Thursday, 29 August 2013

How Time Flies

Only a few days left until I have to go back to work... *sob sob*

I have spent the past few days in Wales, which is like, a totally different country. I was visiting my BFF from university. And would you believe it, the weather was amazing! I had such a lovely time. It was really my only holiday this year, so we made sure to make the most of it. We went shopping in tiny boutiques and craft fairs, went to the beach, went for a walk, ate more cakes than you've ever laid eyes on, and... tried on dresses. For my BFF, it was a chance for her to show me the wedding dress she's chosen, and for me, it was a chance to try on a potential bridesmaid dress. It was worth the five hour journey. Each way.

Here are a few photos of what I bought (keeping within budget too). Only phone photos as I cannot be bothered to get the camera out.

Bug box for the garden

Small wooden tray. Not sure what to use it for or where to put it but very cute.

Small wooden owl box. Again, not sure how/where to use it but couldn't resist.

Wooden table, painted and stenciled and only £20! I had been looking for a small table to go next to a sofa.

I also received this awesome hamper as a late birthday present, with different types of tea, hot chocolate, slate coasters, truffles, Welsh jam, Welshcakes and Bara Brith (another traditional Welsh type of cake). Yum yum yum.

I was quite sad to leave. But I had a lot of episodes of Downton Abbey on my Tivo box to look forward to. Now I must go and enjoy my last few days of freedom from work. Toodles!

Monday, 19 August 2013

Some Drawer-ganisation

Another one of my goals for August was to organise the drawers in my kitchen. Since I bought the house, Vati completely redid the kitchen (and I helped a little bit - mostly in the demolition phase) and so I blame him for the amount of rubbish that has built up in the three drawers.

So much random stuff in disarray. I bought this extending wooden cutlery tray from Lakeland, and it's awesome. Some people have complained that it keeps sliding around, but that's nothing a little bit of blu-tak didn't solve.

This is one of those little things that makes such a huge difference. It makes me feel so happy when I open the drawer! I'm also very glad I moved the cutlery etc. to the top drawer. The next two drawers now contain spare tea towels, table cloth, sandwich bags etc., and various papers and fittings relating to the kitchen.

I also rediscovered a folder left here by the previous owner containing manuals for all the kitchen appliances. Seeing as I replaced everything in the kitchen, I transferred my new manuals to the folder, so now everything is up to date and all in one place.

Of course, some stuff that came out of the drawers has not made it back in. Stationary is going to live in my new Expedit, vitamins and medicines have moved to another cupboard, and there is a healthy-sized pile to go in the recycling bin.

I feel so much better! Organising is so therapeutic. I wish I had sorted all this stuff out ages ago! I'm off to go and gaze at my cutlery now. Weirdo.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

A Little Bit Personal

Today we take a little break from general house updates to focus on something a little bit more personal.

So. I'm now 26. I have been so lucky in a lot of areas of my life. I have so much to be thankful and grateful for and I know I am exponentially better off that billions of people. But seriously, where is he?!!?

I'm referring, of course, to Mr Right. Or, you know, any not-totally-gross-man-who-likes-me. Already this post is turning a little more woe-is-me than I was intending, but I'm sat here watching Bridget Jones and thinking that I too will one day die fat and alone, only to be found a few weeks later half eaten by Alsations. Except now we say German shepherds. No one likes me! All my friends are in long term relationships and have been for a long time. My one friend who's not seems to just meet people so easily; people want to talk to her and be with her. And she is beautiful. This has never, ever, ever, ever happened to me. I've never been out and been approached by anyone interested in me. I've never been in a long term relationship. I've never been close to be in love. I've never even been hurt, except the hurt that comes from loneliness. You know that scene where Bridget has to have dinner with smug married couples? That is my life. Tragic spinster for the past 26 years.

You see, in real life, I'm kind of weird looking. And, I'm a little bit weird in general. I'm good at pretending and talking the talk, but I do lack confidence in my image. I don't care when I'm at work standing up in front of a class of 16 year olds. But adults... The bullies from school have ruined me... I know that people are looking at me and judging me on the way I look. And, it matters to me when it's my peers: people I want to like me. We all want to be liked, don't we?

