Bumper update…

“But every time it rains
You’re here in my head
Like the sun coming out
Ooh, I just know that something good is going to happen
And I don’t know when
But just saying it could even make it happen….”


OK… Mothers Ruin here… Switch her off…  Go on…. Ease the volume down on your Kate Bush CD collection that’s been playing steadily since she kicked off the tour. There we go…. That’s better…. We’re all doing it, of course, (we must be as it is rumoured that each of her albums are working their way back into the Top 100 chart this week!) but now is the time for a little bit of, well, ME! That said, there is soooooo much to update you all with in this post  that its necessary length will, I suspect, render it unfinishable for some of you. Mothers Ruin will be to somebody else what Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White has been to me (THREE TIMES I’ve tried and failed to finish it! I just don’t understand!). Similarly, a fresh blog post is so astronomically overdue that you may find that you have forgotten who the principle players are (rather like the second series of the BBC’s The Village which seemed to be delayed soooooo long from the first that by the time it came around I had completely forgotten who was who, why they were there and what the hell was going on, only managing to stick with it because Maxine Peake is so talented that I would, frankly, pay to watch her clean a toilet….)

Anyhoooo – For too long I have been stuck up a ladder painting and finding myself so suddenly immersed in society again has clearly over-excited me, so I’ll stop rambling and get down to business…

Let’s kick things off with two notes of congratulations. Firstly to Marie on the birth of her first son, Henry…

 

And also to Laura on the birth of her daughter, Lucy

The workmen arrived, as planned, at the end of July. As my inability to control the situation increased so too did my hysteria and OCD, much to Nathan’s amusement. I don’t know if you’ve ever had any building work carried out in your home, but honestly, it’s hell! The constant requests for tea and coffee every 12 and a half minutes, the dogs barking and whining with each bang, crash or roar of a powertool, the haze of dust that hangs in the air for hours after they’ve left for the day before settling in thick powdery swathes across every surface, the inevitable holding of one’s breath and then resigned exhalation as they bring in some huge piece of kit and bash it off of the freshly painted front door, the silent storm that rages around toilet etiquette i.e. Put the seat down and DONT pee on it! Oh yes, it was Calm Logic nil, Hysteria 42. In the end, I retired to one room and sat out the week there, with the dogs, waiting until it was finished. Still, I think it was worth the stress. We moved into the house with this very dirty, very 90s kitchen…

 …which was completely stripped out within a surprisingly short time… (Like 2 hrs!)

…and replaced with the new units. We selected a pretty standard kitchen with very few adornments – my main aim was ease of cleaning and longevity of style. We went with simple doors in shade ‘dakar’ and a dark wood worktop. I dont think this will ‘date’ in the same way as other choices may have. We also selected a neutral splashback (you can’t see it here, but it is actually a white on white floral damask design) as I didn’t fancy spending the rest of my life scrubbing tile grout clean (did I mention I have a touch of the OCD?)

 

 About 8 years ago I got so fed up with Nathan continually hanging his coats and bags on the back of the dining room chairs (there it is again!) or tucking pairs of shoes underneath them after kicking them off as he came into the house that I took drastic action and threw the whole lot out, table and all. Having had a bright and sparkly new kitchen installed I decided that it was time to take the ‘crazy meter’ down a few notches and desist eating meals on our laps. Thus, my parents (avid treasure hunters) were asked to scout about for a vintage settle and a dining table which, I’m thrilled to report, they managed to find AND deliver on a recent visit. £85 for the two pieces was,  I thought, a total bargain! In additon, I’ve purchased a couple of chairs from Steptoe’s Yard in St Cyrus (the name says it all, but the place is magnificent if you are prepared to spend several hours rummaging and several more negotiating a reasonable price!) to complete my new mismatched dining suite. The kitchen walls and woodwork are going to be painted in Little Greene’s pale grey-blue ‘Drizzle’ (you can see the tins sitting on the settle, ready and waiting to be put to use!) and the furniture is all going to be painted in a range of complimentary tones. We’ve also got an old enamel topped kitchen unit, a 1960s shelving unit and an old wall mounting plate rack for displaying my favourite china (also resting on the settle waiting for me to get to it, and also from Steptoe’s Yard)…

We’ve also just bought ourselves a nice Swan retro fridge freezer in cream which is currently residing, still boxed, in the middle of my hallway! To give you an idea, they look like this…

 

Whilst we are on the subject of shopping – we’ve secured some other lovely bits and bobs recently too, including the 1950s and 1960s dishes below (I’ve got multiples, but just took a picture of one of each to show the designs), the carltonware lookalike dish, 3 of these earthenware jars…

….and this lovely green dish that now sits on my bedside table.

