Goodbye 2017

Well, that was 2017.   Apart from this post, it’s been completely blog free and I’m OK with that.   Instead of worrying about keeping up with other people and joining in with every craft-along or instagram photo-a-day, I’ve done my own thing.

I managed to read 20 books and exceeded my target of 18.   Admittedly it was mostly chick lit and Harry Potter short stories, but I made time for reading and enjoyed it, which is what reading is supposed to be.

I have been crafting.   I’ve caught up on some craft projects that were years old, and some craft kits that were only hours old.   I still need to get lots of things completed (or started having bought all the stuff in preparation!), and I’ll try and make time for those in 2018.   I also need to make huge inroads into my scrapbooking, and my Trefoil Guild Bronze award must be finished soon.   Just one clause to go.

One thing that has held back my creativity is the amount of stuff I have.   The clutter means that I don’t have room to create to use up the stuff that is taking up all the room!   I have made an effort to declutter and I’ll carry on.   I just need to figure out what I can do with everything I’m getting rid of.   I’m not going to attempt to Kon Mari my life.   My aim for 2018 is to gain sole control of the office as my craft room, and to be able to contain all the craft materials spread all over the house in there.

My volunteering has expanded this year.   As well as my Guide unit and WI committee responsibilities, I’ve also opened a Brownie Pack.   Towards the end of the year, I was just snowed under with paperwork, running workshops, organising meetings and everything else life threw at me.    I need to get that under control and stop over-committing.

Further changes in 2018 need to be to waste less and accumulate less.   Can I lose weight and get healthy too?

Wishing everyone a fabulous 2018!

Reading Challenge 2016 Conclusion

So 2016 on the blog didn’t go as well as I’d hoped.   Attending a blogging conference completely killed my drive instead of inspiring me to achieve more, but I want to celebrate successes, and perhaps go on to achieve other things in 2017.

I last visited the Goodreads 2016 reading challenge in March when I’d read 4 books in 2 months.   Things slowed from then, and I reevaluated what I actually WANTED to read rather than what I felt I should.   One of the books took a long time as I didn’t really enjoy it (The House at the Edge of the World), but I managed to get 12 books read and I’m really happy.

  1. An unfinished book – Helen Fielding – Mad About the Boy
  2. A new author to me – Kate Thompson – Secrets of the Singer Girls
  3. A celebrity autobiography – Mary Portas – Shop Girl
  4. A book written by/about a historical figure – Lord Baden-Powell – The Wolf that Never Sleeps
  5. A children’s book – Jacqueline Wilson – Best Friends
  6. A book club read – Julia Rochester – The House at the Edge of the World
  7. Sophie Kinsella – The Undomesticated Goddess
  8. Amanda Egan – Kissing Frogs and Dogs
  9. Amanda Egan – Catnaps and Flapjacks
  10. Jenny Colgan – Christmas at the Little Beach Street Bakery
  11. Margaret Forster – My Life in Houses
  12. A book adapted into a film – Helen Fielding – Bridget Jones’s Baby: The DiariesThe categories of books I didn’t read were a classic read, a book recommended by a librarian, an award winning book, a book I should have read at school, and a Goodreads recommendation.   I guess Chick Lit is my thing.   A bit of easy reading escapism from all the demands on my day.

    My favourite reads were My Life in Houses (my brother went to primary school with one of Margaret Forster’s children and I remember going to their house to pick him up after a birthday party), Bridget Jones’s Baby (I still haven’t seen the film), and Christmas at the Little Beach Street Bakery.   I also enjoyed The Wolf that Never Sleeps, although it wasn’t very well written.   The Guiding/Scouting history was very interesting, although I preferred Olave Baden-Powell’s autobiography, Window on my Heart.

    I will be doing the challenge again in 2017 as reading is something that gets me away from the TV and laptop.   Perhaps I’ll hoover up some of the categories I didn’t get around to in 2016, or perhaps I’ll just choose books I’ll enjoy.   Whatever happens, I’ll be reading and that’s the important thing.

The Big Plan

The Big PlanI need a plan.

Working from home is wonderful, but having all of my life based from home means that work, kids, the business, volunteering, housework and down time all merge into one.   If I switch the laptop on to update a record on the Guiding database, I end up also writing the agenda for the next WI meeting, seeing what is happening in Twitter, writing press releases to try and attract leaders for the local Brownie unit, checking another unit’s records to see if they managed to move Rainbow Maisy to the Brownie waiting list and looking up a random person on Wikipedia which leads to another person, and another and another.   I’ll go into the Craftyguidelets’ bedrooms to quickly collect their washing and I’ll put their library books back in their bags, arrange the teddies on the bed, sort through the wardrobes for hangers, dig out all the used tissues, empty their bins, which in turn leads to emptying all the bins, sorting the recycling and so on.

