Your Guide to Creating an Aromatic Garden*

Most of us work on our gardens (if we work on them at all) to make them look good, and a beautiful garden is certainly a thing to behold, but in concentrating so much on the aesthetics of our outdoor space many of us miss out on a potentially amazing aromatic experience.

By focusing on planting aromatic herbs in the garden not only can you create a feast for your eyes, but a banquet for your nose too. There’s nothing quite like sitting in the garden on a warm summer’s evening with the smells of a dozen beautiful aromatic herbs wafting in your direction – it’s amazingly pleasing and pretty relaxing.

So, how do you go about growing an aromatic garden? Here are some tips to get you started:

Get a Greenhouse

First of all, if you don’t already have one check out these greenhouse offers and purchase an outbuilding that will enable you to nurture plants and herbs all year round. This will make it easier for you to maintain an aromatic herb garden in the long term.

Use Containers

If you want to keep things as simple as possible, then invest in a few pretty containers and use them to grow your herbs. It’s easier to do this than it is to go digging up your garden if you don’t really know what you’re doing. Just make sure that you’re using the best soil for growing herbs and that your plants have adequate drainage or they might not live very long at all.

Place Herbs in High Traffic Areas

Placing your herbs in areas where you are more likely to brush past them, or they are more likely to be affected by a breeze is a good idea because touch and movement activates the smell of herbs to a greater degree.

Lots of Sun

Most herbs require as much sun as they can get, so keep them out of shady spots, unless they happen to thrive in them (always read the care labels).

Choose the Most Aromatic Herbs

Obviously, if you’re trying to create an aromatic garden you’re going to want to choose the most aromatic herbs you can find. Here are some of the most pleasant smelling herbs that are likely to do well in this country:

Basil

Basil has a very relaxing aroma, and it’s great in pasta sauces and pretty much any dish with tomatoes, so it is an obvious choice for the aromatic garden.

Lavender

It’s debatable whether lavender is actually a herb or a flower, but there is no denying that it has a very strong and pleasing floral smell that is known for its soothing properties. Add it to your borders if you want to have an amazing aromatic experience in the garden.

Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm has a fresh, citrusy aroma that melds perfectly with the more earthy aromas of things like Basil and Rosemary. Plant it in your garden, and it will blow the cobwebs away and get you in the summer mood, even when it’s cold outside.

Once your herbs are planted, you’ll have an even better experience in the garden, guaranteed!

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Feeling Dreamy

Wow, never in the whole time I’ve been blogging have I had so little time to, well, blog. But then again, never in the whole time I’ve been blogging have I been working proper full time hours so it really shouldn’t have come as such a surprise to me.
I’m just heading in to my second week of actual full time, grown up job hours which may seem like nothing for most people, but to me, this is the first time in my life I’ve had the capacity to do it- I’m both physically and mentally well enough to handle a demanding job and I don’t have to factor in multiple weekly appointments and obligations that previously made full time impossible.I wasn’t even sure I’d have anything to post this week- taking photos and having time to sort them and write a post to go with them has been fairly low on the priority list (that and I’ve been exhausted every evening for the last seven days) but as luck would have it I found a set of photos languishing on my laptop, so ta-da…a blog post.

Top: Monki | Skirt: New Look | Boots: Wallis

I’m starting to find a routine and a bit of a work life balance now so hopefully I’ll be able to improve on my rate of blog posts in the not too distant future. I can’t wait for lighter evenings- both from a getting photos point of view and a feeling less like going straight to bed when I get home from work one.

It took my ages to get round to wearing this Monki top. It was a bit of an impulse buy and I wasn’t sure about the style once I got it home. I’m glad I didn’t return it though, now I’ve given it a chance it’s become a firm favourite and has taught me that I really ought to broaden my horizons when it comes to tops and jumpers.

