Friday, 28 June 2013

Friday Inspiration

A pretty wedding themed week for us this last week, we booked to go look around some venues during a week off in July and I asked my sisters and oldest friend to be my bridesmaids on Wednesday :)

Still lots of home inspiration around though, and I really am going to have a more productive weekend this time as there will be no alcohol involved haha, so expect some posts with actual photos next week!

The light in this photo is what drew me to it, but the dark floor and white furniture are a great contrast

That cabinet! I really want something like this for storing all my knick-knacks and clutter...

I want a way to lounge in the sun in our garden as the chairs are pretty upright (I can currently only tan my front...) and something like these floor cushions would be perfect

This rocking chair is perfect, I love midcentury modern furniture!

Another kitchen with subway tile, seems I have quite the obsession...

Have lovely weekends all, I'm hoping to maybe get some things hung on the walls - exciting!

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Free Cycling - hints and tips

My guide to using freecycle/freegle in your area. Search for freecycle or freegle then your town or city name to find your local group. My favourite find has to be my chest of drawers in the bedroom or our new table, what's yours?

Safety
You are dealing with strangers on the internet, so some common sense rules apply.

  • I don't give out my address until I have set up a date and time with the person to collect, I do tell them roughly what area I'm in so they can tell me when they can be here though.
  • I try to set it up for times when Tom will be home and if it's not a possibility (he's never at home at the weekends for example when most people can collect stuff) I try to have the item ready by the front door so I can just hand it to them on the doorstep without them coming into the flat. I also don't advertise the fact that I will be home alone when they are coming to collect if that is the case, often saying 'we' will be home when it will likely just be me.
  • When collecting items from others the same rules apply, I try not to go alone, and if I do I wait outside the door for them to go and get the item, if it's something large like our wardrobes or table Tom will be there to help any way. Most people don't want you coming in anyway if they are following the same guidelines so will often have things ready.
  • I don't give out my phone number because I don't want to get crank calls, only my yahoo email address that I pretty much only use for freecycle. The groups are on yahoo groups message boards so I had to set up an account to join, but I already had an email address that I use for everything else. I have only once given my number out to a lady who was doing a house clearance for her elderly in-laws who were going into a nursing home, her mother in law wanted to speak to people on the phone before they came to her house, I felt OK to take a chance doing this because the lady was on her own (her husband was already in the home) in a large house with lots of people coming round and it was obviously a bit of an upsetting time for her. So you may prefer to speak to people in person first, I prefer to have it in writing, which brings us on to the next point...
  • I always make sure Tom knows when I am going to collect things or when people are coming to pick things up if he will not be there, just in case I don't come home. He doesn't always know the address exactly or who the person is but it would only take a quick look at my emails to tell him.
  • If you are unsure about the person or very nervous about having strangers round arrange to meet them somewhere neutral and public away from your home. 
Fairness and Politeness
You're dealing with the general public, doing this day to day at work is taxing enough sometimes for me, add in the fact that there is free stuff involved you can find people are sometimes not as polite or as reasonable as you might hope (although the majority are of course lovely!)

