Thrifty Christmas 2014

I’m a rubbish blogger, I’ve just not had time to run Thrifty Christmas this year as it takes up so much time. This time round I’ve started a Pinterest with all the cool ideas I’ve found from around the internet.

If you’d like some inspiration have a look, there are some lovely, simple ideas there that anyone would love to receive. :

Follow Liz’s board Thrifty Christmas on Pinterest.

Painted Dresser

I first posted about getting this dresser from eBay back in Jan 2011. I can’t believe I’ve had it this long!  And finally I’ve gotten round to painting it. Better late than never!

You can’t see it from this picture, but there was some water damage down the left handside and tons of Betty scratches from when she was a large puppy.  Also it sucked the light in the room, so painting it seemed like a good idea.  I used Annie Sloan, only one coat just in case I decided that I wanted to change the colour, I wasn’t too sure about more white in the room.

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I used a lot of frog tape to keep the edges sharp and I left the top wooden, and I did back of it in white as well as I haven’t chosen an accent colour for the room yet.  Here’s the finished article!

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Christmas with John Lewis and Tree Hilarity

John Lewis asked me if I’d like a new Christmas Tree and £50 of baubles to decorate it with…of COURSE I WOULD!!

Our old artificial tree was bought our first Christmas together as I’m allergic to read trees and after 14 years was looking a bit ropey. Also I had to weigh it down with the Argos catalogue, to stop it falling over every year because it never stood right – so classy!. We were thinking of getting a new tree for this year, when John Lewis’s generous offer came along.

I had the choice of a 6ft, 7ft or a whopping 8ft tree. Now I am bit of a small child when it comes to Christmas and I firmly believe that a tree should be much bigger than me or anyone else in the house. I have childhood memories of 30ft Disney Christmas trees at Disney World and I think I’m always trying to replicate that feeling of being small while the tree is massive!   I measured our ceiling and it’s about 9.5ft high, so I thought that the 8ft tree would be a bit too big, therefore I went for the 7ft tree.

Tree came in no time, and we put it up at the weekend. It’s much, much easier to put up than the old one. That had colours and you had to match the colours with the right bit of the tree – a right old faff. This one you just pull out, slot together and pull out the branches to fluff. So simple, and tree was up in under 10 minutes!

Except, I hadn’t measured right! I hadn’t taken the base into consideration! So it was a wee bit too tall!

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After much laughter and my family, giggling at my inability to measure anything (I do have a track record for buying things way too big!). We took the bottom layer our and the tree was the perfect height! But when I get my imaginary next house with Victorian height ceilings it’s going to look amazing full size!

The baubles are lovely, I ordered mostly gold and red, as that’s pretty much tradition in our house. But I spoilt myself as this year as there are no toddlers or puppies in the house, I chose some glass baubles as well as non-shatterproof ones.   For £50 I managed to get about 60 baubles, 50 non-shatter and then about 10 more expensive glass ornaments and the tree topper.

I think this is my favourite, it makes me smile every time I see it

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Here are a few of my other favourites, a beautiful mercury glass topper

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Shatterproof sparklies!

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Gold glass, just lovely!

 

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Here’s the tree with the decorations on and our lights, it looks very realistic and so pretty!  Thanks so much John Lewis!

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**Full disclosure I received a Christmas Tree and £50 of baubles from John Lewis**

 

 

Autumn Colours

In an attempt to get Betty’s (and my!) weight down we’ve been doing lots of longer walks lately.

The colours at the moment are really beautiful. And although Betty likes to drag me round the streets, she is kind enough to stop and let me take some photos. Here are some of my favourites so far this autumn.

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Not from a dog walk but just walking around town I snapped a picture of this house, which is just adorable. I love the colour of the front door, beautiful!

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What photos have you taken this autumn that you love? Leave me a link to your blog or instagram, would love to see them!

 

 

 

 

Making a Christmas Wreath with Hobbycraft

Hobby Craft kindly sent me a bunch of goodies so we could make our our own Christmas Wreaths.  We’ve not done anything crafty in ages. Miss L is now at the age where she’s rather play a computer game or head out with her friends than sit with me crafting. So it’s kind of fallen out of fashion in the Violet Posy household, which is a massive shame.

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But thankfully Christmas is still a draw (hurray!) and she jumped at the chance of making a wreath for her bedroom door.

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We decided on a colour scheme (red and white) and then she got cracking with just a smidge of help from me attaching the big heart in the middle.

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Loving the results!

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We’ve been thinking up uses for the other bows and flowers and we think we might use them to decorate the Christmas presents. We couldn’t attached the led candles they sent us but they will be going in her room over the festive period.  It was nice having my little girl back for an hour, we should do it more often. Roll on the holidays!

 

**Full disclosure** I received all the bits to make the wreath from Hobbycraft

 

 

 

 

 

 

Operation Dining Room..

It’s still ongoing…seriously how to people paint their entire houses white? I swear this has needed about 3 coats and it’s still patchy. It’s slowly driving me mad!

