The Pink Button Tree

The Pink Button Tree: October 2012

Sunday, 28 October 2012

How to make coasters from wall tiles

Earlier this year I bought some gorgeous blue and white wall tiles. I instantly fell in love with them and bought eight in total, getting two of each pattern.

I was inspired by an image of tiles I had seen in a magazine article about a Moroccan home interior. I really liked the way they combined a terracotta wall and coloured floor tiles. Mr C and I have a terracotta and white lounge and adding blue into the mix seemed to really work.

The tiles were bought specifically to be used as coasters so we could add some colour and pattern to our coffee table. We have carefully used these raw bottomed wall tiles on our coffee table, but I have really wanted to use them on our dining room table. I was worried about the damage they may do to the table, however after some searching I found a solution, small felt sticky tabs! I converted the tiles to coasters for a few pounds by adding sticky tabs to each the corners on the back of the tiles.

I now have some pretty tile coasters that can be used to add pattern and colour to any of our surfaces without adding scratches!

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Saturday, 27 October 2012

Green crops

Winter feels like it is definitely on its way. Today we have clear skies and bright sunshine, along with a fresh crisp breeze. This morning I spent a few minutes in the garden seeing how my plants were settling in after the planting I did last weekend. Everything was looking good however I realised that I hadn't harvested the rest of my 'crops'. The air temperature dropped to the lowest it has been in quite sometime last night. I thought that it would be best to pick the final few crops left in the garden and make use of them before the weather gets too cold and kills them off. I'm pleased to show you a few more things that I managed to grow this year.

Two green peppers...

a handful of small green chillis...

and green tomatoes...

As you can see there is a bit of a green theme with my crops! Nothing ripened outside but I'm wondering whether the tomatoes may turn if I leave them for a few days in the kitchen. I have never grown peppers or chillis before so I'm pretty happy with what has grown. I will definitely grow them again next summer with the hope of better weather, more sunshine and warmer temperatures so that they ripen. I'm off to find a few recipes in our recipe book stash to see what would be the best way to use them up.

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Wednesday, 24 October 2012

October in our garden

Spending time in the garden during October involves getting the garden tidy before winter and preparing the garden for spring. I spent most of this weekend tidying up the garden, sweeping up leaves, planting bulbs, restocking the bird feeder, adding new plants to my window boxes and rearranging a few things before the winter kicks in.

I emptied my window boxes, keeping the geraniums and planting them into small pots to keep over winter in my cold frame greenhouse. In their place I planted red cyclamen and ivy into my window boxes, creating the same arrangement for each front windowsill. These new plants will hopefully last into the new year and add a bit of colour during the grey and dreary months ahead.

I love the combination of delicate cyclamen flowers and the trailing ivy. They are so pretty!

I planted a pack of violas in the window box on our windowsill in the back garden, the flowers look like little faces! These should last during the winter as long as I dead head the flowers and keep them watered.

It is that time of year when you need to plant bulbs for spring. I planted two different types of pink tulip bulbs, one with a white edge and one deep pink. I love daffodils and bought two types of daffodil bulbs, Tete a Tete and Pheasants Eye, both new to me before my trip to the garden centre but I loved the pictures shown on the bulb packets so went with these. I interspersed blue and white Grape Hyacinth bulbs in amongst the other bulbs to mix up the arrangements a little. I haven't planted bulbs in Autumn before so I think it will be a bit of a trial...I hope to have a spring garden full of pots full of colourful flowers! 

Here's our little courtyard space this October...

I spent time sweeping up and moving a few of the pots around, re-potting a few plants and separating the lilies into different pots. I'm hoping I have done it correctly and that they will survive being split up!  

And look who spent most of the afternoon with me...

A very friendly robin enjoying all the worms and slugs that I found when I moved the pots around!

I had a great weekend enjoying the fresh air and making the most of being in the garden. Have you started planting any spring bulbs yet? What have you chosen to plant?

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Sunday, 21 October 2012

Making a cushion

Making your own cushion is such a great way to practice a number of sewing techniques and add something unique to your home. A few months ago a good friend of mine moved into a beautiful furnished flat, decorated in a stylish black and white theme. The flat being furnished meant that my friend didn't have a lot of opportunity to add a bit of her style to the flat. Gradually an orange footstool, an orange rug and an orange throw were added to make the flat feel more like home, adding a touch of her style to the front room.

I wanted to help and decided to make a cushion that she could add to her front room. I haven’t made a cushion since I was at school so it was the perfect time to try again. As the cushion was going to be a surprise birthday gift I took a risk and decided to select the fabrics myself! I already had a colour theme, orange, so now I had to find a mix of fabrics that my friend would like. I searched on and off for a few months during the summer to find fabrics that would work together. I had a few pieces in my fabric stash and bought some new fabrics especially for the cushion, these included Summersville – Brush Strokes – OrangeSummersville – Scandi Floral – Orange, Simpatico – Straws Peachy and Nancy Murty S Dots Tangerine. I finally had the fabrics selected and so I made a start so that I could make the cushion in time for her visit to my flat.

After washing and pressing the fabric I decided to cut the fabric into strips. 

I spent time deciding the design of the cushion, I knew I wanted strips of fabric but I wasn't too sure how many I should cut and the arrangement of the design. I cut 9 strips of fabric, each measuring 2.5 inches wide by 18 inches long. I spent time arranging the strips then sewed the strips together using a quarter inch seam.

I wanted to create a cushion with a slightly different look on the other side of the cushion so that it could be used either way. I decided to select three of my favourite fabrics from the different options I had, and cut each strip 6.5 inches wide by 18 inches long. I sewed the three strips together with a quarter inch seam.

