Monday, 31 May 2010

Grey skies?…Must be a Bank Holiday Weekend!!..

27May2010 001After a gorgeous run of sunny days, the forecast for the weekend was…rain! Friday started out with promise & after dropping the boys to school, I set about seeding the area that I had previously moved the outdoor toy chest from…& even rigged up a string of tin foil ‘windmills’ to stop the birds from eating all the seed!!  I plan to use a collection of terracotta pots, 27May2010 006planted with summer colour, to disguise that manhole cover! 

Oh & Anna…the Chinese Lantern roots you sent me are shooting beautifully!!

I am also pleased with how my sweet peas are coming along…I can even see a few buds forming…27May2010 004

I have one of these planters on each side of the French Windows, so I’m looking forward to cutting plenty of blooms for the house.

27May2010 007The strawberry baskets are doing well too….plenty of flowers, so we should get a decent crop in a month or so.

I had hoped to get to work clearing the area known as ‘Fruit Corner’ which is seriously overgrown…& to prune back the Honeysuckle that has taken over the space along the side of the house! Once I’ve done this I can treat the fence with the green protective stain that the other two fences were done with three years ago…before my shoulder froze!!27May2010 010

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But, the weather had other plans..just after midday the sky clouded over & the wind became very brisk!  So I packed away my gardening tools & returned the guinea pigs to the shelter of their hutch…they were not amused! 19May2010 034

About this time, Lee went off to ‘Camp’ with a coach load of 8-9 year olds (& 3 other teachers!) to supervise the outdoor activities & sleep under canvas for two nights…in the rain!! 

Saturday started wet…& just got wetter! I used the opportunity to clear my ironing baskets & ruthlessly sort the boys wardrobes, pulling out any ‘too small’ or ‘out of favour’ items for the charity shop!  Anyone who knows me, knows I HATE ironing, so it is bliss to see the empty baskets sitting there!

30May2010 008In the evening I heard a clatter as both boys came running downstairs to report that there was a HUGE spider in the bath! Now, I am a bit  arachnophobic & if Lee had been here I would have deferred to him, but as he wasn’t I set off with glass & postcard in hand, expecting some monstrous creature with knee’s…believe me, we’ve had them that big here!! Instead I find this spindly thing…OK, so it’s leg span was as wide as the plughole, but other than that it was pretty weedy! Am I raising a couple of wimps or what?!!! 

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I also clambered up into our loft to bring down my cases…YAY!!! Only a week to go!!…& I have actually started to30May2010 017 sort out what to pack…a few garments are hanging on the hanging rail, ready to go into the case at the last minute!

I’ve put together my toiletries & have made a list of ‘things to do’ (I do love a good list!) & will be ticking things off as I go!!  I have included a pac-a-mac & a brolly as the 10 day forecast for Chicago says ‘RAIN!!!’…it will be like home form home!!

Yesterday was sunny, but cold & very windy, so I didn’t get out in the garden again! I was up at 6am & set about cleaning bathrooms, & once the boys were up, stripping beds & getting the laundry started! I read on Deb’s blog that when she goes on holiday she feels the urge to leave the house ship-shape, well I do too!…even though Lee & the boys will be here & I know that before day one is out, there will be crumbs everywhere, unmade beds & heaven only knows what in the bathrooms!!!

Lee arrived home last night & after a hot bath settled down gratefully into a comfortable bed!  He slept in till gone 11am this morning & although I was awake at 8am, I got myself a coffee & settled back into the pillows with my book! It is now almost 6pm & I’m still in my PJ’s, having watched three ‘Bank Holiday’ movies back-to-back on TV, since we ate breakfast…or should that be Brunch?!!…at noon! How decadent! Feels goo though! Once I’m done here I’m off to prepare our evening meal…a nice hot Chilli-con-carne!

