Saturday, 13 December 2014

Frantic Festivities...

This year I'm trying so hard to concentrate on making Christmas a pleasurable and stress free time after last year was  NOT. I let Connie decorate the tree with decorations I wouldn't personally use. I let her forbid me from using some of my favourites. I didn't terrify her by pointing out the age and value of certain ornaments. We had carols playing and she really enjoyed it.

We built and decorated a gingerbread house together. (Not baked. Building and decorating ONLY round here.) I didn't point out when she used two or three of the same colour sweets in a row. I shut up. In fact she told me! ''Don't use all the same colour!'' She enjoyed it and is very proud of our little house.

Kit $4.49 from Home Bargains. £4.99 from Morrisons.

So I'm learning to relax about how I want things to look. It doesn't come naturally as I'm a control freak but I have to do it. I know how lucky I am to have Connie. It's far more important to have fun with her than a tree I'm proud of. (At least I've got Curtises baubles eh?)

Last Christmas I was totally stressed over a breast lump which was removed the day after Boxing Day. Thank God, it was all fine but the waiting period to find out was the worst.

This year we have no guests, no pressure and no stresses. Aaah...

Anyway, the louvre doors have gone from this...

to this...

Er, no, not finished yet. But I don't let that stop me starting other things.

I'm a hive of Christmas activity. While the rest of the country are at the post office sending their gifts, I have decided, only now, that I will make some of mine. Using nothing but scavenged items from charity shops, car boot sales and the flea market. (Oh my lucky family!) The time frame is okay as I've been hatching the plans for how to do each project for years.

So here's what I came up with last night.

FAMILY MEMBERS LOOK AWAY NOW! ( I don't think anyone in the family really reads this so it's safe to show you... shh, don't tell.)

For my lovely Uncle (retired maths teacher) a vintage ruler picture frame!

My husband seemed concerned at the pile of vintage rulers I'd collected and the fact that I was sawing them up. I'd like to tell you I won him over with the finished product but that would be a lie. He didn't get it.

I would like one of these and I am crap at maths. And measuring. Hopefully my Uncle will like it. He always has kind things to say about my carpentry.

I started out with a plain wooden frame with a wide border. I washed all the rulers so years of dirty childrens finger grease wouldn't affect their gluability. I sawed the mitred corners with my hand mitre saw. This is the first tool I ever bought.

A squeeze of the handle lets you change the angle from this...

to this...

and you can set it at any angle in between, say if you want a straight cut.

I glued the pieces with wood glue and clamped them with my fantastic Poundland clamps...

The smaller rulers in the centre were folding rulers and they slightly overlap the edges of the original frame on the inside.

I love that one has a childs name written on it.

I need to apply a little antique pine wax on the raw cuts of the corners today so they don't look so new.
I've also seen coasters made from vintage rulers which is another fun thing to do.

Plenty more ideas on Pinterest.

I also started a little sewing project. I picked up a few vintage quilts at the flea market a few weeks ago. The dealer actually gave me a few more that were really wrecked.

Very Cabbages and Roses I thought...

I managed to salvage a small amount of one quilt to try and make a Christmas stocking. I carefully soaked, washed and dried it, cut out my stocking shapes, tacked them and left them on the back of the sofa.
As you do.

Someone, who shall remain nameless, sat on the sofa, nudging the stocking backwards towards the hamster cage with his head and Gardania dragged it into her cage and ate the heel.

I was heartbroken. I was furious. I nearly cried because I didn't have enough quilt to start again.
So I've modified the shape and am hoping to clear some space on the dining table to finish it soon. 

A much daintier stocking. I hope to show you the finished article next time! Gardania is none the worse for her vintage textile snack.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

A week of very nice things...

You'll never guess who popped over to comment on my last post. Martin Holland himself! Winner of BBC2s Great Interior Design Challenge. Woop woop! Made my day. Thank you Martin!

But the good stuff doesn't end there, no siree. I had a lovely parcel arrive from the delectable Curtise  which made me gasp!

First, this beautiful Christmassy vintage biscuit tin...

Just gorgeous, but look what I found inside...

A lovely old box of vintage glass baubles! Thank you Curtise! I love them!

