Monday, 30 May 2016

Meet the chickens!

It was only a matter of time.

I've been playing with the idea of getting chickens again for some time, but kept finding reasons why we couldn't do it. Then one day, Dan came back from the car boot sale saying that a man there had been selling bantam chickens. He had nearly bought some as a surprise, but thought better of it when he realised we didn't have anything prepared.

And that was it. The same day I pulled out the old chicken coop from the shed and put it back together again. Over the following weeks I bought feed, collected old newspapers and hunted around for local bantam breeders. As luck would have it, there's a wonderful lady who sells all things chicken related just over a mile away. It was a sign. Not that I needed one by this point. 

And so yesterday we jumped in the car and collected our new girls. They're settling in nicely and establishing their new pecking order. Gertie seems to be at the top, followed by Elvis (who's a girl) and of course, little Titch at the bottom. They're still quite young so a little timid. We'll handle them every day and give them treats until they get used to us. Although they've been with us for little more than 24 hours and they appear to have settled in already. 
The only down side is that because of their size (extra diddy), we can't let them roam the garden until it's been chicken proofed. These little girls could easily squeeze under the shed whereas there was no chance my old girls could have managed that. I'm going to have to find some scrap wood from somewhere and get patching. But for now, they're more than happy in the coop, which is the perfect size for three little bantams. 

I'll stop there, but you can expect more chicken spam from me in the future!

Saturday, 21 May 2016

My creative cup, it runneth over

I've been on something of a crafting frenzy lately. May has been pretty quiet as far as sewing new things for the shop goes. Which could backfire spectacular as my dress and skirt stock are starting to run a little low. But I promised myself that as soon as my fruity skirts were finished, I'd focus on making a few things for myself before starting on anything new for the shop. Me Made May which I referred to in my last post came at the perfect time and while I don't have many handmade items in my own wardrobe (I'm always on the bottom of the priority list), I took the pledge this year anyway. I figured it would hold me accountable and keep me motivated. Also posting photos on Instagram acts as a record and I'm hoping that next year I'll have even more handmade clothes and will feel a sense of achievement when I look back and see the progress I hope to will have made.

So far this month I've been wearing my leopard print kimono, green Edie dress and my black and gold heart skirt. Although I forgot to take a photo of that last one so I'll have to try again next week. I've also made myself a lovely summer dress which I haven't worn yet because as soon as it was ready, the weather remembered that this was Britain and brought back the rain. So now I'm back in jumpers and the occasional blanket because I'll be buggered if I'm putting the heating on in May.
Next on my list of makes is a pair of pyjama bottoms and I found some fabric which I have fallen hard for. It's wonderfully kitsch, bright, fun and softer than I could have imagined. PERFECT! I can't wait to see the end result.

And once you start getting creative in one area of your life, it appears to spread in to others without you even realising it. It's like a tap that you can't switch off.

While playing with Alessi and her Hama beads (will her love for these ever die?!) I made a very bright garland for the conservatory window. This in turn prompted her to want to take all her bead creations out of the box and hang them on her bedroom wall.

Then there's the garden and we've been planting all sorts of plants in to all sorts of things. Sunflowers in my old wellies, Geraniums in Alessi's old wellies, a purple plant in one of Dan's old trophies, you get the idea.

I bought a jasmine plant from the local garden centre, stuck it in a hanging basket and hung it above My Spot. 

Speaking of hanging baskets I replaced the rotted and broken willow ones and filled them with the old strawberry plants. Some had died off over winter (that will teach me to leave them out) so I topped them up with new plants.

Now we're nearly set for the summer. All I need now is to work out exactly which herbs and salad leaves I want to grow in the raised bed and we're done. Maybe.

Oh and something else too! Anyone who knows me knows that I HATE cooking. Really, I loathe it. I'm no good at it and Dan will attest to this (I once gave him food poisoning with salad leaves).
Anyhoo our food shopping bill has been creeping up lately and we've been struggling to keep it to the £70 a week budget.  I'd heard of Jack Monroe's first cookbook and recalled that they had only ever been raving reviews. I took another look and before I knew it, I'd purchased a copy.

