Three Things Thursday: 9 March 2017

*three things that make me smile: an exercise in gratitude – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog with the happy*

Inspired by Emily of Nerd in the Brain here are my Three Things Thursday.

First, my grandmother’s tea infuser. Ever since I started drinking loose tea, Mummy Snail has been intending to pass on my nan’s tea infuser. Finally, when I was there last week, I remembered to pick it up. It is perfect for the days when I’m home on my own.

IMGP1869

Tea for one

Second, fabulous women. Yesterday was International Women’s Day, and I spent some time thinking about the creative, inspiring women I know. Here are two of them – my nieces modelling the pussy hats I made for them.

LandA

Inspiring women (c) Lilly Phipps

Third, Mr Snail’s creativity. At the weekend, Mr Snail attended a course to learn how to make willow structures. He asked me whether there was anything that would be useful for the garden and I said that I would like a ‘pea obelisk’. This is what he came home with:

IMGP1870

Just awaiting peas

I will be growing red-flowered mange-tout up it (I’m just waiting for the seeds to arrive).

So, those are three things making me smile and making me grateful this week – what about you?

Three Things Thursday: 22 September 2016

As usual I’m joining with Emily of Nerd in the Brain (and others) for Three Things Thursday’. As she says…

*three things that make me smile: an exercise in gratitude – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog with the happy*

This week, everything is hand-crafted…

First, a new tea cosy. The old one had started to disintegrate, so I whipped this one up, complete with pompom in a spare hour or two.

imgp0770

Purple and a little bit sparkly

Second, lovely new (well, I’ve had them a few weeks) scissors made by Ernest Wright  & Son Ltd. The company only make scissors and they have been doing so, by hand, since 1902.

imgp0782

I couldn’t resist the design

Third, new purses. These were crafted by a new friend I made when I visited  London. I liked them so much, I ordered two, a big one and a small one… she even personalised the small one for this happy snail!

So, those are three things making me smile this week – what about you?

 

Looking back, looking forward

It’s that special time of year when we all do a little reflecting…

IMGP6185

Hoping for lots more of this sort of thing in 2016

I found the beginning of 2015 rather challenging, but life got easier as I made decisions to let some things go – university teaching and acting as a trustee for a local charity being the two main ones – and so I’m feeling quite content looking back. The other big change in 2015 was having the limery built – I’m currently finding it difficult to image life without it, as it gets so much use. Hopefully, 2016 will see it full of even more plants and supplying us with yet more food, as well as being the venue for evening games of scrabble, rainy day picnics and many many cups of coffee.

IMGP5103

No plastic in my tea any more

2015 was also the year that we gave up tea bags. Having discovered that our favourite unbleached, organic tea bags (Clipper) were stuck together with plastic, we took the hard decision and moved over to using loose tea. At first, I hated all the fuss of using an infuser, but over the months I’ve got used to it and it’s now second nature. It took a bit of experimentation before we settled on a preferred tea variety (China Yunnan, in case you are interested), plus we had to buy an extra couple of tins to take to the shop for refills (we buy it unpackaged), but once all that was sorted, it became quite easy to establish a new routine.

me norway knitting

I knitted in Norway, amongst other places

Over the year, I’ve done lots of knitting and crochet, and I’ve worked hard to make use of yarn that I already had. I’m planning to do the same in the coming year – I intend to work my way through the rest of my (now small) stash of sock yarn… it appears everyone is always happy to receive a pair of hand-knitted socks, so it’s not hard to do. And, if I have yarn that I know I’ll never use, I plan to pass it on to someone else. I need to have a look at some of my other craft supplies too. It’s time to let others make use of things that are no longer interesting to me.

Growing in the garden was disrupted in 2015 by the building work, but I am hoping to make up for that in 2016. I’ve already bought seeds and will be sowing my peppers and chillies just as soon as I have some seed compost. The window sills in the limery were made to be wide enough for a seed tray to sit on, so that’s where all the indoor germination will happen from now on. It will be lovely to have space to get lots of crops started indoors, safe from the slugs.

RIMG2448

Me, on top of the shed, with a hammer

My final activity in the garden this year was attaching new roofing felt to the shed this afternoon. A large section had been ripped off off in the high winds a couple of days ago and we needed to get it mended as soon as possible, so I have been up there between showers doing the necessary.

So, now I shall sign off and wish you all a very happy new year… I’ll see you in 2016.

cheers

Cheers!

Tiny packets – no thank you

Whilst I was away I stayed in a hotel with tea and coffee-making facilities in the room. I knew this was going to be the case, so I went prepared… happy to use the kettle, but eschewing the teeny packs of instant coffee and various tea bags, not to mention the bottled water.

The goodies provided by the hotel

The tray provided by the hotel

Instead, I took a jar of fair trade, organic instant coffee (the remains from when the builders were here), containers of loose tea (black China and redbush), an infuser, an insulated mug and an enamel mug for taking out and about, and my own water bottle:

My beverage kit

My beverage kit

Since I don’t take milk in any of my drinks, there were no issues with storing dairy. And so, on my trip I managed not to use any disposable cups, tea bags, water from plastic bottles or teeny tiny packages. It’s a small amount of packaging to avoid but every little helps and, in addition, all my drinks were to my taste.

My trip coincided with Zero Waste Week, so it was good to feel that in circumstances where I might have been seduced into producing more waste than usual, I did not, all with very little effort and just a bit of planning.

The end is nigh…

My favorite teabags

My favorite teabags

… the end of teabags, that is.

OK, I’m lazy, but I do so love teabags. And I used to think that they were a harmless luxury because they were just made of tea and (unbleached) paper, which composts down and goes back into my garden soil, right? WRONG! They are also made of plastic. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I was shocked to discover a while back that tea bags (apart from the ones with string and a staple) are stuck together with plastic – even the organic ones.

