Thursday, 19 April 2018

Freebie And Bargain Of The Week

Quite a few things this week. 

My parents came to visit earlier in the week and gave me a plant, they also brought lunch and Easter chocolate! My niece came with a bag of greens for the rabbits too. 

We had a couple of television offers thrown our way too. From my phone provider I was given 3 months free BT Sport access, which is good for the European football finals. At the weekend Now TV contacted us with the offer of free Sky Cinema and children's channels for a month, I don't know if we'll watch them but you never know. 

I missed out on something I wanted at the charity shop this week, I've been after a burger press for ages, I spotted a brand new one when I arrived at the shop on Tuesday, by the time I'd taken my coat off someone had bought it. I did buy two dresses for a couple of quid. I'm still going through my blue phase apparently. 

A nice Monsoon summer dress

and a linen pinafore type dress. I was sceptical about going for linen but I wore it at the football on Saturday and I didn't look like I'd been dragged through a hedge afterwards (even though it looks like it on this picture just after being washed). 

A good week.  

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Small Things Done Well

We collected our artwork from the framer yesterday. Oh my goodness, he is very good at his job, everything looks amazing.

Dan's Great-Grandfather worked as an engineer in the cotton industry and worked around the world, this beautiful painting was presented to him when he worked in Kobe, Japan some time in the 1930's. We just went for a very simple black frame to keep all the attention on the painting. 

This is just a print we bought on a day out in Wales last year, I love the pale grey frame, it looks just as I imagined. 

I am so happy with this print, I didn't know what style of frame I fancied until I saw this zingy yellow aluminium, it was the perfect choice. I also love how it looks as though there's no glass covering it, we went for museum glass as it's going to be in a room with some direct sunlight. Compare it with the reflections on the first picture, amazing. 

This is Dan's birthday present, another woodblock print. Just simple, black again, it will be hung in the same room as the big painting so we wanted something similar.  

Finally, the one that just blew us away. This was a gift from Dan's friend Jay. We went to an event in conversations with designer Craig Oldham last year at the Festival Of Making in Blackburn and he was just so engaging. 

A photograph can't do it justice really, it is soooooooooo black, it's printed with coal dust from the mine his father and grandfather worked, in the flesh it looks gorgeous, or just like a huge black slab - depending on the light. Again we went for a very simple black aluminium frame. 

I could not be happier with how they look and once they're on the wall they'll look even better. If anyone is interested, we used Framing Guru on Redscar in Preston, of course we paid for everything ourselves, I just think it's a quality job worth sharing. 

Sunday, 15 April 2018

In The Clearing

I think I actually squealed with delight this morning when I went out to feed the birds. My garden has already been a bit of a slog, but we are seeing progress. The shade bed I spoke about the other day used to look like this

and that was after we'd done the initial cutting back. Anyway, this morning I was looking at the back border, where the plant jumble used to be 

back in 2014
This morning I saw this

there's only one, but I am so happy as I love these little flowers so much! We're discovering new plants all the time, so many things are popping up at the moment that we haven't seen before, amazing that things have survived being so blocked by the overgrowth. In with the roses and honeysuckle I also saw this that I don't remember seeing before

Is it some kind of mahonia? It has spiky leaves like my other mahonias but the flowers are round rather than long and pointy. I'm happy to see it at any rate. There's so much happening outside at the moment that Dan is even going to get out there today to put up the wires for my honeysuckle. Spring is magical!

Friday, 13 April 2018

April In My Shower

This post may contain the two most boring photographs ever shared. 

We always like to talk about people doing the small things well don't we, learning something, making a corner of the garden look a little bit better, making a cake that pretty much nailed it. I'm celebrating that today.

On the last official day of the bathroom redo the plumbers were packing up when they discovered a chip in the shower tray, this week it was repaired.

The shower magician started the job on Wednesday, then came back yesterday for one last blob of silicone and a buff of the tray. 


We still have no flooring, and the walls aren't painted, although we did buy some paint last week so the end may be in sight. 

