up hill and down dale…

I had quite a busy weekend but mostly enjoyable.

I did my two hours of paperwork over Friday and Saturday (mentioned in my previous post) and filed all the papers and then moved on to the Mount Everest of an ironing pile and finally managed a half-way clean in our office and main bedroom.

A half-way clean in my books is one that isn’t exactly a deep clean of moving furniture or emptying cupboards but neither a lick and tickle with the duster.  It always feels good to me to have a good clear up – tidying up loose ends as I go and then giving all the surfaces a good clean.  What a shame it doesn’t stay in shape for longer!

On Friday afternoon I took my good friend and neighbour out for Afternoon Tea for her birthday at a local Garden Centre called Totties – only when we got there did we find we should have booked!  We settled on a Cheese ploughman’s with hummus instead followed by ice cream – both courses were delicious.  We both agreed it was probably more enjoyable than Afternoon tea as we both like savoury foods more than too many sweet cakes.  We will definitely go back though to sample the Afternoon tea another day – remembering to book next time.

We travelled up to the Yorkshire Dales on Sunday to meet my daughter and granddaughter at the Himalayan Garden at Grewelthorpe between Ripon and Masham. 

I was a bit disappointed that it was overcast and in places quite cool but depending on where we walked in the garden we came across unexpected pockets of warm micro-climates.

It is quite a stunning 20 acre garden with a mass of very colourful and showy rhododendrons and Azaleas on wooded slopes with winding paths that lead down into a valley with two main lakes.

Dotted amongst the planting are modern sculptures – some I liked better than others and although it is an interesting garden I personally found some of the features a bit too themed but it didn’t really detract from the beauty of the place.  

These are the sculptures we did find interesting…

perhaps not a sculpture but I quite like this feature below!

The Primula here grow in abundance…

and this jetty is my favourite spot…

You have to admire the sheer scale of the planting and dedication that has gone into this place and it is still a work in progress.  The garden has an interesting history which you can read about in the new visitor centre.  It is a private garden that is only open for a limited number of weeks in the year and you have the added bonus of being able to talk to the head gardener in the Nursery for planting advice.

In all it was a pleasant day we had a picnic in the grounds and a cup of tea from the new chalet tea room and a play on the roundabouts then set off gathering pine cones, sticks and fallen leaves for granny to carry.  I resembled a nature table by the end of the walk.  In the Plant Nursery we were tempted to buy a delicately flowered white Azalea (see below) which is now waiting on our patio for a trip to Scotland.  It is not too showy and likes shade and will blend in well in our wood at the cottage.

At the end of the day we went home with one happy little girl…

and one happy granny…

My garden tonight – a little smaller in scale than the 20 acre garden but my little corner of tranquility and how quickly everything is growing.

And now its back to work while the weather is warmer and sunny!

 

 

simplifying the house – declutter day 3…

It is a while since my last post on decluttering (usual work and home commitments taking over) however, I had in mind all week to have a good sort through my cleaning products when I could spare a bit of time with a view to taking stock, using up and creating some space in my cupboards.

Over the last few years I inherited first my mum’s unwanted cleaning products when she moved and down sized, and then my mum-in-laws when we cleared her house.  I gave all the products a home as I cannot bear to throw out perfectly good items even though a lot of the products I don’t usually buy or use.  And of course when we emptied the kitchen at the cottage I had to bring the cleaners back home and absorb them into my cupboards here.

I generally use Bi-carb, white vinegar and elbow grease alongside Ecover all purpose cleaner for my worktops and Stardrops for floors and general cleaning jobs.   I keep Dettol to give door handles etc a good wipe over and I use washing powder to clean my sink as well as my clothes.

For those jobs that need a more specific cleaner I use Lakeland Oven cleaner (which is a gel as I do not like sprays), metal polish for my silver, Flash for paintwork and Ecover cream cleaner for the bathroom pottery and tiles.  In addition I have Ecover toilet cleaner and I keep a bottle of thick bleach which I use a teaspoon at a time to add to the water when I soak my dishcloth overnight in a little non bio washing powder.