But I have finished both bookcases, gotten the curtains back up on a new pole after the old one died in spectacular fashion, nothing like it falling on your head! And the new white pole, although it felt somewhat…well very cheap and about to collapse as soon as we put the heavy curtains on it. But it’s still there, and looks a million times better than the old orange pine one.

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So left to do…

Mirror – What can I do with it? Paint it, or leave it? I’m not sure it really goes in the room anymore? Anyone want a large brown mirror?? LOL!

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Paint the Dresser (and behind it!)  – still torn on this. I’m worried it’s going to be ‘too’ white and boring if I do it in white. But I’ve bought the paint now, so might as well get on with it. I can always go over it in the New Year with some colour I guess if I hate it. I just really want the room done for Christmas at the moment.  But I can’t leave it plain, the white bookcase has made it even more orange.

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Paint and re-finish the chairs – some need painting as well as some new padding and seat pads, which for a non sewing type should be interesting…now where’s my nail gun??

Oh and the small matter of all the rubbish that’s now lying around the room without a home – a lot of tip runs and charity shops runs this week I think!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Battle of the Orange Pine & a Betty Update

Good news from our household, Betty has Polyps. Hurray!!

Although it could be cancer the guy who did the endoscopy yesterday thinks it’s very, very unlikely. 6 weeks of antibiotics and anti inflammatories should hopefully fix it. Phew!!

Thank you all for your lovely kind wishes on here, FB, Twitter and Instagram. Really kind of you all made me feel so much better. I know she’s just a dog but they are such a part of the family aren’t they? I’m a very happy woman this afternoon.

Anyway back to regular programming….

We have a *lot* of orange pine furniture, and I although I swear it wasn’t that orange when we bought it…well it is now! It seems to suck the light out of every room and just looks horrible. There’s book cases, bed side tables, the giant chests of drawers in our bedroom, sideboard, you get the idea there is a lot.

Personally I blame the cheap white Ikea table I bought for the dining room, it just made all the pine in there look even worse after a few weeks.  Most of the furniture we’ve had since we first moved in together, it’s about 14 years old and we can’t afford to replace it all.

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So I have started operation paint!

I know painted furniture is the biggest cliche and is EVERYWHERE, but I just couldn’t stand the orange any longer and I thought it was worse that a piece of furniture I wouldn’t notice as much anymore.

Now my long suffering husband wasn’t convinced that this would be a good idea. Apparently I tend to get bored and just paint a bit of something..which is true, but don’t tell him that!.  But I thought if I started small, say one bookcase I could see how it went.  I got out my trusty Annie Sloan Old White (lazy painting is me!) and went to town. After about 10 minutes I thought I’d made a horrendous mistake and was pretty sure OH was going to be proved right.

I panicked and posted this on Instagram.

 

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Boyed by the good response from other Instagrammers and mainly because by this point I had no other choice – that chalk paint isn’t coming off once it’s on!.  I kept going….

 

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Once I did a second coat, waxed it and put everything back in, I was actually quite pleased with how it looks (sorry about the dodgy lighting in the photo below it’s been beyond grey here this week!).   It’s receded the bookcase and it’s not  ‘in your face’ anymore. In fact OH is so pleased with it, I’m under orders to paint the hallway table.  I actually thought that looked ok!

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I’m going to paint the matching bookcase which holds the DVD collection, but I’m not sure if I should do everything in the dining room white?  I think the dresser as well might be a bit too much. But I guess I can do a base coat and see how it looks?  I can always whack on a layer of colour on top and make it funky, if it looks too spartan.  Paint brush out again tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

 

Betty

For once my utter laziness has paid off. I was going to cancel Betty’s pet insurance when it came through last year, it was about £250 for the year and we’d never claimed. I was starting to think it was a waste of time. She’s seven, healthy and only goes to the vets for her inoculations which of course aren’t covered by insurance.  But I didn’t get round to it and just kept paying it, as it turns out that was lucky!

And then three weeks ago happened, hence my lack of blogging….

I got up to make Sunday breakfast and for a change she didn’t immediately beat me to the kitchen to shout at me for food.

Weird.

I went into the lounge to see her, she grudgingly got up, walked 8 steps and then collapsed. Seriously couldn’t get up and was crying. So I called the emergency vet and the nightmare began!

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I managed to get her up and into the car – not easy with a large dog who just wants to lie on the floor!  She was seen, pronounced ok (because of course she was FINE by time we got there!), had to pop back the next day for blood test and urine tests.   Did that and they thought she had a UTI, course of antibiotics and she’d be right as rain. At this point I’d spent £350.

Midway through the course of antibiotics we went for a walk and she pee’d on some dry leaves and I glanced at them and realised it was blood!   So back to the vets and they decided that she should be scanned and x-rayed because at this point it could be bladder cancer.

I sobbed, sobbed some more, the whole family was in tears.  We took her on her favourite walk, into the field she adores and all had our photo with her so we have some good memories. Paul managed to get a nice photo of her and me, with me not crying which was an achievement that day!

