My ‘Cottage Garden’ colours

I have chosen my colours for Rachell’s CAL.

As I understand it the flowers in cottage gardens were originally there to attract bees who would then pollinate the fruit and vegetable crops.

Now the colour flowers that bees especially like are apparently blue, purple, violet, white and yellow.

The colours that especially said ‘cottage garden’ to me were these.

And the reason I voted for the ‘cottage garden’ colour scheme was because I felt that I would like to work with these colours.

Stylecraft calls these colours: lavender, wisterior and clematis, all flowers you might find in a cottage garden.

But also think herbs: rosemary, thyme, mint, nepeta (so loved by cats), as well as cranesbill, aubretia and the buddleia that seems to pop up uninvited all over Southampton.


For blue: think borage, campanula, and the love-in-a-mist that I so liked planting in my corner of the garden when I was a child.

For Yellow: think hollyhocks, honeysuckle and sunflowers. Bees also like dandelions apparently.

Yellow Dandelion

Bees like other hollyhocks as well and the lavatera in my garden

Lavatera – Rosea

even though these are pink, as are foxgloves and sedum spectabile: other bee favourites.

Pink Sedum

Even though they are less attractive to bees, I associate cottage gardens with pink roses round the door
and marigolds.

Orange Marigold

Marigolds are not favoured by bees but are thought by some to deter pests so that may justify their inclusion in a cottage garden as well as their edible petals..

All the above are my chosen colours but I have also chosen a representative green as well.

The more I thought about it the more I realised one could probably justify the inclusion of any colour (except maybe black, browns and greys) under the title of ‘cottage garden’ but these are the ones I would like to work with.


And the winner is!

As promised, I sat down today wrote all the entries for my giveaway on little pieces of card.
[I had some offcuts of card and I thought this might be better that paper]

Decided to put them in an old Waterstone’s bag as that is totally opaque

Shook them up

And drew out …………………………………


who had said:

“Thanks for the giveaway….the colours of your projects are absolutely vibrant. I have just spent the morning going through your archive and truly enjoyed everything that I had read and seen…..very inspiring …I love to crochet and find that your crochet pieces are awesome.

Usha ”

So congratulations Usha if you send me your postal address I will send you your prize wrapped in some of the above sheets of tissue paper.

Commiserations to everyone else who entered.

The one thing I don’t like about competitions is that only one person can be the winner! 😕

Busy, busy, busy.

Last week my grandaughter Louisa came to stay. We had a very busy week that included: crafting, playing computer games, visiting play parks, meeting up with uncles, aunt, and cousins, shopping and reading books. The first thing we did was to make some orange jelly and then later we made some lime jelly: all with real fruit juice and gelatine.

The lime jelly didn’t come out very green of course – perhaps I should have bought some colouring – but here are some orange rabbits and green ‘bushes’ all ready to be eaten. The lime jelly was voted as being even better than the orange.

We also did some handicrafts

Louisa went on with her knitting and started to make crochet chains but life was so busy I forgot to take any photographs.

However I did take photographs when we made our first doll as shown us on woolhogs’ blog.
We assembled all we needed, including some new yarn we bought to make more interesting crochet chains.

The piece of card was to help with making the hair.

And we ended up with a little Louisa.

With another doll made later a whole world and story could be created.

Louisa also did some embroidery – all her own design.

Then on Thursday we went to play with her cousins

She played Snakes and Ladders with Oliver but little brother wanted to join in.

At the beginning of the week we had made some cookies

Louisa enjoyed these so much we decided to make some more to take home.

Mummy and Daddy and James the lodger came to collect her on Saturday but before going home we all went out to Portsmouth for another day out……………………….

But that is another story.

Socks and some squares

As you can see I have finally finished my socks. I cast off the first one a little tightly but they both fit and are lovely and soft.

I especially like the way if I choose to turn them down the top of the turnover is the same colour as the toe on each sock.

