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.

(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

(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

(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.

(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

(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

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Our camping trip. Or proof that lists are a force for good

We're back from our latest trip to Wales which was both exhausting and relaxing in equal measure. Choosing the busiest weekend of the summer holidays was probably our first mistake. Camping always catches me out in that it seems like such a laid back and easy way to holiday. In reality, it takes a fair amount of organising to do it well and forgetting this was definitely our second mistake.
We left everything to the last minute. The morning before we left, Dan dropped Alessi off at nursery before heading off to work, leaving me at home to get everything together. If we had put together a list first, this point of the process would have been very straight forward. Instead it was basically me running around the house, remembering things as I went along and hoping I didn't forget anything. Which of course I did.
I have no idea why we were so rubbish this time around. I can only think it's because we've been juggling other things at home too. DIY and an attic clear out have left the house (and our thoughts) in a bit of a muddle. I guess trying to organise anything when our minds were so jumbled was always going to be a struggle.

All that said, we were back home surrounded by trees, hills and sea so in between the odd pocket of stress, we both had moments where we were able to breathe it all in.

And looking on the bright side, as I said to Dan, each time you go camping, you learn something new which will make future trips easier. This time our lesson has been to plan well in advance! Actually, you can add avoiding bank holidays, meal planning and if you value your sanity at all, remembering to bring along toys to keep kids entertained, to the list of things we learnt from this trip.

But oh, Wales. 

I wouldn't have thought it possible to feel so connected to a place if I didn't feel it myself. It’s home and I miss it. Unfortunately though I can't see us moving back any time soon.  Dan and I are very different people in terms of what we need. I like the quiet life and countryside. He likes people, stuff to do and reliable internet access. To be fair, I'm with him on that last one. And of course there's Alessi and what is ultimately best for her. 

Who knows, maybe one day we'll return to the motherland, but for now at least there will be more trips like this one (well, not too much like this one I hope), and more posts with pictures like these..

The tent is now lying in the garden drying. And so endeth the camping spam. 

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