In the garage I keep an assortment of car shampoos and waxes (not that I use these very often!), alongside a few specialised cleaners such as sugar soap when we decorate.

I have also a bit of a collection of products I have bought at sometime for a purpose  – aluminium cleaner is one of them – although now I cannot even remember what I actually needed it for and Upholstery shampoo another – I never did get to do that patch test!

So  working in true Kondo style I emptied all my cupboards of any cleaners and cloths and laid it all out on the kitchen worktop.  I must say I was quite shocked at the amount I have accumulated especially those that I haven’t used in the last 3 years.  I even found I had multiples of some products I would never think to use such as methylated Spirits – I am still wondering what I can use this for as I particularly hate the smell.

Cleaners 2

This is just some of the cleaners – there is more outside of this snapshot!  After sorting and separating the items I normally use from those that I just want to use up I put the useful cleaners back into my trusty Muji containers.  In this one below I have oven cleaner, Stainless cookware cleaner, some mould cleaner, silver and brass wear cleaner and the aluminium cleaner (although I am still not sure what I am going to use this for)…oh and not forgetting the iron cleaner.

 Cleaners organised

I keep my rubber glove supplies in this one with some non-stick pan scrubs.Containers

And my Eco – cleaning cloths in another container.

Cleaning Cloths

I do like to look after my clothes and therefore I am very careful washing and ironing them to keep them looking good for as long as possible so I do tend to keep a variety of different washing powders and liquids.

I generally use Persil non-bio powder unless I have really grubby clothes from the garden and then I tend to add a little bio to the mix.  I use non bio liquid for the 40 degree knitwear and underwear and it is also useful to prevent those white powder marks appearing on all our black garments.  For hand wash wool and those delicate delicates I have a bottle of Ecover liquid for woollens and I also keep a container of pure soap flakes for those items that need a gentle non-detergent wash.

Yes I know I could start a regular little laundry service – it looks worse written down than seeing all the products in the cupboard LOL!  Someone tell me they have such a collection too.

Cleaners stock

I removed everything that needed using up and I am working my way through this box in the picture below.  It consists of a few almost empty items some of which I inherited and would not purchase again but do not want to waste and one or two duplicates.

Use Up Cleaners

Whilst the cleaners were out I began straight away to use up some of the almost finished bottles and in doing this I created a bit more shelf space too.   I now have some very shiny pans after using the Shine Brite and the tiles in my shower are gleaming after using some old Jif cream cleaner.

Shine Brite

 

I also got to work with the remains of the Sticky Stuff remover and cleaned the ‘sticky’ patches off a number of items.  Next I will clean up my silverware and the car might even get a wash and polish, I may even get around to cleaning that upholstery.

There are still a lot of cleaners to wade through but my cupboards feel a bit lighter – I just hope no one else is thinking of moving and giving me their unwanted stuff!  Even though these products may not exactly ‘bring me joy’ I cannot throw them out as Kondo would mainly because I have the environment on my conscience  – but at least now spring is on the way I can make an effort to get cleaning.

The Not so Secret Santa…

We had quite a busy weekend – I cleared up the kitchen and laundry room whilst hubby put the first watered down coat of paint on the newly plastered ceiling in the bathroom so that we can fit the downlights soon.  Progress is being made at last.

On Sunday we had a trip to Meadowhall, our local shopping mall – it was horrendously busy and the only reason we went was to take some boots back to Clinkards that I decided didn’t fit that well after all and to buy hubby a much-needed new winter coat.  The busyness of it all reminded me of why we don’t usually go there near Christmas although near Christmas now seems to start in October!

By popular demand our family are going to partake in the ‘Not so Secret Santa’ again this year.  We will spend £50 and buy for one person.  Then that is it …done, shopping over!

