Showing posts with label honest. Show all posts
Showing posts with label honest. Show all posts

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

I am the storm

I had a moment last week. It was very clearly the moment I realised I was doing it; I'm an entrepreneur!

I've been feeling good for a while now. Business is steadily flowing in, I'm winning more contracts than not of the ones I choose to go for - which is a bit because I know what I can do better and also I know which jobs work better for me too. I opened my Etsy shop back up after a few months on holiday and the sales are steadily starting to come back in from there too - which is good news as it means the break hasn't hurt my business or reputation.

I still feel like there are far too many options on the table for me. I have to choose which things to cut now when I write a to do list, rather than which to start. I just have so many ideas and possibilities and avenues keep opening up for me. I'm thrilled, I'm grateful to the universe (as I am a massive hippy really) and I find that the more I keep working the more opportunities there are.

I often use that quote actually "Inspiration will strike, but it needs to find you working". I would say that 80% of my working time is either problem solving or designing so actually inspiration is very crucial.

I used to think the best ideas came at midnight too, but as my business grows I can find ideas come anytime really. A quiet place without lots of distractions is good, so trying to get to sleep can be one of my best inspiration striking places, which is probably why I used to think the ideas came late.

Let's go back to my moment. I was sick last week - proper sick, unable to leave my bed with chills and a fever and everything hurt. I was a bit disoriented so I put everything I could on hold and focused on the most important tasks. I'd signed up for some training on Wednesday and it was training that I knew wouldn't be on offer for another year. The last thing I felt like doing was leaving my sick bed and trying to pay attention to a course on bookkeeping. But - I did it, I went. I took some day nurse and got through it. 

The moment that my feet left my bed, the moment that I stood on the floor, feeling pretty darn rubbish but dragged myself to the shower. That was the moment I knew it; I want this enough. I will do whatever it takes to be successful day in day out. I am doing it, I am in charge of my own path, my own destiny, I am the storm.


Monday, 11 September 2017

Painting techniques; Three simple tips to make your wall painting as good as the professionals

I paint things, I paint things all the time. Chests of drawers, cupboards, wardrobes, plant pots, walls, ceilings, walls, did I mention walls? I run my own business making shelves which are usually at least half painted.

I paint a lot of things. I've practiced a lot. I'm a painting person. I'm hoping this answers the question why I'm telling you how to paint!

This experience has shown me the best way to paint. I've taught myself over the years and the old adage 'practice makes perfect' is true. I'm proud to say that often when I have painted something people ask me if I've done that myself or paid a professional. Because of that I consider myself an almost-expert painter. Today I'd like to share my tips.





In case you haven't watched the video, here are my three tips.

1. Not too much on your brush

Only the top centimetre of your brush should have paint on it. Don't dip it too far. It runs down your hand, it runs on the wall and causes drips and you end up with a messy - not perfect finish.


2. Start a brush width away and work back

This is how I avoid over-painting lines. It helps to automatically make you blend the paint together and achieve a better finish.


3. Go over with feather light long strokes

This does not look perfect when wet but does dry in a perfect way. It's the absolute best way to get a even finish.


In the video I do talk about my favourite materials. They make a difference but in reality you can get a great finish with rubbish materials or a brilliant finish with rubbishy materials if your technique is correct . However, once you have mastered your technique - good paint and a good brush will make a huge difference and are worth investing in - in my honest opinion. You absolutely can get a fantastic finish with cheap paint and cheap brushes but it may take you two or three times as long and if you value your time, it's not always worth the money saved.

My favourite brush is a Purdy, I also like the Harris No Loss. I occasionally use artist brushes, but I never use anything else.

I love Farrow & Ball, Fired Earth and Little Greene paints. My all time favourite is Dulux Trade. It's very thick and gives great coverage. Plus, they'll mix any colour for you which is great. I always use water based paints if possible. This is because they are much easier to clean up and that way I can use my good brushes. I tend to use eggshell paint on my furniture as it gives a lovely end result, where you can see the shape of the grain in the wood.

On a side note though. I still haven't found a white paint which takes less than three coats! Four if I'm being picky. Please let me know if you have found a brilliant one. The best I found so far is Farrow and Ball All White for wood, and Polycell 3in1 Base Coat for walls. I use this all the time in my house as it's great coverage and a really clean matt white.

Lastly, but not leastly, here is the finished wall I was painting in the tutorial. I love the finish, I love the colour and I really love how it enhances my white half-painted furniture.



Monday, 17 July 2017

About me

Hello everyone, it seems like a long time since i just chattered away and talked about me. We'd better rectify that then, hadn't we?




Life has changed a lot for me over the last couple of years and although I love change and tend to thrive on change, I'm still adjusting to this new life style.

