Tuesday, 24 February 2015

The North wind doth blow ...

Good morning, my lovelies! Well, it's a grey blustery Tuesday here on my little island ... but do you know, I quite like days like this nowadays. I always thought, that if I was asked, I would say that Winter was my least favourite season, but if it was forever Summer, we wouldn't be able to batten down the hatches, snuggle down and just potter about, would we?

I work from home, so am lucky that I don't have to brave the weather if I don't need to ... apart from a brisk walk with Ruby, I can put on my paint-splattered clothes, play my favourite music and just get on with it ... if the sun is shining though, it's very easy to get distracted! I bought a very dirty, forlorn dresser from a furniture warehouse for £30, brought it home with the intention of upcycling it, then selling it on ... somehow it found its way into my home ... the perfect fit for a wide alcove that I'd given up hope of ever filling ....

When I'm not working, I like nothing better than just faffing about, filling teacups and other containers with spring bulbs, they really make a difference to the 'feel' of a room, don't you think?

I've rediscovered my love of crochet ... I'm still a very basic crocheter, and even though I've been doing it since I was a child my grannies never seemed right! I've joined two lovely crochet classes and  after all these years I've mastered the art and started filling my home with granny squares galore ... however, some never make it to my sofa, my last two blankets were snatched up by two of my sons, so one blanket now resides in Leeds and the other in Salford!

My son's girlfriend gave us this lovely basket for Christmas, filled with lots of amazing presents for the whole family ... it really is huge and just the thing for all those projects ... most of the things I've made are practical, like blankets and cushion covers

but some are just for fun!

I made this little heart wreath one wet and windy Sunday afternoon ... all credit must be given to Lucy at Attic24 blog, her tutorials are amazingly easy to follow ... if I can do it, anyone can!

Our family has increased with the arrival of four new girls ... meet Nellie, Peggy, Dolly and Minnie, our lovely rescue hens! They have settled in really well, and knock on the kitchen door if their porridge is a bit slow to be delivered.

They pay for their keep by giving us the most amazing, sunflower-yolked eggs every day, and I'm so glad that we decided to have hens in our lives once again.  I really missed their reassuring clucking and manic running when a bag was rustled anywhere near them ...

Dotty has been earning her keep too ... while a little too cold just yet to sit in and crochet (and when the wind is blowing, it really does feel as though you are going to take off) she has been turned into a very beautiful shop, and held a few Sunday sales ...

It really won't be long until Spring blusters her way into our lives, with all her pretty colours and new beginnings ...

but until then, I'm going to enjoy a few more candlelit baths ...

and snuggle up on the sofa with a new magazine and a mug of hot chocolate ...

amidst dimmed lighting and warmth ...

safe in the knowledge that the best is yet to come ...

Enjoy the last few weeks of winter my lovelies, don't fight it, just give in to it ... embrace it, welcome it with open arms,  and most importantly,  make the most of it ...

With much love, Claire xxx

Monday, 8 December 2014

Absent without leave ...

Hello my lovelies!

I've recently had several messages, comments and emails from you, my faithful followers saying that you miss me, and I'm really touched by this, and the truth is, I really miss you all too!

Everything is fine, there is no underlying bad reason why I haven't been blogging, in fact a very good one ... I've just been so busy with my work there hasn't been time to pause for breath ...

Hopefully, once I've wound down for Christmas I will get back on here and catch up with you all (that's if you want me to after such a long absence), but I felt some kind of explanation was necessary. I am in touch with lots of you on Instagram, a lazy substitute for writing a post, but one that I love nonetheless! Join me there if you would like to ... I'm Thriftwood114, and you'll find lots of other bloggy friends there too.

Will be in touch soon, and hope you're all enjoying your Christmas preparations.

With love, Claire

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Perfect Day

Me and Annie Sloan are busy getting ready for the next Fair of the season ... it would be lovely to see you there! I'll be bringing a carful of vintage loveliness - authentic vintage china, kitchenalia, textiles, homeware and of course, my unique upcycled furniture.

Remember Becki from my Garden Sale in July? She's performing too so that will be a treat, along with the amazing pop-up tea rooms (the meringues are to die for) ... so what are you waiting for ... put it in your diary now! The Coronation Hall is a stunning venue ... it is a traditional proscenium arched theatre with elaborate frescoes and carvings. Just the place for a top-notch vintage gathering such as ours ...

Have a wonderful week,

Love Claire xxx

PS: The new header photo was captured by my second son Jacob, when  he was last home. It is a view of my little island at sunset, taken from the opposite shore ... a happy reminder of a lovely weekend xx

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Never forget where you've come here from ....

Good morning, my lovelies! I've heard that the heatwave will be back with a vengeance next week ... just in time for the children going back to school ... It's all change here again, Harry's going back to Salford tomorrow and moving into a house before starting his second year and Millie's going back to college this week. I've hung up my childminding hat and for the first time in 24 years, my day won't revolve around the school run.

At the bottom of my last post I briefly mentioned an appearance I made on Noel Edmond's Multicoloured Swap Shop ... best forgotten I think, but as with all memories it produced lots more ...

