Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Clearing the crafting decks

Following the completion of the second set of miniature stocking advent calenders, I am being very focused and non-spontaneous. I am aiming to finish off ALL of my works in progress before I start on anything new. I have several on the go, which is adding to the clutter and mess of my crafting supplies. I am working up to sorting through these supplies but want to do myself the favour of clearing as much out of the way as possible before I do so.

Step forward, WIP number one: cross stitch panel.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Week 7: The kitchen surfaces

I'm not sure how much this particular bit counts, as I wasn't so much decluttering as reorganising. There was no food that needed throwing out, but the new layout is much tidier and keeps the counter top much clearer, giving us more work space and also making it easier to wipe down the surfaces and keep it all lovely and clean.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Making me smile today

A perfect Saturday morning. Homemade biscuits and fresh tea enjoyed next to a bouquet of cut flowers. This unusual extravagance is thanks to my boss, who said that as we had no vases at work, I should bring these flowers home with me. I wasn't about to complain!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Winterising: Clear your drains

As a renter, there really isn't much that you can do to prepare your home for winter, but keeping your drains clear is an easy and cheap way to avoid a potentially much bigger problem. While as a renter you probably wouldn't have to pay for the repairs, you would certainly have to live with the problem, and you just know that the pipes would burst on Christmas Eve or a bank holiday weekend.

Cleaning drains is incredibly easy. You need those two reliable, trusty friends - baking soda, and white vinegar.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Never again

I have finally - finally! - finished the second miniature stocking advent calendar. I completed one of these for each of my two young cousins, and it has taken me about two years to do both. Finally I can sit back and relax! (Well, not quite - I have a few more Christmas presents to work on!)

The stockings sure do look cute, but boy did they take some work! Each stocking contains four pieces of cotton cut to my own homemade template. One piece of cotton is embroidered with sequins to make the number, then the four sheets are pinned together with a ribbon, marked using a second template and stitched. I trip the seam, turn them right side out, turn down the 'cuff' and hem it into place. The end result is a stocking with no visible stitches, which can be turned inside out without revealing its hem and which has a different colour for the lining than for the outside.

This one is in yellow, blue, orange and green for the boy cousin, J. The previous model was in myriad shades of purple, pink and blue for the girl cousin, E. The idea is that they can eventually fill one another's advent calendar with chocolates, notes or artwork - or nasty surprises, knowing them! I'm really glad I made these, because I know they will treasure them for years - but never again!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Week 6: The handbag collection

I'm tackling another cupboard this week. The handbag collection. This is currently 'stored' (read: tossed in a careless fashion) on the floor of the cupboard used for long dresses and work shirts. I'm not one of those women with a handbag for every occasion. In fact, once I got the bags out onto the table, the vast majority of items in the pile were overnight bags and sponge bags.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Aaaaand... breathe!

Phew! It's been a long old slog. I've worked right through the last weekend, often ten or more hours day, and today is my first day off in twelve days so I am totally knackered. So this picture completely expresses the big sigh of happiness first thing this morning, as I sit down with a freshly brewed pot of loose leaf tea and some nice writing paper to catch up on my correspondence. I've been experimenting with different photo effects on Picasa, and this one, called "Holga-ish", adds a nice soft-focus, calm feeling.

Of course, during the busy period, I've fallen off a lot of wagons. Buying sandwiches instead of baking bread, letting the laundry fall behind, not laying out my clothes each morning. I'm going to try to use this three-day weekend to get back on track with most of these things, finish up some craftiness and get a wriggle on with the Christmas presents - but there will also be time for hot chocolate, Downton Abbey and snuggling up under a blanket with a good book.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Week 5: The bathroom

This week it was the turn of the bathroom cupboard. It has been slowly invading the bathroom floor. Empty containers vying for space with endless products that are no longer used. I even found two more sponge bags - why do I hoard them? I've no idea. These are all mixed in with an increasing number of ingredients for homemade toiletries - various oils and flower waters.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Lazy Sunday?

Today counts as a lazy Sunday for me, because I've stayed home all day and watched three episodes of Downton Abbey. In between episodes, I have:

::Baked bread for sandwiches::

::Candied citrus peel::

::ALMOST finished the miniature stockings advent calendar::

Do you think I can call this a simple-living-style lazy Sunday?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Lavender Bath Bags

My crafty mojo has been sadly lacking recently. What I really needed was a simple, easy project whose benefits could be immediately enjoyed. I turned to Cheryl's how-to for Lavender Soap Scrubs over at Time to Craft. As I used mine for a luxurious long soak in the bathtub rather than a shower, I found myself thinking of them as bath bags.

If you haven't visited Time to Craft, you absolutely must - there are loads of easy crafty and baking tutorials, and most are designed to be done for or with children. So head on over there right now!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Week 4: The bedroom

When I normally try to have a clear out, usually what I do is gather up all the useless bits and bobs from around the house and dump them next to the bed. As my bedside table is next to the eaves of the roof, stuff shoved under said table or under the bed is pretty much out of sight, out of mind.

Not this time! And just to mix things up a bit, I'm going to start with the AFTER picture - because it's so lovely!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

How to: make an all-purpose cleaner

I use this cleaner in the kitchen, the bathroom, and for cleaning windows, tables, doors, walls... Basically, everything. It works fantastically well, cuts through grease and limescale and soap scum, and leaves surfaces shiny. As it has tea tree oil in it, it also acts as a mild antiseptic, antibacterial and antifungal, but is completely fine to use around asthmatics.

It's really, really complicated. Seriously. It will take you ages. Are you ready?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A much-needed facelift

Visitors to my blog today may have noticed some... ahem... changes. I have changed the template and banner of the blog. It was about time - the previous layout was cluttered and I felt the colours were distracting from the photos I am increasingly using. Since I am trying to simplify things, I thought - why not simplify my blog as well? It looks much cleaner now, with the colours standing out more vividly. Plus sometimes it's good to change things around.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Winterising: Your feet will thank me

A lot of winterising post and advice I have seen is targeted at changes to the house - but you also need to get  your clothes and shoes ready for winter. Shoes in particular! They need to be warm, comfortable and rain-and-snow-resistant. 

Put away your summer shoes (sandals etc) and get out all your sturdier shoes. Check the heels and soles, and get them repaired if necessary. If your shoes are leather, give them a thorough treatment - you can buy products to help keep leather waterproof, but I use my homemade shoe polish as the beeswax does that beautifully. If your shoes don't fit or have holes, now is the time to go out and buy a new pair - you don't want to find yourself without suitable footwear when the snow starts getting slushy. While you're at it, check that you also have warm socks that extend as far up your leg as the boots.

If like me you live in an urban area, you are unlikely to have a pair of wellies or walking boots. While you probably can't wear these at work, I get a lot of use out of my sturdy walking boots for trips to the supermarket, and walking to and from work (I change shoes when I get there.) My feet thank me, I save on damage to my other shoes, and I can walk around more quickly and safely with the better grip.


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