Summer yardening

For a long time I’ve yearned for a garden, but I think I’ve made my peace with living in a flat for now, having a large backyard space to container garden has some small blessings, not least of all the white painted brick wall which reflects the brilliant light this space gets, the space to move pots around and the freedom to decide to plant containers with blooms for cutting alongside growing food.  Yardening isn’t so bad after all!

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Things that are doing well include pretty verbena and begonias IMG_6412 IMG_6416

The clematis was a pleasant surprise, it took a battering when a football flew over the gate, and it snapped in two, I expected it to die off but gave it some new topsoil and it’s blooming beautifully, it’s first year to flower and I had no idea which variety it was so the colour was a big surprise!

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Onto the edibles, chive flowers and salad leaves, the flowers weren’t mine but they are so tasty, the salad leaves are J’s cut and come again bowl, my thus far salad hating four year old loves to pretend to be Lily Bobtail and snack from the bowl, getting kids growing definately helps them get interested in the eating!

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Fresh mint tea is back on the menu, with lemon balm too

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And finally, my faves, lily of the valley

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One more surprise, for mothers day J presented me with a ‘bluebell’ grown at preschool, for months we’ve had green leaves, and finally, in June the start of a muscari flower!

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I hope your garden brings you surprises, I’d love to hear how you’re getting on, do leave a comment letting me know!

Bring spring to your garden with Dobies

Spring is upon us, the nights are getting lighter, the sun has made a few joyous if fleeting appearances. There have even been a couple of warm days and it isn’t even the end of March!

I’m definately a winter hibernator and this combination has roused my mammalian instinct to move and stretch and leave the comfort of my burrow to go outside and see the flowers and foliage bursting into life! I love browsing seed catalogues at this time of year, it’s lovely to do a spot of yarden planning and think about what we could do with our little space.

I’m a keen yardener and JD is my budding apprentice. She’s a sucker for brightly coloured bedding plants and flowers, and I love how quickly pots can be populated on a budget. We’ve spent lots of time wandering through parks and countryside enjoying the daffodils, snowdrops and crocuses and have decided it’s time to get some new bedding plants for the yard to brighten things up.

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JD loves blue Forget-Me-Not’s with their array of delicate blue and white flowers which provide great cover for the bare earth waiting to be populated with foliage at the end of winter. I’ve decided to go for some Polyanthus too, I just love the bright variety of colours. We found both on the Dobies website (much easier to look there than dragging JD out to the shop!)

We’re also thinking of getting a little plant house (we don’t have room for a green house) and hope to grow some tomatoes from seed as JD loves to eat them straight from the plant when they’re ripe. We’ll be looking back to the main Dobies site again soon to get started with planting veggies for the summer!

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Happy planting fellow yardeners!

Collaborative post: all views are my own

Karcher asks: How long does it take to clean your house?

When Karcher asked me this question I could answer it no problem at all as I have a pretty tight cleaning schedule. I’ve also halved the time it takes to clean our family home since April this year because I’ve followed Marie Kondo‘s advice and more than halved the ‘stuff’ that we own!

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How long is enough?

I spend 8 hours a week on all of our general cleaning and household chores, running a tight ship where various days are earmarked for washing, clothes sorting and bathroom cleaning.

Working from home I generally use 30 minutes of my hour long lunchbreak to tackle some household tasks, washing on, hoovering, cleaning the kitchen and bathroom, and prepping a meal for the slowcooker, then when J is in bed I do the quieter jobs, folding and putting away clothes, making lunches for the next day and washing the pots and clearing surfaces. I find weekends are a time I try to protect as family time so less happens on a weekend and on Monday lunchtime I tend to do a bit of catching up but generally I find we have a clean and tidy home that takes a lot less effort than it did when we had double the amount of stuff!

My least favourite task is cleaning the bathroom, but it’s probably the most satisfying to see sparkling white tiles, the task I least mind is washing the dishes as I like to use the time to think, and plan ahead for the rest of the week!

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A monumental task?

Slightly harder to answer was the second question Karcher posed, how long, in hours did I think it would take to clean Mount Rushmore! What? Well my washing pile is fondly known as Mount Washmore so I guess longer than my usual hour spent washing and folding each week?!

The monumental heads of the American presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln were created from 1927 to 1941 by the sculptor Gutzon Borglum. They measure around 18 m (60 ft) from crown to chin – I’d guess it must have taken Karcher, who cleaned them first in 2005 200 hours?! I’ve used and loved a Karcher power cleaner but not on anything like this scale!

A spot of fun!

