Thursday, 17 December 2009

Kasey at Lola B's has taken the big step of closing down her lovely shop and is having a giveaway. Check out her blog to enter http://lolabboutique.blogspot.com/2009/12/au-revoir.html

Just one of the beautiful items that Lola B's used to carry.

Good luck (but hope I win!) x

Saturday, 12 December 2009

And the winner of my giveway is.....

Before the draw for the winner of my giveaway could be done I had to have another draw. Who was going to be the one to pull the winner's name out of the pot?! They both wanted to do it. Neither one would give in to the other. Lily went off and wrote 'pull' and 'not pull' on pieces of paper and the first draw took place. Lily won.


Can you just about make out who won?! And the winner is.............RM.
Congratulations to you, RM and hope you love the prize. I'll be contacting you to arrange to post your prize to you. Well done and Merry Christmas x




Monday, 7 December 2009

Step Right Up to The Nest's First Giveaway

Anyone struggling with finding unusual but lovely stocking fillers for children?
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Let me help you.
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I have decided to have a giveaway.
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When I had my shop I used to have some lovely things for children and have a few bits left over so have decided to give them away to one lucky winner.
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I went to a trade show in Paris a few times and came across a lovely company called Les Choupinettes. They made a modern version of the paper dress up doll. These dolls are made out of a kind of plastic (a bit like a credit card) and have velcro clothes which can be changed. One of the things I loved about these dolls is that they can be taken along anywhere - I'm all for toys that can be taken in the car on long journeys or can keep kids occupied at tables in restaurants so these were a hit for me. I am giving away one of these dolls (Zoe la fee) and a spare set of clothes.
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Next up for grabs are two Rosie Flo colouring books. The beauty of these books is that the bodies are already drawn and kids just have to add heads and colour away! The books are themed and I have Rosie Flo's garden and Rosie Flo's games to give away.
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And last but not least I'm going to give a lovely pack on birthday invitations. These have a lovely ballerina on them and are very girly!
I then thought that this kind of leaves out anyone with just boys so had a rummage and have come up with a male alternative!
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Les Choupinettes did a boy 'doll' - we won't however refer to him as a doll - we shall call him an action hero. He is Arthure et son Amure. He comes with his Royal atire and his full battle armour but unfortunately there were no spare clothes available for poor Arthure. Just goes to show that boys don't need as many clothes as we girls do!
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In addition to that I have a Build your own snowman kit. This kit has everything you need to make a snowman except the snow. No more hunting for carrots, buttons, coal, an old scarf..... NO - this set contains wooden versions of the lot - wooden carrot nose, wooden buttons, wooden pipe... plus a felt scarf and felt hat. In spite of the fact that we only have about one day of snow in the UK a year these were really popular!
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Also a set of Christmas plasters/band aids and a pack of 8 really cool party invitations with a drummer on them.
I'm so sorry my pictures are so awful - I may try to take better ones in daylight tomorrow.
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OK - so now onto how you can win:-
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1. Become a follower - the obvious one first (one entry)
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2. leave a comment - not just any comment - tell me what you would like to find in your stocking this Christmas (I said what, not who!) - another entry
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3. Post a link to this giveaway on your blog/site - another entry
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At least three chances to win
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If you win let me know whether you want the boy prize or the girl prize.
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Entry closes at Midnight (British Standard time) on Friday 11th.
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I'll have my kids pull out the winning name/number on Saturday and will post it straight away.
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Good luck x

Lucky Me!

I won a raffle prize in work today. A gorgeous Christmas Hamper full of luxury cookies, chocolates, jams, chutneys, wine etc.
There is a lovely wooden block in the middle of the front of the basket with a letter M painted on - I love it!!
I'm so pleased cos I hardly ever win anything and I really loved this basket (which I am going to put to use in the study/kids room when I eventually finish decorating) so at the last minute I bought a second raffle ticket for £1. That was the winning ticket.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

My first ETSY sale

Yippee! I have made my first sale on Etsy to a lovely lady from Florence in Italy. I am so jealous that people actually get to live and work in such beautiful places. The sign arrived today and Francesca e-mailed me to let me know how pleased she was with the sign which is a Christmas present for a friend who she is sure is going to love it.


