Setbacks

Ok. So I’m a neurotic dog owner. I never thought I would be, but I love him so much and there it is.

I had planned a great post for today, all glitzy and shiny.  We’ve been housetraining Brinks all week and we were starting to feel a bit smug about his success.

‘We must have the cleverest dog in the world.” Thought Mr and Mrs Smug.

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… I have been spending a lot of time out by the lavender beds …

Then Saturday arrived and with it came many accidents. Sometimes a few moments after the last one. We were mopping, cleaning and washing bedding, floors, not to mention a small writhing puppy. You name it, we washed it.

We toyed with the idea that maybe he had a infection. Surely that would explain this sudden setback…

…but no, I think it is simply that his routine got a bit out of whack and we need to go back a few paces.

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So I will leave you, not with the glitzy post, but with a post explaining the reality of our weekend. At least it means I’ll be resuming my 30 minute trips out into the garden where I can ponder the loveliness of the new growth on the plants.

Do you have any suggestions for making the whole housetraining escapade a little more successful? Even your stories of woe might cheer me up at this point… something along the lines of ‘don’t worry, our dog did just the same and he hasn’t had an accident in the house for 5 years.’

Thanks, speak soon x

 

Perfect Patio Plant | Salvia Hot Lips

I have decided to dedicate an entire post to this fantastic plant as it has totally won me over with its resilient nature, beautiful soft-looking foliage and vibrant flowers.

This particular salvia was bought for me as a present and at the time, I didn’t have a suitable place in the flowerbeds in order to show it off properly. It occurred to me that as we were in the middle of redesigning our outside sitting space, I could pot it up and have it as a patio plant to add softness to the edges of the fenced area.

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The salvia has been in its large pot for about a month, it has already doubled in size and is producing flowers of the most incredible pink and red.  It gets the sun for the majority of the day but it enjoys the shelter of having the fence as a backdrop. During the winter, if harsh frosts are expected, I’ll put a section of fleece over it just to be safe.

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The lip-shaped flowers can be vivid pink, bright red or even two-toned with red and white. The foliage has a slight blackcurrant smell when you brush past it, which makes it even more perfect for a place where there are a lot of people moving around nearby…

… and because it is in a pot, I can move it about and create new interest points on the patio.

salvia hot lips in partial shade

Above is a photo of the flowers in partial shade… still pretty incredible, aren’t they?!

So this lovely new plant discovery got me thinking. What other exciting plants could I bring into the patio mix? I’d love to know your thoughts.

Have a great day x

He’s Here…

‘Of course I’ll be able to blog when we get the puppy,’ I thought. Surely there would be breaks when I could take pictures, edit them, write something and get all the social media synched up at the same time?

A doddle.

Thank you to all of you doggy people who are now chuckling at my ignorance. By all means, chuckle away. I snigger at myself that I even imagined, that with loo trips every half hour, 4 feeds a day and some serious sleep deprivation getting in the mix that I would find the time to write something decent.

the finca hound at 9 weeks 191kB

… meet the finca hound – Brinkley …

It’s been a week since the Brinks arrived in our life. We’ve got a pretty sweet routine going on now. He has a little sleep in his crate while I get things done, then we have a play, do some training or take a trip out in the car (luckily, now without the opera singing)!

I can’t promise that my blogging schedule will be back to normal without any hiccups, but I’m starting this week with the best of intentions…

I think I’ll leave you with this today and go snuggle my cuddly hound… Have a great Sunday x

Fabric Dog Crate Cover DIY

The final countdown has begun.

The Hound of the Finca will soon be upon us and it’s time to make things cosy.  We’ve decided to go with a crate option for his initial bed, mainly as a retreat away from the cat if he decides to get a little too friendly. Hmm.

We’ve put in some snuggly vet bed in the bottom and we wanted him to get a ‘den’ feel about his new bed. After all, the surroundings will all be very new, very strange and he may just want to sit somewhere out of sight while he ponders the situation. A soft fabric crate cover was, without question, the way to go.

Gosh, there are some beautiful ones online to buy… I was click click clicking away – ooh I like the one with the grey spots and then…

I’m sorry, how many pounds will that be exactly?

Those prices would keep us in puppy treats for about five years. So I thought I’d have a go at making one myself.

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I had completely no idea where to start. I am not a proficient sew-er by any means, but I’m not afraid to give something a go, especially if I have instructions to follow.

