Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Ten on Tuesday

Haha I remembered!!

1. Evenings are so lovely right now. Nice and sunny, and seemingly so much longer before the night comes. I get much more done :-)
2. You can tell the boys are home.... the food stocks go down quite quickly when school is out.
3. Finally got my printer sorted. All it needed was a new colour cartridge, so I am able to print some of my photos for my scrapbooks. We've signed up to the HP Instant Ink service too. So simple, the printer sends a message to HP when it's running low and the cartridge is sent out to you in the post in plenty of time, so you never run out.
4. I think I need to contact Becky Higgins and see if they offer commission. I've sold the Project Life way of scrapbooking to a few friends recently, both the app and the paper version. It's so fun seeing them excited by being able to capture their memories in a way that does not require overthinking.
5. Enjoying a few new blogs lately that are linked to slowing down your life, getting rid of clutter, and generally appreciating what you've got. With one or two looking at lifestyle choices too. I am often cross that I'm not reading as many books as I think I should, then I realise I actually read loads, just more non-fiction than fiction.
6. Preparing for the big change in work hours for next week. I'm okay actually and working on a few plans for how to spend my hour lunch break each day that I have to take.
7. Jake turns 14 in just over a week. Can't quite believe it, mind you to look at him you would believe it. I've said before he's quite tall, at last measure 5'8'', but he's also broadening out now. Especially his shoulders I've noticed recently, and the voice is definitely deepening more each week. I keep thinking that there's someone in the house and then realise it's just Jake!
8. Had a real problem with my digestion again the end of last week. I think I've been happily eating to much gluten. Thinking about making the change again back to gluten-free. I seem to do this every once a while, start out well... then start slipping back into bad habits.
9. My neighbours must be fed up with hearing me calling out for the boys... I know I am! Blinking headphones!!!
10. Four of mine and Chris' favourite tv shows have finished in the last week or two, and two of them aren't being continued at all. Don't you just hate it when that happens, just when a series starts to really get interesting. Not sure what we are going to watch, but then at least I'll have more time for my scrapbooks.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Green Fingers

Inspired by a lovely online friend Nicole from www.mygardendiaries.com, I took advantage of the lovely weather this morning and went outside to photograph my garden. I'm not sure when I discovered I like gardening, sometimes it's back-breaking work, however when the sun is shining, the plants are growing and blooming I just love to be out there.

After yesterday's epic wordy post, today is full of pictures :-)

From the very top by the gate looking down the quite steep slope.

To my left, actually to my very left are three very unsightly wheelie bins, one each for general waste, recycling and garden waste, but you really don't want to see them :-)

And to the right.

This area on the left is one of my favourites. The stunning red maple, crocosmia at the front, and a large zebra grass, still quite green. Behind them is my bay tree. Bought for us as a moving in present many years ago. It didn't look too happy in it's pot by the front door, so we took it out and planted it here. It's several feet high now and I love it.

The bay tree.

On the right is my rock garden. This is the area we completely did over recently (see here).

The little shrubs I bought are really taking hold now and are that lovely spring green. The hand rail got a coat of wood stain this week, but it was totally the wrong colour so we need to go and get some much darker stuff.

The hibiscus is covered in buds.

Down to the next level and the strawberry patch is going crazy. When we worked on the top section, we took all the strawberry plants out, dug over the bed then replanted them, spacing them out better. They seem to be really happy now.

This is the view from the bottom right, yes we do have a trampoline in the garden, which gets constant use, even from the dog.

From the bottom left looking back up the steps. The steps and the wall are not the prettiest, but we work with what we have. Hopefully all the plants and flowers draw your eyes away :-)

Now to the back, not so much prettiness or fun planting as this is more of our functional space. Although we are planning a few small changes this year.

These steps Chris built with help from his Dad to replace the dangerous concrete slopes we had. They need a coat of stain, but I haven't quite worked out how to do this with a puppy around.

Looking across the lawn to my veg patch on the small L shaped bit, with Chris' parking spot next to it. You can see we've started adding a little fenced entrance way into the veg area. Chris wants to add a gate, but I'm thinking of more of an archway that I could plant a climber of sorts.

From the far side across to our neighbours fence. I have a small bed attached to the decking but it doesn't get much sunlight so I have trouble growing things there. I plan to add some shade loving plants here.

Our veg patch is in a sorry state. I am so behind this year and have not planted a thing... there are just weeds growing.... oh and this little furry thing :-)
Hoping to get it done this weekend.

