29 Nov 2011

Best laid plans and all.

About 3 months ago, after a particularly vigorous pinning session, I started my handmade Christmas present planning. I figured it all out, on a spread sheet and everything {Lizzy, you would be proud!}, what needed to be done when, when I wanted things completed by, which month I would pay for things, and how they’d be packaged. I even started on a couple of the projects that needed a while to, hmmmm, cure.
But that is pretty much where I stopped. The plan was to create about 8 different things and package them all up prettily and have all, bar one, done by the start of December so I didn't have the stress and rush that the old housemate and I had last year when we decided to hand make a load of gifts and didn't really give ourselves enough time.
Well, as it stands I have two gifts finished, and another is half made, but nowhere near ‘done’, the craft room/dressing room/junk room is a mess of bits of twine and scraps of fabric and I am fast running out of time to get them completed by ‘fake christmas’ at the boy’s family in a few weeks.
Plus I still have a crafting afternoon to host, a baby gift to make for my friend Sammy, and the Pretty package exchange to do. What with a few weekends away planned in and my evenings quickly filling up, I think it might be time to re-evaluate the plans I had and scale back slightly.

And I haven’t even started thinking about bought Christmas gifts, decorating a tree, or the boys birthday at the start of January! Yikes. 

25 Nov 2011

Just the two of us {almost, nearly}


From www.houseofturquoise.com
The housemate gave us some fantastic news last week. He is moving out. And of his own accord {well almost, he may have had some subtle hints from our friends, but shhhhhhhh}. He moves out at the end of December, but I wont go into where he is moving to too much as I think it might be a crack den,and it scares me.  


And not only does it mean that the boy and I get to live together, just us, but it means we get more space in the kitchen cupboards {say hello, baking cupboard}, we I get one less person to nag into cleaning, all of his habits will leave with him and, most most most importantly, we get a spare room, which means we can have more friends to stay and they won't have to sleep in the living room!
A, quirky, attic spare room. But a room that I get to decorate, 'how ever I want' I am told. Can you see where I may be going with it by that image above? Think white and turquoise and wood. I can't wait to get started up there, and it'll give me a project whilst the boy is away in India again in February and March. All I have been told is that it needs to house a desk for his computer!


I've only been up there once, but if I recall the {steeeeeeeeep} stairs come up in the middle of one wall, the bed fits against the one opposite, it's got a little alcove where the window is, which I am hoping will fit a desk perfectly, and on the other side of the room there are a couple of odd cupboardy, wardrobey things with a cubby behind them, which would be great for storing all our big things that probably shouldn't be in the cellar - I bet it would look fab with a pretty curtain in front of it. It needs a new floor {one day} and maybe a carpet - although some white painted floorboards would do me fine. And definitely a lick of paint. And the thing it'll need more than anything else, especially as I am guessing it hasn't been cleaned in about 3 years, is a very good disinfecting and airing! 

23 Nov 2011

The Lovely Package Exchange

The other week, in a surprisingly on-the-ball moment, I managed to make the sign-up list for the Oh, Hello Friend Lovely Package Exchange.
The plan is to swap something wonderfully wrapped and bundled up with another blogger, who themselves likes pretty packages. The swaps are happening country by country to help with postage, which I guess means you can be even more creative with both what and how you send your gift. I'm super excited as I am pretty sure that packaging your gift is almost as important as the gift itself. {Granted sometimes I will be at the last minute and I am sorry if you've received one of those gifts, but on the whole, pretty wins every time.} 

The swapee’s were announced on Monday and I thought I would introduce you to mine - Annabel at Fragmented Splendour. We all filled in a little questionnaire and from hers I know that these are her likes and hobbies;
5 favorite things: I adore cats, sweet vintage items, Anything purple or mustard, lace and crochet items and anything at all that is hand made! :)
5 words to describe you or your style: Quirky, unique, colourful, lovely, avid book&blog reader.
Anything else you'd like to mention: I LOVE packaging & getting post, I make jewellery, I'm a student, I study Fine art & my favourite piece of clothing is a dress covered in cats!


