RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: November 2011

Ooh yes, a bit of formica…

I would love to be able to reveal our transformed kitchen but sadly it is still in flux, the last few bits seem to be just taking forevs. But here’s a couple of swatches of what we are trying to do…

This book case was a nifty £7 from a pretty massive charity shop, although most of you will never see it as it is in a sad, tiny, faraway place called Harwich where we visited one disastrous day to pick up our vintage-esqu fridge. Really, that charity shop saved the day.

This collection of copper tins is from the good old Sallies, the enamel dishes and teapot from that time we drove 12 hours in France to go to a carboot sale and the cute little cream maker was £4 from the Red Cross shop in Forest Hill. Although we have tried several times we can’t make cream with it, anyone have any tips?

And this lovely little hand coffee grinder was one of those gobsmackingly silly moments where we had been traipsing round charity shops having a wildly successful day when Tim said “All I need now is a lovely little wooden hand coffee grinder”. Next shop? A lovely little hand coffee grinder for £2. Beaut.

Here is a brand new old table, something we have been searching for for a while. We really wanted a formica table with drop leaf sides, with a lovely colour. Formica tables can be a bit on the small side so despite our searching we hadn’t found anything quite right.

Then Mum and Dad went to Whitstable.

Whitstable is a flipping brilliant place. It is just a short dash away from London on the train and is full of charity shops and antique shops, has a beach to wander along/ swim in (which I did that legendary hot October weekend) and fish and chips to munch.

So, my parents visited last week. They are great, my parents. My mum is a charity shop fiend, more committed than even me I think, and my dad use to have a hard time as once he had looked at the books he was a bit stuck. So in the name of romantical married excursions my dad invested in a record player. Now he can wile away HOURS scoping out old EP’s and classics and the four of us have taken those “Oh but the Fara in Shepherds Bush is a 9/10 for trinkets” conversations to a whole new level.

So here it is our formica table, withsome of our beautiful Jessie Tate Spanish Garden Midwinter crockery placed lovingly upon it. It was £55 which we were happy to pay for a 1950’s table in perfick nick.

Right, must get my skates on. Guess where we are going today? I hope to report next Monday with a whole lot more Whitstable goodness.

Today I am once again linking up with Miss Lizzie B’s spectacular Magpie Monday – if you like all things vintage and charityage you must scope it out.

Advertisements

Richard Branson and bellybuttons

I once taught Richard Branson how to do the running man- it was for a charity thing for work, but then when he got up on stage to do it he was really bad, worse then my mum when I tried to teach her in the early nineties. He literally just jogged on the spot where as my mum at least had the scrapey foot thing down. Geez, how hard can it be, Dick?

Or perhaps I just failed at teaching….I have given 3 people driving lessons who all failed first attempts to pass. In New Zealand, where I lived for 7 years, it is all pretty low key, to be honest I didn’t even have my full license when I was teaching them which might explain it. (Don’t tell my mum this.)

While on this dodgy half-license I once drove through a police check point at ninety kilometres an hour with a car full of yoofs. I was a youth worker and I’d taken them to the beach for the day but was driving without my spectacles and thought the police waving me down were just random flashy lights. They chased me and did that thing where they brake in front of you to make you stop. I may also have been on one of those follow-the-cops-around-tv-shows. (Don’t tell my mum this either.)

You see, I should really wear my glasses as I have a stigmatism in one eyeball. But I don’t because I just spend half my life trying to remember where I’ve put them.

As well as a stigmatism, I also have toes that are very finger like, and in fact I can pick stuff up off the floor with them and put it in my mouth. Not that I would ever do that with biscuits or popcorn as a grotesque attempt to be the life and soul of a party or anything ever as that is clearly just filthy…

You may think THAT rank. But I’ll tell you what is rank- belly buttons. UGH. I am totally allergic to people touching my belly button. Even just typing that makes me quiver oddly. Ramona loves trying to grab my belly button so in the name of sacrificial mothering I try to steel myself.

