Gardening Journal – Autumn flowers.

img_4885It’s fair to say that I’ve neglected the garden recently, I’ve been way too busy doing silly inappropriate tasks that rank far higher in my list of priorities than they should. Things like sewing a new dog bed or typing out recipes using my typewriter because well I just like using it. After a quiet word with myself I’ve come to the conclusion that arranging books on my coffee table to take pretty pictures is just a form of procrastination. What I really need to be doing is tackling the daily jobs before my house is stacked to the rafters with laundry and the weeds are tickling my ears. So that’s what I did, I went out into the garden and weeded for half an hour …

Before getting distracted by all the pretty flowers, bringing them inside and arranging them to take more pictures.

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Having neglected the garden for quite a while it really surprised me when I paid attention to what was still flowering. I associate autumn with oranges, browns and reds, I never would have thought that nearly into November you can make a pretty flower arrangement like this just from the garden.

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This gave me this idea for a post, I’d like to document what flowers are in bloom this time of year and a little information on each so I can take better care of them next year.

From Left to right

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Salvia – I think this is a Salvia? It wasn’t planted by me so I’m not 100% sure, I’m hoping a gardening guru will read this and correct me. I think this salvia is called Marcus, I could be wrong. A herbaceous perennial (disappears and comes back each year) and to prolong blooming cut off faded stems. Mulch in spring.

Osteospurmum – African daisy ‘Stardust’ An evergreen perennial which means it should provide bushy ground cover all winter however it might not survive frosts so overwinter under glass. Deadhead to prolong flowering.

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Astrantia – A herbaceous Perennial,  Astrantia likes moisture so a good 3-4 inches of mulch will help retain water, deadhead to prolong blooming. Prefers light to partial shade, needs to be protected from harsh midday sun.

Sambucus nigra – ‘Black lace’. A deciduous shrub, this bloomed much earlier in the year but I noticed the berries and thought they were very pretty. I can’t believe this but apparently for the best colour leaves i’m to prune right down to the ground in early spring. I’ll let you know how that goes.

img_4876-1Catnip – A herb, part of the mint family it can be used in herbal teas. Very easy to keep, cats love it, it’s a shame nobody near us has cats. Ignore it unless it hasn’t rained in a long time, then by all means, water it.

Rudbeckia – A herbaceous perennial. Apply liquid plant food every few weeks over the flowering period to produce bigger and better flowers. keep moderately watered over late spring, summer and autumn. Deadhead by cutting back faded stems to encourage new flowers.

 

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Peacock Orchids – These are annual bulbs, they were £2 in morrisons so I grabbed a bag, we planted them out in late May after the last frost, it felt like winter 2018 was never going to end. We’ve pretty much left them to it and they’ve been beautiful. I’m going to do the same next year to see if it was just a 2018 fluke.

Cyclamen – A tuberous perennial. These are meant to flower in autumn and winter but ours have been out since July, I’m convinced our climate here on the East Yorkshire coast is colder than most of the UK. Don’t over water in summer and mulch with leaf mould or bark chippings.

Hopefully this will serve as a little reminder of what to do next spring, summer and autumn to ensure my plants flower right through to November next year and hopefully, if we’re lucky and I stop taking pictures and actually start gardening we’ll get way more flowers than we have this year.

Written with love

Brooke

 

 

 

 

My Overambitious Autumn Bucket List

I just love Autumn, the wellies, the candles, the crunchy leaves, wooly hats and cold mornings. Most importantly Christmas is just round the corner and yes, I’m one of those that firmly welcome Mariah Carey and Nat King Kole into my house the day after bonfire night.

I also love a list. To this day I have never reached the end of one, they’re an everlasting challenge to conquer. Just ask The Farmer, our fridge is covered from top to bottom in chalk pen. (I discovered this last year – metal fridges can deal with chalk pen!) He’s so used to them by now he can actually tell what mood I’m in by how neatly I’ve written it.

I want to start a series of seasonal lists, my theory being a public list is far more likely to be followed through than a fridge one. Please don’t be expecting anything wild, exciting or remotely extroverted, My sister calls me a Granny for good reason.

Anyway enough babble about why… here’s my list.

