Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Skip diving, birthdays and wallpaper...

Yes that's a random title but that's what's been going on around here.
First of all, I've managed to skip dive TWICE in a week and get some cool free stuff.

Ooh, a skip diving party! How fun!
The other day I spotted a skip with LOTS of bubble wrap and grabbed the lot. Yay me!
And today, I couldn't find my pollyfilla so I went to buy some more, passing a very exciting looking skip full of windows! Obviously I couldn't pass it up without stopping and investigating.
I knocked on the door of the house and the bemused gentleman said I could take his old windows. So I did.

I took five 1930's wooden windows in all. Look at the lovely old window furniture!

What will I do with them?
Perhaps more of this window art...

I think I'll put one of those catches on here.
Or I may use them to turn my raised beds into cold frames in the spring. This year I used three of our old secondary glazing panels but the frames are coming off and we broke one. These windows will be MUCH prettier.

We've also had a party for the last part of Connies First Holy Communion and  mine and Connies birthdays this week. I turned 44 and she turned 8. I think turning 8 is much more exciting. As you may know she's crazy about 'Littles Pet Shop' figures. We always look for them at boot sales and charity shops. Well on Sunday I found TONS of them and gave them to her on her birthday. She was THRILLED! A very lucky find indeed.

We thought we'd decorate her (shop bought) cake* with an LPS and we lit the candles and brought it into the room and started to sing. Connie started SCREAMING as she thought the LPS was going to burn. So that went well.

*I don't believe in baking. Plus we had my twin brothers birthday, my birthday (different day) First Holy Communion (part 3) cake and Connies birthday all in three days. I would have spent hours in the kitchen. And if I'm going to spend hours in the kitchen, I'd much rather be working on it than in it.

So leading quite neatly back to the kitchen, I have received my latest roll of wallpaper from Your4walls and I'm hoping to get on with that today. Obviously, I've been hindered by dashing out for pollyfilla, skip diving and blog writing.

As this one was too grey with the grey units...

I eventually went with this one...

...after a brief love affair with another one that didn't match the splash back at all. (Still working on that website.) This roll came super fast.

We've got one more party to go this weekend so the house has to stay relatively tidy for that, then all hell will break loose, chaos will rein once again and I can get stuck into some serious DIY. Bring it on.

And the party? We're remaking Pharells 'Happy' video on location locally with 12 little girls. Why not, if your daddy's a film maker? Wish us luck!

P.S. Apologies to anyone who watched The Auction house on my recommendation last week. It wasn't the slightest bit funny. What happened to it?

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Thrifty and not so thrifty telly...

Here's my round up of my favourite interiors/style TV shows at the moment.

I mentioned this briefly before but Channel 4's The Auction House really is unmissable. Anyone who's ever won things on eBay or anyone with a passion for secondhand will love this. Okay, the items in question are worth hundreds or thousands rather than the few quid that you and I like to pay in charity shops, but the auction house in question is in the heart of Chelsea, and the regulars at Lots Rd are the super rich of London.

The buyers can get hooked on bidding and sometimes make expensive mistakes. Whereas we might stuff up and lose a few quid on a duff buy, these people can lose thousands, buying and re selling their items. You'll get to see inside some amazing houses as the programme makers follow buyers home.

The auction rooms are run by an eccentric bunch. As Roger the owner says, ''When I think of the characters that work for me here, I would say that they're bunch of odd balls and we're like a dysfunctional family.'' God, I'd love to work there!
Everyone who works at Lots Rd seems to have a problem with Roger. ''He's the most stubborn and demanding boss in Chelsea.'' His workers don't mind sharing this on camera! I wonder if heads have rolled because of this show.
I do hope the gamble has paid off and that people are heading to the auction rooms in their droves. If I still lived in London, I'd be there!

Oh, and I did google the whale scrotum stools. I won't spoil the surprise! Catch up on 4od.

