March 2013 Goals

I'm looking forward to March. Are you?

Longer, lighter days make it a great month to be lured into action. 
I'm making my goals list just a little longer this month... I hope I can do it. 

I've discovered setting mini-goals month by month helps to motivate me and there's no shame in not achieving them all.


1. Post about bedroom decluttering on my Making Room series.
2. Plan a simple garden makeover. The main thing will be to get rid of the small lawn and be lawn free – no more mowing for us. More time to chill - yay!
3. Ebay/sell some items to fund our garden makeover.
4. Have a digital declutter – my phone/laptop/camera all need a good edit.
5. Spend less than last month on groceries. I need to continue to use my spending diary and spend more time menu planning simple meals.
6. Plan our son's 18th birthday in April.
7. Select items for my next attempt at Project 333 towards the end of the month.
8. We will also be going on holiday over Easter and I'm planning to pack my lightest wardrobe to date.
9. Hubs has requested a low-key birthday but with a 'show-stopper' cake. Is he winding me up?

No pressure then – I suppose I'd better get baking.

What are your hopes/plans for March? Please share.




Simple Pins

Just a few of my recent pins - all simple ideas to inject some cheap interior chic. My fave is the last one. Hmm... we've got some plain IKEA stools that could be livened up with a Sharpie. Here's where.


Happy pinning xo



52 Weeks of Happy (22/52)

Linking in with Jen and looking back over last week - thinking of the happy, simple things. 

Here goes.

♥ Mmm... fries. This weekend my parents treated ten of us to a meal out. It was lovely to be together and see my brother and his family, especially as my niece had been ill over Christmas and we didn't get to see her. We have a thing about trying the chips/fries whenever we eat out. These passed the test.
♥ Sweet hyacinths from my Mum in law; a gift for our 'Happy Friday' meal.
♥ Clean sheets. I hate/loathe/put off changing beds but love the results. A fresh, clean bed is high up on my list of favourite things (it's on my sidebar's list of simple pleasures already).
♥ A few hours spent decluttering and rearranging things. Meet Snoopy from my husband's childhood - kindly passed on to me.

Hope you're well. Hello to readers and followers old and new - thank you for commenting on my recent posts. It's been a good week.

Be happy xo



Minimalist Monday: Inspiration

I need regular inspiration to simplify my home and life.

Reading minimalist blogs first inspired me. Wanting to live with less stuff and lead a less stressful life I started by decluttering small areas of our home. Nearly three years later we've successfully downsized to a smaller family home. We live on a much smaller income, and although this has its own pressures, we are much happier with our work/life balance. I don't miss either the material things I've given up, the size of a larger home or the extra hours I worked in order to pay for it.

As you'll see from my sidebar I'm still an avid reader of minimalist and frugal living blogs. I continue to feel inspired by motivated people who live simple yet purposeful and happy lives. I want to learn more from people who are choosing to live with less, who manage their finances carefully and who make a living following their dreams.

Now sitting on the other side of the fence and writing about minimalism I receive wonderful comments from readers who are seeking inspiration to simplify their lives. Sharing my simplifying journey and my thoughts on minimalism via this blog inspires me daily and your feedback is very much part of that. Thank you for encouraging me to write this blog is, I suppose, what I'm trying to say.

On this theme, I thought today I would show you a truly inspiring simple living dwelling that you may not have seen before. 

Hen House is a small holiday home on the Isle of Skye. With amazing views and an eco-friendly award winning design (Rural Design Architects) it stands alone. However, I'm showcasing it because its actual interior is very plain. It has enough furniture to make it practical and functional and enough detail through colour and accessories to make it visually warm and inviting. It has a calm, cohesive and understated vibe. Take away the setting and exterior design and I still find it inspiring. 

Homes like this are beyond the dreams of most of us but they can still influence how we live. Hen House makes me want to declutter my home further and make it more streamlined. It reminds me that I want to live a simpler life with time to enjoy the outdoors, read, cook good food and just be. I hope it inspires you too. See and read more here.

What first inspired you to simplify? Please share.

Have a good week.



Hope Springs Eternal

The air has been bitter here this weekend, almost biting, and tiny flecks of snow have come and gone. 
It doesn't feel like spring is anyway near. 
But it will come and I want to be ready. 
So, nestled by my fire, I've been dreaming of warmer days: making changes to my tiny garden, going on holiday at Easter, putting together my spring and summer wardrobe and maybe even being able to sit outside somewhere to enjoy a coffee or lunch. Not long now, please...

