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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Before & After: En Suite

Life has been getting in the way of blog posts lately, but it’s nice to be back to show you the fruits of some of my labours over the last few months.

As well as keeping an eye on the construction of the new garage, my painting clothes have been getting some wear as I have revamped not one, but two rooms in the house. Over the summer we embarked on a long-awaited master bedroom makeover which is now 99% complete with only some cupboard doors waiting to be trimmed and refitted. What is finally finished however is the master en suite which, despite its diminutive size, actually took longer than the bedroom on account of the relative complexity of the job (more of which below). In fact it took so long I was starting to get a bit fed up by the end if truth be told so it was with a happy heart that I downed brushes and moved our stuff back in.

A makeover post would obviously be no fun without some slightly dodgy ‘Before’ pictures that we took when buying the house, so here goes:

En Suite Before

En Suite Sink Before

It was a perfectly useable little space but was looking a bit tired and the blue/beige combo wasn’t really our thing. As per the other makeovers that I’ve shared here before, this is another tactical one: in other words we’ve tried to keep things relatively cheap as we have grander plans involving builders down the line and simply want to make the house more ‘us’ while we save up for the big stuff.

While painting the ceiling was challenging on account of the slopes, the biggest job by far was repainting the border tiles around the room. This involved masking off every other tile before applying undercoat and then a couple of top coats of oil eggshell which each took 16 hours to dry. There was a fair bit of touching up when the tape was removed as well. I then had to repeat the process for the alternate tiles (cue much sighing).

It may have taken a while to finish but we are very happy with the results: the colours are restful, toning in beautifully with the bedroom, and the blind seems to bounce light back into the room which, miraculously, makes it seem bigger than before.

En Suite - After

En Suite Sink - After

En Suite Details - After

I look forward to sharing the master bedroom with you soon, but in the mean time, here is a little sourcebook for the en suite:

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New Flower Bed: Update

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It is hard to believe that it was way back in March when I wrote about planning two new flowers beds in the vegetable garden. I had to put the hours in digging over the beds and making preparations for the new additions but it seems to have paid off as the plants quickly filled out over the summer, as you can see from the picture above (taken in July).

Some plants have been real stars: the Geranium ‘Rozanne’ just goes on and on, clambering over the box ball and contrasting beautifully with the lime green of the Alchemilla mollis. The Helenium ‘Moerheim Beauty’ are still going strong too although I must remember to stake them next year as they are currently flopping all over the place!

Flower Bed - Update

As predicted there are a few tweaks that I’d like to make: the yellow flowers are possibly a little dominating (cue spending an unhealthy amount of time deliberating as to what the right shade of yellow would be instead) and I think the Heuchera ‘Marmalade’ might be better elsewhere as it doesn’t blend in especially well. I’ve also decided I’d quite like some asters as I have spotted some really striking ones when out and about recently and I think some more blue would work well.

All in all though, it’s been a good start to the makeover and I’m sure I’ll be back out with my spade before too long.

P.S. As you may have spotted, I’ve been nominated for an Amara Interior Blog Award which was a really unexpected-yet-lovely surprise. Voting runs until 3rd October so should you feel inclined you can vote for me here and can catch up on posts about my home and garden here. Thank you!

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Outdoor Lights

Rookery Barns

It was a while ago that I mentioned we were in the throes of trying to obtain planning permission for some alterations to the house and that our resident bats were causing a few hiccups along the way. Well, I am pleased to say that after having the ecological survey conducted and then drawing up a plan of action to mitigate any impact on the bats – a process which took a the best part of a year – we have finally got the green light from the council.

The work is too expensive and disruptive to do in one go so we’ve decided t0 phase it over the coming years; I’m therefore excited to report that Phase One (a.k.a. Rebuilding the Garage) starts next week. The damp, rotting, flat-roofed monstrosity with the broken door is finally going to be replaced by a beautiful oak framed building with a store room upstairs and a log store to the rear, not dissimilar to the one pictured above. Much of the detailing has already been finalised with the builders but I am in the process of hunting down some outdoor lights to go above the barn doors and side door (any excuse for a bit of interiors, or rather exteriors, shopping).

Here’s a few that have caught my eye:

Outdoor Lighting

  1. Nordlux Luxembourg Outdoor Copper Wall Light
  2. Davey LED Mastlight
  3. Garden Trading St. Ives Downlight
  4. Garden Trading St. Ives Ships Light
  5. Jim Lawrence Boathouse Wall Light
  6. Hunza Wall Down Light

Images: Rookery Barns, John Lewis, Davey Lighting, Garden Trading, Jim Lawrence, Moonlight Design

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