Spring Gardening Checklist via Honeysuckle Life

April may be volatile, but the warmer temperatures and suddenly clear blue skies are welcome respites from winter. By the start of the month, I’m getting a bit itchy to be outside in the garden. On the first sunny day of a stretch of warm days, I pull on my gloves and start on my spring gardening checklist.

This year, I’m trying to do a little bit each afternoon when the afternoon allows, rather than having several weekends crammed with activity. I’ve found that I don’t feel overwhelmed by the never-ending list of little things to be done when I spread it out. Here’s what is on my spring gardening checklist. Most of the activities are prep and maintenance, with a little bit of planting after the last freeze has occurred.

Spring Gardening Checklist via Honeysuckle Life

Spring Gardening Checklist

  1. Feed the plants – I use a combination of compost and fertilizers and apply it to each plant as needed. I use specialty fertilizers for edible plants and roses, and stick with good old Miracle Grow for flowers and containers. BBC has a fantastic guide on fertilizing plants that will provide a more detail.
  2. Kill the slugs – These little pests are the bane of my existence here in Ireland. It’s breeding time right now, so the battle to protect my plants has started. The commonly available slug killer pellets are highly toxic to dogs, so I only use those in containers that Larry can’t easily access. For the rest of the garden, I use glass jars buried to their necks filled with beer. It’s not an easy solution, but it’s the best one I have. It requires regular emptying, something that I always forget to do until the jars are filled up with one of the nastiest combinations of dead slugs, beer, and rain possible. My goal is to empty these weekly.
  3. Weed – Staying on top of weeds now will prevent more from forming. A bonus: with the soil really wet from rain, small weeds are easier to remove and only takes about 20 minutes to complete. However, the front driveway and back patio are a different matter. Weeds seem to sprout in the cracks every two days. I hate using weed killer, so each has to be pulled up individually.
  4. Add mulch and soil – I haven’t been a fan of mulch in the past, but with a dog who loves to tramp through my gardens and use plants as toilets, I’m trying to corral him into a lightly planted area. I’m adding mulch to it in the hopes that it will be more attractive to Larry and create a ground cover to prevent weeds. I also add potting soil and compost as needed and turn it in to help add nutrients to the soil.
  5. Plant containers – I’m saving the best for last! I love love love container gardening, and can’t wait to try ideas I’ve been gathering on my outdoor + garden board on Pinterest over the winter. After seeing the “thriller, filler, spiller” image about three thousand times, I’m using it as the basis for each containers. I’d like to use more grasses as thriller plants, which is a new obsession of mine.

Muscari via Honeysuckle Life

I hope this list helps you! Here are a few great resources for creating your own checklist for spring gardening:

What’s on your spring gardening checklist?

Bee Friendly Plant via Honeysuckle Life

Mar31

Double Rib Knit Throw

Easy Double Rib Knit Throw Blanket by Honeysuckle Life Late last fall, I started knitting again after a two-year break. I don’t know where the urge came from, but suddenly I had to pick up needles and sort through my yarn stash.

I had a dozen skeins of yarn from an unfinished project, and so I started a blanket. Two weeks later (a record for me), I finished, only to bind off one of the longest rectangles I’ve ever made. Instead of a blanket, I had a giant scarf. Discouragement set in, and so the finished piece sat at the end of my bed until I was ready to unravel the project and start over.

Around the same time, I saw this gorgeous double rib knit throw from West Elm, and thought it was the perfect pattern to try for my second attempt.

I knit this project up with two strands of chunky yarn. The first is a solid gray yarn found at Michael’s several years ago. It isn’t anything special, outside of being really soft and affordable. The second yarn is another acrylic purchased at The Uniform Store in Kilkenny. This yarn is a gradient of two different shades of gray, light and dark, and matched perfectly with the solid color.

To gauge, I knit 10 stitches by 10 rows and measured to the appropriate length. I’m still learning to gauge correctly, and despite careful measuring, this still ended up about 12 inches longer than I wanted.

Easy Double Rib Knit Throw Blanket by Honeysuckle Life

The pattern is super simple. For the foundation row, knit all the way across, purl the second and third rows. After that, it’s simply knit two rows, purl two rows until you reach the desired length. Then bind off in your favorite method. I used size 15 (US) / 10 (MM) circular needles, which created a slightly loose and stretchy knit that’s perfect for a winter throw.

Jan23

Goodbye 2014

IMG_1875

Can you believe this is the only (shareable) photo of our house during the holiday season? I took time off from sharing projects online this holiday season, and, without that pressure, I was able to create without worrying about the end result.

I knit two imperfect blankets, two neck warmers, a scarf, and a cowl. I crocheted garland for our tree, created star ornaments for our front door, wrapped advent chocolates, baked, cooked, threw a holiday party, shopped till I dropped, and didn’t photograph any of it.

Not blogging or seemed to be the theme this year. I went from hundreds of posts in previous years, to 27. I’m not sure if it’s a longer trend, or if I’ll be concentrating on lower quantity, but more time spent on the posts. I’m also considering bringing back more writing, something I quit over the last two years and have missed.

But, I digress. No blog is complete without an end of the year post, so I thought I would include a very short list of what I enjoyed in 2014:

#1: Larry

After losing both of our dogs in 2012, we waited a while until we felt ready for a dog. Early in May, we picked up a labradoodle puppy at a farm on the edge of County Cork. We named him Larry, and I don’t think I stopped smiling for two weeks afterwards. He was exactly what both of us needed, at exactly the right time.

