Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Confessions of a tightwad ...

I dream of a cottage garden like my friend Wendy's ~ hollyhocks, lupins, roses ... you get the picture, gorgeous Englishness.
This can be an expensive dream and I clam up at the thought of paying extortionate garden centre prices and sadly, green fingered I most certainly am not.
My solution is: Once a year I go to a small nursery that supplies the local, larger garden centre with plants. I time it just right when they have a sale (around the beginning of July) when they take 25% off of the already greatly reduced prices. I then buy batches of Foxgloves and lupins and hand over my well earned £15.00. In the boot they go and when I get them home I play the "ewww it's all dirty" card so my husband plants them for me ;)  
We stand back and admire our ever (if not very slowly) expanding floral corner or our garden.

Ready to plant.
I much prefer this good 'ol fashioned packaging of old fruit boxes ~ I'm now trying to think of a crafty project for this crate.

Some TLC

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this years batch drop some babies for us to nurture in the spring ♥

Monday, 30 July 2012

I feel the need to explain myself ...

I've got something on my mind and I feel the need to explain myself ...

1) I feel a wee bit concious that my posts appear to leave out our two lovely children and it's all about me, me, me! This is deliberate. Aside from going junking when ever and where ever I can I have a very 'serious' job which is to (without going into too much detail on tut web) protect children and vulnerable adults.  I am programmed to think a certain way to do my job meaning, thoughts of putting photos of my children on here are blocked by my 'work brain'. Now, I'm not saying it's wrong to share your family on the web it's just the way I've been 'programmed' means it's something I just can't bring myself to do.

2) Some of you lovely readers of my chattering's may be thinking      "omg ... she is such a skanky tight arse"
My tight side is a relatively new phenomenon and friends that have put up with me for years know me as a hardcore shop'a'holic. Yep, I've always loved a bargain but I also have an 'expensive taste' side that, until now has run a bit riot. I have bought in excess and have a weak spot for expensive sunglasses (I've had my eye sight corrected by laser and it's sooooo good to be able to wear anything other than prescription sunny's), pure Chanel perfume bought abroad, and antiques of all shapes and sizes. Thankfully at some point during this last year, well since I've been blogging really, my eyes have been opened to the amount of waste and dead money I've been generating.  Plus, when our beloved Greyhound suffered multiple injuries after being hit by a vehicle and left for dead back in January ALL of our wages has been used to keep him alive and on the long road to recovery. In order to pay the vets for doing such an amazing job I have had to sell, sell, sell the things I love during this year ... this has made me realise that actually it's all 'just stuff' and in the general scheme of things it really isn't important at all. 

So there you have it, I feel better for sharing my 'insecurity' with y'all ~ thanks. I hope you still continue to click in to my random chattering's just minus my two beloved children and anything expensive X

Sunday, 29 July 2012

I've decided to open the doors ... come on in

I have decided to open the doors to my lil retreat, come on in.
 The reason for my flinging the doors open is due to a number of friends 'badgering' me to do so.  For nearly a year now I have kept my retreat a secret that nestles discretely down the bottom of our garden tucked behind the apple trees.  The main reason for taking my friends advice and sharing my secret hideaway on here is to show how cheaply it can be done.

I have longed for my very own retreat for years and years, within this time I have dreamt up the perfect place.  My wish list consisted of opening double doors and a vintage look and feel. I wasn't asking for much, nothing flashy, I would just know it when I saw it. Finally, I 'saw it' whilst we were away for the week in Wales, there it was listed on ebay 
"1960's summer house" ~ perfect! 
It was in a very, very bad state of repair which was reflected in the pittance of a price we paid for it. My husbands present to me was his labour to turn it into my, long awaited dream retreat.

So ... here she is 
My birthday present from my husband ... my very own summer shed ♥

However, this is how she started out ...

and this pic below is her upstanding but very tatty, full of wood worm, holes and rot.

My lovely husband spent weekends and evenings returning her to her former 1960's glory. He, replaced broken panes of glass, replaced rotten wooden panels, put a new roof on and floor in, painstakingly insulated it throughout and then covered that with board, painted inside and out with a tonne of paint, replaced all latches and catches along with a massive list of other things.  Most of the materials used were second hand discarded things that we were given along with a sigh of relief from its owner that it was off their hands.

Our summer shed has been a labour of love and love her we do. She is our's through and through and there is not one part untouched by our very own hands. She was an old, tatty blank canvas that is now one of our favourite places to spend time.

The chaise was advertised as 'free' in a local post office ~ yay. All linens have been collected from car boot or garage sales and I have paid no more that £2.00 each for them.

My beloved 1970's sewing machine that, once belonged to my mother-in-law on a old sewing machine base picked up for £5.00 is topped with a discarded piece of wood covered in an off up of fabric which I paid £1.00 for.

Tea and cake stand FOC and painted in left over paint, lamp base 50p from a jumble sale, shade £1.00 from a charity shop.

