31 May 2011

What I'm not.

I was really excited when I picked up my new copy of Ideal Home from our mat the other day and tore it open - I love having that first flick through, having glimpses of fabulous room sets and glimpses of readers' homes. I have to say though, I was a little disappointed this month; although, this is nothing to to do with the quality of the edition, or the products and homes that are featured. It's me. This month was called "The Country Issue", and after a flick through of a little greater depth, I've realised that I'm just not really into that kind of thing anymore.

There was a time, as I said here, when I would have loved to have furnished my house in classic Laura Ashley, and I also went through a French country phase (that's how we ended up with our bed, which I still like btw). My taste has definitely changed though.

That said, there are some pieces in the homes in the magazine that catch my eye, and that I do like, such as these rustic tin stars from www.notonthehightstreet.com:

Image from here.

Or this sweet hanging heart from Live Laugh Love, which is quite similar to the one that hangs on the end of our bed:

Image from here.

I guess that country style is just like any other for me - I like it if I can take aspects of it and put it with other things like modern furniture and plain walls, but chintz on chintz on chintz is a bit too much for me these days. 

The pictures below are examples of country overload for me. The rooms have been finished beautifully, just not to my taste.

Last three images from here.

I hope if you love the rooms above, that I haven't offended you - I think this post is more about me exploring what I like and how that has changed over recent years. Taste is a strange thing don't you think? I know some people have houses that are almost museums to certain periods or styles, but do you think it is possible to really only like things that conform to one single style, or do most of us pick and choose from lots of different looks? I'd love to know how you define your taste!

25 May 2011

A fruitless hunt for antiques.

Yesterday, my plan was to go to Jacobs Antiques Centre in Cardiff. So, I trundled there with David and Torin after Torin and I had met with one of my heavily pregnant (less than 2 weeks to go!) friends for a lovely cream tea, only to find that it only opens Thursday to Saturday!

Image from here.

It's somewhere I've been meaning go to for a while but haven't really found the right time (plus, I've never really known where the entrance was). Oh well, I guess yesterday wasn't the right time either!

The place is apparently 3 floors crammed full of antique and vintage finds, and is described by one customer as, "a Narnia made for the bargain hunters among us" - sounds great! There's meant to be a real mix of stuff there, including furniture - so I may even find my cupboard for the bathroom! Hopefully with over 50 stalls to browse through, I'll be able to come away with something interesting - will let you know how I get on, once I finally get there!

23 May 2011

Butterflies and landscapes.

On Saturday, I managed to tick two things off my to-do lists. I cracked open our drill and put up a picture in the little area outside our bathroom, and some ceramic butterfly wall art up in our bedroom.

Here's the picture:

The clock has been here for a while now, and when I put it on the wall I positioned it with this picture going underneath in mind. The picture is by local artist Nick Comerford, who is also an art teacher in the school where I used to teach. I was so touched when he gave me this picture as a leaving gift, as I had previously been to see and admired his paintings when he showed them in a local gallery.

I think adding this picture to this wall has really made this strange little space into more of a room in its own right.

These are the ceramic butterflies I put up in our bedroom:

David bought me these a few years ago and I'm not sure why they didn't made it onto the wall for so long, apart from that I wasn't quite sure where to put them in order to show them off well. I decided to just go for it, and I'm really pleased with how they look above my bedside cabinet. They look pretty against the paint colour during the day, and the bedside light glows pleasingly through them in the evening.

Even though these were tiny jobs, I feel like I achieved something this weekend, and it feels good!

20 May 2011

Can't stop looking at . . .

Each week, I'll be sharing with you something that has caught my eye. It may be a picture, blog, product or website.

This cabinet from Graham and Green, featured on the front of this month's Ideal Home magazine, is beautiful and would be absolutely perfect for my bathroom as it can be hung up on the wall. Unfortunately it's quite expensive at £295, and therefore beyond my price range (which at the moment is pretty much £0), but it is lovely.

Image from here.

I'll have to keep my eye out in second hand shops (and HomeSense!) for something similar. Actually, that may be better, because although this cabinet is gorgeous, it is new and therefore the distressed paint is a deliberate effect, albeit, "carefully considered" as it says on the website. A genuinely battered cabinet may in fact look better. We'll see though - I don't usually have much luck with finding pieces I like in second hand shops.

19 May 2011

Pitter patter . . .

I wanted to share our exciting news with you . . . we're expecting another baby! It's due on 15th November, so I'm just over 15 weeks at the moment.

I've been feeling so so sick - feeling nauseous all day every day (which hopefully explains some of my absence from here recently), but things are improving now, so hopefully the nausea will stop completely soon!

We've told Torin that he's going to have a baby brother or sister, and he thinks it's funny when we ask Torin what I've got in my tummy, to lift up my top and say, "Baba!" I guess though, that he has absolutely no idea what that really means yet.

