Reflecting on my week #82

* This post contains an item that was gifted.

You’ve got to love a Bank Holiday weekend haven’t you? Even though quite often the four day week that follows it feels like the longest week ever, and even though after a spectacular Easter the weather has resorted to more usual Bank Holiday behaviour. We packed a lot into ours, and quite honestly I think three day weekends are the way forward…

Next weekend it’s my oldest niece’s wedding, which seems to have come round all of a sudden. My preparations, which are mostly my outfit, have been coming together in dribs and drabs. I’m very much of the opinion that if you see something you like then you should buy it, and so a January sales item has become my wedding outfit. A couple of months later a hat of the same colour was added, rather fortuitously as the outfit wasn’t with me when I bought the hat.

Then last month I was out and chilly so popped into Zara to buy a cardigan, opting for something that would complement this outfit incase the day was chillier than we want it to be. Although I’m hoping it will be much warmer than this weekend, or else the cardy might not cut it. And I’m sure my niece is hoping for warmer weather too, as there aren’t many cardy-wearing brides are there?

 Which left shoes and a bag, and I’ve been undecided. I should go for white, but white shoes. Well they’re not really me, so of course I delayed and deliberated thinking I have silver ones that I could wear or tan sandals, they’d do too. With a week to go though, I thought I really ought to try and pull it all together. So on the outfit went, on went the jewellery, and the hat and MOH’s verdict was sought.


Not quite the response I expected, but one that’s probably accurate. And that was without the shoes. The trousers were, of course too long. Adding the tan sandals, still too long. Higher shoes, that’s what’s needed my inner voice said, so out came the silver heels with an inbuilt wedge. Still too long. This length wasn’t going to be solved by heels. Stilts maybe, but not heels.

And so sewing was needed. MOH was instructed on how to pin and where. Then hemming was required. Lots of hemming. You see the trousers have lining, the sort of lining that’s not attached. It was already much shorter than the outer material, but to be safe I hemmed that too. Four rounds of handsewn hemming, trying for the stitches not to show on the outside.



But it’s done, it just needs pressing. And then setting aside ready for the weekend.

My shoe choice? I opted for my tan Hasbeens, which I expect to last the whole day in, and which seem the sensible choice having learnt that there’s a woodland path to the church from the car park. Having settled on the shoes, my bag choice followed. I have two, what I can now safely call vintage tan leather bags, as I learnt this weekend that for clothes and accessories anything over twenty years old is considered vintage. Both of my vintage tan bags, I’ve had since new, one is more used than the other. My initial thoughts were to smarten up my go to, more used bag, but I thought I’d look out the other one as it’s smaller and potentially smarter.

It’s also, as it turned out, a better match for my outfit and so that had a bit of a spruce up too. I coated it with olive oil to nourish and help soften the leather, following the advice and wisdom I received when I first bought my Hasbeens. And since I’d bought another pair of Hasbeens earlier in the year - another January sales purchase - these were olive oiled at the same time. These ones are mules, and despite looking a light tan in the picture below are actually more of a yellow, and I’m sure that won’t surprise you either.


So it seems, now I’m all set. Outfit, shoes and an almost double vintage bag, which I think was probably my first handbag. It’s had some, but not very much use, so its condition is almost perfect and I’m sure was a present from my aunt. It’s funny how some things, especially those that are classically styled just take a little while for us to grow into, or a bit more of a while to be considered usable again. I’m sure this saddlebag-style bag has never really gone out of fashion, but now - or rather next week - is the time that it’s making a reappearance on my shoulder.

Although I’m now a little concerned that someone will make a 1970s connection or comment about my outfit. Clogs, as some might call Hasbeens, a saddle bag and, well for the rest of my outfit you’ll have to wait. But if anyone does, I’m just saying here I called it first!

I’ve also realised that I’m having a bit of an orange week: the outfit, the handbag and some new colour in my hair. Which isn’t actually orange, though it’s not that far off, it’s probably officially called copper or something, but orange is generic enough. So I wasn’t surprised when I opted to try the orange boxed coffee called Smooth Journey, which the Lost Sheep Coffee sent me to try.



Lost Sheep Coffee is an independently owned business based in Kent whose Nespresso compatible capsules are certified compostable. They have their own Speciality Coffee Roastery in Whitstable which are filled with their speciality grade coffee which they buy direct from the farmer, paying them up to four times more than they would receive through importers. A box of ten capsules retails for £3.95 and this is just one of two varieties available in capsules, the other is called Funky Camper, which I’ve yet to try.

