dear diary :: home grown, home sewn

Hello there – I hope you are all well and still managing to dodge the virus.  The weeks are passing quickly now as we are rolling on into June and the recent warmer weather has been so welcome; though we desperately need rain – a good soaking would do my lawns the world of good and today looks like it might be the day as we have quite a gloomy cast to the sky.

We are still well here and following the old lockdown rules….well pretty much, and trying hard to keep our 2 metre distance when we have to go to a supermarket but in my region it seems like lockdown, even this ‘easedown’, is suddenly being ignored by a number of people who are resuming a more full on normal life very quickly – I see children from many different households playing together outside in the cul-de-sac, visitors coming and going to the houses nearby – even my neighbour had a professional family photo shoot last weekend and two visitors appeared on the drive later and disappeared indoors with three very large helium balloons for their son’s birthday.  I have seen cafes open with people sat inside drinking coffee around a very small table and a carpet shop open – and I thought both of these businesses should still be closed.

I am feeling a little bit cross with Boris at the moment – I felt his ten minute speech outlining the easing of lockdown was not complex just rather unclear in delivery; even his own ministers gave a different version each time when questioned afterwards for further clarification.  The initial three word advice of ‘Stay at home’ was very clear – replacing this with a 50 page document that resembles the Highway Code (that one tried desparately to memorise before a driving test) is not quite the same.

So in his own defence Boris has to resort to telling people to just use good old fashioned British common sense – something that I think is quite open to many different interpretations. Does he mean the same common sense he has shown during this pandemic when he carried on shaking hands, long after it had been deemed unsafe, or like the times he appeared in the earlier briefings almost shoulder to shoulder with Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance as they talked about the 2 metre distancing rule and then all three of them caught the virus, or forgetting to include care homes as being a potential risk and dropping the idea of testing, or even like his own father who totally ignored his advice to the public not to go to the pub for a drink – do you mean this kind of British common sense Boris – well, there is little hope for us then?

But enough about this dreary topic – I write to record and remember for myself and some topics are just worthy of an airing from time to time but there is enough to hear on the news each day without me ranting on and at the end of the day everyone will choose their own way through this with common sense in place or not. So lets move on quickly to life here at home.

So far it is good and as you can imagine I have spent most of my time in the garden – this lovely warm spell has given the seedlings a growth spurt but I am still reluctant to plant out yet as I have not had the opportunity to completely harden them off while the temperature continues to drop overnight almost to frost point, and now we have this raging wind sweeping down off the moors above us and just as the garden is beginning to look quite delightful in places too.

I must make a note to self to plant more alliums come September – I just love the way their heads bob around in quite a disorderly fashion above the other plants in the borders.

We managed to find a few pieces of wood so that DH could fix another shelf to the underneath part of this old galvanised steel seed tray bench which has become my potting bench. Having an extra shelf will allow me to keep pots and bits and pieces to hand and will no doubt be a good place to put the trays of plants to harden off overnight….when that time comes.

I have also been repurposing and recycling – not in a big way but it has helped me to use up a few odds and ends that I might otherwise not have had a use for and I have spent a few enjoyable days in my workroom creating new out of old.

I like the idea of altering and reusing a card and giving it a longer and new lease of life – some cards are just too nice to throw away and I have a box full of old card fronts so I made a couple of special cards for two dear friends of mine using cut down pieces of old cards that had once been sent to me, and a third to use up some decorative papers and embellishments from my craft collection with a few punched out mini butterflies using the punch given to me by the friend who I have made the card for.  

I have a stock of blank tri-fold concertina cards that I bought so long ago I cannot even remember why I bought them – but they do make rather nice birthday cards and I was able to find a relevant birthday verse on the internet to paste inside.

Although I quite enjoyed the cutting and pasting they are not my usual style of card making – though my friends seem to like them – but I much prefer to originate my own work and the beginnings of these cards below are much more satisfying to make, but as yet the idea is very much a work in progress. Here I am using some of the flowers I pressed a while ago and mounting them onto the blank concertina cards to form some kind of nature notes card.

To continue with this I am waiting now for a new batch of flowers in the press, I have been snipping away in the garden…..forget-me-nots, buttercups and more daisies and collecting anything that catches my eye like some tiny maple keys in the supermarket car park.

The repurposing has not stopped at card making.  I discovered a length of fabric that I bought many years ago to make a bench cushion in a drawer in the loft whilst checking to see if I had anything suitable to make masks out of.  The woven upholstery weight blue check cotton fabric matched the little blue painted bench that we had back then.  Sadly the bench fell apart from old age a couple of years ago and the cushion never got made. 

