A Finished Garden… Almost

When we moved into our house four years ago, we were really excited to make it our home. While the house is still a work in progress (more on that later), the garden is pretty much finished, bar a tree, some shady plants and a lick of paint. This is what it looked like before:

Garden Before

This is how it looks now:

Planted Borders

sunny garden

Finished Garden

Agapanthus

Purple PixieAtomic Red Ray                   Foxglove

Poppy enjoying the garden We put bark down in a bid to reduce mud in the house (Poppy likes to weave through the plants!), reduce weeding and slug attacks. We’re also working on improving the grass, as it’s patchy and has its fair share of weeds. We also need to buy a tree, probably a hawthorne, for the border above, as the birds like having somewhere to rest. The seeds sown at the back of the garden haven’t really worked, so we’re going to plant some ferns and shade loving plants there, and maybe some more grass. Poppy jumps up at the cats walking along it, so it’s probably for the best. The back of the house needs a lick of paint, as the white walls blind you whenever you go outside and we’re in desperate need of new table and chairs. But the other night, we sat out on new deckchairs and it was bliss! I can’t wait to see how the plants grow and develop.

The beds beside the patio are also finished, though we’ve filled one with pebbles to put pots on, which still need sprucing. The other looks like this:

Planting BedsFinished BedRaised BedI’d like to say a huge thank you to What You Sow for sending me some new gardening gloves! My other pair were worn through in the fingers so were useless but these new ones are awesome and were excellent at protecting my hands from all the digging!

All we have to do now is keep everything alive. Fingers crossed! What do you think? Not bad huh?!

Tuesday Treat – Violet and Percy

There’s nothing I like more than finding a new stationery shop and thanks again to Twitter, I’ve found another one! Violet and Percy have an amazing selection of quirky cards, prints and jewellery and I couldn’t resist these postcards. What do you think?! I could quite happily spend all day looking through the website and deciding which things to buy.

Violet and Percy cards

I treated myself and my OH to a postcard each. We both love a good postcard and thought these would spruce up our respective office walls. They have loads of lovely prints, homewares and jewellery, including this adorable cloud bracelet, which I am coveting. Really hope someone buys it for me!

How about you? Do you stick things on your walls to brighten them up and inspire you?

Dim Sum and Sushi Steam at Miele

Last week, I spent a day making (and then eating until I could eat no more!) sushi and dim sum. I was invited to attend the (c/o) Dim Sum and Sushi Steam at Miele Experience centre in Abingdon.

Miele

Despite living just up the road, I’d never been to Miele before but I pretty much want to move in! They’ve got a coffee area, wifi and lovely loos. They hold cooking classes covering a wide range of topics and the Dim Sum and Sushi steam is a new class. Apart from me, there was another blogger, Jo, a journalist and some keen sushi makers! Cooking was done using the steam combi ovens, which are a complete revelation and put my very unreliable oven to shame. (I have such kitchen envy!) The day started with sushi.

Steamed Rice

The rice was soaked for a few hours before being steamed in the oven. Once that was done, making up the sushi was a pretty quick and easy task.

Selection of veggie fillings: gerkin, peppers and cucumber

Veggie Fillings

Next step: Cut your nori sheet in half

Nori Sheets

Next, add a thin layer of super sticky rice

Sushi Making

Then add your filling but don’t be too greedy or the rolls won’t close

Veggie Sushi

Using the mat, roll it up. Don’t worry about the straggly end – that’s for the chef!

Homemade Sushi

And voila! Here’s the sushi that I made! Tasted so good!

Veg sushi

Mixed sushi

Eating Sushi

Once everyone had finished making their sushi, we got to eat it! We also had wasabi, pickled ginger and wasabi mayonnaise to go with it. The wasabi mayo was amazing!

After lunch, it was time to turn our attention to the dim sum. We were making sweet and savoury buns too so there was lots to be getting on with.

Dim Sum

Dim Sum pastry

Mushroom fillingMaking Dim SumMushroom Dim Sum

Veggie Dim Sum

Mushroom rolls

The dim sum was really quick and easy to make. I made a mushroom filling to go inside, which had to cool for a bit, while we made the pastry. Then I added the filling to the little pastry circles and made a number of teeny tiny parcels. These were then steamed for about 4 minutes and were delicious! I also made a few savoury buns with the mushroom filling, which were so moreish. While we were all making savoury dim sum and buns, the teachers were making sweet buns that were delicious! I could’ve eaten a million of them!

Sweet rolls

Cashew and peanut butter roll

 

Despite the fact that I’m not very confident in the kitchen, the course was great fun. The kitchen was amazing, everything was set out really well and we could take some of the sweet buns home with us too, which my OH was really pleased with! I didn’t realise until after that it was the first time the course had run, as it worked really well and I would definitely recommend it. If only I could’ve taken home a few appliances too… :)

What food would you most like to be able to make?

