Thursday, 27 August 2015

What have you done today?

This is a loaded question which I dread!

Some days, I've done everything off my long list and some, other days I've done hardly anything except get out of bed (rare but those days exist). Across a week, I generally get everything done that must be done; I try to have some time for enjoying myself socialising and I am always planning and list writing for other jobs to get done.

The point is, I don't want my days to be measured by what I have (or increasingly haven't) achieved.

I'm not at work any more. I don't need to have Performance Management meetings, setting personal and work targets, being measured by a traffic light system (!!) as to whether I achieved last year's targets. It's not like my pay is linked to me meeting my targets anyway!

I want my day to be measured by whether our home is comfortable enough, whether there is food on the table and clothes to be worn. Are the animals happy, healthy and well fed. Am I happy and contented? Does my family have what it needs to thrive? Have I had moments of joy in my day where I have stopped to appreciate my surroundings? Have I been creative?

If the answer is Yes, then my day has been just fine thanks :)

How do you measure your days when you go to bed at night?

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Still aiming for zero food waste

We had a rare treat on Sunday - roast chicken with gratin dauphinois and petit pois à la française. If I had to choose my last meal on earth it might be that one, although .......
It was very yummy, but I'm then left with a carcass, so in a large pot it went covered with water and simmered for about an hour. In the morning, I picked off all the remnants of meat and anything else edible which has then provided four meals for Jet. He was VERY appreciative! The liquid was then strained to provide me with a litre and a half of good quality chicken stock for the deep freeze.
We have two apple trees in the garden - both eating apples, but quite tart. We eat a large quantity of vegetables in this house, but many of us prefer our fruit cooked unless of course it's strawberries, bananas or blueberries. Whilst I was away last week, I believe the UK had had some wind and rain so there were quite a few windfalls. I collected all but the very worst and painstakingly cut off all the bruises etc before stewing them with a little vanilla sugar and ground cinnamon. It smells gorgeous and we all love stewed apple on our porridge.

I had a very peaceful day yesterday catching up with the cleaning and some sewing repairs. I'm still working through clearing the house of clutter. I must be ready for a new venture because I am very comfortable parting with items I've had since my early twenties. It feels great - as if I'm clearing the way for a new style of living.

Picture courtesy of the Internet

The weather was pretty awful here yesterday, so I was very thankful for the tennis ball chucker we bought for £3! It means I can give Jet some excellent exercise in much less time. There is a time and place for long walks and yesterday was not that time! He loves chasing the ball and is very good at bringing it back, although we are still working on him letting me have it back to launch it again :) I don't know who designed these ball throwers, but what a genius invention!

Sunday, 23 August 2015


.... Well for now at least!

Apologies I haven't posted recently, but I had the opportunity to have a week's holiday in Tenerife with an old friend of mine. Too good a chance to pass up, eh?

I love these Spanish tiles!

I had a very relaxing week in the sunshine, reading, sleeping, chatting and reflecting. I have come back browner, relaxed and reinvigorated! I think it's just what I needed after the previous few months and I'm hoping that I will be able to throw myself back into my plans now.

The perfect spot for an evening mojito :)

Prior to going away, I had slipped into the doldrums rather, feeling very lacklustre and uninspired. The summer holidays are always more tricky anyway as, with most of us being involved in education, normal routines are suspended and everyday tasks, which I normally find easy to fit in, become so much more difficult when everyone is at home! 

I've now had the chance to 'regroup' and am hoping to make progress on my to do list, which I certainly need to do, with 2 to get ready for school, one to go back to Uni and the fourth to go off to America for a year! 

Monday, 10 August 2015

Red mites and finished project

Hooray, I have finally finished the garden table. There were points I never thought I'd actual get round to starting, let alone finishing, but it now has pride of place on the decking.

As predicted the grouting took a while, but the cleaning of the tiles afterwards took the longest. I had tried to sponge off as much excess as possible, but because the tiles aren't all even thickness, there were lots of nooks and crannies for grout to build up in. I suspect, I will be fiddling about with it for a while yet, but it's pretty much there and useable now. I have 8 navy whole tiles left over, so they can 
act as coasters for wine glasses - don't want to spilling wine now do I?!
I fancied some candles too, then remembered I had some lanterns bought in Primark many tears ago which were lurking in the shed. 

They were bare metal and a bit rusty, so I dug out some Humbrol paints and tarted them up. I only had three colours of paint, so white, black and blue it was then! I have hung them from the struts of the parasol with the three chains from an old hanging basket.

 Jet has had two wonderful walks around Vurginia Water this weekend. He has loved swimming in the lake and meeting lots of other black labs - all very wet too! It's about a 5 mile walk to go all around the lake. We love to see him having such a good time. He's off with Mr D and eldest daughter to Chertsey Meads today to try out the Thames for size. 

Posing by the Falls at Virginia Water. 
I have been struggling with red mites in the chicken coop this summer. I have tried the powder Diatonous Earth and I have sprayed the coop with some red mite killer. I have used smoke bombs too and used a lavender smelling red mite killer and then my steamer in full blast to get in all the grooves and corners. I have also tried a combination of several things. Does anyone have any suggestions out there? I only have the one coop so it would be tricky for me to have it 'out of  action' for any length of time. I have read that they are almost impossible to get rid of, so I am working on keeping them in check, but am very open to tips as its been a very time consuming business and I don't want my ladies to be uncomfortable or indeed to stop laying (they are already laying less). I'm hoping some of you will have some tips? 