Here's just a few of the things blooming right now, or about to bloom.

1 - 3 - Alliums
4 - 6 Aquilegia
7 Ceanothus
8 Cerastium
9 Cistus

1 Bellis Daisy - these were cheap bedding plants at Aldi but they have filled out so well and I love them!
2 Hutchinsia
3 Lavender
4 Really not sure what this is.. my favourite trick, buy something, plant it then forget to make a note or keep the plant details
5 Lily of the Valley
6 Pansies
7 My peony about to burst
8 First californian poppy
9 Salix or Pink Willow tree

Hope you enjoyed the tour :-)

Friday, 22 May 2015

There's a Change Coming...

This post has been rattling around in my head for far too long. Time to sit down and type... just type.

There's a change coming... a change that I instigated and chose but it doesn't mean it was an easy choice to make. You see for nearly 14 years I switched long hours in the office to working just 3 days a week, to make time for first one boy, then another 5 years later.

Having Mondays and Fridays off gave me the opportunity to do the school runs, go into class occasionally, catch-up on the housework and laundry leaving the weekends free to do things with the boys.

However, I've recently negotiated with my manager to return to full-time hours. It was not a decision I made lightly, but it was a necessary decision. For too long we've managed financially... just, but it's been hard, really hard some times.

Funnily enough I had the opportunity to work full-time in the months leading up to Christmas last year when overtime was needed, and I hated it. I was constantly chasing my tail, it didn't help that it was the busiest time of the year for Chris so he was working extra too. I didn't get the free time to do my Christmas shopping without the boys snooping in bags, or bake/cook and organise for various get-togethers with family and friends. I vowed I wouldn't ever go back to full-time, yet here we are.

The turning point came when an annual mortgage statement arrived in the New Year. There in black and white was a sign shouting quite clearly DO SOMETHING! I spent ages with figures, calculators, Google, but there was only one answer. I kept the thought in my head for a good week before I sat down with Chris and talked it through. Could we do it, would we manage.... would I manage, especially as Chris works crazy long hours and is not around at the weekends. It was my decision but I couldn't see any other way to change.

So on the 1st June I will be walking into the office for my first full-week. I know there are many, many women out there that do this, and I know once I get into a routine I will be fine. One or two people who know me well, know that this is the right thing for me and my family, but as word is spreading around the office I am getting a lot of negative comments. Not in a bad way towards me, more of the 'are you crazy' kind of statement, or 'why would you want to come here more than you have too'.

I am choosing to quiet the negatives with the many positives from this change. We can finally pay off some debt, we can get on with the loft conversion we have promised the boys for a long time, giving them a bedroom each. We can enjoy an occasional treat... a trip to the cinema and meal out, heck we may even be able to have a holiday next year. All these things will enhance our lives so much, and I'm excited for the change. I'm fortunate that my manager has agreed to an 8-4 work day, and as the office is only 15 minutes away from home. I will be home early enough to cook a meal and get some chores done.

I already do laundry every day so intend to keep that up, meaning that at the weekend I will not be greeted by a huge mountain of it. I need to shuffle my food shopping as that is normally done on a Monday morning. I'm quite quick, getting round both Aldi and Sainsburys in just over an hour so I could do that one evening straight after work.

I've felt a great need to get all the outstanding jobs done at home and see all my friends before I start back, but it's just not happened. I had to get it out of my head that I would never have time for anything again, that's just silly.

The boys, all three of them, have been very supportive saying all the right things... we'll see how long that lasts when I start dishing out jobs ;-)

OK I think that's enough rambling for today, any hints or tips in managing full-time work outside the home along with keeping the home running very welcome :-)

And now if you've managed to get through all that lot... a picture of me and the boys taken earlier this month by my Dad...

A bit windswept and yes they really are that tall!

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Throwback Thursday

Todd modelling my scarf (this little boy was on the go from sun up to sun down)
Aug 2008

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Throwback Thursday

Me and Jake - Jul 2004 - obviously shouting something, probably at the one holding the camera :-)

