Thursday, 1 January 2015

One Word 365

So I'm joining in the #oneword365 movement!  I don't think that it is a Christian thing, but I have good friends who link their word choice to their faith.  I have decided that my word for 2015 is DEDICATION.  I want to improve on my dedication to God, my friends & family, and generally everything that I do in life - day to day and week by week.  

Monday, 27 October 2014

All About My Kitchen Revamp

I had painted my teeny-tiny kitchen units about 5 years ago.  I went for a black, white and chrome look.  However, once I had painted other rooms in the flat I had a nagging feeling of wanting co-ordinate the kitchen too!!  Last time I had used cupboard paint, but I couldn't find a colour in shops that I liked enough.  So I went back to Sally Bourne Interiors for some advice.  They suggested I used eggshell paint.  I was a little unsure, but I trusted their advice.  I was also able to choose from a wider range of colours.

I took each door off the units and painted them flat to avoid drips.  I sanded down each door, used a primer, then added one coat of the eggshell.  Each door needed well over 24 hours to dry.

I painted the tiles to match and added white transfers, purchased a personalised wall transfer and changed a few small accessories.  The small space now feels bigger with a much lighter colour.

All About My Bathroom Revamp

My teeny-tiny bathroom was infamous for being pink!  Again, I'd gone for accessory's in a white room and got carried away over the years!  I decided to neutralise this room (like all the others) and went for pale blue walls and shabby chic accessories.  Once again I sold what I could to fund the new items - if money was no object I'd be in trouble!!  

Like all of the other rooms, this is now much more to my taste.  I guess I had just got used to how it had always been.  The room doesn't feel so busy now.  It is much calmer.  I used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint to transform the flower pot, mirror frame and the shelves.  

Sunday, 26 October 2014

All About My Bedroom Revamp

I have grown to love the shabby chic look over the years and wanted to bring this style into my bedroom,  I chose two lovely Annie Sloan colours and set to transform my room!  Again, there wasn't too much wrong with it before, but with paint and a few new accessories, a change could be done quite easily.  Again, I sold the old items to fund the new ones.  The room now feels cosier and a lot brighter.  

I added paint and handles to the drawer unit and wardrobe.  I also added material wrapped around cut to size hardboard to the door panels.  
During the process
Drawers & Wardrobe before and after
New chair and new colour on chimney breast.  Material on seat pad matches wardrobe.
With my Dads help I made some frames from an idea I saw on Pinterest.  We used pine dado from B&Q to make the frames, a lot cheaper than buying big frames! 

The added bonus of redecorating furniture is having a massive tidy up and sort out.  I have got rid of so much stuff that I'd held on to for no apparent reason!  

I repainted my pine framed mirror in the matching colour and distressed it in certain areas.

I matched my smaller shelves and wooden storage boxes with the paint colour scheme.  This is a good way to tie everything in the room together.  I changed the lampshades, bedding and drapes.  

The frame above my bed I add pictures and cards to each week.  I have added fairy lights to the top, which has made the room a lot cosier.  

All About My Lounge Revamp

Now firstly I know that my lounge wasn't that bad before, but I decided I needed a major change. So to start with I simply had a drastic shift round of the furniture. Once I discovered that I could get a digital TV extension cable, the move could be made! I loved the red colour and seriously accessorised with it in a room that had bland 'rented accommodation' walls.  I sketched out some rough plans and went from there!  

Before Furniture Move & Repaint
After Furniture Move
After Furniture Move
I knew that I wanted to make all of the furniture white. This meant painting all of my birch effect Ikea furniture. (ironically I noticed when in Ikea recently that white furniture is cheaper than beech effect....the beauty of hindsight huh?!) I started with one of the smallest items to get used to the paint. 