  • Some items go really quickly and get lots of responses, some take longer and you might have to re list them. There are different ways of deciding who to give an item to, some will wait a certain amount of time then pick a person at random from those who have emailed. Some (me included) will just go with first to reply and able to collect gets it. I usually want to get rid of stuff quite quickly so just go with whoever can come and get the thing soonest to get it out of the way. It's your property you are giving away for free so it's really up to you who you give it to, if only one person replies but for whatever reason you don't like them then you don't have to give it to that person. 
  • When emailing requesting items that have been listed bear in mind they may be waiting to get some responses before deciding, so if you don't hear back immediately then wait a while. Emailing again may make you seem pushy.
  • It's best to send a polite and properly written email, I hate when I get an email just saying something like, 'intrestd. still avail?' no name or anything. I usually reply to a listing with something along the lines of 'Hi Mr Smith, I would be interested in your whatevertheyhavelisted if it is still available, I can collect evenings after 6pm or on Sunday. Many Thanks, Katie. Doesn't have to be an essay just a nice reply with when you can collect and your name.
  • If someone emails you back that an item is available and you can collect it, give them a few times you can collect and let them choose one, then most importantly turn up when you say you will. I have had no shows before, once a person said his brother who's van he was going to use let him down, but he made no effort to arrange another date. The sofa he was collecting was at this point in the front garden (always a classy look) as we had had our new sofa arrive and we were living in a tiny house. It stayed there for ages while I tried to arrange to get it taken away until it finally got stolen! 
  • If you change your mind or no longer need an item (say you replied to 2 ads and both of them were available) then just say, not turning up to collect or ignoring emails is rude. If you get there and the item isn't what you thought or unsuitable don't be afraid to decline to take it, although bear in mind a lot of stuff on freecycle is being given away for a reason - don't expect every find to be in good condition or in working order, but the item should match it's description in the ad so if it's not working you should already be aware of that before you go to collect.
  • I also had someone arrange to come by one evening to collect a bathroom sink, they said between 7-8 I think, after 10pm they hadn't arrived so we just went to bed thinking they weren't coming. We got up in the morning to find the sink had gone, it was left out at the top of the driveway. They had however also taken a radiator that our landlord was hoping to sell for scrap. Obviously don't take extras from the persons home, you'd think everyone would know this!
  • If you can't make it at the time you said you could to collect something or won't be home when someone is picking something up, contact the person. Also if you replied to an ad but now have transport issues let them know. I think some people reply to ads before they have thought about how they will pick them up because they want to get in early and make sure they get the item (stuff can go really fast, especially furniture). I don't deliver stuff on freecycle, I'm giving it away for free so they have to come pick it up.
  • I also don't give out my address before setting up a time and day for convenience as well as safety, I don't want people just turning up whenever or having to wait around for them, and I have had someone just arrive unannounced before. I sent them my address and said something like 'I'm home after 5pm most evenings' before they sent me a time and date and they just turned up! The item was in the loft, so they had to wait outside in the rain while I went to get it, and I made sure I took ages up there :)
  • The second person to email me for our desk last week sent me a phone number on the bottom of the email, then didn't reply to my subsequent emails. I don't know if they were expecting me to ring them, but I wasn't going to. If I am giving away an item for free I don't want to be having to phone them to get them to come and pick it up.
Rules

Each freecycle group usually has it's own rules, they will probably be sent to you when you sign up. Make sure you read them and stick to them. I also have a few self imposed rules and hints about what I will or will not list and what to expect from freecycle
  • The point of freecycle is to save usable stuff going into landfill, so don't ask for an item for the sake of it just because it's free. Some people will ask for anything and everything just because it's going free and probably end up throwing it out after a while.
  • I will list most stuff on freecycle, you never know what someone might need! The only things I would leave off (but have seen advertised) are opened cosmetics or toiletries, food (I've seen opened packets of baby milk advertised as no longer needed, kind of right sentiment but you never know how long it's been open etc), stuff that is broken to the point of being unsafe and obviously anything illegal or dangerous (not that I have anything illegal or dangerous!).
  • I expect everyone to be polite and thankful, I am giving away something for free so when they reply to the ad and then collect the item I expect them to be nice to me! Goes without saying really, but sometimes people can be a bit funny. I think these people may sometimes not be being rude on purpose they may just not have been raised with such good manners as me and Tom...but manners cost nothing and if someone is rude to me or I feel they are being abusive I will decline to let them have the item, or will decline to take the item they are offering.
  • When listing loads of items at once I find they go quicker when listed separately rather than in an 'Offered, Various' post. I suppose if you're checking the list every day for a particular item you skim over it, so don't click into every post and might miss something in one of these long posts. 
  • If you're looking for a particular item then check the message board at least once a day (more often if you can), the moderators are often volunteers who will approve messages at particular times (often morning and evening), so get to know when ads go live and check around that time.
  • We've got so much stuff from freecycle, but also have given a lot away to others. In the start we mainly took as we had nothing, then once we started replacing things or finding things were surplus to requirements after moving house etc we started giving stuff away. Some things like our desk we got from freecycle then gave away on freecycle as they still had life left in them. Circle of life and all that.
  • Don't just use freecycle to get rid of or acquire household items, you can use it to get free garden work done! I used freecycle to get rid of a large hedge at our last house. It was blocking all the light to our window but it was a massive (over 7ft tall and 4ft wide) hedge that someone could use. I advertised it as free to whoever wanted to come and dig it out, I had loads of responses! The family that turned up chopped the whole thing out roots and all and took it away to hide an outbuilding in their garden. I've seen similar listings for patio slabs, turf even bricks from outbuildings that need demolishing. 
  • For the garden work I did make it clear that he person collecting would be expected to do all the legwork, and I expect this of all items. I have had people turn up just themselves and their elderly mother expecting me to help them move a 3 seat sofa down a flight of stairs that turned 180 degrees. On my own. When the ad and all emails I sent to them clearly stated that they would need to bring someone to help move the sofa as it was upstairs. Um no, they had to go and get some help and come back.




