Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Clouds of grey.

Sewing by fairylight.
For the past five days my sewing machine has remained in an unused and hidden state.

Today I reclaimed it for a retro Paddington coffee cosy, but only after I'd braved the grey clouds to mooch in the veggie patch, abandoned for most of December.

I'll use the term veggie patch loosely, as in December it tends to resemble a mud bath.
Although this morning, due to the compost bin upending itself and splaying the contents across the mud it looked practically tropical!

I love my veggie patch.
The perfect antidote to hours on the sewing machine.


Saturday, 23 December 2017

Winding down for Christmas. The twitchiness of adapting to the post orders lull.

For the past month or so my life has revolved around the daily post office dash, interspersed with the odd fabric crisis and packaging alarm calls before the sun has risen.

On the plus side, those early alarm calls meant the daily serenade of bird song.
And for the cats it meant an extra breakfast and extended snoozing, while I wrestled with cellotape, cellophane and the temperamental printer.

And then it stopped.

Thursday was my cut off date for sending before Christmas; the orders whirlwind has ground to a much needed halt.

And today I'm twitchy.

The sewing machine is packed away, and I'm getting withdrawal symptoms.
The garden's soggy, no distraction there.
By tomorrow evening I'll be fine, but for's taking a lot of willpower to maintain a distance between me and the fabric!

On the plus side, the machine free table, newly beeswaxed and bedecked with gingham, is looking rather wonderful.
Yesterday it was used for my first ever sit down meal for six.
A pre Christmas family dinner, and the perfect opportunity to dust off an ever growing vintage glass collection.
Cut glass bonbon dishes, delicate shot glasses for mini desserts, vintage trifle bowls...everything I love.

Christmas is family time, more than ever this year as my son emigrated to Austria a few months ago, so family time is precious.

And I love any excuse to bake, to rock a new apron!
(This one is blue and white whales)

Merry Christmas!



Sunday, 5 November 2017

Measure, measure and measure again!

This week, at the grand old age of fifty, I made my very first pair of grown up-lined-and-complete-with-header-tape curtains.
Many things surprised me - that I'd never done it before, that header tape is cheaper now than it was 20 years ago - that my slapdash measuring wasn't accurate.

Ah yes - the measuring.
After a brief and approximate flurry of a tape measure, when it came to seam allowances I decided my eye would be fine.
Fine meant one curtain hanging a good inch longer than the other.
And a hurried repair job resulting in a double seam on one curtain.
Luckily I love the fabic enough to overlook this minor failing.
Afterall, it's flamingos, backed with pink and white polka dots.

I have my eye on more fabric, this time for the bedroom.
Having recently gone sofa free I now have the space I've craved to spread out with reams of fabric.

I've had a love hate relationship with the sofa.
Sometimes there's nothing better than being sprawled under a blanket on the sofa, chocolate in one hand, remote in the other.
But it was making me lazy.
And taking up valuable floor space.
Suddenly, I was resenting the sofa.
Glaring at it.
So, last week, as a victim of my recently acquired decluttering frenzy, it was unceremoniously ousted to the pavement, enroute to the local recyling centre.
And I haven't missed it at all.

For anyone interested in making their own curtains, I found the Craftsy blog post above very easy to follow.
And my tip...measure, measure and measure again!

Saturday, 29 July 2017

F-F-F-fifty. Clearing out and starting afresh.


Well, two weeks in and my world didn't spin on its axle.
I didn't suddenly find my inbox innundated with Saga offers and Plan your own Funeral promotions.
I didn't suddenly wake up feeling morose.
But what it did give me was a sense of restlessness and craving for adventure.
Which is a bit tricky when I struggle to stay awake past 11pm and have a tolerance for alcohol that fails after a two glasses of wine!

When I think back to the alcohol consumed from communal blue jugs during my backpacking, kibbutz hopping days...
Or the partying till 3am and still up for work by 6...
Now, I have an out of date passport, an over stuffed coalshed and get excited by branch loppers!
And an urge to streamline my accumulated clutter and chuck out anything that isn't useful or beautiful.

