Friday, 28 October 2016

Garden tidy up


Lately I've been slowly getting the garden winter ready. Progress has been slow as we are still in the process of giving the house a good clear out too (which is taking forever), and our DIY list continues to demand attention. 
Wet weather and old houses don't mix well, and it doesn't do chicken coops any good either. I'm kicking myself for not getting the coop painted when the weather was dry and sunny. Pink or not, the wood is old and needs weather proofing. So I went out yesterday with the intentions of finishing the job off only to find that the pink paint has disappeared. Now admittedly, I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, good riddance. May I never be that stupid again. On the other hand, damn it. Now I may have to buy more paint right at a time that I'm trying to save, not spend. That will teach me.
So the coop remains unfinished for now, but at least the chicken run is up and being enjoyed.


I still need to add some kind of supports as although it's pretty sturdy, it's a bit bowed in the middle. Other than that, the idea to make a long and narrow run over the flower bed to keep cats off and the weeds down seemed like a great idea. However I can already see the ground looking a little compacted since I moved the chickens there and while they are only little and compaction won't be too severe, it won't help next years plants one bit so now I'm thinking of moving the coop and run AGAIN. Always with the tinkering! But they need a little more cover from the wind and rain too. Also, I need to put something down to protect their feathered feet from the mud and wet. I've got a few ideas up my sleeve, one involves pallets which will thrill Dan no end, but I do love a good pallet project!


Another thing I finally got around to doing was putting up some conker garlands in the shed windows. The amount of spiders and webs we get in there is ridiculous and while not everyone believes that conkers deter spiders, I personally think they do. Until the conkers get old and dried up at least. Either way, they look pretty and make the shed look more interesting from the kitchen window so I'm happy spiders, or no spiders.


Alessi got really excited about making a bug hotel and wanted to make one out of bricks like the one at her school. I had initially just planned to drill a bunch of holes in the existing tree stump so in the end we made two. She also wanted to put up a sign and her wind mill toy, (anyone know what those things are actually called?) so the bugs would know where to go. Seriously that kid kills me everyday with how her mind works. Take the tree stump for instance, have you seen its grumpy face?


See? You can't miss it. She decided that it was grumpy because it didn't have a hat. So now he has a hat. And apparently it's only pretending to be grumpy now to scare away the bad bugs. It's things like this that make me forgive that poptart for getting up before 6am most mornings. Seriously, those of you commenting on about how you love the school holidays because of the lie ins you get? They make my face go a little bit like our stumpy friend here. I jest of course. As long as there is coffee all is good in my world! 


Early morning grumps aside, I still get to be a little bit productive in the day once the caffeine has kicked in. Yesterday I also managed to fix my little portable greenhouse with the help of some duct tape. Those bars no longer keep clanging to the floor and the roof actually stays up now! For how long is anyone's guess and I suspect that the winter winds will have some fun with this, but it's worth a go. I want to try and get through winter without losing all of my strawberry plants this time. Fingers crossed.


Speaking of which, here are said strawberries. I'm loving the autumnal colours of those leaves.


And as rain and mud is a given in our garden during the wetter and colder months I thought it would be a good idea to give Alessi's mud kitchen a bit of a revamp. I brought it up for under the shade of the apple tree, (no more hot sun to hide from now) so now it's on the patio next to the house, making it easier for her to nip in and out as she pleases and as such, more inclined to play there. It's also right next to the water butt which she loves. No more carrying her watering can up and down the garden! And you see what I mean about my love of pallets? They may not look pretty, but you can do so much with them!


And last, but not least I finally got around to mulching the potted fruit trees and honeysuckle. First with a thin layer of compost, followed by a layer of leaves from the lawn.


Followed by newspaper and straw. I gave the whole lot a good watering and bish, bash, bosh, they're done. Hopefully that will help protect the roots this winter and put a bit more roughage back into the soil. I only did this for my apple tree last year and unsurprisingly, it was the one that grew the most and produced the best fruit. So no laziness this year, I did it properly and I did it to all of them this time.


Oh, and Alessi added her own finishing touch. 


So the garden's autumn clear up is over for another year and now I'm toying with the idea of making a little winter fire pit out there somewhere. Realistically, I'm not sure how often we'd get to use it, this is Britain after all and winter usually just means rain. But on the off chance that it does stay dry, some days out in the garden baking potatoes on a fire pit does sound pretty awesome don't you think?

And it'll be a good way to use up all that left over pallet wood I'm going to have lying around! 
Sorry Dan.







Monday, 10 October 2016

October my heart


Oh am I glad it's October! If you follow me on Instagram you may have noticed that I was struggling with Alessi's settling in days at school last month. And so was she. Having her routine change from one week to the next confused her no end and while I had initially thought that I would be able to get stuff done around these hours, it quickly became obvious that wasn't going to happen.
No matter. She's finally started her full hours and we've all settled in to the new routine without too many hiccups.*

And so now I find myself looking forward again.

My winter clothes have come down from the attic while my kimonos, strappy dresses, sandals and shorts went back up. I've been reunited with my favourite tartan scarf!