I always doubt myself when I make anything and wonder whether what I'm pleased with is actually crap and I can't see it so it's lovely when a complete stranger lets you know how much they like something you've made and can see how much work has gone into it.

Let's hope this is the start of many sales!

Twig giveaway

My friend Jana at Twigdecor.blogspot.com is having a giveaway. She is kindly offering a wreath, a gift voucher for a gorgeous online shop called Ruche (I don't suit hats at all but I so wish I did so I could have the pearly belle cloche), a pair of socks and a lovely home made banner like the one Jana made below.

Check out Jana's blog here: http://twigdecor.blogspot.com/2009/12/give-away-time.html and enter to win! Good luck x

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

I'm dreaming of a White Christmas

I have always loved decorating for Christmas and ever since my son was born we have had a big Christmas tree full of the decorations I have been collecting and making for years. We usually have to move the furniture to fit the tree in and every year both my children help me choose the decorations we are going to put on the tree and then help me decorate it. As I usually end up with a tree with several decorations on every branch from about a third of the way down and nothing on the top I tend to edit the tree when they have gone to bed. This year I have decided to go for a simple look for the living room and just have a small table top tree decorated simply in white.
my little white tree!
I'm not that mean - the children will still have their big and more colourful tree but in their 'little room' (our garage conversion which has been the bain of my life since it was converted a few years ago and which we have just started to remodel). As soon as the room is even remotely ready for a tree I'll be decorating and will post some photos.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Birthday to me!

What a birthday party I would be having today if I lived in the States. But I don't and we don't celebrate Thanksgiving here obviously so I'll be having a simple family tea party tonight and a family meal out on Sunday! Hope you all have a lovely Thanksgiving and eat plenty of turkey for me too (I LOVE turkey!) x

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Gorgeous Christmas Blocks

I've just come across this lovely idea from HowDoesShe?com. Aren't they just gorgeous. I really want to try and make a set of these for my mother. She has three of us -me, my sister and our baby brother (he's 37 actually but he'll always be our squirt of a little brother who annoyed the hell out of us when we were growing up and even to this day I never let him forget how he used to chase us to hit us with his toys guns!). He lives in Majorca so we don't get to see him very often unfortunately so I'm sure my Mum would love to see his face on her Christmas tree! Both my sister and I each have two children (and one husband!) so we could make a complete set. There are other ideas on this link so check them out. They are amazing!


photo from HowDoesShe?com
Check out the complete list of ideas here:

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

My pathetic attempt at acting!

Well I went off for my little adventure of being an extra on Monday. I'm ashamed to say that the filming took place in a little village only about 40 minutes from where I live and I've never been there before in my life. It was such a beautiful drive through green Welsh valleys that I felt like I was in Canada or New Hampshire. I had assumed there would be loads of extras but there were only 3 of us which did make me start to feel a bit nervous. They dressed me in 80's clothes but I feel I looked like an old fashioned farmers wife! The sun sets early in valleys and after about 3pm I couldn't feel my feet. When my time to peform came I had to walk down a gravel alley way and come out just behind the actors who were being filmed then walk down a hill. Unfortunately, they gave me really clompy boots which made too much noise on the gravel - the director mimed tip toeing to me but it was no good - the damn boots ruined my chance of stardom. So, film lovers, you probably won't get a glimpse of my fat behind in a hideous (but thankfully warm) leather coat when the film comes out but I will know .. I was there!

Unfortunately no photos cos as soon as we were dressed we were whisked off in a mini bus and I left my camera behind. Never mind. I did get to see Paddy Considine acting all day though which was quite exciting - shame about his 80's mullet!