If you’d like to find out for yourself, watch videos of the Karcher team in action, and also challenge yourself about the other various worldwide monuments Karcher has cleaned you can check out their fun quiz and make yourself feel relieved that you have what will then seem like a rather manageable sized home to clean rather than a national treasure! Do let me know how you fared, my geography isn’t as great as I thought, so I won’t be shouting my score from the rooftops!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post all views are my own

Trespass Jada Ladies Waterproof Jacket Review

Why does it always rain on me?

I’m no stranger to the great outdoors; as you know we live in the rainy North in the land of the Fog on the Tyne and we don’t have a car so I’m reliant on decent outdoor gear to see us through the seasons.  There’s nothing like waiting for a bus in the pouring rain after a long day at work, or worse still first thing in the morning seeing me spend the day soggy and miserable!

Trespass Jada Ladies Waterproof Jacket Review – The practicalities

My trusty red rain jacket is bright and fun but it doesn’t really cut the mustard as a waterproof.  Being offered the chance to select a better jacket from the range on offer at Trespass was pretty much my ideal review opportunity!  The women’s Jada waterproof jacket is ideal for those who need a decent jacket that looks good but goes the extra mile in terms of waterproofing.  Coated with Trespass’ specially formulated Tres-Tex membrane it’s waterproof to an impressive 15000mm with taped seams, and that big number with all the zeros is the reason I chose it!  I’ve worn it out all this week in the inclement weather and stayed warm and dry in comfort.

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Style and substance

I like to run in the rain so was pleased to see that the Jada has underarm ventilation zips which allows fresh air to circulate; it has a high breathability rating to boot and I like the slim fit and fab decent sized hood (this probably sounds odd, why would it not have a good hood?! Maybe I’ve always just bought crap raincoats but the hoods are always really small in them!)

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One of my favourite walks is down by the Farm and through the woods near us so the Jada rain jacket got a really good testing this week as we were out for a good couple of hours in the rain and the jacket really stood up to the weather, I was dry and happy which is more than I can say when I wear my usual jacket!

I have to say the best thing about the jacket after all the practicalities is that it fits a tall girl like me without me having to buy a bigger size (this is a medium and I am a size 12)  – I can never understand why a waterproof would have short arms and it’s long been a frustration of mine that my red raincoat sleeves are at half mast so I get wet cuffs!  Even better these have a handy pocket in the left sleeve to keep small essentials dry and close to hand.

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The Jada is currently retailing at £46.99 which is more than half price and makes this a bargain super waterproof!

Disclaimer: I received this review product as a complementary product, all views and opinions are my own

Family Fever

Wildflowers and whimsy

After a long month of travel which saw me make nine journeys totaling 1,200 miles by train I’ve really needed some time to get some paperwork done and get my thinking cap on from the comfort of home.

I decided when I took this new job that I would do one of two things on a daily lunch break 1) work on the yarden or 2) take a walk with my camera

I’m learning to shoot on manual and though I have a long way to go I’m especially enjoying photographing flowers of late.

My walks take me to this lovely green retreat at the end of our street

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I adore cowslips, this week the Mr bought me a locally grown pot of them too, so I can enjoy them when I look out of the window

 

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Another yellow beauty, it doesn’t look like much but I’ve never had any success growing lilies in a pot until this year!

Look closely on the foliage though, I noticed this when I was editing the shots, and popped back outside to get a closer look…

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…scarlet lily beetles, mating carmine pests, they’ve not destroyed my lilies yet but I fear for them!

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Midweek I relaxed with tea made from our apple mint plant, I adore this Anthropologie spoon, cup and saucer, such a joy sparker!  The plant is a cutting from our darling neighbour, I love it and hope it grows as strong as its parent plant which I’ve long admired!

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More yarden blooms

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More blossoms enjoyed on walks

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And then finally a few poorly days during the weekend, a very kind friend brought round some pastries, gratefully received and I feel blessed to know such a lovely lady :)

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Urban Jungle Bloggers: Offer a plant to a friend

I’m linking into this month’s Urban Jungle Bloggers initiative with a challenge called ‘Offer a Plant to a Friend’ – it’s my first UJB post though I’ve often wanted to join in!

I don’t think there’s anything nicer than receiving a plant as a gift, remember the gorgeous azalea hubby bought for me for Mother’s Day, so special, so spectacular and still blooming beautifully today!

I have been fortunate to have occasion to visit Anthropologie in London this month, I finally picked up one of their great Forest Dweller Pots as I’ve been after one of these for a while; I also made a great find which I think would make a sweet gift for a friend’s desk.

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I found a sweet little pot that is just £3 in a gorgeous foamy sea green, it’s called Tenderling which can mean a small child, or the first antlers of a deer

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This made me think this little beauty could perfectly house some ‘antler like’ simple sempervivum stems, packaged in a pretty bag with this Oh Happy Day Project Life card I think this makes a really pretty gift!

