Thursday, 31 March 2011

Kitchen Progress: Part One

No packing done yesterday in the end. Instead spent the whole afternoon trying to make a decision about what sink to get. Had to be cheap, so that narrowed it down to stainless steel or white acrylic; then got distracted by the post-modernity of black acrylic* but then remembered the horrible tidemarks that coloured sinks get. No lovely china butlers sinks - we'd probably drop a saucepan on it and smash it within a week. Needed to be here within days so trawled the "buy it now" permutations. The does-it-come-with-plumbing-bits-or-not had to be factored in, then I realised what I was looking for was nice parallel lines on the draining board. Not swanky, fiddly, sunburst designs or over-elaborate curved bits; don't exactly want to spend my whole life cleaning the damned thing any more than necessary. Then, for a few quids more, I could get the luxuriousness of a-sink-and-a-half. It wouldn't matter if the kids suddenly had to run the cold tap for a glass of water just as you've filled up the washing up bowl. Ooooh, the poshness, the life-enhancing possibilities... Only one met the parallel lines criteria. Then, for the umpteenth time, I put the tape measure across the wall, which is only 5-and-a-half-feet, and realised by going for a compact, single bowl number I'd magically gain 15cm of worktop. Done! £42..... fabulous. I don't think it comes with plumbing, and the model has a K before the T in its name; the plumber had better not suck air through his teeth and start muttering about incompatibility of pipe diameters when he sees it.

*that its been done before, and was naff, but suddenly looks "new" again.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Kitchen Update Is Go!

A couple of posts ago, I wittered on about some things getting done, some things never getting done, and some things getting done eventually. A lot more posts even further ago, I wrote about my impending new kitchen layout, and the purchase of worktop, taps and cupboard doors at bargaintastic new year sale prices. And then nothing happened...

My 2 tricky tradespeople finally, finally, yay!!!!!, now have a day when they can both be in the same place at the same time - ie my house. Got a phonecall yesterday, almost out of the blue after all this time, to say its going to be Kitchen Makeover Day next Thursday!!! Funny how I was just clearing out the under-sink cupboard, stripping it back to essentials only, just before the call. Will now have to shift a truckload of Midwinter to a safe corner of the house, and empty all the cupboards ready for The Day Of Mayhem.

Will post a before pic of the whole room, instead of just the "pretty bits", before it all gets annihilated by workmen. Then, in several months time I will do a big reveal of the new look on here. Joking, its all getting done in A DAY - yes, the kitchen IS that small. I'm not good at house-moving, things involving packing and tend to leave these things til panic is setting in. Well, not this time.... I am armed, with bubblewrap and plastic crates. Just one more cup of tea first...

Oh lordy, just realised I'm listening to someone murdering re-interpreting Wuthering Heights mashed with Kate Nash. Interesting....

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Trouble At The Supermarket

After the awful news about Sian O'Callaghan being abducted and killed by a taxi driver, I had a bizarre dream about my debit card being stolen, and that taxi driver getting hold of it and using the pin number because the bank hadn't cancelled it.... Later that day I went to pay at the supermarket, by card, and the keypad had a wonky button and was putting one of the numbers on twice... Of course, my card got refused and I had to whizz up the road for some good old-fashioned proper cash, and go back and pay for my now-melting Ben'n'Jerrys.

This morning Living Etc arrived, with its usual delicious eye-candy, and some especially lovely homes on pages 66 and 134. Pink cushions and textiles - totally gorgeous, which got me well and truly in magpie-mode for today's trip to The Bigger Town With Better Shops Than Here. Funnily enough, all I ended up with house-wise was some funky Habitat notice board magnets. Though I finally found The Perfume! I am now wearing Sanctuary's Wild Rose and Violet (with sandalwood, silver tea and magnolia). Delish.

