Saturday, 28 July 2012

London Calling ...

The other day the postman knocked on the door, and along with the usual pile of bills and brown envelopes was a big parcel ... It was from the lovely Ali from Ali Bee Creations.  I entered  LaaLaa's All British Swap and was delighted to be paired with Ali, who I might not have met otherwise, but I am so glad I was introduced to her lovely blog. I thought I'd taken pictures of the contents of my parcel, but I can't find them! If you pop over to Ali's blog, you'll see what I sent her.

This was my lovely box, all wrapped up in gold ... the colour of the medals Team GB are going to win in the next few weeks!

Each gift was wrapped very patriotically in red and blue tissue, and Ali also gave me a lovely Cool Britannia card, with lovely words inside ...

My stash of goodies ... well and truly spoilt!

Uncle Joe's Mint Balls, Winnie and Piglet picture holders, little Paddington pin, Union Jack tissues ...

Gorgeous, unique GB bag handmade by Ali, Jubilee Tea Towel, lovely notebook ...

The bag is so pretty, and very original ... I am privileged to be the only person in the world to have this bag!

decorated with a handmade flower ...

and Made in Britain ribbon lining ...

Twinings Tea Selection box (love Lady Grey!), GB mug, patriotic balloons, Postbox magnet, and Union Jack cake toppers, which I've earmarked for Steve's special birthday on Wednesday ...

A vintage postcard of Trafalgar Square and a lovely print of a British postbox .... and a BIG bar of Cadbury's Dairy Milk (this was hidden as soon as the photo shoot was over!).  Wasn't I lucky? Thank you Ali ... a lot of thought had gone into your swap, and I really love it all! Am so glad you liked yours too.

Moving on ... after my previous post on Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, my minds been whirring with ideas ... they don't seem to involve the WIPs I already have, they've gone on the back burner! Anyway, I picked up this old, neglected bike from Freecycle (I requested an old unusable bike and explained I wanted it for a project, rather than ruin a bike someone else could have used!)

Flat tyres, dodgy gears and brakes, left unloved in a back yard for years to grow rust and mould ...

 Ruby getting in on the photo shoot!

... and lurking by the gate, waiting for unsuspecting victims to pass by ...

and here is the finished product! Have I gone completely mad? Steve thinks I'm getting more eccentric every day! I painted the frame in Antoinette, a very pale pink, and the saddle in Provence, a lovely turquoise.  I have other plans for these paints ...

I've placed a pot containing ivy next to the bike, and hopefully it will entwine itself around the frame ... just thought the front of my house could do with a little something, haha!! Please tell me your honest opinion ... should she stay or should she go?

Wasn't the Olympic Opening Ceremony fabulous? I didn't expect to stay up and watch it all but was totally hooked ... made me proud to be British once more! Come on, Team GB, you can do it!!

I seem to be the only person in my street (and it's a big street), flying the flag for our Olympians and Paralympians, but I'm sure we'll be seeing a lot more of them in Blogland!

Hope you all have a fabulous weekend,

Love Claire xxx

Monday, 23 July 2012

Lovely Ribbons, Scarlett Ribbon ...

On Sunday morning, we woke with good intentions of spending a day in the garden, painting the cupboards which I showed you earlier.  The skies looked a little grey and threatening so that idea had to be put on hold ... however, I had a bee in my bonnet about some miraculous paint which I'd heard about, so it seemed the ideal time to try it for ourselves.  Me, Steve and Millie set out for the Lake District, about an hours drive away. This was our destination ...

Scarlett Ribbon, a delightful little shop, nestled in the lovely town of Windermere.

It is a delightful treasure trove of all things lovely ... and the sale was in full swing!

The shop is set out very cleverly, making full use of the space available, but with a feeling of space and calm. It sells clothes, accessories, greetings cards, toiletries, jewellery and lots of very lovely things for the home.

Millie, having a bit of a browse ...


But this is what our journey was about ... Annie Sloan Chalk Paint! I had heard great things about this product, so quizzed the lovely lady in the shop, and she assured me no preparation was required! No sanding, no priming, just load your brush and paint! Definitely my kind of product!

Lots of lovely, unique colours to choose from, so I was like a child in a sweet shop ... I finally selected four colours; Old Ochre, a rich, creamy colour; Provence, a deep turqouise; Paloma which is a grey/lilac and Antoinette, pretty in pale pink.  I also bought some soft wax which seals the paint and protects it.  I didn't buy any of the dark wax used for deepening the colour and ageing/distressing, as I use Briwax for this. I also bought the book which tells you all about the paint and how to use it, with loads of lovely pictures and ideas for projects.

The paint charts are very clever too, they are actually hand painted so you know what  the actual colour will be when you paint - some charts are very misleading and the finished product looks nothing like the colour  on the chart, so choice can be a bit hit or miss.

 The paint can be used inside or out, on plastic, stone, brick, concrete and metal  ... my head is bursting with ideas, and believe me, if it stands still for long enough, it's going to get a coat of Annie Sloan!

Loaded up, we said our goodbyes to Scarlett Ribbon and had a little potter around Windermere, This little sign was above a wine shop, I thought it was perfect ...

 But I was itching to get started with my new find, so we travelled home, had a Full English (late) Breakfast, then set to! Steve took Ruby for a walk (it takes exactly an hour) and instead of lugging all the cupboards downstairs I took this little beauty outside. 

