bEAching, cottage garden, decorating, drEAming, fEAsible, gardening, general chit chat, homestEAding, organising, rEArranging, simplifying, trEAsury

update for August…

Surprisingly, I managed to get down my pile of paper work though it took me two whole days and a lot of concentration to balance the statements, change mobile provider and file.  OH signed us up to a new gas provider EDF so we are hoping for savings there and better customer service in the event we need to contact them.   I also discovered in checking our accounts that more interest had been added to one or two of our ISA savings which was a nice surprise.

Once the finances were back under control I decided to turn my attentions to doing more decluttering and organising and have been spending quite a bit of time reorganising the storage in the bedrooms.

The new wardrobe in the recently decorated bedroom is now my linen store which has freed up space in the main wardrobe in our bedroom.  As luck would have it my younger daughter, who is in North Yorkshire, is moving soon to a bigger house so she will take a lot of the excess towels and linens that I have found and don’t really need freeing up even more space.

I have also assigned one of the drawers to hold my fabrics.  I was quite ruthless going through the fabric pieces and reduced the amount I am keeping to a more manageable level.  I came across a number of projects that have been hanging around for ages:-

  • A knitted cushion made by my mum but it requires sewing together.
  • A Xmas stocking that I found had a pin left inside lodged in the padding – this needed unpicking a little at the top edge – the pin removing and then sewing back up so I did this straight away and it didn’t even get a mention on my To-do list.  It took all of 10 minutes and it must have been waiting for a few months!
  • As we have 3 new family members now – the partners of each of my daughters and my granddaughter  – I need to make three additional Xmas stockings. I have the fabric ready to make them I just need some time to get down to doing it.
  • Bunting – left over from the wedding I have a number of cut out flags and I always intended sewing these together.The bits and pieces of fabric from the wedding bunting too small for flags will be used to make patchwork squares or strips for a memory quilt for my daughter.
  • I bought a set of tea towels from Sainsbury’s with hens printed on intending to make a tea cosy.
  • A silk scarf that I bought turned out to be a square with fringing all round rather than a long scarf.  I was never keen on the fringing so decided to remove it – a 10 minute job and now I have a new scarf.

 

and a pile of fringing!

So out of seven sewing tasks I did 2 of them within half an hour but I need to put aside some time to complete at least the cushion cover and the new Xmas stockings very soon.

Whilst all the sorting has been going on we have been putting the finishing touches to the newly decorated room.

OH made the wardrobe door handles as I wanted white-painted wood and IKEA do not sell theses without the free-standing wardrobe they go with.  The last coat has gone on and these have now been screwed in place.

He has also put up some narrow picture ledges for the books and pictures, cut down the blind and fitted it today – we have gone for just a plain white one and are not putting curtains up again – I like the simplicity of the blind – you might think otherwise when you see it.

For the time being we have put the old carpet back down.  Although it is 20 years old it is still in reasonable condition but the colour looks a bit too creamy now against the cooler grey walls, however, it will be better than having dusty floorboards until all the rest of the house is done and we have the same colour carpet put down throughout.

The duvet quilt cover I have bought is not what I had originally intended either – the one piece of furniture, besides the bed, that we are keeping in this room is a vintage blue Lloyd loom bedside cabinet that once belonged to my mum-in-law and it is something that I have always coveted since I first visited my mum-in-law’s house back in the seventies and now it is ours.  To tie in the blue I decided on a duvet cover from Next children range called Vintage Ditsy which features a very similar blue to the cabinet amongst the pink flower print.  I had not intended it to be flowery at all in this room – but there you go!

Rather than me trying to describe everything I will take some photos soon.  I am back at work tomorrow so it will be later this week. Promise.

Meanwhile here are some photos taken whilst at the caravan the weekend before last and a progress report.

