Wednesday, 9 July 2014

My first attempt at upcycling furniture

When my husband and I bought our house we didn't have nearly enough furniture for it.We moved from a 2 bedroom flat to a 4 bedroom house. We still don't have enough furniture but I'm constantly looking on Facebay for some bargains. A couple of months ago I managed to get a chest of drawers and a bedside table for £20. Below is what they originally looked like!

The drawers had some really ugly drawer handles too but I took this photo after I'd taken them off and started painting! I bought some Annie Sloan chalk paint to do these up with in Paris Grey. The spare room that I bought the furniture for will be decorated in a grey and green colour scheme eventually so I wanted something to match. Annie Sloan chalk paint is amazing because it paints on near enough anything without having to do any sanding or preparation. The furniture only took 2 coats of paint and each one dried within a couple of hours so I managed to get most of the painting done in one go. Instead of just painting the shell and the fronts I also painted the insides of the drawers.

As you can see, the drawers look completely different than they did to begin with and so much better! So far I have put on 2 coats of Annie Sloan clear wax to seal and protect the paint but I still need to put another coat on and then buff. 

One of the trickiest things with this furniture was the handles. I couldn't find any drawer handles that had the exact measurements for the holes already screwed in. I was tempted to fill them with wood filler and drill new holes but then I found a solution. In a local store I found some large round handles that are swirls. By using 2 of these next to each other it gives the impression that it is one large handle! This was so much easier than what I was going to do. The shop has run out at the moment so I still need a couple more!

I also wanted to do something a bit special with the insides of the drawers. They can look so plain and boring when they're just one colour so I decided to decopatch them. I found some really lovely flowery decopatch paper to line the drawers with. This part was really tricky as the sheets were just smaller than A4 and a pain to lay flat in one go. I also had to use different size strips of paper around the edges and some bits overlap so it doesn't look as neat as it could do but for my 1st attempt, I'm pretty happy. The drawers will be filled anyway so it doesn't matter too much I guess. From afar they look lovely though. I've added on a couple of top coats of glue/ varnish too so that the paper is sealed and has a smooth finish. 

I really love the insides of these drawers now! They really do have that something extra now when you open them.

It's taken me quite a while to get these done as I only have time on my days off to do bits to them. I can't wait to get my final couple of handles for them to be finished completely.

For my 1st attempt at upcycling furniture, I'm so pleased with the result. Now I have done these pieces I think I could easily do some more especially now I know how the products work and what to do differently next time!

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Reliving my teenage years

Last Sunday I went to a concert in Chantry Park, Ipswich with Kirsty from The Overflowing Library. Neither of us hide the fact that we like boy bands and some of our favourites were from the '90s. A couple of months ago we went to see 911 and did a meet and greet which was pretty amazing! One of both of our favourite boy bands was 5ive and we have been dying to see them for ages. We couldn't go to any of the original Big Reunion concerts and we weren't prepared to pay for tickets at the O2 because the seats were terrible and we didn't want to see some of the bands. 

Instead we chose to buy McBusted tickets as the support acts were Diversity, Scouting for Girls, 5ive and Backstreet Boys. I saw Backstreet Boys when I was 14 and absolutely loved them so I didn't mind seeing them again. Diversity I love too and have a bit of a guilty pleasure thing about dancing... maybe because I'm rubbish at it myself. 5ive sold it for me anyway but these two extra acts made things even better. McBusted and Scouting for Girls though I couldn't care less about.

Ritchie and Abs
Anyway, it was a really long day with us leaving at 9:30am, arriving at 11:30 and then sitting in the car having a picnic for 2 hours before the gates opened. We'd bought Gold Circle tickets which meant we were in a nice little circle at the front of the stage and we also didn't have to queue with everyone else which was awesome. We had out little pink wristbands which meant we could just walk straight in!! Our place in the crowd was amazing and we ended up being a couple of rows from the front.We stood our ground from about 2pm until about 7:30. If we'd gone for food or anything we wouldn't have gotten the great views of the bands we really wanted to see. 

Backstreet Boys and 5ive were amazing and were certainly worth paying to see. 5ive did most of the songs I love of theirs although their set had to be cut a bit short which was a shame. Backstreet Boys were on for about 75 minutes and did a mix of both old and new songs. They were just as good as when I saw them all those years ago. I would easily pay to go and see them in a full concert again because of seeing them again last week. 

