Busy little blogger

Phew! What a busy week.  Last weekend we went down to the south coast to celebrate one friend’s birthday and another’s new house.  We had hoped it would be Bob’s first trip to the seaside, but the weather was too horrible to contemplate the beach, so that fun is yet to come.

Veggies, herbs, and flowers all mixed in together

My parents came to visit for the first half of the week, and Dad did some amazing work in the garden.  I love gardening, but I’ve struggled to find the time for it over the past few summers and this, combined with my general reluctance to cut things back, meant that it was a bit of a jungle, overrun by self sown hardy geraniums, and megalomaniac ivy, lamium and jasmine.  We used to have poplar trees at the back of the garden, but had them removed last year as a precaution after a neighbour had problems with theirs.  Our once shady garden is now very sunny, so I can grow veggies for the first time.  Dad made all the ruthless decisions I’ve been avoiding and has transformed the beds to a lovely flower bed on one side and a combined veg, herb and rose bed on the other.  The whole thing’s looking great, and I’m looking forward to serving up some of my own runner beans, courgettes and potatoes later in the year.  I have very fond memories of growing veg with Daddy when I was little (and then cooking it with Mummy!), and this is something I’m looking forward to doing with Bob.

Runner beans and sweet peas replace gnarly old winter not-flowering-any-more jasmine

One of the only bits of my original planting scheme to survive – variegated berberis and golden philadelphus

While Dad toiled in the garden, Mum played with Bob, so I was able to make some real progress sorting out my craft room.  The table part of our changing table (which I’ve never used) has been pressed into service and has allowed me to get a few more things out of storage boxes.  I also managed to get a bit ahead with housework, so I managed to spoil myself with a couple of crafting sessions later in the week.  Look out for a blog post about the technique I was using very soon. At the weekend we had another birthday barby, this time with family.  The birthday boy was 3, and I’d hoped to make a penny slider card, but spent too long trying to find the Pixar Cars embellishments I wanted to use.  I made a Woodland Folk card from a kit instead, but then forgot to photograph it – doh!  I should be telling you about the Fathers’ Day cards I made too, but for some reason I had it in my head that it wasn’t for another week, so they’re not done yet.  The three special dads in my life will just have to have their very own day this week – Queenie gets two birthdays, so why not?!

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10 things about me and 5 things I love – Blog Prompt Days 29 and 30

The blog prompt is officially over, but I thought I’d spend the next couple of weeks catching up on the topics I’d missed. I’ve had a very busy week this week, but days 29 and 30 are nice and short, so I thought I’d catch them up together. Here goes: 10 things about me: I wasn’t sure if this should be the 10 most important things, or the 10 most surprising, or some other criteria, so I did 10 random things.

  1. I met my husband almost 26 years ago at our college motorbike club.
  2. I became a mum for the first time in 2011. I’m not sure how I imagined it would be, but it’s not like that so far 🙂
  3. I love to craft and have a teensy weensy problem resisting buying patterned paper, rubber stamps and embossing folders.
  4. For the past 6 years I’ve funded my craft addiction and explored my hobby by doing demos and magazine work for do crafts. Seeing my work in print makes me stupidly happy.
  5. When I was 21 I graduated in physics, started working as a trainee engineer for a missile company, and wouldn’t have believed points 2, 3 or 4 🙂
  6. My grandmother’s sudden death 10 years ago prompted me to downshift so that I could break out of a work-eat-sleep lifestyle, spend less time at airports, and spend more time with my family and friends.
  7. I spent a year volunteering part time in the fabric workshop at the Shuttleworth Collection, where I helped to re-cover their Tiger Moth – stitching the fabric to the wings was my favourite job.
  8. I love mountains and the sea, but live in one of the flattest and most inland counties in England. I’m not sure how this happened.
  9. My favourite colours are yellow and purple. The first time I was asked what colour room I wanted as a little girl, I chose really dark purple. It was *brilliant*.
  10. I’m a keen geocacher. For those of you who are not familiar with the hobby, it involves using a GPS to hide (typically) bits of tupperware in the countryside and to look for the tupperware other people hid before you. It’s a lot more fun than it sounds 😉

Shelacking the SE5a wings

I rubbed all the fabric down at least once – that’s a lot of rubbing!