I'm torn between two ethos'. Que sera sera - if it's meant to happen, it'll happen. Or,on the other hand, if you want something, you have to go and get it and make it happen. Which one is right? I've gone for both in the past. I'm just coming out of a 'que sera sera' phase, and leaning to trying internet dating again. I should also mention that in the UK there is a lot more of a stigma attached to internet dating than in other countries.

Should I do it? What's your philosophy on life and love?

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Make Room For Nature

Anyone who knows me knows I love animals. And wildlife in general. I'm continuing my mission to bring wildlife into my garden - so far I've seen success with the bird feeder, and recently sighted TWO hedgehogs in my front garden (can't take credit for that but have since been and bought cat food).

One thing that got me excited recently was the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds' advert:

This was basically me as a child. And apparently as an adult.

Whilst I have been enjoying my time off work this week I have been finding things to keep me busy... including lots of gardening! I have pulled a bunch of weeds and created a flowerbed! In one corner of the flowerbed was this pile of bricks and rocks:

I was going to get rid of them all, but then I discovered something...


Oh hai!

So yeah, the rocks are staying. For some reason I have created a snail reserve. I don't particularly like snails, but birds do!

I may also have been and bought a storage box, £4 from Tesco. I have big plans for this box. You must know what it's going to become!

Psst - You can download a free guide on how to give nature a home at this link. I'm nothing to do with the RSPB at all - I just think it's a great initiative!

Monday, 12 August 2013

My First Expedit

I can tick something off my August Goals list!

Remember my "book nook"?

The problem I had is that the wall where my book nook is is an awkward wall. Most bookcases are about 90cm wide, and this wall is also 90cm, but with a radiator on the neighbouring wall, which limits the bookcase space to about 80cm. Do you know how hard it is to find a bookcase for less than 90cm? It was no red pouffe search, but it was tough enough. Most of the smaller bookcases were way too narrow (so they would've looked silly, with loads of wasted space - not good in a small house) or they were about a gazillion pounds. Actual amount.

After much consideration I made my choice. I managed to persuade Vati to go on a trip to the happiest place in the world - Disney Ikea! His car is bigger than mine and it's less than a 45 minute drive, so it only took a couple of hours altogether. I bought an Expedit.

Luckily this Expedit is 75cm wide - a perfect fit! And good for the budget too. It makes me so happy to have my books neatly organised and not on the floor. I still have a few more books at Mutti and Vati's house to add to the collection. And I feel the need to accessorise. And store something on top. Overall, I'm very pleased. The room feels more homely and it balances out the sofa on the other side of the door.

(Vati was almost sick when I selected the flowery storage box - I love it!)

I must say I am enjoying my time off work immensely - I feel like I have accomplished so much already! Happy summer everybody! :-)

Friday, 9 August 2013

Getting to Grips with Finances

Whilst I was living with Mutti and Vati I was saving a lot of money each month. I didn't even bother to budget. I literally spent money on my car and phone, and that was it. I'm not a big spender, and I normally talk myself out of buying anything frivolous, or, you know, anything at all.

Now I'm a home owner and I have to pay a mortgage, utility bills, council tax, food, and all these other fun things. I'm trying to upgrade my home and furnish it and decorate it whilst making sure I have enough money to actually live. And I'm doing it out of one pay cheque (yes, Americans, this is the real way to spell "check") as I'm on my own.

Doing internet banking is all well and good, but unless you total everything up you don't really get a clear view of exactly how much you're spending. I decided I wanted to know the ins and outs, so to speak. As I've only been living here three months I'm still discovering many things that I don't have (remember that time I didn't have a BBQ or a vegetable peeler or a bottle opener?)... Perhaps not 'needs', but they definitely make life easier. And all these things have been testing my budget.

I decided that I wanted to write things down rather than use Excel. For some reason I feel less accountable on a computer. Does that make sense? Anyway, I've been using my new Budget Book to write down everything I spend, and knowing that I have to do that helps me reign myself in when I'm out shopping.

