Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Crafty DIY : Scrapbook of Inspiration

Some may call me old fashioned, which is fine. I’m getting to that age where I appreciate lace place mats and crystal cut wine glasses. I have toyed with the modern world like Pinterest which in theory sounds brilliant, but I just can’t help myself - I’m a sucker for cutting out and pasting. I firstly create mood boards in Illustrator and then print out all my favourite pics and pritt stick them into pads and journals to create scrapbooks of inspiration.

This year just gone, I managed to fill an entire hardbound diary with ideas for the house, the garden, outfits, cooking, crafts – pretty much anything that caught my eye and made my heart pop or my lightbulb zing. I’m pleased to say that this has now become my favourite book. Whenever I’m starting a new project or need a little inspiration, this trusty book is never far from my side. 

There are so many talented bloggers, crafters, designers and general Jedi geniuses out there that have been spotted, printed, cut up and stuck down in this here book (not literally you understand, just their beautiful ideas), it makes me proud to be part of the creative community. I’m also hoping that this will be a nice little piece of history to pass down through the family, as it’s almost a doorway into who I am. So here’s a little glimpse to hopefully inspire you to create your own, all-be-it old fashioned, scrapbook of inspiration.

Friday, 27 January 2012

It's a Little Dull, But...'s a picture of our garden! I know, it looks pretty dull now, but just you wait! One of our main reasons for moving was because when we swung the cat around he bumped his head on the fence. Only kidding, cat swinging is very much frowned upon in this family. It's just my way of saying that our last garden, well, was way too small for my pottering requirements. So, a new house later and I think I've got enough room to grow into a budding/eager-at-least gardener with the cat in the tree. Only kidding.

So watch this space for a summer full of garden transformations including a dining pergola complete with many, many fairy lights, a relaxing sunbathing lounge (What? She lives in Britain, I hear you yell at your monitors. Well, this may be correct, however never under-estimate true British optimism where the weather is concerned). There will be an under-cover decking area to catch the midday sun, a firepit for those chilly evenings and did I mention that our rather unglamorous shed will soon be a swanky wine bar? Oh the thrill of transformations, I'm so excited, I'm literally bouncing around whilst typing this post.

We've just got to claim back a few free weekends here and there so that we can crack on and enjoy the fruits (quite literally - we have pear and apple trees on their way!) of our labour as the warm weather hits. Just in time for my summer big three oh. And that's oh for 'oh, my goodness, I'm how old?'

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Games Room Retreat

May I present to you the next instalment of the unveiling of our mental redecoration spree spanning just two weeks and involving an entire house. Don't try this at home folks. I think we're still catching up on sleep. The detox doesn't seem to help much, as well as busy days and evenings. How about a belated New Year's Resolution - make more time to relax. In fact, believe it or not, I have started scheduling in time for us to just stay at home and do nothing. And let me tell you - nothing is going to come between us and our occasional weekends at home!

Anyway, was I digressing a little? Perhaps. Apologies, it must be my chocolate and wine starved brain. So... the next room in this thrilling series - the Games Room! In our new home, we have a very small third bedroom. And we really do need it as bed space for guests so the obvious choice was a sofabed. But the room needed more definition. A room with just a sofabed? Dull. What a waste! Too boring for us.

The next logical step was to make it a games room (see how our brains work?) and it is probably one of the most used rooms because of this. There's a little geek in us with a love of computer games (I'm still completing all my many PS2 games which I have acquired over the years - yeah, I know, I'm out of date) and now that we have a Wii, this little room with a four seater sofabed and wall mounted tv makes it THE perfect spot for a little partaking in Mario Kart. This spot, right here, seems to be a bermuda triangle for our guests - if anybody goes missing, the games room is usually the first and only place to check.

Again, there were budget restrictions, so the decor in here was mostly salvaged bits and pieces from the last house, except the sofabed (good old ebay). Thankfully our beloved leaf patterned curtains (beautifully made by the other half's mum no less) fit the window and under the stairs (which is hiding a small office - we need to polish the edges before we unveil this little nook). The blue painting is my own handiwork from my uni days. Wait, that makes me sound really old. It's fairly recent, I promise! Actually, not so much.

