Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Finishing off little jobs and launching MY SHOP!

I've been a busy bunny since I saw you last. I've put my trim on the dresser to stop the plates falling down and smashing everything in sight...

I went for a very plain square profile as the dresser is very plain and square...

So that's now 100% completed. Unless I make some doors for the top section later on...

I also finally put up a door frame on the pantry door...

I can't even remember why the old frame had to go.
Oh well, it wasn't as nice as this one...

This was really NOT straightforward. It seems there's a world of difference between cutting piddly little bits of trim with mitred corners and huge fat chunky wooden door frames. Hand mitre saws have a slight wobble and I had to go out for replacement wood three times before I managed this. In the end I bought a mitre block and got my corners looking good.

Well, good enough for me. Once caulked and painted it's fine.

I also had to cut holes for the hinges and this was also complicated as I was cutting on the curve of the door frame. Slight wobble but I don't think it shows when it's painted...

 At some point I'm going to have to do something with the rest of this wall. It's going to create a dust cloud. Which means cleaning everything in sight. I've put it off for a long time.

And that floor isn't staying. If  I get paint all over it, new flooring will become as big a priority for my husband as it is for me.

Fat Freddy looking bewildered. ''Mummy, why do you take photos of doors? It's not normal.''

So what else have I got to report? I did some research on the alligator case and found this one on ebay...

This one is the real deal, a vintage Mark Cross...

It was on ebay for the best part of £250.

See how the skin has dried out between the scales?

Like mine!

So I've decided mine is real too. Result. It's really tactile. I can't resist stroking it.

There's a useful little film on youtube which will also help anyone work out if their alligator or crocodlie leather is the real deal...

Thank you to Anna who wrote to me recommending Urad polish from Lakeland for reviving leather bags and cases. I used Kiwi dark tan polish but I can see that might get colour on your clothes if this were a handbag so Urad is Annas top tip.

Keep your eyes peeled for hidden gems in the charity shops girls! 

Last of all, the eagle eyed among you might have noticed a new button at the top of the page leading you to my very own shop BARTLEBY and SAGE.
It took seven or eight weeks from having the idea to product manufacture and then TEN MONTHS to put the shop together.
Which is ridiculous!
But hey, we're there now.

Despite having no proper shop I've done well just from people randomly finding me through the blog and Pinterest pictures. I've got more designs in the pipeline and they are VERY exciting. I have not forgotten my giveaway competition promise dear readers but I'll wait until I have more products so you can have a choice.

These are the photos from our professional photo shoot. Clearly they aren't my photos as they are level. Fortunately I'm married to a professional photographer. Our kitchen had never been so clean!

And fear not, I'm not going to bleat on and on about the shop but I will show you our new designs from time to time mainly because I'll be overexcited and giddy about them and I won't be able to stop myself.

But do come and take a look at the shop. There's something for everyone I think you'll find.

If you like the colour blue and are into vintage style splashbacks...

Monday, 23 February 2015

See you later alligator...

Another long absence as I took my daughter up to York for half term. The Viking Festival was in full swing with Viking folk wandering the streets en masse. At least I think they were all Vikings. With the current trend for bushy facial hair, it's often hard to tell. 

We visited the Jorvik Viking Museum where you go back in time and travel through a 'real' Viking village, even passing through their homes. If you have kids and are up that way, it's a must. 

We also visited the York Dungeon and Connie was thrilled to have achieved that when it's recommended for 10 year olds and she's only 8.

She spotted a man trying on evening dresses in Long Tall Sally which led to an interesting conversation.

We also squeezed in a bit of chazzing but found very little. I did score this little Topshop tweed waistcoat though...

 I love, love, love tweed but it's hard to wear without looking like Miss Marple. One of my many struggles in life I'm afraid. 

The car boot sale at Murton proved more fruitful and I found a peg rail to use in the kitchen for £1.

One day, when I finish the kitchen, this will hold my pretty aprons. 

That reminds me, I never showed you what became of my hymn board which is now in use as a tea towel holder with the addition of some iron hooks...

Ta daa!

It took me forever as the screws on the hooks were deeper than the wood so I had to find a thin piece of wood to go behind it and stain it to match...  How very dull.

Now, the two empty spaces are usually filled with number cards turned back to front with our important phone numbers on them. I took them out for the photo in case any of you are psychopaths. Who might want to phone my dentist. Or something. 

Back to shopping...
I  saved the best for last...

At our local car boot sale, I spotted this alligator effect suitcase. I reckon it might be forties or fifties? The boot sales often have old luggage but I hadn't seen an alligator one before so I snapped it up for £4. (No pun intended.)

