Ikea Summer

I always love it when summer is coming,  Ikea bring their garden range out. It’s generally only available instore and not for order online.  BOO! Dear Ikea please can we have a store in East Anglia?  But it’s great how it’s pretty inexpensive and as we only use our garden furniture for a couple of months, I never really feel like spending hundreds on it.  Also I’m an utter sucker for outdoor lights of all sorts,  look at all those pretty lanterns!

 

Images from Ikea
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Me Time…

Ages ago I left a comment on Tales from the Village, I didn’t realise that it was one where you can win something, I was just admiring Rachael’s pretty books!  But a couple of weeks back I had an email from the lovely Appliances Online saying I’d won £50 of Amazon vouchers to treat myself with – hurray!. I was going to order some books for our new Kindle but Hubby is hogging it so I’ve gone old fashioned and bought actual books.  Amazon is my utter weak spot, and my wish list is massive so it’s taken me a couple of weeks to decide what to get. But I have plumped for these:

Romantic Prairie Style – Fifi O’Neill

Fifi blogs at Fabulous Fifi and she was one of the first blogs I ever followed. She is a fabulous home stylist and lovely lady. She was also one of the first people to comment on Violet Posy back in 2008, when I first started it encouraging me to work for myself. I can’t wait to read her book.

Decorate: 1000 Professional Design Ideas for Every Room in the House by Holly Becker of Decor8 Blog which I adore. I’m really looking forward to getting some new ideas from this one.

The Great British Book of Baking: 120 best-loved recipes from teatime treats to pies and pasties by Linda Collister. My Mum has a copy of this and there are some lovely recipes in it and she won’t give it up, so I’ve had to buy my own. Mmm Cake!

And then so I can have some ‘Me Time’ and read my new books a DVD of Despicable Me for Miss L (also I think it’s a fun film so I don’t mind watching it again).

So leave me a comment on here and you too could be visited by the Appliances Online fairies, you never know!.

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This is Me Meme

Rosie Scribble tagged me ages ago with the This is Me Meme – started by the genius that is Tara Cain over at Sticky Fingers – her off the Gallery every week.

Here’s the rules such as they are (I like rules like that!)

  • Ask your child – their age doesn’t matter – to draw a picture of you.
  • Post it on your blog.
  • Let’s call it the This is Me Meme
  • Err, that’s it.
  • Pass it on to your friends/enemies if you want to.

So here’s me as drawn by Miss Miss L aged 8

I swear my neck isn’t really that long and I don’t wear necklaces EVER so no idea where they come from, I’m just grateful she didn’t draw me rounder 🙂

If anyone would like to join in – let me know and if you want to see more child blogger art pop over here

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Searching for Inspiration

I’ve gotten bored with my garden, maybe it’s been the long dull winter but I’m feeling uninspired. Although I love my roses and peonies they pretty much look after themselves. But the rest of it is just boring, the patio near the house is grey, shady and too small to put a table and chairs on.  The far end of the garden is grassy field, which is daunting to plant as through June to September it gets virtually no water so anything I’ve ever put there has died a death.

Luckily the dog still loves it and she’s the reason we need a nice big garden, can you imagine her in a smaller one?

I want somewhere for us all to relax, somewhere to plant fruit and veg and lots and lots of flowers but I’ve never achieved it and we’ve been here nearly eight years. And to be honest I still don’t really know where to start.  Our garden is about 150ft long and about 60ft wide and although my lovely husband is good at the destruction/rebuilding side he wouldn’t know a plant from a weed if it bit him and he’s not really into gardening.  Miss L likes to plant the odd flower or veggie, but then loses interest after a bit as kids do. So it’s me versus the garden and I’m losing.

I have a lot of small garden space books from our old house, why no one has ever written a ‘I have a big garden and no idea what to do with it and I have no time’ book I’ll never know.  But in the search for inspiration I’ve thought that maybe I’ll break the garden up into chunks and treat them as maybe 3 or 4 mini gardens and do the odd hour here and there.