Hopefully next weekend Mum and I are heading in to Bristol for a much needed catch up (I barely see her these days) and some retail therapy. I’m looking forward to a wardrobe refresh as we approach a new season, and as I can finally justify new clothes. I’m struggling to feel inspired by what I wear lately, my body confidence is through the floor, and my heart sinks every time I think of the weight I still need to gain…hopefully a good spell of girl time with Christmas money at my disposal will help give me a much needed boost on that front. As much as everything else in my life is falling in to place, my internal demons are going wild trying to drag me down and convince me I don’t deserve this. What better way to silence them than with a new set of flattering outfits? Safe in the knowledge that when I outgrow them as my recovery progresses I am now in a position financially to replace them guilt free.

Sorry for such a random assortment of a post, this is the trouble with infrequent blogging I find! Anyway, let me know what’s new with you guys in the comments? I’ll be doing my best to catch up with everyone’s blogs during my evenings this week.

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Want To Deck Your Neighbours? Add Privacy To A Garden Instead*

Once upon a time, neighbours lived in relative harmony. Central to the pact was the fact one could relax in peace in their garden. Ah, it was a much simpler time. Then, the couple to the right elected to clear the giant oak tree that had been there for centuries. To the left, the Smith’s new extension has an elevated platform with sumptuous views of your property. All of a sudden, you feel like a regular weekend is turning into an episode of the Truman Show.

Now, lashing out and creating a rift that will last for decades is tempting. In fact, it’s downright cathartic and should carry a doctor’s seal of approval. Sadly, feuding with the Joneses and the Smiths is not a savvy move because it can make life hell. What you want to do is add privacy without crossing the line.

The following is the Fort Knox of backyard privacy advice.

Photo by SUTTIPONG SURAK on Unsplash

Erect A Fence

No one said the tips were going to be subtle or elegant. Regarding a fence, there is nothing delicate about erecting a wooden monstrosity that reaches ten feet into the air. Still, you are well within your rights to build a barrier as long as it doesn’t encroach on their property. And, because it’s a fence, there are no privacy issues for the neighbours on the other side. What are they going to say – they feel like they live in a goldfish bowl?! For a real sense of loneliness, don’t use wooden slats because they leave gaps. Go for panels as the blocks fill all of the space so that no one can see through. You can use a different material but metal is cold and stone is time-consuming and expensive.

Plant For Privacy

Okay, okay, okay – starting a passive aggressive boundary war isn’t in your wheelhouse. Fear not because there are less obvious ways to make a statement. Plants, for example, are thick, luscious, and grow to a very high height. Trees are the same but they take decades to reach their true potential, the lazy gits! What you want to do is choose shrubs which are notorious for being bulky and chunky. That way, it’s hard for anyone to see into through the leaves, stems and vines that merge as one. Where space is tight, consider planting evergreens or privet hedges as they grow in columns. For advice on how to cultivate shrubs, you can check out this instructional video. Remember that planting and adding water are only the basics and there are many more bases to cover.

And Layer Them

Privacy is important but so is the style of the garden. No one wants to live in a house that represents a prison, people. Fences and high hedges imply a ‘you-have-zero-rights’ kind of feel which is a bit depressing, to be honest. The best gardens strike a balance between aesthetics and privacy, and yours can do the same too. Start by planting hedges and shrubs, but put them towards the back of the garden nearest to the boundary. Then, if the plot is big enough, add layers of plants and flowers towards the front and plant them in odd numbers. As they grow, they should create a natural blockade while the flowers add colour and texture. Don’t be tempted to plant too many because they will struggle for space and die. Small gardens will struggle with this method, but larger yards should have the room to pull it off without much fuss.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Block Off The Decking

A modern exterior usually has a garden and then a decking that is separate. Outside spaces are popular these days because homeowners can add a roof and still use the area in the winter. The problem is that the decking is open and everyone can see you enjoy a good book or a family meal. Don’t play around with the format because you want to keep the structure. Instead, consider installing a temporary barrier such as curtains. Yes, a simple rail can obscure the whole neighbourhood’s view of your property and they don’t cost a fortune. There are lots of choices, yet ready made curtains are savvy options as you don’t have to wait. For the lazy homeowners, you can get an automated set that closes with a single press of a button. These are perfect for smart and modern properties which use technology throughout the house.

