Sunday, 30 July 2017

A crystal grid mandala for Jen

It's been a long time since I last wrote a post, so forgive me if I sound weird (I'm in my PJs, having just eaten chocolate buttons for breakfast – it's Sunday, I'm allowed to act like a 13 year old!).

Anyway, I thought I'd share the crystal grid Mandala I made recently, for my crystal-crazy friend Jen who sits next to me at work. She wanted a crystal grid to put her crystals on, and so she asked me to make her one. I hadn't really appreciated the joy of drawing mandalas before. If you've never tried to do one, give it a go. They are so easy to do, and you can get quite creative and have a relaxing time. You just need a compass, a set square and a protractor, to get the angles sorted out, and away you go.

Here's the sketch I made...

So all you have to do is... recreate the design onto a cheap chopping board (I bought this one from the Range for about £3.50), and burn the design in...

Plan the colours you want to use...

Get nervous about the colours you've chosen and over think it to the point of insanity...

Paint it anyway, using a bit of bravado and gold paint...

And voila! You've made your friend very happy!

It's very easy, and a nice little project if you're trying not to eat chocolate buttons.
Thanks for visiting! XXXX

Monday, 30 May 2016

A room for Girlie

I've recently realised a few things! Firstly, living with two adorable kittens means you'll never want to do anything else, except stroke and play with them; housework and blog posts will just seem irrelevant. Secondly, I am totally incompetent when it comes to hanging pictures. Thirdly, Groucho Marx was right about a lot of things. And fourthly, children actually, like, totally, grow!

About three months ago we realised that Girlie looked like a giant in her cot bed. While we contemplated if there was a leak and the bed had shrunk, I also noticed that her clothes were getting bigger and no longer easily fitted in her small chest of drawers. What was going on? Beds getting smaller, clothes getting bigger! Oh, of course, it must be something to do with Alice in Wonderland! But no... apparently children GROW! Who knew? 

Armed with this secret insider-knowledge, we decided we needed to put her in a larger room and buy a proper single bed. This was where Mr Husband's input ended, apart from, of course, very important rubbish disposal, heavy lifting and silent critiquing. So I painted her new bedroom – one wall white, the other lavender grey (with disapproving eyebrow-raising from Mr Husband). I spent a crazy amount of time looking at wallpaper online, but decided £45 a roll was ridiculous. So after some uncertainty decided on the £10 rolls in B&Q (Mr Husband approved of that). Then me and my mum wallpapered with Girlie on pasting duty (Mr Husband kindly pointed out the wonky bits by the skirting board). The carpet finally got fitted and the bed delivered, and then it was time for the best bits, the little details.


"A child of five could understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five." Groucho Marx


I cannot for the life of me hammer a nail straight into a wall. I have inherited this lack of skill from my mum. She once bought a rubber hammer for hanging pictures, because she thought it would be less noisy! That's the level of skill I've inherited. So in all the pictures you'll see the hilariously positioned wonky pictures hanging on curled up nails!

Next, were the many visits to Tiger in Canterbury. I found an ice-cream cushion, ice-cream hooks, stand-up stickers of dogs to go on the picture frames, light up flags and little picture baskets. What a great shop! 

Then, the many hours scrolling through pictures on Pinterest! And finally, the lost afternoon in the loft searching for the fairy door I never found, and the light-up tree, which is in three bloody pieces!

Then, there was the idea to have a canopy of curtains so that Girlie could have a little bed-den. I decided I could use a shower rail, but it needed fixing to the wall. This meant that I needed Sugru - the special playdoh that hardens to plastic and adheres to anything. After many hours searching in B&Q, I found one lonely packet in the wrong aisle, on the wrong shelf!

Having done this, another idea happened – to turn one section of some IKEA shelves into a doll's house. This meant painting a roof and chimney onto the wall, using hairy masking tape (because Girlie had discovered masking tape is great for carpets?!). Not easy!

Then the joy of creating the little dolls house, but not being able to find the bag of dolls-house accessories that have somehow self-combusted. The dolls house still worked out, but I had to improvise. It'll soon be trashed anyway, so not to worry.

