Thursday, 16 February 2017

One Week Later...

I started on Thursday last week, taking time to do things like stick some little game pieces that I liked on the front of a sketchbook, sort things as I went along, that kind of thing. (This kind of activity was a luxury that soon stopped!) So ensued a week of what seemed like utter chaos. In the past, when tackling the back room, which has been a regular occurrence, I would get it all out, then, with ideas that never worked, put most of it back again. Within a few weeks, it would be the same mess it always was, and I would give up, using it as a dumping ground for things I didn't want to deal with, or had no other room for. This time I had a plan, in fact a vision. (Sounds pretentious but it was what kept me going.) I wanted a room where:
I could read a book or do some craft,
I knew where everything was,
The cats could sit,
The radiator was usable,
That wasn't embarrassing.
Cassie was there every step of the way. Lily hates this kind of thing, it disturbs her, and she is wise enough to just hide in the bedroom and sleep, only getting up for food or the toilet!
Cassie, on the other hand, thrives on the excitement and unpredictability of change. She did have one evening of seeming to have had just about enough, as her food wasn't accessible for about half an hour. The above photo shows just how much space she had. This room was her little room when we first got her, as we wanted to separate her from Tiger and Lily for a couple of days. Ever since then, she has seen it as hers, and has expected biscuits to be available at all times in there. 
 The piles were to the ceiling in some places, and nearly in others. 
It all started with a box, well about ten boxes. Thank you Sainsbury's! These were to put stuff to sell into temporarily. They are great as they stack. Cassie loves to play in these boxes, catching her feather through the holes. Here she is waiting for this to happen. 
 I cleared up the middle first. I wanted to get to a little wooden bedside cupboard which I am converting into an oven for role play at work. I painted the black base on the Thursday, but have only just begun the next stage today. I will finish it next week. I didn't have any more time for that kind of thing after Thursday.
 The same view more or less finished. Still quite full, but I pretty much know what is there now. Under the desk is fabric in shrink bags. (These bags are my favourite thing at the moment-brilliant for wool and fabric storage, and recently expanded into bedding storage.) The pound shop do them.
 This is the corner of the room. This side was the worst. The other side had a little usable and organised space. My art stuff was on the wooden shelves and they were fairly organised. This side was just a heap of stuff I couldn't even remember.
Cassie was very excited when the window was exposed!
My cardboard boxes are in the corner here. I had to tackle the other side of the room before moving them. A lot of this week has been emptying and refilling boxes in more efficient ways. I have not had to buy any storage stuff, just use the things I have better. The stuff to sell is in the shed now, in plastic boxes which I will do over the next couple of weeks. I have two boxes in the sitting room that I will do next week.  
 This is the corner of the room now. There is still a pile of plastic boxes, but only a single layer, not reaching to the ceiling, and I know what is in them. I have tried to put what I use most near the top, and must make the effort to put away things when I have finished with them. I also must not buy any more art and craft supplies-probably ever!
 This pile was almost fun to excavate. There was artwork, materials, and fabric, lots of fabric. I probably halved my fabric and I still have a lot. I think I have had about five trips to the charity shop, maybe six, and each time with at least four bags. I have all the stuff for school in my car ready to take in next week. I can't believe how much I have accumulated. I somehow found it easy to get rid of things this time, whereas before I always found it so hard. I think it is because I really wanted my vision to come true. As the week went on, I got quicker and harsher in the decisions I made as I just wanted it to be over. Finally, today, I think that will do for now. I did sit in there and read a little when having my tea this morning. Woohoo!
Cassie helping to sort the fabric by sitting on it. 
Cassie in the card box, helping to sort the cards by sitting on them. 
I think this was Saturday. I felt very excited to be able to see the floor and put something where it was going to go.  Meanwhile, the rest of the flat looked like this. 

The trunks from the kitchen have become my seat. That meant that I could move my wool storage bins to where the trunks were, disguise them with a blanket, and make a cosy seat for the cats. 
Cassie loved the new seat straight away. 
A bit of relaxing colouring to make this reminder of what is in the boxes.  
I found lots of great things I had forgotten I had, or knew I had but couldn't find. These doilies, from various sources, are one such thing. I have a book by Elisabeth Dunker of Fine Little Day. I always used to enjoy reading her blog and when I saw the book a while ago I had to get it. It is filled with lovely ideas and pictures, amongst which is a curtain made with vintage doilies. Making this was my reward for all the hard work. It still needs sewing up a little better, and hanging more neatly, but I like it. It made me spend a lot of time looking closely at the doilies as I sewed them and they are so fine. I can't imagine being able to do such tiny crochet. Some of them are other techniques and all are beautiful. 
 My other treat was being able to incorporate my model head into things. I was thinking of selling her but didn't want to. She fits nicely onto the top of these shelves (1960s folding camping shelves-one of the most useful and strong things I have ever bought!) and looks good in the Russian hat. I was thinking of getting rid of my big mannequin, and wondered about detaching her head and just keeping that. However, she is all in one piece, and I am not sawing a mannequin head off in the garden, so she is staying too. She is in the corner on the right.

