fEAsible…a little baking and a lot more planning

Christmas cake Christmas cakeA nice quiet Sunday spent baking my Christmas cake whilst singing along to my favourite CD of Christmas Carols to get me in the mood.  DH had gone to the final concert in town and I had the afternoon to myself so once the cake was parcelled up and in the oven I had another go at my Christmas card.  I have so many varying Robins now but none are quite right and I am in two minds as to whether to ditch the idea and do something else.

On Saturday morning DH finished the shelving in the shed and today I remembered to take some pictures.  Garden shed Garden shedHe has done a fantastic job – plenty of hooks and shelving and the melamine from the old wardrobe will make the shelves easy to wipe down (and I am so pleased we could repurpose the wood and we didn’t have to take it to the landfill).  All I have to do now is put the contents back – but that will be another day – as will painting the outside as it is still too damp for the paint to stick.

We can however tackle the next maintenance job on the list – re-staining the front door surround and painting the door as it is well protected under the porch roof.   DH made a start this morning while it was both sunny and dry.

It was also completely still; no wind at all – the towels I hung on the line did not move an inch and came back in almost as damp as when I hung them out.I spent the day taking stock of what I have done and what I still have to do.  After a few hectic days I needed to check up on our finances and other bits and pieces and generally have a little time to think.

I added a few more tasks to my list as they came to mind – this time of year there are so many little jobs to remember – picking things up, dropping things off, and plenty of decisions to make – trying not to overlook anything.

Following on from my previous list of initial preparations I have a further list (no surprises there!) that is more about cleaning and preparing the house ready to decorate with the Christmas trimmings and also to make sure I have stocked up with all the basics so I don’t find myself running out to the shops on Christmas Eve for batteries or loo rolls.

One of the first things I do is to check the basic stocks in cupboards and drawers of non food items such as toiletries and household items – shampoo, toilet rolls, greaseproof paper, kitchen foil, batteries etc.  I have a reminder list of these items and I generally make a note to stock up with these things well before Christmas so I don’t run out or have to think about them when I am too busy doing other Christmas shopping.

I will then plan to eat up any of those odd bits from the freezer and clean it out.  Once this is done I can prepare some meals like the Nut loaf for our Christmas dinner and restock with the basics like peas, frozen chips and bread.

This is also a good time to have a quick check to see that any evening wear / party outfits are in good order and drop them off for dry cleaning (though I normally only buy washable clothes these days).

Finally I have a quick check over the Christmas lights to see they are in working order.

Cleaning plans

I do like my home to be relatively clean for Christmas especially before all the decorations go up and it gets difficult to clean.  I make a note of tasks that need to be done in each room and anything outside.

I like to give the downstairs rooms a good clean, knocking the dust off the lampshades!  I find that adding a bit of polish to the white goods and small appliances gives them a bit of a sparkle and of course I include giving the oven a good clean.  Once the main rooms look passable I can bring out the Christmas bits and pieces like my cute knitted Christmas pudding tea cosy and robin napkins that my daughter printed and made, my little Christmas china mug and plate and the Christmas candles and holders; by this time adding a few little finishing touches to the house it is beginning to look quite festive but not over done.  The tree and staircase garland are not installed until much nearer Christmas.

During November I will have been clipping away looking for some fresh ideas for the Christmas trimmings.  I have on the list to buy the tree and make a wreath and this I find is getting earlier each year.

DH usually decides where the outside lights are going to go – I leave this job to him and how many lights we have will depend on how much time he has to put them up and how much enthusiasm.  We lost our tree in the front garden a few years ago but still have a number of large shrubs and a climber that we fix lights to but also two tall metal cones made of sturdy chicken wire that look like Christmas trees when decorated.  I have made a note for DH to do the lights in November (thanks to Sadie from Notes from an ordinary life) in readiness for the switch on in December.

If we are having guests to stay over Christmas I will clean and prepare the guest room and check the bedding and also make a note of any specific dietary needs for any fussy visitors.

I have been doing quite a bit of the cleaning as I have decluttered recently so I feel I am well ahead but that could all change.  On a blustery day I might even wash the cushion covers and throws too so they smell fresh.

Well those are the plans so I had better get started now – lots still to do.  You would think after years of practice I must be getting better at this – but somehow it can still fee a bit of a rush to be ready on time.

 

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rEAdy, stEAdy…dash then crash

Today has been one of those days when you feel you are on overload and I spent the day dashing around trying to fulfil obligations.

The day began quite well – I woke early at 6am – it felt a little too early, I could have slept more but decided, as it is cooler at the beginning of the day, I would get up and just have a bit of a potter around the house putting oddments away.  I had little piles here and there throughout the house and an ironing pile that must be reaching a metre high – but although it is annoying me today was definitely not a day for ironing.

Most of my birthday flowers are still hanging on despite this heat – I have changed the water several times and removed any dead ones.  I love having so many about the house.  My daughter had also surprised me and put a tiny vase with a sprig of flowering lemon balm and thyme by my bedside yesterday.