Two years ago, I was developing prototypes of my handmade shelves with added crochet and starting to think about building a business. I was working full time and had teenage children. I was spending my spare time renovating our house, a former dentists from the 1900's.

Now, I'm a new mummy again- well new ish, my little one is 14 months old as I write this. He's walking, climbing, and trying very hard to speak to us! I'm my own boss of two different businesses. I've hardly moved the house on at all, but it's our forever home so it's ok!



Not going out to work very often and not having colleagues are pretty big changes. Working 13 hour days looking after a baby and then starting work on my businesses is also very different. It doesn't feel like work at all and that means I am exceptionally grateful to have such a wonderful lifestyle. I do take time everyday to appreciate my life, my work, my family and friends, my health and my house and businesses. I do chat away at people when I see them though as I think I am a little in danger of not having enough conversation in my life. That's one of the definite downsides of living with four boys and being the only girl. 

My days are spent dividing my time between my two businesses and making sure I have plenty of time to play with my little man. I struggle to fit household tasks around these, but just keep telling myself that there's more to life than neatly ironed clothes. The teenagers are mostly having to fend for themselves. Ideally that will just mean they grow up to be very independent. They won't allow me to take pictures anymore, so I can't introduce you to them! 

My consultancy business is as an evaluation expert. Unless you've worked on charity and publicly funded projects in the past you probably have no idea what that means. I've been a project manager for charity projects for the last 14 years and along the way I've learned that evaluation is one of my key strengths. I'm one of those weird people who loves English and Maths and is good at both. I happen to enjoy analytical work and meeting people and evaluation means I get to do all the bits I love.

How it works is that when charities and community groups receive public money for projects, which could be from the lottery, from health funding agencies or charitable trusts, they call upon someone like me to show the impact of their work. What this means, for example, is that if a group of young people are developing a project around building a community garden and they are being supported by a gardening group: I can work with them to find out which bits of the project were particularly successful, what taking part meant to the young people and what the project did for the local community, the wildlife, the community who see the garden every day. I help projects measure things like confidence or resilience and happiness among other difficult-to-measure-things. By bringing someone like me in, the project staff can focus on running the project, I can help them to find out how they should plan another project and I can show how the project was a worthwhile investment to other funders, which hopefully means more projects in the future. It's my way of helping to make the world a better place. 

I really love this work, it's flexible and I'm my own boss and I get to problem solve too!

Then the other business is destabled. As you are reading this on my destabled website the chances are fairly high that you already know something about my work here. I'm a furniture designer and maker. Each of my products is designed and refined by myself and then made by hand by me. I work with wood and crochet and make a capsule collection of products; shelves, wall hooks, bookends, and my latest design - bedside tables.



My products are designed to echo the forest, and the shape of trees but in a clean and contemporary manner. Each of my wooden shelves and bedside tables are made from solid wood which have the knots removed, to show the shape of the original tree. This means that each piece I make is a completely unique design, just like no two trees are ever identical.

I start with the wood and make design decisions throughout. Smaller knots tend to have smaller holes and larger knots have larger holes.



The larger holes are filled with crochet. These are woolen knots, again, made by me! I use the finest hand dyed yarns and then add paint to create a truly original product which is a usable item too.





I am often asked where the inspiration for adding crochet came from, and the truth is I'm just not entirely sure. I have been crochet-ing for a few years and often used to hold my work up to the light to see how the pattern was coming along. Out of nowhere I decided I wanted that crochet to be a part of furniture. I started teaching myself woodwork only because I had a vision of what I wanted my shelves to look like. It took me a long time to get them to look like the ones you see now, which is the vision I had. I kept my early works though, to remind myself how far I've come. I'm a fairly confident person on the whole, but I'm not sure I'd be brave enough to share those first attempts! 

I use dovetail joints, they're strong and sturdy and look great. Again, that was a pretty huge learning experience. Luckily I really do love learning. To manage this lifestyle I've chosen, I've pretty much given up watching TV. I catch the odd show or movie, and sometimes I put documentaries on in the office while I tidy up or do a job where I don't need to concentrate so much. 




I don't mind not watching TV. I'm quite impatient anyway and always felt a bit like I was wasting time if I just sat down and watched something. I'm quite driven and give myself a hard time if I'm not productive. I need to stop doing that so much, as life with a baby just isn't productive and I need to get better at appreciating the little moments we have together, rather than thinking of all the things I still have on my to do list. 

I don't like wasting materials, and had all these circles of wood leftover from my shelves. I spent ages trying to think of a way to use them and then I remembered that branches of trees are natures coat hooks. Is that a saying? I've possibly just made that up! Anyway - that was the inspiration and now I use the holes I remove to make simple and elegant wall hooks. I like to try and think of it as I am using all of the tree. I use hooks a lot at home, and still need more. As I type this I realise more and more that I make the products that I need. Is that what every designer does? 