Thanks to the keen eyes of my parents (on yet another trip to Steptoe’s) I was also able to procure a dressing table chair to use with, um, the dressing table (it needs recovering, so I accept no responsibility for the odd choice of fabric! Yet another job to add to the list…)

 I was also the recipient of a rather wonderful belated birthday present in the form of this art deco light fitting, which looks fab in my boudoir! 

To complete the period feel I’m now just looking for a suitable frame for this 1920s French fashion magazine so that I can add some interest to a rather bare expanse of wall opposite the bed…

Anyway, I digress! Enough with the ‘stuff’ already! 

As the kitchen was being torn apart and put back together again, so too was our bathroom. Whilst it was a pain to have so much additional work going on, I’m quite relieved now that it was all completed in one go and we were able to regain some semblance of normality again within about 10 days. When we viewed the house the bathroom looked like this:

 

Revolting, huh?! 

We quite liked the pitched skylight, though, and thought that with some fresh paint and a clean it would be an interesting feature to an otherwise small and boxy room…

The bathroom, much like the kitchen, is not totally completed. We still have filling and painting to do, light fittings to change and mirror to hang etc. This picture will give you some idea of the changes, however. We opted for a curved ‘shower bath’ with glass screen and rainfall showerhead, matt black ‘wet wall’ with a slight linear pattern, white furniture and white metro tiles with black grout…

 

Whilst we’ve been fortunate enough to have professionals come in and deal with the kitchen and bathroom, I’ve not been entirely idle myself these past few weeks. Having already painted the external windows and front door downstairs I was faced with horrendous possibility of climbing a ladder to complete the job UPstairs! Not one to give in I was able to force myself (and yes,  I know that our upstairs windows arent actually THAT high – everybody keeps telling me that – but given that I am frightened of heights I may as well have been hanging off of the Eiffel tower) up the ladder to get the job done. My arms and shoulders were agony after several days of clinging desperately onto whatever I could reach, not to mention my nerves which were in tatters after our lovely village postman discovered that I was afraid and decided that it would be amusing to give me a loud and shocking blast of the horn on his Royal Mail van each time he drove past…  In fact, I’m pretty sure that even Dexter was having a good chuckle at me as my legs began shaking at the first rung of the ladder…

Despite the lack of support from those around me I think that I’ve improved the look of our property to some degree. Here’s the before and after shots…

 

 The original plan was for me to completely renovate the front of the house and re-paint everything, but after too many days of butt-clenchingly terrifying painting I have been forced to admit defeat and a nice chap came over today to quote on finishing the job! 

In other news – we got chickens! We’ve talked about getting them for such a long time and things finally just fell into place for us. We were doing the rounds at Auchenblae open gardens and got chatting to a neighbour who keeps hens and she was very encouraging. Within a few hours of this conversation we then spotted an advert from a local man who was looking to find a new suitable home for his birds, coop, feeders etc, and by the end of the week they were with us! With so little time to prepare we were forced to put together a small, ramshackle run as an interim measure…

(For those that are interested the chooks are named Nigel, Babs, Elsa, Margo, Betty and Hetty!)

 Since then, however, construction has started on a much larger and more permanent run at the end of the garden. With repurposed telegraph poles, a load of cement and tonnes of rain it was like a ‘Ground Force’ tribute act…. We’re getting there though and you can see here the new structure at the bottom of the garden as well as the new bed that I put in. If you look closely you’ll see a line running across the garden where an element of terracing has already been put into action. We are going to plant a hedge on the far side of this line with an archway clipped into it. That way, the portion of our land that is closest to the house will be our ‘garden’, whilst through the arch will be our working land with chickens, vegetable patch, fruit trees and cut-flower patch…

Despite trying to juggle a multitude of different home projects at the same time, Nathan and I are conscious that it is important to take regular breaks and so we still make time to get out and about exploring new pieces of this county that has become home in the last year. Just last week I met Nathan from work on his half day finish and we made an impromptu visit to Cove Bay in Aberdeen. After six months of driving past the sign I’m glad I finally know what’s there. Incredible that this rugged and dramatic coastal walk exists just half a mile from Nathan’s office…

 We made even more of a discovery just yesterday when on the way home from yet another trip to Steptoe’s Yard (they say that ‘variety is the spice of life’, but this is not a concept that has ever been quite natural to me! This is the person who, having discovered the gooey delights of Ben and Jerrys Cookie Dough Ice Cream ate so much of it in an unnaturally short space of time that, now, he can hardly bare to look at it, and who, as a kid, could quite easily sit through his Wizard of Oz VHS three times in one afternoon for five afternoons a week. So yes, I go to Steptoe’s a lot! shoot me!) we decided to investigate the St Cyrus Nature reserve a little more closely and found that just beyond the sand dunes and old river bed is a huge sandy beach! My aunt, sister and niece are coming up to stay next week and I’m thrilled at the prospect of taking the wee one to the seaside to have a splash around and build some castles in the sand! Fingers crossed for good weather! 