It's amazing how much clutter we accumulate over the years, all that ''just in case'' stuff we keep for a time when it may be useful.
Layers upon layers of STUFF.
I'm still working my way through to the darkest depths of the coalshed, through the coal blackened cobwebs and dustballs hiding decades of accumulated clutter destined for the skip.
Inside, I've thrown out so much clutter that if I ignore the shop stock it's looking practically minimal :)

Strangely satisfying and definitely a knock on effect from reaching fifty.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Suki. Diary of a cat with hyperthyroidism.

So, a week in from the first diagnosis and I would say my pill giving technique needs some improvement.
A combination of me still learning and Suki being wise to all the tricks.
''Just mix it in with her food''  the vet said.
Ha!!! Suki just nibbles around it.
''Coat it with something sticky, like cream cheese, and the cat won't notice it''  said the forum post.
Well, notice it she did!
So for now we're perservering with the pill-down-the-throat technique.
And eight times out of ten I'm sure it goes down.
Although today, after Suki dutifully made all the swallowing actions, I later discovered it on the outside mat.
We're getting there, but she's upset with me today, and hiding under the raspberry canes.
And I feel suitably guilty.

''I'm sure there's a hedgehog here somewhere...''

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Suki. Diary of a cat with newly diagnosed hyperthyroidism.

Age 14 and two thirds.
Skitty, faithful and a mini diva, yesterday diagnosed with hyperthyroidism.

It's a big responsibility, knowing a pet is totally dependent on you for daily medication for life.
Daily administering of a pill, twice daily.
The first went down on attempt number 3.
The second I went for the gentler approach of hiding in food, but cats aren't stupid, and she ate around it!
I'm going to have to get creative/devious with the tablets.

This is a fortnight where Suki turned my hair grey with worry and putting off the inevitable visit to the vets.
There was the audible breathing, hours spent sleeping under the raspberry canes, cystitis, and finally a lump the size of a broadbean on her neck.
The lump worried me.
Terrified me, with thoughts of cancer.
And then the vet heard a swooshing sound whilst listening to her heart.
The words ''heart murmur'' were mentioned, and she was kept in for tests.
And I had to walk through a packed waiting room minus a cat.

The waiting was awful.
Not getting results over the phone sounded ominous.
But the heart results were clear, kidney disease was clear and hyperthyroidism suddenly didn't seem so bad a diagnosis.

And Suki's home.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Formica. Oozing retro nostagia.

The humble formica table.

As a child of the seventies I grew up with formica.
It was a staple in cafes, along with sugar lumps in glass bowls and plastic ketchup bottles.
It had pride of place in my grandparents back room, where I remember it laden with sliced eggs, bread and butter and battenburg every Sunday visit in my teenage.
I was fascinated by the plastic egg slicer with the lethal metal blades.
And my dad remembers playing submarines with the accompanying chairs, with their pop up plastic seat pads.

Now I have taken delivery of my own formica table, and it has pride of place in the kitchen.
It's been a long time since I've seen these tiles, which lurked behind a not-so-lovely coal burner and later a quirky 1940s cabinet.
And seem to be missing vast chunks of tile under the newly banished cobwebs and dust...another project!

Originating from the 1950s, with beech legs and matching chairs, it is wonderfully solid and retro.
I love the chunky Formica top, with its extendable leaves and powder blue finish.
I love the puffiness of the plastic seat bases, with their gently curved beech wood frames.
And it's carried me into a wave of nostalgia.

A vintage treasure from my favourite shop in Swansea, 
The British Red Cross, with their ever changing, quirky, eclectic mix of vintage furniture.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Roses are pink, Sugar Skulls red..

Well, as I don't seem to be in imminent danger of distraction by sunshine, Sugar Skulls it is then.

I do have a particular fondness for this fabric.
Both colourways pop, and it's a versatile fabric.
I've surprised myself with this new found penchant for skulls fabric!
This one will be a coffee cosy.

Surprising how quickly you get used to wall to wall sunshine.
In a week which saw temperatures rivalling Southern Europe rather than the usual welsh spring bathed in grey drizzle, this morning came as a bit of a shock.
And it's cold!

