Friday, 28 March 2014

Guest Post: How to make your house a home

Your home is your haven, or at least it should be. If your house doesn’t quite feel like a home, there are a few things you can do to make it feel a little more inviting.

The key is to inject a little of your personality into each room. We are all unique individuals and our homes should really reflect this.

The good news is the changes you make don’t have to be huge. Even if you only have a small budget, there are still things you can do to make your house a little more homely.

Creating personal space

We all need a little “me” time every now and again. This is especially true if you aren’t living by yourself. Do you have a room where you can go to just to spend time on your own? It is easy to create your room to make it as relaxing as possible. Plants, photos and things that make you feel good should all be included in the room. You don’t have to spend hours in there. Even just 15 minutes in your own personal space can rejuvenate the spirit and relax the mind.

Eliminate clutter

One tip that everyone should follow is to eliminate clutter from your life. Take a look around the house and see whether there’s anything you don’t really need. Throw away all of the stuff that is simply taking up space, then you can organise the rest of the clutter. You can invest in various storage solutions for the home such as shelves or units that will help to keep it looking tidier. A tidy home encourages a happy mind.

Pay attention to the little things

The little details in a home do tend to make the biggest difference. Even just updating your windows can help to make it feel more homely.

Upgrading your sash window parts for example, could really help to make the home feel cosier. Adding small ornaments and photos around a room can also encourage a positive, healthy emotional response.

The goal of turning a house into a home is to make sure it reflects your personality. Take a look around and see whether there’s anything you don’t really like and get rid of anything that attracts negative energy.  Adding your favourite colours, a few plants and even homemade crafts can really help to make a big difference.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Stockpiling Sock Yarn and other stories

Saturday, and what a lovely one it is too.  It's dry and bright here in South Northants.  I was awake super early for a weekend (5am to be precise) and had done a food shop and made bacon sandwiches by 7am.

I love getting up early at the weekend.  I have a mega busy job, which I enjoy, and work full-time.  It doesn't leave much free time in the week to do the things I really love, like stitching, sewing, knitting, crocheting, baking, cooking and tidying.  Not to mention just hanging out with Andrew, watching TV and smooching on the sofa.

Ceramic decorative heart by Greengate
I had a horrible looonnnng dental treatment on Wednesday.  I keep going on about it, but it was traumatic!  I was sedated (as per) and having replacement fillings and a gum deep-clean (yuck).  It was supposed to be a 90 minute appointment but as I was practically knocked out, the dentist decided to do 80% of the job in one fell swoop.  4 hours (yes 4 HOURS!) and £800 later I was still very dopey with an entirely numb mouth, dribbling all over the place and unable to speak.  It was like fast forwarding my life 30 years and seeing myself as a batty old lady. (I am convinced I will be as mad as a box of frogs in my old age.  I've suffered too much with mental illness over the years to escape it in my twilight years.)  Don't get me wrong, my dentist is fantastic.  It's just that I am perhaps a bit of a hypochondriac and have a tendency to 'go on a bit' (husband's words) when I'm under the weather.  Thanks for listening, friends! :)

So anyway, after the unpleasant day I had on Wednesday and the subsequent 48 hours of feeling rough as a badger's bum, I started to feel a whole lot better yesterday afternoon and planned an epic weekend.  I have made ZERO plans.  I'm in various offices next week so a weekend at home is just what the doctor ordered.  My main objective is to start knitting a pair of socks.

In anticipation, I have quizzed various cyber buddies (Ali and Ally I'm looking at YOU), watched endless youtube videos and bought myself a book.  I also appear to be stockpiling sock yarn.

Madeleine Tosh Sock Yarn (Toshsock)
Ali should be blamed entirely for my sock yarn obsession.  Well, Ms Pork Chop is also culpable.  The pair of them post gorgeous photos of hand-knitted socks on instagram (here and here) on a regular basis and I've caught the bug. Trouble is, I can't quite get my head around knitting in the round.  (How do you remember which bit's the front and which is the back?)

Trailing Clouds self-striping sock yarn.  Yes, oooooh.

I tend to summon confidence by (optimistically) telling myself 'if 'she' can do it, I can do it' based on the fact that I, too, have a brain and two hands. The fact that these things also involve a huge dose of natural talent that I do not possess doesn't seem to occur to me until I have a giant basket full of expensive yarn.  All the gear and no idea; that's me.

I'm tenacious if nothing else so I will spend the weekend with a furrowed brow, scrapping with a ball of yarn.  I'm also going to squeeze in some stitching, pretty patchwork and a few episodes of Breaking Bad (newly found favourite programme to knit to with husband).

