coffee adventures

it's frothy man

it’s frothy man

After such excitement over our gorgeous new coffee machine, we have had some disappointments.

Our lovely machine blew something inside and was no longer safe to use with water and steam spewing out everywhere.

John Lewis were brilliant about it and because they had no De Longhi stock to replace it and it was dangerous, they refunded us in full and the pretty machine was condemned to the bin, unfortunately.

pixie!

pixie!

We were back to our traditional italian stove top coffee maker for a while and still loving our coffee.

But we missed the frothy milk and the espressos that JC likes. Coffee and hot milk done the old fashioned way just wasn’t hacking it.

traditional stove top coffee maker

traditional stove top coffee maker

After all it is still a bit of a faff using the stove top and a milk pan and even a wonderful morning coffee we can get from our wonderfully seasoned old campaigner hasn’t hacked it really.

We are busy and things need to be as easy as possible really

So!!!!

Having taken full advantage of our lovely friends thorough research, we are now the proud owners of a Nespresso Pixie with aerochino!

And it is wonderful

And it is easy

And there is no mess

And it is cheaper than buying beans and ground.

 

And we have found a fantastic clever devise for storing our pods that can be fixed to the underside of the kitchen wall cupboard. Right on hand but not seen. Marvellous.

pod holder

pod holder

Or mounted on the wall like a piece of art.

wall mounted pod holder

wall mounted pod holder

Finding the flavours that are right for us but it is fun trying and we have had some very helpful tips.

shiney and brilliant

shiney and brilliant

I feel coffee love again!!!

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a prickly issue

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Love or hate them cactus are amazing!

My gran was an enthusiastic grower and appreciator of cactus and I wish I knew what happened to her wonderful collection when she died.

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My dad has his theory on my Gran’s love for these spiked green wonders and it is something along the lines of her being in good company……

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I don’t mind admitting that I LOVE a cactus.

I have them (they are practically the only green thing that I have indoors) in my home.

I am drawn to them in garden centre and places like Kew and the Eden Project.

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I wonder what it really does say about me and my gran, then?

I’m not bothered about succulents (pah!! pretenders!!), I love the full blown, nasty, needle covered cactus that is impossible to repot and will remind you (in no uncertain terms) what they are capable of if you forget yourself and get too close.

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They are the perfect architectural designer’s accessory and even if they are hugely uncool at the moment, this designer loves them.

I love them!!

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I love them for their architectural grace and interesting shapes.

I love them for their unforgiving ways (hmmm? some might say…….).

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I love them because they work perfectly in our understated london home which is mostly white with grey furniture and walnut floors that is only coloured by the contents of our shelves AND a carefully placed cactus here and there.

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They are neat and contained so they also fit in with my deep love of order and tidiness.

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It is in complete contrast, I have to say, to the outside which is a mix up of colour (not too much), green, wild stuff, compost and things not necessarily in the right place (rhubarb).

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Every time I look at one of my little beauties, my gran comes to mind.

What could be wrong with any of that?


Edible Garden

 

rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb

rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb

I haven’t posted anything about our garden in such a long time. In fact not since before I separated this blog from my tinyinc blog in December 2010.

If I was honest, we’ve neglected it because we have been so busy and found no time to spend out there. As a result, we’ve had interesting things growing (without any help from us I hasten to add) but we haven’t really had any veg or produce from the ground behind our home and I miss that.

the herbs and rhubarb survived the new fence

the herbs and rhubarb survived the new fence and are now surrounded veg and salad waiting to sprout and grow

There is nothing more tasty, satisfying and relaxing than harvesting a few salad leaves, tomatoes and courgettes for your supper. Especially after the rigours of a long and stressful working day.

