Friday, 28 November 2014

it's not Christmas yet !

While some of you will have had Thanksgiving, and many of you have decorated your homes, and written more than one Christmas post, I am the lunatic who has decided to decorate my hall, stairs and landing AND the toilet in a cupboard, right at the end of November.......

because it's not Christmas yet !

The quatrefoil grille on the rad cover has to go, I really don't like it any more. The rather pink display on top, that went ages ago, it was just too pretty.

We originally painted the walls in a pale blue - that's gone.

About 10 years ago I did the woodwork in a cream then aged it with a glaze - that's gone too.

That horrible carpet - gone - I'm going to paint the lovely old floorboards.

My favourite part of the hall ? The hook on the end of the rad cover for Rufie's leads, it's neat and tidy and makes me smile every time I use it - that'll be staying !

The landing ? Well cleverly I never took any photos of it, but it's pretty much the same but with an old bannister rail !

What will the colours be ? Well there's a clue in one of the pictures.

What's left to do ? A second layer on the walls, the topcoat on all the woodwork, virtually all of the toilet, sanding all the floorboards, painting and sealing them and a few little surprises.

Then there's Christmas decs to do here and at the café - wish me luck !!!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

a bit of this and that and a little chicken wrap !

No, I've not been gone so long because I've been working on changing this into a food blog !
A little chicken wrap is not about my favourite sandwich (it wouldn't have chicken in it anyway), but something entirely different.........more on that later.

First, I need to tell you about dear Nancy over at A Joyful Cottage, who wrote a lovely piece about my home and me and made me realise that I seriously need to pull my finger out (not the nicest expression in the world, but very apt) and get on with some creating and decorating.
You can read all about it here.

The reason I haven't posted for so long, or visited y'all, is not for any particular reason, just a chain of events.
Friends who know me here will know that I have a lazy streak, and I'm very good at allowing myself to be lazy, especially after the workload I had during our busiest summer at Coast Café.

In fact summer seemed to go on and on and on - the last time I wore 3/4 length trousers (because the kitchen gets unbearably hot) was only three weeks ago during half term, when the café was once again as busy as it had been in July !

Something else happened, I lost some weight. I didn't notice at first that I'd dropped 6lbs. But the 10 or 11 hour days (I know chefs in top end restaurants do much longer days than this) on my feet with no break, then feeling too tired to eat at home, took their toll. It was easy to carry on because the busy schedule carried on. To date I've lost 17 lbs. When I lose weight I start to think about clothes more and more. So instead of buying stuff for my house, I did more clothes shopping and less crafting.

Feeling better about the way I looked made me realise that I'd like to go out more. I was turning into a bit of a recluse, and my brother kept remarking on it. I was quite happy though, happy to be in my own space without the old geezer, happy to be at home, happy but perhaps wondering if it was a little unhealthy.
So I've been asking friends to go out for a drink (which they find extremely bizarre) and we've got quite a few evenings planned from now till Christmas.
I'm still not much of a drinker because I can't bear feeling rough the next day (and a certain party in my twenties made me realise I didn't want to ever be out of control again - maybe that's another post for another day !) so I don't go crazy, but it's been fun.

So, the chicken wrap....................
My poor wee dog got a grass seed in his paw in August. They can be extremely dangerous, as they're like thorns that can travel up to the heart or lungs. Luckily the vet realised that it was probably a grass seed when we went for a routine vaccination. I thought Rufie was doing his normal summer scratching and itching but the vet realised it was more serious. He was booked in for the next day, and when I collected my sad little dog who was very sleepy and kept 'crying', this is what he looked like........

with his little chicken wrap !

And even though he was totally exhausted and could hardly hold his head up, he followed me everywhere, because he didn't want to be alone.

And I felt like a very bad Mum who had taken my fluffy baby for torture, and I knew we had to visit the vets twice more before the ordeal was over.

About two weeks later when the chicken wrap came off, Rufie had a slightly alien looking foot, but it had healed up nicely and he seems to have forgiven me.

From Tuesday I have a week off, so I'm going to make a start on my hall, stairs and landing. Something I've been putting off for months but Nancy has inspired me to get on.
I'm not sure how much I'll get done because I'm going to London with my bf Pandy (one of the teenagers at work told me that saying bff is uncool, so I've cut it to bf !!) on Friday for a couple of nights, because we're going to see Strictly Come Dancing at the BBC studios in Elstree. She got everyone she knows to apply for free tickets (for every single Saturday that it's on tv) because she loves a certain pro called Anton du Beke, and I couldn't believe it when I won. This is the best present I could give someone who has done so much for me over the years.