Right now I’m supposed to be tidying up the office, but going downstairs to fetch the stepladder, I also collected my diary and to do list, and brought my laptop upstairs to check on my planner which has led to me thinking of a couple of blog ideas to note down, and I’d better check my emails, and there are a couple of corrections to do on the WI newsletter and eldest will be a Guide after Christmas so I wonder if she’s done enough to be awarded her Music Group badge as soon as she joins…   See, I’m hopeless!

I’ve recently started investigating bullet lists and planners to try and get more focused, and with the extended Easter holidays ending next Tuesday, and therefore all my Guiding starting up again, a plan is needed.

Are there any methods that have worked for you?

Fiskars Simple 3-in-1 Tag Maker

Fiskars 3-in-1 Tag Maker ReviewI have been looking for a tag maker for some time but haven’t been able to find one I trusted with the dimensions I wanted.   Watching the new series of Crafty Beggars in the House! on the Community Channel, I saw them use some Fiskars tag punches to upcycle some cards – exactly what I needed!Fiskars simple 3-in-1 Tag Maker With EyeletsI bought mine from Amazon and chose the Simple design as I like the shape.   The tag punch is substantial and sturdy – what I expect from Fiskars – and comes with 20 metal eyelets.   I have a large stash of last year’s Christmas cards and set to work on them to make some tags for this Christmas.Fiskars Simple 3-in-1 Tag Maker Card PreparationHaving selected the area of the design to use, I trimmed the card so that I could get the punch in the right place.Fiskars Simple 3-in-1 Tag Maker Punching TagWith punches, I always find that turning the whole thing upside down and viewing the design through the aperture gets it cut out accurately.   The punch cut through really easily, even on cards with glitter or cards with textured finishes.Fiskars 3-in-1 Tag Maker Punching HoleOnce the card is cut, there is another slot to put the tag into to get the hole cut accurately.Fiskars 3-in-1 Tag Maker Punched TagRight on the pompom!   The tags can be left like this with ribbon or string threaded through the hole (as a good Guide leader, I use a cow hitch or lark’s head knot).   The pack also comes with metal eyelets which can be used to reinforce the hole and make a really professional finish.Fiskars 3-in-1 Tag Maker Applying EyeletSimply feed the hole in the tag over the post under the handle, add an eyelet and squeeze.   It doesn’t feel like you are doing much and that you need to press harder, but the eyelet attaches really easily.Fiskars 3-in-1 Tag Maker Finished TagI am never throwing away a card again.   I had some cards that I’ve used to make birthday tags, as well as the Christmas tags.   I also have my eye on youngest Craftyguidelet’s birthday cards at the moment, and they will be going through the punch as soon as they come off the mantelpiece.Fiskars 3-in-1 Tag Maker TagsI think this lot will get me though next Christmas, and all for just the price of the punch and a bit of twine.    I also have plenty of card in my stash to get me through every possible occasion outside of Christmas so if you need me, I’ll be punching tags out of whatever will fit in the machine!

Disclaimer: I own this punch and I haven’t been asked to review it, or been paid to review it.   All opinions are my own, and I have added some links to the normal Amazon site where I bought mine.   They are not affiliate links and I don’t get any money if you click on them.

Getting Organised – Halfway

Getting Organised week 2 Utility RoomI’m halfway through my organising journey with A Bowl Full of Lemons and I thought I’d reflect on how I’ve done so far.

Week One and Two – Kitchen and Utility Room

The kitchen and utility room are still organised.   I just need to train the other members of the family to put things away in their new homes (or just put things away!).   We’ve bought a basic IKEA TROFAST unit to store our recycling in, so that the first thing you see when you come in the front door isn’t baskets of paper and plastic bottles.   Mr CG painted it cream to match the cupboards and it’s working well.

Week Three – Dining Room

This was my first unfinished task.   I was ill this week and the photos I dragged out of the cupboard for sorting sat on the side for weeks.   I’ve sorted through a few, but the dining room/Craftyguidelet craft room is a huge job.

Week Four – Launch Pad

Back to success.   We bought a 2×2 KALLAX unit from IKEA with 4 baskets so there’s one space for each member of the family.   The Craftyguidelets are getting good at storing away their shoes, gloves etc. so there is less “Mummy, where’s my other shoe?” going on in the mornings.   I’m usually quite good, but Mr CG needs training up.

