Saturday, 27 March 2010

Mini eiffel tower embellishments

They say that little things please little minds and in my case this is so true

My latest purchase is 20 of these tiny little silver Eiffel Towers which I am going to use to embellish a few French inspired craft projects (these little things are just over an inch)

I've used one on a corner of a teeny hanging Paris pillow which is only 7 1/2 " long - I'm not happy with it here so am going to unpick it and get back to the drawing board

I just love them - they take me back to when I was little - my Dad had a little nail clippers that was the shape of a guitar and I just loved holding it - so much detail on something so small - don't you think they are just gorgeous?


Tuesday, 23 March 2010

I'm so excited ....

Well - we've done it!
My sister booked this house today for my family and hers so in June this magnificent house is what we will be calling home for a week!

I am loving all this toile de jouy - so french

gorgeous fireplace and staircase

Somewhere to sit and drink vin (or coke for me as I don't like vin but still loving the laid back style!)

Sorry this will be the last time I post about this until we actually go but I'm just so excited now it's all booked!

Lily is so her mother's daughter - she's made list of what to take (all spelt wrong, bless her) and a poster counting down the weeks, months and days - she is such an excitable child - I don't know where she gets it from.

I know how much so many of you who live so far away from France love it so I'll make sure that I buy something there for a giveaway when I get back x

Monday, 22 March 2010

France in June

It's decided - I've failed miserably in my attempt at economising and saving this year so we cannot afford to go the Pacific Northwest this year (boo hoo!) so in June we will be heading off to the Loire Valley in France instead

We plan on breaking up the trip so will be staying overnight near Mont St Michel so my children can visit this wonderful place which I went to on my first trip abroad with my school when I was 11

We will then be spending a week in one of these beautiful houses - but which one?
Decisions, decisions - the more you look the more overwhelming it becomes!

House no 1

House no 2

House no 3 (my favourite but it isn't available for the week we want - we are going to e-mail the owners just in case it becomes available - isn't it just gorgeous?!)

Au revoir!

Quick update - we have now booked house no 3 so it will 'belong' to us for one week in June - lucky me!!

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Mini project - a little bit of turquoise for my desk

For a while I have been wanting to paint something in my home turqoise.  I just love sea greeny blues and find these colours really calming. 

The other day I decided to repaint an old crate which used to live in my shop for display purposes and then recently has been used as my in/pending/to do tray on my desk.

It started off looking like this:

I then mixed up 4 colours of Anita's all purpose Acrylic craft paint - I used a big dollop of Country Blue with smaller dollops of Seafoam Green and Dusty Green and then a little squirt of Midnight Blue.  I played around til I got a colour I liked and painted really roughly.  I sanded it then painted it again and then sanded it one last time with 220 grit sandpaper which always gives your finished item a nice sheen.

I'm wondering now whether to paint my antique chair to match - that's my trouble I never know when to stop!!


I had some paint left over so have painted some wooden coffee stirrers in this colour, a lighter colour and white and I am going to try to make one of those picture frames that have that Caribbean look - layers of distressed turqoisey bits of wood nailed to a frame.  They are painted now so I'll put them aside for this future project but I just didn't want to waste the paint.  I also painted a bit of trim I had left over from my bulletin board project as I had enough wood left to make a little blackboard and thought it would look nice with a turqoise frame.  Watch this space!