By the time Backstreet Boys had finished both of our legs, feet and backs were aching from being stood in one spot all day so we went for a walk and to get some chips. We really didn't have the energy to go back in the Gold Circle so we sat on the grass at the back of the field when McBusted were on as neither of us were too bothered about actually seeing them perform. They sounded okay though but I wouldn't have paid to just see them. 

We ended up getting home at about 11:30pm and I was so tired! However, it was so worth it and I had an awesome day reliving my teenage years and seeing a band I never thought I'd get the chance to see. 

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Book review: What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick

About the book
What I Thought Was True is a young adult book by Huntley Fitzpatrick. The book was published by Dial Books on 15th April and it is 409 pages long.

Gwen Castle's Biggest Mistake Ever, Cassidy Somers, is slumming it as a yard boy on her Nantucket-esque island this summer. He's a rich kid from across the bridge in Stony Bay, and she hails from a family of fishermen and housecleaners who keep the island's summer people happy. Gwen worries a life of cleaning houses will be her fate too, but just when it looks like she'll never escape her past—or the island—Gwen's dad gives her some shocking advice. Sparks fly and secret histories unspool as Gwen spends a gorgeous, restless summer struggling to resolve what she thought was true—about the place she lives, the people she loves, and even herself—with what really is.

What I thought
Huntley Fitzpatrick’s debut novel My Life Next Door was one of my favourite books during the summer of 2012 so when I had the chance to read this one, I didn’t wait around for long. I haven’t been reading that much of late due to life getting in the way and generally either being too busy or too tired to concentrate. This was the first book that I’ve read in months.

This book was quite hard to get in to. Protagonist Gwen comes from a pretty confusing family. I didn’t really understand who some of the characters were until a fair way into the book. Nic was one of those characters. It was never made really clear who he was but turns out that he’s Gwen’s cousin rather than a brother like I originally though. However confusing, her family were interesting to say the least. Gwen’s mother is in love with romance novels, her dad is never around and her granddad speaks in a mix of English and Portuguese.

The plot focuses on Gwen and her plans for the summer. Normally she would be working the restaurant for her dad and babysitting but this summer her mum lands her a job looking after an elderly lady and it pays well! Gwen always dreads working in the restaurant and having to serve the rich boys from across the bridge… especially one in particular. Turns out, that one boy in particular will be spending a lot of time on the island this year and everywhere Gwen seems to go, he’s there!

The plot was pretty cute for a summer read and it wasn’t too deep which was nice. Gwen has a past and this is sort of discovered in flashbacks. Again though, this aspect of the book was really confusing. There is no clear timeline for the bits in the past and there is no clear definition between the past and the present. I felt like I never really knew what was going on until after half way through the book which was a shame. Some of Gwen’s past actions are what made her into the girl she is in this book so it would have been nice to have been able to understand her a little better.

The love interest in this book is Cass, a guy from a wealthy family but is working as a yard boy for the summer. Cass was super sweet and you could tell from the very start that he was interested in Gwen but we have to wait a while to see what’s really going on between them. I liked slowly discovering what was happening between them and the chemistry was also pretty great!! During their time together we get to know a lot about both characters rather than them just being a romance or a ‘love at first sight’ kind of thing which I hate!

While I liked this book, I didn’t love it. There was too much confusion and I just wish things had been a bit more straightforward. 

Thursday, 26 June 2014

A skip and some hard work

Before the clear out!
After buying an old Victorian house, I have quickly started to realise just how much needs doing to it. One of the first jobs on the massive list was to clear the garden. The previous owners were artists and the guy made his own pottery. Well, I say pottery but it was figures and things mostly. As we looked around the garden after moving in we saw so much hidden underneath bushes but it was all ruined! Every single thing we found was broken in some way or another apart from a few plant pots. We had already started to pile this up in the middle of the garden so at least it was all in one place.

Then there were the plants. The garden is about 60ft in total although a chunk of it is patio. Two thirds of the garden was gravelled but with a lot of bushes and plants everywhere. My mum came to visit a couple of weeks ago and just started pulling things up, showing me that it was all dead anyway. That led to a weekend of pulling and digging up bushes. We were obviously left with bags and bags full of garden waste but we pay to have a garden bin and that is slowly going down now.

The gravel we had gotten rid of a lot of weeks ago as I offered it for free on a local Facebay site as long as the people who wanted it were prepared to shovel it and take it away themselves. A couple came and took three trailers full which did clear a lot. Now we have cleared more in the skip as well as deciding to re-gravel our shared driveway with the neighbours. That already had gravel in the middle but it was looking really thin and horrible so hopefully putting our gravel there will help it to at least look a little bit nicer. 

