homestEAd ~ out in the garden

Another glorious day today, bright, sunny and clear blue skies – after stripping the bed and throwing the bedding in the washer I was tempted out into the garden and ended up staying out all day…with the washing.  I planted Allium, narcissus and tulip bulbs, cleared the last of the leaves that had fallen into the borders and spread a bit of manure around some of the plants.CyclamenThe Cyclamens are now planted in the front border by the footpath providing a splash of colour, although there is still quite a bit here and there in the garden.HebeMeanwhile DH spent time on the new shed.  It is has now been slotted into the space at the side of our house and waiting a fit out inside – a few tool hooks and some shelving.  We are reusing some white melamine that was once part of the wardrobe in my eldest daughter’s room, it is still in good condition so a shame to waste it and it will create a bit more space in the garage.

The shed is draped in polythene sheet for the moment to protect it from the rain and allow it to dry out enough to paint.  It will be so good to get the gardening equipment out of the garage and back to where it should be. Once the shed is finished DH will be concentrating on painting the front door.  We have plans to get a new one but to make it look more presentable for the time being we are going to paint the present one.

I may have mentioned that we had been contacted by the National Statistics Office to take part in a survey.  We agreed to be in today and the nice gentleman came at 5pm which was helpful as by then it was far too dark to garden.  The questions were not difficult – mainly about education, career and our present circumstances.  It was hard remembering just how many GCE’s I have though and what the subjects were;  no-one has asked me that for a long time.

I still have the selection bags to make.I tried out a couple of prototypes (apologies for the colour – flash light is never great) using the wrapping paper and some old cut up Christmas cards as tags.  I will probably go with the one on the left with the string tie though each tag will be different.  I have made a note of the paper size I used on the trial one so I can cut them out and make them up all at once and have a bit of a production line going…putting 5 assorted fun sized chocolate bars into each bag will make 8 bags.

Tomorrow I shall have to decide whether to make the bags or clean out my freezer – I doubt I will get both done as I will need to iron the bedding I washed today and also pack to go back up to our daughter’s for the celebration this weekend.  I am really looking forward to seeing Little L and Sweetie again.

But not the packing!

So a few more jobs off the list – shame I have to add some new ones on.

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fEAsible ~ October review

I really enjoyed October, I had time to test out new routines, catch up with a lot of paperwork, reorganise some areas in the house, declutter a little more and spend time with Little L.

But now I have to focus on November and the Christmas plans, I haven’t a lot in mind this Christmas due to circumstances within the family we have no big events so it will be a minimal, simple time for us.

We are STILL waiting the arrival of the new baby – we have been on amber alert for over a week now and still no sign.  Until baby arrives we cannot have the shed delivered and erected (it is made and waiting), or go up to Scotland or go very far at all so many of our October plans are running over into November.

So how did I do with my ‘intentions’ last month –

appEArance

…well I finally found time just for me-for a little self-care, a reflexology session and back massage (wonderful), a trip to the hairdressers and a homemade pampering session.

Neal's YardAs Neal’s Yard strapline says I certainly felt the love.

mEAndering

Sadly we didn’t get to the Manchester Artists Book Fair but we did have some great days out and about in our local parks and a visit to Kiplin Hall in North Yorkshire for lunch with my mum. 

crEAte

I haven’t had time to focus on a lot of craft work as I didn’t want to lose the momentum of clearing the house but I was able to gather a few Autumn treasures, the colours are so  beautiful at this time of year I could happily sit and sketch or paint for hours.

I have made a start on the lino cut Christmas card sketching out a few ideas which I will develop into a final print.

On our recent trip to the Wigtown Book Fair I was inspired by the work of artist Astrid Jaekel.  Many of the buildings and walls in Wigtown had been  decorated like giant canvases in striking black and white prints ….

…in a similar way I used some little rubber bird stamps I have and a black ink pad to create a few simple birthday cards.

fEAsting

With plenty of apples from our tree to use up I baked Apple cake – eaten with or without butter – delicious either way, a cake for my brother’s birthday and of course the Halloween buns with help from Little L.For lunch I have made a lot of soup trying out a number of different recipes.  We loved them all and they are now firm favourites – perfect for the cooler weather.     homestEAd

Progress was made on the home front too.  Whilst DH sorted out the pebbles, cleaning and relaying them around the house (after the mess of the rendering), I did the easy bit of buying a new pot which is currently just planted with a few pansies to brighten up our front doorstep.  I had intended Cyclamens but I have still to find some that are a reasonable price.We did quite a bit in the garden whilst the weather was good, weeding borders for the last time this year, gathering up the pots into a more sheltered position and covering up the garden furniture – we are all ready now for any bad weather to come.

trEAsury

Being on a tight budget there is not a lot of leeway now to spend on anything we really don’t need and in any case I am making a big effort not to buy more stuff as I am clearing the clutter but this little patterned storage jar from Next is just perfect for my teabags, was a reasonable £6 and just breaks up the empty space left where I removed the three old glass tea, coffee and sugar storage jars from the worktop.  I will be reusing these for rice in my new pantry when DH fits it out.

