Thursday, 31 July 2008

Cups, Cushions and Crochet!

At the weekend, Tim's Dad and Step mum came through again to see us for a couple of days - We had a lovely time, exploring Scarborough's Italian Gardens, eating fish & chips and sitting in the sun - Saturday was glorious weather, but unfortuntely I forgot to take the camera, never mind, I really enjoyed the Italian Gardens and am sure I will be going there again before the summer is out. The Gardens are located just off Scarborough's Esplanade and not far from the building where they film 'The Royal' on ITV. Sunday was a different thing altogether, a really bad sea mist hung over Filey all day - The beach was packed, but it was like sunbathing in thick fog - you couldn't see more than 10 metres in front of you, so there was no point in taking any pictures.

However, Terry and Sue came bearing gifts, and for me, were these 8 lovely pink floral mugs. I have put 4 under this little cabinet that hangs in the kitchen and the other 4 are hanging from my other little kitchen shelf. They look lovely and are really nice to drink from too.

Next Saturday, will be my niece Sophia's 1st Birthday and we will all be travelling through to Sheffield for her party. I know she has loads of clothes (because I pass a lot on to her!) and I'm sure she is not short of toys either, so I decided I wanted to make her something she could keep. I made her this cushion onto which I have appliqued her name, and trimmed it with cream lace and some little dragon fly motifs - I am really pleased with how it has turned out and I hope my sis likes it too!

For a long time now, I have wanted to learn to crochet, but the time has never been right, however I am determined this time, and armed with these 2 books I have been practising away. I am a fairly accomplished knitter (my mum taught me at a very young age and I remember making my first item of clothing - a maroon tank top at the age of 10) but trying to learn crochet from a book is harder than I thought. I did however manage to make this little heart using this pattern

I don't know how i managed it, and lets just say it didn't look very 'heart-shaped' until I blocked it, but its a start!
The lovely Lucy over at Attic 24 has been very helpful, giving me tips on which yarns are best to use - so all I need to do now is keep on practising. I am aiming to make heaps of ripple and granny square blankets for this winter, when I can't afford to have the gas on!
Hope you all enjoy the last day of July and I'll be back in a couple of days
Natalie x

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

I love school holidays!

I have always been one of those mums who love having the kids around, sometimes, when I see other mums during the school holidays and they say the kids are driving them mad and they'll be glad when they're back at school, I have never been able to agree with them. Of course, my kids DO drive me mad sometimes, but I love being at home, and I love being at home with them.

Having the shop means a bit of a juggling act though, since I usually work in the shop 6 days a week, and Tim is usually out measuring for or fitting the curtains and blinds that we sell, school holidays can pose a bit of a problem, but we have found a way round it - the boys will go to the Holiday club run by our local Surestart centre from 10am-3pm on Mondays and Fridays, Wednesdays they have to come to the shop for the day, and Tuesdays and Thursdays I get to be at home with them while Tim mans the shop, and that is fine by me.

Here is a picture taken this morning of our kitchen table (if you can see the table underneath all the glue, stickers, sequins etc) They were busy making some cards for a special nana who is going into hospital soon (close your eyes mum). Georgia's card has so many stickers on it, it will be a wonder if it stands up, but it is her first experience of crafting, and she seemed to really enjoy it.
After all that crafting, it was time for lunch, and what else could we have but toasted sandwiches? - I love my Breville with a passion, I know its a bit 70's but I think they are great. Callum had ham and cheese, Georgia and Nathaniel had plain old cheese, and me being the sophisticated gal that I am had cherry tomato and goats cheese. (I had thought about finely slicing some red onion in there too, but knew that Tim wouldn't thank me if I greeted him at 4.30pm with onion breath!)
The next photo was the cause of much giggling by the boys at the fact that I was taking a photo of their dinner (you could see they were thinking 'wierdo') - 'Hey, get used to it' I said.

In his book 'Jamie's Dinners' Jamie Oliver devotes a whole 2 pages to the breville and some of his suggestions sound lovely, I particularly like the sound of mozarella, tomato and pesto - I think I will definitely have to give that one a try.