And that's it. Bedroom done. Rest of house a total mess but who cares – we've got kittens to play with! Hopefully, I'll be back to regular blogging soon! Thanks for reading XXXX.

Friday, 29 April 2016

Starting a new chapter

Starting primary school and being the youngest in the class... starting full-time work again and not being a stay-at-home-mum anymore... It's going to be the start of a new chapter for me and Girlie.

This week I took Girlie on the first of many transition sessions at her soon-to-be primary school. She met her teacher and her new class mates, while me and all the other parents were whisked away to chat in the library. When I collected Girlie at the end of the session, her lip was trembling and she hugged me tightly and cried into my shoulder. My heart ached for her because I knew exactly how she felt. Starting primary school is a big thing, especially when you're almost a year younger than some of your class mates, and all you want is to play outside and live in your imagination. It was the structured snack time which upset her. "I wasn't hungry, but they wanted me to eat a green apple" she sobbed, "I only like red apples and I wanted the teacher to like me. I don't want to go there any more mummy". I knew exactly how she felt. Things in her little life are about to change and it's daunting.

Soon I'm going to be starting work again - Monday to Friday instead of the odd days I've got used to. I've managed to negotiate good hours which fit around Girlie but it's going to mean a lot of change. Just like Girlie, I feel apprehensive.

This week my hours have been ramped up a bit, ready for the full-time transition. I'd been into the office for three alternate days, and on Wednesday I was tired out because Girlie had kept me awake most of the night. I'm a copywriter, so writing when you're tired is not ideal, and my dusty brain cells were fast asleep and refusing to power up. It was a struggle and close to the end of the day I found myself getting irritated by the clunky computer I was working on. "Oh bloody hell", I was thinking, "I can't get on with this stupid f'ing computer, I want my computer from home". 
I was experiencing the red apple, green apple scenario just like Girlie.

Recognising it as just that, I began to think about my own transition. I'm not going to be a 'stay at home mum' anymore... it's the 'end of an era', the 'start of a new chapter', a 'fresh new beginning'.... insert your own cliche here. And it's going to sting a bit.

Me and Girlie were a little team. We planned our days based on how we felt and what the weather was doing. We explored all sorts of new places, had adventures and minor disasters, ate far too much ice cream, embarrassed ourselves in playgrounds, caused mischief in garden centres, and soft-played our way around East Kent. We had fun and lots of it - everyday.

Now with school and full-time work looming over us, it's difficult not to think that seven days of fun a week will be reduced to only two! 
But that's not actually true, of course.

Girlie will be enjoying herself learning new things and meeting new friends, and so will I (I suppose). It's just a bit daunting, and small things, like green apples instead of red ones and clunky computers, are going to illuminate our pesky anxieties. So in September Girlie will begin her little adventure, while I start mine in a few weeks. I know everything will work out and we'll be into the swing of things in no time, but I hope we still have plenty of days to cause mischief in garden centers, embarrass ourselves in playgrounds, eat too much ice cream and have adventures and disasters together. 

Thanks for reading! xxx

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Burning it up in the shed

It's spring and I can finally get back into the shed to do my boxes!

This winter it's been too cold and muddy for me to trek down to the bottom of the garden. The thought of sitting in the shed painting with the heater on wasn't appealing at all, especially since I'd convinced myself that (a) I was ruining the lawn and making it boggy and (b) I was going to die from the varnish fumes. So I've done all my boxes, since December, on the kitchen table and generally made a right old mess in the house. Today the sun was shining and the sky was blue, so I moved my paints, brushes, varnishes, sketch pads, pencils and wooden boxes back to where they really belong. The house is considerably lighter and gave a little sign of relief.

The best bit about spring and summer is that I can do my boxes while Girlie plays in the garden. She can also paint and glue and glitter as much as she likes in the shed, as there is nothing much to ruin. It's perfect.


I gave the shed a quick clean and a dust, moved the table around and voila! Ready to go... Only thing was, we had a thunder storm straight after the tidy-up and we had to go inside the house. "Quick mummy I know what to do, get under the blanket!". So the garden is again boggy, and I really want to start a new box but Girlie wants to play Dotty Dinousars. Somehow I don't think she'll stay in the shed painting with all this thunder banging on. Maybe tomorrow?...

