Making a garden

I’m sure I’ve mentioned how much Mabel seems to dislike the allotment. We finally had one day a few weeks ago when she played happily while I weeded, but alas, it’s really too late to do anything there this year. Given that I never spent lots of time at the allotment, I am surprised by how much I miss it!

The positive side to this is that it has meant I’ve shifted my interest in plants to making our yard look a bit better. Well, at least one corner of our front yard. A bit at a time is a good gardening strategy, right? Only one part of our front garden (and back, for that matter) has any soil rather than grass or rocks, so I decided to start there. When we moved in, there was an ugly and diseased shrub there. I have let this little corner get overgrown with weeds every summer. I haven’t even given much thought to what I wanted to replace it with.

I started last summer, when I bought meadow rue at Kiftsgate Garden. Then this year I was in Homebase and saw a bleeding heart for £1 and couldn’t resist. And that in turn got me to thinking about what would look nice with a bleeding heart…so it all developed organically. I persuaded a friend to take me to a local nursery, where I bought a white rue and two peonies (one white, one dark red). I guess now I’m committed to a garden with perennials and anything that self-seeds. So far I’ve planted:

Rue – two kinds


Japanese anemone

Bleeding heart



Columbine (aquilegia)

Euphorbia (technically I didn’t plant this)

It is so nice to see flowers when I step outside! It makes me really happy. I also have plans to treat myself to a fancy Miss Saori hydrangea; I walked past one this summer and fell a little in love. Some Japanese irises might look nice, too, and I may just chuck some wildflower seeds in. I have also bought a dahlia and a white butterfly bush which will stay in pots until I’ve decided where I want them (definitely somewhere in the back).

I’d love to make the whole garden a little more bee friendly, too. Lavender is the obvious choice, and I will probably put some in, but to be honest I am not really a fan of the smell. Does anyone have any suggestions?

FO: vintage bedroom curtains


Way back in August 2016, I included some beautiful 1960s barkcloth in a 5 happy things post. I came across it in a shop called Domestic Science. It was expensive at £20 per meter, but in the end I couldn’t resist. The plan was to make us a pair of bedroom curtains.


The reality was that to comfortably make a pair of curtains I needed 6 meters, and there were only just over 5 meters of fabric left on the bolt. Therefore, cutting them was nervewracking & I wasn’t brave enough to do it until this summer. Mismeasuring could be disastrous as there was no possible way of getting more fabric if I cut it wrong.


Pippa didn’t mind, as it seemed to be her favorite cushion for a while. She was very keen to be involved with making it. She supervised when I finally took the plunge and cut the fabric. I cut it into 3 lengths, then sewed the 3 panels together, then cut them in half to create the two panels. She also oversaw this. (Yes, my house was a disaster. No apologies; sometimes that’s what real life looks like.)


I ordered thermal curtain lining online, and followed a few different online tutorials for sewing lined curtains. This one was particularly clear to me.

The pattern matching in the final product isn’t amazing, but overall it isn’t that noticeable at first. It was a necessity given the scarcity of fabric. Besides, as it’s in our bedroom I don’t think it really matters very much.  We are loving having something cheerful to wake up to. It’s also made a huge difference to how the room feels – it finally feels a little more like home.


5 happy things: an update

It’s been an eventful few weeks, hence my lack of consistent blogging. Last week was particularly stressful, with a cancelled holiday due to R’s dad unexpectedly going into hospital. Thankfully, he is fine! I have now come down with a summer cold or flu & have spent the day trying to nap, with mixed results, and trying to stop my eyes from weeping, with no success at all.

I realized the other day that I’ve not done a 5 happy things post for quite a while. I have a few other drafts waiting to be finished, but this seems a good time to do something nice & easy.


  • Flowers

I bought some sunflowers the other day, just to cheer up the house. Seeing them as I come home has been lovely.

  • Plums

The plums on our allotment have come in! There are so many this year, and there seem to be fewer worms than usual, too. Yesterday I picked 2.2 kilos. Time to make some Pflaumenkuchen again, I think.

  • Curtains

I have, at long last, finished the first panel of our bedroom curtains. I planned to finish the second one today, but alas that is definitely not happening. It shouldn’t take too long now; it’s just a matter of attaching the lining and header tape. Once I find a curtain rod, I’ll be able to share them on here. I am so excited about getting them up. On a side note, if anyone can recommend a place to buy very sturdy curtain poles, I’d love to hear it. These are so heavy!

  • Baby movement

After starting to worry about whether what I was feeling was really the baby, I am relieved & thrilled that I know I definitely have. And R has now felt it as well, which is extra lovely. Yesterday I played some Fleet Foxes and could feel it wriggling like mad! I’m very excited about feeling it for the next few months.

  • Time with friends

I got to meet my friend’s new baby for the first time yesterday. She didn’t like me & cried every time I tried to hold her, but I’m hoping she’ll eventually grow out of that! It was nice to spent time with her toddler as well, going to the park & the allotment, where he helped me pick some of those plums. P1090521

What have you been up to recently?