I have also bought a few supplies from overseas lately and they are starting to arrive at the house in dribs and drabs.   I'm so excited to start stitching these Rosalie Quinlan kits, with gorgeous Cosmo embroidery floss.

Stichery Pokery
The Cottage Garden Threads, are simply beautiful.  I've joined a little club where I pay about £12 a month for a stitchery pattern and four CGT threads with which to stitch it.  Such fun!  I'd love to join a sock yarn club if anyone knows of one.  Preferably a cool US brand which ships to the UK.  Suggestions most welcome.

Have a lovely weekend. 



Sunday, 16 February 2014

Meadowgate 6 - Knit Club Holiday in Devon

We're here!  I don't like to name-drop but I am writing this post from the living room at Kirstie Allsopp's 'Handmade Home'.  Ha!  It's my third time here but it still strikes me as weird that I am spending the week in a house I watched Kirstie renovate on the telly.

Lisa and I travelled down together yesterday and, despite the awful weather on Friday, we had a really good run.  No traffic jams, no storms and no diversions (that's our return journey jinxed then!). 

Last night we sat around chatting, knitting, crocheting or sewing and drinking wine or tea.  Stephanie cooked spaghetti bolognese, Suzie started the Meadowgate Olympics with a ten lap obstacle course around the house and Erin did a riverdance.  We tend to mostly gather around the huge wooden table in the kitchen; there's a big AGA at the far end of the room so it's very cosy and 14 people can be seated in the room comfortably.

We've been to Cowslip today for lunch and shopping followed by tea and cake.  Suzie hadn't booked our table so we missed out on Sunday roast.  It wasn't a problem because the menu there is gorgeous and all food is properly homemade.  Deb, especially, was not impressed and tried to pretend she was with an 80th birthday party in order to have access to the roast menu.  She was busted and settled for beef casserole.

Cowslip goodness
I love the shop at Cowslip; well we all do.  It's only a small shop but is packed to the rafters with fabric (quite literally) and loads of quilts, wall-hangings and cushions.  It is a massively inspiring place.

I was forced* to buy a bundle of 39 fat quarters and I'm going to make a quilt with them.  I might even make it this week - I brought my sewing machine for such emergencies.

I'm going to join everyone back in the kitchen now.  Lucie's crocheting a blanket and Lisa is hand quilting the patchwork she finished here in September.   June, Stephanie and Jean are all knitting various items of clothing, Erin is stitching a Julie Arkell inspired brooch and Suzie is making a cuddly bomb.  I have started an Alicia Paulson embroidery sampler.  

Helen, Deb and Rachel are in the playroom to drink wine and watch TV.  It's all very chilled.  Tomorrow we are having a photo shoot for Suzie's patterns and there will be a swap-over of knit clubbers (some come for the weekend and some come Monday-Friday).  

Wish you were here.



*sort of

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Three top tips for moving home without a hiccup

Moving into a new home is something we all look forward to. It doesn't matter whether you're moving into your first home, into something bigger or are escaping to the countryside, embarking on a new property adventure is always a pleasure.

The moving process itself, however, can sometimes be troublesome. Whether you're doing all of the moving yourself or are enlisting the help of professionals, it always pays to be one step ahead of the game.

Here, we go over several tips which will help make your move run smoothly.

1. Label your boxes

When we're moving home, there are always a surprising number of identical boxes. One practice which is essential to the efficiency of your move is ensuring that all of your boxes are moved to the right place at the right time.

In order for this to happen, you will need to be sure that each of your boxes is labelled clearly and thoroughly. Not only will this make life easier for you during the move but it will make the unpacking process easier at the other end.

2. Know your route

More often than not, it takes more than one trip to move all of your furnishings and belongings from one home to another. With each added trip it becomes more important that you select your route carefully. If you're moving into Linden Homes in Peterborough, you'll need to ensure that you are familiar with the route and that you're travelling at the right time of day.

If the first trip doesn't go well, consider alternatives which might save time or avoid traffic hotspots.

3. Plan the order

Seeing that all of your belongings arrive at their new destination in the correct order is one of the most important aspects to a successful move. Not only will you need to plan which items are the first and last to arrive at your new home but you will also need to take care to see which are the first and last loaded onto the van at the beginning of each trip.

Moving your belongings in the correct order will dramatically reduce the time you spend at your new property organising boxes. You're sure to be at your most tired towards the end of the day so the more work you can get out of the way at the day's beginning, the better.

