Monday, 31 October 2011

Garden Makeover Competition - The Final!

Well, we are finally ready for the big reveal as The Bosch Lawn and Summer Garden Makeover Competition comes to an end today. Ten Bloggers have been asked to take part and we have each been very kindly provided with £100 voucher for some Bosch Garden tools, a lawn treatment from Green Thumb and a further £100 voucher for Coblands Nurseries Best 4 Plants to help us make a real difference in our gardens.

Over the past couple of months Papa and I have worked really hard trying to create a woodland area at the bottom of the garden. I have always wanted a secret garden for the kids to have their own little place so first thing we did was build an arbour and fence from recycled wood and driftwood.  I painted the tree house and fence right at the bottom of the garden just to tidy it up, then I added some farmyard manure to the area where I wanted to plant up. I have lots of conifers in my garden that do suck a lot of moisture and nutrients from anything that grows close to them so it was vital that I improved the soil before I planted out my lovely new plants.

From Bosch I picked a hedge cutter - AHS 45-16 to tackle my conifers and a line trimmer - ART 26 Combitrim to get around my decking and raised beds easily. Papa liked both products and found cutting the conifers much easier.

I also tidied up the path by my decking area with grey slate chippings. This will stop the annoying grass and weeds that frequently pop up there.

This is the main border and these plants will get quite large by next year. The clematis I planted to climb the arbour will grow really fast and end up with masses of tiny white flowers. I have grown it before and its gorgeous. I love ferns and a woodland garden wouldn't be complete without them. Hydrangeas one of my favourite flowers so I planted up four of these around the garden. I can't wait for them to all bloom next year.

1 - Sedum 'Orpine'                                           
2 - Cotinus Grace
3 - montana 'Clematis'  
4 - Hydrangea macrophylla 
5 - Hydrangea paniculata Grandiflora
6 - Polystichum setiferum 'Soft Shield Fern'
7 - Sedum 'Orpine'
8 - Polystichum setiferum 'Soft Shield Fern'

9 - Japanese Anemone
10 - Hydrangea paniculata Grandiflora: 
11 - Japanese Anemone - Charlotte
12 - Hydrangea Paniculata Grandiflora
13 - Bamboo

The winner receives a full day with leading gardening expert Helen Yemm who writes for the Daily Telegraph. The winning participant will also receive two tickets to RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2012, an exhibition I have always wanted to attend.

So in order for me to win I need your votes, providing you like what I've done that is. I would be really grateful if you could vote below for your favourite makeover. Voting ends at 4.30pm on Friday. Thanks, every vote is appreciated x

Saturday, 29 October 2011

It's my 3rd Blog Birthday and I nearly missed it!

On the 13th (lucky for some) of this month it was my 3rd blog birthday. I'm a bit late remembering and was prompted to check when exactly my blogoversary was after reading a few other blogs who were celebrating theirs this week.

So back in October 2008 I started my blog. We were living in one of the most beautiful parts of the country, North Devon in a tiny fisherman's cottage that backed on to the River Torridge. The view from my bedroom was absolutely breathtaking.

I loved living there. The peace, the quiet, the friendly locals in the village, the safety, the twit twoo of our neighbours owl sending us off to sleep each night, the complete darkness as night fell with no street lamps, the view from my window appearing different every time I peered out as the weather constantly changed. I loved the pure and natural beauty of my surroundings and most of all I loved the beach.

I began blogging while I was there as a way to keep a record of the lovely place I lived. I had lost my Mum two years before and I wanted needed a place where I could keep her memory alive and talk about her as much as I pleased. 

I've always expressed myself creatively whether it be writing, drawing, sewing, cross stitch, crochet, gardening or photography. I'm not the greatest at expressing myself verbally and find it much easier to write so my blog has quite often been a form of therapy for me. I have said many times throughout my life that if I couldn't be creative I'd go barmy. Every time I write a personal post, I reflect and my mind begins to figure stuff out. Stuff that would send me around the twist if I didn't release it. Once off my chest I feel a huge sense of relief.

My blog is also a memory keeper for my kids and in years to come they can read it and remember lots of things that they might have forgotten. I love to read back on my earlier posts and see how much my blogging has improved in three years. I didn't have a clue what I was doing back then and we didn't have the huge UK parenting blogging community that we have now, back then. I relied on advice and inspiration from the US blogs and forums which are all really lovely but their style of blogging is a little bit different to ours so I love that now their are so many British blogs to read and interact with.

Which leads me onto the lovely friends I have made from blogging. None of them I have met as yet because they are spread out all over not just the UK but all over the World. They are people I feel an online affinity with. All us bloggers have certain people in blogesphere that we just know we would click with in the real world. A UK blogger friend I would like to give a mention is Blissful Rainbow who I started following about a year ago. The first time I read her blog I cried, her writing is so powerful and she is one of those people who should write her life story as a book. We have become firm friends on facebook now and I know if we ever met we would get on like a house on fire, she is fabulous.  