And perhaps when we are done having adventureso by the ocean, we will stop off at Garvock Hill to ponder the view over a picnic…

 

 Needless to say, we are still absolutely head over heels in love with our new dwelling place. And, in finishing things up here, I’d like to reproduce this short description of Auchenblae that I found in an old book entitled The Parish of Fordoun published in 1893…

The outline of the street is still pretty much as it was; the houses occupy the same sites, but many of them have been vastly improved both internally and externally – new storeys have been added, rooms have been widened, windows have been enlarged and the primitive thatched roof prevalent in days of yore has disappeared, and now, with hardly any exception, the houses are slated. Altogether the village has an exceptionally clean, comfortable and prosperous appearance.

It stands on a gentle rising ground, washed by the rivulet Luther, amid beautiful scenery, and commands a fine view of the hill of Strath-Finella, a prominent object on it’s western side. About a mile distant in a westerly direction is the entrance to the richly wooded glen of Drumtochty; while a little over the same distance to the NE rises the Knockhill, whence an extensive view can be obtained. Round the eastern base of this hill the Bervie Water sweeps; and below it, to the south, lie the lands of Castleton and Mondynes. Within easy reach of the village, lying to the South, are the Monboddo woods, which shelter the mansion-house of that historic name; and among other snug residences enfold within their embracethe farm steading of Drumsleed. Westward, round the shoulder of Strath-Finella, the Howe of the Mearns opens out in all its grandeur. Such are the surroundings of Auchinblae.

It is worth mentioning that this book, or at least a map contained therein, proves that our property existed in its present position at least as early as 1828, a big difference to 1900 as we had previously been advised!  

 

More soon, I’m sure, but for now the work continues…

 

Much love, dear readers

 

MR x x x 

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In which I take a short cut…

Given that I have, hitherto, been the kind of person for whom digesting a large meal or hauling oneself from the bathtub seems inordinately high energy activity that, surely, now requires a period of rest in order to return equilibrium to the universe, you can only imagine how exhausting I am finding it to keep pushing on with the never-ending ‘to do’ list and decorating. (Of course, Mothers Ruin is not really that lazy, but I was struggling to find a more creative opening than “I’m ****ing knackered!”)

Thus, the short cut that I refer to in the title of this post is a simple one – reduce the typing and bring on the pictures. A series of ‘before’ and ‘after’ shots to update you all and save my poor, wretched, over-worked little fingers any more distress…(I’ve discovered that happily snapping away on a mobile phone is not the best way to get quality images, so apologies!)

 

“Nathan – pack your bags. I need a holiday. I’m ****ing knackered…….”

BEFORE

AFTER

BEFORE

AFTER

BEFORE

 

 AFTER

BEFORE

AFTER

 

 

BEFORE

AFTER

BEFORE

DURING

AFTER (THOUGH STILL UNFINISHED)

 

I’ve just finished emptying the kitchen. The workmen arrive on Monday…

 

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In which we exhaust ourselves…

You know how you have those moments in life when time itself seems to speed up and, suddenly, the deadline that you’d been oh so comfortable with is looming large and angrily on the horizon? Well, our guest bedroom has been one such situation! 

Pretty much since we moved into the new house Nathan has been saying to me “Leigh’s coming to stay on the 2nd of July – the room will be ready for her, won’t it?” To which, of course, I kept replying along the lines of “Yeah, chill out! It’ll be fine!”

Cut to the morning of June 30th when I’d only painted one wall and some woodwork and the panic started to set in! So for the last three days I have worked (well, in fairness so has Nathan!) like to dog to get everything finished (it’s still not – who needs curtains anyway!). Leigh’s aeroplane lands in about 2 hours and I have literally only just downed tools! Talk about cutting it fine! 

Anyhooo… I’ve painted, wallpapered, varnished, waxed, scrubbed, screwed and sanded myself to exhaustion and now I’m pleased to show you the results…

The walls are papered in Prestigious Textiles’ Polka Dot (Chambray)…

The door and woodwork are, as you know, in Farrow and Ball ‘Cook’s Blue’…

The bed is a second-hand pine jobbie that I painted yesterday in Annie Sloan ‘Original White’ with ‘Cook’s Blue’ accent… The cushion is, of course, from Cath Kidston, while the rabbit is hand-made by me (you may have seen him before!)

Hanging on the edge of the bed is this darling little trinket from Nathan’s work colleagues in celebration of our new home. The map shows our new home town! Cute! 

