Sunday, 19 April 2015

Get out in the Garden...

One thing is for certain, as soon as the weather starts to brighten up and the temperature begins to rise a thoughts are always turned towards the state of my little patio garden. It's definitely one of the perks of living in a ground floor flat, and I often feel greatful to have neighbours with whom I can have a natter with over the garden wall, and little pots of herbs by my back door to pick from when I'm cooking dinner in the evening.

So, this past week I made sure to set aside a little time on my day off to get our garden in order. I wanted to make sure everything was tidy and in order ahead of my visit to the RHS Show in Bute Park with my folks (but more about that later) so, any treats I bought could instantly be planted out to thrive in this sunny little spot of Cardiff.

With my new gardening gloves in hand, and a couple of handy little tools for clearing out between paving stones, I was ready to go. Nothing stood in my way. Dandelions and brambles were pulled from between the cracks of the patio, weeds and grass were tugged from around my little Jasmine in the corner of the garden, giving it more breathing space to grow and climb, and pots were cleared of old compost with crocks ready for drainage when the new arrivals came.

It felt like such a great sense of achievement, slowly filling up my bag of garden waste for the recycling men, knowing that all those pesky weeds would eventually become compost somewhere else.

After a good couple of hours slaving away in the sun, I enjoyed a cup of tea, sat on my doorstep surveying my handiwork. It looks like a completely different garden. So lovely and tidy. And even better, I had space and new potting compost ready to go should I find any treats at the flower show too. 
After my last swig of tea, I headed inside to sort through my seed packets and choose what I would like to grow on my window sill, ready to plant out when all threats of frost were well behind us.
I decided on sweet peas for their prettiness and scent, to climb up my little bamboo sticks in the corner of the garden, and to encourage bumble bees too. Marigolds for their colour too, and also because they deter beetles from lovely crops like beans and strawberries which I plan on growing later in the season. And a couple of pots of chives and parsley to live on my kitchen windowsill, and be used in a whole load of summery dishes.

After a sweep up and a scrub of my finger nails, I brought my little pots inside to sit in the sunny warmth of the kitchen window, and grabbed a cheeky little nap on the sofa feeling quite pleased with myself.

I'd love to hear what you lovely readers have been getting up to in your gardens? Got any tips for me and my little patio?
I'd love to hear from you.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Adventures in the Wye Valley

Sometimes it's nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. To get a bit of fresh air, and a change of scenery. So, on Sunday just past, the Mr and I packed our bags in the car and headed up through the Welsh countryside and just over the border into England, to spend a few days in the sweetest little market town of Ross-on-Wye.
Our days were filled with exploring and walking, and generally recharging our batteries. As soon as we arrived (after cooing at the lovely view from our bedroom window) we dropped our bags and went in search of a local pub so the Mr could catch some football, and I could while away the afternoon on Pinterest with a bottle of beer in hand.

The following day, we donned our walking boots and headed off for a gentle 6 mile ramble around the local area. We headed away from the town following the river upstream before setting off across the countryside through fields of blossoming Oilseed Rape, and past viaduct ruins, with paths laid with railway sleepers. 
We stopped halfway, on our walk for a spot of lunch on the river bank, watching mischievous lambs clamber across the steep banking before getting into trouble with their mum, calling out in matronly bleats. We trudged down tyre worn farm tracks, and past cottages and farm houses surrounded by nothing but fields and birdsong. 
As soon as I saw this house at the top of the track, I vowed to the Mr that we would one day live in a house like this. That's a promise.

Our evenings were filled with sunny drinks on the terrace of our hotel, soaking up every last minute of warmth from the sun before disappearing indoors to fill our stomachs with beautiful pub fayre including, scampy and chips, yummy grilled steaks and chocolate puddings to top it all off.

Although we were sad to see our mini-break come to an end so quickly, we made sure that our little holiday lasted as long as possible and took a little detour on the way home to the ruins of Tintern Abbey, a 14th Century monastery set in the bottom of a valley in the Welsh countryside. Here we enjoyed a little picnic, sat on our blanket amongst the ruins in the peace and quiet. It was utter bliss.

