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Author Archives: Sarah Rooftops

Monday Walk

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This morning, I took a donder past Lola’s house so I could shove a bunch of books about conserving paper through her letterbox (I can’t explain; I was just the delivery girl). She lives right on the edge of the Aberdeen University campus; it’s one of the prettiest parts of town and I should have taken some time to wander around taking pictures of the spring flowers and the ancient buildings. But I didn’t. My legs were achey – either from doing twenty minutes of Wii Zumba yesterday or from spending most of the weekend curled in a weird position under the cat.  You decide.

I did take my camera with me, though, and got a few photos on my way there and back.

Mixology

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Have you heard about Mixology? It’s a great big mix CD swop which you can sign up to on Tumblr or Facebook (I don’t know the person behind it and she hasn’t asked me to do this post; I just think it’s a cool idea and deserves a little publicity).

Actually, I’m a bit nervous about joining in. I love receiving handmade compilations – I still have every mix tape I’ve ever been given and I don’t even own a tape deck – but making one is a different matter.

It used to be I would spend hours making mix CDs for friends. I loved thinking about what sort of music they might enjoy but not have discovered for themselves yet. Mix CDs are so personal; my friend Simon and I even made a compilation of alternative love songs for some friends’ wedding present because we didn’t have the money to buy them any Spode.

But I’m not a music geek anymore.

I have about twenty go-to albums which I know will get me through my ironing but I hardly ever add anything new to the pile. In fact, in the last two years, I think I’ve bought five albums – and one of those was because I heard an interview in which David Tennant said he liked it.

As for the mountain of old albums, I’m a little scared to listen to some of them. Last time I decided to go on a musical nostalgia trip I made the mistake of listening to My Bloody Valentine. Perfect soundtrack to weird nineties indie films (something else I’m scared to revisit) but you’d have to be either stoned or insufferably pretentious to sit through the albums. And I sat through the albums many times. And would not have flunked a drugs test.

Yes, I used to be a proper music snob. I loved rifling under the counters in the damp, dusty old basement of Fopp. I claimed to like the crackle of vinyl. My blue haired boyfriend wrote a fanzine and let me be sarcastic all over the back page. I didn’t even mind hanging around outside the Lemon Tree in the rain because he was still busy interviewing Bis.

So making a compilation now… on the one hand, it’s daunting because my tastes are not comtemporary; whoever gets my disc will get a lesson in jingly jangly nineties cynicism. On the other, it’s a scary prospect; I don’t want to have to rethink my fondness for Sebadoh.

But, you know what? I’m going to give it a shot. If nothing else, the CD I receive might drag me a little bit into the modern music scene. And I can crinkle my nose up at it and make jibes about MySpace. Or whatever the kids are using these days. And who knows – perhaps I might even like it?

The Week I’ve Had (24th April 2011)

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  • Taking Steve to Wagamama for the first time. Here’s his jasmine flowering tea:
  • Helping Polly open her first ever bit of mail.
  • Admiring our new ornament.
    (I’ll calm down on the cat stuff soon – promise!)
  • Going to the theatre.
  • Finding our first dance class was cancelled so going for tapas and wine instead.
  • Getting to sit in a bookcase at the tapas place.
  • Putting my spare memory card in my camera and finding this:I remember taking it – it’s Steve and his globe – but I can’t remember why.
  • Celebrating Al and El‘s fifteenth anniversary of dating with a 90s night in the pub.
  • Trying (and failing) to stave off our hangovers with icy cold fruit drinks at Tinderbox.
  • Reading Room by Emma Donoghue which sounded worthy and irritating but was actually rather wonderful.

More Spying Out the Window

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Guess who got a new camera? Yeah! Me!

Borrowing the work camera last weekend was a chance to properly try out the Lumix FZ45 and decide if I wanted one; my great-aunt sent me exactly enough money to buy one two months ago and I’ve been holding off until I was sure it wasn’t just a passing fancy.

It wasn’t.

I love it. Between this and my trusty compact, I feel prepared for all visual occasions.Alas, it’s been a dreich kind of day, so I made do with a bit more windowsill-perching and spying on passers by. I’m constantly amazed by how unaware people are of me watching them, with or without my camera; I walk around gazing up at windows and the twiddly bits on buildings most of the time.

In the interests of not being completely creepy, I’m not photographing strangers’ faces – it seems unsporting when I’m not at ground level – but here are some pictures of the rest of them.

It’s Cherry Blossom Time Again!

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Taken on the way home from the Student Show last night. Who doesn’t love cherry blossom?

Creepy Mannequin Party

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Today I was at an event in a gorgeous old museumy building (I’m being non-specific on purpose here, I’m afraid). The very nice lady who oversees the events there let me up onto the disused wooden balcony to take photos and what should I find but a heap of creepy, battered old mannequins lounging around up there?! She kindly let me take a few pictures of them – enjoy/shudder!

Today I Made…

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…a reversible sewing machine cover!

It’s maybe a little baggy but I created it without a pattern and filled with trepidation about turning it the right way round once it was all sewn up so I’m feeling pretty pleased with myself.

The black fabric I bought specially but the white is a vintage bed sheet I found in a charity shop years ago and couldn’t resist.

Polly was, of course, a huge amount of help trying to stick her paws between the scissor blades and catch the fabric on its way through the machine!

The Week I’ve Had (17th April 2011)

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  • Lots of playing with Polly who has properly adopted us now. Lots of playing. Every chance she gets.
  • Finally finishing Fingersmith. By “finally” I mean it’s taken about two weeks which is forever in my reading world. I’m still not sure if I liked it or not.
  • Receiving two parcels of awesome fabric in one day. Parcels of awesome fabric are the way to go, aspiring gift givers (hint hint).
  • Coming third last in the pub quiz this week. Third last. Out of nine. *looks smug*
  • Having a stinking rotten day on Wednesday but getting home to find Steve had bought me gingerbread flavoured fake-Baileys. Yay!
  • Feeling a bit poorly but being looked after by the cat.
  • Loving the bright colours inside the photocopier at work.
  • Getting some fresh air on Friday lunchtime.
  • Finding boxes of sewing patterns in a charity shop. Alas, all but one were either hideous 80s styles or for children. But that one exception was worth it. One day I’ll be up to making a fitted, floaty blouse!
  • Benefiting from Steve’s latest cookbook purchase.
  • Enjoying a really quiet weekend to myself.

Sunday by the Sea

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Today has been beautiful and sunny so Steve and I ditched our vague plans for a pub lunch in favour of chips and ice cream by the seaside.We took a wander along the beach and found ourselves in Fittie, a pretty little former fishing village which is like no other part of Aberdeen. Even the old wooden outhouses are beautiful.

Out of the Window

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Today was not a day for leaving the house but I was keen to experiment with the work camera so Polly and I sat ourselves on the living room window sill and spied on passers by. I took heaps of photos just to see what the camera could do and how far it could focus but here are just three (plus the obligatory one of the cat):

Crazy Cat Lady with a Camera

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This weekend, I got to bring the superduper camera home from work. Joy! As luck would have it, Polly chose this evening as the right time to overcome her fear of the front windows, so I got to sit on the sofa at the other side of the room and take these:

(please don’t use photos of my cat without linking back here!)

Making Time

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Earlier today, I came across this post by Cassie at The Veda House and some of it struck a chord with me.

Now, I’m not bad at recognising my small successes – I’m always looking for an excuse to have a celebratory bakewell tart (“Yay! I put my tights on without twisting the legs back to front!”) – but what I’m not great at is motivating myself to make things.

If you’ve been stopping by here for a while, you’ll know that I like to think of myself as a wee bit crafty. I spend a lot of my working life designing things for other people. I sewed up a couple of items I’m proud of when I had a scheduled class to go to. I’ll chuck together a handmade card for about 25% of the birthdays my Google calendar reminds me about. But my head is full of plans of things to make… and very few of them ever get done. If there’s no deadline or timetable or obligation impelling me, I’m much more likely to waste my time on Facebook.