For me, our Nespresso machine has revolutionised how we drink coffee, and while we send our capsules back for recycling we know they’re not the greenest of machines. However with compostable capsules that could change, and that is the reason for a snap of my compost bin. I’m keen to see how they rot down, but immediately after use you can see they’re already behaving differently to the Nespresso capsules.


I’m a fair weather coffee drinker, enjoying a cup or two occasionally whereas MOH is a coffee every day type of guy. He prefers stronger tastes, me milder varieties, him with milk, me without - yes we couldn’t be more different at times - but interestingly we both enjoyed this coffee. The one suggestion I have for Lost Sheep Coffee is to include which size, or amount of water, to use. Is it a lungo or espresso, as I believe that determines the force that the machine pushes the water through the capsule.

That said, I’m looking forward to trying the lime green packaged Funky Camper variety next.


There was some brief time in the garden but only in between the bouts of weather on Saturday. Rain, hailstones and wind, after one of the showers I nipped out to the greenhouse to pick some sage for dinner and couldn’t help but stop and take a few pictures. The rain glistening on the weigela was pretty spectacular and a reminder that we have plenty of gardening to do.

Instead though we’ve spent most of today at Grand Designs Live over at Excel, it’s one of my favourite home shows and I’ve plenty to share from there, and plenty of photos to edit from our visit, but look out for an overview post from this year’s show shortly.

* While the Lost Sheep Coffee was gifted, I was under no obligation to share it here on my blog.

My garden in July (and a bit of June too!)

July in the garden has been pretty parched and practical, and as such not so pretty, so I'm going to sneak some pictures in from June at the end of this post, as somehow with everything going on I missed posting a June update.

The grass has been straw-like, and some of our plants are crispier than I'd like.  I resisted watering them for a while, because we were away for a week, and I didn't want them to get used to it.  As usual I had a massive potting on session in the greenhouse before we went and left upturned water bottles plunged into the soil to tide the plants in the greenhouse over.  

They survived and as it was so warm when we got back I decided to fill them up and keep them there. That is until I realised they emptied overnight, so I wasn't saving myself any watering time at all.  But it did make me doubly proud of the tomatoes and other greenhouse plants that soldiered on that week.

The tomatoes in the greenhouse are reaching the ceiling and looking quite lush.  I've been surprised that the tomatoes outside in pots are further advanced than those planted into the bed in the greenhouse but, there you go.

We spent some time a weekend or so ago preparing for the new trough pots - which still haven't arrived, despite being ordered over a week ago and being on a one day delivery, I'm not impressed.  Part of the preparations included sorting out the compost, which was a job I'd been keen to get done for a while now, and strictly wasn't essential but it was a good opportunity to get it done and it gave us both some mindless labour to do and letting our minds rest for a while.

I'd struck on the idea that the new small shed would be much nicer to look at than one of our dalek compost bins, and so the dalek needed to be moved - but of course, it was full.  With some persuasion and a bit of brute force, its plastic outer was removed and placed next to our second bin. 

A pile of compost

Thankfully it just about fitted. It's now on a paving slab, and it will have to manage with that.

In its new home

And so we set about moving the compost.  We've ended up with the good stuff at the top, which works for us as we'll be using a fair bit if my new pots ever arrive.  The second bin, which we've never emptied should also be ready, and if we need it we'll empty that one from the bottom in the more tradtional way.

Refilled with compost with the good stuff at the top

And look what was left.  A small shed sized hole.  

A small shed sized space

Reassembling the part-assembled shed we brought home from the allotment is still on the to do list, but it will fit here, even if we have to make some adjustments to the surrounding area, but that's for another day.

I told you July in our garden wasn't pretty, didn't I? 

June was much more colourful...

In the cherry-less cherry tree we've been seeing some bird activity, and I'm sure I saw some tits disappearing into the yellow bird box.  On other branches in the same tree we've a sage green and pale blue bird box, so it's a bit like a housing estate for birds.  I'm curious to know if we do have residents, but will have to wait a while before checking the boxes out.  

we might have residents in our bird house

And if we do, I wonder why they've gone for the yellow one.  Maybe it's the equivalent of a bird des-res, who knows?

