We’ve got a lot of work in progress around our house at the moment. Really, I suppose the whole house is a work in progress, given that when we moved here there really wasn’t much we didn’t want to update or redecorate. Since this updating goes on as money becomes available, its going to be a slow process, but recently we’ve had the means to get two of the three bedrooms carpeted. Since carpet day is next Friday, this has put a bit of a rocket under us to get decorating done before we have new carpets to protect from paint. Cue rather a lot of late night work on everything from ceiling to skirting boards…
When I’m not covered in a layer of dust and paint I’ve also been working on some other bits and bobs. I bought a peg loom at Woolfest a few years back and have never really got around to using it. With what will be the children’s room needing a rug, I thought it was about time I pressed it into service, so I dug out some worn out jeans and some uncombed fleece I acquired and washed a few summers ago and I’m having a go.
Meanwhile, yet more leftovers in the form of several oddballs of sock yarn are being turned into a simple top-down rib sweater for M. It’s totally improvised and very much dictated by which colours I have most of, but I rather like it so far. Of course, chances are as ever with me that I’ll run out of yarn before it’s finished!
I’ve read US bloggers who’ve written about ‘Gratitudes’. I know some people might feel like throwing up when they hear that expression but actually I think there’s merit in the idea of taking time to think about what you’re grateful for. It’s something I feel the need to do at the moment to counterbalance the (admittedly minor) stresses, worries and niggles I have at the moment. So here goes…
I’m grateful for:
*Our lovely house, which admittedly has its foibles and crumbly bits (and let’s face it, how many 75 year olds do you know who don’t?), but is nonetheless becoming more and more our very own home.
*A knitting bag full of Blue Faced Leicester yarn to knit with, which really, really is going to be a Pirate Sweater for P soon.
*The chubby little legs that try to kick at said knitting from my lap, because M is still little enough to occasionally stop wriggling for long enough to sit with me in peace…
*…and of course P and C, who are sharing more and more father-son moments, some of which I don’t quite ‘get’- flinging ice from a frozen tub of water round the garden, anyone? Being out there in the cold washing bikes in the first place?
*Wonderful news in our wider family and an imminent visit from my folks to boot.
*The thought of the holiday in Dorset we’ve booked for the summer. In a barn, close to the sea. Sunshine please?
*The times when both babies sleep at the same time.
Aaaaaaah! That’s better!
I’m not exactly what you’d call a shopaholic these days. That’s not to say I didn’t spend a good proportion of my younger days trolling around the shops, but our location and lifstyle don’t really fit with that anymore. Apart from anything else, there aren’t usually the funds for it. This has made it even more pleasurable over the last few days to do a bit of guilt-free shopping. Why no guilt? Because I was spending Christmas present book tokens and birthday present money. Hooray!
First, the books. Since we love and get so much use from the River Cottage Family Cookbook we thought we’d add the Everyday Cookbook to our collection, having enjoyed the recent TV series. We’ve already tried making versions of its digestive biscuits, honey roasted root veg and ‘Tupperware Chorizo’ all with great success. We’ve also invested in the River Cottage ‘Veg Patch’ Handbook, which is lovely for it’s textured cover and neat little format alone, but is also inspiring us with all sorts of ideas for what we hope will be our first real venture in ‘grow your own’ this year. Finally, we’ve bought a DIY book because with this house there’s lots to ‘Do’ and noone else to ‘Do’ it for us! As we were using Book Tokens we decided to get all of these from a local independent bookstore. This meant we didn’t get any of the money saving offers we might have done from a chain store, but fits with our ethos of trying to support local businesses. Also when there was an issue with a stitching fault in our first copy of ‘Veg Patch’ it was an easy and pleasant experience getting it replaced.
Next up, I took advantage of only having one tiddler with me this morning to go on a bit of a charity shop trawl. As always I ignored the clothing in favour of homewares and textiles- my favourite charity shop buy is home-embroidered linen tablecloths but alas no joy on that front today. Instead I found this lovely little teapot- cheap, charity shop and using birthday money…perfect, basically! I originally thought it would be destined for the Folksy Shop, but I think I’ve rather fallen in love with it, so it’s probably going to become our regular small teapot. The plainer Brown Betty we’ve been using can go to the shop when I get around to some more knitting- I think some Union Jack teacosies in time for the upcoming Royal Wedding would make sense, and would be really cute as a smaller version.
Last but by no means least, behold our new dining room ‘gubbinet’. Never heard of a gubbinet? Well, it’s a cabinet for all the gubbins that end up lying around downstairs- envelopes, sticky tape and other posting stuff, phone chargers, table linens etcetera. As I write, C is (carefully I hope!) drilling some holes in the back of the top bit so that the stereo can be hidden away, rather than overhanging a shelf as it currently does. I think it’s probably from the first half of the 20th century, as it has curved edges that look a bit 30′s and is pretty solidly made from wood. I don’t really mind to be honest, as it suits our dining room really well and fits the space on one side of the chimney breast just perfectly. Found hidden under some boxes and behind a chair at the back of a vintage shop in Ulverston it was pretty cheap to buy with more birthday money. The only hairy bit was getting it home. I’d taken M shopping with me and couldn’t put her seat in the front due to the airbag, so we couldn’t put the seats down. Of course, when we tried to heft my purchase into the hatchback, it was about 6 inches too long. The only plan we could come up with, apart from coming back another day, was to tie the boot shut with string and for me to drive home ‘not too fast’. Eek! There’s nothing like a large piece of furniture held into your boot with string to make you notice just how many hills there are to go up to get home! Actually, put me on a bicycle and I’ll tell you about every hill, but that’s another story. Anyhow, we made it, I love it and our new (old) house has its first custom bought new (old) piece of furniture. Happy days.