Aside from the perfume, a close second as Highlight Of The Day had to be spotting a little boy in Wimpy who was a dead-ringer for the blond Charlie in the first Charlie & The Chocolate Factory film. He was wearing the red polo neck too. Which I imagine was some kind of post-ironic statement by the child's parents. Obviously, I was in Wimpy purely to imbue the 12 year old with social history vis a vis how high street eateries used to be once upon a time.

Diy chez Trashsparkle is having to be pretty quiet at the moment - there is a new baby on one side of us, and a not-very-well old lady on the other. So I have self-imposed a no-drilling-and-not-much-hammering rule. This led on to a decision on what to do with the wall going up to the loftroom. I was planning a montage of old family snaps, but hadn't found any thin black square frames. Am now going to go a moodboard instead, which is a fab excuse to dig out some Liz Taylor postcards...

Au sujet de Liz, I went to bed dog-tired last night but ended up reading the James Christopher photographic biography for an hour, right up to the  4th marriage. I'd bought it years ago because of the fabulous pics, but had never got round to reading it. Rivetting. She was the last of a kind.

* Guardian weekend mag

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

A Birthday, A Film and The Sound Of Music

Some things get done, and some never do, and others get done a very long time after they should have. A rough system by which life usually ticks by quite nicely. Not sure which category filling in the census form will fall into. Half-minded to put some fairly impossible answers in, just to add to the dodgy legacy that the human race is already leaving for future generations....

Anyhows, a prime example of the above is that we now have sound on the computer again! Hurrah! I swear I hang to the 21st century by the merest thread, such is the frequency of times that my life ends up back in the technological era of the 70s and 80s.... The computer used to work without speakers, then would only work with headphones, then died acoustically altogether. The last 2 states coincided with my having un-cabled everything computer-related to move the room around twice. Hence the flawed logic that getting round to repeating the process a 3rd time but without the furniture moving would solve the problem. I did the cables. Zilch. I plugged in the speakers (that we'd never bothered to connect up). We got Lady Gaga, the track the 12 year old had put on for soundcheck purposes. Mornings with 6 Music on! Hurrah!

And yes, he is now 12! A birthday in the house yesterday, envelopes ripped open with the sole intent to create 19,000 pieces of paper where 3 seconds ago there had been one, lots of popcorn, chocolates, a big cake, candles... and we finished off the evening watching Despicable Me. Its lovely!  A big guy with a squashed head, pointy nose and skinny legs who does Bad Things To The World, but does all these things because his mum gave him an inferiority complex.  He owns a dog that is part cactus, part crocodile, and lives in a big, black house (anyone remember Winnie the Witch?!!). Daft, cute, hilarious things happen, all fantastically animated, with a bit of Russell Brand and even Julie Andrews thrown in. It even starts off with a bit of Girl From Ipanema.... And,of course, there's a Happy Ending.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Trashsparkle Is Not Leaving The Building

Having difficulty with this morning. No, not that itv programme (tho' I would probably find that difficult)... a timetable adjustment this week means I have a 3 day weekend. Which gives me 6 hours of I-Can-Do-Anything-I-Want for the next 6 hours... Apart from drink myself senseless, or go on a city break, or anything else that would render me highly visible, through my inebriation or absence, to social services.

Am having those 6 hours at home, to recharge a bit. Which narrows things down to catching up with form-filling, finishing painting the fence, dusting, bagging up unwanted clothes, listing on ebay.... or perhaps just sitting outside in the sun with coffee and reading the weekend papers, or watching mindless drivel snippets of sardonic design gold spouted by the likes of Laurence et al.

Definitely deflated by the way the world's going mad(der) at the moment; the scenes in Japan are worse everytime I watch the news. Saw a local fire chief who'd seen 45 of his guys lost trying to close the harbour gates against the tsunami, and now struggling himself to carry on in his role. And Libya..... oh, crazy, ugly, times.

As I've learned over the years, sometimes you just have to blank a lot out, and feel lucky that you've got a blue sky and hundreds of clematis buds about to burst into pink flowers on the hedge just outside your little window on the world.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Finds, Ancient and Modern

Some more pics of "Things Around Trashsparkle Towers That Hide The Unfinished DIY".

