c April 2016 | Garden, Tea, Cakes, (Books) and Me

Benefits of Dandelions and other Garden Weeds

When it comes to gardening most gardeners endure an on going battle with weeds, including the Dandelion. They soon find a crevice to grow in or a lawn to invade, often resulting in gouges in the lawn where they have been removed. But as some of you will be aware the Dandelion along with other 'weeds' have far more about them than making gardens look unkempt.

Source: Fix.com
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Kitchen Makeover: Refitted Kitchen Cupboards

At last the kitchen makeover is now virtually complete. Gone is the old and tired kitchen to welcome a new kitchen. New gloss doors, a new tall cupboard, a new and better functioning oven and hob, new tiles, painted walls, pendant light, floor rug and kitchen accessories.  
Kitchen Makeover New kitchen Doors AtoZ

From Tiles to Kitchen Units
Considering originally my sister and I had only planned to redecorate, which we did last year, this is a big change. Which was then followed closely by having new wall tiles in the kitchen. Then before you know it we had brochures for kitchens in our hands. I will be quite honest when I say there was no way I was paying £15-£20,000 for a brand new fitted kitchen. For that is how much it would of cost, as it would of been a case of if it is being done it would have the full bells and whistles finish, so to speak. 

The compromise was to keep all the existing cupboard carcasses and have new doors, side panels, cornice, kick boards, oven and hob. I had thought of a budget of £5,000. But in choosing to keep the existing work surface and ceramic kitchen sink it reduced the cost although we did need a new tall tower unit.  
Kitchen Makeover New kitchen Doors AtoZ
New Kitchen Gloss Doors
Like the new front door fitted early in the year we made a conscious decision to use a small local business, A to Z Fitted Interiors. But do your research first, and check for recommendations. 

Choosing the finish and colour of the cupboards caused lots of changing our minds. We were able to take the sample cupboard doors home, which helped greatly to see them in situ and in different lights, helping us narrow down which shade of cream to choose. 

It does feel as though we have done everything back to front. Originally it was never the intention to do this many changes, just a new lick of paint. But once starting the work particularly when the new kitchen tiles were fitted it became apparent that the kitchen itself could not be ignored. I am so pleased we went ahead with the work.  It is never easy or stress free having work completed inside your home, particularly if you like things neat and tidy. But it was worth the upheaval and presented an opportunity to also re-organise and clear out the kitchen cupboards. 
Kitchen Makeover door replacement
Old Kitchen Units
Caution - New Kitchen in Progress
Caution - New Kitchen in Progress
What is left to do 
The one corner area of the kitchen by the hob is a little dark and previously we had some very old overhead lights, you can just make them out in the one photo. We are currently looking to replace these with new LED lights and have been looking at the selection at Bulbs2Go. Once we have decided on a style the kitchen fitter has said he will come back to fit them, the benefits of using a local business.

As I type this we have sample floor tiles and lino in the kitchen. I know, what was that I was saying about doing everything back to front. But I think you will agree from the photos that the existing terracotta tiles need replacing and this will eventually bring the kitchen up to date yet still within a budget.

Cost £4,000 which included replacing kitchen doors, new tall unit, oven and hob. 
Kitchen AtoZ fitted interiors Telford
Completed Kitchen Makeover
This is a collaborative post.
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Giveaway: Celebrate and Win a Set of Bedding from Julian Charles (Closed)

Who likes the sound of  a new set of crisp bedding. I have teamed together with Julian Charles to celebrate Garden Tea Cakes and Me winning the Best Dressed Interiors Blogger competition they recently ran. 
Imogen Bed Set

Not only does that mean I get to have a lovely badge for my blogs sidebar, but I also get to enjoy a free shopping spree. Now it seems a little unfair that I get all the fun, and Julian Charles agree. One lucky reader of my blog will get the chance to win a set of beautiful bedding of their choice from 3 gorgeous designs - Cleo, Evelyn or Imogen.
Evelyn pretty duck egg colour
Cleo design - crisp and white
How to enter

To be in with a chance of winning this lovely prize confirm your entry/entries using the Rafflecopter widget. 

Answer the following question: 

Which set of bedding would you like to win? leave your answer as a blog comment and confirm your entry using the rafflecopter widget below, this will then release the additional entry tasks. 

If any of the links are not working on the widget leave me a comment or tweet me.

