Sunday, 17 May 2020

Bunting and Cake

Thank you so much for your comments on my embroidery sampler, and all your brilliant suggestions on what I could sew for the letters O and U. So many good suggestions! Thank you.

There has been lots of good stuff to celebrate round here over the last couple of weeks. It's been a lovely and much needed distraction from lockdown and home school.

Last week Angus turned eleven. I was really worried that being in lockdown was going to make for the worst birthday ever but actually, I think he had a really good day.

We cancelled home school for the day which instantly made him delighted. Seriously, I think that may have been his best present.

(You may notice a theme to his gifts...)

He requested French Toast for his birthday breakfast....

and peppermint Oreo brownies for his cake, which was very easy and pleased me greatly. I used this recipe, leaving out the nuts and scattering a packet of broken up Oreo biscuits over the batter before it goes into the oven.

We had a Zoom birthday party with family near and far and all sung happy birthday to him. His best friend dropped round a present and card and they had a socially-distanced doorstep chat, as did I and his mum. He requested a takeaway pizza for a birthday tea and overall it was a really nice, chilled out day, and didn't feel in any way sad or depressing. We've talked about possibly having a party in the summer when lockdown is lifted. 

We didn't do anything big for the 75th anniversary of VE Day, but celebrated it in our own quiet fashion. Bella and Angus made bunting and we had a cream tea in the garden.

Our scones didn't rise much but they had the lightest texture, I will definitely make them again. 

 The weather was gorgeous for most of that weekend, warm enough to hang out in the garden all day and have a barbecue.

Angus was invested into the Scouts via, you guessed it, Zoom. He was really shy and proud, it was so sweet. Do excuse the haircut though please - it's a home special. He's now sporting a grade 4 all over. The lack of access to hairdressers has proven to be one of the most unexpectedly stressful aspects of lockdown.

I planted out my sweet peas - all grown from seed! At the moment they look very weak and pathetic but I'm hoping they will be ok.

The pink and white ranunculus are coming along nicely.

I also moved my tomatoes out of the cold frame and into bigger pots on the decking. I now need to research what to do with tomatoes - something about pinching the tips?

I always think the garden looks prettiest in May, largely because the two big rhododendron bushes come into flower.

The bees absolutely love them.

My pile of EPP hexies is slowly growing. I have around 500 now; these are all my colourful ones and I have a box of white, grey and cream. I think I might start sewing some together soon.

I've started treating myself to a bunch of flowers when it's my turn to do the food shopping. Usually it's a £5 bunch of tulips but yesterday they had peonies which I couldn't resist. I can't wait to watch them open up.

My sampler is bringing me so much joy every day. I love thinking about each letter and trying to pick something just right.

I'll do another post soon with lots more photos and details but I thought you might like to see where I am so far.

Have a fabulous week everyone. Stay safe.


  1. Sounds like Angus' birthday was just perfect for these crazy times. Congratulations to him on his investment into Scouts. My peas are like yours... and I am hoping for the same outcome! The cross stitch is coming right along and I love the smell of peonies. When I was working a co-worker would bring me a bunch from her garden to put on my desk... I loved them. Stay safe and well!

  2. How lovely to read all your goings on! I loved that Angus enjoyed his birthday even with isolation - it does seem like children can be equally content with less fanfare, doesn't it? I'm sure his nicely themed gifts made up for it though ;o)
    I'm looking forward to hearing about the rest of your sampler - I cant quite figure out how the rainbow starts with K!!!!

  3. So far, everyone I know who has had a birthday during lockdown (myself including) has actually had a strangely beautiful and special day, unlike every birthday before (and probably after). Angus' sounds just lovely, and it is not badgers anymore... although I guess he will keep having a soft spot for this particular animal all his life!
    Your rhododenron are gorgeous, and your sampler is coming along very nicely.
    A friend of O.K.'s who is a gardener (a "real" one, he earns his living by it) gave him three seedlings of tomatoes for his birthday at the beginning of this month. One of the tips he gave us was to gently give them a stroke on the top of their leaves, just as if a slight breeze were moving them, twice a day. That, apparently, keeps them from growing too high and spindly but instead investing their strength in the stem and grow broader.