I've always loved to read. Trips to the library as a child were my favourite thing to do and I still read a lot as an adult. Not as much recently, I lost the ability to concentrate when I had antenatal depression (you can read about that here) and although I do now feel healed, I just don't have the time. I could make time probably, but I want to focus on blogging, and learning to improve my photography and improving my social media skills so I haven't really put reading as a priority right now. 

Again, I was thinking of my love of forests and woodlands and places and travel and all those images combined in my head to create a vision of these bookends which are shaped like signposts and these can be personalised with any combination of six special places. I love hearing the places people choose. Making these gives me a sense of wanderlust every time! 



Our house is a forever house, as I mentioned before and it has lots of wonderful original features. One of the most amazing parts is that we have an outbuilding with a garage, a den above and a stabIe. I still have to pinch myself sometimes when I think I own a stable! It's like a dream come true. The stable is my workshop, I make all these products in my stable, it's my little haven and I spent a lot of time in there designing, hence the name destabled.

It's so easy to talk about yourself isn't it! I've just kept writing and there's more to say! I'd like to discuss how I spend an average day, the spaces I work in, what I've learned setting up a business, and much more. I feel however that this post has come to rest at a natural place, so I shall save those ideas for another time.





Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Real life problems: Yarn Storage

I started to get a bit overwhelmed as I really was drowning in yarn!


Warning the following four images are just gratuitous yarn shots! 






Let's get back to the real life problem. Almost one year ago, I had another beautiful baby boy. My other boys are teenagers so our house had become a more grown up house. We have a playroom for the xbox and massive telly required by grown up boys and apart from lots of sport equipment toys were rare these days. 

Our house had become a bohemian and lovely space. Comfortable, quite messy in a sit-down-and-be-cosy-friends-always-welcome kind of way and I had (have) a lot of hobbies and half done projects which require equipment. This worked out pretty well but once we started to add; changing mats, toys, nappy storage, toys, new baby washing piles, toys, jumperoo's, toys, bouncy chairs, toys, pram, did-I-mention-all-the-bloomin-toys! I started to feel out of control. 

I like the toys, I don't think we have that many just coupled with my personal style which is quite cluttered anyway it soon felt too much and not in a good way. My son has inherited some of my personality as he loves to get every toy out, scatter cushions on the floor, empty the nappy storage (all clean items - don't worry) and we were spending most of our days living in this...





There was a while, where I thought - it's fine, he's going to have awesome orienteering skills! But it has started to get to me more as he moves around more. I want him to have space to play and I want to have space to sit on the floor with him. 

This was the catalyst for coming up with a solution. I love problem solving - it takes time, but I really enjoy it. I have spent a long time thinking through and decided that I needed to change up the furniture as it wasn't working and repurpose some of the items. I had all my yarn in a beautiful old bohemian 1970's storage unit which reached the floor. I decided this would work much better for toys and then started to think about how I could store my yarn. I like to see it, as it encourages me to not go and buy more yarn for small projects as I often have what I need already. If I hide it away, I would go yarn shopping much more often and I don't need to do that. 

I tend to make quite a range of crochet projects - toys, amigurami, blankets, flowers for my shelves and so on. Quite often my projects don't need masses of wool, which means I end up with quite a lot of half balls of yarn and I have started buying lovely hand dyed skeins of wool as they are just gorgeous and I have those rather than lots of different balls. 

I estimated I had around 100 balls of wool to store. As I am a shelf-maker (you can view my etsy store here)  I decided to come up with a wall mounted solution which would display these 100 balls and still be easy to access. I did NOT want them to all fall out every time I took some yarn from the bottom of a shelf. 

Firstly I carried out some market research and looked into what storage is already available. None really. A lot of people use Ikea shelving and while that works well in the main, it doesn't stop wool falling out. There are some beautiful glass fronted vintage armoires which work very well but I don't have £1000 to spend and wouldn't have the floor space either. 

I also asked people how much yarn they had. The answer was a lot! So I started to draw bigger shelves than I'd originally planned. I counted my yarn and there was nearer 200 balls to store too, once I'd rounded up all the stray carrier bags with balls stashed in them. 

Here is an image of my very first design. It worked really well except the elastic wasn't quite covering the way I needed it too. Some balls of wool were at risk of falling out as I reached for another. 





These two pictures above show me testing the shelves in my own dining room/ craft room. It was quite messy as there were 200 balls of wool scattered about the place and that's when I took the picture of me drowning in yarn. 

Teenage son had a lovely time chucking balls of wool at me and then photographing the results! 



You can see above that I used mirror plates to hang my shelves. I always use these as I find them long lasting and sturdy and with this shelf it can be completely invisible when the wool is in there. 

