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!

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Am I only dreaming?

Good morning, my lovelies!

This is where I'm writing to you from today ... and no, before you ask, I'm not on my jollydays although it does feel like it ...

Come on in ... kick off your shoes, and I'll give you a tour ...

Meet Dotty ... our new family member, and already much-loved ...

This is my favourite place to sit and watch the world go by ...

Room to relax ...

Another cosy corner ..

and Ruby, photobombing my pretty pictures! She's settled in very well, and I can often find her in here, getting away from it all ...

Time to put your feet up, and enjoy the ride (although we aren't going anywhere!) ...

Floral loveliness abounding ...

My treasures all fit in so effortlessly ...

And life really is just a bowl of cherries! 

This dream of mine, to have a caravan in the garden, has been harboured for ever ... ever since I was a little girl and used to visit a family friend's caravan by the sea.  A bolt hole, somewhere to think and dream, to be creative or just simply to laze about in, doing nothing. Somewhere that is home, but not in the house ... but not properly outside either. 

This dream has been made a reality by a lovely lady called Gillian. She remembered that about a year ago, I had been enquiring on Facebook if anyone had an old caravan I could buy, for a project in the garden.  I wasn't lucky as the replies were all too expensive, too big, or just not what I was looking for.  When passing a possible candidate parked at the roadside, I would screech to a halt, leap out and look for phone numbers, but it was never to be.  Until now, and I'm so, so glad that I waited! Gillian contacted me, saying she was selling her caravan and would I like to look at it.  She mentioned it was green with white spots, and decorated in Cath Kidston style.  All I can say is Gillian is not prone to exaggeration and I was flabbergasted when I saw Dotty for the first time, and when  the door was opened I was in seventh heaven! Steve took down the measurements and we then had to come home and measure the space we had available.  I knew that if she didn't fit through the gates that was the end of it ... with about 6 inches to spare on each side, Dotty was eased into position on our drive on Sunday evening.  We are busy removing raised beds on the veggie plot to finally position her as we can't get through our front door with ease any more!

Everyone who comes to see Dotty says "you've been busy, when did you get her"? and can't believe that she was already like this ... she is just perfect for my taste ... I had even painted a little step stool green with white spots only last week ... and my cushions match the roller blinds! I have been introducing small items, but can't go mad as yet, as Dotty has to be moved, so I will only have to empty her again.  There is loads of storage but I am determined that she doesn't become like my craft room ... too full to open the door! My craft room can now be tidied and sorted as my old Singer can now reside in Dotty ... a perfect place to sit and sew ...

Dreams can come true ... and thank you so much Gillian for making mine happen ... I know we are going to have many, many happy years with Dotty! 

Love, Claire xxx

PS: Thank you all for your lovely greetings and comments on Tuesday! We had a wonderful day with family and friends and the sun shone, so it was just perfect ... thanks again xxx

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Third finger, left hand ...

To Steve xxx

25 years ago today I married the kindest, most selfless man in the world. We look so young in this picture, and totally unaware of what lay ahead of us.

Since then we've experienced life ups and downs; joy, happiness, tragedy, comedy, excitement and grief ... I wouldn't change a thing about this journey, because it's brought us to where we are today, and there is nowhere else I want to be than by his side.

Tonight we will celebrate together with a meal at a local restaurant and then on Friday our children are treating us to an evening celebration at the place where we had our wedding reception all those years ago.  Feeling well and truly blessed.

Love, Claire

Monday, 2 June 2014

I need a little time ...

Good morning, my lovelies! I don't seem able to get a minute these days to catch up with you all ... I've got a big fair coming up in a fortnight, so every spare moment is spent, paintbrush in hand, titivating furniture within an inch of its life, and making and creating.

Once that's over, Steve and I are going to the great metropolis for a few days ... alone, just us two! Never before has this happened, as we've always had a little tribe following in our wake ... at the beginning of July we celebrate our Silver Wedding, so are treating ourselves to a nice little trip to London ... we don't really want to do the typical touristy things, as we've done that with our family ... we want to explore the hidden treasures of our capital, so if any of you lovely people have any suggestions, I'd be very grateful! We will be there Friday, Saturday and most of Sunday.

I am missing you all, and promise that as soon as the chaos that is my life at the moment, quietens down, I will be visiting you all, and leaving so many comments, that you'll wish I stayed away! Harry is now home from Uni for the summer ... yesterday was spent emptying his room on campus and bringing back 9 months of washing, and other lovely things ... a bagful of unwashed crockery, anyone?

With that delightful image in your head, I'll love you and leave you, and until next time, here's some flowers for you ...

Love, Claire xxx

PS: Can't wait to find out what you've all been doing xx

Friday, 16 May 2014

You are my sunshine ...

“She turned to the sunlight
    And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbour:
    "Winter is dead.”

