Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Sewing Again

Since rearranging our living rooms, I've been considering purchasing some new cushions for the large sofa that now resides in the front room. The sofa is so large that it really requires either super large cushions or lots of them, for them not to appear insignificant.

Here's what the sofa looked like after I'd changed the room around. As you can see, the cushions on there look dwarfed by the sofa.



I considered buying two beautiful designer cushions from work.  They had been donated a few months ago and were in perfect, unused condition.  They were also made of designer fabric, a silk print to the front and lovely cotton velvet to the back.  The only trouble was, they were £40 each.  I know this sounds a lot, but originally they were £135 new, so they would still be a good buy.

The Manager put them aside for me and I thought about it for a couple of days, but when push came to shove, I just couldn't bring myself to spend £80 on two cushions, that might get ruined within weeks, by having wine or food dropped on them or chocolate smudged into them.  We're a messy lot here.

In the end I put them back on sale in the shop and decided I'd get some cheap ones from IKEA instead, then it wouldn't matter so much if they got dirty or damaged.

Anyway, this morning, whilst out with the dog I decided to try to make some new cushions.  Goodness knows I've got enough fabric, and I also had some brand new cushion inserts that I'd bought to make some cushions as presents, but never got around to doing.

I had a good look through all of my fabric stash and was really struggling to either find fabrics that went well together to make the front and back of the cushions, or that I liked enough to have in the living room. In the end, I decided to make the whole cushion covers from just one fabric.  I didn't make them removable as I didn't feel like fitting zips or making envelopes, so I just folded one side, sewed two sides using the machine and closed the final side by hand.  The cushion inserts are polyester, so the whole thing can be washed along with the cover when needed.

Here's a picture of the new cushions.



They still looked pretty small for the sofa, but the colour matched the room much better, as one wall is painted in a teal colour and there are lots of gold picture frames and a gold lamp in the room.  As a consequence of not feeling the look was quite complete, I headed out this afternoon and bought some large plain teal faux velvet cushions to accompany them.  They cost £12.99 each from TKMAXX and I'm much happier with the overall look now. What do you think?



I now can't wait to get my new sofa covers that I ordered at the weekend.  They were supposed to be arriving in 4 or 5 weeks, but I think they've now been delayed a month, due to the fabric being out of stock again. I'm hoping they come before Christmas, but if they don't it doesn't matter too much as we're not having visitors or anything as far as I know.

This was a much better solution than spending so much money on designer cushions, although it would have gone to a good cause.  Whilst I had the sewing machine out, I also altered a couple of scarves to make them into infinity scarves, so I now have two new scarves ready to wear when I next reach for them.

It felt quite good to get back to sewing again.  I don't feel like I want to attempt anything too difficult though, as I don't have enough free time these days, but just making something that is useful felt good. It did make me realise though, that I have lots of fabric that I am probably never going to use for one reason or another, so I can feel a big cull coming on at some point in the future. I'll keep you posted on that when it happens.


Friday, 12 October 2018

The Birthday Post

Well, it was my birthday yesterday, I won't say how old. I woke up to a small pile of cards and a few presents from OH which was lovely.  Plus a small birthday cake.  (There's only three of us so a big cake just isn't necessary)



I should be okay for chocolate and spirits for a little while now. Perfect presents for me.

Anyway, by about 9.45am we were ready to go out for my Birthday Day Out (we wanted to miss peak commute times on the train due to having the dog with us) and headed up to the local train station.  Here's the dog sat patiently waiting for the train.


A quick 20 minute train ride and we were 2 minutes walk from Hampstead Heath. 


We walked up the infamous Parliament Hill to see the amazing views of the City and Central London. It was a bit hazy, but you could still make out he major landmarks such as the BT Tower, St Pauls, the Gherkin, the Shard, etc. etc.



Some of the foliage on the trees was starting to turn very autumnal.  In a few weeks I imagine they will be even more colourful.


