Friday 30 December 2016

A year on the allotment: December 2016

brussel sprout crop on our allotment plot

In December it's all about the sprouts. The plot is looking very sparse at this time of year, but this crop thrives in cold weather. We've never grown sprouts before and I'm so chuffed with the amount each stalk has produced.

brussel sprout tree growing on our allotment

We wanted to eat homegrown sprouts on Christmas Day this year. Having an allotment means planning ahead, so we were thinking about the festive dinner way back in April when we planted the tiny plug plants.

It was so lovely to walk to the plot on Christmas Eve as a family to pull up our sprouts. They are tough plants and take some effort to get out of the ground. It's amazing to see the small seedlings transform into these tall, tree-like plants.

child pulling brussel sprout tree from the ground

digging up brussel sprouts in december on our allotment

harvesting brussel sprout trees on our allotment

On Christmas Day my Mother-in-Law and Mum set to work preparing our homegrown brussel sprouts. Mr. M was in charge of cooking and he decided to lightly fry the sprouts with onion and bacon. I prefer this way of cooking them to the traditional 'boil 'em to death' method. They were delicious and couldn't have been fresher.

This is my final allotment post for 2016. I have written a blog post for each month of the year and gathered them all together over on the "Our Allotment" page. Looking back through the posts brings back so many fantastic memories. I love watching the seasons change and to see all we've achieved over the past twelve months. We don't have masses of time to dedicate to the plot due to work and home commitments. But even so, we've managed to harvest lots of tasty homegrown veg.

Back in January 2016, I wrote a post about "Five ways an allotment makes family life better". I still strongly believe owning an allotment gives you a better understanding of food production, contributes to health and well being, promotes a nurturing and patient attitude, you get to eat fresh produce with low food miles and you feel part of a community.

I've posted lots of pictures of our harvest over the past twelve months, so I'll finish this post with a rare photo of me and my gorgeous girl together on the plot. Here's to 2017 and hopefully it will be filled with lots more muddy boots, seed planting and harvesting...

family time on our allotment

This week I'm linking up with these lovely blogs:

"How Does Your Garden Grow" over on

"Country Kids" over on

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Vintage Lifestyle: Bristol Textile Recyclers Kilo Sale

A few weeks back an email dropped into my inbox inviting me along to a vintage kilo sale hosted by Bristol Textile Recyclers. I have been buying vintage fabric and clothes for over fifteen years and attended all kinds of events...but never a kilo sale. I was intrigued and happily accepted BTR's invite, we headed up to Bristol for the November Fashion Salvage Kilo Sale.

If you've never heard of Bristol Textile Recyclers, I'll give you a bit of background info. They divert a staggering twenty tonnes of textiles from landfill daily. The majority of textiles thrown out by households end up in landfill, with Defra estimating that 1.5 million tonnes a year of unwanted clothing is eventually land filled. Textile recycling is a great way to save resources and if clothes can be reused rather than dumped in the ground, then it's better for the environment all round.

You can see the huge amounts of textiles BTR deal with as soon as you walk into their warehouse. All around the edges of the kilo sale space are bales of clothes stacked up from floor to ceiling. BTR hand sort all their clothes and have a dedicated team of over seventy staff carrying out this mammouth task.

I didn't know what to expect from a BTR kilo sale and have to admit, was slightly cynical about BTR's ability to sift through all those clothes and pull out genuine vintage items. I needn't have worried, the first crate I looked in turned up two beautiful skirts made by Jaeger and Eastex - and the finds just kept coming. I spotted lots of genuine vintage clothes and plenty of modern retro pieces from high street stores. The BTR team really do know their stuff and they must employ some eagle eyed staff.

My husband was in leather jacket heaven and tried on dozens. I would say there are less clothes for men in the crates, but there were still plenty of finds to be had if you are prepared to look for them. And that's the main thing about a kilo sale, you need to roll up your sleeves and get delving. I was cold when we arrived at the BTR warehouse, after about thirty minutes I had soon warmed up. I've always loved looking for vintage finds and don't mind getting stuck in when faced with a pile of textiles.