The week ahead is Half Term, so I’m hoping the weather picks up a little. I have a hair appointment tomorrow & am meeting a friend for lunch in St Albans on Thursday. Add to that a couple of days out with the boys & the final countdown is going to fly by! I wonder if Chicago is prepared?!!

Thanks so much for dropping by…I hope everyone has a great week & that the sun decides to make an appearance, wherever you are! Be back soon!! :)

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

In my element!…..

No..I haven’t fallen off the planet!! I have been otherwise engaged…outside in the SUNSHINE!!! What a fabulous week of glorious sunny weather we’ve had here in the UK!

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I’m a Leo, an August baby…the fire sign defines me perfectly! I love hot weather! I have spent every spare daylight moment out in the sunshine…plus a few that shouldn’t have been spare at all!!

On Wednesday, I dropped the boys to school & headed straight back to the back garden…this was a job that is waaaay overdue!!

At Easter 2007 I started experiencing pain in my shoulder, which then became ‘frozen’ & I was unable to do anything gardening wise. I didn’t have my surgery until November 2008, so that summer the garden was neglected too!! Then, last year, after making a start on pruning & clearing in the spring, I injured my leg while on holiday (see here, here & here!!) so once again was only able to sit in the garden & watch nature take over!! 
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My good friend Karen always say’s that gardening is a husbands job…she doesn’t have my darling hubby to contend with!!  He cuts the grass…end of story!!  He is a techie type…anything computer related or ‘gadgety’ & he’s your man… but DIY or gardening…a no go area!!!!  He does, of course have the latest, state-of–the-art lawnmower to complete his one task!!

Anyway…back to Wednesday…with the sun warm on my back I set about my first task…clearing that ‘gone to pot’ border…

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…revealing Marmaduke, the stone cat that sits in the shade of the Acer tree!

(Note the ‘granny kneeler’, I’m afraid if I kneel for any length of time, I find it hard to get up, so this was a valuable investment!!)

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At this point I had already pulled what felt like miles of bramble roots & had had to perform autopsies on a Clematis & two Heathers & pronounce them victims of murder by neglect!

19May2010 036Halfway there & I have evicted a colony of snails from the Euonymus & decided to let the Lavender have another season, even if it is very woody at it’s base…I’ll cut it hard back in Autumn & see if it shoots again next year.

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I stopped for Elevenses!!…& of course, sat with my face to the sun (with SPF 50 for protection I might add…don’t want to age prematurely! LOL!!) & then it was back to grafting! The garden refuse wheelie bin was almost full… 

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….& the border clear of weeds! There were a few gaps where I had been ruthless & cleared the poor straggly plants that had barely survived. I cut back the Jasmine & cleaned out the birdbath…all in all, a good job done!

19May2010 028 I sat outside to eat lunch ‘Al Fresco’ & a flash of bright pink caught my eye…a butterfly flitting around the garden…I tried to catch a shot of him in mid flight but didn’t manage it…I did capture him when he settled on the lawn for a while though. I’m not sure I’ve seen one with these markings before…we normally only get the usual Cabbage Whites & Red Admirals!

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I’ve never been squeamish about snails…I just don’t like what they do to my plants! This little one has just munched his way through half a Euonymus leaf in the time it took me to eat a ham sandwich!!! So he joined his fellow snails over the fence into no-mans land!!

On Thursday, I met up with Karen & Hilary to discuss our trip to Chicago. Karen had drawn up a fabulous itinerary, so we are sure not to waste a single moment of our visit!  There were a few ‘rules’….#4 was “If Sandra injures herself whilst on holiday, a taxi will be arranged, with all costs to be met by insurance. Hospital visitation will be scheduled into itinerary where possible”!!!  Do you think I have something of a reputation?!!! We had a lovely lunch & discussed what to pack….in fact Karen brought along her packed suitcase to show us just what she’s taking! How comical was that?!!!

On the way home from lunch, with Lee doing the school pick up, I called in at my favourite garden centre & picked up a few plants & some bark mulch…all ready for another day of gardening on Friday!!