After a walk back down and over the lake, we headed into Hampstead itself.




We stopped for lunch at a local restaurant and I had a lovely (but very overpriced) salad. Hampstead is a lovely part of London, with it's high street full of very expensive shops and boutiques, but it is way too expensive for us to afford to live and shop there.

I took the opportunity to visit a local branch of the charity shop I work for and had a good chat to the Manager there, who I've met before. It's always interesting to see other shops in our group and see how they are laid out. This particular shop was very boutique like which impressed me. Very different to our shop.

I bought a few bits whilst I was in there. 

Firstly, and a great bargain at £4.99, was this wicker Christmas Tree skirt.  These cost quite a lot more in John Lewis, so I was happy to carry this all the way home on the train at that price. I'm looking forward to trying it out this Christmas.


Secondly, I bought two packs of these Christmas gift bags at 99p for 3.  These will be perfect for my homemade selection boxes/bags.


Finally, another jigsaw came home with me, which was priced at just 99p because it hadn't been checked, and was a steal.  I don't mind if there's a piece or two missing, it's more about having something to concentrate on to wind down after work, than actually completing it. Sometimes, I also find some jigsaws don't actually appeal once I get started on them, so if this were the case with this one, I've lost very little money by trying it.



After a cup of tea and a cake we headed home, but had a bit of a disaster on the way back. OH left his phone on the platform and we didn't discover it was missing until we got off at our local station. Luckily, I called it and someone had handed it in to another station further down the line, so OH headed back to collect it, grateful that he wouldn't have the hassle of buying himself another one. It was reassuring to know that there are still plenty of honest people in London.

Later that night we headed out for supper with LB to a local tapas restaurant, which was a nice treat. We called in at a bookshop on the way home and OH bought me a book I've wanted for a while called A Life Less Throwaway by Tara Button. I think it may have been recommended by one of you guys.  I'll let you know how I get on with it.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Changing up the Living Spaces

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I finally got around to some much needed housework on Wednesday. I had a good deep clean and change around of our living spaces.  They've been laid out in the same way for a good 5 or more years and I wanted to try something a bit different.

As a bit of background, we live in a London Victorian terraced house and they are renowned for having narrow rooms.  As a consequence, we bought small sofas about 7 or 8 years ago, so that they would fit easily into the space.  Unfortunately, they're not the most comfortable things, as you can't lay out on them easily due to them being small two seaters.

Here's a picture of our front living room as it was:



There was also a preponderance of side tables in the room, three to be exact, which take up way too much space and make the room seem a little cluttered.

The back living room looked like this:


We use this room to store the bikes and I also use it to dry washing and do the ironing whilst watching TV. You will be able to see a large beige sofa to the right hand side of the room.

We've had this 4 seater IKEA sofa more than 15 years, but we relegated it to the back living room due to it's size and the condition of it's covers.  Lately, after having slept on it a few times when I had insomnia and couldn't get to sleep upstairs, I got to thinking that it would be nice to put it in the front living room and be able to lie out on it whilst watching TV.

I found some replacement covers (it's been discontinued at IKEA) that can be bought online and I'm just waiting for the fabric I like to come back into stock and I'll be ordering a set.  They're not cheap at £339, but I know that they will transform the sofa and we'll be able to keep it for years yet.  A much better option than sending it to landfill.

Anyway, whilst cleaning these rooms, I decided to try a new layout, with the old sofa in the front room and the two small sofas in the back. It would mean us keeping the bikes outside in the back garden, but we would be putting them there anyway in the winter, so that we can use the wood burning stove.

It was a big job cleaning both rooms, as it hadn't been done for a few months and everything was very dusty and dirty.  Eventually, though I got it how I wanted it and this is the new layout of the front room, from both ends:



The armchair was the dogs chair, but on account of the grey chair being so uncomfortable to sit in, I took the loose covers off it and it will now be great for us to sit in and watch TV.  The dog will have to make do with her basket or the other chair.

Once I get my new sofa covers, which will hopefully be navy blue, I will be buying a new winged armchair in a plain colour.  This one was bought for OH's dad to sit in when they came to visit a few Christmas's ago, but he never used it.  It's pretty cheap, as it was the only thing I could get delivered from eBay in time for their arrival, so it will probably find it's way to the Give and Take when I get a better one.  The grey chair in the window is an IKEA bargain corner find which also might find it's way there too, which will simplify things somewhat.

With a bit of imagination, some new sofa cushions (larger and co-ordinating ones) you can just about imagine this room looking a lot cosier.  In the meantime we can make sure we like the new layout before we commit to any expenditure.

The back room now looks like this:



It will be a nice place to sit in front of the wood burner and read or listen to music. I got the wood basket, coal scuttle and fire companion set out of the shed in readiness for the weather getting colder, so we're now all set.  I have to admit that this room will not stay uncluttered, as I will still be drying my washing in here and there will be an ironing basket or two hanging around too, but it should still be a usable space.

I'll let you know how we get on with the new layout over the next few weeks. Do you ever just feel like a change?  Sometimes, it can really make a difference to how you feel about your home.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Enjoying Some Time at Home

I've been enjoying some time at home this last few days, as I've had a whole four days off work. It feels lovely. It's taken two days to get into the right frame of mind, one day on which I did all of the grocery shopping and went to a gym class and one day on which I finally did some ironing, but today I'm actually going to do some house work, which is definitely progress.

I'm feeling like I want to stay close to home at the moment and appreciate my own four walls. Partly because of recent events mentioned in my last post, which makes me appreciate our house and want to look after it and partly because I got another 'ticking off' at work last week and just feel 'stuff that'. I'd rather be at home with my family, spending my time and energy with them and making our home a nice place to be. I'm starting in the living and dining room, as it's a bit of a mess and hasn't been tackled for a good few months I'm ashamed to say. I want to get it ready for autumn/winter by clearing out the bikes and getting the log basket out again for when we want to start lighting a fire in the wood burner.

I'm also thinking of having a bit of a change around of some of the furniture, as I'm intending to get a new cover for an old but huge sofa we have in the dining room, which is much more roomy and comfortable than the ones we currently have in the living room. I want to move it in there and see how it looks and works for us, preferably before I order the cover, which is going to be quite expensive, but definitely worth it to get more use out of the sofa and create a cosier and more comfortable space.

I had a lovely lazy afternoon in the living room yesterday, watching movies on Netflix, partly whilst ironing, and partly whilst just chilling out, as everyone was out of the house. It was a lovely self-indulgent afternoon and a bit of Bridget Jones and Ben Stiller never hurt anyone did it?

I started today with a lovely long dog walk, one I've not done for a while, as I always seem to rushing off to the gym or to work and can't take the time for us to go for a good long walk.  The dog has got quite lazy as a consequence and was a bit reluctant today, but I think she enjoyed visiting some old haunts for a change.  We went walking by the local horse stables, which always feels like a lovely rural walk when you live in London, as you don't see many people and there's lots of wildlife, so it was a nice start to the day.

Tomorrow is my birthday.  OH wanted to take me into town to do some shopping for it, but you know what, I just don't want anything in particular at the moment and as I work in Central London now, a day in town doesn't have the same appeal.  I decided I'd rather take our dog for a nice walk somewhere where we rarely go such as Hampstead Heath, and then go for coffee and a cake afterwards, before coming home and going out for supper with LB. It might sound a bit strange and ungrateful, but what's the point of buying stuff just for the sake of it.  A nice card, a bottle of gin, some chocolates and a book will suit me just fine and if he wants to give me money on top, that would be gratefully received, as I'd rather spend it in the shop at work on a few bits that catch my eye, rather than going around the big stores in town.

Talking of shopping, I have been doing a bit more Christmas shopping this week alongside grocery shopping.  Just a few bits here and there, some from the CS (consumables mainly), but I'm not really in the mind set for going out spending money on anything else. I've decided to make my own selection boxes this year as they can be such a rip off and quite disappointing when you look inside.  I need to buy them for at least four for children in the family, so I've been buying multipacks of different chocolate bars and I'm going to box them up in pretty Christmas gift boxes.  This way, they'll actually get more in their box and with less plastic packaging. Hopefully they won't mind.


I did buy one other non Christmas thing on eBay this week.  Isn't eBay just a wonderful thing? 


I've needed a new toilet roll holder insert for a while, as ours was broken and held together by sellotape. I like our ceramic toilet roll holder, which was in the house when we moved in 10+ years ago and I didn't want to replace it. For £1.89, it is now like new and ready to go for another 10 years.  I know it's a strange thing to post about, but these small victories are often the most satisfying. I could have spent ages wandering around numerous shops looking for one of these things, if it hadn't been for eBay.  It's still a great place to find obscure necessities. I love it.

Finally, I'd just like to say a big thank you to everyone who commented on my last post.  I'm sorry it was a bit of a rant, but I guess I just needed to vent my frustrations. I'm trying not to tar everyone asking me for money with the same brush, but you were all so supportive and I really appreciate it. I know I'm very lucky and I do appreciate my lot in life and I know life is a lot harder for some people who aren't as fortunate. I'm trying hard to be mindful of this.

Anyway, I hope you're all having a good week. I'll try to do a birthday post if I get chance.


Saturday, 6 October 2018

Unintentional Decluttering

Yesterday, another item left our home. Unfortunately, it didn't do so by intention. Whilst doing some errands on our local high street, someone stole my bike. My favourite bike that I really love.  Just to qualify, I have two, a very old battered one, that I usually use so that no-one steals my favourite one.  That much dreaded occurrence happened yesterday and I can still hardly believe it.

It was locked up with a decent lock, which went through both tyres and around the frame as well as the bike stand.  I can only think that someone cut through the lock with bolt cutters and made off with it in the middle of a busy high street with hundreds of people milling around.

I was gutted when I came back to find it gone. I know it's not the end of the world, but I loved that bike, OH used it regularly to get around to jobs and we take care of our things, even when they aren't very expensive. I won't easily be able to replace it, as it is no longer sold by the company I bought it from. My only hope is to find another on eBay, so I've set up a search already.

I reported it to the Police, and despite checking out CCTV images of the area, although not ones in the immediate vicinity, as they obviously weren't working, the case was immediately closed, so nothing further will be done. I have a crime reference number to claim on our home insurance policy, but with it only being worth £100, why should I have to and risk a higher premium next year.

It makes me so angry, that certain people think that the world owes them a dishonest living stealing other peoples' possessions.  I'm not interested in their self-deluded excuses that there are no opportunities for them in this life. They choose to steal, instead of earning an honest living. I may sound unsympathetic, but they are making a lifestyle choice and victimising others into the process. They are the lowest of the low in my eyes.

Yes, I can afford to replace my bike, should I chose to, and I am lucky to have two bikes, albeit neither being expensive ones, but that doesn't mean I deserve to have one stolen or that anyone else is entitled to help themselves to my possessions.  I see it everyday at work, and now on my days off too. I'm fast becoming very, very cynical about the world in which we live.

From now on, I refuse to even go to said high street at all. I'm tired of being accosted by drunks and drug takers on the streets and public transport, wanting me to give them money to indulge their addictions, I'm tired of thieves who come into the shop and who operate in our community, who expect everyone else to cough up for them to live the life they want. I may work for a charity, but even the limit of my charitable feelings is being stretched at the moment. Something needs to change and soon. I won't be giving them the opportunity to make me a victim anymore, if I can possibly help it.

Friday, 5 October 2018

The Week So Far

It's been another busy week at work.  This week, I worked my three days all in a row, which is extra tiring, but it's good to get them done and have a couple of days off. I've mainly been catching up with work that was put on the backburner whilst the manager was on leave, as I just couldn't physically do everything that I would normally do.  I'm getting back on top of it though, slowly but surely.

It's been a bit harder to get to work for the last couple of days, due to a burst water main on one of the main routes into London, which has been causing traffic chaos on my bus route. It's meant quite a bit more walking, to get to bus stops that are unaffected by the gridlock it has caused or to get home due to buses being diverted to avoid the gridlock.  Not an enjoyable week in terms of travel. I was so pleased to get home last night, knowing that I don't have to go anywhere for the next two days.

On the home front, little has been done this week in terms of housework, save for trying to catch up with laundry that built up while the manager was away and I didn't have the energy to keep on top of.  OH has, however, finished fitting the new kitchen cupboard fronts, so we finally have our kitchen refresh finished (save for buying a new fridge/freezer and microwave). I need to give the kitchen a thorough clean and then I'll post the new look, although it's not that different from how it was before, as the cupboard fronts are just a slightly different colour.

Family wise, it's come to that time when we need to start thinking about Sixth Form options for LB, so in the next month or so, we are going to need to attend the open evenings of some of the schools in the area, so that LB can make a decision about the ones she wants to apply to. It's crazy that it only seems like yesterday that she started at Secondary school.

LB also wants to throw a Halloween party/sleepover for a dozen friends at our house this year, so I'm still mulling that one over before I give her the green light.

It's my birthday next week and I'm off work on the day, so I might arrange to do something nice to treat myself, although I'm not too bothered about celebrating it in any big way.  We may just go out for something to eat in the evening.  That would be nice.

In the next two days, (I'm back at work on Sunday), I need to do a top up shop and OH and I need to visit the allotment and start to clear it, harvest any remaining produce, dig up the potatoes that are still in and prepare it for the winter. There aren't a great deal of things still growing, so it shouldn't take too long.  We also need to do a tip run (when the traffic abates) with the old kitchen cabinet doors and a few other things and we need to tidy the garden too if possible. In addition, of course, there's more laundry and some cleaning to do if I have the energy, otherwise it will keep until next week, when I'm off from Monday through to Thursday, which is  a good long stretch, so I should have some energy to do more cleaning then.

In other news, I've started some Christmas shopping this week, buying a few small bits from the CS new products range to give as gifts.  I've got my eye on a few other items that I could also buy as gifts, but I'm waiting to see what else comes in over the next few weeks before I take the plunge. I'm just not feeling shopping for things new on the high street anymore, I'd much rather buy things when I know that a charity is benefitting from my money, rather than large corporations that overproduce tat at this time of year.

I hope your guys are having a good week. Have you started to think about Christmas shopping yet or are you trying to avoid it for as long as you possibly can?

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Earn/Save An Extra £2018 in 2018 - September

The results from this challenge have been continuously dwindling for several months now, and as you can see from this month's figures, they are really hardly worth posting about.  As I can't actually see the results improving at all for the remainder of the year, this will be my last post on this challenge.  I'm happy enough that I attempted it and that I've saved the money I have.  I think a I was  perhaps a little optimistic to hope I might save the full £2018 in 2018, but it was much more difficult than I thought in practice.  Thank you for your support and comments on my efforts on this challenge. They were much appreciated.

Extra earnings and savings this month were as follows:

1) I earned £16.30 on eBay sales this month, once fees and postage had been taken out.

Total earned on eBay sales - £16.30.

2) Money found in the street whilst walking the dog - £0.40. (Every little bit helps)

Found money - £0.40

3) I used £2.50 worth of Nectar points in part payment for some groceries this month.

Money saved using accrued Nectar points - £2.50.

Total extra earnings/savings this month were £19.20, which when added to last month's total of £830.64, means my current total earnings/savings so far this year on this challenge are £849.84.