Thursday, 30 April 2020

Mrs Mac Suggests - what to read in MAY 2020

We've had several lovely weeks of sun, which has helped with lock down because it sort of lifts your heart.  Especially folk like us who are lucky enough to have a garden.  Now we are into a third day of rain - with sunny intervals.  How are you coping?  Mr Mac is an "at-risk" kind of guy, which makes me persona non grata too, out there in the big world.  So small projects round the house are on the cards, and so is reading (of course!)

In the book reading world, I know that some of us are finding it hard to read the books we thought we desperately wanted to before this rubbish virus took over the world.  My own comfort level has always been around 400 pages (so Pillars of the Earth will always be a no-no for me!) but of late I am looking on my  bookcase for "thinnies".

I know I have readers for this particular monthly post, because I can see the figures.  But I have no idea at all who you are and if you enjoy the book I suggest because you don't comment!  Ah well, plenty of lurkers means somebody loves me!!  Moving swiftly on........

I am in other places on the internet, and in another place I suggested to a group of bookie friends that 

a  children's classic 

might be a good choice.  For me it will be a re-read, but a wonderful one and at only 152 pages I think I can concentrate that long!  The new Puffin edition cover has actually used the back cover illustration of the 1958 edition (although I think the original front cover was better, but what do I know!)  Anyway, let me welcome you to the world of

The Borrowers - Mary Norton

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Bedroom lock down project for a rainy day

Well, you have to do something, don't you?  For the first time in several weeks, no sun and it rained all day and  by late morning something had to be done!  I am revamping our bedroom, little by little, and last night the bulb blew when I switched the light on.  This morning was a failed attempt to find a bulb in the house for this particular light fitting, and that was a big fat FAIL! No bulb until Amazon delivers, but on the other hand...... I saw the light (groan!) and decided that our skeleton chandelier needed tarting up a bit.  For what is lock down for, but to encourage a bit of bling into a grey day?

I have been helping my local charity shop clean and remake where necessary, old jewellery, which means that lots of junk necklaces get taken apart and reused.  Sometimes you find something that you have no inspiration for, so they stay in the tin.... or they did, until today!  Lots of "drop" faux pearls.  Just what we needed!

Washed, and as it was (with the exception of two pearl drops for a try out).   The white pieces are just washed sea shells and this is how we bought it.   This has survived two bedroom redecorations so far and we still think it's fun.... but not fun enough any more.  Needs some bling!

And now with added jewellery!  Added drop pearls to all the hanging shell pieces, including a row of pink ones half way up - originally all the trim that hung down was only shells but now she's rather glamorous, isn't she? 

Now back in place with added glamour!

So a few hours with a pair of pincers and a pile of junk pearls and there you go!  I had to lay down for 5 minutes to truly appreciate what I'd done but I'm OK now!  So a much loved skeleton chandelier has been bejewelled and  made into a lovely lady.   

Lock down made me do it......

Friday, 24 April 2020

Spring Garden Tour at Pine Tree Cottage

Hasn't mother nature given us here in the UK a lovely gift of a month of glorious weather?  More like June than April?  All I know is that lunch in the garden on a nearly daily basis at this time of year is unheard of, and  so with Mr Mac as an "at risk" prisoner (but a comfortable one!!) the garden is a delight this year.  So here is a selection of what's out currently.  Enjoy my garden, and stay safe all.

PS a few of these are sideways on.  Sometimes my computer  will not do what I want.......

Glorious white daffodil with palest cream trumpet.  No idea why, because the bulbs I put in here last year were def. yellow!

Ceanothus (Commonly called Californian Lilac - which it isn't!).  60+ variants, of which mine is one.  Spring flowering, likes my soil and smells lovely as you walk by.  From a little slip about 16 years ago, mine is now 15 foot high and 15 foot wide.  Gives shade for later flowering things when it's own flowers are over.

Miniature Iris (6 inches tall tops).  Miracle this was allowed to bloom because some birds like the taste of the  petals and eat them before they are fully open.  This year, no attacks at all and it was such a lovely surprise to see them.

Here they are en masse - lots of new babies so should have a really solid patch next year.

