Up until now the twins have shared a bedroom. They’ve been more than happy with this arrangement, but now they’ve started school (in separate classes) and we’ve been encouraging their independence more we decided that the time felt right to give them their own rooms. Ez was thrilled with the idea, but Fonz wasn’t so keen, so I knew we’d have to come up with something special to win him over.
I had gymnastic rings in my bedroom as a child and my brother had a trapeze, and I wanted to come up with something similar. I’ve had a thing for plywood for a while, so I thought a plywood climbing wall would fit the bill perfectly. When I shared my idea with my husband I think he thought I was bonkers at first, but luckily he’s super-practical, and he got on with planning the specifics.
Fonz helped us to plan out the arrangement of climbing holds. We fixed the first couple of holds on (screwed onto 18mm plywood board), and then we got him to stand on these and stretch to work out the best placement of the other holds. Once all the holds were securely screwed on (the larger holds are supplied with bolts to fix them on), the boards themselves were bolted to the wall with anchor bolts. We needed to add washers to space the board from the wall, because the climbing hold bolts protruded from the back. As the kids grow, we can take the boards down and rearrange the holds so that it will still be challenging for them.
I opted for an outdoors-theme for the bedroom as a whole (I’ll share more pics soon, as well as a tour of Ez’s new space), so to finish off the climbing wall I marked out a simple mountain skyline with masking tape and painted it green (Fonz wanted his room to be black, white and green).
As you can see, we have one very happy customer. He loves his climbing wall, and can’t wait to show it off as soon as guests arrive. We can declare the move to separate rooms a resounding success, much to our relief.
The mountains are painted in matt emulsion in Grenouille from Valspar (available exclusively from B&Q). The climbing holds are from Holdz.
Disclosure: I was given a voucher to purchase the paint from Valspar for this post
“The JustSoFestival Tourist Board are delighted to be welcoming you on our 2015 expedition. Expect to tour the most curious of lands and encounter creatures and characters beyond your wildest dreams.”
I’m absolutely delighted to announce that this summer we’ll be journeying to the Just So Festival for the third time for another wonderful weekend full of creativity, imagination and magic. The festival provides a magical experience where art, music and literature come together in a stunning location, with fantastic musical, theatrical, and visual performances, workshops and installations to explore and it has won itself a permanent place in our summer calendar. The twins are already talking about it – we can’t imagine our summer without Just So.
The theme this year is travel and the full programme has just been announced so head over to the website for details. Our first port of call will be Grand Central where we’ll visit the Bureau de Change, Lost Luggage office, Passport Office and the Waiting Room.
I have no doubt that the Fairy Ball on the Friday night will be one of our highlights of the festival. Held deep in the Spellbound Forest we’ll be there to join the Fairy Queen’s court and dance and celebrate the Fairy Queen’s return to the festival. I’m already feeling teary just thinking about it!
I’ll be sharing more news about the festival over the coming months, but if you want to be sure to experience it for yourself, grab your tickets now. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Click here to read all about our previous trips to Just So.
: 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”
An image of calm in amongst the chaos that reigns in our house right now. January has brought a lot of change – it started with creating two new bedrooms for the twins (which still need their finishing touches before I will share them here). Ez has moved into my old office upstairs, so all my things were packed into boxes before we could clear the room that was being used as a playroom downstairs to create a new workspace for me. Believe me when I say, there are boxes and piles of stuff absolutely everywhere.
I think I get this urge to move everything around every January. I become a decluttering fanatic, clearing surfaces, packing things away to allow more clear space. My brain is constantly whirring away, looking for the next area to tackle, mentally moving furniture around in my head to see if there’s a better arrangement. The list of jobs gets bigger and bigger, until eventually I have to admit defeat and sit down and do some actual work.
I’m definitely seduced by the promise of a fresh start that January offers. I love a blank page..
I’m so excited to be the first to kick off The Everyday Spruce – a new project with Sarah-Lou, which will see us pass the blog baton between us each week to share ideas and tips aimed to help you simplify, clarify and beautify your home.
