The garden in may

If you follow me on flickr, you may have already seen some of these pictures.

This is the first year that the garden stayed green all winter long, thanks to some plants such as perpetual spinach, kale, corn salad and parsley. A quick and cheap way to have greenery in winter is to buy one pot of parsley from the supermarket and plant them everywhere (there are usually about 20 plants or more in a single pot). Parsley is very hardy and you can harvest it all winter long. Plant them before it gets cold so that they have time to establish (I usually try to plant them after I have pulled out my tomato plants, in the same pots or raised beds with added fish/blood/bone fertiliser to revitalise the soil).

Also some plants did not die, which makes me happy as it means I won’t have to buy new ones this year. I am particularly happy with the lemon verbena, vietnamese coriander and rose scented geranium (all 3 were bought from Sarah Raven last year).

Beginning of may:

This is the small raised bed behind the peach tree. The tulips were finished and the perennial wallflower plants were lovely.

DSCN0126The midget apple tree is full of flowers (and now have loads of fruits). It is underplanted with strawberries.

DSCN0127The columnar cherry tree is also flowering.

DSCN0130The wisteria is flowering for the 1st time. I want to keep it as a standard tree so need to prune it more.

DSCN0152End of may:

Seedlings are being hardened off during the day and go back indoor at night.

I want to have lots of beetroot this year so have sown plenty of them.DSCN0238I also want some melons and watermelons so have sown more than usual in case some don’t make it.

DSCN0235The berries in the backgarden raised bed grew lots of super long branches so I had to train them horizontally on some bamboo canes above the mini wall. The plant with the purple flowers is a comfrey, I use the leaves to make a liquid feed for my other plants.

DSCN0213Some volunteer colombine and pineapple mint in the spring onion pots.

DSCN0215A corner of the garden near the pink potting shed.

DSCN0217Only one fruit on the apricot tree I planted last year.

DSCN0233A corner of the back garden. The big cherry tree is full of fruit. And the red flesh apple tree also has plenty of fruits.

DSCN0210I love this cotinus grace. I have never pruned it so it stays airy.

DSCN0241I lost 2 fruit trees in the side yard (due to a drainage problem) so will replace them but this time they will go into a big pot in the same spot. The opal plum from Aldi has some fruits on it, can’t wait to taste them.

DSCN0228And finally, this geranium maderense that I have sown from a seed is flowering for the 1st time.

DSCN0222How is your garden this spring?



I’m just back from a little trip in Brittany (France). The reason was to attend a family reunion. Every 2 years, families from my dad’s side who live all over France meet up for a 4 day long week-end. It is a nice time for all of us to catch up with each other and spend a bit of time together. Not everyone can come as it is impossible to agree on a date when everyone is availabe. This time, there were about 50 of us. We usually rent a whole gite (self catering accomodation) and this time we rented the Maison Familiale Rural de Rumengol.

20150509_160354This is the building where the bedrooms were. Each room is for 2 persons. I love that wooden facade.

20150509_160240The view from the bedrooms.

20150509_160325One of the dining rooms is in that lower building.


dining roomThere were lots of people I haven’t seen in ages. I took this picture just before we went for a walk in the nearby forest.

20150509_160552We also went to the nearby beach in Saint Nic (a shortwhile drive from the Maison familiale).


20150509_17111520150509_182606It was so lovely to see everyone after a long time and I really enjoy those kind of areas in France (the countryside, beach towns and little villages). I hope to go back soon.

PS: I just found out that my 14 years cousin Irina has a blog (in french with a bit of english) since she was 11. You can read it here:

I’ll be back soon with lots of pictures of the garden.

Handmade phone case giveaway winner & cookbooks organisation

Congratulations to Hanta Ralay, you have won a handmade case for your Iphone 5. I have sent you an email requesting your address so will post your prize once I have your address. I don’t have a malagasy fabric, so will make it with another fabric that has a malagasy style to it.

There was only one participant so I will keep the remaining 2 cases for another giveaway in the future.