I summarised my spending in a pie chart (minus actual figures of course) and I was actually fairly pleased. A few bills were higher than I had hoped this month (groceries was high as I hosted a party and bought a lot of food and alcohol, and my broadband/phone/TV is higher than normal as it was my first direct debit and included about 6 weeks instead of 4), but overall I kept within budget and still had a little bit left over. I can't wait for the bills to all settle down, and I'm definitely going to keep writing down what I'm spending.

How do you keep control of your spending? Do you use a program, write it all down, or do you just hope for the best?

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Mini Makeup DIY

As one of my goals this month is to organise my makeup, I decided to start slowly and do something I've been meaning to do for a long time - store my brushes nicely. I found some Pinspiration, and during my weekly food shop, picked up a toothbrush pot and some little glass marbles (when I was little we called them dragon droppings... and that is how I still refer to them). I'm not sure I like the pot but there wasn't too much choice and I didn't have the time or the inclination to go to town to go shopping, so I just grabbed some nail varnishes and painted some stripes.

At the end of the day, this was cheap and very easy and quick to do, but it does make me jealous of all the amazing stores in America (read: Target) where home things are so readily available. It doesn't need to be a permanent solution, but it's definitely better than rummaging around in drawers trying to find a brush when I'm in a hurry.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Pumpkin Problems

Remember back in May when I planted my two little pumpkin plants?

They now look like this.

But something is wrong. And I don't know what it is. The leaves nearest the base of the plants are dying. Some googling reveals it could be either a pest problem, disease, or nitrogen deficiency. The photo above I actually took two Saturdays ago... You can see the leaves on the plant on the right just starting to turn yellow. Tonight it's more like this:

So I followed some advice and cut off all the badly affected leaves. I then added some more potting compost to the grow bag and gave each plant a capful of feed. There are a lot of ants on the patio, but could ants really do this? The rest of the plants are healthy and still growing. This guide has no answers. There is no mildew on any of the leaves.

Mutti told me to take a bunch of flowers off as the plants may not be able to support all of them - producing flowers is very costly. I'm also going to buy some baking soda to follow this recipe and spray the affected leaves - just in case this helps.

I guess we'll just have to wait and see... :-(

Friday, 2 August 2013

Goals for August

One of the pitfalls of working in education is only being able to take annual leave during holidays. So I've used 20 of my days to take all of August off. I've got lots to be doing with myself though! I'm going to make August the Month of Organising. And some other stuff too.

The organising goals are:

  • Organise my three kitchen drawers. At the moment two are full of random papers and junk and vitamins etc., and the other one has my kitchen utensils all scattered in it. I'd like to get an expanding utensil tray like this one from Lakeland.
  • Organise the cleaning products under the kitchen sink.
  • Tidy and organise my garage. It currently looks like this:
I don't even know where the spacehopper came from... not mine!
  • Organise my makeup.
  • Organise and style the three little shelves above the dressing table in the bedroom... and perhaps get some storage boxes for the lotions and potions.

  • Buy a bookcase to tidy up the book nook
  • Strim and weed the garden

The personal goals are:

  • Read at least five books. I just downloaded The Brave by Nicholas Evans and Enigma by Robert Harris onto my Kindle. I'd also like to finally finish JK Rowling's The Casual Vacancy.
  • Visit friends
  • Keep up with the 30 Day Shred. Or, you know, just do it occasionally. The past 10 days I've done it twice, and six of the other days I walked the dog, so there are actually two days unaccounted for. (FYI the dog lives with my Mutti and Vati and does get walked by people other than me! Just in case anyone thinks he doesn't go out every day... He actually goes out twice a day for 2-3 miles a pop.)
  • Actually cook. From scratch. At least once. This will be a big challenge for me, as I am the girl who considers beans and scrambled egg on toast to be a well rounded meal.
I'm sure after I post this a million more things will occur to me. I also need to organise my work life and prep some lessons and update paperwork and more really interesting things like that. But, I'm looking forward to doing a lot and doing very little! If that makes sense.