Friday, 6 November 2009

My big screen debut

I found out today that I'm going to be an extra in a film. It's called Submarine and is being directed by Ben Stiller. Paddy Considine and Michael Sheen are the main actors and it's a comedy set in Wales. I've never done anything like this before and a friend from work noticed an article in a local paper a few weeks ago asking for anyone who wanted to be an extra to go along and have a photo taken. We went but forgot all about it until we both got 'the call' today! We are off 'on location' (just writing this is making me laugh) on Monday and no doubt I'll be right at the back of a crowd or even cut out altogether but we are both really excited to do something so out of the ordinary. We also get paid for doing it so I'm going to buy myself a silver bangle I've been lusting after as a souvenir of my big screen debut (and no doubt, finale!).

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Dining Room

Since I've discovered blogging and seen so many gorgeous homes I've been spurred on to try and get my own house in order. I'm very set in my ways and tend to find a look I like and stick with it .... for years! I've been so inspired my homes I've 'nosed around' on peoples blogs that I'm trying to think outside the box and decorate in a slightly less safe way than I would normally do.

The first picture below is how my dining room has looked for years. On the opposite wall (see second pic) was another picture by one of my favourite Welsh landscape artists and it looked quite dull above the green cupboard (I'm thinking of changing the colour of the cupboard to either a lighter sludgy green or painting it black any distressing it - any thoughts or advice on this would be welcomed!). Inspired by Melanie from mysweetsavannah.blogspot.com who cut an old door in half and hung it on brackets in her dining room, which looks just amazing, I decided to move this antique French game shelf from it's hiding place behind a door to my dining room.

It took me a while to decorate it and I'm still not sure I've got it right but I'm getting there. I know my strenghts and my weaknesses and vignettes are definitely my major weakness. I can't even arrange things on my bedside tables (nightstands) and just basically have my glasses on top of books balance on magazines.... I don't like anything to look too busy and I find it really hard to display a lot of things without it looking a jumble. I decided to try and stick to a simple colour palate and make everything kind of blend in together.



Any tips on vignettes or how I could improve this look - please help!!

ps. - the 15 years on the little slate is for our wedding anniversary last week. We've actually been together almost 24 years and I can't believe how the time has flown - I'm sure I'm still only about 18!!


Thursday, 29 October 2009

We have been featured on Design Dazzle

The lovely Toni from Design Dazzle has featured Lily's bedroom on her blog and said some lovely things about it. It's lovely when someone else comments favourably on all your hard work and I really appreciate her taking the time to contact me and include me on her blog. You can see what she's written here:

http://designdazzle.blogspot.com/2009/10/red-white-charming-girls-room.html

Thanks so much Toni. I'm even more of a fan of your blog now than I was before!!

The Nest - memories of my old shop

For a long time my dream had been to have a little shop of my own. The kind of shop I love going in to and browsing around myself.



Three and a half years ago I took the plunge and opened one. THE NEST. The name came from a feature that my favourite designer, Tricia Foley, used to do for Country Home magazine. She used to turn a dull room into something beautiful and her own house is stunning. The name of the feature The Nest really epitomised the meaning of home to me.

The reality of running a shop while working full-time with two young children, however, was that it was a lot harder than I had assumed it would be.





My small business had been going for years with me making things which I then sold either to order or at Christmas parties in customers homes. When I first opened the shop my theory was that I would only sell things I loved and which I would have in my own home. I also planned to make a large amount of the shop's stock. The more popular we got the more stock we had to buy which left me with more paperwork and less time to make stuff. I ended up having to fill the shop with stuff I didn't necessarily like that much but that I knew would sell. This was not what I intended for the shop when it all began or even before then when it was just a dream keeping me awake at night. Unfortuntately due to the recession my kind of shop suffered - the first thing people stop buying are little treats and bits and pieces for the home. I fell out of love with the shop because it kind of lost the look I had originally intended for it and because of the amount of work involved in staying afloat to pay other people and not myself. I closed the shop in July and haven't looked back. The decision to close the shop was one I didn't take lightly and was a huge source of stress for me - I think nurofen profits went up in dramatically thanks to me! But I have since learned that it was the right decision. I now have more time to make stuff which is my passion and I am constantly learning new techniques and developing new skills. I also feel that the shop is still alive albeit in my head, and just moving in a new more exciting direction.
I kept many of my customers as I had a large mailing list and used to have shopping evenings leading up to Christmas. Many of these now contact me to order things or call up to the house to see what I have to sell. I am sharing a shopping evening with a friend (who was and still is also a really good customer of mine) this week and have started to book home parties to sell my wares. With my discovery of the blogging world and ETSY a whole world of opportunities has opened up for me - both in terms of me 'meeting' like minded crafters most of whom are so more skilled and talented than me and by the fact that I am getting so much inspiration from you other bloggers. It's amazing how addictive this is. Thank you all x
Recognise the bed? It's now in Lily's room (for the time being)!