The wooden bookmark was a great find in a craft shop – also inexpensive but perfect for the person I was giving it to.

Throughout the month we did have plenty of no spend days and the trips to the local park provided our free entertainment.  We have been very careful at the supermarket only buying food to a menu plan or to take advantage of any offers and by making plenty of soup we have avoided being wasteful with the vegetables.  On our outings we packed sandwiches and have taken drinks in a flask to help keep costs down if we need to eat when we are out.  It does take time to plan all this but once you get into the swing of things it does become easier.

rEAranging and nEAtening

It would seem that all my efforts to simplify and declutter are beginning to pay off.  With less stuff around I feel so much better in myself and much more organised – I can certainly feel the weight of the stuff, that has felt like a burden to me for so long, lifting.  It is so much easier to locate the things we do need to find and use.

  At the moment I am tackling the paper mountain in the office/craftroom.  This includes anything from receipts and bills to recipes and garden clippings and everything else in between.  Of course since we had the flood at the cottage I am nervous about not keeping receipts as without them we could not have claimed for our contents.  As I had kept every receipt since we bought the place there was no question of not being reimbursed but they do take up space – the alternative is to scan them onto the computer.

managEAble

On the planning side I have been gathering together bits and pieces for my Christmas notebook (I decided to reuse an old A5 filofax that I have rather than buy a new notebook).  Any craft ideas, gift ideas or recipes for the festive period are being filed in here along with such things as the posting dates for Christmas cards and other information that I may need.

Last night I booked to go on the Dunham Massey Christmas Lights trail with some of our friends in December.  It is a National Trust property in Cheshire, a beautiful old Georgian house and this magical light show in the grounds is now in its second year.  This is a real treat – not cheap and even National Trust members have to pay but I am really looking forward to going – just a little disappointed we won’t be able to take Little L as she lives too far away and our booking is on a school night.

We will probably go to the Saltaire Advent Window event too but in contrast this is a free event and well worth going to.

Halloween Pumpkin

So that was a quick round-up of October – a very productive month for me – I feel I achieved a lot and the piles waiting to go out to new homes is going down bit by bit as I dispose of the items I no longer need or want.  Once you begin to uncover more space I find you just want more.

Just as a matter of interest I popped into my old work today – I had birthday presents to take to some friends there and a box of old work related papers for shredding.  It was lovely to see everyone but I was not prepared for the news that the new lady has now handed in her notice.  Rumour has it that she would have been asked to leave anyway as many of the workforce have had some difficult dealings with her.  At least the management are now aware of her bad behaviour themselves as she holds nothing back and has been extremely rude to everyone and anyone including the directors; in fact one of the directors is having to sit at my old desk to keep an eye on her at present until her departure to prevent further problems arising between her and my old team – she has been quite nasty to them at times and to think I stuck up for her when she first arrived – my lovely hard-working team do not deserve to be treated like they have been since I left and she took over.

It was in my opinion only a matter of time before this happened – people like this usually hang themselves without any help from others.  I just hope the new Solicitors that are taking her on are well prepared!

I will keep you updated when I am able about the baby – surely it cannot be much longer amybe tonight will be the night!

Back soon X

dEAr diary ~ just catching up with myself

Hi everyone and to my new followers – it has been a few days since my last post and a busy few days – I have been on a bit of a roll and not had time to stop and blog or have been too tired to write anything meaningful.  I have been keeping up with you all though even if I haven’t left a comment – Sadie, I love your videos – you are so creative.

Before I go on I must just mention that a few people keep asking me about the capital ‘EA’ in my titles and categories – well I hate to disappoint – there is no profound reason for this – it has no meaning other than I noticed when defining my categories at the very start of my blog that they all contained the letters EA – so nothing more than me having a play around on words.  The added advantage is that it does make it unmistakably my blog.

So with that out of the way on with the knit and natter – but without the knitting bit….