So I will try and weave those likes into my gift collating/making {I just have to be honest though, I don't really 'do' cats, so it might not contain them!} and now I have a couple of weeks to get my ass in gear and send her something that not only is fun but looks pretty when she receives it. 

I have about 5 different theme ideas racing around my head so I guess the best bet would be to pop them all in a hat and stick to one, or it’ll be a whole mish-mash of ideas and probably turn out horribly.
But it is fab to know I am going to not only be making something pretty but receiving something nice too! 

21 Nov 2011

A little baby shower


I just wanted to share a little peek at the baby shower Jess of Mama Doreen's and I hosted for our friend Sammy. It was held at Jess's beautiful home {just look at that those chairs and the colour of that wall. Swoon, swoon, swoon.}
Jess and her mum made the cakes, and jess did a huge array of yummy food - loaded potatoes, chilli, toasted panini's followed by cake pops, an amazing sticky toffee cake and a chocolate cake that was to die for.
And I made some decorations - tissue pompoms and a cupcake liner pompom {that involved me busting out the glue gun!} did the favours - a little 'cute as a button' cookie set, made 'wishes for baby' cards for us to all fill in and put together a little afternoon crafting activity, where by we all sewed a little ornament for a mobile.

how cute?
  cake pops
 little girls love cake
bunting
 cake. mmmm. cake.
 Jess, not posing at all. 
 time for gifts

wishes for baby
cute as a button

17 Nov 2011

Knowingly Undersold?


Forgive me - this is a massive rant! But if you follow me on Twitter you might have seen my debarkle, what, maybe 4 weeks ago, with John Lewis and their shocking customer service as I ordered my dining table. Well, I have the table, but it's taken me 4 weeks to get an apology {of sorts} for the way their staff spoke to me and I just seem to have been passed around different people, so I am putting it in writing and on the internet to see if anyone else has managed to be ‘undersold’ by John Lewis.

So, the story is, I found the table of my dreams in the JL in Sheffield, the sales assistants told me it was always in stock and the best thing to do would be to order the week before I wanted it and so left the dream table in the store until I had decorated. Later, when my dining room was almost done I went back to order it with my mum. Unfortunately the table was out of stock, as were the chairs, so we had to order them. Having a little event planned on the 30th I told the nice, but slightly useless, Sales Assistant that I needed the table for then, and she told me no problem, everything would be back in stock the following Monday, the 24th.

Fast forward 4 days and I get an email from the online side of the business telling me that the chairs were back in stock, so as instructed I gave them a little call. This is where the problems start – I got put through to the furniture dept. in the Sheffield store to enquire about getting the chairs delivered {I was told they’d be delivered separately} but unfortunately the woman I ended up speaking to must have been having the worst day ever. Either that or she is just uber grumpy all the time. But in the snottiest I-am-better-than-you tone she proceeded to tell me that yes my order had come in, but not to be so stupid as why would they deliver them without the table {erm, because you said you would, duh!}  and she also told me that ‘even if my table did arrive the following week, I definitely wouldn’t have it for the weekend. I explained I’d been told it would be with me for then, as I had an event I need the table for but she went on to tell me that I should have ordered it sooner, my event was no concern of hers and she didn’t really care what I did but my table wouldn’t be with me. then asked me if I wanted to cancel my order. At that point I was mighty close, but having spent 4 months looking at tables and knowing this was the one I wanted, I didn’t. I know after that I should have. I mean, I worked in retail for a long time and I know sometimes it gets you down – I really understand that- but if I’d have spoken to a customer, especially one actually spending a decent amount of cash with them, like that I’d have expected to at least get some sort of comeuppance.

So I turned to twitter and told them about how horrible the service had been  and @JLcustserv suggested that I email them, so I did and got a little message back to say someone would be back in touch in 24 hours.