So the new plan is:

1. Bit nearest the house – Pots of veggies (easy to water) and if I can get it in a little greenhouse. Mini table and chairs for brekkie?

2. Main Lawn – Flowers, wide beds and pretties

3. Middle bit – I have loads of trees – so not much grows there – but maybe add a patio and have a BBQ area there?  It’s lovely and sheltered so you can sit there for ages and it’s unseen from the houses around us. But check out my Cherry Tree which has started to blossom in that part of the garden – I adore it!

4. Far end – this now needs more though now than it had previously.  Yesterday I saw the local council plan for our area and over the next 10-20 years they are going to put high density housing  – 3,000 odd in the fields behind our house.  I don’t mind the housing, people have to live somewhere but I doubt they are going to put in any breaks between old and new, so technically they can build right up against our fence – like they have in other parts of town.

So putting  in hedging, trees and work areas now might be more appropriate for that part of the garden. I think creating screening now might be a good plan, so it’s nice and established by the time it all goes in.  I want to put the veggie patch up there too, but I need to think about getting water up there for keeping the plants actually alive!

Do any of you have biggish garden’s that are well planned, houses behind yours that you screen?  Any good tips or tricks for getting it how you want?

 

 

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Yorkshire Pud Update…

Thank you everyone who gave me recipes, tips and advice on getting the perfect Yorkshire pud.  I followed the 2 egg, milk & flour recipe and I had a marked improvement! Check out this week’s attempt

Much, much better but that was the only one that turned out ok – but I was still dead chuffed from the rubbish I was making before. My oven is a bit rubbish and doesn’t seem to cook evenly so maybe I need to put the temperature up to 210 degrees from 200?  But I’m very happy to be improving – thanks everyone xx

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Aid for Japan

What is there to say? It just beyond horrific and getting worse. If you want to help by sending financial support http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/, http://www.redcross.org.uk/ and http://www.shelterbox.org/ are all running campaigns and getting help up and running on the ground where it’s needed most.

In addition I had an email about this auction this morning as well. If you’re into books and want to raise money for a good cause this might be for you:

>>Freelance journalist Keris Stainton has pulled off an amazing feat.

Keris has, within 48 hours, brought together some of the UK’s best known popular fiction talent, as well as some overseas writers, in an auction to raise funds for the Red Cross Japan Tsunami Appeal.

Authors taking part include:

  • Dorothy Koomson
  • Andrew Crofts
  • Jill Mansell
  • Adele Parks
  • Caroline Smailes
  • Cathy Cassidy

So far there are more than 100 lots including exclusive editions of new books, signed works, feedback and critiques on manuscripts and proposals as well as publicity help, social media expertise and freelance journalism mentoring. There are three lots from me: A critique of a non fiction book proposal, a place on a Kick start your freelance writing career day-long workshop, and four one-hour telephone mentoring sessions, with exercises and feedback in between and two signed books with each.

You can see the details here:

http://authorsforjapan.wordpress.com

Bidding opens at 8am tomorrow (Tues 15) and closes at 8pm on Sunday 20th<<

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Yorkshire Pud Help Needed

Check out my pathetic attempt to make a Yorkshire Pudding.  I can cook most things, but these just elude me no matter what I try.   I’ve tried using milk to make the batter, water to make the batter, both olive oil and goose fat in the tray (not at the same time!).  I’ve tried all sorts of heat and they always turn out like that.

Help!!  What are your top tips for making the perfect yorkshire pud and please don’t say an Aga 😉

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Dance Juniors for Wii Review

The PR company sent me a copy of this ages ago and I feel awful I’ve not reviewed it before. It pretty much kept us sane and warm through the horrid cold wet February half term.  I think Miss L is on the edge of being too old for it but most kids from 3 – 8  would have a great time.  I got all excited because some Wiggles songs were on it, I miss them! Miss L however was more impressed by The Jackson’s ABC being on there, she’s cooler than me, what can I say?. The songs on the game, were spot on for the younger age group and they were sung by kids – except the Wiggles ones – hurray!!!.

