celebrations, cleaning, drEAming, fEAsting, general chit chat, nEAtening, sEAsons

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.






cleaning, decluttering, fEAsible, my goals, nEAtening, rEArranging, simplifying

Oh, the lovely fickleness of an April day!…

 by William Hamilton Gibson.

Follow up

April so soon but at least winter is well behind us now and even though it may swing from warm to cold we will be working our way towards summer.

Mum went home last Sunday after a few hectic days shopping and visiting.  I managed not to buy anything but we did spend a lot on eating out and parking – but then I do not see her very often.  On Sunday we drove her home and called at my younger daughters on the way back.  Did I mention she is expecting and I will be a granny soon – in July the same date as my birthday!  What a birthday gift!!

For my focus this month I am concentrating on following up on the 3 past challenges for January, February and March.  There are still outstanding tasks to be completed and this seems like an appropriate time before moving on to any new goals.

Firstly  my Finances – these are almost complete after a major over haul in January.  I have to set up the Council Tax standing order in April but that is all that is left of the bills until later in the year when I will look around at house insurance.

My Housekeeping budget for March was so far off track this month I am not very happy with myself for allowing the spending to get a little out of control again.  I will be doing an update post of this soon so you will be able to see the error of my ways!

I have been quite good at keeping track of my day-to-day spending ( I mean writing it down not spending less – though I am trying).  I do need to get my lunches sorted out but that will be another months focus.  Introducing too many changes at once leads to failure in this house.  My system for dealing with the financial paperwork is working well – over the last 3 months I have kept on top of the filing and balanced the accounts and statements each month.  I have also built up enough of a float so that I do not break into my new wage, paid on the 20th, until the end of the month.

A couple of weekends ago I cleared out the files and produced a rather large pile of shredding – it took me 2 hours one Sunday morning but the files are much lighter now and I managed to get rid of any duplicate and outdated information.

I have a separate file for each of our bank accounts and keep the latest bank leaflets that they send about the charges and changes.  I could probably get the latest bank charges off the internet as well as the terms and conditions.  As we are never overdrawn we would be highly unlikely to incur charges.  I suspect I am keeping far too much just in case and that I could find the same information online.

February I concentrated on the decluttering.  This is still ongoing but I am being extremely thorough with the areas I have looked at.  My dressing table is wonderful (one magazine I read called it a beauty station and I quite like that term).  It is so easy to find all I need and put it away again – having a truly minimalist approach and reaping the rewards of this is the encouragement I need to get rid of things I might otherwise have found hard to part with.    The shower room cupboard also had a thorough clear out – everything in there is used – only the body brush and guest toiletries are occasional use items and I have trimmed these down.

Anything that I wouldn’t buy again but needs using up is assigned to the ‘use up box’ and I choose one at once to use until empty.  Any stocks of toiletries I need are bought when on offer.

My next area will be to tackle the household cleaners.  These are stored in a few places –  under the sink, in the garage cupboard, in the laundry room and in my caddy as well as the duplicates in the shower room cupboard.  I know I will need to have a use up box for these.

As we will be searching out the spring and summer clothes soon and packing away the warmer autumn / winter ones I will use this time to look at creating a capsule summer wardrobe.  I need to be ruthless which will require a certain mindset.  I don’t find it easy to get rid of clothes as they represent pound notes and hard-earned money.  However I think we all know when we have to face the fact that a garment was not a good buy, doesn’t suit us any longer or doesn’t fit like it used to!

March – cleaning, cleaning and more cleaning.  Some rooms I am not doing like the kitchen because it will be upside down and full of dust soon when we have the new one installed.  I have done the shower room and part of the office and the next on the list is the living room and our bedroom.

So as you can see there is still lots to be done and I hear the garden calling me to have a good tidy up too.

I will be posting a new April page soon with more detailed plans of my Focus on Follow up.

If you are interested in the Craft it Forward and want to have a go then read my previous post and leave me a comment to sign up.

Have a good week.

cleaning, decluttering, fEAsible, my goals, nEAtening, organising, rEArranging, simplifying

Focusing on Spring Cleaning update #1…

My focus this month was on Spring Cleaning – it hasn’t gone as well as I would have liked due to the usual time constraints but this last weekend at home saw me running around with buckets, cloths and cleaners and my trusty old friend for reaching into those parts etc…the toothbrush – it gets into all those little nooks and crannies.

There is something very satisfying about a good clean or bottoming (not sure if that is just a Yorkshire word or not) at this time of year, blowing all the winter cobwebs away and leaving that wonderful fresh smell and those pristine sparkling surfaces – it certainly puts a smile on my face!

Last weekend I cleaned the shower room and at the same time decluttered the cupboard and cabinet. I removed everything from the room including the contents of the cupboards before I began.

I always start at the top and work down so I washed the ceiling and walls, then doors, woodwork and radiator. After that I tackled the shower cubicle, basin and toilet. Hubby came along later and did the light fitting and the fan and the bath mat had a wash and was hung on the line to blow dry and fluff up the pile again.

If you have ever been into an expensive bathroom showroom in the middle of the week you will see the trade secret of  how they keep their display goods so shiny and appealing – they polish them.  This works a treat at home too – after giving the pottery a good wash,  dry it down with an old cloth and then spray with some liquid beeswax polish and rub to a heavenly shine with a soft clean duster. You can do the inside and outside of the basin and bath as well as the taps and even the outside of the toilet, the cistern and the lid – though I would do this last and then wash your cloths well afterwards.

After sorting through the contents of the cupboard I was left with this pile of oddments – one or two were past their sell by date…

Cupboard Contents

but as I cannot waste anything the rest are now in my use up box – even those free satchets of shampoo that are often stuck in magazines and the little bottles of hotel freebies (don’t we all have them?)…

Use up box 2

and one by one they will be allocated to the little soap dish in the shower which I call my ‘use up’ shelf  – (at the moment I am using up this tube of conditioner – cut in half to get at those last little drops and so far I have conditioned my hair five times with the leftovers that could have been thrown away).

Use up shelf

Other items will go onto the top of my dressing table so they are at hand when I need them.

Cupboard after

So the cupboard is looking much better now and everything in there is something I use – in fact it still feels like quite a bit of stuff and I am wondering if I could slim it down even further – I am not sure I could quite get to a bar of soap and a face cloth but if I did use soap it would save me having 2 different shower gels (one mine, one hubby’s), a large tub of Aqueous washing cream, a stock of liquid hand soap and some foot wash.   My granny only used soap and maybe a few bath salts – no fancy shower gels in her day – in fact she never had a shower.  No wonder my granny didn’t have overflowing cupboards they were certainly a minimalist generation compared with ours.

Of course after all that scrubbing I was a sorry sight and needed to jump into my nice clean shower to get myself clean – it felt a bit like that moment when you have to put on a garment from your wardrobe that you have just washed and ironed!

Sunday saw me busy again in the office come craft room – I find this the hardest room to do as it is home to so many different activities and nearly all involve paper…but that is another days post.

Mum is expected for a few days visit on Thursday – I have already given the guest room a bit of a clean and filled some gorgeous little white linen bags with rose petals and placed one on her pillow and one in her drawer.

Linen Bags


If you don’t hear much from me soon you know that we will be out doing a marathon shop!!


Have a good week x

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.