To avoid completely over-powering the room we left one wall white, but that looked a little stark at this stage without having anything at the window, so I unpacked some of our blue vintage glassware to fill the void a little…

Now all I need is some storage! 

Still – at least Leigh will have somewhere to lay her head. Lets hope she doesn’t mind the smell of fresh paint! 

 

More Soon

 

MR xxx

 

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in which Nathan and I break up…

Dearest Nathan, 

I’m sorry to do this here, the Mothers Ruin blog, of all places, but…well, you see, I just couldn’t face doing it face to face. 

I realise that this will be humiliating for you, not to mention a shock, but please believe me when I tell you that I didn’t plan for it to happen this way. I didn’t plan for any of it to happen…

The thing is, I’ve kinda been having a fling and, well, the ‘fling’ has turned into something more serious and now all sorts of strong emotions are involved. A quick glance sends shivers up my spine, the slightest touch makes me smile and my head is all over the place. 

I haven’t done anything in the bedroom – that felt too personal somehow, so we used the spare room, which felt like a more neutral space. 

So, I guess, all that is left to say is that I am sorry – there’s another love in my life. You see, I am HEAD OVER HEELS IN LOVE WITH FARROW AND BALL’S ‘COOKS BLUE’

Dearest Nathan, aren’t you too? 

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In which we put down roots…

Figuratively AND literally…

Nathan has always been keen on growing vegetables, but I always found that as much as his keeness increased so too did my apathy for anything that could even remotely be considered ‘green fingered’ activity. There are, after all, only so many times one can fake excitement at yet another gnarled cabbage being thrust under one’s nose before it starts to become tiresome. It has come as quite a shock, then, to discover that in ‘putting down roots’ in Auchenblae we have turned into ardent horticulturalists! Great weather, loads of space, the knowledge that we never (ever!) have to move again if we don’t want to, and being surrounded by an abundance of natural beauty (not to mention our neighbours who have a gorgeous and well maintained garden!) have all combined to drag ‘gardening’ from way down at the bottom of the ‘to do’ list to somewhere near the top! We’ve no idea what we’re doing, of course, and it will be a long time before perfection is achieved, but in just a couple of weeks our courtyard has gone from this….

….to this…

I know that ‘self-praise is no-praise’, but still I think we’ve done bloody well! In fact, feeling positive about the changes that we’ve made to our home thus far, Nathan and I were only too pleased to take a break and use his corporate membership to go and look at some National Trust properties for inspiration. First up was the House of Dun, a magnificent Georgian country home where we enjoyed a private tour (it wasn’t private because we were getting some kind of special Mothers Ruin treatment, you understand, but rather because the place was totally empty!) of all of the rooms and then a stroll through the gardens…

…followed the next day by Drum Castle – where, inexplicably, the ‘no photography’ sign was displayed right by the exit, by which time it was somewhat too late…

More enjoyable still was the discovery that NT properties sell propogated plants for PENNIES! £50.00 over two days bought us two boot loads of perrenial plants and shrubs, from hebe and hosta to delphiniums and dahlia, astilbe and allium to peony and primula….

Even the weeds in the garden have started to look more inviting, knowing that they are OUR own weeds from OUR own garden!

 

It’s not just us that have been enjoying the benefits of getting outside, though – Dexter and Archie were finally allowed out after a good settling in period…

In other news, the bedroom has finally been finished. It’s not fully dressed as still have tonnes of stuff in storage, but if you look beyond the bare walls, the mirror that still needs hanging, the missing window treatments etc then these will give you an idea of what i’ve done. I only actually took one poor ‘before’ picture, I’m afraid…

 

(The furniture will probably move once everything is in order, as it looks a little like each piece is waiting for a bus. The waistcoat hanging on the side of the wardrobe is a genuine vintage item with a hand-stitched silk lining – a long time ago I could wear it, but, alas, the years have been unkind to my waistline…)

I need a wide-angled lens to get some decent pics of this house! Oh well – you get the idea…. It’s very green and very 1930s…

We’ve already moved onto the guest room and I’m very excited about the next challenge! I’ll keep you all updated with my progress, but for now I’ll share the pictures of the room in its current state…

There’s more to share but, as ever, the duties of running a new home will not wait forever and I must get on. The new kitchen and bathroom are going in soon, not to mention re-paving the sun terrace and painting the front of the house AND we’ve only just got rid of the roofing team and glazier!!!

Oh dear friends, family, sewing machine…. “We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know wheeeeeen….”

More soon

 

MR xxx

 

 

 

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In which the changes keep a’changin’…

Dear Readers,

Can it really have been almost a month since last I wrote? I really must apologise, but, you see, my thoughts have been almost entirely consumed by the new house! I write lists that never get completed, contact tradesmen who never return the call and lock myself away for hours at a time in small rooms with only paint fumes for sustenance and a step-ladder for company… but…. I think we are finally making progress. 