The wicker chair we bought off ebay for £5 and a colour coordinated cushion ties it in with the room. The mirror behind does a grand job at reflecting light into this dark little corner. I have a bizarre love of old doorways, so the set of three prints are my favourite door photos from our trips to France. Turning your favourite prints into black and white is easy enough and displaying them in a set of similar frames is a nice and cheap way to make a statement.

I know you can buy them cheaply enough, but the light feature above the sofabed is in fact homemade too. I simply attached some sticky hooks to the top of the wall, hung the net fairy lights in the centre of the sofabed and then bought a ridiculously cheap voile curtain and hung that over the top of the LED lights, which are low on power and are safe to touch fabric without causing a major fire hazard. The lights look incredible at night and are very warming. And don't reflect in the tv to interfere with some serious karting action. Bonus. You may or may not have noticed a few bulbs not working - that pesky rabbit will eat just about anything.

And last but not least, the three pictures hanging in a vertical tryptic are a scene from the Greek island Santorini, one of our most favourite places on Earth. A few years back we were lucky enough to go on the holiday of a lifetime, probably never to be repeated. Two Christmas' ago, in an attempt to save money to buy our first home, we made a 'homemade present only' rule. And this is what the other half secretly painted me (what an uber talented fella) - an everlasting memory to remind us of that awesome adventure exploring volcanos, drinking  2 euro wine, fearlessly leaning into corners on seen-better-days quad bikes and falling in love with proper moussaka. And what did I make him? A wooden sled built like a tank that took out a small hedge on its debut run. What a Christmas!

Monday, 23 January 2012

Craft DIY : Roped Driftwood Sign

As mentioned previously, I am a self-confessed beach comber and am always picking up bits and bobs to use for various projects. This piece of driftwood actually came from Plymouth whilst we were visiting friends. It was a chilly day when we all wrapped up and went for a stroll (the day after we lost my Dad and he got an ear bashing when we finally found him – that’s another story) and ended up missing the ferry across to Drakes Island. Isn’t it nice for each project to have a little story?

This sign was very easy to make and gives the bathroom door a real facelift. Once you’ve found a decent sized bit of wood, make your word fit to the wood (you could always use new timber, plain the edges to make it more rounded and then gently stain it to make it appear a bit more weathered). I usually type a word in Illustrator and outline it so that you can manipulate it to whichever size. Or do a similar thing in Photoshop. I’m not yet aware of a decent open source Illustrator alternative to recommend, so if anybody knows of one, please be sure to let me know.

Remember to leave enough space to drill your holes each end for the rope to go through. Here we have some bona fide Chatham Dockyard rope, made in the old Victorian ropery using pretty much the original machines (see, always a story). Next, print and cut out your letters with a craft knife to create a stencil and then using a soft sponge dab on your paint. Drill your holes, tie in the rope and hang. Easy peasy and this type of project gives such character to any spot where it’s hung.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Crafty DIY : Painted Picture Mounts

A few months back we had a clear out of our basement at work and I salvaged two very large picture frames with ghastly pictures of tin cans and wires and unsightly mould green mounts. The backs were falling off and the holding pins had come loose and were rusting, so that the glass was precariously sliding down. But the frames looked good and had a white washed look which I knew one day would tie in with our colour scheme.

So these beauties-to-be were carefully stored throughout all the many moves and finally unearthed just before Christmas, when I decided to set to work and turn them into a personal present for the other half. Firstly, I carefully removed each of the menacing pins with pliers (wearing rubber gloves just in case) and then put the backboard to one side. I then removed the mount and hastily threw out the weird images and headed to the garage to get the white paint. I gave the mounts three coats of emulsion each (careful not to leave any brush marks) and left them to dry for a few hours.

Once dry, I started to put everything back together. You will need to give the glass a good old clean and then using masking tape, tape your new image to the mount, but only at the top (so that it can hang). Any other tape will tend to slide over time. Next, pop your mount and image back into the picture frame and whilst holding it in its upright position, tap out any dust that might have got caught between the glass. Once everything is in place, pop the backboard back in and tape up the entire back with brown paper tape (or thick masking tape will do). Restring if needed (D hooks are the most secure) and hang wherever you fancy.

