Tag Archives: Top tips

Winter gardening- do you bother?

Today was one of those overcast grey days, not raining or super cold and crisp, just grey. Looking out my kitchen door this is my view :

It’s not a bad size garden and I do love my decking but the rest is kind of drab! I think I’m like most people that come October time we get to the point were we just pack everything away for the winter.

All our garden furniture including the swing seat gets put under cover until the sun reappears next year!

The washing line gets put away and to be honest he only use it gets is my OH going out the back exit on his motorbike for work.

There are a lot of jobs that need doing but the only one we got done was thanks to my FIL when he built us our new shed.

I love my garden in the summer, having the door constantly open, washing out on the line, the BBQ on the go for dinner and occasionally eating outside. So it’s kind of depressing when everything gets packed up and hidden away and the door stays firmly shut.

Really the only other time we actually go out there is when this happens:

I do love a bit of snow!

My OH takes all the packing away very seriously as he hates to see stuff get ruined just because we couldn’t be bothered to make the effort to cover things up. He also every single year without fail puts a bird feeder out on the tree throughout the winter. So when I came across an article about preparing your garden for winter I was pleased that my OH does most of the things they suggest.This is probably why our furniture has lasted so long. But there is also advice on what to do in heavy snowfall to help prevent damage in your garden and lets face it after last years super long cold/ snowy weather then every tip can be useful.

But for all you serious gardeners out there they also have some amazing advice on what to do  from dealing with your shrubs to providing for the birds over the cold spell.

When my kids where a lot younger we still made use of the garden to get them out in the fresh air and get some exercise but now they are older they will tend to do their own thing so it gets a lot less use during the dark winter months.

Do you still use your garden in the winter?


Disclosure: this is a collaborative PR related article.


Do you DIY?

This is something I have always put off as does my OH! His Dad has been a carpenter and decorator for around 50 years and is in his 70’s now- although still very able and is building us a new shed as I type ( I kid you not!).

But at the beginning of this year I took a fancy to buy an old welsh dresser and ‘up-cycle’ it by myself………………like I mentioned before this is totally OFF my radar. However, armed with the chalk paint and wax the cabinet went from this:

As bought with glass doors taken off!

To this:

Something I am VERY chuffed about for a complete DIY novice!

I must say I got a real buzz from knowing that I had done the work all by myself.Knowing then that I could do it has spurred me on to look at other parts of the house. I am currently repainting existing frames to use after my OH attempted a bit of wallpapering for the first time ever…………..after some helpful and expert advice from his Dad

It started with just a ‘feature wall’…….

To a ‘feature corner’!!!

Which in all honesty I think he did a great job ( although OBVIOUSLY I would never tell him that LOL) and a little re-decoration has gone a LONG way to changing up our front room on a budget.

Now although we have a wealth of information from our expert in the family my OH actually likes to do it off his own back without relying on his Dad, and for this the Internet is a Godsend. We actually came across a great little FREE  eBook download on the Local Traders site called ’28 Tips on How to Decorate’ which takes you through the basic of jobs like wallpapering, polishing wooden floors, hanging pictures properly and many more. It is also written plainly with no confusing jargon and is aimed at people like myself who don’t really have a clue where to start! It even walks you through the tools you are going to need for the jobs. PERFECT

Also in these economic times if you can do some of the simpler jobs yourself your going to save a few pounds towards the projects that DO need a professional brought in. So my next challenge is to pimp my hallway to match my lovely painted cabinet!! LOL Possibly another feature wall with wallpaper, up-cycling of my frames and mirrors, and if I can do that myself ( by that I obviously mean my OH) then I will have saved enough for new curtains out there to really make the difference.


**DISCLOSURE: this post is in collaboration with Local Traders **

Top tips for camping with families

Having just had a week away at half term camping in Dorset, I started thinking why I love being away camping- something that would have had me breaking out in a sweat a few years ago!


1. Print of a camping list of any of the main camping sites online ( or make your own using theirs as a basis) and check list against your equipment several weeks before you go, ticking off the stuff you have and listing the stuff you need to get.

2. Make a shopping list just for the time you are away- PLAN YOUR MEALS– and take the basics with you. So if your plan is to have a curry make sure you have the jar of sauce and then buy your meat fresh on the day.

3. Cool box and freezer blocks– essential for milks etc. I tend to freeze a pack of bacon and sausages to take for a cooked breakfast on our 1st morning there- they act as freezer blocks for the first day but have defrosted well for the first mornings breakfast!!

4.Go prepared– by that I mean for cold and warm weather!! Woolly hats and hot water bottles for the colder evenings, possible shorts and suncream for warmer days.