Week Five – Living Room

This was my week off due to a chaotic volunteering week.   The living room is OK apart from my sofa which is usually covered (and surrounded by) admin, magazines, craft projects etc.   I still have a magazine mountain to sort, but I’ve started trying to manage my admin using The Sunday Basket idea.   Now my wardrobe is organised, I have somewhere for my WI and Guide bits to go, and I’m getting through the magazines faster than they come through the door.   There are a couple of accumulations of papers starting, but I can have people over without worrying about the state of the place.

Week Six and Seven – Master Bedroom and Closet

To boost my resolve for future weeks, my bedroom looks great now.   Anything that hangs around starts to bug me really quickly so I want to put it away.   We are now thinking about a new carpet to replace the shabby, nail varnish stained cream one we were left by the previous owners.   I also need to start making some new clothes that actually fit and suit me to fill the gap in the wardrobe.

Week Eight – Kids Closets

Unfortunately I find myself banned from the girls’ wardrobes as it’s their normal hiding place for presents.   So with Mother’s Day coming up this Sunday, I don’t get access until next week.   I’ve started trying to sort out the office/craft room instead, so if anyone can lend me a large warehouse to use as a craft room, I’d appreciate it!

It’s the linen closet for week nine of the challenge which I think will be easy to sort out.   Famous last words?

How is your spring cleaning going?

Reading Challenge – February Update

2016The end of month two of my reading challenge and I’ve finished 4 books out of the 12!
In February, I finished Secrets of the Singer Girls by Kate Thompson.   I really enjoyed this book, despite it not being something I would normally pick up.   Having enjoyed Home Fires on ITV recently about a rural WI during the outbreak and early months of WWII, I think I saw this book as a recommended read so put it on my Kindle.   It’s the story of a young girl, sent into London from the countryside, and the women she meets at a garment factory in Bethnal Green.   Each woman had a story to tell, and some of the stories of what they had to endure during the war years were quite harrowing.   The Bethnal Green tube station disaster was also included in the story.   There were uplifting parts too, including the way the women looked out for each other in their community.
The other book I read was Best Friends by Jacqueline Wilson.   This was a recommendation from my 9 year old daughter as it’s her favourite book of the many hundreds of books she gets through.   I’ve never read any Jacqueline Wilson books before so it was quite interesting to see what her books were like.   I did enjoy the story, but I think I read it as a mother rather than the BFF girls in the story.   I’m getting far too sensible in my old age!

My current read is A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson.   Although it’s in my Award Winning Book category, it was recommended by my librarian twitter friend @HamertonSally.

  1. An unfinished book – Helen Fielding – Mad About the Boy – finished
  2. A new author to me – Kate Thompson – Secrets of the Singer Girls –finished
  3. A classic read – possibly a Brontë or a Jane Austen
  4. A book recommended by a librarian – Mary Shelley – Frankenstein
  5. A book that’s been adapted into a film – possibly Room by Emma Donoghue.   I still haven’t seen the film so I can read the book before it hits the DVD rental market.
  6. A celebrity autobiography – Mary Portas – Shop Girl – finished
  7. A book written by/about a historical figure – Lord Baden-Powell – The Wolf that Never Sleeps
  8. An award winning book – Kate Atkinson – A God in Ruins – currently reading
  9. A children’s book – Jacqueline Wilson – Best Friends – finished
  10. A celebrity book club read.
  11. A book I should have read at school rather than just the York Notes – probably Le Grand Meaulnes by Alain-Fournier, although in English this time rather than French.   It’s been too long since I got my languages degree!
  12. A Goodreads recommendation.

Meal Planning Monday – 29th February

MealPlanningSo what are you doing with your Leap day?   As the housework fairies don’t seem to be free, I’m in the normal Monday routine.   Oh well!

Now my house is getting organised as I’m halfway through my decluttering challenge, I am more concious of things that should be put away or used up.   Looking in the back of the baking cupboard, I’ve spotted a bag of dates and my chocolate bar kit that could be used up.   The Davina McCall sugar free cookbook will have to wait!   Although there is a lot more space in my freezer, there are still some items that need to be used up – frozen fruit will go into a Berry Fool, and sausages and frozen breadcrumbs are coming into play at the beginning of the week.   The fridge will also get a once over with the fresh veg drawer emptying a bit.

Monday: Sausage pasta in the slow cooker
Tuesday: Hairy Dieters’ Crispy Chicken
Wednesday: Salmon
Thursday: Vegetable goulash
Friday: Fish fingers

Getting Organised – Week Seven – Bedroom Closet

GOUNELLE (4)I am lucky that I have a large wardrobe all to myself.   As someone who rarely buys new clothes and can trace some of the items in her wardrobe back 20 years, you’d think that sorting it out would be a breeze.   All I can say is, oh help!Getting Organised Bedroom Closet BeforeThis is just MOST of the clutter that lives in my wardrobe.   What you can’t see in this photo are my clothes, shoes, spare sewing machine, guitar, and FIVE Really Useful Boxes of family memories.

