Sunday, 23 October 2016

Autumn - Fresh Starts

There is no fresher start than the dewy golden glow of an Autumn morning.

Crispy leaves under foot crunching away the summer warmth. Frosty mornings warmed with porridge. Cooler nights bringing in logs for the fire. Asking for extra cinnamon on your frothy chai latte. 

All signs we are about to compete for the sassiest vintage cape, the opaquest of tights and all the mustard coloured knitting we can get our hands on. 

So get your scarves out, hats out and drag those boots out, because it's time to get yourselves out into the cold wet air that frizzes your hair, and embrace the fact that you're about to get a hard-to-shift cold. 

Some of you may have read my blog post this time last year about Autumn and why I love it so much. It's a special time of the year that always conjures feelings of new beginnings and fresh starts.

At Pigeon Villa, we've had the freshest batch of newness in our lives, recently. The closure of meanwhile... has snapped my neck with the swiftness of the about turn. Something new; a big fat unexpected END to a dream that became a reality. How would we respond as a friendship group and, more immediately, as a family. All a bit new, that was. 

The shop opened in the Spring and closed just as the Summer was coming to an end; crunching beneath our feet like the delicate shattered dreams of all the traders. BEEL! 

But onward we all had to go, and fast. With the impending necessity of turning the "Pigeon Storage Room" into the next baby's nursery, it was obvious extra storage was urgently needed at home. 

I'm not going to bang on about my ace new project The Pigeon Hole, just yet. But here are a few photos of it coming together:

Me in it
Mr P on it
The beautiful view from the roof
Building a log cabin seems a bit extreme, doesn't it? Well, it's the only place dedicated to me, the business growing and hopefully getting back into making and arting. So it feels like a necessary project for my sanity and our storage issues. 

It's been such a tiring and long drawn out process, but we are so close to be able to reveal The Pigeon Hole in all its glory! 

Autumn this year has given us time to stop and take stock of what we've achieved this year. We've been lucky souls, though we've not always felt it. While lathering protective oils and paints on the shed, I've been thinking about all the new beginnings on the horizon. 

Being pregnant is making me emotional and reflective. Enjoy Autumn and all the new beginnings and fresh starts it brings to your horizons! 

Monday, 17 October 2016

Fixing and Doing - Retro Foot Stool

We do loads of upcycling here at Pigeon Villa and I want to keep sharing what we do with you all. You may have read a while ago about the chairs we fixed up in preparation for sale. I mentioned then and will repeat unapologetically that we do love a bit of fixing and doing at Pigeon Villa. 

It's become second nature to spot the potential in old furniture and notice areas to revive and reuse hand-downs, skip-raids and house clearance items. 

This little raggedy Anne was one of the latter. A cute 1960's foot stool that had been covered by the previous owner. There were a few marks and the fabric was fusty and didn't compliment the slim slender and much sought after dansette legs.

As soon as I got this one home, I knew precisely which piece of fabric I'd be hunting down from my ever growing stash of vintage and retro material. 

This blue, purple and green bit of gorgeousness was part of a stash I bought during a "cheer me up" trip to Horncastle, last summer. It's a pair of large curtains that don't fit anywhere in the house and the curtain tabs are very worn. They're one of those items that I always put a bigger price tag on at fairs, knowing that I'd much rather keep the fabric for this type of project, so I'm glad the stool rocked up when it did.

I had a stall at LouLou's Vintage Fair at The Baths Hall that weekend, and it was already Friday afternoon, so I wanted to crack on with reviving the stool so I could take it with me. 

I stripped the fabric carefully to make sure I could use the original as a template for the new. 
It seemed, once bare, this cutey revealed she was entirely handmade. The family we bought it from had explained that their Dad was an amateur carpenter, often taking furniture to pieces to reuse elsewhere in the house. It seemed, he was having a go at upholstery, too!

The two foams were glued together with some sort of expanding glue, meaning I didn't have to worry about them shifting when recovering. They weren't stuck to the wooden base though, so I used some leftover carpet spray glue to hold the foam in place.

Laying the original down on the new fabric, meant I would definitely get the right coverage and shape.

I decided to put the old cover back on, after a quick hoover  and hand wash. It was in ok condition to provide some padding and keep the edge of the stool smooth and rounded. I turned it over, to make sure the raised pattern wouldn't come through.

I stapled the fabric down with a staple gun, and then flattened to prevent bumps, using one of StanleyPigeon's toy hammers!

I added another layer of padding with some old wadding I had kicking about in a craft box. There was just enough to cover and it was so light and easy to use now there was the extra  layer protecting from the rough old sponge.

I knew my book binding skills would come in handy at some point in my life!
The wadding really made it feel more professional than just covering the stool in a fabric. It means that wear and tear will be less likely and the stool is more comfortable. It protects the new fabric from the old one, too.

I wasn't happy with these corners or overlap at all, but with the way the stool had been originally made, it was tricky to ensure a good clean edge from all angles, without having to overlap onto the leg brackets.
Once all those staples had been flattened out with Stan's toy hammer, I polished the legs up and popped them back on. We were over the moon with how it turned out and felt a bit attached to it immediately.

The stool drew a lot of attention at the fair, but eventually made it's way to meanwhile... where it only lasted two days, before being snapped up by a very happy customer who is adding it to her new living room that has a bohemian vibe.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

We're All Mad Here

Yesterday was World Mental Health Day. You may know this from all the cutesy poems and pretty memes making their merry way around Facebook to cheer you all up and make you feel less alone in your suffering. I know it by being fortunate enough to have some very brave and brilliant people in my life, sharing their experiences. 

