Sunday, January 30, 2011

Mixed bag

Got a mixed bag of projects to share with you today...

Seem to be getting my scrap on a bit more recently, and the odd little stash order is certainly helping. I'm so pleased with these two layouts from yesterday. The above was inspired by a recent guest post on Shimelle's blog, and the one that's coming up was inspired by a recent layout shared on another blog I subscribe to.

So, what else is new? I have also been getting crafty with wall decor projects, mainly for the new white landing and staircase. This is what I've done so far...

These look so wonky in the photo, but they're not up close lol! Need some more frames before I can get Harry's finished, poor Harry!

This was inspired by another recent guest post on Shimelle's blog, this one by my very talented friend Leanne. I love, love, love it. And it was surprisingly cheap - just a £4 frame, a sheet of cardstock and some scraps of patterned paper.

A close up of the frame I made recently, now it's hanging on the wall.

Couldn't resist this, I've had it ages but now it's finally hanging in our hallway (and of course the day after I'd hung it I saw it about five times cheaper in a local store, typical!)

Some better shots of the layouts I shared last time, including close ups. I actually remembered to grab the camera and get them photographed before it got dark this weekend.

My new job is going well and I got 97% on my first test, yay and phew! I also got my new shifts, which are designed to free up some weekdays in return for working a few longer shifts and Saturdays, saving me a fortune in childcare and giving me more time with the boys, yay to that. And my car finally got recovered, repaired properly and delivered back to me thanks to my insurance company. I don't know why I didn't just do that in the first place. They took care of everything and I just had my reasonably low excess to pay (my NCD is protected, so I shouldn't have to pay too much more next year either, fingers crossed). So tomorrow, I'll finally be back on the road and able to drive myself to and from work, and I'm no longer worrying about a massive repair bill I couldn't afford. All is happy again in my world, and I really hope it stays that way for a bit longer this time please.

P.S. I know I have missed a couple of WIP Wednesdays and FO Fridays, but I promise I will be back this week to show you what's on my needles now - it's a goodie!


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Still alive!

Sorry, sorry, sorry! I know I haven't posted in 11 days, I have been so busy decorating, sorting, knitting, scrapping and packing in as much as I could before I returned to full-time employment two days ago, yay!

Here's a rundown in pictures of what I have been up to...

Looking after these two little monkeys (my Alex and a friend's little girl while she was also job hunting - she too has had interview successes this week, yay!)

Painting these (and more) gorgeous laser-cut wooden letters, made and sent by the super lovely Sally. These will be going on my staircase wall, which I'm now considering painting a vintage paler khaki kinda colour and hanging black and white frames plus these monograms on. I have just painted the entire area white, but after a blog post I saw today from a very talented decor designer I'm having a little re-think.

 A sneak preview of my (very almost) finished bedroom, only eight months after I started. I'm just waiting for some drawer handles and to hang the second blind and pair of curtains and it will be done. But in the meantime I'm enjoying it being clean, tidy and organised, which is very handy with me now working and requiring clean, ironed work wear at very early hours in the morning! I will post more photos of the finished bedroom as soon as it's done and when I can take some nice daylight-lit pictures.

I was itching to scrap a few days ago, so made use of these lovely pictures taken at Bristol Zoo during our New Year trip to see family in Bath. This was inspired by a layout on the Sketch2Scrap iPhone app (a must if you're both a scrapper and an iPhone owner!)

I was obviously on a roll as the next day I scrapped this picture of Alex - and before you ask, no, he is not eating his toenails (gross!), he was kissing his foot better after catching it on his chair. Bless 'im! This was inspired by a Page Maps layout from November I think it was. The paint was sprayed on using a mixture of acrylic paint and water and using an old body spray bottle. It didn't come out as fine as the gorgeous Mister Huey mist paints I have spied on friends' layouts recently, but I simply can't afford their lovely Studio Calico kits or to buy a single mist paint at about £22 for one to be shipped to the UK just yet - more on that in a mo.