That's my list of general hints and tips, it makes it sound a bit negative in some places but I really like the idea of these groups! I find the issues, as always, are just with a few people who can spoil your view of the whole group, most are lovely and will collect when they say they will and respond to all of your emails and are polite and helpful. I would definitely recommend it for people just starting out and also for tenants who don't want to spend a lot on furniture.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Free Cycling

The weekend was not as productive as I had planned. I actually got nothing done! I had hoped to rearrange the hallway to put the wardrobe on a different wall but turns out it doesn't actually fit on the wall I wanted to put it on and looked stupid on the others. I also have about 30p in my bank account right now because last week I booked the flights for our holiday later this year, so no purchases or shopping trips either. All in all a quiet-ish weekend, housework Saturday then a night out for my sisters birthday, leading to a hungover Sunday with a trip to the climbing centre to attempt to sweat out the toxins then a sneaky kebab to replace them in the evening :)

I also spent the weekend attempting to get rid of our desk and desk chair. The ones I moved out into the hallway to get rid of 2 weeks ago. It looked like this for a week
Then like this for 2 weeks

It was a pain in the butt and I had hoped to get rid of them pretty much immediately via freecycle as stuff usually gets snapped up quickly. I know 2 weeks isn't actually that long to have some surplus furniture around, but we are limited on space. Certainly when we had a larger place and stuff could go into the garage or attic or spare room things hung around for longer than that before I got round to getting rid, but in a small place every square inch counts!

I listed the desk and chair on the Monday after the weekend of swapping the tables out (2 weeks ago today) on Cheltenham, Gloucester and Tewkesbury Freecycle groups. I had someone email me Tuesday interested, I said it was still available, after much emailing back and forth and sending photos etc it turned out she didn't drive so was trying to find someone to bring her, by the time she admitted this it was Saturday. I gave her until the Monday to sort something out then said I was going to have to relist it on Freecycle as I had been waiting almost a week for her, but if she did find someone to let me know. I've never heard from her again so am assuming she didn't. I'm not sure if she was expecting me to offer to deliver, but I don't have a car either so it wasn't an option.

Relisted it Tuesday last week, someone else emailed me, replied to them that it was available and when could they collect, no reply.

Another person emailed with days and times they could collect and then arrived on time to collect on Saturday, much more what I expect!

This is the first time I've had such a palaver getting stuff collected! I've had no shows in the past and people generally being unreliable/rude and that's just some people for you, but I've never had to send so many bloody emails to sort out giving away some furniture for free!

So it made me think about some guidelines for using freecycle and what to expect...coming Wednesday!

Friday, 21 June 2013

Friday Inspiration

First full week back to work in what seems like forever (In reality about 10 days) this week, and I've felt it, absolutely knackered and cannot wait for a lie in tomorrow! This is my excuse for the lack of projects this week, but I hope to have a productive weekend. You know some weeks you just can't get going and everything seems to be half finished?

