Saturday, 27 October 2012

Selling my house

I've already mentioned here that my house is back up for sale. So far, zero viewings.  What I haven't said is that it was up for sale last year for 9 months.  I had 5 viewers.  Everyone said they loved the house and the location but it needed a lot of work.  Not true!  The house is structurally sound (home report verifies this) and has a stunning new bespoke conservatory and mud room that cost us almost 6 figures.  The house doesn't need a lot of work!!!
But I will concede that it may need some decorative touches.

Now UK readers will know that this lovely man is Phil Spencer.  And yeah, that's me grinning like an idiot. Not my finest moment when I gushed "I'm a huge fan, can I have a photograph?" I was lucky enough to meet him at a Homes Show in Edinburgh when I was helping a friend out (hence the tag!)  He's a TV expert on buying and selling houses and did a Q and A session.  He currently has a show on Ch4 called Secret Agent where he goes into houses and tries to work out why they're not selling.  He gives advice on what the owners should do to get a sale.

So I've been trying to look at my house with a 'Phil Spencer eye' and think what he might say about it.

This is my living room, well about half of it as there's a dining area with a large table and 10 chairs not shown.  This pic is on the house schedule so people see this on the internet if they're looking at my house.  Yes it's a mustard yellow colour!  Not painted by us, it was that colour when we bought it.  I like it but could this be putting people off?  To totally redecorate would cost a fortune.

So imagine my delight when the Make It and Mend It site that I love for inspiration announced a competition to win £300 of Wickes vouchers.  I thought I'd give it a go!  All I have to do is describe the room I'd re decorate and what I'd buy. So here's what I would buy if I won.

 Trade Matt Paint Magnolia 15l £31.99

Magnolia paint!  Litres and litres of the stuff.  Phil says 'Keep everything neutral so potential buyers can imagine their belongings in your rooms.' Bit boring but hey, if it sells houses......

MDF Diamond Lattice Screen 3x605x1220mm £23.49
I've got 4 ugly storage heaters in the room. Practical but not nice to look at so I'd cover them up with a lovely radiator cover made from this diamond pattern.

Screwless Flat Plate Socket 2 Gang £12.56
And look at these lovely chrome sockets and switches.  My long term plan was to change every socket in the house to these.  The conservatory and mud room are done and I've got some in the kitchen.  The living room has a hotch potch of gold and white ones.  I'd change the whole room to these ones.

Screwless Flat Plate Switch 1 Gang £7.49

TV Socket with Black Insert £7.64
To totally redecorate this room the way I would like would cost a lot of money.  If I was staying in this house I would save up and do it properly.  But right now all I need is gallons of neutral paint at a decent price and a few decorative finishes to make it look lovely.  £300 in vouchers would be very handy!!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Good news!

So, I met with the owners of the new craft gallery/boutique last night to show them my cushions, brooches and tree decorations.  They loved them and want to stock them in their shop :-) On a sale or return basis but that's ok with me.  They also want to take my stuff to craft fairs.  Brilliant!! It costs a small fortune to take a stall at these bigger fairs, not something I would be able to do on my own.  But they will take all the other artists' stuff as well.

I'm absolutely over the moon!! It's one thing when your family and friends tell you the things you make are lovely.  But when a 'professional' likes them, it really is thrilling.  I won't make a lot of money from it but I do love making things.  And that's more important to me just now.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Cushion collection

Here's the first wee cushion made from my recent fabric finds.  A slightly different version of my trademark Scottie dog.  The back is made from the green kilt from the charity shop.

Another version of the elephant, slightly bigger than the last one.  Think it could go a little bigger but I'm happy with this size.

And here is a group photograph of completed cushions.  Not all are on Etsy yet.  I have a meeting arranged with the local craft shop next week.  They've asked me to bring my items and a price list. I'll take these guys plus a selection of brooches, tree decorations and the advent calendar if I ever get it finished! I'm not sure if they will sell my stuff on a commission basis or if they buy them outright.  It's all very new, very exciting and if I'm honest rather scary.  What if they don't like my stuff after all?

Monday, 15 October 2012

More kilted loveliness

Today I acquired 7, yes seven lovely vintage girls' kilts.  I used to run the nearly new shop at the teenager's school.  In the not too distant past it was a boarding school where the girl boarders had to wear kilts to church on Sundays. When the last boarding house closed these kilts were no longer needed and donated to the shop.  But no teenage girl would CHOOSE to wear a skirt like these so they've been languishing in the shop for years. I took one home to play with originally planning to make a cushion cover.  But somehow along the way the felting seed was planted and look where I am now!

These kilted skirts were on their way to the rag bank along with old ski wear and gym pants! For a decent donation they were mine (the kilts, not the nylon gym pants!!)

My camera doesn't really do justice to the lovely colours.

They're in decent condition, a few rips and have a slightly musty odour.  But a few washes at 90 degrees will soon fix that wee problem!  I'm also starting to accumulate kilt pins.  I'm sure there's a brooch idea in there ;-)

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Some vegetarian cooking

*waves and says hello to everyone who has popped over from Rhonda's blog*
Once upon a time (not that long ago!) I used to buy premium organic vegetables.  I still believe that veg grown organically is better for you but have to cut my cloth according to my purse atm.  Once I move house I will put up my huge greenhouse and grow my own again but until then I buy whatever is on special offer at the supermarket. 

