Friday, 30 November 2012

Ma Petite Maison

Those of you who know me will know that last year, emboldened by my achievement of transforming the allotment, and seeking a new challenge, I (somewhat naively I must confess) embarked on a new project. I made mention of this project that was eroding my time in some of my previous posts. This is the Restoration / Renovation project of La Petite Maison!

From last summer the majority of my time has been spent at La Petite Maison, stripping walls; knocking down walls; putting up new walls; insulating; painting windows - in fact just about anything that is required in renovating an old house. The most difficult task however must be that of keeping the peace between those much appreciated of all - the men-folk involved in the project, ensuring that all the male egos remain intact. It is also a case of convincing them that "Yes of course they are right" whilst engineering the situation so that what I know to be right is actually what happens. In other words it is necessary to persuade them that what I want done is actually their idea. Admittedly at times this role of peace-keeper has contributed a great deal to the stresses of the project.

Anyway let me introduce you to La Petite Maison. Now please don't be expecting a quaint gate lodge or rambling old country cottage. (If only!)

La Petite Maison is a 1950s bungalow, which upon first inspection needed merely updating and a small single storey extension added to bring it bang up-to-date. Oh Boy! Was I wrong! Maybe it was that my plans were ambitious considering that we planned to do everything ourselves with the help of a few friends and relatives who were tradesmen, or maybe it was that I was just labouring under a misapprehension.

Sorry, I am digressing again - back to La Petite Maison. So we have a 1950s bungalow with three bedrooms, one the size of a broom cupboard, a not very large kitchen, a miniscule bathroom and a reasonably sized reception room. A rather unattractive detached garage and fairly decent sized secluded gardens with high hedges and mature trees accompanied the bungalow.

However upon viewing the property I saw beyond the out-dated decor and as the evening sun shone brightly through the front door and windows, lighting up the hall and front rooms I detected a charming feel to the house. Just as when I first viewed the allotment, in my mind's eye I could visualise how this little house could be transformed. A cross between a French and an English country cottage perhaps?

The realisation of what I was taking on hit me as I handed over the deposit and I wondered if the congratulatory tone of the Estate Agent when I collected the keys was not down to me securing the sale, but was in actual fact sheer relief that the property had sold and was no longer on their books. As I walked out of the Estate Agents clutching the keys with their plastic green key tag, the deed was done and there was no way back - there was nothing else for it, but to launch ourselves wholeheartedly into getting the project started. 

The grand plan was as follows;
  1. Change the front bedroom into the lounge and the existing lounge into the master bedroom.
  2. The connecting door between the existing lounge and the kitchen was to be boarded up and the wall between the broom cupboard sized bedroom and the existing kitchen knocked down. This new room would become a second bedroom with an en-suite.
  3. A new kitchen and lounge/dining room would built in an extension onto the existing room that was the back bedroom.
  4. The wall between the existing bathroom and broom cupbard bedroom would be knocked down and moved over thus creating a better sized bathroom.
  5. The roof space would be converted to become my Creative Space, with one end studded off to create a little room which would house the boiler, fuse box and act as a walk in wardrobe.
  6. Outside the ugly garage will eventually disappear and although there is the potential to build a better one, I intend to put up a summer house / workshop instead - all very vintagely styled of course, surrounded by Hollyhocks, herbs, sweet scented Roses, Jasmine and Honeysuckle.
So that was where it all started and was the beginning of what is turning out to be a protracted and far from straight forward project. I can't offer you the before and after photos, as firstly we are not yet at the stage, and secondly I am still having problems with my blog space allocation, but I would love it if you will join me on the journey and as the work progresses I shall keep you updated on developments.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Out Of Space

In case you have all been wondering where I have disappeared to, I must tell you that I have encountered a slight hurdle to my blogging adventure.

The very nice people at Google suddenly decided to tell me - without warning would you believe? that I have used up all my space!! Now when I took the leap as a novice into the great unknown world of blogging I didn't see any mention of this space allocation thing! If I had been aware of it, then maybe I wouldn't have started off with Blogger and would have investigated some of the other options - Typepad or Wordpress. Oh yes, I can carry on writing but no more photos if you please, and what is text without pictures?

So I have been faced with this conundrum and am working on how to overcome the problem. It is most annoying as I have only been blogging since July of this year and was just starting to find my blogging feet. I don't want to give up just as I have started. 

I have searched to see if other bloggers have had the same problem and many bloggers have been blogging away, uploading photos FOR YEARS with Blogger without encountering this warning. So where have I gone wrong?

If you have any advice I would greatly appreciate it. 


Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Soaping (continued)

The countdown has begun until "Christmas at the Barn" at Lucinda's. A frenzy of productivity is manifesting with the remaining soaps being wrapped; the finishing touches and tweaks to the gift boxes and the final stitches put into the herbal hearts and sachets.

Herbal Bath soak

So let me show you some of the finished articles, all of which are made without using chemical or artificial fragrances or preservatives - the preparation for which began months ago in the garden and at the allotment.

Handmade Rose and Geranium Soap

A delicately floral scented pink soap;
wrapped in pink gingham and floral fabric, tied with a pink ribbon and decorated with a pink rosebud. Scented with Rose Gerananium and Neroli Essential Oils

The Herb Garden Soap

Wonderfully aromatic; I am reminded of of walking through the Herb Garden when the sun comes out after a shower of rain. Essential oils of herbaceous Sage, Rosemary and Lavender refresh and invigorate and I have added finely ground Lavender and Rosemary from the allotment.

The Sea Garden Boxed Soaps

Capturing the power of the Ocean, with mineral rich kelp, combined with finely ground Rosemary leaves and a light sprinkling of sand to help with exfoliation. Lavender, Peppermint and Eucalyptus Essential Oils create a scent of ocean breeze.

Geranium and Sweet Orange Soap

Goat's Milk, Jojoba & Shea Butter

Goat's Milk has long been recognised as a natural skin moisturiser, which is why I love adding it to some of the soaps. Combined with shea butter, jojoba oil and lightly scented with Rosewood Essential Oil, this is a highly moisturising and hydrating soap.

Round Guest Soaps
decorated with the dried flowers and herbs that I harvested throughout the year.

The handmade boxes that I painstakingly designed, cut out and put together are now filled with the guest soaps and decorated with the dried Bee Balm from the allotment.

Flower Garden Gift Box

Gift boxes with 4 round guest soaps.

Gift Box

Gift Box filled with 4 rectangular guest soaps

Well there you have it! A few of the finished products. I do hope you like them. I'm off now to pack up the car and get ready for all the fun of the fairs.