Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Fancy floral days

Floral fancy dress
A week ago the summer sun gave rise to a first outing for one of my latest charity shop finds; my Louche floral dress. I fell in love with the tiny floral print when I saw it on the rail but upon further inspection I found the material to be particularly appealing with it's lining too. 
Floral fancy dress
The sleeves are most particular and add to the shape of the dress; it makes my shoulders appear wider and by default my waist looks narrower. The cut and fit is so comfortable, really a high quality piece and one I'm happy to keep in my wardrobe all summer  long.
Floral fancy dress

Floral fancy dress

Floral fancy dress
Summer is not complete without sunglasses, ankle boots and a little bag. I'm so glad things are changing.
Floral fancy dress
Have you found any pieces perfect for summer?
Sophie

Monday, 23 May 2016

First yield of the year and allotment progress


allotment growing in May
There's no doubt that the weather lately has been good for growing (both plants and weeds) so it's been full steam ahead with efforts at the allotment. The last few weekends have seen us up the plot for plenty of hours getting all the jobs done.
The strawberry patch (about 1/6th of the plot) has just had it's netting put up now that the flowers are blooming, pending the first fruits appearing. I have to admit I'm fizzing with excitement about the first soft fruits of the season. Strawberries are the ultimate in edible joy.
allotment growing in May
I planted out the remaining marigolds, asters and dahlias in the flower bed that C had designated for my plants, behind the raspberries in the fruit plot (our extra half plot). We popped a cage over to stop the rabbits as this plot isn't fenced. Slug bait of course to stop those pesky slugs and snails eating everything...
The asparagus from the plot has been delicious! The first year of a substantial yield, we've eaten some fresh and frozen the rest for soups or to go in a pie. Such curious plants; they erupt with spears so quickly. Quite creepy really when everything else appears to be in slow motion by comparison.
allotment growing in May

allotment growing in May
Of course the maintenance of the plot is predominantly weeding (le sigh) and I consider myself to be Chief of Weed Control and make myself useful with a hoe, pair of gloves and a bucket at every spare moment. I tended the beetroot and turnips (above).
allotment growing in May

allotment growing in May
The last of the blossom has vanished from our fruit trees now, but for the previous couple of weeks there were flowers adorning their little branches, making the whole mini orchard feel very alive. If we are lucky we might get apples, pears, plums, cherries this year. The thought of it is nice though.
allotment growing in May
 Pumpkins, courgettes and leeks have been planted. In the picture below you can see our (weedy) Jerusalem artichoke strip which is only just starting to show signs of life too.
allotment growing in May


allotment growing in May
 I also weeded the carrots and broad bean patch yesterday, but didn't get as far as the overgrown grassy strip. Prioritising is key with keeping an allotment, that's something I learned pretty quickly.
We have three types of corn this year. A babycorn and two regular size sweetcorn which we had to keep apart to avoid cross pollination apparently. Last year some of the sweetcorn had dud corns and it made for unenjoyable eating. Keen not to replicate!
allotment growing in May

allotment growing in May
Above: Fruit trees and soft fruit bushes. Raspberries blackcurrants, white currants and gooseberries.
I've planted lots of bulbs and annuals both from seed direct and grown in the greenhouse. My aim is that there is bountiful colour and flowers between the fruit trees, however, my first year's attempt has been somewhat of a steep learning curve. The flowers I transplanted have been ravaged by bunnies so who knows what will eventually flower, but even so, by the end of Autumn all that will come to an end so I plan to pop in some bedding plants to keep up signs of life and colour.
Below: Celery planted out in troughs, sweetcorn next to it.
allotment growing in May

allotment growing in May

allotment growing in May
 The onions, shallots and garlic rows only got weeded last week but fast forward seven days and they're a state already! I ran out of time to tackle them but it's a job for next time, for sure!
allotment growing in May

allotment growing in May
RHUBARB! We ate a beautiful rhubarb crumble made by C a couple of weeks ago and it looks like we have a bit more still to harvest. Wonderful stuff!
Peas and beans are all caned up. Watch this space!
allotment growing in May
So what do you think? Are you inspired to give growing a go? Taking on an allotment is a lot of work, but don't forget, sometimes a half or quarter plot is an option. You can grow plenty if you have a garden, or you can even pop a couple of garden planters on  patio or a doorstep, or failing that, a plant pot on a windowsill. Where there's a will, there's a way...
Sophie
This post is a PR Collaboration and all content and opinions are my own.

