Saturday, 19 July 2014

Thoughts on marriage

Diverting from the usual programme of craft-related tales, I've been thinking a lot recently about weddings and marriage.  Andrew and I will be getting hitched in about 9 weeks and it's an exciting time, with lots of things still to organise, buy and make.  I wanted to write down some of my thoughts here now, so I can look back in years to come and remember this special time in my life.


Amazing engagement photos from Zoe Campbell.  See the original post here.

Andrew and I have been together for nearly 9 years, so in a lot of ways getting married is just formalising something that we've been living already, just without the official label.  We already live together, own pots and pans, have a small, furry dependent and treat each other's parents as though they were our own.  Interestingly, we had yet to amalgamate our finances (a process we're finally getting round to just now) so have spent the last 5 years since moving in together doing an awkward, "you paid for the last load of shopping, so I'll pay off the dog's vet bill" dance.  It'll be nice to finally streamline our accounts and have one savings and one current, rather than the half dozen accounts we currently own between us.  Hilariously, I've just got a bank card for his (now our!) current account and having carefully memorised the pin number, the pin for my original bank card has now completely slipped my mind.  Apparently I can only hold one 4 digit number in my brain at any one time...


Although I'm really looking forward to the wedding (cake made of cheese, YUS!), I'm actually looking forward to being married far more.  The wedding will be fun and it'll be lovely to have all our friends and family together to celebrate with us, but at the moment it's just one endless list of To Do's - finalise the cake, finish the bouquets, book tables and bars for the various hen activities, buy extra candles...etc. etc.  Between finishing the internship and starting a new job, I sometimes feel a bit overwhelmed and stressed out by it all.  I like our little routines, our quiet domestic life and although the wedding is going to be amazing, at times it feels almost like it's getting in the way of us being able to enjoy each other and live our lives.  How silly is that?


Our favourite place for dog walks - Longniddry Bents.  My favourite view of Edinburgh from across the water.

Which brings me onto my next point, MARRIAGE you guys.  It's a big deal.  People say marriage takes hard work and I can imagine it, we've had our ups and downs over the past 9 years and it hasn't always been easy but I guess when you're 'just dating' there's always that thought that if it got really tough, you could just walk away (though with so many marriages ending in divorce these days, I guess that could be true of tying the knot as well).  I've never consciously thought "I could leave right now" but I guess now that we'll be legally bound to each other (there's no religious aspect for us personally), there's the added pressure of a break-up being that bit more awful and heart breaking.  I'm not saying it's not awful and heart breaking for unmarried couples, just that it adds that extra layer of seriousness in a way.  Emma of A Beautiful Mess recently wrote an interesting post about her experiences of marriage one year on from the wedding and she made a good point about talking about and making goals for your marriage with your other half.  It's something Andrew and I haven't ever really done, we've always been waiting for the next step in life, 'when we graduate', 'when you get a job', 'when you finish vet school', 'when you're finished with the internship'.  There's always been something holding us back from living our lives in a way; we were both students, then I was a student, then I was unemployed, then Andrew was unemployed...the list goes on.  I feel like getting married is the start of our 'real lives', I'll be in full time employment in a job I (hopefully) love, Andrew is working on his business plan, we'll have some spare cash for the first time in 9 years, we can FINALLY live life properly, not constantly waiting for the next stage before we can relax.


The view from our window.  We're very lucky to live in this amazing, old tenement.

I've been thinking about goals for our first year of marriage and I thought I'd write them down here, so I can refer back to them for our first wedding anniversary.

1) Make time for date night - we're bad for this, between all the upheaval of the last few years, spending quality time not slumped in front of the TV has become difficult to organise.  Then this year for Christmas I bought Andrew and I Dominion cinema membership (if you're in Edinburgh and fancy a super-plush experience in a refurbish 1920's cinema, complete with leather sofas and foot stools, come to the Dominion) and it's really brought back date night.  We get a bit dressed up, buy ice cream on the way or wine at the cinema and go once a week to see a movie.  It was expensive but totally worth it for encouraging us to spend quality time together.  More of this please!

2) Treat ourselves to a nice holiday - the honeymoon doesn't count, this is about marriage, not the wedding.  We're pretty bad for not spending money on big things like this, with the thought that we're saving for a house.  We've been on one proper holiday abroad together in the past 9 years and it was a city break to Paris when we were students, so totally on a shoe string.  Honestly though, the time spent together relaxing on a beach and the memories you make are totally worth waiting an extra year or two for that elusive property.