 I was also pleased to be able to fit the red lidded spice rack from the 50s or 60s, which makes a lovely container for glitter.
I only went to the tip once, and that was to recycle the cardboard boxes. I like the sign advising that suitable footwear should be worn. Not a sign aimed at men obviously.
Finally, a picture of the kitchen table, looking like I think tables should look. I love putting flowers on the table as it takes me straight back to childhood and my Wendy house. Andy gave me the roses on Valentines day, and the daffodils I bought. I was going to sell the spotty teapot, but I love it and it makes a great vase! I found the tablecloth in a case I had forgotten.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017


I am trying to break with some of my patterns of behaviour. Such as, having too many things. I watch the hoarding programmes without really wanting to admit that I have similar attitudes. Since my part time working started after Christmas, I have been trying to tackle a bit of the flat each week, and have already got rid of and sorted a lot. As it is half term next week, I have decided to tackle the back room. Although the rest of the flat is very full, we are not living under teetering piles of rubbish and in danger of being crushed. However, the back room is a mini version of that. It is a very small room, about 2.5 meters square. The only usable space is about a meter strip in the middle for Cassie's biscuits. By the end of next week, I want it to be a place that can be sat in, and even slept in by a guest. I might be a bit ambitious, and I do always overestimate what I can get done in any given time, but I hope to get a lot done. Will share before and after if I get it finished!
 The weekend before last, we went to a place called Brighouse, in Yorkshire, for a surprise 50th birthday party for Andy's cousin Pete. There were lots of patterns to be seen from the window of our hotel on the lovely morning after, when I had a less than lovely morning after the fun night before. Don't sit up drinking Drambui in the hotel bar would be my advice. Despite the hangover, it was a fun party and good to see everyone.

The other patterns in my life at the moment are knitting ones. I had a bit of an animal phase after Christmas, making a turkey, goose and rooster. I love making them! Don't seem to have taken many photos though. I am currently knitting my first ever jumper. It is from a book of cat patterns-mainly jumpers, and some other bits like cushions. It is from the eighties and is great. I spotted it when I was donating stuff. At least I went in with a big bag and came out with a small one! I have only done the rib, the bottom and the beginning of the pattern. I painstakingly copied out the pattern onto graph paper rather than following the one in the book, which may have been a waste of time but enjoyable. It will use up a lot of my wool, though may be a bit cobbled together in different colours and types. I may only end up wearing it around the house, but I am excited to get on with it! I do have a very boring crocheted baby blanket to make but am doing that in between.

Here's the goose  and the rooster on tumblr.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Panda Car

A bear in a car. In his own little bear window. It's a panda car.   

Monday, 2 January 2017

Wreaths and a Turkey

I made  a wreath for the first time this year, as the Dogwood in the garden has grown enough stems to be able to. Today was a lovely day, and we wanted to go to the park for a walk into Greenwich. There was a huge queue though so we drove down into Greenwich to park. When we were going back to the car, we walked around Gloucester Circus. I took photos of the first two doorways we walked past as they are so grand. There was a varied selection of wreaths on a lot of the doors. A couple are from doors on Royal Hill too. My favourite is the red berry one on the red door.


I am back at work tomorrow. As I haven't been posting here much for ages, (Due to no spare time whatsoever, and any that I did have I was making things!) I haven't explained what I am doing at the moment. I was supposed to be staying at the same school for a term, in the likelihood that Ofsted would turn up, and because they hadn't found anyone to replace me by the end of the summer. I was fine with this, up until about the middle of November, when I started to realize that I did not want to leave the children, as I felt that would be letting them down. I have never left a class half way through a year and I was not comfortable doing so, even though it would mean a break from all that work! However, the volume of work has increased yet again this term, and I was spending most evenings working, and at least a day at the weekend, often more. I know this is what teachers do, but I had got to the point where I could not do it any longer. So I asked the head if I could be part time. I will still be responsible for everything, but only spend three days in school, plus half a day paid working at home. Obviously, I cannot get everything done in half a day, but I should be able to in a whole day and it will at least give me the weekend, plus most of Friday. I know it is not ideal to only be in class part of the week, but the staff in the nursery are good and I feel it is better to do this rather than leave altogether. I will see how it works out. 
We have had a lovely last day of the holiday. Visiting Greenwich, buying books, a bit of sorting and tidying, eating up leftovers and watching films. I have stuffed a turkey-a knitted one that is! It is from this book. It has taken a few days to make but I like it! It is terrible at standing up, but you can kind of balance it against something. I got the book for Christmas from the EYFS coordinator at work which was very kind of her. I hadn't seen it before and it is a great book. The animals are funny-full of character!

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Happy New Year!

