Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Another Visit to the Ideal Home Show

Last Thursday,  my friend and I had a day out at Olympia, West London to visit the spring edition of the Ideal Home Show. I'd acquired free tickets once again, through MoneySupermarket.com and it provided a good excuse for an inexpensive jolly.  My friend was particularly glad of a day out, as she'd had to attend a funeral the day before and it definitely helped to take her mind off it.

I decided on this occasion that I would be a bit more organised.  On previous visits, we have tended to just wander around, getting lost mostly and missed many of the demonstrations on the various stages, as we didn't know exactly what was going on where at any point in time.

This visit, I made the effort to print off timetables for the various stages and exhibit information before we went, so that we could plan our day and pick out what exactly we wanted to see, and more importantly, not miss anything that sounded interesting.  I did also want to print off a map, but there wasn't one on the website, a cunning ruse to get you to buy the show programme which contains one, but we managed okay without it and there were people at various points around the exhibition that you could ask for directions and who were incredibly helpful.

We met earlier than usual this time, as I swapped dog walks with OH and we planned our day whilst travelling there on the Underground.  To be honest, I don't think I picked the best of days looking at the line ups, but there were still a few things that were worth looking out for and watching.

We started off by taking a look at the entries in the Young Gardeners of the Year contest that was being staged at the show.  There were 6 small gardens entered, which incorporated some beautiful and very creative ideas.  Visitors could vote for their favourite gardens and although I was tempted to show loyalty to the horticultural college I attended a few years ago, my final vote went to this garden called 'Go With the Flow' by Pershore College, which incidentally and unbeknown to us before voting, won the gold medal from the competition judges.

There were so many things about this garden that I liked.  The vertically planted wall, the patio made of log slices, the planting which was exquisite, with most of my favourite plants in there, including euphorbias and hellebores.

 I also liked the way they used these shoes screwed to the wall.  You could imagine yourself kicking off your shoes and relaxing in this garden.

Next, as we were early into the show, we decided to visit the Gap House, which was a concept house that was just 3 metres wide and had been designed to fit into a gap between two houses, such as that created by the removal of a garage or by a garden grab, which is commonly used these days in an age of housing and land shortages, especially in London.  This house particularly interested me for this reason, as I often see small houses like this spring up around and about and they fascinate me.

Unfortunately, in preparing this post I have accidentally deleted all my photos from my camera and therefore (in addition to being totally hacked off about it) I can't share them with you here, but here's a picture from a brochure I brought back with me to illustrate this house.

Both my friend and I loved this house, despite it's narrowness and unusual layout. We both felt that we could live happily in it.  I think that the fact that we both live in typical three storey narrow Victorian London terraced houses, helped us to feel at home in here.  I was surprised at the dark paint choices for the interior walls, but I liked the dark grey and dark teal colours and it did give this home a very cosy feel. Definitely worth checking out.

One particular aspect of the interior that interested me was a fold out bed/desk that was used and I was very happy to find out where these could be purchased in this country, as I am quite interested in getting one at some point for my sewing room.  These appeared in a couple of the three concept houses at the show and they are a genius space saving idea for a spare bedroom, especially when you only get occasional visitors.  They are quite expensive, but can be bought in single, small double or regular double sizes.  You are really paying for the design and technology with these pieces of furniture, but if you have very limited space they are a superb solution.  I have seen them used in many minimalist tiny homes on YouTube.

Following our tour of the Gap House, we made our way to the Super Theatre Stage, to watch upcycler and product designer Max McMurdo (of Kirsty's Fill Your House for Free fame) demonstrate how to create some carnival alphabet lights from pallet wood, plywood, fairy lights and acrylic paint. It was good fun, if a little long winded and he got a member of the audience to create one too, who did a sterling job. I really love demonstrations such as these, which show that with a bit of thought, you can create something desirable out of something that might otherwise end up in landfill. I wish I still had my photo of these as they were really cute and I'd really like to have a go myself at making one of these, for both Little Bird and myself.

We followed this by returning to the remaining two concept houses, which were called the Home for Life and the Future Proof Home. The queues, by this time, were pretty long, but kept moving and so looked far worse than they actually were. Both were pre-fabricated homes and were interesting to walk around, but of these two larger concept houses, I much preferred the lay out of the latter as I found the layout of the Home for Life a little impractical.

Next, we visited the Smart House, set up by Virgin Media which showcases technological advances in the home, and then we headed off to Pizza Express for lunch. As we didn't spend hardly any money on this day out, we treated ourselves to a convivial and relatively inexpensive lunch in lovely surroundings.

When we resumed our journey around the show, we headed upstairs to the beauty, fashion and food areas.  We started off watching the end of a fashion show (we had unfortunately missed the beginning) and then did a tiny bit of shopping in Fox's Spices, which I mentioned in my post about this show last year. They sell a huge range of spices and other culinary ingredients and condiments. I bought a small gift for a friend for Christmas, that will keep perfectly well until then.

We also picked up a goody bag, which didn't have a great deal in it save for a very small chocolate bar that is supposed to improve your eyesight!!, some sweet pea seeds and a small pack of granola which quickly became my dessert, and I proceeded to nibble it as we walked around. We did get a lovely free coffee courtesy of Virgin Media, as we were both customers of theirs, and it did create a welcome break for us, when we sat down to drink them before setting off for home. Mine was a lovely Latte by the way.  (Saved me £3.50 - sometimes freebies are definitely worth having)

In all honesty, we were less interested in this part of the show and soon returned to the home improvement floor, where we realised that we had forgotten to visit the Ideal Home magazine set room interiors. These were also interesting, but having visited them, we decided that we had seen everything at the show that we wanted to see and began to make our way home.

We had a great day out, even better as it cost us very little, and I think being a bit more organised really heightened our enjoyment of it.  I'd definitely do it this way again, if we go to another one.  Just a pity that I lost the photos. I'm really sorry about this, as it would have made this post a whole lot more interesting.

Monday, 30 March 2015

A Few Technical Issues

Aside from yesterday, I've not been posting for a few days, mainly due to technical issues.  We're playing technological musical chairs in our house at the moment. 

OH has taken back his laptop, which I was using, as he's got a virus on his desktop that's preventing him using the software he needs to use for work.  As a consequence, I'm back to using Little Bird's netbook, which is okay, but not my favourite piece of technology.

