Pretty card and fingerless gloves

Apparently, according to trend forecasters the next hot craft for 2017 is going to be macrame.  Watch out for spider plants in bead adorned knotted hangers.  I love lots of crafts but I can’t see myself taking up macrame in a hurry.

One of the crafts I love, but have not had so much time for as I have been knitting and sewing so much, is working with paper.  I began scrapbooking back in 2000 when we had to buy almost all our supplies from the US and acid free glue was the holy grail!  Things have moved on a long way since then but a lot of the independent shops have given way to big stores who don’t have the individual touch and the more interesting and quirky stock.  One of the trends that has survived and does still offer that quirky touch is the monthly kit.  I used to get one sometimes from an American company that always included a little sample of flavoured coffee (before we got that over here too).  The smell as I unwrapped it was part of the joy of seeing all the gorgeous bits and pieces.

So, when this arrived this morning,

 

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and this was inside it.

 

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And inside was this..

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I was a very excited bunny!

Now I was expecting a paper cut kit.  I was not expecting a pair of handknitted fingerless gloves (which happen to be in my favourite colour), a sparkly tea light (perfect for my silver sparkly tea light holder), a yummy hot chocolate kit, a candy cane to dip into my yummy hot chocolate kit and a scalpel with spare bladses AND lovely shimmer paper to use for my cut outs.  This isn’t a kit, it’s Christmas!

Four styles of paper cut templates, all on the theme of Hygge, one of them is a template for a gorgeous little house.

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My paper cutting skills are not brilliant (I once spent an entire afternoon cutting out my daughters’ names in scriptina font for a scrapbook project.  Those were the days before electronic cutters when your only option was by hand, a bulky sissix, or if you were lucky a quickutz.  Scriptina is a fine flowing font that looks gorgeous but is a killer to cut!

 

scriptina

See what I mean!

So I was relieved to see that the designs look more manageable for a non expert like me!  First attempt will be posted shortly,  I have some time this evening and tomorrow and am really looking forward to getting my scalpel out again.

The lovely kit was from Amy Purdie at Embellish Cuts and costs an average of £18 (there are several plans you can opt for)  with free P&P within the UK.  During the course of the month the templates are exclusive to Embellish Box Subscribers.  At the end of the month the templates will be available for sale on Etsy, however Amy guarantees that the cost of the Box will always be cheaper than the individual templates and you get such lovely little extras too!  You also receive the templates in pdf and svg format so you can use them again and again (I didn’t realise this and scanned mine 🙂 )  Commercial licences are also available.  You can see more of Amy’s work here.

I recieved this box for free in return for an honest an unbiased review.

 

holidays

Apologies for the temporary silence.  I am on holiday with my family.  Normal service will be resumed at the end of July.  Meanwhile happy Summer holidays to the Northern Hemisphere and Enjoy the Winter to the Southern 🙂

who’s wealthy now? money no object?

I don’t blog about politics and my personal politics are not up for airing in public, at least not here.  But UK readers cannot fail to have been aware of the terrible flooding that has devastated vast swathes of the country.   Having been flooded, indeed that was the reason I started this blog in the first place, I know how distressing and devastating it is to watch filthy water pour into your home.  Fortunately our flood was transient and quite tiny compared to the horrors that thousands of people are suffering as I type.  The long term effects will be with us for years.  Farmland that will be unusable, family farms that will go out of business, homes ruined, a massive increase in the benefits bill, homes that will never be insurable again….. and that is just the practical effect it doesn’t even begin to touch on the emotional one.

Facebook followers will have seen me rant about the way the Government has handled, or rather mishandled, the situation.  However I think that Jane Young summarises it far better than I can.  Please do read her blog.

