Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Getting Value For Money...Or Not!

Today was my car's first service and conveniently clashed with a friend coming down from Leicester.
I say conveniently, because it meant I could make good use of the three hours we had to wait for the car to be seen...and also had my friend to taxi us around!
We met up at a nearby Tesco before heading off for brunch at a local Marina.
The weather was lovely, sunny but with a breeze to keep us cool.
We opted for the Harvester, but I was disappointed with my "Eggs California"
It was "smashed avocado" on a muffin with a poached egg....well I had to search for the avocado and eventually found less than a teaspoons worth.
Very disappointing indeed and we had to wait 45mins for it, in a fairly quiet restaurant as well.
Teen Two fared better with his cooked breakfast, which was two pounds cheaper and three or four times the amount of food.
Not that I could have eaten that amount, but he definitely got his value for money.
Needless to say I completed the online survey and when asked if my meal was value for money chose the "disagree strongly" button.
There is a Cotton Traders at the Marina, and I saw this pretty linen blend blouse reduced from £35 to £17, pretty good value for money I thought!
Haven't tried it on yet but hoping its ok as I really like the delicate floral print and mix of lime green with the pink.
We then went for a walk along the shore.
Teen Two is known for collecting sticks on walks...this has got to be the biggest yet...needless to say it didn't come home with us, but he enjoyed peeling off the bark whilst my friend and I sat and caught up with family news.
Once my car was ready for collection, we called back into Tesco to buy some slate chippings I had spotted whilst waiting for my friend earlier.
I had been checking out the price last night at DIY shops, and these seemed very good value for money!
I bought six, then had a bit of a wobble about whether they were too heavy for the car.
With no weight listed on the bag I just had to make an educated guess that they couldn't possibly weigh more than five people.
Teen Two helped me load them into the trolley and then into the car and then back out of the car...with a lot of huffing and puffing!
Grandma had called whilst we were out to ask if Teen Two would go round and mow her lawn today, so he went to do that whilst I lugged in the slate.
I decided it wouldn't be sensible to carry them, so found an old curtain and dragged them in one by one.
It was remarkably easy!
The weather was so lovely, I decided to do a bit more soil removing before laying down the slate...
...these bunnies are so inquisitive!
Both of them came over to see what I was up to and get involved in the digging!
Eventually the heat got to them and they found some cool mud to relax in!
Having laid the first lot of slate, I remembered last year I had bought a sheet of weed proof membrane...would have been a good idea to lay that here I guess!
Oh well, there are larger areas to deal with so I will use it there and if there is any left over re lay this small area.
I am hoping this slate will deter the local cats...I really cant think they will want to dig away the heavy slate to leave unwanted presents for me.
Teen One spent another day hard at it in the attic, and came down delighted late this afternoon having finally finished her assignment!
Her goal was to finish it in time to enjoy her birthday work free!
All her hard work over the past few days has paid off.
All we need to do is post it would have thought in this modern age it could be emailed!

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

We Have A Healthy Garden?

After my usual visit to my Monday Recycled Teenager ( a day late of course!) it was more painting for me.
I wasn't particularly enthusiastic it has to be said, this probably ranks as my most hated job,
however the transformation a lick of paint can bring is what spurs me on.
Today I tackled the purlin beam, which needed two coats (hopefully not three) and I was rather miffed to see a bird had left an unwanted present on my new glass roof!
Whilst painting the large wall yesterday I noticed the fascia trim was looking a bit grubby from the builders hand prints, so I got the ladder out to wash it down...only to discover its not fascia at all and was wooden, so THAT needed painting as well!
I gave the downstairs loo its third coat and also painted the door frame.
I hope that's the last of it, I really am running out of enthusiasm quickly, and almost threw in the towel part way through the afternoon....but remonstrated with myself and reminded myself if I finished it today, I wouldn't have to do it again tomorrow!
The final bit of painting for the day was this little bit of panelling above the new window.
I have a feeling it will need another coat, so the dreaded painting is not quite at an end for me.
The sun peeped out during the afternoon, and needing a break from the painting, but too mucky to sit down in the living room ( I am SUCH a messy painter!) I pottered around the garden.
A few years ago we decided to use woodchips to fill in various dormant spots in the garden.
However, it has proved to be a mistake, not only do neighbouring cats like to use it as a toilet,
it is the ideal place for woodlice to live.
We seem to have woodlice in abundance in our garden, which apparently means we have a
 healthy garden, and  although they are not considered pests, we have discovered they have a liking for the rabbit hutch!
The hutch was practically alive with them the other day!
So to minimise the amount of woodlice we have, I thought it wise to reduce the places they can live.
I have started to remove all the bark chippings and will replace it with some slate chippings.
I have cleared two of the three areas, the last area being the largest and right under the hutch, so I will need some assistance in moving that.
Teen One in particular does not like woodlice, especially dead ones!
When she was little most of their crafty toys lived in the conservatory and inevitably woodlice would find their way in then die, Teen One really really couldn't stand it when she came across them dried up in with her pencils, paper etc.
Quite why I am making such an effort for the bunnies is beyond me right now though!
I bought a lavender plant in Lidl's last week, thinking it would be too fragrant for them to munch on....
This little plant was full of lovely flowers...the little pickles have bitten the flowers off....
...and abandoned them!
So I have put it back in the pot and will have to nurture it for a while.
I keep saying I am going to fence part of the garden off and think that is going to be my next project!
Teen One has spent the entire day in the attic doing her assignment...she got a 1:1for her last one,
at least her hard work pays off.
She has only made appearances for lunch and dinner and is back up there now, I can't help feeling sorry for her!
Teen Two has amused himself and also called round to see Grandma and give her a game of Rummikub.

