Big girl room on a budget – by B

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Dolls’ house and cabinet from Ebay (£35 and £30 respectively). Cabinet lined with Cole and Son wallpaper leftovers (thanks, mum). Origami animals and flower canvas by me. Map of UK £3 wrapping paper from Rockett St George, held up by a panel pin (like most of the pictures in our house!).

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Random Google Shopping bed frame (£80ish) painted in F&B arsenic, bedding from IKEA

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Old IKEA shelves, cable reel painted in F&B off black (eBay£20), old school chairs (eBay£25 for 4) upholstered in fabric remnants, Vertbaudet rug (which used to have fabric toadstools attached but long since destroyed), canvas and felt ball garland by me, other artwork including potato print Barbara Hepworth (Toddle Tate St Ives on holiday last summer) by little one. Those trouser hangers from IKEA are fab for kids’ drawings.

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Old pine drawers (£20, eBay) again painted in F&B arsenic, IKEA telescopic shower curtain rail wardrobe (£10), branch mobile by me with a foraged branch and eBay birds, leaves, butterflies and eggs. The cast iron fireplaces in both kids’ rooms have been great for magnets of all kinds!

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Beautiful quilt made by Sabs from tybaltkingofcatsblog originally for little brother but pilfered by sis

A little selection of pictures from another constantly evolving room.  About time I blogged it. Never finished but always improving, and changing to meet the needs of a growing girl. We might need a proper wardrobe and desk soon…

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Mini gallery wall with Charley Harper animals (from an old calendar), butterflies, fabric, and card, coins and name picture from friends and family. Foam cell model from a very random selection on sale at nursery one day – she didn’t know what it was at the time, but liked it, and so do I.

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The tessalation design picture has done the rounds, originally made by me 9 years ago (amusingly all the rage now). Rag rug IKEA. Red stool made by my cabinet maker great grandfather and on its fourth generation of being used as a train, play dining table and baking stool.

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It’s cardoon and dahlia time!

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Mr Gaviscon, meet Mr Calpol – by B

Scabious, sash window (in need of some TLC, poor thing), Gaviscon and Calpol bottles.

Scabious, sash window (in need of some TLC, poor thing), Gaviscon and Calpol bottles.

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Oops – by B

Cosmos and ammi visnaga from the cutting patch

Cosmos and ammi visnaga from the cutting patch

So, it’s all about patience, doing big jobs first, and the long game with this house and garden. Until, that is, I saw two matching hip-height terracotta pots for half price in our local garden centre (£44 each!). So they are now sitting empty on the crumbling block paved death trap of a patio. The compost alone will bankrupt me, never mind the dahlias and spring bulbs I’m hoping to stuff them with. But I’m in love.

Exhibit A, a naughty frivolous pot purchase

Exhibit A, a naughty frivolous pot purchase

As you can see we’ve also moved the play house/sand pit to one of the shadier borders, and the slide now takes a route behind the cardoons, making it a bit junglesque for the small people (can you spot the two year old in the undergrowth?). Not very classy, but at £200 from Argos, and a huge hit with the kids, it’s a goodun (and arguably offers some structure/height to the garden, drawing the eye away from neighbours’ houses). Unfortunately, apart from my raised bed cutting patch it’s mostly tiny perennials,bare earth, dandelions and bindweed this July, but I have high hopes for next year…

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Cutting flowers may become addictive… – by B

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Nigella, sweet pea, scabious, dianthus (Mrs Sinkins White – they smell unbelievable, like vanilla and cloves)

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A little posy – by B

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My first cut flowers of the year: nigella, sweat peas and bleeding heart.

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The temporary permanent kitchen – by B

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Note our entire cutlery collection in jam jars as all of the drawer runners are knackered

I thought it was about time I posted the kitchen as it’s been this way for three years. There is no clever styling or posh camera here so it’s not the most aesthetically pleasing post.  When we moved in there was no room for our large fridge freezer, the cooker had been stuffed in a corner, and there was rather a lot of cornflower blue scalloped artex. Unfortunately there was also damp in the kitchen cupboards, a crack in the enamel sink, and lots of yellow pine…

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Yellow wood and blue artex

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A cracked sink and some very nineties wall units

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Boiler in the fireplace and greasy corner where the cooker had lived.

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This table looks barren and if I was a proper blogging person I would have found some flowers or artfully arranged a breadboard and artisan loaf or something.

