Thursday, 30 April 2015

Everything will be ok in the end


Sometimes, just sometimes my mind runs away with myself.

I love the quote "Everything will be ok in the end. If it's not ok, it's not the end". I use it as a bit of a mantra when I'm feeling a little down or frustrated because something isn't working out the way I want it to.

So I made this...

In case you can't quite read it all, it says...
Everything will be ok in the end. If it's not ok, it's not the end.
Unless you are a bear who can fly. Flying bears are always ok.
Bright colours, happy quote and a bear with wings. I love this so much, it always brings a smile to my face.
Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

I can't draw


So many people say this don't they? I think it's something to do with the way art used to be taught, where unless you could do photo-realistic or really good authentic capture of things then you were told you can't draw. It sticks with you at a young age.

I still feel like I can't draw, mostly because what I want to see when I pick up a pen or a pencil never appears. On this note, it's the same for playing pool. I can see where I want to hit the ball and what angle is needed but I can't make my hands do this.

For that reason I rarely draw in my journal. I prefer to write.

But every now and then I feel the urge.

Here's one that actually looks a lot like I wanted it to.

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, 26 April 2015

I do actually make stuff I see on Pinterest. Is that weird?


I thought I'd share some of my projects today, many of which have been inspired by Pinterest. Which I LOVE! I am fairly addicted to Pinterest although I think I use it differently to most people. I actually do make some of the things I pin....


Fess up now, you know which side of the Pinterest (beautifully crafted and full of gorgeous time consuming details) fence you sit on. The pinner on the left is the pin-all-the-things-buy-all-the-stuff-but-rarely-if-ever-get-around-to-making-it. On the other side of the fence is the pinner who pins-only-five-things-and-then-does-them-all. Which one are you? I'm the one standing right on the fence, totally in the middle. But if I didn't have a job, I think I'd probably jump down to the right hand side as I do make some of the things.

You can find me on Pinterest here, if you are interested to see my boards.

I rarely follow Pinterest tutorials though. I tend to use the images and descriptions as a starting point for an idea and then carry it out myself in a way I want to. I'm like that with lots of things, i.e. not-good-with-rules.

This is a hand printed tote bag I made to put Christmas presents in for a few friends and family members. The colour spots are from some pigment I bought in Marrakech and the slogan is stamped with alphabet stamps and black archival ink. Simple but sweet I thought. Also, I love the idea of using the totes to go and buy carrots or shampoo or fairly ordinary groceries and yet your bag states you are looking for magic. The incongruousness appealed to me.

You can just see on the left hand side some silhouette family portraits I made here. They are cut out photographs in white and on a hand printed grey background. There are four and the frames were a lucky find in a charity shop which I painted black. I really like these and am going to redo them every few years as the boys grow.

I love DIY and decorating my house is one of my total passions. I've been a fan of painted floors for quite some time, as I find it hard to get real wood to a colour I like. It always tends to go too yellowy or orange for my taste. However I don't like carpet and usually when I've been decorating there has been a extremely-tight-if-it-even-exists-at-all budget. So painted floors are a great compromise.
Above and below is our bedroom. I wanted a really dark purple, almost an aubergine colour and couldn't find an affordable one at the time. If I was redoing this I'd probably choose either Burnt Juniper from Fired Earth or Pelt from Farrow and Ball. But at the time, I decided to mix my own colour using some samples and paints I already had. I just winged this bit and kept adding until it looked how I wanted it to. It was quite a bright purple as I put it on, but it dried to a wonderful colour and has lasted really well over the three years it's been down. It gets a lot of wear and tear too as we use the bedroom such a lot, although usually with bare feet.

Here it is dry with the bed back in the room. That, by the way, is the biggest pain about painting floors - having to take everything out of the room and let the floor dry before it goes back in. It means a few days of chaos usually.

This is our dining room, which I cunningly decided to do in two halves. It made the job take twice as long, but at least I didn't have to live with stuff everywhere! I don't think anyone enjoys climbing over tables and chairs to simply move around the house.

