Monday, 10 July 2017

The Grateful 10 - June

June was ridiculously busy, hence the lack of updates here. It's nice to know that the business has grown to the point where it can now pay to keep the roof over our heads, but it did come at a cost. I had very little spare time and felt like I was juggling all the things at top speed. No balls were dropped though and I've learnt a lot over the past few weeks so it was a good experience. Plus I did manage to find a lot of good moments in there too. Enough to make it difficult to chose just ten of them for my Grateful Ten list. These were my top moments from June..

 My new found secret spot


It's not much at the moment, but I've found a secret spot behind the house which is the perfect little hidey hole. Even Alessi doesn't know about it! It's sunny, but has a shady spot and somehow still picks up the wifi from the house! If I can find a table and chair, I could easily work out here which would make getting on with things on sunny days so much easier. I procrastinate like you would not believe on sunny days when I'm forced to stay in the house so this could be a real help. Not to mention it's just lovely to feel the warm breeze without being blinded or worrying about sunburn while being able to hear bees and birds and look up at the woods behind the house. It's a little nook and it's all mine!

Roses and dried petals


The roses are starting to die off in the garden now so I'm starting to pick them and dry the petals. It's so easy and just makes them go that little bit further. Plus it makes the kitchen smell amazing.

Chimney of bees


Oh my. I completely nerded out over this last week over on my Instagram stories so I don't want to bore you too much. In short we ended up with a large swarm of honey bees living in our chimney. A beekeeper came over to try and move the hive by putting a specially designed basket over the chimney which had some honeycomb attached inside which then dangled down. The idea was that all the bees (queen included) would move up the chimney to concentrate on this honeycomb rather than the bit they'd already started. Then the beekeeper would simply take them all away. He even put a separate box out in a field just behind the house in case they decided they preferred that instead. But the following night it rained and when we woke up the chimney was silent. When I went out to check, there were hardly any bees left flying around. The beekeeper returned a few days later and confirmed that the swarm and abandoned the chimney (probably due to the rain). He removed his basket and said the remaining bees would probably move on during the next rain fall. Failing that we could try smoking them out. I'm not sure how keen I am to do that to be honest as the chimney hasn't been used for a few years and has also had birds nesting in it. It's wet today so hopefully they'll move on now. Weirdly, I'm going to miss them. The whole thing was fascinating and I could have spoken to the beekeeper for ages. One day maybe.

Sparrow watching


Most of springs nesting birds have long gone, moving back to the woods or orchard which is now overgrown again after I neglected it last month. But the sparrows and sparrow babies (although they're not really babies anymore) remain and I love sitting by the back door watching them in the mornings with a cup of coffee. This is definitely one of my favourite parts of the day at the moment.

The sunflower wall.. again


They've gotten so big and it's so cheerful to see them out of the kitchen window. And I'll be able to dry the stalks out in the autumn too and use them next year as stakes for the next batch.

After school hangs


When Alessi comes home it sees me switch from shop mode to mum mode. We just hang out and do whatever she wants. This last bit of term before the holidays always leaves her feeling a little frazzled so this helps her relax a little bit. I think we're both ready for the holidays though and a more relaxed pace.

My new-to-me dressing table


If you follow me on Instagram you will have seen this beauty in my feed. Basically I came across it in a local secondhand shop and promised myself buy it if it was still there the next time I popped in. I wasn't very hopeful though as things move quite quickly there. When Dan got home from work the following day he asked me to help him carry something out of the car and there it was. Best. Surprise. Ever.

Alessi dancing


All the time. Oh and singing. It's a joy to watch. Especially her made up dances. My faves are the 'I've got a wedgie' dance and the old favourite 'cockney' dance that Dan taught her. She's such a wonderful little weirdo.

Sky lights 


I've watched stars and a couple of full moons glide across the night sky from the comfort of my bed as well as listened to the sound of birdsong and falling rain. I never thought I could love a sky light as much as this, but I do and now they're on my list of things my dream house would have.

Pretty plates


Ever since I decided to make the kitchen table and specifically meal times more of a thing, I've started serving up meals on pretty vintage plates because what is the point of owning them if they stay in a cupboard and rarely get used? And I won't lie, they also help distract from the fact that dinner is often burnt. "Dinner is charcoal but hey, it's on a plate with flowers on so TA DA!"