Anyway, I did discover something really useful! If you read my last post I talked out my mum giving me lots of Douwe Egberts coffee jars, which she said would be good to put pasta in?? I decided to use them today to store my brushes and pencils in, and discovered that when I took the plastic seal off the lids, I've got some lovely glass jars for water when I'm cleaning my brushes.

I also got a bit creative with the old plastic plates I use as palettes. I'm quite lazy about washing my palettes afterwards, and so I kept using Girle's old plastic plates and managed to get through five - all unwashed and caked with paint. I now use foil around one of these plates and just change the foil. So I decided to put a hole in the used plates and hang them in the shed, that way I can always find a palette instead of searching around and getting annoyed with myself. They look quite pretty on the wall too.

If you have a painting shed I'd love to see it and hear about how you got it all organised. 
Thanks for reading! XXXX

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

The French poodle burnt pencil box

I've gone all 'French poodle'... as usual, tch! Haven't we all though, let's be honest?! I love drawing French poodles, I think it's because in my world they ALL wear berets, and have an interesting and cultured life. So I needed to make another pencil box. I was going to make it festive, but the last box was too much 'Christmas' for me so this is a Joyeux Noel box without the Noel. 

I had a morning free to paint this box, so I had a lovely relaxing time just enjoying the peace and quiet and listening to Radio 4 (yes, I'm middle aged!). I didn't realise the time had gone so quickly, and when I looked at the clock I only had 15 minutes to get dressed, have a quick wash and get in the car. I needed to collect Girlie from preschool!!! Yikes!!! Honestly, all that was going through my head was 'oh crap, the pre-school teachers are going to think I've just been watching This Morning and eating cake. Why did I wash my nice jeans today? Now I have to wear jeans with paint all over them'. Thankfully they didn't comment on my disheveled appearance, which was made far worse by the grey paint ALL OVER my hands! I blame the newspaper report of a school that told parents off for still being in their pajamas when collecting children. They basically made ALL parents paranoid. In the back of my mind I fear that there could be a time when I accidentally turn up in PJs and then I'm branded a rubbish parent. Anyway.....

The box was finished and I was actually early to pick Girlie up. Thankfully! This is the fourth pencil box I've done and they are addictive to make. Small enough to be quick to do, and a good shape to fit the painted pencils on. I've still got more to make, but now I'm fed up of them, so next up is something different. 

Well thanks for reading! And always remember to get dressed and have a wash BEFORE painting. 

Monday, 11 April 2016

Christmas in Spring!

Yes, I know. This is weird. I've given my head a wobble, but Christmas has unexpectedly reared its sparkly-neon head resulting in a Joyeux Noel burnt box!

I'm trying to build a collection of burnt boxes, so that's why I needed a Christmas one. Problem is, I'm planning on making two more Christmas themed boxes, so watch out!

This box is remake of a larger box I made in 2011 for my mum. It was one of the first burnt boxes I ever made and I still think it's one of the best. It was massive and took me a week to do, because I decorated every bit of it. I did try and steal it back recently, but I didn't get away with it! I think my continuous pilfering of her things has made her hyper alert whenever I visit! I distract her with Girlie's cuteness and then casually ask if she really needs this or that. Usually she says 'yes I do thanks' but sometimes I get lucky. At other times she gives me too much stuff. Like glass coffee jars! I've got about ten now! Apparently, they're good for storing pasta and stuff!! Anyway, I didn't manage to pilfer this box, so I wanted to make a new smaller version. I chose this size box as it's the perfect Christmas present box, especially if you're giving clothing wrapped in tissue paper.

It took a while to sketch, and even longer to burn, and then I started painting it, which took ages! Of course, it's got a lot of gold paint on it, which you can't see in the photos.

I think it has the spirit of the original version, but it's just not the same. Anyway, it still has a French poodle sauntering across it. Hope you like it, and it's not too much of a bright, spangly intruder party-crashing Spring!

Thanks for reading and Happy Christmas for 2016! XXX