30/04/2013

One murrini, seven ways

Starburst murrini are very versatile, this mini tute gives seven illustrated examples of how to get a different look from just one style of murrini chip.

1. Apply the murrini chip to your bead and then heat and press gently to flatten. Continue to heat and press a little at a time until the murrini is flat to the surface of your bead.

2. Apply the murrini chip to your bead and then heat and press gently to flatten. Leave the chip raised and encase with clear to give your murrini a lens.
3. Apply the murrini chip to your bead and then heat until glowing and press the centre with a dental pick or other poking tool.
4. Apply the murrini chip to your bead and then heat until glowing and press the centre with a dental pick or other poking tool. Heat and press your murrini gently. Continue to heat and press a little at a time until the murrini is flat to the surface of your bead.
5. Apply the murrini chip to your bead and then heat until glowing and press the centre with a dental pick or other poking tool. Leave the chip raised and encase with clear to give your murrini a lens with a trapped bubble.
6. Apply the murrini chip to your bead and then heat until glowing and press the centre with a dental pick or other poking tool. Heat and press your murrini gently. Continue to heat and press a little at a time until the murrini is flat to the surface of your bead. Spot heat your murrini then take a clear stringer and twist the murrini to look make it look like a vortex.
6. Apply the murrini chip to your bead and then heat until glowing and press the center with a dental pick or other poking tool. Heat and press your murrini gently. Continue to heat and press a little at a time until the murrini is flat to the surface of your bead. Spot heat your murrini then take a clear stringer and twist the murrini to look like a vortex. Spot heat again and poke with your pokey tool then encase with clear to give your murrini a lens with a trapped bubble.



I hope you have enjoyed this murrini mini-tute
Jolene x

52 little things week 17 and 18


I've two cheeky robot chaps for Beads of Courage to show today, last weeks pretty pink and this weeks gorgeous blue and grey one.

These beads are part of a year long challenge over on Craft Pimp Forum where a few of us have made a pledge to make a thing a week. I am making glass beads to donate to a small charity called Be Child Cancer Aware for the Beads of Courage program here in the UK.

http://www.bechildcanceraware.org/beads-of-courage/
You can check out the week 17 and week 18 show over in CP and check out some fab YLC blog posts......

Heather of Heather Kelly Glass 
Linda of Earthshine Lampwork Bead and Jewellery Design
Sue of BlueBoxStudio


Have a great week Jolene xx

25/04/2013

Plot 36 - Raspberry canes

A lovely lady at the allotment offered me some Raspberry plants on yesterday as she is digging all of hers out completely and replanting them elsewhere to remove something called creeping buttercup that has become a problem. I picked out a spot on my plot, far right over by my new blackcurrant bed and started to dig a trench for the raspberries. I thought it might be interesting to show a picture of a Doc that I dug out, look how long those roots are! At least 30cm I should think.



There is large spiky plant in the before picture (top left), I think it may be some kind of ornamental grass or possibly even a lily of some sort..... who knows ......so I took it out carefully and split it into three and replanted in various little nooks on my plot where I won't have permanent beds. These are also areas where I plan to put in some spring bulbs in the Autumn. I dug out the raspberry plants from my neighbours plot and removed any traces of creeping buttercup before popping them in in my newly dug trench (above left). When I get back to the lottie today I am going to cover the whole bed (raspberries and blackcurrants) with a thick layer of leaf mulch to keep the weeds down. I'll have to have a think about what sort of support to build for the canes as they grow too.

Jolene x


23/04/2013

Plot 36 - maincrop potato bed and bindweed

This weeks job is to dig the bed for my main potato crop. I've got some Sarpo Mira seed potatoes (which I chose for their reported resistance to blight, good news for a novice allotment-er) chitting in my kitchen and plan to put them in in 3 or 4 weeks time. By then hopefully my Comfrey will be grown enough to be cut and go in the trenches with the Potatoes to nourish them them as they grow. This bed is about 3 by 3 meters wide.





The big problem seems to be lots and lots of white roots - bindweed I think - running through every forkful (pic left) so I am breaking up every piece of earth by hand to try to chase out as many as possible. Today I worked for about a hour and a half and dug and cleared the roots from about 1/3 of the bed. The dustbin lid above shows just how many roots I found. I've a similar amount of time tomorrow and Thursday to be able to carry on with this project so fingers crossed I'll have the bed dug and covered by the weekend. Great weather for it, let's hope it lasts!

Jolene x

22/04/2013

Messy Testing - Fostoria, Tranquility and Night Sky

In this post I am looking at Fostoria ltd run, Tranquility ltd run and Night Sky ltd run.

