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A little light upcycling…

Occasionally on this blog, I like to put Herbalism and Life Coaching to one side and write about some of my other projects.  Today’s blog is all about a bit of upcycling I decided to do on some lighting.

Last week I took on the rather large task of painting a bluey purpley hallway in Hawaiian Sand.  To any average person, it is lemony yellow… but anyway.  It went from this…

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to this…

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Anyway… you can just see in the top right of the picture, the old lampshades.  It had tassles on it… and was made of wicker and dark brown braid.  It was old, it was knackered and it was far too dark for my light, bright colour scheme.  So I embarked on a face lift.

Ably assisted by my husband (that is, he scrambled up and took the lampshades down) I started to get rid of the old lampshades.  The glue which had stuck the wicker and braid to the metal frame had long since dried, so it did not take very long for the lampshades to be nude and look like this.

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I then drew a template of the four sides and the four bottom sections of the lantern shape.  I decided to use greaseproof paper as the pattern pieces.  Then I needed to decide what fabric to cover the frame in.  I had a rifle through my material horde and decided on a yellow gingham I had lying about in there.  It is sunny, it is cheerful and it was free because it was in my stash already!  What is there not to like!  I carefully cut out the fabric pieces with a generous seam allowance, and then sewed the bottom lantern section, on to the lantern side.  After pressing the seams, I had the fun job of pinning the material to the frame in order to make sure everything fit.

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After a good deal of bad language and a half dozen attempts, I managed to get the fabric shape fitted onto the frame.  It rapidly became apparent that I was going to require some extra bits and pieces to cover the lantern frame at the bottom, because my seam allowances on the bottom were not quite as generous as they needed to be.  Cue a quick trip up to town and to my favourite “We have got everything you need” shop, where a quick trip around their haberdashery section yielded some lace and some thin white tape.  In total, £3.25.  For two lampshades.  Okay, not free like I was aiming for, but I’ll take it.  Particularly as our research yesterday evening yielded the cheapest lampshade replacement to be an Ikea rice paper one for £2.50.  So, for two, along with a longer car journey, it would have been at LEAST £5.  It’s a saving!!

The rest of this afternoon I have been hemming and basting and hemming some more… and here it is.  The finished article.

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This is the first time I have attempted to put fabric around an existing frame, and I have to say, I have thoroughly enjoyed myself.  I have also learned a lot.  And a side benefit is that it has kept me away from the ironing.  What is not to like?


Welcome December!!

Oooh, I love December… the run up to Christmas!  In past years I would be wearing my vocal chords out singing carols in services all over the place, but this year I am just singing at Church, and maybe 2 other carol services – so not much at all really.  I mean last year I had a choral performance of Messiah, 2 choral Carol concerts with a brass band, and three or four other carol services plus singing at Midnight Mass.  It is definitely more restful this year.

Well, it is on the vocal front.  In the few days since the end of #NaBloWriMo, which I am pleased to say I survived with only minor cuts and abrasions and a slight nervous twitch, I have been busy.  Really, really busy.

The first job was to sort out the room that will be the baby’s when they arrive.  I thought it was going to take a long time, like a day or two.  Well, from the moment of getting in there to tape everything off, to the moment I left having taken the tape off and cleaned everything… 4 hours.  No, seriously.  4 hours.  This is what it looked like before…

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And this is what it looks like after the paint.

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Tomorrow, I am going to get the fabric for the curtains which will go up in this room.  I am very excited because I am going to teach myself how to make them.  It is something I want to be able to do.  I have A LOT of windows in this house, and I need to work out how to make window treatments that will not break the bank.  And you know, I am also going to be making the curtains for the baby’s room.  Adds another realm of excitement entirely to the situation.

So, one room done… but one room wasn’t enough.  I decided I wanted to decorate the dining room as well.  I did that yesterday.  Hubby helped me HUGELY by moving all the furniture and taking down the curtains and pelmet, and putting them all back, but I did all the painting.  Here is the room before…

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And this is the completed room.  The colour is serene, and I think I will spend any enjoyable hours reading in my book nook.

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Again, the painting only took me about 4 hours.  I used a paint pad for the first time in this room, and it was so easy and so much fun to use… I am inspired.  In fact, I have already got plans for decorating the hallway, the guest bedroom, the room I have adopted as my craft room, the bathroom… well, let’s make this easy… the whole flipping house!   But maybe not before Christmas.