Monday, 27 January 2014

New Year Bunny: Miss Maggie Rabbit by Alicia Paulson

After Christmas I always start to dread the new year.  I am not filled with enthusiasm for a new year, I generally feel a bit wistful that another one is over.  I feel flat at the thought of three whole months spent broke and on a diet in miserable weather with nothing to look forward to but [stinky] daffodils and Easter eggs.  Spring always seems to be a long time coming here in England.  

Feeling tired and stressed in the build up to Christmas, I chose not to be maudlin at the start of 2014 and vowed to myself that I'd do everything I could to make the last of the Winter more enjoyable.  I decided I would eat exactly what I fancy (no diets here yet, thank you) and keep the house as warm, light and welcoming as I possibly can.   

Pies and stews have been cooked and eaten, woodburners have been lit and my favourite candles have been filling the house with the cosy scent of nutmeg and spices.  I have been feeling very unwell - absolutely worn out - and have needed time to recharge my batteries. 

I have kept my weekends generally clear and undemanding to allow me to spend as much time as possible curled up in an armchair with nothing to do but knit and stitch.  

I bought the kit for Miss Maggie Rabbit a while before Christmas and deliberately saved her for my new year project.  I was a little anxious about starting as I wasn't sure I'd be able to do a very good job, but I was surprised by how simple the pattern is.

The felt that Alicia chose for the rabbit is a joy to work with and I enjoyed every minute of stitching it.  The instructions were easy to follow and the little dress was fun to make too.  I especially liked stitching the little pair of felt boots.

I made the rabbit for myself.  I planned to sit her on the shelves in my craft room where I could admire her daily.  Everything about her pleases me; her ears, particularly, which are made of my favourite Liberty print.    Unfortunately, my niece saw a photo and immediately declared she would like Miss Maggie herself.  I smiled non-commitally and deliberated for a couple of weeks about whether a five year old would *really* appreciate her as much as I do.  

But you know the end of this story.  Miss Maggie has been renamed Mimi and is now sitting, minus cape and boots, on the pink pillow of my little niece who, it turns out, loves 'Mimi' even more than I do.  I am going to have to make another for myself and have been pondering what fabric I'll use next time for Miss Maggie Jr's dress. 



Miss Maggie Rabbit is an Alicia Paulson creation and the kit can be bought online at Alicia's shop.  I popped over to the blog for this link and noticed a little rabbit on the table in a hot pink duffle coat.  Oh my, I'm hoping that the pattern is released; it's adorable.  

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Change your bathroom - how to update your home without spending a fortune

Facing a bathroom overhaul can be daunting, especially if it involves changing fixtures and fittings as well as a new lick of paint.

However, considering how personal the time is that we spend in the bathroom, it is worth the best upgrade possible.

The bathroom is actually a room which can bring out a great deal of your creativity as you get inventive on how to best utilise and decorate the space.

Stick to the theme

Decide on a style and colour theme and stick to it. If all of your decisions are based on a theme, you will find them a lot easier to make.

Once you know what look you want in your bathroom, choosing colours, fixtures and fittings will be a walk in the park, taking away the anxiety that often accompanies home upgrades.

Quality shower fittings

If you enjoy a strong shower which blasts out water at the desired temperate, it is a good idea to ditch the shower curtain and invest in a shower screen.

Find shower screens at Mira Showers from a wide selection including bi-fold doors, side panels, pivot doors and corner entry varieties in durable and attractive glass.

Bathroom experts

It is important to deal with the professionals when it comes to getting advice for upgrading your bathroom.

Mira Bathrooms has nearly a century of experience in the business of bathroom fixtures, fittings, designs and technology.

They are well versed tailor-making solutions to any bathroom regardless of shape or size.


Don’t hesitate to get out the paint brush to give your walls a new lick of paint if it will make a difference. One way of giving a bathroom a sense of space is to paint the ceiling a lighter colour than the walls.

If you go for wallpaper instead, go for a water-resistant and washable type.

Wall hangings

Do you have the ideal mirror in your bathroom or have you just become used to it?
If you want to create an illusion of greater space, invest in a larger mirror. Depending on the style theme of the room, you can finish it off with an ornate or minimalistic frame.

Take a good look at your bathroom walls. Now that they have been repainted or papered, would they suit some pictures or wall hangings?

Bathroom items

A simple way of giving your bathroom a fresh look once all of the basic work has been done is to purchase a new set of towels.

What’s hanging on your towel rack right now – or would you rather not think about it?
Invest in a set of towels which match your new bathroom. They really are the final touches.