Project: Our dining chairs


It all started with Kirstie.  I saw her “Fill Your House for Free” show where she painted and distressed a chair (except I hated the colour she used) and thought, “Geez. I’d love to paint our TV unit/get some chairs to do that”, and asked for her book for Christmas last year.  A new project was born.



At the Canonmills EFI (go visit them, they have great stuff and do great work for the homeless!), we found 4 chairs for £40 that Dave was quite fond of. I wasn’t 100% sold, but they seemed really well-made, despite the hideous cushions.

These steps can be replicated for any piece of furniture you want to repaint/distress for a vintage feel!

If you’re doing chairs or anything with a fabric seat, the first thing to do is to pop out the seats and sand the shell of the chair. It doesn’t have to be extreme sanding, just to take any varnish away and allow the paint to “cling” to the wood.  We used a small pointed hand-sander from Dave’s Mum.

Then paint ‘em with a good few layers of brilliant white matte emulsion paint, available from any hardware store, as a primer.




After they’ve had a chance to dry, paint ‘em your chosen colour.  Be careful to smooth over any drips, and flip the chair over to do the underside. Go back again later on with a smaller brush and touch-up anywhere you missed.  Then after that’s dry (no more than a day so the paint isn’t too hardened), use a putty scraper to scrape away both layers of paint from the edges/legs/anywhere you’d like it to look “distressed”. If you’re not going for a vintage/distressed look, then feel free to leave ‘em looking new and modern!



Then they need 2 layers of clear gloss varnish (“decorator’s varnish”, apparently. We just found clear gloss wood varnish).

Then you need to move on to the cushions.  If yours are like mine, they’ve had fabric wrapped/folded over the foam and stapled to the bottom. A good solution! and one I’m going to use. Just not with the ugly fabric.  One chair cushion was covered with a pillow case.




This requires a bit of grunt work – use the back of a hammer/pliers to pull the staples out and pull the old fabric off.  Confession: I had Dave do some of this – sorry for the blur, he moves fast.

The next bit will be a breeze for folks who like/are good at gift-wrapping. I have a strange skill for it (so have been designated “household gift-wrapper”) so thoroughly enjoyed this.




If the foam under the old fabric is in good nick, you’re good to move on. If it’s crumbly or damaged or just plain gross, measure it and go get yourself some foam and cut to size. Luckily ours was perfect and even had wee grooves in it to fit the chair.

Cut around the cushion, cutting out a piece big enough to wrap up and over the wood edges. Tip: If it has a pattern on it, like mine does, make sure it’s facing the way you want it to!




Pull the fabric up and get it as neat as possible on the edges. Staple in place as you go.




Don’t worry, if like me, you didn’t cut particularly cleanly because you couldn’t find your sewing scissors. No one’s gonna see it.  Make sure to fold it neatly over each corner (think kinda hospital corners for bed sheets) and staple in place.




Then put it back in the chair and marvel at your creation!


7 8 9 10


This one’s not so perfect with some paint blobs here and there – remember to smooth over any drips or blobs in your paint as you go.  Once I learned this, the other 3 chairs came out great. And I used the blob parts as a guide for where to scrape when distressing. These blobs above came off nicely with a scraper and I varnished over the nice wood below.



Et voila! a collage of piccies.  I was so pleased with them I wept a tear or two (I am a big sook). I can’t wait to repeat the process again sometime, possibly with our TV unit, and then again when we move to NZ – we’ll need to find us some good chairs there!

Enjoy! And if you do a similar project, let me know!





New Zealand 2014


Below are some pictures of our most recent trip to NZ in April-May (Instagram):



And some camera shots from my Dad’s birthday (I also photographed our wedding venue, but you’re not getting to see that!):




Pity I didn’t use the camera a bit more – I think I was just enjoying it, without trying too hard to capture it.


Under 9 months to go til we go back!








[500th post on the blog!]




I’ve started this post about 10 times but I think I’ve just been awash with work since coming back.

To fill you in, the day after my last post, after I booked to go into the dentist, my condition worsened greatly.  I had a streaming nose, a headache and the toothache just seemed to intensify by the hour. There was no sleeping going on, a lot of painkillers being taken and quite a bit of crying happening.  I felt so helpless to relieve the pain and the more sleepless hours I had, the more difficult it became to cope.



Sunday morning I phoned NHS24 and then the Lothian Dental Advice service, and got myself an appointment for the emergency dentist.  It says a lot about the pain I was in that I couldn’t bring myself to wait any longer. I was going to jump head-on into one of my worst fears – one of the worst situations for me to get myself into.

When I phoned and organised the appointment, I mentioned my fears. I have a problem, however, with saying this without tears, which is kinda funny in retrospect. I mean, I could right now, but I had this ridiculous problem where I would choke whenever I tried to express that I was scared.

They got the point.

I believe she put a note on my file, because when I went into the room (Dave in tow, bless him), they were unbelievably kind and gentle with me, and explained absolutely everything as they went, and while I felt like a small child in that chair that day, I appreciated it so much.