Over the past three years Blogging has inspired me, comforted me, made me cry, made me laugh and presented me some lovely opportunities but most of all it has given me a place to express myself and I love being part of the community.

I no longer live in Devon but I'm equally as happy living here in my lovely little town out in the sticks in the Essex countryside close to my family.  Life has changed so much over the past three years since Day One of my blog. So Thank you for every follow, every comment and every smile you have given me as you let me into your world and you visit mine. Here's to many more years in Wonderful Blogesphere.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Preparing your lawn for the winter

During the summer months our lawns take quite a battering what with the kids running up and down, the dog trying to dig it up wherever she can get away with and the general wear and tear of me being busy out there. As part of the Bosch garden makeover competition I have just had an Autumn/winter lawn treatment carried out by GreenThumb and I must say their customer service was fabulous. My local office is South Chelmsford and they were really great.

The lovely lad who visited me explained exactly what he would be doing and set to work. The treatment literally took him ten minutes as he sprayed the treatment onto my lawn. Green thumb recommend four treatments per year spring, early summer, late summer and the treatment I had Autumn/winter.

As you can see my lawn is in pretty desperate need for a treatment and to be honest I had never thought to have someone out to do it before as I'm a keen gardener but prices are so reasonable starting from £13 a treatment depending on, of course on the size of lawn, that I will be using Green Thumb again. For me to go out and buy a lawn treatment to do myself would have cost me more than that.

My treatment today consisted of a micro nutrient feed which basically prepares the lawn for the winter months ahead, turning my lawn lovely, green and healthy. I was told that the moss will die back allowing my grass to breathe and grow back. Come spring all I might need to do is sprinkle a little seed to help the grass get going again, which anyone who has sprinkled grass seed before knows how quick and easy it is to grow.

So all I need to do now is keep the kids and the dog off the lawn for an hour and wait for the results, which I should notice within a couple of weeks.

I just have a few more minor jobs in the garden to complete ready for the competition which ends on 31st October 2011 and I'll be revealing my new woodland area. I've worked really hard with the help of Papa,  GreenThumb, Bosch lawn & garden and Coblands Nurseries and I really hope you will like what I've done and vote for me.

I'll leave you with a little reminder of the garden before and next week I'll reveal the after...

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

The Gallery - Faces

I love faces. I find them fascinating...intriguing. When I was younger I would draw them and I was pretty good at it. I loved watching a face being created by the lead of my pencil. Nowadays I like to photograph them. 

Most people shy away from the lens of my camera as I try to capture their portrait. My older kids have become professionals at avoiding being captured. However, my Granddaughter is a willing subject and rarely shoos me away. 

I love to catch her wonderful expressions as she is playing, talking, laughing and even eating. Kids are so expressive facially and its just fabulous.Portraits are my favourite type of photo's.

Linking up to The Gallery over at Sticky Fingers

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Create an interesting Photo Frame

Following my addiction with pinterest and feeling fully inspired after spotting lots of thrifty things that I'm keen to make I decided to create an interesting photo frame similar to the one many of you would have seen on pinterest.

I picked up this huge dated pine frame from my local charity shop for £4 which I removed the back and the glass then I lightly sanded it down and gave it a few coats of white satin.

I nailed lines of string into the back of the frame and ordered some mini pegs from ebay. I then pegged my photo's to the strings.

It was a really simple makeover and cost next to nothing...a great way to recycle an old frame and create a point of interest in your room.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Magpie Monday - A Wall Montage

Not sure if you remember that I've been collecting frames and pictures from the charity shop to make up a wall montage in my bedroom. Well, I collected all the frames I needed which just left an old mirror which I spotted a couple of weeks ago for a fiver.It finishes the montage of lovely.

Even though the bedroom montage is finished I'm still collecting a few more pictures for other montages I want to make. I got this old 50/60's one for a pound.

I have now painted the frame white and it looks really nice...what do you think?

Do you remember these wooden bowls from the 70's? Most of our Mums had one and I spotted this one for a pound. I have plans for it out in the garden as a toadstool. I'll show you that when I've finished.

I am thrilled to be a guest blogger today over at @violetposy fabulous Thrifty Christmas website here where I show you how to make snowman soup. A Christmas treat that is really easy to make and was sooooo popular with all recipients last year. Everyone was asking me to make them one. There are some great thrifty ideas over there. You'll love it!

And don't forget to pop over to Me and my Shadow and check out all the other bargains that Lizzie's Magpies have found.

Linking up to Magpie Monday

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Listography - Our Top Five Toys

I'm loving this weeks Listography theme, our top five toys for kids. Kate will be compiling a list of the top ten toys as voted for parent bloggers based on what us Listographers come up.

