Monday, 14 January 2013

Keeping warm and cosy

Brrr!! The weekend was freezing here in Northants and it has been snowing all day today.

First thing this morning.  The snow has become thicker and there is less greenery around now.
Whilst I love the cold, sharp air and frosty landscape in the morning, our house feels even colder than usual.  Our heating is ridiculously inefficient, the roof space inadequately insulated and an icy draught seeps in through the windows.  The thick walls and cold ground-level floors make the place difficult to heat. 

At this time of year I am envious of friends who live in warm, modern houses but it seems I am drawn to the old and crumbly.  Previous houses have included a tiny thatched cottage with shutters at the windows (chocolate-box pretty but it was a playground for mice and permanently dark inside), a converted barn with exceptionally high ceilings (the windows were a nightmare for showing up every smear) and a beautiful old town house with the most amazing timber sash windows (but being right in the town centre, we had to endure the sound of drunk youngsters singing and throwing up all the way down the street at the weekends).  

The house that we are in now is my favourite of all, despite its draughty rooms.  We just need to take extra precautions to keep snug.  

We had wood burners fitted a couple of years ago and it was one of the best things we did.  We have this one in the living room and another in the dining room.  At this time of year we keep the fires banked up  for most of the day.  We've found that a combination of coal and logs burns most efficiently and once it has been going for a while, the room gets toasty.  

We keep plenty of blankets to hand in each room; my favourites are the checked and striped ones I bought at Avoca.  My stepson's favourite by far is the cream faux fur blanket I bought from The White Company - we keep it across the back of the sofa year-round and he has been known to wrap himself up in it to watch TV in the middle of summer! 

We had curtains made with extra-warm thermal lining for living room, including this long curtain that covers the (unused) front door.  The door is an old wooden one and sports a few little gaps that enable the wind to whistle through!  

It isn't so difficult to stay warm upstairs but our bedroom is freezing because we have a small open fire that lets in a constant draught.  I've now bought two sets of the flannelette bed linen from John Lewis (one red and one natural) and then layer up with an eiderdown from Peony & Sage - the plumpest, heaviest eiderdown ever! - and a blanket or two.  It is impossible to get up in the morning, we are so comfortable!

The snow looks set to continue here, for the early part of the week at least.  I have made a huge vat of creamy tomato soup (low fat, natch, I'm on a NY diet) and we are spending our evenings on the sofa catching up on Grey's Anatomy.  Obviously, cuddles are an essential way to keep warm too.   

Have a good week.



Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Sponsored Post: How to Decorate on a Budget

this is a sponsored post

If you’ve recently moved, you may be looking to update some of the décor around your house or flat. It’s easy for these expenses to add up, but fortunately, there are plenty of options for decorating on a budget! 
Visit flea markets. Street fairs and flea markets often sell some interesting trinkets that are great for hanging on your walls. You’ll find things like mirrors, coat racks and tapestries and you can often negotiate on price! 
Pictures. One of the best ways to make a house feel like a home is to personalise it with photographs of your friends and family. Look at your discount shop for some cheap frames to put photos in.
Browse Craigslist. Often people want to get rid of their junk quickly, and they don’t particularly care whether they make much money from it. Craigslist has a “free” section under “For Sale” and you may find furniture there that is actually in good shape. Sometimes, pieces will have a lot of scratches but you can cover them up easily with some paint or a tablecloth and no one will ever know the difference.
Slipcovers. A great way to change the look of your furniture without having to buy all new stuff is to try out some slipcovers. Changing just the colour of your couch or chair can give your place a totally different look!
Paint a room. Another cheap way to give your place an update is to paint the walls a different colour. Changing plain white walls to a more interesting colour can do wonders without breaking the bank and often, you won’t need much more than that to complete the room.
Good luck!

Anne Perkins is a freelance writer focused on how to live large on a little living. She writes about short term loans for At her blog,, you can get tips on how to take any idea and make it easier or cheaper to complete.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Christmas and New Year Round-up

Happy new year everyone!  