Next up, a welcome return to our screens for Linda Barker. She's made a new series for Channel 5 called Brand New House for 5K.

The featured families hand over 5K and get their homes tarted up, learning some nifty DIY tricks along the way. 
Linda is looking incredibly hot these days. And things haven't changed since her days on Changing Rooms, you might not love everything she does but it's certainly not magnolia.

Last of all, did you see This Old Thing: The Vintage Clothes Show ?

Presented by the stunning Dawn O'Porter, who's on a mission to introduce the nation to vintage, it's certainly worth a watch. It seams there are people out there that think vintage clothing smells like dead people! Dawn attempts to convert them with her workshop and team of expert tailors.
But instead of hiring a seamstress to alter our ill fitting vintage, I think we're all rather more likely to have a bash ourselves. On a second hand sewing machine, naturally. But she's probably preaching to the converted here, right?

Enjoy a rainy day indoors checking out these shows if you missed them. Speaking of rain, Vix has been in my thoughts all weekend as she's at Glastonbury and it hasn't been a great year for the weather. I wouldn't have minded seeing Metallica there but I don't think it'd top seeing them play at the Marquee in London many years ago and being right at the front. (James Hetfield gave me a can of beer after the show! He said it was shit. Obviously I fell madly in love with him.)
I've not seen any of the TV footage of Glastonbury yet, so perhaps I'll spend my afternoon watching that as I work through a pile of ironing. Rock n roll...

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Out of order...

I've had a bit of a freak accident. It could happen to anyone really. Connie decided she needed an obstacle course in the garden so I quickly rustled one up for her. You know the kind of thing, canes balanced on watering cans as jumps and wooden site pegs laid down as chicanes to zig zag through. Well, I was just demonstrating the order in which it was to be completed, and I jumped the first jump, in my heels, landing on our very uneven lawn and went over on my ankle. Oh my God, the pain!

I spent a good deal of yesterday in A&E and it's not broken. But I can only walk on my heel and I can't drive. Such a drag. I think we can all learn a valuable lesson from this episode about hurdling in heels. Please send your healing vibes my way so I don't miss the flea market on Friday!

Explaining how it happened to the hospital staff was slightly embarrassing. I get the feeling they don't see too many 43 year old women who show jump around their gardens of a weekend.

Fortunately, I didn't cripple myself until Sunday evening, meaning I didn't miss the boot sale in the morning. It was a stonker.

Look who came home with me!

Isn't she fab? Look at those lashes!

Obviously she will make a very useful necklace holder. Or a hat stand. I may start wearing hats. Or a wig display unit. Just in case.

I was walking around holding her proudly and one of the regulars admired her but asked why she had a sticker on the front saying, 'PENIS'.
It actually said 'PENIS PENIS PENIS PENIS'.
And there was me thinking I was getting funny looks just because I was walking around with a mannequin.

I also found this BEAUTIFUL quilted table runner for £1.50. It's immaculate. I love whole cloth quilting so this is right up my street and will be perfect for when I re build my dining table with a scaffold board top.

Fridays flea was also a good 'un. I collect these plates and found a few more from the £2 man. I don't see them very often and never that cheap. My Grandad had these plates. They're very large and deep and great for roast dinners when your plate is piled high with vegetables.

Obviously I can't keep buying stuff without things leaving the house. I'm like an antiques dealer in that the new old stuff comes in and the old old stuff goes out. We're hoping to have a car boot sale at the weekend to get rid of a lot of the old old stuff. Actually I think we need to have one a week all summer long!

I'm still waiting on wallpaper samples from your4walls a staggering two weeks after I placed my order. I got an email the next day to say it had been dispatched and now they're saying it hasn't even been printed as the wallpaper printer is broken! Very frustrating. It's not just me who's out of order. I want at least half the kitchen finished before our parties happen in a few weeks!

Thursday, 19 June 2014

A new look...