Monday, 29 May 2017

A DIY Bank Holiday

Well us Brits are known for spending our precious Bank Holiday's doing DIY, and for this family today was no different!
It started later than usual, firstly, we haven't had a lie in for ages, so made the most of it, and secondly, I had been up for a few hours in the night with toothache ( didn't have a problem with the tooth till it was filled last week!) so I took ages to get going when Hubby brought me a cuppa around 9am.
Once up we were resigned to the task ahead raring to get on with the work, which wasn't going to get done all by itself!
I painted the newly plastered walls ( Hubby kindly did the cutting in for me)
so instead of pink plaster walls we now have...
...shiny white walls

The downstairs loo has needed decorating for way too long, so today seemed as good a day as any to get started.
I chose a neutral colour ( my favourite at the moment)
So we have gone from this rather dated wood cladding to...
...painted wood cladding! (Oops a bit blurry!)
We took up the lino, which was the first of four layers!
I was shocked to see the extent of the damp problem when we lifted the lino....not before time we did something aye!
Hubby spent quite some time removing all the layers, but its just about there now.
We will have the same black tiles as the conservatory so hopefully the flooring will flow, as they say.
Hubby concentrated on the paving....starting by making our little path twice the width...something we had always intended to do when the Teens were Tots, to make trike riding easier!
Whilst they are of course way beyond playing in the garden, the path often proves to be too narrow, if I am hanging out washing and Hubby is on his way to the garage etc.
He also replaced the broken tiles he had lifted yesterday and decided to also lift a row of smaller slabs, feeling it would look better to have the turfs come down that little bit further, rather than have a mish mash of slabs.
Needless to say, there were the usual hiccups along the way, its always the case with DIY isn't it!
Painting is one of my least favourite chores and one I avoid if I possibly can, but it just wasn't going to happen if I didn't bite the bullet..
Of course I would far rather have spent the day sitting with my knitting!
The weather has not been great at all, but that was a blessing really as it meant we didn't have to feel miserable for not being out in it!

The Teens have been working too, Teen One (with a cold poor thing) is making in roads into her assignment and Teen Two fitted some maths homework into his gaming!
I had hoped the weather tonight would have been nice enough to have a BBQ on the beach, but we
have had an indoors BBQ instead whilst watching a DVD.


Sunday, 28 May 2017

A Break From Routine!

This morning started with church as usual, and tonight ended with church again as usual, but in between we had a real break from routine!
The garden has been a builders yard for the past few weeks, and has also housed the leather sofa we no longer want.
So, with Grandma away with her other son for the weekend, I made the most of the "free" afternoon and set to tidying the garden up finally.
We have a taker for the sofa at last, hopefully they will keep to the arrangement and come on Tuesday to collect it... that is now stored in the garage temporarily which left room for the garden furniture to be put back under the gazebo.
Before I could do that, the patio needed a good hosing down, which meant clearing all the pots away, and realising most of them needed emptying anyway.
With the bunnies around, I don't think I will bother much with planters, unless I see some tall ones that they cant get into!
The remaining grass (mostly moss!) is going to be removed tomorrow hopefully and the ground prepared for new turfs.
We will also space out the stepping stones better, we had hoped to buy two more to reach the patio, but sadly they are no longer produced, so having spent two summers with a path that leads to nowhere, we will just have bigger spaces in between instead.
Unfortunately, at the time I chose to do the tidy up, the heavens decided to open!
But being a hardy soul ( sometimes!) I continued on my mission, just in case the urge left me when the sun came out!
There was a small problem with the hose, which Hubby decided to sort out, thinking it would be one of those quick and easy two minute jobs....well as you can guess it ended up being one fraught with frustration!!
We have some cracked paving slabs in the garden...mostly my fault from years of chopping wood out there on unprotected concrete ( I know better than to do that now!)
So when the conservatory was extended, we kept the good slabs that were lifted, to replace these broken ones.
It only occurred to me the other day that we now get charged at the local dump for rubble and soil.
Seeing as we have a forecourt of debris from the builders, which should have been collected a day or two ago, I suggested to Hubby he quickly dig up the broken slabs and add them to the mass of stuff awaiting collection, which we are of course paying for already  (included in our bill) so no sense in paying twice!
Once the rain had passed, Hubby  pulled up the offending slabs and tomorrow intends to replace them.
Teen Two probably had the most relaxation, indulging in some bunny hugging...
...whereas poor Teen One spent the afternoon preparing an essay....although not in her usual place.
She decided this ever decreasing in size space on the dining room table was just not big enough anymore, so has decamped to the attic where this is a gate leg table she can extend and fill to her hearts content.
I have started to call the dining room "the room of doom!"
If I can avoid going in there at the moment I do!!
Hopefully life will be back to normal soon!

