Thursday, 25 August 2011

Three Beautiful Things

1.  An origami cat - a birthday gift from Yoyo to the Eldest.  He wasn't overly grateful so I intervened and now it sits on my kitchen windowsill.  She put a lot of love into that kitty I tell you!

2.  Yoyo herself.  Because I am biased (and I'm told it is a parent's right to think their child is more beautiful than anyone else's)

3.  This new song from James Morrison (Queen and Clean & I are huge fans).  Will be released next week.

Sorry I am missing in action again.  I have lots to show you and must do better with more regular posting.

Anna x

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Note to my children....

I was pondering today if you would remember this door on the under stairs cupboard when you are grown up.

The excitement of finding a pencil and a hard backed book to take that all important measure.

Each of you trying to be 'first' and jostling one another in the cramped space.

Your Dad usually acting as official 'measurer' and turning it into a ceremony of sorts.

The gasps and grins on your faces when we discover how much you've grown.

Because my lovelies, even on those most chaotic school run mornings when I have to run back into the house for your book bags and reach into this cupboard.....the site of your scrawled names there makes me smile.

I can feel your pride through those little pencil markings.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Three beautiful things

1.  Yoyo twirling in the garden to make her dress spin.  She eventually collapses onto the grass giggling.

2.  My long awaited flowers from my 'Princess Diana' (think that's what it was called) clematis finally appear. 

3.  First courgette of the year.  I have been lazy this year with vegetables and am just growing these and Tuscan Kale.  Not sure what to do with the Kale, think I was just growing it to be trendy, but assure you I will use every last courgette up.

Monday, 20 June 2011

New arrival

A most generous hand me down from my Aunty, her piano, arrived here last week.  It has found a permanent residence one side of the fireplace, right in the middle of our home. 

I used to play, but am a bit of a one trick pony at the moment playing Fur Elise and not much else.  Still to my non-piano playing family I think they are a little impressed (if not tired of hearing the same tune).

Everyone is interested though in this new arrival, from The Queen of Clean (trying to master Coldplay Clock's intro), to littlest one who likes to investigate the pedals.  Yoyo is most often found there lurking around the sharps and flats with a little tune I taught her. 

Oh and my Ercol chairs, we have still only sorted one of them out.  Did you really expect anything more?

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Little Red Shelf

Another little Jumble treasure.  This one not so well received by The Queen of Clean.  I think it is cute and the sort of thing that Soulemama would have in her kids rooms (although she'd probably have a beautiful display of wooden kids toys/seasonal nature finds rather than my odd little assortment).  I like the size, the colour, the pointy ends on the top and base, I even like the little dinosaur sticker that was stuck in the middle.  The Queen of Clean on the other hand thinks it is simply awful.  He has accused me of using the word 'vintage' to describe anything fit for the skip.

I was a bit naughty and whipped littlest one into a frenzied state by showing it to him and suggesting he could keep his blackboard chalk on it.  Queen of Clean then had no option but to do the honours and get it on the wall.  Mean aren't I?  My littlest one asking you to do anything is too hard to resist.  The glimpse of blackboard you can see there spans the whole wall and it's great to have somewhere to rest the chalk nearby.  Yes that is the word 'fart' you can see scrawled on there.  What can I say, I am a  liberal parent and am willing to help sound out any word if it means a child is engaged in writing practice......

So here it is - my little red shelf for £1.  Yes another bargain scored at Saturday's sale.  I'm not even going to bother re-painting, I love the cheerful shade of red and it goes well in his room.  

What do you do when your taste clashes with your other half - do you resort to underhand strategy like me?  Or should I be more respectful that he's getting rather tired of the vintage vibe?

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Jumble Treasure

I recently got into Jumble sales.  So much more fun than a car boot, as everything is much cheaper and tightly packed together.  You never know what treasure you'll find.

I was late for yesterday's jumble and had forgotten it was on, I let my jumbling partner down and rocked up an hour late not expecting anything to still be there.  It was my first time taking Yoyo and she was in awe of the currency being in pence rather than pounds.

