Tag Archives: DIY

My 30th Birthday BBQ

30th Birthday BBQ - Me on the patio!

To celebrate my 30th Birthday over the weekend I threw a small BBQ party in my garden.  The weather had been glorious all week but come the weekend rain was predicted.  Never fear!  I had a plan!

30th Birthday BBQ - Awning to protect guests from the rain!

I have an extendable awning for over the patio and I stretched a shade sail over the lawn to provide an even bigger canopy propped up with a pole in the middle and anchored to the fence posts on the corners.  This way most of my garden was sheltered and I could happily set up everything under cover in case of rain! A few shower curtains filled the gaps over the food and drink stations.

30th Birthday BBQ - DIY Bar

I set up a little bar so people could help themselves to drinks throughout the evening.  I am so in love with the drinks dispensers!  I set them on cake tins to give them a bit of elevation.  I also went the plastic and paper cup route.  No point in crying over smashed glass!

30th Birthday BBQ  - Pallet side table and flowers

I went to town on the flowers and decorations!  A few sawn pallets stacked up made a nice little coffee table on the lawn (and helped to stablise the pole!) My flower arrangements were made up of peonies, roses, rhododendrons, chrysanthemums and sweet william with rosemary for greenery and fragrance.

30th Birthday BBQ - Roses and Rosemary in Diet Coke Bottles

30th Birthday BBQ - Candles and Flowers throughout the garden

I had plenty of seating set up so people could suit themselves and lots of cushions and blankets to keep everyone comfortable.

30th Birthday BBQ  - Guests mingling under the canop

30th Birthday BBQ- the Lawn seating

Darcy got a little bit overwhelmed by all of the people but he soon bounced back and mingled with the guests stealing bits of BBQ!

30th Birthday BBQ - Me and Darcy!

30th Birthday BBQ

I got all crafty for this shindig too!  A polystyrene wreath covered in cocktail umbrellas decorated the front door to greet my guests.

30th Birthday BBQ - DIY gold glitter letter sign

I cut out letters from black posterboard and then covered it in gold glitter paint for the ANNA 30! and DRINKS signs.

30th Birthday BBQ - Food and Drink Stations

I kept things nice and simple and self service through the night.  I had got Tesco Bumper Party Bags of BBQ food, which were excellent value and had everything you could need! Everything got cooked in the oven and then served buffet style.  Paper plates and pink plastic cutlery meant that at the end of the night cleanup was simple!

30th Birthday BBQ- Ombre Birthday Cake

The cake went down very well!  I went for a 3 layer ombre victoria sponge.  Darcy helped to clean up!

30th Birthday BBQ - Darcy cleaning up cake plates!


All in all a wonderful evening filled with fun,friends and food, what more could a girl ask for?

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In The Garden: February 2015

I’ve been taking advantage of the winter months to finally get to work on some construction projects I wanted to get done in the garden.  I find it so depressing at this time of year, the wheel has turned and spring is on its way but the plants are still in their sleepy winter mode.  I can’t wait for the place to be green and blossoming again and so my thoughts turn to the coming growing season.  My big project this winter has been to construct a big raised bed for veggie growing!


I wanted a raised bed for a lot of reasons, and it’s a huge one for another bunch of reasons!  First and foremost, I want to grow my own veggies this year.  I tried my best last year but the little space and sub par growing conditions I had available meant that it was basically a complete wash out.  Now, you may think it would be easier to just grow veggies in containers or the ground… let’s just refer to Exhibit A in that picture above, oh yes, the small, fluffy vandal!  I have given up trying to stop him from eating the herbs, mostly because he smells FANTASTIC when he finishes! But veggies are a different matter, I don’t want them trampling by little furry feet.


