Craft room compromise 

This year, we had big plans for our forever home. We were hoping to extend up into our huge loft which would have given us the most amazing master bedroom with en-suite and dressing room. In my head, we’d also have had a conveniently placed window giving us the most amazing view of the Liverpool skyline. And a beautiful freestanding roll top bath in the middle of the bedroom. It was going to be spectacular. By doing this, we’d have also gained a huge guest bedroom/craft room for me (or should I say Huge CRAFT ROOM for me/a room for my family to sleep in once or twice a year when they visit). Also it would have freed up our little basement for my hardworking hubby to create a mini mancave. But alas, it was not meant to be. Due to ridiculous estimates, a major shortage of reliable builders and an unenthusiastic architect, we’ve made the sensible decision to not go ahead. Sad, but I do think it’s the right thing.

We can board out some of the loft to provide storage for the majority of stuff in the basement, but the dilemma is, where the hell do I put all my crafty possessions ?!! My dining room has tended to be my craft haven, it’s a lovely room to spend time in. It’s peaceful, relaxed and frankly the only space that could ever be an option. But storage is an issue. I have this lovely dresser which is a magnet for random crap. It’s stuffed full of a lot of my crafty bits already but is just screaming out for a spring clean .


See what I mean?

Well the other day, I set to, and started to create my calm, organised craft space. It was really therapeutic. I took the opportunity to have a bit of a clear out and filled a bag for our little community shop. When it was emptied and cleaned I gasped to myself, doesn’t it look good! 


It’s a bit of a shame to have to put stuff back on it, but on it went. This was the fun bit.



What do you think? Perhaps still a little cluttered but organised clutter wouldn’t you say? My husband made some comment about why have we opened a branch of Abakan in our dining room (a local craft shop) but I think it’s ok. Still got a way to go, I haven’t touched the drawers yet and there’s still tons of stuff in the cellar. At some point we’d like to get some built in cupboards and shelving in our alcoves either side of the fireplace. Then just imagine how much craft crap I could store in here!!

The Big Spring Clean

  
I’ve been in spring cleaning mode for a good few weeks now. When the urge takes me I just have to go with it, it’s completely out of my control. It doesn’t have to be Spring either, it can hit anytime of the year. Although I usually despise the never ending task of housework, there’s something very satisfying about having everything in its proper place and glistening clean. I think almost every room in the house has had some kind of clear out or re-organise.

The white goods have been thoroughly gone over, filters cleaned etc. Grubby handprints washed off the walls, vacuum cleaner serviced. Even the car got a clean! I’ve had a good clear out of toys and am trying to sell what I can. The kids bedrooms are getting a much needed deep clean. I think there’s been about six black sacks so far, a car full to the charity shop and a trip to the tip. And there’s still much more to do yet. It’s going to look great by the time I’ve finished, I do hope they appreciate it.

The dogs haven’t escaped my spring cleaning fever either. They’ve been groomed to within an inch of their lives. I stopped just short of putting ribbons in their hair!

With this big Spring clean underway, I thought I’d share with you some helpful cleaning tips that I’ve found invaluable along the way. Just incase you get the urge too!

Clean the microwave

Microwave half a lemon on high for 2 minutes to loosen food splashes with citrusy steam. Wipe dirt away with a damp cloth. Wash the glass turntable in hot soapy water and wipe down inside too, not forgetting the ceiling of the microwave. Clean the outside with hot soapy water including the buttons and buff dry with a clean tea towel.

Make the sink shine

Fill the kettle and pop it on. Wipe around sides and base of sink with a wet sponge. Put half a cup of bicarb down the plughole, followed by half a cup of white vinegar to clear the drain. Sprinkle wet sink with Vim scouring powder and leave to work. Pop a teabag in a mug & pour on the boiling water. Use the remaining water to rinse off the Vim, making sure you sponge around the sides to remove any stubborn marks. Give the taps a good wipe too then buff it all to a shine with a clean tea towel. Replace dishcloths with clean ones then sit and drink your cuppa while admiring your lovely clean sink!

Freshen your carpets

Make your own carpet freshener by mixing bicarb of soda with a few drops of fragrance oil or essential oil of your choice. Leave it overnight to dry then sprinkle over your carpet about ten minutes before you vacuum to leave them smelling fresh and clean.

Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite..

