Friday, 29 November 2013


Every item in my Etsy bead shop has 10% for this weekend only!

Go to my shop and use TENOFF code at checkout to receive 10% off all orders of two bead sets or more (minimum spend $30 approx £19.50). But hurry, the offer expires on Monday 2 December.

Big selection of christmas beads in festive colours!

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Strimming me softly

This terrace in the garden has been too steep for us to mow using our heavy old petrol mower. That has now been sold on Ebay and we're going to buy a lighter, smaller machine. We don't need one that can mow quarter of an acre, the amount of lawn is far less here than we've had in the past. So this section has been left to go to rack and rooney. Brother, Dave, gave us his old strimmer months ago to do it and today is the first chance we've had to get it going. It has been in the garden store behind the scaffolding which was difficult to access. DH looks rather handsome and summery in his wrap around safety glasses!

Here's the ensuite with the garden store underneath, now scaffolding-free. 

You can see the black pipe bottom right going round and out of the picture, that is the new waste pipe for the loo, shower and sink which leads back into the main drains for the kitchen and the main bathroom. DH has been fitting that this weekend. 

Here's the messy bit outside the garden store

This bit needs fencing off. The bit beyond is going to be a vegetable garden with a greenhouse eventually and I'd rather Missy wasn't peeing up my parsnips! That bit of the garden is also still open to the river and whilst I can pretty much trust Missy not to go in it (and she is always supervised when out there anyway), I'd like to let her out without worrying and if we get another dog ... (another story) we won't pass a home visit without it being fenced off. So the far edge of the paving is going to be the line to be fenced with the foreground bit a new decking area (you can see the materials for that), the steps up to the garden store will be replaced, they're really steep and falling over. So more work to keep us busy!

Geoff has got plenty of work on at the moment during the week and I am still working on my beads, here is a new colour of bubble beads which have gone into my Etsy shop just this morning! 

Right, I'm off to go find the rake to use on those loose strimmings!

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Beauty secrets never to be told

On a normal day, I don't wear a lot of make up, a bit of foundation cream, some loose powder and this is the kohl pencil I use to outline my lower eyelid. I use it every single day, as you can see, I have had it for sometime, I cannot remember when I bought it, well over a year ago I'd guess. I sharpen it with a specially purchased kohl sharpener when it gets too blunt to use.

Imagine my surprise this morning when tugging it open, this happened! A ready made sharpener in the lid, how handy! I gasped in wonderment at this revelation. How can I not have noticed this before?! If you look at the first photo there's even a line to give the observant make up user a hint but no ... I have been scrabbling about in my pot of bits and pieces for years for a separate sharpener never realising that make up manufacturers did this.

Is this the only one, or have all the kohl pencils I have used in my lifetime of using makeup had sharpeners in the lid? I feel this is a piece of wisdom that one's mother ought to tell you. Why was it never mentioned in Jackie magazine which I read every week from cover to cover when I was growing up? Instead, they went on and on about the importance of cleansing, toning and moisturiser when this very handy time-saving device existed. I feel like I've been deliberately made to feel silly by the beauty industry. Everyone, please check your kohl pencils if - like me - no-one told you this amazing secret.

Monday, 12 August 2013

There is a horse bath in my cabaret lounge

The title is an homage to Peter Kaye/Phoenix Nights fans if you don't understand it! :-)

So "Why", I hear you ask "is there a bath in your lounge, Sue?"

Well, after 3-4 months with not much work, DH is now gainfully employed again so we're now back on course with finishing off the new en suite bathroom. The sanitary-ware has been delivered, most of it fits in a corner out of the way in the bedroom (no photograph of that, sorry). No room for the bath though ... hence it being in the lounge!

The walls have been plastered and skimmed out. The new room is full of odd little bits of sticky out pipes and wires like this. 

The bit behind the shower hasn't been painted because that's going to be covered up with cement board once the bath has gone in for the shower to be fixed to, you can see more sticky out pipes for that on the right hand side. 

We've done a first couple of passes with emulsion paint. One more coat on the ceiling, don't want to be painting that once all the sanitary ware is fitted. 

