dear diary >> busy doing nothing

Well I know I was busy all day but it felt like I had achieved very little. But….the pastry did get mixed and we now have some lentil pies and a quiche base in the freezer – I could have made more but silly me had not noticed the plain flour jar was running low. To compensate for the shortfall I added in some spelt flour and it has made a nice pastry. I used to prefer wholemeal pastry but it is quite heavy on our digestion these days so I switched to Doves Farm organic white which is unbleached. We don’t have pastry very often these days as too much of it does seem to take longer to digest.

I should have titled this post a ‘Tale of two candles‘ as I spent a good two hours in the broom cupboard trying to accomodate my excessive amount of assorted candles (many of them I inherited from my daughters) and make a ‘pleasing arrangement‘ as DH would say.

As always when organising storage there is always the odd thing that just doesn’t quite fit and in this case it was the very annoying two tall pillar candles. Too tall to stand upright on the shelf and just a smidgen too long to be contained in any receptacle that I have. In the end all I could do was lay them on their side -but this is not ideal as they roll about a bit.

The short stubby ones and the tea lights all fitted quite nicely into the 3 storage boxes and I found the best way of storing the long thin ones is upright in glass jars. To make room for the candles I had to adjust the three shelves in the broom cupboard so the top shelf had a larger gap to fit two stacked storage boxes and the bottom two shelves had a narrower gap. But whilst solving this problem I unknowingly created another and when I came to close the cupboard door the contents of the storage container fastened to the door were now too tall for the narrower gap between the bottom and second shelf and the handles of the cleaning and bottle brushes no longer fitted comfortably between the shelves when the door is closed but hit the shelf and stopped the door closing.

So now I have removed some of the taller cleaning brushes and will have to find a new home for them….argh!

I am quite pleased with the result though and all my candles are now in one easily accessible place. The two infuriating pillar candles will be lit as soon as the evenings draw in a bit more. I don’t really want it to feel like autumn yet as I think it is going to be a long, cold winter – what a shame we cannot bottle this summer heat.

My next task is to re-house the coolbags as I would like to get rid of the old kitchen cabinet in the garage where they currently reside. It is a base cabinet and sticks out a long way but does a good job of storing the cool bags and keeps them dust free. They would fit in the cupboard that has all our cleaning products like car shampoo and oven cleaner but I think the smell might spread into the coolbag over time. I am not sure I would want my picnic sandwiches to taste of metal polish or patio cleaner!! Another storage problem to mull over.

DH was busy ironing again – his reward was spending time at the computer (his favourite pastime). He also mounted the second water butt on some bricks with a slab on top which is much more stable than the plastic feet that come with it. This butt is not connected to a drain pipe but we pour in the ‘run off’ water we collect whilst the hot water is coming through in the kitchen. It is surprising how much you can lose down the drain. We are also keeping a bucket in the shower to collect any clean water there when showering. It rained…only a little yesterday early evening – I am hoping just enough to top up the water butt (as we have a hose pipe ban here now) and freshen up the borders and planters and save me having to water today.

Today we /me/or he is making Leek and Potato soup to use up the plentiful supply of potatoes I have and the remains of the leeks. If I have chance I will prepare the tomato soup ingredients at the same time.

This afternoon we are downing tools and going up the road to see two friends of ours K&R. R has recently come out of hospital after an operation and at the moment cannot drive so they are both stuck at home as K had to give up driving because of a macular problem. We have been taking K with us when we go shopping to help out as she is well in her 80’s now but today we are just visiting and having a cup of tea and a catch up chat.

dear diary >> a matter of opinion

DH and I agree on most things, but it is of no surprise that we have a difference of opinion when it comes to what constitutes ‘pottering’ and how long it should continue for. He thinks two hours of minimal activity is all I should be doing at present and of course he is right but I am an all or nothing person and once I begin a job I can’t bear not to see it through.

And I get sidetracked easily.

I am a great supporter of the Lean method where continuous improvement is part of the approach. I am always looking for better ways of organising and storing things and often have a move around much to DH’s dismay! Sometimes, even I have to acknowledge a task will take far longer than I have time for in a day, but if I stop what I am doing then I know it is going to end up as another project on the unfinished task list as other urgent housekeeping chores call for my attention.

Yesterday, I maybe overdid it a bit. I only intended to sort out the collection of small plastic plant pots in the greenhouse, that I had washed before our holidays, and keep only the useful ones. Dobbies, one of our local garden centres, have a recycling point for old plant pots so I have put aside the ones I don’t want to drop off on our next visit.