I'm on my last book of the six book challenge at work, I finished 'Damage' earlier this week (Interesting, but a bit odd and I didn't really feel attached to the characters or story) and now onto 'The Little Stranger' which is a horror story and looks promising (currently only on page 20 so we'll see).

Onto the inspiring images...

This kitchen is quite rustic looking, but also clean and modern. I so want one of those fridges, they do them in so many colours though, I would never make my mind up! Looking on the website it's a company that builds new houses that look old, not sure I'm convinced but they look nice.

This informal seating area is exactly what I'd like in our courtyard, if it was ours I would so built in some bench seating around the edges with storage underneath...

This started as a wedding pin for centrepieces but I love this idea and you could use it in the home. I saw some similar back here, and thought about doing my own then as I have made candles before.

White subway tile, an island in grey and cabinets in white...dream kitchen! Also plenty of covered storage as well as the open shelves

This tile is gorgeous, both on the walls and the floor but especially the turquoise walls. A walk in shower is also so enviable

That's it for this week, have great weekends! Looking forward to girls night out tomorrow for my sisters birthday then a chilled out (possibly hungover!) Sunday...

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Goodbye Cards

I'm going to take down all of my birthday cards and our engagement cards tomorrow. Mostly because it's been over a month now and also because I really need to dust!

I often leave cards up far too long and find the room looks oddly bare after we take them down! I thought I'd share some photos of them in our living room, we've never had so many cards!





I always resolve to keep my favourite ones and do something with them, like frame them or something but ultimately never do anything with them! Any ideas?

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Not Buying a House?

Tom and I went out on Friday into Cheltenham for a few drinks to a few of our local bars, as we have been a lot recently we were talking weddings :)

One thing we did discuss was that if we're getting married soon (Thinking late next year or early 2015) it will mean not buying a house in the next few years. And we're fine with that.

I thought I'd be a bit more sad about this as although I wanted to get married one day I thought we would buy a house first. However, it doesn't really matter what order we do it in, we're still making progress getting married, and then will look at getting our own house after this.

I think the difference is that we're happy where we are. In our last places they were always temporary, somewhere we could leave without really having any second thoughts. Looking back now we weren't happy at all in some of them, and the others we never really loved. I love our little flat and the location, we are quite happy to carry on living the high life in Cheltenham for now because when we buy we will probably have to move back out to the suburbs (unless we win the lottery or get 2 to 3 big promotions between now and then) as we can't afford much more than a one bed flat in the town centre.

So tenant chic won't be turning into 'homeowner chic' for a while! The impact of planning/paying for a wedding might have some effect on the home projects I do, like we might not make many large purchases (although we don't often spend a lot anyway so there might be little change) and I might not have as much time for larger projects when the date for the wedding gets closer. Although there will likely be a lot of DIY wedding plans (thinking centrepieces, invites, decorations) so I will share those as we go, although I will try not to go on too much about weddings here as it's not the main focus of the blog.

We have plans though for when we buy, involving lots of built in storage, a climbing wall in the attic (for Tom) and a dog (for me). Got to get the priorities right...

Sunday, 16 June 2013

To Do Update

I last shared my to do list for the flat back in March when the blog had not long been in existence, and since then a lot has been done around here. I think starting the blog and showing the world our flat really lit a fire under my backside to get things done! 

I thought it would be good to share the updated list, to keep me motivated...

