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:

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 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!

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Halloween Party Preparations (Part 1)

I haven't blogged for a while as my computer is playing up and freezing a lot - think it needs a service so I'll add it to my mile long list of things to do. Also I've been really busy lately making things for Halloween and for Christmas as have some parties and shopping evenings coming up. I need another 10 hours a day and then I should have enought time to do all the stuff I want to . .. maybe!

The children and I have been busy making our invitations over the last few nights and they have now all been delivered. We downloaded a template from Martha Stewart and printed it off onto card. We wrote the invitation in white gel pen and then added brads for the joints. The children love them - even Seth and his friends who are all 11 and 12 think they are "awesome" so they're not too grown up yet! You can download the template here

We then made our party bags. We used brown craft block bottom bags and digital images from Jan Davis at Digital Antiques on Etsy - link here On her blog she kindly has free skeleton images with four different skeletons to download and we used these on the front of the bags. I also bought some images of skeleton on tags - when you buy these the images are sent to you by e-mail so you can use them virtually straight away. We hung one big tag on one side of the bag with black organza ribbon and a smaller one on the other side along with a pair of glow in the dark vampire teeth. In each bag we put a couple of gifts (small torch, eye ball, pumpkin, glowing necklaces etc), some really cute bubbles in the shape of pumpkins which were only £1.00 for a pack of 4 at Asda plus a few bags of sweets and chocolates.

I can't wait to give these out. I'd love to receive one!

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Sally Field moment - you love me, you really love me!

I've been given an award today by Jana from twigdecor (click to see her blog).

I'm so pleased cos I never 'win' anything. I needed cheering up too as my camera is broken and I can't afford to have it repaired at the moment so can't put any new posts on. Also I've been feeling poorly this week with a yucky cough and cold. Check out her blog for some really cool Halloween ideas, good music and just some nice down to earth chit chat! Thank you Jana - I love your blog too.

The way this award works is that you have to:

1. Thank the person who gave me the award and link to her blog/website.Present this award to 7 others whose blogs I find brilliant in content and/or design, or those who have encouraged me.

2. Tell those 7 people they've been awarded HONEST SCRAP and inform them of these guidelines.

3. Share 10 honest things about myself.

Ok - so first things first. My 7 favourite blogs. I spend so much time looking at other peoples gorgeous homes that I seem to have given up on cleaning and tidying and now live in a war zone/pig sty. Although I flit from blog to blog I do seem to spend more time 'nosing' at some in particular:

1. mysweetsavannah - Melanies blog is one that I make sure I glance at every day. She is a very talented crafter and always has some gorgeous photos to share with us all

2. shanty2chic - two sisters who can make something gorgeous out of nothing and give really easy and detailed instructions on how to do it yourself

3. abeachcottage - I love simple, stylish, unfussy, unpretentious and lived in homes and this blog is just gorgeous

4. designdazzle - lots of ideas - I have had some great Halloween inspiration from this website

5. spearmintbaby - THE place to go to look for ideas for gorgeous kids rooms

6. alilwelshrarebit - Christy was the first person to comment on my blog and has been really helpful. Her blog is really interesting too with lots of pics of her gorgeous little baby girl plus she, like myself, is married to a Welshman.

7. twigdecor - right back at you Jana. It's not that I'm so well brought up that I have to give to receive! You have made some lovely comments on my blog and been very encouraging. Plus, yours is one of the blogs I check in on regularly so there you go - in a matter of days you've bagged yourself two awards!

Now for the ten honest things about me. Oh dear - how to lose friends and alienate people:

1. I'm scared of flying - the older I get the more anxious I get and I just can't see how those things can stay in the air. This is a problem for me as I really love seeing other places and I won't let my fear stop me getting on a plane but it means I usually have a headache and upset stomach for the first couple of days of my holiday. I'm never quite so bad on the flight back!!?? - not sure what that's all about!

2. I loathe slugs - they are disgusting and make me shiver cos they creep me out so much.

3. I sucked my thumb until I was 26 (see no. 1 - I'm obviously a very anxious person and my thumb made it all better!)

4. I collect sea glass. I can't go to a beach without looking for some. Every time my kids go to the beach without me they come home with some for me cos they know how much I love it. I love the various shades of green and plan on decorating my bathroom based on sea glass colours when I can afford it.

5. My son was born on the very day that my husband and I had been together for 12 years. We had stopped celebrating our first date anniversary after we got married then started all over again when Seth was born.

6. I have never been unfaithful to my husband and love him to bits but would make an exception if Sawyer from Lost knocked on my door - you never know, it could happen! He is SOOO gorgeous he makes my knees buckle just looking at him.

yum yum!

7. I love dancing. And the older I get the more I don't care how stupid I look on the dancefloor - I just love dancing.

8. I never go to bed before midnight.

9. I play with my hair all the time. I can't leave it alone.

10. I'm not nearly as nuts as I sound - I'm just very honest. I love my babies and my husband and am lucky enough to have a fab baby sister and brother who I am really close to x

I started this after midnight last night and struggled to think of things so am editing them as I go along and think of something new - hope that's not cheating and that I'm not confusing anyone!

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Fabric Pumpkins

Today I bought some cheap orange fabric to make the fabric pumpkins I featured a few days ago. As soon as my daughter, Lily came home from school we had a go at making some as a trial before our Halloween party. They took just a few minutes each (too long and she would lose interest and hand it over to me to do!) and she was really pleased with her work. I couldn't be bothered to go and get some sticks (even though I only live about 30 yards from a forest) so snapped a cinnammon stick and we twirled green pipe cleaners around the bottom before we poked the stick into the middle. We wanted the twirly bits as Lily is a Scooby Doo fan and in The Witch's Ghost film the pumpkins have the twirly tendrils sticking up. I think they turned out great and am definitely going to get the kids to do this at our party. They are so effective. Thanks so much to "a little bit vintage" for the idea and the instructions.

Happy Halloween from Sam and Lily xoxox

Let us know what you think of our works of art!