Saturday, 30 June 2007

All about allotments

(This is what it looks like after strimming)

This post is really for Thimbleanna in reply to the questions she asked after my last one:
"Your allotment looks like fun. I've seen allotments, but don't know, really how they work as we don't have them here. Do you purchase the land or rent it? And how do you eat there -- set up a campfire or something to cook the meal? Does the little building contain "kitchen" types of things so that you can cook? Is it common to eat the food at the allotment or do most people just take it home? Hope I'm not being too nosy -- just love learning what goes on in other parts of the world! ;-) "

So No.1
- Do you purchase the land or rent it?
Well, we rent it from the local council for £25 plus £11 for water per year (Some allotments charge even less). The allotment seems huge to us as it is about 28' x 90' (although that is not a precise figure - I can't quite remember what it is!).

The one we rent is about 2 miles from our house - there is one nearer but it has a long waiting list and you are not allowed any sheds or greenhouses on it which would make it much less fun for the children. I decided on impulse last June to go to this allotment and ask if they had any spare plots. They looked at me and said no - the only ones left were in such a bad state I wouldn't even want to consider them and they didn't want to walk me all the way over to them (there are over 300 on the site) as they knew I would say no when I saw it. So, being me, I asked if I could look anyway so I fetched the family from the car and we followed their directions into the middle of the site. We wandered up and down the paths looking at various derelict plots until we found one we quite liked and to their amazement signed for it there and then. This is what it looked like at the beginning

It was the two youngest children's birthday party that afternoon (I think we were actually on our way to it when I stopped at the allotments!) and I told my friend Alison what we had done so she decided to sign up for the one next to me. After that another 4 people directly and indirectly connected with us signed up for the plots on our block. So having told me I wouldn't want to bother with an allotment the committee were amazed to have 6 derelict plots taken over in a very short space of time (followed by many more over the last year)

No. 2 - How do you eat there?
We have a little camping stove that we cook and boil the kettle for tea on. We also take up picnics and sometimes portable barbecues and we have been known to toast marshmallows over raging bonfires and Alison has even wrapped potatoes in foil and placed them in the bonfire at the beginning so that we can rake them out once it has burnt down - yum.

No.3 - Does the little building have "kitchen" types of things
I'm really using this question as an excuse to show off : the little building Anna is referring to is actually the children's shed and was found by our very kind allotment neighbours Anne and Pete and built for us as a surprise when we were first starting out.

Earlier this year, with the help of Anne and Pete again and the lovely Ron, I managed to restore the other "shed" type building on our plot.
To the left is what it looked like last year and to the right is how it looks now. You can see the difference in the weather as well as both shots were taken at the same time of year! I am really proud of this shedalthough I wouldn't have managed it at all without all the help from the others - DIY is not a strong point of mine. I love my shed and I particularly love playing at tidying it- not at all like real housework!

Finally, "Is it common to eat the food at the allotment or do most people just take it home?"
Well, my big sister Ally's response to this question was to say "Of course it's not normal! Only my mad little sister would do something that silly!" But here is my chance to tell her she is WRONG! Ha Ha!!! (only joking Al) Yes, the majority of crops are taken home (and then often distributed amongst friends and family as you always grow more than you need), but quite a few of the allotmenteers that I know love to be able to dig their potatoes and wash and cook them straight away - and as for freshly podded peas, delicious peppery salad leaves and just picked raspberries and strawberries - why would you want to wait to eat them?

Monday, 25 June 2007

Allotments or sewing - which should I do?

We finally managed to spend some time up at the allotment without too much rain on Friday evening and all day yesterday so I was going to post some before and after shots so you could see how much better it looks now that I have tidied, weeded (a bit), strimmed (a lot) and planted but the camera needed charging and today we are back to wet and windy weather so I don't fancy going up for a photoshoot right now. Having not been up for quite a while, with the weather and poorly children and my blog-inspired need to craft, I really felt the allotment had got away from me. I was feeling very disheartened and couldn't see where to start. It is looking much better now but I will show you some of the befores:

Notice how I have made them small so you can't really see how horrid it is! No doubt the "after" ones will be bigger!!! Oh, and I must tell you how yummy the Jersey Royal potatoes were (although I know I should be calling them "international kidney" as we are not in Jersey). They were delicious - we dug them, washed them, cooked them and ate them at the allotment for lunch yesterday with a salad made from oriental leaves from Alison's allotment, lovely bacon and freshly podded peas. The children had homegrown broccoli for supper and we had parsnips, carrots, turnips from Alison, and beetroot for ours. It's brilliant!