I don't regret it. It's amazing. Jack's kind of cooking is right up my street. I don't go in for pretentious ingredients and lots of faffing. Cooking still isn't my thing, but I want to be able to make decent, healthy meals for Dan and Alessi, without too much faff and without spending a stupid amount of money. With the help of this book I'm starting to check all of those boxes and I personally think that's pretty bloody impressive. Our last shop came just under our £70 budget and the week before that we didn't even come close to it! And yet we all ate well and enjoyed our treats.
We're in that stage of trying some of the recipes out to see what works and what doesn't for us, tweaking them where necessary. But no other cookbook I've come across has managed to inspire me to even try. So as you can tell, I'm a huge fan.

And as if that weren't enough, we've also been getting creative with the house too. We're focusing our energy on our living room at the moment. It hasn't been painted since we moved in ten years ago. Damp walls and a growing toddler all took it's toll. Earlier this year me and Alessi pulled down the wallpaper. The damp had been so bad that it just peeled away. So there were marks where the paint underneath had come away with the wallpaper. On another wall there were crayon scribbles for a certain someone. And on another wall there are still the greasy hand prints also made by a certain someone with her cheese covered mitts. On the one hand, I feel like these are memories that we'll be painting over and it makes me sad. On the other, I hate the fag-stained colour we currently have and that makes me sadder so I also welcome fresh, crisp white!

So, where was I going with this? Oh yes. Dan booked a day off with the intention of painting the whole room. He did one wall and then decided to rip up the living room carpet instead. I was at work. It could have gone so, so wrong. But luckily we love the exposed floorboards underneath. And they're actually in pretty good nick. All we need to do now is decide if we want to go down the sanding or painting route. Either way, the end result will look SO much better than our old, stained, BEIGE carpet. Beige. What on earth were we thinking??

There is so much more I could write about, but Dan will be back with Alessi any minute and this post is plenty long enough already. Well done if you've made it this far!

Thursday, 12 May 2016

An overdue catch up

Oh I've been a rubbish little blogger this year haven't I?

Things were a bit mental work-wise at the start of the year, but I'm more or less back in control and with that has come thoughts of writing again. I've missed this space and how it was slowly turning in to an online scrapbook of all things I adore. I've come back a few times over the last few months just to trawl through the archives and rediscover the things I did years ago. And it was while I was doing this that I realised how future me would regret not keeping this blog updated.
So I'm back and what have I been up to?

Well. Do you temember these girls?

No they're not coming back. Although we are getting chickens again and I could not be more happy about it. I never wanted to rehome our last brood if I'm being completely honest, but money was tight so we had to scale right back. While we still have to stick to a strict budget at home, finances aren't nearly as worrysome. So chickens here we come!
We'll be getting bantam hens this time around as we don't have the space to section off half the garden like we did before. Three bantams will fit perfectly in the little coop we have and they can live happily at the bottom of the garden under the apple tree. They'll get the sunshine, whilst also getting plenty of shade during hotter days, cover during wet ones and will have a section of the flower bed for dust baths. Hopefully this will result in some happy hens.

Some work needs to be done first though. The coop needs a little TLC and I want to make a 'bottom' for it so that they can scratch the dirt without actually burrowing deep enough to escape under the fence and in to next door's garden! I also want to extend the coop's run to give them a bit of extra space.

That little lot should keep me out of trouble and if it doesn't, there's always Me Made May.

Me Made May (#mmmay16 on Instagram) is a challenge which happens, unsurprisingly, every May. During which time you are encouraged to try and wear more of the clothes that you've made for yourself throughout the month. Some people post photos of their outfits, although you don't have to do this. This year I decided to take part and pledged not only to wear my handmade clothes more often, but also to go through my wardrobe, identify any items that I needed and try and fill those gaps with clothes that I'd made myself.

When I went through my wardrobe I found that I really needed some new pyjamas as I'm still using my woolly Christmas ones! They're starting to get a little thread bare, not to mention too warm to be comfortable. I need a lighter coat for the warmer months too as I spend a lot of the time roasting in my current one . I'd also like a dress that I can just throw on when it's really sunny outside. Something that's both comfortable, flattering and colourful. I don't ask for much! So I raided my stash and found a polka dot jersey that's just perfect.

I love the cut of my Edie dress pattern so I'm going to tweak that and make an off the shoulder, ruffle dress with it. That will check the comfortable and flattering boxes, while the fact that it's bright yellow will satisfy my craving for bright colours.

And that's me! These are just a couple of the things keeping me smiling this month and I'll be back with another update soon. Pinky swear.

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