It had clearly seen better days so I set about bringing it back to life with a tin of shoe polish.

It struck me as interesting that the alligator effect had dried out in the creases though. Almost like a real skin would do. 

And here it is after a little, okay a LOT of polishing...

Good as new eh? I wonder if it might be real alligator after all. A vintage alligator case must be worth a bit more than £4 right? Whatever, it makes a stylish place to store things.

Wishing you fruitful chazzing, thrifting, op-shopping or car booting in your part of the world until next time.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

The good, the bad and the ugly...

The good... I've taken LOADS of stuff to the charity shop this week and I've been rewarded with very good chazzing karma.

I found this very flattering (if I hold my tummy in) dress for under £7.

 It looked so nice and I'd not heard of the label (Damsel in a Dress) so I looked it up. Their dresses sell for £150! I'm chuffed to bits. I cannot imagine spending £150 on a dress. Even my wedding dress was a third of that!

More good... I had a parcel from a lovely and incredibly talented lady called Kathleen who I 'met' through my blog and she has MADE me this stunning hand hooked rug!

It's Bobby and Freddy! It's a really tiny rug so it's meant to be hung on a wall. Thank you so much Kathleen. I love the muted colours and appreciate how much work has gone into it.

She also made a little chalkboard with a silver dish. The writing got a little smudged as it made it's way across the pond but I wanted to show you as it's such a simple and effective idea. I feel blessed indeed.

As if that weren't enough, I managed to find my fifth Barbola mirror at the flea market for only £8.

It's also the largest and the most beautiful one I have. Hopefully it'll be a kick up the pants for me to choose a wall and display them!

More good... we finally had a bit of proper snow that settled. Instead of tackling my endless list of things to do, I declared it a snow day and wondered if I could make a snowman that looked like Olaf from Frozen.

I found myself googling images, printing them, painting lemons white and sculpting snow with scissors and a spoon.
Yeah. Like a total saddo. I even cut specific rose branches that looked right for his arms. (Meg, I can feel your horror from the other side of the world.)

A bit of felt and some pipe cleaners and hey presto...

Sadly it thawed too fast and his head fell off before Connie (who was not having a snow day) managed to come home and see it. Leading quite nicely onto...

The bad...

You know those Air Wick plug in fragrances? Well, I bought a couple and I quite liked them. Jason however says they make him nauseous and keeps unplugging them. Then ultimately they get knocked over and the oil spills out. This is what happened on my lovely new kitchen windowsill and the oil has melted the paint. It's going to be a nightmare to get this smoothed over!

But I did wonder, if the oil can strip hardwearing paint, what are those airborne particles doing to our lungs? Something else for the charity shop then...

More bad... I had an accident with my dresser which resulted in the loss of two bits of ironstone.

The little one, I don't think I even showed you yet, but it was a very recent acquisition that I got for 50p.

It's all because, when I finished the dresser I never added the little strips of wood to hold the standing plates in place. I cut them and I think I even primed them but I have no idea where I put them! I've been through the obvious places and they aren't there. I guess I'll have to cut more. Falling plates do a lot of damage. This is what happens when you only finish a job 99% and move on to something else. I do that all the time.

And the ugly? I finished the corner cabinet. But until it leaves this house I'm not showing you.

Treasure Hunt Thursday

Monday, 26 January 2015

How to tongue and groove...

Before I start, let me remind you that I'm not a master carpenter. I know my stuff when it comes to paint but with carpentry I just fly by the seat of my pants.
Having said that, I've successfully completed four tongue and groove projects now and I've learnt many a thing along the way which I'd like to share.

Tongue and groove is cheap and adds period charm. It's very simple to do but there are a few rules you need to be aware of.

Here are my DO's and DON'TS...

DO acclimatise your wood by unwrapping it and leaving it FLAT in the room you're going to use it in.  The temperature and humidity of the wood must match that of the room it'll be used in to avoid shrinking, expansion and twisting. Leave it for a few weeks.

If nailing, say to clad a door like I did, DO transfer the line of the batten you're nailing into to the topside  of your T&G so you know where to nail. You can erase pencil lines later.

If you're cladding a wall, you DON'T need to attach battens to the wall first. Modern adhesives that are suitable to stick skirting boards up will be fine. However DO seal the wall first if it's bare plaster. Those glues don't work well on unsealed plaster as it affects the adhesion. (You can seal a wall with diluted PVA glue.)

You might consider using a batten though if you're cladding the inside of an exterior wall as the gap you create between wall and timber can be filled with insulation.

DON'T be tempted to whack it in with a hammer if it doesn't go in easily. You'll damage the edge so that the next piece won't fit either. Instead use a block of wood as a buffer between your hammer and the fragile groove and tap gently if you have to. 

