Friday 25 March 2016

Happy Easter

Just a very quick post to say


I won't be blogging for the next week, but will hopefully still be reading and commenting.

Have a great week and Easter weekend.

Tuesday 22 March 2016

Onwards with the Bedroom Deep Clean

Today was a lovely day here in London, with bright blue skies and sunshine for most of the day which made a change.  It has to have been the best day so far this year.

Inspired by the warmer weather, I decided to continue with the bedroom deep clean and see if I could get some more done before we go on holiday.

I'd cleaned my side of the room a couple of weeks earlier and the bed area got blitzed at the weekend when the new bed came, so it was the turn of  the wardrobes, windows, and the corner where I keep the laundry basket.  I didn't take a before photo, as I just like to get stuck in.

Up the ladder I went and cleaned the top of my wardrobe, then I removed every item of clothing and all of the shoes and cleaned the inside shelves too.  I sifted through everything as I put all the clothes back and pulled out any thick sweaters and coats, to be packed away until the autumn.  I'm probably being a bit optimistic here, but hopefully the weather is now changing and they will no longer be needed. 

Here's a picture of the finished result.  There would ordinarily be more clothes in here, but most  of my holiday clothes are packed in a suitcase, ready to go.

Once everything was back in, I started on OH's wardrobe.  I managed to clean the top and the front in the time I had, but I still need to empty the contents and clean the inside.  

I cleaned the inside of the bedroom windows, the skirting boards around to the wardrobes, before hoovering and mopping the floors, including underneath OH's wardrobe.

It took me a couple of hours in total, but it's another part of the room completed.  I'm not sure I'll get much more done this week, as the rest of the house will be the priority before LB's friends come for a sleepover on Maundy Thursday.

Here's a picture of the overall area which although not looking very different, is now much cleaner and better  organised.

A  few more bags got put in the under bed storage, which is now filling up, but there shouldn't be too much more to go in here.  Just a couple of boxes/baskets of things, that I still need to sort and sift through.

Next it will be the inside of OH's wardrobe and the tall boy chest of drawers next to it to clean, followed by OH's side of the room. I've got some new scented drawer liners, that I was given as a gift at Christmas, so this will be a good opportunity to put them to good use.

I'm looking forward to completing the deep clean of this room, wherein I will  have sifted through virtually everything and left no stone unturned.   Although I realise that I will  probably repeat this numerous more times, for the moment I am very happy in the knowledge that nothing will be in here that I don't want to keep.

Is anybody else spring cleaning?

Monday 21 March 2016

More Sorting

Sunday afternoon, and the suitcase came down off the top of the wardrobe, with all of mine and LB's summer clothes in it, plus a few more things.

We both spent the whole of the afternoon, going through everything, trying everything on and deciding what still fitted and looked okay, and what was no longer flattering. Having sifted through, we decided to start our packing and made pretty good progress.  Just a few things to add in from the washing and ironing piles and we're there.

The moths had made a meal of a few things in the suitcase, although I don't know how they got in there. One particular dress that I'd kept for sentimental reasons, was one I wore for an evening out, when I first moved to London and was a size 10, believe it or not.  (I'm currently a size 16/18)

What was more surprising was that I could actually still get it on, as it is a long black stretchy body con number from Wallis (slightly more generous sizing I always found), but it wasn't a particularly good look, with or without heavy duty underwear.

LB tried it on and she quite liked it, so I'm going to shorten it to just above where the moths have made holes and she might wear it if a suitable occasion arises.  It made her look incredibly grown up.

Another lovely Ted Baker hot pink wool skirt that I've been keeping, even though I'll never be slim enough to get back into it, also got moth eaten, but I'm hanging onto it for now, as LB may decide to wear it one day and you never know, miracles can happen!

I'm keeping one other dress too, which is a vintage black crepe design that I can't get into, but which is so lovely that I can't bear to part with it yet. One has to live in hope, even if it is lost cause. Everything else that no longer fitted has been banished to the donation pile.  Nearly half a large suitcase full, so not bad going.

It was quite exciting getting the summer clothes out, as there are quite a few colourful items that will add a much needed burst of colour to my wardrobe.  I have to admit that I've gained a few pounds since last summer, but the up side is that some of the items actually now fit better, as they were a bit loose before.  They may now get worn, whereas before they tended to get overlooked.  I'd rather be a bit slimmer, but if they get a bit more wear, then at least that's a positive to come from a negative, if you know what I mean.

All things considered, I'm pretty happy with the clothes I've got at the moment.  I don't feel an urge to buy anything new.  I think that getting things down to a manageable level, with less decision making involved when I open the wardrobe door, will make getting dressed every morning much easier.  I may even get to the point where I don't have to store any items away for half the year, because they will all fit in my wardrobe year round.  Wouldn't that be something?

Sunday 20 March 2016


A week from now, we should hopefully be sunning ourselves in Tenerife, all being well.  I've just checked the weather forecast and it is going to be in the low 20's celcius this week, rising to 23 degrees when we arrive on Saturday.  Sounds good. I can't wait.

After getting most of the re-organising of the bedroom storage completed this weekend, this coming week I'll be focussing on getting ready for our trip.

The first job will be to get OH's help to lift the summer clothing suitcase from the top of the wardrobe.  It's too heavy for me.  It contains, not just summer clothes, but numerous items I have kept in the hope that I might fit into them again one day.  A sad folly I fear.  Anyway, I've decided that most of them can be donated as I've kept them for more years than I can remember and I still can't fit into them, so this time when the suitcase comes out, I'll be doing a bit more decluttering, as well as getting ready for our holiday.

I will then be moving the remaining stored clothes into the bed base, so there is less visual clutter
around the room and the old suitcase that contains them will be donated, as I will be using storage bags instead, to reduce the weight of the load.

I've left it quite late in the day for me to start packing for this holiday, normally I start packing my case a good few weeks before any trip and then chop and change the contents, but due to the impending bed delivery, I didn't want to clutter up the room any more than necessary.  It will be good to finally start the process though.