Our fence desperately needed replacing recently so on the back of that, and a bit of welcome good weather, we decided to revamp the garden and do things a bit differently this time. The mess and damage that the new fence inevitably made was the prefect excuse to tackle things differently and set it up in a new way.

the other side still has the creepers but bare soil below

the other side still has the creepers but bare soil below

We’ve tried things in certain spots, we’ve tried things in pots and we’ve tried a raised bed but my sister bought me Alys Fowler’s The Thrifty Gardener which I love. I then bought her Edible Garden book which has so inspired me and talks about exactly the kind of gardening I have been looking for and didn’t have a name for it……

runner beans against the fence which gets a lot of afternoon sunshine

french beans against the fence which gets a lot of afternoon sunshine

POLYCULTURE!!!

It just makes so much sense.

french beans

french beans

We don’t want regimented lines of carrots really (although we have done that) and we don’t actually have time to manage that kind of garden anyway. Plus we don’t really want to see great swaths of precious tasty soil left with nothing growing in it when the weather is rubbish and you are stuck in doors looking out waiting for things to change.

swiss chard

swiss chard

So what is polyculture?

In the true sense of the word, it means ‘growing multiple crops in the same space’. The best example is how the native americans used to grow corn that had beans climbing up the stems and courgettes growing around it’s feet. The three plants develop and produce at different times so the space is very efficiently used to great benefit.

courgettes - one of my favourites

courgettes – one of my favourites

Perfect for a small victorian terrace garden in London.

Alys Fowler follows these principles but not to the letter and the result are stunning and very productive.

strawberries

strawberries

Aside from the sight of it being wonderful, the advantages are numerous and there are many publications that explain this.

sorrell

sorrell

So with that in mind, we have started out with a nearly blank canvas (I couldn’t bear to uproot my rhubarb and herbs etc so they stay put) and will see what we achieve be it successful or otherwise.

lettuce mix

lettuce mix

There will be some mistakes and I am already undecided about a few plant combinations but it’s very exciting and it has got me making lists, sketching out plans and scanning all my back issues of Country Living for more plant ideas.

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a bit of DIY

the old fire place

the old fire place

There used to be a very imposing and completely inappropriate fire place in the living room of our little lincolnshire house. I have always hated it.

It has long been the source of discussion and apart from being architecturally wrong for the period of the house, the size is too grand for a house with such tiny proportions.

gone

gone

A particular picture from a magazine page has been gracing our notice board for a long time by way of inspiration and finally it came into it’s own.

We set about tackling the beast in the may bank holiday weekend in 2013! We carried on over our september holiday (which is our only real holiday of the year!) working into the night most days and finally got everything back into shape ready for christmas.

It had taken us a day to strip out the entire fire, hearth and mantle surround (in tact too). I popped it on ebay to raise a few extra pounds to pay for the materials (now restored and in a local shop). Then we spent a day preparing the space for a new hearth plinth of slate tiles.

brickwork exposed

brickwork exposed

The plastering (husband has good skills but kept this one hidden) took up the Monday by the end of which  the plaster was the only sign left of where the old surround had been.

freshly plastered

freshly plastered

It’s quite satisfying stripping something like this out and revealing what is behind.  We weren’t sure how wide the fire opening would be or if the brickwork would be in good order.

Imagine our delight when a nice wide opening with a lintel and good brickwork revealed itself and all in tact.

Even with the fireplace out and the brickwork exposed with no new wood burner, the improvement was immense and we couldn’t have been happier.

wood burner and slate hearth

wood burner and slate hearth

We picked out the wood burner we wanted and booked the installation for later in the summer.

ahh cosy

ahh cosy

Eventually the day came and we got the wood burning stove fitted and someone couldn’t wait to get that bad boy fired up and it was barely dry from the installation.

the dreaded decorating

the dreaded decorating

This long awaited change also meant we could start the very long over due decorating. No great shakes; just a spruce up as it was starting to look tired and sooty from the old fire.

The biggest change would be painting out the timber skirtings, cills and door surrounds which I particularly hated.

the dog bed gets the best spot in the house!

the dog bed gets the best spot in the house!

That just leaves the rest of the house to do now and the decoration has made the other areas look REALLY shabby. Forth Bridge comes to mind!

tada!! just a mantle shelf needed now

tada!! just a mantle shelf needed now


doggy DNA

wadya mean, the hammock’s not ACTUALLY for me!