Taken at knit night tonight. I am loving working in the city again, I love my new work place, the people I'm training with (even if they are all younger than me by 5+ years!) and the fact the shops are just minutes away if I need or want anything (I work near enough to go in if I need something, but not too close that I'll be tempted to shop my entire wage packet away lol!) Oh and being just minutes away from knit night after work is a major bonus!

In other, bad, news, that little knock to my car wheel in the snow a couple of weeks back has gone from being a £60 replacement tyre job to a HUGE mega expensive repair to the gear box and clutch, probably not caused by the bump, but as my car is only recently out of warranty and I haven't worked in two months so am not exactly flush with cash right now I am not very impressed. I don't yet know the exact damage money-wise, we're talking £250 for just the labour involved in getting the gear box out and back in, plus repairs / a replacement (oh no, I'm going to cry again). So guess where my entire first wage has gone, plus a whole lot more that we can't afford (that's it, I've gone). I need my car to get to work, pick up the kids, take the kids out for the day on my days off, etc etc, and I'm still paying the finance, so there's no option but to somehow find the money, but in the meantime it's causing me many sleepless nights. And that's probably the reason I haven't blogged, I haven't felt able to come on here and be all cheery about crafty stuff - although I realise I have only partly done that before pouring out all my troubles on you guys. For that I apologise.

Anyway, if you're still here (well done and thank you if so!), I will now stop moaning. I have a lot to be grateful for, it's just a piece of metal, there are more important things in life I know. 

I will keep you posted, but hopefully I will return shortly to share not only bad news car-wise, but pretty well-lit photos too :)


Saturday, January 08, 2011

Bad day Friday

Today started off like this...

Yet more snow. Joy. I'm not sure if the few more inches of snow we got in under a couple of hours oput me in a bad mood, or if I got out of the wrong side of bed, but then came the last straw. I managed to smack my car against a high kerb on the snow and ice and now my wheel is a complete mess. Thank goodness for the AA being so fast and helpful and my good nearby heroine friend Frances for also coming to my aid. It could have been worse, the bodywork could have been damaged, or worse still me or Alex, but I really could have done without a repair bill in the same month I have to shell out for full-time childcare but haven't yet got paid. Sigh. So looks like my car is off-road for a few weeks, which isn't so bad as hubby was going to drop me off and pick me up during my new job training anyway. Just next week to get through first.

So after spending my Christmas vouchers online (well my planned trip to the shops was foiled by the afore-mentioned incident), including buying these gorgeous winter mitts (because I can't yet knit fingers - only a thumb lol!) here's what I cracked on with tonight to cheer myself up...

I have been feeling really inspired lately by the super talents of certain scrapping friends and finally was brave enough to dig out some supplies and have a go at some wall decor. I picked these fab deep coloured frames up for just £1 each in my local new B&M store and I just love love love them. Definitely off back for more of those, I want them EVERYWHERE! Once all finished (can you ever be finished with photos and frames / a project like this?!) they will be hung on my new hallway/staircase/landing walls, which I am hoping to get painted from that awful buttermilk colour to clean crisp blank canvas white this weekend. I say 'hope' because I can feel my throat getting sore like I'm getting ill - now that really would be the icing on my cake today. Sigh.


Monday, January 03, 2011

Home sweet home

It was nice to get away for a couple of days and see family over new year, but it's good to be home. Nowhere quite compares, does it? There's nothing like the comfort and warmth of your own bed and your own pillow.

We did have fun in Bath & Bristol - here are a few snaps of time spent in the castle grounds and at Bristol Zoo.

Think this might become a framed print one day, I just love the colour and rustic textures.

So new year and enjoying being back home has spurred me on to get our home decluttered, clean, tidy, smart and full of pretty things. Today I transformed the kitchen and as a reward treated myself to this...