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Seth's bedroom

Seth's room is a work in progress. I have spent quite a few evenings over the last couple of weeks repainting his room and all because of his cubby hole unit. He did have a smaller cubby hole unit which I had had made for him years ago but with the amount of stuff a growing boy accumulates he seemed to have outgrown his old one. My sister has a two year old son so Seth's old unit is now in Ned's bedroom. I had had a larger one made for my shop so had this one altered to fit Seth's room. I had to paint it and decided to repaint the walls including his panelled one which runs along the side of his bed....and so on! It's almost done but still needs a bit more work.

The only new addition to his room is the Adirondack garden chair. I have seen a gorgeous leather 'flea market' chair but at almost £800 it's way down on my list of things to do with £800! I had bought this chair to use in the garden but we had such a dreadful summer that I never took it out of the box. We then decided to put it in Seth's room until at least next year (probably much longer unless I find a cheaper leather chair).

I made this lampshade years ago. I love maps and anything to do with travel or that inspires you to think of far away places so bought a cheap white lampshade and glued stamps from all over the world on it. I love it and am planning on making one for Ned's room.

Seth did have a huge world map over his cubby hole unit but when I took it down to paint the wall I ripped the bottom of it a bit. I decided to cut the map into three pieces and frame them over cork. I've left the glass out and am going to buy map pins so that Seth can keep a record of all the countries he visits. So far I've only done one map because the frames are out of stock at TKMaxx but as soon as I've made and hung all three I'll post a photo. I think they'll look really cool plus they won't be quite so dominating as a huge map.

We decided a long time ago to put tongue and groove along one wall to break up the expanse of blue. When we were doing it we decided to stop a little way from the top of the wall and put a little shelf along to top to hold Seth's keepsakes. He has jars of left over foreign currency from our holidays abroad (not worth a lot cos we usually need to cash it all back!), baseballs, mementoes from trips and a collection of lead comic book superheroes that my husband collected for him. It's a good way to display his stuff and keeps them out of reach of other kids when they come over and ransack (I mean play in) his room!






I haven't photographed the bottom of his room as this part isn't finished. He has a chest of drawers similar to his bed behind his door but I want to add some shelving about it to display his football and rugby trophies. Most of his artwork is propped up on the floor here waiting to be rehung so watch this space!

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Lily's bedroom

Today I am posting some photos of my daughter, Lily's bedroom. Her room is actually due for a bit of re-decorating but I doubt I'll have enough time before Christmas.


Her bed was oneI bought to use in our old shop to display Greengate bedding we used to sell. I don't really like the bed and would like to find a nice wooden one without sides that I could paint to match her room but that will be in the future - for now the bed stays.


When Lily was born her bedroom was half the size it is now and could only fit a cot, chair and her armoire - we have much smaller houses in the UK than our American cousins unfortunately. Oh what I could do with more space! I am a fan of closets and built in wardrobes. Unfortunatly Lily's room was too small for a built in so I bought the Laura Ashley armoire (when it was on sale and as it was very late in arriving they gave me more money off so it ended up being quite a bargain). I knew that we could initially used it for her clothes storage and then when we got round to having our house extended it could be used for toys and games. It came with shelves but we took one shelf out and hung a rail off another. I attached fabric to the inside of the chicken wire doors to hide the mess. It looked adorable with her pretty little dresses hanging in such a teeny space. When we extended her room stayed the same width but doubled in length. We had a closet built and the armoire became a game cupboard. Her doll house sits on an old vitorian kitchen table which was cut down to make a small coffee table. I plan on painting this to blend in with her room more....one day!



