Posted by Lova on November 25, 2013
Sorry I have not been blogging for months. I really want to make more effort with this blog so I am thinking of having a blog post once a week from now on. I would be very grateful if you could let me know what you would like to read more on my blog: gardening, sewing, selling handmade, sewing room ideas? Thanks in advance.
Do you remember the book I was working on beginning of this year? It is now available to buy in all bookshops and you can view it on amazon (ISBN-10: 1409334058 ISBN-13: 978-1409334057):
Amazon and some of its marketsellers offer international deliveries if you would like to buy one but live outside of UK. I’ve bought several copies there for members of my family in France. I got my copy from the editors and it is a great book with a lot of lovely crafts to make. I will do a proper review of it another time but here are a few pictures:
The book was written with several other crafters and is published by DK (they also sell the book directly there – as a hardback and an ebook), my contribution is on page 106 and my name is on the authors page 251).
This is the list of projects in the book along with the name of all the contributors. My name is on the top right of the right page.
Yes I know, I have a very long name. For those wo are curious about it, I am originally from Madagascar.
To celebrate the release of the book, I thought I would offer FREE DELIVERY (including international deliveries) for all my handmade items (including custom made items) that are purchased directly from me (not from my shops). So if you would like to purchase something, have a look at one of my shops (links on the right column bar) and contact me here – by leaving a comment (or via any of my shops) and I will email you a paypal invoice. You can pay by bank transfers (or cheque/postal order/cash at any HSBC bank) or by paypal.
Here is a Nook cover that I sewed lately for a customer. I now I offer a custom fit cover for any ereader (Kindle, Nook, etc), and you can also chose the fabric you want (I have more than 100 fabrics to chose from).
On the sewing room front, I haven’t had time to re-organise it yet but I found a nifty solution for storing my iron board. If you remember, I have found my dream table which serves as cutting table (with a self healing mat on the right side of the table) and an ironing table (with a homemade portable ironing board on the left side of the table). My iron is big bulky and heavy so I don’t want to store it in a cupboard as I use it everyday, but it does not look nice permanently on the table, so I put 2 Ikea mini chest of drawers on top of each other under the table (like this one but mine has 9 drawers) and now my iron sits on top of those drawers and is ready to be used anytime.
Now, I am still debating whether to sew a curtain or not to hide all the junk under the table (right now, my tulip bulbs are parking there until I plant them in december). And talking about gardening, here is a picture of my side yard this summer (in august), as promised. I will write a blog post about my success and failures in the garden this year, next time.
Posted in Books & Magazines, garden, Selling and etsy, Selling on etsy, Sewing, Sewing room | Tagged: 1409334058, 978-1409334057, babushka, book, boutique, cover, cozy, craft, dawanda, dk, doll, dorling kindersley, ebay, etsy, fabric, folksy, forhoja, GIFTS, handmade, handmadewithjoy, ikea, ISBN, joyful, kindle, kokka, livre, loisir, lova, madebylova, matryoshka, mini chest of drawers, moppe, nook, publisher, rajaonarimanana, russian, Sewing, shop, sleeve, tutorial | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Lova on May 9, 2013
I’m spending lots of time in the garden, sowing seeds, repotting baby plants and generally tidying up. This year I am vowing to have the part of the garden that is in the front of the living room reasonably tidy at all times.
You can see that my big cherry tree is flowering (the one with the white flowers), as is my pixirosso apple tree (the one with pink flowers) which was previously in a pot in the side yard but I finally decided to plant it in the ground here. I like it here as I can enjoy its pretty flowers everyday in spring.
The fruits on my big cherry tree seem to be loved by birds and they get to them before me (it’s to big to protect with netting) so I bought a columnar cherry tree last year (syliva variety) and planted it in the ground this spring. It is flowering so I’m hoping to get all the fruits from this one this year (it’s easy to protect).