Entrance Hallway


  • Get storage furniture - A large cupboard or wardrobe   Done!
  • Organise the stuff stored in there  Done!
  • Add art and photos - 1/2 done there are a few small photos on the bookshelves but I want to add in some larger scale art.
  • Give the room a purpose other than storage and drying washing! - Not done yet but I have a few ideas
  • Once we have the wardrobe/cupboard move items from other rooms into it   Done! And also the small ottomans on top of the wardrobe are now full with kitchen and office stuff.
  • Maybe a runner or a rug - Not done but this will be one of the last finishing touches so will probably be last thing on the list for this room.
  • Organise music equipment Done!
Office
  • New desk - Done! Well we actually got rid of the desk and got a table.
  • New computer - I'm typing this first post on my new asus eee, well 2nd and actually it was £75 on eBay and came with a full size screen also and a case, bargain! - Netbook still working and so little it can fit into my handbag :)
  • New desk chair Won't need one any more as no more desk.
  • Update fish tank (this really is a 'one day' thing as the one we have is fine it's just a bit dated) - Not done although we have changed the filter as the big external one broke so we are back to a small internal one which seems to be working fine. Probably next on the list of large purchases.
  • Mat under cat litter tray Done!
  • Add art and photos  Done! 
  • Sort out the lighting 
  • Possibly change light fixture (the one in here came with the flat so we'd have to store it away safely)
  • Maybe a rug under the desk, see once we get the desk - Not done but not sure this one is needed any more since a rug under the table isn' really needed and we don't have the desk
Bedroom
  • New wardrobes asap Done!
  • New bed - After the turtle tank this is probably second on the list of large purchases
  • Find use for the old bedside tables or get rid of them - maybe repaint or otherwise update them - Not done yet, they are full of stuff so we need to replace them or update them can't just get rid.
  • New bedside tables - Nope not yet, although we were waiting until we got the bed but now the tank has moved up the list we might just get some temporary ones as having to put everything on the floor by the bed is a bit rubbish.
  • Shoe storage  Done!
  • Bedside lamps - Again no as waiting for bed but if we get some tables then we can use our old ones that have just been in storage.
  • Declutter! - Sort of, we got the ottomans on top of the wardrobes and had a sort out but the room is still a bit cluttered for my liking. 
  • Organise under bed storage Done!
  • Organise storage on top of wardrobes - Done!
  • New bedding - Not done but will be a final finishing touch so last on the list
  • Art and photos - Sort of done we have the canvas on top of the trunk, but we have permission to hang things on the chimney breast just need to get it done...
  • Update mirror and maybe hang on wardrobe door - Mirror will be updated but not hung on the wardrobes now we have our new ones as they are a. too nice to spoil with a cheap mirror and b. the doors are too narrow.
Bathroom
  • Get some storage solutions for toiletries - Done!
  • Artwork and maybe photos - Not yet, looking for something for the back of the toilet.
  • Organise the built in cupboard - 1/2 done, got the cleaning supplies organised but want a shelving unit in there too
  • Get a shelving unit for the built in cupboard to store more in there - not done
Living Room
  • Get new sofa in  - Done!
  • New coffee table - maybe a trunk or box - Not done, I might try to DIY something with our current table...
  • New CD and DVD shelves  - Done!
  • Declutter - Sort of done but we need to hang some of the photo frames as there are too many on the surfaces
  • Stands for Toms guitars - Done!
  • Find places for all the photos and add in some larger pieces - still in progress, the photos all have places but we can now hang stuff on the chimey breast so need to get on that and I want to DIY some larger pieces.
  • DIY or buy a roman shade to brighten up the window - not done.
  • Runner for behind the sofa - maybe DIY  Done!
  • More cushions for the sofa - some different patterns and colours - Not done but I'm keeping an eye out for cushions...
Kitchen
  • Organise cupboards - Almost done just one more cupboard to go.
  • Get a spice rack - Done!
  • Declutter work surfaces - Done!
  • Storage storage storage - top cupboards and in cabinets - Done!
  • Get a nicer dish drainer - done, I don't think there are actually any photos of our old one but it was a silver plastic one we had for ages and it was a bit gross 
  • Get a cutlery organiser for the drawer  - Done!
  • Art and photos  - Done for now I might change some around though
  • New cups that match or at least look better than work freebie ones!
  • Maybe get a rug or better door mat - I'm going to DIY one with the off cuts from the living room rug when I get round to it
  • Move rarely used items into the hallway cupboard Done!
  • Sort out bins, maybe one bin with 2 sections rather than 2 different bins
  • New cat bowls Done!
Outside
  • Add plants in pots to the front - Not done but not really much space so I've kind of scrapped this idea.
  • Add a window box to bedroom window - Again not sure this is possible but I might try next spring.
  • In back garden add plants in pots  Done!
  • Generally tidy back garden  Done!
  • Maybe find somewhere else to keep the bikes to free up space - Not done but not really possible.
General
  • Get some clocks! We have none in the whole house and have to check our phones or the TV for the time - Still not done!
  • Sort out all the bills (at the time of writing this I still have not had our final electricity bill from when we moved in here and have not had the deposit back from our last house) - GAH gas bill not done, but given up now if they want my money they can get in touch with me I am not calling them again! Also not holding out much hope on the deposit but that is a whole other story. 
  • Find homes for all the photo frames and ornaments, this will probably be ongoing as we move and acquire furniture - Yep still ongoing but getting there

