Category Archives: Gardening

Such a perfect day

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mummies out there! It was a gorgeous spring day here today and I was desperate to get out and do some tidying up and to plant some little shrubs we picked up in B&M last weekend. They are quite good for plants. They don’t have a huge range but what they do have is very reasonably priced. We decided on a hebe and an azalea. At £4 each they were a massive bargain.

Whilst we were out fighting with the weeds, cutting stuff back and mowing the lawn, my daughters were making a delicious roast beef lunch. We were so ready for this after a few hours in the garden. We had it with a £5 bottle of cava from Lidl and strawberries for pudding. They even cleaned it all up. Fantastic! What a lovely bunch of girls.


Mr S found a very pretty Portmerion tea set in the charity shop on Friday for £25. We looked on eBay and found the teapot alone going for £75! This lot has to be sold on as we could make a handy profit. I should start getting up early and perusing the bootsales soon to see what else I can find to sell on. This could be a useful bit of extra income. 

We went to visit Mum and dad yesterday. He is quite frail and tired still but this isn’t surprising as he has undergone a serious bit of surgery. It’s hard to keep him out of his garden on a sunny day but we need to for now. I will try to get round to help in the week.

What could be better than sunshine, fresh air, exercise, home cooked food and family? It was a perfect day to set me up for a busy week. Mother’s Day or not, I hope you had a super Sunday.

Growing our own

Finally, spring has sprung! This afternoon we got out into the garden to get some jobs done. Mr S dug up and moved the compost heap as it had been invaded by bindweed so the compost was unusable, whilst I dug over one of the veg plots. 

We have decided to sow wild flowers on one of the plots this year. We were short of time last summer and cultivating, harvesting and preserving everything felt stressful. If I didn’t work full time I would grow a lot more but it is difficult to find the time. So this year we will stick with a few crops that we know are likely to do well: perpetual spinach, runner beans, courgettes, broad beans and chard. We shall also grow tomatoes and cucumbers in the greenhouse. Keeping it simple, but still growing some of our own food. A wildflower garden will be lovely too!

We have blackcurrants, blackberries, blueberries and a few apples as well, but they take very little work. So healthy and delicious.

I just loved getting outside. I am sure we must both be lacking vitamin D, we have been cooped up so much!

We went to see my lovely Mum in hospital this morning. Her hip replacement operation seemed to go well. She was a little uncomfortable but not in great pain. I will pop in again on my way home from work tomorrow. She has had a steady stream of family in today so she might actually enjoy some peace when we are all back at work tomorrow 😀.

Have a good week. Bye for now.

Mid week doldrums

Life’s a beach


I’m feeling a little flat. I think it’s because I can see hopeful signs that spring is on its way but it’s taking too damn long to get here! Yesterday was grey and wet. It was busy and stressful at work and I had a crashing head and neck ache for most of the day. Luckily today I feel a bit better. 

I need a bit of sunshine!

What I need is some decent weather at the weekend so that I can get out and tidy up the garden. I find gardening so therapeutic; the combination of being out in the fresh air and creating a bit of order has such a great effect on how I feel. 

The problem with our garden is that there is so much of it and not enough free time to keep it really nice. We are trying to make it lower maintenance by planting lots of flowering shrubs, but they are expensive so this is a slow process. Nonetheless it is so satisfying when the flowers arrive along with the sunshine. I can see the daffodils poking up already. 

Our home from home in Wales


I will cheer myself up today and book our regular week at a small holding in Wales. It is such a cheap holiday in a little old caravan but such a beautiful place that we keep going back.

Anyone else got the winter blues?

Beauty products that last and last…

Last April I blogged about buying a solid deodorant bar from Lush. Ten months on, it is still going strong! I have occasionally used a roll on deodorant on hot, sticky days but other than that I have used the Lush one. Not bad for a £5.50 investment. I will definitely be purchasing another one of these when it eventually runs out.

It made me think about other health and beauty products that seem to last forever. One I tried and really wanted to get on with (but didn’t) was a Mooncup. I love the idea that these produce no waste and, after the initial investment, cost nothing. However, I didn’t find it comfortable to wear. I also tried washable sanitary pads and these lasted quite a long time, but were awkward when I was out and about so I eventually gave up on those.

I make my hairdryers last for years – in the past I have gone through them in under 12 months. Now I make sure I buy one with a two year guarantee and never use it on full power, as this is what makes them blow. My current one is four years old but I hope it will keep going for a while yet. I do blow dry my hair every couple of days so work it quite hard.

I have had the same plastic hairbrush for ever – easily 15 years I should think. I remember brushing my daughters’ hair with it when they were younger. It’s practically a family heirloom!

I make other things last too. I have been known to water down shampoo, shower gel and conditioner, I squeeze the last drop of toothpaste out of the tube by snipping the top off and the same with foundation. I found that putting a little baby oil on the mascara wand as it neared the end made it last ages longer. 

Do you have any products that are reusable or that just seem to last and last? Do you dilute products to extend their use?

How much debt??!!

I heard on the news that the average UK household has around £13,000 of debts, not including their mortgages. The idea of being that much in debt frankly terrifies me. I occasionally put the odd small thing on a credit card, transfer it to a 0% interest card straight away, then pay it off as soon as possible. I’m talking three or four hundred here though, not thousands! 