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If you’re thinking a little bigger, for a special birthday why not look at a terrarium instead, I am in love with our Totoro theme at the moment, follow the link for a little how to guide!

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And finally, some outdoor news, in need of a tidy up but I am happy with our yarden, it’s looking more established again this year and is a source of much pleasure!

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How to create a Fairytale Terrarium (with Totoro)

I bought this Terrarium for our glass wedding Anniversary and since then it’s taken on several looks, most recently I gave it a good clean and added some new sempervarium. When I set up this little styled shot J got interested too “I like lots of little trees in there Mammy”

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I had been saving some bits and bobs spotted on my travels for a summertime outdoor fairy garden but decided to make our little terrarium a fairytale garden instead, we’ve gone with a Studio Ghibli Totoro theme as this is currently a big fave with the whole family!

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How to create a Fairytale Terrarium (with Totoro)

1) Take your terrarium (you can use a large glass mason jar, old clear glass teapot or a classic terrarium like ours) and add a 2 inch layer of pebbles to the bottom of the container for drainage (I use fresh fish tank gravel)

2) Then add a half inch layer of activated charcoal over the pebbles (available at Wilko or garden centres) this helps keep bacteria at bay and keeps your terrarium smelling sweet

3) Add damp but not soggy potting soil and plant up your succulents, cacti etc and finish with a fine sprinkle of gravel, I use a chopstick to adjust the plants as it’s a narrow space at the back!

4) Add pretty stones, I added sea glass but you can pick up other pretty pieces of stone or use coloured gravel

5) Add your characters and other ephemera; I added a miniature wire cherry tree I bought at a garden centre, a small white plastic bridge that turned up in a kinder egg type Easter gift, and some small Totoro and Mei figurines, finally J added her Lego Monkey (why not?!) and a small house I bought on Ebay with the fairy garden in mind!

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Blooming gorgeous home office feat. Graham & Brown’s Dreamscapes range

There’s an unforeseen perk to working from home; I get to enjoy my Mother’s Day flowers that little bit more, with Easter just around the corner I’m feeling so springlike!  I recently discovered Urban Jungle Bloggers so I am linking in this post; greenery is a huge mood booster so I’m loving their community!

I’m really pleased with the office space and it’s working really well for me.

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In my last post I promised to look at the colour scheme in a little more detail drawing on the new Graham & Brown Dreamscapes range; in soft pastel shades with motivational quotes about dreaming big these compliment a working space perfectly and add a fun and creative touch too!

Graham & Brown’s Dreamscapes Range

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From Graham & Brown website

Graham & Brown kindly sent me their Air Balloon Cushion and Dreams as Big as the Ocean canvas to accessorise my office space.

I am delighted with the quality, a gorgeous big squashy cushion in lovely muted pastels with complimentary shaded piping (a sign of a quality cushion I think!) that really sets off the scheme and is super comfortable, and the equally impressive canvas which is great value at £20 as it’s enormous and really draws the space together!  The canvases really are brilliant for filling a blank wall space with fun quotes and a dash of colour too, I love the moody blue tones, they draw together my overall colour scheme really nicely.

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Graham & Brown’s affordable art isn’t a newcomer to our home, the LOVE letters in the floral pics have been with us for a couple of years now, they were a gift on the arrival of our little girl, so I know their products are built to last at a brilliant price!

If you’re looking to add a splash of colour to your home you might also like to check out Graham & Brown’s wallpaper ranges too, I’ve got my eye on their children’s range for when we redecorate little Miss’ room later this year!

Disclaimer: I was sent these products for review purposes, all views are my own

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Top Tips for creating a home office in your bedroom

After five years in my current job I am moving on to pastures new, starting a new full time job working from home. This has its benefits in terms of my personal preference for homeworking, but also enables my lovely husband to drop some of his hours to have more daddy-daughter time which I’ve blogged about before, this is an important change for all of us, and a busy time too!

I haven’t worked from home in the time since I became a parent, and space is at even more of a premium for my family, so I saw some challenges in creating a home office space that I think I have managed to meet happily.

Last time I worked from home my office was set up in our living room, but this is no longer practicable with a toddler around and all of the trappings of life with a small person, so this post is all about setting up a home office space that integrates with living in a small family home and uses smart solutions and technology for making the transition into home working.

Top Tips for creating a home office in your bedroom

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I’ll precede all of this by saying that we live in a small flat, well, it’s actually a large flat in some aspects, the rooms are light bright and spacious but storage space is lacking, and space for a desk even harder to accommodate!