1. Make a hedgehog house – paint it and write hedgehog hotel on the side.

2. Go for much longer walks with Otis, get muddy and frozen and then indulge in hot apple cider on return.

3. Make a hell of a lot of Pompoms.

4. Give all previous Christmas decorations to charity and hand make the whole lot.

5. Finish the ‘decorate your own Christmas train’ I got from Hobbycraft last year.

6. Think of something interesting to commemorate armistice day with – this is so difficult, poppy themed furniture isn’t doing it for me.

7. Make candles in old charity shop junk.

8. Find eccentric second hand gifts for everyone to encourage less consumerism -Remember to remind people I don’t want any gifts. It could be awkward if they hand me a lovely cashmere scarf and I give them a second hand monopoly board with half the money missing.

9. Finally get the garden tidy and plant some trees! I’d love a eucalyptus but I’m not sure it can handle the ridiculously inconsiderate wind we get.

10. Do something selfless E.g. A charity event or raise money, treat a friend. One selfless act in a season is better than none.

11. Annoy The Farmer by playing Christmas songs on the 6th November.

12. Read all the books recommended by Dolly Alderton.

13. Finish painting the shed/summerhouse.

14. Rotivate the mud bath, then create the structure for a veg plot.

15. Start drying oranges now, let’s make the house smell delicious and Christmassy before Halloween is even here.

16. Bake like it’s 1939.

17. Make time to watch black and white Audrey Hepburn films.

19. Visit Haddon Hall artisan market! There was a pie lady there last year, the best pie lady I ever did meat – no pun intended. (I wasn’t veggie then, I hope she does a mean mushroom one)

20. Prepare for my first ever veggie Christmas dinner. As always the ‘difficult child’ I’ve decided to make Christmas dinner for my parents even more hard work by turning veggie. To help lessen their burden I had better practice my nut roast.

21. Collect leaves, bag them and save for future leaf mould.

22. Deeply consider all the possible names for the chickens i’m dreaming of getting in the spring. Lady Jane Fairfax is definitely in there. Captain Wentworth if The Farmer let’s me have a Cockerel.

I’m sure I’ll think of loads more stuff the moment I’ve pressed publish. I’m even more sure I won’t reach the bottom of this list before December, but I’m definitely going to try!

What’s on your autumn bucket list?

And If anyone else shares my love for Audrey Hepburn and her wonderfully slender neck I’d be happy to get popcorn and make a night of it. It’s not really Nicks thing.

Written with Love

Brooke.

X

My Insta-Photo White Plank Project

I don’t really know why i’m writing this blog. I have absolutely no authority, no training and no idea what i’m doing. I completely make it up as I go along. The one thing I am fairly good at is being willing to just give things a go. It’s how I learn and it’s what i’d really like to encourage other people to do, It’s fun! And that’s exactly what this little project was.

I know you shouldn’t copy other ideas, you should be original and think outside the box but I just couldn’t resist. Instagram is full to the brim of pretty flowers, cups of tea and books laid on battered white planks, so naturally I wanted in on the action. I wanted battered white planks!

Rather than buy myself an old white table I took a look around the house and thought what can I batter and bruise in a little experiment? The answer was this pine coffee table.img_3085

If Gina and Andy read this then I’m really sorry for taking a hammer to the coffee table you gave me. Those beautiful antique chests will never get touched but this wasn’t old so it didn’t feel quite so naughty? Again, I’m really really sorry, please forgive me!

Here’s what you’ll need…

  • Solid wood table of some form
  • Hammer
  • Wood Dye
  • Sharp Knife
  • Thin V Chisel
  • White emulsion 
  • Sand Paper
  • Clear Wax
  • 2 x Paintbrushes

Here’s how I did it…

Start off by measuring the top and marking lines equal distance apart with a metal ruler.  These will be the ‘planks’. Score down each line with a very sharp knife.

Wood carving tools would be ideal for this project. I haven’t mentioned yet how excited I am that I’ve inherited Nicks great grandmas old tools which are in this amazing battered leather case and they smell delightfully of the 1930’s. But that’s besides the point, a cheap set would be more than adequate for this.

