Monday, 8 January 2018

New Year, new craft projects, and new hopes and aspirations

Happy New Year to you all! I hope that, for all of us, 2018 is filled with opportunities and adventures, health and happiness, and much comfort and joy throughout.

Christmas is most definitely a distant memory for us now here in Comfy Marmalade land. I love the run up to Christmas - the anticipation, the planning, the crafting, decorating the house and so on.  But after the big event I like, if I can (and if the kids allow it) to get the decorations down as soon as possible. Otherwise it just feels like the detritus from a good party left around for days after it has taken place.

We get quite a lot of cards, primarily from the kids' school friends
and the Husband's clients, and I've found the best place for them is
to hang them on ribbon in the dining room

I took the cards down just after Christmas and have recycled a lot of them, cutting up the striking and pretty ones to use as gift tags next year. And, where I've found a nice pattern or block of colour I've cut it out to use when making collages, or for the kids to use in their crafting activities.

Our Christmas cards this year have provided me with a good stock of colourful bits of card
that I can use for various crafting activities.  The Father Christmas card
is by a company called Five Red Hens; Caroline produces some
fantastic cards for all eventualities.  And the browny-grey card
towards the top of the picture used to be a flock of sheep!

The decorations and the tree came down on New Year's Eve, and I felt so much better for doing it! I like to leave Christmas in the previous year, starting the New Year with the house back to its usual self.  And I love the feeling of tidiness and space when you've cleared the decorations away - while I'm sad to see them go in a way, the house feels so much bigger.  Given that my approach to Christmas decorations is the same as my approach to general home décor, in that more is usually more, we tend to have decorations in every room; as a result, tidying them away really does make a big difference in our house.

All our decorations are now down and waiting to be stored away again until later this year.
The wreath at the front of the photo was made for us by our wonderful next door neighbour,
Linda, from willow she grows on her allotment.  She even attached fairy lights
to it for us!  We had it hung on our front door and I loved its minimalist, back to nature feel.

I really wasn’t looking forward to New Year's Eve this year; I tend to get a little morose and introspective on 31 December most years, but after losing Dad this year I really felt the best thing would be to go to bed early and let it all take its course without me. But the Girl was keen to stay up and I couldn't bear the thought of letting her down, so we saw in the New Year together along with the Husband (the Boy is still too young, I feel, either to truly understand what's going on or to be able to handle the effects of a mega-late night). But we changed our usual New Year routine - we ditched Jools Holland (sorry Jools) in favour of a Harry Potter film and some disco dancing to Nile Rodgers and Chic. I had a quiet weep in a corner to myself just after the bells but then pulled myself together and do you know, the evening wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.  So often in these situations the anticipation is worse than the actual event.

So, here we are. Early January 2018. Must get used to writing 2018. I'd only just got used to writing 2017! The kids are back to school today and so I've finally got a little time to myself, and time to write a new blog post.

I wonder what your take is on New Year resolutions? I'm not one for making them really. I have little willpower and I find the psychological fallout of 'failing' at a resolution I've set myself does more damage than if I didn't set one in the first place. Besides, it always seems a bit daft to me to set resolutions at one particular time of the year - life ebbs and flows and changes all the time, so resolutions or self challenges should be fluid and change throughout the year, no?

I do, however, have some hopes and aspirations for the year ahead.  I hope that Comfy Marmalade continues to grow and develop. I hope that my unwritten 'business plan' for CM works and that a couple of ideas I have for it come to fruition. I aspire to be a good mum, and a happy and fulfilled person. I hope that I rise to the challenges that life will inevitably throw at me.  I hope that I'm content throughout. Yes, I'd love to be a stone lighter and a lot wealthier, but to be honest as long as I'm reasonably healthy in diet and exercise, and I have a few coppers in my purse, I'm a happy lady.

My current reading material, all of which I'm thoroughly enjoying

I've been reading some books recently to give me inspiration - I'm finding Dr Chatterjee's book fascinating and packed full of information; I love all things Scandinavian, so the Hygge book seemed like a good idea (just started it and it's looking promising), and The Simple Things magazine is the first issue of a subscription that the Husband treated me to this year.  I absolutely love this magazine and highly recommend it for a relaxing yet inspiring read.  I also highly recommend getting a magazine subscription for Christmas - that way, you get a little present through your letterbox every month!

I managed to find a few pockets of time during the school holidays to put my creative hat on, which were an absolute godsend, and which gave me time to make (or make a start on) a couple of bits and bobs for the house. I made this canvas for our dining room, which is based on a design I saw in a homes magazines recently.