I've also just finished watching the latest series of Downton, which ended in an incredible climax and now we have to wait for the Christmas special to see what happened next. And because I used to work for Spode and Royal Worcester (selling their wares in a reputable department store !!), let me just tell you that Lord and Lady Grantham and their friends and family drink their tea from Spode's Stafford White, just in case you were thinking of investing in a new tea service.
And if you're feeling very flush a little Stafford Flowers would mix in very nicely !

I've also been trying to catch up with all the posts I've missed. I've caught up with a few people so far, but I've still got a lot of reading to do, and I'm determined to read everything and thank you to those of you that asked after me. And while I'm here a friend has a Christmas giveaway that I know you'll all love, and she made it very easy for me to catch up with her because she doesn't post much (!!!) so thank you Diane, and this is the link The Checkered Apple

I have actually made a few minor changes at home, so I may be back with them soon - or maybe not !
Thanks if you've made it to the end
Fiona x

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

the old sew and sew

For me, sewing is a necessary evil.
That might sound a bit extreme, but I really don't like it.
I can do it, and therefore I do, but I don't like it.

I always make a mistake, I always have to unpick something, and I don't have the patience to measure properly.
That probably sounds wierd because I really needed patience to hang my cabinet doors, but sewing.............
my patience just goes out the window.

But when Carol sent me these...........

and I saw this again........

I knew that I wanted to create a new cover for my sewing machine, because the old plastic one was falling apart,

and it doesn't look very pretty under the desk in the guest room (sewing stuff has to stay in this room because it won't all fit into the cabinet).
That little bag hanging to the right of the desk holds all the electrical bits for the sewing machine and that'll get a makeover soon, but first I made this.
I used some old burlap type fabric, some cream fabric I found in my stash to back it and some printed 'sewing' fabric that I've had for a while.
I masked off a border and used my new alphabet stickers to write 'my sewing machine'. I know it's not very original but that's just the way I roll, stating the obvious !
I used both fonts, something that I think has stuck with me after seeing this at Bliss Ranch. I just love the mix of lettering.
I used some black paint and an old stencilling brush which meant I could use the stickers more than once because I was using a stippling action, pushing the paint into the fabric.
I cut up the old plastic cover and used it as a template to make four sides and a top. I cut up the 'sewing' fabric into little labels and used bondaweb to attach them, stitched it all together (twice, because the first time it went wrong !) and embellished it with ribbons and buttons.
The buttons are all shell buttons and are mostly more interesting on the back than the front.
I also found some great buttons in my Grandmother's button box. They're fabric covered metal, in different sizes and perfect for my new cover.
I used a left over bit of border on the top of the machine, and put an eyelet for the spool pin (which actually comes off so that you can pack it away safely, but I love eyelets after doing this project, so didn't want to waste the opportunity to use one).

At least when guests come to stay, the old sew and sew looks slightly better than a bit of torn old plastic.
So thanks again for the stickers Carol, I love the look of the negative stencilling on fabric and will definitely be doing more. In fact I've kept all the stickers I used because I believe they still have 'stickability' and I can't bear to throw them away.

I need to make over the little bag now, which will probably get the obvious name of 'electrical stuff''.
Unfortunately it won't be any time soon because work is busier than ever. My boss has gone on a three week holiday to the States with his family, and I seem to have been promoted from Head Chef to Manager, even though I was never actually asked !
I won't have a little rant here, but suffice it to say I'm rather shattered so apologies if I haven't paid you a visit recently.
I hope you're all enjoying a wonderful Summer.

Friday, 4 July 2014

new cabinet doors

For those of you who haven't been here before, I moved back into this house about a year and a half ago, after renting it out for seven years. I'm slowly decorating the whole house, but my latest project involves adding doors to this cabinet.

I originally wanted a china cabinet with glazed upper doors, so my partner built this unit, and added a wooden detail to the top that he found on a job somewhere. Then he got a computer and made an extra shelf in the bottom section for paper, and even made one section of wood removable, so that he could slide the screen and keyboard behind the non existent doors.
I didn't mind the compromise because there was nowhere else to put his computer, but the doors never materialised.......
and then we both moved out, separately !
After being inspired to turn the cabinet into a craft cupboard by Carol (instead of just using it to house junk) which you can read about here, I was intent on finishing this built in unit.
I went to a wood yard and had four pieces of mdf cut, two with cut outs for the upper doors.
I bought some trim to make a central panel on the bottom doors and to frame the opening on the upper doors, which would also disguise the edges of the chicken wire.

I don't have a special place to work or any special tools, I just used a saw and a mitre block and my dining room table.

I pinned on all the trim in a couple of hours, then tackled the hinges.
I laid out the doors back to back and marked and measured all the hinges, and after another couple of hours, I went from this,
to this,
and then this,

Then I took off the crosses (because I wasn't going for barn door, I was going for European), and put on trims in a diamond shape, and a trim on the edge of one of each set of doors to cover the central gap, added magnetic catches inside and painted the doors dark brown.