Additions to the list so far:
  • Seat cushions for the benches on the new table, possible DIY
  • Put up picture hooks in the living room and bedroom on the chimney breasts
  • Possible rearranging of the hallway depending on a few other things in the pipeline (can't share yet!)
  • New duvet
  • New pillows - we have memory foam ones and Tom's not keen on them, they're a bit hard
  • New bathroom accessories like soap dispenser, tumblers and soap dish (They are from our old house and don't match)
  • Possibly new towels for same reason as above
That's the current state of the to do list, it's good to cross stuff off and see how much you've gotten done. Although often things change and some items don't need to be done after all, and sometimes ticking off one thing means adding on more because the one project leads you on to 5 more!

Also I found the bolts for the table in the boot of Toms car so they were supplied with the table, we ate at it over the weekend and it was nice to sit up at a table.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Friday Inspiration

I added in a lot more items to the side bar this week, so now you can search the blog, click to look at my pinterest page, follow me via bloglovin, share posts via facebook or twitter, view recent tweets, follow via email or contact me all at the click of a button!

I also added in a pretty cool function that if you hover over any of my pictures a 'pin it' button appears so you can pit it directly from here.

Other than that it's been another busy week, I had a lovely relaxing weekend of barbecues and gardening. Then only 2 days of work then off for the rest of the week because we went to see Joe Satriani at Colston hall Wednesday night and stayed over at a hotel. It was a brilliant night, the second time we've been to see him and both times were an amazing show.

Then last night I helped present an award at the Gloucestershire apprenticeship awards for the outstanding apprentice in health, education, public services and care. It was a good night with a nice meal beforehand and all the apprentices were brilliant. I won the award last year after finishing an apprenticeship and level 3 NVQ the year before and find the apprentice's stories so inspiring, and in the current job market where people with university degrees are struggling to find employment seeing young people go for an apprenticeship and work hard to get into a good job is so great.

So onto the home inspiration....

The french doors and neutral yet moody colours in this room look great, I also love the rug
This little courtyard really caught my eye, it's pretty bare (If it was mine I'd add in a few plants) but the bright white walls and minimalist outdoor furniture are pretty welcoming, and the blue sky and sunshine helps
Another room with large windows and a sofa placed between them, seems loads of rooms online have this similar furniture arrangement, I do like it but don't think we could pull it off without our massive sofa! I like the grouping of 3 small tables rather then one coffee table here, it would be a bit more flexible. Also the light fixture is pretty and a bit different for a living room.
This bedroom is lovely and light and the bedding is beautiful, white sheets with patterned pillows and duvet. The general styling is great too, feminine but not too girly.
I love that this bathroom, although small, has still made room for a nice bath and a vanity rather than just a pedestal sink. The wall colour is also perfect for a bathroom, soft and slightly water toned.

That's what I've seen this week, looking forward to a nice weekend, it's the Cheltenham food festival so hoping to get there and try some samples and get some nice food in :)

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Office to Dining Room

OK dining room makes it sound grander than a hallway we use as a room but I switched around our office at the weekend, getting rid of the desk and trading it for a table.

