Sunday, 25 October 2015

Now I am 32...

I very nearly just posted this picture all on its own, as a bit of a 'silent Sunday' post, but I thought it probably deserved a word or two of explanation. It's a shot of a recent page I pulled together for my scrapbook, to mark my birthday a couple of months ago. It's the first layout I've ever done without a photo in it, because I wanted to try and remember all the things floating around in my head as I entered by thirty-third year - in particular, all the things I'm thankful for. In the midst of all the boring day-to-day stuff, and schedules and work and who's-made-the-packed-lunch and we've-run-out-of-nappies and please-please-wait-for-the-potty moments, there's loads of really good stuff happening, you just have to try and stop for a moment to remember it all...

Sunday, 18 October 2015

A sunny window: how we made our window boxes

I've talked before about my love of flowers, and this weekend we finally got round to making something that's been on the to do list for ages - window boxes for our front window. It was SO much fun, made me SO happy and looks so blimmin' ace that I implore anyone reading this to whip up a window box or two - it's guaranteed to make you smile very time you get home, and it's also been an instant mood lifter every time I look out of the window. The whole thing took less than an hour to do and was so easy I thought I'd share the joy - here's how it went:

STEP ONE: go shopping (aka the fun bit). First of all, we went to the garden centre to pick up some supplies - here's what we got (L-R): a 25l bag of compost, 4 x trays of 'bedding' flowers (each of these had six little pots in), 3 x window boxes, one long and two short, 20 x tulip bulbs, 1 x big bag of daffodil bulbs, and 3 x bigger cyclamen plants. The whole lot came to about £45 and we actually ended up with more than we could fit in our three boxes, which we used to fill a few extra flower pots of various sizes by our front door, so you could do this with less if you wanted. 

STEP TWO: drill a few holes. Our window boxes didn't have any holes in, so we used a drill to make some holes in the bottom to make sure the water could drain through. This was actually a lot of fun and I probably got a bit carried away and drilled a few more holes than were strictly needed.

STEP THREE: plant some bulbs. We wanted to make sure we'd always have something flowering all through the year, so we planted some bulbs underneath the surface to pop through in the spring when other things will have died down. We got a mixture of tulip and daffodil bulbs and planted them in a couple of inches of compost.

STEP FOUR: get some flowers in! We put one cyclamen in the middle of each box - we'd bought one that was a bit bigger than the other two, which went in the longer box.

STEP FIVE: fill the gaps. Then the bedding flowers went in either side to fill the gaps - we did this by eye and tried a few different combinations until it looked about right. My favourite of all the flowers we picked up were the ones below that look like big daisies with a hint of pink on the petals, and as these were quite tall, one went on either side of the cyclamen in the long window box, to add a bit of height either side. Each box had a trailing flower on each end, and then we used little bedding flowers to fill any gaps.

STEP SIX: put them in place and water like mad. Then came the fun bit - putting the boxes in place! We used some small wooden blocks to sit the pots on so they would drain, and then watered them. And watered them again. And then gave them another water for good measure. They basically need to be completely, ridiculously watered.

STEP SEVEN: admire your handiwork. FOR LIKE EVER, because you'll see them every day, and they're just going to get better and better as the flowers grow and fill out the gaps.

So that's it - super easy, and super fun too. As Alex is a landscape gardener, he gave me lots of tips along the way - here's what I learnt:
  • When it comes to flower arranging, visually it works to have an odd number of plants 
  • Things need a lot more watering than you think they do
  • You can't necessarily just buy all the flowers you think are prettiest, otherwise I'd have window boxes full of pink flowers and it would all look a bit 'matchy matchy'. After some persuasion from Alex, I realised that you need a mixture of colours, heights and types of flowers to look natural and set each other off 
  • Referring to compost as 'mud' in front of a landscape gardener, even if the first time was a genuine mistake, and the second was meant as a joke, will not go down well
  • Novelty watering cans, no matter how cute they seemed at the time, just AREN'T efficient pourers, as Arlo discovered during one of the many watering sessions...

Home Etc

Friday, 16 October 2015

Life lately - am I a bad blogger?

Things have been a title quiet round here lately. I mean right here on A Sunny Island, not in actual real life, because actually everything else has been pretty bonkers lately, which probably explains it. I've felt a little bad to be honest. Like I've neglected the blog a bit and not been doing all my 'blogging duties' - writing regularly and keeping up to date with all my other favourite blogs and being really good at social replies etc etc. Does anyone else ever feel like that? Part of me thinks I should be better, then another part reminds me that hang on, I only really am doing this for myself and if it's not fun, then why do it? One thing I always promised myself was that if I fall out of love with blogging for bit, or life comes along and gets in the way, that I won't feel bad, or try and make up for it with rushed posts just to 'fill' it - I only ever want to write because it's fun and I have time to sit and relax and share something. That's why some posts have had long gaps in between lately. It's highly likely no-one even noticed anyway!