I also moved my apricot tree (early moorpark variety) in the backgarden in order to protect the flowers from the wind. It’s currently in a 66cm pot and was profusely flowering in april. I hope I’ll get fruits from it this year.
A new addition (a gift) is an olive tree. I’ve always wanted one so am very happy to have been given one. This one is already 1m70 tall (without the pot) and it seems to have lots of tiny fruits (unless they are flowers?). I’m still debating whether to just repot it in a bigger but smallish pot (so that I can take it indoor in winter) or to leave it outdoor with protection in winter and in that case I could repot it in a big pot (55 or 66cm) or plant it in the ground.
I’m glad that I planted lots of flower bulbs last winter. They really make my garden pretty in spring. This is the small raised bed just in front of the living room patio doors, I have a thornless blackberry bush as a main plant in it with lots of other things (small peony tree, hardy fuschia, lots of tulips and daffodils and a few herbs (oregano and thyme). I plant my tulips and daffodils really deep so that I can still plants vegetables above them in summer. I’ve already direct sowed some beetroot there and some chives as front hedging and if there is space left I will grow a small cucumber plant up that little trellis on the side of the bed.
My favourite tulip in the garden is this one. I love its colours, and the way its petals open up. The flower is bigger than other tulips and it seems to get bigger every year. It’s in the L shaped raised bed in the gravel area. It’s a pity I don’t know its name (it was from a mix pack) as I would like to buy more of it.
This one is one of my midget apple trees (in a 55cm pot). I got 5 apples from it last year but this spring it hasn’t flowered yet (the other one on the side yard already has some flowers). On its left, you can also see a pink magnolia tree – susan variety (in a small pot but I will repot it in a bigger one soon) which I didn’t expect to flower yet but it did.
I’ve started to harden off some plants during daytime and am still sowing seeds. The chilli plant below is one I rescued from the bargain corner in Homebase, I usually don’t buy chilli plants as I prefer to grow them from seeds but this one was the same price as a seed packet and already has some fruits so I thought I may as well buy it (it’s called Big Banana from the Jamie Oliver range), I’ll save seeds from it to resow next year.
The plug plants in the green tray are also a bargain buy from Thompson and Morgan: statice (I was offered a bouquet of flowers that contained one dry purple statice in it more than a year ago and kept the statice and it is still looking good so I decided to grow some this year to use later as dry bouquets for the house); a pack of 36 plug plants just cost one pound more than the packet of seeds so it made sense to buy the plants. I’ve sowed some broad beans in those milk bottles.
I don’t have pictures of the part of the garden in front of the kitchen yet (except the potting bench above) as it still looks messy but I will show you pictures of the side yard next time.
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Posted by Lova on April 9, 2013
The weather has finally improved (we still had snow last week) so I put my seedlings outdoor during the day since last sunday, they are protected in their propagators and seem to like it. This is really necessary as they don’t get enough light indoor and risk getting leggy. Once the temperature gets higher, I will open their ventilation or will take the cover out.
As I was able to go outside in my t-shirt (I’m brave, the temperature is around 11 degrees this week), I took some pictures of the very few flowers that I have: 2 daffodils, 1 hellebore, 1 camellia, some anemones, some bulbs. I should have more flowers but as everything is behind, I guess they will come out end of april.
The only tree flowering is the apricot tree (most of its buds have opened since I took this picture on march 22nd), it’s currently in a 60cm pot in my back garden.
Back in march, during a warm day, I sowed some beetroot (chioggia variety) in this raised bed. This bed has a permanent thornless blackberry, some tulips, a couple of thyme plants, a hardy fuschia, and a peony tree). I also potted up a pineapple guava (and a grape plant) that I recently purchased, that was a big mistake as they had some tender new growth and shortly after we had a severe frost so the leaves suffered badly, I cut off some of the badly affected leaves and hope that those plants will recover.