It was November 1977, I was 16, fresh out of school and I was working at our local shipbuilding company, as a trainee shorthand-typist. In a small town like ours, Swap Shop coming to visit was a BIG event! My Dad had arranged with a friend of his that she would take my younger sister and brother along with her children ... he suggested to me that I go along too to help, as there would probably be crowds.

I got in touch with my friend Anne and arranged to meet her at the football ground where it was being held. The lady collected us, I met my friend and promptly forgot about my siblings as I was carried away with the excitement of it all.

I was wearing my new coat ... my pride of joy ... bought from Grattan's catalogue on the never-never ... a bright blue blanket coat, designed by the great Lee Bender from Bus Stop ... I was a real bobby dazzler in that! It was very voluminous, as you can see from the picture (I was over the moon to find an image of the very coat on Google - thank you very much) had a tie neck and then a rather fetching matching scarf.  I do remember the wind used to blow up it and cause it to billow out, rather like a ship in full sail.  The bell sleeves were a tad draughty too.

Posed by models - not me haha 

I had lots of other clothes from Bus Stop as I ran the Grattan catalogue ... my friend Sharon ran Freeman's and we made sure we never paid the money in on the same week ... so we could borrow out of each others! We were paid every Thursday but never had any money left after the weekend so it came in very handy.

Anyway, I'm going off on a tangent ... I met my friend and we somehow ended up on stage with Patsy Gallant (From LA to New York, remember?) after she'd done her number ... we were chatting to Cheggers and gave him a peck on the cheek (swoon!) and were getting quite dirty looks from Patsy for hogging the stage.  Cheggers asked us what we were swapping and I had a David Cassidy LP and Anne a Donny Osmond one ... he asked what did we want to swap it for.  I said loudly into the microphone, "I'll swap it with Kath over there, for that Diana Ross LP". Kath was loathe to swap her sophisticated LP for my teenybopper one, but wanted to be on telly so joined us on the stage.  At this point Cheggers had his head in his hands as we weren't really meant to know each other, and we were on air when I was loud.  In voice as well as clothes.

We were quickly scuttled off the stage and to this day I have never seen a recording ... it was one of the editions of the programme that was mysteriously lost at the BBC. I wonder why. 

I was reunited with my sister and brother who were looking daggers at me;
  • for leaving them with strangers
  • for hogging the limelight on what was actually a children's programme
  • for wearing such an ostentatious garment 
  • for making a show of them
We went home and my Dad, never one to show a great deal of emotion, said "I was doing the hoovering, looked up and saw you and that daft Anne on the telly. Why weren't H & K with you?"

It was my fifteen minutes of fame ... I went out that night and everyone was pointing at me ... envious perhaps of my suave appearance on national tv ... or perhaps incredulous that I had dared wear that coat again.  I'll probably never know ... 

I'd love to know about your claim to fame, and hope you're having an amazing, multi-coloured weekend!

Love Claire xxx

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Swap Shop!

Hello my lovelies! Well it's blowing a gale here on my little island today ... very wintry indeed. I'm off out tonight to have tea with an old friend who now lives in Australia, and had ready a pretty summery frock, but think I'll ditch it for something more substantial!

As you can see from my sidebar, I participated in Betty's 'From my home to yours' summertime swap, and parcels were duly sent on Monday.  Betty has contacted me to say that she has received hers, so I'm safe to post on here now!

My parcel arrived promptly on Tuesday morning, so I made myself a cup of tea and made the short journey outside to Dotty (I do feel like I am 'away' when I go in there!), and frantically ripped at it carefully opened it to find a vast array of beautifully wrapped parcels ...

Inside the first group were a packet of poppy seeds; a lovely little blackbird brooch and a bird fridge magnet ... I love poppies and this year mine were rather disappointing so now I shall shake my new packet around with gay abandon and shall once more have poppies everywhere!

Then there was a lovely pair of lavender sachets ... hand-painted with beautiful pink flowers ... the smell greets me every time I open the caravan door ...

and the main present was an absolutely gorgeous silk scarf also lovingly hand-painted by Betty in my favourite pinks.  What a talented lady our Betty is! Pop over to her blog Betty-the-wood-fairy to see for yourself ... she really does make the most beautiful things.

A close-up of the hollyhocks ...

and a picture of the whole thing (sorry for the quality of the pictures ... it was rather gloomy in Dotty that day)

I was also very kindly given a cd of birdsong (when I go on Betty's blog, I never fail to be surprised when birds start chirruping away ... I forget every time!) and a lovely Birthday Book, which Millie secreted away while I wasn't looking ...

Thank you so much Betty! I'm really glad you were my blog partner, and loved the woodland theme.  I forgot to take any pictures of my seaside themed swap before I sent it, but I gave Betty

A hand-stitched picture of the seaside
A hand-stitched picture with a quote Betty chose
A stick of rock
Kendal Mint Cake
An acorn light pull (just what a wood fairy needs)
Some coloured pencils
Sand castle flags
Magazine with a seaside theme
A starfish
A cuddly toy (no, not really)

Talking of the seaside, Dotty is now properly ensconced in her permanent position and has her own private beach area ... complete with pebbles, deck chairs, fishing nets and those ball things that have something to do with fishing, but I'm not quite sure what.