We have been enjoying the Kate Humble and Steve Leonard ‘The Wonder of Dogs’ programme on BBC2 Thursday nights which explores all the amazing things that a lot of us don’t know about our best friends.

 

Sadly it is now finished but it covered the science of breeding, intelligence, breed traits, how humans have ‘used’ dogs in history as well as how we have welcomed them into our homes.

what?

It is done in hand with an open university course so it is scientific in it’s approach but it is executed with a huge sense of fun. If you have the slightest interest in dogs or our relationship with them, you will find it fascinating and it can’t do dog reputation any harm after some of the horrendous and tragic articles in the news about dogs lately.

love the snow (hate the coat!)

love the snow (hate the coat!)

We have taken quite a lot of stick from friends and family about the parentage of our JRT Max who was supposed to be 10″ long (the last coat we bout him was 20″ long). He displays traits that you’d find in other breeds and not JRTs (he points – sort of ha ha). He isn’t mad and yappy like a lot of terriers and he isn’t very terrier like in many other ways.

they'll never find me in here

they’ll never find me in here

Fox Hound, Dalmation, labrador, beagle are to name but a few of the breeds that people have wondered what he really might be. Pretty much anything other than a Jack Russell!!

how can you resist those eyes

how can you resist those eyes

We did everything right when we got him, we met the parents, went to the home where he was born and all of the things that the sellers told us about the others that they had from the same parents was pretty true.

ready for action

ready for action

He is a  great family dog, he loves kids and he does look like his mum and his dad.

Clearly there is something else going on somewhere though and the breed traits and DNA tests that were covered in the programme a couple of weeks ago got us thinking.

So JC sent for a home doggy DNA kit (is there ANYTHING that Amazon don’t sell?) and the results were emailed through to us this week.

chillaxing

chillaxing

So!! To all those doubters…….

He is in fact very much a Jack Russell Terrier but he also has a bit of Fox Terrier in him from grandparents and from his great grandparents there is…………………..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHIPPET!!


Utility Boot Rooms

I hate mess and things that are untidy need to be out of the way; behind a door or drawer front of some sort if remotely possible.

I love a well ordered, easy to manage spaces

neat and ordered

inspiring – neat and ordered

These spaces in other peoples homes are inspiring and I’m very envious.

colourful and organised

practical – colourful and organised

We have an odd shaped area off our lincolnshire kitchen which was used as a dining space by the previous owners.

It’s narrow and really doesn’t lend itself to anything other than somewhere to dump stuff.  It houses the hoover, dishwasher, washing machine, ironing and has become somewhere to hang coats so it has become our Utility/Boot Room.

coats, boots and many, many other bits

coats, boots and many, many other bits

It is far from perfect but does a sterling job in providing hanging space for a rather large collection of green coats and long boots.  It needs a few things adding such as a  clothes dolly so we can dry the washing without calling on the radiators or having a clothes horse standing in the way somewhere on those wet days when it will be wetter if it was hung outside.

We have a clothes dolly; it is stored in the garage but that is as far as it has got so far.

a sea of green and camo

a sea of green and camo

The space also needs blocking off with a bit or wall and a dipped pine door (that we also have stored in our garage).  The opening is already partly closed off and begs to be finished.

We have made some progress though……

machines and bags and stuff

machines and bags and stuff

It now boasts a worktop where there had previously been none.

It has transformed the space. It provides a valuable and incredibly useful surface for dumping things on such as the dog’s towels, shopping basket, dog leads, binoculars, cameras, wallets, keys and all those other things that we need handy pretty much all of the time.

picnic baskets and blankets

picnic baskets and blankets

I think the dogs feel safer having their beds underneath something when they have a sleep to so I think they like the change.

baskets and storage

baskets and storage

It has worked well so far and I can’t wait for the door and wall to be done so we can close it off from our coats smelling of our last meal and we won’t have to look at all the mess anymore.  Just as it should be!!

There’s a man in the village who I have all my hopes pinned on!