We have quite a useful space at the side of our house behind the shed where we can keep our wheelie bins and bags of potting compost tucked away from view. I also put the old mini greenhouse here as it is a sunny positon but much cooler away from any direct sun which is great for potted cuttings and hardening off. I keep the larger empty plant pots here too and anything a bit unsightly but the whole area was a bit of a mess because DH had not been able to get to his ladder easily and after he put it back in position the objects he had to move did not quite make it back in their place (need I say more…). So I started tidying up this area and as I went along I found a few problems that required a little DIY from DH whilst he was doing other bits and pieces in the greenhouse and now the area is looking much cleaner and quite tidy.

Before our holidays DH put in some ‘Christmas potatoes’ – I am not sure if they will actually be ready for Christmas day but they are growing well and needed earthing up. My few outdoor tomatoes are at last turning red – it has been a long wait. I haven’t grown this variety before, a dwarf stocky bush tomato that does not require the removal of side shoots called Totem. They are very sturdy plants that stood up well to the strong winds we had a month or so ago. The Zinnias in the top photo have been battered by wind and then scorched by the sun… but are holding on, they are such beautiful rich colours and one of my favourite annuals. I have more in the front borders and they are mixed with a rather lovely colour called ‘Green Envy’. I was quite pleased to see that Carol Klein recommended this variety on her Summer Gardening program (I just love her enthusiasm for plants it is contagious) it is such an unusual colour but looks good beside the vibrant reds and purples. The plants that have done the best this year on the patio are the geraniums – they seem to thrive in hot dry weather but then they do grow an enormous amount of them in France and Italy.

Today I must, must, must make the mushroom and lentil pies to freeze and the quiche bases (I know I have been saying this all week!). I will rub up the pastry mix this morning and then do the filling in the afternoon. If I get chance I have had an idea for storing those candles I mentioned. I need to gather them all together in Marie Kondo style to see what I am dealing with in terms of space required. I do have quite an assortment of candle holders too and maybe I don’t really need all of them. We shall see.

I am hoping that DH will be doing a bit more fixing and mending. When we got home from holiday I found my watering can broken. It is a Hall’s plastic red one with a long bar attached to the spout that you hold to carry it and it had snapped clean in two as you can see in the photo…..rendering it unuseable and there was no way it could be glued back together. It seemed such a shame that it would be of no further use and would end up in landfill at the tip. However DH to the rescue – he came up with a solution…..

…… a bit of a Heath Robinson fix (just like his dad) using this strong metal strip of rust proof aluminium and some screws or maybe they are rivets. I am delighted though and so pleased it could be repaired – in fact it should be stronger than before even if it does look a bit strange.

Have a lovely restful Sunday everyone. x

dear diary >> an act of kindness

Before I forget I thought I would just mention a marvellous act of kindness I came across whilst on holiday in Scarborough. It was on our last day and I desperately wanted to visit a fabric shop near to our holiday rental called the Sewing Centre before we left. This is their website www.sewingcentrescarborough.com They have a brilliant stock, friendly staff and sell online too and I spent a wonderful half hour browsing the aladins cave of fabrics especially the Liberty range. If I lived in Scarborough I would no doubt be in here every week.

I was particularly looking for this fabric above called Seaside Squares which comes in a panel to make into a strip of bunting for my daughter as a present for her Christmas stocking, as we both love homemade gifts…….(but shhh you had better keep that as a secret for now). They have a large amount of fabric in all colours and designs but sadly they didn’t have this one. However, to my delight, I managed to track it down last night on the internet and ordered a panel for £4.95 which I thought was good value especially as I could choose 2nd class Royal Mail postage for free as I am not in any hurry for it.

Anyway back to my story……DH and I were the only two people in the shop when a lady came in with her visiting friend. Her friend had asked to see a fabric shop and so she had brought her to this one. In the course of conversation with the owner it turned out the friend was a Ukrainian refugee who loved sewing but of course had not been able to bring her machine with her. The owner of the shop suddenly disappeared into the back and returned with a large box….opened it and presented the Ukrainian lady with a brand new sewing machine as a gift. I must say I left the shop with a tear in my eye at such kindness.

I decided against anymore clearing out yesterday – my right shoulder that has been taking quite a lot of strain since my back has been out of action was not very good. I have a feeling I might have a tear in my rotator cuff from doing the cat /cradle exercise and having to heave myself up out of chairs and beds by weighing heavily on my arm. I cannot lift it very high now and washing my hair is becoming increasingly difficult. After my shower yesterday it was aching…. a lot.

DH made some celery soup and then did a little ironing for me (well having a bad arm does have some compensations). I made a couple of phone calls, rearranged our hair appointments and had a look on you tube for some exercises that might help my shoulder – of course you end up down a rabbit hole don’t you and before I knew it DH was calling me for lunch. After lunch my shoulder was a little easier so I managed to write my letter – though with the strikes I am not sure when it will get to its destination so I only put a second class stamp on it.