I haven't bought anything new for the holiday, apart from a couple of bits of clothing and a new suitcase, all for LB.  I'm just going to make do with what I have, which should be fine.  I'm deliberately taking a slightly smaller suitcase this time, (although not cabin size) as I always over pack and we're only away for a week.

I'm starting to get a bit excited now.  I don't think I've ever spent Easter anywhere but in the UK.  I will of course be taking a few small eggs to celebrate, so long as they don't get crushed en route.

Saturday 19 March 2016

New Bedroom Storage

Following on from my post yesterday, I've done a bit of work on our bedroom, making up the new bed and organising some of the new storage spaces. Here's what the bed looks like, made up with our new bedding from Habitat.

I added my patchwork hexie cushion to provide a bit of interest, but we don't really like lots of extra cushions on the bed, as they just end up on the floor.  I don't mind just one though.

The vintage turquoise wool blanket is essential, due to the dog having formed the habit of coming up to play on our bed before we settle her down for the night.  It's become a nightly ritual of late, so I need to take precautions to protect the bedding from muddy paws, dog hairs, etc.

The ottoman at the end of the bed now contains all of our bed linen (save for those items that are being washed), which is very easy to access. From left to right is bedding for our bed, the spare room and LB's room, each set packed inside a pillowcase from the set.

I mentioned in a previous post that I'd emptied the small ottoman that I use as a bedside table and couldn't think of anything to put in it. Needless to say, I've found something now.  I transferred the fabric from the other small fabric covered ottoman into here and am now using this one to store our bath mats, as there was no longer room for them in the linen cupboard.

They fit perfectly, and although it is an extra place to go to, when changing bathroom linen, it was the best solution available.  It's not exactly a hardship anyway.

The under bed storage is a work in progress.  I managed to relocate some items into here, but there is still a big pile of things to sort in the spare room, as you can see from the photograph below.

It's mostly the things on the left side of the room in this photograph, as most of the rest is the current donation pile. With the double bed now in here, there's not much room to move around, so I'm looking forward to taking all of this for donation and clearing some space. I've added more to the pile since this photo was taken.

The current under bed storage situation is this.

I want to keep my winter clothes in here too, but as I'm still using some of them and need to wash my winter coat, it will be a little while before this happens. I'll just have to remember to leave enough room.  I've tried to avoid putting very heavy things in here, as the wooden base isn't that thick and I don't want to put too much stress on it.  

Overall, the bed is making quite a difference, as now there aren't lots of bits and pieces stuffed here and there in every crevice, the bedroom and the linen cupboard on the landing both feel a lot more streamlined now.  I need one of these beds in every bedroom. (although I realise that this is not the solution, getting rid of stuff is!)

However, it is a good example of useful storage if you are short on space. Most affordable houses in London (well anywhere really) are often quite small, so space saving ideas are vital to keep everything under control, especially if you have children.  (I have just the one, but it can still be a problem)

I'll do another post when I've put my winter clothes away and sorted/cleared the boxes in spare bedroom. You'll then get a much better idea of the overall difference it has made.  It feels like I'm making progress anyway, which is the main thing.

Friday 18 March 2016

The New Bed Arrives at Last

Today has been a fab day so far.  I jumped out of bed at 7.10 am to answer the phone.  It was the delivery man, to tell us that our bed would be arriving between 8.30 am and 10.30 am. Yippee!
I started right there and then to get the room ready for it.

I have to admit that the bedroom deep clean had come to a halt until that point.  I'd got no further round the room in the week that had passed.  Spurred on by the impending delivery I stripped the bed, cleared space to move it into the spare room, which OH helped me to do, once he'd had some breakfast.

I removed the dusty things from underneath our bed to the spare room until I get time to go through them, and hoovered, cleaned and mopped the space underneath and around where the new bed was to go.

I also got the new bedding out of the linen closet ready to put on. Then I hoovered the stairs and landings and the rest of the upstairs rooms, did a quick clean of the bathroom and downstairs toilet (in case the delivery men needed to use them).  I can't bear the thought of people coming into my house, using the facilities and not finding them spotless.  I'm not OCD or anything, but it just seems rude not to have clean toilets when anyone visits.

Talking of OCD, did anyone watch the new series of Obsessive, Compulsive Cleaners this week?  I so love this programme.  It really inspires me to get my house in order.

I digress, anyway, there was just enough time to dust, hoover and mop OH's side of the room as there was a thick layer of dust on everything and again I couldn't bear the delivery men to see it.  I still need to deep clean this side properly, but for now it looks a lot better.

Just as I'd finished all of this, the delivery men arrived, so I dived into the shower (as I was still in my nightwear at this point) and re-appeared just as they were leaving, having put together the new bed and taken away all of the packaging.

It was so nice to finally get our new bed.  The company we bought it from also provided a mattress cover. We weren't sure whether this came with some sort of insurance, but weren't aware that we'd bought any. We came to the conclusion that they may have thrown it in as a consequence of the delay we'd experienced, due apparently to there being a shortage of the fabric needed to cover the bed base.

I had already bought a mattress cover from John Lewis, but the one that came today was much better quality, so the one I bought will go on LB's bed.  The bag it came in was super useful too, to store my woollen blankets to keep them safe from the odd moth that's still hanging around in our house.

So, here it is, the grand reveal of the new bed.  I haven't had chance to make it up yet, save for the protector, as I had to go straight out with the dog.

The very best bit is this.

So much lovely storage space to utilise and make our bedroom less cluttered and more serene.

I can't wait to get started.  I've already removed the blankets from the ottoman at the end of the bed, bagged them up and they'll be the first things to go into the under bed storage.  The ottoman will then provide storage with easy access, to bedding for our bed, the spare and LB's.  This in turn will free up room in the linen cupboard for the vacuum cleaner. (At last, a place for the hoover to call home!!!)

Here it is in it's new abode.