Her little check nursing chair was given to me by an elderly relative of my husband while I was pregnant with Lily. It had a filthy brown velour cover, treacle coloured stained legs and stank of cigarette smoke. I went to an upholstery class and tore the chair apart down to the springs. I painted the legs in an off white shade, tightened the springs, re-used the horse hair on top, put wadding on top of that then make an upholstered calico fixed cover. I then used the fabric I had ripped off to make a template for the lovely French large check I had chosen for the main cover. This was a real labour of love. I carried the chair to class every week during my pregnancy and came home feeling filthy as I had no idea how dirty a job this was. I fed Lily myself until she was 10 months old and didn't finish the chair til she was 1 so it never got to be a nursing chair. Also the day I brought the chair home she got hold of a pen and drew on the seat. My husband managed to get all the pen out but at that stage I didn't really care - I was just glad it was finished. She now reads and watches TV on the chair and uses it as a playing area for her cuddly toys. I found a little footstool in a junk shop and painted and covered that to match. I wasn't quite so fussy with this so did it in a couple of days.
I made most of the pictures on her wall. My favourite one is a piece of a tea towel I bought in a gorgeous shop in Biarritz in the South of France. It is a typical basque heart design embroidered in a deep red. I cut this bit out and mounted it then painted a cheap plain frame in a similar shade of red which I had to mix myself until I got the right shade.

Another of her pictures was a little water colour of a child praying that I bought at a hotel gift shop when my brother got married. The red shoes were a card I bought many years ago before I had either of my children but when I bought the card I thought they would look lovely in a child's room. There is a shallow, wooden heart shaped bowl, again from France, which I stuck to her wall using sticky pads. I love the picture that Lily did at school when she was four - it is Scooby Doo, of course. I don't want to make my babies grow up too fast and Lily still adores Scooby Doo, which suits me just fine. I think her painting is brilliant and framed it so she could be proud of her work. She was bursting with pride when she saw it in a frame.
This jumbled mess is an Ikea metal notice board with a wooden frame. I don't think they sold it for very long and I don't know why because it's great. The metal part has crosses cut in the metal to hold bits and pieces in place. Old scrabble tiles are stuck to the frame to spell her name.
This little shelving unit came from TKMaxx and was canary yellow when I bought it. I used to use it in the shop but when it closed I decided I had a little space for it in Lily's room next to her chair.
I had real trouble finding a pretty looking bookcase for her room so had one made. I didn't really want her to have a TV in her room but Father Christmas bought her one last year so what can I say! I'm glad he managed to find a white one so it doesn't dominate her room.


These photos really don't do her room justice. It looks quite simple 'in real life' but these photos make it look cluttered. I may need to search blogs for tips on taking photos next! Or perhaps I should just get more organized and tidy her room a bit more before I take photos!

Previous Halloween parties

Halloween is nearly here. The children are getting excited (so is Mummy!) and the party bags are all done. Patrick has decided to make his world (street!) famous hot chilli and I am making spooky pasta and mummy dogs for the children. If I remember to take photos during the excitement of the night I'll post some here. In the meantime here are some photos from the last couple of Halloween parties.






Do you mind!

This guy hogs the downstairs loo every year!


This spider's eyes light up when you walk past him and he lets out a horrible (and really annoying wailing sound)



Some local trick or treaters (my two are the second ones in on each side and my nephew is sitting on my son's lap)

The exterior decorations:




The spider on our roof was made out of huge bin bags and Comic Relief spongy noses from the year before were stuck on to make it's red eyes. It was tied to the roof but moved slightly in the wind so was a bit unnerving!


I think I may have had too many sweets!

Done to death I know, but still amuses me!


Have we gone too far with this one?!
Below are picture of what is the children's favourite game of the night. Turning Daddies into Mummies. We round up all the Dads and put the kids into teams with the Dads. Each team is then given a couple of toilet rolls and have to work together to wrap the Dads up to turn them into Mummies. The prize goes to the best dressed Mummy!



Last year's proud winner!