Wednesday, 28 September 2016

HOME: Could You Make Your Own Secret Garden?

Whatever your age, having a secret spot in the garden where you can relax and unwind all year round doesn’t require an outdoor space the size of a small field. As we step into autumn, why not get started on an outdoor project and work on creating a special spot you can enjoy?

Hopefully you've read my last post and will recognise that this is in fact our very own garden!

Just to the right of that tree I have a set of steps which take you down to a secret area in our garden. At the moment it's just an underground garage space, but I can't wait to make it magical with fairy light and lanterns. The magic of a secret garden can leave people enthusiastic about time spent on their own doorstep, so how do you get started?

Artistic Inspiration
Long before the secret spaces written about by JK Rowling in the Harry Potter series, the authors of several children’s classics created equally awe-inducing magical places that have inspired generations. Why not look into the idea of the secret garden by reading the novel of the same name by Frances Hodgson Burnett? Stories can fuel ideas for transforming your own space, the Narnia books are another great series that could provide ideas for magical features to incorporate. When it comes to the design stage, you may even find you want to draw on little bits from several favourite books to create mini garden areas on a theme.

The Exciting Entrance

In The Secret Garden, one of the key features of the enclosed space is the locked gate. While it’s lovely to be able to incorporate some kind of gate or archway into your design, it’s not always practical. What is a fundamental, is being able to create garden layers, so that whether you’re stepping into the space from a gate or your back door, it’s not always possible to see the full scope of your garden in one glance.
This may mean factoring in a small clearing at the back of the garden or if more practical for your space, you could step straight into the enclosed space. If you have a modern build home, bi-fold doors could provide a real Narnia like effect and give that feeling of stepping into the magic. Try Creative Doors Direct for styles that work well with new and older houses.

Wherever your magical entrance and whatever style you choose, think about it as a gateway to a journey through your garden and support that it with curving pathways and cute signs that direct to different areas. You may even want to put some old mirrors to use to make your garden seem bigger. Place securely at the back of the garden and mask the edges with creeping plants and the mirror will reflect your garden, helping your space to seem larger and longer.

Fantastical Flora and Fauna

Not everyone has space in their garden or backyard for a mini maze and installing one throughout would go against the component of discovery having a garden made up of different elements provides. However, some archways and hedges can go a long way to directing people through a secret garden and to boxing off a special secluded area to enjoy too. Try boxwood or sweet yew or for a quicker fix, use a trellis or pergola complete with climbing plants. Training creeping flowers around archways will provide an extra sensory factor to enjoy in spring and summer.

A Secluded Spot

Whether it’s a small clearing for playing and picnicking or a spot that homes a swing, chair or hidden shed, a secret garden should have a focal point, a spot to find and experience in solitude or to be enjoyed with friends. Choose an area where there are things of interest to be enjoyed. Somewhere with flowers that attract butterflies in summer time or where there is a bird table, so you can watch winter wildlife close up. The size of your garden, or further literary inspiration, may determine the type of feature you incorporate. If you’ve space for a small shed or play hut it will no doubt be a place to treasure for years to come.

Have you read The Secret Garden ? Are there any books that may provide inspiration for a secret outdoor project that ought to be added to the list? If you were to build your own secret garden, what would you include in it and why?

We are very lucky the garden is fully established and didn't need much doing, but this little secret area at the back really has got me excited about gardening!

Sunday, 25 September 2016

HOME: Renovation Weeks 1-4

We've been homeowners now for four weeks and the changes in the house now make it pretty unrecognisable from the house we got given the keys to.

In these three weeks we've gone from just sorting the kitchen to pretty much ripping the whole house out, with the addition of a huge hole in the ceiling in our lounge. I'd been pretty keen to document these changes and dare I say it even vlog some of it, but it has been so much harder than I thought. Getting some decent content over the past two days has been impossible - all I have done is burn gloss of woodwork.

Rolling back three weeks ago, the house looked like this:

Week 1 - Tackling the kitchen

Initially we were going to just do the kitchen and then move in. Having the kitchen renovated without us living there was so important. Not only because it's a huge project, but also with Matt's allergies and the animals - living alongside it wouldn't have been fun. 

