ xx

  2. Gosh you really know how to transform an area, whether it's a patch of garden or in the house you've got a great eye for design. Looking forward to seeing more inspiration! Antonia x

  3. I love the way you write! It really is as though you're sitting in a lovely tea-room, elbows on the table and mug in hand, chatting about the past week!
    I like the way you and John bake and eat together: the recipe for a good marriage 😉 Xx

  4. So many lovely things, I love your craft area to sit and have a quiet read or crochet. Cathy x

  5. Life is good! I so enjoy your make bake sew grow posts. Have a lovely weekend x

  6. It's all looking good & the chair in the window area is a great idea. Just to sit in the sun & relax with a book or craft. Well thought out. Soup is great at any time of year, even in summer if it's a light one. Look forward to seeing the sweet peas in flower & hope you have more luck with yours than I had last summer. Bought mixed colours, but only got 2!! Have a good weekend & take care.

  7. It all looks great over there, Gillian. I'm so glad you're still doing these posts, they're some of my favorites of yours. Our Red Robins went crazy this year, more growth and blossoms than I've ever seen, so maybe it's a global thing. I actually had to hack mine up when I planted my annuals because we have two of them right in front of the backyard spigot and I couldn't get through them to use the hose. They look kind of sorry now, but they'll grow fast. I hope you have a good weekend!

  8. What a lovely post; so many beautiful things. I especially love your new reading/crafting corner and as for cappuccino pavlova - yum! xx

  9. Another wonderful glimpse into your home life, Gillian - thank you!
    From the outside pictures it looks as if the rain wasn't of the constant type but still allowed for some outdoors time. You are right, it is very good for the garden :-)
    So many things you always have on the go at one time, and more planned; I really don't know how you do it!

  10. Great post Gillian. I enjoyed reading it. Do you have an ice cream maker? we make redcurrant and blackcurrant ice cream it is lovely. Jo x

  11. Redcurrant jelly.I make a fantastic red onion marmalade, recipe from the River Cottage Handbook on preserves,which uses redcurrant jelly. Its lovely with cheese or cold meats.

  12. Redcurrant Jelly! Gorgeous on lamb and really useful to perk up gravy.

  13. Had to laugh at your rain comment. My 4 year old says the same thing - "this rain is good for the garden Mom" - and I consider it proof that I have trained her well!

  14. I love these posts and lovely photographs... you make me want to bake (and eat) and make and grow and rearrange - all at the same time! The are by the window with the chair looks so welcoming!

  15. I need a space like your big window! Maybe you could crochet a rug in front? Or even try a sheepskin one?
    For in front of the windows, perhaps another planter with sweet peas?

  16. Another vote for redcurrant jelly. I always add a dollop when I'm making gravy to go with roast lamb. And redcurrant and blackcuurant lollies used to go down well with my children and their friends on a hot day after school. Redcurrants are also indispensable in a classic English summer pudding. Trachelospermum jasminoides trained along wires would look good on your wall. It's an evergreen twining climber with white jasmine-scented flowers all summer. I'm in awe of your crochet skills Gillian, I'm rippling away on a crochet blanket as requested by my daughter but one day I would love to crochet an owl!

  17. Lovely post!
    Regarding the gold cotton... I have a possibility, but it's not cotton - it's viscose and polyester, so maybe not what you're looking for. It's Anchor Artiste Metallic. I have used the gold and it looks like a metallic gold (rather than say a matt goldish colour, if that makes any sense). You might have to use it doubled-stranded to make it thick enough, though.
    If you want more cotton in your blend, I've heard of rico cotton metallise which comes in gold, but I've not used it, so I'm not sure if it's metallic enough - but then again, it depends what look you are going for!
    I'm not sure this helps at all... but you never know! x

    1. Thank you so much Maria, great suggestions. I'll look into both of them.

    2. No problem. The Anchor Artiste is great for a bit of sparkle! I used it for Christmas baubles - in silver, red and gold amidst coloured cottons. I've spotted it in pink and turquoise too, which I have (so far) resisted as I'm trying to de-stash not hoard more supplies!

  18. Gardens look so lovely! Keep at it! Delia's shortbread...aaaahhhh. Scrumptious! And the espadrilles! We just entered that as crochet class for August at my LYS. I'll get to make the sample pair, so I'm eager to see how yours go!

  19. A trellis with vines on the brick wall would look nice to me. Your Sweet Peas are robust compared to mine, but at least I have some spindly vines attaching to the trellis. Yay for us both! I am interested to see how you get on with the crochet project for your god-daughter. From across the pond I am cheering you on. xx

  20. Shortbread! Now you've given me a longing to make shortbread. It's really not fair.

  21. My goodness, Gillian, you have been busy. What a lot of lovely creative things, useful and fun ... best of all the pavlova!
    Margaret P

  22. Such a lovely post - cosy and homey! Red currant are great for both jelly and cordial - especially the latter.

    Great espadrilles - I'm really looking forward to hear how wearable they become.

  23. Always good to have a move around and especially one in the sun.
    Those sweet peas look so healthy, looking forward to the photos when they burst forth.
    The meringues look absolutely scrummy.
    Lisa x

  24. Love your shot of the whipped egg whites. That sunny spot beside the window is so welcoming. Would be nice to have a window seat built in, with a flip up lid and cushions on top, so you could combine sitting and storage (very good of me to spend your money like this, isnt it!) . X

  25. A gorgeous post Gillian, so much loveliness. I adore that owl's feet! x


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