5 happy things: a spring in my step

This is what my garden looks like at the moment. Yup, a mess. I was using the drill to put a hole in the bottom of the square pot. There are lots of positive things happening at the moment. Here are five of them.

    • It feels like spring! Not every day, but enough that I’m feeling like I’m getting a little more energy. This will be reflected in the rest of the post, I suspect. It is also wonderful to see flowers everywhere. Our daffodils still aren’t open, though, and I’m starting to get impatient!
    • My friend bought me these sheets a few months ago, but I haven’t gotten around to using them until now. They are amazing. As you can see, Pippa approves, too. The quality of fabric is pretty shocking, but I’m willing to forgive that. Can’t expect too much for £8 from Asda.

    • Speaking of which, my friends are incredible. I spent a lot of International Women’s Day thinking about the women who inspire me, and loads of them are people I know in person. I have male friends, too, but I have always had stronger friendships with women. I am so amazed by some of the friends I have – a poetry editor at a literary magazine, a library campaigner, a teacher trainee who’s using her time to teach refugees German (in Germany, so it is useful!), a mother of an autistic son who founded a non-profit to help him & others find employment in the tech industry, an artist who worked out a way to make music by painting, and countless friends who spend their time making and thinking about things that matter so that they (and in some cases their kids) can have joyful lives that will leave a positive impact.

    • We finally got frames for some art that we’ve had for ages. I’ve already put them up, though perhaps not in their permanent homes. One of the posters is from a concert we went to last year, and the other is from a poetry jam we helped organize back in 2009. The watercolor was done by R’s mother, who wouldn’t describe herself as an artist, but who I admire. This one was inspired by the following quote from Derek Tangye:

      There was space in the sky, and time was ours, and the air we breathed came to us from far away across the sea, and there were birds singing that we hadn’t noticed before.

    • There’s a new Fleet Foxes album coming out! It won’t be released until 16 June, but I’m already looking forward to it. I’ve been a big fan since their first album. They did a gig at the Custard Factory in Birmingham, and I can definitively say that it’s one of the best I’ve been to. It’s definitely the only gig where I actually felt like I was floating. I’m glad they’ve released the first single to tide me over:

What’s made you happy this week?

10 happy things

This week definitely requires a double dose of happiness. I am, unsurprisingly, pretty horrified by what’s happening at home right now. But I can’t talk or write about it coherently yet, so I’ll spare you! For now, I’m going to focus on the positive. So without further ado, here are 10 things I’m happy about right now.

  • Skype

I spent 2 hours Skyping with a friend at home last night. I Skype my mom for about an hour every week. My sister & I regularly message back and forth on it, too. And it’s free! I mean, you have to pay to call a phone, which I occasionally do, but that’s pretty reasonably priced. It is a lifeline when I am feeling homesick and desperately need to talk to my overseas family and friends, and when the world is an overwhelming place. Do you love Skype as much as me? I don’t know what I’d do without it, really. I really admire my mom for spending over 30 years in a different country from her mum without it.

  • Good news for colleagues

One of my colleagues has an American husband. About 4 months ago, his visitor’s visa expired and he was sent back to the U.S. This week, he came back. Even better, he was finally given a spouse visa, after 2 1/2 years. Such an appalling length of time to have to wait! I can’t imagine. I am so lucky to have dual citizenship. Anyway, I am just so happy for them. It is wonderful that someone is having such fantastic news right now.

  • A new vase

p1070305One of my purchases at Made By Hand Cardiff was this vase by Louise Hall. It’s much more contemporary than my usual style, and the chartreuse glazed inside is a very different color for me. But I love it! If I’m going to buy something new, I do like it to be something that is a bit different from what I can find in charity shops.

At the moment I have these dried wheat stalks in it, so the color really pops. It’ll be interesting to see what a flower with green stalks looks like. p1070307

  • Thrifty Christmas Gift Swap

Janet has kindly organised the Thrifty Gift Swap again this year. I participated last year and delighted in picking out presents for Janet (who happened to be my recipient). Of course, I also loved getting a parcel. One of my gifts was a vintage loaf tin, which is now on my kitchen windowsill. 🙂 I’ve now got my recipient for this year, so I’ve been thinking about what I can make/look for. It’s great fun.

  • A new laptopp1070309

Unfortunately this one has left me poor, but I am very happy to have a new laptop. My previous MacBook lasted 8 years, but now the battery is totally dead. I am also unable to download some programs, and while I can upgrade one more operating system, I would start running into the same problem again very soon. I bought last year’s MacBook Pro, which is the last Mac ever to have an integrated CD drive. It does make it heavier than, for example, the MacBook Air, but we have a massive CD collection and I do like being able to play them in different rooms with my laptop without downloading them.

