Saturday 29 June 2013

24/52 & 25/52 A Portrait a Week

I'm behind again - so it's two weeks wrapped together again... and tomorrow I'll post the next installment marking the half way point in the year.

Week 24/52:

Henry: Concerntrating in the bath
Coco: She has many faces these days.

Week 25/52:

Coco: This was the week she decided she wanted to be called Sophie.
Henry: Being showered with cold water is brilliant according to this boy!

One portrait of each of my children every week in 2013. 
A 52 project started by Jodi of Che & Fidel

Friday 28 June 2013

The Nursery & Photography

After a month or so of emails with Tim last week I ended up hosting the London leg of the Nursery workshop which Tim runs.
Tim is a wedding photographer in Sydney and, until last week, a stranger, but the internet and the blog community is a funny old thing and I really didn't think twice about offering my home to be Tim's classroom for the day, plus I got to do the course which was more of an incentive than I needed.

And so it came about that I met Tim, Kesh and Roo and ten other women wanting to learn.

Click: Some of my fellow students, including Flannery O'Kafka and Nell from First Day of Marriage  

I love my camera and I love taking photos. By real world standards: I take a lot of photos (by blogger standards I take an average amount of photos).
Photos serve a great purpose in my quest to document my life, why I want to do that I'm not sure, but it seems to be my urge and so therefore my lot.

Considering I spent four years at art school I often feel like my photos should be a lot better.
I'm a bit lazy, I don't move my feet enough to get the shot without the clutter in the background, or the more interesting light and I don't line up the lines (Tim is VERY good at lining up his lines) but a day of talking photography has inspired me to buck up and try harder. Tim's enthusiasm for story-telling images and his real passion for capturing families and connections between people is contagious, but also, he made me realise that I've been trusting the auto setting on my camera for way too long.

Kesh - our gracious model

So my two lessons from the nursery are these:
1. My camera is staying in manual mode. I'm making the exposure decisions now.
2. I'm going to observe more - not just click away, but observe and be IN the moment - so that I can anticipate better when the shot that will really tell the story will be there to be taken.

My third lesson is that I may invest in some fancy VSCO filters… or I might even use us all the out-of-date film I found in the recent clear outs. But, probably in the long run buying the filters is going to be cheaper.

So... let me know if you see any improvement.

Monday 24 June 2013

After the Party

We had a big week last week.
On Wednesday 11 people spent the day at my house taking part in Tim Coulson's London Nursery workshop - a one day photography crash course and then on Saturday we had a party for Hugh's 40th birthday.
Today, I'm recovering and gently getting our house back to normal.

Left over unused cutlery, forks were much more popular than knives...

Flowers, balloons and left over matchbox 'cameras'  - made by some of the children.

An almost empty cask of beer and lots of left-over wine...

Flowers - a mix of bought agapanthus and catmint from the garden (which one of the first guests kindly cut and put in water from me as I hadn't got around to doing the flowers when people started arriving).

A corner of my home-made photobooth (which was good - but not quite as good as it could/should have been) and lots of presents and cards, am slowing gathering together gifts that I keep finding stashed around the house...

Props from the aforementioned photobooth.

Lots of lists, on lots of random bits of paper - all can be filed in the bin now.

I fully intend to do justice to both events with some proper posts before the memories fade.
If I forget to mention it later, we had lots of fun.

Friday 14 June 2013

Utility Area - Before & After

We have this room, we call it the playroom.

It's not a playroom at all, definitely not a room for children.
It's a workshop/studio/office/sewing room/potting shed and also a little bit of a utility room.

As it serves so many purposes it's been a bit ignored and has ended up feeling more and more like a dumping ground, the room where we shove things and shut the door so we can pretend our house is tidy really. But since my big sort out on the bank holiday weekend a couple of weeks ago I've been on a mission to get it ship-shape.
This was the main motivation behind my Ikea trip this week and in a shockingly uncharacteristic move I actually completed a crafting goal and made some very simple curtains to hide the washing machine and freezer.


(Check it out - I'm actually doing my dirty washing in public)


I remembered as I was in the process of making these curtains that I had planned for a much more parred down, utilitarian chic (a kind of Labour & Wait / 1950's beach hut style) for this little area - but I'm not sure that look comes very natually to me, I'm just very drawn to colour, so it's more circus tent; which I can live with - and if I can't, then I'll just change the curtains, as when you only pay £13 for the fabric and £1.99 for the hooks and wire, you can do that.