 

We now have grass again on the seaside side of our garden – the contractors laid down new topsoil and grass seed once they finished the reconstruction of our stream bank – albeit complete with many dock leaves – but our main problem is with the rabbits eating our new plants.  We extended the trellis border making it wider to accommodate some seaside plants that we bought in the summer.  We are hoping they will seed and spread quickly and eventually provide a natural look along the stream bank.  We have had to put chicken wire around these until either the plants recover or the rabbits get fed up and move on to something else – hopefully the docks!

They seem to be leaving the Delphiniums in the Woodland walk alone this year and I have a nice clump of them  – some are still to flower.  I love this deep blue against the orange of the Monbrettia.

There is not a lot of colour going on around the pond at the moment so I might add some late summer / early Autumn planting to rectify this next year although I often quite like to have a parts of the garden that are just restful – the pond is definitely a Spring / early summer corner.

For bursts of colour you cannot beat Hydrangeas – this is one of my favourites and it really brightens up this spot by the daisy path.

Back at home I now have Sweet Peas to cut at last – I planted them late and so this is the first of them – a lovely velvety deep purple with a sprig of  – you’ve guessed it – orange Monbrettia – it colour coordinated so well with my mixed fresh fruits for breakfast today.

During my ‘sorting out’ I discovered some instructions and directions that I had photocopied to turn into care cards – see here if you are unfamiliar with my way of dealing with this kind of information – I have now laminated these and they can be placed where I need them to refer to.

Tomorrow is work again and it will be a day or two before I can get back to the decluttering.  My next project is to go through the boxes in the wardrobe in the middle bedroom to reduce the amount of stored ‘stuff’ and get the room emptied ready to decorate.  The wardrobe in here which has sliding doors is to be dismantled to make way for a newer version.

Back soon x

 

 

 

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gardening, homestEAding

summer garden snapshots…

Despite the dismal weather at the moment some parts of the garden are looking good and I managed a few photos after work one sunny evening.

 

 

 

Since we came back from our holiday in Scotland we have had quite a bit of rain and have hardly sat out in the evening all summer this year or had need of the parasol…

 

but the hanging solar lightbulbs that clip onto the cherry tree branches have looked really pretty in the garden when they light up at night.

I am really pleased with my peas in the pot…

and courgettes…

just enough to make a summer quiche with a few mushrooms and tomatoes.

 

 

Delicious with a crisp salad.

decluttering, gardening, homestEAding, managEAble, organising, rEArranging, simplifying, to do list, trEAsure

hot off the labeller…

After all the decluttering, reorganising and reshuffling of the last few days I have everything labelled to perfection – even my dear hubby –  (though he doesn’t fit neatly into any of my storage boxes)!  You can imagine what he has to say about my labelling but for all his jokes he is able to find things and more importantly put them away afterwards.  I actually quite enjoyed myself – sad I know!

 

Labelled Storage

 

Most of the garage is done now and we can actually move about in there and find things.  We have a few things to sell, a few to give away and a few to mend or just attend to.  So we started a jobs tray for me (see below) and a jobs box (much larger) for OH.

This is as it stands today:-

  • drill a hole in the bottom of the decorative hanging bird feeder – a present from 5 years ago and still waiting a drainage hole.
  • hammer the parasol holder into the ground by the patio
  • Glue the pottery ducks beak on – obviously it is not frost proof as it drops off each winter – a gift from my mum – he is hidden behind the ivy at the moment!
  • replace the socket in the office
  • Screw in the vine eye hooks to the fence for the climber
  • add the wire
  • plant the Xmas tree
  • feed and weed the lawn with one of the 4 boxes of lawn feed!
  • clean the copper rings with Brasso
  • clean the brass plant mister with Brasso

During the clear out I came across the drawer with flower arranging tools.  I am not a flower arranger  – I generally go for the just picked and put in a vase natural look but occasionally I have made gifts with flowers and so I keep a drawer with a few tools, tapes and florist wires.  The vintage flower frog below was discovered amongst my mother in-law’s things and I decided to keep it.  She used to go to flower arranging classes.  I may never use it but somehow it reminds me of her and how creative she was and it is such a delightful little object and packaged in its own charming little box.Flower arranging tools

Vintage flower frog

 

Some items from the shed that are not affected by the weather have had to be rehoused in the garden.  Not knowing where to store my terracotta pots, some of which are vintage from my dads garden shed, I searched around and found this handy little place inside my Victorian cloche that belonged to my father in law.