It was so nice to be able to explore places that are almost on our doorstep yet, feel worlds away from the noisy city life of Cardiff. It definitely helped speak to my inner country-bumpkin, and I think a little holiday was just what we needed.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Mid-Week Bliss: Girl Crushes

Girl crushes...everyone's got them. Most people are scared to admit they have them. Not me! I am definitely proud of my girl crushes. Personally I think women don't celebrate each other enough. We're all so quick to bitch about another's flaws; cellultite, not so flattering outfits, OTT make-up...but really, who cares?! 
It's time we started  recognising those women which inspire us, the ones we secretly admire in all their creative, geeky, glory. So, here's my list of girl crushes. These lovely ladies, I particularly admire for their individuality and for being proud of what they are good at. Don't be afraid to let your girl crush geek flag fly, ladies.

Rachel Khoo.
This probably won't come as much of a surprise to you but, I think Rachel Khoo is genuinely the bee-knees. Not only for sticking two fingers up to the fashion industry and saying "See ya, I'm gonna go eat cake for a living in Paris." (Not necessarily in those exact words) But, she has nailed the look of petite & curvy without going down the seductive route a la Nigella. Not that there's anything wrong with that but, a girl doesn't need to be sexy all the time. It's just too exhausting!
She's written 3 books in English, 2 in French, and produces all the illustrations for them too. Seriously,this woman is definitely a triple threat. Not only does she make me feel like it's OK, to pick at cheese whilst I'm cooking but, she also makes me feel like I'm not an alien because I still shop in the kids department for my clothes from time to time (i.e. that delicious yellow Petit Bateau coat she's always rocking). Thank you Rachel. We salute you!

Jessica Chastain.
This lovely red-headed lady is a true American Beauty and an acting inspiration too. From being bullied for her hair colour and intelligence during high-school she has grown into one of the most incredible actresses I have ever seen on screen. Not only can she tackle gritty roles like Maggie Beauford in Lawless, she can nail acting a southern belle like Celia Foote in The Help, and even mastermind the mission which captured Osama Bin Laden, as Maya in Zero Dark Thirty. 
If anyone can show those high-school bullies who's boss, it's this lady. She gives me hope that I will one day be able to show those who picked on me as a teenager, just how successful I can be, as well as being a great role model for others too.

Alys Fowler.
Last but not least is, the lovely, Alys Fowler. This lady has truly mastered the art of finding your niche and being proud of what you're good at. After completing her degree, she studied with the Royal Horticultural Society, and at Kew Gardens. She was awarded a scholarship with the New York Botanical Gardens, and moved to the states in 1998, before returning to the UK to take up her post as head gardener at Berryfields where, Gardeners World was hosted from. This lady is a true inspiration when it comes to letting your geek flag fly. She has made a career for herself out of something which is often seen as deeply 'uncool' with a younger generation, and has even broken the boundaries of traditional gardening by writing books and producing shows such as; The Thrifty Gardener and A Home Grown Life, which celebrate a more frugal way of both living and gardening. Something which we all know I am passionate about. Not only that but, she has such an amazing sense of style and is often seen pottering about in her garden in a vintage dress and wellies, with her adorable Jack Russel, Isobel following closely behind. She makes me feel like it's OK, to spend the day with dirt under my finger nails on my hands and knees in a vintage dress, sowing marigold seeds to keep the pests off of my peas. Alys, you are just too cool for words.

Come on then ladies, let me in on some of secret girl crushes, and tell me why you find them so inspiring. It's time we started celebrating each other's quirks!

Friday, 3 April 2015

Homespun Mess...

I've been thinking about blogging a lot lately. Thinking about what it is I want to blog about, how I want it to progress, and the topics I want to blog about. I guess it's been no mystery that I've been suffering from a small bout of 'Bloggers Block' recently, due to the lack of posting, and I couldn't quite put my finger on it until I saw this article from the lovely Gala Darling, and it hit the nail on the head.

I was burned out!

So, I expect by this point you're thinking...”What has being burned out got to do with photos of a messy bedroom?” Well here's the thing...this blog may be about living a lovely slower pace of life, and doing it in a homespun way but, I want to be honest with you readers, and share the behind the scenes with you.
There are masses of bloggers out there spreading a message of “Look how wonderful my life is, and it can all be yours if you live in London/the countryside, earn £100,000+, don't have children, will sell your soul for a decent advertising gig.” And that is not what Hannah's Homespun Life is about.
Yes, the slower pace of life is obtainable, and the picturesque surroundings are too but, this is me exposing what it can be like in our “dinky little Edwardian flat”, and boy is it small.