Finally, I can show you the items I made for the 'cupcake and tea' swap organised by Rachael Rabbit - I was told that my partners favourite colour was lime green, so I made this sign to hang in her kitchen - a little stuffed heart (cupcake fabric on one side and lime green on the other), a knitted cupcake and some cupcases - I hope she likes them - Being from Yorkshire, the only tea I could send was of course some 'Yorkshire Tea!' - These are all now parcelled up and on their way to Australia.

Hope you are all enjoying your time today, whether it is at home, or at work - Natalie x

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Random lovliness

Well so far I'm doing ok in my efforts to blog more often, suddenly it seems I have loads to talk about and loads to show you!

First off is the drawer in my 'new' dressing table - although I intend painting it up, I couldn't resist using it straight away. The plastic box with my earrings in, is an organiser I bought from hobbycraft, its supposed to be for storing embroidery threads, but its ideal for jewellery too.

Next up is these gorgeous glass draw knobs I wanted to show you which are going to go on the said dressing table - the picture frame is also a new purchase, just £1.99 from Ebay - I just need to find a piccie to put in it now!

Third up is these goodies which I received in the post from Faye
I saw the glass 'violets' bottle and thought it would also look lovely on my dressing table (hmmm this dressing table is starting to look not so much of a bargain!) and the little pink cushion at the back is a little something Faye popped in the package and it smells lovely. I can't show you what is in the other 2 packages as they will be winging their way into someones christmas pressie this year and i can't risk spoiling the surprise, but just look how beautifully Faye has wrapped them.
Last and not least was the little surprise I received in the post from Jessica - A lovely handmade birthday card and some pink floral fabric which I'm sure to find a use for - Thank you Jess!

Well, my next post won't be too far away as I've been busy working on Rachel Rabbits 'Cupcake and Tea' swap, so I'll show you some piccies of what will be winging its way to Australia soon
Natalie x

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Once a bookworm....

I love to read, always have, always will, I don't mean to sound patronising, but I have always rather pitied people who don't read, for they don't know the magic of getting wrapped up in a really good book.

From being very young, I always read. On Friday afternoons, my friend Susan's mum would give us a lift home from school via the library, a couple of villages away, and I would look forward to a long weekend of doing little else other than reading. To begin with I loved any mystery books, but the series by Enid Blyton was my favourite - I particularly remember 'the mystery of the strange messages' and 'The mystery of the missing necklace' - I also loved the Famous Five, but wasn't so keen on the secret seven. As I got older I loved the 'Twins at St Claire's' stories and would have begged my parents to send me to boarding school had I thought it was anything like the one I so loved reading about. Even older still and Enid Blyton gave way to the 'Sweet Dreams' romance books and 'Sweet Valley High' which I admit that I still loved to read long after I should have outgrown such books!

It therefore made me feel all warm inside, when, at the weekend, in WH Smiths, my eldest Callum picked up a copy of 'Treasure Island' by Robert Louis Stevenson and asked if he could buy it with his own money.

So 9.15pm every night has become the time when me and my two boys curl up on the settee downstairs and read a chapter of Treasure Island, usually alternating a page each - It is a really nice time and I hope that the experience will give them a lifelong love of books.

When my daughter came along, I never really gave much thought to what this meant, until recently when it dawned on me that now I had a legitimate excuse to read and enjoy these books all over again!

And so my little stash of 'books to read with Georgia' has begun, starting with one of my all time favourites, Milly Molly Mandy!