Well, I wish I could say that the house is sparkling clean, all the clutter has gone and I am super organised when in fact only parts of the house are clean (maybe not with the sparkle) some of the clutter has gone and I am still trying to be organised.

It all takes time.

On Saturday we had a mammoth outing, a mixture of errands and shopping.  It took us most of the day.  We off-loaded a couple more bags to the Charity shop, returned the library books, returned a couple of tops to Sainsbury’s,  bought some bags of gravel to finish the concrete for the shed base, bought the new brackets to hold the ladder outside on the wall, bought a mattress topper from IKEA and bought a cheap sweatshirt from Primark for DH (probably to mix the concrete in!).  At the end of it all we shared a toastie in Costa with my loyalty points, had a hot drink each and a little treat from Next – I bought a (just couldn’t leave it in the shop) grey and white patterned storage jar for my teabags to keep on the counter top, £6 and DH found a mechanical pencil reduced in the sale in the Paperchase concession shop for £4.

We managed to do all this without paying for any parking and came home happy, but tired bunnies.

Further progress has been made in the home office / craft room well that is what we call it but it is actually masquerading as a paper mountain – or is it a paper mountain masquerading as a home office?  How can two fairly simple lives collect such a lot of paper – I feel we are drowning in the stuff.  This is just a bit of it.Piece by piece I have tackled pile after pile.  I have reduced my craft folder clippings to only those ideas I know I might make at sometime, the recipes ditto.  I threw out all but a few of my clippings on health, diet and exercise; ditto the clippings of kitchens, decorating ideas and home styling.  And some more books to go.     I washed the rest of the vintage doilies and mats that came from my mum’s house – keeping any I thought I might use in some way in future and the rest will go to the CS.

I have made soup, soup and more soup – mushroom, leek and potato, green veg and the latest was tomato – all delicious and so quick and easy to make.  My lovely neighbour gave me these – the last of her tomatoes from her outdoor plants so I will be making more of this during the week and looking to grow some myself next year.

I did a thorough clean of the living room and cleared out or rearranged a few ornaments …– my one piece of Autumn decor is a tiny pine cone on the mantel piece, my new hand-made ‘crafty’ vase from Dunoon containing a dried hydrangea head and a bamboo plate displaying a few Autumn nature table finds – subtle but simple.

I am rather liking the minimalist approach and I won’t have to store any of it in fact it will compost very well.

Remember my new routines that I am setting up – they are not going too badly.  In fact I surprise myself sometimes.  So far I have attended to my emails and finances every morning – we should make it to pay-day on Friday (if that is what you call collecting the state pension) although we don’t actually have to queue up and collect it, it is just deposited in our bank.  Nothing to spare though this month which is a bit disappointing;  C+ for effort but must try harder next month.

The food shopping is working out at about £50 week with one week a little more when I bought toilet rolls and some multiples of items on offer and a load of nuts for the Christmas nut loaves, chocolates and cake.  I had a full refund on the M&S potatoes as there were so many bad ones in the bag I took them back.  I am going to aim for £45 a week for the groceries next month.

The unexpected items this month  –  the gravel and cement for the gap above (how six bags of gravel can fit into such a small space is amazing), ladder brackets, car bulbs and the mattress topper (which is actually for my daughter’s bed not ours so I can get a good nights sleep when we stay there!).  Baby still not appeared and we live in hope it will come soon.

I am already thinking about the November expenses – 4 birthdays and a wedding anniversary – no funerals (that I know of) – but there could be a 5th birthday of course if someone doesn’t get a move on.

Oh and did I mention the cheque for the tax refund came yesterday – how is that for service – quicker than my posts that’s for sure.  DH has a nice letter too from the tax man –  after my phone call last week to the inland revenue he has been given part of my tax allowance for the year under the new married tax allowance rules to reduce his tax bill –  such is love!

Not much more to say – it has been windy here in Yorkshire but good for drying the washing.

Have a good week who knows I might find time between paper sorting to post again soon x

 

 

 

fEAsible ~ plans for October

October

October –  the beginning of the fourth and final quarter of the year.  So much colour and texture about this month and I had great fun foraging about in the hedgerows collecting foliage.

For me it is a bit of the lull before the storm, the storm being the ‘frenzy’ that sets in around November with the countdown to Christmas.  I want to make the most of this month to prepare for the ‘frenzy’ or at least try to keep the frenzy at bay by putting plans in place early.

Like most people now I am drawing the blinds and curtains early against the darker evenings and struggling with the darker mornings but at least I can look forward to some cosy evenings watching one or two of the new Autumn dramas on TV and a black and white film or two on the Talking Pictures channel.