The ground I had to spare wasn’t really going to be suitable for growing anything at all without an awful lot of work, there was gravel mixed in with the soil, some random blobs of concrete, all sorts of rubbish!  By putting the growing soil on top of this mess after a bit of a tidy up it means I am in control of the condition of the soil from the get go.  The grass I had dug up to make the flower border last year had turned nicely into loam and could be moved across to fill in part of the bed.  To further improve the soil condition I’ve installed a worm tower (plastic pipe with holes in) which will be perfect to dispose of the small amounts of vegetable waste I produce and inject some goodness straight back into the soil!  Raised beds also make it a lot easier to get at and maintain your plants, this makes all you rmaintenance much easier and if it’s easier you will be more likely to stick with it and make it work, I know myself!  I’m just that bit lazy!


That’s not to say that this hasn’t involved a lot of work.  I am not a natural DIYer.  I have had to learn and guess as I go (and phone my dad for advice a lot too!)  Wickes is open nice and late, I’ve been hanging out there a lot recently!  I was lucky enough to get most of the wood for this project free from skips in my area.  The only timber I purchased was for the long front side as I needed nice, uniform planks.  Those 5 planks were ~£15 from Wickes and look great!  I used the existing fence posts as anchor points for long batons, making sure not to attach anything to the fence panels as these may need replacing in the future, the posts are in for the long haul though!  Only 2 sides are solid wood, the others have a baton top and bottom and the plastic lining is stapled around the inside to form the walls, which are supported, but not dependent upon, the fence panels.

I assembled the long front side separately (making certain I had all of the measurements correct, and left room for joining it all together!) and then moved it into position and secured it to the fence post.  Then the short solid side went in with each plank slotting in and being screwed into the fence post and the corner post on the long side.  I hope this will be a nice, secure, stable arrangement.  I definitely tried not to cut corners and do things properly as I want this bed to last a long time!


In order for this to happen I also had to work on replacing some missing fence panels and securing the back of my garden, we have a narrow access to allow people further down the row access to their gardens and I had taken down the old, rotten fence panels months ago with a view to replacing them with new ones… the budget wouldn’t really allow for that right now so I ended up bringing back the old fence panels (which, thankfully, I had stashed elsewhere!) and cutting off the tops and bottoms and replacing the arris rails to make new, half height fence panels.  This means that I am now confident that my garden is doubly secure for Darcy.  I have gates across my section of the access but my neighbours can be a bit rubbish about shutting both gates.

In case anyone else is wondering, yes, it is possible to saw down and re-position a 6′ fence panel on your own with little to no previous DIY experience.  Would I recommend it? No.  Is it possible?  Absolutely!  Did I nearly die/fall off step ladders/ saw my own hand off / swear more than is appropriate for any young lady?… May be?


So, now I have the back part of my garden almost as I would like it.  I want to move the shed round but the manpower for that is tricky to organise so that’s on hold until BBQ weather comes along and I can bribe helpers! Until then there’s plenty to keep me busy!  Once the weather warms up I need to finish painting the fences and I want to plant some clematis on the rear fence to bring a bit more greenery into the view.  The pots down the side of the garden need a bit of a tidy up too, it never ends but I’d be awfully bored without a project to go at!

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The Shed

One of the major plus points to my new garden was that it came with its own shed.  A shed is a fantastically useful thing and it would have been a real stretch to find room in the budget for a new shed.  Paint, however, paint I can afford!  I have always wanted a Forget-Me-Not Blue shed.  Don’t ask why but it’s always been a ‘thing’.  I have never really painted anything so I jumped right in with my usual “How hard can it be?” approach.  If you ever wish to paint something… put down a drop cloth would you?


The first wall gets it's new look!

The first wall gets its new look!


The front wall and door hadn’t weathered half as much as the other walls so before I painted this one I gave it a quick sand down to get rid of some of the darker stain.  The rear and side walls had a bit of an algae problem but a quick brush over with some thin bleach took care of that without any hassle (Try not to drip on your nice clothes… in fact, just don’t wear anything nice to do these jobs!)


And finally, a little bit of white for the trim!  Now all I have to do is figure out if I can move it without it breaking as whoever decided to put it a good foot away from the fence needs shooting, WHY?



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