Mothering is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I love being a mum to Ramona more than I thought possible. It took us nearly three years to fall pregnant with Ramona and she feels like a precious little miracle.

TADA! That was 7 things you didn’t know about me- ha, and there you were thinking I was just having a particuarly colourful mind vomit. I was tagged in this cute little meme by Wild Thing’s Bek so in turn I am tagging  Mel Wiggins, Valerie from Mama’s Little Beats, Living it Little’s Fee, Miss Lizzie B,   Mel of The Cookies , Claire from Border Stories and the Jacqui the Barefoot Crofter

Nakey bum at one: the highs and lows of a nappyfree baby

Oh me, oh my. I just wandered into the spare bedroom to find Ramona sitting on the bed with poo smudged around her, a huge turd sitting atop the box she used to climb up.

Now seems to be the perfect moment for a 9 month summary of Elimination Communication (EC). The highs. The lows.

Clearly, crap on the bed is a low.

Three wee’s on the floor in the lounge within the first day of having new carpet put in. Also a low.

A wee on my lap on the bus. Hmmm, probably a low. A poo in her trousers in the park. I’d go a low.

As you can see being on a nappy free journey with a tiny tot isn’t a ride free of bumps, we get quite a few bumps. But there are some great, even exhilirating, times too.

When we go a whole day with everything in the potty. When she points to the toilet when she needs to go or when she grabs her baby girl bits before she needs to go. It is nice not having to clear smeary nappy poo up each day. Even clearing it up from a bed or other non-loo (these misses happen around once a month)  seems to be less work than changing a nappy (Pick up sheet, bung in washing machine). And even though we have some tricky times (most commonly if she is teething, as if she looses sense of her bowel movements- that is when we get rogue poos) they really seem just a minor part in the whole scheme of it. And if those lows I mentioned above happened more commonly than once a month I think I would struggle! But keeping her in touch with her bodily functions from babyhood through EC  just seems kind of natural to me.

I appreciate it is not for everyone though, certainly not for the faint hearted. You have to have a certain un-fazed-ness to whip your babies trousers down in public to give her a wee opportunity in a bush, or to laugh off a sneaky public shart in the trousers.  And doing it with more than one child on the scene would be a bit of a challenge, although one I think we’ll probably have a bash at, as millions of big families manage in this way in other places.

I guess, back in the day, or in the villages of rural China, adults would all be keeping an eye on the whipper snappers, not leaving it just for Mum to watch out for baby’s toilet need signalling. The other day we were all up in London at the Occupy protest having a big fun family day- Tim and I were caught up doing games with some of the big kids. My mum was there and spotted Ramona’s “wee face”- and took her outside for a successful tree pee. It made me think how much our small, isolated lives make this kind of natural parenting a lot trickier. The more we head along this journey the more I realise how lives have moved on from that tribal parenting, and how lifethese days is just set up harder to do these kinds of things with your baby.

So there we go. Nakey bum at one, a short review. NOT a “Woohoo!! Everyone should do this!!!” parenting post. In fact, it probably made some of you vomit in your mouth a little. Sorry about that.

We don’t actually have her nakey bum hanging out like this all the time. Ramona just happened to have these ridiculous baggy bloomers on that slipped down just as she reached round to attack Daddy’s specs. Just look at that tiny rotund bum!

My new (ancient) Zig-Zag-o-matic sewing machine. Guess what it does?

ZIG ZAG!

For my birthday this year my husband bought me a beautiful retro Singer sewing machine, but we quickly discovered it didn’t do zig zag stitching. I use zig zag alot as it requires less precision  with pesky single stitch you have to follow a line and can easily come away from the fabric, especially if you are talking/ holding the baby/ eating breakfast at the same time. Zig zag is like playing snooker with the cue the wrong way round.

So we have been keeping our eyes peeled for another old machine (it has to be aesthetically pleasing as I don’t want to have to hide it away when not using it) but within zig zag era.

