Monday, 20 December 2010


Things are sometimes a bit black and white for me.  I’m trying to get a bit more grey into my life.  To know that being somewhere between all or nothing is okay.  Let me give you an example, I remember reading years ago that you should put 10% of your take home pay into savings.  Although achievable this has always felt quite a sizeable sum, and with my growing brood and our mortgage commitments it really hasn’t been possible every month.  So instead of putting away what I could afford I have abandoned it.  Which is really rather short-sighted.

The same principle applies to lots of things for me (diets......I won’t bore with you the tedious details), finding time to read books that I want to (I know I’ll get interrupted so don’t start for fear of not being able to finish the book), starting craft projects (again thinking they won’t be perfect or good enough so why start?).  The list goes on and on.

But on this journey to a more simple, considered way of approaching things I’m embracing enough.  It is okay for something to be good enough.  The money I can save, the time I can spend on something, the quality of an explanation I’m giving in a work email, the help I can give with my eldest’s homework,  the decluttering I can achieve on the playroom shelves (evidence in the picture above!)

It doesn’t have to be perfect to be meaningful.  Doing something is better than nothing at all. 

Grey, welcome aboard.

Disclaimer - please note this post contains a sponsored link.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Vintage Bricks

Firstly, apologies posting is rather sporadic to say the least at the mo.  I'm trying to slow down and simplify and sadly this little space in cyberworld is the first thing I have to drop when things get a bit hectic.

But I had to pop on and show you this little gem I uncovered at the school Christmas Bazaar last weekend.  In amongst the mountain of plastic toys and dog-eared books at the toy stall I found this.

And my heart skipped a beat.

Little building bricks (I think from the late 40's as the lid says 'Made in the U.S Zone of Germany'.  Anyone know the significance of this?), all printed with designs and packed into this little wooden box.

At first I thought it would just be me who was smitten, but Yoyo has been found playing with them a couple of times this week.  That's my girl.  (Although to be fair she was spied shortly afterwards coveting JLS dolls on the internet - I won't lie to you!)

Just look at that lid - with the little 'stanley' dog.  Looks like something Cath Kidston would reproduce and charge £20 for.  But I paid 50p.   And it was the best 50p I spent last week.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Three beautiful things

1. Building this today with Yoyo.  It is supposed to be an Advent Calendar........perhaps we were supposed to make one house a day.  But we are both impulsive and did the whole lot at once.  We like to break the rules around here.   There was much discussion over our favourite house - mine is the cake shop shown above.

2.  I have finally painted the Barley Twist table I got free from the local tip.  Two undercoats of satinwood - still needs a top coat, but I'm too impatient to wait.  In situ next to the fireplace it goes.  A mental tick off the endless to do list.

3.  The surprise DIY The Queen of Clean did whilst I was out yesterday in this coat/shoe cupboard.  I cannot wait to show you (but vanity wants me to give it all a lick of paint in there first).  It made me literally squeal with excitement when I saw it.

I love being married to an engineer - they have this inbuilt need to fix things and problem solve.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Purse Strings - they need tightening

I’ve always been intrigued by how others organise their money.  I think it’s because I’m not that great at organising my own.  I can think of nothing more interesting than having a nose through someone else’s bank statements, wondering how they decided upon each transaction and understanding their approach to getting through the month. 

I remember in magazines when I was younger I would get so excited if there was one of those spending diary articles; you know the sort where different women had to keep track of their expenditure each week day by day.  There would always be one diarist either end of the spectrum (spendthrift and tightwad), and I never knew where I would be if I had to feature in something like that.  You see I would love to be the sort of woman who knows when her car insurance is up for renewal and puts enough cash aside throughout the year, who pays her mortgage off early and saves a ton of interest, who has a monthly clothing budget and sticks to it.  I have the best of intentions and I cannot tell you the amount of excel spreadsheets I’ve started by typing in ‘Income’ in cell A1.  

But then the Boden sale catalogue will arrive or I’ll get a desperate need to buy some allium bulbs and all that sensible planning evaporates.


Momentarily enough for me to purchase the must have item. 

And later in the week when examining my dwindling bank balance I’ll think - Why.  Did. I. Do. That?

I then imagine I’m one of the women in those magazine articles I remember, and realise in a moment of terror that I would be typecast the spendthrift!  The woman with all of her purchases laid out for readers to study the details of incredulously.  And that’s not who I want to be.  