While in Aldi, I saw their gardening offers and couldn’t resist buying a greengage Reine Claude Ulena tree, after googling it I believe this is the Reine Claude d’Oullins (France) so I am very chuffed. I also bought a red gooseberry (so now I have a green one, yellow one and a red one). Both were at a bargain price of £1.99 each.
Sewing wise, I made a driving license holder. This was a special request from a customer. I now stock it in all my shops. This one is made with a russian doll fabric but it can be made in any fabric of your choice (liberty etc).
I am also in the process of redecorating my sewing room. I recently got a great table that serves as a cutting table and an ironing table. I actually made an ironing board that sits on that table. I want to use the space underneath so am looking for a low storage unit that can fit under the table. I also want to create a new inspiration board (on the now blank wall), and want to swap the ikea fabric storage cabinet with another ikea buffet for a change. In my meantime, here is a glimpse of the table.
Posted in garden, Sewing, Studio | 5 Comments »
Posted by Lova on April 6, 2013
I am excited to start a new gardening year.
I’ve started sowing the 1st seeds (tomatoes, chilli and peppers) in mid march and am continuing to sow a little every day or every other day. Some of the plants which I overwintered died (chilli, aubergine, purple ricinus) but others survived, among them a chilli, abutilon suntense, iresine, I’m not sure if the mandevilla is still alive, and I also bought 2 chilean guava and 1 jujube plants which I am overwintering till I plant them outside.
I know I already have lots of plants and that I have a small garden but I love plants and want to cram in as much as possible. Last year I managed to grow potatoes in pots and it worked out really well for us, I used those 35cm pots from the one pound shop and planted one tuber in each pot. I put some gravel at the bottom of the pot, then about 6cm of compost on which I put the tuber, then I fill the pot with more compost up to the top (I mixed some blood fish and bone powder with the compost) and put some gravel on top. The advantages of growing potatoes this way is that I do not need to attend to them anymore as there is no need to keep adding compost, once the foliage has died down I start harvesting them, one pot at a time. The harvest from one pot has enough serving for a meal for 2 people. So, I don’t have to store my potatoes, I just harvest them just before I want to cook them. I also find that having gravel at the bottom and on top in the pot prevents slugs and snails going in and eating the potatoes. This year I am going to grow some in those 42 litres flexible tub pots (3 in a pot) so that I can have a bigger harvest per pot for when I want to cook bigger quantities at once. I will only be growing the desiree (my favourite potatoes) and vivaldi (new to me) varieties this year.
Another space saving idea that worked well for me is to sow onions bulbs with tomatoes together in pots. I grow most of my tomatoes in those 35cm pots from the one pound shop again and put 3 onions bulbs at the edge of each pot (or 4 bulbs if it is a square pot). The onions do not bother the tomato plants and vice versa. I plant them at the same time I plant my tomatoes outdoor.
I’m excited to have more growing space this year in the front garden. If you remember, I transformed my front garden into a potager last summer. I still have to work on the edging and plan to surround that area with a long raised bed on each side (the side of the road and on the boundary side). I want as much fruit bushes and trees there and if there are enough space left I will put some tall dahlias and cosmos to make it all look pretty. I have already put a plum tree, apple tree, pear tree and 2 rhubarb plants there. This is a picture of the front garden in february:
In between raised beds, I am planning to add more arches to support some climbing fruits. I have bought a japanese wineberry and a mini kiwi issai which I will train up those arches, I got them from Spalding and Bulbs and Plants. I’ve potted them up and am keeping them indoor until I can plant them outside. I also bought some Bloody Butcher corn seeds from them which I will try to cram somewhere there.
I highly recommend subscribing to Spalding and Bulbs and Plants newsletters as they always send you offer codes for free gifts and their free gifts are always nice gifts, I got 10 free fruits with my order (5 Ostara strawberries, 1 FallGold raspberry, 1 Bakker’s Jewel raspberry, 1 Titania blackcurrant, 1 White Pearl whitecurrent and 1 Jonkheer Van Tets redcurrant). The offer code for these free gifts is IO in case you are interested (valid on any order over £15). They were sent bare rooted with very healthy roots and I’ve already planted them outside.