We had great fun last year just with the lists.  Each person had to make a list of up to 10 items they would like as a gift this is to help the person buying it and that is where the Not so Secret bit comes in or you can opt for a gift card or if you are really brave a complete surprise.   Last year the lists consisted of anything from a meal for two at the Hilton to an extra wide ironing board!

The live draw of names of who is buying for who took place courtesy of Facebook one evening as most of our family are on Facebook  – a bit like the live football draws.  Technology can be useful sometimes although some of our friends on Facebook thought we had gone mad and some wanted to join in!

Meet the family

We will then meet for the big present swap one weekend before Christmas and have our usual family party with crackers and games and of course we have a new addition to the family this year with baby L.

 

Before I go just thought I would mention that I have won a book about the Minimalists from Sue over at  Our New Life in the Country

I know I couldn’t believe it either especially since I have been away from blogging for a while and had only just got back to having a read around my favourite blogs and left Sue a comment.  I can’t wait to start reading – hope you have got it wrapped and ready to post Sue!

I must also say welcome to all my new followers – I hope you realise this will be a bumpy journey you have signed up for – I might come and go a bit over the next few months as we are trying to get our little cottage back to being habitable once more.  At the moment we are awaiting the strip out but once the reinstatement begins I imagine we will have to go up to Scotland quite frequently to supervise and my posts might be a bit thin once again.

 

 

 

 

 

Organising can be a dangerous job…

Guess who ended up in A & E on Sunday night!  So at the moment I am rather immobile and reliant on a pair of crutches.  I didn’t exactly plan this into my list for the week and hopefully my injured foot can only get better.

Poorly Foot

What did I do? 

Well it was a lovely sunny day with a good drying wind so I wrapped up and went outside to hang my washing on the line…

Washing Line

…While I was out in the garden I noticed how dirty the windows were so as I was already well wrapped up I got my window cleaning kit out and a bucket of water and cleaned the downstairs windows…

 

Window Cleaning

…Whilst I was cleaning the windows I noticed that we had a few large twigs lying on the lawn from the gales and a scattering of bittercress had taken root in the gravel so I went to fetch my old weeding bucket from the shed to put the debris in and look for the secateurs…

…But then I realised the secateurs must be in the garage…

…Whilst in the garage it looked quite a mess and I began to straighten up a few things and put away the Xmas tree stand…

..Whilst trying to put the stand away I stumbled over some roofing slate samples and knocked my leg on the sharp corner of one.  After a few expletives I carried on and decided I had better move some of the rubbish and create a gangway so I didn’t trip again…

…Whilst moving the rubbish out through the connecting door to the Laundry room I realised I needed a bin bag – so going back into the garage squeezing past the pile I had just made of old boxes when wham I hit the top of my foot on the underside of the tall cupboard.    The pain from hitting my leg paled into insignificance – this was far worse.  After much rubbing and soaking and icing my foot continued to get worse over the day until I couldn’t put any weight on it.  Finally at 11pm we decided more medical advice might be needed!

Of course I couldn’t get my boots on either  and had to make do with a loose fit pair of old shoes just to wear in the car .  Hubby ended up carrying me to the car (surprised he is not in hospital now with a hernia LOL).  Luckily A&E was not too busy and after an x-ray, an elastic stocking and a pair of crutches I could come home satisfied it is a soft tissue injury and might take a few days to recover.  Hubby of course may take longer. 

So I have had plenty of sitting around time and have been able to wade through a pile of old magazines and declutter some of the papers.  This wasn’t exactly first on my task list but at least I could find something to do whilst watching daytime television!  I also have a drawer in the office where I keep those odds and ends of jobs to do.  And doesn’t it feel good to tie up a few loose ends.

