Thursday, 28 February 2013

I'm on a roll...

I'm on a roll of projects not turning out as good as I'd hoped.
First my brothers curtains were not as symmetrical as I had expected.
Then my own simple curtain shortening was anything but.

I thought I'd get on with my Ikea Bekvam step stool and guess what? It's turned into something really uninspiring.

Let me refresh your memories of the step stool as it comes...

I decided to begin with staining it walnut as I wanted to use my milk paint for a bit of hardcore shabby chic, and I like the wood that shows to have a strong contrast with the paint.

So here's the walnut:

Already looking better I think as the wood takes on this richer tone. 

Then I mixed up my milk paint and started to paint. Several coats later, NOTHING was happening. Not a single hint of a crack.

I blame the unfinished wood. I hate to waste my milk paint on things that go wrong. It's very expensive, whether you buy it here in the UK or import it yourself from Canada to save some money. I could have used a tester pot of emulsion from Wilkinsons for the same look. Nice smooth paint. I made it really thick and there was no change.

Distressing therefore doesn't look beautifully natural and chippy, just a bit forced.

I was hoping for some of this:

And I ended up with this:

Meh! Nothing special.

Anyway, there are plenty of other ideas on pinterest if you're into colourful, floral, or work that people are actually quite proud of.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Lost weekend...

I finally tackled the living room curtains that couldn't be shortened for four years for a very valid excuse.  And it went wrong. I'm sooo fed up with curtains now!
Curtain one was fine. Three inches off the top, new tape, all fine and dandy.
Curtain two; not so good. Three inches off the top, new tape, hung it up and it was 2.5 cm shorter than the other one.

So the next day it came down and was painstakingly measured all along it's enormulous width and rebuilt. Ugh!

I think the moral of the story is 'don't wash your lined linen curtains'. I kind of knew that anyway but they were dirty where the previous owners had shortened them but let them trail on the floor so I risked it.

We got there in the end but I feel I have lost a weekend. Just need to add the hooks to the wall so I can use tie backs like the other window.

Offensive tv stand will be painted. Husband finds the tv offensive and wants a flat screen but I'm happy to wait til this one dies. I mean, tellys are not attractive are they?

These curtain poles are the first ones I ever put up on my own without my dad. I did not want to do it. My husband bullied me as we were skint and the man in the curtain shop wanted £60 to do it.
I'm so glad I did it because I actually hit a steel lintel and melted the masonry drill bit. At this point the curtain shop man would have said, ''you can't have them there'' or ''you've got to have a track'' or something, but I went to buy a metal drill bit and carried on (after a reassuring conversation with my dad about the likelihood of causing the house to fall down if you make a drill hole in a steel beam.) 

Now I put up all the poles and shelves around the house. My husband is not that way inclined. He's great at computers and making films but cannot even paint a wall. Anyway, I'm a control freak so it's best if I get to do it all.

Also this weekend has seen the passing of a much loved washing machine. Devastating. I was just about to change all the beds.

On a happier note we have shifted a table and 4 chairs! One down, one to go!

Hope your weekend was better than mine!

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Home at last...

We're back home after a nightmare journey that should've taken 2 1/2 hours and took 4 1/2. And we had no snacks! Disaster!

The six year old was a star and behaved impeccably but I was very naughty and swore and refused to play travel 'Frustration' as I was too upset. (Travel Frustration - the irony!)

We managed a morning of charity shopping and a boot sale whilst up in York. The deal is, she has to come with me to the charity shops and then we can go to her favourite shop, The Disney Store. When she spots her shop her face lights up and she starts skipping. She likes charity shopping too and finds a lot of cool stuff but the Disney Store is the main event for her, and it's equal to seeing Grandad as a reason for visiting York.

So here's my haul. (I'll spare you hers!)

A Meakin milk jug. I could just see this filled with flowers on the new(est) dining table. (Currently there are three tables here!) It was £1.50 from the boot sale. 

More kitchenalia. I can't help it. I was probably a scullery maid in a past life. That would explain the state of my hands too.
The most expensive thing here is the board which wasv £2. The rest were £1.

And a wooden shoe last. Every home should have one. Just not sure why.

Gorgeous Boden dress for my daughter to grow into. Charity shop find. Not particularly cheap but I do love a bit of second hand Boden.

