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June 2013

Canada Day (a day early)

Between 2007 and 2009, for the first two years of our married life, we lived in Alberta, Canada, and ever since, wherever we’ve been in the world, we have celebrated Canada Day. Every year we try and top our fervor and enthusiasm with more flags and better food. We particularly enjoy confusing new neighbours with our elaborate displays of patriotism, only to disappoint them later when we reveal the only true Canadian in our house is Macy the dog.

This year the closest weekend day for a party was also our wedding anniversary, so we decided to really push the boat out, and Jim’s menu was simply stunning (I know he’s my husband…but) Maple glazed hot smoked salmon done in our smoker, baby back ribs, potato wedges, ginger, lemon and parsley chicken, corn bread muffins, mac and cheese (kraft!) and sausages. We followed it up with pavolva, pecan pie (thank you Carole!) coca-cola cupcakes and chocolate roulade.

We invited friends old and new. Some of whom used to live with us in Canada, one of whom actually is Canadian, but most of whom were Brits. And miracle of miracles… the sun shone, on the planned day of a barbecue. In England.

I was also particularly blessed to have my friend Carole at the party. Carole arrived with the pecan pie, stepped in to prepare food, cleared up and then put the dishwasher on. Trust me, everyone needs a Carole at their party…

Maple glazed hot smoked salmon

By the way, you may have noticed some particularly fabulous red goblets appearing in some of the photos. They were gifted to us by the team at redcandy.co.uk just in time for the red-fest that is Canada Day (how did they know?) and are from their Baroque & Rock range. They are acrylic glasses which make them brilliantly practical for garden parties and were much admired by our guests.

Baroque & Rock wine glasses

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Terrys Fabrics competition and giveaway


I was contacted by terrysfabrics.co.uk last week who are running a competition for bloggers. They are offering creative bloggers two 1/2 metres of fabric and a cushion form for free to make an 18×18″ cushion. In return one of those cushion designs will then win a £250 voucher.

From Terry’s selection I chose the medium vichy 9274 curtain fabric rose (pink gingham) and the camper van pink fabric to work with. Both are heavyweight (ideal for curtains or bags like my shopping tote) and the camper van has quite large motifs which are great for fussy cutting.

I mixed my selected fabrics with some Kona snow and pink polka dot ribbon to create the quilted front of my cushion and I used the medium vichy to make an envelope back.


I think this kind of design would be perfect for a pre-teen girlie bedroom and as Terry’s Fabrics have been so generous with their materials, I thought I’d share that generosity by giving you a chance to win the completed cushion including the form.

GIVEAWAY CLOSED So if you fancy winning my girlie pink camper van cushion all you need to do is leave a comment on this post before midnight on Thursday 27th June 2013. I’ll select a winner on Friday so make sure you check the blog then. UK residents only I’m afraid due to postage costs.

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Bloomin Quilt As You Go Cushion


I have been very slack on the crafting front recently, I haven’t sewed in weeks. The fabric I cut out for my shopping tote is still sitting on our kitchen table and my list of projects is getting longer not shorter.

Mostly it is because I have got heavily involved in a wonderful and important local project to save an ancient orchard. It’s stimulating and enjoyable, but I still wish there were more hours in the day and I could take on more things, and still do all the other things as well. Don’t we all?

Anyway, today I finally have a finish! This is my Bloomin Quilt-As-You-Go cushion….

Observations on making it? Firstly it takes up a lot more fabric than you expect, so be prepared. The blue on the edges of my cushion front were a natural progression, but not part of the original plan. Secondly the quilt-as-you-go method is lovely! Very precise, very neat, very therapeutic, I’ll be doing it again. And finally, in retrospect my design turned out a little too square, next time I do it (and I will do it again) I will make sure to use an odd number of strips on each layer to give it a rounder shape.


The back is part of my journey to make friends with zips! I love the finish they give, but hate putting them in! I used Chrissie D’s tutorial and despite the fact I sewed it with the flap up first time, and had to unpick and resew, the result looks ok… I think zips and I are on the way to being friends! As they say, every day is a school day! 

Oh and one other thing. I have after many months of indecisiveness, switched the domain of this blog to maybushstudio.com. Blogger says anyone following on the old blogspot domain should be forwarded, but if you could leave a comment to say you’ve seen this it would help reassure me!

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June’s big gardening project…

Hedge removal

As most of you will know, although we bought our home 4 years ago, Jim’s Army postings have kept us from living in it until earlier this year. Those years of anticipation have in some cases allowed us to slowly formulate ideas about what we wanted to do with the house and garden, but in other cases have just proved a frustrating delay to things we have wanted to change from day one. June’s garden project falls in to the latter category!

Along our southern boundary there is a strip about 5 metres wide where the previous owners had planted out a wide flower bed, then a path, then a hedge. Over the time we were away and the house was rented, this area took on a life of its own. Brambles grew into the hedge and weeds overtook the flower bed, it was a mess and it obscured our view.

This was what it looked like when we bought the house, with the hedge overgrown (even in winter) to the point where the view is obscured, and no fencing (I was looking at these photos last night and wondering how we ever had the vision to buy the place!!)

And at its tidiest (not that tidy!) with a new fence in late 2009…

This is it taken from our roof at first floor level in March this year, showing where the flower bed has (mostly) been stripped.

After a very discouraging spring (weather wise) we finally decided at the start of this month to tackle it at full speed, encouraged by the fact we are planning a party on 30th June. We also decided rather than fighting the brambles, to rip the hedge out and start again.

And this is what it looks like after this weekend’s work…

Hedge removal

With the view now clearly visible at ground level…

Hedge removal

We have done well with our hacking and burning so far, but are getting a quote from the professionals to turf.  So the big question remains, do we leave it open or replant the hedge?

The view is far better without, but perhaps when the winter wind is whipping across the harbour and the field on the other side as died down we may miss it. I guess the safe option is to try a year of living without before we make a decision…

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In the garden…


It has not been the easiest of weeks this week. Theo has spent most of it up and down with a fever and has been very clingy and very tired for most of it. It’s been hard to engage him in anything (even CBeebies) and it’s been doubly hard for me to get anything at all done. None of this helped by the weather going off and all of us being confined to the house…

Then like a miracle right at the end of the week, the clouds parted, the sun came out and a package arrived from moneysupermarket.com containing a mini gardening kit for their #KidsGrowWild challenge.

In all honesty given Theo’s track record this week, I didn’t think it would hold his attention, but he became totally absorbed in planting the seeds and it turned into the easiest few hours I’ve had with him all week!

There were three seed packs in the kit. We chose to plant the “Pretty Flower Family” ones first in two pots next to my planter full of lettuces.

Encouraged by how well that went down we also opened the sunflower seeds and planted them in an old trough…

With a little help from Bella the dog…

It amazed me how he got the hang of it. How does a not-yet-two-year-old brain work out that the contents of a strange packet go in the soil? And then an hour later remember that they are called “seeds” and to show them to his Daddy? 


This gardening thing has been a surprising hit with the boy. I suspect he shall be asking to do it again, but he might need some time to fully grasp what that watering can is for…

This post is an entry for BritMums’ #KidsGrowWild Challenge. Entrants have a chance of winning 1 of 2 £50 Toys R Us vouchers or £500 to spend on a climbing frame or other outdoor equipment.


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