The Garden Reflections Wooden Bird House – review | Champagne Twist

Picture Source - QVCUK.com
Garden Reflections Wooden Bird House. Picture Source – QVCUK.com

It’s arrived! I have been waiting an absolute age for this, and after weeks of internal self debate, I finally took the plunge and purchased the bird house and it arrived yesterday.

Of course, knowing my luck the delivery was twice delayed by the worse delivery service known to, well everyone, but still I’m so happy that my brand new, half price bird house has finally arrived.

It may not be the colour I wanted, sage green, but that was snapped up by faster shoppers, so I’m for the moment happy to make do with the grey.

Setting up the flat packed bird house wasn’t so challenging, the instruction sheet wasn’t the best, but I managed to muddle through the DIY process in about 40 minutes, only slowed down by taking photographs and the ridiculous lack of pilot holes.  Honestly for an item that was originally priced as the best part of £40, you would have thought they could have drilled in the pilot holes.  For the DIY novice, who may be a little heavy handed or over enthusiastic with a screw driver, this could prove disastrous.  The wood used isn’t very dense, I suppose to ensure a lower end cost, however it means that it is quite easy to split the pieces, rendering the entire bird house unusable.

That said, the top is very heavy once assembled, and I wonder if the design could be further improved with a quadrapod rather than a tripod base – we shall see.

For the sale price of just under £20, I think I may have made a good deal.  I certainly wasn’t going to purchase it for the original sale price of around £40, it simply isn’t worth it, considering the rather poor standard of the pieces.  I’m glad that they included a couple of spare screws – at least I hope they are spare – but the paint finish looks like it will need retouching in only a matter of weeks.  I have a sample pot of Wilko English sage green in standby.

Picture source - Wilko.com
English sage paint – picture source Wilko.com

 

The over all look of the bird house is pleasing, and which initially led me to this item.  I’ve compared other bird houses in a few major DIY and garden stores, and shape wise, this is my favourite.  Selling from £40 upwards, the quality varied from cheap and tacky to fairly robust but over priced.  So for £20, I’m pleased with the end item, but it’s just a pity that more attention to detail and quality control, this could have been so much more.

Rating 3 out of 5

Bird House purchased from QVCUK.com – https://www.qvcuk.com/Garden-Reflections-Wooden-Bird-House.product.518199.html?sc=SRCH

 

 

 

Saving the birds and No New Year Resolutions | Champagne Twist

I have long given up on making new year’s resolutions.  Partly because by this time of year, i.e. the 2nd of January, I’ve broken half of them.  But I have started to implement my plans to help encourage birds and beneficial pollinators to my outdoor space.  I’m starting with the birds by making sure that I supply various foods to sustain their diet during these cold winter months.

January and February tend to be the coldest months of the year, and food is very scarce both for food gardeners and wildlife.  I’ve taken advantage of the Christmas and New Year sales and purchased a bird table and bird food supplies.

Wilko is my go-to bird food supplier, I normally buy a tub of 50 fat balls for £4.  The birds which especially love these fat balls are robins, blue tits, magpies and the occasional big pigeon.

 

In an effort to attract a wider variety of birds and to tempt the blue tits away from my already blossoming honeysuckle, I’m trialing these suet blocks.  So far, however, they are not at all tempted by the, preferring to stick to the fat balls.  I’m think maybe I need to give the birds a bit more chance to discover them, or move the blocks elsewhere in the garden.  I’m hoping when the bird table arrives, I can place the blocks on it, and save my poor honeysuckle!

DSC_7042

DSC_7041 2
DSC_7527 2

I also placed a bird seed feeder outside, but again, the birds are not biting. Oddly, I’ve never had much luck when it comes to loose bird seed.  A few years ago, I was filling a seed feeder, when I spilled some on a now defunct garden table. I went inside to get something to clean it up, and in the few seconds I had turned my back, a family of squirrels appeared in the garden.  For a split second, I thought I was a Disney princess, and the squirrels had come to visit me in my fairy tale garden. Then I remembered how I spilled the bird seed.  I admit I was more than a little hurt that the fantasy didn’t pan out, and more than a little bit cross that at least 10 squirrels, came from nowhere to deprive the birds of their lunch.