What Cassie mentions in her post is that making time to create things is just as important as making time for all the less fun stuff – if I can find twenty minutes to get the dishes washed, I can set aside twenty minutes to make… something, anything. Just to be getting that creative buzz.

Well, tonight was not a night when I could devote much time to crafting, but I did snatch a quarter of an hour to throw together something I’ve had in my head for a couple of days – a velcro-legged spider for the cat. Polly has a real thing for chewing velcro; she looks so pathetically hurt every time I tell her to stop chomping on the loop of velcro wrapped around my laptop cable – I thought I could make her something velcro-related she’s allowed to enjoy. So I did:I could point out everything that’s wrong with the spider – I chucked it together in minutes without a pattern and it’s by no means a quality piece of workmanship. But that’s not the point. The point is that I found the time to make it. I crossed it off my list. I was pleased with myself and Steve seemed fairly impressed.

Polly less so.

But she did give it a bit of a sniff and chew thoughtfully on one of its legs for a while.

I consider that to be a success.

 

The Week I’ve Had (10th April 2011)

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  • Giving my sewing machine a thorough clean.
  • Being unexpectedly offered the beautiful Polly on Tuesday morning.
  • Waiting impatiently for eight o’clock on Tuesday when we could go and pick her up!
  • Resisting the urge to drag her out from under the sofa and forcibly cuddle her (but being thrilled when she started letting us pass her biscuits and rub her ears from a safe distance).
  • Watching The Big Lebowski and drinking white russians.
  • Not being able to stop grinning when Polly finally emerged and started rushing back and forth between Steve and me, rolling on her back and demanding attention.
  • Grinning some more when she started squirming her way through the sofa cushions to see me when I got home from work.
  • Not doing much non-cat-related stuff at all due to the overwhelming need to sit in my flat and gaze at her. I’ve come over all crazy cat lady.
  • My mum coming to stay on Saturday – this involved two lunches out and dinner at a pizza place.
  • Trying not to gloat about my Scrabble score.
  • Finding this book in TK Maxx – it’s nothing but book covers from the past eighty years and I spent an hour gazing at the pictures when I got it home.

Along Came Polly

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Everyone! Meet Polly! (but slowly and quietly because she’s very, very timid)Despite her kitten-like appearance, Polly is about 7-8 years old and came to us completely unexpectedly. A friend of a friend had adopted her from the SSPCA, but their other cat wasn’t making her feel too welcome and so, on Tuesday night, she came to live with us instead.

Poor Polly has had a tough couple of months and we know nothing about her life before that other than her previous owner decided to move out and leave her locked in an empty house. She’s ever so timid – it took 48 hours for her to come out from under the sofa and she still runs and hides every time she hears anybody in the stairwell – but now that she’s decided Steve and I are okay she’s turned out to be a huge sook and extremely playful. We are so in love.

The Big Tidy Up: The Living Room

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And finally: the living room!That carpet is still not clean *sigh* however some things I love about our living room include: the big knitted blanket over the sofa which my mum made; that wooden box (it’s an old vacuum cleaner case) the lamp is sitting on which used to be my mum’s scrap fabric box and is now my one; the dresser which a friend and I spent weeks sanding and varnishing; and the multi-coloured chair which my sister and I painted after I scavenged it off the street.Steve’s computer corner is missing from these pictures because, well, mountains of Metal Hammer magazines are not that photogenic…

Some details:Prints by Zara Illustrates – I bought them because the camera-headed girl and the sci-fi brained ginger boy made me think of Steve and me. The cats were presents from workmates years and years and years ago when I was in hospital; the tankard has been in the family forever; the sneaking alien is Steve’s and makes him laugh.I love this mirror which I found in Matalan and decided to live on beans and toast for a week to buy; the butterflies are by Lily Greenwood; the birds are from Erin Jane Shop.Kirsty brought me the green elephant back from Sri Lanka; the suitcase I found in a charity shop and intended to turn into a table – I’ve since decided I like the wide open carpet area (and not having to shift a table every time I play on the Wii) so it’s just tucked away and full of fabric. I still think it looks pretty sat in this corner, though.

