2018 Review in Pictures

I should’ve probably written this post on 1st January, but I was busy finishing off my greenhouse and since then I’ve been back at work and feeling somewhat tired. It’s amazing how quickly you get out of the habit of getting up early and doing proper adult things. Every January when I go back to work I struggle to keep my head above water because I’m so tired and suffering from the January blues. I always manage though, and soon we’ll be through January. February’s not much better, in my humble opinion, but its saving grace is that it’s closer to Spring and you can finally see that the days are getting longer. The end of Winter is in sight!

I downloaded the top nine app which makes you a collage of your nine most liked photos on Instagram.

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I like all these photos (as, apparently do the people who follow me on Instagram) but I didn’t feel that it represented my year as I remember it. Of course, I only started my blog and the accompanying Instagram account (greengirlgardener for anyone who’d like to follow me) in July so it’s not representative of the whole year, but there’s not one gardening photo on there and that was a massive part of my 2018. I also realise that I need to be careful not to use a photo I’ve already posted as my featured blog picture because that’s how I’ve ended up with the same photo twice. 

Anyway, I thought I’d look back on my year and try to select my personal favourite pictures, and maybe you’ll find them interesting.

We managed to keep our fur babies healthy and happy in 2018 – this really isn’t a chore because they are just so delightful. I couldn’t not include my favourite pics of the gorgeous twosome from this past year.

How do I choose my favourite pictures from the garden? Honestly my phone is full of pics of plants and garden paraphernalia! I’ll try to narrow it down.

This is what really sparked my enthusiasm for the garden when we had the jungle chopped down and I could really see what we had to play with!

It inspired me to create our bistro.

I soon added other features to give character to our space.

My wheelbarrow planter.

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My planter which was made by my Dad for my birthday which I love.

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My raised beds ready for growing fruit and veg in the summer.

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More recently my greenhouse which I’m really excited about.

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The garden gave me so much pleasure this year. I can’t possibly show you everything that I planted or managed to nurture, so I’ll try to narrow it down to a few of my favourite photos.

When the cats were kittens it was impossible for me to crochet because they would run off with my yarn, but this year, now that they’re the ripe old age of three, I rediscovered my love for hooking and I also resubscribed to Little Box of Crochet. Here are some of my makes.

I also met Amanda, the owner of Little Box of Crochet at the Grand Sale Event.

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I went on three holidays. Lanzarote at Easter with hubby’s side of the family.

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Sandybrook Country Park near Ashbourne with some of my best and oldest (in time, not age!) friends for May Bank Holiday.

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And Mexico in November with hubby.

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2018 saw the last of my school year turn 40. My birthday is at the beginning of the academic year so I turned 40 in 2017, but my best friend celebrated her milestone birthday in style in 2018. We went to London, saw Les Miserables in the West End and had afternoon tea at the Dorchester.

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I don’t even like tea, but I was in the Dorchester and I was drinking tea whether I liked it or not! I look thin in this photo – might print it out and stick it to the fridge to motivate my New Year diet!

This is really not in chronological order because this happened in February. It’s just in the order that it’s fallng out of my head! We finally knocked our teeny tiny kitchen through to the dining room to create a big kitchen diner. It’s the best thing we’ve done to the house – we no longer fall over each other when we’re trying to cook, and we no longer risk going up in a puff of smoke like we did using our old dodgy cooker!

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Hubby and I went to Thorpe Park with two of my work friends (one of whom made a rollercoaster fwiend – sorry, in joke!) Until I went to Orlando for the first time in 2016 I’d never been to a proper big theme park. I used to go to a local theme park when I was a kid, people can’t believe that I’ve never been to Alton Towers! I loved Thorpe Park. It was so much fun.

My youngest brother got married in August and I gained another sister-in-law. It was an amazing day and really made me appreciate time with family.

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Oh, almost forgot! I got a promotion and became an Account Manager. I’ve tried to embrace my new role and am enjoying the learning process. It’s not always easy, and I’m spending a lot of time outside of my comfort zone, but I’m relishing the challenge and am determined to succeed and prove myself. That reminds me, I must ask for new business cards!

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I think that’s the major events of 2018 covered. So, what’s to come in 2019? If all goes according to plan, then I’ll travel to Orlando and Spain. I’ll return to Sandybrook with the girls. It’s highly likely that I’ll visit the south of Italy with work. I’ll visit the Hippodrome to see Peter Pan and the Alexandra Theatre to see Thriller Live. I’ll pay an extortionate parking fee at the NEC when I visit Gardeners’ World Live with my best friend. There are tentative plans to go to Kew Gardens, do pub quizzes, visit Tallinn and to remedy my not having been to Alton Towers. I’ll take part in my first CAL (crochet-along) with thousands of people around the world when I follow attic24’s sweet pea blanket pattern. I’m planning to decorate the downstairs loo, redo the bathroom and obviously there will be exploits in the garden. I did briefly toy with the idea of a huge PVC igloo on the lawn today when I was daydreaming (and imagining myself to have won the lottery) but I’ll satisfy my gardening dreams by beautifying my greenhouse and growing my own fruit and veg this year.