Give your bed a thorough clean to enjoy a good nights sleep.  Strip all your sheets and mattress protector and machine wash at 40 degrees. Wash pillows and duvet too if they’re machine washable.  If not, get them dry cleaned. Your local launderette usually have larger machines if they don’t fit. Using the upholstery attachment on your hoover, give your mattress a really good vacuum, getting into all the indented areas where dusts collects. Flip the mattress to ensure it gets even wear then spray with a fabric freshener and leave to air for the rest of the day. Wipe all around the bed frame with a damp cloth.  Don’t forget to vacuum under the bed too as lots of dust gathers there. Put fresh sheets on before bedtime and have sweet dreams.

Cut down on your ironing

I’m very lucky to have the perfect room for doing laundry.  Most of my washing gets dried on the victorian airer. Where possible, I hang everything on coat hangers so that most of the creases fall out while they’re drying. This also works the same for the washing line outside.

Dust and cobwebs

Quite often I notice a load of cobwebs have appeared on the ceiling. Use the extension of the vacuum cleaner to get up in the corners and get rid. After that, use the brush attachment to go around the skirting boards and collect the dust.  Using a damp cloth and hot soapy water, wipe the skirting. If you have old, decorative skirting boards like me, you might need to use a brush to get into all the nooks and crannies.

Mirrors and glass

I’ve always found the shop-bought glass cleaners end up leaving smears. The best solution for this is to use a mixture of 1 part white vinegar to 3 parts water in a spray bottle. I use either paper towels or a microfibre cloth to wipe clean. This is also great for giving bathroom tiles a really good clean and sparkle.

Don’t be a couch potato

Give your sofas a good clean regularly to keep them looking their best.  They do get a lot of use in our house. Remove all scatter cushions and any loose seat or back cushions.  Collect any money, toys, food or general yukiness. Using the upholstery attachment, vacuum thoroughly including the arms.  Do the seat cushions too. Ours is a leather sofa so I use a leather clean and feed spray with a soft cloth. If yours is a fabric one, spot clean any marks with a sponge and a fabric shampoo. Where possible, switch the cushions around so they get even use. Plump up the scatter cushions and put any washable covers in the washing machine for a freshen up. On fabric sofas, spritz with a fabric freshener.

My go to reference for household tips is this booklet. Some of the tips above are inspired from here but I’ve altered them to suit me.

   

 It came with my ideal home magazine a couple of years ago and it’s great for all kinds of practical advice for the home.

Well, I hope you’re inspired now to go forth and clean and get your homes spic & span and ship shape & Bristol fashion!

Don’t forget your pinnies & headscarves in true 1950’s style!

Bye for now… xxx

Resolutions and routine 

  
Hello everyone, how was your Christmas? I hope it was good. We had a nice time here, surrounded by far too much chocolate and wrapping paper. I was spoiled by my hubby, he’s very good at buying presents for me, he knows me so well. The Christmas movie watching effort was awful though, I must do better next year.

We’re at that kind of nothingy in between stage now and I’m itching to take the decorations down and get the house straight again. I’m so ready to bring order to our day to day lives. I’m making mental lists of all sorts of things. Weekly meal planning, exercise routines, household cleaning rotas, future crafting plans. I’m always at my most organised and positive at this time, full of hope and great intentions. 2016 is going to be a good year. It will be well planned, organised and lots will be achieved. While writing some of my lists out on paper, I discovered last years list of New Years resolutions. I can tell you that only three things got ticked off. 

  1. Start a blog 
  2. Teach myself to crochet 
  3. Have monthly date nights with the hubby

Those are actually three very important ones and I’m so so glad I achieved them. The ones that didn’t make it will definitely be focused on in this new year ahead. Things like exercise and giving myself some attention. That always gets put on the back burner but it needs to take priority now before I start to not recognise myself anymore. I read this article a little while ago and it really rung true. It got me thinking about myself. Probably about 95% of what I DO is for everyone else. My life is crammed full of DOING for others, cooking, cleaning, washing, shopping, looking after, arranging appointments, ferrying around, tidying up after. The list is endless. Even most of the things I crochet have been for other people. If I don’t start scheduling some time in for me, it feels like Vicki won’t exist anymore. Every inch of me needs some attention starting from my hair right down to my toes. I MUST start looking after myself because I feel like a mess most of the time. To be able to keep looking after my family and to be in a good position to do so, I need to look after myself first. Does that make sense? Without sounding selfish? Vicki needs to be a person in her own right, not just the one who DOES. I’d also love to be able to contribute financially. I’ve always been quite an independent person so to be able to do that, even if just a little bit would be great. Ideally I’d like to be able to make lots of lovely things myself and sell them but having had previous experience of that, I know it’s not all that easy. Maybe I’ll give it some thought. Perhaps a little part time job somewhere? It’d get me out of the house, child-free, and I’d get paid. That actually sounds quite appealing! Watch this space.

