Thursday, 26 July 2012

jazzing it up, or 'a lesson on staple guns'

Being a (albeit slightly cautious) feminist, I like to think of myself as equal to the Husband in every way, including DIY and home improvements. I can paint, sand and prise wood off the wall with the best of them, and I'm pretty sure I could put up a shelf (I have this imaginary scenario where I'm wielding a power tool in one hand and cooking dinner with the other...). So when I decided I wanted to give our white IKEA (shhh, I know, I know, but we don't live somewhere where you can find good stuff in skips. All we get round here is rubble and empty beer cans) bookcase a little makeover, I didn't think twice about just getting the staple gun out and cheerfully attaching some fabric to the backboard.



Check out those corner covering skills

We got the fabric from the wonderful Ditto Fabrics on one of our many trips to Brighton - I usually like to buy fabric from charity shops (i.e. old curtains), but this was just too tempting. It's perfect for the conservatory, which is technically the place for the kiddos toys, but also has a great big comfy chair for me to sit and write in. 

I measured and marked the fabric, cut it to size, and even did the corners in the proper way (as opposed to just folding it and stapling like a maniac). But, like they say, pride comes before a fall, and as I tooted a fanfare and summoned Benjamin to see his new bookshelves, I became acutely aware that I'd made a bit of an error.

Yes, craft fans. I had stapled the bloody thing to the floor.

When I tried to lift it up for the big reveal, I was completely baffled as to why it wouldn't move. First comes shock, they say, then comes denial - in bizarro land, in my head, I thought perhaps it was only attached by one staple. The fifteen minutes I spent prizing it off of the laminate told me otherwise.

Luckily, the holes in the flooring are so minute, that I'm pretty sure nobody will notice (put it this way, the horror on the Husbands face when I told him made it pretty clear that he hadn't already seen them), and I did manage to get it up with the fabric undamaged. So did I give up? Did I heck - I got the parcel tape out and stuck it on. Nobody sees the back anyway, right?



I am pretty pleased with it, and when I get an hour or so I'll redo it using the staple gun and the guide (which I actually thought was a guard to protect the user from stapling their fingers.....ahem....), but for now it looks quite effective and anyway, I've got bigger things to craft. 

Have you had any DIY or craft disasters? I have to say, rescuing it made the whole thing that bit more satisfying!
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Monday, 23 July 2012

happy thriftiversary

Because we're pretty much the worlds most unimaginative couple when it comes to day trips, for our second anniversary the Husband and I decided to go to.... Brighton. Again. What can I say? It's close by (an hour or so by car), we've discovered a secret, superbly cheap parking spot, we know the best cafes and restaurants, and it's jam packed full of thrifty bargains. What more can you ask for in a day out?

My parents took the children for the day (I say 'day', I missed them so much that we actually left as soon as we'd finished lunch.... fail....), and we just pottered about, taking photos, eating stuff and finding some treasures.



Bacon for the Husband, fruit for me. All round win.


This is what an £85 picnic hamper looks like. 






Haloumi with hummous, peppers and rocket. Nom. Nom. Nom.




Usually when I go to Brighton, it ends up being a full on grab-a-thon, and when we came back from our honeymoon the boot of the car was literally rammed. A retro sewing table got left behind simply because short of strapping it to the roof (which I was quite prepared to do.... the Husband veto'd it though, booo) there was absolutely nowhere to put it. This time, though, I was trying to be restrained, and to buy only things which I had on a list, or really, REALLY wanted.

The Brighton Flea market was full of lovely little bits, and after drooling over the vintage picnic hamper (£85, people, £85. I don't mind telling you that we have less than that in our weekly food budget), I picked up what I think might be a soap dish, and a ceramic coaster.


My favourite, squeal-inducing thrifty wonder-thing came from the Kemptown Trading Post, a sort of miniature Snoopers Paradise that also happens to double as a coffee shop. I've been collecting old cameras since I studied photography at college years and years ago (fourteen to be exact, crikey) and to this day still prefer taking pictures with a manual SLR. I've got a couple of Kodak Instamatics, and a Pentax or two, but always wanted something from the fifties, so I almost did a wee of excitement when I saw this little beauty nestled in the corner:



A quick search on Google revealed that it dates back to 1952, but I couldn't find any instructions on how to use it - I know how to use a manual camera, but the aperture ring has no markings, and the focus doesn't seem to change. I've shoved a film in there anyway, and I think the best approach is to just haphazardly twiddle the knobs (snigger) and hope for the best. Look out for a future post with a load of blurry, over exposed photographs.