On the home front, I have been itching to do some organising. I have lots of books and they are all over the place. I started with my cookbooks, I like to browse them on the sofa so it made sense to have them all near the sofa. I have a Leksvik coffee table from Ikea which is perfect for the job. It was originally in a plain dark wood colour so I painted it pearly purple. My partner added some castor so that the table is easy to move around when needed.

ikea leksvik coffe tableThese are close ups of the books if you are curious:

cookbooks 1They are loosely organised by genre.

cookbooks 2I left one slot for snacks.

cookbooks 3I also have my vitamins and herbal supplemetns in the red box, and below that are my diaries, notebooks and gardening catalogues.

cookbooks 4Next, I want to tackle my gardening books but I don’t know where to put them yet!

Win a custom made russian doll case for your phone

Hi everyone! I took some time off blogging as the recent months have been quite hectic for me. I spent most of december in France, to attend my sister’s funeral and to spend some time with my family. I didn’t close my shops while I was away, so then spend most of january catching up on december’s orders. Thank you so much to those of you who have been very patient with your orders.

Today, I have 3 custom made russian doll cases to give away, one per winner. You can use it as a phone case or a purse or a business cards holder/case. I made the one in the picture to fit a Samsung phone. The one you will win, will be custom made for your phone, so you need to let me know the name/model of your phone. If you don’t like the russian doll fabric, you can ask me to make it in a different/surprise fabric.

handmadewithjoy phone caseTo win one of those cases, please visit my etsy shop and let me know (in a comment here) what you think I should make and sell that is not already in my shop. Don’t forget to put in the comment the name/model of your phone in case you win, and wether you want your case made with the russian doll fabric in the picture or a different/surprise fabric. The giveaway is open to anyone worldwide, the 1st person to leave a comment will automatically win, and I will draw 2 winners among all the other participants on March 11th (the giveaway is open till March 10th 2015 12pm GMT time).

If you’d rather buy one for you or for someone else as a gift, you can find it in my shop here:

Good luck!

My sister Andrianina

My sister Andrianina recently graduated to the spirit world. She was highly educated with several master’s degrees and several post-graduate degrees (mathematics and statistics were her favourite studies), and she was also a spiritual person with a belief/interest in the spirit world so I think that she would approve of the term “graduating to the spirit world”. I miss her physical human side, but I also know that her spirit lives on and that she is in a wonderful place now. andrianina2andrianina5andrianina6andrianina8This quote from Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, M.D. sums perfectly what my sister Andrianina and I believe in:  “Death is simply a shedding of the physical body like the butterfly shedding its cocoon. It is a transition to a higher state of consciousness where you continue to perceive, to understand, to laugh, and to be able to grow.”

Small business talk: bigcartel shop review

If you regularly read my blog, you know that I opened a bigcartel shop in January 2014. Bigcartel has 4 pricing plans depending on how many items you want to have in your shop.

bicartel pricing plansI was on the Diamond plan which allows you to have up to 100 items for sale in your shop and costs $19.99 per month, payable by paypal. This monthly payment is the only fee you pay as they don’t charge any final value sale’s fee.

I was very excited when I opened this shop, as I liked the shop design (you have a choice of different templates to chose from in order to customise your shop), but best of all I thought that I would save money as I would only have to pay a monthly fee and not pay an final value sale’s fee. It seemed like a great idea at the time.

10 months down the line, I have decided today to downgrade my shop to the Gold pricing plan which is completely FREE but only allows you to have up to 5 items in your shop. I could have completely closed down the shop but why not keep it with its 5 items in it, it is free after all.

I have come to the conclusion that bigcartel does not work for me. I don’t do much marketing or advertising for my shop, so the only traffic that I get is via my blog, a bit from google and a bit from the bigcartel directory. You can see this in my shop dashboard below (screenshot taken before I downgraded):

Their dashboard is really great as you can clearly see what items get the most click on, what customers are searching to buy, and how do they find youbigcartel shop dashboard.

In 10 months, I only got 3 sales from the shop for a total of about £60 (or $96). Yes, you read that right, it is pathetic, given that I have paid about $200 in shop fee. I often redirected new customers and repeat buyers to the bigcartel shop (with a promise of a free delivery or a discount code) but no they still went ahead and bought either via my etsy shop or directly from me. So that is why I have given up on bigcartel.

These are the 5 remaining items in my bigcartel shop. They were the most viewed items in the shop.

handamadewithjoy shop bigcartel

This is just my experience with bigcartel. I know some sellers who get lots of sale from their bigcartel shop, so I am not discouraging anyone to give it a try. Do you have a bigcartel shop? If yes, what is your experience with it?