With all the lovely weather I've moved some of the succulents outside, so they can enjoy it too. Although the aloe vera looks to be coping well, it took a turn for the worse and I've moved it back inside where it's flourishing again.  The other one though, which should have leaves up its stem, is relishing being outside.  

succulents on our garden table

Not only has it grown more leaves than we've seen before, and more quickly, it's also starting to sprout new branches from the roots.  And where it's touching the pot, on the bend, it's starting to grow from there too.  It'll be interesting to see how far it gets.

We've been slow in keeping on top of our garden this year, partly the weather and partly as weekends have been taken up with family things, but there's still a fair bit to do.  With the hot weather continuing, we're continuing to take it slowly, but of course things are growing faster than we're pruning.  It's how gardening goes though, isn't it?

gardening in the sun

For the past four or five years we've been managed to see the stag beetle's annual visit.  This year we were treated to several fly pasts before on one occasion it crash landed into the agapanthus and posed for this photo.

the annual visit of the stag beetles took place

It seems to be attracted to our sycamore tree, so even observing that is interesting and I was able to add that to the annual stag beetle survey which I also learnt of this year.  Around the garden there were the blues of the Canterbury bells, the whites of the dogwood flowers, the pinks of our Gertrude Jekyll rose and the scent of the honeysuckle as we've sat outside on the patio in the balmy evenings that we've come to take for granted.

blue harebells
elderflowers enjoying the sunshine
fragrant honeysuckle on the patio

As well as the scent of jasmine and honeysuckle on the patio, we've been surrounded by roses and clematis, which I've realised are the opposite of each other with their light and dark petals.

white roses - prolific but scentless

It's also one of my favourite photos from the garden this year, so any excuse to include it in a post!

How's your garden coping with the high temperatures?


448 items short of 2016

Remember back in March last year when I hit on the slightly crazy idea of having a declutter with a difference? The idea was I'd try and replicate the idea I'd read about where a family committed to throw away the same number of items as the year, and they did this for more than one year. I was curious to see how many things we would get rid of, and not starting until March made it a tougher task.

But it started well, by June there was only 1778 items to go and I was pleased with the progress I'd made. But by October I was disappointed with the progress I'd made, as there was still 992 items to get rid of. 

And for the first time I seriously began to wonder if I'd get anywhere close to 2016 items. And I almost gave up.


But I didn't. 

In November I had a bit of a pause, a disheartened pause I guess. But realising that wasn't helping get near to the target, I started to throw more things away.

  • I cleared out my craft supplies and all the things I thought I might use one day, well I went through those and quite a few that I would probably never use, were recycled or thrown away.
  • We replaced some everyday glasses - with these from TK Maxx - but sent more to the charity shop.
  • Packaging. Somehow I still had quite a lot of this. Well no more.
  • Old bills. No not that kind of old Bill, the paper sort. At a rough guess I shredded almost ninety, with some going back to 2013. Technically I still have the shredded bills, as they're in a sack in the greenhouse, ready to add to the compost with the grass cuttings. But I'm counting these here as they've decluttered the house and are waiting to be put to better use.  I could have recycled these, but then I would potentially have had slimy clumps of grass in the compost; mixing shredded paper in with the grass cuttings as it's added, avoids this. 
  • Bras. Old but not knackered ones.  I've sent a small package to Smalls for All, a charity who collect underwear to help women and children in Africa.

So, with those and more I'm still 448 items short of the 2016.  Given where I was in October I'm pleased, but the things I thought were dead certs to get rid of - like the old Dyson, a plethora of pictures, some china and an old coffee machine - we still have. 

That's pretty frustrating, especially that old Dyson. I've tried to get rid of that a few times, but MOH has always said, we've one more project to do where it'll be useful, and so it's stayed. Although today, he said we should get rid of it and it's as much as I could do not to stop myself from wheeling it out to the front of the house and hoping it might find itself a new home. But I resisted, because I'm sure there's a more ethical way of finally getting rid of this.

In ten months I've got rid of 1,568 items, which is quite some going. It's not the 2016 items I'd aimed for, and that's disappointing, but it's not bad going is it?

I do wonder how much closer I'd have got if I'd started in January though...  I thought about carrying on until March, but then it wouldn't be 2016 would it? But don't worry, I've no plans to repeat the process, but it was interesting to see how much we've thrown away.  

I will though carry on clearing things out, as with immaculate timing only yesterday MOH said the dreaded "we have too much stuff, we need to have a clear out..."  Which is where I think this started!  It's clearly a cyclical thing. 

Are you in the process of decluttering? Could you get rid of 2017 items this year?