And as if that weren't enough, I won Katies giveaway over at Hook Line and Sink Her. But this was no ordinary giveaway, oh no. This prize is a book called 'Craft Fail: when homemade goes horribly wrong...'

Yes, we've all been there...

Featuring the craft fail of Katie herself...Special Fox. I'm so proud to 'know' her and I forced her to sign it for me. If you're not familiar with Katies blog, do pop over. She cracks me up.

Thank you Katie!

Yet another wonderful thing; look what I found at the flea market for just £12...

The missing piece to Connies bedroom set! I'll let the brown one go. This needs some tlc.

It feels like it's stuffed with straw. The top is stained and Connie's appalled by the look of it. That can be changed.

I also found this little beauty for my desk...

Rusty and crusty and utterly perfect.

And Fat Freddy (not so fat anymore) is back to his old self. His wire is out, his jaw is healed and he's accepting the fact that he's not allowed out extremely well.

We think he's too stupid to be crossing roads. He's a very lucky boy but we can't risk him getting squashed.
Bad Bobby (the clever one) goes out but Freddy isn't even asking to anymore. He seems to know we couldn't bear to lose him. He knows he blew it. He's adjusting to life as a house cat very well. The cold weather helps!

So it's all good over here.

Still no progress on the Christmas decs but the pre decking the halls clean up is plodding on. We'll get there. And work has stalled on the louvre doors as my ebay selling has gone into overdrive. It's next on the agenda after Project Christmas Tree.

I hope life is good where you are.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

The Great Interior Design Challenge Series 2...

Thank you lovely readers, I'm now fighting fit and Fat Freddy's jaw is fully mended. I'm always touched by your kind comments.

The Great Interior Design Challenge...

Oh how I love this show! Last night I found myself shouting at the telly like a common football supporter when Martin was announced as the winner. I loved his rooms throughout the series but that kitchen in last nights show was DIVINE.

Many congratulations to Martin.

I like to play along with the series, first of all, judging the contestants on their own homes, then the rooms they create. I question whether I would be happy with that in my home. Most of the time, I agreed with the judges. Occasionally I felt they got it sooo wrong.

In particular the episode with Kate who put a British colonial themed scheme in a medieval house. Why would you even do that? It held the worst piece of painted furniture I've ever seen. The huge pine wardrobe looked utterly patchy and shoddy. I'd have wept if someone did that to my furniture. And bizarrely, the homeowners reaction to the room wasn't shown. I wonder why?

I much preferred Leilas room which didn't win. The grey and yellow one. And that's saying something as I have a strong aversion to yellow. Ooh, I was miffed that night.

I liked Charlotte and her masculine Victorian living room and I adored Kelly, particularly the Oast house episode which she totally nailed. I really loved Jack and his unflappable easy going attitude. The bedroom he created in the 1930's flat was right up my street and despite the most demanding brief (yin yang meets art deco meets art nouveau meets Celtic if you're wondering) he pulled it out of the bag with a stunning room and a massive headboard made from old doors complete with pulley lights. To die for. Despite having 'distressed' it by throwing bricks at it until it broke.

When it was down to the final two I was on 'team Martin' all the way. The recap of his work was just stunning. Um, apart from those louvre doors.

 Fiona is clearly experienced and very talented. I did like her panelled wallpaper last night, just not the dado with a picture rail. One or the other, especially if your ceilings aren't high.

 I'm praying there will be a third series. I know all three of the presenters have been criticised, but I find it so much more interesting when the presenters aren't presenters, but are actually experts in their field. I have a soft spot for Dan and his manly jaw and Sophie glammed up this series with some different hairstyles and as always, gorgeous dresses. This series I learned that purple walls are fantastic and I'm fighting an urge to paint my living room dark grey. But why do the contestants and judges have to wear the same clothes for three or four days? Just to give the editor an easy time?

The format really works well and it's great to see the diverse style of homes our country has, from honey coloured stone cottages in the Cotswolds to groovy 1960's houses.

As for Martin, someone give that kid his own TV show. Perhaps Jack could be on it? I'd be watching!

You can catch up on BBC iplayer and play along.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Agony, ambulance and Advent...