Whoah! Someone turned the lights on in here!
I'm going for bright simplicity from now on rather than gloom. Another change is the blog name. I always hated it. It didn't make sense. So after two years I'm having a makeover. I may add things later. Hope you like...

I've just twigged that I've not been getting ANY blog emails at all for, um, a few months...
Told you I'm not very technical. Apologies if I haven't replied to people during this time. I have a massive backlog to work through, so if it's important, you might want to email me again.

 So, here's what's been going on. Connies First Holy Communion was lovely and she looked so sweet in the dress. I don't have a blogworthy pic but we get to do it all over again in a few weeks so I'll try harder then.

The sewing machine is put away and the kitchen cabinet doors are back in their rightful place on the dining table. I hung three yesterday...

 I'm getting there!

And created a bottom for the bottomless cupboard under the sink...

There was a drip that caused the bottom of the cupboard to perish before we bought the house...

I had some contiboard cut to size, and Bob's your uncle...

Turns out that the drip is still dripping which is a drag. Hence the jam jar.

I also removed a totally MINGING semi circular carousel from the corner cupboard and had a piece of contiboard cut to fit as a shelf in there which will make far greater use of the space.

Just waiting for the shelf supports to arrive!

The wallpaper decision making is still no further on. Just need one more sample to arrive.

Let me just leave you with a bit of prettiness...

I found this sampler at the flea market.

I got it for £18. Sometimes they sell for hundreds. I know nothing about what makes one valuable and one not so valuable but we love this one.

I love that Sarah Ann Jordan was seven when she worked this, same age as my daughter. I wonder who she was...

The frame was dark wood and I took it all apart, painted it with gesso and waxed it...

It's hanging above Connies bed. We had Bad Bobby stuffed as you can see. He's a lot less trouble now.

Kidding! He's alive and well but he's been out partying til 2am and won't smile for the camera this morning or get out of his bed. I know that feeling...

P.S. Did anyone else have the pleasure of watching 'The Auction House' on Channel 4 the other day? It's my new favourite show. I think 'Alpine Surgical' will be the new 'Shabby Chic!' Bahaha!

Treasure Hunt Thursday

Thursday, 12 June 2014

I've got the sewing bug...

Work on the kitchen has ground to a halt, the kitchen doors have been pushed aside on the dining table and I've got the sewing bug. I used to dressmake a lot before I had homes to fix.

Connies First Holy Communion is happening and as she didn't like any of the dresses readily available, I made her one...

It's very plain and straight which is just what we struggled to find.

It still needs hemming... I'll probably save that 'til the last minute. She might have a growth spurt between now and Sunday.

The dress is made from raw silk and despite ordering the pattern from America, it's worked out cheaper than buying a polyester dress from BHS. We'll accessorise it with a little rose covered head band and lace gloves. Her Grandad bought her some ivory satin shoes when we were up at his for half term. No veil. I'm not so keen on that idea.

Chatting with some of the mums, it dawned on me that I had to dress up too. I tried on all my clothes and hated them all apart from a collection of little black dresses I seem to have amassed. 

Then I realised I had some really lovely things that were living in the sewing basket. So while the sewing machine was out I finished a vintage dress I'd found a the flea market in it's half finished state...

It had a strangulatingly high neck which I lowered, I took the sleeves off to use more of the seam allowance as they were snug and I hemmed it. It's cotton and has a metal zipper. Would you say that's 60's?

Then I took in another vintage dress...

I look like I've slept funny on my neck!

I think this one is 70's as it's polyester with a nylon zip.
And I didn't stop there, oh no! I mended a pair of J's trousers and 2 pairs of my jeans...

A bit of car booted floral linen. I hope it doesn't look like a scabby white knee.

I think the flowers on this fabric might be too big and it might just look like a cellulitey arse falling out but hey, I tried.
My sewing basket is almost empty and I'm chuffed with my 'new' wardrobe.

And that background?

Is a vintage handmade rug I found at the Sue Ryder shop in York. (The one with the vintage section upstairs.)