Finally this is the quilt I have just finished. I started it ages ago after buying a Moda charm tin of Wuthering Heights fabrics. The design that came with it was for a crazy quilt but I decided I really just wanted to make a strippy one. I ended up buying a lot more fabrics and then put it away for ages. I finally finished the top one day in the half-term holiday but have had real trouble trying to quilt it (even with my lovely new machine :( not happy) so I gave up and used these mother of pearl type buttons that came from a couple of horrible satiny cushions that I bought really cheaply a few years ago because each one had 180 buttons on! A good bargain!

Meanwhile the house is in a dreadful state so I really must try to blitz it. Does anyone else have problems with clothes moths in their fabrics? If so, I would appreciate any advice on what to do about them!

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Creative Processes

I was going to show you the colouring bags I made for the children at the weekend - but I ruined them! I was really pleased with them, then I washed them and the colours ran out of the denim so I soaked them in colour run rescue (or something like that) for the day and they are better but the brightness and newness of them has gone. The children still love them though.

Instead I thought I would show you the creative process behind making a monster!

I saw this tutorial on Monday and liked the design so I sketched out the image on paper. Fred and Daisy then saw it and asked me to make them a paper monster too.
This is how they coloured them in

So this is how I made Stripey Sam.

Fred reckoned that he couldn't get to sleep last night because "I just can't stop looking at Stripey Sam!" - nice try!

Finally - look what I dug up today:

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

A very quick post for Nadine. Which pattern star would you like Nadine? They are no way near as accurate as your work but I promise I will have trimmed off the loose threads before I post yours to you!! (which I should have done before I photographed them too!)

Monday, 11 June 2007

Lucy's Allsorts

This is a post about lots of things - well quite a few anyway!
The first thing is that I have been tagged by Thimbleanna to list my 5 favourite places to eat and I'd better warn you that I am going to cheat for at least three of them! With three young(ish) children we don't get to eat out very often but here are my 5 top places.

1. Zulu's at The Black Horse - the most yummy and interesting food - my favourite is seared scallops in a potato salad with chorizo and black pudding (although I have to pretend that I'm not really eating black pudding - it does taste nice though!) and skinny chips served in a terracota plant pot.
2. Mum and Dad's house - my first cheat! But they really do the best roasts in the world. Dad's father was a butcher and a farmer and so they know all the right meat to buy and how to cook it so it melts in the mouth. Yesterday we had new season roast lamb, roast potatoes, fabulous vegetables,onion sauce, mint sauce and gravy - YUMMY. Followed by homemade summer pudding (but I forgot to take a photo of that!) All served with some delicious wine.

3. Mum and Dad's treehouse (cheat 2). They have had an amazing treehouse built against an lime (not oak - thanks big sis!) tree in the field opposite the house and this is where we had another birthday tea for Fred. The children loved hoisting the baskets of food up with the rope.
4. The Allotment (cheat 3). We spend a lot of time at the allotment and so eat lots of meals there - picnics, mini barbecues, toasted marshmallows etc, but on Friday I had the best meal so far. I had popped up in the afternoon with a shop-bought sandwich for lunch but then found that my friends Alison, Emma and Tricia had been gathering food from their allotments for lunch. We had freshly dug new potatoes, carrots (from my allotment) and salad made with a variety of leaves tossed with some freshly cooked bacon and dressed with olive oil and a little salt. The sun came out and it was the most delicious feast.

5. Now where shall I say for no.5? I don't really have any cheats left up my sleeve so I ought to think of a real restaurant but it seems so long since we went to one. Well this may not still be there but when we were going out my better half and I used to go to Heartbreak Soup on Newcastle's Quayside. We went there to celebrate our engagement and in order to get the table we really liked we had to sit there for the main course and then move for pudding - it amused us at the time.
(See the ring! Sorry - very old photo re-photographed!)

The second thing is to say THANK YOU so much to Nadine for sending me these wonderful fabrics for my star/house quilt. They are actually by the designers of the quilt - Blackbird designs and have been used in the original so it is wonderful to be able to include them in my quilt.