As my granddaughter has been here, I haven’t been doing much crochet but I did decide it would be a good time to make a couple of sample squares for Rachell’s CAL to check my tension. So I made the first two squares in some yarn I have that I am letting myself use for samples.

Both of these squares have been made in DK yarn with a 4mm hook. The first one came out 6.5 inches square but in spite of this I decided to make the second square with the same hook and it came out the expected 6 inches square.

I then decided to crochet another one of the squares that are worked diagonally (as the basic pattern is the same – just a different arrangement of colours), this time with a 3.5mm hook.

As you can see it came out smaller but still a little larger that the beige square.

I don’t especially like the fact that the middle square (in the picture above) is even firmer in feel than the one on the right that is itself firmer than the beige one.

So I can’t decide with the CAL whether to

  • Use the smaller hook (or an even smaller one),
  • Cheat and crochet less rows,
  • Make it but not use the diagonal ones (there are only three in the whole book I think) in any final blanket.

Homemade Muesli

“Here is one I prepared earlier!”

Since my granddaughter is here this week, I put this post together last week.

I thought that I would share with you my recipe for Muesli. It is what I have for breakfast on weekdays.

The recipe in its proportions owes something to this book that I bought many years ago.

I bought it not to go on a slimming diet but because I was interested in the charts showing the amount of fibre in different foods as I wanted to increase the amount that I ate.

The book contains a high fibre recipe for breakfast that it says contains 15g fibre and 200 calories.

So I decided to make it for breakfast.

At first I did what they said and weighed out each portion separately but later I decided that this was too much hassle and made it in batches.

Later still when I was less worried about fibre in my diet I decided that I would move away from wheat bran and try a mixture of grains and also a greater variety of dried fruit and nuts.

So the only similarity between the recipe in this book and mine is the proportion of sultanas and the inclusion of almonds.

[My muesli, by my calculation, is about 8g fibre and 260 calories without milk.]

I believe that in the US sultanas are called raisins though in the UK raisins come from a red grape and sultanas come from a white grape. I prefer white grape sultanas to the richer flavoured red grape raisins for this recipe.

I normally make a batch that is a nominal 16 helpings in size but for the ease of photography the recipe below will only make 8 helpings. The plate is the same in all the pictures.

So what do you need?

You mix together


  • 4oz (110g) oats – I like the larger old fashioned ones.
  • 4oz (110g) rye flakes.
  • 4oz (110g) barley flakes.

Dried Fruit

  • 4oz (110g) sultanas.
  • 2oz (55g) dried apricots. (I used to use 1oz apricots and 1oz prunes but I went off the prunes.)
  • 1oz (25g) dates. (Yes I know half of 55 is 27.5 but at this level you rarely get an exact weight of whole dates or figs and 25 looks neater.)
  • 1oz (25g) dried figs.

I cut up the dates, apricots and figs with a pair of kitchen scissors.


  • 1oz (25g) flaked almonds.
  • 1oz (25g) walnut pieces.

Mix them all together and you get your muesli.

I sometimes add to the above a couple of ounces (55g) of ground up linseeds for the added health benefits.

Yes this is a trick picture.

Before and after grinding


In volume a serving would be around about ½ an UK cup and about 2/3 of a US cup.

I normally serve the muesli with some cold milk but I sometimes add some natural yogurt or use hot water followed by some yogurt in the winter.

And as a special treat (I love them!) and because they are good for you, since they contain selenium that is lacking apparently in European diets, I add 3 or 4 brazil nuts – depending on their size.


I was surprised that I haven’t had more people interested in my 50 follower giveaway.

Not sure if the reason is

  • Having it in August (not something I could determine really).
  • The things I have chosen to give away.
  • Asking people to give some feedback on the blog.
  • Other reason I haven’t thought of.

Anyway, if you are a more recent follower or if you have been away or haven’t got round to it.

The post for the Giveaway is HERE.

The five things for the giveaway are as in the picture above or the thumbnails below.

I am holding it open till the end of August and won’t actually be choosing the person till 3rd September.

