Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Firsts

First you see it...




...then you don't!



The cute "Love" cushion which I have been very much enjoying in its new home on its little Arts and Crafts chair in the dining room (and particularly loved by Vorey who thinks it's very cosy) has gone off on its hols to Ideal Home mag for another photo session as it's going to be featured in the mag (October issue I believe, by the way).  I did give it a vigorous de-fur first, of course. So, to those of you who bought a similar "Love" or "Home" cushion from me already, you're ahead of the trends!

More firsts around and about the HenHouse. 

The first sweet peas...





Yes, they do smell divine.


The first wild sweet peas...




No, they don't really have a fragrance.

The first hollyhock...




Self-seeded, in amongst loads of weeds!  I've never grown hollyhocks here though we have quite a few dotted around the garden.  I do jolly well love hollyhocks, too.  Cottage gardens eat your heart out.  You can't actually eat them though, can you?

Moving on to the edible crops then.  (That was a truly awful link, wasn't it, my apologies.)

The first tomatoes...




In fact, the tomato plants are loving all this hot weather and are looking very triffid-like.  I'd better get out there, pulling out the non-flowering side shoots and tying the plants in.  Heaven help the window cleaner when he tries to get past this little lot!




The first chilli peppers...




Still green so here's hoping for lots more sun so that the little monsters turn a fiery red.  I usually dry them and use them in my curries there after.

Down in the optimistically titled "kitchen garden", the first peas...




The first broad beans...




The first green (French) beans...




Not the first raspberries though.  Finding it hard to keep up with the raspberry picking but I'm waiting for the sun to go down then I shall tackle them later and probably make jam.






Not a first really, except that it's the first time I'm showing you this.  Does that count?!  I'm a bit disappointed that the "million bells" are looking more "tens of bells" at the moment, I really want them to trail all down the basket but perhaps I'm being impatient.  Who, moi?  Mr HH is shaking his head, "Hen?  Impatient?  Oh no no no"!  Or errm, maybe not.




I bought the cute heart-shaped hanging basket at the Chelsea Flower Show.  I'm not usually a hanging basket fan but I bought this and another round one with a little heart shape protruding from the bottom (golly, that sounds dodgy, doesn't it?)  which I rather liked.  We'll look at that another time perhaps (like when it's started flowering).

That's it for firsts, now it's just random bits and pieces, as you've come to expect from me and this blog.  I am LOVING (get that?) my red polka dotty verbenas which are now starting to flower nicely.  Good boys (better than that million bells.  Huh, what million bells?)










In fact, the red polka dot beauties are so fab, they get lots of piccies!

Monday, 29 June 2009

Cricket and Crochet

This weekend saw Mr HenHouse's debut for the village cricket team.  What I know about cricket would not fill the back of a postage stamp.  There was only one thing for it...




Failing that, I thought I may as well take along a comfy chair for the afternoon's viewing.  I didn't realise it was going to make the perfect resting place for the necessary sporting accoutrements.




I must admit, I was rather excited at the thought of the annual Chairman's match on Sunday, where the village's official cricket team plays a team made up from other village dwellers.  Not too sure about the cricket, but an afternoon in the sun with the promise of tea afterwards was not to be sniffed at.  Yummy!

Limbering up!  




The Munchkin came along well prepared too.  Check out his Yeovil boot sale vintage deckchair.  I think this is his "don't take my photo" look.




His current obsession: aircraft.  (Along with cars, steam trains, meerkats and so on.)




I thought I should take along something to amuse me too.




Ooooh, after the village team batted, it was time for tea.  Perhaps a strategic move by the other team; can't imagine much agile fielding was going to take place once that little lot was wolfed down!  I made the whopping strawberry cake on the left which was very well received.  I can never help trying a brownie, always in search of the ultimate specimen (it's a hard job but someone's gotta do it).  Oh my, I'm surprised I had any of my own teeth left after a bite of one of those!  I suggest the brilliant recipe in Good Food magazine instead.




Unfortunately, the Mr HH's village team lost to the raggle baggle band of non-regulars (by only one run; gosh, I actually found cricket quite exciting, usually I think it's akin to watching paint dry).  Oh dear!  One slice too many, boys?

We girls are not really that fussed about sport are we?  It's stacks of fabric, ribbons, buttons and yarns that do it for us?  And vintage finds, but none of those this week as I had to forego the boot sale in favour of the cricket match.  The things I do for love!  (Or cake?)