I decided to add more elastic and kept to a strict design, so that the shelf looks beautiful. I didn't want the elastic to detract from the yarn, and chose to make the shelf available with either black, white, pink or clear elastic. 

Here you can see my finished product, in use, in my own home. 



I've tested it out and it works. Nothing has fallen out. All 190 balls of wool (of varying sizes - some full balls, some skeins, some small ones and some chunky yarns) do fit in. There's even a little space to add more! 


This wall makes me so happy every time I see it now. It's a practical problem solver and a work of art! 

My yarn storage shelf is now available for sale on Etsy and all the product features are listed there. I've also protected the design so I am the only person who can sell these. 

I'm really excited to share my problem solving with the world! 





Monday, 10 April 2017

For the love of rainbows

Hello all,

I'm writing this about rainbows. I know, you picked that up from the title, but I couldn't think of another way to begin. There aren't any other words to describe rainbows! 

I'm a colour lover, which if you have ever read this blog before you already know. I like brights and pastels and am a fairly confirmed bohemian maximalist. Is that an actual thing? If not it should be. I like spaces and interiors to feel busy, homely (really-that-should-say-messy) and comfortable. Like you can put a mug down on a surface and not feel guilty. Like you can make yourself at home. Like you want to come to my house. 

When I was around five years old, I remember taking part in a 'wear as many colours as possible' charity event at school. I can't be sure if it was Comic Relief, or Children in Need but it was something like that. My school uniform at five, included a stiff necked blue shirt, and a tie, so getting to wear own clothes was a huge treat. I didn't go to a public school or anything, just no one had thought to let little kids wear t shirts and sweaters like they do now. I vividly remember having crochet socks with a diamond pattern, knee high and in white and my Mum let me colour every diamond in with marker pens. I loved that outfit and felt like a 'bobby dazzler' (Northern Colloquialism for 'outfit on point' for you Non-Northerners and Millenials!).

Fast forward a bit and I moved in with my boyfriend (now husband) six years ago, and one of my first thoughts was that the front room was big enough for a rainbow wall. It was one of my first home renovation projects and six years later, it's got bigger and better and I love it still. Here it is in it's current glory! 




It says homely doesn't it? There is a mix of my handmade shelving, vintage shelves and Ikea staples in there. I do love Ikea, I just don't want purely Ikea in my home as I want it to feel like my home and not a showroom. You get me? 

And now? Now I find myself making crochet shelves, using a rainbow pattern of colours and wools or yarns. I spend my days and nights obsessed with colour combinations, crochet and interiors. I haven't really changed very much from that little girl upcycling her socks thirty years ago! Blimey, it feels strange writing that. 

I've recently designed a yarn storage shelf and when I came to display it I didn't even have to think about the look, it was always going to be a rainbow. 


It fitted into my rainbow mirror wall! This is my craft room/ office. I have the stable for my workshop but I tend to work indoors on a night. Can't be using power tools at midnight now! That sounds really wonderful doesn't it? The reality is that the space shown above is also our dining room (that's why you can see a fridge freezer in the mirror, as the kitchen is so tiny there isn't room for a fridge - cringe!). I'm being pretty honest here. It works pretty well but I do spend a lot of time moving my stuff around to make space for meal times and setting up again. Or we eat on half the table surrounded by my projects! 

All of this is my way of sharing a little of my story of how I got here. Rainbows isn't an accident and if I look back I do see this was never random. 

I've met some lovely people along the way who also do rainbows. I've teamed up with them and this Easter weekend we are hosting an online Rainbow Market Weekend. I've never taken part in one of these before, but as far as I can tell, you click this link


Press going and then facebook automatically tells you the event is live. While you sit in your pyjamas eating chocolate (or-not-perhaps-that's-just-me), you can browse some gorgeous handcrafted rainbow inspired items at special offers, with no obligation to buy! Just have a look. Take part and share the love of rainbows. 





Wednesday, 22 February 2017

I have a shop

I've actually gone and done it.

Set up a shop.

Of my own.

An etsy shop. It's here; destabled.etsy.com

I'm so pleased to have taken the leap. I worked hard and followed a free course from Etsy, called Etsy Resolution. It was brilliant, I met a group online of other people in the same boat as me and we all supported each other. The support continues and I need it.

Here are some glimpses of the images I have used for my shop.





I have to admit to feeling scared as I pressed publish. (On Valentines Day, no romantic meal for us, I was working away on my laptop and husband was looking after the baby. No, sadly he isn't in bed at that time. Feel for us).

I've learned so much over the last two years of product development, made so many mistakes and often had to tell myself if it wasn't hard then it wouldn't be worth it! But, that means I feel like I put a little bit of myself into my work. You know, kinda like a Horcrux in a not so evil way! 

So now, I need to add more products, take more photographs and learn how to become a marketing genius. No pressure! 




