Thursday, 27 September 2007

Kitchen nightmares

Bizarrely one of the reasons I decided to buy my house (our house now) was because of the kitchen tiles. Weird I know. I saw a photo of this house on the internet and fell in love instantly with the kitchen, and knew I would end up living here. Thankfully I was right (I love it when that happens). The wall tiles are red (my favourite colour) and cream. I am very boring, every wall in our house is cream apart from the bathroom where I went really crazy and wacky and chose sage green and white as a colour scheme..
Unfortunately the kitchen ceiling resembled a sauna, in that it was clad in scarily orange varnished wooden slats. I ignored that and instead concentrated on the terracotta stone tiled floor. How gorgeous, I thought smugly. It isn't gorgeous. It's a bugger to clean and cold in the mornings. My Mum commented on how dark the kitchen was. I didn't see it. (perhaps because it was so bloody dark), and argued that is was cosy.
My fabulous Dad had the ceiling down and replastered within weeks. No more sauna. Two years after moving in I admitted that my Mum had been right on the daylight thing, and, sick of having to have the lights on in the day time, I had light tunnels installed in the ceiling. Fantastic. Until it rained. A lot. I came home from work one day and went skidding across the cold, mucky tiled kitchen floor due to a large reservoir that had appeared, thanks to a leak from the light tunnels. This happened twice. The problem has now been fixed thankfully, although each time it rains I find myself standing underneath them, waiting to see if I can feel water on my head.

One of the other reasons I loved (and still do, despite the floor) the kitchen is that there is enough room in there for free standing furniture and 'other crap' (mentioning no names). I bought this wall mounted plate rack (note the lack of plates) with my first pay check from my current job. General 'stuff' lives on it, such as postcards, a freaky number of white jugs which I seem to have a habit of buying, limited edition coke bottles, my wedding bouquet (although you have to have a fantastic amount of vision and imagination to work that out as is now a mangled dried mess that attracts an alarming amount of dust) last years calender, this years calender, lobster crackers (they are red) and a cafetiere. Resting on top is my school photo from approx 18 years ago which I take great delight in getting down when I've had a glass or two and making people try and find me. Oooh, we do throw a wild party....
Having a large ish kitchen means I can also house my large amount of recipe books, which seem to breed overnight. This is a small selection....

We are hoping to put a new kitchen in next year. I am thinking of cream units with beech block work tops. We will keep the horrid tiled floor, although I think the red and cream tiles will have to go if the whole room is re-organised.

My absolute favourite thing of all though, which will never go anywhere and will take centre stage in any refurbishment project, is our fridge. I love it, and have even considered having it put onto casters so if the house ever catches fire I can wheel it outside and save it.

The fridge was a fabulous wedding present from Robs Mum, to whom we are eternally grateful. It makes me smile just looking at it, and filling it and cooking from it even more of a pleasure! The postcard on it says, (very sensibly in my opinion) 'Housework is evil. It must be stopped' Just a little reminder, in case I were to forget. Darn floor tiles.....

Tuesday, 25 September 2007


Those who know me are well aware of my handbag fetish by now. I have several (by that I mean more than a handful, less than a hundred) bags of various shapes and sizes, although it must be said that they usually tend to be rather large. I think is mainly due to the fact that when I was a nanny I liked to think of myself as a Mary Poppins type (although without the singing) and was always prepared with a bag stuffed full of equipment to cope with any eventuality. Bearing in mind that my nanny days are far, far behind me I have considered on several occassions now that maybe it is time to edit the contents slightly of my favourite handbag.
The problem is that I still like to be prepared, and although I no longer need to carry nappies or spare romper suits with me, I think most people would agree that my current handbag contents is a little over the top....

make up bag (not going into the contents of that as well, we shall save it for another time)

mobile, ipod, hairbrush, wet wipes, tissues, sewing kit (hysterical really as I cannot sew a button on) shoe polish wipes (seriously) a spare pair of tights (for work) tape measure (ditto-I spend a lot of time helping clients measure washing machine gaps, it's a serious business) diary, notebook, 6 pens, toothbrush and toothpaste (in a bag of their own!) a novel (changes regularly) keys, sunglasses, plasters ( I never need plasters, but someone else might...) business cards, wallet, coin purse, ink cartridges (for one of the 6 pens) perfume, mints, bottle of water, a peppermint tea bag, a bracelet (wondered where that had gone) sunflower seeds (healthy snack that I always forget when there is a shop selling chocolate nearby) umbrella, spare bag (I kid you not- but is a folding shopping bag type affair, my excuse is that I am helping to save the planet by not using plastic bags, plus it's red and pretty) and 87 pence in 5, 10 and 2p pieces lurking at the bottom.