As it turns out, I utterly suck at dancing games and Miss L utterly kicked my butt everyday by more than 3,000 points – how embarrassing!  But it’s fun and a good workout, so I suspect we’ll get some of the more grown up versions and we can pretend to be Beyonce 🙂

Anyway check my girl throwing some dance moves to ‘All Star’ (no video of me doing it – what a shame!)

 

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Belonging

This last week has been a really hard one, which is why I’ve not really been on here. My Nan passed away in Ireland at the grand old age of 98 on Thursday. She started deteriorating suddenly last Monday night in hospital and I had a 48 hour window to try and get to Ireland to say goodbye. Despite hours on various websites I couldn’t get a last minute flight, and I had to accept that I couldn’t get there. I was so upset, but a lot of sensible people pointed out to me at least I’ll have the memories of her as she was funny, sassy and living her life as she wanted and not the shell of her that was leaving. I want to remember her as the woman who in her 80’s wanted to do a road trip across the US, the woman who loved her crafts and spent hours patiently trying to teach me crochet and knitting despite me being utterly useless. She taught me how to make a mean Irish Coffee, to cook Brac Cake and spent hours answering all my family history questions no matter how trivial.

I spent the whole of Friday putting on a brave face for Miss L’s birthday to make it her special day. Friday night I found out that the funeral was set for Sunday (they do it quickly in Ireland) and there was no way I could get there for that either.

Saturday I decided that I’d had enough and as I was going to take out my grief on the garden. I got an amazing amount done and I was feeling pretty good when I came back in. But I made the mistake of sitting down for a bit to have a coffee and when I went to get up I couldn’t! My back had locked up.

By Sunday morning I couldn’t move at all and it was hurting to breathe. The only problem was we were expecting 12 children to a birthday party for Miss L at the local bowling alley! Paul bless him said he could do the party on his own and he’d leave me in bed. Miss L gave me a kiss and just wanted me to be better and said she didn’t mind me not coming – which just made me cry even more by that point.

I texted a couple of friends and asked if they could help out – they were fabulous and within about 10 minutes 5 Mums from school were mobilised and offering to help out run the party – 12 kids bowling you need more than one person! I also got loads of texts and calls offering to do the school run for me this week, if I couldn’t drive.

I then texted my Osteopath to see if he had any appointments free on Monday morning, figuring he’d phone me Monday and probably say Tuesday. No he didn’t, he texted me back immediately and said he’d open the clinic at 2.30pm and he sort my back out for me then – on a SUNDAY! I couldn’t believe someone could be so generous as to give up their Sunday afternoon to prod me back into moving. Thankfully he worked his magic and although I’m sore, at least I can move and breathe again.

Last night I was talking to my parents and I had a moment of clarity. They were telling me about my Nan’s ‘Removal’, when they move the body from the funeral home to the church. 70 people were at the funeral home to pay their respects to Nan as she left and 30 – 40 were waiting at the church to greet her, the local flower arranging club had even filled the church with flowers from top to bottom in her honour.

She moved to Ireland with her husband, not knowing a soul 40 years ago to retire. And even though she’d not been able to get out and about for the last 10 years, but she still had over a hundred people that cared about her to come and pay their respects to her. She belonged there in her community and they all loved her, which is a massive comfort to us all.

When I put the phone down, I realised that we belong here. For years I’ve been treating living here as temporary stop gap before we go back to Surrey or off to Canada or where ever else I come up with. And despite living here for 8 years now, up until that moment I’d never really considered that we have so many good friends here or what a wrench it’d be to leave. The sheer amount of people who have offered to help us in the last week has been amazing. They are my friends and community now and I’m taking that as a last lesson from my Nan.

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