The first room to get any of the Mothers Ruin treatment was the master bedroom. I wanted to find some semblance of normality here as rapidly as possible, especially for Nathan who is juggling the demands of a busy job, a home renovation and my continually waving paint charts and wallpaper samples under his nose. The quicker, I thought, that I can get some proper clothes storage and a relaxing place to sleep the better….

Finding somewhere for Nathan to at least get a clean shirt for work was pretty easy. I came across this compact walnut wardrobe within days of moving in and wasted no time in having it delivered (a terrible quality of image, but there you go!)

 

 

Unfortunately, with the whole house still in disarray, the wardrobe got here (the bottom of the stairs) and no further. Having a wardrobe in the hallway (not to mention a dressing table, trunk and several boxes of clothes on the landing) is almost as enjoyable as having to hang an old bed sheet at the bedroom window at night time inlieu of any curtains. I feel like I’ve found myself in an episode of The Hoarder Next Door.

Nonetheless, with some effort, plenty of time and approximately 72 telephone calls to ‘Dear Ole Dad’ per day (he’s a DIY whizz!) I’ve managed to complete about 75% of the new boudoir! The big reveal will come later when I’ve finished everything and ‘dressed’ the room, but in the meantime I can give you some tid-bits. 

We picked (or rather, I actively chose while an exhausted Nathan simply nodded agreement with a weak smile and glazed eyes) this wallpaper by Graham & Brown…

 

With such a strong art deco print I didn’t want to completely overpower the room or make it too busy, so we opted to do a ‘feature wall’ on one side of the room and stick with a toning matt emulsion for the remaining walls. We tried several tester pots of paint from a few different manufacturers and eventually settled on ‘Sung Blue’ from the heritage line by Craig and Rose. This shade was a green/blue colour that kept quite a high level of light in an otherwise darkish room. However, after 5 hours of painting I was forced to call Nathan (and Dear Ole Dad, of course!) to bemoan the fact that this paint was actually on the bluey side of green/blue and I no longer thought it was suitable! Who’d have thought, eh? What’s the world coming to when you buy 5 litres of ‘Sung Blue’ paint and it turns out to be….well… Blue? With a hasty trip to the shops and lots of advice to just ‘make a decision’ I went for Farrow and Ball’s ‘Breakfast Room Green’ and, having completed two coats, I am MIGHTY pleased that I changed! There is no mistaking that this new paint is green! It has that whole 1930s vibe going on and I feel Like Colonel Mustard and Professor Plum are going to turn up any minute for a scotch on the rocks and a game of billiards…

The skirtings and door have been painted a light cream and I’ve slowly started going through boxes to remind myself of all the treasures that I’ve collected over the years and to pick which ones will find their forever home in this room. Rewarding as it is to shape a completely tired room into the stylish space that one desires, having spent so many long and laborious hours stripping, preparing and painting I really wanted a small and, more importantly, concludable project. With my sewing machine and stash still in storage I elected to work on a chest of drawers instead and spent a very enjoyable afternoon transforming these vintage white drawers…

 …into these cream, distressed ones! I wanted them to match the colour of the new skirtings and door (to this end I used the same paint!) but the decision to distress them simply came from a desire to add a bit more texture to the room. At the momemt everything looks very clean, matt and ‘fresh’, but I want the space to have a more homely, lived-in feeling…

With a little sugar soap, some sandpaper and both dark and clear wax it didn’t take long to achieve the look I was after…

Anyhow – that’s some progress for you and I’m already starting to think about the next room! Exciting, no?! 

I’ve been quite restrained in terms of purchasing prowess recently, though a recent trip out did throw these so-horrifically-bad-that-they’re-good 1970s heavy lined curtains in my path. A mere £4.00 for two! As usual I’ve no idea what this fabric will become but, rest assured, eventually they will be used! (I kinda like the idea of a little shift dress for my Niece!)

In other news Nathan and I attended his works Spring Ball a couple of weeks back. I’ve no pictures of the night itself as I was far too drunk to remember how to work any kind of camera equipment (luckily I avoided embarrassing myself or Nathan ((who was just as drunk!)) and apparently proved quite popular with some of his colleagues! Wahey! Get some red wine down me and apparently I’m much more palatable! Go MR!) I’m not quite sure why I’m doing this to myself, other than the fact that everybody always complains that they can never see ‘us’ on the blog, but you can have some teeny tiny shots pre-alcohol induced stupidity…

Judging by the state of those pictures perhaps it wasn’t ‘pre’ after all…

Whilst I have the opportunity I’d like to say ‘good luck’ to a couple of friends who are in the third trimester of their pregnancies (not long now!), ‘well done’ to a chum who has finally started following her dream despite all of the hard work it entails and ‘congratulations’ to another reader who recently married in a secret New York ceremony (very celebrity-esque!) 

