Last year, I bought a basket in the Toast sale. Do you remember it here?

I liked it a lot despite it not being the most practical of shapes and proceeded to use it for part of the summer lugging it to various cricket matches and on days out. And then one day, I heard a "twang" and I felt something give. That was the first handle. Ten minutes later "twang". You guessed it. The second handle broke :o(

I didn't bin it. That would have been too easy. Instead I fixed it.

This is the 2015 version. 



See those gorgeous new (slightly weathered looking) leather handles? I'm rather delighted with them. I ordered myself some leather straps from Ebay and took them to the cobblers and asked if they would be so kind as to attach them for me. And they did! 





I'm rather pleased with how they turned out. Infact, I think the basket looks better than when it arrived with the straw handles. It got it's first outing this year for the cricket gala I went to yesterday. 



H&M Blouse (No longer available), Zara Jeans (old), Hobbs NW3 Sandals (old), Toast Basket (old)


I love a happy ending don't you?

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Last Note :

  • Have you mended/altered anything lately to give it a new lease of life?
  • I ordered my leather straps from this Ebay seller here.







Broad beans. Sainsburys :)


I know those are broad beans up there and the title of this post says lettuce but I didn't take a picture of the lettuce but I did take a picture of the broad beans.

I watched a Nigel Slater cookery programme a few years back and actually paid attention and made one of the recipes. I remember the title as being "An extraordinary way with lettuce". I've made it a few times since and each time, the interpretation gets a bit more lax and it's become more a go with the flow recipe now as I make it with any summer veg that I have to hand. #get_some_veg_down_ya

I made it again the other day as we had some left over gammon to use up along with some stock and then I thought, it might be a useful and easy dish for some people out there. Let me say now, I'm not a cook, chef or foodie. I cook food purely to feed hungry mouths so my method description may be rather short and sweet. A bit like me ;o)

This serves the 4 of us but the measurements are very loose (depends on what I have to hand).

Ingredients

  • Big slice of butter 
  • 2 x gem lettuce (halved)
  • 1 x large leek (chopped into chunks)
  • 4-5 spring onions cut into 1inch lengths
  • Handful of peas (frozen is fine)
  • Any summer veg (eg. baby sweetcorn/brocolli/asparagaus/green beans/broad beans)
  • Enough vegetable stock to cover the veg. Add more if you like it soupy.
  • Thick cut ham
  • Optional. Handful of mini pasta shells- my boys like these and it bolsters up a meal.

Method

  • Optional. Cook the mini pasta shapes in a pan and drain.
  • Melt the butter in a deep wide pan.
  • Add the leeks and cook till soft.
  • Throw in all the veg along with the stock.
  • Cook for 5-10 mins till veg is softened.
  • Warm a few slices of ham in the soupy concoction.
  • Season to taste.
  • Optional. Put some mini pasta shapes in bowls for those who want them. Ladle the soupy concoction over.
  • Serve. 

Looks like this when it's served up and I swear there is some lettuce in there but it's hiding at the bottom.

Nutritious and delicious.


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Last Note :

  • Nigel Slater's original lettuce recipe can be found here.
  • Use a stock cube if you like - I quite often do. It's not always possible to have a pint of homemade stock at the ready #iamnotadomesticgoddess
  • I always blanch and remove the skins from broad beans and then add them to the Grump's plate at the end of the cooking and ladle the soup and veg over them which warms them through. That way, I don't have to have them and he doesn't have to have pasta shells. Everyone's a winner!






Zara Linen Top, Susie Ho Bracelet


Yup, it's another pretty white top but it is the season of the pretty white top so that's my excuse. Remember that I bought a cream colour cutwork top from Zara early on the season here? I kept it for ages and never wore it. I kept passing it over and eventually I went back to Zara and asked if I could exchange it for something else given that I'd lost the receipt by then or rather I'd thrown it away thinking that I was going to wear it. So I exchanged it for the number above. 

It's 100% linen, loose cut, not see through, pretty and comfortable. And the white is more flattering on my skin tone than the yellowy cream of the previous one. A winner. Yup it creases a little around the hem where you naturally bend but I don't mind that - linen is supposed to crease! 

..... And I've worn it three times in the two weeks I've had it and that's almost unheard of. Result!


Zara Linen Top, New Look Jeans, House of Harlow Sandals.