Here is a picture of the little reading corner in Georgia's room - the bookshelf was from the 'Great Little Trading Company' and is great because she can see which book she wants to read from the cover, instead of just seeing the spine. There are a couple of baskets full of books under the shelf and a comfy beanbag just out of shot - we often sit up here and read a book or 2 or 3 or 4!
But Im not a book snob at all - I will quite as happily read an autobiography by Katie Price as I will a book by Jane Austen. Of course, with life being so much busier than it was when I was a schoolgirl, I don't get time to read nearly as much as I would like.
Here is a list of the books I have read so far this year - have you read any of these?
1. Whitethorn Woods - Maeve Binchy (I love Maeve Binchy, 'Tara Road' is my favourite)
2. Shopaholic and Baby - Sophie Kinsella (have read all the shopaholic series)
3. I did a bad Thing - Linda Green (very enjoyable)
4. The Island - Victoria Hislop (I simply loved this - read it if you haven't already)
5. Pushed to the Limit - Katie Price (Jordan setting the record straight)
6. P.S I Love You - Cecelia Ahern (The book made me cry, I haven't seen the film)
7. How I live now - Meg Rosoff (dark but wierdly enjoyable)
8. Diva's Don't Knit - Gil McNeil (I love knitting almost as much as I love reading)
9. I Capture the Castle - Dodie Smith (read because I heard so many good things about it in blogland - and it didn't disappoint)
10. The Friday Night Knitting Club - Kate Jacobs (another knitting themed book, but a great story too)

So, not a very long list from someone who professes to love reading so much, but if the truth be told, I do have a book in my hand most nights, if it is not a novel, it is usually one of my craft, home or interior design books.

The above two books are two I bought at the weekend, Im reading the Jane Green book first, I love Jane Green and this one is not disappointing either, I'll have it finished tomorrow to start on Jill Mansell!

Unusually, I don't often keep my paperbacks, I usually either sell them on Amazon (to raise cash to buy another) or I take them to the charity shop, which is where I buy a fair few of my books too
So please do share if there is a book you have really enjoyed, I would love to hear all your recommendations.
And as for two posts in as many days, I have realised I love blogging almost as much as I love reading, so I'm going to make an effort to post much more often!
Natalie x
P.S - Thanks for all the dressing table love you sent my way - I bought some lovely glass knobs for the drawers today, I'll show them to you later in the week!

Monday, 14 July 2008

Shabby Chic?

On Saturday morning I got word about someone who lived a couple of streets away who had to move house soon and needed to get rid of a load of furniture quickly - We are not short of furniture, but not being one to feel I've missed out on a bargain I hot footed it straight round there with hubby's words of 'you better not come back with a load of crap' still ringing in my ears!

Then imagine the predicament I found myself in, when I saw this

'Its kind of distressed' said the lady who was selling it.
'My hubby will be, when I come home with this' I replied.

So 10am Sunday morning and I spy the nice lady's husband and son in law carting the huge dressing table down the street towards our house. All credit to Tim, he didn't say what he thought until the 2 blokes had left with their £20 (yes, just twenty quid!)

'Its shabby chic' I said
'More like shabby sh*t' said Tim

So I'm hoping you ladies out there will appreciate this fine piece of furniture, you have to look past the fact that it has been painted rather haphazardly without the handles being removed, and ignore the paint all round the mirror, because after some TLC I can see it looking very nice. And it really is huge with lovely big drawers to put all my girly stuff in - I must admit, Tim seemed won over when I told him this meant he could even reclaim his paltry shelf in the bathroom cabinet that I had begun to take over. Later on Sunday evening, I was flicking through my 'Shabby Chic' book by Rachel Ashwell and what should I see but an almost identical dressing table right there!

Please ignore the horrible combination of salmon walls, plum curtains and green woodwork in my bedroom, I told you the colour schemes we had inherited were hideous - which leads me on to our hall and stairs.

Here are a couple of pics, although its really difficult to get a good picture for some reason

All the tongue and groove on the left hand side of the picture was a real 'orangey' pine and the walls and cieling were a tangerine colour with the mustard spindles and red carpet that Im sure you'll never forget!

I bought loads of the IKEA white 'ribba' frames as I want to do a gallery up the stairs, but I am struggling to find little bits in duck egg blue and beige to sit on my shelves which were green (shown in an earlier post) but are now white. We covered up the ugly radiators with radiator covers and that is another place for me to accessorise, but I always find that bit the hardest!

Anyway enough from me, and let me know what you think of my dressing table! - Natalie x