Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Autumnal Delights at Home

Hello my lovely friends! Are you enjoying autumn so far? I certainly am. I've been indulging in all my favourite autumnal things and this post is full of them. Of course, I'd love to hear what you have been doing to celebrate the season so please do let me know. Here's what has been going on in my home...

Yarn News

I am so excited (and terrified) about this. I will be participating in the Virtual Yorkshire Yarn Fest on the 29th of October! It's hosted live on the Yorkshire Yarn Fest's Instagram account. I will get 15 minutes live to have a chat with you and showcase my yarn.

If it goes well I shall certainly be doing it again. I had intended to attend the Knitting and Stitching show in Harrogate this year but WOW - the cost of doing so is beyond the scope of my little business at the moment! Maybe in a couple of years if all goes to plan. 

So please do keep an eye out here and on my Instagram account for details as to when I will be live with my yarn. I'd love to see you there.

Through the Kitchen Window

I write a monthly post for Homeschool Nature Study members (formerly The Outdoor Hour Challenge) which focuses on the home and seasons. One of my inserts is called Through the Kitchen Window and it was inspired one late afternoon as I was finishing up in the garden as the sun slipped away. My eye was drawn to my kitchen which was lit up and looked cosy as I stood in the nippy air.

It suddenly struck me once again what an important part of the home the kitchen is. It's where we prepare nourishing food for our families, where we share a cup of tea with friends and neighbours, where we cook delicious things that have no nutritional value whatsoever but oh my...they taste so SO good.

Yes, a lot of living happens in the kitchen.

I have also been bitten by the nesting bug. It happens every autumn and spring. I feel the need to cosy up my home in autumn and cook and bake so that the chest freezer is packed with warming soups, and other homely dishes which comfort our souls in the cold weather. 

This has revealed that I am in dire need of more freezer-safe containers so it's on my list of things to deal with this weekend!

In the Garden

The garden is still looking rather lovely although it is definitely on borrowed time. The crowning glory at the moment is the Virginia Creeper that is covering the garage which I showed you in the last post.

Autumn is the time for planting spring bulbs so that is exactly what we did this past weekend.

We planted 300 bulbs in the garden. We already have a fair few but I have visions of spring being a riot of colour. We planted a significant amount of bulbs in our woodland garden. Lots of bluebells which I love. Apparently, they are best in their second flowering period so I will try not to be too disappointed if next May we have a poor show.

Autumn Walks

Need I say more? Who else has been enjoying autumn walks this month? I wish I had time to sit down and work in my nature journal to capture the season but I simply do not have it!

Seasons of life I guess... the time will come again when study commitments will fall away and I shall have time to enjoy the simple creative pleasures that make my heart sing.

Please do share what you have been up to this beautiful month. Until next time...

Thursday, October 06, 2022

A Quilt Show, Yarn and Cinnamon Buns

What a summer! Time has simply flown by - there's been so much to do not least of all spend as much time with my youngest before she moved into her new flat in Manchester, which she did mid-September.

I was blessed to attend the Quilt show in Birmingham this year with my dear friend Jenny. She won two tickets to the show, and I was thrilled that she asked me to go with her.

We left early Friday morning in August and drove down to Birmingham together. The drive is half that fun as we had a good old chinwag putting the world to rights and generally catching up.
The quilt show was just as I thought it would be. Inspirational, beautiful and fueled with so many wonderful products, examples of gorgeous handiworks from so many talented individuals. 

The show was not actually that crowded either which was really nice. I'm not one for huge crowds but this was really pleasant, and I did not feel rushed or squashed even once.

Walking around the show made me feel so happy and inspired. The past few years have been ridiculously busy as I try to balance my studies and all the other commitments that one has in life that a lot of my sewing, embroidery and knitting has taken a back seat. 

I still don't have a huge amount of time as I enter my final year of studies, but it was nice to be surrounded by all that loveliness.
I must confess I am looking forward to the day that my studies will be done, and my life can return to some form of normality.

Autumn is now in full-swing and the Virgina Creeper is in all its glory. I'm slightly sad as I feel that we may have to get rid of it at some point. It's incredibly invasive and we are finding that it has made inroads into the interior of the garage and creeping onto our Neighbours garage which is not good. 

