Instagram pictures

You may have noticed on the right side of my blog some pictures from Instagram. Yes, I have finally joined Instagram and am enjoying it so far. I am using  a samsung tablet to take the pictures and like the convenience of it, I hardly use a camera anymore when I am out and about or away on a trip as I can just use my tablet.

To view other people’s pictures you can just go on Instagram and view them on any computer (it does not have to be a smartphone nor a tablet), but if you want to post pictures then you can only do so on your smartphone or tablet.

You can view my pictures here www.instagram.com/handmadewithjoy

Here are the ones I posted so far:

This is my mum’s potager and garden in France. I took this picture end of june. She is also a keen gardener and the 1st thing that she planted when she started this garden from scratch are those 2 palm trees. I dream of having one palm tree in my garden one day.

my mum's gardenThis is a fabulous houseplant book. I first saw it on morganours blog and had to have it. I want to review it in another post as it really deserves a review. Suffice to say, it does not have a lot of pictures but each plant has its own lovely illustration. You can get it on amazon or ebay, second hand, at a bargain price. I think I paid less than £3 for it (postage included). The book is from Readers’ Digest, the english version is called Success with Houseplants, and the french version is called Guide des plantes d’interieur.

success with houseplants bookThis is an echeveria plant that I got from Tesco while grocery shopping. It came with a square glass pot and only costs £2. It already has a little baby so I can propagate it later. The plants in the backround are some of my tomatoes.

echeveria plantI saw this butterly in the garden and snapped a picture. They are next to some housplants that are having a holiday in the garden during the day in summer. You can see there 2 purple oxalis triangularis, 2 pilea peperomioides, a philodendron from my mum’s house and a coleus that I have since planted in the garden.

butterfly plantsHere you can see some of those plants on my mantel shelf: a senecio or string of pearl plant, dracaena marginata, purple oxalis triangularis, pilea peperomioides, echeveria, money plant or crassula ovata and a papyrus plant.

plants on mantel shelfMore plants in the living room, next to the french patio doors: asparagus fern, philodendron xanadu, anthurium and a zamioculcas. The pots and plant stand are from Ikea.

houseplants on ikea plant standThis is a calathea plant that I got from Wilkinson (or Wilko), I love that the underside of each leaf is purple, and I was very taken by the lower leaves that have a pink edge. Wilko can be a great place to shop when it comes to houseplants as you can sometimes find treasures there at a great price (this one was only £3) but you have to be quick if you want a healthy plant. Anyone knows how to encourage this plant’s leaves to have a pink edge?

calathea plant from wilkoAnd finally a surprise flower bouquet delivery from Marks and Spencer. Thiis was from my bosses and colleagues at the counselling charity where I volunteer, as a thank you gesture for my work. How nice of them!

flower bouquet from marks and spencer

 

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Lately

Oops, it’s been several months since I posted here. I haven’t forgotten about my 2016 planners, I will take some pictures and will show them to you next time.

I’ve been streamlining my life recently. The stress of trying to conceive got to much, so I have decided to take it easy this year. I want to focus more on little things that bring me joy and happiness, and at this time that means babysitting for family members (I love babies!), gardening, cooking and working on my house.

Here are the newest installations in the living room/sewing room:

An Ikea Varde shelving (the same one I have in my kitchen and also on my kitchen windowsill) for some of my books. This shelving can handle a lot as there are about 100 books there. And my little collection of magnetic butterflies. I am having fun putting them everywhere, like on that pink metal plant pot on the shelving).

ikea varde shelving bookshelfAnd an Umbra invisible bookshelf in a little corner of the living room. This is a very clever little thing as you cannot see the shelf itself, you just see the books. My partner liked it a lot so he bought another one for himself (a double one for his blue ray discs).

invisible bookshelfbottom of invisible shelfI need to find more storage for my books as my collection keeps growing and growing. I grew up in a household full of books (the norm when your father is a writer and a professor), so books are a treasure in my own house. At the moment, I am into spiritual books and wholefood cookbooks.

Do you also hoard books? Please share any of your book storage.

 

Spice storage in a small kitchen

I like to cook and bake and therefore like to have lots of different ingredients ready to be used. But my kitchen is small, I don’t have a proper pantry (only a pink ikea bookcase cupboard that I use as a pantry), so my kitchen does look cluttered.

pink ikea bookcase pantryMy spices were not efficiently organised. First they were in plastic containers, I put 2 of those containers on the ikea varde shelving (only the spices I used often), and the rest inside my pantry:

ikea kitchen shelfThen I added 2 more little shelves (ikea forhoja) underneath the varde shelving so was able to put some of them there. That was a better solution, but still, I could only put like half of them there and they were cluttered:

ikea varde kitchen shelvingSo I looked for a better solution and found this 4 tier spice rack on amazon, I just love it, the quality is great, the price is very affordable and it only took a couple of minutes to install (you don’t even need a power tool to install this). My spices are now organised by alphabetical name and they are easy to access. We put ours on the back door of an upper cabinet. The only little problem is that I should have bought the 5 tier one as I have so many spices I need an extra tier.

spice storage for small kitchenI don’t know why I didn’t do this years ago. This spurred me to spend more time decluttering my kitchen this week. Do you have a small kitchen? How do you organise it so that it looks nice and not cluttered?

Happy new year

Happy new year everyone!

