A Spruce Up

As January closed, I started noticing peeks of spring out and about. Underfoot, the nibs of early bluebells and daffodils in such abundance it’s almost old news. Our own garden remains in wintry disarray, while I cling on to the excuse that the winter wildlife need some weedy cover.

Indoors, I could no longer cling on to the small fur tree that held it’s fairy lights long in to last week, but equally couldn’t say goodbye to the hygge goodness that comes from a string of lights. So, they remain, with some new greenery around.

Ever since listening to Igor and Judith at last year’s Blogtacular, I’ve been wanting to bring more plants into the house. Things have improved since the days of one lovely weeping fig languishing in the corner, but there’s still plenty more room for new plants. I’ll be joining the Urban Jungle Bloggers community this year and I’m looking forward to filling a little more of every day with greenery.

Meanwhile, you may have noticed some sprucing up on my blog home. Thanks to the efforts of the brilliant Alec Rust, Rusty Rambles has had a new lick of paint for the year ahead. I’m excited to have a bright new canvas to share some of this year’s adventures.

Tiny Homemaking

Tiny House Living book on steps

Last month I mentioned my plans to spend some of the summer reading about log cabins. The plans to read have, perhaps inevitably, fostered plans to build. I found a fantastic book about the tiny house movement that resonated with so many of my thoughts about living well, it felt like a hundred disparate thoughts all finally tying together. I’ve joked for years about running away to build a cabin in the woods. I now realise that by mentioning it so often it’s shifting from an impossible dream to a determined goal. Other people do it, why can’t we? Heck, my Grama did it, so it’s in my blood!

The drive to consume (information, fuel, electronic goods and more) is thrust at us from so many directions that resisting it feels subversive. But the tide is changing. I regularly come across people sharing their stories of cutting the clutter from their lives. I’m inspired by the conscious choices people share, about what fills their houses and their days. I like the idea that building something with our own hands make us conscious of how we live and what space we need. It would be a privilege to live well outside of the mortgage trap, to find out how little we can live on and grow our lives from there.

I’m in the middle of reading Klein’s book, This Changes Everything, and boy does it. She presents information in a compelling way that demands we pay attention and be informed about our part in the global picture. I’m only a short way through, so I’ll spare you any misinformation, but I really would urge you to read it.

I hope that the trend towards minimalist design goes beyond style. I hope we are becoming more conscious about what we consume, how we travel, where we spend our free time. I hope that I can be more conscious, informed and brave. And while building a tiny house is a pipe dream for now, I can certainly start by reducing the unnecessary ‘stuff’ in my house and being conscious of the wider impact of my choices.

Life Lately

Old Raleigh road bike with pannier

Rusty skateboarding photo collage

It’s been a mad march; haring around, sorting a million and one things. We have so much change and excitement coming up. This, my first Saturday close to home in weeks, was dedicated to pootling around with Tom and feeling the (cold damp!) wind in my hair.

Wall art photo collage

Sunday was a rare DIY day, complete with painting, sanding and drilling. We’re getting ready for holidays, last work days and a possible new houseguest.

Soon I’ll have much more time to spend writing and catching up with the lovely creative blogosphere. Michelle, Kat and Kathleen have all been inspiring me to write more and strive to create a beautiful web space of my own. Do you have any other reading suggestions to inspire?

View from Red Funnel out West

Bringing the Outdoors In

Christmas tree next to hearth mirror in black and white

My most favourite thing about this season is the excuse to fill the house with winter greenery. Sure, I have flowers in vases in the summer, and even the odd house plant that survives long-term neglect. But none of this compares with squeezing an entire tree in to your front room. And it just isn’t Christmas without the smell of pine needles.

This year we’ve found ourselves without an armchair (you’ll now find it in the new kitchen) and no way to buy one before Christmas. So we had the perfect excuse to fill half the room with a tree far too big to be sensible.

I felt seven years old all over again, feeling so excited about how ridiculous big our tree is. I loved last year’s tiny tree, but this is the real big-kid hang-your-stockings-santas-coming deal. I am revelling in it, and it hasn’t even got lights yet. The 25th is still a while away after all.

Christmas tree branch, with mirror and fairy lights

Inaugural Sunday Brunch

Oak kitchen shelves with cast iron brackets

Brunch is my favourite meal.  I love the excuse for sweet and savoury on one plate (pancakes and crispy bacon!) and morning boozing (mimosas!)  The timing of brunch sets you up for a perfect lazy day, so far removed from the quickly crammed toast of a Monday morning or the snaffled sandwich in front of a computer screen.  Brunch says ‘Take your time guys, and can I get you seconds?’

And brunch is the perfect way to celebrate a lovely shiny new kitchen.  We’ve been dreaming for years of a bright new kitchen, to max out the space in our little terraced house, and bring in as much light as possible.   And this is the result…

'Before' photo of kitchen in victorian terrace

'Before' photo of kitchen makeover in victorian terrace

We’re so excited to have it all finished. We’ve got more space, more light, and no horrid beige! Open shelves mean we have to be tidier. At the moment the novelty of it all means that we’re keeping on top of the washing up and choosing only pretty mugs for the shelves. We’ve still got some cupboard space to hide the ugly essentials like super noodles..

We invited the Rusts round for a celebration brunch, to show off the kitchen and put it to work. Coffee, mimosas and bacon sandwiches were an easy win. Smitten Kitchen struck gold once again with a delicious ginger spice pancake recipe. Pancakes are my very favouritest, but they are a pain to cook for a crowd. This baked version is an easy alternative I’d heartily recommend. This is the first of many meals I can’t wait to share here.

Rusty and Tom in the kitchen

Derek, Wendy and Alec at the table