1) Games Console - My kids range in age from twenty one down to my Granddaughter who is five so over the years I have purchased many Christmas toys. Basically though nothing really has changed much since my eldest child was small and number one toy on all their lists would be whatever new games console is out. The first one we bought for our kids was back in the early 90's and it was a Sega master system and the one we last bought was the Wii.

2) Bikes - A new bike always goes down really well and none of my kids are ever disappointed if they find Santa has left them one. One year when our Boys were about six & seven we bought them a shiny new bmx red and one blue. We decided to play a little surprise on them by leaving the bikes in the kitchen so they opened all their pressies under the tree and Papa says to the boys "Can you go out to the kitchen and get a rubbish bag for all this mess?" Middle son jumps up dashes out to the kitchen and suddenly squeals with delight.
Me and Papa feeling thrilled to hear his excitement call out "Whats up son?" Middle Son rushes back into the lounge with a box of quality street in his hands and jumping up and down says "We have chocolate, we have chocolate!!!!" You would have thought the poor kid had never had chocolate in his life and he hadn't even spotted the bikes! We still laugh about that story today.

3) A Doll - Dolls are always appreciated especially if its a popular one like Baby Born, Baby Annabel or more recently those dolls that look real...Roby & Rosie. The amount of times I've done a double take as I see one out of the corner of my eye. Even worse if its just an arm sticking out from under the sofa or I open a cupboard door and theres one sitting staring straight at me. Makes me jump every time. Still, the kids love em even when their hair starts to go wild.

4) Fisher Price - I have always bought a Fisher price toy of some sort over Christmas whether it be a Garage, farm, dolls house, school or the most popular ever in out house was a castle. Kids love these toys with little cars, people and furniture that always catch their imagination and keep them entertained for more than five minutes. I love their stuff.

5) Little tykes - I couldn't leave without giving the cosy coupe a mention, all my kids have played with it. I reckon it must be the toughest toy on earth but then I find that with all the little tykes stuff. Their toys are so chunky and seem to last forever & ever in fact I still have a little push along in my garden that my kids had when they were little. Kids who visit us still play with it.

Pop over to Kate's Place for more top five toys.

Silent Sunday

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Reasons to Be Cheerful

I've had a good week this week. I've nearly finished my kids Christmas presents although I can't actually take the credit for this as its Papa who has been buying their gifts and hiding them away since July. I've been offered some really fun reviews that I'll be sharing in the next few weeks and I've been given by swap partner for Lakota's festive faith hope and charity swap that I'm really looking forward to.

1)  So Christmas is in the air. I like to make a lot of gifts so I usually make a start mid October. I've ordered soap making stuff, oils for potpourri, and wool for crochet plus I've been out walking in the blowy Autumn breeze collecting pine cones for my Christmas potpourri. I get sooooo excited when the postman delivers craft supplies.

2) Papa has built me an arbour from recycled wood and we enjoyed a few days together building, painting and planting eager to have the garden tidied up and ready for the garden makeover competition that ends in ten days.
P.S Papa asked why I took a photo of his backside " I'm trying to practise 'arty' (no, not farty) shots with my new camera". Well, that's my excuse anyway ;-)

3) Yes, Autumn is definitely here which means toffee apples, crunchy red leaves beneath our feet, warm cardi's, Halloween and colder weather which is my excuse for cosy nights in sitting by the fire. I love walking around the town and being able to smell that everyone has began lighting their fires.

So what are your reasons for being cheerful this week? Pop over to Michelle's place for more reasons.

Choi time tea review plus 10% discount

I enjoy a cup of green tea. I like the taste and the health benefits associated with drinking it so when the opportunity arose to review some Chinese tea I jumped at it.

Choi time tea is a family run business and founder Melissa Choi was taught all about tea from an early age by her Grandmother.

"My Grandmother was a living testament to the benefits of Chinese teas. She was healthy and had beautiful skin, even at eighty years old. In many ways, she is the inspiration for my company."

Melissa's teas have won many 'great taste awards' from the Guild of fine foods which is an acknowledged benchmark for speciality food and beverages. I wasn't surprised to discover that Choi times Jasmine green tea pearls has been awarded the highest level of stars that any producer can aspire to. This tea was my favourite out of all the Choi time teas I have tasted.

The Chinese teas are beautifully packaged and when the pearls and bulbs are immersed into hot water they very gracefully uncurl and look stunning in your pot or cup. I wish I had a clear glass tea pot to be able to fully appreciate how special these teas look as well as taste.

Choi time time is the perfect gift to pamper yourself or friends & family, especially for the health conscious ones that can often be a bit difficult to buy for.  If you fancy trying these teas then pop along to Melissa's website here and at the checkout type in voucher code mamasyder to receive a 10% discount. Happy Choi time!

