Roller Coaster

Wow it’s been a roller coaster year so far and many of us are struggling to keep up with goals, plans and general wants and wishes.

Personally I’ve had a challenge with health issues – not virus related – during recent months and to ease my mind, I’ve been switching into creative mode as much as possible.

I learned to crochet a few weeks ago. Goodness knows why its taken me an age to get around to it. I’m enjoying every minute and I’ve even opened a new etsy shop with some of my handmade gift ideas. I don’t think this will be a ‘business’ but it’s a nice sideline – if it works! Haven’t actually had any orders yet 🙂

I’ve also collected, polished up and edited all my digital books and they’ve gone into the shop too. There are 59 products now and I’m patting myself on the back – metaphorically speaking… I’ve been writing for years and love to share ideas and tips with whoever wants to listen and if you have a moment, I would love to hear from you.

You may have a book idea in mind or a question about the knitting patterns or handmade gifts. Or you may be looking to form a craft/writing related relationship? Please get in touch here or via the Etsy shop and I’ll get back to you asap.

Stay safe
Linda x

P.S. I’m not attached to my devices all the time so it may take 24 hours for me to find your message. I’ll be crocheting or knitting like a crazy woman no doubt!

Crochet Crazy

Well, writing and blogging has taken a bit of a back seat lately. My fingers have been otherwise engaged in creating all sorts of gift ideas for my new Etsy shop.

It’s been raining a lot as well.

Last night I was binge-listening on Netflix. Listening mostly, because half the time, I was focused on crocheting butterflies.

I need glasses to watch a screen but not for craft or close work. So my glasses were up and down on my head for hours!

I’ve been knitting since I was a child but never really tried or understood crochet. But now, in my sixties, I’m discovering a new skill. I taught myself, with the awesome help of a few youtube videos and now I can’t believe I’ve never done this before. It’s a great hobby.

I’ve created nine products so far that compete well on Etsy and coming up with new ideas all the time. Some of the ideas are a bit ‘out there’ – my imagination gets the better of me sometimes – but so far I’m getting some lovely oohs and aahs!

There’s even going to be an instagram account especially for the Etsy shop – at some point – because although Etsy is a great platform, it’s easy to drown in the sheer volume of wonderful products they showcase and I’ll need to promote the shop if I want to survive.

There’s a new platform coming soon for crafters in the UK – I’ve had a sneak preview behind the scenes. My lovely daughter is co-owner of Home of the Mall and I can’t wait to be one of the early birds when they launch at the beginning of November. So exciting!

So, with butterflies and unicorns floating around my universe, I hope you are safe and well and are rushing to buy a crochet hook right now 🙂

Love and Peace

Linda x

Getting Ahead of Myself

..but in a good way this time!

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I had hoped to get all the patterns done by the end of August, but a few – more than a few- rainy days in Cornwall had me chained to my laptop and I got them all finished. So happy. 🙂 Now I have to work out a way of getting the word out to knitters round the world!

The Ekokids were first created when my youngest daughter had a birthday coming up and we had a zero bank balance. They’ve been shared and played with for over 25 years now, and the new updated versions of the knitting patterns are pretty much perfect –
I guess they should be after twenty five years of tweaking!

 

They’re designed for beginner knitters and have simple step by step instructions with knitting tips and variation ideas dotted around. So if you aspire to practising a new life skill or would love to create non-plastic dolls that are cute, cuddly and very entertaining, check out the patterns here … and Happy Knitting.

Speaking of life skills, I taught myself to crochet last week… thank you Youtube …. and just finished my first creation.

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Not perfect but with practise I hope to get better. Although knitting will probably always be my first love in needlecrafts, I am finding crochet very quick and lots of fun!

 

 

Learning life skills is a passion of mine (I’m doing two language courses at the moment as well!) and I’ve always found in times of financial difficulties – which happen far more often than I’d like – I can always come up with something to do, make or simply pass the time designing and working out ways of creating practical stuff.

Anyway, my crochet hook is calling me, so I’d better go but don’t forget to try out the Ekokid dolls – they make great gifts.

Stay Safe

Linda

My 25 Year Old Baby

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Over 25 years ago, I gave birth to a new project that has been growing and improving over the years. When we lived off the land money was tight and I created a gift for my youngest daughter that became so popular it exploded quietly into an ongoing hobby business.