I lost the photos I'd taken on my phone of the Ideal Home Show the other day, because I was trying to upload them onto OH's desktop and then onto a memory stick, but inadvertently deleted them all.

I managed to get back on the laptop over the weekend to load some photos from my camera, only to discover that my camera has now broken, the lens having jammed and it is now refusing to go back in.  This has now rendered my camera useless.  Luckily, I had just uploaded everything before this happened, so I was able to complete a few blog posts I was working on.

Anyway, to cut a very long and boring story short, I'm now having to use Little Bird's digital camera. She doesn't use it as she has a camera on her phone, so I might as well make use of it for the time being.

I guess if there is a silver lining to all of this, it is that at least the technology we do have in our possession is now getting used and at least we are lucky enough to have these options. 

I am, however, finding all of this technological change very trying and exhausting, technophobe that I am. It takes me a while to get used to each new change.  Please bear with me, I apologise in advance if future photos aren't the best.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Monthly Reading - March

This month has been a good month for reading books that I've thoroughly enjoyed.   It started with this book, which I borrowed from our local library and really enjoyed reading.

So much so, that I devoured it in a couple of days.  I've already written about this book in a blog post so I won't go into great detail here, but I will say that it's approach to managing your money made me stop spending money needlessly almost overnight.  It provided a completely new to me way to look at my spending and money habits.

The second book I read this month was this one by Winifred Holtby.  I was drawn to this book because I've read a book by this author called South Riding in the past and enjoyed it.  In addition, her books are set in East Yorkshire where I grew up, which also roused my curiosity.

I haven't read a Virago modern classic historical fiction book for a while. I used to read them a lot and have a few scattered about that I still need to read.  This book has definitely made me more prone to picking them up as I really enjoyed it.

Set in a fictional village in the Yorkshire Wolds, it tells the story of farmer's wife Mary Robson, whose encounter with a Young socialist writer changes her life and the village forever.  This book was beautifully written and although some of the characters weren't always easy to like, it was such a good read.  To it's credit, it's ending was in no way as predictable as I was expecting either, which was a definite bonus.  I have another book by this author in my pile to read this year, and which I am now looking forward to.

My next read was another book from the library on the subject of money and how we spend it. In it, Dunn and Norton, (respectively a Psychologist and Professor of Marketing at Harvard by profession) examine what kinds of spending really make us happiest and how we can tailor our spending to make our lives better and achieve increased feelings of happiness. Although some of the areas where spending resulted in increased happiness did not exactly surprise me, the research they used to back up their ideas made this book a very interesting read.

Although this month was a good month for reading, it wasn't such a good month for reducing the pile of books by my bed, because several of the books I read were acquired from the library or were new additions to the pile.  I'm afraid I went against my book buying ban and bought one book from a charity shop for 50p and one from the library for 20p, which have subsequently been added to the pile.

The book I bought from the charity shop was this one by Sue Townsend, which is made up of some of the articles she wrote for her regular column in Sainsbury's magazine in the 1990's.  As I never read Sainsbury's magazine, I found this book very entertaining, and it had me chuckling to myself on numerous occasions.  If you like a book with a good dose of self-depracating humour and healthy cynicism, this might be the one for you. Although it was published over ten years ago, it didn't seem at all dated to me and was also super easy to pick up and put down.

The next book I read this month was this one by Anne Fine.  Again it was a new acquisition, being the book I bought for 20p from the library.  I enjoyed this book which was basically about step sibling rivalry and it didn't take long to read it as it was a large print book.

Talking of large print books, I am now reading this one, which was also purchased from the library some time ago. It's huge with over 500 pages.  It might take a while to get to the end, but so far I'm really enjoying it.  I might even try to watch the DVD of the film, once I've finished reading it.

A great reading month, but hopefully, I'll make better progress reducing the pile next month!!

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Making Calculations

After visiting the allotment yesterday, and still thinking about re-edging the beds, the evening was spent working out my rustic (to say the least) calculations.  It turns out I need at least 30 metres worth of edging to replace the old rotting planks, plus some stakes to hold it in place.

After working this out, I spent the evening checking out Pinterest, eBay and B&Q/Wickes websites to see if I could find any reasonably priced solutions.  The outlook was a bit depressing and very expensive, so I went to bed not having progressed much further.

The following day, I decided to call in at B&Q on my way home from the gym, to see what they had in store. I found a few examples of treated timber I could buy that would do the job and for not too much over £50, there were options available which perked me up a bit.

I did purchase these two decking squares whilst in there, on clearance for £2 each, as I want to use them as a small platform/deck area under the tree on my plot.  I'm going to treat them first though to extend their life a little.  They don't actually match colourwise as they were the only two left, but I'm not too bothered as a couple of weeks of being outside and you probably won't even notice.

When I got home and told OH of my findings he handed me his SELCO brochure, in which similar timber was for sale much cheaper (almost half the price of B&Q) and he even offered to buy it for me this coming weekend which was very kind of him.  (I can't afford to buy it myself until next month).

I can see a lot of wood painting with preservative taking place in my immediate future.  I'm going to make some stakes from some longer lengths of wood and drop them in a bucket of preservative and then attach them to the planks before taking them to the plot, so that all I need to do is hammer them in place when I get there and I don't need to mess about with nails/screws/drills on site.

I'm now feeling a lot better about the task in hand, in fact I'm quite looking forward to getting on with it and am hoping to get it completed before the growing season starts proper.  I'll keep you posted as to progress.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

First Allotment Visit of 2015

Today, I decided to make my first visit of the year to the allotment. Mainly because I needed to start work on it by the end of the month and partly because it was a lovely sunny day and my main free day this week on which to go.

I'd had a few emails from the committee in recent weeks, not to me personally, but just general allotment business emails to all plot holders, where they'd asked everyone to start work on their plots by the end of the month or face the consequences!  In addition, the committee had been assessing the state of the paths around plots and had listed all the plots that needed some work to clear or widen paths to the correct width.

I was relieved to note that my paths were not ones that were highlighted. To be honest, I've got enough on my plate trying to figure out what I'm going to do to create new edging for my beds, as the wood we used when we originally set up my plot is now well and truly rotted, as are the small posts we put in to keep them upright and they all need completely replacing.

As a consequence, on this visit, I decided I was going to measure all the edges of the beds, so that I would know how much wood I would need if I decided to go down that avenue again.  Then I can at least calculate the potential cost by a quick trip to the garden centre or salvage yard.