I suppose this didn’t really surprise me that much though. I do wonder, if you are on an average kind of salary with average expenses, how do you pay that amount off? I guess you start being frugal and reining it in at some point or you go under. I would worry how I would cope if interest rates went up, or if I became ill and my income dropped. I will never get into that much debt!

We had a few hours in the garden yesterday as it was so mild. It really needed it. We have been really neglectful due to lack of time. We found a whole load of leeks that we had forgotten about so pulled the lot up. They were quite small as they hadn’t been thinned out enough but are usable. I feel a big pan of leek and potato soup coming on! It was nice to get out and dig. We did that instead of going for a walk but I’m sure it burned off a few calories.

We have finally found a lodger. She is moving in next weekend and only wants Monday to Friday, which suits us fine. That will boost the bank account a bit. Hopefully I can focus on saving money rather than getting into debt!

And finally …

We finally put the finishing touches on our little second sitting room at the weekend. I am really pleased with it. It is clean, bright and feels so much warmer. 

I still need to complete the downstairs loo. I am going to try to make time to do a bit on Saturday morning, continuing my little and often approach to life! 

We also spent a lot of Sunday weeding and tidying the front garden on Sunday. It was a beautiful sunny autumn day and great to get out in the fresh air. It is looking a bit smarter now but there is still so much to do. I want to make it much more low maintenance so I am planting shrubs and grasses and mulching with shredded bark to keep the weeds down. 

I will do a few hours whenever I can to get it tidy for winter. We will get there …

Little and often gets the job done

Well, it does for me! I finally got Mr S to start putting up the curtain rails yesterday in the lodger’s room. I hadn’t realised how creased the curtains were. They are a very thick fabric (good for keeping the drafts out) but took some ironing. One pair were from the charity shop as they fit the small window but I needed two long pairs to fit the patio doors and the other two doors that lead into the garden so I bought those new from eBay. They are a basic cream curtain but not flimsy at all as cheap curtains often are. The material is slightly imperfect but you can’t see this when they are up and I think they were a great deal at £20 a pair.

This room already feels warmer with the insulated wallpaper and the radiator foil fitted. I am really pleased with it. 

I finally visited our new Lidl yesterday. It’s much bigger than Aldi with better parking and a nice bakery section. However , I spent more than usual – partly because there was more choice and DD3 was with me making me give in to temptation and partly because I think it was a bit more expensive than Aldi. 

We have been to the garden centre and spent some  vouchers we were both given for our birthdays. We have focussed on plants and shrubs we can put in that will more or less take care of themselves. We need to try to make the garden more low maintenance as we don’t have time to do it justice. Too much garden and too little time!

So today we will work on the front garden and clear it up for winter then get these plants in.

Yesterday in my continuing declutter I cleared out just one bag for the charity shop, mainly old CDs that nobody listens to and then the old pine CD rack which I don’t need now that the CDs are rationalised. Little and often….

Autumn is on its way – and Christmas! 

It suddenly felt very autumnal as September arrived here in Essex, with lots of rain and winds that have bought some leaves down. Our Italian student has already realised that it is wise to carry an umbrella at all times! Still, we had a good summer so I am not complaining. 

The student is very sweet and seems older than 16. Hopefully she won’t worry me too much! However, she hates vegetables! She will eat peas and carrots but that is it. I use a lot of vegetables in casseroles etc so she will have to pick them out. We have sausages and mash tonight so she should be fine with that.

There are so many jobs to do in the garden. Luckily the student is spending most of the weekend in London so we will have time to get on with them. My neighbour cheekily commented on how untidy the front garden was looking! It’s not that bad! So much garden and so little time. I shall invite him to help if he says anything again. It’s ok for him as he is semi retired.

We did 45 minutes weeding on Sunday before the student arrived and that made a difference. Little and often is the way to go.

This weather. Is my cue to start thinking about Christmas. Yes, I know! But it soon creeps up and I like to spread the cost and I hate the last minute rush. I don’t really enjoy shopping either so little and often works for me here too!

Anyone else planning Christmas? Got the sprouts on yet? 😀😀😀

Everything in the garden…

…is a little overgrown and the weeds are doing great. Still, it still looks good I think and it’s a pleasure sitting out in the sun to eat now that the weather is so warm. I quite like a wild looking garden!

It kind of sums up my life: I live on the edge! On the edge of being tidy and on the edge of being bankrupt 😊😊. I would love more time and money to improve the garden and the house generally, but it ain’t happening right now and I am pretty happy with what I have. 

Holding back those pesky weeds

I am lucky and better off than so many people. We own most of the house, I have the wonderful Mr Shoestring propping me up at all times, a secure job and three beautiful daughters. 

The sun is shining and the flowers look great alongside those pesky  weeds!

All is not lost!

Yesterday I blogged that there had been a few disasters with the veg growing this year. Well, I went down to water the patch this morning and things are looking up! 

The runner beans that survived the slugs have suddenly become super productive, the courgettes have all grown a lot in the last few days and I can see some baby courgettes on the way, there are masses of cucumbers and we still have lots of broadbeans coming. We have hit the time of year when I can more or less stop buying salads and veg for a while.

We even have some lovely blueberries. The first year our little bush has produced this many. So I have blueberries on my porridge today – lots of healthy antioxidants!

We said goodbye to our French student this morning. I had an early start as I had to drop him for the coach at 7 am. This is why I had time to look at the garden and blog before work! He was a pleasure to host, so polite and thoughtful. I have two more next week so I hope they are as nice!