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It’s one of those moments where I realise that it’s been a month since I last wrote anything here, and whilst I’ve moved on long ago from feeling like I must blog at regular intervals, I still feel like it’s a bit sad – mainly because I really like writing and sharing.

What I really want to share is some nice recipes or pictures of what we’ve been cooking over Christmas, or perhaps some snaps of our lovely new kitchen following our home renovation, but I don’t feel I can move onto those without sharing some pictures of our life for the past few months.

Buddy sleeping on a dust sheet…
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Back in October I shared some photos as we began to demolish part of our house ready for a rebuild – that was most certainly the fun part.  It’s been downhill since then!

We have lived through dust and chaos, workmen tramping everywhere, more dust, no cooker, no hob, a boarded up window, a radiator-less living room where I’ve been running my business from (or sometimes in bed when there’s been no other space!), a garden that’s more closely resembled a tip, no toilet, the joys of building a flatpack kitchen, sanding, painting, and more dust.

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Home DIY

Today’s post is dedicated to my dad, a fellow DIYer, always keen to know what we’re up to.  So this was today…

It seems like it’s been forever since we got our grubby clothes on and got stuck into a good bit of DIY and demolition (at this point Mr Rigg likes to imitate Ty from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition – don’t tell him I told you).

In just over a day’s time we will be starting the final bit of our home improvement plan, five years after we bought this little end terraced cottage.

Blue-grey front door with pale pink roses

We are determined to do the final push to finish off our house so that we can sit back and enjoy it.  We have been slowly sweeping our way down the house, starting with our two upstairs bedrooms, then our main living area (two old cottage rooms knocked into one), and now we are on the home leg – the kitchen, bathroom (downstairs) and what was a manky porch.

This was said manky porch…
Ugly porch

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Washing line at sunset

Whilst this blog was mainly started to share my love of food, I did enjoy it more when I shared snippets of our life as well as just what we’re eating.  In a brief return to that, here’s what we’ve been up to recently (it makes me realise perhaps I haven’t shared general life happenings as much because they’re a bit unglamorous)…

Messy garden

We don’t look at the bottom of the garden and what is supposed to be my vegetable beds – it is a jungle and a mess.  Misery making.  It never used to be like this, when did life get so complicated and busy that I couldn’t grow tasty things to eat?

Overgrown vegetable beds

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Whilst everyone else has been enjoying the sun this weekend, we (mainly Mr Rigg) have been stuck inside preparing our living room for an electrician and plasterer this week.

These are photos of what the living room looked like after we’d taken everything out of it and covered all the furniture.  It’s looking terrible.

Mr Rigg spent one evening stripping the terrible wallpaper off the staircase wall, and you can see that we’ve spent the last (quite possibly) 2 years living with bare brickwork, exposed concrete floor along the edge of the room, an unpainted chimney breast, and lots of peeling paint.

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Where the past eight days have gone and what I’ve been doing that has prevented me from blogging…well…I can’t quite recall.

Mr Rigg and I took last week off from work and had a ‘stay-cation’ as my colleague put it.  We did home and garden improvements all week and it was exhausting! 

Buddy and I spent one afternoon guarding the front door as it dried after a new coat of paint.  But it looks lovely – I hope you’ll agree from the picture above.

This front door has been a true labour of love.  Back in October I briefly mentioned about the front door here.  If you’re interested in the restoration of our front door, read on…if not, I’ll be back with food related goodness shortly!

Finding the door
We set out to find the perfect front door to replace the ugly thing that came with the house.  We wanted to buy an old door, rather than a new one.  After much searching I came across Period Pine Doors on ebay and discovered that they are based near to Mr Rigg’s family.  We visited, fell in love with a beautiful old door that has different designs on each side.  A smarter side with the beading (this is what we’ve used for the front and can be seen in the picture) and a more rustic side that we’ve used inside.  We handed over our money and waited for it to be delivered.

Preparing the door
We spent hours painstakingly sanding, filling holes, then painting the door with a white undercoat.  We used car body filler to fill any unwanted cracks, as recommended by a friend – it’s solid stuff once it’s set.