I'll post again and show you the finished results, once I've organised the new storage spaces.

Thursday 17 March 2016

Another Directional Change

Last night, I got a little inspired and decided to take my small business in a slightly different direction.  I currently sell fabrics on sites such as eBay and Etsy, and since listing lots of stock the other week, after a two month hiatus, business has really picked up and I'm starting to make some money again, which is good.

However, as anyone who regularly reads this blog will know, for the past year I've been getting more and more interested in natural beauty products, both buying and making products for my own everyday use.  I just find it so satisfying being able to make products that cost much more in the shops and have the reassurance that I know exactly what is in them.

In the process of looking for some containers for a particular project, I noticed that they were very difficult to source in this country and mostly only available from abroad, with quite expensive postage costs and possibly duty on top.

I decided to take a look around on the internet and see if I could source this particular item from manufacturers in the UK, with a view to selling it along side my fabrics and haberdashery.  (Strange mixture I know, but anything goes in business, especially on the sites I use to sell, i.e. eBay and Etsy - why limit yourself).

Anyway, the good news is, I found a supplier and I placed an order.  I managed to get free delivery and 10% off too, which was a bonus, although I had to place a large order to get these benefits.  It's a bit of a new departure, a bit risky I guess, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

I think that more and more people are becoming interested in making their own beauty products and also products to sell or give away as gifts and there are so many How to's on line now on Youtube and Pinterest, that it gets ever easier to locate good recipes.  I've done some research into what and how things are selling on eBay before making a commitment, so hopefully they will sell well and fill a gap in the supply of these on sites in the UK.

I'll keep you posted with how it goes when they arrive and I get them listed.  I'm feeling quite excited about it.  If all else fails, I might use them to make some products and try to sell them myself, as it's an item I use daily and that works well for me.  We'll see.  Wish me luck!

Wednesday 16 March 2016

A Step in a New Direction

It's been an interesting morning.  I travelled to the other side of London today to have a chat about a volunteer opportunity at a charity shop.

It's a new departure for me. Having spent the last 13 years at home, bringing up LB, it feels strange to venture out into the world of work again (albeit in a voluntary capacity).  I don't start for another two weeks, but I'm quite looking forward to a new challenge and a new phase in my life.

Don't get me wrong, I love being at home and have managed to keep myself busy all these years with one thing and another, but LB is growing up, getting more and more independent and it is time for me to take steps to get myself a life.

The shop where I'm volunteering is a half hour train journey away, but the route is quite direct.  I'll be working two mornings to begin with and we'll take it from there.

Having visited the shop this morning, it is strange to think I will be spending quite a bit of time there from now on.  I've never really considered life in a charity shop save as a customer, so it will be interesting to find out more about the day to day workings and where I'll fit in.

When I walked in today, most of the other volunteers where young.  I felt decidedly old.  I was reassured by the manager that there are some older volunteers too.

I have to admit that I probably couldn't have worked in a charity shop a few years ago, as I would have wanted to buy things whilst I was there, but currently I hardly shop in them at all and am hoping that I won't be tempted to buy anything.

I'm deliberately only taking a minimum amount of money with me just for emergencies and to help me to avoid temptation, especially, as I'm currently trying to minimise our stuff as opposed to acquiring more.

The shop itself is on a busy London High Street, in quite an upmarket area.  There are at least another 5 charity shops along the road on the walk from train station. It will be interesting just to get out of our borough for a couple of days a week and experience life in a different part of London.  I'll let you know how I get on when the time comes.

Any useful tips from those of you already working in charity shops would be most welcome.  All being well, I'll be joining your ranks very soon.

Tuesday 15 March 2016

A New Patchwork Project

In spite of not actually having finished two existing patchwork projects, I've already decided on a new project to undertake, when at least one of the unfinished projects has been completed.

Inspiration came last night, as I was sifting through my fabric collection, looking for suitable fabrics to give to a friend, who wants to make a baby's cot quilt for her grandson.

In the process, I came across some fabrics I bought quite a few years ago now.  The theme of the fabrics was a mixture of dogs, ducks and other animals.   I couldn't resist buying the odd piece of fabric that had a cute dog or animal print.  As you can see, I favoured dark coloured backgrounds, although I can't say why.  I must  have subconsciously been craving a doggy companion at the time, as these were bought long before we seriously considered the idea of getting a dog.  It's funny how things turn out.

Anyway, on being reunited with these cute fabrics, an idea started to form in my mind.  I would finally get around to making them into a quilt, for our dog.  Being a terrier, she loves ducks and other furry/feathery creatures (too much and for all the wrong reasons!) and the dark colours are conducive to hiding the dirt from her grubby paws, especially in the winter.

As she has currently taken possession of the armchair in our living room, I thought I would make it to put on there for her as a kind of nest she can snuggle into in the winter months.  We have our lap quilts, why shouldn't she have one? It will also nicely fit with the existing decor in this room too, which is a bonus.

Here's a picture of some of the fabrics I'll be using.

As you can see from the photograph, I also sorted out some plain coloured fabrics too, for backing or using too.  I may swap out some of the print fabrics for other designs, especially the slightly lighter coloured ones, just for reasons of practicality, but many of them I'm definitely going to use.

I haven't decided on a design yet, perhaps 6" squares, as many of the pieces are quite small, but I'm already looking forward to getting started on this project, as I love these fabrics and think it might look really cute when it's finished. I'm hoping the dog will like it too of course.

Monday 14 March 2016

A Small My Pure Shop

Last week,  I decided to place a pre-holiday order with My Pure, an on-line natural cosmetics company. I've ordered quite a few things from them over the last year, since I've been using more natural products and have always found the service they provide to be excellent, and their prices very reasonable.

There were a few things I wanted to order in time for our holiday in two weeks time.  The main thing was a new travel soap dish as my current one had cracked.  I've had it for many years, in fact I think I bought it for OH about 10 years ago. He never used it, but I've had a lot of use from it.  It was made of a very brittle plastic and once dropped, a big crack appeared which causes leaking.