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Using a thin V chisel carve out the lines of wood to emulate plank edges. I Made some parts thicker than others, this made the planks seem more worn and distressed. Don’t worry too much about the neatness or if it’s a little wobbly, it really didn’t bother me.

Then the fun part – Hammer the life out of it! Literally hit the sides, top, edges, drawers and legs as hard as you can with the both the front and back of the hammer. Do whatever you like. You’re creating years of knocks, bangs and scrapes, house moves and whoopsie daisies. It might even have lived in an old forge once upon a time, or a carpenters workshop. It’s story is yours to make. (I really wish I saved this part for a bad mood, wielding a hammer while you’re perfectly content is a complete waste of stress therapy).

With some rough sand paper sand the grooves, holes and dints. (You don’t won’t to give people splinters when they grab their coffee.) I used rough sandpaper because the old blacksmith wouldn’t have called a french polisher when the table in his forge gained a few bruises. The knocks and scratches would have felt a little rough. We’re aiming for authentically fake here!

Brush Jacobean Dark Oak Wood Dye in all the dents and grooves so when it’s painted and finally distressed the orangeness of the pine doesn’t come through.

Wait for that to dry and then paint away. Use any matt emulsion you have spare, it does not matter if the finish flakes and doesn’t last a lifetime. I mean it already looks like it’s been through the wars so whats one more chip? Be ruthless with your brush strokes don’t try to be neat, whats the point? Make it thick and clumpy in some parts and thin in others, keep going until you’re satisfied.

Once it’s dried lightly sand the edges, corners and down the grooves to remove paint and give it a distressed look.

To make it more distressed I splashed a little paint stripper on some areas and scraped it off. That looked a little excessive so I layered more paint until I was happy,  then a quick light sand to blend in all the stripped areas.

You’re nearly done, give it a wipe and a coat of clear waxed applied with a paintbrush and rubbed in with a cloth.

Voila! A surface ready for a pretty flat-lay photo.

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Written with love

Brooke

xx

I really wish I’d have saved this project for when a red mist ascended but unfortunately I remained rather jolly during the whole process.

The answer was a pine coffee table,

so many pretty photos taken of objects on white planks. I wanted to jump

Trying to find my interior style.

I always find myself a little overwhelmed when I have to stick to one style or a particular look. I like so many! I’m always changing our house, painting this wall then that wall, selling this and buying that. I get bored of one room and day dream of changing it to a better one.

I always find myself a little overwhelmed when I have to stick to one style or a particular look. I like so many! I’m always changing our house, painting this wall then that wall, selling this and buying that. I get bored of one room and day dream of changing it to a better one.

This is fine in my day to day life but with Make it Simple I don’t want it to be completely sporadic. I’ve got a spare room of projects I’m so excited to start but I want the furniture I’m trying to make “pretty” look “pretty” in “my way”. The difficulty arises in deciding what “my way” is?

My own interior adventures have led me to paint my living room dark red so it feels like you’re sat in a Dickensian novel. I’ve gone to white and masculine with bison skulls, I’ve had bedrooms in cutesy grey floral. I’ve tried modern IKEA furniture and bright Scandi styles. I’ve aimed for muted “farmhouse” in one room and “tropical” dark blue with bucket loads of plants in another. I even painted my bathroom black once and drew a parrot on the wall. I know right, sounds awful! I’ll not lie, it was, but you get the idea, how can I change this habit and go forward with just one style?

Truth is I can’t change this habit and I don’t really want to. I like change and luckily for me I like decorating. The one thing I can figure out is what’s not changed over time? What’s been there all the way through? If I stick with that then I’ve found “My Style”.

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I’ve recently stumbled across my old scrapbook. (Just cut-outs from interiors magazines stuck in a book) along with this and a good brainstorm I’ve created a list of style specifics that I can vet my ideas through. Kind of like a style sieve. So that’s what I’ll do, from now on any projects / products coming on this blog will have been filtered through this list. That way I might avoid any public parrot failures or things that don’t really fit my bigger picture.

My reignited love for scrapbooking

On another note -I’ve rediscovered the joys of scrapbooking. Scrapbooking can be anything from sports clippings to family photos but for me It’s cutting up my Mums extensive 25 Beautiful Homes subscription. It’s a great way to capture my ideas, make notes and organise my thoughts. The cutting and sticking makes my inner child very happy and it’s also great for recipes and craft projects. If you don’t have time to do them, stick them in the book, it’s nearly just as satisfying.