It’s more than likely you’ve taken down your Christmas tree now, but if you’re anything like me then it’s probably still sat in the garden waiting to be taken to your local recycling point or the tip. Well then, you’re in luck. Before you get rid of it, have a look at my five easy ways to upcycle your tree into home accessories, practical items or gifts for friends and family. And if you have already binned the tree, you’ll see that a lot of these ideas could be done with any kind of tree branches, or alternatively you can pin this post for next year!
1. DIY pine-scented fire sachets I love the smell of the Christmas tree, and always feel a bit sad when it’s gone for another year. But if you have a fire or woodburner (or you’re a camper who loves a campfire), then these fire sachets are for you. Simply mix the ingredients (I used a handful of dried pine needles from the tree, around six leaves of dried eucalyptus broken up, a very small pinch of dried lavender and a dried orange slice) in a paper bag, tie with string or embroidery thread and throw onto the fire to release the scent. Unfortunately we don’t have a fire or burner (yet), but I think these make lovely new year gifts, so I added a gift tag to mine, and as I know Sarah-Lou has a wood burner I’ve sent her one to try out.
2. Christmas tree trunk planter I sawed off a small section of trunk from the bottom of the Christmas tree, and used a 32mm spade bit on the drill to make a hole about 1.5in deep (do this bit by bit or your drill may start smoking!). I’ve planted a mini succulent in mine, and after toying with the idea of painting part of the trunk I decided to leave it natural instead.
3. DIY pine needle fire lighters Pop a tealight into a cupcake case (remove the metal case from the tealight first), and put into the oven on a low temp until the wax has melted and looks like water. Remove from the oven and fish out the wick. Drop in a couple of pinches of pine needles left over from your tree, and finish with a small pine sprig that will stick out of the wax to act as a wick. Leave until the wax has set and then remove from the paper case.
4. Christmas tree branch coat hook Use secateurs to cut a section off one of the lower branches of our Christmas tree. Cut the smaller branches (twigs? branchlets?), leaving around 1-2in to act as hooks. Pull off any pine needles, and then use a drill to screw through the branch onto a door or wall. This is now on my son’s bedroom door, as his new bedroom has an outdoors theme (I’ll be sharing pics soon).
5. Christmas tree twig keyring Use secateurs to cut off a couple of 1in lengths of Christmas tree twig and strip off any pine needles. Using a 2mm drill bit, drill through the middle of the twig. Double over a length of waxed cord or leather thong and secure to the keyring using a lark’s head knot. Tie a knot about 1in from the ring, then thread on two wooden beads (I painted one of mine copper and one aqua) and your twig bead and knot in place. Finish by trimming the loose ends.
We let our walks slip towards the end of last time. I think it was probably inevitable – first-term exhaustion, miserable weather, the dark evenings. But we’re starting the new term armed with good intentions and it was great to get back into the routine of walking the school run rather than driving it.
I looked at mud, and lots of it. A long stretch of our walk was pretty much underwater. So it was a good job we were all in wellies – and watching Fonz hitch his trousers up past his knees to tramp through the bog was pretty funny. I listened to the birds singing. Hurrah for being outside! I may have to admit to checking out a couple of Serial spin-off podcasts, too. I just can’t quite get over the first series being over. I pondered how much more relaxed I feel when I don’t have any pending work deadlines. I’m determined to appreciate it while it lasts.
A very happy new year to you! I love the blank page that a new year offers, and although I’ll always be a fan of the twinkle and frippery when the house is all decked out for Christmas, I’m just as seduced by the renewed feeling of space and light when the decorations are taken down and our home returns to its normal state. And I can’t help but muse about how wonderful and welcome it would be to be able to instil that same sense of space and light to everyday life, too, as well as to my surroundings.
That yearning to simplify and streamline my home and life is something that I discovered I have in common with Sarah-Lou, whose blog, lapinblu, I had long-admired before I finally got to meet her in person last spring. We’ve spent lots of time since we met chatting through ideas, sharing sources of inspiration and generally trying to encourage each other personally and creatively. It was this shared drive to find little ways to improve the various aspects of our lives – from working more efficiently, to nurturing relationships, to being happier at home by making it more organised or just a little bit more beautiful – that the concept for a collaborative project we’ve named The Everyday Spruce was formed..