With everything out of the wardrobe, it got a good clean and I enjoyed a brief look at the clutter free space *deep contented sigh*.

The easy part of the tidy was sorting through the clothes.   Out went everything that didn’t suit me or would never fit even with the best diet in the world and industrial strength Spanx.   The shoes have practical storage boxes so they were stacked up on the floor of the wardrobe, and all the other clothes were returned in a vague order to the hanging rails.   Clothing for camp plus anything that doesn’t get used often was stored under the bed, and my camp bedding plus my spare camp bedding were stored in zip up storage bags and put on the top shelf.

Next, two of the memory boxes containing school books were relocated to the Craftyguidelets’ bedrooms and the other three were put back into my wardrobe.   My Guide bag was allocated a shelf and everything else was put into piles – craft, bags, WI, Guides, sports stuff, books and other stuff.   Craft stuff was moved to my over-stuffed office/craft room to be fought over another day, WI stuff was allocated a shelf in the wardrobe, books moved back downstairs and everything to be kept was found a home.

I now have a tidy bedroom and a tidy wardrobe.   Mr CG managed to part with some shoes and a few clothes as well so another success.

This week on the A Bowl Full of Lemons blog the organisation challenge is Kid’s Closets.   Littlest Craftyguidelet has just had new bedroom furniture so her wardrobe is pristine.   Eldest needs her one sorted out though so that’s my challenge now, but not until she’s out of the way at school!

Are you still on track with your Spring cleaning?

Meal Planning Monday – 22nd February

MealPlanningNo Meal Planning Monday post last week as I was having a bit of a blogging break.   I did have a meal plan though, and we had a freezer dive week.   As I’ve mentioned before, I store a lot of things in my freezer so I can batch cook meals and get longer shelf life from food.   Unfortunately this led to a lack of space for staples like bread and frozen veg, so a purge was in order.   We’ve feasted on pizza, fish, sausages, pie and all sorts of yumminess, so although my slimming world plan has gone to pot, I can now see what I’ve got in there.

This week we are going for something simple again.   After a calm half term, volunteering and mum cabs duties are ramping up again, and I need to get my organising back on track.

And to all my Guiding followers, a happy World Thinking Day to you all!

Monday: Vegetable Pasta Bake
Tuesday: Paprika Chicken/Vegetable Curry
Wednesday: Cottage Pie/Vegetarian Chilli
Thursday: Sausages
Friday: Beef and Vegetable Hot Pot/Quorn Bolognese
Saturday: Freezer Dive
Sunday: Use up whatever is hanging around in the fridge

Linking with At Home with Mrs M’s Meal Planning Monday.   Pop by and see what everyone else is having this week to get some inspiration.

Getting Organised – Week Six – Master Bedroom

Getting Organised Master Bedroom week sixYes, I know there was no week five!   I took a blogging break last week as it’s been full on at work and home at the moment.   The thought of making blogging a necessity rather than something I do for fun fills me with dread, and I’m sure any readers I have aren’t hanging on waiting to see if I’ve alphabetised the DVDs!

My bedroom has been a tip for months.   I dragged out the cardboard memory boxes that I used to store mine and the Craftyguidelets’ ‘treasures’ ready to sort them, and they sat in the corner of the room.   I dipped in occasionally, but digging through past memories can be time consuming and emotional.   After so long, they became a feature of the room and hardly noticeable.   Having the blog challenge hanging over me gave me the push to get going though, and having frequently nagged the girls to “tidy your rooms!”, it was now mummy’s turn.Getting Organised Master Bedroom memory boxesI bought some Really Useful Boxes so that storage was sturdier, and just went for it.   I’ve been ‘editing’ some of youngest Craftyguidelet’s stuff so we could get her some new furniture and not just move in the same old clutter as before, so I was a bit more battle hardened for the task.   Out went piles of old birthday cards, school artwork that just didn’t mean anything to me any more and the pile went down.   Once I’d finished, Mr CG did a great job of tidying his small pile of clutter, and we now have a tidy room.   It’s now nice to go in there and relax without climbing over piles of clutter.   I even found my marbles!Getting Organised Master Bedroom marblesThe council has taken the recycling and we’ve done a couple of tip runs and a charity shop run to clear the rest.

Next week is the Master Bedroom Closet.   How I’d love to have one as gorgeous as the one on the A Bowl Full of Lemons blog, but mine includes my Guide bag and flag, my WI bag, a guitar and many other bits and pieces as well as my clothes.   Definitely a challenge!