I wrote to Clipper and they told me that yes, they use plastic in their teabags, but it’s not a problem (to them, obviously, not to me). I wrote to Jacksons of Piccadilly because I’d seen mention that their teabags did not contain plastic, but they didn’t even bother to respond… leading me to assume that reports were wrong, because otherwise they’d have been jumping up and down about their plastic-free products and we’d all have been flocking to buy them. So that left me with only one option – give up teabags. You will note that I didn’t consider giving up tea, that would be a step too far!

Tea caddy and a cosy teapot

Tea caddy and a cosy teapot

Of course, giving up tea does not equate to giving up plastic, because most tea comes wrapped in plastic packaging. However, this is not such a problem because (a) at least I can see the stuff and deal with it appropriately, and (b) I can buy my tea loose  from a local shop and take my own container (I already do this for coffee).

And so I have been gradually starting to use loose tea. I bought several different types to try and a new teapot with an infuser. There are still a few teabags in the tin, but only a few, and when they are gone I’m not buying any more. I’m still grumpy about this, but I am determined. Now I just have to decide which blend of tea is my favourite.

Oh, and let me take this opportunity to show off a new tea cosy that I received from a dear friend… and the hens’ attempt to recreate it:

D is for…

… my 500th post!

Someone make a cake – we need to celebrate. Actually I should make a cake as all four chickens are in lay and so there are plenty of eggs.

I thought I would mark it with a list. So, D is for:

Dogs… lots of my posts mention them. They are my constant companions, encouraging me to go out for a walk and testing out all my knitted and crochet items.

Darning… oh how I hate it, but still it’s a good way to make things last so I do it anyway.

Digging… especially keen on unearthing all those lovely potatoes from the garden.

Dani… and a host of other bloggers who inspire me.

Denmark Farm… where we conserve biodiversity and support community projects.

Dangler… and all the other ‘friendship’ projects that I have been part of in the blogosphere

Dad… I lost my dad nearly a year ago. Not a day goes by when I don’t think about him… and I’m still using the cork board he made for me all those years ago (it often appears in posts)

Dark evenings… spent with hook or needles to create lovely woolly things.

Dairy… even though I’m lactose intolerant, I’m busy making cheese.

Dyson… thanks to secondhand spares from ebay, it’s been mended twice in the past three years.

Diploma… my Diploma in Applied Permaculture design was the inspiration for ‘The Masterpiece‘… my amazing friendship blanket.

Dehydrating.. and my many other experiments in food preserving.

Drinking tea and coffee

… well, I could go on, but you get the idea. So, here’s to another 500 posts… thank you all for dropping by.

-oOo-

Just in case you are wondering what I’m wittering on about, D is the Roman numeral representing 500

 

 

The red heart of Australia

My request for contributions to the Masterpiece friendship blanket yielded more than just the knitted and crocheted squares. Several of the contributors sent me the yarn that was left over from their work.

Kate’s square and lovely letter

One such person was Kate (Tall Tales from Chiconia). The wool she included in her package was like nothing I have used before: a fantastic combination of reds and yellows, in a yarn that varied wildly in thickness. She wrote about the colours of Australia being represented in her square, referring to the poem ‘My Country’ by Dorothea Mackellar, which you can read that here. So the spare yarn has been sitting waiting for me to be inspired.

Waiting, that is until I finally decided to do something about my tea. You may remember that I have been fretting about plastic in teabags. I’ve searched for plastic-free teabags. I thought that Jacksons of Piccadilly were the answer, because I read that their teabags have no plastic in them, but a query sent weeks ago has not yielded any response and so this seems just to be a rumour. Finally I bit the bullet (reluctantly) and bought myself a little teapot with an infuser, plus some loose tea.

This pot holds just the right amount for two mugs of tea… which means that when I’m here on my own, it would be a great idea to be able to brew the tea to the right strength, remove the infuser and then keep it warm for a second mug a bit later. Which means that what I really needed was a tea cosy. And what better yarn than this lovely Australian wool? So, I set to work and created this:

Tea caddy and cosy teapot

Tea caddy and cosy teapot

And, just like Australia, at the centre of my tea cosy, there is a hot red heart!

Thank you Kate… the yarn was perfect!

 

Plastic tea update

Some further research has revealed (thank you Linda) that one sort of teabags in Britain may be plastic-free. According to Gardening Which? Jacksons of Piccadilly make tea bags that are free of polypropylene.

So, I’m just off to write them an e-mail…

Daffodil, willow and snail

I promise that I won’t report back every time I have personal contact with one of my fellow bloggers, but I do want to share these with you:

Mementos of our first meeting

Mementos of our first meeting

A few weeks ago I travelled all of 500m from my front door to see Katy the Night Owl… fellow blogger. We would never have met if it wasn’t for blogging, despite living so close to each other. Anyway, on that first meeting I took her a bunch of daffodils (that we were kindly allowed to pick by Reena, a local farmer’s wife) and budding willow (from our hedge).

Katy was keen to make a contribution to the masterpiece and so her squares were inspired by that bunch of flowers. I went round to see her yesterday for a chat and to collect these beautiful creations. In addition, she had crocheted a tiny snail for me, that she turned into a brooch whilst we drank tea together… he’s there on the picture, but doesn’t show up very well.

I was able to take the BonBon hat over to show Katy how beautifully the yarn she had given me had worked up. Inspired, she added a BonBon to her list of things to make.

I’m still bowled over by the sense of community here in the blogosphere and the joy of finding individuals with similar interests, but I never expected to make a friend who I could walk over to have a cup of tea with whenever I felt like!

%d bloggers like this: