Friday, June 29, 2012

Brushin' it up

I promised yesterday that I'd show you a wee trick to finish a bad paint job, didn't I?

Our wallpaper is ridiculously ugly. There's some sort of 80ies geometrical pattern going on, and if that's not bad enough, it has raised ridges as well. I'm sure there's a scientific name for this particular kind of visual atrocity, but I dare not google it for fear that my poor, strained eyes just might pop out. Argh.

When we recently painted over that haunting, depressing, utterly disgraceful magnolia every rented abode seems to sport we might have run out of steam a little bit, I must admit. Due to the... ridgy nature of the wallpaper, the first (and only) coat of paint left quite a few patches that looked like this:

Not all that bad from a distance, but once you go near a wall (darn shame the room is small- in a stately mansion you'd probably get away with it without ever coming close to a spotty wall!) it's like our poor house had a bad case of smallpox. Now, my Mum is nothing if not hands- on and she decided this state of affairs needed to change. (did I mention that my embarrassing fear of standing on a ladder prevented me from properly doing the edging under the ceiling as well? Enter motherly love and utter fearlessness)

Yup, that's her. And yeah, that's a plastic bag protecting her hair- do, isn't this what everybody does when painting? I thought so. (by the way, that tattoo on her forearm? One day over a decade ago we just went and got tattooed together, hers is a tribal and the one I got then is a wee Yin Yang... sounds tacky but it represented who we were back then.)

Anyway, I got distracted. Mum was pretty annoyed with the smallpox on the walls, but even attacking them with a proper brush did not really work. Dang ridges.
So she went and got this:

And what can I say, a brush a day keeps the pox away. It worked a treat! I am probably carrying owls to Athens here, but just on the off chance that there is somebody out there who, like me, does not possess this spark of genius, there you go. Motherly wisdom to fix your bad paint job.

Just do yourself a favour and bin the brush afterwards. No, really, do it. It is NOT fit to clean your dirty fixtures anymore. Don't ask how I know, just trust me on this.

Mamas' girl out, love y'all.

I want my Mama!

I couldn't help but notice all those ridiculously beautiful and touching Fathers Day posts recently.
I laughed, cried, laughed some more and then burst into tears again.
I mean, really, what's not to love about having a strong, reliable, awesome dude in your life?
To be honest with y'all, I nearly exploded with... jealousy? Yeah, that's probably it. My big, strong dude passed away when I was about nine (my Grampa, who will require his own post) and I always thought life sort of betrayed me.
Now, guys, what a daft moo- cow I am.
As you might have gathered from my last post, my Mum happened upon us for her annual visit, and I think I finally got it all figured out to share. Hang in there, it will make sense.
Thing is, guys, that we inherit more from our ancestors than ugly jewels, mouldy photo albums and embarrassing stories.
We inherit quirks, body shapes, voices, hair frizz, dislikes, abilities, diseases, ups, downs, taste in music and art, temper and talents.
My maternal Grandmother was judgmental, loud, passionate, embarrassing, practical, often independent, bossy and lovingly egocentric, if not egoistic.
The maternal Grandfather was, from what I remember, just as passionate, but subdued, quiet, congenial, loving, caring, frightened, weak, intelligent and dedicated.
From that came my Mum- fiercely independent, beautiful, often lost but brave, devoted and utterly drowning in all that love needing a recipient. Always claiming that she is neither intelligent nor educated (nah, Mum, I am just imagining this, right?) and bending over backwards to make sure her 33 year old baby is ok.

So... today, I had the displeasure of dropping her off at the airport again after a week of being a daughter again. I forgot how awesome it is to just be somebody's kid! We are so much alike and so different at the same time. 
We share the compassion towards weaker beings. No way we'd squish a fly that attempts to (happily) drown itself in our drinks! We both go to great lengths to make sure the bug(ger) makes it out alive.
We both LOVE to meet new mates. And we both agree that those new friends certainly do not have to be human. We stop so dogs can sniff our legs, and we greet stray cats like old friends. Hell, we talk to sparrows, slugs and blossoms. My cats abandoned me for a full bloomin' week to sleep in her room, for chrissake. We agree that humankind on the whole is incredibly stupid and being stuck with a book is better than being stuck without a book. Actually, everything is better with a book.
Point being, I know my Momma will read this- and I am glad she will. The loving, caring, pensive person she is made me a better person myself, and if you hung in there to made it to this point, I hope you'll pick up the phone to call your Mummy. Just to, you know, make sure.
Miss you already, Mum, get your butt back down here. 
Oh, and blog- wise, I will show you how to sort out a bad paint job in no time next time we meet. Deal? (no kidding, chief, hang in there)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I'm branching out!

My Mum is over for her annual visit (finally!!) and we do loads and loads of walkies. Shame I have no dog, really, it'd be one tired pup :)
Yesterday, we went to check out he local park and found it rather lame. Don't get me wrong, lots of green,. but we both found the lack of trees disturbing.
So when we noticed that the little park borders a cemetery, we jumped at the opportunity to walk along rows of old headstones, look at knotty old trees and soak up some history. The only bugbear was that none of us had brought our half- decent cameras, but there's always a catch, eh?

Anyway, we snapped away and I got a few half- decent ones. Played about with picmonkey- these are my favourites.

Best find of the day, however, was a branch. 
You heard, a branch. 
Picked it up, lugged it home and decided to stick it up a very bland, neglected, ugly wall in our staircase. Bit of hot glue and a bird later:

Me likey. And even the Mister didn't object, which is rare when it comes to trees and stuff that falls off them, grows on them, lives in them or remotely has to do with them. I'll cross- stitch a slogan for him: I HAVE GIVEN UP. Yeah, that's it! And maybe, as a reminder to always put the toilet seat back down (sigh...) the little note "May your butt never suffer the cold" and hang it above the loo. Whatcha think?

Tree hugger out, catch y'all later!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I'm blue...

...quite literally. I had a close encounter with food colouring, which always leaves me, well, stained and tarnished. Blue fingernails, anyone?
We had both little ones around today, both suffering from one ailment or another, miserable and totally not their normal selves. Lil' boy crying with pain from what he described as headache (poor dude was burning up with fever as well, the kind only kids get and really scares the sheets out of you) , and lil' princess constipated and plagued with tummy ache.
While there was nothing much we could do for them in terms of medication (all drugged up, only thing we could administer on top of it was a cool- ish bath for the little mister to keep the temperature in check and the recommended fruity treats for the lass to help sort her bowels) the idea was to keep their minds off it.
Loads of films ("We bought a zoo" is pretty cool, even adults can watch it without wanting to wash their eyes with acid. Matt Damon is an almost bearable actor when he doesn't pretend to be some sort of supersoldier, superspy, supersomething. Who knew? And apart from the obvious tearjerking, you get lions and tigers and bears, oh my. ) and a bit of comfort food. Wee dude got to play Lego Star Wars at his leisure (never lasted long, due to his poorly head) and there might or might not have been Yoghurt with Smarties.
At some point, I remembered something I had seen on pinterest. Blue, green and pink orange slices made with food coloring- that would look ace in their lemonade! Or so I thought. Out came the food coloring. Blue was the tint of choice.
I cut up the one orange we had left from our latest sangria and placed the slices in a bowl with the color and some hot water. Wait, wait, wait, wait some more- cr@p, all grey and ugly. Served a slice to her lil' constipated majesty in a glass of sprite and she couldn't quite face the prospect. Best part was how the orange slice bobbed up and down in the glass. Great.
So I was stuck with a bowl of blue water, grey- ish orange slices and a severe aversion to disposing of aforementioned water.

I ended up chucking the orange slices (really, I should have eaten them, but the color truly was horrific) and putting the water into an ice cube bag. The poor little sods are back home with their Mum now (she is a nurse with the NHS and can look after them a lot better than a panicky, paranoid Dad and me, who would feed the girl plums till she pukes and put cold wraps around the wee dudes'  legs until he hates me for the rest of his life) and when they come back, we can make their drinks turn funny colors. 
So, what's the lesson here?
I haven't got a clue, but let me assure you that blue lemonade looks a lot better than normal lemonade, and not everything you see on pinterest will work out as described. 
Catch ye laters, alligators.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Meanwhile in Leeds

Can you see it? Found this on my way to work this morning...

No crafty stuff to share, but a little tip for the budding Helmut Newtons among you:
Try PicMonkey for all your photo editing needs. (well, not all of them, but those urges only a polaroid filter will satisfy) It's free, easy, versatile and lots and lots of fun to play with :)
Or am I just the last to know and you are already monkeying around?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Rembrandt she is not...

... and certainly no threat to Van Gogh. Even Picasso would look at me, point his finger and laugh- rude bugger!
But I had an immense amount of fun playing with my watercolors today!
The idea was to create watercolor art from a stencil, but that didn't turn out well. Largely because my stencil didn't fully rest on the paper, so everything bled out and looked silly.
So I went ahead and doodled some stuff and ended up liking it, somehow.
What could I do with these little images?

Never mind the crabs (the failed stencil) and the moongazer cat, but I sort of oddly dig the other doodles, particularly the birdie. Maybe cut them out and use them in a collage?
Anyway, I think I found me a new crafty crush here :) Needle felting at work, brush- abuse at home. Sometimes the hardships of life are just too much, no?
If you will excuse me, I feel the need to paint an owl. Catch ya later!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Can book worms be earth worms?

In fact, I really haven't got a clue, but if there's a slim chance for this morph to take place, it's happening right now, in what I have taken to calling my garden.
In our recent home improvement frenzy, no prisoners were taken and sacrifices were made with light hearts and a song on our lips.
The Mister decided that he was not impressed with the heavy, dark bookcases anymore. They look a bit like this HEMNES unit from IKEA (maybe a previous range, I forgot their name):

They looked beautiful in our previous house, but with the new white mantelpiece (oooh, I'll have to tell you about that bad boy soon!) they are not exactly pleasing to the eye anymore, and the years of serving in a 5 cat household started to show on them as well. So something had to be done.

At first we meant to take one of them to bits and get rid of the pieces on the skip. (which isn't too far away, would have been three trips on foot carrying the stuff over) But seriously, who were we kidding? Too lazy to even take the thing apart, and we knew dang well it wouldn't happen. So we figured we could make room in some corner of the house- but then we couldn't be bothered dragging it up the very narrow, treacherous steps. So what were we to do? No fireplace to burn it in, no way to use it elsewhere in the house and no way to pass it on to a new good home as years of... cat activity made that quite impossible. 

So the Man said, innocently: "What if we use it as a planter?" I actually thought he meant to place it outside upright and use it for lots of little pots with lots of little plants in them. And I loved the idea. But then he went "no, I mean as an actual planter, flat on its back and filled with soil!" "THAT'S CRAZY TALK, man, what are you thinking??? Let's do it!"

Basically, it is a much larger version of the japanese temple. All the rest of the awful junk and debris went into it and then we filled it up with soil. Bless him, my darling went and got loads of big, heavy bags of soil from the local gardening shop on foot, probably disfiguring his spine for all eternity. I used to think that I am physically stronger than him (leftover arrogance from those early years of bodybuilding, believe it or not), but he proved me wrong. I lugged one bag and nearly collapsed, but he made quite a few round trips and never faltered. How he does it I will never know.

Anyway, just feast your eyes on our OOAK planter for a minute, if you will:

Sorry about the shadowy photos, that's all I got for the time being.
Under the plastic lid some lavender is hopefully growing, the kitchen unit pansies have a lot more room to play, two ferns are doing me immensely proud (I LOVE ferns from the bottom of my heart, just as much as pansies.) and some random rescue plant called coreopsis from the reduced section in the supermarket is actually thriving now. Oh, and there is a passion flower baby in the left corner, which I am willing to grow and prosper with every ounce of willpower I can possibly transfer onto a little plant that really doesn't want to be here and would rather spend some quality time ANYWHERE but where it is now. 

The stone slabs are actually natural slate roof tiles that came down in one storm or another. And the plastic lid is one half of an old propagator, the other half being kept, just in cae we feel the need to, well, propagate stuff again. 

It all looks a bit daft in the photos, but I swear that if you came 'round for a little bbq, you would like it. Unless you think that having a bbq in a garden made from trash by folks who have next to no disposable income is no fun, in which case you miss out on this:

And I can't see anybody right in their minds not wanting to grab a plate, sip some homemade sangria (sober option with grape juice available, fresh fruit as standard) and climb into a cardboard box to run head- first into the next unsuspecting citizen they can find. 
Be our guest, anytime.
The book worms are waiting.
Oh, and since those pictures were taken we have upgraded to a foldable bbq which collapses to a tiny flatpack of about 1 cm thickness. Nothing if not posh, guys, nothing if not posh.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May

In fact, it's not so much rough winds but continuous rain. It's pretty much been chucking it down since Wednesday, which is utterly disgusting. And wet.
So, no way I compare anything to a Summers' day! But I promised to tell you how you turn a bed base into a japanese temple, so let's just ignore the weather and head into the... erm... garden, shall we?
Our new abode has a tiny front yard, covered in concrete slabs and nothing really worth looking at. A huge pile of discarded kitchen unit debris and assorted other junk turned into an eyesore, something that made me want to buy really dark velvet curtains to make sure I can't possibly see any of it EVER.
As I told you, I was pretty much drowning in what I can only describe as depression ever since we moved in, and that particular little piece of paradise didn't exactly help raise my spirits. If anything, it made me raise spirits and neck them one after the other. Burp.
Enter the british summer. About two weeks ago, the sun decided to stick around for a bit, instantly making everything look less of a nightmare and a little bit more of a do- able "let's get rid of it!" challenge.
Most of the kitchen unit debris left over from hat I assume was some sort of refit years ago (why would the landlord bother getting a skip when there is a perfectly good front yard available? No, I don't know, either) consisted of decaying bits of plywood, rotting panels and bits of wood with nails sticking out of it. Lovely.
But there was one treasure. A complete, intact, not even a little bit decayed unit about 60 cm square- must have been some sort of wall cabinet in a previous life. The door obviously gone, but otherwise a perfect container.
Container gardening?
Oh hell yeah, man!
When I came out of that black hole of depression, my first actual proof of life was to grab that unit, fill it half way with debris and junk, then top it up with loads of compost and plant pansies in it. There, instant container gardening. I felt so artsy, crafty, clever and happy! It actually worked a treat, but still looked like a piece of junk with pansies in it.
The Man was sweet about it. Really, really sweet. He said he loved it, and I know he did- he loved the proof of life it was. But it looked like sh.. and we both knew it.
So he got crafty. And if you have been reading this blog for a while, you might know that when that dude gets crafty, the world is in for a big oooooooooooooooooooooh moment!
He rehomed the pansies in something I will have to dedicate a new post to. Honestly, it's so cool it'll make a freezer look like a finnish sauna. (Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm... sauna... *best Homer Simpson voice*) Anyway, with my darling pansies gone this is what happened:

Three of them rib thingies of an IKEA Sultan something or another bed base, cheap spray paint, a few screws and two charity shop tealight lanterns. Oh, and some cheap Morrisons garden lilies, red and yellow in case they decide to bloom. Ka- zamm, a third of the front yard junk and debris gone. (most of it is inside the planter, under the soil. Should help drainage, at least that's the plan.) 
Does it look like a japanese temple or what?

To the left, you can see my little macrame and plastic bottle plant hanger- let me know if you'd like to make you own, it's so easy you'll be laughing all the way through the (short) making of it.

I love, love, love this planter, it actually looks quite classy, and when the candles are lit it'll make you go "whoa... WHOA!" The cost for this was, altogether, about £9. 4 quid for the compost, 3 quid for the plants (on offer, bless them) and 2 quid for the cheapskate spray paint. So, if you have junk, compost and plants on hand, you get off for zero quid. Having a crazysexyclever Man on hand obviously helps, as I would have NEVER dreamed this up myself. Ever. 

So, what have we learned today?

Trash to treasure, junk to jungle, scrap to fab. 

And if you think this is kinda cool, wait until I show you what you can do with a book case. I'll wager a quid you would not have thought of it yourself, because I haven't ;)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Hit the snooze button!