Elevated Wood

Another option is to take the decking off the ground and put it in an elevated position. Sure, the Smiths and the Joneses will have something to say, especially if they think their privacy is at risk. But, there is no real answer if they already have a feature in their garden which violates your retreat. Plus, it’s harder for them to escalate the issue to the council because the authority might take down both decks. All you have to do is build a platform that lifts the wood off the ground and makes it harder for the neighbours to spy! Or, and this is clever, you can add a balcony to one of the rooms that look out onto the yard. As a rule, terraces aren’t seen as against council regulations and should be legitimate. Don’t be afraid to get sneaky, baby!

Loud Fountains

Remember that privacy isn’t only visual but vocal. You want to be able to speak without being heard, and that isn’t possible when property lines hug. Sadly, there isn’t much you can do but try and mask the sound of your voice. How? You can start by adding water features throughout the area. The sound of H2O should prevent anyone from listening to or being able to hear every word. A tip to keep in mind is that water is louder the farther it falls and travels. So, a tiered fountain can be extra noisy. Just don’t go overboard or else you won’t be able to hear yourself think.

Privacy is pretty simple when you have barriers, curtains and fountains. Do you have any tricks you would like to share?

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What I want as a tenant in 2018*

Ok, so the title of this post might be slightly misleading in as much as I’m not currently a tenant, but hopefully 2018 will be the year where I once again move out of the parental home and in to a place with Bob and Pablo. It’s very likely that this will be a rental property rather than a purchase, which can be a drain both financially and with the limitations that being a tenant rather than an owner brings. With that in mind I’ve put together this post with Tenants insurance from HomeLet to explore what would make life as a tenant easier.

(Photo by Stephen Di Donato on Unsplash)

A top priority for myself and Bob is of course finding somewhere that allows pets. This seems to be a huge limitation, and to some extent I can see why, but in a property that contains all of your own furniture, with an additional deposit paid against any pet incurred damages I do think that more landlords should be open to allowing a pet or two. I was lucky in my previous flat that I was allowed Tobias, and Bob had no problems getting consent to bring a kitten home (gratuitous photo of Pablo below) but we’re dreading searching for somewhere that will allow us to bring the fluff-ball with us.
Another consideration for me when we start our property hunt would be flexibility on putting our own stamp on the place- I’m not talking complete redecoration, but to be allowed to hang a few pictures or pop up a shelf or two would be a real bonus. Of course with the caveat that everything would be removed and holes etc filled in before we moved out.

I’d definitely like it as well if there was an online “hub” where you could pay your rent, bills and any other fees all in one place, with an easy to follow system that shows you/alerts you when everything is due. Maybe something like this exists by now, but it didn’t a couple of years ago and to be honest I found it a complete nightmare keeping track of when I needed to pay rent, water, council tax, gas and electric and it often got complicated trying to make the payments too- having it all in one place would make life a hell of a lot easier.

Finally I think it should be a thing where all rental properties are decorated in a neutral way. Magnolia walls might not be the most exciting (see point about adding own stamp above) but when I was viewing flats before I’d think I’d found the perfect place only to find that one of the rooms had blood red walls or a psychedelic carpet that I just couldn’t deal with.

Oh wait,
there is one more thing- PARKING!
This is such a bugbear and I don’t even drive! I do think it should be mandatory that all rental properties come with some kind of allocated parking- on road or off road it doesn’t matter…but it would be nice to be able to get home and park within a square mile of your front door!

What have I missed off my list of requests? A kitchen kitted out with all of the latest gadgets? A garden (and not only a garden, but one that maintains itself?) Affordable rent (hah!)
I’d love to know your thoughts below.