I think I lasted about 2 days after I finished the last blanket before I felt the urge to pick up some crochet again. I wasn’t ready to start anything new just yet so I just carried on with the unidentified blanket (see my blog post titled the unidentified blanket) that I’m making for our daughter. I will have to decide quite what I’m doing with this one fairly soon! I’ve got lots of new crafty projects in mind. Too many actually, they’re swimming around my head and I need to reel them in and work out which I’m going to do first. I’ll try not to buy any more wool for a while, there’s plenty in my stash to use up first. Perfect for some of the smaller projects I have in mind.

So, looking ahead, here are my resolutions for the year 2016. If I put them here, it means I have to try extra hard to keep at them ūüėČ

  1. Set up a weekly/monthly meal plan and do online shopping.
  2. Write out and stick to a regular household cleaning schedule.
  3. Attend one exercise class a week and do one run a week.
  4. Have a pamper night once a week to keep myself buffed, scrubbed and manicured.
  5. One night a week to be a family night where we all sit around the table, eat, chat and play board games.
  6. Have a more structured day planned with baby J, more activities & less TV.

I think that’s about it. I’ll look back at this in a months time and see how I’m doing! Do any of you have any resolutions for 2016 or any suggestions as to how to stick to them?

Happy new year to you all, see you on the other side for lots of crafty goings on!

Vicki xxx

Guilty crochet 

I don’t expect I’m alone in this. Please tell me it’s not just me. Does anyone else feel oh so guilty, taking a bit of precious time out during the day to crochet, craft or create? I do, lots, which means I hardly ever do it. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to craft for a living? That’s not easy these days. As my job is to stay home and look after the house and children, it really is 24/7. There is no 9 to 5, shift patterns or days off. I’m on duty permanently. There’s always plenty of jobs needing to be done, and once they’re done, it’s time to start all over again. On a normal day, I get roughly 2 hours while baby J naps, in which to do things I can’t do with him around. Things like ironing, cleaning the chickens out, doing dishes and general cleaning and tidying, which there is always heaps of with a big house full of 6 humans, 2 dogs & 11 chickens.

Today, I decided I really, really wanted to do some crochet. Everything else could just wait an hour. I set myself up in the dining room, put some classical music on and made a cup of green tea.

  
I’ve been excited to start this project, it’s been sitting on top of my bookcase in it’s pretty pink bag for about 6 weeks or more.

I was quite happy with the start I’d made in my little bit of stolen time.

   
 
I’m justifying today’s lack of housework as this project is sadly not for me. It’s going to be a present for my lovely nan for Christmas. 

Yes, I said the ‘C’ word.

Christmas.

Christmas, Christmas, Christmas!

Yes, I’ve started thinking about it already.

Only 3 pay days to go you know!!

Today

Today, I started off full of good intentions to be healthy. 

 
I’m yet to have the green tea but I have drunk about 4 glasses of lemon water.

Today, I saved this fabulous little chair from landfill. Baby J is made up with it. Just need to wash the cover as its a bit grubby.

  
Today, I blitzed the dining room and bought it these pretty little flowers for ¬£1. Yes, one whole pound!! 

 
Today, I cleaned out the chickens. Not easy when they’re pecking at your toes I can tell you. Especially Natasha here, she’s the worst for it.

 
Today, I spent a few minutes with a cup of tea in the garden, chilling with one of the dogs. She’s a proper sun worshipper. 

 
Today, I couldn’t resist capturing some of the growing gorgeousness in our back garden. 

    
    
 
Do you love my heart shaped tomatoes growing there? My hubby bought them knowing I’m mad for anything heart shaped.

Today, I had a nice healthy dinner.

  
Huge mistake though, to try and eat it while baby J was still awake. Silly Vicki.

Now here’s the dilemma. My hubby is away with work tonight, do I take the opportunity to have control of the TV? Do I dust off the sewing machine and see what I can run up? Do I finally get my crochet hooks out of semi-retirement and watch the TV too? Or do I have a pamper evening? Think I’ll put the baby to bed, pour a little glass of wine and decide while watering the garden.

