Making It Cosy With Nothing

When I moved into this tiny flat in May 2011, it was with a  great deal of relief that I had found somewhere affordable to live in and a wee dash of trepidation regarding the size of the place and the urban area.

The day before I moved in we went in to clean and hang my curtains and light fittings.

It looked like this before we started work

living room

and like this a couple of days later

lounge May 11

Orlando seemed not to mind as long as he knew where dinner was

Tig 2 May 11

There was also this – [remember this wall paper you will see it again later]:

Craft Room May 11

I began immediately to dispose of my accumulated stuff.  What I couldn’t give up yet eventually became part of a meticulously stacked and sorted, packed and piled wardrobe and storage cupboard and linen closet……….

I made the best of it – but in reality I was secretly just camping there, waiting for the day when my beach cottage would miraculously appear.  It took a while for me to catch up with reality.  I had chosen to not work for monetary reward but to work for free for those who would otherwise not receive help.  A beach cottage was not high on the list of probabilities.  One of the first laws of contentment is to be content with where you are.

After receiving that wee pearl of enlightenment I set about making my small lodgings into a workable home that would meet my needs as comfortably and prettily as possible.

You know the saga of the past two months – disposing of some and then disposing of more and eventually disposing of it all.  I let the dream go and discovered I could be happy right here, right now – and man, so much lighter!!

I have been delighted with what has transpired.  I feel as if I have gained double the space.  It works for us all.



Do you remember the fridge that sat for a while in the middle of nowhere?  In order to make this seating nook happen I had to build a faux wall that extended the space.  I did this by hanging a length of fabric behind the previously open kitchen counter area and placing the TV and this ‘hutch’ as if they were on a wall.  The fridge is behind the hutch.

The ‘hutch’ is an old chest of drawers and two of my inestimably handy free standing shelves – It does the job and we have one of our favourite friends perched there keeping an eye on everything………. can you see who it is?


You are looking at the side of the hutch and the side of the fridge.  The magnetic words are on the fridge waiting for me to make them into a poem.  The chest that these pretty gifts from friends-far-away are sitting on, came from my bedroom.


This is the view the other way where I have set up a long table so that I can have my sewing machine out when I need to and still eat my dinner and/or read my book.  Indoor Sidd went there quite soon into the rearranging chaos and has stayed there.  I quite like having him so close.  My table therefore has a threefold reason for being – nourishing, creating and contemplating.  Perfect!

There is also an extra canvas leaning up against the wall – it is waiting for its two mates to be finished and will eventually hang behind Indoor Sidd instead of that old painting.


Here is a peek at the kitchen where my gorgeous Serendipity spoon stands ready to spring into action the moment it is required.  To the left you get a glimpse of the faux wall and to the right is Orlando’s favourite ‘keeping an eye on the neighbourhood’ spot


Remember that room stacked to the ceiling with boxes – the one with the horrid yellow flowery wallpaper?  That wall paper is the bane of my life!  It is in perfect condition and is the original wallcovering for this flat which was built in 1971.  It cannot be stripped off without some skill and cannot be wallpapered over except by a professional.  It is shiny vinyl so cannot be painted over with ordinary water-based paint.  It requires sealing with that stuff that kills you and painting with enamel paint, the fumes of which will also kill you.  I have racked my brain to come up with a way of ridding myself of this stuff to no avail.. Part of this exercise is to make what you have work – so I did this


It is a tiny room – that is a double bed.  Because the big bedroom is my creating room, this is where I sleep.  I got rid of one whole wall of yellow flowers by hanging a roman blind and curtains all over it.  I placed a large painting on the other wall.  I took a bed set that is not really the kind of thing I like, but which works well with what is there and has the added extra effect of taking the eye away from the yellow flowers.

I took off the wardrobe door and hung more curtains.  I swapped my chest of drawers for a smaller, taller one from the creating room:


And here every night Orlando and I say thanks for this wonderful day and thanks for our crazy tiny pretty home and thanks for all our wonderful friends and family.  And thanks for the creativity that makes it possible to make living here work for us   🙂

And we are looking for a tiny doggie friend to join us too.  Now that will be a happy dance day!!

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did!    🙂

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks ………

Fresh vegetables are important components of a...

here’s a quick lead in:

The book ‘I Quit Sugar’ by Sara Wilson arrived [a late Christmas present] I read it and found myself nodding my head in agreement and really excited about the fact that this could be the road I’ve been searching for.