Closes 20 May 2016. Winner must respond within twenty days of being notified, after which time a new winner will be selectedUK entrants only. For Terms and Conditions click the link on the Rafflecopter widget.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Capturing Blooms in the Garden

Such delight, I have to share my news for I have a new camera.  It is more sophisticated than my regular compact camera which sadly has a mark on the lens, it is a Panasonic FZ72 bridge camera. So with the battery charged, lens cap off and strap placed safely around my neck I head off into the garden. It is such a bright and sunny afternoon outside and I am far too impatient to have read any instructions! Fortunately my previous camera was a Panasonic and the basic features are the same so why wait.  I'll quit typing and let my favourite five photographs do the talking, please enjoy.
Pear Tree Blossom April
Blue Sky and Pear Blossom
Pear Tree Blossom April
Pear Blossom
Bluebells April
Primula Goldlace
Goldlace Primula

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Making Home Link Up #27 Making Clay Coasters

I am not only joining in with Mrs Crafty B's Making Home linky this week but I am also co-hosting. Hurrah! This week it is my turn to get crafty with an easy yet clever way to create patterned FIMO clay coasters. Find my tutorial Coasters from Clay at Mrs Crafty B's.
FIMO Clay Coasters
I would love to know if any of you have ever used oven clay. Do you have any tips?  Or maybe you have any suggests of what I can use the remaining FIMO clay I have left to make?
FIMO Clay Coasters
FIMO Clay Coasters
Join in with Making Home blog linky
I would be delighted if you would join me with Mrs Crafty B's Making Home linky this week, it is really easy to get involved, you can share your new or old blog posts.  They can be about anything that covers the home, moving house, home decor, DIY, crafts, family activities, recipes, gardening and more. 

Just follow these simply guidelines. 
- Place the #MakingHome badge to the bottom of the post you are sharing (or in your sidebar like me), which you can grab over here (any problems Mrs Craft B can help). This helps to direct readers to all participants in the link up.

- Add your link via the blue button at the bottom of this post. Just click 'Add Your Link' and follow the instructions. Your post can be recent or past and you can link up more than once; please just remember to use the badge. You can link up from Friday until Tuesday.

- Visit some or all of the others who are linking up for inspiration and maybe offer up a comment or two so that we are all feeling the #MakingHome love. Don't forget to include the hashtag so they know where you are visiting from. 

- Be sure to tweet @MrsCraftyB using #MakingHome once you have linked up so that I can #RT include me @daisyangel1 in your tweet this week and I will also RT.

Find Mrs Crafty B on Pinterest to be added to the #MakingHome board. You can pin your posts there too!
- Sign up to receive a reminder when #MakingHome goes live.

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Knitting and Crochet Inspiration an Alternative Sky Blanket

I enjoy a challenge and learning something new, and have created a few knitting and crochet projects over the last twelve months. I see such inspirational photographs on my social media feeds, I was quite taken with all the Sky Blankets I came across a few months ago. But did not come across this form of knitting challenge until it was too late.  I long to create something that I can admire with pride and enjoy year after year. 
Picnic Throw - photo credit Deramores.co.uk
Knitted Picnic Throw - photo credit Deramores.co.uk
What is a Sky Blanket? 
A Sky Blanket is a knitting or crochet challenge that lasts a year, each day you knit a square matching the colour of the sky at mid day. You will end up with a selection of colours ranging from dark grey, white to bright blue. At the end of the year all the squares are sewn together to create one unique blanket or throw. 

My alternative: a Garden Blanket
I like the idea of creating an alternative sky blanket, a Garden Blanket. Whereby I use a colour from my garden to knit that day to create a unique blanket. A blend of greens, yellows, and the colours of different flowers blooming in the year. I know you are thinking how drab the colours would be come winter, but I think it would also work to make you think about planting something new in your garden. I appreciate that a little planning is required when it comes to having a range of coloured knitting wool at hand each day to create a Garden Blanket. You want the colours to compliment each other, maybe interpret it using shades of pastels for each days chosen colour. 

Pastel Shades for a Garden Throw 

Here is how I envisage it completed. Think a few years ahead... it is a warm summers day, flowers in full bloom in the garden, and there I am under the huge Copper Beech tree sitting on my wonderful knitted Garden Blanket the perfect throw that can be used as a picnic blanket  in beautiful pastel shades of yellow, pink and blue sipping a cup of tea and eating cake. The reality is I would probably need ten minutes and hand to get up and I possibly would not allow anyone else to sit on it. Admire it yes, but let someone else sit on my handmade blanket, well we would have to see :)

I can not promise that my aspirations will live up to the reality, and it maybe that I require a little help along the way, so knitting friends be warned and be armed with patience too. But I think I may have just talked myself into next years big crafting challenge to create a Garden Blanket. What do you think? Is it doable? Or would I be better to chose a kit blanket, where all instructions and yarns are supplied like the gorgeous Cedar River Blanket in the top photo.