I'd looked out for one in a few places, but the ones I'd seen had not really been very good quality, so when I saw the one My Pure had on their website, I decided to order it.  I read the reviews and they were very positive, stating that it was a good size that would take a larger bar of soap. This was important as I use Dr Bronner's soap which is quite big, so it was important that it would fit in.

Whilst looking at the range, I noticed that they did several travel containers, so I decided to also buy a travel toothbrush holder and a tampon case to match.  (TMI I know, but it's useful and causes minimum embarrassment to have a discrete container for these in my handbag).

As I probably won't need to use the latter for that many more years, it was reassuring to know that it can also be used for earphones, pills, jewellery, etc., when travelling, so I should hopefully always be able to find a use for it.  I got the Caviar colourway, which is black, which I like, but there are lots of other colours available. Here's a picture of them.

When they arrived, I was really pleased with them and even more so, when I read the packaging and realised that they were made with 50% recycled materials and were 100% recyclable, which is very reassuring.  They are supposed to be unbreakable, which is potentially another advantage, although only time will tell on this score, and they have tabs that allow you to lock them shut to avoid the contents spilling out during travel.  They may be a little more pricey than some I've seen in the shops, but I'm super happy with the quality and can't wait to start using them this holiday.

As we travel quite a lot, both in the UK and abroad, to holiday and visit family, items like this are quite important to me and get well used, so I don't mind paying a little more.  At £3.99 for each case, they were a bit more than I probably would have liked to pay, but with a 10% off voucher code I had from a previous order, this made them just over £10 for the three.

Also in this order were a couple more packets of vegan natural dental floss from the same brand, Radius. I don't need these desperately, but as I was placing an order and postage was free, I stocked up on a couple, to save potentially paying postage if I have to order them elsewhere in the future and also to benefit from 10% off again. I love this floss. It definitely helps keep me flossing regularly.

The final item I purchased was a new Lavera Eyebrow Styling Gel in the colour Hazel Blonde.  I'm currently using this, but it is running out and I wanted to make sure I had one to take away with us.  I like this product as it is so quick and easy to apply. At £10.50 it is fairly pricey, but definitely worth it for a natural  product, although once again I did get 10% off this price, making it a little cheaper.

On account of spending (just) over £30 (before 10% discount was applied), I was able to claim a free gift, and on this occasion I chose this set of two Hurraw organic, vegan lip balms, one in Vanilla Bean and one in Earl Grey.  I may give the vanilla one away as a gift, as vanilla isn't my favourite flavour in cosmetics, and I have a couple of lip balms still to use, but the Earl Grey one I'll probably keep for my own use as the flavour sounds very interesting. If I can get extras when ordering things I use anyway, I'm always happy to do so.

My Pure also popped a free Madara Organic Moisture Fluid sample in the box and another 10% Voucher code for my next order, which was very kind.

They are definitely a company worth considering if you like to purchase natural beauty products and I am not being sponsored in anyway in saying this.  Just passing on my experience as a customer.  All orders of £8.50 or more get free delivery, which in itself is very good.  Check them out at  Please note this is NOT an affiliate link.

Saturday 12 March 2016

Loving Lately on Netflix/YouTube

This post, probably isn't going to be relevant to everyone, but I am writing it anyway, as for those who do have Netflix or use YouTube, it might be of interest.  All of the below mentioned documentaries are available to watch on both on these sites.

Lately, I haven't found there  to be too much on the TV that I've been interested in watching, so I have been scouring Netflix for interesting documentaries.  I've found and watched quite a few in the last few weeks, so I thought I'd mention the ones that I enjoyed the most.

The first was Craigslist Joe, a documentary about a guy who sets off with the aim of spending a month completely relying on Craigslist (a US Gumtree-like website) for everything; a place to stay, transport, food, work, entertainment, etc.

This documentary charts his experiences for the month of December and proves quite an interesting watch.  He does spend a couple of nights sleeping in cars or staying up in cafes, but for the most part he finds help, due to the generosity of people who use the site.  He finds his journey very humbling and emotional and even gets to meet the original founder of the website, to understand what started the ball rolling.  An interesting and at times heart warming story.

Another documentary on Netflix, that I watched just the other night was called Burt's Buzz and was the story of Burt from Burt's Bees.  It takes a look at the life of this icon of the natural US brand, whom I must admit didn't know anything about.  The company, was co-founded with his 'partner' at the time Roxanne Quimby, before he sold his shares to her some years later in slightly unusual circumstances, shall we say.

The documentary focuses on this eccentric, unique character, who lived and still did until his death at 80 last year, very simply on the land, keeping bees and enjoying the freedoms of a simple life.  The documentary shows his travels to Taiwan for the company, where he is idolised by consumers of the brand, and charts how the business grew beyond anything that he ever imagined or wanted.  It is an interesting tale, but the most interesting thing about it is Burt himself, who is a bit of an enigma. Definitely worth watching.

Finally, just last night I watched a moving documentary called Amish: The Shunned which was about the children of Amish families that decide to leave this very closed off and private religion and make a life for themselves in the outside world, and who as a consequence are often shunned by their families and cut off from visiting them or having any contact.

The documentary follows the story of one particular Amish woman, who decides to leave and finds a home with another woman who left the community many years before.  It also talks to many other leavers who talk about their struggles to make a new life for themselves, when the pull of their religion and families is so very strong.  This was a very thought provoking documentary/film, quite long at 2 hours in total, but very interesting.

If anyone reading this has Netflix or uses YouTube and you are looking for something interesting to watch, you might like one of these programmes, which I would definitely recommend.

Friday 11 March 2016

Bedroom Spring Clean - Part 2 - Cluttered Corner and Beauty Station.

Friday, was a quiet day here.  After walking the dog, I didn't have anything planned for the rest of the day, so I decided to carry on with the bedroom spring clean.  As mentioned in my last post in this series, I decided to tackle the floor area of the corner near my bed.