Fitting the door
We hired a joiner to come and fit the door.  He cut a letter box into the door and hung the door.  We were so delighted and excited – finally here was our gorgeous new front door.

The problem(s) with the door…
Then the problems started.  The door moved/expanded and we came home from a weekend away and couldn’t open the front door!  Mr Rigg managed to get in (phew), but then the door wouldn’t shut!  And this was at about 11 o’clock at night… We managed to get the door shut that night, but then spent a couple of weeks having to use our back door.

It turns out that when old doors are striped off their old paint they are dipped into something (chemicals I guess).  It does a great job of removing the old paint, but it can also erode away of the original glue that was used to help hold the door together.  This is what had happened with our door, and as a result it had started to come apart!

Fixing the door
So we remove the lovely new front door, replaced the manky old one (thank goodness we hadn’t got rid of it).  Mr Rigg and I squeezed the door into our car and headed to my parents for the weekend.  My dad and Mr Rigg spent a day taking the door to pieces – yes, quite literally!  It was heartbreaking.  I couldn’t quite imagine that you could just take it to pieces and put it back together.  But it turns out you can, and you can do-it-yourself if your dad and husband-to-be are handy.  So they glued it all back together.


The old door

The door comes home
Because we’d used the super duper car body filler quite a bit of the beading had been snapped when the door had been taken apart.  So we had to re-fill it, re-sand it, re-paint it all over again.  Mr Rigg fitted the door this time, and we just prayed and waited.

Thankfully the door hasn’t moved since – yey!

Finishing touches
I spent ages trying to get just the right shade of paint for our front door.  I wanted to match it to the bluey-grey of our local National Trust property Dunham Massey.  In the end I settled for Farrow & Ball’s ‘Hague Blue’.  It’s not really very similar to the colour at Dunham Massey, but it’s perfect and just what we wanted. 

The door is finished off with black door furniture that bought online from a period ironmongery shop – there is a knocker, letterbox and handle.  Last week Mr Rigg gave it another lick of paint and replaced all the door seals. 

I have also planted a pretty pink rose that it growing up beside the front door.  When we bought the house it came with some of the original deeds and documents which I’ve enjoyed pouring over.  Our cottage and the one next door were originally called ‘Rose Cottages’ – hence I have planted the rose.  This is the first year that it has had lots of blooms.

It has been a real labour of love, we’ve put in a lot of time (and money) but it is so worth it.  Everytime we come home it is there to welcome us back and into our home.

Today we have been busy at the allotment enjoying this fabulous heatwave.  Covered in suncream we got about moving the ‘shed’ (it’s more storage than shed) forward about a foot so that we can get to the raspberries more easily.

Then we built a compost bin from old gates and a pallet.  We feel like proper allotment owners now.

Here’s the before…

And the after…

We stopped lots to eat delicious chunks of frosting coated chocolate brownie cake.

At lunch we sat on the grass in the shade of the car and devoured hunks of bread smeared with gooey camembert.

We cleared a sizeable patch of the allotment which I’m planning on turning into a herb garden with a small patch of grass where we can sit and picnic during the summer.

Then we filled out new compost bin with bits we had dug up and a well-rotted heap of rabbit droppings.

Our day finished with the first barbeque of the year and dinner outside. 

Sausages (from Little Heath Farm), lettuce, cherry tomatoes with basil and Parmesan, and bread.

It’s been one of the nicest, most relaxing and productive days we’ve had in a long time.  Rosy cheeks all round.

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After a long week with the little sister (who’s been staying with us while on work experience) things are finally getting back to normal in our house.  The weather is surprisingly mild and you might even describe it as sunny! 

N and I spent the day in the garden doing a number of jobs.  N has been re-filling, re-sanding and re-painting our ‘new’ old front door which has been a nightmare (it’s a long story…) – this is what it will look like one day (but not left white – we’re going to paint it a lovely dark sea blue)…

frontdoor

I tidied my vegetable beds a bit and started to sand my new desk top which has been fashioned out of an old ledge-and-brace door. 