I got another set, that spells 'cook' in black ceramics, and that's sitting comfortably on the other side. Some cute cupcake tea towels might also have accidentally fallen into my basket too lol! These latest purchases were all from a new homeware/bargain shop that's just opened two minutes away from our house and is open seven days I discovered today. Dangerous! I also popped to B&Q and picked up the accessories I needed to finally finish the home-sewn blinds in our bedroom and have ordered some lovely (hopefully) matching curtains in an online sale. See, I'm making progress!

And continuing on my mission to improve, tomorrow we are travelling out once more, this time to buy a replacement cooker hood bulb, finally, as well as some under-unit lighting to brighten up the kitchen. Then I want to paint the hallway, stairs and landing white. It's a huge area and a big job, but I just can't stand it that awful standard new home buttermilk colour any longer, it matches nothing grrrrr.

Hmmm, not sure I'm going to get everything I want done by the time I start work in two weeks, time and finances are in short supply, and i have two cheeky monkeys under my feet, but I'm going to give it my best shot! Here goes nothing!


Saturday, January 01, 2011

Reflections and resolutions

Happy New Year to all my lovely blog readers (assuming I have any lol!)

This post is a little late, which I blame on the fact we have been away for three days over new year and I couldn't write the post I wanted to on my iPhone, not without losing my sanity anyway. So here it is, better late than never - a reflection on 2010 and a few hopes and dreams for 2011 (warning, this post is long and photo-heavy!)

So last year wasn't particularly great for me. It wasn't horrid, or even bad, it was just, well, boring. Nothing particularly great happened. We helped other people celebrate some wonderful events, mainly weddings, and births too, and enjoyed ourselves in the process, but nothing so happy or wonderful that's worthy of a mention happened for us - maybe it's just because we have passed the whole engaged, married, babies thing, and before our time, which means we're witness to all our lovely friends doing those things now. But we were very lucky to have no major bad times either, other than a change of career that didn't go so to plan and a few weeks of being out of work at the end of the year (and that's probably what has clouded my judgement of the whole year to be honest, being at home bored and stony broke in the run up to Christmas, it does kinda put a dampener on things!), but nothing devastating happened, and for that I'm thankful.

Anyway. I am hopeful that 2011 has to be a better year for us (it's probably 50/50 but you have to be optimistic, right?). In a fortnight I'll be starting a new job, which I'm hopeful will enable me to embark on and actually progress along a career path of some sort one day. And just being back in work and back into our usual routine, meeting new people and having adult conversation, and hopefully having a little spare cash again, will be just lovely. Harry is due to have his grommets fitted next week, which I think will make a huge difference to his life, and all our lives, as the poor boy is actually "quite deaf" in the words of one specialist. So for just those two reasons hopefully 2011 is due to get off to a good start.

So, looking back, here are some of my highlights from 2010 - crafty and otherwise:

February - We had a wonderful family holiday in Florida. It was cold, and short-lived, but we loved every single minute of it (which is a good job as it will be a long time before we can afford to go back). And Harry turned five just after we got back, no longer a baby, or even a little one, but a fully-fledged, school-going boy!

March - A fun day out to the Thackray Medical Museum - actually, maybe fun isn't the right word considering one member of my family is squeamish, one very scared by absolutely everything, and the other very young lol!

April - I made these, which I love and hang on our upstairs landing. They were so quick, easy and inexpensive - I really must do more things like this.

May - Oh dear. I started re-decorating our bedroom, changing everything from the carpet, furniture, decor, accessories, everything. And it's still not quite there. Better add that to my growing 2011 to-do list.

June - A gorgeous hot day out at Kirkstall Abbey, picnicing, sun bathing, playing football and just generally larking about!

June - Wedding number one, a cousin of hubby's and a lovely weekend away.

July - Woolfest! What an eye-opener that was! Loved it and the nice day trip out with friends.

I don't look my best, but this photo from July is one of my favourites from 2010 - actually, I was really lucky to get some lovely photos last year (that sounds so strange saying 'last year'!)

