Friday, 29 May 2015

the eternal maker

Somehow, and I don't really know how, until last week I'd never heard of The Eternal Maker; I stumbled across them online by accident as you do, and as soon as I mentioned them on Twitter, all my crafty friends went a bit batty. Then I discovered that were only twenty minutes away in Chichester, so jumping in the car just seemed like the right thing to do - and when we got there I discovered exactly why everyone had been so enthusiastic.....

Firstly, I've never seen quite so much fabric in one place in my entire life; cotton fabrics, cord fabrics, linens and jerseys. Fabrics with stripes, fabrics with checks, geometrics, motifs and the most beautifully simple tickings, in every colour and shade you could dream of. The racks just went on, and on, and on.

Oh, and the bindings - I have a special weakness for binding and ribbon. Some people collect stamps, some collect vintage cameras, but I collect binding that I'll probably never use - I roll it all up and then store it in a jar, and just look at it. Sigh. (Don't tell me none of you do that!)

Through the archway is a cafe (refreshments AND craft supplies - amazing!) which sells all manner of lovely things, and then round the corner is the yarn section - which I didn't get to photograph because I spent too long trying to decide between blue florals and yellow florals (in the end I didn't buy either).

I came away after an hour with some lovely ticking fabric, binding with stars on and this lovely fabric covered in tigers - it really reminded me of the tiger from The Tiger who Came to Tea, which is the kiddos favourite book, so naturally it came home with us!

I just want to say a quick thank you to the lovely ladies who tried to help me find what I was looking for, despite the fact that I'd made it up in my own head and it didn't actually exist. Oh, and thank you for letting me poke around and take pictures!

Thursday, 28 May 2015

the big bedroom swap

You might remember a while ago I wrote about how we were swapping rooms with the kiddos, and that I was spending a LOT of time trying to find as many gender neutral solutions as possible - the whole thing has taken way longer than I thought it would; I can't find curtains big enough for the window in our price range, we need more storage ideas and I need to paint the bookcase. I honestly thought it would just be a case of shoving it all in there and hoping for the best, but it just didn't turn out like that!

The littluns moving into the big room mean that we're now sleeping in the small room, which basically looks like this:

There's room for a bed, and there's room for a wardrobe and absolutely nowt else.

On the plus side, a small room that doesn't really need any decorating means that we can spend a bit more on the lighting - so it looks like I might finally get a pendant light somewhere in the house, yippeeeeee. I've been really drawn to bronze and silver industrial style fittings lately, like the shade that comes with the Huna hanging light over at Lampcommerce; it's noticeable without being too in-your-face - loud patterns are going to be a huge no-no in a room this size!

When we first put the bed in there, my immediate thought was that I hated it; it was cramped, the bed was a nightmare to make as you can't really walk down either side very easily, and it just seemed really.... small. But then I turned to Pinterest (because, where else?!) and found some amazing articles on Apartment Therapy on small bedrooms which were really inspiring - I want to keep it as calm and simple as possible, with a few vintage or antique things, a botanical print and plenty of plants (our peace Lily is getting a bit lonely!) on the window sill. I found an amazing vintage mandolin at an antiques fair lately that would have been perfect, but it was £58 - a bit out of my (really small) budget!

One of the main problems we're having is that there's absolutely no space down either side of the bed for a night stand - mine didn't really have much on it anyway, so I'm not too fussed, but it does leave us with an issue of what to do about bedside lighting. I've always tried to go to bed and read, because it supposedly helps with sleep quality - we try to keep technology out of the bedroom as much as possible but I'm pretty bad at taking my iPhone or the iPad up with me to carry on checking Facebook browsing eBay checking important work emails - so we definitely need some sort of low lighting. A set of shelves isn't really an option, because I can just imagine getting up for the loo in the night and knocking myself unconscious on them, and the curtains get in the way of having a lamp behind the bed. I think we're going to go with a wall lamp on either side, which Ali is obviously really happy about as it means yet more drilling!

It's not all bad though - I've gotten used to being in there now, and love how the light falls at the end of the day, and that when you're lying down you can see the sunset snd the sky - it's like having a skylight without the hassle of actually installing one!

This is a collaborative post.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

grand designs live

Advance Warning: This is a VERY picture heavy post!

If you've been reading for a while, you'll know I've always, always loved interiors and houses; I started watching Changing Rooms in the good old 1990's, tucked up next to my Mum on the sofa, and spent ages painting shoe boxes with stencils to create 'stylish storage'. Years later, I've moved on from stencils, but still love all the design shows on TV; anything by George Clarke is a winner (although Restoration Man is my absolute, absolute favourite) and I'm partial to a bit of Grand Designs (have to say though, I don't always quite 'get' the building styles....). So when the lovely folk at Vaillant got in touch and kindly offered me two tickets to Grand Designs Live, I couldn't accept quick enough!

If you've not heard of Vaillant (and you probably won't have unless you're into ecological building and sustainable energy), they're basically one of the original heating brands, and started life way back in 1874. They're currently one of the most environmentally friendly companies offering heating solutions in the UK, and are leading the way with renewable energy solutions - I know a lot of you will be skim reading this but seriously - if you're thinking about anything from a new boiler to building your own home, do pop over and take a look at their website. (Especially the wonderfully reassuring 'Environmental' section!)