Our dining room stove and fireplace, and a canvas I made over the Christmas period.
Initially I embellished it with a blue bird, however...

The canvas is 60cm high by 50cm wide and was from Home Bargains and cost around £3 I think.  I got some thin black card (which you can pick up from most supermarkets) and cut out 28 triangle shapes measuring 6cm high and 5cm across from it, plus a rectangle of 8cm by 5cm.  Then I stuck the shapes onto the canvas using a glue stick.  I felt it needed something else to jazz it up a bit, so I drew a blue bird and stuck it on too.  I liked the bird, until the Husband sniggered and asked if it was based on the Twitter logo.  Which it wasn't, but of course I can't get it out of my head now!  So I replaced it with a jazzy yellow sun / star, which is actually a small section of a wallpaper sample (the same wallpaper I used to make the tree topper for the Christmas tree the kids made in early December).

Bird replaced by a scrap of wallpaper sample. OK, I admit it looks much better.

Much better, I have to admit. The canvas sits above our stove in the dining room and I love it! (Incidentally, I also made the crocheted Christmas 'Peace and Joy' bunting a couple of years ago, based on a design from Lucy at Attic 24).  I've also made a start on a crocheted blanket for the Girl's new room in the attic.

The start of a new crocheted blanket project - now something of a winter tradition for me

She's favouring grey and mustard at the moment (who isn't?!) so I'm making her a small blanket for the chair in her room.  Did I mention that she's moved into the attic? And that I now have her old room as a craft room and office? Yessssss!  Must tell you more about that in a future post.  Anyway, I love a crochet blanket project over the colder winter months - it keeps my knees warm of an evening if nothing else!  The wool I buy from a local market stall for just a pound a ball, so it also makes for a mega-thrifty project; the wool for this one will probably cost me no more than a fiver. And I'm loving the colours of this one too - I think I might need to make another for myself...!

I'm making it as a surprise for the Girl for her new attic bedroom;
hope she likes it.  If not, I'm keeping it for myself!

The duvet cover is new and is from Asda.
It was only £12 for a double and it looks fantastic in the Girl's new room

And I've made a couple of really big paper stars for our bedroom, following a tutorial I introduced you to back in 2016 (here you go).  I've been looking for something to go above our bed and a picture wasn't cutting it, so I thought a paper star might.  Initially I made this green patterned one from an old gallery poster I had lying around, which turned out really well but didn't look right hanging above the bed as it was a little too small for the space.

I made this green star initially, from a poster I'd had lying around for ages.
Sadly it didn't look right above the bed...

...but I was keen to keep it, so I found a new home for it near my dressing table

I've kept it in our bedroom but moved it to a little nook close to my dressing table.

Then, when I was in Asda last week I found some beautiful, plain, deep blue wrapping paper for £1 a roll.  It was a little flimsy and not the easiest to work with, but the resulting star is brilliant and looks just perfect on the wall.  I only used about a third of the wrapping paper, so I reckon the cost of this project comes in at no more than 33p - how about that?! Impressive even by my standards!

My new, blue, 33p star in situe above our bed.  Just perfect.

SO pretty....

And I've found a couple of real bargains in the local charity shops this last week - I bought this gorgeous chair for £5, which fits perfectly under the table I plan to use for my sewing machine in my new craft room (did I mention I have a new craft room?!).

I'm not well up on my furniture, but this is certainly rocking a mid-century feel.
Just needs a comfy cushion and it will be just right for my sewing table

I also found a brand new, still in wrapper, set of Mog jigsaws for £1.

Mog! Nuff said.

Judith Kerr is amazing. I loved her books as a child,
I love them now, and my kids love them too.

I absolutely love Judith Kerr and, while the jigsaws are far too young for even the smallest member of our family, I will be keeping them because them make me happy.  Anyone else a Judith Kerr fan?

And our eldest has developed a passion for all things Harry Potter.  She has the books but only had two of the films.  I had a rummage in our local charity shops on Saturday to see if I could find another to add to her collection, but I did way better than that - I found four which, in total, cost me just £5.17!  All are in great condition, and two are 2-disc special editions.  THAT right there is why I love charity shops.

So, 2018 - so far so good. I'm ready for the rest of you. I have hopes. I have aspirations. But I'm not putting any pressure on myself.  And I'm feeling hopeful and positive that this will be a good year...  I'll keep you all posted. Wish me luck!

Bye for now xx

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