The robot clock I found in a charity shop; the rocket decal is by Holly.My grandparents brought me this mug back from Canada when I was little; the cat letter opener was a present from my mum; the rabbit planter I found in a charity shop for £3 and houses all of my buttons; the telescope (just seen) was my Grandad’s.

So there you go: that’s our home. Now who wants to show me theirs?

The Big Tidy Up: The Bedroom

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I love our bedroom. I love the mismatched wooden furniture. I love the bed jammed under the window. I love that it’s south facing and yellow so even on the most miserable mornings we wake up to a sunny, bright room (though these pictures were taken on a rainy, grey evening…).

Alas, it’s had a rough time, this bedroom. It started life painted peach. Peach?! Ugh. It had a beige 80s light fitting which didn’t even work (and whose light switch was hanging off the wall). Worst of all, it was the room which suddenly turned mouldy one stormy autumn week. Poor thing – it needed to be massively replastered and painted yellow for a second time. But it did teach me the fine art of wallpapering.

I’m on the hunt for nice underbed storage boxes!

This is the corner which had to be repaired. As the chimney has only just been repointed, I’ve only just got around to prettifying it:The globe nightlight is from Steve’s childhood; the love birds bag a present from Kirsten; the furniture was all found in charity shops. The S & S photo is my own; the You + Me print is by Niftysmith – it has the loveliest paint slodgy texture; the monster with his head in the clouds is by a local artist called Gabrielle Reith – I bought this from her at a craft fair and she was just as lovely as her artwork.Steve’s childhood Rancor watching over us as we sleep.I can’t pretend these chests of drawers don’t always have hair dryer and mobile phone charger wires all over them. The poppies painting was a present from my mum; the wooden box was a gift from my dad when I was very little (and very excited to have something lockable to hide secret things in). I love the First Aid box which has been passing back and forth between my sister and me since we were tiny; I also love the hand mirror which I found in a charity shop last year for 50p. Some of the other boxes are temporary measures until I find some prettier way of storing make up and jewellery.

The Big Tidy Up: The Kitchen

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The kitchen: our dated 80s spaceship.

Perhaps the next person to own this flat will replaster the kitchen walls and replace the tired old units; I took the considerably cheaper painting everything metallic blue and replacing the hideous plastic door knobs approach instead. It’s the room I’m least happy with but it’s also the room I use the least so I feel no urgency about figuring out which bits are too cluttered and which too bare. In the mean time, we have just about enough storage, just about enough counter space and a dining table under the window which we do sometimes use.

Here are some details:We finally got around to hanging baskets inside the cupboard doors last week. Other than a couple of boxes of cereal, the top shelf of this cupboard is piled high with different types of tea. The rest of our hot drinks supplies are here:The Droste tin was a present from my friend Rowena years ago; the tray and jar were charity shop bargains.I don’t know where to start talking about all this! The kitchen kind of functions as one big notice board, but the bulk of that is here.

The red bird decals (of which there are three) are from Elephannie; everything on the fridge door has a story.

We gave the current bunting craze a Steve-friendly twist; not homemade, alas, but bought at the Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh. The print is from Sweet Dee.

Big Flat Tidy Up: The Bathroom

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So, in amongst eating lots of pub meals and baking cupcakes, last week Steve and I managed to get a fair bit done around the flat (remember how we were going to gut the place?).  This week, I’m going to take you around each room showing you some of my favourite bits.

Today: the bathroom.

