Spring continues… by B

Most of my little projects seem to revolve around small people these days.  This week it was smallest one turning 2, with his favourite character, Peter Rabbit, perched on a Mr McGregor’s garden cake. I have to say easiest cake ever (far easier than anything that involves making complex shapes from sponge cake).

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It involved a simple chocolate sponge cake, chocolate buttercream, a pack of marzipan and some food colouring (to make vegetables), green petit fours cases (for cabbage and cauliflower leaves), white chocolate crispy cakes (cauliflower), green fruit winders (for carrot leaves and pumpkin tendrils), crumbled bourbons (soil) and some cocktail sticks to help the veggies stay put.  And Peter, of course.

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Still enjoying spring time too, with two bunches (always at least two) of supermarket daffodils are brigntening up a corner of the living room.  Can’t remember if I’ve blogged the bookcase before, but it was a £30 ebay find (solid wood, a bit lived in), with some Ikea origami design wallpaper pasted to the back of each shelf.  It’s a good dust-free and relatively toddler-proof home for my expanding collection of Denby Chevron crockery (handed down by my Gran).

I’ve been painting a bit of furniture and doing some gardening too, but need a bit of spare time (yeah, right) to take some photos. I also need to delete a million photos off my phone so that I can update iOS and start using Camera+ again (best phone photo editing app ever) which explains the even dodgier than usual pictures in recent posts!

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Happy Easter! by B

Me and the biggest small person found some elder branches on the way home from nursery. We then had fun blowing some eggs (“It looks like snot, mummy!”), painting and glittering them.  Not classy, or perfect, but very festive.

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By the way, painting and fixing a hanging ribbon to eggs is harder than I thought and Pinterest is full of perfect eggs and zero tips on how to do it!

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The slow evolution of my (not so) baby boy’s room – by B

A Japanese paper monkey keeps watch

A Japanese paper monkey keeps watch

In the spirit of never having anything finished, here’s a post about my smallest person’s room, nearly two years after his arrival in the world (so many more ideas, but no time/money).  I’ve come to the conclusion that kids’ rooms are always evolving changing to meet their developing needs, which takes the pressure off things needing to be ‘done’.

You might notice that these photos are not all recent – the cot is at it’s highest tiny baby level, and there is still a changing mat in use.  The cot is currently held together with cable ties as two kids climbing/shaking/playing and No More Nails has ceased to work in fixing the bars!

A very hastily painted canvas from The Works, chairs from the second hand shop, Ikea Lack table, and a very familiar Ercol armchair.

A very hastily painted canvas from The Works, chairs from the second hand shop, Ikea Lack table, a very familiar Ercol armchair, and three pictures cobbled together from paper scraps.

The junk cupboard of yore :), Russian cows from Spain, and a virtually indestructible ikea light

The junk cupboard of yore :), Russian cows from Spain, and a virtually indestructible Ikea plastic light

Bookshelves from Ikea Ribba Picture ledges that are all over Pinterest for a good reason - they're fab!

Bookshelves from Ikea Ribba Picture ledges that are all over Pinterest for a good reason – they’re fab!

A mobile made from an embroidery hoop and thread, felt balls and craft foam (bold shapes for little eyes). Velvet changing mat cover from The Little Baby Company. And solar system poster from Ben Newman.

A mobile made from an embroidery hoop and thread, felt balls and craft foam (bold shapes for little eyes). Velvet changing mat cover from The Little Baby Company. And solar system poster from Ben Newman.

Hand me down cot from big sis, and paper bunting made by me when heavily pregnant

Hand me down cot from big sis, and paper bunting made by me when heavily pregnant

When he arrived, we used furniture we already had plus a few home made bits to make it economical (and personal).

We’ve since added bookshelves (my first go with the drill)  and we’re gonna need some toy storage soon. His clothes and nappies are in the wonderful victorian built in wardrobe (not wide enough for grown ups) with the addition of a cheap as chips Ikea shower curtain tension rod for a hanging rail.

Next Ikea trip might involve a trip to the rug department for something bright and washable…

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Plotting… by B

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Happy 2015.  It’s very January. But that allows for a bit of warm weather daydreaming.

Money is still tight so there won’t be any structural or expensive projects for a while. The back garden needs some professional input to remove old, crumbling (and treacherous if you’re two feet tall like my son) hard landscaping. We’ve planted some structural perennials and shrubs, but it’s a long way, and a few quid away from a coherent scheme.  However, there is a lovely, unused, south-facing plot in the front garden, so I’ve been given permission to spend our Christmas gardening vouchers on making a flower garden/cutting patch.  It’s a bit daunting (particularly as the neighbours will have a good view of my cock ups), but exciting too.

All of the spring bulbs I hastily threw in the ground last autumn came from Wilkos but this time for a treat I’m going to buy some Sarah Raven seeds and seedlings.  That way if it goes wrong I know it’s me, not the materials, at fault.  I’m using Louise Curley’s wonderful book (it really is, and the reviewers on Amazon agree), basing our patch on her ‘easy bed’ plan, but swapping her colourful blooms for similar all-white versions (trying to keep it classy in the front garden). Let’s see what we can do with £50 and some elbow grease.

x

Oh, and I packed the advent calendar away before taking a pic in its fully-opened splendour. Duh!

