How time flies!

Wow… what happens to the time, I say every day that I am going to achieve this, this and this, but the list never seems to get any smaller and the day goes by. (I need to address this life time issue). So sorry guys for such a long time between posts. Anyhoo…

We have been busy trying to finish the house off, having lots of people to stay, which is great as they make a house a home with the memories, and we have been playing in the garden. Not sure where to start with the update, but outside seems as good a place as any.

You may remember that my Handy Husband created a lovely potting shed for me. He knows the way to my heart. Well this year as we are starting to landscape the garden he increased the number of raised beds for me too. I found that last year there just wasn’t enough space for all the things I wanted to grow. Below is how it used to look before the upgrade.

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And now!

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So we added in two more raised beds and also reused some low fence panels that we had salvaged from the garden before we started deconstruction. They work well to break up the spaces between where we want to put our patio and the more functional space of the vegetable garden. Also the low fence will work well as support for a couple of roses that i want to train along the length of it.

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We gravelled an area to the side of the potting shed, mainly because we didn’t want to use up all the reclaimed bricks, but also to add in a change of surface texture to add interest. I’ve put here my tin bath and made a pond again. Early stages with the pond, but it will eventually look good. Plus its great for the birds to have somewhere to drink water and bathe in.

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The inside of the potting shed is also looking very productive. I’ve been busy sowing seeds and potting on seedlings. I added more shelving in here as well.

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So the sun is shining and I need to get out and potter. Hope you have a good weekend.

Emma x

 

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Christmas cake

So earlier this year I baked my Christmas cake in August and have been feeding it religiously through out the autumn months so it is now ready for icing… WOW!!! Sorry that is my fantasy land perfect other self who is ultra organised and always on top of things. The reality is the absolute opposite! Now I may not have made my Christmas cake in August like Little Miss Perfect, but I still wanted to make one. And while I realise that the whole dribbling booze into a cake at carefully timed intervals is a little beyond my day to day scheduling (lets face it, who wouldn’t like 36 hours every day?) I’m not above sloshing in the booze at the beginning.

I was given a Boiled Fruit Cake recipe by my very good friend’s mama – Granny Aggie. Granny Aggie is a feisty Northern Irish lady, who has, I am sure, made a fair few cakes in her time. It came highly recommended so I thought I would give it a go.

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It turned out very well. Lovely and glossy on the top, and super moist.

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Recipe as follows:

250ml Water

900g dried mixed fruit

225g caster sugar

170g butter

230g plain flour

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 teaspoon mixed spice

2 eggs beaten.

Preheat oven to 150 C or Gas mark 2. The recipe says to cook in a loaf tin, but Aggie suggested that a brownie (square) tin would be good. So I went with that one. Greased and lined with parchment.

Combine the water, sugar, fruit and butter in a large pan and bring to the boil. Boil gently for about 10 minutes. After boiling I added in a good slosh (technical term) of rum, well it is Christmas!

Sift the flour, bicarb and mixed spice in a large bowl. Add in the fruit mixture and stir well. It may froth a little because of the bicarb, then add in the beaten eggs. Give it a good mix.

Pour into the greased tin and into the oven. It says to cook for 90 minutes, but after about an hour I had a check and covered the top with some tin foil to stop it burning, then checked with knife to see if it came out clean. When the knife comes out clean, take the cake out of the oven and let it rest in the pan for about 10 minutes.

It does say that it is better to eat this the next day – yeah right!!! like I can wait a whole day.

It is absolutely delicious. I can’t see this one lasting until Christmas, so I will definitely be making another one for the holidays. Plus the bonus is it doesn’t really need decorating, just a sprinkling of icing sugar snow and a few trees will do very nicely.

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Emma x

 

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Pinch, Punch, first of the month!

Well it’s the first of December and the big countdown has started. Even at 12 my girlie still gets excited about Christmas, well don’t we all secretly? I thought I would share with you this year’s version of our advent calendar.

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I have been collecting the little birds for the past few years and now have quite a flock! The little presents are just small tokens with some chocolate treats too. But when you wrap them in pretty colours and put in little bags and dress up with scraps of ribbon, suddenly they seem so much more!

Happy first of December!

Emma x

 

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The art of hanging pictures.

