Monday, 28 September 2009

Did I post a before? Well here’s the after (ish)…

As you know I work at a college, and I’m very near the joinery department. Every year the first year students make this shelving unit as an exercise in making joints. Most of them are taken home, but this one ended up in the skip.
I dragged it out because who doesn’t have space for a cute set of shelves? It needed a bit of a touch up – just a little sanding and filling (skips are not the kindest places to store furniture) – before it was ready for a lick of paint.
And here is the after…
Just a basic lick of lovely satin paint and it was ready to go (actually, not so basic – I managed to drop the tin of oil based paint over the whole thing, the kitchen floor still bears the scars and whiffs of turps). I hung it with a couple of mirror plates and now I have somewhere pretty much the perfect size to hold the tea and coffee stuff, freeing up the surrounding shelves which store some of my thrifted treasures.
The reason I say ‘ish’ is because (as with everything) these shelves are still a work in progress, and might end up with barge-style painted flowers or something Scandinaviany. Not sure yet, so I put them up while I think about it. I also might ‘wallpaper’ the back with some colourful Cath Kidston style paper. What do you think?
By the way, don’t you just love old printing blocks?

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Have you discovered Bookcrossing?

bally_promoting_135x148Quite simply, Bookcrossing is fantastic. Do you have shelves full of books you’ve only read once and aren’t likely to read again? I know I have. Most of my paperbacks come from my grandad, who reads like it was going out of fashion and passes his books onto us. After we’ve read them, they go onto a shelf or are passed onto friends. We have amassed hundreds over the years and the shelves are groaning!

Some have gone to charity shops (especially the ones in the best condition), but some have gone for Bookcrossing. What is Bookcrossing? I hear you cry – get to the point. Well, Bookcrossing is a project whereby you register your book on the website and are given a unique number to write or stamp into the book (with a short explanation). Then you release it. It doesn’t matter where, lots of libraries have Bookcrossing points, but some people like to leave them on park benches and other ‘wild’ places.

When your book is found the unique number is entered into the website and registered as ‘caught’. After the finder has read it, they can release it somewhere else to be found again. The website keeps track of the book so you can see where it’s been (some even go around the world), and a comments section means you can see what they thought of it.


If your local library doesn’t have a Bookcrossing section, ask them to start one. We have a great one at our library at work which always has a good selection of books to catch.

Apart from anything else, Bookcrossing is thrifty and great for promoting that good karma!


Monday, 21 September 2009

Boot sale treasures: episode 2

A few more shiny things from Saturday’s car boot hunting at York racecourse.

These scales were £1 and they are going to be used in our new workshop. Someone has painted them cream, but underneath they are a lovely 50’s style blue. They’re bashed and beaten up, the enamel pan is a little rusty and chipped and the weights are in pounds when I need grams. Ho hum – they are pretty though!


This cast-iron bunny doorstop was from the same stall and was also £1. I don’t know if it’s old or new-looking-old but I like it! IMG_6983

I found this one on a US antiques website which recently sold for $795….. if only!


It’s the same story with this bread bin really. I’m pretty sure it’s a slightly bashed new bin - and there were some beautiful old ones but they were huge, extremely damaged and far too expensive. This one is small and perfectly formed, and only cost £3.


I don’t mind the chipped enamel (it matches my roasting dish!) and my home-made bread fits perfectly.


And finally some old bits and bobs we picked up for pennies. You’ll have seen I have a thing for old cards of thread so I couldn’t pass up Barbour’s Shamrock. The wooden pastry cutter will probably be used for clay work or along with the brass thimble will become part of our ongoing collection of Interesting Things (of which we have boxes and boxes) Not sure about the hooks, I just liked them!


I also bought an old knitting album (you know the kind with poly pockets you slip your own patterns into) chock full of knitting treasures. More about that when I’ve had time to properly go through it!


Saturday, 19 September 2009

Boot sale treasures…

I’m sat on the sofa, laptop in hand, watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and I’m so tired! I forgot how exhausting car boot sales are – especially the huge ones. We went to our local sale at York Racecourse this morning and it really is big.