We’re a wealthy country… money’s no object…

There are hundreds of comments, and they are worth reading too. Please do not fall into the trap that many commentators have of believing that she thinks that all of the Home Counties are full of middle class Tory voters.  . Her point is not that there are not people suffering, of whatever financial situation. BUT that it is when flooding is affecting an area that is PREDOMINANTLY (not entirely) Tory and RELATIVELY (not 100%) wealthy that David Cameron is able to find funds to support them in their need. Meanwhile people who have also been in great need have been told that there is no money available to them. Yes, there is a difference between a natural disaster and ongoing need, But even if you take that out of the equation and look only at the flood victims the levels of support available in the Home Counties overnight compared to Cumbria and the West Country since Christmas is pitiful.

thank you

Thank you for joining me this year.  Whether you lurk or post you are just as welcome. 

Here in the UK we have six hours until 2014.  Some of you may already be welcoming the new year and some of you will have almost a whole day to go.  Wherever you are I wish you a happy and peaceful 2014, may it bring you happiness, a frisson of excitement, a dash of the unexpected and a good dollop of love.

holidays

onepairofshoesatatime is currently enjoying a low key low wardrobe holiday in Turkey (one small suitcase including suncreams etc I was very proud 🙂 )  Blogging will resume on my return in early August.

drawers

Now that the kitchen cupboards are clean and sparkly and spacious it is time to tackle the drawers.  People buy me kitchen gadgets and thingamybobs.  How many measuring spoons do I need?  Please, I don’t want any more, or measuring cups or weird ladles.  It took only 40 minutes to turn mess and into order.  See it’s SO EASY.  What are you waiting for?

Photo heavy post.

This is where I keep the stuff I use every day.  Large spoons, graters, spatulas, tongs etc.

 

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This was drawer one.

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Drawer one now.

 

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Drawer two

 

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Drawer two now

 

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Drawer three (this is the dump drawer… can you tell?)

 

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Drawer three now

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Drawer four

 

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Drawer four now

 

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Drawer five

 

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Drawer five now

 

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Drawer six

 

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Drawer six now

 

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Something small tomorrow I think.  I rather fancy sitting out and enjoying this heatwave 🙂

 

 

 

 

from the Leadmill to the pantry

Are the gigs at the Leadmill still as good?  Are the Peace Shop and The Fat Cat still on Division Street?  Is going over the top of the paternoster in the Arts Tower still the most frightening thing I have ever done?  Today I shall be finding out as I am accompanying the Dancer to Sheffield where she is going to check out the Medical School and I am going to find out how much it has changed since my student days.  Therefore I apologise but today you are getting a rehash.

This post was originally written for Susie at Let’s Get Organized.  But as I have no time to blog today I hope you don’t  mind if it comes back again.

How to tackle the kitchen…..

floor

  1. Remove everything from the cupboard, endeavouring not to pin Newfoundland in a corner.
  2. Release cornered dog.
  3. Scrub cupboards and try not to show too much shock at the level of dust.
  4. Sit back on heels and look hopelessly at the chaos on the floor.
  5. Take a deep breath and dive in.

wall cupboard before

Wall cupboard before

Wall after

Wall cupboard after

At this point, traditional declutter divas recommend three piles.  Keep, Ditch and Maybe.  Personally I don’t hold with Maybe.  All you are doing is putting off the evil day when you have to make a decision.  As a Libran I know how hard that is so just get it over with.

Tins before

Tins before (oh my look at that dust!)

tins after

Tins after

              6. Sort into two piles.
7. Remove Ditch pile immediately to another room before you are tempted to put any of it back in cupboard.
8. Wash Keep pile as appropriate.
9. Enjoy replacing items in neat piles where you can see everything and there is plenty of space between items.
10. If (9) is not achievable go back to step (6) and repeat.