Luckily, I found the best fabric dog crate cover DIY ever. Do you know what was even better? The lovely Jessie from Dimplicity Crafty Blog said that I could post a link to the instructions here.  By following Jessie’s lead, the whole process is almost foolproof… I mean… I managed it. Yes siree…

Knowing that I often need a couple of tries at something to iron out my mistakes, I chose some fabric offcuts that I had lying around. I chose the outside of the cover to be all the same colour, a sort of blue tweed affair. Then I chose two contrasting patterned fabrics for the underneath of the front, back and sides.

DIY fabric dog crate cover side view 115kB

The cutting, ironing and sewing probably took me most of the day, but I was continually having to measure, check and re-design as I went along. This was due to my crate being slightly bigger than the one in Jessie’s post.

You can probably see from the picture that I haven’t sewn the sides of the ‘flap’ sections together, so that we can roll them up, depending on which door the puppy will be using.

Also, Jessie included piping and buttons in her stunning design, which really finishes the whole thing off.

‘Do you like my first attempt?’ I asked Mr D-F when he came home. ‘Don’t worry, I plan to buy some proper fabric and try it again.’

…and of course he answered, ‘I don’t want any different fabric. I like that one.’

Before he threatened to hold his breath, I gave in. Luckily I didn’t make up my practise in mustard yellow. I don’t think I could live with that for long!

Have a great day x

 

May | In the Garden

Our new arrival is only a week away and we’ve been making some dramatic preparations.  In amongst the raindrops, we have been trying to grab every possible moment outside in order to puppy proof the garden.

I am now best friends with the drill, saw and the all important bit of string tied to two canes (our line guide). The fence has been built, the gates have been put in place, new bits of trellis have been added and any gaps in the bottom of our old fence have been filled. He may well be a digger – best to be prepared!

clematis montana elizabeth 113kB

With all this time spent outside, you would think that I had noticed all the changes in the garden. However, it is surprising how blinkered you are when there is a job to be done and you are spending most of your day in ear defenders… oh how I rock those ear defenders…!

It was only today, when I stood with my cup of tea, surveying the almost-completed job, did I realise how much had changed in the garden.

The Clematis Montana Elizabeth is absolutely brimming with buds, many of which are just beginning to open. One of my favourite times of year is when this beauty does its thing.

salvia hot lips patio plant 104kBI’m so pleased with our homemade new fence… can you see it in the background of this picture?

Not only will it stop little hounds from digging up the neighbours vegetables, but it provides the perfect backdrop for patio plants such as this Salvia (Hot Lips), which was given to me by a very lovely friend. I’m very excited to see it’s vibrant red flowers later on in the year.

dorset cowslip 121kBThings are really happening on the wild flower bank too. The cowslip seedlings that I planted only a few weeks ago have blossomed on the warm, sunny slopes and are now fully-grown plants, each with a lovely stalk of yellow flowers.

What’s happening in your garden right now?

Have a lovely Sunday x

 

A New Addition…

I’m caught between two extreme emotions. On one side, I am filled with excitement, joy and feel like whooping and on the other, I am suddenly feeling rather daunted by the enormity of the task ahead.

Yes, the Finca will be expanding… and I think it’ll shake us up in the best way imaginable. Except for the cat.

He’s not gonna love it!

 

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Have you guessed yet?

Due to the new squiggly addition to the family, I’m going to have to put the Dorset’s Delicious Bits posts on hold for a couple of weeks, just until he’s had all of his vaccinations and then he’ll be joining me on my Dorset jaunts.

If you see us around, please come and say hi and give him a pat. I might even have some treats with me for you to feed him with and tell him what a good boy he is. 

Other than that slight change, I will be continuing to post, as normal. (Or as normal as I can be while trying to housetrain a tiny furry creature).

…and of course there will be photos. Many, many photos.

Have a great day x

 

 

Dorset’s Delicious Bits | Sturminster Mill

When the sun is out, there’s nothing quite like a waterside setting to make you feel relaxed and on holiday. We toyed with the idea of loading up the little old car ‘Rusty’ and heading on down to the coast, with the nervous anticipation of whether or not we would actually make it up the steep cliffs and safely into the carpark.