So here the customer service journey goes 2 ways – one way where my table comes in stock, and when I phone to chase the delivery {I know, surely I shouldn’t be chasing it!} I get told that I have to go and collect it from their depot, and then it changes to no, it won’t be with me on time on a number of occasions until I spoke to a lovely guy called Chris in their Manchester call centre. He did some magic and got me a Saturday delivery slot so the table arrived just in time.

But then there is the other side – 5 days go past and I still haven’t heard anything after this promise of contact in 24hrs, which has kind of pissed me off more - at least do what you say you will, so I called them, and got told it’d be another 24hrs before someone called me. Guess what, 7 days later and nothing.  So I called again and this time I hit the escalated complaints department and the lady there assures me I will get a call, and gives me her number in case I hear nothing. And yes, you’ve guessed it – they didn’t make any contact. So now it’s taken another call and another email – at their request - to get some acknowledgement from the Sheffield store. The woman who called me was lovely, but it has to be said her apology was a bit wishy washy. First off she said she thought someone had emailed me back already, or they should have a month ago {yes, yes they should have, or maybe 2 weeks ago when I chased them}, that I shouldn't have been spoken to like that {you think?} and 'we'll look into it' {it was a month ago. If you thought I had been replied to and you were actually going to look into it, maybe you should have done that when you first got the email?} and her offer to send me a voucher for a free coffee next time I am in store is, well, slight annoying as I don’t even drink coffee and maybe a little offensive! 

When I sent my first email all I wanted was I was my table on time like I was promised, and maybe a sorry. But now, as they have made me work for it, have consistently let me down and have made me chase them for some contact I thought I’d let the world {well, my few readers} know. And it’s made me feel a little less mad about the whole affair by getting it out in the open. 

14 Nov 2011

Gifted

You have no idea how happy it made me this weekend when I saw that Creature Comforts had brought out a Gifted 2011 magazine. And even though half the stuff isn't available in the UK, oh, the ideas, oh, the ideas. My brain is overflowing.


Open publication - Free publishing - More christmas

Bring on the plethora of Christmas magazines to make me question all the lifts I am making and make me even more chubs with all their delicious recipes. 

10 Nov 2011

Gifts to myself



You know I posted about the Besotted Brand shop I mentioned a few weeks ago? Well, you should know that when payday arrived the first thing that I did was place an order {in fact I placed the order the night BEFORE payday because Paypal always take their sweet time to get the money}. And 9 days later, which from the US of A is pretty fast I think, my little present to myself arrived. And don't presents to yourself feel much more like pressies when they are wrapped up like them? 

Of course I got the anchor. And the 'hello' and 'handmade' also made their way into my basket. I mean if I am already paying the postage, I might as well make use of it right? And they will be super useful, what with all the gifts I am making.
And Miss B threw in some other unexpected goodies - i beautiful stamped gift tag, craft heart stickers, 2 more little stamps {'thank you' and a 'just a little note'} and importantly, some ink so I could play right away.

People in my life, you ought to expect pretty much everything you receive from now on to have the shit stamped out of it. So what if I have made you nothing. So what if you hate the ocean and anchors {more fool you btw}. EVERYTHING will be stamped. Get used to it!

*Please forgive the images, there appears to be no natural light during my at home hours any more, so they are all orange and yellow. 

7 Nov 2011

What would you do?


This sodding quote keeps taunting almost every time I hit the 'everything' button on PinterestIts a stupid, simple question, but somehow it has got in my brain and planted some crazy seed which makes me wonder what would I do? Or, maybe, what would I do if failure didn't mean there would be something bad waiting for me at the other side, like massive debts and not being able to pay the bills. It almost makes me mad to see people doing the things they love and managing to make a life doing it {for instance, my brother and his bar - he's doing what he's always wanted to do, and doing it well apparently.  I am very proud of him and his fiancĂ©e, but also a little pissed off that he's the 'sorted' one now!} 

Honestly, if I didn't have money to worry about - paying debts and bills and the likes - what I would love to do is Events. Smaller ones, like parties and weddings, where the attention to detail is the thing that makes it work, where we could talk about that perfect shade of blue and arrange a colour scheme around it and in this dream job I’d definitely be working for people who would notice when I used a certain font. I just don’t think Sheffield is calling out for me to do this. My bank balance certainly isn’t. And do nice fonts make other people smile, or it it just me?