But for the moment I'm very happy, mainly as I've actually done something I set out to do, but also as it does soften the room a bit and it's one step closer to having this room feel like it's really part of the house rather than a place we try to pretend doesn't exist.

Fabric: Ikea
Enamel pots: From my Granny's house
Print: Bold&Noble
Metal Letters: Anthropolgie
Hang it All (not longer hanging it all... location for this needs to be decided on, it has been sitting here for a while, but but a happy co-incident it's a pretty good match for the fabric)
Tiles: Savaged from a fireplace in what is now our kitchen

----------------- side note ------------------

When I first started my blog I thought it would be full of wonderful before/after projects.
Ha, the grand dreams of a naive blogger!
In reality, even if I do get around to doing a DIY-ish project I either forget to take before photos at all, or the 'after' photo isn't quite what I imagined in my head. Most often what happens is I INTEND to do some grand project, I buy the stuff to it, start it and then mid way through I change my mind or decide I didn't really want to do it or I just stop and the project sits half done taunting me until I HATE it and it has become the most annoying thing ever and I never even want to finish it.

The irony is I still I look at all these super-duper websites and blogs and I think 'I could do that' the only problem is that I very rarely do.

So enjoy this post, as you won't be getting another one like it for a while - that is unless I actually finish our bedroom blinds for which I bought the fabric nearly 3 years ago and actually started making two months ago… you never know, I might find a window (excuse the pun) of opportunity this weekend and if the stars are aligned correctly I might even be able to beg Hugh to put them up, but it is very very unlikely.

Wednesday 12 June 2013

The Ikea Promise (I WILL be organised...)

So last night I went to Ikea. I went with a list and I, more or less, stuck to it (in fact the one off list thing I spotted that should have been on the list I then managed to forget).

The fruits of my trip are now awaiting new homes, screws and thread.
Today I'm on a mission.

From left to right we've got...
- Annbeth Fabric (to make a curtain to go across the washing machine (already in progress)!
- New Pluggis bin - with compartments for recycling
- Ribba Frames waiting for things (this deep Ribba frames have been reduced to £3.50! amazing, kind of wish I'd got more, but I stuck to the list, the downside is that the smaller version that they used to make seems to have been discountinued).
- Blankett door handles - we will finally be able to open the doors on our cupboards that were made, um, over a year ago!
- Random wrapping paper purchase - one unplanned purchase isn't too bad? And we always have presents to wrap...
- Ribba picture shelves, I hope these are going to be put up above where the sewing maching is.
- Some Omar metal shelving to be put up for storing tools and paint in the cellar.

This time last year I was feeling envious of my friends AC's organised and tidy house … one year later and I'm getting there!

Tuesday 11 June 2013

The Bonfire

After the bonfire, when we were on our way home with children exhausted from fun I commented to Hugh that I feel like I'm always happy when there is a bonfire.
I'm writing this wearing the cardigan that I was wearing when I took these photos and it smells deliciously smokey. I love it. Feeding a fire, with a drink in hand, watching the daylight fade and the glow of the fire grow. It slows life down, some of my best friendships have been cemented around a bonfire.

Our friends are clearing an area of land at the back of their current garden which they are buying from a neighbour, so there was plenty of fuel to feed the fire. There is a wildness about this little area in the middle of all the other gardens which felt very un-London-like.

The old swing was uncovered first, Coco insisted it must be a metal tree due to the huge honeysuckle on top.

And food carried out from the kitchen and eaten beside the fire tasted so good.

Our garden was also once a neglected patch, overgrown with brambles and full of junk and our afternoon reminded me of all the days we spent clearing and planning. But that is another story.

Monday 10 June 2013

23/52 A Portrait a Week

Coco - alfresco pudding eating. She loves yogurt, just nice plain yogurt. Always has.
Henry - he cannot get enough of water play - or pouring. He was delighted to soak me while I was trying to get this photo, I wish I'd been a bit quicker with the shutter here, but you get the drift right?

Saturday 8 June 2013

22/52 A Portrait a Week

Ok - I'm getting slower and slower at posting these... but quickly before the next ones are due to be put up, here are the portraits of Coco and Henry from last week.

Coco and crab (not a live one unfortunately).