On the upside...and I'm grasping at straws means less distraction from the lure of the garden, a good book and a recliner, but that's not much of an upside!

So...bad TV and a solid day of stock building it is then, with the backdrop of my favourite garden rose through the window.
I've never been particularly good with flowers, but this is a fifteen year old rose bush that just seems to look after itself.
And, unlike me, it thrives in the rain.

Unlike the hedgehogs, who certainly don't take kindly to getting drenched of a night time.

Big Boris, making his nightly visit through the garden fence.
Beautiful Tiggy, seemingly pregnant!

Little Alfred,  a juvenile hedgehog who first appeared in the Autumn.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Solace in a tin of wax.

Well, did I blink and miss summer?
Woken today to pots blown about the garden, courgettes wilted in the cold and bedraggled potato leaves.
And reflecting on a week which stirred up so many long forgotten memories and what ifs.

So, in an attempt (largely unsuccessful) to banish these thoughts I have thrown myself into painting.
There is something very therapeutic about waxing furniture.
Which is probably just as well, as I have six unloved little side tables arriving on Thursday, along with numerous pastel hues of paint.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

A new perspective. Making peace with my past, 6 years on.

A year of change, a year that spun out of control emotionally, financially and every which way.

The year my son left home for uni.
The year the rug was well and truly pulled from under my feet at work.
The year that Gibraltar got caught in the crossfire, when I pushed away someone who was getting too close.

Everyone has a defining year, for good or bad, and this was mine.
It had a snowball effect on every aspect of my life, and only now, with the benefit of hindsight, can I look back objectively.

And make peace.
And to Jan and to Josh, I could have handled things differently.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Like a homing pigeon on a mission. Hello, Dulux mixing machine, it's been a while!

The wonderful thing about Facebook is the memories it holds.
And this was the month it threw up a blast from my past in the form of a toiletseat painted in the 1990s.
A toiletseat that reignited a love of paint that has lain dormant for more than 15 years.

In 1998 those toiletseats funded my first trip back to Israel since leaving seven years previously.
They enabled me to share with my seven year old son my past, his dad's past and the places, people and kibbutz that were so important to me.
These were very special toiletseats!

Seeing this toiletseat on the screen sent me scurrying to unearth long forgotten and dusty albums.
And made me yearn for paint beneath my fingernails and the smell of fresh paint once again.
So, like a delayed homing pigeon, I once again found myself eyeing up paint charts and lurking by the Dulux paint machine.
Three times I've found myself at that mixing machine this week.
Three times I've impulse bought those sweet little tins of Carribbean colour.
And once again I have paint under my fingernails.
But this time it's furniture.

A banana yellow writing desk, and a £2.50 bargain table...I'm thinking Carribbean pink with a daisy border and apple green legs!

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Of times gone by to bones of bling. The versatality of the vintage suitcase.

The vintage suitcase.

A reminder of a different age;  when travel was special, an event in itself.
Whether by train, plane or boat everything had its place and appearance mattered.
Hat box, vanity case...leather bound suitcases of varying sizes.
Travel was romantic, exciting - suitcases buffed and polished, owners the same.
And a world away from the travel of my youth. 

The travel of my youth involved an overstuffed rucksack, well thumbed travel book and an abundance of lycra and frayed shorts. They were probably a lot shorter than my parents would have liked.
And not a hat box in sight.

Now, I have rediscovered vintage suitcases to repurpose as pet beds.
Although they all have their individual quirks and appeal, my absolute favourites have got to be the battered and bruised, brown leather bound suitcases of the 1940s.
So much hidden history!

I have recently upcycled a 1940s suitcase into a dog bed for a family of four dachshunds.
Buffed, polished and coated with dubbing, it was incredibly satisfing to bring a dusty, grimy suitcase back to life again.
Complete with a golden bone for some added bling!

I am also working on a handbag dog sized bed, made from a 1960s vanity case.
This one is going to be gingham and floral, with a silver bone and tiny pillow.

There is so much satisfaction to be gained from upcycling old items, and this year is going to be the year of the suitcase for me, although storage may be a problem...and with three currently awaiting upcycling and another winging its way via Ebay, how many suitcases is too many???