The bathroom was painted white when I first moved in – it was grubby and boring. It also had a few of these blue and yellow tiles dotted above the bath:

I wouldn’t have chosen this design but, rather than go to the hassle and expense of retiling the whole room, I decided to work with them. I painted the walls the same navy blue and I think it really works – much more dramatic. The photos are all my own, the wall shelves I got on sale in Argos when I first moved in. The main thing I wanted to address this year was the amount of stuff being stored in a pile on the floor under the basin, so I took this bookcase (which I found at a car boot sale years ago) from the living room, painted it glossy black and gave it a new home.

I dusted this before taking the picture – this is just light reflecting off the paint! Ick! And the hearty duck (which I bought many, many years ago and which used to flash disco-style) is just perishing. The yellow duck was from one of the centrepieces at Karen and Mark’s wedding last year. I’m not sure we were supposed to take them home… I love this mirror which was a present from my sister years ago.

And there you go: that’s the bathroom.

A Proud Moment

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It’s Monday morning and in twenty-five minutes’ time I have to go back to work. I love my job but I’m not ready to think about being there yet so I thought I’d distract myself by showing you what Steve and I did yesterday:Curtains!

We’ve been procrastinating about hanging curtains since the windows went in in November but my mum’s coming to visit this weekend and is going to want a little privacy while she’s sleeping on the sofa-bed. We couldn’t put it off any longer.

Steve hung the curtain rail which had to be attached to the ceiling – terrifying! It seemed like the fittings must surely slip straight out of the rawl plugs or the plasterboard crack but everything seems reassuringly secure!I chopped a second hand pair of curtains (remember the perfectly coloured ones from the warehouse sale?) and hemmed them, with only one “There is.no.correct.tension for this sewing machine!” crying fit. The stitching’s still a bit loopy – guess I need to give the machine a proper clean – but I’m ever so proud.

Also… please consider this post advance warning: I’m about to indulge in a week of home-related entries. I’ll be starting by showing you around our bathroom this evening with the rest of the flat to follow over the coming days. I’m not going to pretend our home is constantly spotless, effortlessly tidy or endlessly stylish, but – I don’t know about you, but I love having a nosy around other people’s homes, so I hope that at least some of you get a bit of a kick out of it.

The Week I’ve Had (3rd April 2011)

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So here’s how I spent my week off work:

  • Edinburgh with Kirsten.
  • A killer yoga class. Ouch!
  • But it was made less painful by the coffee and cakes which I enjoyed with Sue afterwards.
  • An unplanned pub dinner with Steve.
  • Coming second last in the pub quiz for the fourth week running. We know our place!
  • Paying sooooooo many bills.
  • Roping Steve into helping clean the kitchen. Here he is emptying out the booze shelf: Such joy!
  • An unplanned Beautiful Mountain lunch with Steve.
  • Never Let Me Go.
  • A pub dinner with Kirsty.
  • Hairspray at the theatre complete with strawberry ice cream, the cast being rushed off the stage unexpectedly and Micky Dolenz having a laughing fit.
  • Tea and cakes with Karen.
  • My final beginners’ sewing class. Here are the cushion cover and skirt I made: The skirt is not a style I would have chosen but I’m so pleased with how well it turned out and I’m much more confident with my machine now. I’m probably going to sign up for the advanced class, too, as it teaches us how to use patterns.
    (oh, yeah, and picture credit to Steve)
  • Celebrating Sue’s birthday.
  • Admiring Steve’s increasingly pretty cactus baby.
  • Stocking up on DVDs.
  • Traipsing all over town in search of a size eight drill bit.
  • An afternoon visit from a Simon seeking tea.
  • Wondering why my hand wouldn’t stop twitching for hours on Friday.
  • Baking white russian cupcakes with Steve. We had excess icing so we also topped some chocolate digestives.
  • Drinking improvised spiced pear mojitos.
  • Celebrating Elinor‘s birthday with a pub lunch which turned into a full day of nattering.
  • Dancing the night away.
  • Thinking about all of the above and buying a zumba game for the Wii. It has not come out of its packet yet.
  • Gearing up to hang a curtain rail with a very fuzzy head (and a drill)…

How has everybody else’s week been?

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