Tag Archives: House

13 Steps to a Perfectly Made Bed

I’m not sure I could be bothered will all of this all of the time but it’s good to know as I too love the crisp perfection of hotel beds. It’s also well worth reading the comments after this article for yet more hints from readers.

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Love don't cost a thing

I’ve no time to up-date properly here so I’m throwing a video into the mix.  It’s ‘Love don’t cost a thing’ by Jennifer Lopez. I have one comment to make on this:  I love the song but, hang on a minute  there Jenny, let’s not be too hasty…. look at the ~h~o~u~s~e~!!! 😉

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Spring flowers at Christmas

Grape hyacinthsWhen the days are short and the weather is dull it’s lovely to have some Spring bulbs in the house,  blooming and filling the air with their sweet scent to remind us that the warmer weather is really just around the corner.  If you’d like some hyacinths in your hallway or daffodils on your dining table for Christmas then now is the time to think about exactly what you’d like to have and how you will display them.

Once you have decided on what flowers you’d like, think about the containers to put them in.  Baskets, of all sizes, lined with thick plastic to make them waterproof are the most obvious but any container given a similar treatment would look equally beautiful.

You will need to buy ‘prepared’ bulbs for Christmas flowering – bulbs that have been specially treated to speed up their growth.  I’d recommend using commercially prepared bulb fibre for potting, especially for containers where there are no drainage holes.  (If you want to use regular potting compost make sure that it is open textured and free draining).

Pink HyacinthPut some well soaked bulb fibre (or potting compost) into your pot or container, leaving enough space to allow the bulbs to be placed inside with the tips just below the rim of the container.  The bulbs can be placed close together but should not be touching.  Cover with bulb fibre and water well.  The container should then be placed in a cool spot such as a shed, or in a shady corner of the garden.  Darkness is not essential but a cool temperature is. Do not put in a black plastic sack as this only encourages mould.

After 10-12 weeks young green shoots should start to appear (these will be paler if the pot has been kept in the dark).  When the shoots have reached about 5cm (2 ins) in height, bring the pot into a cool room and they should flower in time for Christmas.  Spring flowering bulbs at Christmas, planted in pretty containers, make a lovely gift.

Caution: The bulbs of Daffodil, Hyacinth and Narcissus are poisonous so please practise basic care by washing your hands when you have handled them.

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A day in the life: Sunday

Continuing my occasional series in the spirit of  ‘full-disclosure’ here (well, as full as it’s going to get), here is an edited- for- privacy version of what is being recorded in my diary here at home:

Bette 5S asked me recently for the recipe I used to do for Tomato and Lentil Dahl with Toasted Almonds.  I found one – but it was definitely not the one so loved of this family.  This morning I looked again through my collection of recipe books and found the Real McCoy – hence the link to my recipe pages. I haven’t done this for ages and as it made my mouth water just typing it up, I think maybe I should do it again.

I keep meaning to get back to ‘real cooking’ but in the last few weeks I’ve struggled with the emotions of living in a seriously stirred house and it’s making me feel inordinately tired, not to mention fed up.  The book that this recipe came from is a heavy tome, under-used by me, and so well worth dipping into again.  When our visitors this week have been and gone, the carpeting guys have been and gone for the umpteenth and final time, and the house has some semblance of order again, I think I’ll try a few more of these vegetarian recipes.

Later…

No.  This is not funny.  We worked for most of the day again on clearing the dining room – carefully sorting, wrapping and packing away precious pieces.  I’m knackered and more than a little overwhelmed.  We virtually have no space to move things to now and it’s pretty depressing.

We can’t go on like this so I’ve come up with a strategy:

Tomorrow

  • I’m hiring the largest skip (dumpster) available and we’re having a massive garage clearout.
  • I will phone the carpet guys and delay the fitting of the final room (my study) by another two weeks – giving us a month to prepare between the last two rooms.
  • I will try to research lockable storage cabinets for the (newly tidied) garage….cabinets in which to store some of the precious bits from my parents’ house that have so broken the back of our usual Feng Shui calm and simplicity.