The only problem was that I was half way there before I realised I'd forgotten the tape measure and pencil/paper to note down the measurements.  I decided I'd have to get creative.  I had a pen in the car and an old car park ticket and decided that these together with my wellies would just have to do.  I dutifully measured the edges by how many boot lengths they were and will be spending this evening deciphering and calculating my results, once I've measured the length of my wellies.

I have got a few other ideas for edging the beds which I may consider if the wood option is too expensive. One involves bricks sunk into the ground.  I can't remember where I saw it, somewhere on line, but it gave an interesting effect and might be possible to use old bricks if I can find a good source.

Anyway, I hadn't been to the plot since the end of October I think, so I was kind of dreading what I'd find.  Here's a couple of pictures of what it did look like after being left all winter.

The bed in the second picture didn't really get a good dig over in the autumn, as the soil was quite hard, so I began there and dug it all over and put in a row of potato tubers (next to where the canes are lying on the ground) to help break up the soil. Here's what it looked like afterwards.

Then I dug over the main large bed, taking out lots of old potato tubers that I'd missed last year and which were now sprouting.  I could have left them in, but I don't want to plant my tubers in this bed this year, so didn't.  It took a good couple of hours to dig over most of the plot, by which time I was starting to flag but I was happy with what I achieved.

It looked a lot tidier.  I still need to tackle the mint in the far corner as it is getting quite unruly, needs cutting back and some digging out. I set aside most of the rotting wood from the bed edges as it was just getting in the way. I'm going to put some of this wood chip on my paths on my next visit, when I remember to take a spade and a rake with me.

I was going to stay a little longer and sow the lettuce, onions and broad beans, but I got caught in a torrential downpour and had to pack up and come home, still pondering on what to do with the  bed edges.

I might have to do a bit of research on Pinterest to resolve this issue. (There goes another few hours!) I can't see me doing much in the immediate future, until I have some funds available.  Maybe next month.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Alternative Living Spaces

In the last few months I've mentioned that I've been watching YouTube videos on a reasonably regular basis.  Although quite a few of these have been beauty related, more recently I've become interested in some of the more alternative minimalist living videos out there on the web. There's a plethora of interesting videos of home hacks or tiny living spaces, that I find fascinating and completely inspiring, especially when I'm in the process of decluttering and simplifying.

Here's a few of my current favourite channels for inspiration:

1)  Kirsten Dirksen 

This channel is probably my favourite and is completely fascinating.  Kirsten has made hundreds of videos about tiny self built living spaces, plus lots of other interesting videos about slow/alternative/self sufficient/minimalist living. She has an incredibly positive outlook and the contents of her videos are very inspiring.  If there's nothing to interest me on the TV, I can look through her back catalogue of videos and can always find something interesting and illuminating to watch.

2)  SPACEStv

Similarly, this YouTube channel also focuses on alternative living spaces and provides videos of some amazing small homes around the globe. Although this channel doesn't seem to have broadcast any videos since last July, it is still worth exploring some of their older videos, especially when you're looking for some simple living inspiration.

3)  Living Big in a Tiny House

This channel also specialises in videos about living in small spaces. Although you may not wish to downsize your life to quite the extent of many of the contributors, it includes some incredibly useful ideas and makes fascinating watching.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

A New Make - Handmade Leather Zipped Clutch

Today, I happened into my sewing room and found myself tidying up. Little Bird had been using my machine last week for some Tech homework.  As I sat there clearing up the mess she'd left, I decided to embark on a little project of my own that I've been meaning to do for a while.

I bought a quite large piece of brown leather from a charity shop many moons ago for just £2.  It was big enough to make a small zipped clutch bag, so I decided to set about making one.  I found myself a zip from my stash, and although it didn't match exactly, it was a good enough match for me, more especially as it meant that I didn't have to go out and buy one.

I cut the leather into two rectangles and started to attach the zip to two of the sides.  Having watched the final of the Sewing Bee the other week, I utilised the technique of clipping the zip to the leather using small bulldog clips rather than pinning and marking the leather.  It worked well.  I'd bought myself some sewing machine needles for use with leather on a visit to a local market last year. They cost just £1 and worked really well.  I practiced on a scrap piece first, just to make sure, as this was the first time I'd sewn with leather.

I then sewed down and around the bottom of the two pieces of leather to make a simple, flat, zipped clutch.  It was a bit tricky to get through all the layers of leather and zip at either end of the bag fastening, but it didn't turn out too badly for a first attempt.  I trimmed up the leather inside to help me to turn it out and I was quite happy with the result.

As there were quite a few offcuts, I decided to try to make a tassle to attach to the zip as a bit of extra detail. It was really easy to make and I held it together with another bulldog clip before finally securing it with strong glue.

It's by no means perfect but I like it and feel happy to be making again.  Here's a picture of the finished result.

Even if I don't want to use it as a clutch, I can always use it for makeup or travel document pouch.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

A Few More Frugalities

In the last couple of weeks, I have been trying a lot harder to get back to more frugal spending or non-spending habits. A few recent frugalities include the following;

1. I had to return something to a shop the last week and was initially tempted to do an exchange and find something else I liked.  On looking around I decided better of it and just got the refund.

2.  I currently have an annual subscription to Prima magazine, with which you can receive a free sewing pattern each month if you so opt.  I was opted in, but for some reason when I re-subscribed using my Tesco Clubcard tokens, I was opted back out again and hadn't been receiving them for a couple of months.  As a consequence, the other day I called the magazine and re-opted to have the monthly sewing patterns sent to me and also requested the one's I'd missed so far.  Any I decide not to use I may sell on eBay or donate them for others to use.  Now I just need to get around to using them.

3.  I finally got around to listing a bunch of Little Bird's outgrown clothes on eBay.  Any proceeds I will be using to buy some Christmas presents early and other essential purchases.

4. I put in an order with Approved Food this week, for amongst other things, a box of 52 dishwasher tabs which worked out at £4 and 5 litres of Fairy Washing up Liquid for £10, which although wasn't quite as good a deal, does mean that I won't need to put it on my shopping list for a good while and also I will be reducing waste and recycling, by not throwing out multiple small bottles when they are finished.

5.  I bulk bought (on clearance) six months worth of dog waste bags (375) from TK MAXX for £7, which surprisingly worked out far cheaper than the ones I've been buying lately from ASDA and a local shop on our high street. Another item that won't be on the shopping list for a good while.