I’m glad to say that the squirrels have not returned in such numbers, although we do get the occasional visit from a solo squirrel, one who I suspect keeps digging up my raised beds. But thanks to the neighbourhood cats, mainly stays out of the way on the roof tops.

While I hope that encouraging birds into the garden now, will encourage them to help me control the snail and slug population later in the Summer, I’m also doing this to help increase the local bird population. Some species have been declining for years, so every effort I make can only help them flourish.

I’m looking forward to receiving the bird table, and hopefully a bird feeding stand, currently on waitlist, and will review them, along with the bird food in due course.

This may not be a new year’s resolution in the true sense, but I’m glad that I’m actually doing something that will help the environment.  Far better than trying to be more healthy – that kinda went out the window yesterday morning when I ate 6 Spiced Blueberry Panacakes for breakfast, which I covered with icing sugar (not so bad on sugarless pancakes), vanilla yogurt (quite good) and half a bottle of maple syrup (ooops!).

Wait, blueberry is a super food right? Maybe I can still keep my ‘be more healthy in 20’ resolution then!

OK maybe not.

Apple Oat Breakfast Muffins recipe | Champagne Twist

Apple Oat muffins | Champagne Twist

Using apples from my recent fruit and veg shopping trip at the Chiswick House Kitchen Garden sale, I decided to make something healthy and delicious for breakfast, making a welcome change from the usual cereals and scrambled eggs.

Apple Oat Breakfast Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup medium stoneground oatmeal
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup golden caster sugar
  • 2 large free range eggs
  • 125g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup of semi-skimmed cow’s or plant based milk (almond milk adds a lovely nutty flavour which compliments the apple)
  • 2 large apples (approx 1 1/4 cups), peeled and diced

Method

  • Preheat oven to 350 F/ 177 C/ Gas Mark 4, then line a 12-cup muffin baking tray with cup cake cases.
  • In a medium sized bowl sieve the flour, oats, baking powder and cinnamon.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, butter and milk.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, followed by the apple.  Using a folding motion, combine all the ingredients gently together to form a thick batter.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups. I used an old fashioned ice cream scoop, but a 1/4 cup measure can also be used.
  • Place the tray on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for about 20 mins, or until the tops spring back when lightly touched. Allow the muffins to cool in the tray for 5 minutes, before removing them to a wire rack to finish cooling.
  • Serve warm for breakfast with a cup of your favourite brew, or for lunch with a cheese salad.

Let me know if you try this recipe, it would be lovely to hear your feedback.  Thanks for reading, and enjoy your baking.

The C.T. Show, June favourites YouTube channel cover - ChampagneTwist.com

New Episode of the C.T. Show, now live

Yes, we are a little late this month … but June was so jammed packed it was hard to choose which would make the final edit. Now that the techno stuff is also on the mend, the video backlog will soon be cleared, so watch out for even more.

Don’t forget to subscribe, like, click the bell icon for notifications and tell your friends!

Thanks for watching.

Herb growing – Wildlife Gardening Workshop: Holland Park Ecology Centre

Hello,

Last Saturday, I popped over to Holland Park Ecology Centre, in the rather fashionable part of London town, to listen to Julie Henley-Wilkinson’s talk about herb growing.

As part of the talk, the audience was treated to visits to 2 different allotments tin the Kensington area, and well as a demonstration and hand-on workshop on herb propagation. Below is a video I put together of the demonstration, followed by a few pictures to clarify anything that wasn’t clearly covered in the footage.

I’m in the process of editing a couple more videos relating to the trip, which I will publish soon.  For now, if you’re interested in growing your own herbs, I hope you will find the following useful.

 

leaf node

leaves stem

Herb cutting propagation
Rosemary cutting

By the way, I have a recipe for focaccia bread using rosemary, as well as a post about regrowing your own food here. Check them out!

Please subscribe for more information and to ensure you don’t miss future posts.

Thanks for reading.

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Edit:

The visit to Holland Park took place several hours before the horrific events at Borough Market, Vauxhall and London Bridge. Please, if you can, donate to the British Red Cross to help the victims and their families. http://www.redcross.co.uk/love. Thank you.