We have a new metal bench now on the patio with a mesh seat that definitely needs a rug or cushion for comfort so yesterday I cut out the cushion pieces and made a filling from an old cot duvet I had put aside to take to a textile bank.  It is perfect – I folded the wadding over into 4 layers and recovered it with the Vilene covering to stuff the cushion. 

I decided to hold the wadding in place by doing some mock tufting – I didn’t want to put buttons on as sitting on them might be uncomfortable so I just used some heavy weight sewing cotton to draw both sides of the cushion together at the intersection of each of the large checks on the fabric, I also inserted two ties at one end of the cushion so it can be rolled up when not in use and tied in place for storage. It is not quite complete yet – a little more tufting to do but it does feel quite uplifting to get some of these projects finished and the repurposing means I have a new item at little cost and will no doubt last for a long time to come – probably longer than the bench!

Even in these slow living times I cannot believe how quickly the weeks go by and housework has taken a back seat here lately – I haven’t felt much in the mood during the hot weather and a quick tidy round and a hoover has kept things ticking over nicely. 

Adding a few fresh flowers instantly brightens the place up and hopefuly detracts from seeing any dust! I love the way the colour of these tulips I bought last week blend in perfectly with the colour palette of this picture, an oil painting by the Scottish atrist Hazel Campbell…it was quite accidental but rather a nice accident.

Whilst we have been staying at home I have developed more of a routine and one that allows me to distinguish between week and weekend in these lockdown days that just roll on in quite a monotonous way.   I have been washing on a Monday and Tuesday and avoiding the weekends; I quite like keeping the weekends a bit more special and not cleaning or washing; eating a ‘proper’ Sunday dinner (even a vegetarian version) also helps to keep the weekend a little more defined.

So although I am often to be found in the kitchen when I am not in the garden or workroom you would notice that I am cooking and baking rather than cleaning.  

I picked out a few untried recipes from my folder, one of which was a new nut roast recipe that I wanted to make – just for a change.  This one contains chopped tomatoes from a packet or tin, so has quite a loose open texture and goes well as a substitute for a Sunday roast with the usual veg and gravy or cold with salad.  The recipe made a full 2lb loaf tin so half of it was cut up into slices to put in the freezer for later.

We had the first slice with roast parsnips, cabbage, cooked apple and a Yorkshire….smothered in gravy.

We have a birthday tomorrow on Bank Holiday Monday – it is DH’s but I won’t disclose which year – I will just say in the later part of the sixties, but thankfully not yet seventy – I only say thankfully as the years are galloping away now and feels like there is still so much we want to do and see in so little time.

To cheer him up I will make a cake and maybe we will go out in the car for a run, not to a popular beauty spot….just somewhere off the beaten track with a flask of hot chocolate and some cake and maybe take our sketchbooks. And then no doubt there will be a Zoom get together with some of the family.

Stay safe everyone and a warm welcome to more readers and followers….and apologies for anyone who has noticed my lack of comments recently on my favourite blogs – I am still reading along as time allows. x

34 thoughts on “dear diary :: home grown, home sewn

  1. dear viv, i do enjoy your posts. such a goodness of everything. a lovely way to start my day here in london, ontario with my coffee. your inspirations are well received and the photos always a pleasure to look at. especially garden and surroundings areas. sigh, bliss. thank you again dear lady and do enjoy your day and happy birthday to you sweet man. (-:

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  2. Hello from Toronto, Ontario! With the first really warm weekend here, and the new, partial reopening of non-essential businesses, people lost their minds and went in droves to hang out in parks, with zero physical distancing. So I hear you!! Anyhoo, I love your garden … you’re so lucky to have such a zen place to escape to. And I adore that violet pitcher!

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  3. Your garden pictures are lovely. Our roses are in full bloom and the veggies are going into their proper places. My daughter who lives with us is really the gardener but I help here and there.
    BTW, my favorite nut loaf is a recipe from Tassajara recipes. If you google nut loaf/ Greens or Tassajara it should come up. If not I can post one for you. Its base is brown rice with lots of added stuff.

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  4. Enjoyed your post and the calmness that comes across in the creative things you are doing at home. I love the sweet cards and am sure the recipients will be delighted. Your food photos look so delicious and your garden is lovely! Thanks for sharing!

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  5. The garden is looking lovely, Vivien. I hope you won’t be waiting too much longer before you can get back to the cottage and enjoy it there too.
    Please give your lovely husband my very best wishes for a Happy Birthday. X

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  6. Your seedlings look sturdy and with the wind we have had over the last few days I think it is a good thing you haven’t planted them out yet. Plenty of time and coming warmer tomorrow.