Photo Credit : Michelle


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Last note :

  • The top is now in the Zara sale. Size down. I'm wearing a size small and there's still room.
  • I think it's my current favourite top to wear ... I've just stuck it in the wash again!






I woke up this morning, peeked out of the window and the skies were blue. Dress day! Half an hour later, I opened the door to go out  ... and the sun had disappeared. Thank you sun - you had me there! There's just something about me getting my legs out which prompts the sun to disappear. #notfair

Anyway, it's day 25 of the #mystylephotochallenge and the theme is green. And to fit in with the theme of the day, my dress was actually the green Whistles Ailsa dress which I bought last year.



Whistles Ailsa Dress (old), Denim Jacket (old), House of Harlow Sandals (unavailable), Enny Bag (Ebay)


The dress is quite a stonking green. It's electric. But I love it. And I have a friend who loves it too as she asked where it was from and nodded when I said it was Whistles. She said, it looks expensive - the cut, colour and fabric set it apart from the usual high street offerings. And I wanted to hug her at that point. I love my high street bargains but sometimes it's nice to treat yourself to something a little more expensive (this was cheap by Whistles standards) which you really love. Oh and it is as wooshy as it comes. Honestly speaking - it would make a fab maternity dress. I needed the denim jacket to bring the shape of the dress in a little and to stop me taking off should a sudden gust of wind decide to whip up it and send me in to the neighbour's garden. I know I've also said previously, that I don't do denim jackets but this dress needed something and besides (1) the sun went in (2) I needed something to cover my arms and (3) I am also impossibly nesh. So out came the very old unloved denim jacket. Which I love a little today. Okay, that's stretching it a bit, I "like" a little bit more today than other days if I'm being really truthful.

However, I do love my dress, I do love my sandals and I do love the Enny bag. More items which "spark joy", so three out of four ain't bad?

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Last Note :

  • The House of Harlow sandals are lovely but if you tie the ties in a bow, they keep coming undone so I've counteracted this problem by doing knots instead and I've stuck the tassels at the back today so they don't break the line of the leg too much #shortlegs
  • The above came as a result of trying to tie my laces the other week when they came undone. I misjudged a very low ledge which I was going to sit on and actually fell backwards in to a bush. A little old lady walked past and peered in at me and said "I only thought that happened to people of my age". #truestory #notcool #learnfromyourmistakes #itsgoodtoshare







Photo taken by Helen


Like a lot of people out there - I like a stripy top. I don't wear them much in the winter - big knits prevail - but when the buds appear on the trees and everything turns a little green, I start pulling out the stripy tops.

This CDG Play one which I got a few years back is a favourite. And it's all because of that cheeky little heart face. For some reason, it perks up this top, lends it a little bit of cool and and I feel a little funkier. I like my other stripy tops too, they all have their own merits but this one is a little more special. As Marie Kondo would say, this "sparks joy".

Infact it sparks enough joy for me to think about saving up for another one. I quite fancy a black and white one next :) It might take me a while ... they're not the cheapest stripy top on the block but they are certainly amongst the funkiest.


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Last note : 

  • Strange but true but when Coggles existed as a real shop in York, the CDG tops were not allowed to be taken in to the changing rooms to be tried on incase they were damaged in any way. You could take in more expensive designer items but not the CDG tops. 
  • Mine is a size small and fits neat. There isn't much spare room. I might size up to a medium next time ... when I get round to saving up for it.
  • CDG Play stripe tops are available here and here.
  • Do you have a certain something in your wardrobe which "sparks joy"?







Harris Mini Emulsion Roller. H&M sweatshirt. H&M Joggy Bots.


Yup that's me. Bobbly paint splattered sweatshirt and baggy saggy joggy bots. I'm a vision of loveliness :)

The Grumps took the boys camping this weekend and left on the Friday night at 5.30pm. I was up a ladder by 6pm. By 9pm I was weeping in to a cup of Earl Grey and on the phone to my friend L questioning my sanity and what I'd done to my big boy's bedroom. I'd painted the first wall and it was the most awful wet cement grey colour. Prison cellblock grey. I also had some reassuring chats with Michelle telling me it will all be alright. Just "wait till the morning" she said, "just wait".