If the frames you find are not a good colour, you can always set to work painting them too. The images I used here are our own photos from two adventures we love to remember - the beach is in Cornwall and the track is in Devon. It's great to have such large images hanging in the lounge, it gives a real focal point for the eye when you enter. Although I've been so tired this week with the detox that all I see is that nice comfy sofa and that cushion calling my name. Mmmmm. Naps.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Lucky Find

We often take a break from the office at lunch and venture out into the wilderness and this particular intrepid group of explorers often enjoy participating in a spot of teasing every now and then. The subject? Myself, no less. The reason? I obviously enjoy the view, but I'm a beach comber at heart and often walk with my nose to the ground, keeping a look out for various treasures.

The treasures may include lady bugs or a skeleton leaf or a perfect windswept bloom. My treasures are normally met with groans and teasing that 'it's only a lady bug!' or 'it's only a leaf!' But imagine my surprise whilst on one of our jaunts, what should be left by the bottle bank but a tray of about 9 glass candle holders - including these three delights. Somebody obviously thought they were too pretty to smash and left them for somebody like me who wasn't afraid to scoop them up and triumphantly parade them back to the office. Aren't they pretty?

Monday, 16 January 2012

Early Spring Clean

You know when you’ve redecorated your space with paint and the best part is rapidly approaching giving you the tingles. You get that excitement in the pit of your belly that you can  now, finally, fill your room with your favourite furniture, perfect pictures and loyal lamps all creating a space that you KNOW you’re going to adore. And once all the cool stuff is in, you sit back and toast your new space and unwittingly shut out all the leftovers, left out in the garage. Alone. Forgotten. Unwanted.

Well that’s what our garage is filled with - all the leftovers from moving. A broken lamp from a moving day mishap, a handful of bamboo canes, a few books that missed the shelves, an old cushion - slowly growing in size due to mould, a scuffed solitary handle that’s being kicked around from corner to corner. It’s sad because I know that everything out there will get a home eventually, either that or a makeover. But this weekend, we braved the January chill and donned our thermal underpants and headed out to the garage, armed with the radio and a mini heater. And some rooibos tea and apples (detox is in full swing and I’m actually loving it – the other half claims he’s wasting away after only three days).

It started out looking a bit like a second-hand shop’s alleyway but now it’s all clean and fresh (sort of) and waiting for being boxed out and the next exciting stage. A stage of extreme geekiness… the building of the model railway. It is rather sweet really. Sometimes I think the other half gets so excited about his lifelong dream coming true that he might actually wee himself. It’s like watching a little boy on Christmas morning waiting eagerly to see if that bicycle shaped present really is a bicycle. It’s adorable.

And the leftovers? Well, they all became rehomed. Some shelved for another day or another project. Others lovingly salvaged and introduced to our attic. Many of them have been moved to the shed… my soon-to-be little space of geek. A craft studio. We’ve both decided we’re going to invest in walkie talkies so that we’ll be able to chat from our separate shacks. Although my money’s on the other half ‘misplacing’ his batteries, a last attempt at getting a little peace and quiet for ten minutes. Fair play.

By the way, totally missing my folks. After such a lovely couple of weeks of them hanging out at ours, our home is now very quiet. Can’t wait for the spring when there’s a road trip in store for us! France, baby, yeah!

Friday, 13 January 2012

Sneak Peek...

Ooooohhh... look what has landed in our dining room... a lovingly hand built bench! But you get just a little sneaky look today - she needs painting first before we can do the great unveiling. MASSIVE thanks go out to my Old Fogie for building us such a handsome bench. He worked very hard this month and has created a beautiful heavyweight piece of furniture that will hopefully last for years and years, if not generations.

She looks the part and accomodates at least three people. So watch this space for our newest introduction to our home. Plus, with a little bit of daylight this weekend I will be getting some more shots of the other rooms we redecorated in November. There's so much to show you! I won't show you the blocked drains though - the other joys of home owning, of course, occasionally raise their ugly head. Character building some may say. Too familiar I say.

Bonjour Marie Jo! Nous visitons la France en avril pour une semaine et aimeraient vous voir. Peut-être nous apporterons quelque plus des slips pour vous aider la réparation avec the other half. The Old Fogies ont apprécié vraiment Noël avec vous et ont dit qu'ils a mangé assez pour dix gens ! Espérer que vous appréciez le Nouvel An et le temps chaud.

