Monday, 19 March 2018

My Flat in Progress: February 2017

If you've been reading my blog for a while you might remember that I moved to the seaside about a year ago and bought a flat. It was a big change, and an exciting one!

I'm living walking distance from the beach, which is amazing - I've been on so many walks since moving here and have started actively pining for the sea if I'm away from it for too long. My flat is a bit of a fixer-upper, though, and we (myself, with lots of help from my parents) have lots of projects to do to get it looking at its best.

We had a busy few weeks after I first moved in, cleaning everything, buying loads of important stuff like lightbulbs and a fridge and a new loo seat, and making a start on the decorating and DIY. Click here to see what we got up to!

February continued to be pretty DIY-focused and slightly chaotic. I was living out of boxes, with everything piled up in a corner of my bedroom next to two single beds (one for me, one for whichever of my parents was visiting that week), while we worked on the living room and spare bedroom.

Every time my parents came to visit, they brought me a few more boxes of my stuff (which was mostly still in storage at their house) or a bit of furniture. Moving in gradually like this meant I didn't have to spend money on a moving van, but also meant we had plenty of space to work on the messy DIY without worrying about where to put everything.


Juggling my creative business and my home renovation project was tricky at times and led to some interesting photo set-ups! (If you're curious, you can see the photos I was taking here and here).


This is one of the ways I was really lucky to have my parents helping me out - I'd put in some hours working towards a deadline, then join them in whatever bit of DIY we were working on that day. Together we moved everything forwards much, much quicker than I would have done on my own even if I had the skills to work solo on this stuff (which I do not). 

February was all about the walls.

The walls in the spare room were like the surface of the moon, lumps and craters everywhere, which took a lot of hours of filling and sanding to get looking smooth (god bless my dad and all the dust-covered hours he put in with the sander).

The spare room went from looking like this (on the left is how it looked when I moved in, on the right how it looked mid-filling)...

... to this. New light shade, freshly painted white walls, and new new wall vent (the new vent we'd fitted in January turning out not to be sturdy enough for the strong winds we get here on the coast!). Still lots to get done, but "finished" enough to serve as an actual bedroom for my first official houseguest!


We also filled and sanded bits of the living room walls, and my dad did a bit of replastering.

Was it fun discovering patches of the wall that needed replastering? It was not. Did it give me anxiety looking at this corner of my living room when it looked like that? It absolutely did.

It was a great relief getting everything patched up neatly!!


After I'd photographed those rather fabulous paint layers, of course.

As well as sanding, filling, replastering and painting assorted walls, we started prepping the window frames in the lounge (more filling and sanding)...

 ... and (after much online browsing and umming and ahhhing about prices and features) I bought some new appliances: a vacuum cleaner (I'd been borrowing my parents' hoover before then), and a washing machine. I was so excited about the washing machine I took a photo of the ceremonial first wash, haha.


As you can see, we patched up the underside of the kitchen counter a bit before installing the washing machine. The cabinets in my kitchen are not in great condition and are so musty that I'm not actually using them. I have a couple of shelving units standing in a corner instead, and the rest of my kitchen stuff packed up in crates.

It's not ideal, but - just like camping dormitory style surrounded by boxes, and doing photoshoots on a dustsheet amidst DIY chaos - it's only temporary and will be totally worth it in the long run!

More flat updates coming soon...

Friday, 16 March 2018

Special Offer: Crafty Bargains!

Psst - bargain alert! Everything left in my destash & decluttering sale is now half the listed price until the end of March 2018.

The offer excludes postage costs, but (as always) you'll only pay exactly what it costs me to send your package.

There's handmade goodness...

... craft books...

... craft supplies...

... and a few other lovely bits and bobs I no longer have room for:

Click here to see everything available!

P.S. If you don't have an Instagram account, you can message me via my contact form and I'll get back to you asap. 

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Kew Gardens in March: Signs of Spring

During my year's membership of Kew Gardens I sometimes struggled to find the time to take proper days off and go visit the gardens, but when I did it was so worth it.

In January I explored the rock garden and the Princess of Wales Conservatory, then took a walk round the gardens enjoying the bare trees and occasional bits of winter colour. I was busy with deadlines in February, so by the time March rolled round I couldn't wait to go back!

After the rather grey weather in January it was wonderful to have a day of blue skies and sunshine. The first signs of spring were showing themselves - daffodils by the Temple of Aeolus (the ruler of the winds)...

... and carpets of crocuses, gleaming in the spring light. 

What a difference a bit of blue sky makes! The gardens were still looking rather bare, but the buildings gleamed and the branches of the trees looked quite gorgeous against a backdrop of blue.


I revisited some of the areas of the gardens that I'd been to before, like the lake (there's something so calming about a stroll round a lake, isn't there?)...

... and explored some new ones, including the Great Pagoda, the Japanese Landscape and the Marianne North Gallery (so fabulous!).

After my walk (and a cuppa and a piece of cake - v. important) I headed indoors to enjoy the Orchids Festival... which I'll be blogging about next week. Spoiler: there were a LOT of orchids!

Want more Kew pics? Click here to see all the posts in the series so far.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Subscriber Exclusive: Make a Felt Bird Mask

This month's exclusive pattern for my newsletter subscribers is... a felt bird mask!

I used to sell these bird masks in my shop, they're really fun to make and even more fun to wear.

This year I'm sending out an email newsletter about once a week, with an update of what I've been making and doing lately, plus links to my latest blog posts and tutorials and lots of creative and colourful things to inspire you.

It's free to sign up, and each month this year you'll get exclusive access to a free crafty pattern.

I had to take some time off in February due to illness and took a little break from sending my weekly newsletter, but I don't want people to have missed out on February's mallard duck pattern. So if you sign up this month (March 2018) you'll get access to February's duck AND March's bird mask... then if you stay subscribed, you'll get a new free pattern each month as the year progresses.

Sounds good? Click here to subscribe to my newsletter!

Friday, 9 March 2018

DIY Felt Butterfly Hairclips Tutorial

My latest tutorial for The Village Haberdashery's blog is all about felt butterflies!

Use the free patterns and step-by-step tutorial to make some pretty felt butterfly hairclips:

Felt Butterfly Hairclips
Felt butterfly hair clips
This tutorial is part of a spin-off series, showing ways you can reuse some of the patterns from my A Year of Wreaths project. I originally designed the felt butterflies for June's butterfly wreath.

 Yarn-wrapped wreath decorated with felt butterflies

Click here for the butterfly hairclips tutorial!

You'll find the butterfly wreath tutorial here and you can explore all the wreaths in the series here.

12 seasonal wreath tutorials

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

March Meet The Maker 2018

This month I'm taking part in Joanne Hawker's annual Instagram challenge for creatives: #MarchMeetTheMaker.

The basic idea of this challenge is that there's a short prompt for each day of the month, and you use that as a springboard to showcase your "business story" - letting people discover a bit more about you, your creative process, how you run your business, etc. You can read more about the challenge here.

Exploring everyone's posts is a great way to discover new-to-you artists, makers and other small businesses, and to learn more about your crafty pals and creative faves. I'm really loving the community feel created by lots of people chatting about the same topics each day!

Here are the first few pics I've shared for the challenge (following the links will take you directly to them, and my captions)... 

You can see all the pics I post through the month over on my Instagram account, lauralupinhoward. I hope you'll enjoy following along!