Sunday, February 16, 2014

The housey wish list (part 2)

I am a home maker.  I know it’s not always fashionable to say these things, and if you could see my kitchen right now you’d doubt the truth of my words….
For most of my adult life my career meant I was on the move far too much to ever really settle down, so things like owning my own home - or even picking a place to finally plant some roots - just weren't high on my agenda.  
Moving again.

So over the years, I've learned how to make rental properties into a home - remembering the golden rule of renting... no matter what you do, protect your deposit!

If you’ve read my other posts, you’ll know that I’ve finally stopped skipping round the country and am ruthlessly saving for my own home.  So while I live in what I really hope will be my final rental place (‘rental’ not 'resting'.  Stop skim-reading!!), I’ve taken up the challenge of making it lovely without spending lots. 
My current place dates from either the 1930s or 1950s (I'm too lazy to find out), so it really suits my love of vintage things and comfy living.  But the house suffers from some 'interesting' d├ęcor choices and some very dodgy painting by previous tenants: 

Yes, that's 'magnolia' on 'magnolia'... *sigh*
At this point, dear reader, let me just highlight the fact that 'magnolia' comes in a gazillion shades - please, as one tenant to another (and I'm willing to beg here), make sure you pick the right one before touching up those little mishaps! 

So unless I wanted to spend out on repainting someone else's house (nope), I had to come up with a cheap way to cover up the strange markings on the walls.  Over the years, I have collected many picture frames and lots of pretty cards and followed Grandma Pembroke's example by putting the two together....
Mostly full of Anita Jeram's art from the Two Bad Mice card range
To me, cards are a great alternative to 'big art' because they're often beautiful and great value - which means when I fancy a change it doesn't cost the earth.  I currently have a bit of a thing for Phoenix Trading's cards which I swear by for giving to friends and family as they're insanely good value and very, very lovely (my friend Lucy is an Independent Phoenix Trader so I buy through her Phoenix Trading page on Facebook).   
In the spare room I needed to draw attention away from a scary carpet which is so red (and patterned) that it reflects off the magnolia walls...I'd show you a picture, but I'm scared it would blind you.  I needed something large, interesting (to draw the eye) and very cheap. 

So I pinched another tip from Grandma Pembroke.  She always had an eye for a pretty picture, no matter where it came from - including magazines.  So armed with old copies of Country Life magazines (thanks to a lovely subscription prezzie), chock-full of gorgeous photographs, I *ahem* redistributed a not-very-well-used noticeboard from the kitchen and got to work with some Blue Peter-esque cutting out...
So many possibilities..... first decision, chocolate or crisps to fuel this work? 
Once I'd decided on which pictures I wanted (a lot harder than I'd originally anticipated), and which way up I wanted the notice board to hand (guaranteed to be the opposite way to the original fixings *rolls eyes*), I got to work fixing the pictures down. 
Final layout comes to you care of Galaxy chocolate and Doritos.... 
You can't see them, but I've actually used Grandma P's old sewing pins as they have a pretty little tear-drop top to them and are really too blunt for fabric work these days.  I added in a few lines of poetry or nice thoughts (and even a fortune cookie message!) because I'm a bit in love with words (you're shocked, aren't you...), plus I think it adds interest and links the pictures nicely:
The finished frame - Grandma P would be proud.
The trouble with prettying up a room is that once you've done a bit you find more and more which needs to be done.  So my next port of call was to sort the headboard of the spare bed, which really needed recovering.
I'd been thinking about fabrics, but really didn't want to spend money on something which specifically matched this room.  But then I recalled a lovely old fleece blanket I had festering at the back of the airing cupboard (you know - that place where odd pillowcases hang out).  I threw it over the headboard as a temporary measure, but it's really grown on me so I can see it ending up as a permanent choice.  It doesn't match a thing - but it's so colourful and cosy that I'm thrilled to be able to put it to use!  
Finally - a place for the blanket of many colours!     
In the meantime, my charity shop ferreting habit had netted two amazing finds - the first was a gorgeous fireguard which hides a gas fire that's simply not my taste (plus needs more dusting than I'm prepared to offer it).  This actually ended up as a birthday gift from one of my besties - I'm a very lucky thing!
The fireguard - as much about not having to dust individual lumps of pretend coal, as looking pretty....
And the second was a really sweet little vase which reminded me of times gone by - and gave me an excuse to practice knitting roses...
Showing off the vase...honest, it's all about the vase...
Phew, that's quite a bit isn't it?  I still have more to do - for example, now that my 'spare room' has become my favourite room in the house I'm thinking of  moving into it and turning my current bedroom into a dedicated craft room for Nora's Thoughts...
Plus I've promised myself some hand made cushion covers and there's a garden which needs quite a bit of love this summer....something for another post, I think!
Love Fi.x


Saturday, February 1, 2014

It's a bit dusty around here...

Hello! *brushes cobwebs aside* Erm... have you gone a little grey, or.... *sneezes*'s dust... *avoids making eye contact* *shuffles feet*

Clearly I've been neglecting you all something awful - we've got loads to catch up on, and some posts I promised last summer.  Well, I promise I'll get to it all. 

In the meantime, how are you? Have you been getting enough biscuits?  Are you staying warm and as dry as possible?

How was Christmas?  Mine was lovely, thank you for asking.  I spent the event itself with my Dad in Norfolk - who showed just how high on the 'best Dads of all time' list he appears by starting Christmas day with tea and cookies:-

Chocolate chip cookies for brekkie!
 Followed by a walk along the beach at Great Yarmouth -

 yes, the sky really was that lucky were we?!

See, I really was there.....

After a fab Christmas dinner, we retired to the sofa for films and pudding... *happy sigh*  Day two was more presents, and beach walks and lots of lovely company - *double happy sigh*

It's quite unusual for me to have so much time off over Christmas, so in amongst my travels  I decided to teach myself a new craft - watercolour painting.  Which led to prezzies for friend's sproglets...

Although the kid's name was Fred, Nora liked the way 'Katie' looked... ;)
Having enjoyed a lovely time in Norfolk, I then nipped over to Essex to catch up with my lovely mum, big sister and ever-growing niece (now officially much taller than me...and fabulous in her alligator onesie... with tail and teeth included!).  Minutes after I arrived at mum's, I was put to work by mum's dog - fussing detail is no joke to a rescue dog! 
I got to do Christmas all over again (yay!), with my sister being a love and cooking us a seriously tasty Christmas dinner - all round to hers again next year, I say! 
I also got to catch up with old friends that I haven't seen in bloomin' ages (that's right, I'm an Essex girl by upbringing - judge that as you will *nips off to dance around handbag*).  Great times, lots of laughs and much gossiping was done in the space of just a few hours.
Unfortunately, all that travelling and talking (and fun) caught up with me just in time for New Year when I was felled by the lurgey (tonsillitis) which was followed by the silent lurgey (laryngitis).  Not only did I have to suffer losing my voice (oh the humanity), but the only way to get it back was to hibernate and avoid speaking - neither of which is a natural state for me!
But eventually I rallied, and escaped my house for a coffee...well, a hot chocolate...well, a hot chocolate and cake....  
First meal after my escape....

And that's really brought you all up to date with my life.  How's it been with you?