So if you’ve been here and come through to the other side let me know how you did it.  What changed your relationship with money?  How did you become the spender you wanted to be?

Disclaimer - this post contains a sponsored link.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Temptation (and an exercise in virtual shopping)

I found a lovely new website over the weekend whilst starting my christmas shopping.  In my new found state of minamilism I shall not be buying any of the following items, but in case you're reluctant to join me on my 'not buying it' journey.........have a look at these lovelies below.

All from Mit Hus (UK site but looks like they ship internationally).

Simple wire tree decorations - love anything like fact dare I suggest you could probably recreate these yourself.

Heart Garland - this may be more of a stretching DIY challenge, but only £5 so perhaps easier to just buy!


Not Christmasy, but Autumnal and a bit different.  I really liked this.  Hold on, is there a theme here? - again with patience (and without 3 kids and a full time job) this could be a DIY.

These just make me happy.  Because although they are china, they look like they're in love.  Perhaps her more than him, but never the less in love.  In fact I could really easily buy these......but I shan't.
Finally, I have looked for one of these for ages.  Just ages.  But now I've found it I'm not sure what I needed it for.  I think the joy is in the thrill of the chase rather than actually owning.  So I'll leave it there.

Blimey - I'm enjoying this virtual shopping malarkey.  Apologies if I've encouraged anyone to click....I'm deliberately not creating URLs to the items as a token minamilist gesture.  So if you really want the items you're going to have to search!

Sunday, 7 November 2010


I've been reading lots over the past few months about minimalism, simple living etc.  I think I started my investigation with decluttering my home in mind, but that really is only the tip of the iceberg.

The simplicity movement (if you can call it a movement) is not just about less 'stuff'.  Of course that does feature in there somewhere in terms of streamlining your possessions and being more organised.  Less possessions = less things to get lost/find, less maintenance/cleaning, less debt.

But deeper than that is the other things you can focus on once you've stepped back from the 'stuff'.  Less commitments, less pressure, less need to work, less pursuit of some ideal life we are under pressure to achieve, less stress.  More time with your family doing things that matter, more fun, more focus on people and experiences rather than possessions.

Anyway I've rounded up some good resources on this subject in the links below in case you want to explore further.

365 Less Things
Miss Minamilist
Rowdy Kittens
Simple Mom
Small Notebook

The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life
Throw Out Fifty Things: Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life

I'll finish by confessing I'm just on the start of this see I love 'stuff'.  I spent £2 on some shaped elastic bands yesterday for Yoyo for heavens sake (they really were cute, and she was poorly).  But I think I'm beginning to realise there could be a different fact I'm starting a new category label of 'Keeping it Simple'.  Watch this space.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Three beautiful things

1.  The joy and enthusiasm over a 60p packet of chalk from this little fellow.

2.  This little nook at the front of our living room by the window.  I have moved the trunk there and it has become an impromptu reading corner.  Not that a whole lot of reading goes on here amongst the daily bedlam - but when it does, this is often where it happens.

3. This picture that my Mum painted me.  She thinks because I move it around and it has no permanent home I don't cherish it.....but I really do.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Chalkboard......following the crowd

We jumped on the chalkboard bandwagon this weekend, I'd seen this lovely image on Soulemama's blog and it set me off.  And as the Queen of Clean will tell you, when I have an idea in my head that we could do a quick fix like this...........well it usually has to happen.

So we painted an entire wall in littlest one's room (shown above), and the chimmney breast on Yoyo's room with blackboard paint.  Eldest one is undecided if he wants to follow suit........he's never been one to follow the crowd.  

Littlest one does have his trousers on back to front in the picture above....I did try to convince him throughout the day that he may be more comfortable if he put them on again right way round, but he was having none of it.  He is obviously not as susceptible to my influencing skills as my poor husband.


Top tips if you are thinking of painting a chalkboard wall:-

  • You do only need one coat of this stuff, it is like thick treacle.  So time wise it is fairly quick to do.
  • Use an old brush.  I didn't and the brushes were a pain to clean.  Even now all of our white skirting board is coming out with flecks of grey.  
  • Cover your carpets/floors.  Sounds obvious, but usually a speck of paint isn't too much of an this case it is a nightmare, and 100 x worse if you try to rub in the splodge.
  • I can't find the brand we used online, I picked it up from our local hardware shop.  A quick online search shows most brands are around £7-8 per pot which is really reasonable.