These frames went back up again this week, after the wall-painting-effort a few months back. There's still a patch of turquoise in the top right corner where the roller wasn't long enough...keep meaning to sort that out. I love the dudes sprawled on the Belgian beach - from 1936. All of these have been picked up at various flea markets and car boots.

The mantelpiece is a moving feast. After the tinsel and lights got put away, it was in a Minimalist Phase; just a few candles and black'n'white postcards. Then I was given the orange Sanctuary box - it looks better against the grey wall in real life than this photo -  so I had a bit of a re-shuffle from another shelf and let these wooden figures come along and join the colour fest.

They're all from flea markets/junk shops. The Aqua Manda bottle was cheap as chips, just as they started rocketing on eBay. I found the red salt'n'pepper dogs in Greenwich market in the 80's - nobody's ever liked them, but I lurve them. Found the little green book this week - a real coincidence, as I'd read something about Edith Sitwell last week.

Does She Walk The Walk?

Today's Guardian Guide has a silly snippet about The Model Agency, about which I've held forth before... It got me to wondering what Carole White had looked like when she was young, and a model herself.

I tried to imagine her gaunt, collagen-depleted face as she once might have looked in her "heyday", given her still-amazing high cheekbones and the fact that maybe-once-fabulous-eyes get smaller as you age..... Basically, had she been all that, was she walking the walk in her guise of notoriously tough model agent?

This, apparently, is her model card photo. Yep, she does.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Dreams, Then Real Life

A strange day.

Stayed up til stupid o'clock, catching up with peeps in blogland and went to bed at 1, falling almost straight into a bizarre helter-skelter of a dream (conspiracy to kill a long-ago ex-boyfriend, and accidentally incriminating myself by leaving an enormous bra at the scene were the gist of it, as well as it featuring the usual strands of trying to run a bath, and trying to phone work but getting the numbers all wrong). Woke up at 5 after hearing some sort of bang, then lay there for ages retracing the stages of the dream... finally went back to sleep just before the alarm beeped me awake again.

The 13 year old hurtled out of his room - he'd been on twitter and had picked up the news about Japan. Say what you will about a boy who's opted not to leave the house or see anyone since October, and who has led to my various run-ins and dealings with an enormous range of the public sector re his lack of education, the reasons wherefore, etc,etc; he's a social media genius, very savvy about the world, and a total delight to be around (most of the time - he's a teenager... you know how it is...). Trouble is, he doesn't like, or understand the need to pretend to like, actual people. And with him refusing mental health appointments and refusing to see the psychologist, a diagnosis of any sort is not on the cards. Hmm, Houston we have a problem...

Totally awful news, on such a massive scale. You really just feel very humbled, and lucky, to live in a part of the world that's relatively safe. Touch wood. And more than anything you just feel helpless at not being able to do much more than to feel truly sorry. I hope the UN can do as much as possible, as quickly as possible, and stop bickering about whether to get mob-handed with Gaddafi.


ps Musically, I know I've been remiss lately in not waffling on about the Pixies and other great bands on the Trashsparkle playlist. At the moment Sparklehorse features very heavily, and, as much as possible, very noisily. RIP Mark Linkous, who died a year ago this month.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

International Rescue - Pancakes Are Go!

It's ironic how International Women's Day shares the same 24 hours as Pancake Day. I'd not had my feminist radar switched on today, focussing instead on whether we had enough milk, eggs and lemons. I'd only checked the news briefly this morning for the Libya situation, and hadn't been on facebook, so only found out it was IWD later today, through other blogs.

To be compelled to be in the kitchen, today of all days!.... But it's not actually all that bad, seeing as it's a legitimate chance to concoct something that can be eaten with sugar, chocolate and strawberries. How very girly is that! And boys like those ingredients too, so a win-win situation...