On the yarn front...

I listed this beautiful Halloween colourway in my shop on Sunday and it has sold out already! A huge thank you to all who grabbed a skein. It brings me so much joy that people love my yarn enough to purchase it. 

I will be dyeing up some more this weekend and will hopefully have it in the shop in a week's time.

There are a few other new autumnal colourways in the shop right now:

Apple Crisp in Autumn...

and Sunset over The Hundred Acre Wood

Now that the days are distinctly shorter and colder what better time to get into the kitchen and bake some autumn favourites.

In my home cinnamon buns are something we bake every autumn. We try all sorts of variations. The batch you see proving in front of the fire are of the regular variety. This weekend I'll be making some pumpkin caramel buns. Isn't the autumnal kitchen just so wonderful!

Anyhoo lovelies, it has been so lovely being back here and having a little chat, sharing some home happenings and taking joy in the simple things. I for one need to delight in the simple more often. 

Wishing you all a wonderful day!

Thursday, May 19, 2022

A Garden Update

Hello Lovelies, I wanted to give you a quick sweep around the garden because I have to say that it brings me so much joy.

In our home, it used to be me who was the gardener, but over the past year my husband has become a keen gardener and it all started with him putting in that pond and the firepit garden. He is hooked and there is not a weekend that goes by that he is not doing something in the garden.

He does more of the heavy work while I like to potter about, grow things from seed and then plant them to see what happens. Most times I am successful but sometimes I am not. That's gardening for you!

I mentioned on Monday's post that I planted out all my little seedlings. So far so good - no snail munching has been going on!

I have had a few shrubs that I planted out at the beginning of lockdown. They seemed to take an age to get established but this year they are just on a whole different level. It's like they have woken up and said, "Oh right, look where we are! Let's get on and live life!"

This shrub in the foreground is flowering for the first time! It's been here for over two years and was a twig of a thing when I planted it. I was THRILLED to see the first sprays of white flowers. This plant get's huge! I had one in our home in Plymouth and loved it...

This was the one from our home in Plymouth - look at those flowers!

Our secret woodland garden is looking lovely. We placed a bench in there over the weekend and sat for a while. It is SO peaceful. You are enveloped in green and birdsong. I'm looking forward to knitting or stitching here in the summer.

This photograph does not capture all the growth in the beds but I can assure you that there are lush ferns, hellebores, primroses, cyclamens and a rhododendron that are all doing very well!

Here's a little zoom in on one little corner...

The pond garden has exploded too - it's so lush. We put the pond in last year if you remember and the planting although pretty looked new. Now it is looking well bedded. We've even had a frog lay frogspawn in the pond this year!

The Summer house now has electricity so my daughter and I are busy moving in all our arts and crafts things. The idea is that this will be a combination of her art studio and my sewing space. We still have to insulate and then board the inside up but that will happen in the next month or so.

Now a new addition to the garden...I am experimenting with growing veg in the little courtyard between the garage and the house.

It's a little suntrap and I have to say that in all the 11 years that we have lived in the UK I have not had much success with growing tomatoes. The growing is not the problem. Neither is the fruiting. It's the ripening that just -does - not  - happen!

But my lovely neighbour showed me her tomato plant late in the season last year. She has it growing against her garage wall and it produces the most wonderful ripe tomatoes. 

The heat from the wall apparently makes all the difference.

So in this little spot, I have a pot of carrots, 4 bags of potatoes and 4 pots of tomatoes. Watch this space! We shall see how successful my little veggie patch is this year!

I've also sown a whole lot of lettuce in this pot on my deck and I have to say I love the result so far! I started some seeds in trays indoors which did okay. I planted them out a few weeks ago and decided to just scatter all the empty space with more seeds and voila! How amazing does that look!!

In the garden I have 1 mangetout plant - it's the only seed that germinated and I have 1 fine bean plant although something is nibbling at it! I think I may start some more seeds just in case.

I also have two courgette plants which I have planted in a bed near the garage - there is space and it is sunny. Last year we were moderately successful with courgettes but they were planted in the regular bed's traditional cottage garden style but they were a bit starved for space. I think I only got about 7 courgettes off the plant.

