All partied out, but we had an amazing time!

You'll have noticed it's been a bit quiet here the last few days. That's because we had our 110th party on Saturday and in the run up to that there was plenty to do, and of course afterwards there's the party hangover. Not proper hangovers just the returning to normal after an intensely busy period, oh and dealing with this heat too. The weather has been lovely, but I am officially melting now!

But back to the party preparations, with a couple of days off to give us time to prepare, the list of jobs seemed never ending. MOH was intent on cleaning everything in sight, and in fairness, the house looked fantastic. He regularly asked me if I was ill when I joined in and helped out - for the record I wasn't ill.  The lists though, while long, were often reviewed and rewritten, taking into consideration just how much time we had left. I'm still not sure though that cleaning the inside of the bathroom cabinet should have been on the 'must-do' list. I told you he was through didn't I?

The gazebo we'd bought from Wayfair finally made its way out of its box in front of the TV and into the garden. MOH had discovered during the week that it had over a hundred screws and neither of us were looking forward to putting it together. When we received the instructions, that didn't help too much either.  Picture instructions. They're my worst nightmare, and while I think I have a logical brain these pictures don't help me at all. After starting with the easy bits I wandered off and left MOH to it, only to return a while later to find him still perplexed.

Realising I'd have to get involved I tried my hardest with those picture instructions. We got there, but realised part-way through that it would be much easier to assemble with space around the entirety of the structure, something we didn't have. We struggled with the roof arrangement, some of that was down to height and some of it those picture instructions again. Once we worked out the ridge piece didn't lie flat we made more progress. 

The cover - or roof - was abandoned until there were more people about to lend a hand, and for when I really could be busy with other things. On Saturday morning four of them got it on relatively easily and I'm mesmerised by it. it's still up - and has been so useful this week with temperatures of thirty degrees - but it won't be long until MOH is itching to take it down "for the sake of the grass" and then we'll have the age old problem of where to store it. 

The gazebo - or giant jigsaw puzzle bought from Wayfair

I've a plan to colour coordinate the pieces with pretty washi tape, so reassembling it becomes a case of matching patterns together. And so it's staying up for as long as it takes me to do that, at least. We might compromise and remove the white roof, leaving the steel structure up a while longer.

Shopping was done, eventually.

I say eventually as we had a difference of opinions on what the food would be. We agreed on pizzas and barbecue fare, but on everything else MOH was coming from a completely different place to me, this was oh so evident when he asked if we needed to buy "more crisps"!!  We did but there was also salads, rolls for burgers and sausages, ice - and plenty of it, cakes and desserts and much more besides. For the first time in a very long time we went shopping together, and he didn't ram me with the trolley through boredom on the way round - result! We left with two trolleys as somehow the last few aisles contained the bulky things - like ice and beer - and he knows how much I dislike my rolls squished (not a euphemism!)

There was obviously not enough room in the fridge for everything we'd bought. Or two fridges in fact.

While we want to get rid of the conservatory fridge, the week before the party with the weather forecast as it was, well, that wasn't the weekend to do it. So the fridge enjoyed a reprieve and it's reward? It was loaded up, and up. And it was oh so useful, I think the seven or so bags of ice were one of the most popular items we had.

The garden was primped even more than before. A last minute dash to the garden centre to fill some empty pots left MOH rolling his eyes. But I was pleased with the gazanias and pelargoniums I left with, and being big plants, one plant per pot meant they were easy and effective ways to add some colour and fill some empty pots I had.

One plant per pot - impact planting with this sun loving gazania

Handy really as the miniature bedding plants I'd bought back in April/May were still just that. Although the giant fuchsias had put on loads and were timing their flowering just right. They're still not beanstalk-like, but the flowers really are giant for the size of the plant. I'll settle for that.

Tables and chairs were dotted around the garden, picnic blankets and seat cushions were also on hand. Bunting, banners and garden lights were hung, and the hastily sewn bunting did its job, and looked great alongside both mum's patriotic bunting and my ship-shape shop-bought bunting. It's quite addictive to make though, and I ended up with two long strings with about twenty flags on each. I'll share a post on making it soon.

shop-bought bunting hanging ship-shape in the garden
 
mum's patriotic bunting hung above our conservatory doors
 
solar light bulb shaped lights above the barbeque
 
homemade bunting from scraps hanging in the gazebo

Above the table hung a banner of lexicon cards saying "Happy Birthday Anniversary" which sort of summed it all up, and it wasn't until I hung it up that it reminded me of those name badges mum used to sew into our school uniform. She only ever ordered ones that would do us both, which makes sense as why spend more than you need to on these, and the unwanted initial would be tucked underneath so each of us had our own name in our clothes.  

Looking at the lexicon banner when it was up my first thought was how I could reuse this for future birthdays and anniversaries by flipping over the cards not needed. Not what I planned from the outset, but clever hey?  And doesn't it look great?

happy birthday anniversary -  a lexicon card banner hung above our grazing table

I'd ordered some balloons because, well it's not a party without balloons is it? I'd be tempted to buy a glitter pen and do the writing myself next time though, because it shouldn't be that hard should it?  And now you can see why my list kept growing can't you...