What are you dreaming of doing when the weather gets warmer? Please share.



A Little Family Cooking

One of our regular 'Happy Friday' meals with my parents-in-law. A chance to gather the generations around the table for good food, wine, laughter and chat. 

Between the four of us we chose the menu, cooked and cleared up. At fourteen and nearly eighteen our boys are very capable in the kitchen and we are trying to encourage them to get more involved with preparing meals on a regular basis. Having a Dad who's getting more and more into cooking certainly sets a good example. Hopefully, after last night's delicious meal, we will see them in the kitchen again soon. Here's what we ate.

Asparagus wraps with lemon mayo
Brochettes au coq au vin (coq au vin on skewers) with potato gratin and green beans
Rhubarb and ginger crème brûlée
Cheese and biscuits

Here's a peep.

Starter by our eldest. The lemon mayo was divine. He chose his recipe from here.

My version of potato gratin. I used layers of par-boiled maris piper potatoes, chopped onions, grated mature cheddar cheese, a little milk (no need for cream), herbs, seasoning and knobs of butter scattered on top. Cooked for about 35 minutes at 200C.

Skewers are fun. Dad and youngest son enjoyed some threading therapy. The coq au vin was marinaded the night before and was beautifully aromatic. 

The recipe is from Rachel Koo's The Little Paris Kitchen.

Using some frozen rhubarb and ginger left over from Valentine's Day for this crème brûlée was cheap and easy. The rhubarb was delicious and a beautiful blushing pink. Yum. 
Recipe from Wealden Times

It may look like a lot of work but it didn't feel like it and we each got to eat something we hadn't cooked ourselves - always a bonus.

Hope you're having a good start to the weekend.

Hello to my new readers and followers and thank you for your wonderful comments this week xo



OOH LA LA! My little desk

A DESK OF MY OWN - it's taken a while (I first started planning this area in November) but anyhow here is my finished desk/home office nook/space. It's in our bedroom where previously there was a wall mounted TV (left by the previous owner) and unpacked moving boxes. 

Here I work, blog, read, escape and drink tea. Being away from the rest of the household allows me to focus and I'm getting a lot more done than I ever did at the kitchen table (the hub of the house, too busy). Hubs as you may know works from home so I have little access to his desk area in our lounge during the daytime. Much as hubs is my homie I still need space... and this feels like mine... very grown-up.

Trying to give my desk area character but keeping it simple has been the hardest part. I struggle with minimalism being too plain but at the same time I don't like too much visual clutter. 

Also, I had a tight budget with just a little cash left over from moving house. Some items are new, others made by me/us and some are favourite items too, such as my spray painted Eiffel Tower. I originally wanted a vintage desk but I didn't have any luck (or ran out of patience) and my dream lamp would have been a vintage anglepoise. But, that's not to be. I feel I've got a similar look within a tight budget and I'm happy with my choices. To be honest it's the handmade picture (hubs' Ooh La La print makes me smile) and the personal photos that make this space MINE.  

I've listed where the items came from in case you're interested. 

Hope you like it as much as I do xo

1. Hubs' OOH LA LA!  design in RIBBA IKEA frame  2. Butterfly lights- Tesco  3. DIY embroidery hoop (with my year's theme 'Focus' and my boys)  4. Selection of pictures attached with washi tape  5. Lamp - 'Milo', BHS  6. Cube shelf from Casa (France)  7. Eiffel Tower - old eBay find, hand-sprayed  8. Clock bought in Devon last year 9. Desk - 'Lille', Tesco  10. Fold away chair - Argos  and cushion Glastonbury Festival market



February Goals Update

As we're more than halfway through February I've been reflecting on the goals I set myself at the beginning of the month. I'm so glad I chose even less goals this month because it's been a busy, busy one with two birthdays. I find going public with my goals really spurs me into action. Here's my progress to date.

1. Try a different cocktail on my birthday. Ooh yes. I was treated to a cosmopolitan. Perfect for winter.

2. Spend less on groceries and keep a daily spending diary. Oops no. Spending under control but no recording.

3. Cook at least once for friends or family. Yes, we are cooking for family on Friday - a French menu is planned.

4. Finish decluttering our bedroom. Almost there with this one and I'll be posting the results soon.

5. Buy a DSLR camera with my combined Christmas and birthday money. Yes, very happy with my purchase.

6. Challenge myself to write something other than a blog post. Yes, I'm writing a piece for a newspaper competition. If it doesn't get published then I'll post it here. It's something I was thinking of writing about anyway.