Have you created a knitted or crocheted throw? Would love to hear any tips or ideas you have.

Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.
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Extending the Vegetable Growing Season with a Poly Tunnel

Spring is racing along and the benches of the greenhouse are occupied by plants that have been over wintering protected from the cold, along with an increasing number of seedlings. Growing space is limited inside the greenhouse,  as it is in the raised beds, this limits my choice of fruit and vegetables for growing. So I find myself waiting for the soil outside to warm up before I can plough ahead with growing my vegetables and fruit.
growing seedlings in polytunnel
Beetroot and Salad Seedlings
There will be gardeners that are far ahead in the growing season than I, those that have a poly tunnel. For they will have enjoyed salad crops all year round, and spring will have arrived 6 weeks earlier inside the warmth of a poly tunnel.

If you have space in your garden or have an allotment then a poly tunnel can have a dramatic effect on the volume of fruit and vegetables you can produce. I have always imaged poly tunnels requiring a huge amount of space but they start from the size of an average greenhouse, up to ones suitable for a larger garden or allotment. Or you could really up size it if you were in the possession of a small holding. 

No matter the size of your fruit and vegetable plot, there is nothing quite so enjoyable as sowing your vegetable seeds and watching them grow. The satisfaction to harvesting and eating fresh home grown fruit and vegetables can not be matched. The gardening infographic below from PremierPoly Tunnels shares some interesting poly tunnel facts and some recipes to make the most of all the home grown fruit and vegetables. I certainly like the sound of the Courgette and Tomato Soup recipe a great way to use up a glut and freezable too.
A home grown health kick polytunnel

This is a sponsored post.
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Pebble Painting Fun

Decorative pebbles add fun and colour into a garden. They are great fun to create for both adults and children alike. I know if I wanted to I do not need my niece visiting to get the paint pots out to pebble paint, but it is becoming something of a new family tradition started by my sister.
Pebble Painting with Children
Pebble Painting - Tomatoes, Carrot, Apple, Cherries and Peas 
This years Pebble Painting theme: Fruit and Vegetables in the Garden. 
My niece is a planner, so before she even started painting the pebbles the designs were sketched out on paper. Each of the pebbles depending on their shape were assigned a design and the painting commenced. Sadly there was no painting outside as the weather was awful so we all stayed in the warm and dry.
Designs for Pebble Painting
Sketched Pebble Painting Designs
My niece made a fabulous job of creating Garden Fruit and Vegetables Painted Pebbles. They were left to dry, and the following day varnished to protect them from the weather. Neither I or my sister anticipated getting arty, but with the paint pots open and a few plain pebbles crying out for decoration we could not stop myself.  I am particularly proud of my Ombre style painted pebbles, and my sister her Aztec inspired dots.
Ombre Pebble Painting
I love my ombre design painted pebbles
Aztec inspired pebble painting
All they will now find homes dotted around the garden, and will accompany last years pebbles that were painted with garden bugs.

Whilst all this creativity was progressing and waiting for the paint to dry mid design, my niece helped me to capture the fun on video using my phone. 

If you want to see how the painting progressed watch our fun 10 second animated stop motion Pebble Painting Video.

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7 Tips to Maintain Your Greenhouse as New

Here are 7 of my top tips for maintaining a greenhouse. These will ensure your greenhouse stays in good condition and looking like new for years to come.

1. Once a year move out the contents, brush and wash down and disinfect the inside of the greenhouse. This includes any separate staging or benches. This will help to keep your greenhouse free from disease, mold, grime and will ensure that there are no pests hiding inside. 

2. Check for and replace any cracked or broken glass. After any adverse weather such as high winds, always check and secure your greenhouse.

3. For wooden greenhouses, brush down and treat the outside of the greenhouse with a suitable stain/wood protector every 2 years. This will help protect and prolong the life of the wood.  The inside of the greenhouse will need treating less often as it is protected from the weather. If you open your door during the Summer you will need to treat the inside of the door as you would the outside of the greenhouse.