Terracotta pots

It is a few years since I grew any vegetables – I gave up my little plot, which is now flower bed, a few years ago when I began working full-time.  Looking at all the lovely veg I see being grown on some of my favourite blogs I decided to buy a Courgette plant and grow it in one of my large pots. Courgette

 They are quite decorative vegetables and already I have flowers appearing with the beginnings of the Courgette behind them.  As I was too late for Sweet pea plants this year I also bought a few left over pea plants from a local nursery and have planted these into another pot with some willow stems for support.

Herb pot

The strawberry pot which again came from my dad’s garden has Chives and a few stray self seeded flowers

The Fence

Remember the fence saga – here is a catch up picture – the climbing hydrangea is blooming and once the wires are in place I can tie it back to the fence and hopefully by next year it will cover the mishmash of fencing and all will be well again.
Climbing Hydrangea

The Obelisk (which I previously called a Gazebo!! – it’s my age) is now in place and planted with Honeysuckle – Lonicera Scentsation  – cream and yellow flowers with a long flowering season and a wonderful scent.

Honeysuckle

Just in case you got the idea from my recent moan about the fence that we didn’t get on with our neighbours – well actually we are good friends and I can totally understand that he isn’t a gardener  – I am just a bit too precious over my plants!

Potted geraniums

As part of the garden tidy up I bought one or two summer bedding plants to put in pots – I do like these wooden crates such a shame they don’t last – I might line it with polythene and grow some herbs in it for the summer.

Birdhouse

The new bird house now has a zinc roof to protect it from the weather – another job off the list.

eating outdoors

After all our hard work we put up the parasol and had lunch outside – perfect.

How are you enjoying this warm spell?

Back soon x

 

fEAsting, financial focusing, gardening, homestEAding, meal planning, mEAndering, out and about, trEAsury

economising update…

I haven’t done a post for ages on our economising so thought a bit of an update in order.

It is slow progress but at least there is progress.  I have now moved our savings into higher interest rate accounts, although the rates are still comparatively low, but any interest is better than nothing.  These savings will help to make our pension go further in the future when we stop working so it is important for us to make the most of what we have.

One of the best rates for us at the moment is actually the Flexclusive saver from Nationwide  paying 5% gross over the year.  It is one of those regular savings account where you save up to £500 a month and this accumulates over the year – you cannot put in a lump sum at the start.  At the end of the year you have to close the account and start again.

On the spending side I have managed to balance the books so to speak and deal with the outstanding paperwork.  I think it took me longer than the two hours I am trying to set aside each week and last week I did not do anything at all deciding instead to go in the garden.

I have sorted out all our new outgoing payments such as the increased Council tax and my yearly parking contract and have fixed the utility bills for a while though these need constant watching for better deals.  I find it tiring to have to search around on the internet and compare all the time – thank goodness we don’t have to do this for the mortgage.

Since the New Year I am still planning a menu for the week although it is often a bit of a rushed flexible list; however, it is having the required effect and cutting down on any waste food.  I have also started planning and taking a packed lunch to work – mostly I have a mixed salad, a cabbage and carrot slaw with walnuts (homemade by OH) and then some protein – a piece Nut Loaf or Quiche or just a boiled egg – sometimes it is leftovers.   This saves me about £3.50 a day.

I  have two months overtime to claim this payday a total of about 50 hours so quite a nice boost to the savings pot although I have a few items I want to buy and I might even treat myself  – perhaps a relaxing massage or reflexology treatment.