We were in a charity shop in Sevenoaks last week (worth a visit for charity shopping-  5  mostly  overpriced shops but with a good selection of quality wool jumpers, boots and DVD’s) and like some kind of cosmic joke there sat an old sewing machine called the ZIG -ZAG-O-MATIC! It was £50 but when the guy heard our discussion (not intentionally loud, I’d never try and rip off a charity shop. When I say “never” I mostly mean “not that much”, and often rather than trying to bargain down I just don’t buy and then complain about how charity shops are soooo expensive. I know, I know, what a cheapskate) about how we only had a £30 budget he piped up with “How about £30 then?!”  Despite dropping it on the way to the train station it survived the journey home, and here it is, in all it’s glory. Our De Luxe, Grand, Zig-Zag-0-Matic, with it’s little box of extra goodies and quaint manual.

I love that they couldn’t really decide on the name so just called it all three things. You can see that diplomatic outcome taking it’s course in their boardroom, eh.

I really like all these little badges. So styley. More badges please, you people of the current design world!

All the little details, the dials, etc. They don’t make stuff this classy these days, eh.

And, I don’t know if I mentioned this but, this machine, yeah, it does ZIG ZAG.

The manual explains “This machine, by virtur (sic) of it’s design, permits you to do zig zag sewing…” Ummm. As if you could have got to page 35 of the manual without realising this feature.

These were the great days when you could just add “omatic” to everything and create an instant “does what it says on the tin” brand. Now you have to read the back of things to figure out what they do because product names are so cryptic. Ipods: Musicomatic. Easy. Although, it could get a little unweildy. Iphones: everything-you-can-ever-conceive-of -finding-out- or-buying-or-playing-or planning- plus – talking-on-the-phone- omatic.

Hmmm, also imagine what the 50’s would have called tampons.

And here is the little accompanying box, which I probably would have paid £30 for by itself because it is so cute.

Today I am linking up with Miss Lizzie B’s spectacular Magpie Monday where basically people get together to show of their recent bargainous swag. I have since been introduced to the most tenacious charity shopping extraordinaires- I mean, I thought I was obsessed, but some of these vintage-hooked peeps make my efforts look totally feeble. I am in awe.

Add some bling to your pegs – a quick Christmas craft

Twitter is all a flutter with Christmas craft today so in an effort to get in the festive spirit (totally a month too early) I pimped some pegs.

I am always looking for ways to creatively display Christmas cards as our mantel piece doesn’t cut it as it is normally covered in mugs, old birthday cards, lost keys and lovely things that are meant to be on show (but you can’t appreciate because of all the mugs/cards/lost property on there.)

Pegs and string are a great option. But these are Next Level pegs. With just a few things-  glue, ribbon, scrabble letters, a lick of paint,  pearls- a £1 pack of wooden pegs are transformed into bejwelled festive card exhibitors. And guess what? Yep, they take 2 minutes. I just used up what I had (I tried a few different options of the above but settled on quite a simple combo) but am now going to keep my eyes peeled for little things in charity shops that could adorn a peg. Imagine some vintage lace and buttons. Yes. Yes. YES!

Ramona, it’s your first birthday, we’re gonna party like it’s your first birthday…

Eat pizza like it’s your first birthday…

Ramona Lily! You are ONE! It is astonishing to believe that one year ago I was groaning around in the birth pool that had been erected and filled three days earlier thinking your arrival was imminent. In some ways your Birth Day feels like yesterday- the emotions are still so tangible; the intense hunger to meet you, the frustration that your journey down was taking so bloody long, the slight apprehension of how our happy, carefree days were about to abruptly end. Yet in other ways it feels like an absolute AGE ago! You seem so grown up – how you bite the top layer of bread from your toast, the bit covered in marmite- that is just WISDOM, right there.

I remember our first week together. I was a bit shocked at the lack of overwhelming love. I had always assumed I would just be head over heels for you. Where as actually, my primary feeling was one of  “Who are you?! A whole little person I have yet to know?” I was surprised that My Bump turned into a real, tiny, individual human instead of just an extension of myself with it’s own limbs.  It didn’t last long though, before two weeks were up I sometimes couldn’t get the breath out of my lungs because I loved you so much.