Things often accumulate here, such as gifts I buy for people that need wrapping, letters and statements that I haven't yet filed away and other bits and pieces, making it look a little untidy.

I should probably do away with the A4 file box I keep here and then I'd be forced to file things away immediately, but I know from experience that just won't happen and I'd just end up with a pile of paper, so at least this keeps things tidy until I do file everything.

I set the timer for an hour again and pulled everything out.  Cleaned the skirting boards, hoovered and mopped the floor and then started putting back only what was really necessary.

The baskets both contain family photos and albums, most of which have been pulled out to sort through and are all in a bag in the sewing room awaiting my attention. I cleaned what was here and put the baskets back.  I'm hoping that once I've sorted through all of the photos I can reduce everything to fit into one basket only and then I'm going to store it under the mattress in the divan storage, if it fits, so that it doesn't gather so much dust.

I cleaned and tided the bedside table next, which is actually a small ottoman and holds various fabrics and linens. I had a look through the contents and relocated what was in here leaving it empty. I couldn't think what to put in here, but I'm sure something will occur to me at some point or I may decide to leave it empty, as I would eventually like the bedside table to match the rest of the bedroom furniture, if I can get one of these on eBay too.

Here's a picture of the corner after I'd finished. Nice and simple.

I then moved on to the beauty station.  As previously posted, the before looked something like this.

After a good sort through, a good clean and organisation of everything into my new beauty storage, it now looks like this,

The ottoman box is a different one to the one that was here before and yes, I have to admit I've gone a bit YouTube beauty vlogger here, with the clear acrylic storage.

The storage itself, was from Habitat, who were having a 25% off day the other week and I'd had my eye on these office storage solutions on the website for a while.  The box, which contains my bottles, tubes and aerosols is actually a CD holder, but perfectly contains all of the larger beauty items I use regularly. I'm hoping to reduce these items down further, as I use up and don't replace some of the items currently in here.

The drawers are a perfect size to contain all of my makeup.  I have a drawer for face and eyes,

a drawer for lips

and a drawer for compact mirrors and nail accessories.  Again, I'm hoping to reduce the contents of these drawers over the next few months.

The drawers and small lidded containers, holding cotton pads and cotton buds, shield the contents from dust, which is much more practical.

Spare toiletries (i.e. my stash) are still kept on the shelf below, and a bit of a reallocation of storage, freed up the pretty fabric basket for the purpose.

The large basket of scarves, gloves, snoods, etc., I have now moved into the wardrobe out of the way. Many of these will be stored away until the autumn, once the weather gets warmer and I'm looking to reduce them down too, as there are far more than I can and do wear in here.

This now shows off my lovely vintage fabric covered ottoman. (This too, is filled with fabric, but I didn't go through this, as I had done so not long ago) If I do eventually acquire the dressing table that I'm looking out for, this will become the stool and will be kept neatly tucked underneath.

In addition, the dressing table will have two small drawers and lots of things, such as the nail varnishes and my stash, will hopefully fit inside and be completely out of sight. I'm even thinking of getting rid of all of my nail varnishes, as I hardly ever wear them and want to move towards 'Five Free' nail varnishes that don't contain formaldehyde and other pretty nasty chemicals when I do.

This area now feels a lot tidier and much more restful on the eye, but there is room for more improvement in the future.  I only managed to find 2 or 3 things to donate from this part of the spring clean, but better this than nothing and they have been added to the pile.

My next post on this project will involve the cleaning the inside and outside of the wardrobe and corner where the laundry basket stands, as I make my way around the room.

Thursday 10 March 2016

The Bedroom Spring Clean Begins

I've not felt much like cleaning for the past week.  I think the final burst getting our house ready for a visitor last week finished me off.  I've avoided doing anything much for the last seven days, but with less than a week to go before our new bed arrives (hopefully), I can't put it off any longer.

I started in what was probably the worst corner, by my bed, as it is probably the most cluttered part, with all of the books, knick knacks, etc.

Here's a before.

Out came the step ladders to enable me to get to the very top shelf, and off each shelf came everything.  Not all at once, I might add, one shelf at a time from the top down.

Considering it's only been a year since I last did a deep clean here, there was quite a lot of dust. (Only a year I hear you say!)  Anyway, here's a picture to give you an idea.

It's not there now, because I banished it, along with this pile of books and other items that I no longer want to keep.

Not a massive cull, but better than parting with nothing.  I set the alarm for an hour to do this job, but it probably took an hour and a half or so, as I did a bit of paper sorting too and binned some more rubbish.

I love doing jobs like this on a Thursday, because Friday is waste collection day here, so everything goes out the same day and is gone, like magic. Very satisfying indeed.

Here's the after

I may do a bit more tonight, depending on how I feel.  Next job, will be to tackle the floor area in this corner, clean underneath and around the baskets, bedside table, etc. and even possibly move along to my beauty station.

I've treated myself to some new storage here this month and I really like the new look. Much more practical and streamlined and should hopefully stay cleaner for longer. I'll do a reveal in my next post in this series.  Here's a picture of what it used to look like.

The old white containers have now been relocated to my desk area in the kitchen, making for a much less cluttered look and as a medicine box in a cupboard in the kitchen. I'm very happy with this rejigg as everything has been cleaned out and sorted with any rubbish lurking having been removed.

Back onto the subject of the bedroom, I'm still hoping to acquire a dressing table to match our bedroom furniture, but am waiting for one to come up on eBay that is the right price and in the right location for collection, before I bid. It may take a while, but there's no hurry.  More in my next post.

Monday 7 March 2016

A Mad Day Grocery Shopping

Mondays, are always my main day to do the grocery shopping and I tend to go straight from the gym at noon, or soon thereafter, as it is situated part of the way to the large stores that I tend to frequent for the purpose.