I had been unsure as to whether I should bring our seven year old daughter along to the sale. I wondered if it would be boring for her. Again I didn't need to worry, she was in her element. Every time I turned around she had a different hat on, or coat, or scarf. Watching her dig deep into each crate made me realise that a BTR kilo sale is like getting your hands on the biggest dressing up box you could imagine. All around me were groups of friends arm-deep in clothes, pulling out hats, tops and coats and having a great time trying them on. You never know what you're going to find and that's part of the attraction of a BTR kilo sale.

It costs just £1 to get in and they provide free tea and coffee in the staff room (which doubles as a changing room). The best thing to do is grab as many clothes as you can fit into the plastic sack BTR give you and then head off to the changing room. You can sift through your finds at a more leisurely pace in there, have a cuppa and try on anything you feel like purchasing. Again, the staff room was full of groups of people enjoying themselves, trying on quirky clothes and swapping their finds with other people if they didn't want them.

So, what did we find at the kilo sale? Here are some photos of our best finds.

A beautiful velvet Jaeger skirt featuring a stunning floral pattern, photos don't do it justice.

Another velvet skirt featuring a pattern of falling leaves, this time by Eastex.

This pretty skirt isn't vintage, but it has a definite retro vibe to it...

As I mentioned above, our daughter came away from the kilo sale with the most finds. Her dressing up box is currently over flowing...

She found this beautiful pale green faux fur stole and has worn it over the Disney princess dress she also bagged at the sale.

Also spotted by my daughter:
Fab vintage Junior Miss dress from St Michael
Gorgeous scarlet red velvet dress
Pale teal party dress with sequin detail
A cobalt blue ice skating dress
Beautiful handmade Arran knit cardigan
A selection of hats (not pictured) including a vintage Kangol number

I am over the moon with everything we managed to salvage. It feels great to think these clothes will have a new life with in our wardrobes and not end up in landfill. I would highly recommend going along to a BTR Fashion Salvage Kilo Sale, we will definitely be back. The next one is due to take place on Saturday 10th December 2016. The best way to keep up to date with BTR events is to head to their Facebook page.

Disclaimer: Bristol Textile Recyclers offered me entry and 5kg of textiles for free in return for a review of their kilo sales. All opinions and photos are my own and I will definitely be back as a paying customer in the future!

Friday 2 December 2016

Crafting is my Therapy #11 and Giveaway

Welcome to the eleventh “Crafting is my Therapy” monthly blog link-up.
I hope you’ve had a wonderful month of making and creating.

selection of crafts related to crafting is my therapy blog linky

December will be the last time we host the “Crafting is my Therapy” linky for a little while. I am currently spinning lots of plates at the moment. I started my ‘Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools’ training course in September and it takes up lots of my time. Bearing in mind I haven’t written an essay for over twenty years, starting this course has been a shock to the system. I feel like I’m drowning in coursework! Alongside working part time and life in general, something has to give. Unfortunately, I have to cut back on the time I spend on my blog. Hopefully this is just a pause for ‘Crafting is my Therapy’ and not a final goodbye :)

I’ve enjoyed seeing all your crafty posts and I’ve discovered some amazing new blogs over the past few months of hosting the linky. A big thank you to Elsie Pop, Relentlessly Purple, Zeens and Roger, Growing Family, The Messy Brunette, Hillview Embroidery and Suzy Homemaker for linking up last month. A big thank you to all of you for supporting our linky in 2016, we appreciate each and every one of your retweets and link-backs!