I know some people move into new houses and find unexpected treasures discarded by previous occupants. We’ve mainly found junk and hideous wallpaper. However, sometimes a kindly eye can be enough to transform trash to treasure.
The shelf and cupboard pictured above was hanging in our still rather neglected porch, holding a collection of junk mail, old aerosol cans and other rubbish. At first it was on my list of things to send to the tip, but then I realised that it was the right sort of size for the Seasons display area I’d been meaning to get around to creating for ages. In addition, the little cupboard was perfect for storing bits and pieces not needed at any given time.
So, a bit of soap and water and a few coats of paint- not a fabulous job, I’m pretending it’s meant to be a bit ‘shabby chic!’- and while it’s no heirloom piece, it does the job.
Here it is with our ‘Autumn’ items…crafts from the Steiner toddler group including a Michaelmas candle, hedgehog made from a conker, mouse made from sheepswool and a pine cone and a ‘shooting star’ made from a conker and streamers; a collection of leaves, acorns and nutshells collected on walks and possibly my favourite, a painting of a hedgehog in leaves by P and I. I drew the hedgehog and demonstrated how to fingerpaint the spines, but P was much more enthusiastic about handprinting the leaves, hence the hedgehog is pretty comprehensively buried in autumn colour!
…or take four to be precise. Our home improvements are taking a long while to get done, partly because we are on a learning curve with most things, partly because free weekends are hard to come by and partly because two small children don’t really speed things along! These chairs were a nice exception to the rule, though, turning out to be an easier and quicker job than I expected. My Grandma had given us money to spend as a housewarming present, so I bought some ‘Provence Rose Green’ cotton duck from Cath Kidston. It was a simple case of unscrew the seats from their bases, use a (borrowed) staple gun to secure the fabric over the old covers and replace the seats. The only challenge I have is to try and make an extra slipcover for the chair P uses. He insists on a big chair rather than his lovely adjustable high chair to sit up to the table and I don’t want my lovely new fabric splattered with porridge, pasta sauce etc, so I want a removable, washable version. Sewing machine out later this weekend then, to finish the job.
>I’ve not been around on these pages for a week or so, with the excuse that we’ve were using every hour we were awake and the children weren’t to prepare for a very special day- M’s Baptism. Determined to have at least one room of our new home decorated the way we wanted there was an awful lot of this:
…with just the occasional break for this:
when far-off friends decided to come and make a weekend of it, so we had to show off some of our favourite places.
As to the baking, well believe me when I say there was a LOT of it…so much that I didn’t even get time to photograph it. As we wanted this to be something of a house-warming as well as a special day for our little lady, we invited just about everyone we knew and were flattered that so many made in a lot of cases a long journey to be here. The house was fully warmed, both babes (the bigger one is getting sooo big now!) were smiley socialites all day and some people even found places to sit down!
After a happy, happy day following weeks of seemingly endless lists of jobs, we are left with just a couple:
Carefully handwashing the beautiful christening gown that was handstitched by my paternal Grandmother from parachute silk, worn by my Father, me and all my siblings and now both my babies- the latter two with an equally beautiful shawl knitted by my MIL and M with a darling hand smocked bonnet made by my mother, truly a family affair!
Eating the leftovers! I’m quite pleased that there aren’t too many of these, as it must show that the cooking was alright and that my catering calculations were fairly accurate. Enough for a few yummy lunches and luxurious suppers, mulling over the memories as normality returns.
Two things our new home has meant to us so far:
1.The quilt has found its home at last. After an interim period using the it in the cot with the side down so P could escape- although amazingly he didn’t- we’ve now acquired the ‘big boy bed’. Cue much excitement and a few evenings of trekking up and down stairs to persuade him that he needed to stay in the bed rather than climbing on a chair to look out of the window. All in all it’s gone well, however, and every time I see him snuggled up asleep under the results of all that hard work it makes my heart soar.
2.Evenings are a bit less relaxed for the grown-ups. The reality of decorating a house with two small children is that sometimes the only time available is after bed time- assuming that M decides that she’ll coordinate her sleep time with her brother’s. If that means 10.30pm sees us steaming off old wallpaper (to reveal, in this case, cork tiles!) and slapping undercoat on woodwork then so be it. Even with scruffy plaster and streakily undercoated wood, it somehow looks better than the previous decor, perhaps because it’s the first marks we are making on our new home. Can’t wait until we get a room finished!
The garden at our new place is a crazy patchwork of grass, paving, outbuildings and general stuff really. We love it for the space it provides and the potential it offers for vegetable growing, new chickens, a children’s garden (complete with saucepan ‘banging wall’, inspired by The Creative Family) and no doubt more plans yet to be dreamed up. At the moment, however, with other priorities to consider inside the house, I am contenting myself with wandering around discovering just what is there and gradually deciding what we’ll keep, what we’ll reuse and what we’ll get rid of…here in no particular order are some examples- you decide!