Euphorpia (Characias).  Love this lime green early in the year..... of course the green "flowers"  are not flowers at all but bracts, and so that lovely green colour hangs around for ages!  Easy to grow, cut down to about 4 inches at the end of summer and they will come again.  Wear gloves, as the sap sometimes causes a rash

Ah, now! The glory that is a tree peony.  I thought I had lost this for it disappeared for a couple of years only to spring up again this year, and forgave me (whatever I did) with four huge and gorgeous blooms.

Close-up of the biggest Peony flower, it got bigger than this and opened out flatter with yellow stamens within.

And this is huge clump of iris which started as 2 little clumps of leaves and one flower stem when I bought it from a nursery 4 years ago.  I will split it and move half somewhere else at the end of the  flowering period. There are about 50 flower stems on it, each giving several blooms (so probably about 200 all told)  and it's such a picture.

Here is the first bloom so that you can see the colour in full sun.  (Sorry, this is sideways)  Depending on the amount of sunshire, it may appear nearly black or dark brown.  It's gorgeous!

Finally in the tour, the first Clematis.  I only grow the texensis group as they are easy care and can be cut back in February to around 12 inches as they flower on new growth.  This one has a green flash (see the top two petals) .

Monday, 20 April 2020

Shamelessly stealing - a gorgeous smell! - post 9

Surfing t'internet, as you do, I came across the blog of Remododelaholic ( who does all sorts of lovely little things.  I got to thinking (again!) about the lock-down, and what we all might have available round the house and garden as she did.

People addicted to nice smells often have candles that smell.   Others have vapourisers...... and this is a homemade way of getting the same wonderful house perfume but for next to nothing - WIN-WIN!
Mmmm Mmmm!  I can smell it already!

Just note that she used only 3 measuring cups of water.  This means the heat should be really really low, or you will finish your cuppa and find a dried out pan! 

Lemon Mint Stove Top Potpourri

Lemon Mint Stove Top Potpourri

This lemon mint stove top potpourri is a natural way to make your home smell delicious and fill it with the scents of Spring Super easy to make and can make it with just a couple of things and in just some minutes!


  • 3 Cups water
  • 1 Cup fresh mint
  • 1 Lemon sliced
  • 1 Inch Ginger sliced


  • Place all the ingredients in a small pot and stir to combine
  • Take to your stove-top over low heat and let it simmer for 2 hours at a time.
  • Fill with more water as needed

Saturday, 18 April 2020

Shamelessly stealing - a real nice guy! post 8

I KNOW. I KNOW!  I have mentioned this before, but for new readers, I have to bring your attention to something I posted about a couple of weeks ago, because in these strange times, anything that brings a smile to your face or a laugh to your lips is worth everything.

I don't have much to say, but you know that sometimes heroes have feet of clay?  Not

John Krasinski  !!!!!!!

SGN (that's Some Good News) is his very own  broadcast  on a regular basis .  And it is full of good news.

Just go to YouTube and put his name in the search bar.  Be surprised.  Smile a little.  Cry sometimes (because of the cute stuff) and of course, start with Episode 1.  

And really importantly, stay around until the end to see what he really wears round the house.

Stay safe and enjoy his broadcasts.

Saturday, 11 April 2020

Shamelessly stealing 7 - be your own genius!

Want to paint a masterpiece?  find something different for that "colouring morning" you hold once a week with the family?  Just want something different from all those whirly kinds of colouring pages?

Of course you do!  On this site you can print out anything from a 1930s Harley Davidson motorbike and sidecar with driver and passenger in a country scene to a medieval manuscript..... and then colour them.

Coloring Books for Free

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

John Prine - RIP

When did I first find out about John Prine?  A long time ago...... and I saw him just once, at the Royal Festival Hall with Iris De Ment.  What a great song writer, what fun, what tears, what life in his songs.

You don't know him?  Get on over to youtube and listen to a few tracks.

Click here for a favourite of me and Mr Mac:

Shamlessly stealing something for an Easter Breakfast! - 6

Look what I found today!

It's the run-up to Easter, and the world is on lock-down.... but if you have kids in the house and even if you don't,  here is something that you might like to put together for an Easter Breakfast, or hardboiled for an Easter Lunch....  Just  a marker pen, some plant stems, or some plastic flowers, or even some paper and wire to make the flowers yourself and hey presto!  Eggs with crowns.

Found on Instagram at Engla Monica Strand.