    Your cards and art work are absolutely delightful.

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  7. I completely agree with you about he easedown situation. A complete shambles. Your garden is looking especially beautiful at the moment. Glad that you’re enjoying the lockdown and finding time to do the things you enjoy at home.

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  8. The Jug as we call them was a gift from a friend and admired by many – everyone should have one – it is empty at the moment but I often have a few flowers in it from the garden or a bunch of herbs.
    The new ‘closeness’ is a bit scary – not sure what happened to the 2 metre rule.

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  9. I love to see what you have been doing – far more than I! Alliums are one of my favourites. They dry really well and I have two big vases full. Good to paint too or pen and ink. Will try to remember to post up some pics.

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  10. I am glad I waited as the weather was quite cool and I have been moving anything movable in pots to more sheltered spots while the wind raged around the garden. It has died down now and if the weather improves I wil be able to plant out at last.

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  11. I feel a bit uneasy at the moment and will be glad when we have some figures to go on that will reflect how much the easedown has affected the infection rate – I may be worrying for no reason but better safe than sorry.

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  12. Well you certainly haven’t been sitting around doing nothing have you – not like someone I know (would that be me??)😊
    I really enjoy reading about your life Viv, you might think it’s humdrum but to others it opens a door to another way of thinking and living. Not letting anything get you down, finding a way to do something that you originally thought not doable, turning everyday items into ones of ‘beauty’.
    Oh and as others have also done …..I’m sending best wishes for a great day to your man. 🎂🍷

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  13. Even your potting shelf is put together stylishly!

    I’ve been gardening too. So soothing – wish I could spend more time in the garden. I agree – the aliums are beautiful. Will look into putting some in my garden.

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  14. Hi Viv, I love the way you write. Even when you’re busy you make everything seem so calm and easy going as though you just float along, which I know isn’t the case, but it’s so selfishly indulgent for me to be able to pick that kind of vibe up from a blog.

    Your cards are beautiful and the cushion is lovely. It’s surprising what we can find when we need to isn’t it, rather than just going off to buy something.

    I don’t mind reading people’s thoughts on the situation we find ourselves in and I have to say I am very cross with Boris and Dominic Cummings today. I really don’t know what they think they’re playing at.

    Hope you’ve had a lovely Bank Holiday and your husband has enjoyed his birthday. xx

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  15. I do feel calm at the moment to the point of being horizontal!! When the world speeds up again I doubt I will be ready – all that packing and unpacking again but maybe this time with disinfecting too!
    had a lovely day – weather has been god and chocolate birthday cake even better. x

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  16. I’ve missed the planting time here. Been reading, and it’s March/April for early summer flowering. One supplier sells out of bulbs in December for planting the next year. So when you shout out to plant, that’ll be my reminder to order.

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  17. Whoops sorry forgot you are in a different season to us! We saw a wonderful border full of aliums today planted with deep blue geraniums as we drove through a nearby small town – it was obviously a town council flowerbed, so quite unusual to see a display of them.

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  18. I have several in different sizes but the little one I used is very dear to me as it was given to me by my friend – it belonged to her daughter who sadly died suddenly age 26 and she had always loved to do craft work and made her own cards. So making a card using the butterflies was a tribute to her daughter and something for my friend to keep in her memory. x

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  19. This is such a lovely post, Vivien. I love reading about all your makes and gardening. I hope it’s warmer up your way now. It’s warmer down here, so everything has been out overnight for a while. In fact when we went to bed last night, it was still 17’ outside!

    Love your flowery jug and I think you’re right, we all should have one that special. Mine is one of my Grandma’s, that I was given after she died. It’s not particularly pretty and it depicts the Widecombe Fair verse with funny little characters on it, but it means a lot to me and looks great with flowers in it.

    I hope you hubby have a lovely birthday and enjoys his cake xx

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  20. Yes at last the nights are warmer here too and planting out and hardening off has now begun. I remember a trip to Widecombe in the 1960’s when I was about 8 yrs old. I also have an old set of postcards depicting Widecombe fair – lovely place as I remember. Stll enjoying the cake!

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  21. Our blogs are a record aren’t they, I love to read old posts and remember what we did and said. I too have been waiting to plant things out in the garden, I have taken the leap and started to do it now, the frosts were slow in stopping this year.

    It is so satisfying to make and create things with what we have in the house rather than going out and buying more. I am loving this, it is so much better on the bank account too!

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  22. Happy birthday to your husband! It sounds like he had a lovely day. Your garden is coming along so nicely. And your food looks delicious, as always. Hope you are having a nice weekend.

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