Scarecrow and Yard Sale

Yesterday was our annual village Yard Sale and Scarecrow competition. I always love things like this. 

The weather did not turn out to be great but it did not seem to deter visitors to the village, and for a while it appeared that no-one could move their cars anywhere. There were over 70 yard sale participants and almost as many scarecrow entries. 

At the time of writing this, I am not sure who won the competition – I do always want to win, but to be honest I don’t care either way. I was just thrilled with my scarecrow lady. 

To me the fun is taking part and getting all creative. Here is my entry, which I titled “Last Tango in (Paris)“.  

Natalies Scarecrow Last Tango in Paris

I made her from old clothes and stuffing. Her body is a round feather cushion which is past it’s best. I cut off a bit of the roundness at one end and sewed it up on the sewing machine to make a flat top. Next I pulled an old white t-shirt over that and added a corset type of vest from my wardrobe. 

Her head is made from 2 t-shirts – both of which are past their best. I sewed a rough square from one t-shirt and stuffed it with oddments – I do a lot of crochet and always keep the ends in a bag. Also, if I have a woolly jumper that I will no longer wear, I cut it up as the softness of the fibre makes for a great stuffing.

I tied a piece of string, just less than halfway up, around the head to create a shape and then manipulated the stuffing to make full cheeks with the string naturally creating the eye line. 

I made a sort of oval shape from the second t-shirt – simply by sewing, by machine, a sort of oval shape and leaving the stitching of the sides of the t-shirt in place. I pulled this over the stuffed head and then tied it all loosely together at the bottom. 

To make the wig I used a pair of old nylon tights with the legs cut off. I pulled the excess leg parts to the back of the head and tied it into a bun. I stitched various black wool remnant lengths from a centre parting to the back of the the head and over the bun. I stitched two bangles to the roughly where the ear would be.  

To paint the face I used textile paints and sketched out big eyes, lashes and brows. These I painted in black. The mouth is very full and pouty and the cheeks are accentuated with a bit of blush. I ironed the face several times to set the paint. 

Close up of Scarecrow face



Assembly of the scarecrow was a bit tricky and I sort of made it up as I went along. I kept the stake I used for the scarecrow last year, and hammed that into the ground. I dropped the skirt over the stake and let it lie on the ground. I pushed the arm stake through the sleeves of the t-shirt and screwed it to the stake (I pre-drilled the holes). I set the arm stake deliberately skew-if so she looked like she was dancing. I tied the skirt to the body with a bit of string and pulled the vest down to cover the join and tied it up. 

I used a garden cane – cut to a point and wrapped with tape, to hold the head in place. I pushed it up the back of the body (again through the t-shirt) and into the head as far up as I could wiggle it. 

To finish it off I tied a scarf around the neck and stuck a few feathers under her hairline. I stuffed straw into the t-shirt making sure that some spilled out of the armholes. I had run a line of stitches down the middle of her chest and stuff straw into the t-shirt to make an ample bosom, which in true to life fashion, tended to end up under the arms! 

The last thing I added was a fresh rose which I stitched onto the mouth. 

I think she is great! 













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Lamb on the Barbeque

It’s that time of year again. I love it when it begins to warm up and Spring really gets underway. Somehow this year it all seems to have taken much longer for the weather to warm up properly – enough for me to either cook or dine Alfresco. 

This weekend was not the first time I have barbecued this season, but it was the first of my favourite menus – Leg of Lamb. 

Barbequed Lamb


Many people are really quite afraid of doing something like this on a BBQ, but really it is quite easy. (My neighbour insists that it cannot be done…. makes me laugh!)

The trick is to build the fire properly. I always start the fire with charcoal and newspaper. I dislike firelighters, although I do often use them. Make a small mound of charcoal with scrunched up newspaper in the centre of the BBQ. For lamb I use a kettle type BBQ and open the vents underneath so as much air gets to the centre fire. Once the fire is well started add more charcoal. 

Build a Fire


At this stage the fire will be really smoky and I add the leg for a short while to take advantage of the smokiness. Firstly I cut it along the bone, deep down, and I stuff a few bits of rosemary into the slit. Some people advocate removing the bone, but I never do. On the other side of the lamb I make a few small slits and stuff a few bits of rosemary into them. Don’t overdo the rosemary. Lamb has a very distinctive flavour, and I really cannot see the point of over-flavouring something that already tastes brilliant. I do however rub salt all over the meat. 

IMG_4911


Next I add several sticks of rosemary straight on top of the coals. I then pop in the leg of lamb, away from the coals and  close the lid of the BBQ with the vents nearly closed.  I leave the meat for about 20 minutes, and then remove it. 

I then shuffle the coals around so that they all burn and when they have cooled quite a bit – they no longer glow bright red until you blow on them – then it is time to add the meat back. Close the lid again for a good hour, turning it often. 

I don’t like lamb rare, but also not over-done. Test it with a metal spike. When the liquid runs clear it’s done. Allow the meat to rest for about 15 minutes before serving. 

I served this with two salads – a tabbouleh and a three-bean salad. For hot sides I made Brussels sprouts in a cheese sauce (browned in the oven) and corn-on-the-cob also from the BBQ and bathed in butter. 

Smacking delicious.  


