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by Julie Brooks

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Sunday, 9 December 2012

No let up for me!

Hello everyone

I don't have any crafty items for you to look at today - sorry! I've been incredibly busy these last few weeks keeping stocks replenished in the lovely gift shop where I sell my makes. Seems as soon as something goes in, it's sold, and I have to start all over again! Not that I'm complaining of course. And I'm still in the middle of making my own Christmas cards for close family - can't believe it's almost the middle of December and I still don't have them all made, let alone any written! AND I now have a commission order to fulfil for a special Christmas card for a beautiful 3 year old girl, and we still have Christmas shopping to finish AND we also have a date with two nieces and a nephew to take them to do their "secret" shopping for their auntie (who they live with) and their grandma. So, mega-busy doesn't even begin to cover it. Oh, and not forgetting still teaching my autistic son!

But all of this hasn't stopped me getting a bit hands on in the house this weekend! We moved into our place just over two years ago and it needs EVERYTHING doing to it, including but not limited to: needing extending front and back, new kitchen, new bathroom, new cloakroom, totally redecorating throughout, which includes a new ceiling in the sitting room! But with one thing and another very little progress has been made. One of the things which definitely needed some drastic work was a stone clad chimney breast in the sitting room. It was typical sandstone cladding with wide cement joins between stones, and this being quite a narrow room, it was definitely "in your face" and it made the room feel very dark too. And none of the other walls had been painted since we moved in either and were a horrible aged magnolia - very dark and depressing, with bits missing here and there too! So, we did no more than get out the white emulsion, and my husband got a quick coat on two walls while I slapped a coat on the cladding - nothing to lose as far as I could see, it would either look great or look terrible and was one of those things that we were seriously considering removing altogether, which would probably leave exposed brickwork which would also need something doing to make it look nice! So with a "let's go for it" attitude I set to work. It had to be a "quick coat" because we had promised our son that we would put up and decorate the Christmas tree on that particular day too and if that hadn't happened he would have been heartbroken, especially as so many people around us already had all their decs up! Anyway, here's a few photos of said chimney breast.

In this photo you can see the original colour in the top half, yet to be attacked by me with the paint brush! But don't get me started on that ceiling! That needs major cosmetic surgery to put it right!

How much better is this? The little built-in shelves have been left in their original state as they are done with grey stone and we felt it made quite a nice contrast and served to break up the white a bit too.

And here's a close-up showing our lovely little woodburner flanked by a waving Santa with his sleigh full of gifts and a Nut Cracker soldier keeping guard!
I hope you will agree that the white is much better than the original sandstone colour! The whole style of it may not be to everyone's taste, and is certainly not something we would ever have chosen ourselves, but I think it can be lived with for a bit longer now that it is white! Who knows, we may even decide to keep it! And our lovely woodburner stands out really well now. We've got a fire going this evening and we're now using our own wood too! Last year and the year before it was fuelled with wood we had to buy, but now, almost two years on from having three rather large conifers, several old and manky Poplars (rotting from the inside out) and an old and well-past-it plum tree cut down, we are reaping the benefits of keeping all of the wood in a big pile at the bottom of the garden in a fairly sheltered spot. It is well seasoned and ready to use! So my husband invested in a chainsaw and set to work on the first few logs today, and it feels quite satisfying knowing that the wood we are now using is ours, from our own garden. Although we had the conifers cut right down to ground level, and the stumps ground so they would not try to regrow, the Poplars were cut down leaving a good four feet of trunk in the ground. The reason for this decision was because there were lots of little cracks and crevices, great for insects to hide and hibernate in, and so great for birds (especially Great Tits we have discovered) to hunt around to find little juicy morsels to eat, so although we cut the trees down, we didn't entirely wipe out the insect habitats. And we have also planted a lovely native White Beam which in time will be a beautiful big tree full of pretty white blossoms in the spring and juicy red berries in the winter which birds love. We do try to be quite nature-friendly where possible.

We've been lucky to have a few drier and more sunshiney days so that we could have windows open to help disperse the paint fumes from the decorating (even low odour paint has an odour which lingers for several days), but isn't the weather topsy turvy at the moment? We've had really cold with heavy frosts, then mild and sunny with glorious blue sky, damp and grey and just plain non-descript, not to mention all that heavy rain which left so many areas flooded again. What a mess they have to sort out, and totally at the wrong time of the year too (not that there's a right time to be flooded, but I'm sure you know what I mean). The park near us was under several inches of water and more or less impassable in places, as my husband and son found out when they went over for a walk/bike ride last week. I've included a couple of photos below so you can see what it was like about a week after all the heavy rainfall.
Look at that glorious blue sky! Makes the scene quite beautiful, even though under all of that water there is a field!

Probably not a good idea to try riding the bike through this!
So folks, that about wraps it up for this year. In this next week I have more makes to complete for the shop, my own cards to finish, my son needs help making all of his cards (he's made a few but has quite a long list!), and he has several other items to decorate for Christmas too, I have my commission order to work on and Christmas shopping to finish - wish me luck! And after that I will be doing nothing more than the "Santa run" where we deliver all the presents around to our respective families (and eat lots of mince pies in the process!), the last food shopping before "the big day" and meticulously planning how to cook yet another Christmas lunch using only a combination microwave oven and a two plate electric hob! Fun!

Whatever you're doing, take care, and I'll see you all in the New Year. Thank you for sticking with me this year, and I hope you'll stick around next year too, to found out what exciting adventures I go on, whether crafting or DIY!

Have a great Christmas!

Love from me xx