Between then and morning, I spent a frantic hour or two on Pinterest googling grey boys rooms and started to feel a little more reassured and I came up with some little gems to make his room a little cooler. 

In the light of the morning sun, the wall I painted turned out to be a lovely soft shade of pale grey. Phew!

Anyway, would you like me to share some decorating tips? This is random and just what came off the top of my head following this weekend - sorry if it sounds like I'm teaching you to suck eggs but to some people out there, it might be useful.

1. Don't Panic.

It's only paint and you can always paint over paint if you really hate it. Paint never looks like it does in the tin. This is why it took me two years to drag out this tin of paint which I had mixed up and to actually use it. When I opened it the first time, I dabbed the smallest bit on the wall and practically fainted. It was so gloomy. So I shut the tin and put it in the garage. But it's always best to look at paint in natural daylight when it has dried properly. No matter how many patches you paint on a wall, it's still very difficult to get the full picture. Besides, I gave up painting patches on walls years ago, it takes you forever to paint out the patches on walls (pfft) and so I paint on pieces of card and masking tape them to the wall instead.

2. Prep.

Get the fiddly stuff out of the way first like filling in any cracks. Paint does not fill cracks contrary to my previously misguided belief. Filler does. I noticed quite a few cracks in the walls recently and it started me on my mission to freshen up the house. The one tip I got from a builder when filling in the cracks with filler is to use a damp sponge (like the little rectangular washing up sponges you can buy) which smooths and wipes away any excess filler as you go.

3. Make it Easy on Yourself.

Line your paint tray! Makes life easier.


Its a great song that by the Walker Brothers isn't it? Anyway, I hate cleaning up after decorating. I line my paint trays with a little cling film and on top of that, a piece of foil. Then I pour my paint in. When I've finished, I lift out the foil and cling film together. Nice clean paint tray.

Did I say I hate cleaning up after painting? I hate washing brushes and rollers. So I don't. I throw them away instead. That sounds a bit drastic but the hubs got tired of seeing gungey paintbrushes sitting in a pot three weeks after a job and eventually said to me "if you're not going to clean them, throw them away". That was a revelation. I bought myself a multipack of Harris brushes from Costco a few years back for about £15 and have been working my way through them ever since. I don't pay a decorator so this is my indulgence. Same with rollers. 

Did you notice that I rested my roller on a plastic container lid. The kind that you get from a takeaway? As I go round and switch from brush to roller, I rest whichever I'm not using on a plastic lid like this as (1) the paint doesn't really stick to the plastic and (2) I can throw it away when I'm done.

If you're not going to get the job done in one go and you need to leave the paint overnight and can't be bothered to wash out your brushes - I wrap them up in cling film and cover the top of the paint tray with some foil or cling film. I can't decorate without foil or cling film.

Or wet wipes. When I edge the bottom of a wall and it's not perfect, I just wrap my finger in a wet wipe and run my nail along the skirting board and I get a neat edge. 

4. Control.

Edging. Strangely enough, a large brush is better for edging than a small piddly brush. It holds more paint and means you can continue a straight line for longer. That I know from watching the odd decorator who I have had to use for those jobs which I simply can't do - like those walls which are sooooo high and you have to buy new ladders and apparatus and risk life and limb to paint them and it works out cheaper to get a man in to do the job. Pick your fights and work out what will save you time, money and stress. Err ... you're probably thinking, that's a tiny thin brush you're using up there in that pic Sue. Yes, it is ... I've worked through all the big brushes in my multipack and I'm down to the small and skinny ones now. Ah well.

Small Rollers. I use a roller to paint the walls. The small ones. Like in my first picture. Not a big massive thing which is so heavy when it's laden with paint, you will have an over developed muscly right arm by the time you've finished painting the room. I also don't like the back splatter with the big rollers - I don't suit white paint freckles, no sirreee! I also like the control you have getting near the edges and it's much easier to handle a small roller. Might take a fraction longer but I get a better finish and more even paint job, I swear.

5. Brushes.

I'm just doing regular wall painting so I just want pretty standard paintbrushes - I'm not glossing or painting wood furniture, but even so, I tend to buy Harris brushes. I find some of the cheaper budget paintbrushes tend to shed bristles which is very annoying when I have to pick a loose bristle off the wall. Pfft.