Because we love seeing the projects you are working on, Jennifer and myself would love to keep our little community connected. We’ve decided to launch an Instagram hashtag. Each month it will change to reflect the month we’re in. This month it will be - #craftingismytherapy_december

I know lots of you have beautiful Instagram accounts and I love the supportive nature of the creative community over there. Please feel free to tag as many crafty images with #craftingismytherapy_december throughout the month. At the end of the month, Jennifer and I will choose our favourite images and put together a round-up post over on Instagram. You can find my Instagram here

crafting is my therapy instagram community

As a farewell treat for you all, we are hosting a giveaway. We have put together a bundle of craft supplies, including: a small box canvas, wooden hearts to decorate, coloured sheets of felt, sea shells, wooden frame to decorate, heart buttons, Bostik Glu Pen, Bostik Glu Dots, Blu Tack, two rolls of patterned tape and a glitter Pritt stick.

crafting is my therapy crafty bundle giveaway

To be in with a chance of winning, please link up with your creative blog posts below…

Have you created anything crafty this month? Sewing, knitting, crochet, painting or pottery…please join in and share your blog posts.

The focus of our blog link-up is crafting for pleasure, basically taking some ‘me-time’ to unwind in our busy lives. It doesn’t have to be a finished project, we love seeing work in progress, planning posts or tutorials too.

Grab the Crafting is my Therapy badge:

Me You and Magoo
I co-host Crafting is my Therapy with Jennifer Jain. She writes the popular craft blog Jennifers Little World
Jennifer hosts our Pinterest group board. Would you like your blog posts to be seen by over 700K followers? Craft Bloggers linking to #craftingismytherapy are welcome to join our board. It's a great way for your posts to reach a wider audience...

The “Crafting is my Therapy” linky will open on 2nd December at 7.30pm (GMT) and stay open for the whole month – giving you plenty of time to get involved.
– You can link up with maximum of three posts per month, old or new.
– The focus of the linky is crafting for pleasure, so please don’t link up with posts promoting handmade items for sale.
– Grab the linky badge or link back to our blogs on your post.
– Please share the love and comment on other people’s posts.
– If you could share your post and the linky (using the hashtag #craftingismytherapy) on any social media channels that would be great. This will help us to grow the community. We will retweet all your posts via Twitter if you mention us (@pouchvintage/@JenniferJain )
– And finally, if you would like to follow me on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram, you’re more than welcome! Jennifer Jain’s links are here too: Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.

Giveaway Entry Rules:
– One winner will receive the bundle of craft prizes described above.
– The winner will be chosen at random from eligible entries to the linky this month.
– This giveaway is only open to residents of the United Kingdom.
– In order for an entry to be eligible it must be a relevant post, it must mention the "Crafting is my Therapy" linky either by text link or using the badge. It must link back to one of the hosts. The linky will remain open until 11.55pm (GMT) on Friday 30th December 2016.
– If the winner does not respond within 28 days we will redraw and reallocate the prize. There is no cash alternative. Invalid entries will be discounted.

Wednesday 30 November 2016

Looking back at my craft projects in 2016

I started 2016 determined to be more creative. I wrote a post in January about wanting to overcome negative thoughts. One way to create more positivity in my life was to pick up my needle and thread and get sewing again. I find hand stitching relaxing, yet over the past few years I rarely make time for it...

I was inspired by an Anne Lamott quote I had seen on the Story of Mum Facebook page. It talked about embracing a 'big, juicy creative life'. Who wouldn't want to do that?!

For me, hand sewing is a form of mindfulness. I find concentrating on the stitches helps me to focus on the moment. I also like the sense of accomplishment when I reach the end of a sewing project. I run my fingers over the stitches and feel proud of my handiwork. Once one project is complete, my mind jumps to the next idea. It's definitely an outlet for my creativity.

In 2016 I wanted to aim to create at least one sewing project a month. I also wanted to blog about my creations and encourage others to make more time for creativity - our 'Crafting is my Therapy" blog link-up was born.

Now we're heading into December and 2016 is coming to a close, I wanted to look back at the sewing projects I've created over the past twelve months. I know my crafting output isn't huge, one look at Pinterest or Instagram shows me that some people create vast amounts of embroidery and crochet. I love admiring it though and you can't really compare yourself to others. The hand embroidery I've created has given me lots of pleasure, so that's all that matters...