I wanted a paler rug for Connies room as the blue one was so dark. I almost bought one from Dunelm. NEW! Heaven forbid. Well, as luck would have it I found this one. It's like an Aubusson rug but worked in fat cross stitch rather than needlepoint. And a quarter of the price of the Dunelm one!

She loves it! I washed it carefully in the bath with Woolite and cold water, rinsed it with the shower head and laid it on beach towels on the lawn on a hot day to dry flat.

I've also swapped her furniture around because we bought her a vintage dressing table but I'll have to share that another time as that side of the room is a terrible mess.

This week Connie and I received a parcel from a lovely lady called Kathleen who reads this blog and lives in America.

Thank you so much Kathleen! (St Theresa has been squirreled away somewhere and Connie's at school so I can't ask her where!)

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Yeah baby!

As promised, one quarter of the kitchen is completed. It took most of a day to sand the sides of two doors, re-ESP and paint them so that they work freely without hitting one another. I had those doors on and off so much that day. I really hate kitchen cabinet hinges. I had to watch a youtube tutorial to make any sense of them.

A tomato and a J cloth. Too impatient to style it properly. 

As you can see, the wall is still not sorted and I can't get the splasback up until that's done.

I wanted something temporary yet striking. We'll replace the worktops and sink at a later date.
Having loved what Emma (Ooh Betty blog) did on the BBC Great Interior Design Challenge with brick wallpaper, I thought that I'd try that out. At only £20 a roll we can rip it off in a few years with no damage to the walls. I won't need much.

You can see one piece held in place in the corner. Now that it's come, I'm not entirely sure it's right. It's meant to be white but it's very grey. With the grey units it might just all be too much and one could spiral into a deep depression on entering the kitchen.

I didn't order a sample which was stupid. I now have a few samples of other brick wallpapers on order and I can't wait to see how they work.

So far my expenditure has been:

ESP £25 inc postage
Titebond melamine glue £30.90 inc postage (But I could have used a smaller bottle. I have a HUGE one.)
Farrow and Ball paint £60 should do it. Perhaps £40. (I could have saved money with bigger tins.)
Wood (Cheshire Mouldings) £56.37 (You could save by cutting your own MDF.)
Wallpaper £25.95 inc postage (So far. Might choose another one...)
Handles £100 (Not the cheapest you can get but I love them.)


This is the cost for the whole kitchen, not just a quarter. Obviously it will cost more to finish the job as I need a window sill where there is none and some cheap tiles around the back of the sink. And flooring! I hate that floor.
I've not included polyfilla, caulk and white paint as I have these already in my stash.

I'll remind you of the before...

And now...

So far, so good but there's a long way to go.

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Do it yourself woman!

We've had a full on week. A weekend in Aylesbury for a family party and then four days at my dads in York. Half term holidays can be a bit frantic.

The kitchen hasn't progressed much and I have a small problem to overcome. Two of the doors hit each other when they open. My lovely doors  are purely decorative at the moment. Such a drag, I need to sand one a bit smaller and hope that works. It's very boring when things go wrong.

I'm just going to write a quick post about Unibonds current advertising campaign. Whilst in York, I saw a full page ad in a magazine for the Unibond Go range of products. It's the first DIY ad I've seen aimed at women. It's about time! 

According to sources, women are now doing 60% of  home improvements. They aren't prepared to wait for their husbands to get around to it and don't want to pay for a tradesman. Half of those women who do DIY reckon they're better at it than their blokes.
Single women now own one in five UK households. Do it yourself is no longer just a mans domain.

The Go products are three small tubes of instant grab glue, bathroom sealant and filler.

No idea what they're like, I've never used them. This is NOT a sponsored post. Clearly.

On their website they have a series of instructional videos featuring a woman and her simpleton husband. The husband can be seen in absolute awe of his partners glue squirting technique.
She manages to seal behind the sink in the time it takes him to fetch his tools and slip into his DIY dungarees. And she even lets him have a go with the filler after he carelessly makes a hole in the wall.