And there I saw them.  It took me a while to spot as they were hidden beneath picture frames and boxes and not placed as a group.  We really do need new dining room chairs as we have some faux leather ones that our cats have ruined and are also very uncomfortable.  New chairs weren't on the endless 'things we need for the house' list though - we just don't have the budget for it at the moment.  So when I saw these my mind went into overdrive....I just needed to know the cost.  £8 for all of them. Decision made.   I couldn't believe it and they were packed safely into my car as swiftly as possible (before anyone changed their mind on the tiny price tag - is it just me that reacts like that?)

I kind of thought they looked familiar, and sure enough a little research when I returned home revealed they were Ercol! £179 each, so in a round about way I had saved £177 x 4 = £708.  But mine are original 60's versions with little bit of history.

The Queen of Clean approved.  He has nicknamed me Mrs Trebus in the past for my adventures in bringing home junk for him to transform, but on this occasion my efforts were praised.  For those not in the know, Mr Trebus was an infamous hoarder that the BBC made a documentary about, would never throw anything away bless him.

So with sandpaper in hand we began immediately.  Clearly he was feeling very enthusiastic - we were supposed to be getting ready for friends coming for dinner.  So it became a multi task cooking/tidying/chair sanding fest!

He used an electric sander on the seat and legs, but all those spindles need to be done by hand and that became my task.  We only had time to complete one, am sure it will be another few weeks to restore all four, but below you can see the difference between the one we have sanded and the one still clad in its stained varnish.  We'll get to you soon enough my lovely.

We need to research the best way of sealing our sanded beauties - I don't want to varnish, am thinking a wax of some kind to keep the wood pale.

So our only challenge now is that we are a family of 5 with 4 chairs.  Whoops.  We could search ebay or indulge in the new version from John Lewis, but I've also seen this bench which I'm rather taken with.  Excuse the tiny picture, but you get the gist I hope.  A hefty £399 though so I will need to save up or go for the more eclectic mix and match chair approach I think. 

So yesterday was a good jumble day.  Wish they were always like that.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

What I've learnt about myself over the last month....

I much prefer making felt coasters to writing management reports.

I prefer dreaming up plans for these fabrics than conjuring up recommendations to improve employee engagement.

I tend to overuse words a lot - in the reports case it was 'impact'.  My proof reader kindly pointed out I'd used it 5 times on one page.

I want to spend my time reading crafting books rather than 'Business Research Methods' - Bryman and Bell.  Not a gripping read I assure you.

My husband knows when to step in in a crisis, one evening I was found rocking on the kitchen floor having 'lost' 2000 words when Yoyo closed my document.  He found them for me and I owe him big time.

Altogether, although I love my job and I needed to get this done studying is not my bag.

Thanks to anyone still reading......I promise to be around a lot more from now on.  With no mention of employee engagement either.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Normal service shall be resumed shortly......

Apologies for my absence - I didn't get lost in Pembrokeshire.

I've been working on a management report to finally complete my CIPD qualification (that I started pre-children!).  I'm missing in action at the moment, hauled up in the playroom with copious amounts of diet coke and a note on the door saying 'Do not disturb love Mum x'.

It's been like that for a while now - I have to find 9000 words and I am struggling with each and everyone of them.  I much prefer this blogging outlet for my words - I feel a bit constrained with the academic style, it's not me at all. 

Anyway - I will see you on the other side.  I miss this place, and my house misses my enthusiasm  at the moment, I am sure.  In the meantime I'll leave you with this completely unrelated pic of my littlest two on the Royal Wedding day (so long ago now) having a three legged race in the garden.

Back soon x

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Another room

It is always a surprise when spring appears and we start using the garden again, how great that space actually is.  Because in the depths of winter you kind of forget don't you?  For me, I only venture out to the garden in the winter to tiptoe to the freezer in the garage, and usually in bare feet (how lazy not to bother finding my shoes), so even making it onto the wet grass is out of the question.  The garden in the winter is just off my radar, barely acknowledged.

And as spring appears, and the weather warms up like last weekend it becomes another room in our house.  The neglectful attitude fostered over the winter is cast aside, and we care again.  There are keen discussions between The Queen of Clean and I on spring lawn care, compost bins and plans for our veg plot.  Whilst we are doing our best impressions of 'knowing about gardening', the kids treat the garden as another room.

This weekend Yoyo invented the treadmill above - bless her, she did make me chuckle when I saw that. I would pretend hours of fun were had there but it was more like minutes.............