*A selection of tea's were sent to me free of any charge for the purpose of this review. I have received no financial reward for writing this review and I always give an honest and genuine opinion.*

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

October is here, once again...

October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came-
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band.

The Chestnuts came in yellow,
The Oaks in crimson dressed;
The lovely Misses Maple
In scarlet looked their best;
All balanced to their partners,
And gaily fluttered by;
The sight was like a rainbow
New fallen from the sky.

Then, in the rustic hollow,
At hide-and-seek they played,
The party closed at sundown,
And everybody stayed.

Professor Wind played louder;
They flew along the ground;
And then the party ended
In jolly "hands around."


October's Party by  George Cooper

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Listography - Top five Keyword searches

This weeks Listography is an interesting one and its quite surprising what keyword searches bring people to our blogs. So my top five are:

1) Chester Bennington - Chester is number one. I've mentioned him a few times on my blog as most of you know if I hadn't have met Papa I would have been Chester's wife...don't laugh, I'm totally serious...please don't spoil the fantasy. The post that fellow Chester fans end up at is actually another one of Kate's famous fives, The Laminated List. I'm sure they wouldn't have been disappointed with the image that greeted them as they landed on the page.

2) Westminster Abbey - When I wrote my tips for watching the Royal wedding post it was just a bit of fun because I was a bit obsessed with the wedding and so was very excited for the big day. It still attracts visitors to my blog now, there are obviously a lot of William & Kate fans out there. The post is here.

3) Biatch Meaning - Well, this one did surprise me, in fact I couldn't even remember what post I might of even mentioned the word biatch but I did and its here.

4) Retro caravan - I'm glad this one is in there as I do love my Bertha and I hope whoever lands on my blog when searching for retro caravans like her too. The post is here.

5) Amy Winehouse is dead - I think the loss of Amy Winehouse was so tragic and heartbreaking. I feel so sad for her family and all the people who loved her. The album Back to Black was my companion during a difficult period in my life so I'm devastated that we have lost such a talented young person. The post is here.

Pop over to Kate's place for more Key word listography's.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Magpie Monday - Christmas Tea

Not long now until the big man with the beard is here so I've been on the look out for bits and bobs for the Christmas table.

I spotted a couple of Christmas plates that I'll be hanging on the wall when its time to put my decorations up. I love this Charles Dickens winter scene and the quote that goes with it
"You shall hold your places in our Christmas hearts and by our Christmas fires"
I'll probably hang this one over by the fireplace.

And I love this snowy scene, it will be perfect in my kitchen.

I've been keeping my eye open for a smallish teapot especially for my green tea leaves. This one is just the right size. I love it.
I got all three for £4.

Linking up to Magpie Monday over at Lizzie's Place.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Something Pinteresting - What is Pinterest?

Have you discovered Pinterest yet? Well, if you haven't and you don't know what I'm on about its basically a massive virtual pin board where you can collect all those great bits and bobs that you spot while you are surfing the net.

So, lets just say that you have just spotted a great idea for Halloween and you want to be able to find it again easily all you do is add it to one of your pin boards that you create in pinterest by pushing the 'pin it' button (which you very simply install onto your toolbar). Then when you go to your pin boards on pinterest all those lovely ideas are there in one place all fabulously organised and tidy. You can also browse other peoples pin boards and gain lots of lush inspiration from them.

I've lost count of the amount of times I've spotted a great craft or home decor idea online, saved the link then struggled to find it again when I need it. Pinterest is the answer to my very disorganised favourites list and I love it.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Reasons to Be Cheerful

I've had a good week and its been quite easy to push a negative situation that I have in my life at the moment to one side. I love Michelle's weekly #R2BC because it really does help me to focus in on the many positives I have in my life.

1)  My eldest Brother emigrated to Canada this summer and since he has been gone I've discovered Skype which I've been logging into regularly. We were close as kids and I always enjoyed his company but as our lives moved in different directions and became busy we drifted apart a little. Thanks to Skype I feel like we are close once again which makes me really happy and I've began saving our pennies for a trip out to visit him and his family in their lovely new home.

2) The weather has been lovely and mild perfect for long country walks. As autumn arrives I feel invigorated and excited for Halloween. I've even lost a few pounds which is always a bonus.

3) I've been really enjoying my new camera as I practise taking different shots. I've been driving everyone mad as they get a lens pointed in their face every five minutes.

4) Our center Parcs welcome pack arrived this week...only a few weeks before we are off and I must say I can not wait. We haven't been for a few years and it will be nice to be back in Elveden Forest and enjoy the tranquility.

So whats been making you smile this week? Pop over to Michelle's place  for more Reasons to be cheerful.


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