It then occurred to us that we had a watery view that was so much closer and so much less likely to cause us to have to phone the RAC before the day was out…

…and that settled it… we decided upon taking a trip to Sturminster Mill.

view through trees Sturminster Mill Dorset 142kB

… view through the ivy …

There is a great mix of things to do at Sturminster Mill.  At certain times, the mill is open for you to explore the working machinery and even buy flour, there are peaceful places to sit and just watch the river and its goings on  and then there is the ‘dice with death’ bridge (or so I have now named it).

The mill wasn’t open when we arrived, but you can find more information on opening times and special events at the Sturminster Newton Museum and Mill Society website, here. I believe there is even a cream tea afternoon coming up soon!

Sturminster Newton Mill Dorset 137kB

… Sturminster Mill …

We would have to come back another day to get the full guided tour, but on this trip, we were happy enough to walk around the various paths and sit for a few moments on the benches, which gave a great view over the river.

River Stour at Sturminster Newton 171kB

… the River Stour, calm and peaceful …

Mr D-F wandered off at one point and I had felt certain that he was floating his way down to Durweston. However, I finally caught sight of him on the other side of a small bridge. Yes the ‘dice with death’ bridge. Although perfectly safe, I’m sure, the bridge resembled (in my terrified mind) lots of small twigs that had been stuck together with prit stick. In order to reach Mr D-F, I had to go over the bridge… and what’s more, it traversed the scariest part of the river by the mill. The bit where it went all fast and churny and white.

The calm, very grown-up walkers were surprised to see a fully grown adult lady squeal with fear crossing this bridge and I’m sure raised their eyebrows when they saw her having to come back over the bridge, squealing once more.

However, I lived to tell the tale and it was enormous fun to stand above the very fast-flowing, angry-looking water and I felt proud of myself for being so… umm… brave.

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… yes – you wouldn’t get me near that scary water in my swimmers …

Sturminster Mill provided a great morning out, especially with the sun shining.  I would highly recommend it as a place on your sight-seeing list.

Would you dare to cross the bridge?!

Have a great weekend x

Houseplant Focus | Gerbera

Unless you have had a bit of experience, are particularly green-fingered or have a very relaxed attitude, choosing a houseplant for a particular situation in the home can seem like a daunting task.

‘Will it get enough light?’ ‘Do I have to care for it a lot?’ ‘Will it actually do something?’

These are questions I often get posed when being asked to recommend a houseplant for someone.

Today I thought I’d focus on the Gerbera. I was given one for my birthday last month and while I have had lots of experience using them in floristry, as cut flowers, I have never had to care for one as a houseplant before…

…and boy, is it a great little plant!

houseplant gerbera yellow flowers 81kB

In the time that I’ve had this houseplant, it has had at least six blooms and there are lots more on the way. These are the conditions that I have kept it in:

  • On a window ledge facing East
  • Watering every three days (or when the greenery starts to droop – this is very obvious and easy to spot)
  • Cutting back the flower heads as they begin to fade
  • I plan to feed it with a small amount of houseplant fertiliser once a month (affiliate link)

young gerbera flowers 124kB

It’s also a good idea to allow air to circulate around the leaves so that it discourages any mould or disease. When I spot any old leaves turning brown (usually right down at the soil level) I take these out and put them in the compost. Decaying old leaves are always a great place for mould and bacteria to start a party.

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I have been so impressed with this little ray of sunshine and in my opinion, the Gerbera gets a great big thumbs up for being a cheerful and hassle-free houseplant.

To summarise my findings:

  • Easy to care for – not a fussy plant!
  • Needs regular watering but gives clear signals when this is needed
  • Produces lots of flowers and interest
  • Non toxic to cats and dogs – hurrah!

Will you find a place on your sill for a Gerbera? Or perhaps you have something even more exciting? Do tell…

Have a great day x

Dorset’s Delicious Bits | Working Glass Jewellery

I know I get to have lots of treats and fun times being the author of The Dorset Finca, but this was an especially fantastic treat! This week, I was welcomed into the studio of Nina Parker who is the creative genius behind Working Glass Jewellery.

Not only was I supplied with a cup of tea (always a winner) but my morning with Nina combined my favourite things on the earth… beautiful jewellery, delicious food and the most adorable dog ever.

nina parker dorset jewellery work station 103kB

… a scattering of glittery treasure in the studio …

I have long been an admirer of Nina’s creations and on many occasions, Mr D-F has been sent off, pre-birthday or Christmas, to one of Nina’s many local stockists with a picture of a necklace or bracelet that I really would like and would change my life so much if only I could have that piece of joy adorning my person!