I try so hard to edit regularly, usually when I am swapping bags over, but the bag pictured above is my favourite (and most expensive) bag, and one I tend to use the most, hence most junk tends to find its way back into the dark suede lined depths eventually. Either that or strewn across my chest of drawers.

I am very good at downsizing the clutter for nights out, although I will never be able to be one of those girls I envy who get away with taking a lipstick out with them and a £20 note. How do they cope? What happens if an emergency arises? (yes, like needing a spare pair of tights....may be useful if you befriended a potential bank robber? I HATE tights, but still...) I can survive with a small (ish) bag, but still need the essentials.

I do suffer with a bad back on occassion and a couple of my nearest and dearest have pointed out that it could be down to the weight of my handbag, but I refuse to agree. It has given me a good excuse to give serious consideration to a new bag though, possibly the nice leather messenger style one I was looking at earlier on today. Apparently it is a very good way of distributing the weight of the contents of your bag evenly, therefore preventing back strain. Well if the doctors recommend it surely it would be rude to ignore such good advice?

Monday, 24 September 2007

Flowers and beans

I am a big fan of flowers, who isn't? (apart from one person I know of who HATES receiving flowers as apparently flowers have feelings and shouldn't be cut, etc.-she has even been known to refuse them on this basis when offered by male friends) I agree that they probably do look best growing in the wild, but I wouldn't refuse a bunch every now and again (ahem)

This is one of my favourite photos that Rob took in Cornwall. I love poppies, and couldn't believe the colours of these. Their petals are so delicate and they looked so pretty bobbing about in the wind. Bizarrely I cannot grow them myself, even though most people find them in their gardens growing like weeds. Not fair.

We have a gorgeous old rose bush in our garden which I think has been there since time began. They smell beautiful, like proper roses should, and every time I open the back door the scent drifts into the kitchen. It does make visiting the compost bin slightly more bearable(considering the smell from that is masked slightly by the perfume from the roses) I refuse to cut these blooms to put in the house as we have only two windowsills downstairs (one is in the bathroom,and there sits a fabulous orchid bought for me by my lovely brother and his lovely wife)and very little in the way of natural daylight anywhere else, being an extended terraced Victorian house. Therefore I think it only fair that they stay in the garden, brightening it up and being admired by all who pass by.

I think sunflowers are what first attracted me to the allotments. I have worked in my office for the past 4 years and every summer used to see these great clusters of sunflowers smiling at me over the shanti town of sheds and towers of beans canes. Maybe that's what made me decide that I quite liked the idea of growing my own veg on a larger scale than a growbag in the back garden, having a shed of my own and being surrounded by bright yellow and orange sunflowers of all shapes and sizes. So that is what I did...I am planning more varieties of sunflowers for next year. Who knows, I may even manage a poppy or two...

Now, beans. I was telling all about my borlotti beans yesterday and hadn't realised that a lot of people don't spend their time salivating over seed catalogues in quite the same way as I do (hey, it's still shopping folks!) therefore I took some photos to show you what I'm 'on about' as someone politely put it...

Aren't they pretty?! I think that's what actually attracted me to them in the first place. When they've been podded they are all pink and speckly like birds eggs, or jelly beans. Admittedly they don't taste quite as nice as jelly beans but you can't have everything!

Lastly I would like to send my grateful thanks to Nancy for the photo info- this page would be very dull and boring without your help today! xx

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Harvest time

We went up to the allotment first thing this morning and did some harvesting. It is all looking a bit sad up there now, things are dying back and there is a sense that summer is over. We dug some oddly shaped carrots (must thin out more next year!) some fantastic borlotti beans, rhubarb, yellow knobbly courgettes and the last of the sweetcorn. This year has certainly been an eye opener, being my first as an allotment owner. What have I learnt? That I have to be in the right frame of mind to do weeding. Pigeons are not my friends. I wish I had more time to spend there. I get a fantastic feeling of satisfaction from picking fresh peas and eating them whilst admiring the view. Strawberries are a million times tastier if eaten warm from the sun (who cares about a bit of mud?!) I have learnt that it is not really necessary to plant 15 courgettes plants, no matter how 'useful' they are. I think my colleagues and husband will be delighted to hear that there are very few left. I have also learnt that it is fantastic to have a wonderful father who spends a lot of his time digging, weeding and rotavating the soil and harvesting potatoes whilst I am at work and leaving them ready for when I get home from work, fresh for dinner. How lovely.
Next year I think I will grow more peas, staggering their planting so we have a longer supply. We should have a bumper crop of strawberries next summer, as well as our first asparagus which is very exciting.considering the amount of money we spend on it as a family each year. We live in the land of asparagus, so it is only right and proper that we grow our own!
I shall continue planning and plotting various designs, making sure to crop rotate (another lesson learned) and as it is all on a slope, work out the best sheltered spots for more delicate plants. For now though I am going to sit on the step in the garden and pod my borlotti beans for dinner. Bliss.