It sounds simple doesn’t it?  That’s because it is.  You don’t need fancy boxes or storage containers.  You do not need to spend the equivalent of a month’s salary at IKEA.  You just need to take command.  Whose room is it?  Yours or the Junk’s?

dresser bottom before

Dresser bottom before

dresser before

Dresser top before

dresser after

Dresser after

I can’t tell you how to approach level (6); we all have our own criteria.  But the important thing is to decide your criteria first.  I don’t necessarily go with the “if you haven’t used it in 6 months….”  Some things are only used a few times a year but are essential.  My husband wears his kilts only a few times a year but we would never get rid of them.  Our fish kettle is only used occasionally but is the only way we can cook a whole fish and as my husband is a keen fisherman we do cook whole fish.

My decision tree goes something like this:

  1. Do I use it?
  2. If no is there a reason why I should keep it?
  3. Yes answers may include family heirloom that would result in instant death and excommunication were I to ditch it/ I use it occasionally and need it for those occasions/ sentimental value.
  4. The above are all valid but the said items do not have to be kept in the kitchen cupboard taking up valuable space.  Is there somewhere else they can go?  Could they be put on display?  (Our fish kettle and wooden salad bowls live on the top of the dresser and look rather lovely but don’t get in the way.)
  1. Do I use it?
  2. If yes, are there more than one and do I need them all?
  3. I have a large collection of crockery because we entertain a lot and I don’t use anything disposable.  On the other hand I did not need 15 egg cups.  We are a family of 5, even with guests we are unlike to need more than 10.  I kept 9.  Three are family heirlooms, two belonged to my children and one belonged to me as a child.  Hit three birds with one stone.

Multiples of useful items are common stumbling blocks.  We all need mugs etc.  But how many do we need?  How big is your family?  How often do you have guests?  How many guests do you have?  Do you have a dishwasher? (Dishwashers eat crockery – if you hand wash you can get away with less).

tea cupboard before

Tea cupboard before

tea cupboard after

Tea cupboard after

I discovered we had 4 sets of bone china tea services, each contained a cup, saucer and tea plate for 8 to 12 plus two to four sandwich plates, milk jug, sugar bowl and teapot.  I had kept them for sentimental reasons and pretended I had kept them for my daughters.  My daughters will not want them and if they do they can fight over the one I will keep or do battle with my future son-in-laws’ families over their own tea services.  I don’t use coffee cups after dinner, I think they are far too small, I use the tea service.  Thus I have kept the largest service the rest will be boxed up for auction.

I did the pantry last week so there are no before and after photos.  However this is the one room I do declutter (rather than merely tidy) on a regular basis.  I am a bit anal about my pantry.  But that too turned out to require more attention than I had realised.  You will continue to buy more mint sauce if you can’t see the jar behind the rosehip jelly.  You have to inventory on a regular basis.  If you don’t you will end up making multiple purchases.

pantry

Pantry

It helps if you plan your meals on a weekly basis.  I don’t subscribe to the 15 (or whatever) circulating recipes.  How boring that must get.  Instead I start my shopping in my pantry and freezer.  Then I get out 2-4 recipe books and look for new recipes to try using the major ingredients I have found on my in house shop.  I bought some mutton at the last farmers’ market so we have had several mutton/goat recipes this week (the two are easily interchangeable).  I supplement with recipes that catch my eye and then allocate them to days of the week, taking into account any evenings when one or more of us will be out late or away and to the length of time I will have available to prepare.  Baked potatoes and pasta (not together!) are our no time to chop night meals.  The shopping list is made on the basis on the ingredients I need which are not in the pantry or freezer.

This way you keep a regular eye on your store cupboard, have a menu plan for the week, buy only what you need and try out new recipes.  What’s not to like?

There is no point in getting rid of things you no longer need or want if you are just going to fill up the gaps with more of the same.  Like a dieter who drops two dress sizes you don’t want to go back.  You have to rethink how you shop.  I now have a strict one in one out policy.  I still love shopping, it’s just that I don’t buy anything.  I can enjoy and appreciate the beauty and form of everything from a dress to a vase.  But I don’t need to buy it.  I treat shopping like a trip to a museum, I admire but I leave it behind.