So on the morning of my visit, while I was entertained with tea and cheese scones (which were AMAZING), we chatted about how Nina first started designing and creating jewellery.  I was amazed to hear about her diverse past, including the fascinating work that she undertook when she worked as a cartographer. After hearing that she produced plans for the British Museum, Natural History Museum and the Brighton Pavillion, amongst others, it was clear to see that she has a clear artistic streak and incredible eye for detail.

After re-discovering her grandmother’s button box and being captivated by the different shapes and colours, Nina took an opportunity to steer her creative talent in another direction.  What I especially love about the story she told me, was that it only took a few people to comment on some of her earliest pieces, before her jewellery was asked to be featured in local gallery exhibitions where it became an instant success!

nina parker spring necklace 90kB

 … necklace ~ part of Nina’s new springtime range …

You can’t help but be captured by the quality of the colour produced by the carefully-sourced glass beads. Each piece of jewellery is original, unique and Nina’s designs reflect the changing seasons. They are classically timeless and I could happily wear every one!

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 … I love the hints of deep jewel tones in these bracelets …

Not only are Nina’s pieces on sale in a wide range of galleries from the Isle of Wight to Lancashire but she also has designed a stunning website.  The site explains a little more about Nina’s journey to discover her love for jewellery and also hosts her popular online shop.  Many of the items displayed are different to those available at stockists and are perfect for those of us a little too far away from civilisation to go out shopping often.

I really recommend having a look – mainly because the site is so pretty! (I promise I’m not getting a commission)!

Although my eyes were permanently being distracted by pretty bird earrings or jewel-toned necklaces, trays of beads or silver findings, there was another major pull for my attention.  Maisie, the studio Cocker Spaniel, is already quite a famous Dorset dog.  Not only does she have eyes that will melt even the most ice-pick of hearts, she has her own Twitter account! Her online bio states that she is the studio manager and by the way that she captivated our attention – I can well believe it!

Maisie cocker spaniel

 … Maisie the Cocker Spaniel …

 The exceptional quality of Nina’s designs has spread quickly through social media and via word of mouth. If you would like, you can check out her Facebook page here and her Twitter page here.

I have my eye on a pretty silver chain with a little flower (are you reading Mr D-F? Don’t worry, I’ll show you which one I mean later)! 

Which one will be your favourite I wonder? Have a great day x

Spring Garden Update | Going Green!

It doesn’t seem that long ago that we were all wistfully looking at the snowdrops and daffodils, imagining what spring would actually be like when it finally arrived.  Well the last few weeks have been more resemblant of early summer, here in Dorset, rather than spring… but as the sun is shining and the weather is warm I think we’ll happily take it – right?!

This flurry of warmth has given the garden a bit of an adrenaline  boost and has encouraged even the sleepiest of plants to begin to unfurl leaves.

clematis montana flower buds 92kB

The Clematis montana (I think I have the Elizabeth variety) is covered in buds and should be in full flower within a week or two. It creates the most spectacular waterfall of light, dusky-pink flowers, which then gives way to a green-bronze foliage that remains late into the Autumn.  It is a highly rampant grower – perfect for growing over walls, through trees and covering up unsightly bits. Ours is currently growing along the fence and will need a trim after it has flowered, otherwise the hens may end up having their house resembling a jungle.

Hydrangea Annabel early leaves 146kB

Although I was a little worried about the enormous prune I gave the hydrangeas at the end of last year, it doesn’t seem to have done them any harm and their fresh, green leaves are appearing all over the garden. This variety (Annabelle) will end up producing beautiful pale green, almost white, mop head flowers. It’s one of my favourites!

Echeveria flower stalks 93kB

Inside the house, some of the echeveria succulents are producing multiple flower stalks. The sight of this growth reassures me that I have managed to create conditions for them that they like. I breathe a sigh of relief… there’s nothing more soul destroying than an unhappy plant!

I’m off tomorrow for an exciting journey to meet a very talented local lady… which I’m really excited about sharing with you on Sunday (there’ll be lots of gorgeous pictures).

Have a terrific day x

What’s happening in your garden? Have you had any surprises?