Sedum Cottage and Puzzle Handy – Review

Sedum Cottage is number 10 in the Ravensburger series of 1,000 piece Country Cottage Collection.. Suitable for ages 10+ with RRP £11.99.  Puzzle Handy is a new foldable storage puzzle solution available for 1,000 piece or smaller puzzles RRP £9.99.

puzzle-handy

I loved the previous puzzles in the Country Cottage Collection, and the Sedum cottage didn’t disappoint. I love the bright traditional style of this illustrative puzzle. Having a dedicated puzzle board is something that I had been considering. Even with a large dining table it can be a problem moving my puzzle to make space to eat. Puzzle Handy is great as it is sturdy enough to move out-of-the-way. It stores in its own box, when folded and is the perfect puzzle surface.

puzzle-handy-board

The Puzzle Handy is made from the same good quality Ravensburger puzzle board. With 4 slide on edge clips which give it rigidity. I found the surface lovely to puzzle on, and the edge guides are very useful when starting. I started the Sedum Cottage puzzle with the edges and the reds and oranges which stand out from the picture. Using the dotted lines to guide me as to the finished size of the puzzle.

sedum-cottage-and-puzzle-handy

The birds were also easy to complete and the last parts were the roof and sky. I loved the whole Sedum Cottage puzzle, especially the flowers. While I have many of them in my cottage garden. I just wish my garden was as weed free as the illustration. The added border with the plant names makes the Country Cottage collection puzzles stand out and a joy to complete.

If you would like to buy the Sedum Cottage, or Puzzle Handy have a look at my affiliate links below.

Disclaimer I was sent this item in return for a review, the words remain my own and have not been altered.

E is for… Eco

E is for… Eco

I am trying desperately to reduce, reuse and recycle and one of our recycling Eco successes is reusing the pallets that our roof tiles arrived on. I hate throwing anything away, and am a terrible hoarder, but with some great sites like freecycle and ragging all our old textiles through the cubs I do think it is getting easier to be a little more Eco.

eco recycling

So this week I wanted to share with you our pallet recycling, runner bean growing, raised bed. Simply disassemble the pallet and then using the pieces cut to size my other half made this great raised bed. With the addition of a liner, some packaging to add drainage, compost, canes, and plants I am pleased with the patio sized veg garden.

recycle pallet bean planter

If you have been inspired by the letter E, why not join in with PODcast alphabet photo challenge or have a look at our photos so far:

 

Getting out in the Garden

The half term was the perfect excuse to get out in the garden and check on the progress of our fruit and veg. I had hoped that we would be planting a few more vegetables but once again my seed growing skills have failed me.

The strawberry’s are looking pretty good, and if I can get to them before the woodlice then we will be having a bumper crop. The fruit on the red currant, blackcurrant and blackberry bushes are also looking good, and now I will need to start thinking about making room in the freezer for a bumper harvest.

gardening

I have planted out our latest delivery of plants from Potter and Rest who sent us some lovely herbs and an unusual plant called a Stevia. This is a new plant for me and although I had heard of the name I hadn’t realised that the plant could be grown in the UK. Now confession time! I re-potted the stevia and it was looking very happy, but then Dad M decided it needed watering and I think he drowned it! I will have to go out and replace it now as I had planned to try and make a sugar syrup with the leaves, it is supposed to make a good substitute for sugar.

potter and rest herbs

The flowers in the garden are looking quite magical, my rhododendrons are just finishing and the poppy’s and lilies’ are about to start flowering. The garlic and onions that the boy planed earlier in the year with his new Twigz tools are looking very healthy and we will be trying out some recipe’s soon.

twigz gardening

The boy enjoyed bouncing on the trampoline which we have pulled out to clear and mend as the trees around it were getting a bit overgrown. As usual the trampoline will get a lot of use in the coming months, and the boy loves to make up new games, now the holes in the net will need mending, but this garden toy has been by far our best investment.

It was great getting out in the fresh air, and I hope the weather lasts so we can enjoy our green garden space more over the coming months.

 

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Beautiful Flowers

When I was offered some beautiful flowers to brighten my day I could hardly say no, and when they arrived I was a little disappointed that they didn’t look too happy. I followed the instructions and popped the roses in hot water for an hour, and fed the lilies. Now look, a week later and they are blooming their little socks off!