There's always something to be grateful for. Always. And I swear by listing ten things in any moment to be a great way to lift your spirits or at least take the edge of a crappy day. Give it a go sometime and see!

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Introducing: The Grateful 10 - May

Hi folks. I'm excited to share this post as it's something I've been thinking about doing for a long time and now seems like the perfect time to start it.
At the end of each month I'm going to make a list of ten things I'm grateful for, great and small. I'm starting up a hashtag on Instagram too called #thegratefulten where I'll post my grateful ten lists whenever I feel the need. Feel free to join in and add you're own too!

Without further ado, here are ten things I've been grateful for this past month:

-1-
My family
These two are the family I chose for myself and they are my everything.

-2- 
The view from my windows
Nope. Not bored of this yet.

-3- 
Birdwatching while washing up
Well it certainly makes it more interesting anyway.

-4- 
Beach trips after school
This is such a treat for Alessi and I'm loving the time we get to spend together here. I learnt a valuable lesson on our last trip though. Always, ALWAYS bring a change of clothes.

-5- 
Flowers from the garden
The original owners of the cottage where keen gardeners and they seem to have planted flowers, bushes and bulbs to ensure that there's always something blooming at any given time of the year. No sooner has one plant died back than another is starting to burst with colour. I've never been one to grow many flowers before, preferring to focus on fruit and vegetables instead. The garden here has completely changed my mind about that and it's something I will take with me when we move.

-6-
This spot
Last week I posted this picture on Instagram after getting the urge to carve out a lovely space for us to come together as a family. Since then it's seen more burnt meals (me), more squabbles (Dan and Alessi) and is now my favourite spot in the house. 

-7- 
Nature spotting
We've seen rabbits, mice, kites, buzzards, squirrels, woodpeckers, kingfishers, slow worms and this little newt all in the last week. I wanted to live closer to nature and oh boy am I ever. Of course this also means sharing the house with some nature too, but I'll take that. 

-8- 
My sunflower wall
It wasn't just the snails that were after my sunflowers. The chickens kept having dust baths next to and on top of them, as well as getting the odd peck at the leaves in too. So I took a leaf out of a certain President's playbook and built a wall. If he wants to learn anything from my experience, it was a faff to put it up and it doesn't work anyway. I'm forever scooping the chickens out and chasing them off. Forget your bad hombres, they've got nothing on Tufty Sue and Snowball.

-9- 
The chickens
Despite the aforementioned dust baths, I am so grateful for these two. I still miss Titch, but I'm happy that these two are still here. Tufty Sue has really come out of her shell (Titch was a bit of an overbearing chicken) and is a lot friendlier than she used to be. Snowball is currently broody so we're constantly chucking her out of the coop to make sure she remembers to eat and drink. And she's constantly telling us off in return.

-10- 
Being home
No words needed.

And so endeth The Grateful Ten list for May. Come and join me over on Instagram and post your own list using the #thegratefulten hashtag!

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

The Challenge


When we moved we knew that one of the biggest sacrifices we were going to have to make would be a financial one. And in the limbo month between putting our house on the market and holding the open day, I decided to keep mind occupied by planning the different ways we could cut back and live off of a smaller income.

I'm so glad I did that, even if it was just a way to distract myself from stressing about what we were doing at the time. Having been here a month now we are at the point where we're getting a solid view of what we can expect in the bank each month, and what needs to come out. Note the word "needs" there. Because we have been a bit silly these past few weeks. Not ridiculously so, but silly nonetheless. There's room for improvement on both sides and I've decided to start blogging about this as a means to stay focused and hold myself accountable.

Over the next few months you can expect to see a slight shift on this blog from the odd dressmaking post and other random witterings. I mean these will continue, I am a dressmaker after all and I do love a good wittering. But I will also be writing more about living more frugally. And I don't want to stop there either. One thing I've wanted to do for a while now is live a more greener lifestyle too. In some ways I already am. I'm cutting down on the amount of plastic we buy, replacing broken plastic things with non-plastic alternatives, recyling blah, blah. But as living a greener way of life ties in rather nicely with frugal living, it just makes sense to me to combine the two.