I have been trimming the raspberry canes, cutting down sprawling mint (which is all over my garden), and digging up the remaining carrots and spring onions.  Just look at those carrots – slightly overgrown and unloved…

carrots

And these are the Paris Silverskin onions I planted back in the spring, that have been utterly neglected with our manic summer – I’m going to try using them as normal onions, or perhaps in a salad, we’ll just have to see if they taste of anything…

springonions

The bunnies were both out and about today.  Borage was in the run and Lovage had free reign of the garden…he was discovered in one of the raised beds amongst the carrots.  Rather than munching on the carrot tops from those that I had dug up, he was sampling those on the small carrots that are still growing – grr!

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And here is Lovage flying through the air as he leaps across a hedge of garden cuttings and a tangle of nasturiums!

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This is Lovage’s new den…

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Back tomorrow with a recipe – not sure which one yet!

On Sunday N’s parents are visiting us for Mother’s Day lunch and to see our newly decorated bedroom.  What I’ve failed to mention in the last week, or in fact, since I started this blog, is that we do a lot of DIY.  Our house is a work in progress, like many people’s, and there is always something to do to it.  Since becoming a homeowner I feel like I have quickly progressed from young and carefree into a fully fledged adult.  All those decisions I remember my parents making – do we go on holiday…or do we put in new windows… are choices I am now having to make.  And with a love of my ‘home’ and wanting to make it as nice as possible the new windows ususually trump the holiday. 

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So, the past two weeks have been spent decorating a bedroom that we gutted last year (the second bedroom that we have gutted I might add).  The last bedroom took us a year from the first hammer hit into the crumbling plaster to carpeted and curtains up (still no light fitting though…)  We were determined that this one wouldn’t take as long, and it seems that the only way we can get anything done is to set ourselves an immovable deadline.  I know…invite parents round to see the ‘finished’ room.  Last night I believe, I hope! that I painted my last inch of wall.  Tonight we will hoover it and prepare it for the new carpet that is being fitted tomorrow.

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Anyway, back to Mother’s Day and food more importantly.  N’s mom is a fantastic cook – which I’ve probably mentioned before – and a serene hostess.  I long for the day when I am that calm to have everything prepped and probably mostly cooked by the time my guests arrive.  I usually greet my guests by sticking my head around the kitchen door, hands covered in flour or madly dicing carrots, and hollering ‘hello!’  I really enjoy anybody coming round for lunch as I love to entertain and feed people.  Usually by this time – with about two days to go – I have planned the meal and got at least half of the ingredients for it.  Currently, I have zilch.  And a very hungry looking fridge that contains some chorizo sausage, a piece of stilton and some yoghurt.  Not exactly the stuff of Mother’s Day lunches to impress the in-laws.

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Which is why I’m madly searching my recipe folder searching desperately for some inspiration for what I can cook.  I also have to take into consideration Easter Sunday which is looming on the horizon, when N’s parents return for lunch with granny.  So I don’t want to cook something fantastic this weekend, and then think “balls, I should have done that for Easter,” and technically I feel Easter lunch should be more impressive.  So many things to consider! 

My current thinking is along the lines of a chicken pie (which hopefully might help me to look the part of the serene hostess) possibly with lots of end of winter/beginning of spring greens like a variety of cabbage, spring greens, leeks etc, maybe a bit of lemon in there?  For starters I’ve thought about a smoked trout, horseradish and beetroot salad….or perhaps Stilton pate with beetroot, salad and crusty bread…  And then dessert…well I’m not really a dessert person unless it involves pure, unadulterated chocolate, which isn’t to everyone’s taste and not very ‘spring-like’.  I’ve seen a nice recipe for Honey Cake, which sounds nice, and a cake can be baked in advance!  So it scores top marks in the stakes to recreated me as the serene hostess.  At this point – suggestions more than welcome!!

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Eat the Earth

I love food, especially locally grown and seasonal food. This is my place to share my food finds and the food I like to eat.

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All pictures are my own unless stated. I would kindly ask that you don't use them elsewhere unless you ask permission first. Many thanks x

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