I picked out these three colours to test together as I  hoped that they would all look delicious etched.... and they do. Fostoria makes me think of the last little bit of Coke in a glass in summer, diluted down with melted ice. Starting at 12 o'clock and moving clock wise we have: Pure Night Sky
Night Sky/Tranquility half and half
Tranquility encased with Night Sky
Pure  Tranquilly
Two beads of Pure Fostoria
Fostoria/Night Sky half and half

Tranquility is a pale lavender transparent that sits wonderfully opposite the rich transparent mid navy blue of Night Sky. Tranquility also sits beautifully with Fostoria which is a cool smokey transparent grey brown which seems to have a similar saturation. I was not so sure that Fostoria would work well with Night Sky without etching so I've given all of the beads in this set Poi accents to tie them together cohesively as a set. Poi is my absolute favourite CiM Purple.

Jolene x

Plot 36 - woodchip pathway....

I thought I would start my post with a picture of this lovely cheeky little Robin who pays us a visit every time we go to the allotment. He must have a field day grubbing for worms and bugs in the freshly turned earth I've dug that day.

The plan for today was to create a pathway from the front of the plot straight up to the area at the back which will become the kids flower garden.
 It is getting confusing for my littlest where he is and is not allowed to walk now that digging and planting has begun. Making good clear paths will help with that. I forgot to take a picture before getting started so this one has a plank marking where the edge of the main crop potato bed will be and a line of recycled plastic sheet to show where the edge of the path will be.
I dug a thin trench to finish the front left bed and a thin trench the full width of the plot an the right side and shored up the path/bed boundary with some wooden planks that I found behind the shed the other day. I covered the path with more recycled plastic sheet and tacked it down with old tent pegs then covered the whole path with a thick layer of wood chippings from a communal heap on site.

It has been the most glorious weekend, I hope you have managed to get out and enjoy the sunshine too, Jolene x

21/04/2013

Plot 36 - first herbs going in and a visitor

It was so so sunny at the allotment today, absolutely gorgeous weather that shows that spring is really truly finally here. The tiddlers and I were there for nearly 3 hours, exploring and playing. I'm so pleased that the children are enjoying the allotment what with their being just 2 and 4. I think it helped that the water has been turned on on site now and they could get watering can happy!

Today's job was to find the place for these three lovely herbs. There is a sweet little chive that was given to me last spring by my pal Sue, it overwintered in a grow-bag in my garden and was I really happy to see it strong and flourishing there this spring.
The other two plants are Rosemary and Mint, gifted to me by a lovely lass called Linda along with a selection of seeds and the coolest looking runner bean seeds form her own allotment.

Following some great advice from Linda about planting the Mint where it can be contained, I have decided to turn this narrow trench of a bed that runs along the back of plot 36 in to a herb bed. It will give the mint room to spread but not to take over.
The trench bed was full of bramble roots and nettles so I needed to turn the whole lot over and chase out all of the roots first, a full carrier bag full it turned out!

When I dug out the trench bed the plank that separates it from my early potato bed collapsed inwards so I shored it up with some wooden stakes before filling it back up with lovely root free earth mixed with some compost. I hope my special herbs like their new home.

I want to show you a stunning little visitor that fluttered over to see us today. I've never seen a butterfly like this before so I uploaded my photograph in to google image search and found out that it is called a Peacock butterfly (Inachis io). It is pretty common in the UK and lays it's eggs on the underside of nettle leaves in the spring. I think it is just beautiful.

Hope it is all hot and sunny where you are too,
Jolene x

20/04/2013

52 little things weeks 15 and 16

This a little catch up post for weeks 15 and 16 in my 52 little things project, to make a bead a week for Beads of Courage UK. Week 15 is a Beep Beep Robot bead and 16's a flower covered mushroom bead, a style that I have only been making for a couple of weeks now. Both use CiM Sherbert glass which is really sweet and pretty pale green.



If you would like to know more about Beads of Courage please visit the BCCA website here.

Have a super fun weekend, Jolene x

19/04/2013

Plot 36, clearing the scrap heap

Following on from my last Lottie post, I went along yesterday and started shifting all of the misc this 'n' that was stored, hoarded, stashed and dumped on the plot before I got it.

The perimeter fence is being replaced at some point over the next few weeks and everything close to the fence has to be moved away before then.

The cleared space looks massive now. Under this thick layer of leaf litter there is still quite a lot of plastic sheeting, old tired plastic netting and even some half rotted carpet, so quite a lot more to do still. On the upside the earth on this part of the plot looks full of good organic matter and not as weedy as I expected. It will make a lovely spot for the kids flower garden once the fencing work has been done.
I'm very glad that I had planned not to dig the whole plot this year as the tarp covered area has given me somewhere to put everything whilst the fence work is being done. There was quite a large amount of treasure in with the trash including three large wooden frames and some wooden hoops, chicken wire and netting, canes and poles and quite a lot of odd bits of timber that will be useful for edging beds.
I've decided to grow tomatoes in grow-bags this first year and then dig the grow-bag compost in at the end of the growing season so I edged the potato beds either side of the area earmarked for Toms with timber and used a bit of plastic sheet recovered from under the leaf litter, an old gate that came from the scrap heap and some wood chips for weed suppression.

