April 26th, 2016

Creative selfies: my olive branch tattoo

Olive branch tattoo by Rebecca Vincent | Growing Spaces

I’d just finished telling the twins how amazing I thought I was (I make a point of saying regularly that I think I’m beautiful, that I love my smile, that I’m awesome etc etc so I don’t pass any of my hangups about how I look onto the kids). Anyway, that day when I said it, it struck me that I should actually try to make myself really believe it a bit more, rather than just saying it. I think it came off the back of Sara’s post about creative selfies, and Sarah-Lou’s new #FridayFacelessPortrait project, which had got me to reflect about how little I appear in my own photographs. I’m always busy behind the lens, capturing holidays or just the everyday moments, but I’m largely absent from that visual history of our family life. It’s funny, I can’t stand having my photograph taken – I feel anxious and awkward and pretty much always hate the pictures – but I have no problem being filmed. I have no idea why one feels so out of my comfort zone, while Im totally at ease with the other.

I decided to challenge myself to take a self-portrait and publish it here on the blog. I’ve been desperate to show off the tattoo I got last year, but taking photographs of the tattoo meant taking photographs of myself (or, even worse, getting someone else to take a photo of me), so I put it off endlessly, until I pretty much forgot that I never shared it. To finally make it happen, I planned a little photo shoot for myself, and ridiculously that made me feel nervous. Nervous of me, on my own, taking photos of myself. Utterly absurd! I put on makeup. I did my hair. I even painted my nails for goodness sake, and I can’t even remember the last time I did that.

Anyway, I’m already feeling uncomfortable about focusing on the self-portrait aspect of this post, so let’s zone in on the tattoo instead. I’d been planning this tattoo for years, but it didn’t become a reality until I stumbled across tattoo artist Rebecca Vincent on Instagram. I fell head over heels in love with her work, and knew immediately that she was the perfect person to tattoo me. I think I emailed her to book an appointment within a few days of discovering her, and then had to impatiently wait another four months before my appointment came around (she is one in-demand lady).

I took a few visual ideas with me to my appointment and Rebecca got it straight away – she didn’t sketch anything out, just drew the design freehand onto my arm. It’s a young olive branch – I like the symbolism of the olive branch, as well as the idea of growth. And it reminds me of Greece, and specifically of a place called Olive Tree Cottages, which is where I met Ben nearly 18 years ago. Rebecca is fun and easy-going, and I enjoyed every minute of being tattooed by her. She’s based at Parliament Tattoo in Finsbury Park, London, which is an airy warehouse space that made me feel calm and relaxed.

To say that I adore my finished tattoo is an understatement. It gives me joy every single time I catch a glimpse of it. As soon as I finish this blog post, I’m going to email Rebecca and book another appointement – either to expand this existing tattoo, or for something new (I have an idea in mind). And I promise that next time, it won’t take me nearly a year to model it here with pride.

Olive branch tattoo by Rebecca Vincent | Growing Spaces

Olive branch tattoo by Rebecca Vincent | Growing Spaces

Olive branch tattoo by Rebecca Vincent | Growing Spaces

April 24th, 2016

Sitting and knitting – finding time to rest

Sitting and knitting | Growing Spaces

This weekend I plan to be indulging in my latest obsession: knitting. I’ve just finished a manically busy few weeks of work. The adrenaline that’s been getting me through each day has suddently stopped flowing, and intense exhaustion – mental and physical – has hit. I’m not great at sitting still and taking things easy, but my body really isn’t giving me much of a choice. Which is where knitting comes in.

I can crochet (ish), but I haven’t given knitting a proper go since I was about ten years old. Then, last month, my mother-in-law gave a birthday gift of a set of knitting needles, a pattern for a gorgeous scarf (this one from DROPS Design), and the yarn I needed to make it, and I’ve been hooked ever since. I’m found it such a great activity for really forcing me to sit and relax. It’s also been beneficial when it comes to shaking up my evening routine – now I can often be found listening to podcasts while I’m knitting, instead of zoning out in front of the telly. There’s something really soothing about the repetitive action,  and I’m actually enjoying the process so much that when I ended up having to unpick everything I’d done just after I took these photographs (I’d misread the pattern from the start), I wasn’t nearly as distraught as I thought I’d be. In fact, the scarf is looking even better second time around!