For Grand Designs Live, Vaillant had sponsored Kevin's Green Heroes, the section where Kevin McCloud hand picks some of the most environmentally friendly and ecologically innovative products around and gathers them all together into one great feature. One of our pipe dreams is to eventually buy some land and build our own small, self-sufficient, carbon-neutral (or as close to it as possible!) house - while I'm smart enough to realise that this is unlikely to happen because a) we're skint and b) will probably always be skint, I still find all of this sort of stuff really interesting - so this was definitely the one thing I was looking forward to seeing most. And it absolutely didn't disappoint.....

My favourites were (from the top): Rupert Blanchard and his beautiful furniture made entirely from reclaimed and waste materials, the wonderful Reclaimed Flooring Company, who not only turn unwanted items into fabulous flooring, but also help to support local communities with training and employment, and the incredible pendant lights by Tom Raffield, who only uses sustainably sourced wood and works from his studio in Cornwall. Also, a special mention to the Rotaire Dryline, which is so simple but at the same time, absolute genius!

There was even an entire house being built (!) with eco-friendly materials and traditional skills - with the option to attend various workshops throughout the day.

I honestly thought that after the Green Heroes, it was all going to be trade stalls and products, so you can imagine how ridiculously over-excited I was when I stumbled into the shed section. The. SHED. SECTION. A whole section dedicated to sheds and small buildings. The first three photos are from the Echo Living Echowave pod, which was debuted at Grand Designs Live; the Echo Living pods are made entirely with sustainable materials and are designed to function off-grid - so basically, my ideal home! You can find out more about the company here, and read all about the new Echowave pods here.
Just around the corner were George Clarkes Amazing Sheds - there was one for children and one for adults, which I found myself gazing at alongside another woman who, it turned out, also worked from home! The design was so clever - the stools came apart and could be stored flat in the wall, the storage could be moved around on a peg-board style system and the sofa folded up into the wall. I pretty much wanted to get into it and never leave!

The rest of my favourites were purely design based; there was a huge array of decorating styles, from bright colours and geometrics to plants, pastels and retro furniture.

The Rinascente Gallery (above) make amazing industrial tables and benches, all from reclaimed materials. They're part of a Christian charity called Renewal Northwest who help people with broken lives and long-term unemployent to get back on their feet. How good is that?!

This was my absolute favourite room - the plants, the light and bright colours, the plant hanging from the shelf bracket (seriously, how have I never thought of that?!), all by MK Design

Huge thanks to Vaillant for a lovely day - I'd definitely recommend going to Grand Designs Live if you're in any way interested in interiors, design or sustainable building.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

april (and most of may!) in pictures

Most of our time through April and May has been taken up with work and DIY, so there's not been a huge amount of picture-taking going on lately - and if I'm honest, I've not felt much like it. Parenting Ben has always been a challenge; most of you know he's autistic (high functioning), which comes with it's own set of hurdles, but lately we've also descended into toddler-hell with Daisy. I've always practised attachment parenting, and tried to make positive reinforcement instead of negative discipline a thing, but lately nothing seems to work - I love her to pieces, and wouldn't change her spirited nature, but I'm at my wits end!

We did manage to do a few nice things lately though; the weather has been (until this week!) really lovely, and we spent some time over Easter out and about exploring local country parks and nature reserves. I always find bedtime is far less of a drawn-out battle if the kiddos have been racing around some wide open spaces during the day! We also tried a new cafe, called Home, which does very tasty cakes and gave me severe tile envy, and where I spotted a tea-cosy made by my very talented friend Louise. Apart from that, it's been all about the flowers - I bought some individual stems from our local florist, received a beautiful bunch of tulips from my oldest friend, and have brought home more foraged blooms than I can remember. What can I say, I love me a good flower! We also fitted in a trip to Durleighmarsh Farm last weekend; there's a really good tea room there, and they sell all sorts of amazing organic produce - and there are masses and masses of PYO fields as well, with everything from gooseberries and strawberries to rhubarb and carrots. I went home with two pots of sweetpea seedlings and a Hollyhock for the garden - although everything seems to be moving really slowly out there at the moment. I can't believe how chilly it still is!

Oh, and I also went to Grand Designs Live, which was AMAZING, and has made me even more interested in the concept of building our own eco-house one day. More on that soon!

Friday, 15 May 2015

castle road

Crikey, I've been a right rubbish blogger lately - one post in over two weeks; sorry about that folks! In my defence, I've started a new job, and when I'm not working we've been out and about - so I've had plenty to share but no time to actually blog about it!

These photos are from a few weeks ago (the Easter holidays actually, and it's half term next week.... ahem); it was the last day, and the weather was so beautiful that we decided to just spend the whole day out in the sunshine. I love where we live; OK, so where our actual house is isn't that great, but travel a few miles in any direction and you've got beautiful beaches, rolling countryside, market towns, independent shops... I realise I sound like the Tourism board for Portsmouth, but I really do love it!

Castle Road is one of my new favourite places; some great shops have popped up, my lovely hairdresser is there, and it's a stones throw from the beach and a pretty good park. On the day we went, they had a street festival on; plenty of vintage clothes, crafts, an artisan pizza stall, vegetarian and vegan streetfood (and an entire stall dedicated to cheese toasties - heaven!) and live music; although there were plenty of littluns around, mine weren't in the slightest bit interested so we didn't stop, but it's definitely something I'll be looking out for in the future.

I did manage a quick wander around the fabulous Revive Interiors though; packed full of vintage and rustic homewares, and with a REALLY good clothes section, it's the type of shop I could happily spend ages in, just pottering about. Looking at these photos now, I really regret leaving that enamel teapot and saucepan behind!
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