Here it is after I finished this half. I used an oil based paint for this floor. I much prefer water based paints and will always try to use them but for a white floor in a  dining room it needed to be much more hardwearing so I had to do it. It's lasting ok, but it will likely need a repaint in two or three years, which I think is fine as I may well have changed my mind about colours by then.

Pallets! A post about Pinterest without mentioning pallets would just be really wrong wouldn't it. This is a garden planter, very simply put together with no base and filled with soil. I painted it with exterior wood paint and put some plastic carrier bags inside between the soil and the wood. Three and a half years later and in rainy-Northern-England too it's still going strong. The plants have grown so much too. I'm pleased with this one. I have three of them now and plan to make a few more.

This is a painting I made using a technique I'd seen through a tutorial on youtube found via Pinterest. It's an abstract but is meant to represent my fear of either having or not having another child. (The two boys mentioned, one is son and one is step-son so I've only actually had one baby). It's quite a personal piece but it helped me to get some emotion out of my system so I do love it for that reason and I love the colour combination of pinks and yellows.

I've mentioned this crochet blanket before, but I wanted to mention it again as Pinterest is so brilliant for quickly finding patterns for crochet projects. Only last week a friends son wanted me to make him a ladybird and I found a pattern on Pinterest and had made one within 30 minutes. He held it all day, and then named him Bruce, so it must have been what he wanted. Success.

This is a current crochet project. It's a blanket full of lots of different colours and wools, but is all the same stitch. I like to have one longer term project that I can just pick up and do a bit as and when I feel like it but not feel like I have to get it finished soon.

And then of course is the odd Pinterest fail! See the light above? This is the light which was in our front room when we moved it. I'd hated it for years when I decided to simply spray paint the shades neon pink. They used to be even uglier and a kind of mottled-creamy-peach colour. Yes they were as ugly as that sounds. Anyhow, although the light looked a million times better when it was daytime... as soon as you turned the lights on the whole room was bathed in a sickly pink colour which made everything and everyone look a bit peaky. Not at all good. I didn't even take any pictures of it it was so bad, but I did snap this in relief as it was being removed.
Next up is the rag rug I made. Do you remember it from the STaBLE tour? Well here are some of the process photos as I made it...

At the beginning. An awful lot of hessian and different sized bits of fabric as I worked-out-what-worked. It was quite crumpled but became stiffer as time went on.

By the end of the process I preferred the back of the rug to look at but the front to sit and walk on. So I decided to try the other way to make rag rugs, called Hooky.
Here is my trial tiny piece of Hooky...

I really liked it and it feels amazing to stand on. This piece is about the size of an A4 piece of paper so I can't really test walking on it. I've decided though that this is the style I am going to use to make a large rug for my front room. I've started collecting the fabric I need and even bought a second hand easel to turn into a loom for the rug. Now I just need to decide on how to make the loom and what pattern to use and how big to actually make the rug.
I still haven't seen Breaking Bad, so I'm saving that for while I make my rug as it doesn't require a lot of concentration. Not sure when I will get around to it though. The rag rug took me about three weeks and it's only 100x80cm. I want the hooky rug to be about 8 foot square so it may take me six months. Actually that's probably quite optimistic. How many seasons of Breaking Bad are there?
So it's been a bit of a mammoth blog post here, showing just some of the stuff I do with my free time. Incidentally did you notice how much pink and yellow kept popping up? I do like to feel like I've accomplished something with my time you see, I don't like to waste a minute if I can help it!
Thanks for reading,

Thursday, 23 April 2015

How I switch off...


Today I'd like to share a collage I made in my journal. It's quite an early work when I was just feeling so pleased with making things. It's a great way for me to switch off you see. I sit down and get all my paints and papers and stickers out and time just flies. Often 45 minutes goes past and I then take some time to actually look at what I have made.

This time I actually felt shocked at what I had created, in a good way, so I added the text "Look I made this!" to remind myself of that feeling.

I had relaxed, switched off from work and home and anything else on my mind and had simply enjoyed myself.