New episode of the CT show, now live on YouTube

Hello,

During a rather annoying computer malfunction, which prevented me from posting videos, I spent an hour in the garden taking random pictures. During editing, I noticed that I had enough images to create a rainbow effect.  As a symbol of hope, the rainbow is very important to me, and I thought during these strange times, it may bring some hope to others, So here are the results, enjoy.

April Resolutions | Champagne Twist

We’re already half way through April, so far I have managed, to a certain extent, to keep up with 2 online sewing challenges, (#EasterSpringDress Sew Along and #SewApril2017) completed a number of UFOs and even started making a Chanel style outfit.

None of the above have anything to do with this month’s resolution, as it happens to be Gardening. But never fear, I have planed for April a number of indoor and outdoor creative ideas to share with you.

gardening april

Over the next few days, watch out for loads of creative makes all with a garden theme, including haberdashery tools, home decor and even an outfit!

Make sure you subscribe to this blog for more information. Like and share as well to help spread the word,

Thanks for reading.

tea cup and forget me nots champagnetwist.wordpress.com

June Favourites on Champagne Twist

Hello,

Hope you are all feeling well. A special howdy and welcome to all new subscribers to Champagne Twist. I really appreciate your support and hope you will be able to find a comfy place in this corner of the web sphere.

June, well that was a bit of a wash out in London, wasn’t it.  There was a time when I was busy trying to save my newly planted potatoes, which the torrential rain was trying it’s best to drown.  Picture the scene; me in my converse shoes, wishing I had the sense to wear my wellington boots, bailing out buckets of water from the potato trench, only for double the amount of water to return as soon as my back was turned.

Thankfully, the water drained away the next day, and the potatoes seem to be growing well, but my goodness, that was a hairy time.  We are well over due some sunshine.

Anyway, back to nice things – favourites this month were:

The Great British Sewing Bee - From Stitch to Style by Wendy Gardiner
The Great British Sewing Bee – From Stitch to Style by Wendy Gardiner

The Great British Sewing Bee – From Stitch to Style, by Wendy Gardiner, which I reviewed here.  The GBSB final is on later tonight on BBC2, so I will be 1/2 glued to the TV, whilst sewing up something new to mark the end of the series. All will be revealed tomorrow.

 

 

 

Elderflower Pineapple

 

I created a drink in the hope to encourage some more sunshine and less rain. Please check out my Elderflower and Pineapple refresher drink recipe here, and let me know if you like it.

 

 

 

 

RadoxRadom Stress Relief: This has been fantastic aid for me, with self inflicted stresses and strains, trying to do too many things at once. I use it twice a day both as a shower gel and a bubble bath and it has greatly helped me to keep calm, while the entire world seems to have gone mad. It was particularly useful during the last couple of weeks living in the UK, but the less said about the referendum, the better. I’ve decided that none of it happened, to keep calm and carry on sewing, painting, photographing, organising, decorating, reading, etc etc.

 

 

 

Hot Cloth Polish
Liz Earle

I’ve also been trying out a new product, the limited edition Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser, with Jasmine and Osmanthus. I’m a long term fan of the original version, so wasn’t that fussed about switching. But this edition has a beautiful, floral scent, and has left my skin feeling even more soft and toned than usual. I’m not sure why this is the case, but limited or not, this is now on my permanent skin care list.

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, the Simplicity 2444 dress pattern.  OK so I’m late to the party with this one. OK, OK, I’m extremely late, I admit it.

daisy meadow dress, michael miller fabric pattern simplicity 2444

I received the pattern free with a magazine eons ago, and it was carefully put away in the stash waiting for the right opportunity to shine. Then Brexit happened (don’t mention the referendum!) and I needed an escape from the wall-to-wall news coverage.

So, the pattern was dug out from the depths of the sewing cupboard and brought to life in this little number, the Daisy Meadow Dress. Now where I’m going to wear a green dress is anyone’s guess, but I will. There must be some garden parties left this year, surely.

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What were the highlights of your June? Looking forward to July? Let me know in the comments below. Please like and subscribe if you would like to see more.

Thanks for reading, see you soon 🙂