We are finally coming to that point in our house renovation when I can start to hang pictures and photos on the walls. Now, I love orderliness. I like things lined up. I like all the frames to be the same size and the colours of the photos to be similar, and best of all arranged on a grid (I can’t tell you how it makes me feel calm and in control). But, (this is a bit BUT) I have been looking on Pinterest and admiring picture arrangements where all the frames are different and the pictures are different sizes and the pictures them selves are of mixed media. They look fresh and spontaneous. So I took a deep breath, and decided to step outside my comfort zone, and try my hand at this style of picture hanging.

We finally cleared out our storage container (shockingly we have had it for FIVE YEARS!!! – I know!!!) and there were things in there that I couldn’t remember having. Anyway, it was nice to get all our pictures back in the house. So for this little project I picked the loose theme of boats/water/seaside and found all the pictures and paintings that we owned that fitted into this category. I played around with the layout of them on the floor.

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It took me some time I can tell you, as I kept trying to put them in a grid. (doh) But eventually I was happy with the way they looked. Next I cut paper to the size of each frame so that I could put it on the wall.

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I had to fight the urge to line up the bottoms of the pictures, but I did try to keep the spaces as even as I could. So the balance seemed to work. Time to start putting nails in the pristine plaster. It was relatively easy to get the nail in the right place. Simply fold the paper in half (side to side) and measure where the string is and bang the nail in.

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Just keep going till you are done!

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The painting in the middle in the dark frame was actually painted by my dad in 1963!

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After that (slightly stressful) picture hanging exercise, I decided to revert to my comfort zone. We have the perfect wall at the bottom of the staircase just waiting to be filled.

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As you can see I’ve already marked out with washi tape the area I would like to hang in. Of course it is an exact square. I used the same technique as I did before with the paper, it seems to be the easiest way. Here is the result.

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Lovely and ordered! Of course there are no hard and fast rules about how to hang pictures and like the pictures themselves it is all an expression of your own taste. Hope you have a good weekend.

Emma x

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Copper handles everywhere!

When I was originally planning the design and look of our new kitchen I naturally went onto my favourite place, Pinterest, and honed my ideas there. So as you also know if you follow my blog (sporadically I am sure, as I’m not the most consistent blogger!) but I have been a fan of the copper trend for quite a while. So naturally I was going to get copper into my kitchen somehow. Below are a few inspirational pins from my Pinterest boards.

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I loved these handles against the dark grey units, from this blog.

And these cup handles from this blog.

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And then I saw this kitchen which was just perfect…from ohidesignblog.com

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Buuuuttttt. (and that’s a big but!) the price of brass handles is shocking! and I needed 45! YES 45!!! Now if each handle costs £12 and upwards… that was going to be way too much for the Handy Husband to indulge me in.

So, in order to get what I wanted, I needed to find an alternative. You can pick up cheap bar handles from Howdens for a couple of quid… which I did, and then I looked into getting them coppered.

So after researching, I found that you can electroplate copper onto pretty much anything metal. Woo hoo!. So the amazing guys from Hampshire Electroplating Co put the copper onto my cheap as chips handles – oh boy did they look the bees knees (the handles…!!). Then of course I had to get these beauties lacquered. So I took them to another local company, Trestan, who do powder coating on all things metal. Again they are stars and did a wonderful job on my handles. I am sure the lads at both these companies rue the day I walked into their businesses, but I want to say thank you so much to them all for being patient and for doing such an amazing job.

But before the big reveal I just wanted to show you what we have been living with. (SO last Christmas!)

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So here are my babies now. Please don’t dribble all over the screen, cos I know you are jealous.

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I also have cup pulls and knobs on the dresser part of the kitchen, just to make the unit seem more like a piece of furniture.

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And these little brackets I got on Ebay, I had the guys copper them too. They support the little shelf above the sink, and more importantly, my radio.

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Well, we got there in the end, as you all know with me, it’s all in the detail.

Have a good weekend

Emma x

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Before and After (finally!)

I know I haven’t been writing much recently, but we have been just so super busy that some things had to go, and sadly blogging was one of them. But things have, relatively, calmed down I am back. We moved into our new house (it’s not quite a home – we haven’t made enough memories in it yet) a couple of weeks ago and the dust is starting to settle.

I thought I would show you what we have achieved with some before (top photos) and after photos (bottom photos).

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and here are some of the outside of the house as it is now. The new utility room door, my potting shed and veg garden and the back of the house.

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Now for inside. As you can see from the before and after of the front of the house (above), we moved the front door from next to the tower to the middle window. The front door used to come straight into the living room, so we took away the dining room (below) and moved the front door and the staircase and made a new entrance hall. We think it worked quite well.