It's one of the chairs which makes up my Ercol 3-piece cottage suite. In my front room, which I showed you the makeover of last time, I always thought there was too much wood and it needed softening a bit.  I know some people will think it sacrilege to paint over classic furniture, but I like to give things a modern twist while retaining their old charm.  I bought the suite last year for £45 from a charity warehouse, but probably lots of them just go the tip ... that is sacrilege!

By the time Steve got back from his walk I'd painted the chair.  The paint glides on and dries almost immediately so you can touch up straight away, without having to wait hours for it to dry before you can give it another coat.  It took one coat and then just a few dabs to cover any obvious gaps.  I waxed it with the soft wax, then took a cloth and rubbed the briwax on.  It took less than 2 hours from start to finish ... miraculous stuff indeed!

I don't normally paint as it takes so long ... sanding down, wiping, priming, then about 3 coats of paint ... it takes days and I'm far too impatient for that.  Not any more though! Hopefully today the sofa and other chair will get done, then I've got a bookcase lined up (pale pink I think), kitchen cupboards, metal garden furniture, Millie's bedroom furniture ... the list is endless!

Tomorrow I'm off to Leeds to see my boy, and hopefully Cath Kidston too!

Hope the sun shines on you this week,

Love, Claire xxx

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Summertime ... and the living is easy

During the dark, grey days of winter .... sorry ... summer, I've had lots of time on my hands, so on my days off, when I'd normally be pottering around the garden, skipping about doing summery things, and going off on jollies, I've been confined to barracks, and been finding fault with my surroundings.  When we moved in 5 years ago, the house had basically been done up to sell, but not done up very well! (New bathroom suite, not fixed to wall or floor; wooden flooring fitted but with no gaps, so every autumn it rises alarmingly in the centre; front room decorated but 80's Artex left in situ .... oh dear, I could write a book!)

This is the front room, which we just painted cream and then didn't really do much else.  It's a south-facing room, and while on sunny days is really bright, in winter seemed to lack a little warmth.

One Friday morning two weeks ago, I got up, went straight to Homebase (I stock up on my Farrow & Ball paints when it's 15% off weekend ... this is Thriftwood, after all!) and spent about an hour umming and aahing over the colour chart. I went home, cleared the first area to be painted, and started (I don't mess about, I just do it ... purists please close your ears!)  The first four images are of the room before I attacked it.

I do think it lacks warmth, even though I brightly accessorise ...

 I haven't a clue what that is in the left hand corner of the above photo ... there's nothing there! And it's definitely not my thumb which is the usual explanation! Ideas on a postcard please!

This is the transformation ... even though the colour is not bright, it just seems to make everything blend in more.  I chose French Grey from Farrow and Ball ... I love the chalky finish their paint gives, and it even subdued the Artexed wall. It was painted in a silk finish before, and I think that just highlighted the problem. I can't even see it's gorgeous ripply bumpiness on this pic ....

A change of curtains ... not new, given to me by my cousin when she moved home.  I snapped them up even though they had been in a damp conservatory and were very mildewy.  I hung them on the washing line, sprayed liberally with Dettol Mould & Mildew Remover (excellent stuff), left them for a while and then machine washed them.   Good as new ... bet she wants them back now!

A bit of Elmer going on here, I think ...

Sofa part of Ercol cottage suite (£45), oak bookcase (£30) ... pictures cost pennies from car boot sales ...

Lamps £1 each, shades 50p but revamped by me.

Artex rearing it's ugly head on this wall above.

Flowers on mantelpiece from my garden ... I am actually growing wheat! We think the only explanation is that the corn in spilt chicken feed has germinated ... Haha, I could make my own flour!

This morning my friend came round, and I was telling her about my home made furniture polish, so I made a bowlful and gave my old pine cupboards a treat.  As the room gets a lot of sun, the wood does become dry and parched, but this is the ideal remedy.  Simply pour some cheap olive oil in a bowl, add the juice of a lemon, mix, and apply to your furniture.  I usually put one lot on and leave it to soak in for a while, then apply a second lot and buff.  The lemon juice cleans the wood and the oil feeds and shines it. It makes the room smell lovely too, and is a lot more rewarding than a spray can! Ruby liked it too ... she was following me around licking it, yuk!

 I don't really buy cleaning products nowadays, I just use lemon juice, vinegar, and an awful lot of bicarbonate of soda.  Kinder to your purse, but also kind to the planet!

 More garden flowers ... the poppies are everywhere this year ..

And below, six little lovelies waiting to be transformed! When I did the last two vintage fairs, I don't know if you remember, but I sold a couple of cupboards me and Steve had renovated.  At both fairs I received orders to make more, so have been going off on my thrifty travels amassing cupboards ...

They've been sanded and given a coat of primer at the weekend, but unfortunately rain stopped play, so hopefully this weekend, we'll get them painted (or Steve will!) and then I can titivate! That's the bit I love best ... hopefully my commissionees will like them! Will share them with you when they're done.

I'd just like to end by saying thank you so much for all your lovely comments on my last posting ... it certainly seemed to strike a chord with you all.  I'm going to Leeds next week to see Jacob before he goes away to France to work for the rest of the summer ... hankies at the ready!!

Hope the sun shines for you this week,

Love, Claire xxx