And being a member of their blogger club, Spalding and Bulbs and Plants also gifted me a blueberry with pink fruits called Pink Lemonade. I’m very excited by this and can’t wait to get fruits from it. The 1st picture is of my plant and the second one is how it’s supposed to look when fruiting:
There are still other plants that I want to get for the garden, I want most of what James Wong is growing in his London garden but can’t grow them all for lack of space so am pondering over my gardening catalogues to decide what to buy.
This week I am loving this gardening blog: Tend
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Posted by Lova on February 15, 2013
About this time last year, I planned to make some ipad covers to sell in my shops but didn’t start on working on them till october. Which was actually a good timing as it meant I ended up having a good variety to offer for the christmas season. And then an editor working on a book saw one of them (the one with the liberty fabric) and contacted me via one of my shops, asking if I was interested in offering a tutorial of my ipad cover in their upcoming book. Of course I said yes. I was overjoyed and couldn’t believe my luck.
The book is a craft book offering step by step tutorial of gifts that you can make to give away or sell. It is by a well known publisher and will be released in august/sept/october 2013. I’ve made one ipad cover and an iphone cover for the book. I went to the photo shoot in january and it was very friendly and fun. I also ended up modelling in the pictures of my tutorial, but you can only see my hands and not my face in the book. I will give you the link once the book is on amazon.
Here are some pictures of the ipad covers in my shop, the 1st one is the one who is going to be in the book. The second one is made with a paul smith stripes type fabric (while working on the book, i had to source a paul smith stripes type fabric and found this one but the delivery date would be after our photo shoot date so in the end we didn’t use this fabric but used a similar one).
These ipad covers are all made with rare (or hard to find) out of print fabrics. I’m planning to make some new ones soon (different liberty fabrics, some japanese prints and other unisex or manly fabrics) and of course I also offer some custom ones with the fabric of the customer’s choice (I have over 100 fabrics to chose from!). If you click on each picture, it will take you to my etsy shop (they are sold in all my shops but I’m linking to the etsy one as my items are usually cheaper there).
Gardening wise, january was quiet. We had some snow so most of what I did was cutting dead leaves and tyding up a bit.
The things that I was still able to harvest in january were: spring onions, chard, bay leaves, parsley, sage and rosemary.
This raised bed was overcrowded with helianthus lemon queen, I only planted 2 of them there last year but they multiplied very quickly and took over most of the bed so they had to go. Now, I only have 3 types of berries there, some chard, a strawberry plant and a couple of herbs (oregano I think), the front is edged with muscari. I am going to plant some salad (under cloche) there to fill the bed. The pots on the mini wall have alpine strawberries.
I can’t remember the name of that ferny looking vegetable. I remember planting it ages ago but lost the label. And those purple parsnips were from last summer (I planted way to much of them), I just left them there and was surprised that they now have some new leaves, leaves are edible so I will try some to see if they are tasty.
Posted in garden, Selling and etsy, Selling on etsy, Sewing | 4 Comments »
Posted by Lova on January 16, 2013
Happy new year everyone!
2012 has been a mixture of good and not so good year for me. I have continued working on improving the house, gardened a lot, sewed less, neglected my shops resulting in less income than the year before. This year I want to be more organised and more productive, both at home and in my little handmade business.
Here are some pictures taken throughout the year:
January: buying new fabrics for my ebay shop. This was my favourite one (not available anymore), I made some cushion covers for our living room with it:
February: sewing a batch of new toiletry cosmetic bags for my shops (very limited stock available to buy from my etsy, dawanda, folksy and ebay shops):
March: harvesting these exotic pepino fruits. These are from 1 plant I grew from a seed, sowed in spring 2011, I moved the plant indoor in december 2011 as it is not hardy. Some of the fruits were sweet, some were bland, they taste like a mixture of melon and pear.