Jolene x

18/04/2013

Plot 36, some thoughts on crop rotation and layout

A while back did some research into companion planting and decided that I would like to have 4 beds in my first year. I've been reading up on crop rotation this week to help me figure out where to dig them. I am also planning a 5th bed of runner beans now too and am also thinking of growing my toms in grow-bags as according to some of the other allotment folks I have been chatting with, toms have done very badly here for the last 3 years.
  • Potatoes, Marigolds (Rosemary nearby)
  • Leeks, Carrots (Mint nearby)
  • Broccoli, Kohlrabi, Marigolds (Chives nearby)
  • Runner beans
  • Tomatoes, Basil and Nastertiums
I've found details for 3, 4 and 5 year rotation plans but this one looks like it will suit me and the size of my plot pretty well, especially as I am not planning to dig a further bed for my toms (I think I can dig the grow bag compost in to my potato bed at the end of the growing season).

(HDRA recommended method)

1)potatoes and tomatoes - add organic matter, high nitrogen (manure)
2)roots - add nothing
3)brassica - add general fertiliser and lime 
4)legumes - add organic matter, low in nitrogen (compost)

In this rotation, the alliums go with one of the other groups, but chosen so they are grown in a different place and with a different group each year.
Here is a little sketch of how I think my plot can be laid out in year 1



Jolene x

17/04/2013

Daffs, a form and colour study

We have a forum challenge on the colour yellow over on Craft Pimp forum at the moment. It's safe to say that yellow is not one of my very most favourite colours, save for Vetrofond Banana Cream which is utterly delicious! To get inspired I took my camera out with me on the playgroup run this morning and here are my daffodil snaps...














16/04/2013

Plot 36 - first bit of planting.

Plot 36 is going to get a whole lot messier and disorganised before I get my head around how I really want the layout and beds to work. I got a letter through from the council saying the perimeter fence is going to be replaced in the next 4 to 6 weeks and that everything needs to be moved at least a meter away from the fence before then. I've been down there today and realised just how much accumulated junk had built up on the plot over the last 2 years before I took it on. Sorting through it all will be a big job, one that I have been turning a blind eye to in favour of digging my first bed. Being forced to look at the junk problem sooner rather than later comes with a silver lining as the large area currently wasted under a pile of misc stuffs will become the permanent space for Ruby's flower garden. I'll get started with that job in earnest tomorrow.

This morning I put my first plants in the ground which was really lovely. My Mum sent me some cuttings from the Blackcurrant plants from her garden. She packed them really well and posted them to me, when they arrived they looked really healthy and had a few roots on them already. I left them in water in a vase on my kitchen window sill and the roots grew in really well on all 5 cuttings.

Here are my baby Blackcurrant plants in their new home next to the Comfrey bed. I'm really not sure if there will be any fruit from them this summer. I also planted 10 Charlotte seed potatoes today, the ground was finally dry enough to pop them in with plenty of lovely compost to give them a good start. I have had these chitting in my kitchen for the past 4 weeks. Here is a useful little garden organic fact sheet on chitting potatos. All being well these Charlottes will be ready to harvest in July or early August.

Jolene x

14/04/2013

30DDC #12 Recent accomplishment

My most recent accomplishments are making Rhubarb crumble with the kids from allotment harvest and helping the kids with planting their first sunflower seeds which have actually sprouted. The Pumpkin seeds we planted were a disaster, 10 weeks and no leaves yet.... Sometimes it's taking pleasure in the small things that makes your world go round.


Drawn with Pencil Madness
Have a lovely weekend Jolene xx

13/04/2013

Rhubarb Crumble

We picked our first Rhubarb from the plot today and the kids and I made a crumble. It's the first time the nippers have taken food from the ground and brought it home for the table and also the first time they have tried Rhubarb.

We used
  • 7 sticks of Rhubarb
  • 4 tbsp of Water
  • 4 tbsp of Castor Sugar
  • 1 tsp of powdered Ginger
  • 4oz butter
  • 4oz brown sugar
  • 7oz plain flour

First I washed the Rhubarb and help the kids chop it up into chunks about 2 inches long. They popped the chunks in to a baking tray and spooned over the castor sugar and water. We don't have a tablespoon so we measured out everything roughly with dessert spoons (2 table spoons = 3 dessert spoons) and popped the baking tray in the oven for about 15 mins on gasmark 4.

While the Rhubarb was softening up I measured out the crumble topping ingredients and let the kids get stuck in mixing them all together with their hands.

I took the rhubarb out of the oven and added ginger and mixed well and transferred it to a cool oven proof dish and helped the kids spoon on the topping and them popped it in to the oven for about 1/2 an hour.

What you really can't tell from the photo is how good it smells and  how bubbly and jammy the Rhubarb is oozing out from around the edge of the crumble. We ate this plain, I've yet to be able to convince my two to try custard and I hadn't any cream to hand but it was plenty juicy enough. I think that even though I reduced the amount of castor sugar down from the original recipe, it was a little too sweet still  but I really liked the ginger.

Have a lovely day, Jolene x