So what's been happening around here? Might be quicker to list what hasn't been happening around here, like: clothes washing, proper cooking, sleeping, that kind of stuff. It's been a funny old month which has mostly consisted of:

  • CAR STUFF: god I hate car stuff. We spent one dramatic Sunday afternoon stuck on the forecourt of a Sainsbury's petrol station with flumes of grey smoke billowing out from our car bonnet. After a long wait the mechanic told us what we'd been suspecting for a while - it's time for a new car. We'd been piling money into the old one to fix one thing after another and it was time to cut our losses. So we tried other cars, found one we liked, and I did a little silent sigh to myself as I handed over the credit card and paid the-most-I'd-ever-spent-on-anything-ever-in-one-go (not counting the house, because that just feels like Monopoly it's such crazy money) and now we have a new one. So after quite a few weeks of general car 'faff' it feels nice to have it sorted. 
  • YET MORE CAR STUFF: something else has been happening over here this past month too. I've finally done it. I've got back into a car and attempted to drive it. This time no-one beeped at me or drove into me or anything (unlike many of the other times when I tried it the first time round, when I was seventeen and wore enormous flared corduroy trousers. I wonder if those two things could be connected?) so I consider this new venture a success so far. I really feel like driving has been my Achilles heel for all this time, so I'm hoping I can finally pass this time round. Besides, as my mum thoughtfully pointed out, "how many idiots do you know that can drive? You must be able to pass!"
  • AND SOME HARD STUFF: we've been going through a really difficult phase with Arlo when I drop him at the childminders, he's been getting so upset. He's had clingy phases before but nothing as bad as this, lots of tears and holding on tight and it is the singularly Number One Most Horriblest way to start a day at work. So that's been quite hard BUT (and I almost don't want to say this because I don't want to jinx it) when I dropped him off yesterday there were no tears, he said good bye and then wandered off to start playing with something that caught his eye (I didn't see it but bets are it was elephant-shaped) so I'm super hopeful that phase might be ending. 

I don't want this to feel like a neggy round-up of 'bad stuff that's been happening lately' because actually all of the above are total par for the course and nothing in the grand scheme of things. So I'll finish with an arbitrary list of stuff that I'm thankful for right now, at this very minute: winter woolies, The Apprentice, moisturiser, Fridays, naps, wood fires, how much Arlo loves his animal pals and the lovely people who write lovely comments on my posts and give me the warm and fuzzies on the regs (if that's you then BIG love).

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Where we walked this weekend #4 - the beach edition

We spent a nippy but sunny hour or so on the beach this weekend, strolling, paddling, drawing in the sand. Our little tradition of a walk each weekend is becoming one of my favourite parts of the week because we get to visit a different bit of the island each time. This time it was a far away corner we haven't visited since Arlo was a teeny tiny bundle in a baby sling. This boy's getting so big lately I feel like I can't keep up, it's like we're on fast-forward. If anyone can remember where I left the remote please tell me. I wouldn't mind pausing for a bit and staying as we are for a while.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Two years of home


Timehop kindly reminded us of an anniversary today - it's two years since we picked up the keys on our first little house together. The 4th October is a date I'll always remember for that very reason, but this year it almost passed me by, so I was glad of the reminder. When we first moved in, I didn't write this little blog, so I didn't know about one of the most important things to do when it comes to diy: THE BEFORE PHOTO. I do love a good before photo - there's nothing like looking back at what a room used to look like to make you truly appreciate your efforts. IF ONLY I could go back in time two years today, I'd be snapping pics left right and centre in a way I'm pretty sure would annoy Alex (it usually does).

BUT looking back through an old file today I found the original estate agent details from the very first time we looked round. Well thumbed, I remember looking at the pictures over and over while we made the decision to put in an offer and waited for the months and months it took for it all to happen. So excuse the quality (because they're basically photos taken of a piece of paper) and behold - the before pictures! Orange walls and all. The 'before' shots are the ones on the left, and 'after' is on the right - did I need to say that?! I don't have corresponding 'after' shots of the exact same angles in each room (for the kitchen in particular, but I had to include because painting the white wall bright pink has made such a difference), there's LOADS of stuff still to do, but looking back on these shows me how far we've come. Here's to many more years in our happy home, many more diy efforts, and (if I've got anything to do with it) MANY more before and after photos to come.

Home Etc

Friday, 2 October 2015

Friday I'm in love... with the best winter coats

...time to go Winter coat shopping, that is. As has become tradition, I've been enjoying a trawl through the shops (online of course - actual bricks and mortar shopping options are fairly limited over here) to look at coats for the big Winter Coat Shop. Last year's picks were pretty colourful, but this year I'm looking for something a bit more classic. No matter how many I look at, I keep coming back to the old favourites - parkas, fur collars, trenches... now to just choose one. Or seven.

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