Beautiful flowers

I love beautiful flowers especially if they are blooming in my garden, there is something really special about growing something from a really tiny seed, then seeing it full-grown. Sometimes I even pick a few flowers and pop them on my kitchen windowsill or dining table.

I have always enjoyed gardening, and had mixed results from growing from seed. There was the time I planted carrots and one popped up. Or the time I planted suede and 200 popped up! I did well with sweet corn in the first year, but no luck since. I have had the same luck with flowers, and it seems all or nothing. Sutton Seeds have a fantastic range of seeds to choose from. This year I couldn’t resist having a go at growing some new flowers. Yes The Soup Dragon is going to grow some Clangers, which are actually Dahlia’s. I can’t say I am confident, but I am sure it will not be the fault of the seeds. If I don’t have some amazing blooms to show for my efforts it wont be because of Suttons seeds as they have over 200 years of garden expertise.

suttons seeds

If like me you like healthy ready to go plants, without the hassle, I think their range of plug plants look like a great alternative. Suttons Seeds also sell plenty of soft fruit plants and even fruit trees which you can have sent direct to your home address with a reasonable postal charge and lots of special offers. We have some great fruit plants in the garden, including red and black currants, and I like to try out unusual plants too like my Pineberry’s (white strawberry’s).

This year I will be having one last try to grow from seed, then I think that buying my plants in will have to be a serious consideration! Wish me luck growing my Clangers, and why not have a look at Suttons Seeds website for some great garden plants for all gardening abilities!

Disclaimer I was sent some flowers in return for this post.

 

 

 

 

Getting out in the garden

Last weekend we saw some glorious sunshine, and along with our delivery of 1.5 tons of compost it was time to get out in the garden. People are always telling me that the garden looks good, but I can tell you it is full of weeds and is very hard work!

The boy was very excited to get out and enjoy the fresh air as he had been in for most of the week, and I wasn’t sure how it would affect him so we spent lots of time indoors. The huge pile of compost was too much excitement though and he soon got stuck in “Helping” to fill all the buckets so that I could spread it on the flower beds.

compost gardening

The Twigz tools came in very handy for levelling the pile, I was told this was necessary to stop collapse. As we also get enough for our neighbours garden the boy was soon off next door with the wheelbarrow and spades. I wasn’t quite ready and needed to weed a bit before dressing the flower beds and kept getting told I was being too slow!

gardening

We managed to shift quite a bit but it will be a few weeks before the whole garden is done. I can recommend buying in bulk if you have a big garden or club together like we do with a neighbour. The garden should benefit from the extra feed as our soil is very claggy and mostly clay. Hopefully the vegetables will also flourish from the extra feed, and fingers crossed the strawberry’s too!

The day ended with one very happy if a little grubby boy, who managed to turn the bath water a very murky brown colour. But it didn’t stop him going out the next day to do it all over again, except this time he buried himself in it!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Crafts4Kids grow your own garden

Crafts4Kids grow your own garden is a great activity to get your children growing and we decided that Easter was the perfect time to get growing. Crafts4Kids is a website full of creative and educational gifts for all ages and has some very unique and exciting kits with everything you might need to both craft and experiment to your heart’s content.

flower garden

Crafts4kids our grow my first ever garden kit RRP £14.99 comes with everything you need. The box with its drawn flowers contains a windowsill planter, crayons, soil, seeds, dibber, and labels. To get started simply remove the jacket and start personalizing your window box. With a line drawn flowers box to colour-in,keen artists will love this little garden. The boy was surprisingly keen to get colouring and got out a box of art supplies he had been given for Christmas. Usually reluctant to put coloured pen to paper I think being at home for two weeks meant anything new became fun! The only problem we had with this kit was the box was wobbly on its side and difficult to colour in but this wasn’t too much of a problem and we found that not leaning on it hard helped.colour-in

Next fill with the box with the soil provided (save a small amount to cover the seeds) and sow the seeds with the dibber. Choose from Nasturtium, Sunflower, Cosmos, and Cornflower, these easy to grow plants are ideal for kids as they are pretty much fail proof! At least I hoped they were as I have never been that good at growing anything from seed. It turns out however that the boy might have green fingers like his great Nan. Next label, water in and keep damp as they seeds take 14 – 21 days to germinate depending on the environment. Once your seedling have appeared you can choose to pot on, plant out or thin and grow in their window box.planting seeds

We enjoyed looking at the different seeds, the shapes and sizes and the boy was fascinated by how different they all were. The grow your own garden window box looks bright and colourful on our kitchen window, and our seedlings took less than a week to pop their little heads out of the soil. We decided to have a guess at which would be first and the results were surprising as I was convinced that the sunflowers would win. I hope we have some beautiful flowers to plant out later in the year, now we just have to look after them.crafts 4 kids gardening

Crafts4Kids have a great range of kits and toys for every age group. We loved our gardening kit, and would recommend this as a great different gift. With an easy to navigate website, drop downs you can choose an age range, interest or simply how much you want to spend. I have found some great kits for the boy who is really getting into experiments and science and will keep them in mind for his birthday later in the year.