The first three days in the property saw the kitchen smashed to pieces and uncovering some issues that we hadn't noticed before purchasing. The two most notable were that the roof (our kitchen is in an extension) had clearly been subject to a leak and the units we rotted from a leak behind the sink. We were particularly disheartened by this as the sellers continuously confirmed that nothing was wrong with the rood. As you can see in the photos above, there were huge holes in the units which had been eaten by their dogs so we were expecting it to not be in the best condition. However, we were still shocked that the sink unit had partially rusted away and the worktops were actually bendy with the amount of water that had leaked in them. 

Week 2

Week 2 of renovations is where things escalated pretty quickly and plans soon changed. The decision to smash out the bathroom at this stage proved wise because turns out it had been leaking for a while, a roof joist is rotten and the ceiling fell through into the lounge! 

Decor wise we started to burn off the million layers of gloss paint that have been slapped on to every doorframe and skirting board. The heated blower (I have no idea what it's called) is a scary piece of kit. Within seconds there is a red hot jet of air bubbling up the gloss and then you scrape it off. This takes ages so that's pretty much all we did. 

One afternoon we'd had enough of paint fumes and decided to move a planter from the front garden to the back. We had to dig out all the soil and plants which took 8 rubble bags! Aside from the 500 spiders we encountered - it was nice to do some gardening. 

Week 3

This week will officially be known as the weekend of steam. Our two biggest bedrooms were lined and then painted, but as you can see by what is left of the yellow below, the walls were really patchy with paper. As there was no consistency in what was on the walls we are going back to the plaster. 

The second bedroom revealed something that reminded me of things you find in horror films. Although it's pretty cool find the history in the house. We've also found Richard's homework from 1981, so sorry to his teacher if it wasn't handed in - it was in the floorboards! 

Burning off paint, never ends.

I also cut the grass for the first time in my life! 

Week 4

I took a weekend away from the house, got back to walking dogs because I'd really missed it and wrote this blogpost! 

I really should have filmed the video that would go alongside this, but I put Harry Potter on and didn't. #reallife

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

LIFESTYLE: Yankee Candle Haul

Roll back six weeks ago and I had one small glass Yankee Candle in Fluffy Towels, now my collection is as above and I have four girls to thank for this!

These four ladies are candle connoisseurs and have well and truly got me hooked on Yankee Candles, especially knowing that shops ALWAYS have a huge sale section.

Looking at the photos, I also have a box of Spiced Apple tea lights I got given for my birthday.

I can't even offer a review of each one because I just don't know where to start!! 

Saturday, 17 September 2016

LIFESTYLE: My favourite phone covers for my iPhone 6Plus

I love my iPhone 6plus, it's annoyingly huge and awkward to put in a pocket - and yet I still love it. However one of the most challenging things I have found is finding phone covers that don't make the phone even bigger than it already is. 

After a long time searching I have found these two that are my absolute favourites. 

I'm always drawn to anything with Harry Potter, the last snapchat I opened was a friend sending me a snap of some HP slippers, so when someone retweeted Juicy Creations onto my timeline it was an instant follow.  I also really like the wood design as it's so different from the typical plastic covers that are everywhere and for me I really like that it's a handmade cover from a fellow Welshie. 

There's loads of covers on offer from a welsh dragon to Disney

My other favourite phone cover comes off the back of me dropping my phone down a portaloo. Yes, that actually happened and from the moment the replacement phone landed in my hands I vowed to look after it like never before. As I said before the iPhone 6plus is such an awkward size and that's how it ended up down the loo - it was in my back pocket where half of the phone sticks out - WAHH! I use my phone a lot, especially when walking the Cardiff Dogs Home dogs and so a full waterproof cover was needed.

I expected a fully waterproof cover to be so expensive, however there are so many affordable ones on eBay and mine only cost me £3.29. I always change over to this phone case on the weekends and so far there has been nothing that's got through the cover. 

Another really useful device that I have picked up from eBay is an iRing and whilst many people have laughed at it, it's the most useful phone accessory I own. I have really small hands and I do struggle to use the iPhone 6plus without it. 

Do you have any must have phone accessories? 


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