Henry. He loved paddling and running in and out of the shallow water, then he fell over, on his front and got a shock so we bought him a wetsuit but he never really got his groove back and was uncharacteristically worried and cautious about the sea for the rest of the holiday.

Here is a quick snap of Henry post cold water episode, in Coco's dress (the only dry thing we had to put on him). Not happy, although he did love wearing the dress.

Friday 7 June 2013

Spring Flowers vs Sea

The sea!
The flowers!
The blue, the green! And yellow and pink and white.
It was all a bit too much for me - so I took lots (and lots) of photos.

And finally - my posy which I picked and then attempted to draw (see my instagram feed if you are really that interested to see the results of my rusty pencil)!

Thursday 6 June 2013

A Really Good Half Term #2 - Cornwall

So, really this feels like a bit of a boasting post.
We went to Cornwall, we had great weather and we enjoyed ourselves very much.
The recipe...

We were very last minute with our plans as always, but Hugh pulled the hat (or is that meant to be cat?) out of the bag and booked us four nights at the Polurrian Hotel in Mullion. It's just been renovated and is very child-friendly (in a way that it's probably not worth going if you don't have children...) but it's done very well, it's small, friendly and the food was delicious. It felt like a proper break and of course, I will mention it one more time, the weather...

Tuesday 4 June 2013

A Really Good Half Term #1 - At Home

For the first bit of the half term holiday we stayed in London and did stuff.
This is what it looked like:

We went to visit 'Grow Up' in Southwark "an urban farm that uses aquaponic technology to grow fish and vegetables" - it wasn't quite up and running yet so I'm looking forward to visiting again later in the summer, but the lovely lady behind it was there and gave Coco a little tour and showed her how it will work in a couple of weeks.

It's in The Marlborough playground, which, being a playgroud had lots of space for running around.

We made it to the Lichtenstein exhibition just before it shut... although Henry wasn't too impressed by it, or rather the other people looking round the exhibition weren't too impressed with him shouting his way through it.

The Bank holiday involved a couple of days at home doing jobs. Jobs such as covering your hands in paint...

Lots of measuring... most things Henry measured seemed to be 24. Seriously this boy plays with anything that is NOT a toy.
I think me and Hugh got the most time to ourselves while Coco and Henry played (what were obviously hilarious) measuring games, who knew a tape measure was so much fun?

I might have helped 'a bit' with Coco's water based school project - it was too much fun to leave it just to her. The book you can see in the background was our obligatory Tate bookshop purchase and is called Under the Ocean - it is beautiful.

I started doing a mammoth clear out of 'stuff' ... old wedding invitations, old leaflets, old parking permits. I got brave and chucked a lot out - I know that most normal people don't have trouble throwing out receipts for meals that they had four years ago or the stubbs of easyjet flights, but although I'm pretty darn average in many ways I do have a paper-memorabilia addiction. I even threw out old sketchbooks. I am actually very proud of myself.

Outside Hugh finally put the lawn edging in, two years after the lawn was laid and a year after buying the edging. See... top of the picture; nice straight lawn edge, bottom of the picture; messy lawn edge! I know, it's hard to tell in the photo, but believe me it makes a difference!

Meanwhile Coco devoured a few Okido magazines...

Dusk on bank holiday Monday - Hugh had just finished the lawn edging... while I was still in the midst of clear-out/up mode. A very satisfying day.

The next day, due to popular demand we went to visit Daddy at his office. It was raining a lot. Henry enjoyed looking at the building site, which as Hugh put it, was like a real live Usbourne picture book page.

We took Hugh out for lunch... although I'm not that sure he was very enamoured by the conversation (or lack of) from his children... 

...and then we got soaked on the way back to the tube (rather apt as Coco was in charge of taking photo's of everywhere she saw water that day).

Finally, I can't do a post like this without the obligatory mantlepiece shot. Here it is proudly featuring (among lots of other clutter):
- The final ocean scene
- A single allium stem, a casualty from the lawn edging project
- £100 of Harvey Nichols vouchers found in my clear up - bonus (if they accept them... they are a tad out of date)

For the second bit of half term we escaped to Cornwall... more on that to follow...

*Many aspects of this post deserve full length posts of their own, I'd like to do a full update on the garden for example and our workroom but I can't seem to find the time for blogging at the moment... mainly as I'm doing the garden and sorting out our workroom. Such is blogging life - as referred to brilliantly in Hattie's post from a while back - which really made me laugh... and rings very true with me.