We have got so much squeezed into this garden at the moment. My husband was just saying that we still need to find room for all the tulips that were in pots this year. I think we are either going to have to start broadening the beds a bit or get a bit more creative in our planting...like maybe we do a vertical wall garden or a rooftop garden on the potting shed! That would be fun!

The roses are full of buds - I cant wait for them to be in full bloom!

I hope that you are all having a lovely week and are still finding joy in the small things in your own homes. 

May you continue to be blessed and feel God's peace and joy in your homes this week!

Monday, May 16, 2022

Cherishing The Ordinary & Reconnecting With The Lord

"We need to just enjoy where we are in life right now". 

My husband's words this morning echoed my own thoughts of late which I shared with you in my last post. It seems like the Lord has our hearts in tune, bringing us back to what is important.

Stop rushing. Stop striving all the time. Rest in me and my goodness.

In cherishing the ordinary we appreciate where we are in that moment in time and place. It's so easy to rush. It's so hard to slow down and be still.


May is a month when everything in nature suddenly gains momentum and explodes into swathes of lushness. Lately, I've been marvelling at how different everything looks. This fact seems to have passed me by over the past few years. Although my beautiful England is always green it takes on a different sense of green in early summer, one which is delighting my soul at the moment.

The green fills out, roads are now canopied tunnels; fields, meadows, hedgerows and towpaths are green but speckled with yellow buttercups, frothy white cow parsley and delicate pink blooms of the hawthorn.

Each little delicate flower is so perfect in its form. A work of art that I sometimes struggle to pull my gaze away and walk on.

Today we spent a quiet day in the garden. It started off beautiful and sunny. I took the opportunity to plant out the Lupins, Hollyhocks, Delphiniums and Dhalia's that I grew from seed.

They have done so well. I do hope that they don't get munched by a hungry snail now that they are out in the garden. I've enjoyed watching them germinate, peek through the brown soil then stretch for the light. Spindly baby growth strengthening and thickening week by week until we reach this time...time to move outdoors.

As I planted out all my seedlings a breeze picked up causing the spent flowers from the surrounding trees to tumble in a shower of delicate flower rain. I stopped to watch the flowers fall, to listen to the wind as it moved through the leaves. How beautiful!

I lay down on the grass to enjoy the moment and rest in the warm sunshine, my cat took that as an invitation to join me. So sweet!

These moments are so easy to move through without purpose. Have you ever found yourself driving somewhere in 'auto-pilot' mode and then suddenly thinking, "Oh gosh! I'm here already, I don't actually remember passing XYZ!"

This auto-pilot mode is how most of us live each day. Perhaps that is why it often feels like time has passed us by inexplicably. How often do you find yourself saying, "I can't believe we are halfway through the year already!"

I've said something like that at least 10 times this year.

It's a joy stealer!

I also believe that it separates us from the joy and peace of the Lord. I mean, rushing on by I find myself just getting on with life and not spending that daily time in God's Word. Then all of a sudden you realise that you are no longer walking in step with Him. 

No...you have rushed so far ahead that when you turn around you realise that He is a speck on the horizon. How did I get here? How did I get to a point where I'm feeling exhausted because I am trying to do everything in my own strength.

Yet it happens.

But isn't it marvellous that we can stop at any time, reassess our position, re-adjust and get back on course?

The next two weeks are really busy in our home with various university graduation shows, and my youngest daughter's wings ceremony (she starts flying on the 1st of June!) as well as my own university deadlines. So easy to throw purposeful moments aside.

But awareness is key to getting back on course so although I have some busy weeks ahead I will do the following to hold on to my joy and not feel overwhelmed:

  • Make time daily to do my quiet time in God's Word and pray
  • Notice what is happening in nature around me. Whether it is taking a daily walk, or sitting out in the garden for 10 minutes with a cup of tea, I will take that little bit of time out each day to be still.
  • Find joy in the ordinary tasks such as washing the dishes. I will notice how the sunlight catches the bubbles, or listen to the sound of the water running into the sink and watch the dishwashing liquid change from a syrup into a froth of sumptuous bubbles.
  • I will take time to listen to the sound of nature: bees, birdsong, wind blowing through the trees and the beat of raindrops.
  • I will enjoy the smell of my own home baking and the thought of my family enjoying a tasty treat all through the week.
  • I will take time each day to do something creative whether it is knitting a few rows on my latest project or adding a few stitches to my cross-stitch.
Anyhoo lovelies, I hope that your week is beautiful and that you feel in control, at peace and most of all experience the joy that comes from living a slower more purposeful day!