The Ekokids are teenage eco-friendly ‘Barbie-type’ dolls that are cuddly, fun and easy to dress in all sorts of wonderful designer clothes – they cost pennies to make, they’re non-plastic toys and have been developed for beginner knitters to enjoy making.

I’ve been writing books and doing other stuff over the past few years and my 25 year old babies have been hidden away in a box for some time. But recently, after an unexpected spell in hospital and a couple of unscheduled surgical operations, I had to spend some time recovering and who better to recover with than my Ekokids!

So, they’ve had a complete makeover and I’m in the process of setting out all the new and improved patterns, making them even easier and quicker to make. It’s a bit of a slog because knitting patterns have to be precise but the math, the designs, the knitting and the photography are all underway and should be ready to launch in a couple of weeks…. I may be a little optimistic on the timeline but I’m giving it a go.

Watch this space for further developments!

Stay safe everyone

Linda x

 

 

Perfect Tomatoes

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There’s really nothing like the taste of a home-grown tomato and if you’re growing some this year, give your plants the best chance of producing perfect tomatoes. Here are a few solutions to some common problems (text taken from ‘How to Grow Tomatoes’ listed on the Mini Guides page )

 
Blight:
Blight is the worst tomato enemy. If your plants get infected, there’s nothing you can do but pull up the plants and burn them. Ouch. But there are precautions. The blight virus is prevalent during mild muggy weather.
Many growers swear by a preventative dose of ‘Bordeaux’ mixture which is a combination of hydrated lime and copper sulphate. However, although Bordeaux Mix was considered to be organic, we now know it’s not a particularly good product to use in the garden.

*There are some new hybrid varieties of tomato appearing all the time that are blight resistant.
Another way to avoid blight attacking all your plants is to plant them in spots around the garden rather than in lines. A tomato plant on each corner of a vegetable patch, a couple in the flower beds, maybe one or two in containers etc; can help prevent the virus spreading. This does mean the garden doesn’t look so ‘ordered’, but worth trying, especially if you expect warm muggy weather.

Slugs and Snails:
All young plants are vulnerable to slug and snail attacks. Don’t take any chances. Protect your plants with any organic means you can find. An old method was to sink a bowl of beer in the ground at night. Apparently slugs love beer and providing a swimming pool of it will seduce them away from your plants. Slugs can’t swim, as far as I know, so you will have to deal with a bowl of dead drunk slugs in the morning. **I’ve tried this and it worked!
Crushed egg shells, sand, salt and other deterrents around your plants works well, but make sure there are no gaps where the slugs can enter.

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As far as I know slugs don’t usually look like this, but they could definitely be considered as monsters in the garden!

 

 

 

Water-logging:
Too much water sitting in the ground can rot the roots of your plants very quickly. Check the soil after a heavy rain-fall, or if you’re region is prone to flooding. If water-logging is a problem there are a couple of solutions. You could add drainage material to the soil and landscape design it well.

Or use containers. Nearly everything you’ll ever need to grow can be grown in a well-drained container of some kind. Always use good potting or seed compost in pots and containers to give your plants all the nutrients they need.

Drying Out:
Tomatoes will need watering in dry weather conditions to develop fruits fully. If plants dry out, they are unlikely to do what you want them to. The midday sun can scorch the leaves of your plants – they won’t be happy. Shade from a hot midday sun to avoid this. Tomatoes do need lots of water. If you see fruits splitting, it’s generally because they aren’t getting enough water.

Happy Gardening!

Linda x

 

 

 

 

Organic Gardening

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Organic gardening was the only way of gardening before chemicals and pesticides arrived to ‘help’ our crops along. Unfortunately there are side effects to many of the chemical products – in fact there are side effects with most of them, although some less harmful than others.

Organic gardening was the way of the past and hopefully it will be the way of the future, as we learn more about the damage we are causing to our environment.

Organic fruit and vegetables can be more expensive than un-organic produce, and it pays therefore to be producing our own food as much as we possibly can. Unless you have a large area of land, including polytunnels and greenhouses, and perhaps an army of gardeners to do a lot of the work for you, it’s unlikely you will be able to grow the variety of fruit and veg you are used to buying.