18 May 2011

Toys, toys, toys!

I've got two words on my mind after Torin's party . . . toys and storage

He got so many lovely presents over the weekend, but now our living room is somewhat overrun! Since Torin was born, keeping his toys tidy in both his bedroom and the living room has been an ongoing process. Room for storage in his bedroom is limited, so most of his toys are kept downstairs, and our attic isn't boarded out at the moment, so we can't store anything up there. Therefore, I've moved his toys in and out of boxes of varying size, tried to streamline them by storing his most babyish toys in the wardrobe in his bedroom and given over a bookshelf in the living room for his books. Part of me struggles with this a little though, as I feel a bit like who am I to decide when he's lost interest in a certain toy? - he may not want it to be relegated to the back of the wardrobe.

What I'm wondering now is what to keep things like Lego, Playdough and crayons in. Before his birthday, he had a few coloured pencils and crayons, and today he was given some felt-tipped pens (so glad I painted the chimney breast in Endurance paint as I've already wiped off a thick line of orange pen from the wall!). I'm sure his collection of these will continue to grow, so what I'm wondering about is what sized container should they all be kept in? Do I find something that will house them as they are at the moment? Or, do I pre-empt a growing collection and go for something much larger?

I also don't want to end up with piles of individual storage boxes in our living room, so I think I'll need something large enough to put most of his toys in. I really don't mind having all of his toys out during the day - I somehow manage to look over them and don't count them in the annoying clutter I notice everywhere else, but it is nice to be able to tidy them away at least a little bit, when he is in bed, or when we have guests.

One of our friends keeps her son's toys in a large wicker storage trunk, which I do like the look of; however, I really don't trust our cats. We have IKEA's MELBU mirror (with a rattan frame) in our bedroom, and shortly after we'd hung it on the wall Rufus managed to get upstairs and began clawing at it - honestly, it was like he was drawn to it. So, I'd be a little hesitant to spend good money on something that could quickly turn into a giant scratching post for the cats.

We do have an old blanket box in our room that would work quite well. The only thing is that I don't think it'll quite fit in the space where the toy storage needs to go - under our stairs next to the sofa that is there.

Believe me people, this is NOT all of them!

Any suggestions?

17 May 2011

I'm forever blowing bubbles . . .

We had a lovely time throwing Torin's 2nd birthday on Saturday. The rain held off and the sun even came out for a while too! We spent the morning making the house more party-friendly before the guests arrived at 11.30.

I'd decided to give Torin a party with a bubble theme as he loved blowing bubbles so much at a recent family wedding, and enjoys blowing bubbles when he's in the bath. So, a few weeks ago, I began thinking about decorations for the party and decided to keep things very simple - I bought pearlised blue, pearlised white and transparent balloons and hung them around the house, on the front gate, and in the back garden using curling ribbon left over from Christmas.

I was particularly pleased with the transparent balloons as they really looked like bubbles! 

I continued the bubble theme with the food. We cut up filled wraps into small circles, served vegetarian Scotch eggs and falafel balls along with cheesy puffs, hula hoops and cherry tomatoes amongst other things.

Thanks to Adam for this picture!

Between the main course and dessert, we all went into the garden where it was sunny if a bit breezy, and played with bubbles! Torin and the other children loved it, and I think the adults had quite a lot of fun too - competitions started involving not only who could blow the biggest bubbles, but whose bubble would travel the furthest on the wind!

I gave each child a goodie bag containing bubble wands, and then poured bubble mixture into a bucket for them all to dip into - they all got the hang of it very quickly!

I found the bags in a supermarket and then stuck the same labels onto them as I had used for the cupcake toppers, I simply wrote the letters of their names into the bubbles.

Each adult had a pot of bubbles too, but I think most got stuck in to the different shaped wands belonging to the children!

Thanks to Jo for this picture!

For dessert, we enjoyed chocolate bubbles (Aero bubbles, Maltesers and giant chocolate buttons), Jammy Dodger and Party Ring biscuits, round fruit, delicious fairy cakes (thanks Mum!), and of course, jelly and ice-cream.

Thanks to Jo for this picture!

Thanks to Jo for this picture!

Thanks to Jo for this picture!

Then, after a bit of relaxing and the children dancing, it was time to bring out the birthday cake. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the cake before it was brought out, but you can see it from the photo that was taken while we were singing to Torin.

Thanks to Adam for taking this picture!

Thanks again to Mum for making the cake - she made the sponge and brought it with her to our house, and I decorated it on the morning of the party. Teamwork!

Most guests had left by about 4pm, and then it was just family left so we all went out and relaxed in the garden for a while. Torin soon began watering the plants, which is one of his favourite things to do at the moment. 

Thanks to Jo for taking this picture!

Happy Birthday Torin, beauty boy xx

Thank you to everyone who made the day special!

13 May 2011

Make do and mend: bubble birthday card.