August - wedding two, brother-in-law's, and a hell of  a lot of bunting sewing in the weeks and days beforehand! Followed by a lovely weekend trip to Bath.

My first knitted top. Ok, it's dinky-sized, but I still did it and I'm still proud. This just got gifted too and went down very well I'm so pleased to report.

August - THE mother of all hen days, my best friend's in London, organised by yours truly - knowing nothing about the capital and living a good 200 miles away! But it totally rocked!

Still August - My 28th birthday. Not much to say about that, was very boring really.

Yep, STILL August! August was a good month, and was topped off with our 6th wedding anniversary.

September, hmmm, nothing much happened, but October was another good month, with us staying in this pretty windmill for my best friend's wedding. And I got to be matron of (dis)honour, lol! Loved that weekend away.

October again, weekend away with the girls, scrapbooking inside a cute little cabin in the woods at Halloween. I had such a fabulous time and got 11 layouts done - probably more than I had all year up to that poing (shameful!).

November - Alex's 2nd birthday. My how the time has flown, it seems like two minutes since we took this picture just a couple of hours after his speedy arrival.

December - I loved decorating the house for Christmas, and we enjoyed some really nice relaxing family snow days in (and out!) plus some good family time over the festive period.

Hmmmm, not such a bad year when I look back on the highlights really. Which brings me to my hopes, or resolutions if you like, for 2011:

1) To make more time for fun. To instigate fun events and activities with the boys and with friends, and to record them through photography and scrapbooking more. I don't think you can ever have too much fun, right? I also really need to get back to producing more layouts and using some of my stash.

2) To complete more larger, more tricky or more time consuming knitted projects, even if this means knitting fewer finished objects. There's only so many hats a girl needs and I would love to be able to wear a cardigan or wrap or other pretty item of clothing that I've made myself. I also really want to learn fair isle properly, complete a jumper and cardigan I've had on my Ravelry queue for ages, along with lots of others, and also take on my first project using 4-ply or thinner, gulp! And use up (or re-home) some of my yarn stash before buying more! 

3) To get more active, and healthier, and lose just a little weight. It's starting to creep on, about a stone at the moment I reckon, not enough to take me up a dress size, almost but not quite, but I don't like it. And so if that means dieting and exercising for the first time in my life, then so be it. I want to nip this in the bud now and it will be good for me. I'm hoping that just being back in work and back in the city centre, where I have a lunch hour free of little people will help me no end, I can eat a decent healthy lunch and have a  good walk, or maybe even visit a gym before, during or after work. I might even dust off the Wii Fit we bought and never used. I'm hopeful anyway.

4) To stop biting my nails. This is actually a bit of a cheat as I stopped back in October when I had fakies on for being matron of honour at my best friend's wedding, but I have very almost fallen off the wagon a few times and the cold winter air is making them so weak and brittle that it's so hard not to nibble the splits right back down again. I want to spend more time looking after them, growing them and manicuring them to make them look nice, like they did when I got married.

5) To sort this tip of a house out. Well, it's not a tip, just really cluttered, and while the two little whirlwinds I call my sons are partly to blame there has to be something I can do about it. So that means more time tidying, putting away, being stricter with the things we keep/hoard and have to find storage for, and carrying out all those little odd jobs that keep piling up. Including finishing our bedroom, which we started seven months ago and haven't put the finishing touches to. Like making the blinds and finding and hanging curtains that match. That is my first job. Plus a massive clean out of all the clutter and tat from everywhere (skip hire anyone?!) And getting the boys to take responsibility for the state that is their bedrooms and the mess they make as soon as we've finished tidying. Sigh. If only. And once the house is looking better and I'm earning properly again I want to treat myself to a few pretty things to make it look nice, make a few more pretty things to adorn the walls, and make the rooms downstairs my own, rather than ones we just moved into and bunged a couple of random old things in/on the walls.

So those are my five for now. Not too ambitious I hope, and fingers crossed I might stick to at least one of them! 

So here's to 2011, may it be happy and healthy and full of good things. :)