Home office in a bedroom: planning

I decided to set up my home office from our master bedroom in the absence of a spare room. Creating a home office in your bedroom is actually pretty practical if you’re clever about your use of the space.  I have opted for a bureau setup with the IKEA Secretary desk from their PS 2014 range, complemented by office furniture and peripherals that make the space really work for me.

Opting for a laptop bureau means that I can pop my devices and paperwork inside the main body of the desk at the end of each day so that we reclaim the space as our bedroom and I can literally call time on the working day. The space up top acts as a handy store for all my stationery and keeps important papers and notebooks out of the way of my inquisitive toddler!

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I thought about whether to make the space distinct or keep the colour scheme in line with our existing bedroom palette, I opted for the latter because it’s a calm room and I didn’t want bright and vibrant office ware to detract from the relaxed feel of the space.  Hannah from Mumsdays has wrestled with such issues recently, and I love the palette she is looking at too, but her post really inspired me to look at what we already have and how we can complement this!

Top Tips for creating a home office in your bedroom: colour

So… I have gone for a soft, complementary and feminine palette to denote a separate work space that ties in nicely with the overall feel of the room, my chest of drawers gives you a feel for the style of the room.

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Speaking to Graham and Brown about some ideas for the space I decided to build on the soft sage theme in our bedroom drawing in colours from their Dreamscape range which I have also drawn out in the stationery and furniture too. You can see from my home office pinterest board that this draws on peach, cream, soft muted blues and corals.  More on this in another post looking at the Dreamscape range with a review to follow.

Follow Thereandbackagainamotherstale’s board Home Office Edit on Pinterest.

Top Tips for creating a home office in your bedroom: making the space work hard

I sought advice from Logitech about smart wireless solutions for homeworking and I have found their K400 wireless keyboard and mouse to be really effective in making the transition to homeworking in a way that works for me, they’re sleek and really easy to get to grips with, I’m not very techie but I got these two beauties up and running in minutes!  I can now work from anywhere in the house, so on days when I am home alone and everyone is out I can be in the living room with a wireless setup that I can also take out on the go when I am on site visits too.  This fits really well with blogging life too – with a wireless range of up to 10 meters, I can even browse the web and blog all from the comfort of my sofa!  I thoroughly recommend exploring wireless options as you can make your whole home work for you!

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As a National Stationery Week blogger you will know stationery is a priority of mine! I’ve selected complementary colours from Dutch store Hema, Smiggle and Marks and Spencer drawing on the colour scheme with fun and practical notebooks, pens and office equipment – I know this stuff doesn’t set everyone’s world on fire but I’ve always loved to work with a bit of creativity and this helps me draw a bit of colour into my working day!

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Having some photos helps personalise the space and I wanted to treat myself to a little something special too, when I heard I got the job I treated myself to some accessories from my favourite homeware store, Anthropologie, I adore this coaster and mug, as well as the sweet little plant pot!

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Top Tips for creating a home office in your bedroom: Practical planning tools

And finally, in terms of literally working from home and doing the do, I selected a bright vibrant magnetic glass noticeboard in Retro Yellow, (no secret that it’s my favourite colour!) from Boards Direct – this lets me make a quick note whilst I’m on the phone, have a visual to do list to hand and handily stores notes and business cards too with super strong magnets.  I love the write on wipe off nature of this, and with a choice of up to 21 beautiful colours and 7 sizes there’s something to suit every office space and budget, with boards starting at less than £25.  This 45cm x 45cm board is ready to be fixed up on the wall later this week, priced at just over £40 it’s a bright statement and functional piece that offers great value and quality.

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What about you? Do you work from home? What tips do you have for making your workspace work hard for you?

Disclaimer: I received goodies from Logitech and Boards Direct, all views are my own, all other brands referenced are of my personal preference and I bought these products or already owned them!
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Midwinter snowdrops

Ah the snowdrops are here, spring is coming, look lively!

Today J and I took a ‘snowdrop walk'; a see what we can spot walk, and it was lovely, crisp, bright and lots to find.

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Midwinter snowdrops

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A lucky find, a bat box that had come down in the woods and my nipper was quick to investigate!

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In a comedy of errors we returned home to tidy the yarden and discovered these growing in one of our own pots right under our noses; I have no recollection of planting them and they’re a bit sad looking, but snowdrops none the less!

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We’ve some tidying up to do, but I’m pleased to see our summer garland is still standing!

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It’s at the faded Ibiza chic stage!

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And the bamboo continues to do its thing much to my amazement after I feared I’d killed it off earlier last year!

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And finally, some cut snowdrops brought back from J’s Grandmother’s house for me, gorgeous!

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How Does Your Garden Grow
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