And then there was painting.....there was an ambitious plan for a chicken puppet copied from an Easter crafts book.  I feel sad looking at this picture, because this little project was doomed as I gave the kids plastic coated plates to paint on.  I've promised to have another crack at this soon with them (once I've got the right materials!)

And of course bike riding practice for Littlest One, complete with jumble sale doggy rucksack (40p and already a firm favourite!)

And so it truly is another room for our family.  We are off tomorrow on holiday to Pembrokeshire for a week - so pardon my silence until then..........packing awaits!

Monday, 11 April 2011

Crochet - Show and Tell

My crochet course finished last Tuesday evening.  I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, and realised there is nothing like someone actually teaching you a skill in person.

Anyway I thought I'd show you the evidence.....above is a crochet flower, well three flowers really that I stitched together.  These were tricky at first - and my first attempt (the white one in the middle) had 6 petals instead of 5.  Not quite sure how that happened.  Not sure what I'll do with this now, it's almost a bit big for a corsage.  I might sew it onto a bag.  Or stick it on a wall - would that be odd?

This is a granny square of sorts.  I went for greys with a bit of jade and fuschia.  I declared it 'edgy' - if crochet can be edgy?  Well if it can be then this is most definitely at the frontier of all things 'edgy'.

This is more of a traditional Granny Square - and will eventually be a cushion cover.  I ran out of expensive Debbie Bliss Aran wool for this (bought under duress when I thought it was a good idea to take 3 children into the wool shop - big mistake).  What I've spent in wool though, I've saved in what will be the backing for this cushion.  A cashmere jumper found at a Jumble sale on Saturday for 20p!  I'm going to use this technique to assemble the cushion.

I promise I'll share my other jumble finds with you later this week when I'm organised enough to photograph.  They still need to be spruced up.  But this little crochet blanket you can see right away, although I now have the skills to make my own (albeit slowly) I had to bring this home with me for 50p.

What do you think of crochet?   I'm wondering if it's mainstream moment has passed?  My colleagues at work don't really get it I think.  I was like a little girl each Wednesday bringing in my items to show and tell.  So now I have 'shown and told' you, tell me the truth, do you get it?

Friday, 8 April 2011

Worth the wait

I don't think I shared with you that the hard drive on our PC broke about 6 weeks ago.  It was concerning how much we all missed it....nobody seemed to come into the playroom where the computer lives, except Littlest one on the hunt for lost bits of Lego.  This little room lost its identity entirely.

The Queen of Clean had wanted a Mac for ages, and we had introduced a new scheme at work where I could purchase apple products through salary sacrifice.  We kind of talked each other into it.  I'll be honest, it was the lack of wires that excited me - minimalist chic and all that.

So this is what we had before, a rather boring 10 year old Ikea desk, with an annoying drawer that was permanently getting stuck or coming off its sliders.  About 5 years ago I stopped opening it as it seemed an impossible task to get it closed again.

The Queen of Clean had liberated (all completely legal and above board) a piece of beech left over from a project at work, and it had been stuck in our garage for 6 months or so.  It was just too nice to be thrown into a skip (it's original fate)....and I knew he had serious plans for it.

He took the legs from the old desk and cut the beech block to fit.  And we got rid of the drawer and made the frame a little smaller.  The gap where the drawer was he replaced with a wooden strut.

Here is the painting stage.  White legs naturally, after a little debate with The Queen of Clean.   Ignore the's on the 'to do' list.

We thought perhaps we should use danish oil on the top, but only had some garden bench teak oil from a few years the spirit of thriftiness we used that to coat the top.  We (royal we as I didn't like the smell of this at all) put probably 6 coats on altogether spread out over several evenings.

Are you still with me.  Thanks,  I know this is a bit of a long old post.

Well we waited, and waited for the Mac to arrive........ patiently at times and then at other times went into the empty room and gave a dramatic sigh.  Well I did anyway.

Until we really were quite bored of waiting.........

and arrived on Monday.

I don't know how to use it,  none of us do,  we spent most of Monday night working out how to shut it down.  But we've found a little photo booth application and taken about a zillion stupid pictures of us all.

That's enough for now.

Oh, and we've worked out how to shut it down.