Hope you’ve all had a good day today xxx

A hard days work

The weather today was not too shabby so we grabbed at the chance to get loads done in the garden. It’s been difficult to get anything done lately with the weather.

The main job was the constructing of Baby J’s playhouse. It was way beyond my capabilities so it fell to my hubby. He enlisted the help of our eldest son and was teaching him some manly skills including how to use a drill. It was nice to see the kids getting involved and helping out. 

  
It seemed to come together quite quickly.

  

   
 
As with the majority of flat packs, there was, of course, missing parts. As well as a few extra ones too, about half a shed extra! So we’ll have to wait a bit to finish it off but it’s a perfect opportunity for me to paint it while we wait. Please Mr Weatherman can we have some nice sunny days this week?

  
The next job was a well overdue spring clean of the water feature. As you can see it’s covered in a gorgeous shade of algae green. With a bit of elbow grease it came up lovely.

  
A much cleaner home for our two goldfish. It’s very relaxing sitting here and listening to the sound of water. I wouldn’t mind looking out for a cute little chair with some age to it, to put just there to the right. Perfect for sitting and reading a book in complete peace & tranquility.

While I was pottering in the garden, I couldn’t resist taking a few snaps of some of the gorgeousness that’s growing…

   
  

       

Hope you’ve all had a pleasant weekend. 

Vicki xxx

Prettifying

After finishing my blanket, I had one night with no crafting. That was tough going and with no yarn to start my next project I decided to move onto another therapeutic pastime, deco patch.

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I rescued this magazine rack from the boys bedroom last year with the plan of doing it up & using it myself. As usual it’s taken me a looong time to get round to it. I got my collection of deco patch papers and glue out ready to start transforming.

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It’s really easy to use, just tear up your chosen paper into smallish pieces, put a thin layer of glue onto the wood, stick the paper then put another layer of glue on top of the paper. Just keep sticking and building it up until you get the desired look.

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I wanted a kind of mis matched look so I used a different paper on each side. Once you’ve covered everything, give it a final layer of glue all over. This will dry to a hardened finish. Et voila, one far prettier magazine rack. Only trouble is, I kept all my deco patch papers in here so now I need to find them a new home.

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It fits perfectly next to my enormous stack of ideal home magazines. There’s no magazine rack big enough to house those!
While I was doing this I realised my dresser had gotten extremely cluttered and messy, it needed sorting.
This was the before….

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And this was the after…..

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There’s still quite a lot of stuff on here but it’s a definite improvement on before. I mustn’t let it get that bad again!

Boys….Urghh

If you’re expecting some kind of crafty, creative blog today then look away now.

Aren’t boys vile? Especially the teenage variety. I took it upon myself this week to give the boys bedroom a proper good spring clean, under much protest I might add. They said there’s nothing wrong with it. What dirt? Take my word for it, it was very much in need of a CLEAN. Well, Kim & Aggie would have been more suited to this one. Where were a pair of feather trimmed, zebra-print rubber gloves when I needed them? This was just a selection of what I came across on my brave, stupid, never doing again task:-

43p in 1p’s
8p in 2p’s
40p in 5p’s
A handful of coins from around the world
Just 5 odd, dirty socks (surprisingly)
6 half used packs of pocket tissues
A library book due back 21st Oct 2013
1053 match attax cards
2 hot water bottles with stagnant, smelly water inside
18 sets of unwanted Top trumps
6 rather suspect slimy lumps of goo, stuck to the floor, rock solid
37 old birthday/christmas cards
842g of dust (that’s an awful lot of dust)
3 old mobile phones, completely outdated but perfect to give to the little man who likes to pretend he’s talking on the phone.
1 digital camera, used for maybe 4 months, 7 years ago

I’ve not even finished yet, I’ve still got to go under their sofa & in the wardrobe. How can they live like that? How can they think that’s ok? I didn’t bring them up in a filthy, manky, disgusting home so why do they think it’s fine/normal/not a problem?
I’ve been kind and spared you any visual proof of the above, I’m sure those of you with any experience of teenage boys will be sympathising right now & nodding in agreement.

I’ll be back soon with something much nicer & prettier.

After I’ve enjoyed a nice glass of wine & a spot of crochet.

Vicki x