As well as cameras, I also collect trays - they don't have to be old, but it helps. I found this stunner in the Trading Post as well, for a measley £5 - apparently it was made in the sixties, but I just love the pattern, and the fact that the main colour is mustard. Mmmm, lovely mustard.


Hooking up with Missie Lizzie and all the other magpies over on Magpie Monday. Show us yer wares!
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Monday, 16 July 2012

sunday, thrifty sunday

Last Sunday was one of those days you have where everything just seems to be enjoyable and easy. The kiddos were well behaved and amenable, the sun shone (mostly) and the Gods of thrifting were chucking me cheesy grins left, right and centre.


Petersfield is a little market town, roughly fifteen minutes away from where we live by car - it has a wealth of farmers markets that appear regularly in the square, an abundance of charity shops and a grand selection of old buildings. For the little people there is a pretty nifty park and lake, where you can do something with a boat (they're always moored around somewhere, but I've never actually seen anyone in them...) or feed get surrounded, Hitchcock stylee, by the huge amount of birds. Anything with wings actually scares the bejeezus out of me, which is why I was standing way, waaaay back to take this photo:


It all started off innocently enough, and I'm sure you're probably sitting there thinking, 'oh look, boy and ducks, cuuuuuuute'. But a few ducks turned into a whole lot of ducks, which then moved onto ducks and geese, until the whole thing stepped up a level with the arrival of what I can only call, the WORLDS BIGGEST SWAN. It was literally a beast, roughly about the size of my first-born. Benjamin and the Husband thought it was hilarious, and while I was shoving everything into bags desperately, they were feeding it bread and talking to it.

We've actually never been there on a Sunday, and I was pretty overjoyed to find a brand new farmers market that I'd never seen before (a little Googling turns out that it appears on the first Sunday of every month, if you're interested). I finally managed to get hold of some decent looking tomato plants, and some fresh rhubarb. The vegetable stalls were amazing, full of white carrots, radishes and beetroot, all lined up in a riot of colour. Lush.




Benjamin had a grand time racing around the park, building sandcastles and conquering the climbing frame. That boy is fearless.



Walking round the lake is always a pretty nice experience - the people of Petersfield are a fairly friendly lot, and most will nod and smile, or give you a cheery, 'morning!' I'm a sucker for old fashioned good manners.





On the way back to the car, much to the Husbands dismay, ('why can't we just go places? Why do you have to take pictures of everything? *stops and fumbles with his phone* 'right, I'm joining in now'. *takes photograph of road sign*) I took about a gazillion pictures of some of the nicest buildings, and what I thought was a lovely little stream (the Husband informed me it was more likely some sort of drain).


I'd sell the Husband to live in a cottage like this. Check out those windows!

Pretty pub - nice to see a distinct lack of umbrellas emblazoned with lager logos
And then, like a shining beacon, the Sue Ryder shop appeared round the corner. More to the point - it was open (a charity shop? Open on a Sunday? How have I never heard of this before?), and the rest as they say, is history.

Can I get a drum roll please, for my entry into this weeks Magpie Monday. Drrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr..........

Tsssss!


I actually almost did a wee in my knickers when I saw this, and raced across the shop with an audible gasp of joy. The man behind the till looked almost frightened, and I had to explain that I was an avid pyrex collector - and that at £3 for the jug, and £5 for the bowl, I felt like I had just won the tat lottery. 



Look at it, all pyrex-y and vintage-esque. Lush. 

Hooking up with Missie Lizzie for Magpie Monday - get yer thrifts out for the gals!
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Saturday, 14 July 2012

on bottle feeding

When I was expecting my son, I spent the entire pregnancy absolutely sure that I was going to breastfeed him - I was in no doubt that as soon as he popped out, he'd latch right on and away we'd go. In reality, that couldn't have been further from the truth, and after a myriad of problems (bad latch, bleeding nipples, mastitis and inadequate milk supply to name but a few), I gave up and he was formula fed. I don't think I ever really got over the disappointment or nagging guilt, and so when I discovered I was pregnant for a second time, I never imagined I would have problems again.

When Daisy arrived, she fed immediately, and the midwife even praised me on my excellent colostrum. I preened my metaphorical feathers, and thought, 'excellent. This time I'm going to nail it.' We hadn't bought any kind of formula feeding equipment, and unwanted bottles given to us by a friend went straight to a charity shop. It literally didn't even cross my mind that I would have problems anywhere near as bad as I had the first time around.