I used to think I would like a boutique-y/crafty shop with a little cafe on the side - my friend and I discussed it at length during our time together at Quiksilver, we would have sold women's clothes in the brands we love but struggle to get hold of and she would have had an uber cool cafe that opened late and had bands playing. We'd sell artwork from the walls and hold exhibitions. We even knew how it would look and once upon a time costed up the gear, but it was just a little too far away from our grasp. 

Or I would quit it all and go do another snow season, but at 30, I think I am too old. I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the kids and their partying and I couldn’t snowboard every day anymore, what with my cheese knees – but would it matter if I was living in the mountains? And if I took the boy, we could chalet host. He could cook and I could clean and bake. Doesn’t it sound great. If only. And if I couldn’t fail, I’d give a massive kicker a go again, and a kinked rail. If I couldn’t fail on the mountain I would be the snowboarder I always wanted to be – I would be badass! Trust me, even Jake Burton would be knocking on my door. And then I would give surfing a go.  

Or maybe I would push the boy to look into an opportunity a little more. Take a leap.  Maybe I will anyway. 

What, if you couldn't fail, would you do? 

2 Nov 2011

DIY Glitter Shoes

This weekend we have a friends 30th birthday to attend. The dresscode is 'Black, Bling and Ting'. The black I can do, no probs, and the bling - well, I had a little Pinned project I wanted to try. Glitter Pumps {actually, I really wanted to give these sequinned numbers or these diamond encrusted platforms a go, but I don't have the patience for that amount of sticking and sewing and we all know I could never walk in a pair of those heels!}

I had a pair of H&M shoes I bought ages ago because the heel is little, but have never worn as they seem a little mum-sy in their height {go figure - low enough for me & my heel phobia to wear, but too mumsy in height to wear!} so they seemed perfect to glitter in case it all went wrong. 
This meant I just needed Glitter. The tutorial over at Pixie in Pumps says use super fine glitter, but the stuff in pots in Hobbycraft didn't look that fine, so I bought their pre-mixed glitter glue - in silver and also in a black with reds and blues in it to give the colour of the shoes a little pop. 

The tutorial calls for sanding your shoes down. All I could find was some medium weight sandpaper, but I think it might have been a little rough as it made bits stick up - so maybe a fine sandpaper would work better. I did get some odd looks from my housemate whilst I was sanding my shoes down - he definitely does not get craft/DIY-ing!

The shoes half way though - after one coat. 


Once I had mixed the two glitters I set about painting my shoes. I think in hindsight the glitter mix could have done with being more glittery as there was a lot of shoe showing though after the first coat. But I left the shoes over night to dry and did another coat the next day and they have a much better coverage of glitter now. I was undecided whether to do another coat but I think it might get too thick and crack, plus they are just for a party so I think I might leave it.


This is the coverage after two coats and a little touching up around the edges. What do you think? I think I might like them and you can just about make out the reds and blues in the sparkles too. The colours work quite well with the silver lining H&M had so kindly provided too don't they, it's almost as if they knew how they'd end up!


I am not sure how well they'll hold up to a night of partying but there doesn't appear to be any glitter coming off them when I rubbed my hands on them. And I have loads of the glitter mix left so I might throw it over some old irregular choice pumps I have that are looking pretty worse for wear now!

what I used;

  • Old pair of shoes
  • Sandpaper - a fine one. 
  • Hobbycraft pre-mixed glitter glue. 120ml bottle would be plenty. {or use PVA glue and glitter.}
  • A small-ish paint brush
  • A little bowl for mixing in
  • Tin foil to cover everything in. 
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