I want calm restored to this house.

I want to be free of tradesmen.

I want to, once again, freely access all areas of my home (which means spending time ‘acclimatising’ the kittens to the big wide world outside).

I want to, once again, have a thoroughly clean home (which means dealing with all of the above).

I want to go on holiday and lie quietly in the sun (frustratingly, we have to wait some weeks yet for that).

By the way, just to illustrate the tone of today, having only just finished packing away stuff in the dining room and feeling pooped and emotionally strung out, we came through to find that one of the cats had puked on our bed …. on our brand new Yves Delorme sheets.

Amen.

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A day in the life: Tuesday

Elvgren1OK, I think we’ve established already that I suffer from an acute case of internetus paranoiacus and so don’t readily offer up too much information about myself here, meaning that I rarely describe my personal life.  However, for the sake of full disclosure, here is the first in a short series on ‘A day in the life…’.  Sit back and prepare to be riveted.

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Tuesday, 7th July

I cleaned the utility room today – which is truly wonderful for me, given the pigging mess that it was in, but hardly interesting for anyone else.   Here’s a question for you though:

How does cat food end up sprayed up the walls?

I’ll leave you to ponder on that.

I also tidied up the garage a bit.  The kittens think that spending their days in a cardboard favella is phenomenal.  Me less so.  So much stuff has been ordered and bought by family members lately that we have sturdy cardboard packages coming out of our ears and whilst I can’t flatten it, because it’s clearly the strongest cardboard known to mankind, I reasoned that stacking it one inside the other would at least free up a six-inch path to the up-n-over door. (Always handy).

Apropos of the newly stacked cardboard boxes in the garage, another one arrived at lunch time – one containing the little white bedside table I’d ordered from Laura Ashley.  Yay!  Of course I have to put it all together (self-assembly you see), but it’s here.  Then I can dump the box.  In the garage.

That Dear Friends is about the long and the short of it for yesterday.  Oh, except that kitten William has started peeing in odd places, like our *!!new!! *!!expensive!!* Stressless leather recliner in the living room (on Monday night) and in one of the cat beds today.  It’s all been cleaned.  In readiness for the next time.

Then there was the totally yummy Sausage and Lentil Concoction that I came up with for dinner last night.  Maybe I’ll post the recipe here some time, except I should probably come up with a better name for it, don’t you think?    ‘Concoction’ sounds like something I rustled up in a chemistry lab.

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And there it is.  Tuesday.

 

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Feline Fosbury Flop

Cat standI had one of those weird moments today when panic makes time stand still and thoughts that might well be the basis of an entire conversation in the normal course of events are flashed across the brain and collated at the speed of light.

I had just finished getting washed, dressed and made up, had just popped the mascara back into its tube, zipped up my little make-up bag and put the mirror back in its place by the washhand basin and was thinking to myself how lucky the timing would be because the kittens had fallen peacefully asleep.  That meant that I wouldn’t have to speedily slime my way through a crack in the front door to prevent feline escapees. 

Cat back flipThen I heard it – an ominous thudding and the unhealthy sound of porcelain chinking coming from the bathroom.  I went in to see kitten William, up on the window ledge, chasing a fly and doing a quick succession of Fosbury Flops onto my little white porcelain dish … which sits beside my brand Laura Ashley optic jarspanking new glass optic jar from Laura Ashley (of which I am inordinately fond at the moment)… which sits beside a little blue Wedgewood trinket box.  I went into an instant stressy.  The fly kept buzzing and batting itself frantically against the windows, meaning that even though I had caught William and was extracting his struggling form from the bathroom, in came brother Harry to see what all the fuss was about.  Of course he quickly figured it out and started doing his own back flips amongst my precious possessions.