I am glad to start this new year with a renewed energy and a sense of gratitude for my life. Last year was a difficult time for me as I was struggling with my health (endometriosis), so my resolution this year is to continue exploring ways of healing this condition.

My other resolution is to work better at my little business. It has been more of a hobby than a business up to now as I only work part time in it, but this year I want to be more productive and more organised. So to start the new year, I treated myself to a new shop: handmadewithjoy.bigcartel.com . Yes I alreay have 4 shops so I don’t really need a 5th one as ideally I would rather just have 1 shop but they are each useful in their own way so I keep having them. For example, etsy and folksy are very good for me as it is where editors (books and magazines) usually contact me for various projects that end up being a good exposure for my business. Also most of my big orders ($150 upward) come from etsy, and it is where I get a good percentage of my international sales. Dawanda is also useful for me as it allows me to attract french speaking buyers (as I list my items in french and english there). And as for ebay, I also get a good percentage of custom orders there, and most of those buyers become private clients, so it has its merits.

Most of my private clients are happy being invoiced directly via a paypal invoice but a few of them still like the idea of buying from a shop, so the new shop will be good for that as I will be able to create private listings for them in this shop. Also, bigcartel (that hosts my new shop) works on a monthly shop rental fee without  taking any commission for my sales, so it is a good place for high value items like quilts which I want to offer more of in the future. For those of you who sell handmade, do you have any favourite selling platform and if yes why? And for those of you who buy handmade, where do you prefer to buy?

russian doll cosmetic bags

Anyway, I have started listing items in the new shop but still have more to items to upload. I wanted to let you know about it as I am offering FREE WORLDWIDE SHIPPING for this month (january 2014) in the new shop. Some of my best sellers are items made with the russian doll fabric above, but I only have less than a yard left of that fabric and am gutted as it is an out of print fabric so I cannot buy more of it. I am currently sourcing some new fabrics to use this year and have found one that I am particularly excited about. As they do well for me, I will continue using liberty fabrics and russian doll fabrics among some japanese ones.

Gardening wise, the weather has been quite mild around here so there are nice surprises in the garden. For example, the alpine strawberries are still flowering and fruiting. And there are still lots of greenery and some flowers here and there, including this borage plant.

borage flower in january

Indoor, my african violets are flowering profusely. To make them flower, I put them on the kitchen window shelf (where they get the most light) untill they flower and then I move them to the living room/sewing room. Once the flowers are finished I move them back to the kitchen windowsill.

st paulia african violet plants

I am overwintering some plants as usual, and this year the banana plant is in the bathroom (I try a new space for it every winter to see what it likes best), it seems to like it there as it’s getting plenty of light and warmth. I am also overwintering some hardy fuschia cuttings which grow so easily in water (I use old glass spice jars for them), once they have enough roots I will pot them up.

overwintering banana

hardy fuschia cuttings

I have been very busy with sewing in december so did not finish planting my tulips and therefore am still planting them now. They may flower a bit late but that’s ok, I can’t wait to see them in all their glory in spring.

2012 in pictures

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:

cord fabric

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):

russian doll big cosmetic bag

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.

exotic pepino fruits

April: the weather is warm enough during the day so my seedlings move outside.

ikea garden table

May: tomatoes and tomatillos little plants growing in the kitchen.

ikea varde kitchen shelving

June: I went to France and helped my mum plant her potager.

my mum's potager

July: the potting shed and the peach tree (I got about 30 peaches this year).

pink potting shed

August: I learned to cut my own hair.

new haircut

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).

pink ikea kitchen cabinet

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.

ikea varde shelving

November: busy sewing for my shops, this is a new cosmetic bag for the christmas season (still available in my shops).

russian doll cosmetic bag

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.

december plants

Free Sarah Raven garden diary

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

www.sarahraven.com/gardenersworlddiary

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.

STA60009

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.

STA60014

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.

A bit of home decoration

While the garden is getting lots of my attention, the house gets behind. We are now in our 4th spring in this house and I feel that there are still lots I would like to do and improve. One area that still needs improving is my sewing space which is half of my living room.

The living room is supposed to be a living dining room but instead we chose it to be a living creative room (well, it’s my creative space as my partner gets a whole room for himself that he uses as a music room and office). One way to solve the lack of storage in my sewing space was to buy an Ikea Expedit shelving, the one that has 16 cubes. I decided to put it on my sewing table, which is really great as a sort of vertical storage.

So that’s one storage issue solved. Next I need to think of a creative way to have a neat cutting / ironing area as right now my ironing board is to big and I’m using a hacked breakfast bar as a cutting table (it’s great as it’s higher than a desk or table and it’s the same size as my cutting mat), ideally I would like just one long table that incorporates my cutting mat and a custom made ironing board.

As you can see, I use various colourful bags and boxes as storage inside the expedit, they are all from Madagascar but you can buy similar ones from Rice DK.

I have also made some new cushion covers for the living room sofa. I used some of my favourite fabrics to make them: fine cord with designs similar to kenzo fabrics and oilily fabrics for the front, and purple velvet for the back, they all have a side zipper.

I’ve also took out the broken pink slatted blind in our bathroom and sowed some curtains for the window. I used a fabric by Jennifer Paganelli called Vintage floral for the front and the lining is pink peony solid from Moda Bella.

This window is southfacing so the geraniums there have all flowered since. We also added a little shelving to add more storage space.

Next on my list is sewing more pillow covers for our bed.