Happy Blackheath in the fog and sunshine two days ago. It looked like I imagine heaven would look if you believe in that kind of thing. 
 New year at home this year. We have had a lovely evening. I spoke to all my family and my friends in Holland where we would normally be. We have had seventies themed food-prawn cocktail, coq au vin and chocolate mousse and lots of various nice drinks. We ate at the picnic fold up table as the kitchen table has too much stuff on it. It was like our own little restaurant!
Hope all of your New Years are fun and wishing you a great 2017! x

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Happy Little Faces

I found a book of knitted teddy bears in the charity shop the other day, and have been knitting little bears ever since. (Well I am on my third one anyway) I have made two of the same bear and am now trying a second pattern. I am quite pleased that I am managing to follow a knitting pattern, as I never could before. Since teaching myself the double pointed needles my knitting confidence has increased. 
 This is bear number one, or 'proto bear' who I made all my mistakes on-mainly by sewing the wrong sides of the legs together instead of the right sides. Unlike crochet animals I have made, the bears are not made in the round, but as pieces to make up, like you would fabric. This one is done in stocking stitch, but the bumpy side is the right side and I got confused. I knitted two more legs and tried again! The jumper is much harder to make than the bear.
 This is bear two, who now lives with Linda Sue in her mouse flat in West London. I used the larger of my glass beads for this one's eyes. I also did a different colour for the jumper sleeves, as in the first one I think I used the front as a sleeve-the arms are significantly different in width!
 The bear is posing on a book bought purely for the cover. I have quite a collection of books bought for the cover. Oh dear. These books were £1 each in the cheapest second hand bookshop in the world-in Greenwich. If you are willing to put up with piles of books that you search through, and piles of book collectors who don't really like to move out of the way in the narrow aisles then it is for you. I just remembered somewhere cheaper-a place in Barnet where we went with Andy's sister was giving away books free. I seem to remember I was quite restrained.
 Apart from the happy bear faces, I thought I would share a couple of things from school recently.
 This is a robot made by one of the boys in our morning nursery. He was hammering nails into a piece of wood outside.(He is good at hammering and was able to make the nail stick into the wood) I asked what he was making and he said "A robot." I thought I would help him, so went to cut some arms and legs. He was able to fix them onto the wood, which I then finished off by hammering the ends over. He wanted a triangle head. Then he went inside to paint and decorate the robot. He added buttons, drew a face and stuck on an eye. My favourite part is the one eye! I had to do some minor surgery on the robot tonight as the arms and legs had stuck and stopped moving. They move again now!
 This is our adult led task this week. It is the mum from our story "Biscuit Bear". You never see her face in the book, so we talked about her and how she might be feeling. We looked at the clues-a big mess on the kitchen floor, the folded arms. We practised different expressions and talked about feelings that we have. Then they have to draw Mum's head and show her feelings in their drawing. We ask them why she feels a particular way. It has been a fun activity and the talking/drawing have been impressive. This is my favourite so far. This girl drew Mum's face and could say how she was feeling, also adding her own family, and describing their feelings too. I love the hair and eyes on her faces!
The final happy face is the gingerbread man. He probably won't be happy for long. Last week, one of our parents brought her little girl a gingerbread man at home time in the morning. My colleague jokingly asked where hers was. The Mum then generously went and bought enough gingerbread men decorating kits for the whole class, morning and afternoon, to make their own. I took photos for their books, as, obviously, they were soon to meet their fate.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Boot Fair Treasure

Having resisted its lure for months now, I gave in last week and went to the boot fair. I also went this week. There were lots of great things to be found and I found them! As a demonstration of the greatness of the fair, I have included the prices of the things I bought. And the purpose if there is one, if there isn't then it is just that I loved them. 
 Domed lady. Art for one of my dolls houses, if I ever get around to arranging them. 20p.
 Fighting cockerels. Bought after I found the two horses below. £1 the pair. 
 These horses are beautiful. I am not sure if they are brass or copper, but whatever they are they certainly have a lovely coating of verdigris. I googled Chinese flying horse and found out that they are modelled on The Flying Horse of Gansu, a 2000 year old bronze sculpture found in 1969. £5. They are my second favourite thing I found.
 Glass pumpkin. Added to my small Halloween display. It picks up the light and colours around it beautifully. £2.

 Classical bust of a lady. For dolls house purposes. 50p.
 The glass bottle smells like sweet old ladies. It is not from the fair but the charity shop. 50p.
 Another red London bus, bound for Petticoat Lane. A black cab. The Knight Bus from Harry Potter. No purpose. £4 for all three.
 This is my favourite find. I was informed that it is a Morris dancer's hat. Whatever it is I love it! It fits me too. It makes the most beautiful jingling noise. £3.
  A biscuit stamp and a Chinese signature stamp (I think) I plan to actually use the biscuit stamp for its intended purpose and the other one for decoration in journals etc. Can't remember how much they were but it wasn't a lot.
 They are on top of this tin. It is really worn in a delightful way, and has embossed scenes on each side and the top. Not sure if it is London or not. I love it and think it would be able to be used to take rubbings of, though have not tried it yet. £1.

 Old tools. £2.50 for the set square, 50p the screw driver and £1 for the spatula. The screwdriver has a lovely shaped handle which feels great to hold.
 Small brass Welsh woman. 50p.