I then added this quote "time spent creating is rarely wasted". That one really resonated with me as I often feel like I've wasted time and that I could have accomplished more. Do you ever feel like that? How do you switch off?
Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Always being a bit different


Thought for the day today is this quote; 'Don't be like the rest of them darling'.

It's a good one isn't it! I've often felt a bit out of place, pretty much throughout my life but I honestly can say it's never really bothered me. I've always been fairly confident. My family are quite different to me and growing up I was called bossy, a madam, demanding. They're not mean, they just didn't understand me.
It's one of the things I love about the internet. It makes us all feel closer. I can spend time reading blogs, looking at pictures and finding people who have similar interests to me. I don't feel out of place at all anymore. I feel part of a wonderful community all over the world.
It's brilliant!
Thanks for reading,

Sunday, 19 April 2015

The real-and-not-carefully-cropped tour of my STaBLE.


I promised didn't I? That I'd show you the warts and all version of the STaBLE and I mentioned recently about being messy...

Warning: I really am MESSY in a big way...

Here goes...

Remember these two pictures of some flower tubs I collaged and my shelves. It's true that they look like this but there is a fair amount of mess just next to them...

It consists of a wire basket thing (fairly certain there is an official name but I don't know it) full of my fabric stash and a load of bamboo stakes for the garden, plus a chair I'm in the middle of (well not-actually-started-but-nearly) recovering and painting and a fabulous vintage picture of a dog in front of Pendle Hill which the aforementioned bamboo stakes have knocked sideways.

Here you can see the chair in all it's glory, i.e. full of old painting cloths!

And hello again to falling dog-Pendle-Hill-picture. Plus you can see the mahoosive ladder that currently doesn't fit anywhere but here even though it's a huge pain and really in the way of my beautiful colour wall.

This is why the ladder is here, btw, the STaBLE is a double height room. I've cleverly used the overhead space to store some much-loved-less-often-used items including the white obelisks my brother in law made me for my wedding aisle and a frog umbrella. I know that the obelisks/frog umbrella pairing has been done to death but I love it still! Natch.

Those oh so useful jenga-style pallet shelves. They look pretty good here.

But in reality they are probably about to come crashing down on me and desperately need fixing to the wall. I will get it done before a major head injury beckons, but in the meantime, I've just put something really heavy on top to hold them down. Yes, falling down dog, we get it.

The bottom of the pallets is full of stuff-I-intend-to-do-something-with. I have a lot of this. Remember that whole severe-lack-of-laser-beam-focus coupled with too many ideas and a love of vintage shopping (because if you don't buy it then you will never ever find it again), well, this is the result.

Then the amazing painting by David...

Still amazing but currently presiding over two chairs, a stack of random items (more random than the ones already mentioned) and a gas heater, as there is no heating in the STaBLE and I live in the Northern Hemisphere in a place which rains for approximately 142% of the time.

Gorgeous blue, fab railings, brush marks, crochet, tree stump. Need I go on, this looks great!

In reality it's still next to the gas heater and random pile and with two shelves which badly need some sort of use-style-purpose.

This is a view to give you an idea of how the space physically fits together.

And this follows on to the left from the picture above and also includes a shot of the door which needs to be completely replaced. I actually have to be careful what I put near the door as if it rains in a certain direction it lets some water in. Hence it still being a mostly stone floor.

And then, just to really finish off my shame - there is another pile of random tools which I haven't found a home for yet in the middle of the floor.
So, that's honest isn't it? Messy, cluttered, but with elements of beauty and still tons of potential. I'd just like to end on a positive.
This is what I started with!



I've come a long way, baby.

Thanks for reading,

Friday, 17 April 2015

My severe lack of laser beam focus


I like reading blog posts. I know, shocking really! I guess no major surprises there. However I read one recently that really resonated with me. It was by Amber Dusick who is the comic genius behind Illustrated with Crappy Pictures. She posted a link to an old blog, here, all about her lack of focus. I could not stop thinking about this. I even woke up in the night with this statement on my mind.

