Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Reflections and forward look

The turning of the year is a natural point to look back at what has happened in the previous twelve months and plan ahead for the next twelve. 2013 was certainly an eventful year for us in which we realised some of our hopes and dreams:

  • Our baby boy was born in January, completing our family. 
  • We completed on our house purchase in April, moving in in May.
  • I returned to work in July from maternity leave straight into a restructure at work. This situation forced me to look externally for new jobs and I am now in a job I really enjoy!
Looking forward in 2014 I want to be:
  • Less skint.
  • Slightly trimmer.
  • More organised.
  • Just as happy.
Hopefully, by being more organised (I'm currently taking lessons from Fly Lady), I'll be able to blog more.. hurrah!

Monday, 30 December 2013

Play dough - homemade style


While searching for something to entertain my 11 month old son, I found this recipe for home made play dough.



Ingredients:
•   1 cup of water
•   1 cup of flour
•   1/2 cup salt
•   1 tbs vegetable oil
•   2 tsp cream of tartar


Method:
Bring all ingredients together in a saucepan.
Stirring all the time, watch as the mixture forms a dough ball.
Remove from pan and place onto a clean board.
Knead until your dough is silky and cool.
Keep in an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

I added some green food colouring and peppermint extract (about a teaspoon of each). My son kept wanting to eat it, pulling the most amusing face at the saltiness so I think perhaps he's not quite ready for play dough yet. My 4 year old daughter loved it though!

Friday, 20 September 2013

The house!

I've found a quiet hour to myself and would like to tell you about our house.



We bought it back in April. I'm so glad we had an overlap with our rented house as this house was DISGUSTING. The previous owner clearly did not own a vacuum cleaner or a cleaning cloth.



My Dad came over from France and spent a couple of weeks with us to get it into a state suitable for a family to live in. (Huge thank you to my Dad!) We had a very tight budget and needed/wanted to paint almost everywhere, replace the flooring in the lounge/diner and get white goods.

The Kitchen
Whilst looking for an cooker on Freecycle, I came across one that came complete with a kitchen! The previous owner ended up leaving his cooker so we negotiated to take the kitchen units, sink and worktops. My Dad ripped out the old kitchen and refitted with the freecycled units. We bought new worktops, flooring, kitchen tap and a few fittings. Including some bargain white goods (thanks to Preloved), our 'new' kitchen came in at around £500. We had the cooker professionally cleaned which cost around £60. It looked as good as new when finished - money well spent.

Before:

During:

After:


It still needs some finishing touches, but we're getting there! It's now a place I love spending time in.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Back in the saddle!

It's been a crazy few months.

Firstly, my son was born at the end of January.

It took us ten days to name him and we eventually settled on Oliver. I hated him not having a name, but it was SO HARD to choose!
I'm working on losing the baby weight by using My Fitness Pal and Striiv. My Fitness Pal makes you take stock of what you are eating and has made me realised just how many calories are in some biscuits (oooops). Striiv has been such a great motivation. It's a pedometer with social networking and a game wrapped up into an iPhone app. The game and challenges are very addictive while the social networking aspect has you competing to see who can walk the farthest each day. The best thing is that the two apps link up and the calories burnt logged by Striiv automatically appear in the cardio exercise section of My Fitness Pal. I've fallen off the wagon whilst moving but now we're about 80% moved in, it's back to it today.... I've a weekend away booked at the end of the month!

We finally completed on our house purchase two weeks ago. It has taken nearly six months and the chain just grew and grew! We've just moved in and are clearing and cleaning out the old rented house. Gosh we have so much STUFF.
Rather than write one huge post, I'm going to break down our house progress to date. To summarise though: we have refitted the kitchen and decorated almost the entire house so far!


Saturday, 12 January 2013

Long time no blog

Being pregnant makes me feel so lousy and I've struggled to enjoy all the things I normally love. I'm nearly at the end of my pregnancy now, and on maternity leave and I think I'm finally finding my mojo!
So here's a little update on what's going on!

A good place to start would be with my progress update

  • The regular bike ride - well they weren't so regular once I got a bit bigger. We also bought our daughter her own little bike for her third birthday so I've taken her out on that too.

  • Advance Driver course - getting pregnant gave me a cotton wool brain, so I've had to defer this one if I have any chance of passing!!

  • Learning a new craft - I bought a sewing machine and have been dabbling with occasional bit of sewing. I intend to make more use of this in 2013!

  • To make Elderflower wine - TICK!

  • To complete the dolls house - fail. big time.




In other news, we have a baby due sometime soon (watch this space!) and are in the process of buying a house! So my goals for 2013 will be to pick up on 2012 goals not yet achieved (although I may defer the Advance Driving course to 2014).
I will also be looking at returning to my pre-pregnancy weight and decorating/DIY around our new home.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Papier Maché

Becky at Clean White Paper and I decided to do a craft share and make papier maché bowls.


I haven't done papier maché since I was at school so I was quite excited at trying it again!


I decided to use a PVA/water mix (two thirds PVA glue to one third water).


glue mixture


I tore newspapers into strips of about 1" by 2". This was to be my mistake. As I was layering the paper on, I realised I should have used smaller pieces of paper to create a smoother finish. So I decided I would go for a rustic look!


newspaper strips


Using a balloon as a mould I simply started dipping the strips of newspaper into the glue mixture, wiping off the excess and laying them onto the balloon.


balloon mould


I created two layers at a time, then let the paper dry overnight.


Once finished, I removed the balloon, trimmed the edges and gave the bowl a coat of emulsion paint. I decorated the bowl by punching holes around the rim and weaving ribbon through.


decorating


perfect for keeping pretty hair clips in


papier maché bowl


Have a look at my crafty Pinterest board for more inspiration and
check out Becky's papier maché!

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Elderflower Wine

Last year I missed the Elderflowers and had to wait until the berries ripened until I could try my hand at winemaking.

This year I vowed to catch the flowers. My Elderberry wine takes about four years before it is matured. Elderflower wine needs only a few weeks!

Back in June, I collected flowers from my in laws Elder tree. You only need about 4-6 heads of flowers to make 4.5 litres (one gallon).
You will also need:

  • a large pan (big enough to hold 4.5 litres)

  • 3 x 2 litre soda bottles


  • 2 lemons (sliced)

  • 750 grams sugar (I used granulated)

  • 2 tablespoons of cider or white wine vinegar

  • 4.5 litres water



Fill the pan with 4.5 litres of water.

Shake the flower heads to remove any bugs then add to the water with the sliced lemons.

Cover and leave for one day.

Elderflower wine - brewing

After 24 hours, add the sugar and vinegar.

Stir until all the sugar has dissolved.

Then strain through muslin and a sieve and pour into the clean soda bottles.

Place the caps loosely on the bottles but don't screw them down just yet.

After a few days, you'll see bubbles start to appear. If after a week, no bubbles have formed then add some yeast (I used bread yeast). You only need to a about a quarter of a teaspoon.

Leave for one - two weeks before screwing the lids down. Then leave for 4-6 weeks to mature.

Ooops!

Keep an eye on the pressure in the soda bottles and let some gas out if needed. The picture above is what happened the other day to one of my bottles! We came home from a day out to find the kitchen had been turned into a disaster zone - Elderflower wine all over the kitchen floor, spice rack smashed, fridge magnets broken... I hadn't kept a good eye on the pressure in the bottles and one had exploded. Lesson learned!

When the wine is ready for drinking (and this is down to your taste, the longer you leave it; the dryer it'll be), filter again into a serving jug and enjoy.

Elderflower wine