I totally meant to write throughout December but I was too busy blowing my nose, sucking Strepsils and celebrating Christmas.  We had a lovely time; ate well, slept well and played well too.  

Getting into a happy tangle with the fairy lights
Still love fairy lights.  Every year I leave an extra string of fairy lights up in the house after Christmas.  By the time I'm 60 my house will be visible from space!  

Prettying up the house both inside and out.
A few carol singers would have made this photo perfect.  I'm planning on rounding up a group to go carolling next year.  I'm not kidding.  Yes, Claireybelle, I'm looking at you! 

Feeling hopeful. 
I was massively spoilt this year.  I now have a whopping supply of L'Occitane goodies, some Penhaligon's perfume, a new overnight bag and a gorgeous set of stacking silver rings.  The chocolates and sweets I was given can now be evidenced in the spare tyre around my middle.  It was a delicious Christmas! 

Lots of long winter walks in my big new puffer coat.
I quite like that I look a bit manic in this photo.  We were just heading out to fetch our Christmas trees so I was very excited.

Baking lots of gifts. 
You have to make gingerbread at Christmas.  It's the law.

Making and eating lots of peppermint bark.
Ditto peppermint bark.  Man, I ate way too much of this stuff.  Am now addicted and wondering how I can make this festive treat year-round.  Suggestions for things I can bash up and throw on top of melted dark chocolate would be very much appreciated.  

Wearing my party frock (slightly tipsy shot)
This is me (obviously) in one of my Poppy Children dresses.  It has a very floaty skirt and I felt amazing in it.  I never feel amazing in anything so this was an unusual, but happy, feeling.  I took this photograph when I'd just got home from an champagne afternoon tea with the WI.  Fab day.

Niece wearing the party frock (and petticoat) I bought for her.
I bought my Niece, Izzie, a Poppy Children dress and she wore it on Christmas day.  We were both wearing red Poppy Children dresses with big white petticoats underneath.  She had stripy tights and sparkly flat pumps; I wore fishnets and massive red patent heels.  She asked me if she could have a pair of 'tight with squares on' too.  Ha!  She's four this month.  

Massive family card game on Christmas day.  Noisy and lots of fun.
We always play cards on Christmas night.  Everyone joins in, including my 80-something grandmother (we call her Slick B for this event and she is the Rulebook Hitler).  It's immense fun.  We save our pennies up all year to gamble with.  Jake is becoming a bit of a card shark and cleared up this time - hope we aren't teaching him bad habits. 

Curled up watching a bit of TV.
Bought the cosiest new bedding ever.

New PJ bottoms and a bit of crochet.
We went out lots but we also managed a few snuggly nights at home.  There was plenty of crochet, knitting and stitching.  A bit of TV-watching too.

Festive perfection! 


It was my birthday on New Year's Eve and, as is tradition, we headed for the West End to see a show.  This year it was We Will Rock You and whilst I found the storyline a bit odd, the music was amazing.  

I did a bit of wooping, a lot of toe tapping, some teen-style head nodding and, at one point, totally forgot where I was and started to play air guitar.  (I promptly stopped.  Bit embarrassing.)   I felt a bit sorry for Drew.  He had me on one side and a die-hard Queen fan on his other who was without doubt the loudest person in the whole theatre.  She was very entertaining but I did cringe for her a bit when the man behind gave her an ear-bashing for spoiling it for everyone else.  (Pleased to report that she spouted a few blue words at him and sat down.  I do love a mini-drama when I'm out.)

And now here we are.  A new year and a new start.  

Learning to embroider.

I always make lots of resolutions at the beginning of each year.  Some I keep, some I don't, but still I enjoy the process of thinking about the small improvements I'd make to my life and the things I'd like to achieve.  
I won't bore you with my resolutions this year, but I can tell you that I plan to worry less, craft more and I will make time to be thankful every single day. 

Happy new year, again, to my lovely bloggy friends.  Thanks for visiting.