I shared this in progress photo on Sunday

Sunday morning I managed to get the room completely empty and ready to reassemble. When reorganising a room like this I find that for me it works best to empty as much of it as possible and then piece it back together again, it helps you to rethink the layout. I also gave the floors a good clean while there was no furniture in here. I left the turtle tank in there as it's pretty heavy and bulky and I was doing this on my own (why do I choose weekends Tom's working to get productive??), I just put sofa throws underneath it so I could slide it around easily and without scratching the floor.

Can you spot all the furniture pushed into the hallway in this photo? I'll freecycle the desk and desk chair and if there's no takers they'll go to the tip (anyone interested let me know)

I had emptied the desk completely, the stuff on the shelves under the tank are the only things that were kept in the desk I thought we might still want access to like sellotape, pens, batteries, paper etc. The rest of the stuff from the desk like photos, installation CDs for various things, envelopes and stationary we rarely use went in a small ottoman on top of the wardrobe in the hallway (all 3 are now full after this kitchen reorganisation)

I had a suspicion that where we had the turtle tank wasn't the best place for it, as it was on a short wall but facing into the longest part of the room, if that makes sense? This room is pretty awkward as it's a small room with 4 doors into it and it's an irregular shape, with a random change in wall depth on the long wall (you can see it in the left of the photo above) and also the living room door juts out into the room, this photo is taken from the hallway door, the bedroom door is first on the left then the living room is actually a bit larger so the wall comes out into the room

So I set the table up where the desk had been and it looked like this
Not good. When the benches were both tucked right under they were just about out of the way of the bathroom door, but if someone was sitting at the table it would be in the way, and if you pulled it out to seat 2-4 people the door would be completely blocked. I'd had an inkling that the tank might be better in that inset part of the wall, as the wall with the bathroom door on is the narrowest part of the room so not the best place for a table.

I scooted the tank over and set the table up in the other corner and voilĂ , fits perfectly!
Sorry this room is so hard to get good photos of, there's little natural light an it is so small and awkward that I can never get a shot of the whole room! Anyway I hope you get the idea...

After refilling the tank and putting the room back together it now looks like this
The baskets under the tank are just for now, I want to get 4 matching storage boxes for these shelves to hold turtle food and the remaining stuff from the desk that I thought we would want easy access to. The cat litter went in the cupboard under the tank along with the tray liners, bin liners for emptying it etc. 

Our new little dining area, the table fits so well in that corner, like it was made for it!

Coasters, I made 6 of these last year, 4 are in the living room with actual words on and these are made from the excess tiles I had left over.

The benches tuck away underneath pretty well so when not in use can go out the way. I might even attempt a DIY sewing project (I cannot sew so it might be laughable) and do some seat cushions. You can see part of the old computer hidden away underneath the bench above. I dismantled it and the screen, printer, keyboard and mouse are all in the entrance hallway stored away but within easy access and the cables are all still plugged into the back of the computer so it can be easily set back up if needed, although I don't know how often that will be.

My idea is that when working on the laptop for short times I will just sit on a bench, but if I'm going to be working there for a while I can move the bench and sit on a dining chair instead. We have 4 stacked in the hallway and a chair with a back is more comfortable.

The litter tray is still in here as I couldn't find anywhere else to put it, but it can easily be scooted into the bathroom when we are eating (don't want to have to look at that during dinner!)

All in all I'm pretty pleased with in, well actually I am totally in love with it and am sat there writing this post now! We are yet to eat there because there were some bolts not included with the table that we need to attach one last part, the bit that goes between the 2 legs to keep it stable. It's still a bit wobbly without that but hoping to go and get some bolts and get that attached asap. 

A reminder of what it looked like before
There seems to be so much more space in here and it seems lighter without the tank in the corner, which is a bonus in a room with no windows!