First coat of stain on the door, still got to finish the threshold, trying to find some matching laminate for that. The stairs will be carpeted so no need to do too much to them except sand down the fill holes where it's screwed together.

Now the scaffolding has gone (after Jed got the roof tiles on!), we can even open the windows! 

Our plumber is booked for a week on Monday, the race is now on for DH to get the waste pipe fitted into the drains before he arrives!

Ordering of lighting track on the list of jobs to do before the electrician arrives for second fixing too. It's all go again here!

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Badger-friendly Chilli

I'm furious that the government and the NFU are pressing ahead with the pilot badger culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire. My MP is writing nonsense to me trying to justify it all by saying badgers are killing all the hedgehogs and bees (! honestly - smacking of desperation there, Nick Boles!)

I refuse to support beef farmers who are supporting their union in wanting to exterminate badgers and therefore I won't be eating or buying beef in the future.

I don't eat much meat as it is but I will miss a nice hot Chilli Con Carne. I have therefore devised a delicious meat-free vegetarian alternative for those who want to join me in boycotting beef. Here's the recipe (barring the oil for frying the onion and garlic, it's also sin free on a Slimming World Green Day!)

Serves two greedy adults with enough left over for lunch for two the next day with a buttered jacket potato, DH says he prefers this version to the one I make using beef mince.
  • Slurp of olive oil
  • 1 large finely chopped onion
  • 3 rounded tablespoons of green puy lentils
  • 3 rounded tablespoons of red lentils
  • 1 500g carton of passata (or large can of tinned plum tomatoes including juice)
  • Half a pint of stock (preferably vegetable but if you don't mind it not being vegetarian, chicken would be fine too) I use half a teaspoon of Vecon (available from bigger Holland and Barratt shops) but go easy on the salt if you use it because it's highly seasoned already
  • 4-5 medium carrots finely diced (around 400g)
  • Sliced green pepper
  • Can of red kidney beans drained and rinsed
  • 2 level teaspoons chilli powder (or add however much you like to make it as hot as you prefer!)
  • 1 rounded teaspoon of cumin
  • A little salt to taste
  1. Fry the onions and garlic on a low heat until softened
  2. Add lentils and stir til coated in the oil
  3. Pour in the passata or tinned tomatoes and the stock
  4. It will seem quite liquid at this point but don't worry, the lentils will swell and absorb a lot of liquid
  5. Add tomatoes and green pepper
  6. Season with chilli powder and cumin
  7. Bring to the boil and simmer for around half an hour, checking it's not getting too dry - add a little more Water if it needs it
  8. Add the kidney beans, simmer for a further 15 minutes
  9. Check seasoning, add salt to taste if required
  10. Served in my photograph with boiled brown rice

By adjusting the seasoning and some of the ingredients, this can also be adapted for spaghetti bolognaise or cottage pie.


Monday, 24 June 2013

Where did two months go to?!

Not much blogging lately! Two months have just flown by!

I've been a busy bee making beads though, as the photograph shows, these are the latest ones for sale in My Etsy bead shop. I'm calling them Cosmos beads and there will be lots of different colour varieties in the future. Why Cosmos? Because they remind me of photographs taken by the Hubble telescope.

So what's been happening on the house renovations? Some but not as much as we'd like! The scaffolding is still up around the new ensuite, the external cladding was finished some time ago. It's all watertight now and we've had several downpours which have held testimony to that definitely being true!

The cladding is green oak which will darken overtime as it weathers and then gradually lighten up again.

We're waiting for Jed to come and put on the roof tiles, guttering and then remove the scaffolding. It's a tiny job for him and he's busy at the moment and so he's going to fit us in when he can. 

We could be getting on with the inside ... here it is all insulated and looking silvery ... quite like the look actually. Next job is the plastering, Geoff hasn't got any plastering contacts who are working at the moment, so he's putting feelers out about that but once that's done, our electrician and plumber are ready to get the second fix underway. Just decorating and blinds to put up then! 