The 110 balloons were great - and huge - and I'm taking bets on how long the balloons last...

you can't have a party without balloons, can you?

Did I mention it was hot?

I planned my outfit, orange linen three-quarter trousers and one of those batwing-style tops with open shoulders, but on the day that was changed for a simple white vest top, as staying cool seemed more of a priority. I failed by the way, but I don't think I was the only one.  MOH went for the shorts and short sleeved shirt, came downstairs, decided he was too blue and matchy and headed off to change his shorts.

The plan was to cook pizzas in our new pizza oven and there was plenty of dough ready in the fridge. We'd tested the oven the night before and were pleased with the results, but still hadn't worked out how we were going to cook pizzas for fifty people. Turned out we didn't need to, as it became clear that it was just too warm. I was glad when MOH said he was going to put the BBQ on earlier, and while that's still pretty warm, it's gas and more controllable than a wood-fired oven.

And that goes to show how we've grown up over the years. Ten years ago on our mini-honeymoon to Marrakech MOH quite literally conked out in forty degrees heat. As you would when you'd been marched around the sights, got lost and walked for far too long and despite drinking water, not quite managing to replenish his system. So for him to stand in front of a four hundred degrees oven for the time it'd take to cook pizzas didn't really sound do-able. 

We were disappointed and I'm sure our guests were too, but there'll be plenty more times to try out the oven, hopefully when the weather is a little more normal looking. A fireworks party with pizzas has already been mooted, but I'm hoping there'll be pizza with friends before that.

Keep calm and carry on - I knew it'd get hot by the pizza oven.

I'd been expecting it to get hot and frantic by the pizza oven so had hung this picture there to quell that somewhat. Turns out it wasn't needed after all.

It's strange how a party starts isn't it? We'd said from midday and for people to pop in when they wanted to and to stay for as long as they could. That meant there were people arriving and leaving throughout the afternoon and evening and it was lovely to see so many friends to help us celebrate. I'm sure neither of us spoke to everyone as much as we wanted too, and I think everyone will understand.  

The family arrived first, all within around thirty minutes or so and then the best man from our wedding a decade ago. A decade, now that sounds like a long time. We even had an Amazon delivery mid-party and I can't help but wonder what he thought!  Our guests were generous, naughtily so, with flowers, fizz and chocolates and more and as is so often the case I think we've ended up with more booze than before.  

And lots of pretty flowers.

sweet peas and haribos
 
bouquets of flowers

As the light started to fade in the garden, the solar lights started springing into life and a few of those bitey bugs started to make their appearance. Somehow though time merged into a blur and then it was just after midnight and it was just him and me. After such a busy, and fun afternoon we took some time to recap and recall the stories, the moments and more, before doing a quick tidy up and heading off to bed.

sweet peas and a string of soft glow lights
 
ice lolly lights on the gazebo

And so, we're a 110. The party we've planned for so long is done. Looking back there's nothing like a deadline to focus the mind but deep down we know our guests were there to help us celebrate, not to inspect our house (although if they checked in the bathroom cabinet, it was gleaming!!)

Dad's already looking forward to our 115th or 120th whichever we decide, who knows which it'll be, but I know we'll have fun and I know we won't ever get to the bottom of the to do list either!

 

“TheGardenYear

A little light and colour crazy

Last week I shared some of the HomeSense summer ranges, and you weren't surprised I was drawn by the more colourful ones were you? Me neither. Today I'm sharing some more of their items and ones that I plan to enjoy all summer long, so let's hope this current warm spell hangs around as I've a serious amount of lights I want to enjoy both in our conservatory and in the garden.

Because nothing says summer garden more than jewel coloured ice lolly lights, now does it?

ice lolly battery operated lights from HomeSense in my garden parasol
They are just one of the fun battery operated lights (#) in my local HomeSense store, which is a little bit further away than I'd ideally like. Although, to be fair, that's probably a good thing - but I hear there's likely to be a new store much closer to home in Greenwich by the end of the year. I already know that MOH will be rolling his eyes with dismay when I share that little gem with him, so sshh, let's not tell him yet!

I also picked up these white textured heart lights and while I'm showing them draped around my laburnum tree here, I plan to use them to decorate the gazebo we've bought for our 110th party next month. They're the kind of light that can be used almost anywhere around the house and I've a feeling our conservatory may turn into a bit of a fairy grotto at some point.

Heart shaped battery operated lights by HomeSense in my laburnum
I'm loving the contrast of the white hearts against the bark and background of the ivy

And they'll be easy to move outside for the days we have people over, or when we spend the evenings relaxing in the garden, they'll add a lovely glow and help me find my glass of rose more easily!

I'm hoping too that our local bird population are pleased with what I have planned for them. I think if I were a bird I'd be queueing up to move into one of these, we'll see how they go. I loved the colours of these, and three is perhaps excessive, but I'm hoping to hang them on a particularly stark bit of fence to add some colour and interest where it'll be harder to get plants to grow.