From there I went on to painting all of the other furniture.  It wasn't that easy!  The cube shelving and media units took a very long time!  Everything needed two coats of paint and wax brushed on, and then wax buffed off!  But the end result was worth it.  I love the combination of grey and white, so decided to paint and accessorise with those colours, using blue to contrast the greys.  I sold some of my red soft furnishing to fund replacing them with new blue, grey and white ones.  

Grey choices 
Bye-bye red!
The previous black wood paint kept yellowing the white chalk paint, so a coat of white gloss stopped this
A splash of blue worked well on these painted canvas'
My old chair-bed that was posing as a poor man's armchair had definitely seen better days, it used to be in my bedroom at my parents!  I gave it away via one of the local facebook groups to a Grandmother for her Grand-daughter.  I found a new chair in my local charity shop and covered it with a throw that matched my sofa.

I am very pleased with the final result.  The room feels a lot more calm and neutral.  The mock brick wallpaper (pinned and blu-tacked up!!) is a great addition to any room!  I have transformed my living space in a way that is all portable if I had to move out.  I sourced new soft furnishing items from Ikea, Dunelm Mill, Store 21, The Range, Sainsbury's, B&Q and eBay!  

After Move & Repaint of Furniture
Before & After Comparison

Creative Revamp Introduction

There is no easy way to describe my reasons for embarking on the revamp of my home, other than needing a project to focus my attention on after the breakdown of a serious relationship.  But it has helped me discover and engage in a whole new area of creativity.  After living in the same place for ten years, I now have a home that is much more my taste now compared to how I had decorated and accessorised it over the years since moving in.  (not that it was that bad before may I say, but it has been nice to bring a bit of change in!)

As a charity worker, I do not have vast amounts of money to spend of furniture and home furnishings.  I was introduced to an amazing product by some good friends, and this is the brilliant Annie Sloan Chalk Paint!  Explained briefly, this is a product that you paint onto furniture without needing to sand or prime beforehand.  I went to Sally Bourne Interiors as my nearest stockist, and I was well helped and advised by the staff in there.   Their advice to me was to add a little water to the paint as I used it, by decanting it from the tin into a separate container.  This is good as it helps the paint to go further, and to obviously thin it down a bit.  They also helped me with wax and application advice.  A great help to me the novice.  

My whole flat is full of Ikea furniture, which is an easy surface to apply paint to.  I look forward to more challenging projects in the future.  I discovered great sites such as Ikea Hackers, which gave great inspiration for possibilities.  And of course Pinterest was always on hand for ideas too.  So after this will follow blogs on the specific changes I made in each room in my flat.  I am in rented accommodation, but the furniture is mine, so this was a great way to make drastic changes in a place that I do not have full control over.  

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Sleep Out Fundraiser

Back in September I did a sleep out to raise money for All People All Places, a local homeless project that is using churches as a winter night shelter.  About 40 people from the local area joined together to do this.

I had no idea what to expect.  It was a surprisingly warm night, (I was colder in a tent during Momentum in August!)  I'd already had a small debate with a colleague who had planned on bringing his airbed!  I wanted to make this experience for me as realistic as possible, but obviously we had good conditions in comparison to those who face life on the streets days after day.  I have volunteered to help with the night shelter on the evening it is at my church each week, so I wanted to be able to remotely empathize with the people who would be walking through the doors seeking a safe and warm place to sleep.  

I turned up already in my PJ bottoms and a hoodie.  I had my sleeping bag, a ground sheet (which was shorter than me, so I put the overhanging end of my sleeping bag inside a bin liner!!), I had a hat, a scarf and a tiny pillow.  I didn't need the scarf, so I put that and the pillow inside a bag and put it under my head.  It made me think about how vulnerable you are living on the streets when it comes to your personal property.  I wore old boots, as these would have been the only thing someone could have potentially easily stolen while I was sleeping!