Geoff's business has taken a clobbering with the economy and unfortunately hasn't had that much work to keep him occupied and so you'd think he'd spend more time on it but he's spending all his time looking for more clients/work so we don't run out of funds! He gets very nervous when we use our savings to live on, I guess I should be grateful he's so conscientious but I'm so CLOSE to this ensuite, I'd really like to get it finished ... (hint hint, in case he's reading!!!) :-)

Monday, 22 April 2013

Gardening surprises

The received wisdom when you move into a new home with an established garden is to wait 12 months before doing anything drastic to it, mow the lawn, remove obvious weeds (leaving unidentified seedlings) and see what comes up/sprouts into life.

I wasn't terribly hopeful of anything wonderful appearing in my new garden, it's not been particularly well maintained and consists mainly of big trees and a lawn like a field (Spike loves all the weeds though and having a weedy lawn is always on our list of desirables for him!) But I have had some surprises already!

Mint is springing up through the gravel where I put my patio furniture set. Have to keep an eye on that, mint is so vigorous, it really needs restricting in a pot to stop it spreading out of control. That might become one of the on-going battles of this garden.

Some surprises are nicer than others ... this very shady rockery was growing nothing more than moss, cleavers, and a silver leaved rockery plant I can't remember the name of but everyone has it (someone help me out with the name!) I just noticed yesterday that it's got all these little shoots all over the place. I am hopeful that it's Lily of the Valley. The rockery is right next to some steps going down into the garden and would smell wonderful if it is.

This surprise - the retaining wall on the lowest of the existing terraces collapsing when DH sat on it (no injuries except to his dignity), well we could've done without that one! As you can possibly see from the photograph, it was obvious that this will need rebuilding in the long term as it's leaning over quite a bit, we had hoped to leave this til after the work in the house was finished (to give us time to save up a bit!)

This made me jump when I came across it under one of the overgrown conifer trees ... it's completely hidden until you get under the canopy. I'm not quite sure what it is, it's made of painted terracotta I think. I have decided it's a Japanese lion (with broken legs poor thing). I've found one of the legs, if I come across the other I may attempt a repair and bring him out into the sun.

The best surprise though was spotting a fish for the first time in the river from the jetty! The Inspector from the Environment Agency who came round last week confirmed what the previous owner had told us, that there are brown trout and crayfish in the river. This fish was only little, a couple of inches or so and had vertical bands on its side, we only got fleeting glimpses of it as it went about its business in and amongst the stones and weed on the bottom.

I didn't get a photo of it but here's one from the jetty where we spotted it from anyway; I could've watched it for hours!

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Got rid of the rubbish!

Well some of it is gone, all the burnable stuff left over from the building of my studio and bits and pieces left by the former occupant were collected on the area that will eventually become my vegetable garden and we had a bonfire yesterday evening - it was during a light shower so we knew no-one would be sitting out in the garden or drying clothes. We chose yesterday because the weather forecast is so nice for the weekend when everyone is off work, we didn't want to force everyone back indoors with the smoke.

The high winds put paid to having one last week and as the new materials for the ensuite are going to be stacked here, we needed to have the bonfire first. So, the "conservatory" is still in place awaiting disassembly (not allowed to say demolish, one of my readers is sensitive to that word - you know who you are!!) :-)

So, just as well the joiner isn't coming next week now!

Enjoy the lovely weather everyone!

Friday, 12 April 2013


Jed has arrived! Poor love had his house burgled and then problems with the back axle on his van hence the no show last week. So this "conservatory" is going to be knocked down, DH is doing the demolition himself to save money; I have pleaded with him not to start that until we get a skip ... I don't want any more rubbish lying around in the garden. He's not committing to anything though so now I have put it in writing, he can't deny he "didn't realise"!

In its place will be an ensuite bathroom, the door that you can see to the extreme right hand side of the picture goes into our bedroom. We did have a joiner booked for a week on Monday to start making the structure but he's let us down and hasn't given us a date when he can do it so DH is looking in his little black book to see who else we can get to do that.

