Friday, 29 April 2016

An Upcycled Lampshade

I'd been looking for the perfect lampshade for our bedside lamp for quite some time and just couldn't find quite what I was looking for.  In the end I opted for a plain shade.  It wasn't quite what I was after but it would do.  It would definitely be better than a light bulb that's for sure.


The more I looked at it, the more I had convinced myself that it just didn't cut the bill.  So I decided to give it a little re-vamp.  I've somehow managed to loose my before photos but I'm sure it doesn't take much to imagine how it would have looked before.

I raided my ribbon stash and found this pretty lace ribbon, cut it to size and glued a strip to both the bottom and the top of the shade using fabric glue.  


Instantly sprucing up the plain shade, giving it a bit more texture and interest.  So quick and simple.  And the total cost ~ free.  Sometimes it pays to be a bit of a hoarder.

~ Gem x

Monday, 25 April 2016

Afternoon Tea at Mulberry House

It's no secret that I love afternoon tea.  Basically anything that involves cake ticks all the boxes for me.  I was aware that Mulberry House in Ongar offers afternoon tea but have never actually been there to try it out.  



I last visited the venue with James, when we were looking for a wedding venue about three years ago.  I'd said back then that I would return to try it out, but it just slipped my mind until my mum suggested it the other week.  It seemed like the perfect excuse to celebrate my Nan's birthday.  After all drinking tea and eating cake is what we ladies do best.


It is a lovely venue, the dining room was very elegantly decorated and the soft background music helped provide the perfect atmosphere for tea. I loved the miss matched vintage china, to me this is how afternoon tea should always be served.  It's all in the tiny details, wouldn't you agree.



The selection of sandwiches (ham, egg mayonnaise, smoked salmon and cucumber with cream cheese) were yummy, but we all know that afternoon tea is all about the scones and the cakes and they did not disappoint.



A thoroughly lovely afternoon, definitely one to try out if you've not been before and another one for me to cross off my list.




~ Gem x

Friday, 22 April 2016

World Book Night Winner

Tomorrow see's the arrival of World Book Night 2016.  I talked about it in last weeks blog feature and gave you, my readers the opportunity to win a copy of Lucy Diamond's book A baby at the Beach Cafe.  Along with the book I shall throw in a few little extras, just because I feel like sharing a bit of love and to thank you for your support over the years.  I had hoped for a few more entries, however I appreciate life is busy and that this may not be everyone's cup of tea.  But thank you to those of you who have entered.  


Using the random number generator, I can now confirm that the winner of my little giveaway is Kellie, who would like more time to read to escape the everyday pressures in life.  


Congratulations Kellie, please email me with the address you'd like me to post it out to (gemscountrylife@hotmail.com).

If you've missed this opportunity fear not.  I'm giving you one more chance to win a copy of the book along with some extra goodies on my Facebook Page.  I'll be posting the giveaway at around 10am this morning so make sure you pop over to register your entry.

Have a wonderful weekend folks.

~ Gem x

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Garden Progress

We made the most of the glorious warm sunshine on Sunday and spent the day in the garden.  I'm very pleased to see that the buds are coming along nicely on our Peonies, I can't wait till these are in bloom.  There don't seem to be as many as last year, but their scent is so strong I'm sure it will barely notice.  


Lots of weeding was done in the flower beds, I'm finally on top of that job now (for a couple of weeks anyway).  I've cheated a little and have left some of the weeds that I know produce pretty flowers, just until some of our plants have become more established and have a bit of colour to them.


Lots more work was done on the veg patch too.  We've built a fence around it using tree branches and chicken wire, to keep the rabbits out.  There is still plenty of weeding to be done here.  All this rain and sunshine is just perfect conditions for weeds.  


We have hoed and raked over another of the beds and planted in parsnip and turnip seeds (I do love my parsnips).


So in the ground now we have, onions, cabbages, carrots and leeks, plus the seeds planted this weekend.  We have also started planting marigolds in amongst the beds too.  I'm sure the pop of colour will look great and the plan is that it should keep some of the garden pests away from the veg.  I'll let you know how that goes.    


The greenhouse is looking fruitful too and all of the seedlings that James had panted are coming along nicely.


It looks as though it is going to be a busy summer in the garden this year.

If you haven't entered my World Book Night Giveaway, there is still time.  Make sure you get your comment on the original post by 8pm tomorrow (Thursday).

~ Gem x

Monday, 18 April 2016

A Weekend Walk


We decided to take a walk on Saturday.  The weather wasn't fantastic, in fact we encountered a few showers, but it felt good being outside seeing nature at it's best.


We are so lucky living where we are and I love being able to walk out of our front door and set out on a walk, without even touching a main road.  We managed to do the entire walk via public footpaths, traipsing across fields and dirt tracks.



We don't take advantage of this half as much as we should.  James works away quite a lot with his job, so our weekends are often spent catching up with odd jobs, but perhaps we should put them to one side and enjoy this quality time together more often.  Just walking hand in hand not even having to say anything felt amazing.


In total we walked about 4 miles, so only a short walk really but it felt great and was just what I needed.



Hopefully as the weather improves we will be squeezing in plenty more countryside walks.



Don't forget there is still time to enter my World Book Night giveaway.  I will be putting together a little parcel of goodies along with the book, so make sure you get your entry in by 8pm on Thursday 21st, I'll be announcing the winner in Friday's blog post.  Good luck.