A Birthday Outing

Another post so soon! Yes but I thought I would share our Sunday outing with you.

Sunday was my daughter’s birthday and I was picked up after church and we all went down to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. We being myself, my daughter, her husband, their daughter and a friend who is at present lodging with them.

We started at the Mary Rose museum where we took a picture of the lodger: James in the stocks!

And here is the birthday girl with a well known king.

And here is a little (or maybe medium sized) princess.

We weren’t able to see the Mary Rose itself but later we did get to see the place that they’ve built to house it.  I saw a very interesting programme on television about it a little while ago.

We decided to head over to Gun Wharf Quays for lunch, passing HMS Warrior on the way.

When we got there, I photographed the Spinnaker tower though I have been here before.

We found a restaurant my daughter likes called Wagamama, the cuisine looks to Japan apparently.

My daughter and I had something whose name I can’t remember but it looked like this:

and it was really delicious. (James was amused by the way I twirled the noodles round my chopsticks. 🙂 )

And there were a couple of side dishes to share as well

After lunch we all headed back to the Historic dockyard.

and this time we went to see the

I have been before a long time ago so the ship did look strange with topmasts and rigging missing.

We had to bend low to go inside.

I won’t bore you with all the pictures I took inside but this looked rather splendid.

And a little girl asked me to photograph her next to one of the ship’s guns.

The tables are hanging from the ceiling – amazing.

Then it was time to go home. As we walked back the Warrior was still there.

One day had not been long enough to see everything but the tickets will still be valid in a fortnight so we are coming back on Saturday week to see HMS Warrior and the Submarine museum.


On their way back to Aylesbury everyone came back to my house and had cake. They really enjoyed the Battenburg of my last post and of course I gave my daughter the rest to take home. But I do still have some of the off-cuts (well I had to taste it when it came out of the oven to check it was alright!) and the marzipan, which I can have with a cup of tea later today.

So what was I doing this afternoon?

Well it’s my daughter’s birthday tomorrow and although she doesn’t know it she is coming down with her family to see the Historic Dockyard in Portsmouth and I have been invited to go with them and then they are coming back here for tea. Her husband has made her a Battenburg for tea just like he did for my birthday but before I knew that, when I offered to make a cake, he said maybe we should both make cakes.

Now I love Battenburg because I love almonds and especially marzipan but I never made them myself when my children were small because I didn’t have a suitable tin but a few years ago I decided to lash out and buy a special tin.

And I have made a couple since.

I might have made more but I couldn’t find cohineal for sale and I have tried ‘pink’ and ‘red’ food colouring but all they produce is a sort of orangey brown cake which just isn’t the same.

When I was speaking to my son-in-law on Thursday he told me that I needed Silver Spoon ‘pink’ colouring and you could only buy it one place but he couldn’t remember where. Luckily a quick hunt on the internet revealed it was available at Sainsbury’s which is somewhere I shop so I got some.

And made a cake.

Here it is all ready to go in the tin.

I made the marzipan myself. First time I have used the whisk the egg and sugar over hot water for twelve minutes method, so I was a little apprehensive, but it worked out fine and I added a little extra ground almonds till it was firm enough.

And a have a little left which of course I will have to eat up.

Yum! 🙂

And of course a Battenburg doesn’t look right with the cooked ends showing so I had to cut them off and eat them up with a cup of tea. Just to check it tasted alright of course.

Yay! I’ve finished a sock for me!

Here is the first of the socks I am making for myself. I could maybe have cast off even more loosely but it fits and is so lovely and soft. And of course I also love the muted rainbow colours.

I can wear it straight or turned over

I have started on the second one and with luck it might be finished by the end of the month if I don’t get distracted.

And here is an update on my flower cloth.

I have done a bit more of it and now it looks like this.

Not halfway yet but it contains every sort of flower except the twelve petalled darker pink ones.

And as a future endeavour

I am joining Rachell’s CAL  and have ordered the book. The picture of the book is showing in the ‘Posts I Like’ on the right.