When we go out we have been making the effort to pack a picnic – actually I am enjoying these and have a few recipes to try that I can freeze in individual portions.  Tomorrow we are going up to North Yorkshire with a picnic to see my granddaughter and visit the Himalayan Garden and Sculpture Park at Grewelthorpe.  I have a feeling the plant nursery is going to be far too tempting perhaps this will be my treat rather than a massage!

Sainsbury’s have been very good recently and keep giving me a triple points coupon and the reward points are already building up again – I have now got £64.24p.  Morrisons have also given me a £5 coupon to spend (we tend to get our petrol here).  It will come in useful when we go to Scotland as the two supermarkets in Stranraer are Tesco and Morrisons.

And the not so economical

I had a bit of a spending spree last week on items that I had run out of or worn out and a few that had not been planned for but caught my eye  – this is the list;-

  • I needed some face cream and I use Neal’s yard which is not the cheapest but it suits my sensitive skin
  •  one or two gorgeous little outfits for my granddaughter from Sainsbury’s £18
  • a white top for work from Sainsbury’s £10
  • some new Tayberry Mucker gardening boots £35  from the internet as my old ones are wearing out.  They are a bit like moon boots but very flexible with comfy fur-lined soles – I wouldn’t be without them so much better than my old wellies.

Tayberry Mucker Boots

  • a bird house from Sainsbury’s £8 and OH has put this in the garden, attached to the top of a pole. I think the pole cost more than the bird house!

 

We also bought a few items for the garden last weekend from the Garden Centre with my birthday tokens (some National Garden vouchers) which covered the cost and although I could have been thrifty and grown my own herbs I felt it was just nice to treat myself and the large bottles of feed / bug spray will hopefully last a very long time – here is the not very thrifty list:-

  • A Gazebo to go in the shady border £35
  • some organic seaweed feed £7.49
  • an organic greenfly spray £6.99
  • a courgette plant, some mint and fennel £5.49
  • a posh garden fork by Burgon and Ball £9.99
  • a paving knife also by Burgon and Ball £9.99I love my new shiny stainless steel hand tools – my old fork has hardly any wooden handle left it is so worn – but must be well over 20 years old.

Hope everyone is enjoying the weekend x

gardening, homestEAding

catching up…

You name it I am catching up with it, even at work, and this is one of the reasons I am behind at home because of the amount of overtime I am doing after work and some weekends, preparing for our firm’s year-end – if we exceed targets we get a bonus – simple as that – I would be happy though with just getting some sleep!

Last Thursday I had a day in the garden – catching up on the weeding – it was heaven to be outside in the warm sunshine.  Apologies for the poor quality of photo my battery was about to go!

 

Everything in the sunny bed is suddenly growing at a rate of knots and will soon be in full bloom.  I have peonies with nice fat buds and even the two most recent additions look like they have a swelling flower bud.  They have not flowered since I bought them two years ago – a bit temperamental – I am not even sure what colour they are.

I spent quite a bit of time in the shady bed at the other side of the garden – here the soil is poor despite the amount of compost we dig in the subsoil is not far from the surface.  The fence between ourselves and the neighbour’s garden is a bit of a problem as last year our new neighbour decided to remove every last shrub and flower from his garden in favour of all grass.

The fence was a run of 6 foot high sturdy trellis panels and the planting here was once one of my favourite spots.  The shrubs planted on both sides of the trellis intertwined and mingled together and formed a good screen whilst allowing the wind coming down off the moors to blow through.

On our side we have a Cotoneaster horizontalis and Hydrangea Peteriolis climbing the trellis –  whilst on my neighbours side there was a beautiful variegated Kalmia and various other shrubs that spilled through to our side.  However, not only did he dig out all his shrubs but he chopped off all our climbers growing through to his side – result  – our climbing plants died back almost to the ground.  As you can see they have now started regrowing but at the moment our privacy has gone.  Then our neighbour filled in the trellis with additional slats and then highered the whole fence – result –  a bit of a mess, although I suspect it looks better from his side.