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She was duly shaved (look at that poor cold belly!), anaesthetised and scanned and there was a thickening to the lining of her bladder which could be either bladder cancer or polyps. Now bladder cancer in dogs it turns out is really, really horrible and can metastase very quickly if you disturb it in a biopsy.  So we have been referred to a specialist dog cancer vet at another surgery.  The scanning at my vets was another £550. We’re now at £900 at just one vets.

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So we went to the cancer vets and she re-did all the original testing my vets has done so she could double check everything – yes another £550!  Then Betty took a turn for the worse went off her food and developed really, really bad bloody diarrhoea, and they gave her more antibiotics and some special food – I haven’t had the bill for that yet.  All being well tomorrow she goes for her biopsy and we’ll find out how to proceed either with medicine or with surgery. If it’s the cancer then she’ll have chemo and maybe a good 6-12 months, and if it’s the Polyps which I am SO hoping it is then it’ll be surgery to remove them I believe, but I could be wrong?

She’s insured up to £3,000 thank goodness, but I can now see that last £1500 being eaten up very very quickly. I honestly don’t know how you pay for it if you’re not insured? I really, really feel for older people or those on a low wage who need to get their animals treated. I know there are charities that will help, but they are few and far between and I can see now why more sick pets are being dumped.  Such a horrible situation and would certainly drive most people into debt.

Anyway please wish us luck tomorrow and I’ll let you know the outcome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upcycling Garden Furniture with Farrow & Ball Paint

Farrow and Ball wanted to know if I’d like to upcycle piece of garden furniture with their exterior paint – OF COURSE!!!

I love Farrow and Ball a little too much, as pretty much the interior of my house is painted in it, Wimborne White is everywhere!. But I’ve never used the exterior paint or primers, so I was excited to be able to try them out.

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I have an ancient Ikea table kicking around in the shed, which has seen better days and we tend to use it for putting BBQ plates and food waiting to be cooked. But it’s really old and is now impossible to clean which isn’t great for BBQ’s. That seemed like the ideal candidate for a makeover.

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I chose Teresa’s Green, which I thought would be a medium duck egg blue which would tie in with the other colours in my garden, yeah it’s not at all.  It’s a beautiful delicate, pale duck egg blue – oops!  But it meant I also chose the wrong primer colour, I should have gone with the one for pale colours and not the dark colours, turns out it didn’t matter that much.

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I didn’t do much (read any!) prep on it, other than brush off some spider webs and stand it up. I then painted it with the Dark Primer – which is a really nice colour, it’s a dark grey which actually looks lovely.  It took me 20 minutes to paint the primer on and I left it while I did the school run to dry in the sun.

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When we got back we sat out in the sunshine and painted on the Teresa’s Green, it actually covered the primer well which was a surprise as it was so pale. It dries really quickly in the sun and I managed to get a second coat on before sundown and left it to try overnight.  That was two days ago and it’s been sitting outside in the autumn elements and this morning it absolutely poured down on it when I left the house. I came home this afternoon and it’s still looks perfect!  According to the can it should last for 6 years, so that’s that table done for a long time.

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I’m so pleased with it, and although I can’t use the left over paint for my laundry door, as it’s too pale for the house. I’m going to use it for my dining room chairs as it’s the perfect pale colour to go with my newly Wimborne White dining room.  Which gives me the excuse to try a new colour on the laundry room door…hmmm which colour..I really like that dark grey!

***Full disclosure – This feature/challenge is brought to you in collaboration with Farrow & Ball***

 

 

Nell

I have to share her, she’s too gorgeous not to! Meet my puppy ‘sister’ Nell that my parents picked up from the RSPCA last weekend.

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They were going to get an older rescue dog and at the moment with the sleepless nights, I’m thinking maybe they wish they had! But their vet advised that as they had rescued two older cats last year, the cats who hadn’t lived with dogs before would be less stressed with a smaller puppy and not a full grown dog. Nell and her sisters came up just as they were starting to look as they are both retiring in October.

Sadly Nell and her sisters were  a neglect case, which is why they were removed from their Mum so early. Both her sisters have also gone to good loving homes nearby, so they’ll be able to see each other which is really nice.  Her Mum was a Collie and Dad is rumoured to be either a Labrador or a German Shepherd,  either way she’s going to be a lovely big dog if her size at the moment is anything to go by.

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But she is adorable! Despite her tough start, she’s a little loving bundle of fun and she’s so smart. She’s only 6 weeks old but can ‘sit’, call her and she comes to you and she’s almost toilet trained.  I’ve been puppy sitting this week with her whilst my parents finished up work as they are both running down for the end of October – such a hardship to spend all day with that cute bundle of mischief!

I’m going get to spend a few days with her over the coming weeks which is fantastic. I think it’s a bit like being a grandparent, I get to play with her, have lots of cuddles and then give her back at the end of the day. I must admit it’s lovely to come home to my all lovely trained up, non teething, well behaved Betty.  But just look at that sleeping fur baby….adorable!

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