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Thank you Nellie

Lovely Nellie from McCarthy Designs gave me this award last week but I was feeling too poorly (or rather too sorry for myself) to think about what to write or who to nominate. Then I had so much catching up to do cos I'd let things pile up (paperwork, ironing etc) that I haven't had much time to get round to doing this but am raring to go now!
So, to start I have to tell you 7 things about myself:
My favourite colour - blue/green (sea shades)
My favourite book -obviously Twilight series but other than that To Kill A Mockingbird
My favourite movie - North by Northwest
My favourite actor - Denzel Washington is the first person I thought of and he is just brilliant
My favourite actress - Kathy Bates (don't know why I thought of her but she is a really lovely actress and again she is the first person who came to mind)
My favourite food - Sunday Roast Chicken and all the trimmings (what can I say? I'm a traditional girl!)
My favourite place I've visited - I love all the places I've visited but Niagara Falls springs to mind as it was awesome to stand at the edge of the falls I'd only ever seen in movies
I also want to pass this award on to 7 other blog owners whose blogs I consider to be beautiful . This was difficult as so many of my favourite blogs have already received this award but I managed to narrow it down to the following 7 who I don't think have received it yet:
I know lots of people don't like blog awards but to new bloggers like me they are a lovely thing to receive. None of you are under any obligation to accept this award or pass it on but I just wanted to let you all know how beautiful or inspiring I find your blogs.
Also I'd like to thank Nellie, for nominating me!

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Bulletin board / chalk board plans

I am pleased to report that the anti-biotics are working and I am starting to feel a lot better!
Not one to sit down for too long I decided to draw up some plans to make a bulletin board for my study/craft nook.
I scoured my favourite websites - Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware and Ballard Designs for some inspiration and came up with the drawing above.
White trim all around with cork board and blackboard, little shelf to hold chalk or prop up photos, cards etc and some hooks underneath to hang little bits off. I plan on using this to organise my crafts especially coming up to Christmas. I'll put all inspiration pictures on it and my to do lists. As I'm making things I'll hang them from the hooks until that project is finished and they can be packed away for me to start on the next. I hope it ends up looking OK especially as I just bought the wood and hooks etc for it and nearly died when it came to around £100. This will be a lot of money to waste if I make a bad job of this.
Keep your fingers crossed for me ladies!

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Seeing spots...

... on my tonsils!
Yep, I have tonsilitis.
I'm at the fevery, fluey, achey all over stage and I can't swallow!
I'm not a happy bunny!
So, I'll probably be in bed for a few days - or rather dozing on the sofa. watching re-runs of Murder She Wrote as there's not much else on daytime TV, and napping in between.
I'll make sure I catch up with all your lovely posts in a few days but just wanted to explain why my comments will be absent from your blogs for a few days - I haven't gone off you all - I'm just feeling extremely sorry for myself!

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Coffee Sack bulletin board

My freebie coffee sacks arrived today.
They actually sent me 19 and not 10 which is great but I don't think I'm going to make them into cushions as they are a bit more open weaved than I would have liked.
Being impatient I couldn't wait to make something so I covered an old bulletin board with the front of one of the sacks.
I actually really like the sack but I don't think the bulletin board looks right for my home. I did think about mounting the frame on a piece of ply or mdf and then putting a frame around the edge but I still don't think it's what I'm after. I'm looking for a finer weave more like a linen.
I'm probably going to give this to my brother in law who has a really big home office plus works for WWF so is really into upcycling and this would appeal to his sensibilities.
The kind of thing I think I want for my study is either a vintage frame painted white and distressed framing a linen frame or something like the one below from Pottery Barn but maybe longer with a dividing piece down the middle so I can have a bulletin board one side and a blackboard the other. Also thinking of covering the bulletin board in linen and maybe painting some letters very faintly on the linen (I'm sorry - I know you're all sick of me and my freezer paper painting frenzy!)
I do really love this board but a white frame would suit my study/craft room better. The horizontal slats are a really great idea too. I think I may have a go at this over the weekend. Watch this space!
I may also use one of the bags to make a bed for my dog. They are so big and would hold a couple of old pillows easily. My soppy dog loves cuddling up on anything warm so this would be ideal. My mind is working overtime now - I'll never get to sleep tonight!
Once again I'm on the computer until goodness knows when!
Night night

Monday, 8 March 2010

Pillow Talk!

I am just in love with the pillows in the two pictures below:
image Restoration Hardware
image Pottery Barn

Unfortunately neither Pottery Barn nor Restoration Hardware ship to the UK so my only chance of having these pillows is to make them myself.
Since my discovery of freezer paper I've gone a bit mad!