Simple when you know how really.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Three Beautiful Things

1. Seeds - can't recall if they are sunflowers or courgettes.  Either way I'm happy.  Windowsill space is at a premium as most of our windows are sash with no sill, so this little space in the kitchen will get a whole lot of sprouting action over the next few weeks.

2.  Decorating for Easter, or indeed any event.  Because it's so non-essential, if I find time to manage it I must be making headway.  This years hawthorn twig has got an upgrade with white spray paint.  Every visiting child thinks the eggs are made of chocolate, and I share their disappointment when I break the news they're not.

3.  Littlest one learns to ride his bike.  I can't avoid the fact he is growing up, am overwhelmingly proud but just a little bit sad at the same time.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Orla Kiely at Tescos

Look what I just found at Tesco.  Completely off my radar that these bags were on the horizon!  My little budget doesn't usually stretch to Orla proportions, but for £4 I snapped it up in an instant (and even treated my Orla obsessed best friend to one). 

Dare I say they are nicer than the Cath K ones from a couple of years ago, as they are Jute rather than that plasticy feeling fabric.  I tried to press the assistant for more info, but she was clearly not an Orla fan and oblivious to the treasure at her fingertips.  I imagine like the Cath Kidston bags they will be released over a period of several months....making my nearly daily trips to Tesco just a little more exciting.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Just a little bit of crafting...

It's good for the soul a little bit of crafting.  I don't really see myself as a crafty type, but when I do get round to making something, well, it makes me rather happy.  I have bored my colleagues at work showing them this crochet purse (that I keep my security pass in!), so I thought I'd now bore share with you.

There is treble crochet in that purse there!   I am 2 weeks into a crochet evening course and this was last weeks 'homework'.  A lot of love went into that purse I can tell you....and look even a buttonhole too.  I can't believe I made it - last year I spent a week lost in You Tube videos trying to teach myself without success.  So this feels rather miraculous to have made something.  I did felt it afterwards in the washing machine to hide my rather large and unruly stitches.

I made this little wall hanging in January after getting this book for Christmas.   I can remember making this vividly as my poor eldest and The Queen of Clean were trying to watch the film, Inception in the same room.  I was over at the dining table with the sewing machine trying to master this stitching technique and saying lots of bad words.  I think I kind of ruined it for them.

I was inspired by a family tree thing I saw in a Soulemama book - that trunk is a swatch from our leather sofa.

Anyway the technique described in that book was a little too high brow for me, so I decided to go my own way.  And adapt it to make it a little easier......

.....this is the result, a little butterfly that I appliqued onto a table mat.  The wings are made from two different blouses of mine.  Eventually I want to do a table mat for everyone in the family with a butterfly made from their own clothes.  May take forever to get round to, but that's the plan.  At the moment this one is all alone, and lives under the fruit bowl on the white barley twist table.

And finally, not my creation, but Yoyo's.  Her real name begins with an 'S'.  She was itching to do something whilst I was making her Katie Morag costume.  Bless her. 

We're not sure what this will become yet, maybe we'll stitch it onto her PE bag, or applique it onto a cushion.  For her the fun is most definitely in the making....I think as I type she has probably forgotten she has made this!

What are you making (or thinking of making) at the moment? 

Update on the Taupe room

Our Taupe room is finished!   Sorry it's taken an age to get these photos, but I had this brief moment when things seemed remotely tidy so took some snaps.  Above is the dining end of the room which I don't think I have shown you before.  You can see my salvaged white barley twist table there in the foreground.

And here is the view from the other end of the table.  We updated our old lampshades with the ones shown above from Ikea,  it was a strangely satisfying process building those.  A bargain also at £13 each including the light fitting itself.

This is the view from my leather chair with the Love cushion on it...where I can often be found!  Do excuse the sheet hanging over the door - that's how I dry my sheets, not very Martha Stewart eh?  Just pretend it's not there.  Some of the doors in this house are on a diagonal angle including that one above if you are struggling with the perspective.

And here is the shelf in the alcove that The Queen of Clean built, loving how the white frames and light seem to pop out at you now.

So all in all we're pleased, it was good to be a little daring with this.  However curtains are in an issue, the current ones seem to be jarring a little.  I am either going to go for a plain cream or something like this Sanderson pattern below which I love, but seems to be everywhere at the mo....your input is most welcome!


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