I'm totally behind schedule with everything. I've been very poorly and was rushed to hospital a week ago with the most awful pain in my side. It came on very suddenly. I had a pain when I was in the shower and went to ask Jason where your appendix is. He was asleep and not that helpful. By the time I made it back to my room a few feet away, I flung myself on the bed shouting, ''I can't take this anymore!''
That quick. The next half hour was spent lying on the floor, puking, shaking violently and moaning. During this, Jason was dressing me. Lets just say he learnt an important lesson in which type of knickers a lady needs to wear on a trip to hospital.

The ambulance came and they gave me morphine which I have to say was very disappointing. I always thought morphine was the utmost in pain relief. Well, it didn't relieve mine.

I spent seven hours in the foetal position in A&E waiting for tests and having silly questions asked. ''Can you tell me your name Emma?'' ''Do you live at home?''

First it was an appendicitis, (albeit in a very unusual location) then a waterworks infection. I looked at the doctor like she was mad, I mean this was worse than labour, so she went to get her boss. He decided it was my appendix after all and sent me to see the surgeon.

At this point, a miracle happened. As fast as the pain came on, it went. ''Im cured!'' I announced to the nurse. They sent me up to the surgery ward anyway where they told me I'd have to stay the night. Later that night I was visited by a very nice surgeon who diagnosed a kidney stone which I must have passed and said I could leave. I had to wait a few more hours for a prescription but I was glad to go home.

I thought kidney stones were something that happened to old men. Apparently not so. And it's the worst pain. I now need to change the habits of a lifetime, drink more and change my diet. Less salt is the hardest to bear as I'm addicted to crisps. Less protein; we shall go semi vegetarian. Reading the Internet, you can add just about every food group to the bad list, depending on what your stones are made from. I'll never know about mine, unless they can tell from a scan and I have more of the little buggers.

In case you're wondering where your appendix is...

Ta-daa! Nowhere near your kidneys. I hope we all learnt something important today. I also had no idea your liver is in your chest. Fancy that.

Our medical knowledge is somewhat lacking. Jason was convinced I'd caught something off some very dirty quilts I brought home from the flea market the day before as I writhed in agony.

Ridiculous! I've obviously built up total immunity to all flea market contagion.

Moving on... the vintage sledge!

The pink wasn't doing it for me. I painted it dark brown, rubbed it all over with a candle, painted it red (just emulsion tester pots) distressed it with sandpaper and Bob's your uncle...

A triumph among stair sledges...

We mustn't get too carried away, it's still not quite December and let's not forget...

Obviously stair sledges are allowed.

Join me next time when I shall be educating you all on the location of ones brain AND...

I shall be attempting to turn this crappy car booted louvred door...

 ...into a desirable piece of architectural salvage worth hundreds. It might even be considered forgery.

If it works.

Linking with...

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

My first DIY project with my daughter...

My daughter is mad about Littlest Pet Shop animals. Whilst in a junk shop we found an IKEA BOALT knick knack shelf, brand new in it's wrapper for a few quid. We decided it would be perfect to display her figures and set about decorating it.

I don't have a picture of the before. I can't even find one online. I don't think they make these any more. It was pale wood with a hardboard back.

Anyway, here's the after.

The wood was bare so I primed and painted it, then we went through my sheets of vintage wallpaper and cut pieces to size. She did the cutting which is great because she doesn't normally like scissors. I guess straight lines are nice and easy. We glued the pieces in with wallpaper paste. (Hence wallpaper paste disposal disaster...)

She loves it.

I love it.

And Bad Bobby loves it.

He's just making sure I'm aware it's tea time in two hours. Or, you know, whenever I'm ready and have given up taking photos...

My daughter now wants to write a book, no wait, a SERIES of books, make 2 little films and make a wooden deer to sell on ebay! That's my girl...

Oh, and you chazzing, car booting brigade out there? Some of these LPS animals (particularly cats and dogs) fetch over £30 EACH on ebay so keep 'em peeled! 

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Thank you... and Secondhand scores...

Firstly, Freddy and I would like to thank you all for your kind comments. He's doing MUCH better, still walking with a limp but he seems much happier. He's no longer hiding in a darkened room when his pain relief wears off. We let him out of his collar under strict supervision so he can wash himself. (He STINKS!) He's stopped sleeping on my bed, his choice, and a good thing too as he wanted to be nose to nose with me and a smelly cat is not something I want under my nose as I sleep.