Today was a little different, as I needed to also shop at Lidl, which I normally do on a Sunday after a class I attend, but as I didn't go this weekend, a visit to this store was added to the other stores I intended to visit today, to get the best deals possible on my grocery shop.

So, first stop Lidl and I didn't buy too much here, just some free range chicken, organic eggs, bananas and carrots and a few other bits I regularly buy from here each week.

I kept it to a minimum on purpose, spending only around £20 which is half what I normally spend here, as I needed to do most of my shopping this week at Tesco, to take advantage of a really good voucher which was £9 off a £60 spend.

Tesco then, was my next stop and I managed to get most of the things on my shopping list here and spent £62, which was the perfect amount to qualify for the £9 discount and so I ended up paying only £53.

Following this, I made a last stop at Sainsbury's, for a few organic and other items I couldn't get at Tesco.  I spent £25 here, £5 of which were on yellow stickered items that I didn't intend to buy, but were such a good price I couldn't resist them.  I did, however, only pay £20, as I used some points on my account to get another £5 off my groceries, as well as using some vouchers for purchases I needed anyway, which gave me extra points.

Whilst I realise that I am fortunate and many people, especially those who go out to work, don't have the time to go from one store to another to get the best deals, overall, it felt like quite a successful grocery shop this week. I spent about £95 in total, but got over £110 worth of food and other items.  I also didn't buy many extras that weren't on my shopping list.

As you can gather, I'm not loyal to any one supermarket and will shop wherever I can save the most.  It was useful going to a different store today, as I did notice that I paid quite a bit less for some items at Tesco, although I can never get everything I want there, as their organic ranges aren't as comprehensive as Sainsbury's.

As a consequence, I often do almost all of my shopping at Sainsbury's, as it is far more convenient than having to scour the aisles of two huge stores, comparing prices. I should perhaps make a note of the items in question that were cheaper in Tesco and get into the habit of dividing my shop, to be even more frugal, but some weeks I just don't want to traipse from one to the other, even though they are very close geographically.

Anyway, it was a bit of a mad dash around all of the stores this week, but the £14 cash saving was worth it, and I'll likely be doing the same next week when the Tesco voucher, although slightly less appealing, at £6 off a £60 spend, is still worth using. (Providing, of course, I need that much shopping next week, as I can't afford to spend money for the sake of it).

I'm hoping that using vouchers and points will help me keep within the food budget this month.  I'll keep you posted on whether this is the case or not.

Do you shop around according to the vouchers you are sent, or do you ignore them and just shop where you always shop?

Sunday 6 March 2016

Taking It Easy This Weekend

This weekend has been about taking it easy.  After LB's performances in the week and three long 14 hour days at school, we were happy to just let her sleep in and chill.

On Saturday, I spent most of the day doing laundry and ironing, which although not very exciting, did get those jobs up to date, which will mean there will be less to do this week.

OH did have one thing planned for us, as he had months ago bought tickets to the World Track Cycling Championships, here in London at the Olympic Velodrome, so last night we headed there.

It was a very entertaining evening with some great racing and we got to see cycling stars such as Mark Cavendish, Jason Kenny and Laura Trott perform their magic.  Chris Hoy was also present as a pundit, sat alongside Clare Balding.  It was a great atmosphere and a good night out. (If a little expensive, although it was his treat!)

Today, I decided not to go to my class at the gym, partly because it was Mother's Day, partly because LB was still tired and I didn't want to drag her there with me and partly because it wasn't the usual instructor there today, so I rang and cancelled.  I'm there for two classes in the morning, so I don't feel too guilty.

Instead, we had a late morning walk with the dog and had a lazy Sunday for a change.

LB made me some lovely Mothers' Day gifts, namely some home made cookies and a candle, which in true zero waste style, was made from a Nutella jar and bits of left over wax from some candles I'd used recently. It's very pretty and I shall look forward to burning it.

She also bought a couple of other things for me i.e. chocolate and some pens, for using with my daily planner. Very thoughtful.

I popped out to ASDA in the afternoon, as you do, as things still need to be bought, in this case, food for the dog.  Why is it that several other things always get put in your basket? One of life's big mysteries.  I think I prefer staying home and not spending money.

As our local Poundland is right next door, I couldn't resist a visit and I might have found a few more books! I just finished another one I bought from there today and it was good. Three in a row and I've liked them all. I couldn't resist looking for any other interesting titles. These three jumped into the basket of their own accord - honest!

Okay, I admit it, I'm a shameless book hoarder, but a sharing caring one, as I pass most of them on after I've read them, so they're not actually adding to our clutter, well maybe temporarily.

I did also buy myself some new bras from ASDA, as I find the ones I get from there generally fit pretty well and are really inexpensive. I haven't tried them on yet, but if they don't fit, they'll be going back, as will a certain pair of black jeans I also bought myself, as my current pair from there are getting very faded now, after having them for a few years.  Still useful for dog walking, and gardening, etc., but not really for wearing whilst going out and about.  At £14 the new ones were very reasonable and were on my wishlist, as were the bras.

I hope that everyone celebrating had a lovely Mothers' Day.

Saturday 5 March 2016

A Busy But Exciting Week

It's been a bit hectic here this week, as it was the week of LB's school production on three of the evenings.  On account of this, her Grandma came down to London from Yorkshire, to watch her opening night on Tuesday.

Needless to say, the whole of Tuesday was given over to cleaning the house.  I'd done quite a bit of kitchen deep cleaning over the weekend, so it was mainly a case of a quick clean of the bathroom and toilet, hall, reception rooms and LB's room, where her Grandma would be sleeping.

I just about got everything done, but thankfully said visitor accompanied OH on the evening dog walk, allowing me a bit more time to finish off properly, cook a roast for dinner and get ready to go out to the school.

The performance itself was very entertaining.  I have to admit that I was very worried about LB performing her role in Hairspray, as it was her first big acting and singing role with lots of solos and dialogue to learn.