With Tiny Tears in my purple palace

5 things I love:

  1. My family, of course, and creative pursuits. These are both so obvious, I bagsy they can be doubled up so I only use one of my 5 🙂
  2. Spitfires, the flying kind. Well, I love anything with a Merlin engine really, but the Spitfire is so beautiful and elegant, and was so important in winning the Battle of Britain that it will always be extra special to me. When the oil runs out, I hope they save the last bit for one last Spitfire display.
  3. The great outdoors. I’ve always loved walking in the countryside, but barely did any of it towards the end of when I worked full time – I really didn’t feel like me. Now I’m fortunate to be able to walk several miles every day – according to my GPS I managed 1300 miles while pregnant.
  4. Food! I’m always very sad when people say they’re not interested in food. We all have to eat, most of us do it 3 times a day, and our bodies have to replace 10-50 trillion cells a day using only what we eat and breathe in. It makes sense to make our food both pleasurable to eat and as good for us (or at least as un-bad) as possible. For me, this manifests itself as an interest in cooking and what’s in food that borders on obsession!
  5. Photographs. I say photos rather than photography because the mechanics of taking a good photo only interests me in as much as I have to know it to end up with a good photo. If I could just click a button on the side of my head and save how I see a scene, or if I could have a super-intelligent camera that I could just talk to, I’d be much happier than having to muck around with aperture sizes and exposure times. I feel so lucky to live in an age when we can record so much of our lives for posterity. I’ve only dabbled in scrapbooking so far, but I’m really looking forward to getting properly stuck in!

Which one’s the craft room? – Blog Prompt Catch-up, Day 11

Having confessed yesterday to hoarding far more crafty goodies than I have room for, I thought today would be a good time to catch up with Day 11’s blog prompt – sharing our craft rooms.  Before I talk about mine (which isn’t finished), I thought I’d start by saying whose craft room I’d like – that of the awesomely talented Sarah Youde.  I’d also like to live on the coast, so if you ever fancy a house swap Sarah, I’m your girl 🙂

In the beginning there was the tiny bedroom, some clear plastic boxes from WH Smith, and some old office furniture.  There was one box of peel-offs, one of flowers, and one of die cuts I’d bought on eBay, and on the bookshelf there was one (yes, one) shelf of papers, and one of stamps and random bits.  When I wanted to make a card, I opened all the boxes, picked some things, made the card and then tidied it all away again.

Soon the shelves and cupboards were full.  The magazines went under my bed to make room, boxes appeared on top of the cupboards, and the most used things stayed on the desk, leaving a creative space the size of a cutting mat.  It became known as the craft sty, and it all needed a good sort out. I was demonstrating by then though, and couldn’t be without a working room.  But wait, if I just moved the desk and essentials into the not quite so tiny spare room, I could sort out this room.  Brilliant idea!  Err, except that I didn’t, I just filled up two poorly organised rooms.  Boxes appeared under the guest bed…  By then I was doing store demos, magazine work and Create and Craft demos and I needed an extra desk to keep all the work in progress separate.  Boxes appeared under the dining table, and when I mentioned the craft room, my poor husband would ask “which one’s the craft room?”…

Then along came Bob, so everything had to fit into the tiny bedroom, just like in the olden days.  We decided new shelving was the way ahead, but couldn’t find anything to make good use of the space, so decided to build our own from MDF.  Luckily I have a software engineer for a husband, who wrote me a design program, and a joiner for a neighbour, so all I had to do was decide what I wanted and pick some paint.