Here's what it looks like from the inside

I'm looking forward to having an ensuite. At the moment, if I have to get up in the night (and at my age that seems to be every night!) the only bathroom is at the other end of the house and involves going down two lots of mini steps and through six doors.

We had a surprise visit from the Enforcement Officer of the Environment Agency yesterday. He asked to see the bit of the river that goes through our garden and mystified, DH takes him down. "It has come to our attention that you have a jetty without permission" Eeek! Further he adds "Did you know you're not supposed to erect anything within 9 metres of the river" Dismayed, DH estimates that the fence that he only just put up is only a couple of metres away (fortunately my studio is well outside the 9m).

Now the good news, although he does have the power to make us remove such items, because DH was so amiable he has said he will write a letter giving us retrospective permission. I wasn't there so I have no idea how DH managed to be so charming ...!

They have to investigate any obstructions (quite rightly) which might interfere with the flow of the river as in a time of high rainfall, it could get in the way of water getting away and cause a localised flood. I didn't realise such people existed or that they paid such close attention to the river. Good to know and what a great job!

I have lots of photographs of sets of renegade beads like this to put in my Etsy shop so I must get on with processing them and adding to my listings. Hope everyone enjoys a nice (and warm) weekend. :-)

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Fine and warm weather on the way!

We've been waiting 6 weeks for the plumber and now we finally have a big warm radiator in our freezing cold bathroom. The weather will now undoubtedly warm up and we won't need it ... no need to all thank me at once! :-)

We now have some decorating and reflooring to do in the bathroom as to fit this in, we had to remove a shelf that was at the back of the bath. It's left a mark against the matchboarding which needs a heavy sanding down and repainting. The floor on the bathroom was pretty hideous and needed replacing anyway but it has to wait til the decorating is done obviously. So the bathroom looks worse than it did at the start of the day but it's much warmer now.

In fact everything we're doing to our lovely new home is making it look worse at the moment! 

We've had a 10mm armour plated power cable run from the electricity box to my new garden studio to get power out there. The electricity box is at the furthest point away from the garden (of course!) For part of its journey through the house it has gone in the void above the ceiling of the lounge so it's hidden but there was no alternative to going straight across at ceiling level of DH's study - it's a huge big black ugly thing so needs to be boxed in. DH has pointed out to me that the electrics on that wall are all surface mounted so he was always planning on dry lining that wall anyway to hide it so it was part of the plan to put it there - more work! 

Tomorrow there will be two pipes going across the same route to feed water into the ensuite so we'll hold off on the dry lining til after that is done :-) It's all in the plan ...

We've had our lovely sun terrace and bar-b-q area dug up to put in drains for a new bathroom we're adding to our bedroom to act as an ensuite. It's all been replaced now but when Ned was digging around, he found lots of old drains that are now heaped up messily in a corner and are waiting to be skipped away after the scaffolding has gone up for the construction of the ensuite (the new bathroom will replace a rickety old lean to "conservatory" which we are planning to demolish). Might as well take the rubbish away at the same time as then so I'm stuck with the rubbish in the corner til the scaffolder turns up ... Jed was supposed to be here yesterday. The plan goes awry! 

DH's Easter project was to put up some fencing at the bottom of the garden to stop the dog and tortoise falling into the river, we still wanted to be able to see the river through it so we've used larch poles and a two inch mesh which is practically invisible from the house. 

It looks pretty good doesn't it but there is earth all over the grass round the holes which needs properly raking and smoothing down and reseeding. Missy actually doesn't like getting wet at all and we're confident she wouldn't get into the river on purpose but the garden slopes quite a bit; if she went chasing a bird or a squirrel, I'm worried she wouldn't be able to stop in time! The fence also enables us to be able to play with a ball down there. There is a gate set at an angle so we can still get down to the jetty.

