Thursday, 30 March 2017

Interior Design Series: Creating a cosy feel Living Room using texture

I'm going to write an occasional column on here, showcasing the best finds on Etsy and around the web and sharing some of my own thoughts on interior design.

To start with, i'm using a beautiful and timeless combination of white walls and floorboards. This suits any house - old, new, small or large and while I know not everyone has this backdrop it helps with a consistent look which can be easily replicated. Quick word of warning though. I still haven't found a white paint which doesn't take three coats! If you have - tell me please.

Whether you prefer a pure white, matt white, off white, light floorboards or dark floorboards - as a neutral and stylish base you can't really go wrong.

I really like brown leather or tan leather with this base. Easy to clean, hardwearing and again a timeless base. I'd personally choose vintage, quite well loved pieces to add instant, 'oh-it's-always-looked-this-amazing' style. This chair below is quite something, as is the price!

Then, we start adding items to create a cosy feel. When trying to create cosy, there is a fine line between overstuffed and warm and welcoming. That line is easiest if you think of practical items but choose the textures carefully. Sheepskin is wonderful for this. Clean colour but the texture makes you think of cosy and there is nothing nicer than standing barefoot on a sheepskin rug.

Each of these posts will feature my handmade shelving, as I design them to fit in many different situations. In this cosy living room example (which could be easily tweaked to a bedroom) I'd use my Purple shelves to create a warm feeling and as I add crochet to my wooden shelves, you will also get the texture I mentioned above. All my shelves are made with sustainable wood and hand dyed natural yarns too.


As this is a living room styling post, the shelves work well with books and wooden items. But they are incredibly flexible and can be used either freestanding or wall mounted to store whatever suits you. Dvd or Music collections, taxidermy, yarn for knitting or crochet, toys, keepsakes and photo items, cocktail ingredients, cookbooks, art materials, board games and so on and so on.

Now we start to add some decorative items, again with creating a cosy feel, it's all about the texture. Let's start with a chunky knit blanket.

I have had a go at crochet with chunky wool and it works up really fast. So why not buy a kit and try yourself?

Or why not try a more complicated pattern. The Attic 24 moorland crochet colours would really suit this room we are putting together... link here for the pattern and inspiration.

I tend to like quite an eclectic look in a room, I don't want things to feel too matchy-matchy, but I like to have things link in someway. You may have noticed we are using round things, round corners and materials which contrast. That's why this mirror would work so well. I'm a big fan of adding as many mirrors as possible to a room, as it bounces light and makes the space feel bigger.

We have walls, floors, rugs, shelves, mirrors and chairs and texture - now we need to look at lighting. Lighting is so important in a space. I do like to adhere to the rule of three different light sources - either two lamps and a ceiling light or ceiling light, wall light and lamp. I often add more than three but never less. And, I always steer clear of halogen spotlights. They are just too harsh and not my thing at all. I know some minimalist modern types love them, but I want lighting to be flattering! In this post, we are trying to go for a cosy look, so yellow based lighting is crucial. Choose warm white lightbulbs wherever possible and steer away from the LED's which cast an almost blue light as we all look poorly under that!

I have chosen a purple tartan lampshade. The texture is beautiful and the colours will cast a wonderful glow when turned on. I like that you can see how it is woven and again, I like a mix of timeless and elegant items with some more modern and quirky to create a curated feel.

In a living room you should definitely choose a chandelier. I personally would put one in every room - even kitchens and bathrooms but I know that can be a bit much for people. But, your main space deserves one. Thinking about our materials again - mixed up, round shapes, I think this chandelier would fit very well into the space.

Then we move on to a few key pieces of artwork. This is such a personal choice that I do find it hard to recommend, but here a few pieces I think would work well with the colours and shapes and feel of the room we are trying to create.

As you can see with the artworks I have picked, I've started to layer in some natural green colours. I think some plants would work well in this space, heathers or soft leaved, small leaved plants in particular.

Then we move along to feeling cosy yourself, in the space. Firstly, warm feet! Nothing better than sheepskin slippers for that. Here are two pairs, one for little feet and one for grown ups.

It's time to imagine, you may be just arriving home - slipping off your jewellery...

and hanging up your handbag...

If you need storage hooks - I make those too!

These hooks have a flash of turquoise in the centre, which matches the subtle flash of turquoise in the crochet in my handmade shelves.

Then you may well notice it is time...

for a Hot toddy - there is a great recipe here but it talks about drinking out of a glass mug - it is much cosier to drink out of a copper mug.

And you can sit back and enjoy your wonderfully cosy, designed living room. I hope you like these ideas and find some inspiration. You could easily pick and choose the bits you like, or follow along with it all and create a beautiful space.

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;

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, 27 December 2016

32,000 stitches

Crochet saved me.

This is how I managed to survive a pregnancy where I was really sick and nauseous for almost all of it and more difficult, had antenatal depression. Do you know, I don't want to always talk about this but it has been such a big deal over the last year and a bit. At first, it was all encompassing and even now as I feel better there is a lot of fear still there. I think talking about (well writing about) is one of the strongest ways to help so here we are. 

Time passing was the hardest. I used to wake up and think, oh no, another day to endure. Endure by the way is the right word, survive hints at something more than the shell I became. 

I'm feeling an awful lot better now, but I need to acknowledge what I've been through and how hard it was. It's almost like feeling traumatised - but I know that's too strong a word. Raw I think it better. It's like a scar that is still not healed. I read the term 'depression hangover' somewhere and that sums it up. I'm fragile, all too aware of what I have been through and every time I have a bad day I start to panic that the depression is coming back. I don't think it is. I just wish that this could be solved with a bacon buttie! 

Back to the 32,000 stitches. I crocheted my way through pregnancy. I counted stitches rather than be in my own head and I made things. It was a healthy way to deal with it and it helped me to cope. It didn't really make me feel better but it did pass the time. 

One of my projects (there were a lot) was a blanket for a king size bed. It had 32,000 stitches in it. 

It's a king sized bed size, corner to corner (often called c2c) crochet pattern which I learned from a Youtube tutorial by Bella Coco. Link here.

Strangely, I think I sound like Bella. Anyway, the pattern was very easy once I had the hang of it. What was difficult was choosing colours. Depression robbed me of my decision making skills and it seemed to take longer to decide what the next row colour should be than to crochet it. 

I made the blanket in four identical quarters, and then sewed them together. 

I used mostly Aldi wool for this project, as I was saving every penny for maternity leave. I'm really glad I did as now I'm about to go into my last three months of time off, and had I not saved, I would be going back to work now. And, I'm not ready yet. 

I'm sat on this blanket right now, to write this. It was originally intended for my bedroom and the colours match that room. However, my baby often naps in the front room and I try and catch up on sleep by snuggling under this on the sofa. I try for a Nasa nap (26 minutes, supposed to restore mental function. Not sure it's working fully, but at least I can concentrate a little!). 

I actually like it, it's a memento of a difficult time, but looking at it makes me feel stronger. I got through it. I didn't fold. Thank goodness. 

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, 9 June 2016

He's here

My baby. And he is  just perfect.

Hello World indeed.

I'm coming back. Slowly. I lost a year, But I'll get there. 

Thanks for bearing with me.