Four top tips to prepare your garden for the summer

~ by Irene Jones


Correct clothing is one of the most important aspects of preparing to spend some time in the garden. Remember that if we have a good summer, temperatures should climb so you will want to be adequately protected while not sweating. Finding the correct balance between gardening safely and not getting too hot during the summer can be tough but we plan to make this a little easier for you. Lets start at the bottom and work our way up. On the feet we recommend not getting bogged down by wearing full sized wellies which may limit your movement. Instead of full sized wellies, try these excellent and supportive short ankle wellies. I always find that jeans work best for me as they are durable and strong enough to keep scratches from your legs, however, in the summer these might not be appropriate so go for something a little lighter. With regards to the upper body, a thin long sleeved t-shirt works well. Remember to grab some lightweight gardening gloves and a nice summer hat to complete your attire.


Efficiency while gardening is a must and there is nothing more important than storage. If your shed looks like the image below then you might struggle. Try to work tidily and put things away once you have finished with them and you could end up with a much better shed. The cleaner your shed is, the easier it is to work efficiently. In an ideal world it would be nice to achieve the second image below.

Poor shed storage

Good shed storage


Preparation is the key. Plan which flowers you would like to plant and where, once this is decided then go and buy the seeds in advance of starting the work. I always find that a drawing helps, I’m not great at drawing by any means but it can help to get your ideas on-to paper and it can be useful to come back to once complete. Ensure all your tools are in working order, if not then make sure you go out and buy the correct tools early – there is nothing more frustrating than starting a project and then realising that you don’t have the correct tools to finish; causing a trip to the shops. Take a look at your calendar, see if you have anything booked and prepare your first gardening day around your plans. I once completely forgot that I had a wedding to attend and realised after I had got changed into my gardening gear and had the lawnmower out ready to start – call it old age!


Irene JonesIrene Jones is an avid gardener in her spare time, during the day she reviews and critiques garden & outdoor equipment for a British manufacturer of industrial supplies.

She has 40 years experience in landscape gardens and has enjoyed being employed to look after some huge landscape projects for many public gardens in the UK. Nowadays she enjoys walking in gardens with her grandchildren more than working on them but the passion still has deep roots. If you would like to get in touch with Irene, you can find her on Google+.

Keeping Your Kids Entertained This Summer

entertain the kids this summer article image by emm mcandrew

– By Debbie Phillips

It can be quite frustrating when your kids come home from school, or finally get a spring or summer break, and all they want to do is sit in front of a television or computer screen all day. When most adults think back to their childhood, they cannot remember spending a single summer day indoors unless there was practically a hurricane on the horizon. With problems such as childhood obesity and diabetes on the rise, how do we get kids up, moving, and active again?

Fortunately, all hope is not lost. There are a few fun ways that you can motivate your kids to spend their time productively, socialize, play, and stay active during their time at home, and it can all be done easily on a very inexpensive budget as well. The key is to introduce new hobbies and ideas for the children, and encourage them to try new experiences at least one time. They might be surprised at how much fun there is to be had away from video games and the Internet.

Here are some fun activities to try with your kids:

Start a Family Garden

Starting a garden with your kids takes can bring so many wonderful benefits to your family. It not only gets the kids out of the house and enjoying nature, but it also teaches them about biology and nutrition. Planting a garden can also help get your children eating healthier. You are certainly not alone if you have kids that do not want to eat or try new fruits or vegetables. However, when kids grow their own vegetables, they are more likely to be willing to try the foods and enjoy them. Growing your own vegetables is a very inexpensive way to entertain the family, and bring some great tasting fresh and nutritious produce to your meal times.

Start a Book Club

Most children have summer reading lists to get through over the summer. Is your child one that waits until the last week of summer vacation to finish the required reading? Even if your kids do not have to read specific books over the summer, a book club is a great way for them to keep their minds active, and socialize with other kids while away from school. If you ask around, there are probably plenty of other mothers that would love to start this club with you. The kids can get together, talk about what they’ve read, if they are very young, you can read to them, and then follow the meeting with play time including a game or sport of some kind.

Organize a Field Day

Who says you need to wait on a school or church to organize a field day? There are plenty of other mothers in your area looking for ways to keep their kids active. If you are willing to host a day of games, competitions, races, and other fun activities, you will find that other families are also willing and eager to help support your idea. You can turn the event into a major block party and have each mother bring a few supplies or snacks.

Encourage Your Kids To Keep Learning

School isn’t the only place where your kids can learn valuable lessons. During their time at home, encourage your kids to try to learn a new skill in which they are interested. This can be learning a new craft, playing an instrument, learning a language, or learning to cook. Find something that the child is genuinely interested in so that the process is not only educational, but also fun and entertaining. It can be a great bonding experience if you find a skill that you both would like to learn together.

Debbie Phillips enjoys writing about ideas to help stay at home moms from saving money to keeping the kids busy at

Stylecraft Wondersoft Knitting Pattern – 8531 DK

stylecraft knitting pattern 8531 baby layette

Stylecraft Baby Knitting Pattern £2.99

This Stylecraft Wondersoft knitting pattern booklet number 8531 will show you how to knit two beautiful baby cardigans, a baby blanket and cute little knitted baby hat.

