The Pink Button Tree

The Pink Button Tree: March 2014

Sunday, 30 March 2014

March in our courtyard garden

During March our courtyard garden started to come alive again with new growth and pops of colour once again. I really take great pleasure from being in our courtyard garden. Being outside in the fresh air does something really great for me and makes me feel so alive. The moment I slip my feet into my wellies and I step outside with a steaming cup of tea, I get a rush of real enthusiasm for gardening. I love having a plan for my few hours of escape. I spend the week thinking about what I want to do and then get outside at the weekend. Over the past few months I haven't managed to get in the garden after work as the evenings are dark, but that changes from this weekend, the clocks went forward! We can now start enjoying longer days and more daylight. I like to have something to focus on in the evenings and having something rewarding to put my energies into. When I step out into our garden any thing I have on my mind seems to disappear and my mind focuses on looking after the garden, it's a real escape.

I've spent the month tidying up our space, sorting out containers and planting seeds and getting stuck into gardening again!

I started chitting my potatoes at the end of February and this month I've planted them in new vegetable compost. I'm growing two varieties of potato this year, Charlotte and Maris Peer. I am experimenting with growing them on a larger scale this year and have four containers. I am using a large vegetable planter with two sections and two potato growing bags to grow the potatoes. I'm looking forward to seeing how they grow and trying to find the bet place in our courtyard to grow them.

To cut down on the cost of gardening  I'm trying to grow some plants from seed this year. I've had mixed results over the years but I'm determined to try again. If they don't grow I'll give in and get a few plug plants.

Last weekend I planted a few seeds outside including carrots, mixed lettuce leaves and radishes outside in fresh compost. We've had mixed weather all week with some really cold days and a sunny weekend. I hope that the seeds are surviving and will start germinating soon.

I'm starting off some of the seeds in propagators inside on a windowsil. I've planted chilli, basil, dahlias and marigolds seeds. It has taken a while for the basil and chilli seeds to start growing but in only one week the dahlia and marigold seeds have germinated.

My window boxes are looking bright and happy. I tried a few different types of daffodils this year.

The hyacinths cheer up the space next to our back door and smell gorgeous. They look really lovely in their blue glazed pot and make me smile each morning.

I have a few strawberry plants that I planted a few years ago. I added some new compost to the container a few weeks ago and I repotted the strawberries. I spotted new leaves growing this weekend, I really hope we get a good crop of strawberries this year.

The blueberry bushes are growing bright green leaves and I can see the flowers forming already.

The garden is slowly waking up and becoming a great place to spend time in. I seem to picked up the gardening bug again! This year I was going to keep the gardening simple but over the past few weeks I've decided that I will grow some more plants this year. I'm planning on also growing tomatoes, courgettes, spring onions, garlic, beetroot and rocket. I've been doing a little more research on suitable containers and caring for them and I think I may have a little more success this year. I'm just hoping for great weather!

I've been reading The Edible Balcony by Alex Mitchell over the past few weeks. The book is really inspiring and has made me want to try growing more plants year than initially planned. I've been thinking about getting a wormery too and want to find a way to store rainwater so I can water and feed the plants myself. I'm also going to plant some more flowers to encourage more bees to visit our garden.

Have you been out in your garden, balcony or courtyard this month? What are you hoping to grow this year? Let me know as I'd love to know what you are planting.

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Tuesday, 25 March 2014

A room of my own - My craft studio

Over the past few months I've been busy sorting and cleaning our flat after we had some building work done. It was messy and disruptive work which meant we had to pack a large part of our home into boxes and cover furniture with dust sheets. If you've ever had any major work done you'll know the filthy mess it generates!

After weeks of cleaning, our home is slowly getting back to normal. There are lots of things to do to get our space back to how it was. It's a work in progress project and we are 'embracing our space' and planning the redecorating ahead of us. In amongst the mess and disruption, a moment of clarity came over me. I found a benefit with all the upheaval we faced, it gave me a chance to really think about our home and how we use our space. This reflection time lead to me making an exciting change to our home. I have created a dedicated craft space just for me.