Within the first 10 minutes I saw a million things I would have bought if money were no object (c’est la vie) but it’s important at these things to keep your hands in your pockets until you find things you love or need! Having said that, we did have to make a trip to the car after a couple of hours but this is why…


This galvanised bath about 3 feet long and 2 wide. I had seen one earlier much smaller for which the vendor was asking £15 – too much for me. This one was being perused by a buyer and my ears pricked up when I heard a much smaller price being mentioned. £5. I hovered just in case. The buyer was wavering, he wanted something to bathe the dog in and this bath has had holes drilled in the bottom so it can be used as a planter. He walked away and I pounced! After all, I wanted it as a planter.


This lampshade was 50p. It has a tear in the back but I don’t care, look at that fabric, it’s gorgeous!


This fabric was £3. Apparently it used to be a curtain, but it must have been big as there are a few metres here. I loved those spring-time daffs even though I don’t really need any more stash. It’ll be added to the mountain anyway!

Remember this (what I decided was a) sugar shaker:


I found this cheese dish to match, and excitingly it has a maker’s mark so I can find out more about it. More excitingly it only cost £1 – that’s less that the shaker!


Well, that’s a few of today’s finds, I’ll have to post more tomorrow!


Friday, 18 September 2009


This is how the workshop looked by the end of Monday…


By the end of Tuesday the building chaps had dug a trench for the footings and on Wednesday they poured the first concrete.


Then yesterday and today they built the foundations and the first few rows of blocks. The walls are going to be really thick – we wanted a huge amount of insulation because we want to heat it as little as possible.


This view is the front of the building, and all the windows will be on this side. There are several reasons – one, the sun tracks across that side of the building and the back will get no direct sun at all. This should let the heat in through the day but it shouldn’t be able to escape. Number two reason, this side faces the garden (the opening in the wall on the left will be French doors). Number three reason, our neighbours are lovely but extremely nosy – the back of the building is straight onto the road so any windows on that side would be extremely accessible. Who wants to be watched while they work? Having said that, they also think nothing of wandering uninvited in to the garden to see what you’re doing, so we might have to block off the front windows too.

The bricks came today! We are using reclaimed bricks which means that they are old and recycled, but it also means that they would never be a complete match. Unfortunately you have to take what is available at the time but the builder really listened to us and matched as best he could.

IMG_6970 IMG_6971

These bricks came all the way from Bristol and my photos don’t do them justice, they are very dusty at the moment too. The ones on the right are part of my house and have been there since the 1920’s. The sun came out briefly for that photo, totally changing the colour - they are a much better match than they look!

Phew, it would be nice to have a lie in after all the super-early mornings but tomorrow it’s car-boot sale day and I’m in need of some bargains.

I’ll keep you posted!


Monday, 14 September 2009

It’s all go…

…and by that I mean that the workshop is finally being built. I think we chose the busiest builders in the city, which has to be a good sign, surely?

A week ago the garden looked like this:


Yesterday we cleared the last of the plants and the paving until it looked like this:


Sob! It was sad cutting down the shrubs and honeysuckle – the ivy took years to get that big, and it was just flowering. Don’t you just hate those garages? Mmmm, concrete married with the unmistakable charm of peeling paint and asbestos. The city planner objected to knocking them down because he said they had character! That took a lot of persuasion to get around, god bless Paul the architect!


9am this morning it looked like this (they don’t hang around, these builder types):




And 11am:


And now…


Lawks! Those chaps work fast, I’ll leave you with a little demolition video :)


Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Thrift shop treasures: Darn it!

You’ve probably noticed that this isn’t Etsy Wednesday. Unfortunately, now I’m properly back at work I can’t always be able to devote the time to it - working in a college gives you excellent holidays but not too much breathing space during term-time. I might bring it back when things have settled down, but for now it’s on hiatus. Thankyou to everyone who participated and allowed me to use their images!

So on to one of my newest finds!