5. Against The Norm

Ever find yourself putting a hand on wall or leaning or scuffing the paint on that wall you've just painted by accident? That wall is probably to your left (assuming you're painting in a clockwise direction around the room). I now paint a wall and then the next wall I paint is to the left of it. That's because the wall to the left of the left (think about it) of the one I've just painted is dry so I can lean on it all I like. It's a bit weird but it works for me.

5. Decorations

Frames. I don't spend a lot on decorating Ben's room. It's usually a pot of paint and a change of picture on the walls depending on what the latest fad is. I bought some Ikea Ribba frames years back and these instantly give any pictures a more finished contemporary look. I have black ones as there are black accents in his room through the odd piece of furniture and the frames tie everything together. We've had TinTin pics, Superhero pics, Minecraft pics and these are the latest ones. I like the triptych effect and the fact that they are Dr Seuss quotes too.



Prints.  Speaking of which ... those prints above are free downloadables. FREE. A little bit of mad googling and Pinteresting and there are all kinds of free prints available. Check out my two favourite links here and here.

Prints again. Don't like anything you've seen or what you like, you have to pay too much for or it's just not quite right? Make your own. This is how to do a chalkboard effect poster. Add whatever quote you like. 

  • Link to a free chalkboard-background here.
  • Upload or copy the image and paste it in to a blank document. I used the Pages app which I have on the Mac.
  • Choose a suitable font. I found the Chalkduster font works well on this.
  • Make sure the font colour is white!!! 
  • Write what you like.
  • Print out.



Wall Decorations. Ben has a retro coat rack on his wall which he hangs his medals on. It has little plaques which you put your own labels on - he's a boy, he loves techy stuff so I printed lots of little games consoles and cut them to size to decorate it up. It's just finding easy ways to make sure it still feels like his room ... but done your way which is great if you're a control freak (like me).




For a similar coat rack, I found this Etsy seller The Woodworm Shop who does some lovely peg racks. You can keep it natural or paint it (I know there are a lot of Annie Sloan fans out there). Or CoxandCox do this one in a gesso finish.

Girly Things. And I know if I was a mum of girls, I would be printing and making these Hermes handbags as cute little decorations for their room. They'd look fab as a display on a shelf.



I'm not a mum of girls but I did print and make them anyway. I made all these when I had my week off with no wifi in Wales earlier this year. These diy Hermes bags actually came out in 2012 but there are still links here to get the printouts to make your own. Just make sure you use card (paper is too thin) and one that you can "fold" easily and you will need a craft knife for some of the cuts. This is what a printable looks like when you download it and you follow the instructions from there on.



They are are a little finicky to make because these are absolutely tiny but quite satisfying when they are all done and besides, don't they look lovely? And they make lovely gift bags too as I found out when Ben squirrelled one to one side and put some of his own money in it and gave it to me as a birthday present #heartmelt 

Bedlinen. I keep this really simple here. I bought some chambray/denim bedlinen sets from Primark a few years back which are still going strong. They are plain but being chambray, not quite so boring and I like that you can interchange the pillowcases with something like the one below for a bit of interest. I  (personally) don't really like buying specific children's bedding - I think if you choose carefully you can work with adult bedding and make it appropriate. 


For reference, this caught my eye on the M&S site and what a bargain at £15.60 for a single duvet set as there is 20% off today too. This is funky and contemporary and will bring a jolt of colour to any child's room. Works for a girl or a boy. Keep to the pale side for a girl and throw on some fuchsia cushions. Me, I'm going for the bright blue side, I've got a boy after all ... with grey walls in his room.  Let's breathe some colour in to the room - he is still only young.



So I will stop my ramblings there - I've finished the room and Ben loves it (I did do it on a whim and didn't tell him). I was worried that he wouldn't like it as he has always had a blue room given that his favourite colour is blue but the grey has worked a treat. Seems like my boy has taken after me #lovegrey


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Last Note :

  • I did Ben's room in Dulux Dusted Moss 2. Goes on a cement colour and dries pale grey and interesting. A lot like Farrow and Ball's Cornforth White from what I can see on my Farrow & Ball paint chart.
  • Any decorating tips you care to share?
  • George's room is up next. Arghghg!






Hi there!


Hi, I'm Sue.

Mum to Ben & George, married to the Grumps, living in suburbia, somewhere in the north of England.

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