Along with my winter clothes came my box of winter projects. A crochet blanket that needs fixing, the fabric from my ill fated tweed coat (I will make that one day) and two of my favourite jumpers that were ruined by being stretched out of shape. One by Alessi, then a toddler and the other by the washing machine. I'm in the process of upcycling them in to cardigans. It's a slow process because I LOVE those jumpers and I'm afraid of ruining them for good, but I'll get there.


Last month I bought Alessi a book of things to make and do in autumn. The idea was to give us some ideas to fill the afternoons after her settling in mornings at school. As she was too angry/upset/tired/filled with murderous intent to do them then, we're only just making use of the book now. The first activity she picked was making baked apples which she LOVED. Seriously, it was like some kind of crack for kids. She ate hers and polished off mine because I'm a soft touch. I had to promise we'd make them again this week.
The book also comes with a weather chart which you can change daily. It's a lovely little book and I can't recommend it enough. Happily, we haven't had to change it for a little while. Sunny and golden appears to be the order of the day. And long may it last.



*I have yet to get her to school on time, I forgot her PE kit and the homework she's already getting is making me give the education system serious side eye, but apart from that, we're all settled.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Harvest time



I love this time of year, but parts of it are so fleeting. Like the period of spring when the blossom trees bloom and for a short time pink petals turn trees in to candy floss clouds and sprinkle the pavements with nature's confetti. Autumn also has it's fleeting beauty, apple trees weighed down with fruit, conker collecting, catching the best of the autumn colours as the leaves turn and fall. They all happen so quickly that sometimes I'm scared I'll miss it all. There is always something so stop and appreciate at this time of year. And right now for me it's the harvesting phase.

I used to do so much with my little garden. I was having a good old trip down memory lane the other night reading old blog posts and I found this photo of me sitting at the bottom of the garden, feeling very sick and sorry for myself while pregnant with Alessi. But look at the garden!


There's not much in the way of lawn. The majority of the garden was dedicated to the chickens and my vegetable patch. Fast forward four years and the landscape has changed dramatically. The chicken run has gone, the vegetable patch has been pushed back and the garden is almost entirely lawn again. And this is exactly as it should be. The garden is and will continue to be for years to come, Alessi's domain. Also, since she was born and even more so since I started the business, gardening has been right on the bottom of any to do lists, if included at all.
So it's with some pride that this year, despite not having spent much time out there and the slugs and snails eating the shit out of my sunflowers, I still have a healthy, albeit small, garden harvest of apples, sunflower seeds and strawberries from the hanging baskets. Which FYI, is a brilliant way to grow strawberries if you're pushed for space, as well as making it a lot easier to keep slimy critters off the fruit!
And although I've never tried it before, I harvested the seeds from one of the strawberries too. Fingers crossed these will grow in to lots of little strawberry babies next spring because I have another project in mind involving a pallet. My husband is THRILLED. 




So we are in full autumn mode here in Casa Bliss and I'm loving these moments of calm because in all other areas, things are pretty chaotic! We have one more week of Alessi's settling in hours (her school does them for a whole month) and the lack of a consistent routine has been challenging for all of us. Autumn has been our consistent and steady anchor.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Winter List 2016


It's kind of ridiculous how excited I get about putting together these lists. I tend to start thinking about them in late summer and they really help ease me in to the new season.

Home
(stopping draughts, deterring spiders and generally just getting cosy)
Wash windows
Collect conkers to deter the spiders who want to make this house their winter home
Make door curtains for the front door and living room archway
Draught excluder for the living room door
Fix conservatory roof seals to stop the leaks when it rains
Check attic roof for leaks while we're at it
Dig out the fairy lights and candles
Get blankets down from attic 
Draught proof living room floor
Rug for living room

Garden
(the big autumn tidy up and preparing the chickens and garden wildlife)
Collect conkers for shed to keep the spiders at bay
Weather proof the chicken coop and add things to keep them entertained
Check fences and fix where necessary
Paint new fence panel
Mulch flower bed and pots
Prune trees
Pull up weeds from the front of the house and tidy. It currently looks a right state
Rake up leaves and add to flower bed
Put the bird feeders back up
Make an insect hotel with Alessi
Harvest sunflower seeds and store for spring
Move tender plants undercover

Car
(getting an old car ready for the elements)
Put together a winter box for the car (torch, blanket, deicer, ice scraper etc)
Check lights, tyres, windscreen wipers, screen washers and heaters. Important as my car is old.

Wardrobe
(keeping us warm during the colder, wetter months ahead)
Pack away summer clothes (which I barely used) and get winter clothes down from attic
Stock up on winter socks and jumpers
Buy a good pair of slippers

Misc
(crafting and other cold month pleasures)
Fix granny square blanket
Make a hot water bottle cover
Finish Alessi's blanket
Dare I attempt to make that winter coat this year??
Dig out the autumn decorations
Help Alessi make up her autumn nature table

~

Previous Winter Lists
2015
2014
2013
2012
2011
2010


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