Later we went to B&Q to get a length of dowel for the greenhouse to attach the shading material to – or at least that is the plan. It will be easier to photograph what we have in mind when it is done rather than explain it here. B&Q was so quiet and so was Sainsbury’s when we called for a few oddments – washing up liquid and cheese and picked up four reduced Organic wholemeal loaves for the freezer for 50p each.

The roads however were quite busy with people zooming around, (the start of the Bank Holiday busyness). There seems to be a real surge in people going through red lights and yesterday we saw someone do just that at each set of lights we had to stop at. Then there was the mad driver who thought it was a good idea to overtake us whilst going through the narrow railway viaduct where the road kinks and crossing the double white lines to do so….. then speeding off in a thirty area and crossing over to the other side of the road and going around the central reservation bollards to overtake the cars in front of us. It was a car driven by and full of young teenagers. The driver was no doubt showing off but at what cost potentially to someones life.

Today I am definitely going in the greenhouse for a potter. DH fixed my little birdhouse and I hope he is going to attend to the dripping basin tap in the shower room and maybe have a look at the greenhouse shading. My focus word for this year is improvement and each little improvement we both accomplish around the place is helping to make it feel a little better, a little less cluttered and a little more ordered. The enormous mountain of tasks are slowly, one by one, getting done. Somehow doing the smallest of jobs can lighten the weight of stress that builds up when faced with so many jobs to do.

I don’t think we will be going anywhere this Bank Holiday the roads are often busy and the cafes crowded. We will go out next week when everyone is back to work. Have a good weekend everyone.

dear diary >> more pottering

I was so delighted to find that these cuttings I had taken earlier in the year have taken along with a few tiny self sown seedlings that I noticed when weeding in the borders and potted up. They are out in my mini greenhouse in a shadier corner of the garden so they don’t dry out.

Yesterday turned into a bit of a mammoth sorting out day. Another one where I ventured into the garage and ended up sorting through the bank of Ikea wooden drawers that contain all our bits and pieces, well mainly DH’s bits and pieces – spare hinges, hooks, car bulbs, flat pack funriture parts and a million and one other things, often unidentifiable….all stuff that might one day be useful and to be fair to DH it often is. He has a maddening habit though of putting things he wants to keep into the right drawer (they are all labelled) but I have no idea what it is for and often he forgets. My method is to bag and label – his method is sometimes to bag but hardly ever to label. So yesterday we played the game of guess what this is for and do we still need it.

Eventually, he knew he would have to stop what he was doing (uploading holiday photos) to help me and give me a clue for some of the items so that now they are all bagged and labelled, including the ones labelled unknown like the charger – but what is it a charger for? I know if I throw it out it will be for something important. There is still a long way to go in the garage and I hate throwing things away but I am not sure we will ever need the spare castors that came off an old file drawer, or the digital timer that came from my mum…….but you never know. As always when you embark on these tasks things you had forgotten about resurface like the gym ball pump and who knew that we had three keys for the ladder lock – all hanging on separate hooks.

I am now trying to find a good way of storing all my numerous candles of various shapes and sizes – long thin, short stubby and large pillar. Presently, they are scattered between numerous boxes – they are all quite plain unscented candles and many of them were left over from my daughter’s wedding but I have not as yet found the ideal storage container or place to store them. It would be much simpler to use them all so I don’t have to store them at all. Maybe come the autumn / winter time and possible power cuts I will be glad of my little hoard. Until then this little problem is a pending one.

DH had his screw driver out again today doing little jobs around the house and I now have the little holdall (once fixed to the inside of my old kitchen cupboard door to take tupperware lids) fixed to the inside of the broom cupboard where I keep my cleaning cloths and caddy. The holdall is just perfect for holding my spare rubber gloves.

I managed to make the nut loaf for our evening meal and the rest will be frozen for next week. I made it with brown rice rather than breadcrumbs as one of my daughter’s has a gluten intolerance and I will be taking it up to her house for tea next week. But I must confess the pastry still didn’t get done again, however whilst I had the oven on anyway I decided to roast some teeny weeny potatoes I had left over (those very tiny ones that you always get when you grow your own) and parsnips at the same time – oh and I slipped a small frozen yorkshire pudding in at the end….they are a weakness of mine.

So today…it is another I can’t believe it is Friday day – I have washed towels to hang out and more washing to put in. I have a letter to write and a couple of friends to ring. Then who knows…. it could be more paperwork or another spell in the garage. I daresay DH would prefer it if I do the paperwork and keep well away from the garage which he sees as his domain. Maybe I will spend an hour in my domain (the greenhouse) I never got to organise it properly once DH had finished painting the inside.

Welcome to all the new followers of my blog – I do find it strange that I manage to acquire more followers when I am having a bit of a break from blogging than when I am writing!!!

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