A colourful "estate" of bird houses from HomeSense ready to be deployed in the garden

They're metal and there's a drawer at the bottom so, if any of the bird life do move in for a season it'll be easy to get them ready for the next residents.  And yes, you're right, it must be time for some more battery lights. 

A string of paper lights by HomeSense adorning the fence

These have a paper origami detail and complement the textured hearts lights earlier.  I'm keen to see the shadows that these throw around the patio, and you'll begin to see why over the summer I don't watch so much TV, as it's all about being outside - and trying to avoid being bitten, which so far, I'm struggling with. Usually I'm left alone and they feast on MOH, but this year, not so much and I much prefer how it used to be...

Another find from HomeSense are these four plastic bowls, ideal for use outside and light enough to take on picnics too. I'm all about having a civilised picnic if you can, as long as there's not too far to carry everything!

Colourful melamine serving bowls from HomeSense

And the photo above just sums how colour and I get on.

My mission on my latest visit to HomeSense was all about the garden lights, and so I've another set to show you. If I'm honest I was less sure about these 'willow' lights, but MOH was keen on these, so in the spirit of harmony I acquiesced, sometimes it's the only way isn't it?  

Green LED willow lights from HomeSense in our conifer
 
The more robust battery case on the Green LED willow lights from HomeSense

But you know what I was pleasantly surprised. These have a more robust battery casing and can be left outside (although I still wouldn't leave them out over winter) and while I can't see the willow leaves - I see green chillies instead - I'm ok with that. I draped them around a prickly conifer bush next to the barbecue, but I've got plans to add these at the end of the garden where the pizza oven will bebut we've some work to do before that happens.

Green LED garden lights from HomeSense in the dark

They looked great in the dark, and well I couldn't resist some arty shots.

And a final arty shot of those green LED willow lights from HomeSense because I couldn't help myself

And yes, I've gone a little light crazy, but they're fun and are an easy way to add some lighting outside if like us you don't have - or plan to have - electricity outside. I've a whole series of solar lights too, on one side of the patio, so it's fair to say I'm a bit of a fairy light queen!

 

(#) Of course, battery operated lights should be used sensibly outside and I'd recommend you only leave those that are designated for use outside, outside over the summer.

 

* This is a collaborative post, but all views and opinions are my own

There ain't no party like a 110th party!

Well clearly that's not quite the lyrics that S-Club planned, but next year MOH and I are having a party. Quite a big one, well maybe not that big but we'll be celebrating 110 years.  That's fifty years each and ten years married before you age me, or him!

And our birthdays and wedding anniversary fall in May, June and July we'll most likely plump for a date somewhere in the middle, much the same as we did when choosing the date to get married eleven years ago. As we're creatures of habit - we all are deep down - we're once again planning to have the party in our garden. This time though, the house is more finished and for those of you that were at the wedding, both bathrooms will be working this time too.

So we've started to think about what makes a good party... 

Venue, ticked.

People, ticked - we haven't done the guest list yet, but we know plenty of good people.

A date, well June-ish is like a half-tick, isn't it?

Invitations, well most likely by email but I'm hoping to make some proper ones too.

While we can't control the weather - wouldn't that be handy - we have thought about having some tented outside space. I'm not sure yet if that's a gazebo or something hired, but a half-tick here too for considering options. I've also got one eye on those shops that sell mini-marquees to see if one comes up at a reasonable price, and if it does I'm on it.

It's also the type of occasion that means I have the perfect excuse to spend time on Pinterest and all in the name of research. But let's be honest I don't really need an excuse. If you want to see more of what I'm pinning as inspiration I've included the board at the bottom of this post. I'm pretty sure though there'll be bunting and fairy lights and pretty vases of flowers.

Image from Unsplash

Image from Unsplash

Food and drink - yes we've already thought a lot about these, so I'm giving that a half-tick too. Some of it I'm going to encourage MOH to make - his desserts are just fabulous - some of it I'll do too and we're thinking of getting someone in for the fiddlier bits. The local craft brewery can supply some ale - ok and some fizzy lager too - and maybe we'll have a day trip to France to find some nice wines. Definitely a half-tick perhaps even a three-quarters-tick here.

Music, we've thought about that too. From a slightly unusual perspective, I'll admit. And that's how we can match the volume levels of our neighbours. Well for one day only, the rest of the time we don't stand a chance. I was thinking brass band or steel drums, but MOH was thinking about a large amplifier.  We're undecided on this one, you probably can tell. It's likely to be none of these, but who knows?

The one thing in all of this that we've not thought about in too much detail is what our guests will eat off and drink from. I have a collection of vintage tea sets which I might use some of to serve the food from, and possibly to eat from. I'm not sure though there's quite enough, and while I'm not planning a rip-roaring rave it's unlikely we'll be drinking out of cups and saucers. And that's where disposable party supplies come in.

No washing up, no breakages and even not having to worry about if anything might break. It will certainly make clearing up much easier too. And I'm sure there's everything we could need - plates, cutlery, small beakers for the desserts and glasses for wine and beer. I'm claiming a three-quarters tick for this one too!

Now, what have I missed?

This is a collaborative post, but all opinions are my own.

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