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Fairy Doors in Somerset

I simply love anything where imagination begins to control peoples’ actions, and the story reported earlier this month about the Fairy Doors which have been appearing all over Wayford Woods over the last few years, is no exception. 

It has also caused a hue and cry all over the UK, since the Trustee, Steve Acreman was reported as wanting these doors removed from the woods. I must say that subsequent reports seemed to indicate that he was appealing for no more doors to be installed. 


 This image was found on the itv news channel and you can read what they wrote here. 

Apparently the first door arrived a few years ago, and now it is an Internet phenomenon. Some doors are not as pretty as the one above, but the essence of all the doors seems, to me, to be about adults and children wanting to have a little fun, and wanting at some level to believe in fairies. I think it is cute and lovely too. Perhaps some doors are not in keeping with the environment – but hey – I think fairies must like bright and sparkly things too. 

For those readers who do not know about this, the doors are installed with hinges, often over openings in the tree, where you can leave messages to the fairies. You only have to do an image search on the web to see the huge number of doors all over the place. 

However Wayford Woods (nicknamed Fairy Woods) seem to not understand that many people come to the woods especially to look at the doors. What impact on their numbers if the doors were to disappear?

It must be ultimately fascinating to children to search out these little pieces of creative imagination. I know I would have loved it as a child. In fact if I am down that way I will want to go and have a look. 

We live in such a serious world and I think it is delightful. Of course we must protect nature and not damage it, but I really can’t see how these little doors would provoke more damage. Instead we have got lots of people out in the open air – surely that is a healthy thing. 

Why not have some fun and play with your imagination, and I would say that if you live near a wood then perhaps the fairies there also need doors. Of course they must be installed in not too obvious locations, else the fairies won’t use them. And of course in secret …. you can’t tell anyone. 

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Last Year in the Garden

Last year in my garden


I moved to my present home 2 years ago, and last spring started work in the front garden. The house has great presence on the street but the front garden was somewhat dismal and had nothing of note by way of planting. Just grass. 
I love formality in gardens, but I also have an affinity for perennials and roses above all else. So the front garden, I felt, needed both. The main area is a rough rectangle with grass, bordered by the driveway. So I wanted to keep the strict formality and follow the straight lines already there. The beds would, in my mind anyway, be abundant with a profusion of perennials and roses. 
Firstly I came up with a rough plan. I also went for long walks around the village to see what others had planted – a good starting point when planning a garden, is to plant what you know works in the area.
Finding the right plants is not always easy. I have not got great bontanical knowledge of plants, and I am also very frugal when paying for plants. If you are not careful the costs can run away with you.
I like to buy from little stalls in people’s front gardens, so I always have a ready supply of change available and stop wherever I see plants on offer. Spring is a perfect time of year for hunting these stalls down. Normally plants on sale like this are the excess plants from local people’s own gardens, so you can be sure that it has a good chance of being a successful grower in your garden. The only word of caution I would add is that you need to check that no perennial weeds are being transported along with your new plant. Before planting I examine the roots and pick out any nasty things like nettle.
Last year was just about digging out the beds and planting. I did not create a huge master plan other than position the roses strategically, a place for sweet peas and a hydrangea.
It took me weeks to dig the beds. Luckily the soil did not need much improving. I live in the Fens – an area of North Cambridgeshire which was marshlands originally until they were drained a couple of hundred years ago. The soil is rich and a lovely texture. It had also not been planted for years. The land is very flat, some parts below sea level, and we have the most amazing open skies.
This photo shows what the garden looked like early last summer – tiny little plants.

I added compost to the soil and had to borrow soil from other parts of the garden to fill up the beds. The grass that I lifted I turned upside and piled in an unused corner of the garden – hopefully this year it will be usable soil.
I dug and dug and dug. The flower bed on the left is only 90 cm deep but I may increase the width a bit this year. The front flower bed is much wider ad angles slightly as the front wall is at an angle to the garden and I reduced this effect by cutting the bed at a lower angle so that the rectangle of grass is not so obviously skew. If I had not done this then one end of the bed would be very deep at one end.
I know I have over-planted the beds, and now that spring 2015 is well under way I cannot wait to see what comes up – what has thrived and what a difference a year will make to the size of the plants. You can see from the photo that the plants did not get to be huge last year.
As the year progresses I will be tackling the main back garden, so any overfull plantings will be moved to the back.
Fingers crossed that it will be a good year.

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Bo-ho Style Kitchen Splash-back

Decorating Ideas Found this week

I simply love these Boho style tiles I found while trawling around on www.pinterest.com. It has become very trendy to use unusual items for splash-backs in kitchens. 



These tiles come from South Africa and are hand-painted and handmade. They are available on Etsy  see the shop of Terethsheba here

It is possible to purchase individual tiles or buy the 24 tiles pictured above which would give you a kitchen splash-back of 40 x 60 cm. That would truly bring a bit of Bo-ho glam to any kitchen – and the fact that they are handmade gives them a different depth to commercially made Moroccan style tiles.

The individual tiles are 10 x 10 cm and there are loads of different designs – some more bold than others. Loads of choice means that their use is great for other things like topping a coffee table, lining a tray, or serving as coasters. 

Personally I would love an outside coffee table topped with these. Great design. 

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