It's changed my life!
I'm ashamed to say that this weekend I did no cleaning, no ironing, very little blogging and no replying to lovely comments left on my blog (I am sorry and will be catching up with this later today)! I didn't leave the house and am embarrassed to admit that we had to forego our traditional sunday roast (which my husband cooks every week!) and make do with what he could scrape together from the measley offerings in our fridge!
I blame it all on freezer paper!
If you haven't tried it yet you have to. It is so easy to use and gives such clear letters or images that I can't wait to make more stuff.
Inspired by the pillows from Restoration Hardware above I made my own version of the address one:

I typed out the address in a font I liked then printed it off. Put freezer paper shiny side down on a cutting mat and put my printed paper on top then taped them both in place. With a sharp craft knife I cut through the letters which took over an hour and my shoulder blades were really aching afterwards. I also cut out and labelled the middle of some letters (a, e etc), labelled them and put them to one side. When it was all cut out I ironed the main piece on to the fabric and then one at a time, ironed the middle bits I had put aside. Then dry brushed stencilled on top (I prefer it quite faint but it's up to you how dark you go - just start with very little paint and you can just keep adding more).
Peeled off the paper and voila! I didn't have a cushion insert or any stuffing so have had to lay this across another cushion to take the photo so it looks a bit curved but it's not it's perfectly straight.

I had plenty of the red stripe fabric so still 'playing' I made a cushion with No. 5 on it which is our house number and nice and simple. I don't want to go overboard and have too many cushions with writing on!
The fabric is a vintage mangle fabric which I bought a few years ago at the Country Living Magazine Christmas Fair in London. It's been in a cupboard since as I never found the right project for it but I have now so it's washed, ironed and ready for action!

Finally I made another little Paris cushion (from the other leg of my trousers/pants) as my first attempt was just an experiment. I found a lovely little cotton trim which I stitched around the edge so that just the little loops showed on the finished cushion.

I've just printed off another Paris street name to print on a pillow and plan on making that tonight! It's my favourite street name ever - La Rue du Chat-qui-peche which is in Paris and I've always loved the almost comical name of that street that I'm delighted to now be able to use that name somewhere.......

I'm afraid that this is just the beginning. You'd better stock up on Freezer paper ladies before it goes into short supply cos I'm going to be buying it by the lorry load now!

Sunday, 7 March 2010

My living room

This is our main living room
It is still evolving - I don't like our cushions and plan to change them for a mix of coffee sack, burlap and grain sack cushions
I also am undecided about what to do about our fireplace - it's an antique fireplace and the mantle was part of a church pew from a local church so it has loads of character but I would love to change it for a white painted fire surround. What do you think - keep it as it is, paint this one white or have a white one either built around this one or instead of this one? Thoughts please!

We had the units either side of our fireplace built last year as I love the look of open shelving I so often see in homes on American TV programmes or films. Before they were built my old pine cupboard was to the right of the fireplace but I prefer it behind the door where it is now

Our coffee table is an old Butcher's Block which we bought when we were living in London. I am really lucky that my husband and I have really similar taste and he tends to just like anything I pick. This Butcher's Block was one of the few things he insisted on having and it's a bit warped and covered in scratches. Having this also allowed us to not have to be 'precious' when our kids were little as they could hammer away or bang on it to their hearts content!
You can just about see my heart shaped slate coasters on my coffee table. I have these cut for me by hand in West Wales and these used to sell out in my old shop within days of me having them in. I picked up 20 sets before Christmas and sold them all in one party with people asking for more! I'm going to be doing a giveaway soon and a pair of these coasters will be up for grabs!