Freddy doesn't kiss. Whereas Bad Bobby will knock a person over with his violent bulldozing kisses, Freddy is more timid. He'll cautiously get really really close as though he wants to kiss you but he really only does air kisses. We've had a few special air kiss moments and I think he's appreciated the TLC. If not the collar.

Here's the man himself with a message of thanks in his own words...


Bad Bobby is still freaked out by Freddy. He spends as much time as he can outside. He sometimes walks in slow motion past Freddy which is quite comical. He's also been nervous of coming downstairs if he thinks he might run into Freddy...

We would be finding his antics hilarious if it weren't for this; the vet says he has a psychiatric disorder. He's been pulling the hair out of his tail which we thought was just a bit stupid. The vet calls it 'self harm' and makes it sound deadly serious.
Apparently, despite sleeping for 16 hours a day, and not having to actually do anything, cats get stressed.

He's going to look like a poodle before long. So we have to be sensitive to Bobby and allow him to escape from Freddy. I do wonder what Freddy thinks about Bobby treating him like a leper though.

Anyhow, this is not a blog about cats and their health issues, psychiatric or otherwise. Let's get on to the fun stuff...

I painted my pantry door so it's gone from this...

to this...

Still need to add the new architrave.

Onto recent secondhand finds... (Warning - C word coming up...)

A lovely carpet bag...

Some unused pieces of tweed. God, I love tweed. I want to make a long flowy tweed skirt. I shall live in a make-believe world of misty highland scenery as I swish along the high street in my tweed maxi skirt. I will look like an ethereal tweed clad goddess from a Brora catalogue.

Skirts can totally do that.

A beautiful Aynsley bon bon dish for £1.50...

I can put that to use over Christmas.

Speaking of Christmas, I found this in my favourite junk shop...

A small wooden sledge painted a horrific pink. Apparently, these were for Nexts Xmas shop window last year. The junk shop was full of them, all painted in un-Christmassy pastel colours. Badly painted. The shop owner must have got them at auction. The one I chose was smaller than the rest. I thought I could rectify the paint job and use it as a Christmas decoration. Watch this space...

On a day out to Stevenage with my daughter, I found these...

and she found this...

This was actually new from H&M but she's had a rough time at school the last few weeks and I wanted to treat her.
Eight year olds like a sequin or two.

She's getting so fussy about clothes now, I find it harder to shop secondhand for her. She's entirely comfort driven. No trousers, hoods, 3/4 sleeves, high necks etc...

Also bought new was this from Poundland...

So as you can see, we're well ahead in our Christmas planning!

The day that Freddy got knocked down, I went to my local hardware store and stacked in with the 'Oops' paints were these...

A lifetimes supply of varnish reduced to £1 a can for no reason whatsoever other than they had a new delivery in. I was delirious with joy. I think the larger cans sell for £20.

Last of all, I want a new sofa. Badly. I've looked on ebay and can't find the right thing. They go for quite a lot and it's not often practical to test drive them before you buy so you could make an expensive, smelly and uncomfortable mistake. I've decided to buy a NEW one. The only new things we have are 3 mattresses and one bed. I don't choose new without serious consideration. I don't want my husband to pay because he doesn't think we need a new sofa. (We do!)
So, in keeping with my shopping code of practise, I've decided I will raise the money through selling some of my treasures. Once the money is there, I'll order the sofa.
And hopefully, the sofa will last for ever and ever.

It's going well. We've done a few car boot sales and I've sold things on ebay that I really love.
But I love the new sofa more. If I have that sofa, I'll never need to shop again.

I sold my two best eiderdowns and it made me a little sad. But the other day, as I was mourning their loss, I realised that there was a good chance that I'd come across another one some day. I mean, I go to every car boot sale, flea market and charity shop I possibly can, so the chances are good right?

Well, no sooner than I'd had this thought, I popped into a charity shop and found this eiderdown...

...for £3! I think I need to read about Cosmic Ordering... I think I'm doing it unwittingly.

Thanks once again, you lovely bunch. xxx