Tuesday, 17 January 2017

The Art of Slow Living



I don't mean the movement about slow living, taking time to be in-the-moment or to linger - which I think is admirable. Sadly I mean living too slowly.

I'm writing to confess something. I used to do lots of stuff. I always had projects on the go, and people often mentioned they were amazed how I got it all done. By projects I mean - learn to crochet, making toys, teach myself woodwork, decorate a house, set up a blog, renovate some furniture, keep a creative journal, make a rug. I looked at Pinterest for ideas and then went off and did stuff. I was one of those people who achieved. I don't really manage to do this anymore.

Back to the Art of Slow Living, in my case; I mean the way time slows down and life becomes slow. I am on maternity leave, It is great but there are some bits that are quite difficult. I don't have to do anything usually, but my days are so full. I don't seem to have any time to do anything. That is what I mean about slowing down. I do less, yet seem to have so much less time. Now I'm not surprised, I've had a baby before and I know how demanding they are and I know this time doesn't last forever but the intensity of the first year has shocked me.

Saying I don't have time to do anything is not really true, I could make time to do some things but I seem to find very few minutes to get anything done. I'm tired, so tired, and that means I do still try to sleep when my baby sleeps. I usually manage one nap a day. This is traditionally the time when all those other mothers rush around, doing things like showering, putting on make up, cleaning skirting boards and all that kind of stuff.

I don't do any of those things. Which makes me feel a bit inadequate.

I have a bath and stay clean, I usually have a bath with my baby though. I manage to eat, not as well as I should as I'm still living off things I can eat straight from the fridge. I have a cleaner thank god, so the house isn't a total write off but it's not tidy and I am a bit of a hurricane who blows through and often creates more mess. I've put on make up maybe three times in the last six weeks (Christmas, New Year and one party).

So what do I do?Aside from not much,  I've been trying to achieve one thing everyday. Something that ideally relates to either making me very happy or my woodworking hobby.



Sometimes it is as simple as that. 

Sometimes I do manage to do something productive; I make something in my scrapbook, I do a necessary or useful job (organise a boiler service, tidy a cupboard, put a picture up), but the thing is, is that I'm frustrated with myself. I want to do so much more. I could write a to do list which lasted many, many pages. But I know there is no point as I'll then feel overwhelmed and overfaced and do none of it. So instead I write two or three things and if I finish them, I delete them and write a couple more. 

I want to blog more - so doing this is a good start, I want to set up an Etsy shop to start selling my handmade shelving. I've signed up to Etsy Resolution, a free online course to guide you through setting up a shop as I don't seem to be getting very far on my own.  

I often set time-based deadlines on myself. I think I need to stop doing this. 

Gosh - could I be any further away from the principals of slow living?  



Occasionally I have good days. Above was the view of my kitchen at 9.46am. Below it's 10.06am. 


That is the one really good side of the time slowing down. I feel like I don't have any but when I'm motivated I can get so much done in twenty minutes. There are days where I look around and wonder at how I've tidied up, put two loads of washing on, done the dishwasher, got dressed, made breakfast and it's only 9am. (If you are reading this and think, well I do that every day, well done you. You are nothing like me. If you are reading this and think, yep - lucky to have had a coffee even by 9am if I'm not at work. Then I feel ya. If you are reading this and think 9am, when not at work, I've never seen such a thing - you are very very lucky.) 

When I manage a productive morning I feel better about myself. I give myself a hard time on the days I don't though. Thinking I am the only one who doesn't manage this kind of productivity every day. I'll be honest - I'm lucky if it's once or twice a week. 

I used to feel like I could achieve anything. I miss that. Now I often feel like I am the only mother not doing it all. 

Luckily I have a great supportive local Mama Tribe. It really does take a village, not to raise the child, but to keep the Mama on an even keel so she can raise the child. It helps to talk to others in the same-ish place, even if they do all iron their sheets and cook lovely meals for their families rather than embrace the ready meal. I see them regularly and it keeps me going. I always feel happier when I have left the house and been somewhere. I go to a lot of playgroups and baby classes and do walk as much as I can. That's my new years resolution to 'walk more'. It's always easier to add something in than to remove it. 

I wanted to write about this as I think it's the side of motherhood that not everyone admits to. I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels like this. I should be grateful for my lovely happy baby, and pleased that I get to spend all day with him, which I am. But I'm allowed to miss alone time and to pine for more time for me and my hobbies. 

I'm trying to be kind to myself. It's my own deadlines that are bothering me, no one else is putting any pressure on me. I keep trying to say it's ok if it takes three months not one week but I'm not that good at it yet. 

I'll keep trying. 


Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Coping with antenatal depression

I've been meaning to write this post for a long time, but haven't felt able. Partly because I'm not over this yet, partly because I'm still struggling with every day life and haven't got the headspace to talk about this and partly because I don't have any good advice.