As the garden will be demanding less and less of my attention once the tidying up is done I am going to use my time indoors to carry on with the major decluttering and creating a better run, more spacious household.

I will be pulling out a few new seasonal recipes to try, and hopefully finding lots of inspiration and ideas to fill both my sketchbook and Christmas notebook, and planning, planning, planning.

It is only 31 days so I will have to work fast on my intentions for this month as there is so much I would like to do. This is the list:-

appEArance

I have been so busy during the summer I feel I have neglected myself . So I have booked a reflexology session and back massage with a voucher I have been given,  a hair appointment and I will treat myself to a DIY home facial, pedicure and manicure

Put the finishing touches to my new streamlined winter wardrobe.

crEAting

Now I am no longer working I want to use some of my new-found time filling my sketchbook with ideas and drawings and creating a lino cut for my Christmas card as well as making my Christmas gifts

mEAandering

The Artists book fair in Manchester is back at a new venue – a brilliant event.

I also intend getting out and about locally exploring nearby places closer to home

fEAsting

Meal planning using seasonal vegetables and trying some new supper recipes.  Baking with the last of our home grown apples and buying the ingredients for my Christmas cake in readiness for next month

homestEAd

completing the house exterior, putting new shed in place and planting bulbs

rEAarranging and nEAtening

decluttering the kitchen – the final touches

recycle, reuse, reduce, recover, repair

trEAsury

Dealing with the limited cash flow, maintaining plenty of no spend days and finding free events and outings

managEAble

Starting a new notebook specifically for my Xmas plans and ideas

(thanks to Slamseys Journal for the idea of using the foliage I had collected for my October picture).

 

 

 

 

 

sEAsons ~ Autumn it is then

Cow ParsleyThe Autumn Equinox is official this weekend – I was really sorry to see summer go but I have to admit it has felt so much more like autumn these past few days than it has at this time in previous years.The weather has been so unpredictable – one minute sunshine, the next rain interspersed with anything from a light breeze to a howling gale.  In the calmer moments I have been out and about capturing the hedgerows turning I love the varied mix of vibrant green and red at this time of year, the colours echo those of Christmas.Virginia Creeper Before we left for Scotland I had already switched over to my warmer clothes and these last few days I have been snuggled up in my Parker and woolly hat before venturing our for an evening stroll down to the village and back – well more of a brisk walk really as there is rather a bite in the evening air and a shrill wind blowing off the sea – so we have not lingered – tonight we took the torch with us too as it was dark quite early.Rosa RugosaI did not go in the garden at all today, DH finished the ‘winterising’ of the caravan and then the garage door and I sat inside attending to our finances.  I had a heap of receipts to log, statements to balance and a new budget to set- after all this is not a holiday I still have chores to do!

We have been making more and more cooked evening meals too recently – curries, Cauliflower and Broccoli bakes, nut roasts and baked potatoes – always my favourite – and salads have now been reduced to lunchtime only.FernI was amazed at the colour still in the garden here in Scotland – the pictures were taken yesterday –  but then we are in the Gulf Stream and many of the plants are quite sheltered.

The Valerian – still protected with netting from being eaten by the pesky bunnies are doing well.  This was the tray of plants given to me by Elizabeth MacGregor when we visited her nursery in Kirkudbright at the end of the season last year.  Having such a large garden you have to think of planting in threes or fives to get a good swathe of colour and mass so a whole tray full of around twenty plants was wonderful – an instant garden – thank you Elizabeth!

ValerianThe Chamomile self seeds all over but it is very welcome here on the seaside garden.Chamomile

LavenderThis Fuchsia and Lavender were both one of those cheap plants from Morrison’s – I bought them to fill a bit of a gap in the border when the other shrubs were small and newly planted. They definitely like it here. FuschiaI am not even sure where this white Agapanthus came from I don’t remember buying one but it has sneaked into the border under the Viburnum.White Agapanthus The trailing Nasturtiums flower well into November and are a lovely burst of colour on a grey day.Nasturtium The wild Fuchsia by the pond still providing a little colour now all the summer flowers are over.Wild FuschiaBelow is my dad’s hydrangea taken from his garden after he died – it stands majestically in a central position on the edge of the lower woodland walk. Hydrangea And lastly the Bramley apples – they have been abundant this year and much rosier now than when we picked some on our last visit.  So many windfalls – …we have been giving them away and will probably put some outside our gates for the walkers to take. Bramley ApplesDo help yourself!