I hope you all have plans for 2019, whether big or small. Life’s for living!

 

 

 

Christmas 2018

So, that’s that then for another year! Three hundred and sixty three days shopping days until Christmas! I hope everyone had (or is still having if you’re having extended celebrations) a fantastic festive time.

Looking through the camera roll of my phone I now realise that I was too busy having a great time to take many pictures over the last two days. For those of you reading in different countries I’ll explain the two day thing. Until I started work with my current employee and had contact with lots of colleagues all over Europe, I assumed that Boxing Day was a universal holiday, but it seems it’s not. It’s mainly observed in the UK and former members of the British Empire. It dates back as far as the sixteen hundreds (it was documented by a certain Samuel Pepys) and its origins lie in the tradition of giving tradesmen and service staff a Christmas box on the first working day after Christmas Day. Whatever its derivation, I’m very grateful for it because it gives us two days over which to see mine and hubby’s families and gives me more time to catch up on sleep at a time of year when although happy, I’m always exhausted.

We’ve fallen into a happy routine over Christmas. We spend Christmas morning and early afternoon at home, just the two of us and the cats, then we spend the evening at my sister-in-law’s house exchanging gifts, playing games, eating too much and catching up. On Boxing Day we go to my Dad’s house in Worcester for more over-eating, more exchanging of gifts and more catching up. I love it!

I talked to you last time about making a recipe card similar to Gousto for our Christmas dinner to take all the hassle out of cooking it. It worked a treat!

I followed this pretty much to the letter and (even if I say so myself) Christmas lunch turned out absolutely delish!


It wasn’t all strictly from scratch, but it was less pre-prepared than we’ve done in previous years. We always have prawn cocktail for our starter – we shredded the iceberg lettuce ourselves but the prawn cocktail was out of a tub. I do actually make a mean thousand island dressing (it’s dead easy) but really, life’s too short to faff around when Tesco will do it for you for very little expense.

The chicken number two was lovely. I cooked it in its bag and just had to cut it open twenty minutes before the end and baste it – fabulous, no mess in the oven! We had roast potatoes with thyme, mashed potato, Yorkshire pudding (controversial!) cauliflower cheese (hubby’s fave), Chantenay carrots and parsnips roasted in a honey glaze, peas, red cabbage with port and cranberries, gravy and, the pièce de résistance, pigs in blankets! Hubby had seven. SEVEN! He certainly ate well – three roasties, seven pigs in blankets, two yorkies and all the rest too! Oh well, if you can’t indulge at Christmas, when can you?

We didn’t forget our little girls – they had their own Christmas lunches on special Christmas plates.

Speaking of fur babies, we got my sister-in-law’s pooch, Charly, a little festive treat.

You can’t quite see it, but it says Santa’s Little Helper on it. She was very clever and opened it herself. She needed a little bit of help to put it on, but she seemed quite pleased with it.

On to Boxing Day, and we headed off to Worcester around eleven thirty. I don’t know how I manage to forget out the speed restrictions on the M5 every time I go on it! It’s down to 30 mph at one point which feels slower than walking! Oh well, for once the traffic was light and we didn’t need to be rushing so road rage was absent.

Driving home for Christmas, oh I can’t wait to see those faces. Those words are very apt. I love seeing everyone altogether in one place. People just find a perch on a chair or the floor and we just all chat away to whomever we happen to perch next to.

Some of our numbers were beavering away on a Christmas jigsaw for much of the day, with cries of ‘who’s pinched that bit?!’ and ‘the pieces had better all be here!’ emanating from that end of the room periodically!

People dipped in and out as they pleased throughout the day. Look at all those lovely heads bent over as they vied to be the one to put the last piece in! Surely this is what Christmas is all about? Relaxing and enjoying the company of family.

We both got some amazing gifts from our nearest and dearest which we will enjoy wearing, making, reading, watching, planting, bathing in, eating and drinking for some time to come. I’ll tell you about all our lovely new things over the next few posts rather than bombard you with them all now, but I will leave you with this picture of the amazing quilt that my Mum made for us, which Olive and Tinkerbell have already commandeered as their own!