Friday, 8 October 2010

From Yoyo to her Daddy

It has been a long week.  The Queen of Clean has been away with work since Monday, and we have all been feeling his absence (not only in the housework department).

Yoyo made and decorated this cake for him and we are all waiting impatiently for his return.  A mixture of excitement and frustration that he is not home yet.

I feel it too Yoyo, I feel it too.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Red & Blue

I realised where my colour inspiration for these shelves came from.  It was under my nose along.  Gently making its way into my subconscious since it's arrival a year or so ago.

This mug.

(Which incidentally my plumber has used all week and left tea stains in - I'll let him off due to his most excellent delivery of hot water).

Monday, 4 October 2010

Varde love

I'm impatient - I couldn't wait to take this picture even though there wasn't quite enough light.  So here it is, my Ikea Varde shelf.

And hand on heart I didn't buy one new thing to put on it.  I am lusting after a vintage red enamel coffee pot on ebay though.

Needs a bit of a rejig......put the old 'less is more' mantra into practice.

But for the moment, it's good enough.

Do you like?  More pics of kitchen will follow once finished.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Those pesky crab apples

Oh my.  It is all very stressful inside at the moment, what with the lack of heating and all.  So I've decided to turn my attention outside to autumn lawn care, and continue fighting what I consider an annual battle with my crab apples.  Whilst anything to do with grass The Queen of Clean usually takes care of, the crab apple sweeping seems to have become my job.

They always seem to defeat me.  The carnage starts late August/beginning of September and becomes a slight obsession of mine.  The aim is to keep the lawn clear.  I have two trees in the front garden that have grown from manageable ornamental trees to crab apple breeding monsters. I can be found at all hours, and in all weathers out there with my pink bucket and plastic rake.  In fact I think the neighbours think I have lost the plot (although a particularly house proud one is quite relieved that I bother and sometimes comes out to help me).  The irony is that I'm usually quite laid back about these things but those crab apples awaken some 'Hyacinth Bucket' tendencies in me.

Aside from everyone treading in the mush (I don't have a clear path to the front door so it is inevitable they get trodden on) they can't be good for the grass can they? 

One positive is that this time has come to mark a change in season, a time that I anticipate at the height of summer I will feel sad about, but when it actually happens, and it's time to feel cosy and snug inside....I always enjoy more than I think I will.

And the trees...the trees will stay.  Despite the abuse I've given them above they are actually quite pretty at every other time of year.

(Disclaimer - please note this post contains a sponsored link)

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Slowly but surely

Progress on our home, most of the time, moves at a snail's pace.  A reluctant snail who is embarrassed to ask for directions.  But now and again, some event will spur us into action.

This weekend we got news that our plumber can squeeze us in this week for our boiler to be replaced.  This is something we've been discussing for a while, and debating whether the new boiler can fit in the existing  purpose built cupboard.  Well our plumber confirmed that this cupboard doesn't meet the right conditions for clearance, access etc and we had to remove it this weekend - along with three wall cupboards.  I'm trying to keep positive about the loss of cupboards and adopt a minimalist mindset.  After all 'Less is More'.

The Queen of Clean, sensing my distress, decided to come to the rescue with his paintbrush.  This duck egg blue (very Cath K) is now on my kitchen walls.  It makes up for the fact I am to have no hot water for 3 days this week.

And to replace the 3 cupboards we have lost, my lovely sister picked one of these up for me today.

Just £25!  Very shoestring I think.  I have been getting styling ideas from the following on flickr, see below:-

Photo by Marie's Shots
Photo by Joyful Lova

I cannot wait to dress mine.....although this is a long way off as need to get boiler in, painting finished and finally shelves up.  I'm not one for a colour theme usually, but I'm thinking cream and blue items on the shelves with splashes of red.  Just need to keep my minimalist head on and not go and buy stuff just to put on the shelves!  I wouldn't put it past me........

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Family Tree

There was much excitement here yesterday.  We managed to impulse buy a tree!   This was something The Queen of Clean had been muttering about for a year, but we had other more pressing things in the house and garden to attend to.

Well yesterday whilst wandering around our local garden centre we saw this, and how could we resist that lovely orangey/pink foliage?  It is a Chinese Paperbark Maple, and slow growing so we could plant quite near to the house.