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Ten on Tuesday

1. Last year I made all my greeting cards for people, saving a bomb and enjoying the process. This year I am failing miserably. I am realising a card is needed one or two days before I need it (or even afterwards!) so I've been running to the shops for them. Really need to book out a few hours and get some made!
2. One of my lovely scrapping friends suggested a different dog food for Bosley. As I type this he is happily munching his way through a bowlful. He actually eats everything now and at regular mealtimes, rather than eating a bit.... then a bit more and so on throughout the day. A happy puppy I think don't you... thank you Sue.
3. I love looking forward to Spring with warmer days and longer evenings... then the pollen hits and I cannot wait for autumn!!! I know terrible thing to say but you should see me. I'm on max strength hayfever tablets and when a sneezing fits comes I'm a mess. I even have a sore throat from the force of the sneezing. Oh and thoughtful hubby thought I'd like to be picked up from work today in his car.... with the roof down.... you can stop laughing now!
4. Some big changes coming soon in our lives. I'm pulling up my big-girl pants and getting on with it even if it's not the dream. Sometimes you just have to be a grown-up :-(
5. Still loving my Project Life scrapbooking. I confess the best bit is looking back through them, not to say I did this, but more to say remember this and this and that time that this happened. Will never tire of it :-)
6. Imagine my delight tonight when I found a bag of Cadbury's Mini Eggs in the back of the cupboard... it's the little things right!
7. I cannot decide what to wear with this weather. It's so blinking cold first thing, even a frost some mornings, then a few hours later full sunshine. Monday I wrapped up to get Jake off to school, then Todd. Then off to do the food shopping still wrapped up only to be peeling layers off in the car on the way home.
8. Email from Jake's school tonight about his history trip in September. Please can we have the first payment in the next two weeks with another payment before the end of May. And there's me thinking I'll have plenty of time to pay it, oh and if we don't pay not only will he not be able to go, but I would jeopardise the trip for everyone else. Thanks for the straight talk school... we get the idea.
9. Big new Android update on my phone this weekend... Lollipop 5.0 apparently. So now everything looks different, and I can't find anything. Chris has had the same, so between us we are working it out.... you can imagine our late night conversations ;-)
10. Oh would you look at that.... all the mini eggs have disappeared like magic :-0

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Ten on Tuesday

Seriously I will get better at this, I'm sure of it...

1. First day back after a lovely week off with the family. Such gorgeous weather too, perfect!
2. We did a bit of sight-seeing at the beautiful Lacock Abbey...

Photo by Todd, and yes Jake is getting taller... nearly catching Chris up 
(he's leaning a bit in this one)

The main attraction for the boys was this...

This room was one of the classrooms in the early movies.

Lastly an arty shot, because I couldn't get enough of those wonderful arches and the spectacular reflections they made.

3. I purposely left my big camera out last week so I could grab it whenever inspiration struck. This has become one of my favourites lately...

He was even singing sweetly to me whilst posing :-)

4. Another reason my camera has been out is because of the sunsets we've been having. I've been out most nights... love that the tree is kindly lending me its silhouette.


5. There may have been ice-cream eaten once or twice too...

Giggi's down Poole High Street
Barford Farm nr Wimborne

6. Then there was digging, oh lots and lots of digging. I ached in places I didn't know I could ache, but 2 and half days later it was done...

It started out when we added a hand-rail and new edging on part of the front garden. The steps are pretty bad but we don't have the budget to deal with them unfortunately. Which led to the strawberry patch behind the rail being cleared, dug over and replanted.

We then moved to the much larger area behind the strawberry patch. This was planted around 13/15 years ago and was in need of redoing. 

Below you can see how bad it had got, just a mess really.

So the digging started... (photo courtesy of Todd whilst on the trampoline which is why you can see the support bars).

End of day 1

End of day 2 (we ran out of weed membrane)

Here you can see the strawberry patch all done

Another of Todd's photos

We decided to go with bark chippings as we liked the natural colour and it was a cheaper option for the area we had to cover, so we bought 4 of the 100 litre bags.... ha ha... do you know what's coming...

It covered barely a third!

So we (Chris) went back and bought another 7 bags! That was only just enough.

So it is done... one of those projects you keep putting off and even halfway through I wished we hadn't started it... but so pleased we kept going. All the plants look so tiny but they are all perennial plants/shrubs so will fill the space eventually... although I may keep my eye out for one or two more.

The new handrails need to be stained dark oak to match the top fence (the fence to the left is our neighbours), but to be honest I couldn't even lift my fork to eat my dinner that night so a paintbrush will have to wait for another day.

7. There was also fun had with these guys...

that tail!

If you look closely you will see he has stolen a Nerf bullet and is hoping no-one has noticed

Snoozing in the sunshine

8. Made THIS for dinner tonight.... highly rated and recommended by all the boys... including the chef.
9. This may be the longest ever Ten on Tuesday post I've done.
10. Every time I look at this picture it makes me laugh, don't these pansies look like they are photo-bombing!