I pressed the fabric pieces, flattening the seams...I then set about adding a zip (40cm long)...

...and then making my own piping for the cushion.

Adding the zip and the piping to the fabric was hard and took some time to finish, I had to unpick the stitching a few times to get the look I wanted with the piping.

I made my own cushion pad using some plain cotton fabric and toy stuffing I already had in my stash.

As you can see the final cushion turned out really well (see photo at the top of the post and below). The second side of the cushion with three of my favourite fabrics looked good and meant that the cushion could be displayed either way.

I can't decide which side is my favourite. What do you think?

I’m so pleased that I made the cushion for my friend, seeing her face when she opened it and knowing that she liked it made me feel that the month or so of planning and finding the right fabric was worth it. The project taught me how to add piping to the cushion as well as a zip.

Having made this cushion it has spurred me on to make my own piped cushions for our flat. I've selected the fabric, I just need to sit down and make them.

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Sunday, 14 October 2012

How to make sloe gin

Sloe gin is one of my favourite winter tipples, it has such a sweet taste and a fantastic deep pink colour when the liqueur is made. To make your own sloe gin in time to enjoy during the winter you need to start early! I know we are quite a few weeks away from Christmas but to get Sloe gin to be ready in time for then you need to start now. Making sloe gin requires patience and time so the flavours mix and to allow the drink to reach perfection. I'm hoping to use the homemade sloe gin as small gifts for friends and family, it's a great excuse to search for some pretty bottles and create handmade labels using my stamps.

Mr C and I went foraging for sloe berries during the middle of September on a walk in the countryside so hopefully there may still be berries around that you can pick now. You need to look out for berries on the blackthorn tree, they tend to grow in hedgerows. When you get home from picking your sloes I'd recommend putting them in a freezer bag in the freezer until you have all the things you need to make your own sloe gin. They say that you should pick sloes after the first frost but the freezer does a great job instead.

Here's what you need, the measurements are approximate...

300g of sloe berries
150g caster sugar
500ml of gin

The first step is to buy some nice gin. I love this bottle...we bought a litre and divided the gin in half adding the rest to a spare bottle.

We picked around 600g of sloes as we are planning to make a large quantity of sloe gin so that we can give away some small bottles as gifts.

Making sloe gin is so simple...defrost the sloes, then wash and remove the stems...

Add the sloes to the gin...

then add the caster sugar to the gin...

Firmly replace the lid of the gin bottle and lay flat. You'll need to turn and/or shake the gin every day for the first three days, and then twice a week going forwards for a few months.

If you have other berries that you have picked such as blackberries or elderberries you can use a similar method to create some lovely liqueurs. We collected elderberries to make elderberry vodka and blackberries to make blackberry vodka. To make these drinks just stick to a similar set of proportions....whatever volume of vodka you want to create you need to have a third of the bottle filled with berries, then half the amount of sugar to the weight of the berries.

I hope you enjoy making your own sloe gin. I can't wait to see how this sloe gin tastes, it does involve a lot of patience but it is always worth the wait!

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Tuesday, 9 October 2012

A walk in the countryside: Chew Magna

In mid-September Mr C and I went on a country walk with friends. Living in Bristol we are lucky to be a short drive away from a number of great places to visit. We decided to take walk from Chew Magna to Chew Valley Lake and back again. We wanted to combine the walk with catching up with friends, a pub lunch and the chance to pick blackberries on the walk and hopefully sloes if we could find them. I bought Mr C a handy little book, Food For Free, last Christmas and we took with us as it fitted perfectly in Mr C’s back pocket of his trousers.

The weather was perfect for a walk, cloudy at first and later on the clouds broke to deliver a little bit of sunshine.  It took us only about 30 minutes on our walk to stumble on a bountiful crop of berries. At first we started to collect blackberries...

and to our surprise found sloes growing close by!

Inspired by the opportunity to make apple and blackberry crumble and our own sloe gin we set about collecting the berries. We took so long picking berries during the first part of our walk we managed to miss lunch in our destination pub, so instead we had a half pint of cider and some crisps to tide us over until we got back into the village. Later on during the walk we found elderberries too and also picked some of these.

We walked through some lovely parts of the local countryside, through fields of cows...

a field full of the clover with the largest leaves we’ve ever seen...

and a recently harvested field...

We got back to Chew Magna and had a late lunch in the quaint garden of a cafe on the high street...

We then headed home after a fantastic day out. Delighted with our collection of berries we promptly put the three sets of berries in the freezer to keep them until we had everything we needed to make a things from them.

I feel really lucky to live only a few miles away from somewhere we can get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy the tranquil countryside. Why don't you plan a walk near where you live to explore somewhere new, spend time with friends and see what berries you can find.

Over the next week or so I'll let you know what we have made with the berries we collected!

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Sunday, 7 October 2012

Handmade Mr and Mr card

One of my close friends from university married the love of his life this September. Before the big day I spent a week or so trying to find a card to celebrate their marriage but I couldn’t find one that I really wanted to give. The range of Mr and Mr marriage celebration cards is so very small, so I decided to make one using my paper stash.

I looked for colours that I knew that they both liked and this formed the main inspiration for the card. I wanted something simple but bold. Using pinking shears I cut a rectangle of striped orange and white paper to form the background. I used my clear stamps and silver ink to create the Mr & Mr message on white card and mounted the message on blue paper. I finished the card off by adding a wooden heart button and a thin piece of off white ribbon. It was a really quick project and only took me about 20 minutes to make this took me longer to write the message that was inside the card! 

On their big day I felt a huge sense of pleasure adding my handmade card to the pile of cards to celebrate their special day. 

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