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Here comes Christmas… (by B)

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We had a little wooden advent calendar when I was small (mum still puts it up each year). To continue the tradition I decided to make one (well paint and fill a hobby craft blank) as everything i found to buy was pricey and/or twee. It looks a bit ameteurish but that’s part of the charm. It will look better when the tree is fully adorned with my collection of of trinkets and new wooden decorations come the 25th. X

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Coffee and despair – by B

The smell of the study. This thesis ain’t gonna write itself. But the results of my MIL’s birthday outing to this place http://www.barnstudioceramics.co.uk/Welcome.html (sorry no proper link) have arrived. My effort at a painterly ceramic pot to store my bedside gubbins have cheered me right up.

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Some new additions… by B

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My mum phoned me from an auction house a month or so ago, as she’d found something too good to miss.  While she appreciates midcentury furniture’s curves, she isn’t too keen on putting it in her own home as to her it’s a twee reminder of a 1950/60s childhood.  I spent the next half hour doing some web research to find out how much one should expect to pay for a Ercol studio couch in good nick.  And here she is, for £350.  She needs a new mattress, but for now the old faithful Tweedmill blanket and some new Ikea cushions will perk her up.

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Working from home writing day-in, day-out results in one or two coffee breaks.  This afternoon I took five in the garden in the light spring rain, accompanied by the poultry shears, hastily grabbed from the kitchen.  We are slowly building the garden, investing in perennials and shrubs that will last years, and therefore have very little in the way of well-established vase-worthy flora.  I long for the day I can cut a few branches of apple blossom or a bunch of tulips to bring indoors.  In the meantime, I’ve snipped a few sprigs of flowering rosemary and some foliage to brighten up the mantel and bring life to the pink chevron jug that arrived this morning courtesy of Ebay.  You might notice the round mirror that is a relatively new addition, also from Ebay, and something I had spent months looking for at the right price (in this case £30).  I still need to stain it to match the rest of the furniture in the room.

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Hello again, would you like to see my bedroom? – by B

Okay, so writing up a PhD with a baby and a preschooler is not conducive to interior blogging frippery.  I’ve still been attacking little projects when time and money allows.  Here’s a few quick pics of our bedroom.  I might even post a pic of the full room one day, when the sun is shining and the light is better (and the duvet is ironed).  This is another in-between quick fix.  The (inexpertly constructed) fitted pine wardrobes and bedsides have had many, many coats of white paint (thanks Mum).  The room has been painted white, carpeted grey, and the same ikea white roller blind that we have in every room in the house installed.  The Malm drawers are falling apart, the washing basket is offensively yellow wood, and the ceiling looks like it might fall down if we attempt to remove the anaglypta!

My (wonderful, and expert renovator) Mum donated three mismatched Cole and Son wallpaper rolls 8 years ago after a big build (two more renovations notched up by my folks since).  I finally thought of somewhere to stick one of them, and it was relatively easy (though this paper is very forgiving).

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Cole and Son ‘Cow Parsley’ makes the enclosed bed head (cupboards all round) really cosy

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Framed wedding certificate (remember trying to get the drunk people to sign this, N?), a picture I painted a few years ago, charity shop bud vase, eucalyptus sprigs, and a TKMaxx bowl

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Paint chip picture assembled on a whim after a trip to the DIY store (I made a swift exit with many colour cards stuffed up my sleeve and a guilty look). Pinterest is full of them. I’m finding it a great way to work out a colour scheme (though the phrase makes me wince in the same way as ‘mood board’).

 

Is it me or is it easier to take little vignettes than whole room pics?  Those glossy mag interiors photographers are a skilled bunch.  Oh yeah, and sorry about the crappy phone camera pictures.

B

x

PS: Here’s what it looked like two years ago (lots of pink, 25 years’ worth of grime, pink velour pelmeted curtains, and damp, peeling walls thanks to broken gutters)

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A few pics from Christmas Day in our newly finished dining room! by N

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A snifter of autumn – by B

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Beetroot and chocolate muffins, great grandma’s monogrammed spoon. We haven’t quite been up to eating the volume of beetroot that’s arrived in our veg box ‘au naturel’.

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Flowers from the cutting garden at Hanbury Hall, Worcestershire, this week

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A mini kitchen vignette – I promise I’ll do a proper post one day. I’m looking forward to the onion squash, my favorite type, and one I’m somehow hoping to grow.  For now Morrisson’s has come up trumps, and for a quid a piece I’m not moaning.

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Cheeky coffee and muffin break while both kids are asleep (this is cause for celebration). And no, it isn’t my first muffin of the day.  Or the first batch of muffins this week.

I can’t believe I was in my shorts a week ago.  But after a proper British summer I’m just about ready for some autumn coziness.  Though I am beginning to remember how poorly insulated Victorian houses are, and still waiting on the joiner to draughtproof the front door!  As a result I have already improved on last year’s firelighting skills (no smoke in living room, big logs completely combusted, hurrah!).  Must. Not. Put. Heating. On.

I’ve done a spot of wallpapering with the smallest person, but unless you want to see it styled with crumpled bedding, baby wipes and earplugs it will have to wait for another day (it’s our bedhead, in case you were wondering).

PS the muffin recipe is from here and involves storecupboard ingredients and takes a few minutes to throw together (unlike many beetroot and choc recipes it doesn’t require posh choc and is non the worse for it).

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