However, whilst not wanting to sound boastful, I was really happy to see her perform so well and do justice to both herself and the part. As did the rest of the cast, to produce a show that was really very funny and entertaining.

It just goes to show how attending every rehearsal, learning lines without any prompting from us and basically just having enthusiasm for the role, even after nearly six months of rehearsals, can have it's rewards.

I think her Grandma really enjoyed the show too. It was the first time she'd ever seen her sing and perform and I think she was very pleasantly surprised by her voice and her confidence. (Don't know where she gets either from!)

We didn't go to all of the three shows, omitting the Wednesday night performance, not wanting to appear to be overbearing and pushy parents.

Instead, we stayed away and worried about not being there and supporting her/willing her on. We did, however, intend to attend the last performance on Thursday, to see the culmination of all the work that had been put into the show and sent LB to school on Wednesday with money to buy the tickets.

When OH texted her later that day, she hadn't bought them and said she would try in the morning, but not wanting to miss out I decided to head to the school on the Wednesday night and buy the tickets myself before that night's performance started.

It was just as well that I did, as I bought the last two tickets available.  I was so relieved. I would have been so disappointed to have missed it. They all did so well and the performances were even better than when we'd previously seen them.

On both nights, several of the parents in the audience, that we knew, were very positive about her performance, which was very lovely to hear, and a relief, as I thought it might just be me wearing rose coloured spectacles.  I'm not a gushing parent, I keep a low profile at school and don't like to sing my daughter's praises, but it is nice when they receive positive feedback for their hard work.

If we're honest, both me and OH are a little uncomfortable about her putting herself out there and being so exposed to criticism, especially with all the social media there is today, but it was something she wanted to do, so we were happy to let her experience what it involved for herself and just support her as much as we could.

I think on the whole it has been a positive experience, a few hiccups along the way, but I think she is relieved now it is all over, as well as feeling a little sad.  She said it was a similar feeling to the last day at school.

At the end of the final show, she was surprised to receive a bunch of flowers from her fellow cast members to show appreciation for how hard she had worked on the show, which was very touching. Knowing her, we could tell she wasn't expecting it and was very surprised.

Now, it is a case of her getting back to normal.  Life has been one long round of rehearsals 2 or 3 times per week for months, and even on Saturday mornings and in school holidays. With the show over, her time is now her own again and normal family life can resume, something we are all very thankful for.

Friday 4 March 2016

Living With Less Stuff - February 2016

February has been another good month in my challenge to Live with Less Stuff in 2016.

At the start of the year, I set myself the quite modest, but I thought realistic goal of decluttering at least 500 items this year, following on from decluttering over 1000 last year, and so far it is going much better than I could have ever imagined.

In February, I've set aside another 171 items to be donated and yes the sewing room has filled up again. When the double bed gets put in here in two weeks time (yes, we've got a date!) there won't be room to stack up the boxes here, they'll all have to go on top of the bed, but for now it is as good a place as anywhere, as it is out of the way.

Here's the photographic evidence of my efforts once again.

I'm awaiting announcement of the next Give and Take, so that I can take most of it to donate it. A couple of these boxes still need to be taken to a charity shop, but I still haven't got around to it yet!

The majority of the items this month came from another wardrobe/clothes drawer reorganisation by LB, a sifting and sorting of my linen collection, a book cull of a set of children's encyclopaedias amongst other childrens' books LB has grown out of, plus some of my books that I've read or decided I can live without.  There were also a good few items culled during the kitchen deep clean, that added to this number.

The current total for this year now stands at 306, good progress which completely takes the pressure off for the remainder of the year, although I'll still be trying as hard as possible to reduce what we give houseroom to.

We are definitely reaping the benefits of having less 'stuff' in the house.  Don't get me wrong, I am not and never will be a minimalist, but seeing space clear and having less stuff to negotiate on a daily basis, does make life so much easier and the house much less of an eyesore in general.  I'm starting to really enjoy seeing uncluttered and moreover well organised spaces, where once 'stuff' was just stuffed in.

The forthcoming bedroom deep clean this month should harvest a few more things, so I'll post again next month on further progress.

Thursday 3 March 2016

Project 10 Pan - More Progress

I'm pleased to say that Project 10 Pan, whereby I'm focussing on hitting pan or using up, certain beauty products that have been lingering in my collection for far too long, has progressed a little in the last month.

Since my last post last month, another item from the 10 mentioned in my original post on this project, has been finished, namely this Beauty Kitchen Lemongrass Hand and Body Lotion. I bought it way back in April/May last year and it was one of the first more natural beauty products I purchased, after deciding to use these types of products.  It came in a set with a handwash, which was used up months ago.

I used this solely as a hand cream, but was never particularly  keen on the smell, as I find lemongrass products a little too strongly scented for my taste, but I persevered and used it up.

I've kept the pretty blue plastic bottle for possible reuse in making my own products, but the pump I recycled, as it was too gunked up with cream and not easy to clean properly.

I do find that the great thing about making some of your own products, is that you can reuse many different pieces packaging you get from bought products.  So long as the labels are removable, and they can be cleaned relatively easily, once cleaned out, most can be re-purposed and I have a basketful of them awaiting just the right project.

There are still 8 products left to use up, a couple of which are nearing their end.  I'll post again once a little more progress has been made.

Wednesday 2 March 2016

Monthly Roundup - February

February has been a slightly easier month financially.  After the expense of January, I decided to make it a no spend month on non-essentials and largely stuck to it for the month, save for the odd bargain deal that couldn't be ignored.

Having said this, I was over again on the Food budget by £90 (sometimes I think I overcompensate in this department when I'm on a no spend month).  In addition, the Household budget was also double the £50 I allowed, largely due to the £25 Organic Surge purchase.

I'm beginning to think that I may have to extend this budget as pet food, household cleaning and toiletries (especially natural ones) is a real challenge to keep within £50 per month. I don't seem to have been within budget almost since I started with it.  I'll continue for a couple more months and see if it settles down.