Thursday, 12 April 2018

What We Ate - Convenience Week

This week has been all about convenience, if it could be shoved in the oven and left to get on with it, or came from a packet or the freezer then that's the option I took! 

Dan made some wedges and pitta chips, for dipping into plenty of houmous while we watched The City And The City, I read the book last year and loved it. I don't tend to watch tv adaptations, but I made an exception for this.  

I attempted to be healthy by starting the day with porridge, it's not for me, at least not first thing in the morning. Oats with almond drink, frozen berries, banana, loads of coconut and a bit of agave. 

Obligatory noodles, served with some rice burgers. They came from a packet mix sent over from Germany, just add water then form into patties. The flavour was a little like making something with a packet of curry flavour savoury rice. 

We had a small amount of yoghurt to use up, plus lots of frozen berries, so I made some breakfast muffins. Even though I used less sugar they were really a coffee and a muffin type thing rather muffins to get you off to a healthy start. They were delicious, and the texture was perfect. I used the recipe from Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra. I'm not a baker, I like to keep things simple and Isa's recipes never ever fail when I try them.  

A really delicious paprika butterbean stew, topped with some V-Pud. We were supposed to be having the roast asparagus and beetroot with this, but we ate almost all of it while we were waiting. 

This is the second laziest meal of the week (we ate out last night for celebration purposes). Some pasta with half a packet of tomatoey puy lentils stirred through, along with a Goodfella's vegan pizza. The pizza was exactly how you'd imagine a falafel pizza to taste! Nice for a change, especially as it meant less washing up!

Monday, 9 April 2018

Not In The Slightest Bit Vintage

Don't let me turn this into a rant about how difficult it is to find professionals willing to do work at the house, suffice to say the window repairs are not happening any time soon, and we're painting the bathroom ourselves. 

I may have mentioned it before, but Dan did not like the coffee table, over the past few months I'd go as far as to say he's been openly hostile towards it, so I've been hunting for a replacement. Here's the offending article, first mentioned in this post. I find it adorable that back in July 2016 I was so optimistic about the bathroom refit. 

It's just a glass table, nice and big. Turns out the size was part of the issue, one of us is rather untidy and Dan was quite unhappy that it was always covered with books, nail files, sewing stuff and magazines. 

We've seen many, many lovely tables, but even I am not daft enough to spend hundreds of pounds on a nice mid century table that will live in the room where there are two rabbits wandering around with their teeth. A couple of weeks ago Dan dismantled the table to force us into action. Did it nudge the untidy person into putting things away?

It did not. 

So we went to Ikea, a place I find to be exceptionally relaxing, last time we went someone was actually asleep on a sofa, a good advert I thought. 

We are now the owners of a small, leaf shaped table. Ideal. We didn't buy a teapot, any drinking glasses - even though they had flamingo ones, or candles. We did replace the rather chewed grey curtains with some magic eye curtains though.

£120 to cover a 5 metre window, not bad at all. Plus, they're blackout, not an exciting thing, but our living room gets the sun all afternoon so they're much needed.  

So with the rug, curtains and coffee table we are a little Ikea-d up in the living room, but affordable, durable and large it's what works, the vintage treasures can stay upstairs where the only sharp teeth are mine!

Friday, 6 April 2018

A Date With My Fantasy Self

For as long as I can remember I have flirted with the idea of jaunting about the place, shopping at the greengrocer and using local shops for our weekly food shopping. So yesterday that's what I did. 

In the town on the first Thursday of the month we have a small market, my plan was to nip there for some vegetables. When I got there the stall was packed and when I could grab a peek there wasn't all that much I fancied, and some of the produce were things Dan can't eat (turnips etc.). So I picked up my v-pud and thought about what to do as I'd missed the train, and didn't want to hang around for 50 minutes for the next one. So I got the bus.

