Archive for the ‘House’ Category


I admit it, it was an impulse buy. I can rarely keep these things alive (I suspect that they’re like cyclamen, which are mass-grown for the Christmas market and known in the trade as ‘buy and die’) and when I do, I can never be bothered to faff with bags and darkened rooms to persuade it to go red again. (Mind you, a big green poinsettia can look rather splendid).

But there they were, in the supermarket, looking all red and green and festive. And cheap. So I succumbed, and bought one. And very cheery it looks too.

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From bubbles to baubles…

Look! Look what has come in the post!

I have been admiring these gorgeous handfelted baubles in Emma’s shop for a while, but sadly, due to various crises (including the cancellation of a large-ish job) couldn’t summon the pennies. But Emma very kindly sent them to me as a Christmas present, which was incredibly touching and generous. Thank you, Emma!

I fear the green will get lost on my tree, and I want to show them off, so I’m planning another way to display them. I’ll be sure to keep you posted!

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Winter bubbles

I was pottering about the bathroom and I realised that my bathing habits have taken a distinctly wintery tinge of late. Usually I favour either the herbal (the blue or green Radox Mr B buys, or the wonderful Neal’s Yard Seaweed and Arnica bath stuff) or the floral (I love Ren Moroccan Rose bath oil and Neal’s Yard Geranium and Orange). But lately I’ve been using these:

A ginger bubble bath that recently found when decluttering the bathroom, and which I bought so long ago I’m not sure the shop still sells it, a honey, milk and almond one which smells pleasingly custardy and a hot chili chocolate one, bought on a whim in Waitrose. (It smells, to me, of neither chili nor chocolate, but it is very warm and spicy and makes lovely frothy bubbles. Also a nice heavy glass bottle for people for whom these things matter.

This was all completely unconscious – I shall keep an eye on my bathing habits in case my choice of bubble bath is an early harbinger of spring.

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On Sunday, Mr S&S was happy because it was the first Sunday in Advent, so he was allowed mince pies. I am a stickler for ‘No Christmas things in the house until Advent’ because I like Christmas to be special and exciting and if you’re surrounded by Christmas things from October, it… isn’t.

But today is the 1st of December and I’m starting to feel, despite all the stuff going on here, enthusiastic about Christmas. I’m feeling festive. And creative. And excited. I also think my blogging mojo has come back, and to encourage it, I’ve decided to use the blog to harness my feelings of Festive Cheer. I’m going to do a post every day about something Christmassy or celebratory or wintery that makes me feel happy and cosy and festive. A sort of advent calendar/journal of Christmas preparations, which, I hope, will get me properly into the blog again, and encourage me to make time to do some of the things in my head.

First up, today’s little indulgence. I love Country Living magazine, but I don’t often manage to justify buying it. But today I was out and about and I thought that I deserved a little treat, and the December edition is just so Christmassy and lovely and inspiring.

Even the cover is scrumptious. The baubles! The ribbon! The candlelight!

I won’t show you all the lovely things as I plan to do some of them, and mine won’t be magazine-quality! But here’s a lovely boiled wool stocking with hand embroidery that I have no plans to make:

This feature, however, has made me want to grab secateurs and go out and denude the local trees and shrubs for winter foliage.

There’s also some glorious recipes and a feature about a man who makes stained glass and the most beautiful pictures of a frost-covered garden that has me thinking about structural plants.

It’s starting to seem as though this was £3.90 well spent!

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Where does the time go?

I have so many things I meant to blog about – I’ve been really busy and some of it is (I think) quite interesting. But September just … went. One minute it was the August bank holiday and I was preparing for a week’s holiday in Cornwall, and the next we’re nearly half way through October. What happened? And did it happen to anyone else?

September was going to be my ‘taking stock’ month. After a fairly hectic few months, September was going to be a month to catch up. Not do anything new, just some work, a bit of pottering in the house and garden, get back into creative things again…

Well, as they say, make plans and God laughs. We had a lovely holiday, and came back all relaxed and cheerful to find… water coming through the kitchen ceiling. On my list of things not to find on my return from holiday, ‘water coming through the ceiling’ is pretty darn high. We have fairly acid water anyway, but with two dry summers in a row (yes, we had a dry summer – the rest of the UK is complaining about the awful wet summer, and here, in Wales, I have lost garden plants because I forgot to water them) it’s been down to about pH4. And so has eaten through our copper pipes. We didn’t have a leak – we had dozens, perhaps hundreds, of teeny leaks. All over the house.

So, off went the water, up came the floorboards, Poof! went our plans of a quiet month. We had no water, bar the cold kitchen tap, for a week and a half. We decamped to my in-laws’ for a weekend, where we all had baths, enjoyed the ability to flush the loo without a bucket and I monopolised the washing machine. The water came back on, but the floorboards are still up and the contents of the airing cupboard are on floors everywhere and Mr S&S is having to get to the most unlikely places to replace pipes, which necessitates emptying cupboards and moving things about. One one level, we’re lucky that Mr S&S is able to do the replumbing, because we have no money and to pay a plumber to do it, we’d have to sell an organ or something. But this means he’s doing it around other jobs, so it takes ages. Actually, that’s what plumbers do, isn’t it? Oh, OK, we’re just lucky, then. (When I said in my speech at our wedding that one of the reasons I was marrying Mr S&S was because he could do plumbing and wiring, people laughed. But I wasn’t really joking.)

So between that, and work, and the usual stuff, weeks have gone by in a blur. I do want to blog about Cornwall, though, because it was lovely, so prepare for a little flurry of belated holiday posts.

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Halfway house…

I’ve been doing all sorts of busy things lately, but frustratingly, nothing I can blog about. I made a rather wonderful birthday cake and forgot to take photos. I’ve finished a big crochet project but haven’t forced myself to deal with all the ends. I’m halfway through a knitting project – and have been for about a week because I’ve not knitted a stitch since I hit the halfway point. We’re doing all sorts of things in the garden but it’s still all very much ‘in progress’.

Once I get over the hump, I’ll have lots to share, but for the moment it’s a case of keeping my head down and just plodding on.

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Shades of grey

We have redecorated our hall. Up to now, it’s been the default dumping ground for things that had no home, and I wanted it to be a nice space. It’s quite a dark room, with only a small amount of natural light, so we decided not to fight it. We have a lot of pictures, and wanted a colour that would act as a good backdrop. So with some trepidation (as I am a huge fan of the bright and light and vibrant) we went for grey. We have an old house and are limited to the paints we can use; one of the companies who make suitable paint is the wonderful Farrow and Ball (and even then, we have to have it specially made to order). And as luck would have it, F&B’s new colours for 2011 included some beautiful greys. We chose Manor House Grey for the walls, and the beautifully named Elephant’s Breath for the woodwork. The local carpet shop did us a very good deal on some nice damson carpet, and then we had a picture hanging session. It was especially nice to get some things on walls that have been in cupboards and corners for a while. On the little wall by the stairs we’ve put our marriage certificate and some lovely hand-painted plates we commissioned to mark the children’s births. We’ve still got some pictures to fit into gaps, but it’s starting to look as we envisaged, and it makes me feel happy and rather accomplished.

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