Patio area
Anyway, yesterday we got a skip delivered and we could really begin clearing things out properly. All of the gravel in bags has now gone as well as every single piece of broken pottery. Our sort of seating area is cleared now so we can finally use the table and chairs we have. There is still so much work to be done as the back half of the garden needs tackling at some point and everything needs leveling out before we can do anything else to it. However, this is quite far down our list of things to have done now but we have loads of time to get that done before next summer.

It's so rewarding to see such a big change in our garden and although it was hard work, it was well worth it!

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Planting success

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about attempting to plant things for the first time. The garden is in a massive state at the moment (I'll explain in another post!) so growing things outside isn't an option. I planted some grass and a selection of herbs in trays on the windowsill and they are doing great so far!

The herbs have tiny little shoots coming up in three of the rows but unfortunately, one of the rows hasn't grown anything at all. I'm not sure why either as I make sure to turn the tray to even out the sun coverage and make sure I water the tray enough. Oh well, at least some things in there are growing. I'll have to move these into larger pots quite soon though so they have more room to grow!

The tray is grass is what really surprised me though. That began growing in only a couple of days and I have already tested it out on the rabbits who I am growing it for. The shoots weren't fully grown but were long enough for the rabbits to nibble on. As you can see from the picture above, Flopsy thoroughly enjoyed the grass! I have realised though that I didn't plant enough seeds so next time I will plant loads so the grass comes up really thick.

As first attempts go, I think this one was pretty successful!

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Meet Flopsy and Mopsy

So Flopsy and Mopsy are my pet rabbits. We've had them for a little over a month now and we got them only days after moving into the new house. I haven't had a pet of my own for years and years now due to living in rented places that didn't allow pets. My husband hasn't had his own pet either so we were desperate to get a new addition to the family. 

We chose rabbits as we both work full time and didn't want to get a dog/ cat only to end up not having enough time for it. I bought the rabbits from a pet shop but I think that was a bad idea. To start with, I wanted two boys and these two were in the same pen. Someone did check the sex of the rabbits before I bought them and I was told they were male. We then took them to the vet a couple of days later to get their vaccinations done and the vet wasn't so sure about Flopsy. After a second opinion it was confirmed that Flopsy was in fact a girl. Ooops! Mopsy is getting neutered in a few weeks time as we don't want baby bunnies everywhere!

Flopsy exploring the living room
Next is the fact that Mopsy is a poorly bunny. He sneezed a bit as soon as we got him but we thought that was due to a new environment and new hay etc. The sneezing was still there a week or so later so back to the vet we went. Mopsy has snuffles which is pretty bad for a rabbit and now he has a runny nose all of the time and is on antibiotics still. He has been on them for about 20 days now and he's still not better. If it hasn't cleared up soon he will have to have an x ray done on his nose to see what is really wrong with him. He's costing us a fortune at the moment but I don't mind too much as he's part of the family and we love him. We just want him to get better.

Mopsy and his food!
The rabbits are right little characters! Flopsy is the bossy, dominant rabbit who likes to get her own way and Mopsy likes his food far too much. They instantly make me smile when I go out to see them and I love how they run straight up to the front of their run to see us when we go out to them.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Windowsill planters

Although we have a massive garden now, I have no idea what to do with it. You see, I have never had a garden before. Back at my mum's house where I grew up the garden was a concrete slab at the back of the house. We never had plants or grass or trees or anything like that! So, it is safe to say that I am not green fingered. 

While my husband and I are sorting out the back garden (clearing the gravel and digging up massive bushes) I wanted to have a go at growing something myself. We have pet rabbits who should be eating grass and green foods on a regular basis. While we do give them leafy vegetables, I would love to be able to grow them their own herbs to eat. Their hutch and run is also placed on concrete slabs so they don't have fresh grass to nibble on either. 

I have begun a bit of an experience of growing things in trays on the windowsill. Our garden is south facing so the windowsill the trays are placed on gets a hell of a lot of sun. I have planted a variety of herbs and some regular grass seeds in plastic trays which are covered with a see-through plastic lid. They're like little mini tray greenhouses. I only planted the seeds a couple of days ago so obviously nothing has grown yet but I am hopeful. 

I would be really happy if even a few of the seeds worked out. I know the rabbits would appreciate the yummy food!