And finally (for now!) I’ll leave you with a few snaps that I’ve taken out and about in the local area. Can you see why we love it here so much? 

Until next time 

TTFN

MR xxx

 

 

 

 

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In which MR returns…

I’m baaaaack!!! 

That’s right – on future paperwork the MR household is finally able to check the box next to the question “are you a home owner?”!!!!! It’s not been all ‘plain sailing’, of course, though the thrill of being in your own home does do an awful lot to help oneself move beyond the uncomfortable experience of ‘skipping’ a one year old sofa because it’s too large to get through the new front door…

We celebrated the collection of the keys with a couple of bottles of this… (To be honest the discovery of this £50 plus bottle of champagne incorrectly priced at £14 a bottle was worth celebrating alone!)

And then embarked on a four day marathon of cleaning followed by a two day marathon of actually moving everything (6 trips over Cairn O Mount in an afternoon – yummy!) followed by a further day long marathon of cleaning (the old rental!) whereupon we decided we should treat ourselves to a break and ‘relaxed’ by unpacking millions of boxes…

It goes without saying that I’ve not managed to make anything recently – both because of a lack of time and the fact that my sewing machine and stash are all packed away. I HAVE, however, been able to indulge my other favourite hobby – vintage shopping! At several points over the last few weeks with my hot face pressed up against yet another tower of very heavy boxes as I lugged them from one place to another I’ve declared ‘I’m never moving again’, yet, on the contrary, I’ve discovered what a very sound opportunity it provides to shop, shop, shop without guilt! 

So – the loot…

Another couple of vintage mirrors (only one photographed as I can’t reach the other!)

 A panelled coat hook frame…

Some bedroom furniture… 

Perhaps MR’s best finds were the items we got today! Nathan and I took a trip to Stonehaven to get a blast of fresh sea air and to marvel at the fact that views like this are only about 12 minutes away from us now (I’ve never lived so close to the coast – it’s fabulous!)…

 

 

With the sun shining, seagulls screaming and waves crashing on the beach there was only one thing to do – eat ice cream! So off we went in search of one…. Quite by chance we went into a little tourist shop on the harbour and discovered that ice cream was literally the only product still being sold as the owner was in the process of retiring and closing the store. For £40 we were able to nab a couple of the old shop fittings that had been used for display purposes…

This wicker basket to hold our logs for the open fire…

And this old, bashed-up trunk that will, once re-lined and cleaned up, either become a funky fabric storage solution or our dirty laundry bin…

Of course, shopping really should not have been a priority in the first week of moving in as our new home has plenty that needs doing to it! We’ve not been all lazy though – this is the pile of stuff that we have dragged out of our patio area to begin tidying it up and gives you an idea of what a massive challenge the outside space is at this property…

Hark – I hear more ‘dump runs’ coming our way….

Nathan, too, got right into the spirit of things and started strimming the large unkempt garden. I’m not sure if it was the results that he was keen to achieve, or just the opportunity to mess about with the biggest power tool we’ve ever owned…

Realising pretty quickly that the real garden was not going to be presentable for quite some time, We decided to plant up some containers for the front step and just pretend for a while that the mess ‘out back’ doesn’t exist..

The ‘up’ side to buying a house that is in such a mess and full of rubbish is the chance to uncover some hidden treasure from time to time, such as this chair that we unearthed in one of the outbuildings and that I’ve every intention of restoring and creating a new cushion for…

And I think that pretty much brings us all back up-to-date – apart from this little chap who has just joined the family..

Yes, yes, I know he looks identical to Archie, but that is why we rescued him when we were told that he needed to be re-homed! Readers, meet Dexter! He is a 4 yr old Bengal, the most disgusting eater I’ve ever come across and a complete scavenger – it’s like he’s always been here! 

I’ll leave you (for a little while longer until I get my act together again!) with a couple of shots of our lovely little village and the gorgeous walk that runs along the back of our garden…

And the promise of an exclusive interview, very soon, with the owner of the soon-to-open craft studios and creative outlet MY CRAFTY SOUL…

 

More soon

 

MR x x x

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in which we share some news…

Ok… So the big announcement! Some friends and family will already be aware of this but for those that aren’t….

WE FINALLY BOUGHT A HOUSE!

 Yippee! After all of those years spent dreaming about having the opportunity to create our own home in a style that truly reflects who we are as individuals we are now just days away from collecting the keys to our new abode! I actually can’t believe we’re finally here and the whole thing has taken on a bit of an air of the surreal.