They explained that the crown had broken on the wisdom tooth, and that it was badly infected and needed to be extracted.  After it was pulled she explained that there was “communication” into the sinus cavity, and that was why I had a runny nose and headache, and an awful taste in my mouth.

I was told to rest, not to lie flat, to take ibuprofen and decongestants and was given high-dose antibiotics.  I went to bed.

For a week.



I spent some time on the couch, but mostly I was in bed, sleeping for around 3 hours at a time, sitting propped up, counting the hours between each drug intake.  The pain in my tooth (or where it was, rather) lasted barely any time at all, but the sinus infection raged like crazy through me.  The headache was almost unbearable at times, I was weak and dizzy and so tired, but the worst was the infection coming into my nose and mouth.  I wasn’t allowed to blow my nose, only to wipe if needed, and honestly. I’ve had meningitis. I’ve had pneumonia.  Hell, I’ve had vestibular neuronitis.  All of them were more pleasant than this.  I don’t want to gross y’all out, but it was like having bin juice in my nose and mouth. Or pus-y water. Or something.  It was downright disgusting and after a few days it became seriously depressing.



Despite the joy of eating as much icecream as I could, I spent quite a bit of time crying.  Then I spent quite a bit of time chastising myself for crying.  But I just desperately needed sleep and relief from the pain and the.. discharge.  Once it finally did start to ease and I felt human again, I vowed to never again take for granted not being in pain. I’m typing this right now, pain-free, and I’m so grateful.



And the main positive out of all this? (because I am nothing if not disgustingly positive), I went to my new dentist on the Wednesday, and I wasn’t scared.  I lay in the chair and felt like most other dentist-goers, feeling nervous but not terrified. And despite the fact that my other upper wisdom tooth needs to be pulled in a few weeks? the rest of my teeth are fine.  Like, honestly. Who goes 10 years without a dentist and gets no fillings? I felt like the luckiest girl in the world.



Once I was up and moving again, I put my effort into improving my immune system, yet again.  Vitamins and manuka honey and sleeping at a reasonable hour and getting back into exercise. I’d stopped running because my shoes were terribly unsupportive, so I got myself some new shoes. They’re kinda like running on air.

Oh and I refinanced my debt, which is going to save me like £500.  And I sold some stuff and upgraded my iPad.  That has given me a wee happy boost.



We’ve also had some good times with family lately – Dave’s brother and his wee family are moving back to NZ in September so we’ve tried to get together a bit lately.  Dave’s brother turned 40 and then wee Imogen turned 4, so we’ve had a few celebrations.



And the weather has been pretty good to us, too.  So I’m trying to put that week behind me and focus on the now.

I’m also now the world’s most obsessive teeth-cleaner.







Facing fears



I decided (possibly naively) that this year I was going to face some of my fears. Bold move!  But I turned 30 and thought: now or never.

I’d like to say I don’t have many fears.  But I do.  And as a start, I wanted to tackle 2 of the biggest ones.




That, good friends, is a picture of the entrance to my loft.  Behind the trap door is the entrance to our office/spare bedroom, so you can see how bright and sunny a day it is. Up in the loft, it is pure darkness.

I’d like to say that I was a little girl who was terrified of the dark who grew up to be a woman who scoffed at it, but I’m not.  I don’t know if it’s the films I’ve tortured myself with my whole life or my over-active imagination (probably both), but I still struggle with the darkness.



I used to, as a child, read under the covers for hours and hours with a light – any light I could find. I’d get tired enough that I couldn’t stay awake, and then I could finally sleep. As I got older I have used lamps, hallway lighting (coming a bit into my bedroom) or, well, Dave to help me sleep in the darkness.  When he is on shift, the hallway light stays on until he is home.  He makes me feel safe enough to handle the dark the rest of the time.



I don’t know anyone else with these issues. Sometimes I wonder if it’s just because I don’t ask anyone about it, but I doubt that the majority of my friends panic when they hear a weird noise and burst into tears when in their panic they can’t find a light switch.

So I’m working on it.  My first step is that I tell myself it’s okay. I try to breathe normally. I let my eyes adjust for longer.  I know evil presences are not in my home, and things are fine.  It’s working a wee bit.  I came down from the loft last week holding a box in my hands and I was so very very close to dropping it and jumping down from the ladder just so I could get away from the loft.  Instead, I  took deep breaths, carried on slowly down, and slowly used the pole to close the trap-door.  It was small, but a step.



My other, major, more pressing issue is my fear of the dentist.  I’ve discussed this before, but it’s not a nervousness or a hassle to go, it is panic attack territory. Crying in public territory. Taking 6 months to work up the courage to walk in territory.

When I was a kid, I had a dentist. She wasn’t kind. She wasn’t gentle. And she didn’t believe me when I told her I was in pain: that her injections were not working. She didn’t believe that she had cut the side of my gums when she slipped with her drills until she realised how much I was bleeding. She told me to “stop crying”, that I was “being a baby” and that she’d treated kids in Guatemala who were braver than I.



I’ve never forgotten that feeling – being told that my feelings and fears were invalid, that I was stupid and small and a baby for putting my hand up to say I was in pain.  I lived in fear of this every time I went, and together with the fact that I knew it would cost me thousands (living in America and then New Zealand, where socialised medicine unfortunately does not cover dentistry), I eventually stopped going.  I think it has been well over a decade since I last went.