Autumn and the house…

So who else is fighting a rising tide of leaves and mud in your house?

dog shaking

I love autumn, I really do, but with the rain and the wind we have had this week, and how sodden the ground has become, if this weather continues, we are going to have mud halfway up the walls by Christmas.  It doesn’t help that the dog comes in from her walks (very enthusiastically) and then shakes the mud and grime up any surface that happens to be around, and my husband is something of a world class muck magnet at the best of times.  The combination is rather cataclysmic.

When we moved into this house, a lot of people were telling me that I should redecorate every room immediately.  I can see why they suggested I do that, because with the best will in the world, when one family has lived in the house for 33 years, there are some corners of the place that could do with a bit of a touch up when new people move in.  But I am firmly of the opinion that a house will tell you when it wants to be decorated, and indeed I think it will even tell you how it wants to be decorated, the colours to be used in each room.   Do not call the men in white coats.  Honestly, I am quite sane!

dulux terracotta

I am thinking that painting the hallway might be the first big decorating project.  A wipeable surface is an absolute must.  I can feel myself being drawn to a light terracotta colour, something warm, but not too dark.  The carpet in the hall and on the stairs is a lovely darkish brown colour, so that will work nicely with the palette of colours I have in mind.  But I need to think about window treatments in the hall.  Currently we have roller blinds, but I am thinking of making some blinds myself.

The living room will look rather fabulous in two tones of brown… one lighter tone on the walls and a darker tone in the inglenook fireplace, plus the curtains in there need a refresh as well.  The dining room is probably going to be a willow or a sage green.   It matches nicely with the curtains in there at the moment, but I am hoping to change those curtains shortly but luckily the fabric I am considering will have the same sorts of colours in them.  I have never made curtains before, so it is going to a something of a learning curve, but I am looking forward to the challenge.

cream kitchen

I want to lighten up the wood work in the kitchen as well.  I am thinking of painting the doors and drawers in the kitchen, though I might just clean them and then put yacht varnish all over them once I have got the colour to the right point.  I have the right paint to paint over them if necessary though. I fancy primrose yellow kitchen cupboards and drawers with accents of oak, and perhaps fashion some blackboard sections on the pantry cupboard door.

Obviously I have the baby’s room to get ready, just in case we get news about that soon.  I am thinking of a gender neutral nursery because we do not know which gender we will eventually adopt.  We have some paint which will do, and I have my eye on some gorgeous curtain fabric, which won’t date too much for the children.  It might even take them through to being 10 or 11… with luck!  I am not sure quite what to do in the master bedroom or the spare bedroom, and I am stumped on the guest room come craft room.  So I still need some inspiration to come.

It would seem to be an ideal time to get on with these kinds of project.  We are within spitting distance of finishing the window painting on the back of the house (please pray for decent weather on Saturday and Sunday so we can get the last two coats on!  Please!!!) and then… well, I think we need to get a project underway to take us through to Christmas and onto the spring.  Painting a room is an achievable target, although if the weather is nice I intend to be out in the garden when I possibly can be.  There is masses to do out there as well!!

this is me!

Trying to fit it all in…

Seriously, if this year needed a subtitle, like they do in the movies, this would be the one for me.

fitting it all in

I am in something of a reflective mood today, after I attended the funeral of a friend’s Father yesterday.  I went to support my friend, and I was so proud of how she held herself together and dealt with the raw emotion that goes along with these sorts of occasions.  Having been there myself, not so long ago, I know how useful it is to have people to lean on.  But as with every funeral, it makes me think about things.

One of the things I was thinking about yesterday and today is how frantically (even maniacally) busy I am.  I have no idea how I had the time to go to work.  I am a full time homemaker and even now I don’t always get to all of the jobs that I want to get to. I dread to think what the place would look like if I was out of the house 10 plus hours per day with a commute on top.  The garden would be a wilderness and the dust bunnies in the house would be unionising and militating for self rule!