IT'S SO EXPENSIVE! The train is £2.10 return, a bus ticket was £5. FIVE POUNDS! But in the spirit of being more light and loose I went with it and headed off to Lytham. 

the view from the bus
Lytham was absolutely packed as it was a gorgeous day and I was already starting to suspect my trolley would be a hindrance. I nipped to the cookware shop and picked up the first thing on my list, a veg steamer. Then to the pet shop for some toys for the buns, where I had a chat with the owners about my dog trolley, and how much we love whippets. Then to the greengrocer, it was soooooooooooo busy and the trolley was very much in the way, not helped by the fact I had forgotten about the school holidays so lots of very small children were having a great time selecting their own orange. I ended up buying kale, beetroot, and asparagus. Dan really likes asparagus, I don't know why I bought the kale as I can't stand it, so only the beetroot was really a success. 

Hot and flustered I went to the prom for a sip of coconut water and a bit of a sit. 

I think I was drooping to one side by this point
There were lots of people around, but it was wonderful to get a bit of peace. I had just enough time to find some daffodils before jumping back onto the bus, which was one of the new, very fancy ones. 

When I got home I stared at my shopping and thought... hmmm chips for tea and I'll worry about what to make with that lot later.  At least the daffodils played ball, displaying their beautiful orange centres when they opened up this morning, just the thing. 

So on my date with my fantasy self I learned a lot, being out and about is good, as are supermarkets. As if more proof were needed, I'm just not the jaunty* type. 

* although I was described as "quirky" by a customer this week. 

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

What We Ate - Easter Weekend

To make sure we didn't eat too much junk over the weekend I started making a few things on Thursday evening, we had a day of relaxation planned for Friday.

First I roasted some vegetables for soup and salad

then had a houmous sandwich or three

In the evening I made some tofu scramble and fried rice

The sauce was really simple, just some soy sauce, agave and sriracha

Friday was treat-filled. Dan made pitta

we had a delicious brunch

Butterbean and squash pasties at the football

There were plenty of leftovers to enjoy on Sunday. A half eaten bowl of leftover quinoa and lentil salad heated up with the remaining pasty filling, smoky and delicious. 

We rounded the long weekend off on Monday with a very welcome nut roast. 

It feels like we've done nothing but cook and wash up!

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Refuse, Reuse, Pinch From Husband

What did I spot hanging up in the charity shop yesterday?

Even though I'd already talked myself out of buying a replacement, I did examine this one (costing £3.99). It just about looks nicer than mine, but really the only difference in that regard is that it isn't branded in any way. It's in great condition, but it wasn't very padded, especially the straps, that's very important to me, I need to be comfortable. 

I also didn't buy a new black and white dress (£2.99), I really liked it, and it would be a fine replacement for my favourite black and white dress that should probably have been ragged a couple of years ago, it's full of tiny pulls and things. So I examined the dress and I just wasn't happy with the underarm seams, so it went back onto the rail, reluctantly, but the seams were a little stretched, so really it was in no better shape than the dress I already own. 

Yesterday I set aside a small glass pot (49p), I think it originally came from Tiger, as I needed something to store my solid foot balm. When I say set aside, I mean forgot to buy, so it's still on the desk in the workroom. This morning I just decided to have one last look around for something we already own and found just the thing. 

An espresso cup is the perfect size. My skin has been horrendous recently, which isn't like me, but since being ill it's been so dry. I had decided to order a facial oil, which sometimes works better for me, but in the meantime, out of desperation, I used some of Dan's beard oil. 

It's fantastic, just what I needed, he doesn't mind so that's something else I don't have to buy for a while. 

I did buy some food from the supermarket in order to make a picnic , we're going to West Brom on Saturday to watch Burnley. It's a place I don't know at all and I don't want to spend a fortune or get hangry! 

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

A Ridiculous Thing I Want To Buy

Recently I got it into my head that I'd like a new rucksack. I don't need a new rucksack, I just want one for reasons of vanity.