The antlers have been featured in a previous blog post (here), the pretty picture was bought for £1.50 and the floral headband was bought at a festival when I was feeling all hippyish.

Lamp base was £1.00, shade was from our daughters bedroom, wooden heart coasters were made by my father-in-law and no place is complete without Asiatic Pheasant! 

What can I say ... a pile of heaven!

Attention to detail has been paid to the window latches.

An inviting lil haven.

Someone else also finds it an inviting haven, she can often be found snuggled on the chaise basking in the sun.

A watercolour of our village church painted by a previous neighbour.

And when the grey clouds appear ...

The doors close, the heaters turned on and we enjoy a cosy cuppa in his and hers mugs ;)

There is nothing better than hearing rain hitting the roof and window panes whilst being tucked up under a blanket with a warm cuppa in my long awaited piece of heaven.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

I will come back to my english rose ...

No matter where I roam
I will come back to my English rose
For no bonds can ever tempt me from she
I’ve sailed the seven seas,
Flown the whole blue sky.
But I’ve returned with haste to where my
Love does lie.
No matter where I go I will come back to my English rose
For nothing can ever tempt me from she.
I’ve searched the secret mists -
I’ve climbed the highest peaks
Caught the wild wind home to hear her soft voice speak
To hear her soft voice speak
No matter where I roam
I will return to my English rose
For no bonds can ever keep me from she.

I’ve been to ancient worlds
I’ve scoured the whole universe
And caught the first train home
To be at her side.
No matter where I roam
I will return to my English rose
For no bonds can ever keep me from she

No matter how small a posy is ... English summer Roses are always a happy sight to behold ♥

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

I'd arrived at the answer ~ marshmallows

I fess up ... I have had a total loon moment.
 In a quest to find the solution for being able to keep sugar in pretty old storage containers with perished seals (without moisture seeping in and making the sugar go rock hard) I have scoured the web and thought I'd arrived at the answer ~ marshmallows 
(Yep, I know. It was at this point I should have applied some common sense).

When the lovely Lisa popped in I had just finished munching on left over marshmallows and excitedly showed her my 'solution'.  "Look, I've laid marshmallows on top of the sugar in the sugar canister and squeezed some into the sugar shaker", Lisa's face didn't show the same excitement as mine at this marvellous discovery, it was more like "omg, wtf"!  

After two days my sugar was rock hard and I spent over two hours trying to prize marshmallow out of the sugar shaker with tweezers. I seemed to be the only person surprised the whole marshmallow thing hadn't worked ~ muppet!

When I relayed my tales of woe to Lisa she said "Oh, I thought rice was the thing to use, I think that's what most tend to use". It was at this point my common sense kicked into action and my brain said to it "OMG, where the hell have you been, she's been squeezing marshmallows into food while you've been away ~ don't ever leave me alone with her again"!
 I now have rice in my sugar shaker and new, air tight Kilner jars. 
I've painted the lids with blackboard paint and chalked on SUGAR (just in case my loony side strikes again and I use the contents as salt ~ stranger things have happened, believe me)!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Lisa and I found the Holy Grail ...

Well, today was the day Lisa and I found the Holy Grail. 
A place recommended to us by my Dad that was said to be a land where 'you can get just about anything vintage' ... OMG!

This land did not disappoint and even hardcore scourers of all places second hand such as Lisa and I were overwhelmed for a while.  When we'd gained composure we were off, snapping up all kinds of delights like kids in a sweet shop.  I can not put into words the sheer volume of lovely, vintage things on almost every stall from 50's fabric and lace to 60's retro furniture and a mass of ancient pottery,  Below is a selection of things I bought that will be going in to our unit. 
Other than the sign, thats destined for my son's bedroom.
This is such a pretty 1950's feather eiderdown.
I'm soooo tempted to keep it (the photo doesn't do it justice, it's beautifully embroidered) but sadly I'm 'trying to be professional' & think of our customers before myself (boo hoo).

Lisa bought a tonne of lovely stuff too that she'll work her magic with to make the most gorgeous stock for the unit.

Now sadly, this most fab land will have to remain mine and Lisa's lil secret (I know ~ grrr, sorry) ~ but I can guarantee some of it's delights will be for sale in our unit.

Address: Hatch End
The Old Poultry Farm
Middle Aston
OX25 5QL
Business Hours: Monday to Saturday:
9.30am - 5.00pm
Sundays and Bank Holidays:
10.00am - 4.00pm

Saturday, 21 July 2012

T-shirt into oh so stylish bag ...

In the whole make do and mend stylie I've been trying to think of a way to upcycle my daugters band t-shirts that she's outgrown.

Voila ...
T-Shirt made into a bag.

We did take a while to fathom out how best to sew the straps to change the look from 't-shirt with bottom sewn up' to 'oh so stylish bag', we decided on cutting one strap off the back and sewing it on the front to make handles(not really rocket science but it had us baffled for a while).  