~ Gem x

Friday, 15 April 2016

World Book Night Giveaway

'World Book Night is an annual celebration of reading books that takes place on 23rd April.  It sees passionate volunteers give out hundreds of thousands of books in their communities to share their love of reading with people who don't read regularly or own books.  World Book Night is run by The Reading Agency, a national charity that inspires people to become confident and enthusiastic readers to help give them an equal chance in life.' 


I know I've said this a thousand times, but I really do love books.  Last year I signed up to be a volunteer book giver for World Book Night.  I handed out a few books at work, the rest I took to our local homeless shelter.  It felt so great being able to give something to those who may not read all that often, being able to share a passion of my own with others.  As soon as registration opened for 2016, I filled in my application once more and was pleased to be selected for a second year running.  

Image from World Book Night website

Personally I wasn't as thrilled with the book choices this year, but even still it's an opportunity to spread a little bit of literacy love, which is what I intend to do.  My books have been collected and I'm ready for World Book Night on he 23rd April.  


So with that in mind, I shall be hosting a few giveaways for you to win a copy of my chosen book 'A Baby At The Beach Cafe by Lucy Diamond'.  The first of the giveaways is here on the blog, the others will be on my social media channels, so keep watch on those for a chance of getting your hands on one of the books.  


All you need to do to be in with a chance of winning a copy here is leave me a comment on this post, telling me why you would like to read more books.


I will select and announce a winner next Friday the 22nd April.  Please feel free to spread the word.  Good luck.
  
~ Gem x

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

A Garden Update ~ Spring 2016

I mentioned in Monday's post that preparations were under way in our garden.  We are planning on going all out this year, in what we think is likely to be our last year in our little bungalow.

It is so nice seeing things spring back to life after the long winter, full of such promise for the summer ahead.  The one thing I have come to appreciate since living here for the past three years are the seasons.  I seem to notice them in a way I never had before.  They seem to be highlighted so much more in the countryside compared to a city dwelling and I am so grateful for that.   


Watching the fruit trees blossom is one of my favourite sights at this time of year.


That and the abundance of daffodils everywhere.


James has been busy in the greenhouse, planting out seeds and potting out plenty of fruits and vegetables.  We have paired up with a friend who lives close by, each growing different things, so between us we should have plenty to see us through the winter (that's the plan).  



The veg patch has been ploughed and raked.  The first few plants and seedlings have been planted out into the ground and it feels great.  I'm hoping for a successful year.  Fingers crossed.


We also have a huge amount of flowers that have been planted too.  So not only am I hoping for a full fridge, but also some home grown flower arrangements too.  

I'll make sure I pop back with some updates as to how things are going.  

~ Gem x

Monday, 11 April 2016

My Thoughts Lately

Apologies for my recent absence.  I've not really had the motivation to blog.  There hasn't been all that much going on that seems blog worthy either.  Which now that I say it, sounds daft, as my blog is lifestyle focused, but I'm sure you understand where I'm coming from.

I've been finding myself very caught up in trying to keep my content fresh for this little blog of mine and that is hard work.  I feel as a result of that other things in my life are being pushed to the side and I really don't want that to happen.


Taking some time off from blogging this past week and a bit has been great.  I managed to get lots of spring cleaning done, and I feel so much better for it. I've managed to cross jobs off my to do list that I have been putting off for ages.  And a start has been made on the garden in preparation for summer but more on that another time.  I finally feel as though I'm getting back on track for where I want to be in terms of organisation at home, although no doubt there will be more to do, there is always something more that can be done right! 

I've been taking some time out for myself too.  Watching films on Netflix and spending time with my colouring book.  It's been so nice relaxing and not really having an agenda, I must try and do it more often.


Having this time to myself has made me re-evaluate my blog and I'll be honest, the thought has crossed my mind on more than one occasion as to whether or not to give it all up.  Having pondered over the thought for some time, I have realised that I'm not ready to give this all up just yet and feel that I have plenty more in me to give to this space of mine. 


I love blogging, and I love the community I've been able to feel and become a part of.  This blog has put me in touch with so many people I would never have met had it not have been for this space.  Not to mention the opportunities that it has also brought with it.  I'm so thankful for this space and I don't want to throw it all away.  I think for me it's just a case of getting that right balance.  So with any luck you'll still be seeing plenty of me around these parts.

Thank you to all of my readers, for all the comments and for all the support.  I appreciate every single one of you.

~ Gem x

Friday, 1 April 2016

April Bucket List

Another month, brings another bucket list and this months takes us straight into spring.


I actually managed to do everything from my list last month except for just one thing so I shall carry it forward to this month as to be honest it can be done at any time of the year.

* Make my own bird feeders.
I love seeing birds in the garden so being able to dot little handmade feeders about the place will make it all the more special.

* Have a crafty adventure.
My crafts have sat by the way side for some time now, I'd really like to get back in the swing of things again.

*  Spring Clean.
It's at this time of year that I really enjoy having a good de-clutter and deep clean of the home.  Throwing the windows open and freshening up the home ready for the summer ahead.

* Explore a Bluebell Wood.
I've been meaning to do this for years so hopefully this will be the month I get to see Bluebells as far as the eye can see.

* Plan some breaks away.
I'm craving some time out at the moment.  I know I've not long been back from Center Parcs but having some things to look forward to is always good.


What have you got in store for April?  Any exciting plans or just seeing where the month takes you?

~ Gem x