Our New(ish) Garage

Oak Garage - Rear

It dawned on me recently that, after mentioning we were about to commence work on rebuilding the garage last year, I then spectacularly failed to share any photos with you of the end result.

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves, but suffice to say, it’s a really beautifully crafted building that is starting to weather nicely and offers a load of storage potential for all our junk (and when we finally get around to organising said junk – as opposed to merely dumping it – it will be a marvellous space inside too).

Oak Garage - Front & Details

Garage - Side View with Light

For those who may be interested, my original post about the garage caught me in the throes of deciding on lighting for the building; in the end, we went with an Astro Montparnasse Wall Light in Bronze above the side door, and two Hunza Wall Down Lights in Bronze tucked discreetly above the garage doors which each cast a lovely glow come night fall.

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Shortlist #12: Jugs

Ammi Majus in Jug

As I recently mentioned, one of my favourite pastimes during the summer months is picking a bunch of flowers for the house from the garden. With the exception of the sweet peas, which I tend to arrange as they are, I like the fact you can be endlessly creative with whatever happens to be blooming at the time.

I’m using all this floral bounty as an excuse to build up my collection of vases and jugs, as – like cushions – I feel as they’re one of those things that you can never really have enough of: or at least that’s my excuse. I’m currently into jugs in a big way as I like the fact that they are both multi-purpose and have a slightly more informal air about them. Here are some I’d happily add to my collection…

  1. Shortlist #12- JugsPlum & Ashby Ceramic Small Jug
  2. John Lewis Patterned Ceramic Jug
  3. Graham & Green Le Bain Jug
  4. Anthropologie Saga Creamer
  5. Nkuku Renu Jug
  6. Oka Glass Bubble Jug

Images: Source unknown (via Pinterest), Plum & Ashby, John Lewis, Graham & Green, Anthropologie, Nkuku, Oka

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This Year’s Veg

Marshalls Seeds - New Varieties

A little while ago, Marshalls very kindly offered to send me some of their new vegetable seed varieties to try out in the garden this year; I confess to leaping at the chance as it seemed like a perfect opportunity to get out of a seed-buying rut and try something a little different for a change.

Everything I’ve planted so far is growing well in the garden and – in the case of the Courgette Griller Mix – being harvested too. This variety produces unusual egg-shaped fruits in dark green, light green and yellow. The assorted colours make for a vibrant combination on the plate and, having eaten some at the weekend, I can confirm that they have a lovely firm texture and good taste.

Since planting out in the garden, the pumpkin and squash plants are romping away: a mass of delicate tendrils, curled yellow flowers and hairy leaves spilling over the edges of the raised beds.

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Whilst I very much look forward to eating the squash (I’ve planted both Spaghetti and Sweetmax varieties), I am most excited about the Pumpkin Knucklehead: its warty, gnarled appearance means it’s going to make a brilliant lantern come Hallowe’en.

Marshalls - Tomato Corazon & Tomato Fenda

Having not had the best of luck with tomatoes in the past, I am keeping my fingers crossed that we have a chance to enjoy the Corazon and Fenda types that we’re growing as they both sound great. The Fenda variety is meant to be grown indoors, but, in the absence of a greenhouse, it’s having to take its chances outside. I’ll report back later in the summer (hopefully with photos of a delicious homegrown tomato salad).

Meanwhile, the Brokali Endeavour and Cabbage Sepantine are not going to be ready until next year as the broccoli has only recently been sown, and, having missed the boat for outdoor sowing of the cabbage in the spring, I’m going to sow in the autumn instead. I’m sure both will be worth the wait…

The seeds were kindly sent to me by Marshalls – all opinions are my own. 

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Cut Flowers

Cut Flowers

The flower beds in the vegetable garden are looking great right now; they are full of colour and there are plenty of blooms for both the bees to savour and for us to enjoy indoors.

We haven’t managed to do much sowing of annual flowers for cutting this year (bar some Nicotiana and Sweet Peas), so our hardy perennials are having to do the honours inside the house instead; all those pictured above last a good few days in the vase though and create a lovely relaxed display that has been much admired.