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The beige, cracked floor tiles are FREEZING in winter and very effective at smashing anything which is dropped onto them. I couldn’t justify spending (wasting) more money on a temporary kitchen by covering them with vinyl, though.

I painted the cupboards in Farrow and Ball Pavillion Gray (a surprisingly lengthy process), painted the tiles and everything else white, and our builder replaced the boiler, work tops, sink, and taps, light, and raised the height of the fireplace to accommodate a range cooker.  I screened the new boiler and bins with an Ikea curtain, and lined the glazed wall cupboard with the remnants, and added a cheap Roman blind at the window.  It ‘ain’t perfect but it’s cleaner and a bit less dated while we wait until we can afford to knock walls about and do it properly.  I do wish half the drawers and cupboards weren’t unusable due to damp or damage, though! image

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Four year old stylist – by B

imageBiggest little one picked some blossom from a neighbour’s overhanging tree.  She was very definite that it was for mummy and daddy’s bedroom.  I suspect the petals may drop by morning but it’s making me smile today.

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May flowers (and foliage) – by B

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Euphorbia, allium, variegated sage, chives, with buddleia, salvia ostfeiesland, white lupins and alchemelia mollis waiting in the wings

Tulips have given way to more autumn-planted Wilkos bulbs: this time allium purple sensation. I am rather enjoying the emerging structure, and spotting and noting the gaps to be filled with more bulbs and divided perennials in the months and years to come. In the end I set up my raised bed cut flower patch in the back garden. The Sarah Raven seedlings and a few home-sown sweet peas are growing fast, and I’m glad I chose mostly perennials as they should turn out to be a lasting investment for the house as well as the garden. We have enjoyed our first home-grown rhubarb crumble his week too. Apples will have to wait as I’ve pinched off most of the fruitlets from our Stoke Edith Pippin (a local Apple, grafted by a friend last year), to get some good growth on this season. We’re having a new rear fence built in a week or so too, which will make a huge impact on privacy and tidiness at the sunny end of the garden. The only bad news is that our neighbour has vigorously pruned her grape vine so the sneaky branch we trained along our fence has bitten the dust, so no grapes from the garden this year. They were so good we might have to invest in our own vine.

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Raised bed with Ammi, echinops, poppy, dianthus, cosmos, sweet peas and a brave little dahlia surrounded by slug pellets, with a cental apple tree

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The other side of the garden with already triffid-like cardoons, hebe, euphorbia, allium, white bleeding heart, forget me nots, sage, and some yellow-green shrubbery of unknown origin

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Slowly but surely…by B

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A bit of colour (okay, it’s mostly a restricted pallette of green, blue, white and purple) in a slowly evolving border in the back garden.  The forget me nots are spreading nicely (with a bit of help).  The euphorbia wulfenii is looking majestic with its acid green plumes.  The ‘Shirley’ tulips have started off a lemon and lime white shade, and are maturing gradually with purple tinged petal edges.  A few bluebells are peeping through the greenery, and  I’m looking forward to the allium ‘purple sensation’ popping its purple pompoms, and the nigella seedlings (the result of a scattered packet of seeds) launching their frothy blue stars.  There’s more to do, and I definitely need to plug a few gaps in the bulb planting come autumn, but it’s feeling like progress.

The borders in the back garden were small, lined by a very ugly, cracked concrete and aggregate path, and covered in blue plastic and bark chippings.  Time and money have prevented a dramatic makeover.  Instead I’ve gradually removed the plastic and path, reshaped the border edge, enriched the soil as much as I can with the contents of our dalek compost bins, and removed the largest stones (it is mostly builders’ rubble with a handful of clay topsoil, it seems).  I pruned the laurel, and transplanted, divided and spread around a tiny clump of forget me nots from our last house.  Allium and tulip bulbs were added last autumn from Wilkos (bargain!).  Euphorbia wulfenii and cardoon plants (just a mound of silvery foliage so far this year) were the only extravagance, bought from Sara Raven two years ago.  I’m waiting for the miniature alchemelia mollis plants from Aldi to do something interesting (planted about a month ago).

This gardening lark is fun, but I haven’t got a clue what I’m doing, and thinking in 4D (not just space, but time, planning the seasons) is one hell of a challenge.  And don’t even mention dandelions and bindweed.  Just don’t.

Oh yeah, and the bastard earwigs munched most of my daffodils.  Grr.

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