Have them with love from me and best wishes for Easter.

my scandinavian home: 7 Beautifully Simple Easter DIY Craft Ideas From Scandinavia

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Male Orange tip in the Dorset garden....

How lucky am I?  Two spots I've had in the last couple of days....both the Brimstone and this Orange Tip  I have never seen before in my long life.  Is it because we are lucky to have really warm pre-Easter Sunshine this year?  ...And because we are confined to home, we are lunching outside in the loveliness of Spring?  Yes, I suppose it is!

See the source image

Around the internet - John Krasinski's SGN - WOW!

Don't click on that yet!  Just want to tell you that Upworthy is an American website that brings you all sorts of alternative (and mostly good) news.  They are broadcasting John Kransinski's SGN (Some Good News) vlog which you can also find on YouTube.

Bless That Man!  Tears of Joy in my eyes!  And please stay until he leaves his "newsdesk"  ...... a lovely surprise to see what he actually wears around the house.... :o)

This particular item is just more than brilliant  and so this morning, I'm not stealing anything on the web, just passing this one along.  Pass the link on to someone who might like it.  Me?  I loved it!!

Sunday, 5 April 2020

Male Brimstone spotted in Dorset garden today!

Brimstone (male/underwing) - Tamás Nestor

Saturday, 4 April 2020

Shamelessly stealing (from an ex-banker today!) 5

"Don't Die Until Death Comes To You"  (Syrian Proverb)

.... and in these strange times when we never know what's coming next, this is not a bad way to look at things.  Louai Al Roumani was a banker in Syria.  In the midst of all that warring, and terrorism, his bank continued to operate.  And the things they did would be a good lesson for many of the big businesses currently bemoaning their fate in today's Corona Virus crisis:

"Don't overplan".  Don't try to predict what's coming, better to respond at the time.

"Be flexible with rules"  He says there is a lesson here for government officials - now is not the time to be jobsworths.

"Be magnanimous"  When transport ceased because of rising fuel prices and threats of kidnapping, the bank put on a bus service for staff and because there were spare seats it picked up competitors' staff too.  The way a company behaves during a crisis will be remembered longer than a branding exercise.

And then there is the tip for everyone:

"Be kind to everyone you deal with"  because you might need them in a crisis.

His newly published memoir, Lessons from a War Zone - Louai Al Roumani is from Portfolio Penguin £18.99 hardback, although I see there are a few s/hand on Amazon already.  I don't normally read this kind of book.  How to do better at business is never a subject to fascinate me.  War zones don't make good reading for me.  But from a short article I read, I think this one is going to be fascinating.

Lessons from a Warzone: How to be a Resilient Leader in Times of Crisis by [Louai Al Roumani]

Thursday, 2 April 2020

Shamelessly stealing... 4 (stealing from myself today!)

Roaming the internet, you'll find loads of interesting stuff, so today I thought, how about a new project....?  We all need to keep ourselves occupied in these strange times.  Do you have a chair, a small set of drawers, a stool that has seen better days, or perhaps just needs a spot of colour?  Do you have half full tins of emulsion type paint that you can mix up to make one colour, or a few colours you will like?

There are some very clever upcyclers out there and a good start would be to go to Pinterest and put in "upcycled furniture" to see what comes up!  I found a little table on Pinterest with ballerina legs including "en pointe" ballet shoes.  Fabulous!  I would never attempt this myself, but it just made me laugh out loud and there are loads of ideas simpler than that available to you.  There are no instructions on Pinterest of course, but there are loads of blogs out there that give you step by step instructions, and you'd be wise to have a look at a few if you want a professional finish, especially if the furniture piece you chose has already had a paint-over, or if it is old and dirty.

Here's a chest of drawers I did over last summer in less than a day.  Originally (25 years or so ago), it was unfinished pine, so didn't need stripping or washing, just sanding down before I painted.  The paint is emulsion (the kind you use on walls) and after I'd finished it I gave it a layer of Annie Sloan's wax to protect it.  Changed the knobs from wood to ceramic, but you don't have to do that, you can just paint the knobs.   I painted one drawer lime green just for the fun of it.  You can do it!

Early One Morning - Virginia Baily

I was attracted to this novel purely by the cover (as I suppose this is meant to happen!) and it has very little about the contents on the b...