I'm a winner - my first giveaway prize

A little man named Toby very kindly pulled my name out making me the winner of this lovely hand painted bird plate - what better home for it than 'the nest'

Thank you for picking me House of Giggles

I promise I'll take care of it


Thursday, 4 March 2010

goodbye linen trousers - hello paris pillow

I've been reading a lot about making stencils out of freezer paper lately but unfortunately this is an American product that isn't made in the UK
Not one to give up I managed to trace some in a quilting shop owned by an American lady
I have been dying to make a cushion with letters on it either out of linen or burlap (which we Brits call hessian) and decided to look for a simple style of lettering for my first attempt)
I found this lovely image at Graphics Fairy where you can download images for free

I love the simplicity of the letters. I printed out the image on A4 paper and then put it on top of a piece of freezer paper. I taped them both in place on a cutting mat and then cut through the letters with a craft knife
Next, I came across an old pair of linen trousers of mine which I had put aside to make linen hearts from - I decided to cut these up and have a go at a cushion
a leg piece ready for the freezer paper stencil

I ironed the image in place starting with the large piece and then ironing the middles of the P, A and R in place


I then used a stencil brush and black fabric paint to dry brush the letters through the stencil

I measured 3 inches from the edge of the letters at the top and bottom and 2 inches from the sides of the letters and drew a line at these measurements to mark the size of my pillow


I then marked another line an inch away from the first line as I wanted to fray most of the fabric within this inch to make a kind of frill - I did this mainly for speed (as this cushion is an experiment plus when I decide to start something, often on impulse I don't have the patience to wait until tomorrow to finish it and I don't have a zip to hand)


I then realised that I didn't have enough wadding to stuff the cushion and my impatiece got a hold of me again so I cut up an old feather cushion pad which had been in the airing cupboard for ages
My living room ended up looking like foxes had been at the hen house - there were feathers everywhere - all over the sofa, the floor, all over me, even in my mouth!

I'm often quite critical of my own work and tend to see the flaws over anything else however, even though I shouldn't have put feathers straight in as I know they are going to poke out and annoy me and even though I should have frayed the fabric first before painting to make sure the fabric threads were in a line...I am really pleased with how it turned out

I've wanted a cushion with letters on for ages and now I have one!

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

a little bit of wood and a lot of love

I've always loved crafting but when it has come to making things to sell at my parties I've tended to stick to the things I know I can make well, simply due to practice, and haven't really ventured much off track

I've been so inspired by people whose blogs I've found to have a go at other crafts
Not long ago I had a go at making my own stencils to make wooden blocks and was really pleased with having a new craft area in which to delve

I've sold so many of these as although I'm seeing them all over American blogs they are quite unusual in the UK - no doubt they're around but they're certainly not everywhere so they've been really succesful for me as I'm ahead of the game, so to speak
they've also been really popular with Welsh speakers as I've been able to make signs or names in Welsh which are a lot harder to come by
I decided to have a go at making signs so made a Boys will be Boys sign in red with white lettering to take to a party as a sample - I told the people at the party that they could have any wording in any colour and in any font
Every person except one ordered a red Boys will be Boys sign!

So I decided to make more signs to take to parties with me and have been trying to build up a little stock of them

I hope people buy them or I'll end up with lots of sayings on my walls at home!
x o x o x

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Make your own Welsh cakes (or cheat and buy some like I did)

I thought that today I would share with you a little tasty treat from my part of the world
Welsh cakes
Have I ever confessed to being absolutely useless in the kitchen
Do I know you all well enough to admit to this yet?
I mean I can organise cupboards and keep it looking nice but when it comes to cooking - anything - that's my husband's job
there are a few things that I can make well but he usually can't bear to have me anywhere near the kitchen as when I make something I have to have a clean bowl for every ingredient that I weigh and it drives him nuts
Anyway, as yesterday was St David's day my son's school had Welsh cakes for sale in the cafeteria
Now Seth has had Welsh cakes loads of times before but his almost teen hormones seem to be kicking in and he has gone from having an OK apetite to us not being able to fill him
I guess his taste buds must be changing too cos he came home from school raving about how gorgeous the three Welsh cakes be bought lunch time were!
Welsh cakes are lovely as they are sweet and spicey at the same time
Now if I were a good mother I would have made him some today however, given my culinary talents (or lack of), I decided to buy him some instead and try and pass them off as my own!
Had they been made by me they would be mainly black and probably a lot thinner (a vague memory of making them badly in school is making it's way from the back of my mind!) so in a way I was just saving him from a bad tummy later (although looking at the amount of sugar on the ones I bought he may end up with toothache!)
Anyway, I thought I would give you all the recipe to make your own Welsh Cakes and I would love to say this recipe is tried and tested by my own fair hands but as you can see you're just going to have to take the cook books word for it!
First of all you need one of these