(I've decided that I don't mind bulk buying items, so long as they are in one pack, as opposed to multiple packs, are not likely to become rendered unusable and are relatively easy to store.)

6. I managed to buy some Cadbury's Easter eggs for my Sister's family in Australia, whilst they were on offer at half the normal price in Tesco.  I send a box of Cadbury's confection to them every Easter and Christmas, as the chocolate in Australia doesn't taste the same.  Getting a good deal does help to cut the cost, especially with the postage being so expensive.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Quilting Update

I haven't done a post on quilting for a while, probably because I haven't been doing any, but I am determined to get myself back into the habit of it over the remainder of the year.  I'm currently working on three different quilts.   Two of the quilts were started in the early months of last year and I really wanted to get them finished for the winter we are just coming to the end of.  Needless to say, it didn't happen. I just seem to have lost my quilting mojo this last six months.

The first quilt project is this big thick quilt for our bed. It's a big heavy thing that I made from an old down king sized duvet. This quilt is going to be really warm if we ever get a very cold winter again. At the moment, it is sat here at the end of my bed waiting for me to hand sew the last few rows of quilting. (It was so thick that I couldn't get it under the machine needle.) I've got seven rows of hand quilting left to do on it and then the binding to sew on by hand, but I seem to have got stuck. The reason for this is probably that each row takes two hours to do by hand and I just can't seem to muster up any enthusiasm for the task. I must try hard this year to get it finished, so that we can use it on our bed next winter, as I do really like it.

The second quilt project is a lap quilt, which I am hand sewing using up lots of Christmas fabric scraps cut into diamonds and made up into larger diamond shapes.  This one isn't too far from being completed, save that it is hard to level off each end as the points of the diamonds seem to finish at different lengths.  Hard to explain, but I just need to get tough and cut through some of the complete diamonds I think to make a straight edge.  It was a great way to use up the fabric scraps, but it isn't my favourite quilt.  I will post a picture of this quilt when I've finished it.

My current favourite quilting project though, is the tiny hexie quilt that I started late last year.  It's a very English and traditional style of quilting, but so cute and sweet. I decided to start by making one small flower and then just adding on randomly around it.  I have done a little bit of work on this quilt this year and it is very slowly growing in size, but I'm running out of paper backed hexies with which to continue, so that is my next job, to sew some more together.  This is another project that is great for using up odd small scraps of favourite fabrics that you can't bear to throw away.

I'll keep you posted on my progress, if there is any.  What longer term projects are you working on?

Sunday, 15 March 2015

A Productive Week

Last week felt like quite a productive one in our household.  OH started the ball rolling by re-turfing the garden last weekend and spurred on by his efforts, I made more of an effort inside the house, managing to finish some jobs that I'd been meaning to do for a while now.

It's great when getting a particular task finished, actually inspires you to move on to new tasks that you've been procrastinating over. Following the completion of my bedroom blitz, I felt like I could finally get on with some other jobs that I needed to do.  The hall, stairs, and landing were hoovered and mopped, the kitchen floor hoovered and mopped. I did some shopping for some Easter eggs that I need to send to family in Australia and I finally listed some outgrown clothes of Little Bird's on eBay, which I've been meaning to do for an age.

What with the baking and selling of a few things by Little Bird at the table top sale on Saturday, it's been a collaborative effort this week and it feels good.  The table top sale went okay, save for a bit of a misunderstanding as to whether someone had handed over a £10 note or not, which meant the girls ended up being out of pocket by £8.  I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, but would hate to think that someone took advantage of the fact that the girls were not being supervised by an adult. It was, however, a useful learning experience for Little Bird, in relation to the care required when handling money.

In spite of this, quite a few items were sold, and quite a few things came back from the sale. As Little Bird had decided she didn't want them any longer, they were put straight in the charity shop box ready to be donated. A bit less decluttering for me to do and a few more things added to the list of things that will be gone from the house this month.  I'm just awaiting the outcome of my eBay auctions now, to see if I a few more things are likely to be departing in the very near future.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

A Weekend Table Top Sale

This weekend Little Bird and her friends decided that they wanted to hold a table top sale and sell off some of their unwanted items and a few things they had made themselves. 

Initial preparations began on Friday evening after school, with some cup cake baking, homemade popcorn and lemonade making, and sorting out a few things to take to the sale, mostly DVDs, outgrown games, books, Wii games, etc.

On Saturday morning the preparations resumed, more lemonade and popcorn making and a bit more baking.  I made a contribution and rustled up some lavender biscuits from a very simple recipe we first tried at a museum workshop when Little Bird was younger.  I forgot how simple they were to make.  Here's the recipe if anyone is interested.  You may have to go online to get the culinary lavender, but it's definitely worth it.

Lavender Biscuits

60g Butter
50g Sugar
Half an egg
75-100g Self raising flour
One and a half teaspoons of culinary lavender

Cream butter and sugar together.
Add egg and beat well.
Add lavender and mix in well.
Add sieved flour and mix to a dough.
Measure out onto a baking tray using a teaspoon of mix for each biscuit.

Cook in the oven at 170 degrees for 15/20 minutes.

Here's all the produce ready for the sale.

Lavender biscuits and cupcakes

Homemade Lemonade

Homemade popcorn in Salt and Sweet, bagged up ready to go.

As I had half an egg left over, I decided to cook us up another batch of the biscuits.  Here they are fresh from the oven.  (This batch look more like rock cakes, but I like the rustic look!)

I could get into this baking lark.

The sale is currently underway and peace has descended on the household again for a short while, so I thought I'd catch up on a bit of blogging.  I'm hoping she's going to declutter the house of a good few things for me.   Can't wait to see how she gets on.

Friday, 13 March 2015

You Beauty Discovery Box

As I've mentioned in a recent post, I've been looking to possibly subscribe to a beauty box lately, so that I can try out sample sized new to me products, before buying full size versions.  Back in January, I ordered the Glamour Edit Beauty Box from Latest in Beauty, which wasn't a subscription box, but was a one off purchase from their collection of boxes.

It was packed full of lovely products, some of which I've used, some of which I'm waiting to use.
At only £14 for 12 or 13 products it was amazing value and I've been keeping an eye on their current limited edition boxes to see if another box caught my eye, but it hasn't so far.