The two cardigans both feature timeless detailing with coordinating borders and are perfect for layering with baby’s sweet little outfits. Simple and stylish, once knitted up these baby cardigans will suit any occasion – you just need to decide which colour to knit them in!

The baby blanket pattern will produce a chic knitted baby blanket to measure approximately 61cm x 91cm (24″ x 36″) and the baby hat can be knitted in one size to suit the size range of the knitting pamphlet.
This Stylecraft knitting pattern is suitable for use with most double knit yarns, however tensions may vary and we recommend you knit a test swatch before knitting the whole garment.

This Stylecraft knitting pattern is available to buy from our online store today at just £2.99!


Let’s Make Baking More Fun By Adding Children!

Making Baking Fun For Kids

– by Maya Savanovich from The Cake Factory

kids baking aprons

Kids love cakes! The activity is much more appealing for them when the finished cakes are colourful or have glitzy decorations on them. Some kids may only be interested in decorating the top, but there are many who get excited by the squidgy filling or extra fudgy chocolate there is in every bite! One way or the other, helping out in the baking process is always fun for children. But how do you get your kids interested in baking in the first place? Here are some tips on how to spark their interest:

  • Give them light tasks !

First is to let them do the light tasks such as cracking the eggs, pouring the ingredients in the mixing bowl, let them mix when the batter is already smooth and silky. A lot of parents don’t like their kids being dirty so they just let them sit and watch while he or she bakes but kids are playful, so letting them keep still in a corner while you bake will not be much fun for them! Doing so will also leave them an impression that baking is not for kids. In this case, you let your children miss a worthwhile chore for them, so ask for their assistance and you can expect a happy and willing response from them.

  • Show them colours !

Show them the colours of the decorations and mixture. Have a variety of sweets for decoration – especially for cupcakes. There are jellies that are specially made for cake toppings. You can also use fresh fruits or cereals to top your cake if you don’t want the extra sugar in their system.

  • Let them decorate !

Let them decorate their own cakes, buns and cupcakes -you’ll be surprised how creative kids can be. Never mind the mess, as long as they are enjoying themselves just let them decorate on their own. Then you can expect them to be excited about the next cakes that you will make together.

Baking your own cake is fun, but it can get more exciting when you bake it with your kids, it’s very much a bonding moment and at the same time you’re also teaching them some responsibility in a fun way. You don’t need to buy in celebration cakes when you can make a personalised one with a dash of TLC to go with it – even if it is lop-sided!

This article was written exclusively for the Mill Outlets Blog by Maya Savanovich from The Cake Factory in Perth, Australia. The Cake Factory is an occasion cake and cookie wholesaler in Perth.

Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee 2012

union jack bunting queens diamond jubilee

Tuesday the 5th June marks the national celebration of Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee here in the United Kingdom, and with an extended weekend of events in London and street parties planned up and down the country make sure your Jubilee celebration goes with a bang with these tips for party success!

  • Start planning your street party now! You’ll need to inform your local council of the event if you are actually going to sit out in the street, otherwise you can use a driveway or front garden – check with your Town Hall for advice.
  • Get everyone involved. A street party is a great way to get to know your new neighbours or re-ignite old friendships. Print off some simple leaflets asking who would like to be involved and post through everyone’s doors, if you’re the chatty sort simply knock on doors to recruit help.
  • Hold a raffle or tombola on the day – you could get everyone to make the prizes, donate a bottle or bake cakes!
  • Keep it simple – you want to enjoy yourself too.
  • Set a finishing time in advance and make sure everyone knows it – your neighbours won’t thank you for a celebration that carries on until 4am!
  • Don’t forget patriotic decorations, music and lots of seating.

The staff here at Mill Outlets have been busy knitting additional decorations for our own Jubilee celebrations including this fantastic knitted royal crown shown below.

Our Dunchurch Shop Manager Jayne, adapted the pattern for a knitted Crown Tea Cosy designed by Elizabeth Jarvis and it is currently on display in the Dunchurch  Mill Outlet shop window. The rest of the Dunchurch shop staff have knitted yards of union jack bunting that now adorns the shop.

What have you been making for the Diamond Jubilee? Send your photos and stories to or post to our facebook page.

knitted diamond jubilee crown royal crowns knitting

Knitted Crown made by staff at Mill Outlets, pattern by Elizabeth Jarvis (adapted)

Still looking for British-themed accessories for your home delivered in time for the big weekend? Surely one of these will take your fancy – and as usual, you can expect great quality at low prices!

union jack cushions covers cream sofa and red throw

Union Jack Cushion Cover £5.49, Red Throw from £15.49.

Union Jack Cushion Cover Teal Catherine Lansfield

Catherine Lansfield Cushion £10.49.

james c brett top value knitting wool red white blue mill outlets

James C Brett Top Value Knitting Yarn £1.69

Retro Telephone Box Cushion Cover

Retro British Telephone Box Cushion Cover £6.99

chhildrens junior hunter wellington boots navy blue

Traditional Bank Holiday wear in the UK! Junior Hunter wellington boots £29.99