Big Makeover Planned – The Year Of The Garden!

The Year Of The Garden

You may have seen, from previous posts, the state of our garden and the previous plans we’ve had for it. It’s worse now than it ever was and it’s going to take lots of hard work this year to get it sorted. It needs a big makeover. For all the plans we’ve had in the past, we’ve never really got round to doing anything except the pond.

I love the pond! It’s the best part, but I’m starting to get the urge to get out there and get the rest of it looking just as nice.

garden pond makeover


We need to create a place for the bikes. The kids each have one and they’re currently on the patio under cover, leaning against the table.
The patio keeps getting used as a place to dump things we don’t know what else to do with. It’s looking decidedly messy again but where to put everything?

I think we’re going to need to hire a skip this year, as well as pay for the annual council fee for the green bin.
We started a compost heap last year but as it’s right at the top of the garden, we’ve been a bit lazy with the kitchen scraps. We just throw them in the bin. I’m going to make the most of the compost heap this year. Even if we pay for the green bin, it only gets emptied fortnightly. That will be fine when the garden’s done and there’s not much waste every week but while it’s in the state it’s in, we’re going to end up with lots and lots of garden waste.

Fruit Trees

We still want fruit trees at the top of the garden but that’s going to be the hardest part to do. It’s full of weeds and piles of wood. It’s going to need completely digging over once Ant’s sorted the wood pile. He’s going to get a chainsaw from somewhere and chop it all into manageable sized blocks.
We want to build a firepit so we’ll need to create storage for the blocks.


There’s much planning to be done. We made a start yesterday because I want it finished this year so the earlier in the year we get started, the more chance we have of completing it 🙂

garden before

Ant chopped back all the bushes and I made a start on digging them up. I want a total change 🙂

garden after

He also chopped down the butterfly bush. We haven’t decided where to replant it yet. It was only planted there, as a tiny plant, temporarily but it got left there and went giant sized!

garden before


garden after

To be honest, the garden is looking even worse now than it did when I took the ‘before’ photos but I know it has to get worse before it gets better!



The Letter – Goodreads Book Review

The Letter


The Letter isn’t my usual choice of reading material but I couldn’t resist when I read the blurb. Working in a charity shop myself, the idea of finding something like this, written 30 years earlier really intrigued me.

It tells of two relationships, Tina and Rick in the 70s and Chrissie and Billy in the 30s.


Tina volunteers in a charity shop on a Saturday and finds the letter in the pocket of a suit that has been donated. It was written by Billy in 1939 for Chrissie but for some reason, it was never sent.

Tina opens it and finds herself wanting to unravel the mystery of Chrissie and Billy.


Chrissie and Billy fall in love just before the start of the war. Chrissie gets pregnant and ends up getting sent to Ireland to stay with an aunt.
Her aunt dies and Chrissie has to go and stay at a convent to have her baby.

Her home life isn’t good. Rick’s an alcoholic and Tina puts up with and makes excuses for him when he gets drunk and beats her up.
She does leave for a while but in the end, she goes back to him.

It was hard to read in places due to the domestic abuse and the way Chrissie is treated at the convent but it kept me reading.

The Letter by Kathryn Hughes

Here’s the blurb from Goodreads

Tina Craig longs to escape her violent husband. She works all the hours God sends to save up enough money to leave him, also volunteering in a charity shop to avoid her unhappy home. Whilst going through the pockets of a second-hand suit, she comes across an old letter, the envelope firmly sealed and unfranked. Tina opens the letter and reads it – a decision that will alter the course of her life for ever…

Billy Stirling knows he has been a fool, but hopes he can put things right. On 4th September 1939 he sits down to write the letter he hopes will change his future. It does – in more ways than he can ever imagine…

Goodreads Reading Challenge

Read With Me

The Boy That Never Was – Sunday Photo

The Boy That Never Was

I started The Boy That Never Was last night and I’m already enjoying it. I expected it to be about a boy who had been kidnapped but he’s missing for a different reason, which surprised me. I’m already over a hundred pages in and had trouble putting it down to do some blogging earlier!