Anyway, I then heard about the You Beauty Discovery Box, which is a subscription box, but one which costs just £6.95 per month including postage.  At such a good price I had to take a look.  I think that the company is owned by the Daily Mail, just in case anyone is interested in this, and although I don't read this newspaper, I decided to subscribe to this box, as I liked how it works.

Basically, you pay £6.95 per month and receive a box of 4 or 5 beauty products each month.  This is the normal amount of products for many of the beauty boxes out there, but where this box differs is that you get to choose two of the products from a selection that they provide on the website.  In addition, this box is at least half the price of many of the others, which will probably be reflected in the products I realise, but we'll see. The remaining products you receive with the two chosen ones, they pick for you, so they are a surprise.

This suited me, as I didn't want to receive lots of random items that I would never use, and having some control over what they send you is great, as you are at least going to get a couple of items you actually want.

My March box arrived very promptly last Saturday morning and here it is.  (Sweet little box, ideal for gift wrapping/storage.)


And here's what was inside it.

One of the items I chose to receive was the Illamasqua lipstick, which is a beautiful matt shade of bright red.  My current red lipstick, which I wear a lot in the summer months, has almost run out, so this will definitely be my replacement.  I have tried it on and I did like the colour.  I found it felt quite dry on the lips though, so I might put a balm or something over the top or underneath.   I'm pretty happy with it though.  More so because I think these retail for £18 or thereabouts, a lot more than the whole box cost me. I definitely probably wouldn't buy it myself at full price and even a drugstore lipstick these days can cost as much as this entire box.

It was interesting to note that the headquarters of this brand is down the same street as our vet's practice, so I'll be checking them out next time we go there.  (Because I'm nosy like that!)

The second product I chose was this sample tube of Good Things Manuka Honey Radiance Face Mask.  It's pretty small, 15ml in volume, but should allow me to use it at least once or twice.  It is supposed to brighten and refresh the skin.  It contains white clay and beeswax, which sounds nice and is parabens, mineral oils and SLS free.  It still does have lots of other long named ingredients though, but I'll happily give it a go.  I believe you can purchase this brand from Boots.

Also included in the box were these Dove Youthful Vitality shampoo and conditioner for ageing hair. Not sure how they knew I'm ageing (aren't we all darling), as I never gave them any details about my age! Luckily for them, I'm not insulted in any way and am happy to try these 50ml sized products, which will also be a great size for travel or on occasion to take to the gym.

There was one other item in the box which was a Nakd Cocoa Orange bar. Here's a picture, it's the one on the right, which of course I've eaten.  It was quite rich, so I probably wouldn't choose to buy it again.  It was full of very healthy ingredients though, mainly dates, cashews, cocoa powder.  I'm not a great cereal bar eater, but I am always happy to try something new.

What I've just realised on reading the little booklet that comes with this box, is that this month's edit is a Best of British edit, so these are all British brands.  In addition, you do receive money off codes to re-purchase items online, for most of the brands received.

I was pretty happy with the box and will see how this subscription goes. It seems easy enough to cancel if you want to.  There was a widget/button on the website. If after a few boxes I'm not happy with the contents, I may end my subscription.  It was also interesting to note that you could pay using Paypal for this box, which was a plus.

Please note, that I have not been sponsored to do this post.  I have subscribed of my own volition and the opinions expressed are completely my own.  In addition, this subscription was entered into before my non-essential spending ban started, but I am going to continue with it anyway, as a little motivator/treat to myself on a monthly basis.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Tweaking the Linen Cupboard

I just couldn't resist this little tweak of my linen cupboard this week.  I read about it on YouTube and thought what a great idea it was.

Here's the before:

All the quilt covers, fitted sheets, etc. piled on top of one another so that when you go to pull one out you often cause an avalanche.  Although the new method won't completely avoid this, it does make an awful lot of sense.

Gather together your quilt cover, fitted sheet and pillowcases for each set that you use on your beds. Put everything inside one of the pillow cases and stack the bundles on top of one another with the least used at the bottom.

Here's the after:

Not a whole lot different I know, but now when I pull out a set, it is all bundled together and ready to go.  There was of course the odd sheet that I couldn't do this with and a few others that went on the donation pile.  

This method also helps you to see where you don't have matching sheets and pillowcases.  And yes, you can always go into another bundle and remove something, if you find yourself short of an item.   

If my linen cupboard actually had shelves, it would be even tidier.(I'm working on it, but in the meantime I'm happy to receive any help where I can!)

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

A New Lawn

At the weekend, OH got a bit of bee in his bonnet about the state of our lawn. (I say this loosely as it is just a postage stamp of a lawn really).  It was looking a bit worse for wear after the winter.  He was torn between re-seeding or re-turfing to get it looking good again.

After a bit of deliberation, he decided he was going to re-turf it and headed off to the garden centre with the dog. (He was taking her for a walk nearby).  When he got back he started clearing the existing turf ready to lay the new turf which had cost just over £30.  The dog, who was glued to his side most of the day had to go out and help of course.  Most of the time she was digging, but I only managed to catch her sat here as he was raking the ground over and levelling it.

The next day, (Sunday) he finished the job and laid the new turf.  I'm afraid I didn't get a picture of what it looked like before the makeover, but here's a picture of how it looks now.

Thank you OH, you did a great job.  

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Bedroom Blitz Part 5 - The End (Thank Goodness)

Today, I had intended to take myself out of the house and do a few errands round and about in the car, but my plans were soon scuppered due to OH needing to take the car to a meeting, so I decided to hang out at home instead.

By spending the day at home, I decided I could catch up on some domestic tasks and more importantly finish the final part of my bedroom blitz.  I wasn't particularly looking forward to this part of my bedroom deep clean, as it meant negotiating the heavy wooden bed frame on my own, due to OH being out, but in the end it wasn't too bad.

Here's what the bed area looked like before I started.

A lot of things tend to get dumped on top of the ottoman at the end of our bed (by me I must admit) and just stay there indefinitely, and lots of dust bunnies accumulate and frollick underneath the bed. All of these things needed rounding up. Firstly,  I began by opening a window to let in some fresh air. You can't beat a bit of fresh air to help clear the cobwebs.

In order to start the cleaning I began by lifting off the mattresses (there is one plus a spare on our bed, courtesy of a house we used to rent out) along with the bed frame and I leant these against the book case to one side of the room.  This allowed me full access to the area beneath the bed and worked well, as it didn't involve much heavy lifting.