I just can't see their relationship lasting.

I am so pleased that they're aiming themselves at a female market. I think that up until now, we've only seen women with paintbrushes in their hands.
Anything that gives women the confidence to have a go at DIY is awesome in my book.

Unibond, you rock.

Back soon with some cool secondhand finds and 1/4 of a completed kitchen! Woo hoo!

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Painting kitchen cupboards...even melamine!

How to go about painting melamine... I've done plenty of research on this subject and I must say, most of it recommends using a super primer like Zinsser or Blackfriars. I also found a few articles suggesting ESP. Mostly on forums where it was recommended by people who paint kitchens for a living.

I've known about ESP since the mid nineties when they mentioned it daily on ''Change That'' the greatest TV show known to man.
I really thought that this was a lazy persons product. For people who can't be bothered to sand properly or for people who are on telly and have a very short time frame in which to paint furniture. Being a total perfectionist, ESP and I never crossed paths.

Until I started researching painted kitchens. I read the words, ''chemically bonds the paint on to a surface'' and I was intrigued. Because that sounds pretty damn good to me.

And let me tell you, it IS pretty damn good. It's the most peculiar stuff. You wipe it on liberally, wait 10 minutes, wipe off the excess with a clean dry cloth, wait two hours and you can paint.

It really gives the greatest adhesion. There was a small area in my cabinet framework where I noticed a little residue of a sticky dot. I left it unpainted and when the surrounding paint was dry, I decided to sand it off. The surrounding areas were sanded too and that paint didn't shift. This was water based eggshell on plastic! I would have imagined that the paint would have peeled away very easily.

This stuff is amazing. Forget your chalk paints. Ugh, who'd want a chalk painted kitchen anyway? Forget your super primers. Definitely forget your cupboard paints! Have you read their reviews?
They just. Cannot. Compete. with ESP.

 I got mine on ebay for £25 with free postage. It's clear and thin like water so it stretches pretty far. One litre would be enough to do my 22 doors more than three times over.

As you can see I have one door up. I only had one handle, my sample handle but the others are coming tomorrow. I think I looked at every handle in the country.

I'm totally thrilled with my one solitary cupboard door. You know when you have a picture in your head? Often things don't turn out quite the same. Well this one has turned out just like it did in my head.

This post is not sponsored by ESP or Owatrol. I'm just a bit in love with it. If you're thinking of painting your kitchen doors, look no further.


I'm one step closer to having a nice kitchen for the first time ever.

You can see how I'm getting on HERE


Friday, 16 May 2014

Secondhand Scores...

The kitchen is coming along slooowly. Five doors are done out of 22. I spent a day and a half looking at every handle in the country and ended up ordering 6 different ones because it's the only way you can see if the handle colour works with the paint colour.

I'm not showing you the doors until they are back on the units with the handles in place. I'm praying that will happen soon.

So I'll share my latest secondhand scores instead.

I'm told this is St Theresa. She was £2 from the car boot sale.

She's had a little wear and tear over the years. I think it adds to her charm. I have three of these now...

St Anthonys nose has turned green and Jesus' head has come off at some point but I love them.

            Someone else who has seen better days is this funny little papier mache and glass glitter Santa. 

I cannot resist vintage Christmas tat.

Nor could I resist this vintage plastic shop sign for 50p. It's up in the kitchen window naturally.

But best of all, found this very day, a whole washing line full of unused vintage barkcloth!

See my raised beds too? Just need some pebbles or something on the weed liner between them.  And a few more raised beds running down this side of the garden. The canes are to keep the cats off. They don't work...

But back to the fabric, isn't it lovely?

  What can I make? What would you use it for? There's over 5 metres altogether. I'm thrilled with it.

I'm car booting on Sat and Sun and the weather looks good so they should be big ones. Have a lovely weekend whatever you're up to.