The last book I read, Everything You Do Is Wrong, didn’t grab me at all. The whole time I spent reading it, I was hoping that the end would come soon.

I contemplated not finishing it but I’d got an early copy from NetGally to review. It was only fair that I read to the end because I wanted to give an honest review. If I didn’t finish it I wouldn’t be able to do that.

I’ve never given a book a 1-star rating before and I felt a bit guilty but I couldn’t, in all honesty, give it any more stars.

Anyway, I’ll be doing a full review soon so I’ll say no more for now.

The Boy That Never Was by Karen Perry

18th February – Project As & When

18th February

18th February – I’ve taken a few more photos this week, mostly due to Valentine’s Day.

12th February – Ant got the cine film projector from the loft and we spent the evening watching his old home movies. I have some old home movies as well but we need a super 8 cine projector to be able to watch them. We’re going to see if we can get one from Ebay 🙂

Watching old home movies - 18th February Project As & When

14th February – Valentine’s Day and Ella (9) got a lovely gift from her boyfriend, John. It was so lovely to see them both grinning 🙂

February 14th Ella's Valentine's Day present

Ant and I decided not to buy cards and presents for each other as we want to save for a holiday on our anniversary but I saw a meal deal at Tesco and had a voucher for £8. I had pork and Ant had steak. We had dauphinoise potatoes, cauliflower cheese and Brussel sprouts. I had a salted caramel brownie dessert and Ant had cheese and crackers. It was delicious, even if it did help contribute to my 5lb gain I had this week!

Valentine's Day dinner

Valentine's Day dessert

18th February

Ant put the pond back together. We thought it had a leak so it was taken apart before Christmas and left for a few months to see if we could find out where the leak was.
It’s been full for weeks now though without losing any water so Ant put all the rocks in place. It looks lovely again 🙂

garden pond



Killer Thrillers – Book Display at St Barnabas

Killer Thrillers

I can’t get enough of Killer Thrillers at the moment. When I read the Lincoln Rhyme series by Jeffrey Deaver a few years ago and I moved onto thrillers from chic lit. I love the suspense and trying to work out who the killer is. I usually know when we’re watching shows about murder on TV but I’m never very good at it when reading!

Killer Thrillers Book Display

Thrillers are very popular at the charity shop, St Barnabas, where I volunteer and this display did really well 🙂

Killer Thrillers

Killer Thrillers

Right now, the book display at the shop is ‘Blind Date With A Book’. I’ll be back with the photos next week 🙂

Sticky 5 Spice Gammon – Slimming World Recipe

Sticky 5-Spice Gammon

Slimming World Sticky Five Spice Gammon

Slimming World sticky five-spice gammon

Gammon is one of our favourite meats. I always get a piece bigger than we need because the kids love to have plenty of leftovers to snack on.

Another favourite flavour is 5 spice so I couldn’t wait to try bringing the two together. It was delicious 🙂

Ant did have to cook some without the five-spice, though, because Kaycee doesn’t like it (there’s always one!).

This serves 4 and is 1 syn per serving


  • Low-calorie cooking spray
  • Chinese five-spice powder – 2 tsp
  • 4 Gammon steaks – all visible fat removed and cut into bite-sized chunks
  • Red chillies – 2, deseeded and finely chopped
  • Clear honey – 1 level tbsp
  • Boiling chicken stock – 100ml
  • Dark soy sauce – 2 tbsp


  1. Spray a non-stick frying pan with low-calorie cooking spray and place over a high heat. Sprinkle the five-spice powder over the gammon and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until brown at the edges.
  2. Add the chillies, honey, stock and soy sauce. Stir well and simmer for 4-5 minutes or until the sauce is sticky and the gammon is glazed and golden.
  3. Serve with noodles and a speed vegetable stir fry or leave the noodles and make it an SP meal.