We set our beds up on the Library Green in Enfield Town.  There were seven of us from church doing this together.  We didn't try and go to sleep right away, we spend a lot of time chatting as a group.  Even though the area is open on all sides, there were stewards wandering around for the whole night.  It is at a quieter end of the town centre where pub revelers staggering home on a Friday night wouldn't have passed.  There was a portaloo, for our convenience!  

These measures were obviously linked to a load of health and safety guidelines, but it wasn't fully representative of what people living on the streets have to face every night.  It took me a long time to drift off to sleep, the only disturbance were cars and buses driving past.  I was shocked at how comfy I was laying on the wet grass.  Rain was due around 5am, but I decided to not sleep under an umbrella like some people did.  When I did wake up in the night (needing the chemical facility!), I felt at ease as I was surrounded by all of my sleeping/snoring friends.  

I went back to sleep easily, and considering I am a very light sleeper, I was woken (with a torch in my eyes!!) by the stewards moving us on around 5am!  I only had about 4 hours sleep.  A breakfast of egg and bacon rolls were put on for us back at church.  (a great team of people got up early to make this for us all).  The rain had held off, and while we were eating our breakfast a storm passed over head.  I was grateful that it had stayed dry for us.  

I then headed back to my warm dry flat and went to bed to catch up on sleep, fully appreciating that this is not the cosy reality for so many people.  The main sad irony from the whole experience is that the actual homeless people in our area (of which we hardly see in an obvious way) were probably seeking shelter in the bus depot opposite where our safe sleep out was taking place.  

Blog 'To Write' List

I have had a long list on my phone of blogs that I have wanted to write.  So slowly, they will begin to appear.  Hopefully over the next week!  

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

A Fresh Start

So I am all set up with a whizzy new website (even if it is an easy template, it serves me well!!) I've designed myself a new logo, and I have bombarded my friends with my facebook and twitter pages!  I have begun the process of producing and selling my work, which is all new territory to me. I have lots of ideas for things I would like to make, but I am being careful not to get carried away as I do not want to spend more than I am making!!  I have had some offers of freelance work, which is encouraging.  I am enjoying exploring my love of photography a bit more and I am blessed to have the time to do this.
With this blog I want to be posting more about my creative projects, not just personal and thoughtful musings.  I intend to be much more of a regular contributor to my own blog!!

Friday, 22 November 2013

A Creative Response

Part of my life has not been very easy for the past few months.  I have struggled with finding a way to deal with my emotions and reactions to all that has taken place.  I have had a great support network around me, which has been such a blessing.  I know that God has been there throughout it all, I've just not always known what to say or how to express myself. 
I was away at the weekend and took an early morning walk on the beach.  I found myself writing things in the sand and letting the waves wash them away.  It was so therapeutic  As someone who is a very visual person, I saw how God can take things away and in time they fade away. 
I recommend this to anyone who can get themselves to a beach!

Thursday, 21 November 2013

My Long Lost Blog!

Yet again I find myself estranged from this blog!  I have decided to document my flat make-over.  I will sit down and share my thoughts on life occasionally too!  2014 will be a reconnect to my blog year!!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Social Media

When I sit and think too much about the concept, it confuses me and makes me think a little too much!  As I am now the ripe ‘old’ age of (*cough*) 31, I am old enough to remember ‘life before social media’!!  The most we had in my later teen years was a small pixelated photo and limited character status on MSN messenger, with a dial-up connection!!  The digital age hit on a massive scale just after I finished uni really.  I purchased my first DVD and player in 2002, but I didn’t purchase a digital camera or iPod until 2005. 