However, there are many different fruits, vegetables, herbs and even edible flowers we can grow in an average sized garden, and in a few hours every week, organic food can be included in the diet for all the family, however addicted to burgers, fries and chocolate buttons they are!

Plan your organic garden well and buy the seeds you want from a reputable seed supplier. Thompson and Morgan (UK) are online award winning suppliers of seeds and other products and they have some great pictures to get inspired by!

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Organic gardening with Thompson and Morgan UK

Or browse Amazon products – double check reviews and country of origin. I’ve ordered seeds before now that took so long in coming that it was too late to sow them.

Follow the instructions on your seed packets and plan your garden carefully. Make sure you don’t plant tall growing plants in front of shorter plants as they will shade the small ones from the sun.

Keep your fruit and veggies free from weeds, and water well, especially during long dry periods in the summer. Keep an eye on the slug and snail population when the plants are small. A slug attack can wipe out a whole row of carefully planted lettuces in a matter of hours.

Organic gardening worked for our ancestors so try using old fashioned ways of dealing with slugs rather than buying chemical slug pellets. For example, crushed eggshells placed around the plants, making sure there are no gaps, will prevent slugs from eating your young plants.

Many gardeners swear by a glass of beer sunk into the ground next to a new line of plants. Apparently slugs prefer the smell of beer and will happily drown themselves in alcohol and leave your baby lettuces to fight another day! (I’ve tried this and it works!)

Other pests can get into the garden and enjoy the free food you’re providing, and they will particularly love your organic gardening methods 🙂 but with a little vigilance and a regular stroll around the veggie patch, you should be able to keep on top of most of the problems that could turn up.

The cabbage white butterfly will attack your brassicas – and they WILL attack so watch out for them. They lay their eggs on the underside of the leaves and within a couple of days the hungriest caterpillars in the world will munch through your entire crop of cabbages, or any other brassicas.

Remove them at the egg stage and burn or throw them to the chickens. If you miss the egg stage, simply take off the leaves the caterpillars are eating and throw them on the fire, or again to the chickens. This may seem very un-zen like but unless you are intending to buy your cabbages and are just planting them for the fun of attracting caterpillars and increasing the butterfly population, there is little choice.

Always look out for natural products or advice from local gardeners. Some will use chemicals, but many gardeners dislike un-natural products. If you put chemicals onto your plants, the chemicals will find their way, not only into the crops, but also into the soil which wont be as fertile next year, so its really worthwhile avoiding any “chemical” products.

Stick with organic gardening, and the wonderful organic food you produce will feed your family for many years to come from the same patch of land.

Happy Gardening!
Linda x

Feeling Grateful

Since my living off the land days I’ve had many years without a garden. Last year I moved into a lovely house in Cornwall with a smallish but beautiful garden. And over the past few months, my son and I have transformed it into an even more beautiful space 🙂 – we’re growing food …

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and finding all sorts of wildlife in our inherited pond. This dragonfly visited today

 

 

 

and we found a pond salamander laying eggs – too slow grabbing my phone for a photo but such an awesome experience. Loving nature! After a tidy up yesterday, the pond is looking even better.

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I am so sooooo grateful for my garden.

During the last couple of weeks I’ve shared my time between giving the website a makeover and tending plants (and pond) so haven’t written much – haven’t done much housework either but that’s not so unusual for me!

I hope the sun’s shining in your world today.

Stay safe.

Linda x

 

The New Normal?

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I watched an old episode of QI last night and they were talking about average sizes and demographics. After surveying thousands of women in Australia, an ‘average’ person was deduced – hair colour, children’s ages, home owner etc; – the list was fairly long 🙂 and when they looked for this ‘average’ person, they couldn’t find her. Apparantly an average person doesn’t exist.

Well, if there’s no such thing as an average person, is there really any chance of discovering what is ‘normal’?

There’s been loads of talk about nature being more ‘present’ since people stopped getting in its way, and the ozone layer healing because there are less vehicles on the road. How much of this is 100% true is, of course, debatable. But we all lean on the hope that we are slowly healing our planet.