These gorgous ewes and lambs arrived into the field on the other side of our river on Monday ... aren't they brilliant? When I'm working in the studio now, instead of birds cheeping and quietude, there's loads of baa-ing - it's really great looking out on them and I can see them from our kitchen window as well. Love the way the lambs wag their tails when they're feeding :-) 

On our shortlist of houses to buy - before we settled on this one - was a converted barn with hardly any work to do and an absolutely beautiful garden; all we would've needed to do to it was get power down to the shed for me to work in ... we decided to go with this house instead because we thought it would be a project and having something to strive for keeps you young. We decided that we would just get old quick in a house that's all finished with nothing to do to it ... trouble is I feel about 80 thinking about all the work we have ahead of us!!! 

Hope everyone had a lovely Easter break :-) 

Monday, 1 April 2013

Raffle winner extraordinaire!

I'm doing really well on winning raffles lately. There was an on-line raffle in aid of Harvey last week and I won FIRST PRIZE! A brand new Toshiba Folio 100 tablet. I have trouble figuring out how my phone works let alone a completely new technological device  so I'm sticking to my old PC and have donated the prize to be auctioned on Ebay to raise even more money for Harvey. So, if you'd like a brand new tablet, please take a look at the item which has been listed by Olga Gee, her Ebay account is a charity one so we won't have to pay fees on the sale.

(Click on the photo to go to the listing).

Harvey is a stray dog that was never claimed after he'd had his 7 days at the pound. Instead of being put to sleep, he was rescued by the Doris Banham Rescue. After he'd been there a short time, it was realised he needed a life saving operation - any funds raised by selling this laptop will go towards the costs of his operation - so far we've raised half the amount - more is needed so please bid if you're in the market for a new tablet!

Then on Saturday on the Fete on the Strait I won a milk chocolate egg on the Tombola ... I'm keeping that prize by the way, in fact it's already gone! :-)

Saturday was a big success in terms of raising money for Harvey, DH and I managed to sell £146 worth of books and Harveys Bristol Cream sherry earrings and I've just transferred the money directly into the Doris Banham Sanctuary bank account.

If anyone else would like to donate money towards Harvey's operation, full details are on Doris Banham Dog Rescue's web page for Harvey.

If anyone reading this does Twitter in a big way, please could you share the Ebay listing so we get lots of bids on it. Many thanks!

Friday, 29 March 2013

Fete on the Strait, Lincoln tomorrow!

I'll be selling my handmade jewellery at the Fete on the Strait in Lincoln tomorrow Saturday, 30 March (craft fair at the bottom of Steep Hill). I will also be selling these blank notebooks with 100% of proceeds to go towards Harvey's operation fund.

Harvey was a stray dog that was never claimed after he'd had his seven days at the pound. Instead of being put to sleep, he was rescued by the Doris Banham Dog Rescue a local, Lincolnshire charity. After he'd been there for a short time it was realised he needed an operation (probably why he was abandoned). It's a very specialised one and will cost about £5,000. We've been fundraising on his Facebook page to save him. So far we've raised half the total we need.

These were purchased as stock for the gallery venture which never got off the ground last year. They're priced at wholesale rates so these are real bargains! They're great quality, hand-dyed and hand-waxed by one of the artists on the Cambridge Art & Craft Market with a ribbon divider and brass motifs/fittings.
I have around 15 or 20 left (been giving them away as presents!)

Small  14cm x 10cm x 2cm, 100 ink friendly blank pages £10.00 per notebook
Medium 16.5cm x 12.5cm x 2.2cm, 150 blank pages approx £12.00 per notebook
Large 21cm x 14.5cm x 2.5cm, 190 blank pages approx. £14.00 per notebook

Colour range: light brown, dark brown, orange, purple, light pink with different brass motifs on the front. Not sure what the paper is made of, she's the type of person that would use sustainable FSA approved stock but I cannot say for sure as I didn't double check.

If I get them made in time, I will also be selling six to eight pairs of earrings made with my own handmade glass beads made by melting Harvey's Bristol Cream Sherry bottles - again 100% of the proceeds from those also going to Harvey's fund.

It's going to be a cold old day out there, be nice to see some friendly faces and if you can afford to buy a book or Harvey's Bristol Cream earrings, you'll also be helping Harvey. See you there!