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The January Degustabox

With the madness that was Christmas and an overall manic month it’s only just dawned on me that I failed to review the December Degustabox*, a first in all of the time I’ve been reviewing them. It completely slipped my mind until the January 2018 box arrived at my door, so apologies to the Degustabox team for that- here’s a fresh start for the new year. The January box had a “New Year, New Me” theme to it, and whilst I don’t buy in to that ethos I was still eager to get stuck in to a selection of great looking products.
I can’t actually review these LighterLife Fast Ready to drink shakes (£2.49 each from Superdrug) as I can’t bring myself to sample such a diet targeted product whilst in recovery from an eating disorder. What I will say though is that these look good and the flavours sound good- they are designed to be used as a meal placement for those following the 5:2 diet, or as a quick protein hit.
This year I’m on a mission to cut my Pepsi Max habit so for once I eyed the soft drinks selection with excitement rather than a flat out refusal to try. The Mahtay Yerba Mate Sparkling Tea (£1.49) is a lightly sparkling drink that combines energy giving Yerba Mate tea with coconut water and acai berries to provide a natural energy boost- I can’t say I’ve actually tried this yet, but I do like the principal and it’s packed in my work bag for sampling this week.
The Robinsons Fruit Cordial (£2.49) is a product I’ve been eyeing up in the supermarket lately so getting to try it as part of this months box was a real bonus. It comes in three flavours- I was sent the Raspberry, Rhubarb and Orange Blossom variety which is the one I’ve been most eager to try and it definitely tastes as good as it sounds. I dilute it with sparkling water and have it in place of my daily can or six of fizzy.
There were loads of products in this month’s box that got me excited to get busy in the kitchen, the Ramen Noodles were a particular hit, I just added chicken for a healthy dinner for two, and whilst I haven’t tried the Santa Maria products yet I’m itching to whip up a Latin American feast.
The Explore Cuisine Edamame and Mung Bean pasta might look scary but I love this! It’s full of plant based protein (three times more than regular pasta) and has a unique taste. I use this with a portion of meat free bolognese for a quick after work dinner, and whilst it’s pricey at £3.00 per box I’d definitely buy it.
There’s not much I can say about a tin of tuna other than it’s damn good tuna. At £3.49 a tin you’d expect it to be, but it doesn’t hurt to be able to confirm it!
I’m almost as much a tea drinker as I am a coffee one these days and Clipper is one of my favourite brands. Their everyday organic tea is one of my go-to black teas and I’d recommend it to anyone and everyone.
It’s no secret that I’m an absolute snack fiend so this is always my favourite part of the un-boxing process. This month I was most taken with the Mallow & Marsh coconut marshmallow bar (£1.35) which is absolutely delicious and gooey AND comes it at under 100 calories for anyone who’s counting.
Frusli bars have long been a staple of mine and at 45p each are an affordable on the go option. I really enjoy the red berry variety, probably more than any of the other flavours (and I’m not usually a berry lover). Perfect to keep on my desk for a mid afternoon “feed me” moment.
For a sweet treat I usually opt for my childhood classics like jelly tots or a milkyway, but these Hersheys Cookies N Creme bars are taking over. You get five snack sized bars in a pack for just £1 and whilst they might not be gourmet, for a quick hit of something sweet you can’t go wrong.
Finally a couple of products from Pulsin’ which I’ve been eyeing up for a while. The Vanilla Choc Chip Protein Booster is an affordable protein bar at £1.59 (most seem to be over £2) and delicious. It has a cookie dough like texture and taste which makes it feel like a treat whilst packing 13g of plant based protein meaning it keeps you fuller than say, a chocolate bar for a similar amount of calories.
The Protein Powder (£1.99) has 22g protein in a 25g serving and is rich in amino acids thanks to it’s Whey protein. It’s suitable for vegetarians and is made using low fat, hormone free milk from UK cows. It’s also low in sugar and whilst it might sound mighty boring and good for you, it actually tastes pretty good- I’ve been using some in my morning porridge for an extra boost of protein and energy.
For those who don’t yet know, Degustabox* is a monthly food subscription box that gives you the chance to try new and exciting products on the market whilst providing amazing value for money.
On a month by month basis the box costs £12.99 (with a discount for longer subscriptions) but the contents are generally worth far more than this as you can see if you do the maths.
If you’re persuaded to give Degustabox a go (and really, you should) you can claim a brilliant £7.00 off of your first box (making it just £5.99!) by entering the code 6HZJ8 at the checkout. It’s been a pleasure to work with the brand regularly over the last couple of years and it’s without a doubt something that I will continue to purchase long after our partnership ends. I love the monthly surprise and excitement as well as the chance to discover products I’d otherwise pass up on the supermarket shelves.
Let me know if you’ve tried any of these products and what you thought of them.

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