Hope that the sun shines for you this weekend ... see you soon my lovelies!

Love, Claire xxx

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Make it easy on yourself ...

Good morning my lovelies!

It's a bit of a blustery day here on my little island, nothing on the calendar, so a stay-at-home sort of day I think ... if I've got nothing planned I don't mind this kind of day, now and again of course ... all the time would be a bit tedious. I've been moving furniture round and sprucing it up, as you know what they say "a change is as good as a rest" and I feel like I've decorated or done something really drastic as it all looks fresh and .... different.

The cupboard above was a lovely find from Freegle,  (I already had the top cabinet) ... a new coat of paint, a swish of wax and some careful shabbying, and voila! ... a complete new look for ... well, nothing!

I've been pondering about simplifying chores (to free up time to do more pleasurable activities, like pottering about with phrases and needles and reels of Sylko) and I'd like to share my top tips with you for making life just that bit easier.  My husband thinks I have chronic OCD, and that may not be far from the truth, but hey, if it makes me more organised with very little effort, that can only be a good thing, can't it? I have mentioned some of these tips before, so if you've already seen them, I apologise!

Top Tips
  • ALWAYS have a 1 litre spray bottle, filled with plain tap water and 2 tsps of bicarbonate of soda handy.  This mixture is invaluable for cleaning your oven  as mentioned here, but also works on any burnt on spills (old or new) on the hob.  Just spray on and leave a few seconds. Wipe off and it will completely disappear.

  • ALWAYS have a 1 litre spray bottle, filled 2/3 with tap water, the remainder with white vinegar, and a tiny drop of washing up liquid.  This concoction is marvellous for cleaning bathrooms, but gives brilliant results on windows and mirrors too ... spray on, wipe off and then polish with scrunched up newspaper ... dazzling results!

  • When filling the dishwasher, try to put like with like as you go, ie, plates of same size, mugs, bowls, etc ... then all you need to do is pick them out in one fell swoop and put in cupboard, without having to sort through them.  The same goes for cutlery ... if you put just forks in one compartment of the cutlery basket, they can just all be put straight into drawer.  The same goes for knives, spoons, etc.  More hygienic too ... especially if the children are helping!

  • While you're doing the 'big' shop, try to put similar items together into the shopping trolley. Place tins together (preferably at the bottom), bread, fridge stuff, frozen items, etc.  Load them onto the belt in this way and then when  you pack them at the other end they will be in this order.  Bag them up separately, ie, tins in one bag (careful, it's heavy!), fridge stuff in another, toiletries in another, etc. When you get home the chore of putting away is a lot easier and this is were you can delegate ... bag of toiletries in the bathroom, veg in the rack, freezer stuff straight into the freezer, without having to sort through every item and making unnecessary journeys. It might sound complicated, but trust me, it will soon become second nature.

  • After you've washed your bedding, keep one pillowcase aside and fold the duvet cover, remaining pillowcases and sheets and place inside the saved pillowcase.  This way you always have a complete matching set to hand ... no more turning the airing cupboard upside down looking for a matching pillowcase! They stack into neat piles too ...

  • Staying with the 'laundry' theme, when you go on holiday, take some bin bags or large carrier bags with you and sort laundry each day.  This saves the mammoth task of turning 6 suitcases onto the kitchen floor and sifting through 2 weeks of smelly washing.  I did this once, and vowed never again! All you need to do, when you get back, is take each bag out at a time and it's not such a big deal.

  • If you're having a 'big' celebration meal, such as Christmas Dinner, or even just a family get-together Sunday roast, about an hour before it's due to be served, place the plates and serving dishes in the dishwasher and put on a quick wash.  Don't open the door until ready to serve and everything will be piping hot and saves space in your oven.  Put your gravy in a teapot, much less dribblesome, and keeps warmer longer too! (And looks very pretty, especially if dressed in a vintage cosy).

  • If you break a glass or china object, after you've picked up the big pieces, take a piece of fresh bread and wipe over the surface ... the bread will pick up the little splinters that you may otherwise miss.

  • If you drop a raw egg, rather than try to pick it up and risk spreading the mess, just give it a blast with a hairdryer ... this will cook the egg making it easy to pick up and dispose of ... or give to the dog so not wasted ...
I didn't think I'd be able to do ten, but I've racked my brains, and here's top tip number 10 ...

  • If fussy visitors are coming at very short notice, say an hour, there isn't time to spring clean, so just get a carrier bag, put everything in it that's cluttering the place, plump up the cushions, tidy papers and magazines, and pick a big bunch of flowers from the garden and light candles.  They'll be so taken with the welcoming ambience that they won't notice the dustballs under the sofa ...

After all that hard work, put your feet up, pick up your favourite magazine ... and relax with a treat.  Enjoy! You deserve it ...

Hope you all have a Wonderful Wednesday ...

Love Claire xxx