 

I have been trying to stop the climbers growing through the fence and getting the chop once again this has been a tricky operation as climbers like to climb and twine themselves in and out of the trellis.   Then I had the idea of stretching some windbreak fabric across the bottom half of the fence to protect the climbers low down and we will add wires at the top to encourage the climbers to stay on our side.  We also bought a free standing Gazebo to match the one on the sunny side of the garden and we will grow Honeysuckle on this to fill in the space in the middle of the bed and make the garden private once more.

Hopefully by the end of the summer we might have some good growth.

drEAming, gardening, general chit chat, homestEAding

A Perfect Sunday…

We woke up to heavenly blue skies, warm sunshine and just enough breeze to gently dry the washing.

Washing Line

I took the opportunity of washing everything in sight, including those once in a while items like the mattress and pillow protectors

DSC06366

and one of my homemade quilts as part of my ongoing Spring Clean…

 but now I have the ironing pile from hell to negotiate!

I spent quite a bit of time tidying and cleaning in the house even though I actually longed to be in the garden – but I am being really good so I don’t over strain my back again at the moment.

The mountain of lotions and potions are beginning to stack up like the ironing! Back Aids

Hubby spent most of the day in the garden – cutting grass, trimming edges and generally tidying up.

  After all our hard work tea was an impromptu Al Fresco affair making the most of the good weather and

Al Fresco

listening to a chorus of birsong.   The flowers beds are coming into bloom now –  Aquilegia with their nodding heads

Aqualegia

 drifts of pure white Honesty…

Honesty

and Tulips slowly fading to a delicate pink.

Pink Tulips

Even the unwanted visitors didn’t spoil our day.

Unwanted visitors

 

How was your weekend?

 

 

 

 

 

bEAching, cleaning, cottage garden, gardening, homestEAding, nEAtening, sEAsons

A quick turn around the garden…

I can’t believe it has been two weeks since my last post and I am amazed myself that I haven’t had any time to sit down and write but there it is.

So you may well ask what have I been doing?

Two weekends ago we had a flying visit to Scotland – the weather was just right for gardening and I spent the whole of Saturday in the undergrowth with my little furry friends here uncovering signs of life on my woodland walk.

Bees on Crocuses

Come and have a little wander…

Woodland Walk March

Remember this is in Scotland and even though we pick up the milder weather of the Gulf stream everything is much later coming out up there.  Soon this part of the garden will be covered in a mass of  Dicentra, Heuchera sanguinea  and Solomons Seal.

Woodland Walk March

Even the Fatsia along the stream bank has survived the harsh salt laden winter winds and has kept its glossy leaves.

Streambank March

Below is the site where the large Pines once stood before the gales a couple of years ago – I actually like the old tree stumps although I would have preferred to still have the trees of course.  It would weaken the stream bank to remove the stumps but it is almost impossible to mow the grass and using the strimmer is extra work so I have ideas that I will turn this into a stumpery and plant different species of ferns here mingled with suitable stream bank plants.   I love the way the moss is spreading over the mounds.

Stream bank proposed Fernery

In my garden at home here in Yorkshire I have put the bulbs I bought a few weeks ago into pots to brighten up the front garden.

Pots of spring bulbs

…and this little beauty below is a primrose coloured Rhododendron  – it is very special to our family and has pride of place in our garden. It was specially bred and named after my hubby’s grandfather, R W Rye, when he worked as head gardener from 1921 at Lochinch Castle, Stranraer for the Earl of Stair (whose mother Davina Bowes-Lyon is a first cousin of the Queen).  It received the Award of Merit at the Royal Horticultural Society in 1951.   We have taken a few cuttings over the years as it is not widely available in garden centres and I will be planting one at the cottage very soon.

RW Rye

The rest of my time apart from another trip to see our kitchen planner has been spent decluttering and cleaning my house and it is finally beginning to take shape and any month now I will be ready to begin the decorating!

More about that another night.  I have a bit of catching up to do with everyone – I have been reading most posts but apologies for my lack of comments recently.