Linking to:

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Brief Beachy Break

Funds were tight this Christmas (aren't they always?!) and funnily enough we both had the same idea for a Christmas present each - a trip in the new year when we would have a few more pennies to be able to treat each other. My treat, well part of it, includes unlimited (oh my gosh) time in charity shops  one day with a £10 voucher to spend as I see fit (and various meals cooked/bought for me throughout the day) - whoop whoop! What more could an easily pleased girl ask for?!

My treat for the other half was a romantic mini break in Margate, Kent last weekend. Romantic Margate is not, but they had a model railway exhibition to keep the other half happy and a copious amount of chips and television channels (I think most of you know we don't have terrestrial television at home so even adverts hold appeal for a short period of time) and we had lots of fun at the beach. What more could an easily pleased boy wish for?!

We visited Botany Bay featured here and Broadstairs beach too. Botany Bay would be gorgeous first thing in the morning with the sun rising. Definitely worth a visit if you're looking for a sandy beach in Kent. It was a cloudy chilly day when we visited, which was perfect for getting cold to the bone and then heading indoors to defrost and eat more chips. Detox starts tomorrow - oh my, let's see how we get on. We usually eat very healthily but Christmas was a bad phase diet wise - but so worth it though ;)

The day was gloomy which gave an austere feel to the beach, but a subtle light was trying to break through the layered clouds, strangely mimicking the layered chalk surrounding us in the sheltered bay. This gave an eerie sense of optimism, almost a nod to the warmer months heading our way. Also, the gulls need a mention here. The seagulls in the UK appear to be evolving into mammoth birds of prey. I suspect they are practising their swoops stealing our chips for greater things such as swooping to steal items of clothing, maybe even small, vulnerable children - don't underestimate the size of Kentish gulls. Cover your chips whilst you marvel at their body mass index and beady, chip hoarding eyes.





Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Happy Dances Rock!

One thing that seems to make the other half happy is how different I am in the new house. I'm still so excited that I sing and dance all the time (with the occasional mime too). I've loved this video for ages, so thought I would share it here, although you've probably all seen it before! This guy Matt Harding made a longer one too where lots of people dance with him all over the world, but I prefer this original one, it looks so much fun. Here's to your happy dance - anytime, anywhere :)

Monday, 9 January 2012

Crafty DIY : Wine Cork Pinboard

I completed this project a little while ago, but love it so much I thought I would share it here. That and the New Year has been NONE STOP for us and I have not had a chance to craft anything new recently - we've been having way too much fun with friends and family visiting - cue lots of screeching playtime with the kids, large quantities of the grape pressed wonder and huge consumptions of leftovers from the festive break. Pate anyone? Mince pie perhaps? No, you're right. Mince pies eaten outside the month of December is just plain creepy.

So for this little cutie, you will need to stock up on your old world wines (none of this new world screw top nonsense) or befriend a few neighbouring part time alcoholics. Don't say what you want the corks for in case your goal unwittingly sends them into full time alcoholism. All in moderation please folks. Anyway, the corks stretch further when cut in half, although this can take some time. Next choose what size frame you want. Strangely I used a cheap and cheerful pin board that you see reduced around back-to-school time (lightweight, all ready to hang, flat surface to glue on) and then set to work cutting my corks in half with a small saw. A vice on a workbench speeds this process up dramatically.

Now lay your cork halfs onto the board/frame and start gluing them down. I have a faithful old glue gun that works wonders. Once they are all stuck down and dried, you can start to decorate the outside. I felt my ever growing collection of driftwood compliments corks very nicely (useful tip for all Blighty residents : I adore beach combing and the best beach for driftwood that I have come across in the UK is hands down Selsey beach in West Sussex in the autumn).

Out comes the glue gun and the pieces are arranged and stuck on the surround. String your frame at the back if it is not already done and keep an eye out for funky drawing pins. Or you could make your own like these by supergluing trinkets to your pin heads, although it is worth only using the longer standy outy pins for this so that when you pull them out, you can pull by the stem and avoid breaking off the trinkets. Shall I open another bottle of wine then?

By the way, there are regular link parties over at French Country Cottage, Thrifty Decor Chick and The Shabby Creek Cottage which are all worth a visit. They are basically inspiration boards from lots of very talented crafters, you'll be sure to find something there to get the old creative juices going. Have fun!