#2: Getting active

2014 was the year I learned to be active without being neurotic. If I felt like walking, I walked. If I felt like running, I ran. I learned to pay attention to my body and mind, and change my choices to maintain energy, not just health or weight.

#3: So. Much. Travel.

Paris, London, Idaho, Corfu, NYC, Birmingham, Tampa, Skellig and Dublin. I felt incredibly grateful for each of those trips, for the chance to see family and friends, new places and old. If I had to pick, my favorite trip was the week in Corfu. We both felt more connected and relaxed after a week at the pool and beach.

#4: Kilkenny

I have loved living in a city that is so small and walkable. Our lives now consist of daily jaunts to the Castle, running errands on foot with a canvas tote slung over my shoulders, the 3-minute drive to pick up groceries, and having friends within walking distance. It’s decreased our time in the car and increased our quality of life. Cheers to living in the city!

What were you grateful for in 2014?

Easy Sashiko Stitch Napkins

Are you looking for a way to upgrade those boring white cloth napkins? Bob’s your uncle with this simple project that is a combination of techniques-dying fabric with coffee and sashiko embroidery. Both are easy and perfect for a beginner craft.

The total cost of the project was €13 (I included the cost of the napkins even though I had those on hand). I used leftover coffee grounds from our espresso machine. For the first batch, I left the coffee grounds in the water and they sat on the fabric overnight. When I rinsed out the napkins, there were oil spots from the coffee. For the second batch, I poured over the coffee grounds and it did not leave these spots. Optionally, you could brew several pots of coffee in a coffeemaker and pour the coffee over the napkins.

If old grounds are used, this will give you a much lighter cream color. If you use new grounds, the color will be darker and more brown in tone. Here’s a great guide to dying fabric with coffee and tea from Free People.


Coffee-Dyed Sashiko Embroidered Napkin

Supplies:

  • 6 white cloth napkins
  • 1 cup used coffee grounds
  • 1 square fabric to strain grounds
  • 1 colander
  • 6 liters hot water
  • 1 large plastic container (big enough to hold all of the water and cloth)
  • 3 yards thread in chosen colors
  • 1 quilting needle
  • fabric marker or tailor’s chalk (optional)
  • ruler (optional)

Directions:

  1. Prepare the fabric. Wash and dry the napkins as you normally would.
  2. Dye the fabric. Line the colander with the fabric and place over the large container. Heat up the water in a kettle (or you can just use really hot tap water) and pour the water over the coffee into the container.  Stir every minute for 15 minutes, then let sit overnight (stirring once or twice more). Rinse out the napkins with water, then wash as normal. This will remove a lot of the dye, leaving it a creamy color. Iron the napkins flat when they are dry.
  3. Create the pattern. I chose a simple pattern of three lines in two different colors placed in one corner of the napkin. The outside and inside lines are a simple stab stitch about 3″ in length on each side. The middle line is a simple stab stitch in longer length. You can choose whatever pattern you like. If you need inspiration, visit my Pinterest board. I wanted a looser and more organic feel to my project, so I did not mark the pattern on my fabric. If you would like a more precise pattern, mark the pattern on the fabric with a ruler and a fabric pencil or tailor’s chalk.
  4. Embroider. Thread the needle with your first color thread. Tie a quilter’s knot at one end. Start the thread from the back of the fabric and begin to create a running stitch in a straight line by weaving the needle in and out of the fabric in .25″ increments. Continue this pattern as desired. At the end of the stitch line, check to make sure the fabric is smooth and unpuckered, and then tie off the end of the thread in another quilter’s knot. Trim the thread end as needed. Repeat the process with your remaining colors until your pattern is complete.

 

Nov17

Sashiko Book Page

Sewing paper makes a really interesting and simple craft. I typically use this technique for temporary projects, like these book pages that will be discarded at the end of a dinner party or event. Something that I’ll enjoy creating, but not feel the need to keep around.

This project is perfect for beginner crafters and would make a great workshop or craft class project. It took about 15 minutes from start to finish, not including the time it took to snip a stem of evergreen from a tree on my daily walk. I used shades of green and brown for my embroidery to keep in the natural colors theme.

You can use this technique on any type of paper, although it might be more difficult the thinner the paper. Use it on brown craft paper to dress up a gift.

The total cost of supplies was €2. I purchased an old book from a charity shop and used bits of thread and a needle leftover from the Sashiko Table Runner.


 

Sashiko Embroidered Book Page

Supplies:

  • 1 old book page
  • 3 feet thread in varying colors
  • 1 quilting needle (at least 2″ long)
  • 1 stem evergreen

Directions:

  1. Prepare the page. Tear out an interesting page from the book, making sure to keep the edge as straight as possible.
  2. Create pattern. I chose two lines of crosses across the bottom 1/3 of the page. You can choose whatever pattern you like. If you need inspiration, visit my Pinterest board. I wanted a looser and more organic feel to my project, so I did not mark the pattern choosing instead to use the lines of text as my marker. If you would like a more precise pattern, mark the pattern in dots on the page with a ruler and a pencil.
  3. Embroider. Thread the needle with your first color thread. Tie a quilter’s knot at one end. Start the thread from the back of the page and begin to create your pattern, weaving the thread neatly from back to front in .25″ stitches. Continue sewing until your pattern is complete. At the end of the stitch line, tie off the end of the thread in another quilter’s knot. Trim the thread end as needed. Repeat the process with the remaining colors until your pattern is complete.
  4. Add evergreen twig. At the top of your page, place a twig of evergreen making sure the end of the stem is stripped bare on the last inch. Repeat the process in step 3, stitching tightly around the edges of the stem. Tie off your thread ends and voila! An embroidered book page.

 

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