Anyway, I dusted everything down and wiped all the boxes, baskets, etc. down with soapy water.  A few things were found a new home to prevent them getting so dusty, namely, some sleeping bags were transferred to the bottom of OH's wardrobe and some hand weights to the bottom of mine, where hopefully I will see them every morning and be moved to actually use them.  The basket that had housed them, was then redeployed to stop the mud from my wellies spreading all over the hallway.

I hoovered and mopped the floor, wiped down the skirting board and put back what was staying under the bed.  Here's what the area underneath looked like after I'd finished.

Then the frame was lowered back down, along with the mattresses which were both hoovered.  I put on some new bedding that I'd bought in the January sales from John Lewis and I used the new pillow protectors I'd bought from ASDA.  Here's the finished result.

A clean and inviting bed to get into tonight.  I shall definitely look forward to retiring to it and might even light a new candle in celebration.  It feels great to finally finish this room. It feels much more relaxing and much less cluttered.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Embracing Technology

Life changes and with it so do your daily routines.  Since Christmas, as well as starting to follow lots of new blogs on very varied subjects from fashion to mimimalism to makeup, as I've mentioned previously, I've also been seriously getting into watching YouTube videos, which on the whole I find very informative on all manner of subjects.

After the first initial flush of interest, I've settled into a new routine of watching them, mainly whilst doing the ironing in the kitchen.  I save them up and then watch several in a row, catching up with the particular vloggers I follow, whilst keeping on top of the laundry.  It works well and I find that this is a much better use of my time than sitting at the kitchen table watching them.  (Which I do still do occasionally, mainly when there's no ironing or other work to be getting on with).

As I've mentioned in previous posts, watching these videos has led me to alter my beauty routines a little in the last few weeks, re-organise my drawers and I feel like I'm gradually making progress in getting the house, my appearance and my wardrobe much more how I would like them to be.

Both the blogs and the videos are helping me to keep me in touch with new trends, products, books and ideas by bringing all these things onto my radar and helping me to live my life in a way that helps me get the most possible enjoyment and satisfaction from it.

In addition, I also must mention the lovely bloggers I have connected with since I started this blog 2 years ago. You know who you are.  I really appreciate your comments, support and interaction.  Sometimes, when I stop to think about it, I am really astounded by the wonderful tool technology can be, particularly in the winter when it's cold and dark outside and it takes a lot of effort to drag yourself out of the house.

Of course, it has it's dark side too, but who wants to waste their time on negativity, when there is so much positivity out there to embrace.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

A Few Frugalities

Being frugal hasn't exactly been top of my agenda so far this year, as I explained in my last post. However, having put the brakes on any spending, I've finally gone back to being a little more frugal lately in a few areas.  So here's a few frugal things that I've been doing to save some money.

1  I had an afternoon of baking and making some desserts, using up a creme caramel mix  and a pastry mix I bought very inexpensively from Approved Foods.  I made us 24 mince pies/lemon curd tarts/jam tarts which was also great for using up the last of the mincemeat left from Christmas. (I always buy too large a jar - Note to self:  Buy a smaller jar next year!)  There's still some pastry left which I'm thinking of turning into a quiche later in the week to use up some eggs in the fridge.  With the creme caramel mix I didn't use the caramel, as I don't like it, so just made it into egg custard type desserts using a pint of milk. These cost half as much to make as buying similar pre-made desserts would cost and are very popular in our household.  Needless to say, I don't expect them to last long.

2  Whilst picking up a few groceries from ASDA, I found a couple of thermal tops in their half price sale rail.  Two long sleeved thermal tees from my wishlist replaced at a cost of only £4 each.  Result.

3  A friend emailed me to say she'd recently had an operation.  I promised to put a card and a few bits in the post for her in an attempt to aide her recovery and managed to find one I had bought quite a while back in a very reasonably priced and good quality box of mixed occasion cards from the Book People.  This saved me the hassle and expense of going out to the shops to  buy one.

4  I once again managed to acquire free tickets to the Ideal Home Show at Olympia via Moneysupermarket.com, which will mean an inexpensive day out for a friend and I later this month.

5  I received a very nice 98% natural Balance Me tinted lip balm (RRP £12) for just £2 when I purchased Glamour magazine this month.  I do quite like this fashion magazine. It's rare for me to actually purchase a magazine, but I treated myself and my post op friend to one (she got a body wash from the same brand with hers).  Sometimes magazines are worth buying for the free gifts.

Friday, 6 March 2015

A Bit of Patience Goes A Long Way

In our household, it's generally understood that I'm a bit of an obsessive at times.  I get a new bee in my bonnet sometimes and just can't let it rest until I've completely exhausted it.  Over the years this has manifested itself in an obsession with gardening, leading to my studying for an RHS Certificate, sewing and clothesmaking, leading to my obtaining a City and Guilds in Fashion, fabric collecting, leading to my starting a small business selling fabric, blog reading, leading to my creating a blog of my own.  You get my drift.

Over the last couple of years one of my obsessions, which can run concurrently and often do, was to clear my credit card debts and overdraft.  I wasn't so compulsive on this occasion I must admit and decided to realistically achieve these aims over a couple of years and I'm pleased to say that I'm almost there.

Just as I almost got to the end of my debt free journey, I hit an obstacle.  Knowing I was coming to a point in time when I would have no debts and some disposable income once again, I got obsessed by the idea of creating a capsule wardrobe and of acquiring all the items on my current wish/need list at once.

I've mentioned this in a previous post, giving the excuse that the sales offered too many bargains to ignore.  Whilst this is true in part, it is not the whole truth, the truth is I got a bit obsessed again and impatient and instead of acquiring these things in a relaxed and measured way over the coming year, I've virtually completed the list and my capsule wardrobe in a matter of a couple of months.

It's not something that I'm particularly proud of, especially in a year when I was wanting to slow and simplify my life.  In addition, whilst in the process I was also beginning to get a bit worried that I would never be able to stop spending.  Writing a blog post about it a few days ago did help.  It did make me stop and think about where all this spending was leading and whether it was all actually necessary.  I mulled it over for a couple of days.

In the end, it was a visit to our local library that stopped me in my tracks.  Whilst waiting for a prescription which wasn't ready, I popped into the library next door to kill some time and came across a couple of new to me books on money management.