As it is, I haven’t managed to get a duster or a vacuum around the place in three weeks (but to be fair, I was out of the country for 10 days!) and I feel like such a slattern.  I am doing a deep clean in every room today, in the vain hope that keeping on top of it will be easier thereafter.  Yeah… I am not hopeful about that either.  Also, the fact we have a meeting with our new Adoption Social Worker tomorrow morning is also rather a motivating factor.  “Yes, this is how tidy the house will never ever be again once a child arrives in our lives”

I have told myself off, and I am attempting to cut myself some slack, but it is really hard.  I set such high standards for myself, and I get cross with myself (and whoever is standing close by, to be fair) when I can’t reach them.  Perfectionism is a total b*tch. But practically speaking, is keeping the house clean the most important thing?  No, not really.  Keeping it hygienic is different from keeping it perfect.  It is hygienic.  No one is going to contract a communicable disease when coming into this house.  You might get cat and dog fur all over you, but in this house, that is how we accessorise!  I have a plaque somewhere that says “Welcome to our home – clean enough to be healthy, dirty enough to be fun”.  That is what I am aiming for.

As I go around the house getting into some fairly mucky corners, I am thinking that I need to reassess my priorities.  I don’t think I actually have a set of them at the moment.  Everything is at the top of the list, and that is not a sustainable way to be.  In fact, as I have been uncomfortably close to having a total meltdown this week, I can tell that sustainability is out of the window and running down the path screaming.  Somehow I need to reassert some control over everything that I need/want to achieve.  I can feel a big old list coming on.


Any reader of this blog will know that I love a good list.  But having one is just the first step.  Then you need to prioritise the list.  No point having a list of stuff which is all a priority because then you look at it and go all clammy and sweaty palmed and think “EEP! Where do I start!”.  So, you need a system.  When I was at work and dealing with competing priorities from every which way, I used a simple ABC method.  A’s were the things I needed to do.  The ones where the ONLY person who COULD do them was me.  The ones with a time limitation that was measured in microns, or at the very most hours.  B’s were the jobs that it would be nice to get to.  The jobs that would make people smile a little bit, or the one’s that would make my job a little easier if they were out of the way.  C’s were the jobs which I would get to eventually, but no one one would holler about if I left them.  Or the ones I could delegate to someone else.

Transferring that system to the house then…  A’s would be the stuff that makes the place safe; B’s would be the tasks I might have put off for a while but once they are done life will be a little better;  C’s would the bits which can stay on the list until someone says “A dust bunny actually talked to me”.  (I am thinking painting.  I hate painting.)

I wonder if I can extend that system to the garden as well?

Hoorah!! I am back!

Good morning to all my blog followers!  I am very pleased to be here and typing to you having established connection with the outside world again following our house move.  The telephone was booted up again on Thursday of last week and the broadband got sorted on Saturday.   To be fair, I think the broadband would have been sorted earlier if we had been able to find all of the bits and pieces required for it all to work properly… but they were hiding in various boxes and one item had been left at the old house.  Luckily, we still have access to it, so all is well on that score.

how did we do

One thing that is often suggested when you have completed a big project is to look over your experiences and evaluate how you have done.  I hope you will allow me a little self indulgence in doing precisely this for today’s blog.  Although I hope never to move house again, I wonder what lessons we can learn from our experiences over the past couple of weeks that we can apply to other areas of our lives.


Do you remember when I posted about being organised in moving and knowing where the kettle was?  Ummm, yeah.  Bit of a fail there.  Although I was organised in packing stuff and had managed to pack 2/3rds of the old house before the moving day, because I left the old house with the animals in the first trip of move day, the placement of the kettle was not within my control.  It took 5 hours to track it down!  And when we did, it was broken, so I had to go and buy a new one anyway!  Most irritating, but not the end of the world.


I also discovered that I cannot do this kind of thing on my own.  I like to think that I am some kind of superwoman, but this process made me realise that I am not.  Not at all.  I have done so much, and I am very proud of what I have achieved, but let’s face it, moving is a hard, hard thing to do.  I could not have achieved all I have without some very good, kind and understanding friends, and my very lovely husband who has done his best to help out, even after a long, tedious and difficult day at the office.

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I think the main lessons I am going to be taking away from this experience can be summed up in the phrase “Embrace the Chaos”.  There is no way you can control all the things that happen when you are moving.  Some you need to delegate, some you need to forget about entirely, and sometimes you just need to holler for some help.  For a self confessed control freak, this is really, really hard to do – but I think it is the thing I need to remember about moving.


That, and where I put the envelopes.  I need to send some letters and I have no clue where the envelopes are!!