The counter on Harvey's page is out of date, we've raised about half of the total needed for the operation via on-line auctions, raffles etc. as mentioned above, we still need £2,500 - if you can't get to the Fete on the Strait please do feel free to make a donation to the cause, all the details of how to do it are on the page. :-)

PS I know I've not been blogging much, so so busy after the move! The studio is up and running and I have been restocking my Etsy shop. We've had a succession of trades visiting the house doing various work as we're putting in a new bathroom, having some things fixed that were wrong etc. I'll be telling you all about it with photographs soon!

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Under construction

.... quite literally, the platform that will hold my beadmaking studio (OK, it's a shed but a very nice one!) is being constructed today. This is the morning's work.It's really beginning to take shape. This one shows how much the garden slopes down to the river.

Here are the motley crew of workers altogether including DH, friend, Martin and another helper, Kev. 

Well done guys, the shed arrives tomorrow ... no pressure!!!

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Sun and snow

I told you Missy would find the new sunny spots! Here she is on the day before we moved in, no furniture except for the sofa that came with the house. Whilst she worked on her tan, I did a bit of knitting whilst we waited for the dishwasher and washing machine to be delivered and installed. DH was back at the old place being packed up by the removals company.

Yesterday it snowed most of the afternoon, looking very pretty from the lounge ...
... from the kitchen window ...

... and from my upstairs jewellery making studio (you can just see the river in the bottom).

Today, the snow has all gone and it's sunny again!

Martin, our very good friend who we have known for years and years came over today, he's a joiner and has been easing some of the doors that were sticking and measuring up for some jobs that need doing, the main one being advising on the materials for the construction of the platform for my beadmaking shed ... very excited about that. We can now get the timber ordered and hopefully work will start on it next week :-)

Monday, 11 February 2013

The blog is back!

I closed my Blog to readers a few weeks ago. DH and I were buying a house (see above and below for Estate Agent pics before we moved in, I will get DH to take better ones soon!) We now live in an old blacksmiths forge built in the 18th century and extended during the Victorian era set in about a quarter of an acre. The River Witham flows through 150 feet of the garden at the bottom. Two of my Facebook friends were flooded out at the time we were viewing the house and I thought "we must be mad". We made very thorough enquiries about past flooding of the village. The house is very high up - the garden slopes right down at a steep angle and the Environment Agency says even in severe flooding, our home would be clear, the flood plain is over all the fields that we overlook on the other side of the river.

Our old house in Papworth Everard has finally had all the outstanding defects by Countryside Properties put right ... it only took us five years(!) but they had to do everything, kicking and screaming all the way. DH's calm persistence and dogged determination wore them down but we had to go to the 10 year insurance guarantee people - they also kicked and screamed about some of the works until finally the Insurance Ombudsman made them do it. So one sold house with clear conscience!

I got paranoid when we were applying for a small mortgage that they would read my blog and the fiasco over galleryRAUXA. As we're both self-employed people, it's hard enough to get a mortgage these days without advertising the fact that we had some bad luck last year. We're really a very cheap to run couple, just us and a little dog, no kids or extravagant spending habits (except books and yarn!) Some people buy cars for more than our mortgage!

Fortunately, galleryRAUXA has caused no long term lasting damage on our finances, our savings are depleted quite a bit but DH has got a new client who is keeping him occupied pretty much full time, my Etsy shops were doing really well before the move and I will be doing monthly craft fairs in Lincoln starting in March to sell my jewellery plus three Fetes on the Strait this year. Also I'm looking into doing some bead fairs.

So that's why the blog was closed, there's no way to just disable a few postings in Bloggerland, which would've been helpful so I had to shut it down completely, thanks for those who e-mailed that you missed me! :-)

So this posting is just to say hi, I'm back, I'll update you on our new home shortly, I still have to unpack my jewellery making studio which will take me a day or two. Beadmaking will take a little longer, I have no outbuildings here to make them in but a very good friend of ours, Martin (who is an able joiner) is coming to see us this week about putting up a custom made shed. Due to the slope, it needs a terraced platform building first!

I'm expecting our new home to inspire me in all kinds of ways and I look forward to sharing the experience with my readers.

More very soon!