I started reading one of them in the queue at the post office counter and continued it whilst waiting to collect an online order from the Asda drive in.  I later continued reading it at home, whilst in the bath and later retired to bed still reading it.  For some reason it resonated very strongly with me and I woke up this morning and feel like my compulsion has abated somewhat.

The book in question is this book by Kate Northrup.

The title is a little strange as she admits herself, but don't be put off by it.  The essence of the book is about helping you understand your relationship with money.  Aside from relating her own financial journey and story, which is interesting, she asks you to examine your feelings about money, uncover the messages you received about money as a child and how this relates to your behaviour with regard to your finances now.

I didn't do all of the exercises in full, but this book did really make me start to understand how one's relationship with money could relate to your feelings of self worth and self value.  In order to value yourself, you need to value your money, because money is essentially your ticket to personal freedom and shouldn't be relinquished easily. When put like this, it has made me look at my recent spending on various non-essential items in a completely different light.

I'm still only half way through the book, but for me it has already stemmed the flow of money out of my bank account and restored my faith in myself to be a bit more patient and take things at a steadier pace. What's the hurry?  If I still need the things on my list in 3/6 months time then I can buy them, chances are I won't, but for now, the compulsive spending stops here.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Bargain Fever Britain & Other Stories

Last night, I decided to have an evening of catching up on TV programmes that I'd missed earlier in the week.  OH was out at a Spin class and I hadn't watched any TV in a while.  Firstly, I decided to watch the programme Bargain Fever Britain, which originally aired on ITV on Tuesday evening at 8pm.  It was the first (I think) in what promises to be an interesting series about how we are now becoming more and more keen in this country, to bag a bargain.

It was particularly interesting to me because it featured Approved Foods, a company I have ordered from many times in the last few years, who sell discounted food online.  They were one of  four discount companies, whose fortunes the series follows.  It was great to see the faces behind the company and the people who work for them, who all seemed a thoroughly decent bunch.  To be honest,  I've known this for a long time anyway, as in two years of ordering from this company, I've had very few problems and any I have had have been pretty insignificant.

I'm sure that since this programme aired, that they have been inundated with orders and am tempted to get back on the site and check it out.  I probably will at some point, but the last time I looked a few days ago, there weren't enough things I wanted to merit an order.  I'll keep popping back though and checking out what they have for sale.  I expect that demand caused by the programme might mean they run out of things even quicker than experienced in the past, but all I can say about this is, good for them, as they appear to have really taken a risk in upgrading their warehouse to one three times the size and taking the business to another level.  It will be interesting to see what happens from here on in.

It doesn't surprise me in the least that they are now becoming more mainstream and popular, as the service they provide, at its best, can be pretty fantastic.  I guess the main reason I haven't been ordering so much lately, however, is that when I have all that food in my cupboards, it is so much easier to overeat, so I'm trying to cut back on orders as a result, and keep my weight in check, which is not their fault at all.

The other programme I watched was the second episode in the new series of Mary Portas's Secret Shopper.  I watched the first episode last week and really enjoyed it and was interested to see that it featured the 'posh' Spar supermarket on our local high street.  (I rarely shop here by the way, but it is popular and convenient sometimes, especially as it has a free cashpoint).   Similarly, I wanted to watch this week's episode, as it was focused on a department store in Lowestoft, where we went on holiday one half term several years ago.

Last week, I found myself listening to exerts from Mary Portas's new autobiography on Radio 4, as it just happened to be on the radio when I was in the car on my way to the gym.  I really enjoyed it and may go back and listen to the episodes I missed on their website.  She's quite a formidible character and I can't help but admire her. (I realise other people may disagree with me on this point)

Anyway, I digress, this week's episode of Secret Shopper was also interesting.  I'll definitely be watching both of the above series regularly over the next few weeks, especially now Broadchurch and Wolf Hall have finished and there's little else I'm interested in watching on TV.  Are there any programmes you've been enjoying lately?

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Playing Catchup

I have to admit and some of you may have noticed so far this year, that I've definitely been a bit of a spendthrift in the first few months of the year.  I can't deny it, it is perfectly true, and whilst I realise this may seem to go against my aim of simplifying my life and routines, etc. etc., it is all part of the long term plan, well mostly anyway.

For the past couple of years, anyone who has been reading my blog will be aware that I have been paying off my credit card debts and my overdraft and by the end of last year I had virtually achieved these aims, save for a small overdraft still outstanding.  During this time, whilst I was working hard toward these goals, I still purchased things along the way and made a deliberate conscious decision not to go completely without, in an attempt to help motivate me to complete the financial tasks I was aiming for.

There have, however,  been certain things that I have made a conscious decision to put off replacing or buying, preferring to wait for a time when I had more disposable income to purchase them.  For the most part, they weren't particularly exciting things, mainly household linens, but also some basic unexciting clothing items too.

The first few months of this year, whilst the sales have been on, I have been making up for lost time and I started the year with a wishlist of things I didn't want to put off purchasing any longer.  Mostly they were small things, that cost less than £20, but nevertheless ones that I wanted to purchase as soon as I could, i.e. new beach towels, pillow protectors, a new set of bathroom towels, a bedside light, duvet covers, some new gym tops, a couple of new thermal t-shirts and of course, the completion of my new capsule wardrobe.

I had intended to take all year to gather the latter, but such was my enthusiasm for the project and such was the availability of well priced items in the sales, that I have virtually completed this aim already, (for the colder months of the year at least) save for a couple of big ticket items.

It may seem a little excessive to some readers, but I am happy to make the most of the opportunities for bargains while I can, in the first few months of the year in the hope that this will free up spare cash in the later months of the year, to enable me to start saving and putting money aside, which I also hope to do this year.  It's taking a while, but my wish list has almost been completed and I'm finally starting to look forward to getting back to normal spending levels in the very near future, if there is such a thing.

I've rejuvenated my wardrobe, done the same for Little Bird and also done the same for my linen cupboard, which was looking a decidedly worn and weary.  It has felt good to be able to do some of these things at last.  Please bear with me and forgive the temporary spending excesses, I am not intending to continue in this mode for the whole of this year.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

February Favourites

I'm starting a new series of posts on a monthly basis which will incorporate my favourite household, beauty, fashion purchases from the month.  Some months these may be very thin on the ground, and others slightly thicker if you know what I mean.This month there were a few, on account of my treating myself to a few things whilst we were on holiday.  So here goes.