April: the weather is warm enough during the day so my seedlings move outside.
May: tomatoes and tomatillos little plants growing in the kitchen.
June: I went to France and helped my mum plant her potager.
July: the potting shed and the peach tree (I got about 30 peaches this year).
August: I learned to cut my own hair.
September: I was very motivated to do lots of painting, this kitchen cabinet finally got the pink treatment (I am not sure if I will paint the inside, if I do it has to be another colour as I’ve run out of that pink and the paint is discountinued).
October: I’ve started sowing some seeds (lemon eucalyptus and abutilon suntense) and am growing some rosemary cuttings. This ikea varde shelving is very useful all year round for raising all those seedlings that need light.
November: busy sewing for my shops, this is a new cosmetic bag for the christmas season (still available in my shops).
December: in the living room. On the mantelpiece,you can see 3 plants I am overwintering: new zealand purple ricinus, oleander and lemon eucalyptus (lost all its leaves). On the front of the fireplace, there are a calamondin tree and a plumeria plant in between fake flowers.
Posted in garden, Home making, Sewing | 2 Comments »
Posted by Lova on December 27, 2012
I’ve recently been accepted as a member of a bloggers’ club set up by Spalding Bulbs and Plants Co.
As a welcome gift they sent me a pack of 100 spring flowering bulbs. I was delighted to receive this as I needed more bulbs for the front garden. They arrived safely packed and the quality of the bulbs are excellent. I can’t show you the link on their website as it is not in stock anymore but this is what I received:
If you are looking to buy summer flowering bulbs, then they currently have this one which is also a pack of 100:
Then for my first review, I requested a red flesh apple tree which retails at £19.95. The tree is called Malus domestica ‘Baya® Marisa‘, you can plant it in a large pot or in the ground. I already have another red flesh apple tree from another supplier so I know that this is a very pretty tree with lovely pink red flowers and the fruits are sweet with a bit of tanginess.
Again the tree arrived safely packed. It was a maiden tree that measures 62cm, grown on a M26 rootstock which means that it is suitable for small gardens or for container growing. It should grow up to 2 to 3 metres (more towards 2 metres if you grow it in a big pot, and taller if you grow it in the ground).
I planted it in a pot after soaking the roots in water for a while. I currently have it indoor but plan to plant it in the ground come spring time. I think I will plant it in the back garden where I will also have the other apple tree so that they can pollinate each other.
I’m signing off as I still have a lot of work to do (sewing custom orders) and wish you all a happy end of year festivities.
PS: I was not paid to write this review but received the bulbs and the tree as a gift.
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Posted by Lova on November 30, 2012
Every year around this time, I look forward to receiving my new Sarah Raven diary. It’s a standard diary that can be used as your main diary but it also comes with some gardening and cooking tips. There is a 4 days a page (monday to thursday) and a 3 days a page (friday to sunday, with a space for notes underneath and space for noting the average temperature and rainfall). Each month comes with a page where you’ll find a pretty picture from her garden at Perch Hill on one side, and the other side has one seasonal cooking recipe and a list of what to sow and plant and harvest that month. At the end of the diary, there is a page of how she prefers to sow seeds, and several pages (some folded) with detailed sowing and planting guide for a cutting garden, bulbs, corms and tubers, vegetables, salad, herbs, fruit, shrubs and trees, edible flowers, cpmpanion plants, wildflowers and new this year is a guide for pollinator super plants.
This diary retails at £12.95 but you can get it free (with purchase) by clicking on this link – the code to enter at checkout is GW12DEC
So this week, I’m spending time planning some garden tasks that needs doing before it gets really cold. I have several fruit trees but only 3 of them are in the ground, and having seen the growth difference between the ones in the ground and the ones in pots (although big pots), I really want to plant most of them in the ground. I also need to plants some bulbs in, but as I want to buy more tulip bulbs, I’d rather wait untill I get them so that I can plant everything together in one go.