Friday, 20 May 2016

The little changes

sycamore blossom
As a keen observer of the natural world, I relish the change of seasons. Spying something new or different is a joy and if at all possible I like to photograph things as I see them so that I have a visual record and reminder of how things looked. This tree (I'm hedging my bets with sycamore, but as we frequently see on this blog, I'm often wrong!!) has the most delightful dangling blossoms in green. I don't recall taking any pictures before and in the sunshine they look so fresh. It slightly reminds me of carnivals and festivals, a Chinese style hanging decoration...
I'm enjoying spring this year more than in the past. Instead of wishing time away to get to my beloved summer, I'm really embracing every single discovery and the sights each day brings.
Sophie

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Brown Paper Packages Rustic Wrapping Box Review + Giveaway

Brown Paper Packages Subscription Rustic Gift Wrap Box Review
We all know someone who wraps gifts with such enviable perfection that they must surely have taken a short course in the art of it. We also all know someone who bodges and fudges with shoddy workmanship but makes up for any weak spots with meters of sticky tape, just to be on the safe side. Anyone who's ever received a gift from me will know that I'm that bungler. C takes the mickey out of me. People don't have high expectations from me!
Brown Paper Packages Subscription Rustic Gift Wrap Box Review
When Hayley got in touch to see if I'd like to put her rustic gift wrap subscription box through it's paces I was excited. Brown Paper Packages does what is says on the box.
There is one for each season which is appropriately themed and your first will include a roll of double sided tape and some gift wrapping tips to help things go well.
Each box will include:
3 sheets of gift wrap, 5 metres of string and ribbon, 5 cards and envelopes, 5 gift tags and 5 decorations.
A whole year of boxes costs £60 or you can buy a single box for £20 and as well as a great idea for yourself, it would make a really lovely gift to give to someone else.
Brown Paper Packages Subscription Rustic Gift Wrap Box Review

Brown Paper Packages Subscription Rustic Gift Wrap Box Review
Can I just say how fragrant the box smelled; the sprigs of lavender brought it to life and really inspired me to get stuck in. The box arrived in excellent order, the shredded paper had kept everything well protected and safe. I really appreciated the gift wrapping tips (learned a few things!) and the double sided tape is revolutionary.
Brown Paper Packages Subscription Rustic Gift Wrap Box Review

Brown Paper Packages Subscription Rustic Gift Wrap Box Review
I had a few things which needed wrapping so I decided to strike while the iron was hot and get stuck in. It was Alice's birthday last week so I had a couple of things to send and was glad I had an opportunity to use this smart co-ordinated set instead of my usual haphazard mish-mash of paper and cards. My tongue was probably stuck out as I worked carefully to keep everything super neat and in order. While I measured out the larger piece of paper first, I wrapped a teeny gift first as my 'tester' which gave me a little more confidence to tackle the main item. Is it big-headed of me to say that I'm dead proud of how good my final piece looks? The overall appearance is very tidy and I'm hoping that this is the start of a new chapter in my life!
Brown Paper Packages Subscription Rustic Gift Wrap Box Review
My next parcel to wrap was two books for my grandmother. She likes travel books as the furthest she's ever been was to somewhere in Wales on honeymoon, so I keep an eye out for books with plenty of pictures and information.  
These were pretty straightforward to wrap and besides, by now I felt like an old hand. I took them round that very day, despite it being over a week until her birthday. She was surprised. When I saw her a day or two later she thought it was out of character (and assumed I'd bought a pre-wrapped gift) "I thought Sophie's not creative" so I explained that it had come as part of a set and I jolly well had wrapped it myself actually.
Brown Paper Packages Subscription Rustic Gift Wrap Box Review
As you can probably tell, I'm really on board with the concept of Brown Paper Packages and am thrilled with how my gifts are looking! I need to keep up the momentum.

Here's your chance to win one of three summer edition Brown Paper Packages boxes!
The Rafflecopter form is below and runs for 2 weeks. The winners will be selected at random and the boxes will be sent directly from Brown Paper Packages. Please note that the boxes can only be posted to UK addresses

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Best of luck!
Sophie