Sticky Five-Spice Gammon Slimming World

Oh dear! 5lb Gain – Weekly Weigh In

5lb Gain

I wasn’t very good at the weekend. Also, we indulged in the Tesco Valentine’s meal deal last night (which was delicious!) which wasn’t SW friendly! However, I was still a bit shocked at the 5lb Gain I got when I weighed at Slimming World this morning.

I’ve vowed to lose 6lb next week so I’ve really got to knuckle down this week and keep in control.

I did try to have today as a holiday so I wouldn’t have to face the scales it but my fellow social team members wouldn’t let me get away with it! I faced my gain and have got my head in place to get rid of it again, thanks to them 🙂

Sparkly Shell sigtag half pound gain didn't weigh 5lb Gain

Valentine’s Day At HomeSense

Valentine’s Day

After another trip to HomeSense to check their Valentine’s Day stock, we came back with nothing at all related to Valentine’s Day!

We bought a lovely new cake stand that was on offer for a fiver. We also picked up some chocolates for a birthday present and a pretty tin with tea inside for a Christmas present.

Ant got himself a cutter thing that he can use to cut shapes out of the bread. He makes the sandwiches for the school lunches and the other day cut a love heart out of Kaycee’s sandwich. She found it very funny when she opened her lunch, as did her friends!

He puts little notes in Ella’s lunch. The other day he forgot and not only was Ella disappointed, her friend was as well!

Ant and I have decided not to buy each other anything for Valentine’s Day. We’re saving for a holiday for just the two of us. If we were buying presents, though, I’d love any of these treats from HomeSense 🙂

Valentine's Day HomeSense

Valentine's Day HomeSense

Valentine's Day HomeSense

Valentine's Day HomeSense

Valentine's Day HomeSense

Valentine's Day HomeSense

Valentine's Day HomeSense

Valentine's Day HomeSense

Valentine's Day HomeSense

Valentine's Day HomeSense

*We were sent a gift card in return for showing some of the gifts available at HomeSense

Lincoln Rhyme #11 The Skin Collector – Book Review Week 6

Lincoln Rhyme #11

Lincoln Rhyme The Skin Collector

I love Jeffrey Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme series. My best friend bought me a box set of the first three books in the series. I’d never been a fan of thrillers, much-preferring chick lit style but I decided to give the first one a go and absolutely loved it.

The Skin Collector is book number 11 in the series and like all the others, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s been quite a while since I read a Lincoln book but as soon as I started it felt like I was back with old friends.

Taken from Goodreads

A new type of serial killer is stalking the streets of New York. One more devious and disturbing than ever before.

They call this butcher The Skin Collector: a tattooist with a chamber of torture hidden deep underground. But instead of using ink to create each masterpiece, the artist uses a lethal poison which will render targets dead before they can even entertain the prospect of escape . . .

Drafted in to investigate, NYPD detective Lincoln Rhyme and his associate Amelia Sachs have little to go on but a series of cryptic messages left etched into the skin of the deceased.

As the pair struggle to discover the meaning behind the designs, they are led down a treacherous and twisting path where nothing is as it seems. And with the clock rapidly ticking before the killer strikes again, they must untangle the twisted web of clues before more victims – or they themselves – are next.

I gave this 4 stars on Goodreads. I was going to give it 5 but I’ve enjoyed some of the others in the series more than this so I figured a 4 was a good rating.

Goodreads reading challenge


Ella posing at HomeSense! – Sunday Photo

Ella Posing

We went to HomeSense yesterday and I let Ella have my phone. She took lots and lots of photos, from hair and beauty to furniture and food.
I also found quite a few selfies and when I saw this one of Ella posing, I knew I had to blog it.

She loves taking selfies and I’ve blogged about my phone getting full of Ella selfies before! She’s a bit obsessed to be honest!

I can’t wait till she’s old enough to have her phone so she can fill that with selfies instead of filling mine! I have over 400 photos on my phone and I reckon half of them are of Ella.
At least I’ll always have plenty pf photos of her 🙂

Ella posing