On Saturday we learned that our local branch of Burger King had burnt down! Apparently the fire was caused by a faulty extractor fan unit that overheated. You will be pleased to hear that it all kicked off during the night when the place was empty & judging by the remains I hate to think what might have happened if it had been during trading hours!

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On Sunday, enclosed with our  Sunday newspaper was a book of vouchers, to be used for various discounts at Burger King!

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Oh the irony!!!




I spent almost the entire day on Saturday out of doors! I was up with the lark & pegged out a line full of washing…all of which was dry within the hour!! By 9am I was working on the front garden, pulling weeds & trimming the little willow. I had my back to the sun & didn’t realise till I went in for a drink at 10.30 that I had lovely red shoulders, arms & a strip across the back of my waist where my 
T-shirt had ridden up as I worked!! I never thought that I would burn in the morning sunshine…just goes to show how hot it was!!

So, I slapped on some Factor 15 & carried on!!  I planted up all those Thursday purchases, replanted my hanging baskets & the pots for each side of my front door, mulched the two borders & freshened up the gravel in my ‘coffee corner’!! (Photo’s to follow!) It was very gratifying to sit back & see just how different everything looked!

At 6pm, Lee fired up the barbecue & we stayed outside until the sun went down!

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I had to go into work on Sunday, so I was trapped indoors from 11am-5pm!!! I did manage to spend my half hour break on the terrace though & took a rain check on the cinema after work!  Who would choose to sit in the dark on a glorious evening like Sunday’s was?!!

Yesterday started off hazy so I set about housework & chores with a vengeance!! By the time the sun was out, I was all done indoors & back in the garden!! It’s amazing how quickly I can move with the right motivation!!!

This time I tipped out the outdoor toy chest & sorted out which water guns still worked & threw out the rest….reminisced about all those buckets & spades & the holidays they were bought on!…& did battle with another legion of snails & a whole platoon of eight legged monsters!….I won!!  After hosing out the chest, I relocated it & replaced all the unbroken toys/balls/water guns & dropped off a bag full of sandpit toys to the village pre-school. Another good job done!!

That brings me almost up to date! Today has been fresher, sunshine & cloud in equal measure, which is just as well as I really needed to get the food shopping done!!  I still managed a couple of hours in the garden after the school run this afternoon though….phase two…to make sense of ‘Fruit Corner’!! The only things looking as if they may crop this year are the strawberries, so I think I’ll have to be ruthless & throw out the Blueberry & Raspberry plants!!    

I don’t know whether that’s our summer almost done, or if we’re in for more, but I sincerely hope it’s the latter! 

Thanks for stopping by…I promise to do my best to catch up on all of you very soon…a week is a long time in Blog Land!!!! have a great week!! xx 

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

The best laid plans of mice &….well…me!!

So much for taking an internet holiday to catch up on chores! A week ago today I posted that I was going to do just that & by mid afternoon that same day I was feeling dreadful & trying my utmost NOT to be sick!! I HATE to be sick…it makes me cry & act like a real wimp!! I also had horrible abdominal gripes & didn’t feel safe too far away from the loo!! So, not much got done on Tuesday!!

On Wednesday I did the morning school run, came home to fill a hot water bottle & disappeared under the duvet until it was time to do the school pick up….so not much got done on Wednesday either!!

By Thursday I was feeling less queasy & had to stay awake as I had a dental appointment in the afternoon…I pottered around at home & as the day progressed, I felt quite a bit better!

However, on Friday I felt quite wobbly…a limp lettuce to be precise…no appetite & no energy, so I took the decision to cancel my place at the Crafty Stash crop on Saturday…such a shame as I’ve seen what Denise did with the kit on Sunday & the LO’s look great fun!

Saturday dawned bright & sunny, so I decided to potter around in the garden & in between numerous ‘time-outs’ to snooze on a lounger I managed to prune back all my climbers & pull a fair amount of weeds! Admittedly they were those red stemmed clustered weeds that come away oh so easily & not much effort was needed, but it felt like my first productive day of the week!!