Also this pretty George top for her. I would wear this if it was in my size!

A huge roll of this loose weave hessian 'ribbon' for £1. Apparently it's a product plasterers used to use. But I shall use it as ribbon on brown paper parcels for a rustic look...

Also recent Hitchin finds I haven't shared; I'm in love with these...
 This is the last remaining original wallpaper in the house... these were £9 for the set from a charity shop in town. They'd be squillions on ebay!
And I had to get this...

Right, I'd better go and sell some furniture because we're running out of space to move around here. Anyone need a dining table? We have all sizes!

Linking with Blackbird has Spoken  
and Me and My Shadow: Magpie Monday

Monday, 18 February 2013

A bit of a mistake...

Well, the curtain making was all going swimmingly. I was actually starting to enjoy myself and I was feeling very smug about how far my curtain making skills had come. The first curtains I made were the ones I was replacing in my brothers kitchen and they were basically made like you would make a cushion cover; front sewn to back (lining) and tape at the top. That was fifteen years ago.

Now I make them properly, lined with thermal lining to add a luxurious look and do it by the book. I was finding it so easy with the checked fabric I thought that perhaps I should start a curtain making business using only checked fabrics. The Checked Curtain Company. Measure once and follow the line.

Then I realised I had totally stuffed it up.

You see here how the pair of curtains are completely aligned and the rows of colours are mirror images?

That's how they should have been.

Here's what I did.

The fabric has been flipped upside down (how!?) and the orange rows match but the yellows are off. Doh!
Fortunately my brother, being male, will neither expect them to mirror each other, nor notice that they don't.

And luckily, once hung and opened...

..the mistake is less obvious.
But I am cross with myself and no longer want a Checked Curtain Company. It's fraught with danger.

The other window with the single curtain is fine!

Perhaps I shall start The Single Curtain Company.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

It's curtains I'm afraid...

I suddenly realised it's half term next week and I was meant to have made some curtains to take up to York for my brothers kitchen. Gah! I hate making curtains. The maths makes my head spin.
Here's the fabric I chose.

The floor still makes my heart skip a beat :)

Very colourful. I'm hoping they will tie in with his kitchen that he replaced last year.
The straight lines are very helpful for cutting. I've done one curtain and there are two more to go...

Do you see our curtains in the background? They are Laura Ashley (via ebay) and have had the hems pinned up since we got them. My excuse was, I didn't know where the flooring would come to, so I couldn't shorten them. Well, the flooring is done so I have no excuses left now.
They're coming down and being washed and shortened from the top so I don't have to faff about with the hems on the curtains and the linings. Tedious job. But not as tedious as making them from scratch.

I'm also thinking ahead to the dining room makeover that's on the horizon. We have some electrical work to do first, then more wood flooring to go down and then I can sort that room out. I've got some cream curtains stashed away and I'm thinking of replacing the pencil pleat curtain tape with this:

Sorry this is a truly awful picture

Smocked curtain tape! Isn't that pretty? I have to figure out if it's right for the curtains I have; I read that it's best for lightweight curtains and mine aren't. And I'm hoping it's easy to use...

Also thinking ahead to the dining room, I would love this:

French style furniture. But my husband says no. We are sticking with chunky pine but painted. It'll work with what we've got, which is a large pine bookcase/ dresser that will be painted. I did replace that with a french style dresser that I painted but I couldn't get half as much in it so it had to go. It was 99p from ebay but my books didn't fit into it as it was more of a display cabinet.

The french one
So that bit the dust. The pine one came back in.

 A bit of primer adhesion experimentation has occurred...

We also have:

...but with grungier legs and a paler top, but it's too long for the room (we were going to take a wall down but not anymore) so I've been tracking down a shorter one.
It's a bit ridiculous, the amount of furniture that passes through this house. We moved in with 3 tables, one is now in the garden and two were sold. We bought another, decided not to keep it, bought another (the one we have now that's too big) and last week bought a smaller one that's too small. You'd think we don't know how to use a tape measure! I think I'm guilty of repeatedly finding something lovely at a bargainous price on ebay and convincing myself it will be fine. When it's not.