I've been escaping whenever I can, and have even taken up crocheting again ... complete bliss! The cares of the world just seem to melt away and I relax instantly.  Ruby is often to be found in there too. And Harry. And Millie.  But not Steve. He just doesn't get it.

I'll leave you with my latest commission, a lovely Dutch Dresser which was painted green. The lady said it blended in too much with her green walls so fancied a change and chose pink instead.  I must admit I was a bit dubious, but was really pleased with how it turned out.  It isn't really quite so pink as it looks on the picture, it's very pale, but the green shows through really nicely and provides a great contrast. And my customer loved it, so I'm very happy.

Well, I'll love you and leave you as I have to put on my glad rags, but will be in touch soon!

Love Claire xxx

PS: I once appeared on Noel Edmond's Multi-Coloured Swap Shop in the seventies ... but that's another story!

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Stormy Weather ...

Happy August, my lovelies ... how on earth did that happen already?

Well, my garden sale was an absolutely fabulous event made so by the wonderful people who dropped in ... it was a meeting place for old and new customers alike and also of course, friends and family. £130 was also raised for NW Air Ambulance, just from donations in lieu of an admittance fee, so thank you all so much.

Saturday dawned bright and sunny, so I got up early and started lugging furniture around ... I had several big pieces: 3 dressing tables; a Dutch Dresser and plate rack, as well as the usual smaller items of chairs, side tables, etc.

Once the furniture was in place I was able to do my favourite thing ...  tittivate!

Even Dotty got a makeover and she was decorated with vintage teasets, old board games and annuals (anyone else remember Princess Tina?) ... there wasn't a moment in the day when there wasn't someone in there, oohing and aahing over everything and singing along to the LP's being played on Millie's vintage record player.

On Sunday, it was a bit cloudy, but I got on with it and it was a bit easier as everything that had been packed away related to a certain area of the garden.  At ten o'clock on the dot, I stood back and surveyed the scene ... I thought it looked even better than the day before ... I opened the gate ready for the visitors and the heavens opened! It was coming down so heavily I couldn't even attempt to bring anything in until it calmed down a bit.

On cue, my lovely friend Ruth arrived, and we swabbed everything down with old towels and wrung out the upholstery on my chair seats.  The rain came periodically throughout the day, and whilst not as busy as Saturday was still a good day with more lovely people coming through the gate, and some returning for a second visit! I'm sorry I haven't taken any pictures of the customers ... it was so busy I really didn't have the time and all my photos are taken beforehand.

We also had the pleasure of the company of the amazing Miss Becki Fishwick, who serenaded the shoppers on Sunday afternoon. Such a shame we didn't have the beachgoers passing by as we had the day before ...

My stock is now at an all time low, so a great excuse to go treasure-hunting once more! I can actually move in the house, and when Steve returns to work next week, I'm going to give the house a bit of a Spring Clean (well better late than never!) and revamp. Last week I took it easy after all the excitement, and as Steve is off work we've just been pottering about, doing jobs that need doing, and Steve's birthday was on Friday so I made him a cake that I'd been itching to try out after seeing it on t'internet. Didn't turn out quite as imagined but it tasted delicious, which is all that matters really!

Anyway, I'll love you and leave you my lovelies, until next time! Thanks for dropping in, you're always welcome ...

Love, Claire xxx

PS: I really need to get a wriggle on ... Betty the Wood Fairy's swap is due in soon ... will reveal all in due course xxx

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Everything in the garden's lovely ...

Good morning my lovelies! My house looks like a furniture warehouse (this place is like Ozzie Wood's ... as my Mam used to say) ... with pieces waiting to be magically transformed for my own event.  Ooh, I'm excited. but there's a lot of work to be done. I've consulted the long-term weather forecast and hopefully it's going to be a nice weekend ... sunshine would be wonderful, but as long as it's not raining it will be fine.

I trial-runned this sale last year, and it was the hottest, sunniest day of the year ... this year I'm going to do the whole weekend, so need loads of stock.  When I go to fairs, I'm obviously limited by how far away the venue is, and what I can fit in my car, but by doing this I can sell larger items, such as dressers, wardrobes and dressing tables, etc.  (I just hope that I sell them, I dread to think where they will go, if not!)

So if you've got a couple of hours free and don't live too far away, it would be absolutely wonderful to meet you!

I'm trying to catch up with all your posts, by looking at ten a day ... the trouble is, more keep appearing!

Well, I'll love you and leave you, as my paintbrush is calling me ... (I have a fair this weekend too), and I hope you all have a wonderful week and that the sun shines on you ...

Much love, Claire xxx

PS: I've spelt Dotty's name wrong on the flyer ... I can't change it as Steve had to set up pjf, or jpd's or something or other, and I daren't ask him to do it all again!