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Then we knocked the living room and the old master bedroom into one room and made this our kitchen, dining, and living room. This is just such a social space, and we love the fact that we can all be in the room at the same time doing our own thing but being together.

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and some more photos of the kitchen…

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We turned the downstairs spare room into our snug. We like to get together as a family on a friday night and watch a movie with popcorn.

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This room has turned out even better than I expected. Despite strong opposition to painting it such a dark colour (Farrow and Ball – Downpipe) it has been much admired.

We turned what was the kitchen into our office. We both work from home, so having a dedicated room to work in and then shut the door on is an absolute necessary. As you can see we haven’t really done much more than paint and put down some temporary carpet, but already the light in here is amazing.

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Upstairs we extended the roof and added in an ensuite, family bathroom, and three bedrooms.

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Of course we are still a long way from being finished, and I thought I would show you what the rest looks like…! Ha Ha!

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Have a good weekend

Emma x

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The big reveal!

Well the house is coming along, at a pace, and something big has moved things on today. The scaffolding is coming down.YAY!  It feels a bit like unwrapping a present, a really big present. So I just wanted to share with you what is inside!

The front…

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The back…

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and the new roof.

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We are getting closer!

Emma x

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Progress report

We came back from our break in Valencia to see some major progress on our renovation project. Not sure if it is because we hadn’t seen it for a week, or the builders have been extra busy… but I thought I would share with you the new additions.

The roof tiles are going on. We are reusing the old tiles on the back of the house and new ones on the front to try and keep check on the costs.

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We decided on how the front porch was going to look, and it now reflects the way the dormers are made and it fits just right. You can just see the construction of it coming off the roof.

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Inside the house, the stud walls are all up upstairs, and it gives a good feel for the sizes of the rooms. We are really please how this has turned out. Below is the master bedroom.

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Here are the other two bedrooms on the other side of the landing.

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And this is the view down the stairwell to the front door. I am particularly pleased how spacious this feels. With the Velux window over the stairwell, it will be really light.

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… and this is the view from the front door up the stairs. (by the way these aren’t the final stairs, just temporary ones)

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Downstairs, the stud walls for the cloakroom and downstairs ensuite are now in. (sorry for the very boring photos!)

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…and windows are going in too! Here is the main living room/kitchen area.

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And finally I thought I would show you how much the veg garden has grown since we were away. Thanks to my dad for watering and looking after my babies!

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Have a good weekend y’all.

Emma x

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Half term holidays

We all felt that we needed a bit of R&R over the half term holidays – so I booked an apartment with Airbnb in Valencia. It was just what the doc ordered. Cultural sight seeing in the mornings and afternoons spent lolling on the beach with evenings trying out the local cuisine and vino. We all came back much refreshed and ready to do battle work on the house.

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I hope you also had a good half term holiday. House news to follow soon…

Emma x

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New paths, new dormers and dirty faces

I hope you are comfortable and have a nice cup of earl grey tea to hand, cos this is going to be a long post as I have lots to tell you.

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Firstly the Handy Husband has been very busy putting down a new path to his man cave garden shed. We got a great deal on some concrete pavers from B&Q at the trade counter, for about £2 which is a total bargain. We’re mixing them in with the reclaimed bricks from the house. We don’t have quite enough of the bricks to make all the paths that we want to, so by mixing them in with the concrete pavers perhaps we will have enough.

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I also dug over the border (well half the border before my back got too stiff – man! that border is long!) and planted some new plants that I bought this morning from Garden Beauty who were having a plant sale. It’s great being able to work in the garden and make it our own while the house is being renovated. It makes it feel more like ours.

My girlie was also very busy in the garden. I am sure you can see exactly what we look like from her garden portraits!

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Moving onto the house, the roof is taking shape, the carpenters have been having taking their time and getting it right. It hasn’t been easy for them as the drawings from the Architects aren’t all that good – but that’s another story I won’t bore you with. Still they are managing and the results are great. If you look down the length of the roof, all the rafters are perfectly inline. That’s a skill. (The perfectionist Handy Husband is suitably impressed).

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It will only be another couple of weeks before they start to put the tiles on – SO exciting – a roof!

Downstairs is moving on too, all the rooms have been joisted out and battens (green ones) put in place to support the insulation. They will be putting pipes and wires in soon (I hope) for first fix.

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It has been great realising the spaces as they take shape, and they are just as I imagined (phew!) Well sorry for very long post, I hope your tea didn’t go cold!

Have a great weekend

Emma x

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