Yesterday, in amongst a day of tidying and toddler grouping (going to one, not rounding them up!), I managed to make Torin's birthday card from David and me. I based it on the same design as the invitations I made for his party (these ones); this time I simply added a cut out number 2 instead of writing directly onto the card like I did with the invitations, and fixed it onto the front of the card using the same sticky pads I used to stick the bubble onto the card.

From this picture it's a little hard to see that the bubble and the 2 are raised up using the sticky pads, but I hope you get the idea.

Hope you all have a great weekend, and I’ll be back next week with some pictures of the party (fingers crossed for good weather)!

10 May 2011

Make do and mend: bubble cake toppers.

Yesterday I spent a little bit of time making some simple cake toppers for the fairy cakes my mum's making for Torin's birthday party. I'm not sure how many cakes she's planning on making, so I made about 30 cake toppers, all in the shape of bubbles to go along with the bubble theme we're having at the party.

These are the finished ones:

They were so simple to make - I found some plain circular labels, drew around the circumferences with a blue felt-tipped pen and then drew a little shape to make it look like a bubble.

I then stuck a sticker either side of a cocktail stick and voilĂ  - 30 bubble cake toppers! I think they'll look great on the fairy cakes as mum's going to ice them in white and blues.

9 May 2011

It's coming along . . .

Hope you all had a good weekend! David took Torin out for the afternoon on Saturday so I could get on with painting the dining room - I wanted to do some more before Torin's birthday party this weekend and I managed to paint two walls. I doubt I'll finish the room by Saturday, but at least I've covered up some of the areas where I used tester pots on the walls!

Here are some before and after shots to show you what I got up to:


This is the top part of the wall that is on the right as you enter our dining room - you can just see the entrance into the living room in the bottom left corner. You can see where David painted down onto the wall while he was painting the ceiling white - I like to do this as it creates a neater finish when painting the walls - it ensures there are no gaps, and it's fine to do if you are going to paint over it with a darker colour.

Can you see that the ceiling in here is wallpapered? The ceilings were already like it when we moved in, and as our walls are plain, I don't mind it too much. It's one of those things that we would ideally change, but in the meantime, at least it's nicer than artex!


Here's the same bit of wall - much better don't you agree? The wall is painted in Dulux's Gooseberry Fool 5.


Here's a shot of the walls around the dining room door (you can see where I took the previous picture in the top left corner). We recently replaced the door as the existing one contained dangerous glass panels, which we felt was too much of a hazard with Torin around. As you can see, we've primed but haven't yet painted the door, or the surround - I like to do all the gloss work when I've finished with the emulsion.


And the same area looking much much neater after I'd given it 2 coats of emulsion. You can see I've painted onto the door surround a little, but I'm not worried about that as it'll be covered over with gloss soon.

Hopefully I'll be able to get this finished soon, and then I'll show you pictures of the completed living room and dining room.

6 May 2011

Can't stop looking at . . .

Each week, I'll be sharing with you something that has caught my eye. It may be a picture, blog, product or website.

The work of Wendy Harrison of Letterfest, these personalised prints are hand-drawn and based upon a picture provided by the customer. 

Image from here.

I first saw these personalised prints on Notonthehighstreet.com a while ago, but recently they have re-captured my eye as I think I may try my hand at doing something similar for my grandmother's birthday which is coming up in June. I'll show you how I get on!

Make do and mend: bubble theme party invitations.

I mentioned here that Torin turns 2 next weekend! That leaves me with a week to sort out his party. We're just inviting family and close friends, so there's not too much pressure, but I do want to make it a special event for him. I've decided on a bubble theme as he loves blowing bubbles at the moment, and yesterday I made his invitations - yes, leaving it a little late I know, but all of the guests have already confirmed that they are coming anyway.

Here's the finished article - what do you think?

As I was making them all by hand, I wanted to keep the invitations simple, but personal and indicative of the bubble theme. I'm really pleased with how they've turned out!

Here's how I made them:

Using cream card stock (the same size as the invitation), I drew around a jar lid with a blue coloured pencil. This formed the outline of the bubble.

Using the same coloured pencil, I then created a thicker outline around the edge of the bubble and drew the wobbly shape that formed the patch of reflected light (to make it actually look like a bubble!). 

Again, with the same pencil I then lightly shaded around the inside of the thick outline of the bubble, and around the edge of the wobbly shape.

I then wrote "Torin is Two" onto the invitation using a free font that I had copied from the internet (available here).

I attached the bubble to the front of the invitation using little sticky pads. I find it really helpful to use tweezers when applying the pads, as they are more precise than my fingers!

Each invitation took about 20 minutes to make, so I'm glad Torin's not having loads of guests! Having said that though, I did enjoy making them, and I'll probably base Torin's birthday card on the same design.

I'm still working on the ideas for decorations and food, but I will share those details with you when I've sorted everything out!
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