After lots of false starts and soul searching about what would be right for us, Nathan and I eventually decided to take a look at a place that had not, initially, struck up much interest for us. Lo and behold (I’m told it’s always the way!) we found ourselves totally bowled over by this under-dog of stone and put in a bid almost immediately. The rest, as they say, is history. Of course, I’m sure now, dear readers, you will understand that not an awful lot of interesting stuff has been happening in the MR household save for lengthy conversations with solicitors and agents – thus blog posts have been pretty few and far between in recent weeks. Given the immense amount of work we have to do to transform the house into something more suitable I think there will be plenty of opportunity for blogworthy titbits about the redecoration and renovation process! Mother’s Ruin has already joined pinterest to start collecting style ideas (I know – MR and the 21st Century! Who’d have thought?!)

The house, then, is a 3 bedroom cottage in Auchenblae built circa 1900. It features a HUGE expanse of garden (very overgrown!) with 3 stone built outbuildings (pretty much derelict!), fantastic views over the rolling hills and a wealth of internal period features – open fireplaces, panelled doors, cute sash windows with deep windowsills etc Best of all – Nathan is managing to shave almost 50 per cent off of the commute… And BEST BEST BEST of all there is an extra room downstairs that is going to become… Wait for it… My SEWING STUDIO! There will be space here to house all of my craft books, my sewing machine and cutting table and all of the piles of fabric and yarn and thread that I’ve collected over the last decade. If I have room I may even squeeze in a nice wing-backed armchair to snuggle in – I’ve a feeling I’ll be spending a lot of time in there! Also exciting was the realisation that I will finally have enough outside space to keep some chickens! We are totally going to be the new Tom and Barbara (outdoors at least – I’ll still retain a little of Margo and Jerry inside!)

I’m almost embarrassed to share too many images with you all – the house had been sadly neglected and needs an awful lot of work done to it. Luckily, we’re up for the challenge and have money left in the budget for some of the bigger things. For now, you can have just a couple…

 

The House (and yes – it will be re-painted as soon as possible!)

And the view…

Now you’ll have to excuse me – I’m off to ‘pin’ some more wallpaper samples! 

 

More Soon

 

MR x x x 

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In which we get a surprise…

Now, I love my sister, I really do. But we’ve never particularly shared a love of the crafting world. She appreciates what I do and is always grateful to receive the little bits and bobs that I gift her from time-to-time. Settling down for more than thirty seconds to actually make something herself, however, has always been a little bit beyond her. That’s not to say that she’s not creative – as a former beauty therapist with exceptional talent she can be varnishing your nails with one hand whilst whipping  your bikini line into a startlingly lifelike silhouette of Freddie Mercury with the other – but, having spent the last couple of sleepless years carrying, bearing and raising my adorable niece Layla (did I mention that she is adorable?!), redecorating her old home before promptly selling up and moving elsewhere, and sharing my own obsessive need to hoover at least 15 times a day, the likelihood of my darling sibling finding the time to sit down and make something by hand was, quite simply, non-existent.

Or at least that’s what I thought…

Imagine my surprise when this afternoon I received a little email from her to show me that she’d been upcycling a lampshade! When Nathan and I went to stay with her ‘dan saaf’ she showed us some similar handmade lampshades that were for sale in a local store for, if I remember, some £40-£60 quid! I nearly fell off my chair when I opened this picture….

My Sister’s is a much nicer version than the ones we saw for sale (proving that ANYBODY can make something unique and desirable with just a little time and effort) and what a brilliant way to make use of those old bits of broken jewellery, skeleton leaves, buttons and coral coloured netting (we all have coral coloured netting laying around, right?!). I particularly like the little cameo that is poking out just below the central motif. Okay, so it’s not the bayeux tapestry, but Sis – I’m proud of you! Maybe crafting is genetic after all?! 

Slightly embarrassing for me now to admit that I’ve done very little (still) recently in the way of crafting. A few more hexies were added to the pile, but I’m still a long way off of that quilt! I’ve probably only done around a hundred or so in total…

I did, however, cut out a load more fabric pieces to whip up a few more of these bunnies (hands up who remembers Emilia?!)

That is, unfortunately, as far as I got…. Pieces of fabric! You’ll see from the photo below that I’m trying to give each rabbit its own personality, so I’m experimenting with a few different fabrics. There is a pale blue wool from a jumper that I accidentally shrank in the wash about two days after I bought it, another one in the neutral woven shown above and then a patterned flannel with baby monkey motif for something a bit more modern and fun (and childish!)…

A friend of mine treated me to the new Great British Sewing Bee book (with patterns included!) which arrived a day or two ago. Despite publicists promising a lot more mens patterns with this one there are still only four, but I’m happy to have them nonetheless – especially this waistcoat with a specially crafted lining that ‘rolls’ around to the front to give the impression of a piped edge… delicious!