  • Creeping Dread

On Wednesday, I happened across a tin labelled Creeping Dread in TK Maxx. It made me laugh so much in light of the election that I bought it straightaway. As it happens, Creeping Dread is in fact sherbets, and also contains a short story by Charlie Higson. They’re part of the Hoxton Street Monster Supplies range, created to support the Ministry of Stories. I heard about them ages ago, but had never actually seen any in person. They’re now sitting on my desk & will probably remain there for the next 4 years.

  • Mint Oreos!

I love mint Oreos! This is the first time I’ve seen them in the UK, though. They’re currently on offer at Tesco, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking of going back and stockpiling. Hmmm…


  • Thanksgiving planning

I know I’ve said it before, but Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Because it’s our first Thanksgiving in our new home, we’re planning an extra big one this year. There will be around 15 people, including a few kids, and I’m simultaneously excited and very nervous. I usually do a wide array of foods, but for practical reasons I’ll have to do fewer dishes this year. I’ve also got a vegan and 3 vegetarians to cater for, so that’s an added challenge. I hope they don’t mind that they’ll all be eating vegan! Anyway, slimming down the menu is easier said than done, as I love looking at cookbooks and online recipes. Thanksgiving planning is something I look forward to all year, so I am really loving it.

  • More home improvements

The house is still in a bit of a state, if I’m honest. I don’t know how the year has gotten the best of us to such a dramatic extent. We’re having friends to stay for Thanksgiving, though, so that’s been a great incentive to finally get stuff done. Today a friend came over and we painted our spare bedroom/library. I had this custom color matched to a Victorian fruit bowl that was a housewarming present. I was nervous because it’s so bold, but I absolutely love it! We wanted something that would make the room cozy, and this is perfect for that. I can’t wait to get our bookshelves mounted.

It’s funny that I sometimes feel self conscious about being so picky about decorating our home…and then I remember that for a good 5 years when I was a teenager I wanted to be an interior designer. Sadly I was foiled by geometry. It’s nice to finally have my own space to be creative in.


  • Going viral

I’m not really sure if this is a happy thing, but it is certainly a novel thing. My friend shared the cutest GIF ever on Facebook, of a knitted gnome knitting hearts which then float up. I didn’t know who made it, but I did think others would enjoy it, so I tweeted it. I generally think of Twitter as  my own personal echo chamber and totally forget that people can see my tweets. But as of writing this post, this tweet has been retweeted over 1,200 times and had over 1,800 likes. It is just bizarre!

Fortunately/unfortunately, I then found out that the creator of the GIF had also tweeted it. I feel so guilty for not having attributed it! I did send out a followup tweet so who made , but I know that most people won’t have bothered actually looking at my account to see that. I’ve done my best to direct people to the creator, though, so I really hope she’s not too upset about it.


Sleepy Sunday

Hello, lovely readers. I’m sorry for the quiet blog. I’m working on a post about last weekend, as well as some ongoing projects. But just so I can say I’ve blogged, I thought I’d share this picture of Pippa, which pretty much sums up today. p1070302

This is the chest of drawers I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. It still smells musty, so I thought I’d take advantage of the sunshine to air them a bit. Pippa decided to take advantage of it as well.

5 happy things

I haven’t posted for a while, mostly because I haven’t had anything to say. Between recovering and the start of induction period at work, time to think about anything is rare right now. But the good news is that I am starting to feel more like myself again. And what better way to get back into good habits than with 5 happy things?

This fabric.


I fell for this 1960s fabric months ago when I saw it in the awesome Domestic Science shop while visiting my friend in Nailsworth. There was loads of it and it was still on its original bobbin. I had recently decided we should have red, blue, and yellow as the colors in our bedroom & this was exactly the kind of fabric I wanted for our curtains. But it was very expensive, and we have big windows, so it was not really an option. Happily, I had a tax return recently (hurrah!) and they still had some left! Really, I needed 6 meters to make the curtains comfortably, but they only had 5 meters…so I am just going to fudge it a little. Totally worth it. I am very deeply in love with this fabric, ha!

Plums and raspberriesP1060675.JPG


The allotment hasn’t been up to much this year, hence the lack of posts about it. At last we are getting something out of it, though. I ate the raspberries before I could take a picture of them, so these are just the stains. Our plum tree has also had some fruit, though not a lot. I used some of them to make Pflaumkuche, which my mom always use to make. I’ll share the recipe soon in case you want to try it. It was delicious as always!


I have started knitting a black cardigan for work. Perhaps it’s not that exciting, but I haven’t had any projects for a while, so it’s nice to have needles in my hand again.


This was the view on my way to work this week. Gorgeous, isn’t it? I love living in Gloucestershire. The county has just the right mix of meadows, woods, hills, and rivers for me.

Warm weather

Ah, sunshine! I couldn’t enjoy the good weather in July, so I am really grateful that we have had some more in August. While my colleagues have been complaining about the humidity, I still have Missouri weather to compare it against – so I know I’m getting off easy! I think it is contributing to my homesickness, though, on the down side.