I already own a rucksack, I bought it for not very much money in the sale at a sports shop years ago, during the time we had to take the car off the road to save money (we took the car off the road for about 6 months or so, I'm sure Dan could tell you right down to the day). We saved loads of money doing this so we threw that at our debts. It did mean, however, that we had to do our grocery shopping on foot so a rucksack was a very good thing. I do a lot of our shopping on my own these days, so I need a nice comfortable way of getting it all home, especially when I can't take my trolley (e.g when I have a shift at the charity shop).

All the positives about the rucksack, inexpensive, functional, money saving (at the time), easy to carry heavier things, are all the reasons I talked myself into wanting a new one. Plus it's pretty unattractive. 

Of course I'm not going to buy a new one, after all I can't see it when it's on my back! Problem solved. Here is the offending article, look away now if you're easily upset. 


So, what are the benefits of this item? 

I already own it

I know how much it can hold

the  wide strap goes across my body so I find it very comfortable

It has a zipped mesh pouch inside large enough for my keys. purse etc.

It has a zipped external pocket, useful for... things, I tend to go for tissues or sweets. 

It has an external pouch thing that's big enough to hold the cup I use to take my mylk to the charity shop, so I don't have to buy a carton just for at the shop and I know it will stay upright and not leak

It's black and grey, so Dan can use it too, whereas he probably wouldn't borrow one if it was a different colour

That's it, but more than enough reasons to not look for a replacement.

Monday, 26 March 2018


Everyone that has some outdoors space seems to be getting out into the garden or to the allotment this week, I am no exception. Our garden budget this year is zero, but there's a lot I want to do, I'll probably have a fiver here and there to buy any essentials, but there will be no grand expenses.

Last year I focused on the shady bed and I'm really happy with how it looks now. I spent £20 on bark chippings from Aldi, and it was well worth it. Dan commented last week that he was impressed with what I achieved. 

Very simple, looks nice year round, even if it doesn't photograph well! It should look better next year as things will have grown, and hopefully the hebe will have fully recovered from being scorched in the sun before I moved it to this position.

I love all those flowers!

I'm going to focus on just one area again this year, and this time it's our large, sunny area. It needs a revamp, and ideally I'd take everything out and redo it, but that seems totally overwhelming for a beginner like myself, so I'm focusing on a few tasks, like moving the alpines, and working from there. I'll be doing almost all of this on my own so I don't want to run out of steam! When we moved in this area was totally overgrown and the trees covered the whole area, including the path. 

I need more height here, everything is quite low growing so I would like more impact, that probably won't happen this year though. We'll just have to see what things look like in the summer. At the moment it looks rusty.

This area is in front of the patio and will have nothing done with it this year. There are a couple of scraggy looking plants in there, and almost certainly some self seeding has happened as we had wild flowers in here last year. I'm just going to ignore it and deal with it next year. You can see from the colour of the stones at the bottom of the picture how the garden goes from deep shade to full sun!

I'm aiming to get out there for a minimum of 30 minutes a day as long as weather allows (it gets windy here), mainly for the vitamin D, but it's as good an excuse as any!

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Living The Life You Love

That's a phrase I see about the place a lot.

But there must be more to it than holding an egg in both hands or doing a star jump on the beach. Lots of live loving seems to take place in the countryside, which would be the opposite of living the life I love. I am very happy that the countryside exists but I don't want to spend any time in it, I don't mind seeing it from the window of a train, but I feel ill at the sight of a cattle grid or a sign with the words passing places - literally not a road I want to go down.

Anyway, part of LTLIL is making the most of what I have, and I like would to spend more time in the dining area, but it's just not cosy enough. I wonder why I don't find it a calm, relaxing space

there are just no clues! 

Nope, still not cosy. 

So we bought a bin, not for in the dining area but it means rubbish is now in the bin rather than on the worktop that's right next to the dining table. 

Dan tidied the Ladderax.

I tidied the sideboard

and made a table runner. 

Not maximum cosiness levels, but certainly better than before. Cost so far £5.99 for the bin.