Friday, 7 August 2015

Nearly there on my latest creative project ...

A while ago, I gave you a little teaser as to my next creative project.... I am very nearly there now. Many of you guessed correctly that I was going to attempt my first mosaic. It has taken a while, but so far I am very pleased with the result. What do you think?

Part way through the tiling. 
I decided to do 'Waves' of tonal colours rather than a specific pattern. As Mr D said "random but in a pattern"

The tiling is finally complete, but I haven't grouted yet. I ran out of steam after all that smashing and careful placing. We reckon I spent about six hours on the tiling.

I decided to do a removable top which is then screwed on a frame to go over the top of the original table. The tiled table top will be very heavy. I then edged it with plastic tile edging to give a neat finish.
The table has lasted us really well. We bought it from Argos about 15 years ago for a mere £99. It has been painted regularly to keep it looking smart and would no doubt have lasted us many more years had one of my sons friends not decided it would be a good idea to stand on the table causing it to crack. Hey ho, collateral damage of leaving my teenagers home alone when Mr D and I went away for a few days!
Anyway, I had wanted to do a mosaic since visiting the Gaudi park in Barcelona 8 years ago. 
I'll post a photo of the finished table when I have grouted it all - I'm thinking the grouting may take a while too! 

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Inferiority complex

I love blog land and I love reading people's blogs and finding inspiration, tips and loads of interesting information. Sometimes though, reading about everything that people are achieving out there can just leave me feeling a bit inferior!!

I know that really I should be scaling my expectations down to fit in with my tiny 'plot' of garden, so that my kilos of loganberries, handfuls of beans and a few courgettes seem more like a harvest! I did manage a yummy stir fry the other day with vegetables entirely from the garden at least. One day ......

We had another fox attack last Friday. Jet had just gone out for a walk and I had just popped upstairs for a shower. The minute I stepped out of the shower, I heard my ladies screaming and flapping. I legged it downstairs grabbing a towel as I went and shot down the garden, barefoot and dripping! I didn't see the fox, but I heard him scrabbling back over the fence as I ran across the lawn. He had bitten Prim and there were feathers everywhere, but she was still alive. Of course, I was then naked (fortunately holding a towel around myself for the sake of the neighbours) and faced with 4 panic stricken chickens and one wounded and shocked chuck. I had to climb in with them to calm them all down. I have to say, I didn't expect her to survive, but I made a judgement call that we would clean up her wounds and just leave her in peace to let nature take its course. I kept applying antiseptic for a few days and gradually, she has regained strength and is still with us. I wasn't really sure what to do, but went on instinct, keeping my fingers crossed. The touching part was that once they had all calmed down, the other four formed a protective shield around her. I had half expected them to pick on her because she was weaker.

Jet after a swim in the lake! 

Jet is an absolute treasure. He has now lost 2 kilos and about 2 inches from his waistline and is looking in very good health. He is often complimented in the park about his lovely shiny coat. Everyone loves him and people can hardly believe how calm he is. The cats still hate him and haven't ventured downstairs in three weeks! Fortunately, they have always used my bedroom window as their 'cat flap' and I have moved their food upstairs, so it's no hardship for them really - they spend most of the day asleep on a bed anyway!

I am making VERY slow progress with clearing the clutter and other jobs around the house. I find that the summer holidays make it hard to get anything done - too many people in the house! I've also started the latest craft project, but it may take me a while!

So as you can see, compared to some other bloggers, not much of interest or import to report on really, but just pootling along slowly nibbling away at my 'to-do' list. Meanwhile, I will get my dose of excitement vicariously through reading other people's blogs :)

Monday, 3 August 2015


Help! I'm drowning!

My house (and car) (oh and sheds) are suddenly and overwhelmingly full of stuff! I'm not totally sure where it's come from, although clearing out Mum's house hasn't helped of course because I've obviously brought back stuff from her house.

This morning I feel completely bogged down, mentally, emotionally and physically in a sea of belongings. There doesn't seem to be a single room in my house that isn't rammed to capacity. In fact there is so much stuff, on top of other stuff, in front of other stuff, stuffed into cupboards that I can't put any stuff away!! AAARGH!

The airing cupboard AFTER my massive clear out. It wouldn't have been much point taking one before because there was so much stuff in the way!!

Two of the 3 bags to go to textile recycling. Phew! It feels good to be creating some 'outgoing traffic'! 

It's not as if I'm not trying to purge - 2 large bags of shoes recycled yesterday, 2 bags in the hall to go to charity and 3 large bags of textiles to recycle on the landing from this morning's efforts. Yet still it comes at me!

I have absolutely NO idea how people live with stuff everywhere. I am obviously not designed to not live in an uncluttered and organised house. I will keep plodding my way through it and although I suspect it will get worse before it gets better, I am quite determined to regain my simple, happy lifestyle, which is so evading me at present. I'll let you know when I get there!!