There are also patterns for a basic short-sleeved shirt and some trousers (easily adapted for shorts)…

The final pattern is an anorak… 

Those that actually watch the show may pick up on the fact that this is an odd thing to include in the book. Not the project itself, but the finished modelled version shown in the photograph does not feature any top-stitching and this is someing that contestants were absolutely slaughtered for during this make on the series…

Similarly – Tamara’s version of the 1930s blouse is used in the book, despite May and Patrick criticising it for the collar not meeting in the centre of the neckline…

And again – strange to include Tamara’s 1960s coat when the judges were unhappy with the finish to the hem and the visible line that is produced by doubling up the fabric on the hemline, yet here it is…

In fact – LOADS of Tamara’s finished projects are included in the book, certainly in comparison to other contestants. Now I know that the final episode hasn’t been broadcast yet, but is it just me or does this suggest that maybe she claims the title of ‘Britains best amateur sewer’?

 

Oh well – not long until we find out! 

 

Back soon with an announcement…

MR x x x 

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In which we catch up and spend, spend, spend…

Ok – so it’s been a while, but look, I just can’t help it! Sometimes life just gets in the way! 

Last week Nathan and I took our first trip back ‘dan saaf’ since we came up to Scotland in October. I’d have mentioned this sooner only Nathan was keen to surprise some old friends and didn’t want to them find out we were heading down via the blog. We had a manic 4 days – catching up with friends, spending time with family, drinking too much wine and eating too much cake. You know how these things are…. 

I’d intended on being a super-dooper extra-organised blogger and whizzing off a fantastic post on the aeroplane on the way home only….well….the first time I thought about my blog (sorry dear readers) was on the aeroplane on the way home. Thus, after an action packed weekend traversing half of Surrey and Hampshire the best I could come up with at such short notice was this….

Inspiring, isn’t it?! 

On the plus side, I did manage to score a little vintage loot in some charity shops whilst we were away. 

There was this Royal Doulton trio in Coppice (well, actually it was a ‘quadruple’ as strangely had an extra side plate). I’m told this was produced between the 1930s and the 1960s but, despite its age, still seems to be pretty common and ‘available’ so hoping to find some other pieces… Now i’m living ‘in the shire’ I simply have to have pheasants and stags everywhere – it’s compulsory!

In addition, I picked up the latest if several old soda bottles. It’s a bit of an odd thing to buy, I guess, but I do have a plan for them! When I finally have the bathroom of my dreams I am going to have a whole shelf on the wall, perfectly positioned to catch as much natural sunlight as possible, and it is going to be full of all of my coloured antique glass bottles in rose, green and blue, soda cannisters with their solid necks and aged branding, and decanters filled with bath oils…. Delightful!

My parents gifted me these printed napkins that they’d found on their travels too…

…whilst my Sister gave us heaps (and I mean HEAPS) of goodies that she’d been collecting since we left! It’s lovely to treat yourself to nice things, but so much nicer to recieve them as gifts and be reminded of the gift-giver each time you look at or use the item.

Today we were up extra early to go and enjoy a ‘family’ walk along Nairn beach…

Once we were done and we’d gorged ourselves on an extremely unhealthy breakfast (don’t ask) we took another trundle along to one of my favourite places on the planet. Yep – you guessed it – AULDEARN ANTIQUES!!!

And here, of all places, I finally struck vintage gold! My dear chum Zola and I often joke about unearthing a fab piece of vintage barkcloth in the back of a junk shop or charity shop (rather than spending a small fortune on ebay to purchase a piece from somebody else who was lucky enough to come across some) but I don’t think either of is ever expected it to happen. Today it did! Look!

I was, quite literally, astounded when I picked this up from the shelf in the first place. Dumbfounded when I opened it up to discover that it was immaculate and intact. Words failed me when I looked at the label – £2.00 – and all I could manage to do was punch Nathan heavily on the arm and grin like an idiot….

Sorry Zo….

I also picked up a set of 8 deep green linen napkins, 13 (weird number) hessian printed placemats and a toning crocheted motif. I’m not sure what I will use these for, but I love the colour palette and it makes me smile to add them to my stash…

Finally I was glancing through some old books stacked against a wall when this publication from 1955 jumped out at me and begged to be taken home…

Ahhhhh! Bless this house indeed! 

When I actually stop buying random piles of ‘stuff’ from up and down the United Kingdom then I may be able to return with a more interesting blog post, but until then…

TTFN

MR x x x

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