|All photos above taken at Mottisfont House, a National Trust property.|
I've been thinking a lot about spring lately, about how it makes me feel. It's such an optimistic season and I have come to recognise, even look forward to, the burst of energy I always get at this time of year. I think it's a combination of the lighter evenings - which, like the sunshine, make a huge difference to my mood and energy levels - and the slow waking up of everything outside the four walls of our house.
I scrutinise everything, cast a critical eye over scuffed paintwork or neglected corners, find that I urgently need to do a job I was able to ignore for months. I have an urge to refresh and rearrange, plan and write lists.
First on the list was a new peg bag when my very old one finally fell to pieces. Years ago - when I had a lot more time, to blog and to sew - I wrote a tutorial on how to make one. I'm glad I did because it reminded me that it's really easy, and so I dragged my sewing machine out from the dusty cupboard under the stairs and Bella and I spent a very happy rainy afternoon using it.
A peg bag is an ideal way to use up scraps of fabric and that's what I did. Both of these fabrics were cushions in a previous life. I'm really happy that I was able to get out my sewing machine and make something useful and pretty with it. Simple things.
Another job I'd been meaning to do for months was repair some of the damage to our furniture caused by Ziggy when he was teething. I knew that "puppies chew" in that abstract way that you know that "babies don't sleep" but I don't think I really grasped just what that would look like until he came along and decided that he quite liked gnawing, well, everything.
The (delicious, clearly) legs of our beautiful coffee table (the one we think is Ercol although we're not sure) took a battering.
Over the course of a few days I sanded and filled them with wood filler, sanded again and filled again, until they were not perfect but not bad looking at all. Then I gave the legs a few coats of white eggshell, again sanding between coats.
I could not be happier with the results. I think the legs look a million times better in white, and they really stand out against the rug. Sorry about the terrible grainy photo. What can I say - it was raining.
Angus's bookcase was another job which had been bugging me for a while. His cheap IKEA bookcase simply wasn't big enough for his books and so they were piling up on the floor. I do encourage Angus to regularly clear out old books but that child is the biggest bookworm you will ever meet. He devours books, fact and fiction, and reads them over and over again. I never begrudge buying him a book because he really does get so much from them.
Anyway, my parents mentioned that there was a bookcase still at my Grandad's house and did I want it before it was taken to the charity shop? It was quite water damaged and I thought I might paint it. Well, it just so happened that not only did the bookcase turn out to be a beautiful piece of mid-century teak furniture, it was also a perfect fit.
There was no way I was ever going to paint something so lovely, but I did sand the top and give it a few coats of oil, just to remove the worst of the marks.
I love the way it looks under his big wall map, and it really adds some warmth to his bedroom.
I finally got around to framing a couple more prints and adding them to our family gallery wall too.
Everything on that wall tells a story of some kind, whether it's something the children painted or drew, or a holiday souvenir, or gift from a friend. It's my favourite wall. Don't tell John but I plan to add to it until the entire wall is filled..
Crafting projects have been moving slowly and pleasurably onwards over the holidays.
I've made great progress on my sampler and have I think only five or six motifs left to stitch. And my Wool and the Gang Dreaming Jumper is almost finished with the back and front sewn together.
Outside, the garden is slowly emerging from it's muddy winter slumber and I'm full of plans and ideas.
My big planter is just bursting with daffodils at the moment, and bright pink and red tulips fill the pots on the front door step, lifting my spirits whenever I come home.
I also have lots happening on the kitchen windowsill, including a tomato plant that I have just moved outside and a tray of baby plants that were a gift from a friend only I've forgotten what they were. Courgettes I think and maybe chillies? Oh dear. And it was all going so well.
Well, the Easter holidays are over and we are straight back into our usual routines. Despite the really awful weather I did enjoy the two week break from school and work; it seemed to both last a long time and go in a flash. Two weeks feels like forever until it's over, then it doesn't feel like long at all. We didn't do anything particularly exciting, just a mixture of days at home and days out, catching up with family and friends, lots of walking and, as you can see, lots of pottering and DIY. It was bliss. I also watched a lot more TV than I usually would (free time, what is this crazy thing?!) and have become completely obsessed with the Channel 4 series Escape to the Chateau. I am late to the party with this one, but am nonetheless charmed by Dick and Angel's life and sweet family, and would quite like them to adopt me so that I can go and live there too. Anyone else a fan?