5. Take games– suitable for your children and family to play. We take Uno cards, several decks of cards for Black Jack and Solitaire, pens and writing pads for Hangman/ Battleship. They don’t take up much space but can provide a few hours of entertainment on a rainy day! Don’t forget games for outside- football/ bats and balls/ Frisbees etc

6. Get the kids involved by giving them some responsibility. Let them pack a small bag of things they want to bring for their own amusement- book, head torches, trump cards etc. Also during the camp try giving older kids a chore- filling the water bottles, washing up, taking rubbish to the bins etc.

7. Take Flasks– not only are these fab to take out with you during the day for a sneaky cuppa but we fill them at dinner time to make teas and hot chocolates before bed ( instant hot water when the kids are tired and don’t want to wait for the kettle to boil!).

8. Take a windbreaker– not only are these fab to mark an area close to your tent space but they provide a great cooking area if your tent does not have a porch. Also they are easy to uproot and take with you for a day at the beach ( presuming we get sunshine!).

9. Disposable BBQ– these can be picked up for a few quid in most places but are great to take to the beach for a lovely evening with a Hot Dog or Burger thrown in! Sometimes we don’t even bother with The BBQ and we use one of our single stoves and a pan for the same results. They are portable so make use of them.

10. Relax and enjoy– there doesn’t need to be a strict regime like at home. No one will be knocking at your door. The ironing and cleaning do not need doing. Take a break from social media. Take each day as it comes, late mornings/ late bedtimes/ extra snacks and treats…………………………..THIS IS YOUR HOLIDAY AFTER ALL!!!!!


Tips to help with energy levels – M.E Related

I struggle with my energy levels on a daily basis. Even if I wake up and feel OK ( doesn’t happen that often!) my energy can be zapped by just getting in the shower and dressed. That can be enough to stop me doing anything else for the rest of the day ( I’m so not kidding).

I live in a terraced house and we had a loft conversion done a few years ago now before I had the illness. So my bedroom is 2 floors up!!! This can be horrendous on some days, as you can imagine. Walking up a set of stairs will be like doing the London marathon for me. This is generally Ok when there is someone else in the house as they can go upstairs for anything I need. However, I spend most of my time on my own, my boys are at school during the day and my hubby works shifts!! So along the way I have altered my way of doing things to make my life a little easier.

Top 5 tips on saving your OWN energy:

1. I suffer with the cold so I have hot water bottles downstairs and upstairs. So if I need instant heat and I’m upstairs I just fill it from the tap (as hot as it will get). This saves me going downstairs to boil the kettle and then having to go back up a flight of stairs!

2. When I get dressed for the day and I’m ready to go downstairs I always take the boots or shoes I’m going to need to go anywhere down with me. So although I always wear my lovely thick and fluffy slipper boots inside, once downstairs I then have my boots/ shoes I need for the day ie: for the school run etc.This may seem very trivial to some but all my shoes are kept in my wardrobe (2 flights up!!) therefore I need to make it a routine to always lift them out and bring them down. If at last minute I have to go up 2 flights of stairs in one go…….I might as well kiss goodbye to the rest of my day!!

3. Most days without fail I go back to bed after taking my son to school. By then I would have been up for 3 hours or so and my body is generally screaming out to rest!! (sad I know- I sound like a really old lady). However, when I do wake up like most people I need my coffee to get me kick started. If I’m up in bed that would mean coming down 2 flights of stairs and then back up to get ready………I NEVER DO THAT!! Instead I make myself a coffee that I take up in a flask!!  GENIUS I know lol, but it truly is a life saver when I wake up!!

4. One device I have recently purchased which has been fab has been my Electric Can Opener!! So how does this save energy? Well you obviously haven’t seen me try to open a can……………..IMPOSSIBLE. I have no muscular strength in my wrists and hands due to my M.E, and I have complete numbness in my left hand and arm most days ( gripping anything is a joke!!). So this little device does all the hard exhausting work for me, and it saves my hands from ceasing up the next day.  I LOVE IT!!

5. Ok this one is a true confession!! I have one of those very attractive * cough* old lady trolleys! There I’ve said it and it feels like a huge weight off my shoulder. If I’m on my own and need to get anything this is a life saver. On a good day I can pop to the high street pick up what I need, shove it all in the trolley and Bob’s your uncle. This was a necessity as I was always having to have someone with me when I went anywhere in order to carry my bags ( I sound like the Queen now). However, I’m not out and proud!! I still lower my head when  I go out with my trolley- inevitably I always meet someone I know too! But this gives me an independence on a good day to be productive. Hail the old lady trolley…….YAY.

So there you have it………….my very own energy saving tips to get me through the day.

Can you think of any others that may help or that you have used and want to share?