I kicked off 2016 creating my "Sewing Mends the Soul hoop pictured at the top of this post...

February's Craft Project was inspired by the Beatles lyrics "Love Is All you Need".

In March I blogged about my vintage fabric applique rabbit hoop.

I also created a post in March about Learning new embroidery stitches

In May I put together a blog post about "It's cool to be kind: why we should value carers". This is a subject I feel strongly about as my husband and I are both support workers. This was one of my most popular posts of the year and I had lots of positive comments and reaction to the post.

My project for June was chain stitch spirals and french knots. I discovered the joys of sewing onto a favourite piece of vintage fabric...

In July I made a hand embroidered butterfly hoop. I think July's project is the one I'm most proud combines stitches I had never tried before until this year.

In August I didn't sew a single stitch. The school holidays got the better of me I'm afraid...I did create this 'Sewing is my Therapy' hoop back in June, so I'll add it in here.

In September I wanted to learn more new stitches. So I had a go at learning ribbed web and lazy daisy stitch.

October and November have seen me return to my favourite past time of embellishing vintage fabric. Again, it is a great way to practice some of the new stitches I have learnt in 2016.

I hope you're enjoyed the review of my craft projects in 2016. I would love to know what you've been creating this year and if you've learnt any new crafty skills.

I will be linking up to December's "Crafting is my Therapy" with this post. December's link-up will be the last one we're hosting for a little while. There will be more details about a new Instagram community to replace the linky whilst I take a break from blogging. More details can be found in Friday's post when #craftingismytherapy goes live...

Saturday 19 November 2016

A year on the allotment: November 2016

decaying sunflower head on our allotment plot

We were gifted some beautiful Autumn sunshine last weekend so we grabbed the opportunity to get down the allotment. There's still lots of clearing to do - it was time to say goodbye to the sunflowers.

autumn clear up on the allotment plot

tall sunflowers reach into the sky at the allotment

This year's crop had grown incredibly tall, most of them were easily ten or eleven feet high. I'm always amazed at how tough the stalks of sunflowers are, it's like felling a tree. Magoo helped to stack them into a neat pile, we always leave the seed heads for the birds and insects to feast on over the Winter months.

clearing away the decaying sunflowers at the allotment

macro photo of a sunflower seed head at the allotment

We've had a good crop of celeriac this year too. I love the smell of the leaves when you pull them out of the ground - they produce a zingy aniseed fragrance that hits your nostrils as soon as you touch them.

Who's that hiding behind the celeriac leaves?

harvesting celeriac at the allotment

Celeriac are a funny looking vegetable, but they taste delicious. One of the joys of growing your own veg is seeing a plant in it's raw state, straight out the ground. I have to say that I had no idea Celeriac produced so many roots until we started growing them. It always amazes me how a little plug plant can transform into a sturdy vegetable...

muddy celeriac roots harvested from the allotment

photo displaying the muddy roots of a celeriac plant

Now the crops are finishing, there is more exposed soil for Magoo to play with. She spent ages digging a hole where the beetroot used to be. We love seeing her enjoying the allotment, especially as we don't get to visit so much in the colder months.

young child digging in the soil at the allotment

I blogged about our butternut squash harvest in October. Magoo, ever the creative, thought they looked like little people and decided to decorate them after school one day...

decorating a butternut squash

May I present - Mr and Mrs Butternut Squash!

decorated squash vegetables

child's drawing on butternut squash vegetables

child's drawing on a root vegetable

Only problem is, I don't want to cut them up now...

I will be back in December for my final post of the year - there will be a brussel sprout update, you can't have Christmas lunch without them!

I'm always looking for new ideas for our allotment. I've put together an 'Allotment Inspiration' board over on Pinterest. I love connecting with other pinning fans, so it would be great to connect with you over there...

This week I'm linking up with:

"Country Kids" over on

"How Does Your Garden Grow" over on


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