We had a little team of volunteers to help plant it (Yoyo's 3 friends who live in our road), and now littlest one has taken on the task of watering it every day.  A task he is most proud of.

Any tree planting I've witnessed has always been done to mark an occasion or in memory of someone.  So The Queen of Clean and I racked our brains for something or someone the tree could be planted for.  We were at a loss for someone the children could relate to - even Michael Jackson was suggested at one point.  

Needless to say we didn't go ahead with that suggestion.

But then it came to me, this tree is our Family Tree.  We plan to be here for a long long time and this tree will mark the time our family called this house and garden our home.

Fingers crossed it makes it - the planting hole was a bit suspect, but now I've attached such significance to it being okay I'm getting a little anxious!

Friday, 27 August 2010

They've been keeping me busy

I realise I've been a bit neglectful of this space recently.  For those of you who still check in here thank you!

I'm going to blame it on these three above.  Shameless I know.

We've been busy on trips to London, the Zoo and just generally hanging out on 'Club Penguin'.  Totally obsessed, all three of them.

Next week is a big step for the two boys, both start new schools and I am feeling so nervous for them.  Yoyo takes things like this in her stride, but for my boys this is an enormous deal.  I am trying to distract myself by labelling uniform and sourcing the perfect packed lunch box. 

Will be back to regular posting soon, promise!

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Twisted Goodness

I think The Queen of Clean dreads me going to a local dump as I am known to bring back these little projects for him to transform.

How could I resist those barley twist table legs though?  And just imagine the books stacking opportunities on the little shelf below.

And all for the princely sum of £0

It shall (eventually) be painted cream and take pride of place next to my fireplace.  Perhaps by Christmas.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

3 Beautiful Things

1.  The excitement brewing here today around making these cakes

2.  Littlest one's new strategy to beat the ever closing pages of the colouring book.  Do you remember that? frustrating.  He just steps right on the spine.

3.  Yoyo feeds her teddy ice cream on a trip out.  I remember this is the sort of thing I would have done and I am taken back to being 6 again.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

More order amongst chaos

Meal planning - well I've just never 'got it'.  Until I found the free printable pdf above available here.

Of course, this is my first week so still in the honeymoon period.  And loving the clipboard my husband has made me (even spray painted the bulldog clip white).  Do note this is my real life menu plan so no pretending on there - that is the full horror of our diet this week, pizza, burgers, spag bol et al.  Should probably have done a blog version to impress, but I just wanted to show off the clipboard.

Can you tell we're on annual leave and have too much time on our hands?!??

Just off to polish the cat..........

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Baskets (and an attempt at being organised)

I am not a tidy person, my husband is (as you may have guessed by his Queen of Clean nickname), but me's just not where my strengths lie.

Having said that I do love the idea of being organised and can waste much time reading books on the subject or gazing through flickr photo pools devoted to organisation.  Yes, really - they do exist.  My best friend Harry even has this cupboard that I stand and gaze at whenever I am there...trying to capture every little ordered, organised detail.  Harry if you are reading - I have to photograph that cupboard.

So anyhow, on this little journey of mine toward being organised I have sorted out this chest of baskets in my dining room.  These baskets used to store toys and stuff when the kids were babies and it just wasn't being used anymore.  I also had all the craft stuff on shelves in the playroom, which  has no any crafting requests by the kids involved much eye rolling and moving supplies from one room to the other.  In a kind of grumpy and unenthusiastic manner.

Armed with some Ikea bathroom plastic containers (super cheap and used as dividers), and a somewhat frantic 'Martha Stewart' attitude I got sorting.  If multiple photos of contents of wicker baskets bore you, I make no apologies...just hit the back button on  your browser ;-)

Sewing stuff - bias tape, thread, webbing, scissors, needles etc.

Fabric scraps

Craft punches, rubber stamps, luggage labels (great as gift tags)

More stamps, bull dog clips, foam shapes, raffia, embellishments (don't you just love that word - not that much embellishing goes on around here)

Glue, spreaders, stencils, hole punch, pipecleaners, paperchains, felt bunnies!

Table runner and placemats 

Colouring and sticker books

Wrapping paper

The more observant amongst you (who have made it to the end of these pictures, please someone?) may have noticed that there are only 8 pictures, whilst there are 9 baskets. This is because I read somewhere you should always have an empty shelf/drawer/ to expand.  Worth a try I reckon.


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