I rubbed the edge of a candle on the trims to resist the paint and then coated the doors in two layers of white, and distressed and finished with AS wax .

I trawled the internet for hours looking for handles, and finally found what I wanted, and I really love them.

All that was a breeze compared to fixing the chicken wire and finding some fabric.

I can't quite believe that I had managed to hang the doors straight, with almost no adjustments, but it took three or four attempts and lots of scratches to get the chicken wire right.

And the fabric, oh my ................... I had always imagined tightly gathered white or off white muslin, but it looked awful because it was too bedroomy.
My second choice wasn't much better.
I went to every fabric shop in town and all the charity shops. I even tried old lace tablecloths but nothing looked good, so I went back to the internet and looked at prints and sent off for loads of samples.

I really like the two green fabrics at the top on the right, but I wanted something a little different, so I went with this.....

Yay for map fabric, I love it.
The colours are perfect for the dining room. It has lots of blues, reds and browns. Some of the pictures have a slight green tinge, but the picture below shows the true colours of this great fabric.

Also, I originally found it on the Next website for £15 a metre, then found the exact same fabric on another site for £8.99 a metre, so that was a real result.

My dining room almost looks like a proper room now.
From empty.... to wasted storage space.... to useful art cupboard.... to dining room shabby chic/useful art cupboard......
and it only took 10 years !!
I'm pretty happy and as Vickie has pointed out to me, I can always change the fabric if I go off it, but I don't think that will be any time soon. 
I hope you've all enjoyed your 4th July celebrations, of course we don't celebrate this day in the UK, but most people are celebrating the great weather we're having here.
It's hardly rained at all in the last few weeks, which is very unusual, my garden and I both like a little bit of rain !
Linking up with
Make it pretty Monday @ The Dedicated House
Inspire Me Tuesday @ A Stroll Thru Life
Wow Us Wednesdays @ Savvy Southern Style
Show and Tell Friday @ My Romantic Home
Feathered Nest Friday @ French Country Cottage
Silver Pennies Sundays Link Party @ Silver Pennies

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

more letters, more inspiration and a thank you

If you visit Carol at Art and Sand you will find beautifully sunny days, filled with primary colours, numerous creative projects, the work of an amazing artist and lots and lots of letters.

A shelf spelling out a word, or a cubby full of c's, Carol's collection seems endless.
Just look at this Ikea Expedit showcasing the whole alphabet.

It's inspiring in itself to me, to think of someone who has spent years collecting letters (and numbers) of every size and shape and material possible.

Recently I was admiring one of Carol's many projects, using letters.
I was bemoaning the fact that I can't find any alphabet stickers over here. I finally bought a zinc alphabet stencil set last year, but you can't create the kind of negative stencilling (or reverse stencilling as I think Carol call's it) that I admire so much without stickers, or some sort of cutting machine.
I love the amazing border she created on this tablecloth.

So Carol, kindly sent me some letters, and though I knew they were coming and I had been thinking up loads of ideas, it was only when I was typing an email to say thank you that I had a little light bulb moment and I knew what my first project would be.

That hasn't actually happened yet, but I just wanted to say another big thank you to Carol for my stickers and also for the inspiration I had a while ago to do something else.

Some time ago Carol posted a picture of this work space in her garage and it totally inspired me.

Before this Carol had a corner of Steve's studio and I think before that she kept a lot of her craft supplies in a cupboard, but seeing this work space made me envy the accessibility of everything.

All my paints and brushes were in my under stairs cupboard, which is full of coats, ironing board, vacuum etc and not easy to get to. I was inspired to turn my built in unit (with no doors) in the dining room into my craft cupboard.

This is the before, with pointless old files on the top shelf, which I have culled, decoupage stuff and old maps which needed to stay, and books which needed to find a home somewhere else.

I used two wine crates to provide extra shelving for my paints, and boxes to store the small stuff like stamps.

The bottom section is stuffed full of things to paint. I think I've probably taken it out and put it all back at least ten times.
Since turning this unit into a craft cupboard Carol has actually moved her creative space into the house and now has a wonderful new studio.
But I am very happy with my unit, because I usually work on the dining room table anyway, everything is easy to reach and of course I couldn't leave it like this, I have finally put doors on it, and it's almost as I imagined it, about 12 years ago !
Just a sneak peak. I have now hung these mdf doors, which have some beading detail, are painted white and distressed of course. The handles are on and there is some chicken wire, but I can't show you my finished cupboard yet because I can't find some fabric to put behind the chicken wire.
I have already wasted money on two different types of fabric, but they didn't look right, so I've sent off for some samples and hopefully one of them will work.
So thank you Carol, thank you for my sticky alphabets and thank you for inspiring me to create a special place for the fun stuff.