Here’s the result.  I had Mondrian in mind when I designed it, and it completely fills up the only unbroken wall of the room.  A true homage to Mondrian would have needed breaks in the verticals, which would have made it too weak, and the bright colours with black outlines that he’s famous for would have been too much for the tiny room.  Instead I chose three pastel shades – green, creamy yellow, and blue – painted each of the three visible walls in these colours, and painted the shelving cells ‘randomly’ in one of the same colours with white dividers.  I say randomly, but it actually took quite a few goes to make it look random!  As you can see from the picture, it’s not quite finished.  As I was pregnant, we had to use low emission paint, which is sadly also low performance.  It needed so many coats that we ran out of time to get it finished before Bob was born and we had to put the room back together to get the rest of the house presentable.  When I’ve had a chance to use it a bit and see how it works, there’ll be a matching shelf unit on the opposite wall, and we’ll finish this one at the same time.  One great thing about them is that they’re not attached to the wall, and can be dismantled when we move 🙂

The shelves are 12″ deep, so I can store my papers nicely, and I decided I didn’t want boxes piled more than 3 high (otherwise I never put anything away), and I didn’t want any hidden.  I also didn’t want to waste the space behind 8×8 and 6×6 papers though, so I’ve put unopened packs of card blanks and envelopes behind them.  As long as I keep a working selection of card blanks accessible all the time, I only have to move lots of things to get more occasionally.

In my original design, I wanted doors on all the cubbyholes, with magnetic push latches, so I could have a smooth finish, no door handles, and no risk of fading for my papers.  That idea got abandoned very early on!  Apart from being a lot of work, it was going to mean spending hundreds of pounds on hinges and latches, which was just daft.  Think of the stamps and paper that would buy!  Err, I mean, think of the baby clothes and toys that would buy 😉  Anyway, my lovely husband had the brilliant idea of making fabric doors and decorating them with different crafts, so that’s the new plan – the shelves will become a long term craft project in their own right, giving me an incentive to try out some new crafts.

My Guilty Pleasures – Blog Prompt, Day 15

Tuesday’s topic was guilty pleasures, which is quite an easy one for me, as I only have a couple.  Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of pleasures, I just talk myself out of feeling guilty about them 🙂  I have weaknesses for chocolate, cheese, and ice cream, but I also walk a lot and eat a healthy diet the rest of the time, so I don’t think they quite make it up there to guilt.  Closer is my compulsion for playing web games like Bubble Witch Saga and DrawSomething even though I know there are more productive or instructive things I should be doing when Bob is asleep on my lap.  Again though, I reason that a bit of what you fancy is a good thing, and that maybe it’s even good to be non-productive some of the time.

So what do I feel guilty about?  Well, my collector attitude to craft supplies is the main one.  In as much as anyone needs any craft supplies, I have a lot more than I need, and more than I’ll be able to use in one lifetime, unless all that walking and healthy eating makes me live to 250!  The environmentalist in me feels guilty about having so much, but my main source of guilt is that I have more than I have room for in my little craft room, so it’s invaded most of the rest of the house in one way or another.  Despite this, I still buy more of it, and that’s what makes me feel bad.  It’s just that I enjoy owning it almost as much as crafting with it, and I enjoy the possibilities of what I could make with it almost as much as the making.  In fact, when the making is going to involve lots of measuring and not much technique, sometimes the design process is the most fun!

My only other guilty pleasure is biscuits when I’m out.  They went from being a pleasure to a guilty pleasure when I saw a Panorama about palm oil (an ingredient in all sorts of processed foods), and how our use of it is putting the orangutans at risk of extinction within the next decade.  At home I’ve switched to all butter shortbread, as I reason that the orangutans need trees more than I need chocolate digestives, but I do still eat biscuits of unknown oiliness when I’m out – something I feel bad about almost immediately 😦  Hmm, maybe they don’t count as a pleasure after all…

That’s a bit of a serious way to leave this post, so please help lighten things up by leaving me a comment about your guilty pleasures!

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