4. Keep the floor clear of debris and sweep regularly.

5. Avoid storing pots and unnecessary equipment in the greenhouse, as this give pests and insects a place to hide and damp to collect over winter.
Check automatic window openers the right window opener is not working
6. Check the greenhouse auto opening windows as functioning correctly. Replace any that are not working, Rocburn Limited supply auto openers for greenhouses. Come Summer it is essential to have good ventilation through the greenhouse, this will prevent excess build up of heat and allow an entry and exit point for bees and butterflies. 

7. If you have separate staging or benches inside the greenhouse, ensure this it sturdy and tighten any screws or nuts and bolts.
greenhouse storm damage
Repairing wind damage
greenhouse storm damage
This is a collaborated post.
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Tutorial Washi Tape / Ribbon Paperclip Bookmarks

I am rather excited to share this news, I have discovered stop motion filming, having recently watched and been inspired by a friends lego film.  So I decided to 'get my craft on' and film a short video on creating Washi Tape or Fabric Ribbon Paperclip bookmarks. I have made these for a year or so, mostly using fabric ribbon and have been sharing them around the family. Ribbon Paperclip Bookmarks are an essential tool for list keepers. Hands up if you are a list keeper! Then these make the perfect stationery tool to help organise multiple to do lists
Washi tape ribbon paperclip bookmarks tutorial
Stationery Crafting
I had originally discovered them on Instagram last year, and having purchased some Washi Tape a few months ago, I decided to replace the ribbon with Washi Tape. 

I love watching the time lapsed creative videos on Social Media, how to create something within a blink of an eye or some amazing life hack we all need such as, how to slice a plate of grapes in 10 seconds. Originally I was going to attempt a YouTube video, but I do not have the proper camera set up and editing understanding. I decided on downloading and using a Stop Motion app on my phone. It was so easy to create, the app was very straight forward. To be honest I spent more time faffing around uploading it onto YouTube. I know it is not perfect and you may need to pause it if it is a little fast for you - but it was still good fun. I now have my niece busy making paperclip bookmarks!

I hope you enjoy my stop motion tutorial for creating 'DIY Washi Tape Paperclip Bookmarks'.

I have another stop motion video on Pebble Painting which I created with my niece which will be uploaded soon. Keep up to date with my mini stop motion videos by subscribing to Garden Tea Cakes and Me YouTube channel
Ribbon Paperclip Bookmark Tags
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Knitting and Embroidery Discoveries

They do say you never stop learning. This week in particular the world of social media friends has taught me a few new things.  I have shared with you previously that I have rediscovered knitting. On my knitting to do list is to knit myself a hat. Well just before Christmas this is something I attempted, using standard knitting needles. Result - a hat project fail of tea cosy proportions, for that is just what it looked like.
My brother in laws mum is a fabulous knitter, it's positively embarrassed to admit to knitting in her company because I do it so badly and have had so many failed attempts. But she kindly lent me a knitting needle for my hat, so I can knit in the round. Having discovered a suitable hat pattern I set to starting a fresh with the right tools for the job. I had only managed to cast on when I realised the length of the needle was too big. I shared this dilemma complete with photo on my Instagram and Facebook feed, I am so pleased I did. What wonderful people you are! My fellow knitters have come to the rescue, for I  have now discovered knitting using the 'Magic Loop' method - who knew!! Also I received some advise on marking my starting point. I guess I now just need to hurry up, Spring is after all upon us and there will be no need of a hat soon.
I don't know why I am in such a rush to try my hand at new things, but last month I also had a dabble at learning some new and recalling some long forgotten embroidery stitches. I had chosen to join in with a crafting task, partly to raise money for a local charity and partly for fun. The task was to decorate a piece of fabric any way you like, so I decided on simple embroidery. Chain stitch is something I was taught at school, I recall using it to stitch my initials on my pump bag. But I have not used it since, but it was easily remembered. French knots, something I had tackled when I made my cross stitch spectacle case, but they can be so tricky. Cue the need for a handy You Tube video.  A step on from French Knot is the Pistil stitch, which is a French knot with a tail. I enjoyed this stitch and love the different designs you can create with it. 
  • French Knots
  • Pistil Stitch
  • Knitting in the round
  • Magic Loop
  • Knitting markers
The last few weeks I have discovered and learnt quite a few things, some more ground breaking than others. I may not be an expert knitter or stitcher, but I have now taken a step forward from where I started.

I linking to Five on Friday at Amy's Love Made My Home.
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