Saturday, 27 May 2017

"Kids, We're Going To Slough!"

That advert always makes me smile!
Today, we were going very near to Slough to visit family, and when we passed the signs for Slough
Teen Two mimicked the ad saying "Kids we're going to Slough!"
Slough, for those not familiar with it, is  no doubt a pleasant place to live, but is not known for being a place of any particular interest, unless of course, like the family in the ad, you have loved ones living there.
Before we set out on our journey however, we woke to discover the heavy thunder storm last night had leaked rain into the conservatory!
Oh dear, those poor builders, they are going to be glad to see the back of this job!
I always take the desserts, and knowing our cousin loves jelly, I made some rainbow jelly...
...and traffic light jellies
Banoffi pie...using a biscuit crumb base instead of a pasty base...
...and some mini "offi" jam jar puds....which was everything but the banana, with mini marshmallows instead.
A cheats lemon cream mousse was quick and easy,
whisk up a tin of evaporated milk and add lemon jelly diluted with only half a pint of water.
When the mousse was set spread a layer of lemon curd, then a layer of whipped cream with more lemon curd mixed into the cream.
Serve with fresh blueberries and raspberries, which whilst it would look nicer with the fruit piled on top, I add to the individual portions as not everyone in the family likes fruit... for some added texture I bought this pack of waffles in Lidls.
I had seen the packs from a distance and not really taken much notice of them, and picked them up on a whim.
It wasn't until I unpacked them at home that  I noticed they were caramel wafers with a hint of cinnamon.
I just had to try one straight away and mmmm it was delicious!
When I served the lemon mousse after lunch today, with the fruit and waffle one of the cousins said the waffles were lovely placed on top of a hot drink, allowing the caramel to go all gooey.
Apparently this is a popular trend in coffee shops, where the waffles are a couple of pounds for two.
This pack of 8 was £1.35!
On the way home we called in to Lidl to buy some more and try this new trend out!
Mmmm... lovely! What have we started!
 I bought three packs naughty me!
On each visit we see more and more buys from QVC....our cousin really is the QVC Queen I think!
These veg trugs looked interesting I must say.
The weather was lovely and the Teens enjoyed the Swingball...which reminded me it was around a year ago Teen Two first fell in love with the game here.
Hubby and I spent the afternoon chatting listening to all the latest ( and not so new) family news.
We always enjoy our visits, we are always very well fed and the Teens always enjoy meeting up with everyone.
There's nothing quite like family get togethers is there!

Friday, 26 May 2017

A Day For Indoor Jobs!

This morning the builders were back to add some rubber seals to the roof to ensure there are no leaks.
They are coming back Monday to wash it down and make sure its watertight.
I popped to the supermarket for a few bits and picked up some bedding plants
I can't put them in the back garden whilst we have the bunnies, but can brighten up the front with some tubs
I started to pot them up but the heat was so intense I had to abandon it until later...
but now its later and also so much cooler, I haven't got the energy!
I always say, hot weather is lovely...if you have nothing to do!
So instead of the planting, I spent the time making some desserts for tomorrow, tackled a pile of ironing and a few more little chores.
At Friday club it was "shop" which always involves a lot of planning and set up.
The two biggest sellers today were the free Lego trading cards from Sainsbury's and some little koala key rings we brought back from Australia.
Of course they were all looking for fidget spinners and Mash'ems ( had to google them!) but they were beyond our budget sadly.
My friend was delighted to be able to use her new washing line for the first time today....
ahh...what a lovely sight!