Included in the arrangement above are:

  • Sweet William (this was the only thing I bought in as it was going cheap in the supermarket!)
  • Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’
  • Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’
  • Cirsium rivulare ‘Atropupureum’
  • Astrantia ‘Moulin Rouge’
  • Astrantia ‘Buckland’
  • Alchemilla mollis

If you want to see how the pros do it though, check out this gorgeous bunch of flowers that the lady who helps us in the garden very kindly gave to me this week. She has had an allotment for years and is dedicating more of it to growing cut flowers these days. If ever there was inspiration for growing your own blooms I’d say this was it:

Cut Flowers

This arrangement includes:

  • Sweet William (homegrown!)
  • Sweet Peas
  • Ammi majus
  • Centaurea cyanus (Cornflower)
  • Salvia viridis

If I get some spare time this weekend (a girl can but dream!) then I am going to start compiling a seed shopping list so that I can get sowing some annuals and biennials in the coming months.  If you have any recommendations then I’d love to hear them…

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An Unplanned Hiatus

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I honestly can’t believe that it has been quite so long since my last post. I’m not sure how I managed to drop the blogging ball quite so spectacularly but somehow I did. I blame myriad projects around the house and garden (more on these soon), some new freelance work and, most recently, preparations for an addition to the family: a Labradoodle puppy who arrives next week.

It feels good to be back though and I promise that my next post won’t be long in coming…(and I vow to restrain myself with regards to posting puppy pictures).

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Snowdrops

Snowdrops in CupWe followed the cutest little boy into school the other day. Trailing a short distance behind his Mum and brothers, he was walking very slowly as he concentrated hard on carrying a tiny vase filled with snowdrops: a gift for his nursery teacher.

Inspired by this sweet gesture, I picked a few from the swathe that blanket one part of our lawn so that we can briefly enjoy them up close before they fade away.

I’m no expert, but a quick bit of research on the RHS website suggests that these might be the common snowdrop, or Galanthus nivalis. Either which way, they are incredibly pretty and I plan to divide them up whilst they’re still in the green so that we can admire their nodding white heads elsewhere in the garden next Spring.

Snowdrops

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Before & After: Master Bedroom

Better late than never, but I’m finally here with pictures of our master bedroom makeover, now that all those little paint jobs that I kept meaning to do – but never quite got around to doing – are complete.

This was another room that needed a little TLC as you can see from the ‘Before’ images below, taken when we first viewed the house. Sadly, I don’t have any photographic evidence of the assortment of curtains that we made do with over the last few years but, suffice to say, it wasn’t pretty.

Master Bedroom - Before 3

Master Bedroom - Before 1

Master Bedroom - Before 2

I got to indulge my love of wallpaper stripping with this project, and then, after having the room replastered, donned my tatty old jeans once again in order to paint. We chose restful shades to tone in with the bed and furniture that we already had, with a view to adding colour through accessories.

It’s hard to tell from these pictures, but the bedside cabinets and larger cupboard are actually painted in shades of duck egg blue/green, so I hunted out a curtain fabric to complement these and found exactly what I was looking for at Linwood. A word to the wise though, on delivery we discovered that the curtains are quite a bit paler than the cutting that I had. Thankfully this wasn’t a major issue for us, as the colours all blend with each other, but it does go to show that it’s worth going to the trouble of getting a batch sample if you are keen on an exact match for something (a lesson duly learned).

Master Bedroom - Bed & Wardrobe

Master Bedroom - Bed

I’m not a huge fan of pendant lights – I blame the gloomy glow that they give off –  but they can add a welcome decorative touch, so we got our electrician to fit the vintage chandelier which had been languishing in the loft for the last few years. He also installed some discreet halogen downlights to provide more flattering illumination.

The eagle-eyed amongst you may have spotted the new carpet too. Moth-eaten in places, the old, threadbare, apricot number had definitely seen better days, so we bit the bullet and treated ourselves to a new one.

