Monthly Archives: May 2013

Patio chair cushions


I had a lovely time browsing in the shop at the gorgeous RHS Wisley, and they had some nice looking garden chair cushions.

However, when I saw the price, I thought ‘I could do that’!

I measured the chair seat, and decided on the size I wanted (35cm square)

I had some quite sturdy fabric from Ikea hanging around at home which I cut into rectangles (twice the width of the size of the cushion I wanted to make.) I added a 2cm seam allowance all round.

I sewed it with right sides together, leaving a gap on one side to insert the filling. I clipped the corners to create neater corners when it was turned the right way out. I then also zig zagged the edges together, except on the side with the gap where I zig zagged both edges individually.



I then turned it right way out and pushed the corners out so they were square.

To create the filling I folded four layers of polyester quilt batting together and stuffed it into the cover. I slip stitched the opening closed.

To create the quilting I used contrasting embroidery thread and tied knots at regular intervals, creating a 4×4 pattern.



And here are the finished articles.



I particularly love the fact each one is a different pattern, and I’m hoping that as the filling is polyester that they will wash well too.


Japanese Inspired Garden


I have posted previously about the hedge at the front of my house, and I thought it was time to share a little about the garden itself.

When I moved in it looked like this.



A fairly typical front garden with two bits of lawn, and rose bush in the middle of one patch of lawn (on the right). There is a wall with some mature evergreen shrubs in front in the left, and a raggle taggle mess of a hedge on the right.

It’s ok, but I wanted something more eye catching as the entrance to my house. I have a gorgeous Acer tree, love japanese gardens, and was given some books at Christmas that inspired me.

The first task was to remove the world’s scruffiest hedge, behind which I found the world’s scruffiest fence, which I gleefully kicked down (most satisfying!). I also started to remove the turf



The turf was relatively easy. I used a half moon lawn edger to cut spade sized squares, and then dug out each square with a sharp edged spade, trying to take as little earth as possible. This was in March, so the ground was quite soft, which made it quite easy.

The hedge was a nightmare. There were multiple different plants, and as I wanted to plant a new hedge, I needed to get all the roots out. It involved lots of digging, and my trusty branch loppers (is that the right term) for cutting through the roots. I gave up with two particularly difficult plants and paid someone to remove them. For £40 it was money very well spent. I also made numerous trips to the tip. I don’t know if its just me, but I find taking things to be recycled at the tip really satisfying. Great to have an estate car to carry it all in.

I then planted my new box hedge, which is the subject of a previous post. I plan to cloud prune it, and recently bought Jake Hobson’s book to inspire me.

Once the hedge was in I levelled the ground as much as I could, weeded it and got laid some weed suppressant material, the thickest I could find. I pegged it down with some cheap plastic pegs from Wilkos. When calculating how much you need, don’t forget the need to overlap each strip by about 5cm.


I got my blue slate chippings and Scottish cobbles online from Decorative Aggregates. They were the cheapest I could find. With free delivery. Though they did stuff up the delivery (twice!).

My gate was too narrow to fit the bulk bag through, so it sat on the pavement outside my house. Thank god for tolerant neighbours.


Then came the hard work. At first I was able to split the bag and push the slate into my wheelbarrow. But once the slate level got lower than the wheelbarrow it was good old fashioned spade fulls into the wheelbarrow. Not too onerous though. All in all it took about 2.5 hours to do this side br />

I still have the other side to do, and a bit of planting to soften the look, but this is what it looked like immediately afterwards. Note the slate is covered in dust from the quarry, so it looks very light.


And after some rain.



I love the acer and I am adding more black bamboo to create a screen outside my window so people walking past can’t see in.

Weather permitting I will be doing the other side of the garden tomorrow, and will post an update with the finished article.

And yes, apart from some help removing some of the turf, and paying someone to get rid of the stubborn hedge plants, I did this all by myself. I think of it as my outdoor gym.

And here is an update for the other side.

From this


To this

I even found a nice sheltered home for Buddha.


And the whole garden looks like this.


I love it, and have had loads of compliments from the neighbours already 😃

Chocolate cupcakes with buttercream frosting


A quick post to share the delicious cupcakes I just made to celebrate the 9th birthday of my nephew Gordon and 5th birthday of my Niece Farrah.

As they live up North we don’t get to see them that often, so I always try and coincide my visits close to somebody’s birthday. With 2 of my 3 siblings, 6 nieces and nephews and 2
parents all living close to each other, it’s not that difficult!

We’re off to a scarecrow festival at Wray in Lancashire tomorrow (see here), all 13 of us. We’re having a picnic,so I’ve made some cakes to celebrate the birthdays.

I’m at my Mum’s so don’t have access to my massive collection of cookery books, therefore I googled and found some good recipes on the BBC website.

The cupcakes one is here

I used self raising instead of plain flour, omitted the baking powder and added orange zest.

For the frosting I used 280g butter, 500g icing sugar and the juice of one orange. I used some of it and them added a bit more juice about 100g more icing sugar and about 20g of cocoa.

It was great to try out my new icing set from Lakeland. The bag is quite small, but the nozzle I used was great. I’ve never iced cupcakes like this, but I reckon I did ok.

I made decorations by piping melted chocolate. The decorations represent the birthday kids names and ages.

They taste yummy, and I will definitely use this recipe again as the cake is lovely and moist.

Oops one missin