So what can you expect from this blog now? In a nutshell, my experiences (successes and fails), any tips I think are worth sharing, the odd tutorial and I would really like to start a sustainable fashion series too. I'm thinking outfits comprising of secondhand, handmade and refashioned clothes. This will mean of course, getting over my awkwardness of being in front of the camera. I'm not sure I'm loving that part of the plan so much to be honest, but I'll give it a go.

Basically, I just love the idea of showing that being green doesn't mean being crusty and living frugally doesn't mean cutting out the fun.

Whether I'm up to this challenge or not is another thing, but it's one that I really want to try and I would really love it if you would join me and follow my progress. And if there's anything you would like to see me cover, please let me know!

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Settling in


We've been living in Wales for a month now. The boxes are unpacked, the dust has settled and with Alessi back at school, we are starting to form new routines.

The cottage is a dream. An old and quirky dream. 
  • The windows upstairs are sky lights so we've been using towels as make shift curtains. This was supposed to be for a few days, but we're still yet to buy blinds for them. Whoops.
  • I've been waking up early most mornings with the dawn chorus. This is in equal parts beautiful (come on, it's birdsong) and annoying (it's birdsong at 5.00am).
  • Internet access is sloooow and sometimes disappears entirely. 
  • We have no phone signal whatsoever so calls and texts are received by way of a phone app and wifi. Although to be honest, I'm not finding that very reliable either. The up side is that it's forced me off my phone and I can often be found searching the house for it because I'll have put it down somewhere and forgotten about it. It literally never left my side in Bath.
  • The house is full of spiders. I'm usually a 'pop them outside' kind of girl, but I must confess I've resorted to the hoover a few times now. DON'T JUDGE ME THEY ARE LITERALLY EVERYWHERE.
  • Other wildlife who currently share the house with us are ants, moths and a couple of jackdaws who are nesting on top of the chimney. I can deal with the birds, but the moths and ants need to go.
  • The chickens are loving their new surroundings. Well two of them are. Sadly Titch died last week so it's just Tufty Sue and Snowball loving the freedom and the orchard now. We have to be careful when the kites are out hunting though so they can't be left out unsupervised. One kite in particular, (whom Alessi has named, Flappy) hunts very close to the cottage and has clocked the chickens a couple of times. 
  • Unless the weather is gloriously sunny, the bathroom is freezing. We have to brace ourselves each time we need the loo and baths are only attempted once we've heated the room up first with the aid of a small electric heater at the end of an extension lead. Fun times.
  • There aren't many plug sockets in the cottage. We did however inherit a large amount of extension cables. 
  • We've bought smoke detectors for almost every room
  • After years of trying (with little to no success) to coax birds in to our old garden I am finally living somewhere that's over run with them and I can see them right outside my window. The two most unusual sightings so far have been a Pied Flycatcher and a Redstart. Now my problem is trying to keep up with the amount they're eating. I know what you're thinking, where did you put that tiny violin?
  • There's a steam train that runs through the valley. Alessi is obsessed with it and will shout at us to come and watch every. single. time.
  • There are brambles everywhere. I've made a start, but taming this thorny beast behind the house and in the orchard will be a work in progress.
  • That's right. There's a freaking orchard! Once the brambles are tamed it will be our garden for the duration of our stay and I've already discovered my new 'spot' along with some raspberries, apple trees and an abandoned greenhouse full of grapevines. 
  • There are also woods at the back of this space. If you ever can't find Alessi, this is where she will be. Looking for cuckoos.
  • I'd forgotten about the fighter jets that practice in the area. They come out of nowhere and the sound can be immense. We're getting used to the low rumbling sound they make as they approach now so know when to expect most of them. That said we've been caught out by a couple of low flying ones which results in a lot of swearing and laughing at each other. You have to make your own amusement out in the sticks!
So there you have it. It was a huge leap to leave everything in Bath behind, but there are no regrets. Alessi settled in to her new school straight away which was a massive relief. She came home the other day and sang a song she'd learnt in Welsh which made my heart explode.

I don't know what the future holds for us here. Renting feels weird as it prevents us from putting down permanent roots so I don't feel 100% settled. It's always at the back of my mind that it's someone else's property and that we will have to move again at some point or that they could ask us to leave at any time.
Instead of worrying though I know in my heart of hearts that right now we are exactly where we are supposed to be. And I am certain that whatever the future has in store for us, it's going to be fine. In fact if we can continue to make choices true to ourselves the way we have done these past few months, we'll be more than fine.



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