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My Style Sieve

  • Muted tones – I love a good beige, greige, elephant’s breath or morning mist.
  • Old things – my love for something with a story has never wavered. The more curiosity shop or penny dreadful the better.
  • Battered furniture – I’m not really a traditional shabby chic fan but a scruffy looking paint worn sideboard is just so much more interesting. And it can take some neglect! If you can accidentally hit furniture with a hammer and it still looks the same then I’m all for it.
  • Moody colours greys, blues, purples, really deep colours that match my dark soul. Just kidding. But I do really love dark colours.

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  • Linen – my love for linen will last a lifetime

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  • White – I love white, I’d like a white themed Instagram but i don’t have the discipline.
  • Wood and natural materials –   I.e. Wool! Who doesn’t love these?

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  • Fashion Trends – this is okay in small doses but not as an overall look, It won’t last.
  • Flora – plants and flowers will always be in my home.

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Hopefully you’ll eventually see these new style rules running through whatever I create. If not then well you know this was a waste of time!

I’d love to know if your style comes easily to you? Or do you have to go through all this hard work like me?

Written with love

Brooke

Xx

DIY Easy Squidgy Pillow Headboard.

This is perfect if you have an old square headboard in the wrong colour, or if you’re bored and fancy a change. It’s also super squidgy, we all know the struggles of trying to read in bed and not being able to get comfy.

This is perfect if you have an old square headboard in the wrong colour, or if you’re bored and fancy a change. It’s also super squidgy, we all know the struggles of trying to read in bed and not being able to get comfy.

Long story short – My cousin wanted to buy a headboard but wouldn’t buy a nice one. I guess when you’re a 23 year old male the last thing you want to spend your money on is a big fancy headboard. He chose a cheap and cheerful one and said that’ll do.

The boringness of this headboard physically made me itch so I Hijacked it and took it upon myself to “have a go”. It was really important that whatever I did, if he didn’t like it he could get it back to it’s original form fairly easily.

By using a double duvet cover you get lots of fabric for very little money. This entire thing cost £11. It may cost more if you don’t have all the crafting essentials but you’ll be able to use those again.

What you’ll need…

  • Tailors measuring tape
  • Old headboard
  • Double quilt cover (I found a grey linen one on sale in dunelm for £7)
  • 1m 800g Wadding (Dunelm £4)
  • Sewing Machine
  • Matching thread
  • Contrasting thread of your choice
  • Scissors
  • 2 old hollowfibre pillows
  • Staple gun & staples
  • Very basic sewing knowledge (That’s all I have)

What to do…

  1. Measure your headboard using a tailors tape measure.
  2. Cut two identical pieces of fabric. This headboard was 54″ by 22″ so using the double duvet cover I cut out two rectangular pieces of fabric. I added two inches on to the left, top and right, and added 3 inches to the bottom. My cut fabric measured 58″ x 27″.

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  1. Cut an identical rectangular piece of wadding. 58″ x 27″.

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  1. Pin all the pieces together with the wadding on the top. Remember to place the right sides of the fabrics together because this will eventually be turned inside out.
  2. Sew 3 seams 1″ in from the edge. Sew down one short side, then across the top and down the other short side. Remember to leave the bottom completely open, this is where the headboard will go.

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  1. Turn inside out, push scissors into corners to get a sharp finish.
  2. Sew 3 seams again 1″ in, down the short side, top and the other short side leaving the bottom open again. I used contrasting cotton here for more effect.

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  1. Fit the cover over the headboard and adjust so the seam is central. The wadding should be on the front of the headboard. Staple the fabric on the back to keep the seem in place.img_3786.jpg
  1. Rip open two old holofibre pillows and stuff into front of headboard. (Stuff under the wadding) Don’t overfill, because the fabric won’t reach around the bottom. 

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  1. Pull the bottom edge taught and bring round to the back and staple in place.

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If you ever want to remove it, just take out the staples and pull it off.

Written with love

Brooke

Xx