I have always, always been the nominated photographer on nights out.  At school and uni sharing photos involved lending people my negatives and them getting copies made in Boots…OR putting about 2 of them on to someones floppy disc!!  (anyone under the age of 15 reading this will have no clue what one of those even is!!)  When I was first working in central London the way to share photos was to email the best ones round the morning after the night before! 
All of a sudden around 2006 the concept of Myspace reached me!  (It was around before this I am very sure, but only reached me at this time!)  It was a place to suddenly put yourself out there to the world and acquire ‘friends’!  (I’ve just had a look at my page for the first time in forever, and I’ve apparently earned myself an “old school” badge for being on myspace before it was cool!!)  If you weren’t on myspace, you weren’t relevant…apparently!  This site made people like me who were hitting mid-twenties feel like we were part of the latest craze, but also it suddenly brought together all kinds of people.  My friends and the young people I worked with were suddenly able to read and see anything I put out there.  It became a place to announce things, i.e. when my best friend had her first baby, I informed our young people via the megaphone that was myspace!  I could put on a profile photo that was slightly ‘edgy’ (ie the b/w one that is still on there now after all these years!!), I could write some kind of status and I could connect with people I hadn’t seen in person for years and I could attempt to sound vaguely interesting by writing blogs on there!!  (even though my blogs on there are the only precious record of my travels to Australia and New Zealand.)  This site was responsible for the ‘taken from a great height, not an actual reflection of what I look like’ profile photo! 
Then in early 2007 Facebook reached me!  (Again it would have been around a while longer, but I’m never on top of the latest ‘fads’!)  Here me being the social photographer I am was able to create whole albums, instead of a small selection that myspace at first offered me the ability to post.  It took me a while to get my head around facebook, I would get emails informing me I had been tagged, this was all a mystery to me, but I got there and became the ‘seasoned pro’ I am today…!!  Again it was a place to put out whatever we wanted.  An audience of friends, family, young people and “friends”.  People were adding me that I hadn’t seen for years.  People from my childhood estate that I did not like at school, suddenly wanted to be my ‘friend’.  People I’d not spoken to in years adding me as a ‘friend’, but not actually communicating with me!  Ex boyfriends from the past popping up and wanting to be my ‘friend’.  It was and still is such a mad concept!  For every positive aspect of social media there is always a polar opposite negative.  Do we know all of our ‘friends’ on facebook, do we have the right to call them friends?!  Facebook has obviously rolled with changes over the years; such as developing limitations, asking if we know these people outside of facebook when we reject their friendship request, letting us create groups of people we hide everything from and group who can see every part of our profile.  It gets political, we can add one person, but then feel we have to add someone else because we don’t want to offend them!  Yet when we pass them in the street or see them in a pub for the first time in years, they may not say more than two words to us!  (inserting a small reference and memory here to Friends Reunited which was around for a short while before facebook reached the UK and removed its link-to-the-past ability!)