  4. He had a great birthday then all in all. I can see you have tacked those hexagons nealty but have you tried a temporary glue pen. You can buy them from a company called simply solids online (they are pink and have refills available). You glue the fabrics to the papers and then get straight to the lovely sewing bit. I converted Christina when she made her soda quilt and she wasn't sure at first but the lure of getting to the sewing finally got her. Make sure you have your toms in nice big pots so you can feed and water them enough to give them what they need in drier weather otherwise they will be like toddlers and need you all the time! Have a good week. Jo xx

  5. What a lovely birthday - definitely one to remember. And how sweet is Angus at his Scout induction - all very serious!
    For your tomatoes you need to pinch out the side shoots that grow between the main stem and the big stems branching off it. Then when the plants get to a certain number of trusses of set fruit you pinch out the top main growing tip. Gardeners World should have advice on their site. Usually 4 trusses for outdoors, 6 for indoors. Don't pinch out the growing tip yet or you won't get much! I will watch your outdoor plants enviously - mine are in the greenhouse and I planted them in grow bags yesterday. Grow bags have sold out here locally, so I'm glad I got 2 when I did, but was unable to order a third recently.

  6. It sounds like a good birthday. It will be the littlest boy's soon, which will no doubt follow a similar pattern. Don't pinch out your tomatoes, most varieties are cordon varieties and you're aiming for one long, tall stem. Take out any side shoots when they appear and 'stop' them (pinch out the top) later on in the summer, maybe August-time, as any flowers produced from then on won't have time to grow and ripen before the end of the season. VE Day scones here as well, and a nice English tea, but sadly no clotted cream to be had. Love the embroidery, the flour bag is brilliant. CJ xx

  7. Don't pinch out your tomato tips just yet wait until they are the height you want them to stay at, I usually go with about 4-5ft inside or 3-4ft outside. Pinch out any tiny sprouting branches growing out in between the main stem and the current branches. And if you add more compost to your pots the tomato plants will put out more roots and be more stable in their pot in any winds or bad weather.

    It looks like a very successful lockdown birthday :-)

  8. When you plant your tomatoes, plant them deep. They will make new roots from the stem and it helps with stability. If you miss a side shoot and it gets a bit big and sturdy, stick it in a pot. You'll get another plant, later than the parent and smaller, but it's a shame to waste it!

  9. gillian, another wonderful update from you and your family and life and garden. here in london, ontario it has rained for 2 days and we are far behind you in the spring lovelies, but they will come. thank you for sharing all your photos and words with us. just delightful and always a pleasure to receive. take care dear lady until next time.

  10. How you look after your tomatoes will depend on their variety because if they are a bush variety you don't pinch them out at all but if not you need to take out the tiny shoots that grow between the stem and leaf or the wll sap the energy you want to go to the tomatoes and therefore reduce your crop. As you are growing outdoors make sure you give them a stick for you to tie them to so that they don't get damaged by wind and you will probably only get 3 or 4 trusses to ripen so don't let them get any taller than 1 leaf above the 3rd or 4th truss or
    again the plant will waste energy on tomatoes that won't ripen. Hope is is helpful. Jane

  11. Your blog always makes me appreciate the simple things in life x

  12. Oh I do love your house! So open and spacious and clean and uncluttered! Wish I could get mine to look so serene.
    I adore alphabets and am very envious of your embroideries. I make lace but cannot do free embroidery. Happy that you share your talent with us!
    Good luck with the garden, we only have one because there is a husband in the house!
    Love your peonies. Looking forward to the photo of where they are open.
    Stay save and healthy! From Cape Town, South Africa.

  13. I have only just discovered your blog, and what a joy it is, so much positivity in this one around Angus's birthday, the true Brit way of making the most of things since we can't do much about them. I love all the photos, especially seeing all those gorgeous books.... we collect also and have to cull every so often, donating to a local church restoration when they have an annual huge booksale. Doubt they'll be having it this year.
    Thank you for a lovely read...
    Edwina c/o my little, newly established blog -

  14. I am glad that Angus enjoyed his special day, even if it was quite a different one to normal. Lego and Star Wars all wrapped up in one what more could a young man want. Mint oreo brownies,I am going to try these as I have two young adults and a hubbie who will love them. Hope you have lots of tomatoes from your plants as they are so much better than shop bought ones. Have a lovely week Gillian x

  15. I have always adored Angus, never more so now. Happy Birthday ! Alas , no badgers, I suppose he has moved on.

    Re your sampler. I honestly think that the finished design could be marketed as a print or a tea-towel for our Covid times. I am not being silly, and wondered as you have been in those Amara best blog awards and have featured in magazines , you could put out feelers to see if anyone were interested in marketing it for you ? Worth a go ?

  16. Glad Angus enjoyed his birthday! Your Sampler is coming on and looks wonderful:)

  17. The sampler is looking fantastic. You have had all the right advice with the tomatoes by not pinching out the top, however, I believe this is something that you should do with the sweet peas to make them stronger. Good luck with the plants, like craft gardening is so rewarding.


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