It all started during our trip away on holiday to the Yorkshire Dales at the end of January. Part of the way through the building work we had planned a holiday to escape the grime and dust. I took a number of my favourite interiors books and magazines to read on our holiday. I love the space and time of a holiday to think and recharge. After each day of walking and sight seeing we came back to the converted barn we were staying in and I sat down with a cup of tea and a piece of cake. Sitting next to the wood burner I read my interiors books dreaming of how we could update and improve our space. 
We had a few very rainy and snowy cold days so I managed to read my interiors books cover to cover and read the magazines I took with me.

During one afternoon I came across a feature in the January edition of Elle Decoration No.257. Viewpoint is one of my favourite regulars in the magazine and that month's column was all about 'a room of one's own', written by Sam Baker, former Editor of Red magazine. The feature was all about how Sam went about reclaiming a room of her own, her spare room to be precise, to work in following her new job and change in career.

After reading the piece it really got me thinking about how I use our home for my passions and work. We're really lucky to have a spare room in our home, it's a space I use to get ready in, and is a storage space for my craft things. After a little pondering I realised that our spare room wasn't being used as efficiently as it could've been. When we first organised our the spare room five years ago I didn't realise how my life would change in terms of my passions, hobbies and how I used my spare time. 

I realised that our spare room was being used mainly for storage and not actually for anything really practical. The desk had become too small and impractical to make many of the projects I had started. I'd taken to moving projects to our dining room table, unpacking supplies, working on things between meals and then packing up again. The storage I had in our spare room also was not really working, I had some small storage boxes stacked high with supplies and an overflowing book shelf making it difficult to find things I wanted. 

This year an intention of mine was to 'embrace my spare time', by increasing the time and energy I put into my passions. Outside of my full time job I spend lots of time catching up with friends, working on a variety of craft projects, memory keeping with Project Life, taking photos and gardening, as well as trying to keep our home tidy and have time to relax. I started noticing that I wasn't managing to balance all these things and this meant that something had to change. I realised that I needed to use our space differently to accommodate my new passions that have grown over the past few years and have become a huge part of who I am. I found that not having a dedicated space big enough to work in was becoming a real barrier to my creativity. I knew I needed to remove the barrier I had mentally and physically built up to having creative time and find a way to allow more time in the day to create.

I've spent a lot of time over the past few years oohing and ahhing over photos of peoples craft spaces and dreamt that I would one day have my own studio. I've been eyeing up storage solutions, but I had avoided thinking about them too much, as they wouldn't work in our space as it was. Any new furniture would mean a major change to our space and the furniture we had. During February I was spending time cleaning and sorting through things and I decided it was time for a change.

I decided to take the plunge and change round our spare room and create my own craft studio. I bought two pieces of furniture, a shelving unit and a desk. I chose the simple but very useful Ikea EXPEDIT white gloss shelving system. I have been lusting after the large EXPEDIT shelving unit in the range for a long time, I knew that if I ever had my own studio I would have a wall of this shelving to store my fabric and book collection. Our spare room is compact and so I had space for the small EXPEDIT shelving unit. Having this shelving meant I could organise for my book collection, scrapbooking supplies and fabric in one storage space, something I was lacking.

I also bought a simple white gloss table from Ikea that was long enough to accommodate my large cutting mat and my sewing machine. It's a real pleasure to be able to cut fabric for my patchwork projects and sew in the same space! Ideally I would've restored a wooden table and to have painted it white but I had a certain sized table in mind and couldn't find what I was looking for.

My craft studio is very much a work in progress. I've got the foundations of the furniture in the room and now I'm hoping to make the space really reflect me and my style. I'm going to create a pretty space decorated in pastel colours to create a calm and inspiring sanctuary full of inspiring things I've made myself and pretty things I've collected. I'm planning to paint the room to freshen things, add a shelf or two above the desk to store and display pretty things and make some curtains. I want to have space for a mood board and add some new lighting.

I'm so pleased I now have a workable craft space, my own little studio space just for me. A place I can leave projects half finished if I want to, a place to group together my craft supplies, and a space for my library of crafting books. One day I may use the space to teach friends how to sew and create...for now it's my own little haven that will slowly be turning into my dream studio.

Over the past few weeks I've been sewing in the evenings and updating my Project Life album. I've enjoyed the simple pleasure of listening to the radio and spending a few hours to creating things after a busy day at work. It really is a special space where I can escape to... to create, make and reflect. I feel I've really embraced our space and made it fit me and how I want my life to be.

Have you looked at your home recently? Is there anything you could change to allow more space for your passions?

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