Siting and knitting | Growing Spaces

wips and blooms | Growing Spaces

Sit and knit | Growing Spaces

I’m going to add this post to this month’s Create Make Share linky. If you’ve been busy creating something – from a craft project to a room makeover – why not head over and share your link, too?

April 21st, 2016

How to create a wall of plants

Wall of hanging plants | Growing Spaces

We recently decorated our hallway, stairway and landing – finally ridding the house of its last areas of beige and magnolia, and painting everything a fresh, bright white. Obviously this meant taking everything down off the walls, and I’ve taken my time deciding what to fill that great, white expanse of wall on the stairway. I wanted to try to introduce some plants there if I could, but I couldn’t work out quite how to go about doing it. Then I went along to B&Q’s recent press show, and saw some clever wall hooks made using plywood – we were even given a tutorial sheet to take home. We all know what a fan I am of using plywood in interiors, and an idea started to take shape.

Wall of hanging planters | Growing Spaces

B&Q had also sent me a handy tutorial for a hanging planter when I worked on my Spring Summer styling post, but I hadn’t had the chance to try making one. I decided that I’d use both ideas at once, and make a set of hanging planters to hang from plywood hooks arranged across the stairway wall. While Ben was tasked with constructing the hooks, I started on the macramé hangers. I made one using cotton cord but quickly realised I wouldn’t have nearly enough cord, so I switched to garden twine, and I actually really love the rustic element that the twine adds to the display.

Wall of hanging plants | Growing Spaces

 

Wall of hanging plants | Growing Spaces

Ben knocked up the hooks for me using 18mm plywood, wooden dowel rod (20mm) and dowel screws. The tutorial from B&Q had the plywood shape screwed onto the dowel, but we cheated and used wood glue (to avoid having to fill screw holes on the front). I went for an odd number of hooks and planters (a stylist’s trick to pull an arrangement together) – five seemed the perfect number to fill the space without the display feeling too crowded and busy. I chose some trailing plants – ivy and tradescantia – as well as a couple of spider plants, and the pots and plants all came from my local B&Q store.

Wall of hanging plants | Growing Spaces

Instructions for the hanging planter (adapted from the B&Q tutorial):

  1. Measure 8 lengths of string (mine measured 1m long), and tie them all together in a knot at one end.
  2. Separate them into pairs, and knot each pair together, around 7cm from the big knot at the end.
  3. Once all four pairs have been knotted together, knot one string from one pair with a string from the adjacent pair (I left about 8cm from the last knot), to create a zigzag effect. I repeated this twice, creating what looks almost like a fishing net.
  4. Sit the plant pot onto the big knot at the bottom, bring up all the lengths of string around the pot and tie in a knot at the very top, which can loop over the hook.

Wall of hanging plants | Growing Spaces

Macrame plant hanger from twine | Growing Spaces

Wall of hanging planters | Growing Spaces

 

Instructions for the hooks (adapted from the B&Q tutorial):

  1. Mark out your shape onto the plywood (we made circles, triangles and squares, but you could try any shape), clamp it and cut out with a saw.
  2. Work out how deep you want your hook, mark the dowel and saw the required length.
  3. Drill a pilot hole in the centre of the dowel and fasten the dowel screw.
  4. Apply wood glue to the other end of the dowel and fix to the centre of the plywood shape.

Wall of hanging planters | Growing Spaces

There’s a video tutorial of this project up on my YouTube channel, Heather’s Space, click here to watch, or even better, subscribe to my channel and then you can be sure you won’t miss any of my videos!

I’m going to link this post up to this month’s Create Make Share linky, as I think it’s a perfect fit for the theme of ‘Bloom’. Have you got a creative project or makeover that you’d like to share? Please do head on over, and add your link too.

Disclosure: B&Q supplied the products used in this post free of charge

April 16th, 2016

What have I been up to lately?

Latest work | Growing Spaces

After a slow start to 2016, work picked up very quickly (phew), and has kept me busy ever since. As a couple of the things I’ve been working on had to be kept under wraps I couldn’t really talk about them before, but now they’ve both been published I thought I’d share with you what I’ve been up to! It’s been really exciting to work on the launch issue of The Craft Network’s Home magazine – a magazine packed full of crafting projects for your home that features a few of my favourite bloggers, including Allison Sadler, Teri Muncey and Fran Stone. As well as pulling together many of the projects that feature in the magazine, I’ve also taken a lot of the photographs myself – a totally new thing for me, as I’m more used to working with professional photographers. Luckily my first big job was shooting Allison’s home – not only is it totally picture-perfect so was a joy to photograph, but Allison is also one of the warmest and most welcoming people I know.