3) Decorate the flat - because we've always had half an eye on buying a flat, we've never really made our flat our own.  Sure, I've hung pictures and made cushion covers, but I mean painting and sanding and changing the name on the door.  We've always been planning to move - after vet school, once I have a job, when we find a place with a garden for the hound...etc etc.  There's that 'waiting for the next thing to happen' theme again.  Well, we're not moving any time soon so the time has come to paint the bathroom and buy our own coffee table and put nails in the walls.  This old leaky flat will be ours for a few more years yet I feel.

4) Enjoy just being.  Stop constantly looking to the future and worrying about the Next Big Thing.  Just enjoy being young and healthy and together and take each day as it comes.  Life is too short to be stressing about buying a house and getting a job and generally letting the little things get you down. 

Weddings are a funny thing, you can get all wrapped up in the fluff and ceremony and forget that it's about spending your life with your favourite friend.  I'm very lucky to have found that person and I need to remind myself of that every day.  Andrew supports me, makes me laugh, loves me for who I am and encourages me to be a better person.  Here's to the next 60 plus years together, Team Dyce for the win!

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Thrifted Laura Ashley cushion cover

I thrifted this lovely upholstery weight, wool, check Laura Ashley material from Freecycle years ago.  If you're not on Freecycle and you're into sustainability, recycling and generally trying to live lightly on the planet, you should definitely get involved.  You join your local group and people give things away for free, to save them going into landfill.  It can be anything from old vacuum cleaners to tiles left over from tiling your bathroom, to sewing and knitting materials or off-cuts of carpet.  It's a great group and although I'm not as active in mine anymore, I definitely gave and received my fair share back in the day!


I received a bag of Laura Ashley curtain material from a lady in north Edinburgh and still have the odd bit floating around in my stash.  For this cushion, I was going for a hunting-shooting-fishing outdoorsy vibe, as a housewarming present for a friend who lives on a shooting estate in the country.  Homewares with animal silhouettes seem to be everywhere at the moment and I've always thought it would be something that would be easy to make myself.  I didn't have quite enough to make the front wide enough, so I had to cobble two bits together.  I'm pretty pleased with my pattern matching though, it's certainly not immediately obvious that's it's two pieces sewn together.  Recycling you guys!


I used some golden yellow fabric, again from the stash (go me!) for the dog outline and back.  I inherited the yellow material from my friend Mary Jane after her parents cleared out some fabric from their farmhouse.  It's a lovely, golden yellow colour and complements the check material perfectly. 


I wanted a simple, professional finish so I stuck to a style I knew I could do well i.e. no zippers or buttons!   Much as I love buttons on a cushion, I can't always guarantee that they'll turn out well and since this was a quick, stash bust project, I just wanted to keep it simple.  I appliqued on my dog, then sewed the front and back right sides together, leaving a hole to turn it inside out.  I then stuffed it with recycled stuffing from a dead pillow and hand stitched the hole closed.  Using the same stitching pattern I use to close a bitch spay.  Just so you know. 


Overall, I'm really pleased with the finish.  It looks smart and the recipient didn't even realise it was handmade!  In retrospect, the dog looks a little chubby (or maybe pregnant) so next time I would give him more of a waist.  He is supposed to be a working dog after all.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Thrifted wool zipper purse

I knocked this up last week in about half an hour, now I'm comfortable enough with the tutorial to be able to do it from memory.  I needed a new purse, since mine was ex-charity shop and falling to pieces, and after having a very satisfying reorganisation of my craft room (including some purging to the fabric recycling/charity shop, proud of myself) I found these lovely autumnal wool scraps that had been languishing in my stash for god-knows-how-long.  I'm not even sure where they originally came from, but I love the colours so I'm glad I kept them.


The zipper is a vintage one I traded for online, some clothes that didn't suit me for a giant bundle of vintage zippers.  I haven't bought a zipper in years and it'll be a while before I've used all these bad boys up.  They're proper chunky, old-school, with big metal teeth and a bring-it-on attitude.



The tutorial is a super simple one from Molly's Sketchbook at the Purl Bee.  I thoroughly recommend this blog for their inspiring posts, beautifully shot photographs and lovely tutorials and projects.  This tutorial is a lovely, simple introduction to sewing with zippers and has endless opportunities to alter and personalise.  Perfect stocking fillers, for those of you organised enough to be thinking about the dreaded C-word already!