If you would like the chance to grow your first ever flower garden then why not enter my competition below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions:

  • The giveaway is open to the UK only
  • Please note, that by entering this giveaway you are consenting that I will pass on your e-mail address to Gifts4kids to send you their newsletter. E-mail address WILL NOT be shared or sold to any 3rd party’s.
  • It is mandatory to leave a comment in the post comment section answering the question specified. Other tasks completed will gain additional entries. The winner will be checked to make sure they have both left a comment and completed the task for the winning entry.
  • Winner will be drawn by the Rafflecopter randomly.
  • The winner will be sent an  e-mail to the e-mail address left at time of entry. The winner will need to reply to the e-mail within 7 days of the notification. Every effort will be made to contact the winner, but if no response is made within the 7 days a new winner will be chosen.
  • The prize details are stated at the top of the Rafflecopter, and no alternatives will be offered.
  • The prize will be posted by the promoter, unfortunately I cannot be held responsible or replace missing parcels. Please contact me if there is a problem.
  • Please alow 28 days from the close of the draw for your prize to be sent out.
  • For a simple guide to  Rafflecopter, please read Di Coke’s Rafflecopter Guide

 

Disclaimer we were sent this kit to review, the opinions remain our own and have not been altered.

Spring in the Garden

I have been out taking some spring pictures in the garden. These are just a few as I try out my new camera ready for our holiday later in the year, and also here is hoping for a busy and warm summer!

flowers 2 flowers 3 flowers

Grobots from Galt

Grobots are a fab new and exciting way to get children growing. With four different and customisable Robo Crew figures to collect you can make them your own with the supplied stickers, water, and watch their hair grow. Available from the Galt website and other Galt stockists for RRP £6.99 these little ceramic robots look sweet sitting on our kitchen windowsill.

grobots

We started our Grobot adventure at half term and have had great fun giving our little robot friends different haircuts each week. Grobots come in a small plastic box with everything you need to get started. The Instructions are basic, and you will need to soak the figure in water before you start putting the stickers on. I would advise you do this before showing your children as once the boy had seen the robot he didn’t want to wait to get customizing. The instructions say that you should wait for the hair to grow, but we wanted to customise our Grobots straight away.

grobots 2

We were sent 2 Grobots Rosie and Red, you can also get Teccy and CanMan. Each has a unique colour and personality, with stickers to suit boys and girls. I set about adorning Rosie Grobot with little flower stickers and a weird face which the boy said made her look sad. The boy opted to pinch a few of my stickers to go with the smiley face that he had. There are plenty of different stickers which are all peel able and can be changed as the mood takes you.

robocrew

Once we had finished putting the faces on our little friends we would have to wait and watch them grow. This didn’t take long with the first shoots appearing in around a week. the growing part of the Grobot is formed from a seed ball in the head of the Grobot. There was no mess and it was fun to see each morning who had the most hair. It turned out that Red won the hair race, and Rosie was left looking a little patchy. I have found that due to the round opening Rosie is also a little more tricky to water than Red with his square head. I also was told by the boy that Rosie looked sad so I gave her a new smile when she started to get new hair!

grobots with hair

We have enjoyed watching our grassy grobots grow, and trimming their hair into funky styles.

So here are our new friends, tell us what you think?

Disclaimer, we were sent this product to review, the opinions remain our own and have not been changed

Country Craft with Hilarys Blinds

Country Craft is a blogger challenge to make something crafty with a 100cm x 100cm square of fabric from the new collection available from Hilary’s Blinds. The fabric choice was from Bird Parade, Calluna, Wild Poppies and Patina. I chose Calluna as I had already had an idea of what I wanted to make. When the piece of fabric arrived I was surprised how big the 100cm square was, ok I knew the size but it still looked huge! I realised there was much more than I needed for the first craft idea I had, had. I set about thinking of something different to make, the Calluna fabric pattern was inspired by the textures of moorland heather and with this in mind I decided I would make something useful for the garden.

fabric 1

Here is my step by step guide to making a gardening apron, and kneeler.