At the end of 2007 I joined the grown up world of blogging.  This was very different from the blogs I had written on myspace!  It was a place where I could write about whatever I wanted, but as with everything else, people had the ability to reply and comment.  A decent blog entry was praised, yet a controversial blog post was torn apart by those who took the time to read it and disagree!  But it was a place where I could review films, books, write about funny things, write about youth stuff that worked and failed, post links to my photography (I’ve not even taken the time to mention in this blog the social media world of Flickr!) and to basically write about any old crap! 
And then along came Twitter, endorsed publicly by celebrities and I caved in around the beginning of 2009.  (I can’t find the bit on twitter that shows when I joined!  And unlike the other sites, I cannot link it where I was job/life-wise at the time!)  But it took me a while to get in to twitter ‘properly’.  As with facebook, it took me a while to work it out.  But now people come to me for lessons in how to use it!  For me it also replaced blogging for a while, as I could do a lot of ‘mini-blogs’ instead of finding the time to sit and write long deep blogs!  It was a place where you didn’t annoy people with constant updates, as that is its primary purpose!  No more annoying your facebook friends with a constant status update. 
So rewinding back ten years to my third year at uni:  If I had an essay to do and was procrastinating, I didn’t sit and write a tweet or fb status about it, I stared at the photos on the wall behind my giant pc monitor, or I went and moaned to my housemates!  If I was in a relationship people knew about it from me telling them all about it or meeting him in person, not from announcing it on facebook!  If there was a birthday coming up people would send (a very expensive back then!) text, pass out paper invites or tell us in person!  But most importantly if I had a problem or was feeling low about something, I spoke to friends about it…that’s right, I didn’t feel the need to blog about it, write about it on my facebook status or cram it into 140 twitter characters!
There is always a debate going on about how much we as youth workers should put out there.  Like with any subject, people will have a stark contrast of differing opinions.  I personally have only in the past few months created a separate youth work facebook page.  (But this has come out of a new work policy as opposed to personal choice!)
But a generation has been bred that no longer knows how to personally communicate well.  I find that young people and some friends will be more open on a text message or via online chat than they will be in person!  People will hide behind their keyboard!  But is ’my’ generation regressing to the same?!  Are we forgetting the way we used to be able to communicate before all of these sites were around?  We’ve moved from communicating by phone calls, to texts, to emails, to social media.  We’ve moved our information intake from books, to TV, to internet pages.  This isn’t a new realisation obviously.  I’ve sat through many a seminar and read many an article on this over the years.  But are we buying in to this?!
I’m as guilty as the next person.  I find myself waking up in the morning and the first thing I do is reach for my phone!  I see if I have received any texts or emails, and then have a look at what people are saying on twitter and facebook!  But why have I suddenly become so bothered about what people are up to?  It’s like curtain twitching for a whole new generation!  But in the same way, if I find something funny, the first thing I do is share it on twitter and sometimes facebook.  (the beauty of selective tweets!)  My tweets differ from amusing, to relevant, to deep and meaningful at times.  But what are we seeking to gain from this?  What am I seeking to gain?  Approval from all of my ‘friends’ or followers?  Or just the desire to show that our lives are interesting?!  Is it me (the orphan Annie look-a-like who was teased at school) showing that I have a great life??  Am I proving to the world that I am no longer the not-very-popular-quiet-and-shy-girl-at-school that I have a very busy and fabulous life!?
But what is the limit to what we put out there?  How much is too much?  I feel blessed that I have not been conditioned over these ‘internet years’ to put it online before I talk about it with an actual friend or relative in person!  If I have deep issues going on I personally do not feel the need to put it out there for all of these ‘friends’ and followers to read about.  There are still some things that I think we need to do the ‘old fashioned’ way.  I am an only child, but I would like to think that I have not been raised as someone who seeks attention.  And that is what we all do via social media is it not?  As said previously, is it deep down just a platform for us to say ‘look at my life’? 
The one absolute positive thing that I can talk about from experience is twitter.  There has over the past year or two been a growing forum of Christian youth workers.  (some of my friends think it is crazy that so many of us will communicate via twitter!)  Here I have got to know some amazing people and made great friends, I even met my (now) ex through this social interaction we all have with each other (don’t get me wrong, we obviously met face to face too!!).  But when possible I will take the chance to meet these people I have a profession and interests in common with, in person.  If I know they will be at an event or something I am at, I will suggest we meet in person!  Otherwise it’s just people yet again hiding behind a keyboard.  But sadly I did come up with the phrase “twitter snubbing” last year, as even within this forum there are individuals who will communicate regularly with me on twitter, but then when it comes to a conversation in person its non-existant!  Sad really!  (but this is the exception, not the rule!)  This whole group of people I have met over the past year or so are fab and it is a real positive use of social media.  (so big love goes out to everyone from #ywchat!)
The other positive I suppose is that it’s a record of the last few years of my life.  We can look back and see what we were doing, feeling, thinking, wearing and saying each year!  But sometimes I do think we need to take a little moment to sit and think about what all of these sites have replaced in terms of human interaction and personal attention gaining.

Monday, 23 April 2012

To Do List

I have a 'to do list' of blogs that I want to write, it is just finding the time to get round to it! They will include how we use social media for the deep and the mundane, how i am finding living life with very little money, deepness of friendships and in time feedback on the upcoming mission trip to Lebanon that I am scarily co-leading!! Life is hectic...but what is new!?