Latest work | Growing Spaces

 

Latest work | Growing Spaces

Another new magazine launch is Modern Gardens – a read for people who want their outside space to look great, without hours of gardening. Each month I’ll be sharing a DIY or upcycle project for the garden (such as the concrete-block planter in the April issue). And given that sorting out our garden is going to be our main focus this summer I’ll be reading the mag each month to pick up as many ideas as I can.

Latest work | Growing Spaces

As well as print projects, I’ve also been busy doing some bits online, such as a monthly blog post for Utopia bathroom’s blog (packed full of home ideas that aren’t just for the bathroom), and guest editing Magnet’s Spring issue of their online magazine, Ignite. Ignite is full of kitchen know-how, from practical tips to style insights if you’re planning a kitchen update, plus how you can enjoy spending time in your kitchen, from hanging out with the kids to putting together a delicious spring salad. There’s even gardening advice so you can grow the ingredients for your salad.

So that’s what I’ve been up to recently. And next week? I’ll be up to my eyes in glitter on my epic Christmas shoot. In April. Well at least my job is never dull!

April 14th, 2016

How to give a boring doormat a fun new look

DIY painted doormat | Growing Spaces

We have only recently been able to have doormats in our house (I could go into detail about the dirty protests our old cat used to make whenever we put a mat down, but to be honest you really don’t want to know too much). It sounds so silly, but it’s really amazing the difference it makes, and not only from a practical point of view. Somehow just the addition of a doormat at the front and back doors makes the house feel more pulled together and considered. It goes to show how big an impact the little details can make around your home.

Because we weren’t sure how our other cat would deal with the additional of a mat, we went for the cheapest we could find, pretty sure that they would be heading for the dustbin in a matter of days. But we’re a couple of months in now and there have been no incidents, so I decided that I was safe to give our basic, boring doormats a quick update to add a bit of personality and fun.

I was so impressed at how easy this DIY actually is. The hardest part for me was making my stencil (a simpler design would be way more straightforward), but I’ve been wanting to print something with an eye design ever since I saw Lori’s printed cushion covers at the end of last year, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Here’s how you can give your own plain doormat a quick and easy update…

DIY painted doormat | Growing Spaces

You will need:
A coir doormat
Card
Pencil
Stanley knife or craft knife
Masking tape
Flat paintbrush
Black acrylic paint

DIY painted doormat | Growing Spaces

Directions:

  1. Draw your shape onto the card to make a stencil.
  2. Using a craft knife, cut out the areas that you want to be painted in the final design.
  3. Position the stencil onto the doormat, and hold in place with masking tape.
  4. Using a stippling action, apply the black acrylic paint to the doormat, making sure to push it right down into the bristles so that the whole area looks black.
  5. DIY painted doormat | Growing SpacesCarefully remove the stencil, and fill in any missing areas left by the stencil with black paint.
  6. Turn the stencil 180 degrees so the eyelashes face downwards and position next to the eye you’ve just painted (make sure the corners of the eyes line up).
  7. Apply the paint as in step 4, but only fill in the bottom line of the eye and the lashes, to create the effect of a winking eye.
  8. Once again, remove the stencil and fill any gaps with paint, then leave to dry thoroughly.

DIY painted doormat | Growing Spaces

DIY painted doormat | Growing Spaces

DIY painted doormat tutorial | Growing Spaces

April 12th, 2016

Styling the Seasons: April

Styling the Seasons: April | Growing Spaces

Did you know it’s UK Coffee Week? “A united platform where coffee operators, trade professionals and consumers can join together in celebration of the coffee industry and raise funds to give back to the communities which grow our coffee” – click here for a map to find out which of your local coffee shops are taking part.

And so to celebrate in my own way, I thought I’d style up my kitchen table in a little homage to coffee for this month’s Styling the Seasons.

Styling the Seasons: April | Growing Spaces

Styling the Seasons: April | Growing Spaces

You’re probably aware that I have a bit of a thing for coffee. Not any coffee, mind you. I’m pretty fussy. None of your instant nonsense for me thanks, it’s got to be real all the way. Reasonably strong but not too strong if I want to avoid the coffee jitters, black, with a generous spoonful of brown sugar, Yes, I am even finickity about the sugar. This love for my cup of joe has developed with age. In fact I actually went through a long period at university where I didn’t drink caffeine at all – peppermint tea is my preferred alternative, and is still what I start my day with every single morning. But coffee has gradually become a big part of my everyday.