For the apron you will need the following:

5 pieces of fabric cut to the following sizes, Body 55cm x 22cm, Pocket 60cm x 18cm, waist band 56cm x 10cm, 2 x ties 10cm by the length needed to tie between 65cm – 75cm each.

Bias Binding, I made mine by following this you tube video, it was easy to follow and I had some scrap fabric, you will also need a bias binding tool which folds the material while you iron it flat. Alternatively you can purchase bias binding from most needlework stores.

Sewing machine, cotton, needle, pins, scissors, sewing machine, ruler, fabric chalk or pencil, chop stick or knitting needle.

step 1After cutting the material you start by sewing bias binding across the top of the pocket, simply pin and stitch the bias binding straight across the top. The next step is to pin the pocket to the front of the body piece of fabric. The pocket is slightly longer, allowing you to make small pleats in 2 of the pockets. I wanted 6 pockets and marked the fabric with chalk at the following intervals from left to right. 10cm, 12cm, 10cm, 12cm, 6cm, 6cm with two small pleats in the two larger pockets. You can mark the pockets out at whatever sizes you like and this apron could also be useful around the house so design to suit your tools.

step 2

Once you have pinned the pocket stitch along the marked lines making sure you double stitch the top of each pocket well as this will get the most wear. Next I rounded the two bottom corners by using a glass as a template. Trim and then edge the whole outside of the fabric with your bias binding excluding the top edge where we will be fitting the waistband.

step 3

Once stitched you will need to make the two ties, take the two pieces of fabric. Fold each in half with the pattern inside and stitch 5mm from the edge down one short and the long side making a tube. Once stitched each of the ties will need to be turned in the right way and using a chop stick or knitting needle poke out the corners and iron flat. I stitched my ends at a slight angle as this looks nice but is not essential.

step 4

Once you have both ties, pin and stitch them to the top either side of the body fabric. I again made a small pleat to each, and double stitched with a cross pattern as this will take the weight of any tools you use the apron for.

step 5

Next to add the waistband, you will need to iron a 5mm hem around the edge of fabric, then fold and iron. This will neaten up all the edges as you attach this over the top of the body fabric and over to the back. Double check that all the edges meet as at this point you can shorten the fabric. I found that I did needed to re iron a couple of times to make sure that the waistband covered all my edges and fitted neatly.

step 6

Once stitched in place, simply finish off any loose cotton and you will have this great and versatile apron. I am forever having to wander back to the shed for things I have forgotten so I know this will prove a very useful addition to my gardening basket. I still had plenty of fabric left so decided to make a kneeler to match.

For the Kneeler you will need

Foam, I bought mine from Dunelm Mill, for £3.80 and this dictated the size of my kneeler. Mine was 56cm x 50cm and I cut it in half to make it double height.

Piece of fabric a little bigger than your foam size.

Piece of oil cloth or PVC fabric big enough to cover the bottom and sides of your foam. I bought some PVC fabric usually used for a table-cloth. It cost £5 for 1/2 metre.

pins, cotton, sewing machine, scissors, ruler and a marker pen.

step 1

This project proved a little more difficult than the apron and if I did it again I would have made it a little differently. I cut the PVC big enough to cover the bottom and sides of my foam. Then pin each of the four corners in place to fit. Stitch each of these, and I double stitched as they will get some wear. Then turn the PVC inside out, pin and stitch the fabric again inside out to the top of the PVC on three sides, leaving a gap big enough to turn out and fit your foam through.

step 2

I made a handle for my kneeler and this was made by cutting a rectangle of left over PVC fabric and stitching the same way you made the ties for the apron. Simply twist and stitch into place on one of the sides. Once you have wrestled the foam back into the kneeler. (This was tricky as I hate the feel of foam, its like nails down a chalk board. not something I plan on doing again in a hurry!) Then you will need to hand sew up the remaining seam, I found this tricky as the PVC is quite tough to sew so you may need a very sharp needle.

step 3

Once complete I am very happy with the kneeler as it is much thicker than my shop bought one. Backing the kneeler with PVC means it is wipe able and will not soak up any moisture from the ground.

I still had a few scraps of fabric left from my project and I decided I didn’t want these to go to waste. So with a little bit of chopping I had just enough material to make a string of bunting for my summer-house! This is the most simple way to brighten up a dull corner.