Cat crawling

Then my brain went into that odd panic slow-mo, where neurons are clearly sparking at supersonic speed and entire lengthy thoughts are processed in nanoseconds.  Inside my brain it went something like this:. 

Question: Do I open the window to let the fly out? Answer: Don’t be silly, the cats will be out and away in an instant.

Question: Do I try to catch the fly?  Answer: Now that’s even more silly.  With what?  Do you think you’re the Shaolin monk out of the Kung Fu series?  Catch it between your thumb and forefinger perhaps? … er, I don’t think so!

Question: Can I catch both cats at the same time and get them out of here?  Answer:  Almost as silly as option two.

Little PrincessQuestion: Do I move my stuff to a place of safety?  Answer:  At last!  Some sense!  But you can’t carry everything at once so what do you save first, brainbox?

I did get my stuff out, but only whilst blubbering like a two-year-old girl  – maybe as a result of blind panic, I don’t know.  (I’ve given up trying to understand why and how I cry so often and so easily, I just do.  Always have).  By the time bits had been moved, the fly had dematerialised (or was eaten) and I looked in the mirror.  I had panda eyes — my mascara had smudged and started to streak down my cheeks.  I had to be out early this morning so I quickly patched up the damage and as I slipped out of the front door minutes later I noticed the cats were cuddling and dozing on the bed as though nothing at all had just happened.  Little [~ bleeeeeep ~]!

Cat stretch

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Shark pool

Slick n creepyMy daughters are currently furnishing two cottages they have bought close to us here.  My younger daughter (YD for the purposes of this post) is sensible and pretty street-wise despite not having lived away from home before.  However, nothing can really prepare you for the sharks that start to circle out there in the big wide world once they smell easy pickings.  

YD had taken an afternoon’s holiday from work yesterday in order to meet up with the guy from a local blind supply/fitting company (BS for this post…which, I think, is an appropriate abbreviation in other ways).  As the time after the appointment would be free, we thought we’d go along together and then do some window shopping for other bits at an out-of-town retail outlet.    I try to make it a point not to stick my oar in on matters to do with her own home so when Mr BS turned up I said hello but then kept suitably schtoom.  Cost is an issue here – obviously – but she would ideally like some plantation shutters.  So far the one quote she’s had has been way over the top for a young couple just starting out (in the high hundreds of Pounds for just one window) but then those were hardwood shutters and we know other alternatives are available. 

Mr BS said he is able to supply shutters in MDF – which for the unitiated is basically pressed cardboard and so has Salesman from hell, 2nothing like the staying power of hardwood.  Still, for a first home that sounded ideal.  She made what I think may have been the mistake of telling him the price that she had been quoted for the largest window by the first company, and when he measured the same window, almost without looking at his paperwork he came up with exactly the same price.  I immediately smelled a rat and piped up:

‘Hang on, you’re quoting £xxx for this window…in MDF …which is basically pressed cardboard.  You do know that the other company were quoting for solid wood shutters’.

I do believe there was micro expression of guilt there (yes, I too have watched ‘Lie to Me’ but I’ve always had a pretty good BS monitor anyway).  YD glanced over at me with a knowing expression in her eyes and asked Mr BS how much hardwood shutters would be then.  The answer was £30 more than MDF and she quite rightly said that on that basis it made little sense for anyone to go for MDF if they could afford to stretch just that £30 more.  

SalesmanHe won’t be getting the business.

Just because I can be a bolshy so-and-so, I typed in the dimensions of the window at a UK suppliers’ internet site today and the quote it came up with (for MDF) was a little less than half the price quoted yesterday.  

This isn’t the first instance I’ve noticed of traders being slick with someone they perceive as young and therefore inexperienced.  Doubtless exactly the same was done to me at that age, which explains precisely why I am so cynical about anything to do with buying products and services for the home.  I just wish there was a way of somehow downloading my wisdom and copying it over to my children.

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