And, well, here's some truth. I'm waving my bingo wings in mutual (but actually really lonely) misery with anyone else suffering from mental health issues. I'm not doing too bad now, but thought it the right time to share my experience of feeling really rather shit. I'd say enjoy your read, but, you know... Enjoy. 

After having our beautiful little creature, StanleyPigeon, I was "diagnosed" with Post-Natal Depression. Way to go doctors. You did it. You made it worse than it already was. That label to me, meant "you can't actually do this. You can't mum as well as you're meant to. This baby has made you terribly sad and it's his fault you don't want to wake up in the mornings." 
That was what cracked me and made me realise this wasn't normal; the not wanting to do the "living" part of having to live. Do not misinterpret that as me wanting to be the big D. So so far from the truth! But having to do the living after the waking up and then later trying to sleep, knowing I'd have it all to do again the next day. That is what made me realise feeling sad and tense and worried and down and not good enough and on edge and in knots about the tiniest life details... That wasn't supposed to happen. 

The day I was diagnosed with anxiety. We took Stan to soft play. Sometimes smiling happened and that felt great. 

This was when I felt a huge difference between what I thought was depression and what I was experiencing; anxiety. Eurgh. It bloody wasn't Post-Natal Depression, it was anxiety; about Stanley not wanting to breastfeed anymore (hormones are a KILLER), about going back to work, about losing friends who turned their backs not knowing how to cope with anxiety, about friends and family saying "what have you got to be sad about, look at Stanley he's so happy!". 

Anxious about getting it right and being right and feeling right. None of that was right. 

I had OK days where I'd attend a MummyFit session at a local park and that helped immensely. I'd remember to eat something myself those days and I'd talk to people those days. 

After a MummyFit session, with my chubby Stan

I was referred to my health visitor who came and we had a cup of tea and I curled up in our woven 1960s tub chair, sobbing into my cuppa. She crouched on the floor next to me and explained the following: 

"Post-Natal Depression does NOT mean you're shit at being a mum. It does NOT mean your sadness is related to Stanley or your new life. It does NOT mean you can't cope. It is a term used for any mental health sufferers upto two years after having a baby."

Well that changed EVERYTHING. Whether she was lying to make things feel better, I don't care. She changed my world in those few moments. The fog completely lifted. I could look at Stanley without guilt or blaming him and realise it was the external factors of returning to a workplace that didn't want me back, my hormones being all over the place because I wasn't needing to produce milk anymore and one of the biggies: losing my hair (no one had told me I might go a bit bald after having a baby! This hit me like a tonne of hair that had fallen out of every new mums head!). 

Stupid hair trying to cover bald patches

I was free from all the doom of believing it was all from me. 
I have so much to thank my health visitor for. She then referred me onto a "new guy in town". He was over from LA teaching mindfulness and was working wonders on the people of Scunthorpe. 

Tom frightened me to begin with. He was a real gentle guy and he was actually local, but had moved to LA following his passion and love of wellbeing and mindful meditation. Tom changed the way I see and think forever, though actually, a lot of what we discussed week to week was always clear and in the back of my mind:
Think of NOW. What are the "dangers" around you creating anxiety. Do they exist in your immediate proximity? Are you in "danger" from them? Is there anything you can do about them? Are they REAL? Do you believe in them/trust them/respect them? Why do we let those things affect us? 
Are you a mind reader? Do you KNOW what that person is thinking? Are you just presuming those people can't cope with your mental health issues? Are you assuming *this* is how they feel because it's easier? 
Are you WELL? No. And that is perfectly OK for the time being because you are bright enough and strong enough to help yourself out of the darkness. 

Tom and my health visitor and people around me (mainly Stanley and a couple of total gays) changed my life last year. And I have them to thank for making me see the darkness, accept it as part of how my brain functions and then develop ways of recognising and growing out of it all. 

We went for a lot of walks to clear our heads

One of my smaller mechanisms for clambering is the silly and totally detached from reality Instagram. It's where I found a moment of relation, recognition, sometimes jealousy, but always a smile. Finding other ladies and girls who were into the vintage scene as stylists, traders, lovers of dreams and makers of another reality. They were who I wanted to "be around". My virtual Vintage Girl Gang. So, gathering the girls up is sometimes slow because I don't have the time I'd like to actually develop the idea (I have SO MANY), but the VGG was a step away from feeling "mental mumness". 

Today, is International Day of the Girl and I want to take this opportunity to share a thank you to and from all the Vintage Girl Gang for being strong and brilliant women. Some of the girls have shared their experiences of mental health "issues" or "problems" (I like to just see mine as dips so that I'm not having to fix or find solutions to them). These girls are braver than you know and are strong women leading such varied, interesting and stylish lives. Have a read about them all by clicking on the Vintage Girl Gang page

I'm laid here, at 6am writing this post, while I remember some really dark days and real moments of clarity. 
Stanley has made his way into my bed after his 7th night of "allnightlong" in his own bed. His morning routine now consists of celebrating his allnightlongs and then laying with baby at his insistence. These moments are mixed with equal love and worry that it might all happen again with baby number two. 

This time though I'll be prepared, tooled up and will be able to recognise the dark before its hanging over the family

I'll turn to my family and my gay mates, I'll hold my babies tighter, let go of my brain a bit and just embrace the surge of weird feelings that comes with being a bit "mental". 

So, to all the supposed "sufferers"; don't feel suffered. Feel united that you aren't the only one out there who feels lost or broken or unstable. We are all in it together! 

Aldi PANdemonium

This week instagram has gone all hearts-for-eyes over some pans. We all crave a bit of Catherine Holm's classic and bold kitchenalia. ...