Once the house looked a bit straighter I had a few errands to do in town.   I would not normally have chosen to go to town on a Friday, a very hot Friday too – the roads here are busy and congested – but I had to get cards, flowers and fairy wings (don’t ask!).

I also had to do a favour for my friend and neighbour who has just come out of hospital after a hip operation and after lunch I had planned a visit to see her.

Once in town I headed for Claire’s Accessories to look for fairy wings for my granddaughter’s birthday next week – they had an offer on of buy two items and get one free.  Even so they are not very cheap for what they are but will be just what is required for Little L’s 4th birthday next week when we go on our Fairy and Pixie adventure (can’t wait!)

I popped into Clinton’s and the Card Factory to look for cards.  I needed quite a few for different occasions – a 70th birthday, a moving house, a wedding card as my new neighbours are getting married, and a wedding anniversary, (actually I should have bought two of these – one for my own anniversary next week – but I forgot my own!).

Passing Waterstones I had a quick look at their cards and came out with a book (I know I shouldn’t have but after the week I’ve had I really felt a treat was a good idea to cheer me up).  Then it was across to Sainsbury’s – a quick check for fairy wings in case they had some cheaper ones (but nothing doing), picked up a bunch of flowers and the paracetamol for my neighbour, a couple of loaves of bread and a number 4 sparkler for Little L’s cake.

On my journey home the heat and heavy traffic was almost impossible to deal with and I am so thankful for the air conditioning in my new car.  I had to take a bit of a detour and stop by a friend’s house to deliver a birthday card for her partner – I was actually thankful they were not at home and I was able to put it through the letterbox and get back home sooner.

It was 2.30 pm when I eventually arrived home to find the telephone ringing – it was the heating engineer asking if we had decided on a date for them to come to change a part in our boiler (we hadn’t – but finally agreed on 17th as we have to work around having my mum and granddaughter and go to Scotland in August).

So it was a very quick lunch and then straight round to my neighbours – not forgetting to grab the bunch of flowers and paracetamol to take with me.  At least I always get a welcoming cup of tea there – this time made for me by her hubby who is acting nurse at the moment whilst she and her new hip are recovering.

After a bit of a chat I came home wrote all the cards, delivered the wedding card for my immediate neighbour and then at last sat down for 5 minutes and fell asleep for over an hour hoping that everyone had been given the right card for the right occasion!

 

 

rEAdy…stEAdy…decorate

After sorting out a few things at home yesterday it was time to go back to my daughter’s house across town to continue helping them get their house in order.

When I say in order I am not referring to a bit of tidying or cleaning – no, by order I mean the complete works – decorating, finishing off half completed jobs and revamping not to mention the outside of the house, painting the front door and window sills, laying turf and putting down gravel.  Then there is the shed (needs a coat of paint) and the garage (ditto).

So welcome to Where the journey takes me 2 – Painters, Decorators, Odd Jobbers and Landscape Gardeners Limited.

My daughter has a small house but in the eight years they have lived there they have only finished the two bedrooms and put in a new bathroom.  We offered to help them sort the rest of the house out ready to put on the market at some future date and to make it a nicer environment for them to live in until then.

About 3 years ago they removed the dividing wall between the tiny kitchen and the dining room to make one large space and all the cabinets, worktops and the laminate floor were put in place.  It just needed decorating and the dishwasher installing which DH and SIL were responsible for doing and was finished just before our holiday.

At last they have a fully functioning kitchen and dining room and it is looking much more like a usable space.  In the dining area they have a dining suite that belonged to my mum and dad, it was one of the first pieces of furniture that they saved up to buy when they got married.

The suite is an original vintage 1950’s  – The sideboard design was first shown at the Festival of Britain, 1951 and there is one permanently displayed at the V&A.  It is mahogany with Bombay rosewood veneered doors that feature a striking double helix pattern cut to reveal white birch beneath.  It was designed by David Booth, made by Gordon Russell of Broadway and sold in Heal’s of London – although I believe my mum and dad bought it from Robert Brothers department store in Sheffield.  We have lovingly cleaned and polished it and this little family treasure looks really quite nice in its new home.

My role in this makeover (when not polishing furniture and making cups of tea) is as the landscape gardener – before our holiday I removed many old woody shrubs that had grown far too large for the space and extended the lawn – not the best time to lay turf with the hot weather but it has survived and is looking green and ready for cutting.

They have quite a few Hydrangeas which adds a nice bit of colour to the garden along with these lovely yellow flowers.  The name escapes me, I have never grown them but they do have a really long flowering time.

Tomorrow if the weather holds I will be preparing another area of the garden to lay gravel and make a seating area.  The ground is so hard now I am having to break it up with the pick.

It has been a lot of hard work, some days we have been there until 8 o’clock at night and we were glad of the break when we went on holiday.  It took a lot of ‘getting back into it’ today first day back on the job – I estimate it will take us another three weeks to complete everything if we are lucky.

I hope everyone is enjoying the rain and a rest from all the watering.

Back soon x