Now I’m a ‘mature’ woman [chuckle] hell, I’m 63 heading fast towards 64.  I will add, however immodest it may be, that on a good day I look at the very  least 10 years younger and feel timeless. But for the past ten years I’ve been struggling with weight gain despite a relatively healthy diet – my only weakness is for salty foods, I can devour a large packet of crisps in a day when given the opportunity ……………

I’m mostly vegetarian, can’t eat large quantities and don’t have the income or the wish to make fast foods part of my life style. Yet my body is inflamed, often sore and stiff and various attempts at dieting yield at best a loss of up to five kilos before zooming back up to, or beyond, where I started.  My daughter, a very clever trainee alternative nutritionist, has always thought the problem was inflammation and gave me Sara’s book as a possible way forward.

And what an excellent gift it has turned out to be.

I have been catapulted back to the 70’s when I was a novice ‘greenie’ and almost everything my children ate was grown and/or made by my fair hands.  I belonged to one of the first co-ops in the country, ‘Culpeper’s Herbal’ was my bible and Monday was baking day.

Late Summer was the time when everything in sight was preserved or prepared for the freezer [I remember the immense feeling of satisfaction  as I surveyed the gleaming rows of jars brim full with peaches, apricots, pears and anything else that had arrived into my kitchen].  I can see it all so clearly and I feel the sense of accomplishment, of pride and pleasure and satisfaction that young mother had …………… [the fact that those jars of preserves were laden with sugar shall be glossed over at this point – and I dread to think how much sugar all the hundreds of jars of jams and pickles and chutneys that came out of my kitchen contained.]

My kids didn’t eat sweets until they went to school and the real world intruded into my back to nature idyll.  The years passed, and life happened and I gave up baking on Mondays and preserving at the end of every summer.  I went back to work, got divorced, my kids grew up, more life happened and I woke up one morning a couple of weeks ago and flung myself happily back into the world of creating my own food from scratch.

It wasn’t completely straight forward though – first I had to sort the kitchen.

I moved into my little flat about two years ago, and so disinterested had I become in kitchen related activities that wherever items had gone on arrival, there they had stayed.  For instance,  for two years now I have rummaged about in three different cupboards when making my breakfast!  So, obviously the first job was to sort all that out and find the whereabouts of the ignored appliances that would now be necessary to aid me in making pumpkin puree, nut butters, humus and other tasty treats.  I also decided to remove any and all foodstuffs that could no longer be part of my personal food chain.  That was interesting!  I read labels – some for the first time – and out went a load of ‘healthy’ options.  This process reawakened the impulse to be in charge of what goes into my food – also interesting this time I wasn’t doing it for the welfare of my children I was doing it for my own good.  Yay me!

Clearing out meant cleaning too – so everything was scrubbed from top to bottom.  Obviously once everything was rearranged and clean some new interior decor was also called for – I remade and re-purposed furiously – every activity lead me on to a new good idea and so it grew and grew.  My open plan kitchen decor spilled over into the living area – which spilled over into my craft room……. which is now uninhabitable as it holds the remnants of curtain making, old or re-purposed cushion covers, rejected items from the old decor and a plethora of odds and sods that somehow turned up in kitchen cupboards that should never have been there.

I indulged my anal-retentive streak and labelled everything with my previously under used ‘Dymo’ label maker.  I spent a happy evening sorting all the herb and spice jars – emptying out the stuff that was a gizillion years old and refilling with new and wonderfully aromatic spices required to make the delicious and moreish ‘spicy activated nut’ snacks and other goodies.

The frenzy of decorating was interrupted only by the kitchen activities of creating the pantry basics necessary for my new life style.  The previously mentioned pumpkin puree and spicy activated nuts were joined by salt and vinegar almonds, chicken stockone chicken

Chicken Stock

made a huge amount of stock, some of which made a very tasty and healing soup [chicken soup for the soul springs to mind] which got me through the two days of mild detox that hit mid week…..

I can’t even remember all the things I made, I know I have begun experimenting with versions of my oldie but goodie recipe of ‘cheese and oat cakes‘ which has accompanied me through the last forty years – as I’ve given up bread for now I need something to replace that particular comfort food.  I already was growing my own fresh alfalfa sprouts and upped that out-put.  I have a jar of spring onions in water [an idea found on pinterest] that gives an endless supply of  fresh herb and I added in potted mint, parsley and rosemary to my windowsill.

Orlando has not been forgotten in all this make-over frenzy.  His favourite perch is the windowsill at the back of the cooker where he could peer over the cafe curtain and keep an eye on the comings and goings of the neighbourhood.  The cafe curtain has been removedOrlando at window and a space made so he can now sit on the window sill and not on the cooker [which has been an often fraught and frantic activity, of which more later if you are interested].

I realise I don’t care if I lose weight or not from this new lifestyle.  I am full of energy and renewed interest in my kitchen…………….. and I just realised the operative verb is ‘life-style’  not ‘diet’ ……. my contentment grows and spreads 🙂