I want to get it right and have furniture that fits the room (it's not big) and is worthy of the new flooring! Thank goodness for ebay. It means a mistake is not a costly mistake! Luckily it's all secondhand in the first place so I'm not losing money.

I'm also thinking of a plate rack like this in the dining room.

 I have some pretty plates just waiting.

Seeing as we're drowning in tables and chairs at the moment, and everything has stopped for curtain making, I've done nothing more with my Ikea step stool. Sorry.

Perhaps after we return from Yorkshire for half term? I'll take my camera so I can show you my brothers curtains in situ.
IF I finish them.

Happy half term!

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Lovely surprises... part two

Well that Leibster Award led to quite a long post and I didn't want to stick this news on the end of it as I may have lost some of you along the way and it's so cool that it deserves its own post.

The marvellously funny Katie from Hook, Line & Sink Her made me her Blog of The Week! I didn't see the email she sent me until after I'd already seen the post and run shrieking into my husbands office with it. Luckily he works from home or that could have been embarrassing. What a nice surprise that was. I was having a not so great day and that certainly cheered me up.

A big ''Thank you'' to Katie for the kind words. I put the link on facebook telling people how famous I was. As you do.
I really feel like the Lawrence Llewellyn Bowen of Hitchin now. With not such fabulous hair obviously. I have already been asked for my autograph. (It might have been sarcasm.)

Here's the article. My dad says he thinks I wrote it! Huh!

Do check out the very witty Hook, Line & Sink Her and pop into her Etsy shop too! It's especially good if you like octopi.

In other breaking news I recently acquired one of these:

I paid £14.99 for a badly put together slightly used Ikea Bekvam beech step stool from the most expensive chazzer in town.
They retail at £11 brand spanking new.

 I didn't know this.

Anyway, I can't get to Ikea so I'm still pleased with it but I shall be letting the most expensive charity shop in town know. And I put all the screws in their rightful places.

It's already started its transformation. It was either that, or tackle a pile of ironing. If you are excited by this kind of thing, there's a page full of Bekvam hacks on Pinterest for you to salivate over while I figure out what I'm doing with mine.

And I finally got two matching plants for my painted crates!

Yay! Symmetry. And a splash of colour! Not. That's okay. I actually want to live in a White Company catalogue...

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Lovely surprises... part one

I was delighted to receive the highly coveted Liebster Award having been nominated by the lovely Kate at Just Pirouette and Carry On
I had heard of it but wasn't entirely sure what it was. I'll let Kate explain it to you here as she sums it up very nicely. Thank you very much to Kate for the nomination! Do pop over to her blog as she is a very funny read.

These are the rules:
  • List 11 random facts about yourself
  • Answer the 11 questions which are given to you by your nominator
  • Ask 11 new questions for all the bloggers that you nominate to win the award
  • Nominate 9 bloggers with less than 200 followers to win the award
  • Go to each of the blogger's pages to let them know about their nomination

                             Here are Kates questions for her nominees and my answers...

1. What was the first single or album you owned?
    My first album was Thriller by Michael Jackson.I loved him madly and while I saved up for it I'd go into WH Smiths and gaze at it. I think I might still have it...
2. What do you have recurring dreams about?
    Up to three times a week I have episodes of parasomnia when I can be found on the landing on my hands and knees trying to regurgitate random objects I have 'accidentally swallowed'. I have 'swallowed' marbles, batteries, glass, vintage tinsel, sticks, conkers and many other things. Sometimes I get upset that no one takes me seriously and want to get x-rayed to prove it but we've never got that far. My husband gently assures me I'm dreaming and gradually I remember that this does seem to happen quite often...

3. What was your nickname at school, and why?
    At school I don't think I really had one but I've been called 'Space Cadet', 'Big Bird' and 'Phoebe' after Phoebe from friends. I never got that because I'm really much more of a Monica!

4. Have you ever had road rage?
    No not really but I do swear like a trouper behind the wheel. It's like driving tourettes.

5. What can't you leave the house without?
    A tape measure, and re-usable shopping bags. 

    6. What song can you sing from start to finish without checking the words?
    The wheels on the bus.

7. Ever chatted up a stranger? Dish!
    No. Far too shy.

8. What's your Wu Tang name?
    Excitable Misunderstood Genius. That is so true! ;)

9. Have you ever danced on the tables?
    No. I don't dance. Except in the company of my daughter at home.

10. Where's your happy place?
      My bed. Unless I'm having an episode.

11. Can you do the Macarena?
      No. I would stuff that right up. I'm not very coordinated.

                                                     11 random facts about me...