I don't like to be negative, so I'll try not to be, but I saw this on facebook today and I thought - it's time...


I usually say I had antenatal depression - as I'm British (probably need to start saying English soon - Brexit !) but however you refer to this, it's a real thing. It affects many many people and nobody is talking about it.

I wrote a blog post on here about a year ago - sharing when I was in the throes of it all and then pretty much went silent. I wasn't just silent on here, I was silent in real life. I lost the ability to enjoy the days, to speak to people, even to read books or think properly about what might help me.

I was tired, so tired, not physically tired (as I am now, with a non-sleeping newborn) but tired of existing. Tired of trying to get through the day and tired of just enduring the sickness of pregnancy and feeling hopeless.

My concentration span deserted me. I'm someone who generally gets things done, I usually have a million things on the go at once, and am always looking for what's next. I lost all this and ended up wasting hours on my phone to distract me - looking at pinterest, playing jigsaws - anything which helped pass the time.

There were two things that helped; my crochet (I'll be sharing more about this soon) and gratitude. I saw a counsellor and this was the plan we came up with. Everyday I wrote in my diary three good things that had happened, and what that meant about me as a person.

For example - the sun was shining - which meant I could appreciate nature, my husband made tea and I ate some - which means I was looking after my health and my baby, and I met up with a friend for coffee - which means I must be a nice person to have such lovely friends. They really were such small things but writing it every day helped a lot. There were days when I could only manage to think of one thing but thankfully they were rare.

It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do - endure such a miserable pregnancy and just hope (when hope was rather elusive) that this would pass and would not turn into postnatal depression. I was one of the lucky ones and it hasn't - I think the statistics are something very scary like 70% of those with antenatal or perinatal depression carry on to develop postnatal depression. I was in the good 30% who escaped that fate. I know I'm not depressed anymore but dealing with everything I went through, the fear of it returning on top of the enormous demands of a baby with the way it changes all the other relationships in your life is hard. I don't think I have it worse than others, in fact I feel like I have a lot of positives in my life.

Remember I said I wrote a blog post on here. Well that is the reason I'm writing this today. I shared the scary news of antenatal or perinatal depression and people reached out to me. It was amazing. People who I knew via social media but rarely saw in life, people who were family, friends - all came forward and said, I know what you're going through, I understand, I've experienced similar and while I spoke to those people and read those messages, I felt good. It was wonderful.

I hope someone reading this feels that same glimmer of 'Ok, I can do this too'. You can and you will. Just keep going, try my mantra which I repeated endlessly 'this too shall pass'.




Thursday, 12 November 2015

Feeling a bit blue

I've been quiet. You could say silent. Why?

Well the honest answer is I've been feeling blue, or more honestly pretty down in the dumps. Yet oddly this is due to something wonderful. I'm a weird one.



I'm pregnant. I have wanted a baby with my husband for a long time and couldn't be more pleased to be having a baby. The baby bit anyway. The having bit, the pregnancy, I hate it. Isn't that an awful thing to say. It's a time when you are supposed to glow and relax and wonder at the marvel of new life. For lots of people this is true, but for me (and 10% of all pregnant ladies out there) it's simply not true. There is no reason for it in my case, but I fit most of the symptoms of antenatal (or prenatal or pregnant) depression.

It has taken some time to realise this. I'm writing this at 16 weeks pregnant. At first I felt shocked and then excited. Then the nausea kicked in and the tiredness and I spent most of my time either at work or laid in bed. I stepped out of family life almost entirely and cancelled most of my social life. I kept thinking it was just the nausea that was holding me back but then I started to feel like I was loosing control of who I am.

Time slowed down. I started crying a lot, and when people asked me why, I told the truth saying I don't know why. I started laying in bed awake at night and feeling even more exhausted in the day. I was sleeping all day and all night at weekends. I would get angry and not be able to calm down. I smashed a plate in the kitchen one night in frustration at what was happening to me. I couldn't concentrate on books, or reading for more than 20 minutes at a time and reading a book (for hours) has always been my escape.

I started waking up feeling horrified that there was another day to get through. I stopped smiling, although I'm not sure at which point.

I felt ill.

If someone had offered me the chance to be put to sleep and wake up when the baby was born I would have jumped at it. I didn't want the next 6 or 7 months of daily life.

I just wasn't myself. I don't know if feeling blue is the right way to describe it, but it sounds right to me.

Everyone has good days and bad. I know this and I have my own set of coping strategies for when I feel bad. Messing around in my journal, writing a gratitide list, ticking off a diy project, making something from scratch or best of all a few glasses of wine with good friends. Sadly the last one is on hold for quite a while and a cup of herbal tea with friends isn't the same. But I lost even the smallest amount of motivation to do any of the other things. I don't know why but I just felt too tired, too lacklustre, too apathetic.