This week it was carrots, peppers and aubergines.  I also got 1kg bag of onions.  4 big bags of vegetables for less than £5.

I've been wanting to encourage the veggie teenager to be a bit more adventurous so when someone recommended Mary Berry's Spiced Lentil and Tomato Moussaka I knew what I was going to make.  (it's not got any spices in it so dunno why it's called spiced!!)

In my trusty wok there's onions, peppers, tinned tomatoes, cooked green lentils (recipe said Puy lentils but I didn't have any), veg stock and mango chutney.  I let it simmer away until it was thickened.

I sliced my aubergines and brushed them with oil and baked them in the Aga for 15 mins.  Recipe said to grill them for a couple of mins.

Then I made some cheese sauce.

Then I put a layer of veg mixture, some cheese sauce then a layer of aubergine and repeated.  I topped it with cheese sauce.  I still had half a pan of mixture so I made a lasagne as well using lasagne sheets instead of aubergine between the layers.

Lasagne on the left and moussaka on the right.  Both are in the fridge ready for the oven at some point over the weekend. 

I've also made a pot of carrot and lentil soup.  Just what we need in this damp cold weather :-)

Friday, 12 October 2012

New projects

Here are a few of my latest projects.  I'm working on some wee Christmas things to show the craft shop first before putting them on Etsy.  I've already had a few special requests for some robins and other tree decorations.  But this is my biggest project so far.

A tree advent calendar!  My original idea was to put 25 different pockets randomly over the tree but I quickly realised that this would take hours of work.  From an artistic/creative viewpoint I still think this would have been the best idea but the total woman hours taken to handstitch them all would make the cost of the finished product exorbitant.  At the end of the day I really want someone to buy it so I'm stitching strips of pockets instead.  So far there's 2 hours of work in it and I estimate it will take another 3 to finish it. It's just pinned together in the above photo but I've stitched the numbers 1 to 6 already.   I'll put a layer of wading between the front and back to make it hang better.

Some wee decorations to hang on a tree

My lovely mum is a fab source of encouragement.  She has always knitted and sewn clothes for me and my sister.  Growing up money was tight so these skills were utilised out of necessity.  How I longed for 'shop bought' clothes!  But she passed on her skills to me and is so supportive of my efforts.  So when someone in her knitting group was given a load of buttons from a button factory that was closing down, she immediately thought of me!  No idea how I'm going to use them yet but I just love them.

There was also a box of metal zips.  I picked out all the pastel blue/lilac ones and plan to make some zippy roses.  I've seen some lovely ones on the web and really fancy having a go.

I definitely have my creative mojo back!! Shame my housework one is still MIA!!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

How to felt a kilt

As I mentioned in my previous post I've been rather unwell.  Possibly run down a bit due to stuff going on outwith my control but I think I'm over the worst of it now.  The house is officially up for sale and I'm officially back in the job market.  Heyho, not the end of the world but not what I want to be doing hence the general lack of mojo.  A friend on FB shared the pic on the right there ------->  Good reminder to myself that I can do this.
A couple of weeks ago a friend forwarded me a wee advert she'd seen with the message "Saw this and thought of you."  A new craft shop is opening locally and are looking for unique items to sell.  I emailed them the link to my Etsy shop (see above) and they want to see my felted stuff!  Who knows what might happen? :-)
So when I was browsing in my local charity shop I was chuffed to bits to find this old kilt for sale.  It's a bit tatty and a weird size.  Obviously made for a short stout gentleman!!  It was £35.  Total bargain for a kilt as they can cost up to 4 figures!  I bought it on impulse (btw did you know some charity shops accept debit and credit cards??) knowing all I would need to do was make and sell a cushion and 2 brooches to recoup the cost.

I laid it on the floor to have a good look at it.  No label but I was sure it was 100% wool.

I unpicked the lining at the waist and was delighted to see it was a traditional handstitched kilt.

I trimmed the edge at the waist ready to unpick. It took over an hour to unpick all the pleats!!!

I laid it out on the floor and measured it.  Just over 7 metres or 23 feet of tartan!!  A traditional kilt should be in one continuous piece.  This one was in 2 pieces so obviously not a top of the range one! But cleverly stitched nonetheless.

I bundled it up and popped it in the washing machine with an old towel and washed it at 90 degrees centigrade. Three times!!

It was a bit scary checking it after 2 washes to see if had felted properly.  If a kilt even has 5% non wool fibres it won't felt.  It frays when you cut it.  But it was looking good so in it went for the third wash.  It's a lovely colour and will make some lovely cushions.  I could make 10 cushions from it so lots of profit from a £35 investment.

Now that's given me back some mojo!! :-)

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Back again

Oops, didn't mean to take so much time off from blogging.  Partly enforced due to illness and then lost my mojo a bit.  Will do a proper catch up post tomorrow.  Got some really exciting news to share :-)

But in the meantime I've cooking, baking, yellow sticker bargain bagging and making lots of new things for my Etsy shop.  Link is at the top if you want take a look.  I'm even starting to get organised for the C word ;-)

Life is getting back on track nicely!