1. I have a twin brother with a different birthday as we were born either side of midnight

2. One of my burning ambitions is to foster children. One day. When the house is done.

3. Unlike everyone else in blogland, I do not bake. Unless it's an emergency. (If a bought cake is going to cost in excess of £25, then it's an emergency.)

4. I do love to cook though. If I'm not painting something.

5. I scarcely shop in 'real' shops. I like the thrill of the hunt in second hand, the frugality and the recyclability. There's no thrill in a 'real' shop.

6. I have lived in York, California, London, Paris, New York and Hitchin.

7. I was a professional nanny for decades and once looked after a baby prince. 

8. If I crashed on a desert island with a plane full of only one type of food, I would choose crisps. I could happily live on crisps.

9. I'm naturally blond but I dyed my hair red at the age of 40. I had wanted to do it for 20 years.

10. I bought the first house I ever viewed. It was love at first sight. It had high ceilings and a walk in pantry. When I sold it, I had 2 people in to see it and the second one bought it.

11. I'd love to have my home in a magazine!

                                   My nine nominees, in no particular order are as follows:

1. Crivens Cottage

2. The Tulip House

3. Mar-ian Makes...

4. The Princess Prudence Diaries

5. Hook, Line & Sink Her

6. Tidy Away Today

7. Doing it on the cheap

8. Made in a Muddle

9. The Barristers Horse

These are all great reads by some funny and very clever ladies. Do check them out!
My 11 questions for my nominees are as follows:

1. Why did you start blogging?
2. Who is your biggest celebrity crush?
3. What are you scared of?
4. Where would you like a holiday home?
5. Tell me a burning ambition?
6. What is your home decor style?
7. Who is your favourite clothing designer?
8. Are you a cat person or a dog person?
9. What advice would you give your 16 year old self?
10. Whose was the first blog you followed? (Not necessarily in an official followy way)
11. What do you look for and enjoy most of all in other peoples blogs?

Right then, I have some emails to send!

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Edwardian dressing table in milk paint completed!

The light is not good today but we dragged it outside for its photo shoot. Let me just remind you of the 'before' (which is not a proper before as the top has been refinished and the drawer bases replaced!)

And now?

It doesn't look too frantic when you see it all together...

You don't distress it, the paint just flakes off where it feels like it. There's not a great deal of control or symmetry.


So what do you think? Honestly? I know everyone is very kind here in the world of blog. But would you really give it room space? Does anyone think I've ruined it? 
Just curious. I really like it. I think it makes a change from flat chalk painted pieces! So I won't be offended. 

You can see more about the painting process here 



Saturday, 2 February 2013

Plumbing services...

Having read a page of a DIY manual I headed to the DIY store in search of a cranked spanner. I'd disconnected the old tap and taken it with me. I said that I didn't expect them to have a replacement for it as our pipes are from 1960 and I'd been informed that they were not the modern standard size. The bloke looked a little perplexed and explained that pipes were pipes and that they did not change in the sixties like our money did.

So the plumber who said we had to have all new pipework was just trying to turn a cheap, quick job into a more costly full days work?!

I went home armed with replacement taps and it all went swimmingly until I turned the water back on. The connection was leaking. A lot.

A little tiny squashed and broken washer had fallen out of the connection and I had disregarded it. I was now beginning to think it had an important role to play. As it was knackered I had to go back to the DIY store with the little washer in an envelope. 26p later we headed for home and tried again.

Utter perfection! No leaks! A working hot tap! And a slightly eclectic look I think you'll agree. I might even replace the cold tap too for the sheer hell of it! (But not today...)
This bathroom is hopefully being ripped out this year (not by me!) so I was going for function over beauty in the short term.
But I am available for tap changing, being an expert now! If you too are seeking a mismatched look, don't mind that it takes me three days to complete a job and have a supply of old towels for when it doesn't go to plan, then do bear me in mind!

Linking with Faith Hope and Charity shopping
  And PJH Designs