Skin to skin during bottle feeding
Once we left hospital, it became apparent that Daisy was having some latching issues. As time went on, I was spending more and more time taking her off of the breast, and trying to get her back on correctly - as any breastfeeding mother will know, the latch is key. Without a good latch, you might as well just chew your own nipple off. She was feeding every two hours, for more than an hour each time, day and night. As soon as she had finished, she was cramming her little fists into her mouth, seemingly still desperately hungry. 
Slowly, the old problems seemed to resurface, and I started to dread every meal - I used to hold my breath and bite down on a cushion when she latched on, and would sit there, tense and desperately hoping she would stay on and just feed.

It's at this point, that I think I should just make it clear that in the first four weeks of Daisy's life, we had no midwife appointments or healthcare at all. At her heel prick test, five days after she was born, the healthcare practitioner informed me that she would make me an appointment with a midwife for a weeks time, but had to do it when she was back at the hospital. Somebody would call me with a day and time, she said, and ushered us out of the room. Three weeks later, I had heard nothing, and was in the midst of feeding hell. I rang the only number I could think of - my midwife. She was on holiday. A week and a half later, I finally got my appointment, where I was informed that Daisy had tongue tie - this explained why she couldn't latch, or on the rare occasions that she did make it onto the breast properly, she couldn't sustain it. I was also told that as she was no longer in the first few days of her life, I had missed the option to have her condition corrected through the NHS, and would have to pay for it to be done privately, something that we certainly didn't have the money for. My midwife, who was actually seething that I had been treated so badly by our healthcare system, rounded it off nicely by telling me that my daughter would never get any better at latching on, and feeding her would always be a painful experience.


Which brings us up to date. I feel a number of things - anger towards the people who discovered her tongue tie (apparently it was written on my notes, but nobody thought to actually tell me) and did nothing about it. Bitterness towards the woman who simply couldn't be bothered to follow procedure, and make me
that crucial appointment.  Guilt towards my daughter for letting her down. Disappointment in myself that I had failed to feed yet another child, failed to deliver what I thought was best and failed to somehow discover her condition myself. Which is pretty much why I'm writing this post - I thought it might be a little cathartic, a way to exorcise the demons so I can simply put the whole thing behind me and move on, enjoy my children and not let it taint their younger years. I've considered relactation numerous times, almost daily in fact, but as both my Mum and the Husband pointed out, nothing will have changed - Daisy will still have tongue tie, I will still end up in agony and we'll be in even more of a mess than we were in the beginning. 


Bonding through bottle feeding - it can be done!
The breast vs. bottle debate has raged for years, and I have no doubt at all that it will continue to do so - the funny thing is, the majority of us don't give a Nun's chuff how other women choose to feed their babies. I might be a formula feeder, but it's certainly not through choice - I managed to feed Daisy twice in public in those four short weeks, and felt like I'd conquered the moon (admittedly, her head was pretty much buried beneath my shawl, but still....). I felt a swell of pride when I read this post on Fritha's blog, and decided that had I been living in Bristol, I would have gone along in support regardless. I still practise attachment parenting, 'wearing' Daisy frequently, and try my hardest to bond through feeding (skin to skin contact, placing the bottle at breast height, and so on) - when I'm not sending the plastic bottle hateful vibes. I found some useful information through the Sears parenting book, and more here. A quick search via Google produces some good results - after I'd done this, I certainly felt better about the whole situation.

I suppose when it comes down to it, the thing to concentrate on is that although things didn't go according to plan, and I haven't managed to feed the way I thought was best, I have two happy, healthy children. And who can ask for more than that?

The duet was not going according to plan.
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Tuesday, 10 July 2012

roar

Issue one was a resounding success, full of beautiful illustrations and wonderful writing, flying off of shelves and through the post left, right and centre. So it's with great pleasure that I can tell you all that issue two of Lionheart magazine is available to buy right now. Huzzah!


I was lucky enough to meet creator Helen Martin on Twitter a year or so ago, and contributed to issue one with some book reviews, an illustration and a couple of photographs. This time I submitted a craft piece - how to make your nicest tea towels into embellished cushions - complete with step by step instructions and a few pictures. Ta da:


Also featured is the wonderful Shipshape Studio, Cherry Healey, the Homemade Mama, film and book reviews and the continuing diary of Fritha Strickland's pregnancy. Packed full of readable, interesting and quirky pieces, this is the best £5 you'll spend on a magazine this month. Visit the Lionheart website to grab your copy now.

Wonder-food people The Ethicurean (NOTE TO OWNERS: I demand you open a Portsmouth restaurant.)

Concept store Found, located in Bath



A mini tour of the fabulous home of Lou Archell, AKA Little Green Shed * drools over the furnishings and grinds teeth in envy*

Emily and Adam of Shipshape Studio

Front and back (pictured below) cover jackets illustrated by Georgia Coote


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