I don't think I hit rock bottom but I realised I couldn't fix this on my own. So I asked for help. And got it. Almost three weeks ago I started taking anti- depressants. They have worked wonderfully.

I still wish I was smilling more but I'm on the right track. I feel like bit by bit I am regaining myself. It's not easy as there is little to grab hold of. This isn't a tangible thing.

I'm scared that these feelings will remain for the whole 24 weeks of pregnancy I have left. It's hard to think about feeling like this for a few more days let alone months. But, I realise I am lucky. I am feeling ill for a lovely reason and I know there is an end in sight. Many don't have even those small comforts. I try and focus on things like this, but honestly, they don't make me feel any better at all.



My recent experience has shocked me. I've always been happy to describe myself as a control freak, and then I lost control of who I am, my own thoughts were beyond my reach. It was frightening and confusing.

I've heard people talk about depression before and thought I had some idea of what they meant but I was wrong. I'd been thinking about feeling down and it's very different. I can understand why it seems to be a brain issue or chemistry as it is not related to your own thinking or what is happening in your life. I'm not sure I am explaining this properly but it's really tough to put into words.

I found reading about other people who felt the same helped me a lot. That's why I decided to write this post. Partly as I thought it might be cathartic to me, and partly because it might comfort someone.

One of my favourite quotes is from Alan Bennett in The History Boys:

“The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you had thought special and particular to you. Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours.”

So if you are struggling with anything I have mentioned here for whatever reason: Imagine this is my way of holding your hand. Which also means you are holding mine.

None of us have to do this alone anymore. That's the wonder of the internet.






Tuesday, 8 September 2015

The saga of learning to make dovetail joints

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.

Once upon a time, there was a woman who woodworked. She made some prototype shelves and wanted them to be better.

She spent a lot of time researching woodworking techniques and decided that dovetail joints were the way forward.

She watched some tutorials on Youtube, all by men who were experienced woodworkers. They made it look very easy to do and the finish was beautiful and just what she wanted for her handmade shelving.


 
The woman who woodworked bought some secondhand and new tools and put some of her school maths into action to work out the angles needed.

 
Then she began to practice. She soon realised that it was quite hard to do, nowhere near as easy as it looked on the tutorials.
 
She soon realised that she was NOT a natural when it came to being able to saw. In fact, it took her forever and she was very bad at it.
 
She perservered, as she wasn't a quitter.

 
 
After many, many, many failed attempts (left hand side of above photo) she finally ended up with one dovetail joint which didn't fall apart in her hands.
 
She was so pleased with herself she had a drink of wine to celebrate.

 
Then she looked closer at the joint and thought about how long it had taken, how many were needed for each shelf and at the actual size of the gaps.
 
She researched some more and then bought a dovetail jig and router, which do the job perfectly for her.
 
The end.
 
And, the moral of the story is, know when you are beaten and as this is destabled, when to stop flogging a dead horse.
 
Although that saying is actually very mean!
 
 
 

Thursday, 16 July 2015

The struggle is real!

I have a layout conundrum. It's related to compromise and that isn't something I'm particularly good at.


Let's start with the beginning. Are you sitting comfortably?


Our living room is a beautiful space with a very large bay window but for some reason I've never managed to lay it out very well.

I showed the original couch in this post (http://www.destabled.co.uk/2015/05/interior-design-gently-does-it) and mentioned I wanted to replace it.

Well I've been searching for second hand replacements and as usual I have managed to find more options than are suitable and now I need to narrow it down. I do think that shopping is one of my best skills.

Let's start with the requirements;

  1. Enough places for 4 people to sit comfortably and be able to look at each other and the TV (not necessarily at the same time).
  2. Somewhere husband can rest his head and watch the TV.
  3. The whole space needs to feel comfortable.
  4. It needs to be fairly hardwearing.

I think it is fairly obvious which requirement is mine, which is husbands and which are the ones we both agree on and need. It's 1, 2 and then 3&4 if you weren't sure.

Now let's look at the options I have found.

  1. A salmon pink two-seater Chesterfield which is very comfortable and which was given to me by my brother. I don't want to get rid of this as it's vintage and handmade and one of an exact pair (the other lives in my stable) which I have grand plans to eventually have recovered in some wonderful fabric - when-budget-allows-sadly-so-may-realistically-be-years. This is shown covered in some wonderful bright blue and turquoise blankets which I bought last year in Morocco.
  2. A brown leather chair which is comfortable and high enough for husband, but extra squeaky.
  3. A recovered and restored swivel chair which I have just finished, which is super comfy and looks gorgeous but I'm just not quite sure it works here.
  4. A well worn leather vintage two-seater Laura Ashley sofa which fits perfectly (millimetre-perfectly) into the bay window but which husband doesn't like and unfortunately the bay window is apparently THE best place to hear the surround sound. (Which accounts for the random wires around the room and the fact we need 1200 remotes-or-something).
  5. I have supplemented these with two large footstools - one in purple velvet which isn't squishy and one amazing multi coloured one which I picked up because-it-matches-the-exact-rug-plan-I-have-in-my-head-and-which-I-will-make and because sometimes, if you don't buy now - you cry later. (Vintage shopping motto).