This is the cherry tree in the back garden (planted 3 years ago), I never took a picture of it in autumn before so went to remedy that.
As I haven’t done much actual gardening outside, I’ve been busy continuing working on the house. I finished painting a little ikea cabinet for the hallway. I originally bought it for the kitchen, to store my homemade canned jars, but it didn’t fit the space I allocated for it so now it houses my vases in the hallway. I know it’s juts a little cabinet, but it makes me happy to know that I finally finished painting it and it’s now being used.
I have plenty more painting to do, but it’s to cold to paint outside so I may have to wait untill next spring to continue my painting frenzy.
Posted in garden, Home making, Sewing | 1 Comment »
Posted by Lova on November 19, 2012
November’s weather has been mild up to now, that is until last night when we got some frost. I deadheaded lots of lovely dahlia plants yesterday and was so happy to see that all were still producing lots of flowers with more buds to come. And then I went to do more cleaning in the garden today, and to my horror some of those dahlia were hit by the frost, with the flowers dropping and looking dead and the leaves browning. But there were some dahlia that seemed still alive and healthy so I quickly grabbed my camera to take some pictures. While I was there, I took pictures of other plants that were still flowering.
These are pictures of the front garden potager, which I started cleaning. The only veg left there are some purple turnips which have been there for a while so they may not be tasty anymore, there are still lots of dill plants, some dahlia and a few cosmos plants:
I’ve grown those orange and pink dahlias from seed this spring and am very impressed by their quality, they are as good as the ones I grow from tubers and I love the dark leaves.
In the side yard, most plants have been affected by the frost, except some dahlia plants, parsley, bay trees and the purple cobea which still has a few flowers on it:
The dahlia above is my favourite dahlia this year, the colour is so lovely and it looks like it is glowing. I got it from Sarah Raven this spring.
The back garden is looking very unloved. I’ve just started cleaning it, I’ve cut down all the helenium lemon queen plants (the leaves were already killed by frost) and some of the summer rasberries (the leaves had some sort of black powder underneath them), I also pulled out most of the cosmos. The only plants still flowering there are the yellow rudbeckia (they sill look vibrant and healthy), and some chrysanthemum. There are a few strawberries fruits but they have not ripen, and some autumn raspberries are still lightly fruiting.
These are 2 of the chrysanthemum that I got from Sarah Raven as cuttings in spring (jewel collection), they are all in a raised bed in the front garden except the yellow/orange one which is in a pot in the side yard. I will take cuttings from them so that I can multiply my collection.
I’ve also moved some plants indoor, in order to overwinter them, and will write a post about that another time.
Posted in garden | 3 Comments »
Posted by Lova on October 7, 2012
Since my efforts were concentrated on the side yard and front garden, I haven’t had much time to work on the back garden.
This summer I added a new raised bed at the bottom of the kiwi arch in which I planted some pak choi, 3 potimarron squashes, a purple malva plant, a dahlia and a cosmos plant. This picture was taken in july:
I ‘m planning to use that bed to grow lettuces in winter (with a cold frame on top), but I forgot to plant the seeds on time so hope it’s not to late. I’ll grow them on my kitchen windowsill first until they are big enough to transplant outdoor.
I also bought a wooden greenhouse, hopefully my partner will finish building it soon. I’m squeezing it between the regular blue shed and the pink potting shed.
The pictures below are of the back garden in october. Things still look good despite the cold weather and constant rain. Yes, the patio is very messy at the moment, I really need to clean and tidy it up (those shelvings and pots etc will go in the greenhouse and potting shed soon).
You can see a glimpse of the greenhouse on the left of the pink potting shed, behind those yellow helenium plants. I’ve also painted all my outdoor furniture in bright pink (hanging basket by sadolin garden shades).
The plum tree was moved to the front garden as it was hiding the white rose bush behind it.
Posted in garden | Tagged: small autumn back garden patio | Leave a Comment »