It's about stupid o'clock in the morning and my mothers' daughter is a tiny wee bit insomniac.
So I thought I'd give a brief update on what's been going on since e spoke last (or was that the aforementioned lil' voices?)
I did not mention in my last post that I have sort of been promoted from customer service assistant (what does that even mean?) to deputy manager recently. That meant a change of shops for me, from a fairly busy 400 bets a day- shop to an almost dead 150 bets a day- place. When people ask me if I like it I delight myself in telling them that it's a tad more money for a helluva lot less work, so, yeah I do! The customers seem decent enough (apart from the inevitable bad apples, but you get them everywhere) and my new colleagues sure are remarkable characters.
The manager, let's call him Paul, is a dude of roundabout 50 summers. Soft- spoken, mild- mannered and suffering from a severe case of OCD. His whole life consists of double-, triple- and quadruple- checking everything to the tiniest detail. Everything apart from whatever the heck is going on around him, so the shop is an absolute mess. Enter moi, no way I'm putting up with cobwebs that are older than me. Good job he's a really sweet lad who will make people want to be patient and nice with him rather than take the mickey, otherwise even I would feel the need to grab him by the ears and shake some sense into him. An absolute darling, really, and as much as I want to shout, I could never even raise my voice around him. But if he keeps ringing the shop 5 times a day when I pull my shifts just to make sure I know the safe number, won't forget to set the alarm and keep the counter oor unlocked for Leroy the 70 year old cleaner I shall be screaming and shouting at every pot plant that is unlucky enough to cross my path for years to come. Local flora, you have been warned.
Then there is the male CSA, who I shall call Howard. He's about the same age as Paul and a jolly chubby dude. He's actually got a special chair for "disabled" people because he claims that due to his size he can't get bloody comfy on the chairs us mere mortals use. Cheeky bugger, he's nowhere near as... rounded as he makes himself out to be and he knows dang well that he has what must be the most comfortable chair any employee of my company ever had the good fortune of parking their backside on. Way to go, dude, you know how to play your cards! (needless to say I nick his chair whenever he's not working. Heaven on earth for my bum!) Howard has been married for about as long as I have been alive, owns a black lab pup called Dexter (he says Paul owns a dog as well, I shall have to inquire!) and speaks about 7 languages- or so he says. If his fluency in German is anything to go by, there is no doubt in my mind that his claim is true. How this guy managed to end up taking bets in a dead shop beats me. I can totally see him as a local librarian, cheerfully handing out obscure tomes to studious citizens. Either that or a teacher of evening classes in Yiddish. Oywey, and I thought I was good with languages!
The last, but most certainly not least new character in my work life is an amazing woman who should be named Adele. Why? Well, why not? If you could see her, you would agree. Adele is, I guess, around 60 and does not give a flying fiddlers' fart. Firetruck- red hair, emerald green eye shadow, bright nail polish, combat trousers and only happy with a telephone within reach. Larger than life, a veteran of 28 years of employment with the company. Every customer is a potential source of gossip and entertainment, and every colleague is a most valued acquaintance and candidate for friendship. Curiosity is a virtue, and nobody is too remote to be cared for/ about. Adele might come across as incredibly nosy, but fact is that she actually DOES care for everybody she ever met. Strangers really ARE friends she has not met yet, and I am certain that her phone holds more numbers than the pope, the president of the USA and Kofi Annan combined could cough up. Talking to Adele is like you're best buds with the nations' favourite agony aunt and you go for a pint or ten. Gossip meets genuine care and interest, your grandmother and high school bestie all in one. A firetruck- red avalanche. Howard calls her Frau Gaga, and I cannot think of a living person who does not love her.
So, take these three entities, a dead shop and myself thrown into the mix, and what do you think is the result?

That's Frau Gaga holding a needle- felted wee monster I came up with the other day at work (!). Note her jockey hat bracelet! You can't but love her. Anyway, it so happens that in preparation of surviving 12 hour shifts in that dead little place I have taken to bringing random craft supplies to work, and the other day some rovings turned into what I can only describe as the bunnyrabbit of doom. Adele recruited the wee bugger as a companion for her granddaughter straight away, which is why I only have this daft shot of him, but I thought I'd show him off anyway. He seems to sum up neatly what is going to be my main company from now on. Odd, unheard of and yet utterly... loveable.
I really hope I didn't bore you to death, guys, but really, you can't expect any coherent posts from an insomniac who needle felts at work for relaxation instead of snoozing at night... right?
Good job I have an 8 hour shift coming up in 5 hours, it's about time I get some sleep!