And then I thought I would show some photos of the quilts I have semi-designed myself:

First Dorothy's quilt - inspired by Caroline Zoob and her book Childhood Treasures and made using an IKEA pillowcase (that matches her bedroom) and some old tablecloths, napkins and doilies belonging to her Great-Grandma. We call it her Reading Quilt and it has sayings and phrases relevant to her stitched onto the hearts.

This is "Daisy's" - the central stitchery is a By My Hand pattern (I think) and the quilt just grew around it - you can see I like doing random strip piecing!

In the outer yellow border I have stitched her favourite things- bunnies, Barbies, sweeties etc!

This is "Fred's" quilt with a central stitchery adapted from an Anni Downs' pattern - hers had a little girl on so I made her a bit taller and thinner and turned her into a boy!
Finally this is the little quilt I made to go on the back of mum's chair in the kitchen. I took some Bronwyn Hayes patterns from some magazines and re-arranged them and then used all my blue florally fabrics. Mum and Dad have always had lots of chickens and although Dorothy christened them "Granny and Grandpa Dog" when she was tiny, her older cousins used to call mum "Granny Chickens" (and I think she preferred that!!)

Sorry for such a long post - but there will probably be different things to say tomorrow!

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Not In My Back Yard

Thanks Pam and MALCOLM - POWDER
(do you think they heard that???)

Friday, 8 June 2007

Here Be Dragons!! or Fred's 5th Birthday

Fred likes dragons - mummy likes them too so this is what she made using the children's old jeans and lots and lots of recycled pockets!! (hence the blog name!) I found the dragon on a free colouring page from the internet and adapted it into an applique design. Fred says the dragon's name is "Stripy-Spotty" - obvious really!

He really loves it which makes mummy very happy!
When he was younger Fred (and his big sisters) stayed at Granny and Grandpa Dog's house for the first time without mummy and daddy. His aunty and uncle and two big cousins were there too. Amazingly (well mummy and daddy thought so) Fred not only went to bed (very unusual) but also stayed in his own bed all night (WOW) and in the morning Aunty Ally told him he was a superstar or as he used to say - "doopadar" - which made him very proud. This saying has continued and so a star garland was an obvious present!

Because I had made his birthday card I had a sudden panic when I realised he would be going to school without a birthday badge so I made him this rosette.

This picture is for my big sister - Aunty Ally -
to show her how pleased Fred was with his Phlat Ball.

And finally some photos of how much the allotment has grown over the last few weeks. It has been completely neglected as I have spent my time being creative and I clearly can't do more than one thing at a time! So everything, including the weeds has grown loads.

P.S Went to the allotment today and finally the sun came out - so now I'm sunburnt - AGAIN!

Friday, 1 June 2007

Princess Peg's Grand Day Out

Princess Peg would like to share the photos of her first official royal tour yesterday. After a visit to the Fat Quarters with Lucy Locket and her three little monsters darlings to purchase backing fabric and wadding for LL's latest quilt, Peg was taken on a impulse tour of Northumberland following an early morning email communication between Lucy Locket and Katie - because the obvious thing to do to an extremely busy person that you have never met before is turn up totally unannounced with three lively (bother, meant to write lovely!) children in tow and introduce yourself. Poor Katie was in the middle of supervising the setting up of a weaving exhibition and had a list of jobs as long as your arm to do before the end of the day. S_R_Y Katie - but we did have loads of fun!

Whilst Katie finished her supervising Princess Peg took Lucy Locket plus 3 to the Garden Station in the same village for lunch (juice and a smartie cookie) where she allowed the paparazzi to snap the following shots of her enjoying her day out

On the doorstep of the Garden Station cafe - love the rag rug behind her!

Peg indulges in some un-princess-like tree-climbing.

A more royal pose.

Making friends with a stag.

Enjoying the sunshine.

After the tour of the gardens Katie came over and took Lucy Locket + 3 over to her house to visit her amazing shed and treehouse - WOW - we didn't want to go home (or - we felt like we had come home!) We had the most delightful afternoon with Katie and just fell in love with her home and all of her amazing creations. The children had a fantastic time helping to set up the treehouse for the guest coming later that night and Katie even found time to help them make their own little picture book pouches with badges and chocolate inside.

Katie's amazing treehouse - when can I move in?

Katie with Fred and Daisy making picture book pouches

Peg meets Tilly made by Julie

Peg falls for "Pop-eye"

Finally - taking afternoon tea at Jiggery Pokery in Mickley.

What a brilliantly unplanned and unexpected day we had - shame we now have to spend Friday tidying the house!