We're using this as a 'prototype' and if the contents manage not to spew over the floor in the near future my daughter is going to use this as her new 'business venture'
Look out, t-shirt bags may take over the world one day!!!

Friday, 20 July 2012

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

My brand new mug ...

Following on from 'enjoying the newness of things' below is a pic of a brand new mug I treated myself to.
I love it!
And the best part, it came from Sainsburys, cost £1.75 and it's NEW.
It really looks like one of those posh ones that cost an arm and a leg but... nope, it was as cheap as chips.
  Yippee, yay.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Unexpected learning curve ...

I'm finding myself on an unexpected learning curve since my focus has shifted from 'buying for myself' to 'buying to sell'.  
The joy of whiling away spare time junking has turned from a thought process of:
1, Do I really like it?
2, Is it cheap?

1, How much does it cost?
2, I like it but will other people?
3, Is it a neutral colour that would fit all types of homes?
4, Is it too quirky?
5, How much money and time will I need to spend on it?
6, How much could I sell it for?
7, Is there much of a profit in it?

This sensible approach to buying is all new to me and I'm realising fast that I need to follow some golden rules if I am to succeed in this vintiquing business.

This purchase below was made at auction and my sole purpose for bidding was because they looked quite nice whilst being waved in the air by the porter.  
Once I'd got them home and Bessie and I had inspected them it soon became apparent that they are 'proper knackered'! 
I am now faced with finding someone to re-stuff and re-upholster the seats plus a carpenter to repair the damaged and weak legs. Hummm, after spending the time and money these chairs require I'm  not really sure there will be any money left for all my troubles.

The same applies to anything made with EPNS. Believe me, I have spent way too long trying to clean tarnish off all kinds of objects made of this stuff and it just ain't happening. The cost of cleaners alone is eye watering and then if I factored in the time spent frantically rubbing, polishing and buffing it reaches epic proportions of 
'big fail'.
This innocent looking spoon is not so innocent if your trying to make it look spangly and saleable. 
EPNS: I've learnt to avoid it like the plague.

I could blog for hours on the 'mistakes' I've been making with regards stock for our unit but ... I'm learning fast and now find myself looking like one of those pro's who pick things up and turn them over. I always wondered what they were looking for and now I'm learning ~ the hard way.

There's still a tonne of stuff to learn and I think there always will be which is why I think this venture will suit me down to the ground.

One thing I have learnt so far though is how lovely it is to buy something that doesn't need to be scrubbed, cleaned, waxed, sanded, painted, polished, upholstered or repaired.
I now really, really, really appreciate 'newness' every now and then.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Birdie country garden retreat ...

We sure do know how to rock the first sunny(ish) Sunday we've had in ages ... yep spend it gardening ~ yawn!

We gardened like loons yesterday. I wont bore you with pics of well trimmed bushes (titter titter) but will share with you my transformation of 'bird table' into 
'pretty birdie country garden retreat'

Before ...  

Um, in between...
  Yep hands up, candy pink was a mistake but it was such a lovely colour I desperately wanted it would look fab.
Sigh, looking much more 'in keeping' with green.
All I need to do now is make a sign saying 
"Oi, no manky pigeons or riff raff can frequent this establishment ~ thank you". Signed the patron!

Thursday, 12 July 2012

It's a monster mash ...

It's a monster mash ...
(aka my son drawing monsters onto white fabric, me cutting them out and attaching them with bondaweb)
My son is over the moon with this new improved version and has begged me to put it in a place where he can see it every day because it makes him smile.
Mission accomplished :D


Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Corner of prettiness ...

Well, our lil venture has been up and running for two weeks now and so far so good.  We were told that business would be slow during these first two weeks due to the tennis but we've sold a total of 5 things so we're very happy with that.

We really do feel that our lil corner is now well and truly stocked to bursting. Below is a pic taken yesterday showing a small area of the stock we now have in our ever expanding corner of prettiness ♥


Sunday, 8 July 2012

Grey tinted spectacles ...

Viewing the world through grey tinted spectacles ...

All I seam to hear on the news is "blame the wayward jet stream for all of the rain we're having"

Jet stream, main stream, soda stream ... who cares when the sky can look this good around our lil part of the world.

Rain stopped play ... again

I agree, I wont be saying this when the floods come but for now ...stunning ♥

Friday, 6 July 2012

Monsoon Summer ...

Following on from my post a couple of days ago, Just way too much grey  ... finally, yesterday was the day we've all been longing for ~ a perfect English Summers day.

When you have waited for what seams like an eternity for something, you sure do make the most of it when it arrives and enjoy every moment you can.

Below are pic's of our lil family haven made under the apple tree at the bottom of our garden ...

and when the sun started to go down ...
Last years crop of Sloe Gin

and when the moonlight makes an appreance at the end of the day ...
we sat sipping something alcoholic whilst enjoying the last part of a bright sunny day.