I always thought the lack of sleep would be the worst thing about having a baby, as I was used to 11- 12 hours of sleep every night. Surprisingly, perhaps because of daddy’s Flat White making skills, that has been less of a big deal. I have been pleasantly surprised by how significantly the wonders outweigh the hardships. Although my nipples probably don’t agree. Sometimes I think you are gonna suck them right off.

I am so glad people encouraged me to follow my instincts with you. This led me to wear you close all day, sleep snuggled up, feed you whenever you peeped. I feel this has been just the ticket for us- you seem so content and secure. I remember a few months ago, just 2 days after you learnt to crawl, you crawled out of the room  without me, and into the garden to investigate the big kid  ruckus. I was quite relieved in that moment, as the myth that attachment parenting leads to desperately clingy babies was dissolved before my eyes. Now you are walking, and climbing, and gaining independance everyday. And soon you’ll be shouting that your skirt isn’t too short and 10pm is way too early.

I have absolutely LOVED this year with you Ramona! It has been SO fun. You make me laugh uncontrollably with your funny little dancing, weird facials and gappy teeth.

I hope I have the courage to keep mothering by instinct, to work things through with you gently, and to always treat you how I would hope to be treated, despite times when you and I might be a bit cross or grumpy.

With every ounce of love under the sun,

Mummy

This time last year, Ramona is a few hours old – clearly I have climbed that gargantuan mountain of labour and am ruddy knackered. One thing you learn the first time you give birth is that even if labour is three days long this is not an excuse to not wash your hair, or at least dry shampoo it, for goodness sake. There WILL be cameras you know.

It is all about cross stitch… (no, really!)

I had a dream this week where all my friends, old and new, were at a cross stitch party and they were all better at it than I was. Dreams are so boring to hear but it is still so impossible to refrain from sharing your own eh? I’m sorry. And I bet that dream sounds like THE MOST BORING EVER! A crossstitch party?!
But actually, while dreams are boring, cross stitch is not. Nope. It has been transformed by the ranks of subversive stitchers and now it is The Absolute Best.
It was the Craftivist Collective who first got me in to it – they cross stitch gorgeus social justice messages and leave them in prominent places such as this one I found last week at the Occupy LSX camp at St Paul’s.

However my first cross stitch was a bit of a fail as I liked it so much I kept it and put it on my wall. (Don’t tell them.) How un-world changey of me. And now I am unstoppable. (Sort of, I do a few a year.)

One thing I like about crossstitch is that it has a rep for being one thing (antiquated and quaint) but has now become something else (cool and even edgy) kinda like if Katy Price was to picket the upcoming Miss World (cool) or if Bono (justice warrior) was to become a tax dodger (ah, yes, done. And so not cool.)

I love words and sentences and my house is covered with them, like this lamp and this wall. But crossstitched words and sentences are completely Next Level. 

Another thing I love about it is that it is so thrifty; a few bits of cotton and the canvas bit you sew on to will set you back a couple of squid and last FOREVS. Giving cross stich words epitomises the goodness of thrifty gifts- it is cheap but not cheapskate- the time and effort put into crafting it up can far outweigh the flashy beauty of a bought thing.  Something like this from this epic selection would be ideal for new babies on the scene: 

And you may have picked up that I love quick craftiness- while crossstitch does need a bit of patience it can be picked up for the odd five minutes here or there, or taken with you so you can do it on the hoof. The Love one below was done on a train journey while Ramona slept. Chucked in a cute old frame it sets off this bookshelf rather deliciously.

This post is sponsored by NeedlePointer; Camberwell’s favourite needle supplier. JOKES. When I was about 11 me and my cousin and my sister spent several hours making up a melody and beautiful harmonies to a song about Needle Craft- we had seen an ad on telly and for some reason it seemed like a grand way to spend a morning. The tune has been running through my head this whole time. Bonkers. I’ll have to sing it to you one day. As a treat. Maybe I could also tell you my top ten weird dreams too.