Thursday, 8 March 2012

This Is Me

What do we do when things do not go the way we hoped? We believe and trust what people say to us and then in an instant those things we thought were stable are suddenly not. I think it is sometimes difficult to not become tough and cynical over the years when the things we dream of have not yet happened, or have come crashing down around us.

I have not discovered the art of protecting my heart yet, in both friendships and relationships. There was recently a quote on Call The Midwife which resonated very clearly with me, "You have to be brave to be in love, don't you? I mean, knowing that your heart may get broken, some point along the way."

I do wonder if I or anyone will ever find the trick to caring without being hurt? If you fill your life with people, then you absolutely run the risk of those people potentially hurting you at some point.

I sadly currently write this from a very difficult and raw place where I have found myself very hurt and for very unfair reasons. It makes me wonder why we have to be hurt to learn some lessons! Surely there is a better way of doing this? As my current situation involved a partner, I look at friends of mine who have only ever been in one relationship and have never experienced heartbreak at any level. Why do some people who desire to share life with someone so badly have to go through so much to get there?

But then the flip-side of this is that we daily hurt the person who hand-made us in love. God created us to love one another, but we don't always do that. I am guilty of being an awful friend at times. But I have been amazingly blessed with brilliant friends. Some of this links with my previous blog; if I didn't have God and my good friends, what I am experiencing right now would be so tough on my own. I also know that I must hurt God by talking to my friends instead of Him. I'm working on the right balance. I am certain though that I can be 100% real with both!!

Thursday, 23 February 2012

What Do People Do When They Are Lacking?

Recently I have been really struggling with some issues, things going round and round in my head. My first port of call most of the time is God and my friends. As a Christian I find prayer necessary and compulsory, its my communication with the God I have a personal relationship with. I feel very blessed to have a lot of friends who are willing to put up with my random thoughts and concerns.

As I drove home tonight I noticed one of the 'slightly strange' regulars from my local leaning outside, clearly needing the wall to hold him up. I guarantee whatever night of the week it is, he is in there. He never seems to have anyone with him, he just walks around the pub, drinking pint after pint, slightly scaring punters with his quirky ways! It made me think, why is he always in there? Who does he have to talk to? What is it that he finds potential comfort from in the pub? Why does he not want to stay home? How many people are filling voids in their lives this way? (this isn't the first time I have thought like this obviously!) Maybe too many questions (I am an over thinker!) I felt sorry for him, and it led me to write it all out....!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Meaning of the Oath

So I am currently on jury duty. I will obviously say no more about it as I am keeping to the oath I took today. But it was interesting to see who swore on the bible and who chose to use the secular oath. I decided that I didn't want to swear on the bible and went for the secular oath option. I wonder how many people really think about what they are saying when they swear on the bible and by Almighty God.

Oh Hello 2012!

I really need to get back into blogging again. I think I have become far too used to the 'hit and run' of status' on Facebook and Twitter. I have quite big 'life to do list' on the go currently, and blogging again is on there...but not of a very high importance!

The main thing that I know I need to do is to take more time out to pray and reflect on things. I lead a very busy life and do not allow much time at all to stop and spend time with the amazing God who created me! I am hoping that I can blog a bit about this as time goes on.

The other major thing I want to do is linked with my photography. I MUST sort out my website and get it up and running again. I recently purchased a negative scanner (showing my age!), so that all of the images I have on film can become digitally stored, and uploaded to this website that is currently no longer operational!

I am determined to have a very productive 2012! Watch this space....!

(first step is to give the look of my blog a complete overhaul!)

Thursday, 24 March 2011


The time for the n:flame overseas mission is almost upon us again. This year we are returning to Lebanon to teach in a school in Beirut. If you'd like to find out more or donate to the team then more information can be found here.

Friday, 21 January 2011