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Christmas Gatherings

Oh dear!  It’s been a while again!  Does anyone else find in the run up to Christmas they have too much to keep in their head all at once?  I’m a perennial list maker, but at Christmas I have lists coming out of my ears, and if I don’t, I forget everything that I’m supposed to be keeping in my head!  I haven’t put ‘write a blog post’ on a list because I thought it was so ingrained in me to do it now, but the things on my various lists have kept me away from Green Girl Gardener!  I’m struggling to remember what I’ve been up to since we last spoke, so thank goodness for photos – I’ve just perused my camera roll to remind myself!

I’ll start where I left off at the end of my last post, my gym Christmas do.  My Secret Santa gift was successful.  I don’t know the recipient very well, but I thought that she seems a fun, Christmassy kind of person, and I know she has young children so I decided to get her novelty tree decorations from Paperchase.  I stupidly forgot to take any photos and now I can’t remember what they all were, but they definitely included this lovely unicorn.

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I managed to just about squeeze three decorations into this lovely Gingerbread Man gift bag.

21E60A4C-8805-40CD-96FB-C28B0B2A4723I love Paperchase so much, I can browse in there for ages, and now the bigger Next stores often have a Paperchase in them, as well as a Costa, so I could literally spend hours in there and even have refreshments to keep me going!  If I get chance to pop out this week, I think I’ll see if they have some festive broccoli in the Paperchase near work because I think there is still a little bit of room on our tree.

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My Secret Santa gift was amazing. Someone had certainly done their research because I got these great gardening inspired gifts.

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I think I’ll plant something in the mug – it’s too nice to keep hidden in a cupboard!

The Christmas party was held at a lovely venue called the Old School House near Lichfield. We had lovely food and a night of dancing to get us in the festive spirit.

This week was also my work Christmas event, which I organised so I was feeling the pressure! Luckily it went pretty well and I think everyone enjoyed themselves – some possibly slightly too much given the size of the number on the bar bill!

We started by doing an Escape Room. We had the ‘Jingle Bells’ package which meant we got a mince pie and a couple of drinks included with our game. We had four teams and two played a war inspired game and the other two teams became samurai warriors. Only one of the teams managed to escape, and it wasn’t mine! I’ve really enjoyed the other two escape rooms that I’ve done, but I was in one of the war teams and I struggled this time. It started off well and we soon solved the first couple of clues but then it got really complicated, so much so that even when it was explained afterwards I still didn’t know what we were supposed to have done. Oh well, you can’t win ‘em all!

After this we went for lunch at Marco Pierre White’s Steakhouse which is on the twenty fourth floor of the Cube hotel in the Mailbox, a commercial centre in Birmingham. The food was a bit of a mixed bag. I chose prawn cocktail to start and it was one of the best prawn cocktails I’ve ever had, juicy prawns, crisp iceberg lettuce and plenty of creamy marie-rose sauce.

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I followed that with traditional turkey with the trimmings and this was a bit disappointing. The veg was lovely, julienne carrots, roast parsnips, the obligatory Christmas sprouts and crispy roast potatoes, but the turkey was made into a roulade with stuffing and it was stuffing overload but not enough turkey.

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I rounded it off with lemon tart with vanilla ice cream and that was pretty tasty but it could’ve been more more lemony. You can’t please everyone, can you?

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After we’d eaten we swapped our Secret Santa gifts. I had perfect gifts.

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I commented to my colleague that whoever had me obviously knew me well as I got cat and teddy bear themed pressies, and he made the very good point that it could’ve been anyone in the office.  He’s right, I don’t hide my love for cats and teddy bears!

There were great views from the top floor, especially as the sun was setting.

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This weekend I made my annual pilgrimage down to Surrey to see my Mum, Granny, Aunt and Uncle and one of my cousins so we could swap cards and pressies. It was really lovely to see them and, as always, I’ve come back thinking I really need to make that journey more often. It’s so nice to be with people that you love, and who love you. With my family being so far apart geographically, I don’t get to experience it very often. Life always seems to get in the way, we’re so busy that time goes by and before I know it, another year’s gone and I haven’t visited. Maybe I’ll add that to my New Year’s Resolutions – make time to see my loved ones more often.

The pile of presents under our tree is growing.

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Look at that big snowman sack! That one’s for me from my Mum. How exciting!

I hope they all like the gifts I’ve chosen for them. I guess we’ll find out on Christmas Day.

My Mum likes Chocolate Orange (it’s not Terry’s, it’s mine!) so I crocheted her a little cosie.

 

As well as our Christmas gifts, I also came home with some cuttings that my Mum has taken from her garden.

 

I scrawled all over the photos so I remember what they are! I have two fuschias, one hardy and one not, a salvia, a geranium, a spray carnation and something which may or may not be a ragged robin.

I’ll be sure to update on the progress of these cuttings when the stupid winter is over! Stupid stupid winter!