Once I’ve dropped the kids at school, the first thing I do when I get home is put on a pot of coffee. I love the sense of routine, the smell as it brews, stirring in the sugar, watching the steaming coffee swirl around in the mug. Sometimes I carry it to my desk, but more often I take a moment to sit down and just savour it. If Ben’s at home, we sit at the kitchen table together and chat. If he’s not, I’ll settle into an armchair. I’m not there long, but I do relish that time of stillness before my work day begins.

Styling the Seasons: April | Growing Spaces

Styling the Seasons: April | Growing Spaces

Styling the Seasons: April | Growing Spaces

Styling the Seasons: April | Growing Spaces

Styling the Seasons: April | Growing Spaces

: Styling the Seasons, by Apartment Apothecary and Lotts and Lots :
“Reflect the change of seasons and show those changes in your own home, by styling any surface (shelf, dining table, mantelpiece) with something you like to reflect the new month and what it means to you”

April 7th, 2016

No mess, no stress kids’ craft party kits

Crafts with Cotton Twist | Growing Spaces

Sometimes you need an activity for the kids that’ll fill half an hour while you can just get on with something else, which is when the selection of party craft kits that the lovely Alexis from Cotton & Twist (Alexis is also a friend and blogger over at Something I Made), had given me to try out came in handy the other morning. Cotton Twist is Alexis’s new business that she’s set up with her friend Anne-Clare. Alexis is uber-crafty and creative, and she’s put her impressive imaginative skills into making these fab little craft kits for kids that you can buy as gift boxes for rainy days, or as units or packs for craft parties or filling party bags.

Crafts with Cotton Twist | Growing Spaces

Crafts with Cotton Twist | Growing Spaces

Ez chose to make the wild west headdress and a carnival mask, and Fonz chose the secret spy camera and superhero mask. Each kit containts instructions (they were easy enough for Ez to read herself, I had to give Fonz a little help), all the elements already cut-out for you, and sticky dots, jewel embellishments, elastic etc. The only extra bits we needed were felt tip pens and we did use a glue stick as well as the sticky dots.

The little kits cost £2.45 each – my two were totally engaged in their mini projects, and I reckon it kept them occupied for well over half an hour. I’m generally not known as someone who makes life easy for myself (!) and have been up the wee hours in the past putting together crafts for the kids’ birthday parties, so the idea of buying a kit that saves me time, but still has that ‘handmade’ aspect that I so love is incredibly appealing.

If I had one complaint, it would be the inclusion of the glitter glue pen, but this is a personal thing because I HATE THEM. Why do they take so darn long to dry? They drive me nuts, which is why I recently purged every last one from the kids’ craft box.

Crafts with Cotton Twist | Growing Spaces

Crafts with Cotton Twist | Growing Spaces

Crafts with Cotton Twist | Growing Spaces

Crafts with Cotton Twist | Growing Spaces

Crafts with Cotton Twist | Growing Spaces

If you’re after more craft activities for kids, you should definitely check out my ‘for doing with the kids’ Pinterest board..

Follow Heather Young’s board for doing with the kids on Pinterest.

I’m also adding this post to this month’s CreateMakeShare linky – I love anything that’ll help encourage kids’ creativity to bloom! Do head over to the linky to add the URL of any of your bloom-related creative blog posts or IG pics this month, whether it’s a makeover using a soft bloom shade of paint, some flower-related loveliness, or a great craft project.

 

Disclosure: These kits were sent to me by Cotton & Twist to try out for the purposes of this post

April 5th, 2016

Hallway storage idea: DIY kids kit bags

DIY kit bags for hallway storage | Growing Spaces

A very old post of mine about our hallway storage solutions is still one of my most popular (go figure!). Of course our hallway doesn’t actually looks like that anymore (it was four years ago after all), but the coat hooks and old pew are still key elements in the space. One thing that was causing constant mess and irritation was all the hats, gloves, scarves that ended up strewn across the bench. Apparently a family of four can have rather a large collection of accessories, and when they’re all mixed up together it’s all but impossible to find what you’re looking for – not ideal during that crazy morning rush when we need to get out of the door in a hurry.