Friday inspiration post tomorrow, I'm presenting an award at a ceremony tonight to the apprentice of the year in the category that I won last year and absolutely terrified of speaking in front of that many people so as you are reading this I'm probably pacing the flat practising, wish me luck!

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Finished Garden!

The garden is the first part of our flat that I'm going to declare finished! Obviously next spring we will probably have to replace some of the plants that don't make it through winter and we will change things around as we go, but right now I can't fit in any more plants without making it cluttered and can't see anything else that I would want to add or change (other than make it larger haha).

Here are some before and afters...

View from the door before
In progress
After

The rest of the garden with the barbecue and bikes...

Before (pretty bare!)
In progress
After
To the right out of the back door and the path up to the landlords garden

Before
In progress
After
The 'in progress' pictures are all from this post back in March when I last shared photos of the garden, we had just planted a load of pots. Since then what's improved (other than the weather in the after pics!) is that the plants have all grown larger, I've bought a load more small pots and 2 larger ones, we've also gained a few more plants. 

I went on a trip over to Gloucester a while back and raided all the pound/99p/bargain shops for garden stuff. I came home with a pretty good loot, small pots from the pound shop, plastic watering globes were in packs of 2 for £1 and do really work (I also have the pretty glass ones from back here), I also picked up plant food, bug spray and a patio cleaning solution (not got round to using that yet). 

Most of the plants are doing really well but some fell pray to slugs and snails like these smaller pots which did have flower seeds in to add in some colour but the shoots were all eaten

So I got some of this tape on a recent trip to the B&M shop in Gloucester, it stops slugs and snails climbing up the pot apparently

I ran out so haven't done all the pots but if it works will go and get some more. 

Also from there I got 2 plastic pots (£1.99 each) one to re-pot some sunflowers into which I'd planted from seeds and were ready to go out, and one for the lavender which is growing like crazy, then I used the pot from that to plant the rose bush I got for my birthday (After planting it I noticed the label actually said that it's an indoor plant, hopefully it'll be ok until winter)

These pillows (£1.99 each) were from the same shop on a previous trip, although they aren't actually outside cushions I bought them with the garden in mind, when the weather's not good they can go on the armchair in the hallway

Some close ups, these guys are all doing really well
Left to right - Lavender, Forsythia, Mint and Parsley, Clematis (It did flower and looked really pretty but I didn't get a photo!) and a random shrub left by the landlords.

The random shrub is actually doing really well and did have a few small flowers, and it's a nice shade of light green and has pretty shaped leaves (anyone have any clue what it is?) 
The edible side is also doing well, the tomato plants (right) are getting big although no fruit yet, the herbs are actually too large for the pot we really need to start using them more! Unfortunately no basil yet but a few shoots are appearing. The pot to the left is spring onions and rocket which is starting to grow up now.

We also now have some sunflowers which are growing fast and a rosebush which may or may not make it as it is not meant to be outside...Those are the pound shop watering globes, not as pretty as the glass ones but £1 for 2 so a lot cheaper, and hopefully once the plants grow in a bit they won't be so visible

As far as budget goes it's a bit of an estimate as a lot of the pots we already owned and some things were gifts but I'd say we spent no more than £100 on the garden this year and no more than £200 in total. 

That breaks down as (per shopping trip):
Blooms Garden Centre - Plants, 2 oblong planters and compost - £60
Pound Shop - small pots, watering globes, plant food, patio cleaner - £15
B&M Gloucester - 2 larger pots, slug and snail tape, compost and pillows - £13
B&Q - Barbecue and bike covers (rough estimate) - £10
Already owned pots, mostly from B&Q and Homebase - About £90 spent if I remember (It was a long time ago but I remember being shocked that a few terracotta pots could cost almost £100)

Gardening in containers is really my kind of gardening, no digging borders or mowing lawns just plant and enjoy! As long as you water them regularly and use a plant feed I find you can't go wrong with plants in pots, we had the same at a previous house and loved it.

The weather was so beautiful over the weekend I couldn't not be out in the garden, although I did get the office finished and it is looking good so a post on the coming up soon!