I wasn't actually going to blog about this until I worked it all out but I thought, why not share? The struggle for placement is REAL peeps.

So here are a few quick phone snaps of the current pieces. I've put them all in because I'm a visual person and I thought I would put them in and go AHA! That's how it should look.





Nope.

Not at all.

It definitely looks too busy but I was expecting that as I haven't yet decided which bits to use. (I will move all the unused to other bits of the house, or maybe sell a piece, I'm not wasteful).

I think in my head that two sofa's (they are both two seater's), one chair and one footstool is kind of ideal but I'm not certain of anything at the moment.

Here is a panoramic so you can see how it all looks together....

It was pretty sunny, but I think that shows what a lovely light filled room it is (it faces East though, not South).



And here they have stayed. I've sat in them and stared at them and just overall thought about them but inspiration has not yet struck.
 
It will but again, I need to have patience and take my time. Even my phone told me this as I took the panorama. Life lessons from a computer eh?
 
I'll get there.
 
 

Monday, 13 July 2015

A day in the life

Would you like to know exactly how I spent my Saturday? Tbh, I'm going to tell you anyway.

I love weekends where I don't have any plans and can just work out what I feel like doing. This weekend was a particularly good one being:
  • Child free
  • In Summer
  • With very little forecast of rain (which-is-certainly-something-to-celebrate-in-my-neck-of-the-woods!)
I slept late as I'd stayed up late the night before refining my drawing of a horse. Yes really, that's how I roll on a Friday night.

I made coffee around 10.30am and wandered around my garden in my pyjamas to see how all my plants were doing.


 

I went back to my bedroom and laid in my bed faffing on my phone (complete with newly smashed screen covered in sellotape - safety first!) for around 40 minutes which is pretty good for me.

Then I spent a bit of time dealing with emails and working on some potential freelance projects, fingers crossed.

Around 1pm I wandered down to my stable to see if my newly painted trestle table had dried. It hadn't, which meant I needed to rethink my plans to do some sanding of shelves.

I then spent some time pottering around the garden, pruning the lilac and deadheading the roses, which is such a lovely job. It's the scent. I interspersed these jobs with nipping into the stable regularly to spray paint some of my shelves which I want to be a very bright gold and that seems to take multiple coats. I read somewhere once that the secret to successful spray painting it to recoat within 5 minutes or not for 24 hours, but I actually find, within 5 minutes or not for 1 hour to work just as well if not better. And means you can, you know, use the space!

Husband and I then tackled cutting the hedges. It takes a few hours and is quite intensive and back-achy work, which isn't a real word but should be.

I got three thorns stuck in my skin, but only one drew blood. At least three people stopped as they walked past to say what a great job we were doing too. Lovely town!

Then I jumped in the shower.

I'm pretty obsessed with my fitbit and this was the picture at 5pm. Not bad but I've been better.


 
Then from 5pm until 6.45pm we took a lovely walk along the Leeds Liverpool canal.

 
Cows paddling.

 
Sad results of the storms this year.

 
Great double arched bridge.

 
 
 
Then this horse let me stroke him. So lovely.
 
It makes rural life sound pretty amazing too. It is. I got caught in a traffic jam on Friday night as a farmer was moving his cows. Really.
 
We ended our walk in a newly refurbished pub where I had deep fried Potato Skins with a Blue Cheese dip, followed by Tomato and Artichoke Linguine and washed down with some rather lovely Sauvignon Blanc.
 
My legs were aching, cos I'm so unfit, but it was very nice to eat and drink at the end.
 
Then, we took a taxi home, again cos I'm so unfit, and played a game called '100 Questions; A toolkit for families'. Which was quite good, but we only managed to answer around 4 questions.
 
Husband wanted to switch off with some TV then and I'm not a big TV person so I left him too it and went and listened to Stephanie Hirst's new radio show, 'Nothing but the 90's'. I love Hirsty to bits and it's wonderful to have her back on the radio.
 
I'm not good at just doing nothing with my hands, so while I listened to that I sewed some tarpaulin together (which really hurts your hands) as I need a wet weather cover for my home made craft stall.
 
The show ended at midnight and so did I as then I went to bed.
 
It was a good day for me, with the right mix of doing useful things and fun things. Does everyone think like that or is it just me?