* Disclosure: I attended the course free of charge, opinions are my own.

Review – Mograna Red Wine

Let me preempt this review by saying that I’m not a wine connoisseur. But I know what I like and I like red wine. I don’t mind a rosé in the summer and there’s always room for a G&T, but when it comes down to red or white, it’s always, always red wine for me. I’m not a big drinker and can make a bottle last a whole weekend, but there’s something about buying a good quality bottle of wine and savouring it. We usually get our wine from a wine shop, buy a case or two (as it works out cheaper, meaning you can buy a more expensive wine) and stock up. The trick is to buy a selection initially and make a note of the wines you like, so that next time, you can buy more of the wines you like. I’ve yet to find a red wine I didn’t like, so when I was asked to review a bottle of wine, I jumped at the chance!

Mograna WineI was sent a bottle of (c/o) Mongrana Maremma Toscana from Roberson Wines to try and boy was I looking forward to it. My plan was to sit in the finished garden, enjoying a large glass while surveying all the beautiful flowers we’d planted. However, the weather had other ideas so I enjoyed it while sitting on the sofa instead! It’s a lovely wine that works really well on its own or with food. I ate both a Thai takeaway and some chocolate and the wine complimented both. I couldn’t tell you about notes of this or that, but it’s a delicious wine, perfect for a relaxing Saturday night. It’s definitely gone on my list of favourite wines!

How about you? Are you a red wine fan? What’s your favourite tipple?

*Disclosure: I was sent the bottle of wine for review purposes. As ever, opinions are my own.

Clothes Clear Out

I don’t know about you, but I seem to wear the same three or so outfits, despite having a wardrobe and chest of drawers I can’t actually clothes. Inspired by this post, which Rosie shared in a Facebook, I was determined to get myself organised. The problem I have is this: about a third of my clothes are a size too small (but I’m working on getting back into them), a third are worn out/gross and a third are only suitable for winter. I’d packed up all the clothes that were too small/out of season last year but decided that it would be a good idea to go through all my clothes and be thorough.

Clothes Pile

Here’s a snapshot of me going through everything. I found some little gems that I’d forgotten about, some that didn’t fit when I packed them away do now (though I’m still amazed how widely sizes vary) and I found some clothes that I should never have bought in the first place! The other thing I discovered was that I have an insane amount of pyjamas! I created a pile of charity shop donations, a pile of clothes needing repair and piles of clothes needing a good wash. I also tried things on as I went, which was great motivation, as some clothes are just a few Body Combat classes short of being wearable.

Charity Shop Donations

In the end, I bagged up seven bags worth of clothes for the charity shop, one bag of boots and shoes and one bag of clothes for recycling. I also gave up a few handbags that I never use and found a pen, a tissue and a pack of Love Hearts. I always seem to find these things in old handbags – never an odd £5 note though. In the end, I was left with this beautifully organised wardrobe and drawers I can close without losing a finger.

Tidy Wardrobe

(Note: I don’t think my wardrobe is lovely. It’s actually pretty rubbish, as the doors don’t close properly and everything gets dusty.)

I also made sure that I washed everything that needed washing straight away and I mended two cardigans, two dresses, a jumper and a hat. I’m hoping that this way, I’ll start wearing more of the clothes I actually have. If I haven’t worn it in six months, I plan to get rid of it. That way, it’ll stay organised. In theory!

How about you? How organised is your wardrobe? Do you declutter regularly?

Tuesday Treat – Alone Time

Another week has passed and I’m still no further ahead in getting blog posts published. But I have been busy going places, eating and drinking things, making things and organising things – all of which I’ll write about… eventually.

Anyway, we’re really busy at Crafty Chai towers. We’re ploughing on with the garden and it’s *almost* finished. I’m in organisation mode and have a long list of things that need clearing and tidying. And I’ve got a few jobs on my to do list that are almost complete. So getting some alone time Saturday evening was very welcome.

Alone Time

Due to Poppy still suffering with separation anxiety, we’re only leaving her on own for short bursts so evenings out together are a no go at the moment. Saturday saw my OH heading out to a friends BBQ and me enjoying some Gilmore Girls, a Chinese takeaway and some much needed Pinterest/TwoDots time. Oh and I managed to squeeze in some sewing too. There’s nothing quite like a bit of alone time, whether you indulge in your favourite TV, take the longest bath in the world or just chill out with a glass of wine in the garden. I’d been looking forward all week! (Have I mentioned things are hectic right now?!) I was looking forward to just thinking about me. So I sat outside for a bit, enjoying the garden and the sunshine, then got my favourite dinner ever – sweet and sour tofu and bingewatched Gilmore Girls all night. Absolute bliss!

How about you? How would you spend a night when you had the house to yourself?

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