I got a shot of the first one, decorated by and for the 11year old. But it's unpublishable - had to shoot it quick, as he was already sugar-fuelled and trying to wave his hands in front of the camera. And the damn battery is so dead as a dodo that it takes about 5 hours to upload the photos*. Let me just describe the revolting spectacle. The prime ingredients were Rowntrees Randoms, but only the red ones. Plus jam. And nutella. With strawberries. And a hell of a lot of sugar. Picture that, and be glad you chose the toppings that you did.

And my love of unfitted kitchens waned further as the batter dripped down the side of the sideboard as it was being ladled into the frying pan. This is why the formica revolution happened - only for us to rip it all out and go back to basics. If basics can be defined as months' old mouldy pancake batter congealing on the floor.

Whilst the 11 year old is telling me that hiccups come from your shoulder, I must briefly relay my amazement that today's House Gift residence was not the usual bland or tasteless. Quelle surprise! It was one of those icing cake houses, with a pale bluey-grey lounge, stripped floorboards, some cool furniture, and quirky bits of vintage this'n'that... I think Mr liked modern, but Mrs liked the quirky embellishments... maybe there had been arguments. Cue 3 personal shoppers, a juicy budget and voila... a hefty gold Victorian mirror, squeezed between the radiator and the ceiling, on a lime green wall. Hopefully they were going to think about moving it.

* It's got to go. My13 year old has a better camera than me, but I didn't get time to grab it!

Sunday, 6 March 2011

The Sky's Gone Out

I'm looking out of the back window. Its the same footage on replay from yesterday, and the day before, and the day before... grey, with foliage alternating between quivering a little, the way that the faces of women of a certain age with severely bobbed hair tend to do, and waving genteely in a royal wave-from-the-elbow way. Wish the sky was like an etch-a-sketch, where you could just rub out all the grey and get sunny-day-blue instead.

I'll probably go out there later and build cane wigwams around which to tame the sweet peas. They are wanting to grow far too early and will end up in a heap of smothered pink if I don't get them behaving vertically pretty damn quick.

Talking of colour, it has been a week of Far Too Much Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen. I have caught a couple of episodes of itv's House Gift, a show where 3 "designers" go shopping for one key, life-transforming object which will bring the taste-lacking house owners to their senses. According to which budget the squabbling designers snatch and run off to spend, there is a fleet of cars to chauffeur them around the locale and beyond. Big £1,000 budget gets big car, medium £500 budget get...etc, etc. A bit Goldilocks and the 3 bears, though so far no chairs have been broken. And there's no porridge. Though LLB did bring back, and spill on the floor, a lot of pots of paint.


Friday, 4 March 2011

A Whiter Shade Of Grey

Nanoseconds til I really must be going. To get ready to be vibrant and on-the-ball for The World Of Work. And, no, I am not a football coach. Not even for gun-toting Ashley Cole. I have opinionated teenagers today. It would be mildly more bearable if these opinions were vaguely related to what they were meant to be doing, but no, it'll be as random and disruptive-intent as ever. Maybe I'll take a starting pistol in my handbag today?

And, added pressure, we are being officially checked at the moment, that we are not sitting back filing our nails, reading Heat magazine on our kindles, or worse, writing their coursework for them. So, I must flee to the wardrobe department and try to pull together a Very Good Outfit indeed.

Au revoir for now. And thank frisbees its Friday.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Sofas... And A Trio Of Zebras

Seeing as I spend a fair bit of time on my sofa, I thought I would show you some that are on my wishlist:

This divine purple velvet chesterfield from Sofa Workshop.
It's a 4-figure price... it's so not going to happen.


Jean-Paul Gaultier for Roche Bobois.

Oh, and the trio of zebras? Have a peek at p.189 in April's Elle Decoration. Jonathan Adler and Simon Doonan have a little zebra family "spectating" at their ping pong table. Really sweet. I wonder if they've been animatronic'd, so their heads follow the path of the ball?