a bakestone
if you don't have one a griddle will do or as a last resort a frying pan
225g/8oz self raising flour sieved/sifted
3oz/75g caster/fine sugar
110g/4oz butter
1 large egg
handful of sultanas
1 tsb mixed spice
pinch of salt
a little milk to blend
Sieve the flour, salt and spice into a bowl
Rub in the butter until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs
Add the sugar and the dried fruit
Pour in the beaten egg and stir to make a firm dough
Roll out the dough to approx 1/4 inch thick
Cut into discs with a cutter approx 2 to 3 inch in diameter
lightly grease the bakestone and heat over a medium burner
cook the Welsh cakes directly on the hob turning once until golden brown on both sides
they still need to be a little soft in the middle
dust with sugar if desired

Monday, 1 March 2010

The heart of the home

My kitchen
When I was pregnant with my son we were living in London

I wanted to move back to Wales to have my babies so they could have the green and outdoorsy upbringing that my husband and I had had growing up

As I was pregnant, changing jobs, moving house and city all at the same time we decided to buy a new house and then when we got settled and the baby was born spend our time looking for an older house with period features
We bought the house before it was built and had no real choice in the kitchen or bathroom (we had a choice between three or four really horrible kitchens) but we didn't really care as we intended to move within a year

Over twelve years later we are still here

This is why

my daughter, my sis, my nephew and his 'girlfriend' and my golden retriever's bottom yesterday

our home is in the middle of a forest and our house is two doors from a gate that leads into the forest

the house you can just make out in the background is next door but one to mine

We have extended, knocked down walls, added oak flooring, panelling to most of the walls in the house to give it the kind of character we like

the kitchen which was there was a limed oak effect plastic covered chipboard which I never bothered taking a photograph of

What we wanted was a simple, painted kitchen with modern appliances

We wanted the kitchen to look as though it was an old one we had 'tarted up'

We couldn't find what we wanted so drew it ourselves and had a carpenter make it for us about five years ago

we then had to find someone to paint it for us - we chose Farrow and Ball paint in White Tie oil eggshell for the unit and the same colour in Estate Emulsion for the walls

where the fridge ends there was a wall to a utility room which we had removed to make the kitchen bigger - the utility was a real dumping ground and a waste of good space

I really didn't want wall units as the kitchen is not a really big space but on the back wall there is a boiler so I had this concealed by a long cupboard with a matching one on the other side. Smaller cupboards and an open shelving unit kind of give it the feel of a dresser

on the long wall opposite the fridge we hung an antique French game shelf to store my collection of jugs

we had subway tiles in two shades of off white behind the sink and on the window sill and then beadboard put all around the walls to just a foot or so about the worksurface

On one wall we had beadboard put all the way to the ceiling so we could put a notice board and the children's pictures on it

we eat family meals at the dining table but my children have breakfast and do their homework here

I found the bench and the French game shelf at an antique shop in London but had gone there on a day trip on a bus and couldn't get them home

where there's a will there's a way

I bought them and they agreed to keep them for me until a few weeks later my sis and her husband were passing through London on the way to the Cotswolds for the weekend - they picked them up for us and met us in the Cotwolds - we drove there after work, had a quick drink with them then drove back

we got home around 1.30am and went to work the next day

I never let logistics get in the way if I want something!

Lucky me for having a husband who is willing to go with the flow!

as you can see I like hearts (padded, slate, twigs, heart shaped stones, Welsh love spoons..)

And finally the crap corner

I don't trust anyone who doesn't have a crap pile in their kitchen!