With regard to spending, I seem to be able to see light at the end of the tunnel.  At the beginning of the year, I had a wishlist of various things that I needed to spend money on, i.e. LB's wardrobe renewal, various household items and a few things for myself.  I've now crossed most of the things off this list.  I know there are always things that crop up that you need to buy and I'm sure they still will, but if I stick to the list and focus on it, it prevents me buying any unnecessary items when I'm out and about.

In other news, I've been utilising my points at the supermarket most weeks this month and have saved over £21 on groceries as a consequence. I'm hoping that I can continue in this vein in March, dependent upon the issue of points vouchers by the supermarket concerned of course.

The planner that I've made from a small notebook bought very cheaply, has been working a treat and has really been helping me to get and keep on top of the housework.  I'm optimistic that I will be able to get into a good routine before long, but want to deep clean everywhere before I really get started on maintaining it on a regular basis.

I'm already finding that I am cleaning the hallways, stairs and landings and sweeping the front path much more regularly, especially as in the winter a lot of mud gets walked in by dog walking. I find that doing just this makes a difference as you're walking into a clean space, largely giving the impression of a clean house.

I haven't progressed on the bedroom deep clean yet, but have virtually completed the kitchen, which now feels a lot more organised and less cluttered. As always, decluttering in any room is ongoing, and I'm sure there is more that I can remove to improve it still further, but for the time being, I'm happy with how things are in this room.

In March, I'm hoping to try and keep within the food budget (can't promise).  I've already purchased a few more items for LB's wardrobe renewal, which is almost complete, or as complete as I'm going to make it for now.

I've also placed a small Ethical Superstore order too, making use of a £2.50 voucher to cover most of the postage, as I needed a fruit and veg wash, some dishwasher tablets, plus a few other food items.  I've also purchased a couple of birthday presents due this month and still have part of one other to purchase, along with some Easter eggs towards the end of the month.  However, as we are spending Easter in Tenerife, I won't be spending too much on this.

Other things I need to spend money on this month include haircuts for LB and myself, plus a couple of small items I have promised myself I will purchase this month.  So apart from these expenses I am back to not spending money and avoiding the shops, save for food shopping.  I've not been finding this too much of a hardship lately.

On the craft front, I am progressing well with the mini hexi quilted table runner and am hoping to finish this in March and put it into use. I have also found templates for my next quilt project, which I may start once the current one is finished, although I should try to finish the large double quilt first.

I'm looking forward to a productive month deep cleaning the bedroom in time for the arrival of our new bed in two weeks time and have already started tweaking storage arrangements all over the house, which I think has made improvements here and there.

I'll let you know how I get on.

Tuesday 1 March 2016

Kitchen Spring Clean Update

Since posting last  a couple of weeks ago on progress made with regard to my ongoing Kitchen Spring Clean, I thought I'd bring you up to scratch on progress.

During half term, with LB at home, it was quite hard to get back into the swing of things, but I got a little bit done on the evenings, setting the timer and doing at least an hour of deep cleaning most evenings. The insides and outsides of the cupboards on one side of the kitchen got blitzed this way.

I even managed to sift through my recipe box and get rid of lots of recipes cut from magazines that I'm never going to use.  As a previous post explained, the rest I stuck into a book that I can sift through when I want to try something new.

The weekend before last was a cleaning write off, as we went up to Yorkshire to visit relatives. Once back, however, and despite LB being back at school, I found it very difficult to motivate myself to get back to the job in hand.

I managed one half of the kitchen work tops on one side, including the cooker hob. I took off the rings and scrubbed underneath with a brillo pad, to get it as clean as I possibly could. The chopping board also got disinfected and scrubbed on both sides, as did the worktop beneath it.

It was at this point that I hit another brick wall and left off cleaning for the remainder of the week.  I think it may have been a case of overkill the week before.

By the weekend, however, I was feeling motivated to do some more work and on Saturday afternoon I blitzed the under sink cupboards on the other side of the room and then cleaned out the wine rack and recycling drawer.  I also gave the washing machine a good clean, de-gunking the detergent drawer, rubber seals on the door and the filter. (Found 30p for my trouble!;))  I then put it through a hot wash with white vinegar in the drum and bicarbonate of soda in the detergent tray, so it should now be sparkling clean.

I still need to tackle the inside of the dishwasher, as it was part full of dirty crockery, but I'll do that as soon as I've put it through a cycle and can take the baskets out. I do think that it's good to look after the appliances you own, by cleaning them thoroughly, and in turn it usually helps to keep them working better for longer. (Not that I always get around to doing it!)

Anyway, the good thing about doing so much cleaning is that I have managed to use up lots of products that had been lurking under the kitchen sink for quite a while and I can now fit all of my bulk bought cleaning products in one single cupboard.  A small thing, but significant to me, as it is evidence of simplifying my routines and products.

On the left in the picture below, you will see that I also made use of an old bit of Tupperware that belonged to my mum, to house the dishwasher tablets. It's the perfect shape and size for this cupboard and at least it now has a use, rather than been squirrelled away in a cupboard and not used.

Here's a picture of my newly cleaned and organised under sink cupboard.

Not a whole lot different from previous pictures I've posted, and still a little awkward to get to everything at the back, but at least everything is now in one place. There are a few more things in here that I want to use up in the near future, so there is scope to simplify still further and hopefully create more space in here.

I think the next post in this series will be the final one, as I am now very near to finishing the kitchen deep clean.  After talking to our neighbour on Saturday, I realised that this might actually be the last one I do in this kitchen, as they are in agreement to extending their side return along with us, to widen both kitchens.

If this gets done later this year, we might even have a new kitchen by the end of the year.  It's quite exciting, as it is something that we have wanted to do for quite a few years now, but didn't really want to cause upset to our neighbours.  With them onside, however, and intending to do the same, it means that we may be able to go ahead in the near future and both households can benefit.

Anyway, I'll be back with a final post about the kitchen spring clean and possibly an overall picture of the finished result.