Smart, chic and cosy but thrifty living in the city

Our step ladder has been in our family for several decades now.  When I first saw it, it was dark green with red flowers on the side panels and sitting outside in the sun with flower pots on each step.  She looked so pretty lapping up the sunshine.  We had her inside for many years working hard at helping us to reach high places and once the girls came along she began to experience neglect.

Our poor step ladder became a shadow of her former self.  Her rope long broken was replaced with an ill-fitting telephone extension lead, her hinges and joints became loose and wobbly and she was covered in paint splashes from too much hard labour during decorating periods.

As we like to think that people are not ‘past their best’ at any stage of life, I liked to think of our furniture the same way, so I gave her a makeover.

First she needed sanding down and taking the paint splashes and top coat off so that I could make her look like new again.  Then the joints needed seeing to and making tight and firm.  I then gave her a super stream lined coat of beautiful outdoor chalk paint by Autentico in Chalk Grey, not only to take care of her wood but also to make her able to withstand and lot of standing on – if you know what I mean!

Two coats of paint, a light rub down, beautiful new rope and a generous coat of wax to finish and she looked amazing.

And here she is in all her glory, ready for her next lease on life…



“Do not expect a harvest if you haven’t sown anything!” so I read the other day.  I fully concur, having moved into our house at Christmas time, we hadn’t planted anything in the garden this year, concentrating instead on the house.  Experts advise you to leave a garden for a year anyway before planting anything to see what grows that has already been planted.  The same person whom I quoted above, Sunday Adelaja, also said this, “Harvest is more abundant on untilled land.” Considering we had not tended our garden at all of the whole summer, imagine our surprise when we had the most abundant harvest of apples coming from all sorts of directions.  img_9978

We have two apple trees actually in our garden and a couple more that overhang it.  The apples were dropping from the sky like rainfall so much so that we unfortunately haven’t been able to keep up with the smattering of the juicy goodness they contain.  We have been able to gather quite a few of them, however, and have enjoyed apple cakes, crumbles, stewed apples and fresh apples picked and eaten straight from the trees.


We’ve also been gathering blackberries from the common.  They grow so much in abundance here that they could probably feed the whole of Wimbledon!  They are incredibly juicy and flavoursome though, more so for being wild I think.  I mixed some of those beauties with some of the apples from the garden and we had the most delicious crumble.  The crumble topping was made with half oats, half spelt flour with honey told hold it together.  The honey replaced both the sugar and the butter in making this crumble topping.  Bit of an experiment but it paid off.  I’ve been trying to find healthy alternatives to eating too much sugar, fat or gluten.  It’s hard trying to find recipes and ingredients that deliver both the health aspect we are looking for and the satisfying nature of more traditional ingredients.  I think we got it with this one, so it’ll definitely get made again.

Inspired by a booklet that arrived with some organic fruit and veg, I decided to have a go at creating dried apple rings.  I’m not sure my first attempt was a success but it looked better in the process than the finished result.  The apples didn’t fully dry out, even with several goes in the oven.  They were so full of juice, I don’t know what I was expecting.  Next time I will put them on drying racks rather than baking trays and see if I get some better results.  You’ve got to attempt these things though, or you don’t find out what you are capable of.  You can quote me on that in the future!


Sliced and doused in lemon juice


Not so ready for drying

I hope your harvests have been abundant too!



It’s not a very catchy title but it does raise a few eyebrows and some laughs.  I’m not entirely sure if people are laughing at me or with me when they hear it.  But I like it and, mostly importantly, my kids like it and use it as a reference point, so that has to mean something.


Urban because I and my family live in a city.  London to be precise.  City living is wonderful in that you have access to so many galleries, museums, shops, theatres, etc. at any time of the day and some of the night.  Public transport is amazing in the city, there’s a bus, tube or train nearly every minute to somewhere.  This makes my teenagers very happy indeed.  I moved to London (too long ago to remember when) from the deepest, darkest countryside six miles outside the nearest,smallest market town in deepest, darkest Lincolnshire.  Possibly the smallest market town in the entire country.  I wasn’t born there, I just found myself there and some point in my life and had to adjust and get on with it.  I didn’t know what public transport was supposed to be like until I moved to London.  Now, if we go to the country, our teens don’t relax on the journey home until they see the first red London bus!
Domestic because it’s all about my home, where I live, where my children are growing up, where we cook, make, sew, paint, play, read, dance, run, laugh, sing, play music and play with the dog.  We were lucky enough to move to our ‘dream home’ at Christmas.  Having some money from selling my mum’s house after she died helped us to achieve timg_7850his.  How can something so positive come from such a negative I’ll never fully understand, but we are grateful for it and I know it is what she would have wanted for us.  Of course we are still dreaming about how the house is going to look when we’ve finished doing it up, but at the moment we are enjoying – no loving – living in mess, upended floor boards, dodgy electrics and a dark and dingy kitchen that is squashed into a weird corner of the house.  The house is very interesting because it’s not conventional and it’s large – for London.  Just as well because with a family of six, one dog, two Degu’s and lots of friends and family that come to stay, we need lots of space.
Eco-warrior because who shouldn’t be these days.  We have a fight on to protect our landscape and our world from slowly being eroded and destroyed.  Some of this is natural but some of this is man-made miscalculation.  I just want to learn how to do my bit to change what I do and how I live that can help manage the world we live in more efficiently.  I don’t really know what I’m doing as yet but I want to learn and pass it on to the next generation and I’ll be learning and posting my mistakes and successes on this website – if I’m not too embarrassed about them, that is!img_5834

So, I’m doing up my home, raising my family and learning all the time about life and how we do it.  One of my passions is to “make do and mend” as my mum drummed into me when I was young.  I love to reuse, recycle and repurpose, most of my household is full of items that have been made this way and I am excited to create my ‘dream home’ with this as the driving force and on a tight budget – but who isn’t.

I hope you’ll join me for the ride as I work out how to do life as an Urban Domestic Eco-Warrior!