The first item in my favourites this month was this watch.  My moderately expensive Swatch watch stopped working a few months ago after four years of use, and seems to have gone totally kaput.  I was using a watch of Little Bird's, which had several different interchangeable coloured straps and this was serving it's purpose, but at least two of the straps broke and one discoloured with use, so when I saw this one on the flight out to Tenerife for just 13 euros, I couldn't resist it.  It goes with everything I wear, being black and the strap is a lovely soft rubbery material, as opposed to the hard, stiff plastic straps of Little Bird's watch, making it super comfortable to wear and not so brittle and easily breakable.

I can't live without a watch, I'm just one of those people who need one and I've decided that I'm happy to wear inexpensive watches from now on.  In addition, I like a sporty over-sized look, so this was just perfect and I'm super happy with it.

Favourite number two was also purchased on a flight, but this was the flight home from Tenerife.  I had about 9 euros left of the money I took with me and I had spotted this item in the inflight magazine on the flight out, so I made a mental note and promised myself if I had enough money left, I would buy it. It's a Gosh eyebrow palette. 

Normally, I simply use a semi-dried mascara to colour my eyebrows, but having seen a few beauty vloggers using various products on their eyebrows, I was interested to have a go myself with a purpose made eyebrow product, so I purchased this one.  It comes in a lovely compact with a mirror and brush/foam applicator, which is handy for travel or using on the move.

It has three different shades of brown powder that you can use depending on how dark you want your brows to look.  You apply these with the foam pad applicator and then over the top you apply the clear wax with the brush end to secure the colour in place.  I find it gives my eyebrows a more groomed appearance and I'm very happy with the results.

My next February favourite is this bedside reading light from IKEA. I've been needing a new bedside lamp for ages, as the one I have been using is easily knocked off the bedside table and the light isn't too bright, which isn't ideal for reading in bed, which tends to be the only place I read books. When I saw this in IKEA on a recent visit for just £11 I just had to buy it. 

It is a perfectly simple design with a bendy arm, that can be easily adjusted to cast light where you need it and the light is lovely and bright. Better still it can be clipped to the shelf next to my bed, so no knocking it over.  I love it. I'm thinking of getting OH one for his side of the bed too when I next go back to the store.  It comes in a variety of colours, but white was the most suited to our decor.

This next favourite isn't something that I bought in February, but I've included it in February favourites as I have been using it quite a bit this last month.  It is this navy leather tote bag from Gap.

It's a very simple design and is great for throwing lots of things in when you need a slightly larger bag. I tend to wear quite a lot of navy in the summer, so when I saw it on sale for £26 I found it very hard to walk away and it is proving to be a great addition to my wardrobe. 

It has a small zipped compartment inside, into which you can tuck your purse, phone or valuables, which is very useful, as this bag doesn't close securely and I am aware that anyone in a crowd, could just reach in and grab my purse, if the pocket wasn't there to use and keep it secure.  In addition, it makes it easy to find it when you need it, especially if the bag is full.

Finally,  my last monthly favourite is something that OH purchased for me at the beginning of the month. Well, not just for me, but for all of us to use.  It is this bike.

I was having difficulty with the gears on my old bike and had just about stopped using it altogether, but this bike couldn't be more different.  It is a hybrid cycle, has three simple gears, is so simple and easy to ride, very lightweight and great for cycling about town and to the gym.

It was in the sale at the newly opened Halfords cycle store in Euston and was probably the cheapest bike they had in the shop, if I'm honest.  I've only been out once on it so far and I really enjoyed riding it, but the very same day, one day after I got it, there was a fatal cycling incident near to where I live and it has made me a bit nervous about getting back on my bike.  I do intend to get back out there though and ride it more often when the weather improves.  I love it.  Thank you OH.

It's been a really great month for me in terms of finding some really lovely, reasonably priced practical items that I will use every day and which will make my life a little bit simpler and easier.

Monday, 2 March 2015

This Weekend......

I wasn't feeling 100%, as I think I've come down with a bit of a virus.  Nothing too serious, but just a general feeling of lethargy, mouth ulcers, sore throat, earache and a mild headache.  I've managed to avoid catching a cold this winter so I knew that sooner or later something would get me.

It didn't stop me doing most things, however, and we went shopping for a new oven as planned.  I also did a bit of shopping with Little Bird who needed to buy some fabric for her Tech project at school.

You'd think that having a sewing room filled to the rafters with fabric, would mean that I'd be able to sort her out with something suitable, but no, that would be just too easy and frugal wouldn't it. Apparently, she needed felt and I didn't have a lot of that in my stash, well not of the right colour anyway.

I managed to Kondo Little Bird's clothes drawers this weekend, which now look much better.  Here's a couple of pictures. (Please excuse my toes creeping into one of the pictures - at least they were painted!)

The rest of the weekend was reasonably uneventful. The only thing that I wasn't able to do this weekend was my usual Sunday morning Aerobics class.  It's probably the most strenuous class I do all week and feeling a bit below par, I wasn't really up to the rigour of it this week, so I cancelled.  I really hate to cancel any class, but sometimes your body just lets you know it's the right thing to do.

I still had to walk the dog and then do my weekly food shop at Lidl as I normally would before and after the gym, but I went to a store nearer to my home on this occasion.

I've now also finally caught up on the holiday induced laundry mountain, which I'm very happy about indeed.  I just have to remember to fold things in the new way after I've ironed them, so that they are ready to put in the newly Kondoed drawers.  It will take a while for the habit to form, but I'm sure I'll get there eventually.

In spite of feeling a bit lethargic, the bright blue sky and sunshine on Sunday lured me into the garden for the first time in months. I hung out my first load of laundry this year and managed to complete a bit of pruning and cutting back that I never got around to doing in the autumn.  I had a bit of help from the dog, who insisted on biting some of the prunings into pieces for me whilst I was trying to cut them down to a suitable length to go in the brown bin.  So cute.  The garden's a bit bare, but I love these catkins on the corkscrew hazel.

There's even a couple of lettuce seedlings in this big tub, which have seemingly survived the winter and may be my first home grown salad of the season should they mature.

A bit of a ploddy weekend, but it was nice to just to take it a little easier and be home for the duration, getting the necessary things done.

How was your weekend?