For the Bunting

You will need fabric scraps, bias binding, pins cotton, knitting needle or chop stick, and scissors.

step 1

Simply cut triangles using a template to make them all the same. I like an odd number so for a 7 string of bunting you will need 14 triangles. The Calluna material has a lovely gradient pattern so with some careful cutting I was able to get lighter and darker pieces and use these alternatively along the row. You could use old scraps of fabric or even cut up some old clothes.

step 2

Stitch the v shape and trim, turn in the right way, then iron and pin inside your bias binding. Check you have both the front and back tucked in the bias binding then stitch.

I was amazed how far I managed to make the fabric stretch and If I had purchased the fabric as well as the few extra bits needed for this project the cost would still have been less than £15 for all 3 items. I don’t have a fancy sewing machine either so anyone should be able to make these items on any machine.

So here are my finished crafts, and I am very pleased with the results as I will be able to use these in the garden this summer. The bunting is a little bit of fun and matches my summer-house beautifully making it a place I will enjoy sitting in for my well deserved cuppa!

fabric 12

fabric 13

hilarys 16

This is my entry into the Hillary’s Blinds Country Crafts competition.

 

Tractor Ted in Springtime

Springtime is a great time of year to get children excited about the world around them and especially how their food is grown. Tractor Ted is a cartoon character who tells children about farming and helps them to explore the farmyard without getting muddy! With real footage of farming machinery and animals, Tractor Ted is an inspiration to get kids growing for themselves.

Spring & Veg The New book Tractor Ted in Springtime RRP £4.99 is a colourful picture book with easy to follow pictures and information. The boy and I have always loved watching programmes with big machines, and while he is a bit to old to be watching Tractor Ted I know he would have loved this when he was younger. Tractor ted is suggested for children aged 2-6 and with plenty to interest children for early years learning

Come and have a look at the jumping lambs, muddy piglets and beautiful foals.  Lots of machines are used in springtime including the mower, forage harvester, hedgecutters and more.  This book even has fun games to play too!

tractor ted springtime

The Tractor Ted series also has a range of DVD’s available including Harvest Vegetables RRP £9.99. I love this series of child friendly films with the voice over from Ted1 himself. These fun films of everyday activities on the farm explain in an easy way all the different tasks that tractors do daily on the farm. With the cute addition animals there is something for girls and boys in every episode.

Les gets a puncture which has to be repaired before work can begin, and the waste from the children’s vegetable garden is taken away for recycling. Enjoy a visit to the farm shop to see a cake being made from carrots. No better way to get children into veg and growing their own!

tractor ted harvesting veg

Tractor Ted is the creation of two friends, mother-of-three Alexandra Heard and Somerset organic farmer, David Horler, whose children all loved to watch the real machines at work on the farm when they were young. Ted is now 11 years old and there is a series of 17 DVDs and 11 books (including activity books) which take children on a wonderful journey into the British countryside where they can learn about big machines, how to look after animals, where our food comes from and the seasons.

To find out more about Tractor Ted then why not visit their Facebook, twitter pages or the website where you can also find activities for your kids to enjoy.

If you would like the chance to win a copy of the new Tractor Ted in Springtime book and Tractor Ted Harvests Vegetables DVD then why not enter my rafflecopter giveaway below. I will be picking 5 luck winners so why not join Tractor Ted and inspire your children to get out in the spring sunshine to grow their own fruit and vegetables.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions:
The giveaway is open to the UK only
  • It is mandatory to leave a comment in the post comment section answering the question specified. Other tasks completed will gain additional entries. The winner will be checked to make sure they have both left a comment and completed the task for the winning entry.
  • Winner will be drawn by the Rafflecopter randomly.
  • The winner will be sent an e-mail to the e-mail address left at time of entry. The winner will need to reply to the e-mail within 7 days of the notification. Every effort will be made to contact the winner, but if no response is made within the 7 days a new winner will be chosen.
  • The prize details are stated at the top of the Rafflecopter, and no alternatives will be offered.
  • The prize will be posted by the promoter, unfortunately I cannot be held responsible or replace missing parcels. Please contact me if there is a problem.
  • Please alow 28 days from the close of the draw for your prize to be sent out.
  • For a simple guide to Rafflecopter, please read Di Coke’s Rafflecopter Guide
Julie's Notebook #WinningWeekends