….& as no blog post is complete without a few photo’s…what else has been going on in our household this week?
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Nathan made oat & raisin cookies at school….& demolished most of them himself…well, for once he didn’t have any competition from me!!



I glanced out of the window on Thursday evening to see the boys…one wearing my red shower proof jacket…the other my wellies!!
They were putting the guinea pigs to bed & as it was raining, just grabbed the first things that came to hand…no change there then!

18May2010 005 It was my good friend Karen’s birthday yesterday, so I called in on my way to work on Sunday to drop off a card & gift & made a birthday cupcake for her, complete with a wrapper cut on my silhouette…I think I’ll be using these again!!

Incidentally, Karen was also laid low this week by a bout of Gastroenteritis…adding insult to literal injury as she’s also in pain with a bout of sciatica at the moment …maybe my symptoms were sympathetic?!!!

Finally…I have seen two movies that I have not reported on! Last Sunday it was the amazingly entertaining ‘The Back Up Plan’…

Jennifer Lopez is awesome in this film…anyone who has ever been through pregnancy & childbirth should go see it…it was soooo funny… & moving too!!

This Sunday we caught ‘Robin Hood’ just as it was released…
robin-hood-movie-poster-1 Apparently when an interviewer commented to Russell Crowe on his ‘Irish’ accent in the movie he got all huffy…but I have to say, it sounded Irish to me too!! Whatever….it was still a good movie, if very graphic & violent. Cate Blanchett was stunning & is such a versatile actress.

As usual, thanks for dropping by…I’m going to try & get things done again this week! I’ll let you know how that works out for me!!! :)

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

A Brief Musical Interlude…

Just popping in briefly for an essential post!!  Tomorrow is the deadline for ‘These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things’ latest challenge…My Favourite Music! 

If you check out my Playlist in the sidebar, which you may even be listening to right now, you will see that I have a musical taste that is entirely random!!  I decided to keep this LO simple & used a PP I picked up at Ally Pally two years ago…so nice to find a use for it…& let that do most of the talking!

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Catch you next week!!

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Four is Better Than None!…

The deadline for the Dixie Pieces NSD Crop has passed & out of the twelve challenges posted, I managed to complete four!!! I had planned to do all of them over the week, but as so often happens, life got in the way! Still…I’m pleased with those I did do & they were…

A sketch challenge…7May2010 001

…featuring Alex & his friend Aimee, enjoying the ball pit on a visit to Gulliver's Land last summer.

An ‘Out of Season’ challenge…

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…I chose a Christmas photo that has been begging to be scrapped for too long but I’ve been procrastinating! The main reason being that we lost my Father-in-Law to a heart attack just weeks into the New Year 2007. It was quite an emotional project, even now, but I’m so glad to have done it.

Next up…A Recipe challenge…

8May2010 011 …to use 1-Stitching  2-Chipboard  3-Rub-Ons  4-ATC  5-Purple!! Now I don’t do’ ATC’s but my good friend Hilary had recently given me a gift of some blank ATC cards & envelopes. I also don’t often reach for anything purple but  a recent crop kit was full of the stuff, so I had quite a few scraps & after a rummage came up with some buttons & Thickers too! The photo is of Alex, aged two, tucking into a McDonalds Happy Meal…yes I know, what a bad Mother I am, feeding him junk!!!! But…at that time he ate anything I gave him & Lee & I had a Saturday McDonalds ‘habit’!!! Nowadays he won’t touch a burger…& neither do I !!

Finally, a challenge to use Bunting…or as they call it in the US ‘Banners’…

10May2010 004…I did a partial scrap lift from a LO I recently saw in Shimelle’s April crop Party ‘Bunting Challenge’ thread… by ‘reward’… more ‘vintage’ photo’s, this time the boys at Willows Farm in 2002. When we lived in Hertfordshire we had a season ticket to this wonderful place & we spent many a happy day there!!