DO work your way out of a corner making sure that the groove faces the right way so you'll be able to get that last piece in. A bit of forward planning will prevent much gnashing of teeth and tearing of hair later.

DO work out where the joins in your work will be my measuring and marking your way out from the centre or one side. You don't want to be left with a 1cm bit of T&G on an edge. Figure it out before you begin.

DO dry fit your pieces to make sure it all fits as you expected it to.

DO use a spirit level!

 DO run a bead of glue down each groove before you slide the tongue into it. Wipe off any excess immediately with a damp cloth.

The piece of T&G in the picture below was not wood glued or held in place with adhesive on the wall.  It was so fiddly to get in that I just left it, held in place by the surrounding pieces...

 You can see how the wood has shifted and the caulk and paint have cracked. I'm going to have to fix this. It's not so bad if it's just one piece. If it was the whole wall I'd weep. DON'T let this happen to you. Use adhesive on the wall and wood glue down the joints.

To caulk or not to caulk?

If you want to paint your tongue and groove and you've glued it down the grooves and glued it in place, you DO need to caulk in every joint so that the paint doesn't crack. Caulking won't ruin the look. You're not obliterating the groove, just filling the very bottom of the crack. Caulk is a flexible filler so there's a degree of movement which prevents cracking.

If you haven't glued everything together, DON'T caulk as your t&g will have more movement. Try not to get too much paint in the crack where the joins are. Then your boards can move without cracking the paintwork. 

If you're painting, DO treat your knots with a knot blocking primer suitable for the type of paint you'll be applying over the top. You can fill knot holes if you want. I don't usually bother as there's something honest about them. If you want knot free perfection perhaps MDF panelling might be more suitable. 

Caulk a thin line right the way down every join. Smooth it into the crack with your finger and wipe away the excess with a wet cloth.

If you're not painting, perhaps just varnishing or white washing, finish the face of your boards BEFORE you fix them. 

For BATHROOMS or high moisture areas you'd also need to prime/paint varnish the BACK of the timber. This will help seal the wood, protecting it from expansion and contraction with the increased humidity.   DO finish the front of the boards BEFORE you fix them, not forgetting wood glue down every groove as this will also prevent movement. I wouldn't caulk or paint over the joins. If any movement does occur your joints won't be cracking your paint finish.

I hope that helps if you're thinking of planning a tongue and groove project. It really is an enjoyable thing to do with a little forward planning.

As for last weeks post, well aren't you all a bunch of smarty pants? My unsavoury sounding fleamarket curiosity...

was of course an ink pad....

...albeit very much dried up and completely useless now. I can't believe how many of you got that right. I was clueless despite my O level French.

It's nice to know that my blog has such an educated and intelligent readership.

The winner is Teri. Please send me a message Teri with your address and I shall pop a surprise in the post to you.

I'm still grappling with the bloody corner cabinet and wishing I'd left it in the skip. Meh. Back soon...

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Trundling on...

Oopsie. Didn't mean to take a blogging mini break there. I guess there were animals that needing saving and ghosts that needed freeing after all. A womans work is never done. Obviously I've still found time to paint the kitchen ceiling, paint the corner cabinet and start the designs for the next splashback. Simultaneously.

I'm not showing you the finished corner cabinet. Truth be told I've created a monster. More of that another time...

This is the primer stage. This is how we live. House Beautiful it's not. 

Onto second hand scores.
I found this footed ironstone bowl at the flea market.

Still can't get that horizon straight in my photos. I really have a wonky eye.

It has all the wedding anniversaries on it. It's funny, I got this a few days after our anniversary which we both forgot!

Fortunately we're neither of us sentimental types so we don't mind.

The chazzing has been quite thin on the ground really. The boot sale still hasn't recovered from the Christmas break and the cold weather puts people off. Can't blame them. I wouldn't want to stand around in the cold for six hours on a Sunday when I could be nibbling on a croissant in my cosy home.

But I did spot the most curious thing at the flea market. Those of a nervous disposition, read no more. If you're eating, look away now. You have been WARNED.

The man selling this said it had been on his stall for SIX years and no one wanted it. So he GAVE it to me.

Leaves a nasty taste in the mouth doesn't it?

By way of an apology I'll offer a little competition...

Do you think you know what it is? Leave a comment below and correct answers will be drawn from a hat. I promise the object above is NOT the prize. I shall find something more suitably suitable. Overseas folk can guess too please. And make sure you're not a 'non-reply blogger' so I can contact you.

That's all for now folks, I'll bid you adieu. I'll try harder next time. And I have a lot of blogs to catch up with.