I bought a bulk lot of plain cotton tote bags at the end of last year (10 for about £7), and decided to use these to knock up a quick solution using things I already had in my craft cupboard. Each family member now has a bag with their initial on it, which is used to store all those accessories so that we no longer have to rifle through one big, overflowing basket to find what we need.

DIY kit bags for hallway storage | Growing Spaces

You will need:

Natural cotton tote bag
Crafting felt
Pencil and sharp scissors
Spray mount (or fabric glue)
Needle and embroidery thread

DIY kit bags for hallway storage | Growing Spaces
Directions:

  1. Draw your initial onto the craft felt with a pencil (I also used a ruler to keep my lines nice and straight) and cut out with the scissors.
  2. Fix the felt initial to the middle of bag using spray mount (you could also use fabric glue, or go traditional with pins)
  3. Thread the needle with your embroidery thread (I chose a contrasting colour to the felt), and go round the outline of the letter with simple overcast stitches.

 

 

DIY kit bags for hallway storage | Growing Spaces

The twins love anything personalised, so the bags were an instant hit with them, and I don’t get driven to distraction trying to get everyone’s things together when we’re off out somewhere. When we went away recently I didn’t even bother pulling things out of the bags, I just put all of the bags themselves in the boot of the car. I’ve lost count of the number of odd gloves that our car seems to have eaten this winter, so it’s handy having everything kept together there, as well as in our hallway.

Organise your hallway with DIY kit bags | Growing Spaces

April 1st, 2016

Catch up: March Heather’s Space video round-up

Is it April already? How on earth did that happen? March was definitely one of those blink-and-you-miss-it months, although we seem to have achieved a fair amount around the house. Here’s what I’ve been sharing over on my Heather’s Space YouTube channel, in case you missed anything (do subscribe if you want to make sure you get to see the videos as soon as I post them).

As you’re probably more than aware, March has been big on decluttering for us, as I embarked on The 30 Day Minimalism game. Here’s me, right at the start, attempting to film a video while Ben was drilling and hammering away upstairs (as well as decluttering, March was all about snagging in the Young house)..

Still intent on clearing the clutter, I then shared our day spent tackling the mountains of stuff in our garage. I was pretty ashamed to air the before pics in public, but it was worth it when you can compare them with the after shots…

Finally, there’s a video tutorial of my kids’ art table on wheels. Such a super-easy DIY project so well worth a look whether you need an extra surface for the kids’ arts and crafts activities, or you just want one for youself!

March 30th, 2016

Decluttering – treasured keepsakes

Note to self

It’s my birthday today, which gives me full dispensation to be as sentimental as I want (it’s my birthday and I’ll cry if I want to!).

Today is also the last day of this month’s 30 Day Minimalism Game that I’ve been playing along with a clutter-busting gang of friends, including Jeska, Katy, Melanie, and Hannah. While I’m super-proud of how much I’ve got rid of, I came across a bag of things that made me stop and pause. It was a shopping bag that my mum dropped off on a recent visit (my parents’ version of decluttering basically involves giving the stuff they don’t want anymore to us so we have to deal with it instead). I get my hoarding tendencies from my mum and dad, but on this occasion I was so grateful for their inability to get rid of things, because when I went through the bag the other evening, it was full of the most wonderful keepsakes. My old exercise books from primary school, school diaries, artwork from when I was a toddler (carefully labelled with the date), letters and postcards I’d written, and even a pile of the new baby cards my parents were sent when I was born (hence today’s birthday sentimentality).

The piece of writing above, written when I was about seven or eight I think, was about what I liked doing best. I think it still sums me up pretty well today, nearly 30 years later.

New baby cards

Childhood artwork

Writing book

I have been hoarding away so much of the twins’ artwork, notes, school books, certificates, and it’s one thing that I haven’t yet tackled in my decluttering drive. The joy I got looking through my own things from a similar age, and the overwhelming sense of my mum’s love and pride in me, has made me think hard about what I keep and what I get rid of. I need to take my time to go through everything I’ve saved so far, and cherry pick those things that I think offer a priceless insight into each child’s character and interests at that snapshot in time. Because one day, it will be them going through the box of things, and I really hope that they get as much delight, pleasure and comfort from the precious contents as I have.

Decluttering: keepsakes | Growing Spaces

Sentimental items aside, I have absolutely loved the motivation the Minimalism Game has given me, so I’ll be following up very soon with a post celebrating how much we’ve achieved in the last month.

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