‘To spruce’ in its most basic definition means to make neat… by association, it can also be used to describe the acts of fixing up, organising and beautifying.
Through our project – The Everyday Spruce – we’re using the term to describe a more general idea of shaking things out and hitting refresh. We’ll be sharing easy and useful tips, projects and ideas that we hope will inspire and encourage you to revitalise things a little, both around your home and in your daily routines. This isn’t about making things perfect (who needs THAT pressure?!), but about focusing on simple things that can help to make the everyday just a little bit easier, and, perhaps, more beautiful for you, too.
We’ll be taking it in turns to post ideas around a broad theme each month, and we’d love for you to join us and share your own everyday spruce ideas, tips or journeys by using the hashtag #theeverydayspruce.
2014’s word, EXPLORE, couldn’t have been better for describing last year. We were lucky enough to visit some amazing places – New Zealand, France, Switzerland, Italy – and experiencing them as a family created a wealth of precious memories for us all. As well as other countries, we found new things to explore much closer to home, too. New walks, new activities, new friends, new routines.
I’m sticking to a similar theme for 2015 with the word DISCOVER. I want this year to be about discovery – finding our groove, working out what makes us happy, looking for ways to maximise that happiness. We may not travel so widely this year, but there’s still plenty out there waiting to be discovered, and I know the search will be full of fun.
And if I can get to know myself that bit better along the way, then that’s a pretty good bonus I reckon.
I’ve been searching for the perfect stockings ever since the twins were born, but I’ve never managed to come up trumps (probably because my searching usually consists of a mad panicked dash round the shops when they’re packed in the week before Christmas). But when I got sent the Jennie Maizels iron on alphabet patches for my cushion craft a few weeks ago, I immediately thought how BRILLIANT they would for personalising stockings, and I decided there and then that this would be the year the twins would finally have stockings that I hope they’ll keep forever (the stocking I had as a child features heavily in all my memories of Christmasses past).
I used natural felt to make the stockings, and here’s how I did it…
1. Double up the felt and draw an outline of your stocking (I drew around an existing stocking), adding a seam allowance of 1.5cm around the edge and 10cm at the top for the cuff. Cut out with fabric scissors (cut both layers so that you make two shapes at once).
2. Pin the two sides together and then sew around the edge (start and finish your sewing 10cm from the top or you’ll have trouble when you try to turn down the cuff later).
3. Turn right way out and go round the edge with blanket stitch (here’s that tutorial I love) using embroidery thread in a contrasting colour. Again start and finish 10cm from the top.
4. Fold over the cuff, and hand sew the front and back edges on the toe edge. Sew some pompom trim (mine’s from Buttonbag) along the bottom edge of the cuff. Sew on a loop of ribbon at the top of the stocking (on the heel edge) for hanging.
5. Arrange the alphabet patches on the front of the stocking and follow the instructions to iron them in place. I couldn’t get mine to adhere properly with the iron this time (maybe because of the felt?), so I actually went round and stitched the letters in place. I want these stockings to last many years, so that felt like the safest option to me.
Disclosure: I was sent the Jennie Maizels alphabet patches free of charge for use in this post
When Hobbycraft sent me a selection of their paint your own wood Christmas decorations, they were immediately hijacked by the twins, who were adamant that the decorating duties should be all theirs. Given their level of enthusiasm, we made ‘Christmas decoration making’ one of their advent activities this week, and they had an absolute ball. With a load of craft materials at their disposal, including felt tips, PVA glue, glitter, googly eyes, tissue paper and fabric and ribbon offcuts we left them to it, and they were so chuffed with their finished decorations.
And that lovely tree they’re hanging on? That’s from Hobbycraft too and I couldn’t believe it when I checked the price and discovered it’s only £20. Admittedly up close it’s a plasticky version of the paper trig trees that I adore, but I think it’s fantastic value and it currently has pride of place on our kitchen island (complete with the homemade decs).
Disclaimer: I was sent the above items from Hobbycraft free of charge for this post