7. Celebrate Valentine's Day our way without buying anything that is being specifically marketed for this occasion. We had a lovely intimate meal which marked the day in just the same way as presents or cards would have done. It felt a little strange not sending cards but I don't think our relationship has suffered. Weird that we feel compelled to send cards on a certain day that has no personal significance to us.

How's your February been so far? Please share.



Another Love


Just dropping by with this video to put you in the mood for the BRIT awards tonight. Bare footed singer-song writer Tom Odell (critics' choice winner) performing the beautiful track Another Love. His debut album Long Way Down will be released on April 15th. I can't wait to see him live next month and hopefully tonight on TV.

I love the BRITs as there is always glamour, a good mix of new and old music and usually a little bit of controversy - remember Adele getting cut short by Blur last year?

I wonder what this year's talking point will be?
We're having a BRITs buffet (no time to cook).
Have a good time whatever you're doing.



52 Weeks of Happy (21/52)

Joining in with Jen from little birdie. Here's my pick of happies from the last week.

♥ My thirteen year old turning fourteen. Whilst I was waiting to pick him and his friends up from the cinema I did a spot of blog writing in the coffee shop.
"Are you turning into a hipster?", he asked when the film had finished. 
I wish. I had to google 'hipster' hoping it meant cool. It means both cool and uncool (depending on the definition) but either way I'm definitely too old to be one. I'm taking it as a compliment anyhow.
♥ My new camera. I'm having lots of fun with this already. Just had to pose for the self-portrait photo... sorry.
♥ Healthy and varied breakfasts - no diets here but an attempt to shake off winter sluggishness. So far this week we've had poached egg on toast, fruit and yoghurt and it's porridge tomorrow. Beats our standard cereal.
♥ I found this bargain Harlequin fabric in a remnants basket and have used it for my hoop pin-board above my desk. So, at last my desk area is complete. I'm looking forward to showing it to you in the next few days. 

Hope you're having a good week wherever you are. Thank you for reading, commenting and following this week - it makes me very happy to connect with you.

Be happy xo



Minimalist Monday: How Many Handbags?

Thanks to Project 333 I'm gradually paring down my wardrobe season by season but I still have something of a handbag obsession. Whenever I get the occasional urge to buy something I don't need it's usually a handbag. There are simply so many stunning designs. I like classic handbags and I like alternatives such as satchels. So, when it comes to handbags and minimalism I think I must declare myself a bit of a fraud. 

I've read many times about the 'rule of one' but one handbag can neither be practical enough, versatile enough or glamorous enough for my lifestyle and taste. I like my pared down wardrobe and will happily reach for the same handbag day after day but occasionally it feels good to have a change. 

I coped easily with two handbags during Project 333. I chose my classic black cross body bag which suits me because it's light, practical and goes with everything. My second choice was my favourite silver clutch which is equally versatile and co-ordinates well with most things. I think two handbags is the lowest I could go. 

However, there are times when I need something a little bigger or lighter in colour for spring and summer. This is why I have two other standbys that I'm reluctant to let go of even after the, “Could I live without this?" , conversation that I often have with myself.

My third handbag is my Cath Kidston day bag. It's great for times when you need to pack a book or a small amount of paperwork and the subdued (for CK) design goes well with most outfits. Annoyingly though, there are no internal compartments only two useful end bits but otherwise this is my luxury handbag and the one that puts a spring in my step.

My fourth handbag is a Carvisa taupe bag (bought on holiday in Ibiza two years ago). I like its two handles, the colour is great for spring and summer and it has good outer and inner compartments. I don't use it during autumn and winter because its colour and canvas type material don't really suit colder, harsher weather.

Owning four handbags may not be viewed as minimalistic by some but it is the right number for me at the moment - enough to meet my practical needs and my fashion needs. Four is a lot less than I used to have. I intend keeping these for as long as they last mainly because they get plenty of wear. If they get too worn I may not replace each one. In the future I think I can realistically get down to two bags – one great day bag and one gorgeous evening bag. 

In the meantime I shall still dream about handbags and envy handbags from afar. But I won't impulse buy handbags any more in search of the one perfect bag because it's an expensive and never ending quest.

How about you? Do you have handbag envy? Is there a perfect handbag? How many handbags do you use or own? 

Please share.