Master Bedroom - Bed & Cupboard

In case you’re wondering about the rather generous curtain length, rest assured that there is method in our madness and no measuring mishaps occurred. When we eventually do our building works, this window and wall will be demolished to allow for the extension and the new window is likely to be taller than the existing one. So, in a rare moment of foresight, we decided to make allowances for this to enable us to reuse the curtains down the line and had them made extra-long.

Master Bedroom - Bed & Window

Bedroom Details

Whilst all the DIY may finally be done in this room, the accessorising is not; I’m keen to offset the neutral shades with some cushions in a brighter shade and perhaps a table lamp in the corner by the mirror. We’re happy to wait to find the right pieces though: in the mean time, we’re just thrilled to have a lovely new bedroom where the curtains match each other!

Sourcebook:

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Seville Orange Marmalade

1-DSC_0063Ta dah! Here is one of several jars of marmalade that I made last weekend after tagging along to a marmalade-making workshop with a couple of friends (I am becoming more grown-up and domesticated by the second). Given my only previous effort had resulted in blackened fruit and a ruined pan, I figured I needed all the help I could get.

We followed Mary Berry’s Seville Orange Marmalade recipe from her Aga Book which requires you to simmer the whole oranges in water for a couple of hours until they are soft and somewhat deflated, before scooping out the flesh, pith and pips from inside and shredding the skin. This was quite a revelation as my previous attempt had involved squeezing the fresh oranges before cutting up the skin which was a lot messier and more labour-intensive. In fact, this process was really quite therapeutic and the house was filled with the most amazing citrus scent which seemed to envelop me for about a day afterwards.

We are making short work of the first jar and have been enjoying its golden, bittersweet taste with toasted sourdough and salted butter every day this week: the perfect foil to the frosty mornings.

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New Year & New Loo

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Firstly, Happy New Year! I hope that your celebrations were fun and that 2015 has got off to a good start.

We had a very enjoyable, if hectic, time with family and friends but with the kids back at school we are slowly getting back into our normal routine which I have to say feels like a good thing: there are only so many mince pies and sherries a girl can take after all.

As mentioned in my last post, I have a few recent projects to share with you and I thought I’d start off with our newly redecorated downstairs loo. This wasn’t really a project I’d anticipated doing any time soon, however I’d picked up the wrought iron Queen Victoria balcony remnant at an antiques fair recently and thought it might look good on the wall in there. Coupled with the fact I had a few days to myself in the week before Christmas, I decided to get cracking on a cheap and cheerful makeover.

Downstairs Loo

Downstairs Loo

Whilst it might be more cheerful than before, it didn’t actually end up being quite as cheap as I’d envisaged. Within half an hour of starting, disaster struck when I propped up the Queen Victoria piece on the loo to see how it looked, only for it to slip and smash the cistern lid and the loo seat. The replacement was an eye-watering price on account of the loo being discontinued, but the people at HM James were super-helpful and I had the new lid within 24 hours: impressive stuff.

With the demolition phase behind me, this room then required nothing more than paint as we replaced the light, mirror and the splash back tiles some time ago: the only new addition (other than the vengeful Queen Vic) is the wooden blind at the window.

Whilst this might be the smallest room in the house, it was long overdue a little TLC. It’s also right by the front door (and usually on view given my kids’ penchant for leaving the door wide open) so it’s good to have said goodbye to shabbiness and hello to a fresh new look for the New Year.

Sourcebook:

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Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year

Trygve M Davidsen

Preparations for Christmas have felt like a total marathon this year: I think I’ve been juggling too much recently (oh, when will I learn?) but today I think I may have turned a corner as I  finally feel as though I am making headway on the old ‘To Do’ list. This time tomorrow I hope I’ll be kicking back with G&T and starting to enjoy the festivities.

As well as our master bedroom makeover that I recently mentioned, I also have a few other projects that I’ll be sharing, so I look forward to getting back into the swing of regular blogging in 2015 and I hope you’ll join me. In the meantime, thank you for reading my posts and for the lovely comments. I hope you all have a very happy Christmas and New Year!

Image: The Matchbox by Trygve M. Davidsen

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