There’s been a huge divide between rich and poor for decades and those workers on the front lines have been continuously denied a decent wage, but the selflessness of those heroic folk on the front lines is now being recognized and applauded.

My hope is that humanity and humans as a species grow from this experience, spiritually, mentally and physically – although no growing sideways please!

When we hear folk moaning about being ‘stuck’ at home, it’s hard not to drop in a comment about homeless families, abuse victims and lonely folk who may be dealing with physical and/or mental issues. I resist because I do believe that what we give our attention to will grow so I only comment on positive stuff. It’s really quite tough sometimes though. I’ve had first hand experience with some of the issues mentioned and my ego often jumps in and wants to berate the moaners … BUT ….

That’s counter-productive because they really don’t know any different and showing what can be done is always more effective than telling.

So what is the new normal? Nobody knows for sure – we can speculate and opinionate but a pandemic on the scale we are currently experiencing is incomparable. Yes, a hundred years ago we had one, but life was different then – not saying better or worse – but certainly different.

Maybe, just maybe, there’s a nugget of hope in all the confusion – the hope that helps us evolve as a species, the hope that respects nature and our fellow humans. My word for this is love. Loving and practising gratitude everyday sends out joyful and positive energy to the universe which swirls it all around and deposits those good feelings at random spots. (The butterfly’s wings causing a ripple around the earth.)

I try and incorporate these five practises as far as I can and as often as I can.

Stop to smell the roses
Feel the gratitude
Learn something new
Help someone
Love and care for all sentient beings.

Any of these practised during a day will bring a feeling of joy and abundance to ourselves and the Universe as a whole. I guess the challenge is getting billions of us feeling like that always…. 🙂

Stay Safe and may the force of love be with you.
Linda x

Gluten-Free Success!

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I’ve had some disasters lately with my gluten-free experiments, but today I got something right. 🙂
This banana bread is a recipe I created a couple of years ago but needed adapting to my store cupboard ingredients, so this is what I did…

In one large bowl, I stirred together

125g of gluten-free flour
3 teaspoons of baking powder
just over 75g of dried fruit mix (sultanas, dried peel)

 

Then in another fairly large bowl, I mixed (well)

2 large mashed ripe bananas
1 egg
2 dessertspoons maple syrup
4 dessertspoons milk
50g. melted butter

 
Then poured the wet ingredients into the dry and beat for about 15 seconds (just to get the mix well combined and incorporating some air)

Poured into a lined loaf tin and baked in a preheated oven (175degrees) for 33 minutes – 2 more minutes and the top would’ve been too brown. I lifted it out with the baking parchment lining and left it to cool on a wire tray until I couldn’t wait to cut it!

This is a really good ‘filler’ loaf/cake and the ingredients can be healthed-up a bit by using melted coconut oil instead of butter and honey instead of maple syrup.

If you use a non-dairy milk this is a dairy-free, gluten-free and sugar-free recipe. And it’s delicious. The cut slice in the photo disappeared as soon as the photo was taken!

Bon Appetit!

Linda x

Uplifting Quotes

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We can all benefit from a few uplifting quotes now and then, especially now. I’ve been taking lots of photos of my garden which I am so grateful for. But then when I started looking on Pixabay for some good images, I realised there are a whole bunch of photographers out there who are soooo much more professional than me.

So, I’ve been putting some images with some relatable quotes and popped twelve of them in my latest printable at Etsy.

I’ve also duplicated the quotes for an alternative to heavy printer ink consumption! Those pages have a simple apple blossom design.
I have a whole list of printables to create and they’re all going to be on sale at the lowest price possible for the foreseeable future, so when you have a minute, pop over to Etsy and have a look around. Any requests gladly considered 🙂
Before I sign off, one of my favourite quotes of all time is:
“You don’t stop playing because you get old, you get old because you stop playing” George Bernard Shaw
That suits me just fine! And ‘playing’ doesn’t have to be taken literally, especially if your chosen sport or hobby involves close contact with others. ‘Playing’ means having fun, enjoying yourself, having a little quality ‘me’ time so don’t forget to keep playing!

Stay Safe
Linda x
P.S. The downloadable printables are in my pennywise collection and come out at £1.20 (UK) but are, of course, downloadable from practically anywhere.