So, with my LO’s, Challenge setting & game participation I have a few entries into the draw for the prize package…now we just have to wait until the 14th for the winner to be announced!…& while I would have liked to have submitted more, I guess that at least I got a third done & sometimes other things just have to take priority over scrap time!

Which brings me around neatly to saying that I won’t be posting for a little while. With four weeks to go until Chicago I just have to get the house into shape! So all of those little jobs I’ve been putting to one side are to be brought up to date & the garden needs seriously disciplining too. I am planning this week, from here on in, to be head down with NO INTERNET distraction!!! I just know I will feel happier when I have no loose ends nagging at my conscience & then I can turn my attention to holiday packing!!!

Oh & it’s the Crafty Stash crop at Tempsford this Saturday, so I won’t be totally deprived of scrappiness!

Have a great week everyone & I’ll catch up with you all next week! Thanks for dropping by! :)

Monday, 10 May 2010

If you go down to the woods today…

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Well, if you’d been in the woods on Wednesday you would have come across four amateur photographers snapping away for all they were worth! The Bluebells were truly beautiful & the slightly grey day did nothing to diminish the scene.

We met up at Moggerhanger Park, which is just a fifteen minute drive from home for me, & then set off to walk through the woods, camera’s primed & at the ready!

Karen, ever the consummate professional, came equipped with her tripod & by using the timer, managed to capture some shots of all four of us together, which I’m hoping she’ll be posting on her blog soon!!

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We were able to wander at leisure & just enjoy the peace of our surroundings….apart from our chatter & laughter!! I was surprised at how many other visitors we encountered, all passing the time of day & commenting on how beautiful it all was to see.

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I loved the carvings in this one tree trunk…Initials dating from the 1960’s…I wonder who BL & JD were?

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The woods are maintained, but have that wonderful tangled appearance, with everywhere off the footpath being a tangle of ground cover plants, fallen timber, roots & throughout all that, the carpet of bluebells. Still newly blossoming & droopy headed…Hilary told us that as they mature their heads become more upright…you learn something new every day!!5May2010 024
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The trees formed a natural arch at this opening that lead out of the woods & into an adjacent field, in the distance you can see a horizon of yellow…a Rape Seed crop in full flower…just stunning!

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Karen…sharing some photographic tips while setting us up for a group shot….never one to do anything by halves!!!

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My three fellow ‘ramblers’!!! L-R Hilary, Karen & Ann…


Afterwards we headed off to Moggerhanger House itself. a Georgian Grade 1 listed building, built for Godfrey Thornton, Governor of the Bank of England, in the 18th Century…

…used at one time as a hospital, it was derelict from 1987 – 1995  & is an ongoing restoration & renovation project, now open to the public & used for weddings & as a conference centre.

The approach to the Tea Rooms, housed in the old kitchen & dairy block was  pretty with pots & tubs of herbs & flowers lining the walkway.  




There is the most gorgeous tree on the lawn at the back of the house that we learned from Hilary was actually on it’s last legs…so sad…if only it could talk, I wonder what stories it could tell?!!

So after refreshments, in the form of tea & scones all round, we made our farewells & went back to our daily routines!!  But, on my way home I had to stop & capture the Rape Seed crop close up & stretching away as far as I could see! 075





If you’ve got this far…Thanks for hanging in there!! A bit photo heavy I know…& this was the edited version!!!

The deadline for the Dixie Pieces NSD Crop Challenges is tomorrow night, so I hope to be able to share my entries with you in a couple of days…I hoped to get all twelve done, but life threw  us a bit of a curve ball this week, so my plans were scuppered, but I’ve redrawn my plans & should manage to get six completed in time!!!

Thanks for dropping by…for all my US friends with offspring ‘Happy Mothers Day’…& I hope everyone has had an enjoyable weekend, whatever you’ve been up to!