Monthly Archives: January 2014

Kitchen Garden

My “potager” or kitchen garden is underway! I wanted somewhere close to the house where I could grow herbs, salads, vegetables and fruit. It had to be both functional and pleasing to the eye. Here are some of my inspirations, from Pinterest:
I was lucky enough to be able to allocate almost a quarter of the terrace to my potager, appropriating an area that was originally lawn, (pink concrete) path, and an agapanthus bed. It’s mostly south-facing, backing onto the house and edged by three liquidambar trees and a rather overgrown hedge (which is next on the list to tackle!). Not the ideal site, but much better than my original scatter of herbs in pots!
The long bed at the back is for salads and vegetables, with globe artichokes as a focal point. The square bed, closest to the house is for herbs. Currently I have parsley, coriander (cilantro), basil and chervil, with a bay tree in the centre. More to follow!
Mint, another favourite, is very invasive, so I’m under-planting the mulberry tree in the tall pot with a few different types to keep them contained. The fig tree in the big pot is under-planted with calendulas and nasturtiums.
The smaller pots that divide the potager from the rest of the terrace are citrus: a kaffir lime (indispensable for Thai cookery), a blood orange, a mandarin and a limetta.
I’ve used gravel for ground cover, with high desert flag stepping stones. Planted around the edges and between the stepping stones are aromatic plants such as corsican mint, sage, thyme and garlic chives, which I hope will further deter critters, as well as looking and smelling nice!
Along the wall a boring bed of agapanthus has been replaced by fruit – two apples and two apriums – which I may or may not espalier. I plan to put blackberries and gooseberries between them later in the year. I’m undecided as to what to plant beneath – perhaps strawberries or blueberries…what would you plant there? Currently I’m going with ornamental kale!
Once the hedge is tidy I may add another tile-edged bed and grow some more shade-tolerant edibles. Suggestions would be welcome!
What do you grow in your kitchen garden (however small!)? What were your sources of inspiration?

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Filed under Decor, General, House Updates

Photo Challenge

Posting late this week due to a ‘flu relapse. Nasty bug! Also, a software upgrade has rendered my photographs inaccessible (temporarily, I hope!) so I can’t share the post I planned. So here is a post ABOUT images, WITHOUT images…
One of the creative activities I enjoy very much is photography. My father is a keen amateur photographer, especially of nature and landscapes and we often compare notes and share images. We share a fun and friendly rivalry when we are together competing for the best shot (he uses a Nikon to my Canon) which causes amusement to other photographers, though often irritation to my mother! My brother-in-law is getting in on the act, too. Sadly, since we are now a continent apart, that doesn’t happen as much as I would like.
However, inspiration was in short supply towards the end of last year and so one of my many New Year resolutions was to re-inspire my enthusiasm. So far I have two ideas. First is a weekly/monthly/seasonal photographic challenge. It might be a new technique, a new place or a piece of kit to make. This month I found and began to use an app called PicFrame (very simple and great fun) which you will notice in evidence on these pages. I have a whole Pinterest board full of projects, challenges and checklists and one of my jobs for when I next have free time (!) is to go through all the challenge lists and write a few for myself. I’m thinking a general monthly one and a seasonal one.
The second is much easier: we have the beautiful Descanso Gardens at the bottom of the hill and I am going to make a point of going at least once a month to photograph what’s there. Perhaps I’ll tie in the monthly challenge with the Descanso project!
Since writing this I’ve made a start on the challenges. I’ll share the first seasonal challenge when I’ve decided whether we are in Winter or Spring here in SoCal! But here is the monthly challenge – I’m picking two topics each month.

Monthly Photo Challenge :

  • Colour
  • Negative space
  • Flowers/Fruit
  • From a high/low angle
  • Animal
  • Makes me smile
  • Long exposure
  • Favourite place
  • Dark/Light
  • Taste of the month
  • Beauty
  • Morning
  • Silhouette/shadow
  • Bird
  • Clouds
  • Sparkle
  • Focus
  • Reflection
  • Pattern/texture
  • Letter/Number
  • Close up/far away
  • Water
  • Evening/night
  • Rim-/back-lighting
Feel free to join in!
What creative activities do you enjoy? How do you find inspiration?

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Filed under Happiness Project, Photo Challenge, Photography

I’m normally a very glass-half-full person but I do have a tendency towards the seasonal blues and recently, through being stuck indoors working on the house and other projects, I felt that things were getting on top of me. So, it being January, I have resolved to try to “improve” my life…

Some time ago I was given Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project. I don’t really do self-help books so it languished on my shelf for quite a while, but for some reason I chose to take it with me on a recent trip…and I’m glad I did! To actually assess what made me happy/sad was an interesting exercise.

My happy list includes:
  •  sunshine
  • flowers
  • dancing
  • making things
  • experiencing new things
  • being with people I care about.


I won’t bore you with my complete – and very personal – resolutions list, but expect updates on happiness-related projects and activities….

What makes you happy? What makes you angry or sad?


January 16, 2014 · 10:21 am

Hello again, world!

So, I was a nonexistent blogger last year. No excuses…I fell out of the habit and never got back in. I plan to TRY to do better in 2014. In the meantime, here is a summary of 2013: 2013 montage

My lovely parents came to stay for the first time December-February and we toured the sights of Southern California. We achieved two lifetime ambitions ~ to see monarch butterflies clustering (me), and whales in their natural habitat (my mother). Plus sea otters, dolphins and lots of birds, not to mention some amazing scenery…

At the end of February lost our beloved friend and companion, Beauty. She is now buried in my kitchen garden.

We made progress on the house. Phase I is complete and we have begun phase 2. More on that later.

June saw us back in England to celebrate the wedding of my eldest step-daughter.

And on our return we happened upon a darling rescue kitten, Newcomb, who was soon joined by another, Rocky. Expect lots of pictures!


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Filed under General, Travel