The Pink Button Tree

The Pink Button Tree: March 2012

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Springtime Planting

At last Spring definitely feels like it is on its way. With foggy mornings, blossom covering some of the trees and a gentle warmth to sunny days. This time of year is always so refreshing, with a change from the rainy cold miserable days, to the joy of more hours of daylight and a mildness in the air. I love it when the seasons change...I've recently packed away my chunky winter scarves and replaced them with my favourite light springtime ones instead!

I live in a little basement flat which was built in the 18th century, I love it as it has its charms and little alcoves for my many books. We don’t get the best light throughout the flat, however we are very lucky to have our own courtyard garden with unique archways and a little cave at the back. The problem is that it is a sunken courtyard garden, we live on a steep hill with other houses surrounding us and so we struggle to get all light we need to grow plants successfully. Last year we managed some green tomatoes and one courgette! I don’t think that my heart was in it last year but this year I want to try a bit harder and really look after things, plant some flowers to brighten up the space and hope that the veg I plant may some how grow much better this year!

Over the past few weekends I’ve been preparing our courtyard garden space ready for Spring. I’m really enjoying being outside in our courtyard at the weekends, whether I'm tidying up our little space, looking at the plants coming back to life after winter or pootling around planting things in various containers. Being in the fresh air is such a great way to have space for time to think and clear your head of the weekly goings on. A few months ago in my post Planting Onions I was hopeful that the onion bulbs I planted were going to do something! I'm proud to let you see that they are coming on nicely!

We have a few chunky windowsills that do get some light, so I took the plunge and a few weekends ago I planted some window boxes to brighten up the window sills. I wanted to make the most of the spaces that get the most sunlight and usher in the spring with some cheerful primroses and narcissus…oh and look how they’ve bloomed! I love seeing these happy flowers when I look out of our windows.

I was in the mood for planting so I sowed some seeds to see what I could grow!

I bought seeds to grow courgettes, marigolds, nasturtiums, peppers and geraniums. They have now been planted and placed near the window in propagators. Look what a dose of water and inside warmth has done to the courgette seeds and nasturtiums in a few weeks…

The other seeds are still dormant so I’ll wait and see what happens to them! Outside in our containers I planted carrot seeds and lettuce seeds, but upon checking them this morning nothing seems to be happening with these either. I have no idea if any of them will grow but it's worth a go.

Alongside the planting came the desire to have a spring clean of our outside space. So I swept the courtyard, tidied up the pots, moved some containers and gave our new little wooden greenhouse some clear oil protector in the hope that it will last many years. 

Finally I potted up some pink and blue hyacinths that I’d bought...and look how they’ve bloomed...

I’ll keep you posted on my gardening developments over the coming months! Fingers crossed some more seeds will germinate this week... I'd love to hear about what you are planting at the moment.

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Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Blueberry Pancakes

Nothing could be more perfect than a yummy brunch to kick start a busy Saturday. Over the weekend I made blueberry pancakes for the first time. I whipped up the mixture using a recipe for Blueberry Soured Cream Pancakes in a lovely cook book I have had for a few years, called easy breakfast and brunch (published by Ryland, Peters and Small).

I would normally go out for brunch for this sort of thing but I had been really hoping to try make my own.

I followed the recipe and added three tablespoons of the blueberry pancake mixture to a hot greased non-stick pan, it bubbled and sizzlede as the mixture started to cook. The pancake mixture held together well and looked promising!

Next began the waiting game as the mixture was slowly cooked through. I had a real sense of pleasure when I eased the pancake away from the pan with a spatula, hoping that it hasn't stuck, and flipping it over when the bottom has browned.

The waiting started again until it was ready to serve. While I waited I discovered some maple syrup in our cupboard…

Over the next 10 minutes or so I made a big stack of pancakes and drizzled them with maple syrup...

Hungry and with our mouths watering, we tucked into our blueberry pancake feast. I’d definitely recommend using frozen blueberries in a pancake recipe. By the time the pancakes were ready the blueberries had defrosted, kept their shape and when I cut into the pancake yummy blueberry goo oozed out. Bliss!

I’m so proud of my Saturday baking session, I’ve found a new breakfast treat that I will definitely cook again.

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Thursday, 1 March 2012

Quilting and patchwork update

I’m excited to tell you that I did indeed get the quilting bug after the day I spent in January (see The glorious world of fabrics and quilt making for details) learning some quilting basics. I couldn’t stop thinking about all the things I could make, from quilted cushions, to a kindle holder, to gifts for friends expecting arrivals of little people this year.

The one thing holding me back initially was the lack of equipment to make it work. After a long stretch of thinking and researching I decided to take the plunge and invest in some new things to help me. I bought a new sewing machine and went for a Janome DXL 603 with a free quilting kit. It was a sad moment when I decided that I really needed a new machine to replace the Frister Rossman Beaver 4 sewing machine. It is my Mum’s sewing machine and I learnt to sew on it during school so it’s the only machine I know. It’s a lovely machine but at 35 years old it doesn’t have the accessories that I need to quilt. Plus I should really return it to my Mum as I’ve had it on a long term long for quite some time!

Investing in a new machine was something that I had been thinking about for a while. This was always going to be a very big purchase, but luckily I found a great machine with a quilting set (an extension table and various feet to help me do free machine embroidery) which had all the features I wanted.

So since I bought the machine I’ve been collecting fabrics…These are from an Aladdin’s cave material shop in Bath called Country Threads that a fellow blogger, Jenny, featured on her blog The Button Jar, when she went on an embroidery class there. I wouldn’t have known that it existed as it is tucked away down a cobbled street in Bath. So I picked up some material…

Bought a big cutting mat, cutting ruler and rotary cutter from Creative Grids in a starter kit...

Spent time reading some books so I knew what to do to accurately cut up fabrics…

and put together some squares to start a project…

I haven’t decided what I’m doing yet with the squares that I’ve made. What I do know is that I had a great afternoon of selecting the fabrics to work together, playing on my new sewing machine and practising cutting the material. As easy as cutting sounds it was a challenge to ensure that I accurately measured the right size for the strips ready for the squares I created. I’ll keep you posted on my progress over the next few weeks. I think I'm hooked on quilting already!

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