IMG_6939IMG_6936IMG_6938  IMG_6940

They were all bundled together so I didn’t know what there was until I got them home. Isn’t the packaging fantastic? I particularly love the Lusta Hosedarn (British and best) - it makes me want a pair of hose!


Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Monday, 7 September 2009

No-poo 4: The end of the affair

Right, I tried everybody, I really did. You’ve got to admit I gave it a good run. From July 7th up to yesterday I have used no shampoo at all.

I used bicarb, lemon juice, rosemary, cider vinegar – all in different proportions. I left them on for a long time, a short time, mixed them together, used them separately. Nothing worked – my hair was still greasy. Sometimes it was greasy straight after washing and I had to wash it again. Sometimes it took a few hours, but it was always greasy by the end of the day.

Heather suggested that I try using a silicone-free conditioner. I thought about making one, but I would have had to buy a lot of ingredients and it came to such a cost that I decided to go out and find one. Not so easy as it sounded  but I eventually found one. I washed my hair as normal with the bicarb then used the conditioner. It was much better, but over the day my hair still got greasy.

Harumph! The gorgeous tresses never materialised and my crowning glory looked consistently worse with no-poo rather than better.

I caved. Sorry.

I bought a shampoo that contains no silicones at least. It has rosemary and sage in it, it smells great and it’s an organicy looking green (the cynic in me says that’s all a corporate ploy, but I like green and nice smells). My hair was much better after washing. Not only that, but I felt better. I had been feeling self conscious all the time, touching my hair to check the grease levels, wishing I could pop home for a quick wash, literally keeping my head down. Feeling my hair this morning, it needs washing (surprise!) but at least it isn’t plastered to my head.

I guess I’m going to have to face the fact that I’ll never have fabulous hair. I have to wash it every day (at least if I’m leaving the house) Maybe I should have weaned my hair slowly rather than going cold turkey?

Either way, the experiment failed.

Right, I’m off to bake the today’s bread, then I’m going charity shopping.


Sunday, 6 September 2009

Some nice things…

I’ve been travelling around a bit lately, so I’ve been spending a lot of time acquiring shiny things – but I haven’t had enough time to post about them!

Here are a few of my favourites…


I got these vintage spools from a charity shop, 6 for £1 – quite expensive since I bought every single one they had.


They are all on wooden spools and the majority are Sylko ‘silk substitute’ with a few Coats mixed in. They have great names like ‘leafbud’ and ‘napoleon blue’. I’d guess they are 50’s/60’s? They’ve all been used a bit, and some are a bit faded – but I’m not going to use them, just look at their shininess!


I got this blue and white enamelled chamber pot from a charity shop too. It’s a bit chipped in places but doesn’t it look great with pink geraniums in it?


I got these two old filing cabinets from work. It’s amazing what gets chucked out.


I love the brass nameplates! The cabinets themselves seem to be made out of dense cardboard covered with paper.


They are a bit tatty, but I like that. I was thinking about re-covering them, but I think I’ll leave them as-is. They’ll be so handy for keeping materials (like cotton reels) in one place!

Just a few things for now, but I’ll try to get more posted tomorrow,


Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Etsy Wednesday: Lesley Toast


Meet Lesley: in real life she’s an award-winning animator, but after-hours she creates these fantastic bookmarks!


Lesley’s illustrations are amazing, and what better way to hold the page in your book? The chap above is the Green Lion, designed to guard your page.


Just like these fellas! Each bookmark is made from genuine leather and measures 6” by 2”.


How are you feeling? Is your current read making you laugh or cry? Now you can reveal your feelings with the Two Faced bookmark!


Not only does Lesley produce bookmarks, she also makes this wonderful giftwrap. The A1 sheet contains the pattern above, Diamonds For You in repeat. Perfect for any upcoming birthdays or even Christmas!

This animation, Herzog and the Monsters, was created by Lesley as part of her work at Glasgow School of Art which she graduated from in 1996. Herzog has since been shown around the world and has won numerous awards. You can see more of her work on Vimeo.

You can visit Lesley on Flickr or Twitter too!

Only 113 days til Christmas….