I have a severe-lack-of-laser-beam-focus. I just can't do it. I like too many things, and all at once. I am your classic Jack of all trades yet master of none. I really like Malcolm Gladwell's books and he talked about needing 10,000 hours practice to become an expert at anything. That's 10 hours a week of something for almost 20 years. Or, should you want to nail it in just 5 years, it's more than 38 hours a week.

On the one hand, that means after being a project manager for 12 years, as I have, I am now an expert. I am pretty good at it actually. But there is nothing else I've been so consistent at, except sleeping and I don't even think I'm that good at that.

I posted on facebook around 3am one day saying I was wide awake listening to my husband sleep, again. Also that at that moment I hate him. Not my nicest moment I have to admit. However, sleep deprived, frustrated and just generally cross&angry does not put me at my best. He's not on fb so had no idea too. But one of my friends, a woman who has been happily married for 20 years told me she was shocked, as we've only been married a year and that we should still be in the honeymoon period. I felt a bit bad then. So there is a little tale to explain how bad I am at sleeping!

I'm not really sure I'm currently painting myself in the best light here. Yet, it's honest and that matters to me. I'll keep being honest on here and sharing what I do badly alongside bits I am proud of.

I'm just like anyone else, I reckon.

There is some good: I get excited easily, I'm willing to have a go at things, I'm interested in almost everything, I love learning, I'm not afraid to fail and I'm a good Mum, an honest and kind person, an avid reader and there would be more. I'm British though and that's enough big-head-ed-ness for one day.

There is also some bad: I hate cooking and am not very good at it unless you like burnt food, I need time alone and can be quite unsociable sometimes, possibly I am too honest and my life might be simpler with a few white lies (see above admission re facebook posts in the middle of the night), I'm often unfocused and I am the messiest person you could ever meet.

I really do mean it about the messy bit. I saw an instagram post from Holly offa Decor8 not so long ago and she had talked about being messy and styling shoots and ignoring corners which are messy. I kid-you-not there were maybe three papers and some tape on a table. Now, I admire Holly a lot, (I actually took her Blogging Your Way course for work last year and thought it was excellent. I would recommend it to anyone - you can see more about her courses here), but we obviously have vastly different definitions of mess. I'm sure that to Holly it was messy. Not to me though.

All this led me to a quite profound thought... As I get older I realise I need to embrace who I am and not try to be someone else.

Thanks for reading,

Thursday, 16 April 2015

I'm a great starter of projects


I always start projects with bags of enthusiasm and usually go for it all guns blazing. However I don't always finish things and I struggle to keep motivated throughout.

Here in an older journal page I've left the page unfinished and written "I always leave something unfinished. I wish I didn't but it's just who I am. I can accept that about myself".
Part of the reason for writing this blog is to make myself more accountable to myself, whilst also not-putting-pressure-on-myself as I mentioned a few days ago. Is that even possible? Well, I'm going to try.

It's a fault of mine that keeps cropping up in pages - here this horrible unfinished page says "I don't always finish things'.
At least I'm aware I'm not perfect. I am however going to try to embrace this severe lack of laser beam focus soon and throughout this blog.
Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Keeping things simple and wishing myself luck


I mentioned before my journal is quite positive-quote-heavy and I will share some of those. But sometimes I write messages for myself and little sayings I've enjoyed. This one says "Sometimes keeping it simple is the right thing to do" on the left hand page.

At the time I think I was telling myself not to overcomplicate the page but with hindsight maybe it's a mantra I can use while building this blog and putting everything out there. I've been worrying and thinking about things too much, over-complicating and thinking that everything needs to be perfect before I can begin. Well, it doesn't. Part of what I like best about people is when sometimes they make mistakes and get things wrong.

The other side is a good luck message to myself. It's a saying used in Anne Bishop's Ephemera novels (which I can heartily recommend by the way, even my husband really liked them and he's quite hard to please). In these novels the world responds to people thoughts and feelings and so as people travel they often say 'travel lightly' and they wish each other 'hearts blessing' rather than good luck. 

So, I am wishing myself 'hearts blessing' on this journey of mine. I call it a journey but where it leads I don't know. I shall, indeed, 'travel lightly'.

Thanks for reading,