Fast forward to today.  Tomorrow is my last crochet class.  I started adult education classes, two hours every Tuesday morning, back in September as a complete novice.  I'm pleased that I can now crochet simple things.  My main motivation for learning to crochet was to make a granny squares blanket.  My nan has always been a very good crocheter and churned out granny blankets once upon a time but is sadly finding it difficult now she is older (in her late eighties).  So, I have been making squares for months.  I have nowhere near enough for a blanket but I thought if maybe I joined a few squares together, I might be motivated to get some more done.  I have been using Rowan DK yarn (purchased from John Lewis but available elsewhere) which I really enjoy working with.  With the warm weather, I thought today would be a good day for blocking.  Not sure I know what I'm doing with blocking, my tutor doesn't believe in it but hey ho!






I consulted my book for advice on joining the squares together and I also had a look at Lucy's guide to joining granny squares which is fabby.  So, off I went a-joining.  I found it quite tricky, working with the same colour it was hard to see which stitches I was working into but I think I've got the hang of it.  More of a problem was the fact that a certain someone seemed to think the squares very cosy indeed and every time I turned away, I returned to find...








By the end, Vorey was feeling very bold and fully asserted his right to lounge on the squares combined with a challenging glare at the camera!




Hopefully, I might have a better photo with more progress to show you soon!

Friday, 26 June 2009

Ideal Home?

Oh my, it's been quite a week, as in quite a busy week, quite an exhausting week.  All shall become clear...

Let's backtrack and reminisce a bit.  When we bought our dinky country cottage, we made a concerted effort to decorate each room.  As a matter of fact, we didn't decorate in terms of painting, but we spent a considerable amount of time trawling round for furniture and "things", painting and restoring them and sewing a lot of curtains, cushions, seat covers and so on.  When we moved into our London home, however, it was a bit more of an epic event.  Two houses/flats in which we were then living to be moved into one, a young child in tow, and all on a bigger scale and an immediate scale, out of one (actually two) houses, into the new (old) one, not leaving anything behind.  The cottage allowed us a little more luxury.  It also took an age for the sale of the cottage to go through which meant we had time to prepare. Recently, I realised that there were many things around our home in London that I still needed to get round to doing.  I've spent a lot of time sewing for other people and not so much for ourselves!

First up was the guest room, the unoriginally titled "yellow room" (we tend to refer to bedrooms by colour); if we're feeling silly, it's the "chamomile suite" (just as a joke, you understand because it's not a suite at all!)  Boring lampshades in here, yes they had been on my mind for a while (strange things I have on my mind, no?)  Time to jazz up the shades...

Take two fairly nondescript ivory shades (I think the lamps and shades came from Sainsburys, purchased by Mr HH years back), and make a paper pattern from them because not being round, covering them is not quite so straight forward...




Decide on cute Cath K "Posy" fabric, stockpiled for just such a moment.  Love that one, so understated but so vintage in its feel...




Get very messy with fabric glue and weight the shades down with some picture frames handily nearby (ear marked for the next project) to secure the fabric to the frames...




The result...






(Moss green velvet trim courtesy of my stash, courtesy originally of my sister).

The bed had but a single pale yellowy cushion, albeit quite showily endowed with ritzy glitzy feathers.  Time for some friends.  Time to assault the fabric stash and the collection of vintage embroidery...






(The yellow fabric is a gorgeous, long discontinued Cath K design, "Rose Wiggle", the pink dots courtesy of Holland Fabric House).

So, that's the bedside tables and the bed dealt with.  But now, the walls looked too bare...

Not sure from where this idea sprung to mind but I rummage in the den and find two walnut picture frames I had once had on the wall in my flat.  Decide I want to frame some of the lovely floral pictures which are in a book about flowers which my sister bought for me (handy that sister of mine?)  The floral pictures are far too small for the frames and there are no mounts. Let's use scraps left over from an Amy Butler pillow project in which I patchworked Kaffe Fassett fabrics together and for the other one, leftover scraps from the patchworked Cath K fabrics I use to make my notebook covers.  A zany little project that was very quickly (if messily) completed with the help of some spray glue..






It's looking a good deal more cheery than before.






The main reason however, for the hive of house-improvement fuelled activity this week stemmed from an email I received out of the blue two weeks ago.  An email from a lovely lady at a well known interiors magazine, who having seen my blog, wondered if our home might be suitable to feature in the magazine?!  And so today was the day of the photoshoot...


Much oohing and aahing in the den in particular...








The Munchkin had a starring role in the living room once he came home from school!




He was also chuffed because his room received a bit of a makeover with new blinds and bunting courtesy of more of Miss Cath K's fabric...




The ladies from Ideal Home magazine brought some lovely flowers with them.








All in all, it's good that we were motivated to get stuck in to a few projects around the house that we'd been meaning to get round to for ages (as you do) and today was really enjoyable.  So, in a few months, the HenHouse might be starring in a lovely homes mag (and yes, Jacky-Ginge did his best to get a look or is that a paw, in!)

Happy weekend, one and all.