Bits and pieces

And here they are  – there are still some left in the drawer for another day but so far I have

  • typed out the instructions (in larger print) for the Hot iron cleaner ready to laminate and keep with my Care Cards in the kitchen  (for anyone new to my blog click on Care Cards if you want to know what they are!),

  • printed off a photo for my desk photo calendar which was a Xmas present,

  •  bagged up the spare screws for the new spotlights to put with the other bits and bobs in the drawer in the garage…     

(and no I won’t be going in the garage just yet I will leave that to hubby!!).

 

Tidy Friday…

I just had to take a photo of some of my gorgeous presents.

These little vintage cups, like a dolls tea set, are actually measuring cups for 1/2 teaspoon to tablespoon quantities and the birthday bunting  – isn’t it just so cute? –  it is teeny tiny and made out of thin painted wood.  The card is applique and embroidery and the stocks and roses in the background smell wonderful.  As well as the above I received a bottle of Neal’s Yard Seaweed and Arnica Foaming Bath (just in time as I have recently finished the last one), a book on running a small holding as a business, a beautiful silk top from ‘Mint Velvet’ and a goat from Oxfam which will add to my collection (so far I have Arthur and Annie goat and Alfie Alpaca).  I love all my presents – my friends and family know me so well!

After my ‘doing nothing’ day yesterday I felt quite refreshed but thought I had better get on with doing something today so I had a quick Friday Tidy with a bit of a Friday Fling thrown in.  The weather was back to its usual wet and dismal self so my plan to do a Friday Fling in the garden shed has had to be postponed but hopefully not for too long.

So I turned my attentions to the kitchen.  I do find cleaning and putting the kitchen back in order quite therapeutic – I like the gleam of the sink and appliances and the clear surfaces when I have done.  I learned long ago when we bought our first old house and the kitchen was pretty tatty and waiting a complete makeover that cleaning and shining all appliances and surfaces makes a difference and any kitchen can be transformed even if it is shabby.  This is the trick that they use on adverts for cleaning products – just watch one and you will see!

I always start with the sink and find that the best thing to use is a sprinkle of soap powder and rub with a non-stick pan scrub or one of those Eco pads that come with the Eco cloths.  I finish off by putting a couple of cupfuls of Soda Crystals down the plug hole followed by a kettle full of boiling water – this freshens and clears the drains.

At this point I empty the fridges of any old food and then do all the washing up including any recycling such as empty jars removed from the fridge.  When everything is clean and put away I wipe down all the surfaces with a cleaner and wash and polish up the kettle and appliances.

The kettle has seen better days and the limescale around the spout has built up again and now looking quite yucky – so out came the vinegar and after a few attempts it is now much improved although not gone altogether. A good wash with soapy water and a rub with a soft cloth and it comes up like new.

This Friday I had a mini de-clutter all around the kitchen removing bits and pieces that have accumulated over the last few weeks.  Items that needed returning to their rightful places or put in the recycle or just dealt with – I am never quite sure how all this stuff ends up in the kitchen or who puts it there (or should I say ‘leaves’ it there) – does anyone else have this problem?

Whilst decluttering I made sure anything that needed refilling such as the storage containers and cleaners were topped up and I checked over the cupboards where I keep the staples such as sauces, pasta, rice, cereals, supplements, etc to update myself with what I had in stock and make a note of any food we are running out of as well as removing anything that was past it.  Apart from an empty Mango Chutney jar and out of date Jelly to throw away all the cupboards needed were a quick tidy and a wipe down.

I have been trying to do this more regularly as time allows and find that it is less wasteful both on food and money as I can pull out things that need using up to prevent them going out of date.  Like on my dressing table I have a toiletries use up box’ I have started a kitchen ‘use up box’ – this week for instance I know that I will have to make a Nutloaf to use up some of the nuts that I have so I can build this into my menu plan.

Finally a quick once over the notice board, water the plants and sweep and mop the floor and I am done.  When my kitchen and cupboards are clean and in order I always feel better and more in control.

So my kitchen is ready for another week – I just wish I could wave a magic wand on the rest of the house.

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