Those shots of feet snuggled under patchwork quilt are very lovely, and I thoroughly enjoyed sewing that quilt on cold Autumn nights infront of the telly but, sometimes our bed is strewn with damp towels, and clean laundry which needs to be put away, and hairdryers which get dumped there in the morning rush.
Sometimes, it's nice and neat, with fresh sheets, and the clean clothes get hung up straight away and you can actually see the floor in our tiny bedroom.
And sometimes, it doesn't happen like that.

Sometimes, the sun comes streaming through my kitchen window at the precise moment that I want to photograph the cake I spent the last hour baking. And sometimes a van parks infront of my kitchen window on the road outside, obstructing nearly all the natural light for the majority of the day. Sometimes shopping gets dumped, and I can't be bothered to move it until it's time for dinner and I'm sick of eating off our laps in the living room, and actually want to sit at the table. And ALWAYS, does my husbands expensive road bike live in the kitchen, cluttering up our small space because he's too scared to store it outside incase it gets knicked or gets rusty. (Calm down, Wiggo!)

And sometimes, those inspiring shots of books and diaries piled by my laptop are because there's no more room on the coffee table, for keys and mugs and post which needs to be sorted through. Sometimes, I'm sat at my laptop without brushing my hair or cleaning my teeth. Sometimes I procrastinate whilst watching episodes of Barefoot Contessa.

Sometimes it's ok to let the dishes pile up, or the laundry go un-washed for a couple of days. Life is for living. The housework will always be there. If you do it, one day, it'll be there again the next.
It's at times like these that I remember why I'm writing this blog...because I love it. And if I'm burning myself out, then it can only end in tears.
So I'll take a deep breath, put the kettle on, or go for a walk round the park, and just step away from it all for a minute.
How does that sound?

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Mid-Week Bliss

My brain is currently buzzing with a shed load of ideas. Projects I want to undertake, projects I need to finish, and a whole manner of new and exciting things on the horizon both personal and some-what professional.

I'm trying to shift things about here on the blog...get into a bit more a routine. I apologise if my posts are a bit erratic at the moment but, it might be like this whilst I try to find some kind of rhythm with my writing and the content which I share with you all on here.
With that said, I've decided to change the name of my Wednesday Bliss post, to "Mid-Week Bliss". This weekly installment was intended to be a bit of a boost, or a pick-me-up for you lovely readers, and I fear it has recently lost it's shine. So, a little name change and a little shake up, I think will do the trick nicely.

So, let me share with you, a few things which I am feeling particularly blissful about this week, and it all comes courtesy of a little bit of inspiration from the Pretty Nostalgic Society, of which I am a Pioneering member. If you'd like to know more...just leave me a comment below or visit the website.

1. Spend wisely. The Mr and I are really beginning to think seriously about looking for a house of our own in the not too distant future. It's been lovely daydreaming about where we might live but, now I find it's time to get down to the practicalities of it. Needless to say, we are making sure we spend our pennies a lot more carefully than we used to, so we can make sure we put as much into our savings as possible. We've been finding lots of lovely things to do for free on our days off, enjoying several date nights at home with a bottle of wine and a new movie on box office, not to mention taking full advantage of our unlimited cinema cards.

2. Waste Less. I've always been a bit of a thrifty being. I think that comes from my maternal Grandmother and her wartime experiences. In the spirit of thrift, I've been playing around in the kitchen making scrummy stews out of Sunday roast leftovers, making us eof my staple baking items in the cupboard to make biscuits and cakes to go with a cuppa, instead of choosing shop bought ones. I've even cut up old scraps of fabric and threadbare garments into hexagons for another patchwork quilt project, instead of just chucking them in the recycling. I always end up feeling such a sense of acheievement, and it's even nicer to see a few more pennies in my bank account at the end of the week.

3. Appreciate More. Frugality in the home has definitely taught me to appreciate things a bit more. I literally count down the days to Friday date night now, taking a little more time to choose that bottle of wine on my way home from work. Homemade cookies are savoured and truly enjoyed with a cup of tea in the evening. And dare I say it, but I've even started to think about coming birthdays and even the C-word...Christmas, and how I might find thoughtful gifts for people which didn't break the bank, and that I know they will truly love. 

Here's hoping.

I'd love to hear what you would all apply to your own little guidelines of Spend Wisely, Waste Less, Appreciate More. Feel free to drop me a comment. I'd love to get a good discussion and share a few more ideas about this.

Have a lovely rest of week. I hope this helped you get over the hump.
Hannah. x