Thursday, May 12, 2022

My Knitting/Stitching Notebook & Shop Updated

The Knitting Notebook

About 8 years ago I started keeping a knitting/stitching notebook. I love Ravelry and the ability to keep a record of projects you have made however being a pen and paper kind of girl and having a love for journals and notebooks, I decided that in addition to Ravelry, I would keep a physical notebook too.

I chose a spiral-bound notebook because they lie flat when opened or you can bend them right back on themselves which is great when you have loads of threads, needles, patterns and yarn lying about.

When I first started this particular notebook I had intended for it to be only for cross stitch. I have a Pinterest board full of little cross stitch charts which will obviously never get stitched unless they are off the screen and in hard copy in front of me! So I printed off my favourites and pasted them into the notebook.

Then one day I was knitting and crocheting some Christmas gifts. I wanted to remember what I had knitted, for whom, what yarn I had used and the yarn details. 

Now as I mentioned earlier I was doing this on Ravelry but you cant pin a sample of the yarn or paste the yarn label in Ravelry can you. I can link the yarn to a project in Ravelry but I like to have the yarn label with all the information at hand.

For each project I noted down the following information:

* Name of the project

* Who I was knitting it for

* Needle Size and Yarn

* What size I was knitting and any adjustments I made

I then stuck the yarn label onto the page and wound a little of the yarn on a bit of card, punching a hole in the yarn sample card and attaching it to the spiral.

Once the project is completed I then photographed the finished garment and stuck that photograph in my notebook.

I use this notebook to death and as a result the elastic closure is all stretched and it has a well-worn look to it which adds to its charm I think. 

Under An English Sky Yarn Update:

My Etsy shop has received a make-over. New Photographs which took an absolute age to get right and some new colourways added and some old favourties.

I'm not sure if I have mentioned it here but I am working on an independent website/shop for my blog and yarns. Reason being that it would be nice to have shop and yarns in one place but the long-term plan is to move away from Etsy as their fees are just becoming astronomical. 

The Seasonal Home

If you have followed my blog for any length of time you will know how much I love to gently observe the seasons. Day by day, month by month, the seasons change. Each month has it's own unique characteristics to observe, enjoy and mark.

I have to say that since going back to work 3 years ago things have fallen by the wayside. I hadn't quite appreciated actually just how much falls by the wayside when you are working full time. How quickly you throw off the small things that mean so much to you as you get swept away in the swirling torrent of life in the fast lane. 

I don't like feeling like I'm being swept away in a flood of mindless living. But since dropping my work days down to 3 days a week I have been able to slowly start claiming back a bit of slow living. There is no doubt that if you are wanting to slow down, to live a more mindful life you need to be very purposeful in doing so. You need to take joy in the small tasks that you may otherwise classify as mundane.

In an effort perhaps to get back into the habit of taking joy in the small things, of being purposeful, mindful and observing the small changes that occur each day month by month, season by season, I thought it would be nice to share such posts here. If you would like to do the same, to train yourself to slow down and be more mindful then perhaps you would like to leave a comment here and let me know what you are doing in your own home to observe the seasons. Or perhaps I will post on Instagram using the hashtag #myseasonalhome and you can join in. Be sure to tag me @underan_englishsky - I would love to share your photographs in my stories as we encourage one another in slowing down and living with purpose.

So glad that it is Friday tomorrow! Any plans for the weekend? Not much from my side, I have my final law assignment due in at the beginning of June and it's a big one - so I expect the next few weeks will be taken up with that. But once that is done then I am freeeeeeeeeee! Anyhoo lovelies, I hope you have having a glorious week. See you back here very soon!