Well. Today, I walked in. I’ve been in pain for days, and I’ve been so scared to do anything about it, but I can’t put it off anymore.  Luckily, we have the NHS, so it will be affordable, and everyone I met when I registered today seemed nice.  I asked for an appointment with a dentist who was good with nervous people, and hopefully she will be. I go back on Wednesday.



Part of the motivation for all of this fear-facing is that it’s likely that I might be pregnant at some point next year and become a mother, and if I can’t look after my own teeth or cope with my own home then how am I going to chase away the big bad for my little ones? How am I going to convince them that dental hygiene is important if my teeth are rotting away and I’m ignoring the pain?

And I think what makes me break down over these issues and cry is that I am so hurt by these two things that are so very irrational. I know there is nothing in my loft or waiting in the dark for me and I know that I need to look after my teeth and not all dentists are horrible, but my own brain is fighting me on it.  It’s like my own mind is failing me, and that is so disappointing.  I need to stand up and say that I am bigger than these fears.

I need to be able to be brave.  And so I go.  Wish me luck.





Around here lately



It’s been busy yet chilled lately. It’s been a time of small pleasures.



The weather has been fantastic.  A few weeks ago I bought us this ridiculous tiny but effective BBQ for the garden at Tesco for £20 (they’re now even cheaper). It was the colour that attracted me, of course, but it’s great for these super long, warm days we’ve been having.



I’ve had quite a few afternoons outside gathering freckles on my arms and shoulders, and giving my legs some sun. It’s one of the perks of living up here and not having that pesky ozone hole, but of course I’m still being sun-careful.



The sun is dipping down and giving its last wink at about 11pm now, so you forget what time it is all the time, and the sun is only just gathering its heat when you leave work, which is great. It does feel like summer.



I also took my first tram ride last Thursday!  It was super exciting in that geeky way. It’s not really that handy to us or to anywhere I usually go, but I can get into central town from work really easily if I want to, and I thought when I went to get my hair cut, I’d take it. It was good fun.



And speaking of the haircut, here it is.  I wanted to lose some length and weight for summer and just have hair that I can style instead of just piling up in a bun. It has backfired a bit in terms of keeping me cooler, because it’s so thick still and now it sits just on my neck, which isn’t ideal! But I still really like it and am glad I lost the length.  It’ll grow so fast that by the wedding it’ll be long again…



Oh and I went to Glasgow on Saturday and met Carine and had Wagamama then went to The Pierces – I love them so much, it was really exciting to get to go and see them live (they were incredible), and it’s always kinda fun going across to Glasgow. It’s like going between Wellington and Auckland, but in 45-60 minutes. Crazy.

And in other news, we’ve started a wee craft project – we finally bought some dining chairs but they’re a bit dated so we’re sanding and painting them. Photos will be shared once they’re done!  I also have some photos from New Zealand to post…








Thought this might be a good start to get me back in the swing of things here.



Watching:  Since we got back, we’ve been catching up on so much TV.  We had a lot of Game of Thrones to catch up on, and I’ve spent most of my free time since we got home catching up on silly shows like Friends With Better Lives (already cancelled, just as I was starting to enjoy it) and Bob’s Burgers (always a firm favourite) but also old stuff I still haven’t finished like Breaking Bad.  Sometimes it’s nice being a homebody, and my first 2 work weeks were so stressful, it was good to just chill in the evenings.



Thinking about:  Summer plans – I have many. Most of them involve getting off my ass more, getting in the garden on the weekend to relax instead of on the couch, and eating better.  We’re also working on seeing people more often, with some dinner plans already.

I’ve been doing alright with the eating better.  I’m also trying to be more organised, and cleaner. I’ve got a new coffee machine, which I love, and it’s nice being sort of together in the mornings by having a coffee made as I leave the house.  I’m also trying really hard to keep the house together, but I need to try harder. It’s a mess this week.



Reading:  I’ve gotten really into ASOIAF book 3, and I’m about to finish that. Dreading some of the more important plot points, though.  Tragedy is never far away.  I’m also reading the BtVS and Walking Dead comics.



Celebrating:  Friends of ours had their wee baby Meriel last week and I made her this cross stitch. She is just beautiful and we’re all pretty excited. Another friend is due in July, so I get to cuddle lots of babies this summer. Always good.



Making me happy:  Last night I went to my 3rd TCGTE live show which was brilliant as always, and took Helen along with me. They put my name on the door because I’ve helped them out by delivering posters, etc, and because I run a Quotes account and Tumblr (I am such a geek).  It was really great fun and you should get it if you’re into podcasts. They’re funny and genuinely just good people.



How’s you? Hope all is well.





Back to normal


Well it has been an adjustment, the past few weeks.  Going back to work was tough, because my boss and I had a crazy busy first week, and then she was off the second week. It felt like I’d had no break at all.



This week is better, but it’s only just begun.  I’ll put up a post tomorrow and another later in the week, but for today I just need to breathe a bit.

Hope y’all have been good.