Hobby 4: DIY Photo Frame

Unlike the majority of my crafty endeavours, this one actually went as planned, first time, with no strops. I’d give it a success rate of 95% (the 5% drop will become clear soon…).

I’ve always loved Instagram but I find due to the excessive filtering, if you print them out for a standard 6 x 4 photo frame, they turn out looking pixelated and poop, so I wanted a quirky way to display my pictures whilst maintaining the quality.  I headed over to trusty Pintrest for some inspiration from places like here to create the below:

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And I’m not just saying this, but it was actually REALLY EASY to make.

My first port of call was the agonising process of choosing a select few prints before placing an order with Polargram. Polargram are a local company who print & post your selected Instagram pictures to you in a polaroid style fashion. And they sent sweets with your delivery for which me and my sweet tooth were very grateful for. The quality of the prints were excellent, delivery was speedy (and free I believe at the time) and exactly what I was looking for.

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To make the frame, I used:

  • 1 x plain wood photo frame
  • 1 x paint tester
  • String
  • Pegs
  • Photos

I bought a plain wood (or probably wood substitute if such exists) from Poundland and a white wall paint tester from Homebase to decorate the frame after knocking the glass out of the frame. Obviously you could pick any paint colour, or just buy a frame in your colour of choice, but you get the idea.

Next I got my string and hooked it behind those prongs which hold the glass in place and pinned my photos up using some very cute mini pegs from Hobbycraft (they aren’t the exact ones used, but there’s lots to choose from! Anything mini & pastel coloured is a win in my books).

It really was that simple. The only part I failed at is not actually hanging it up anywhere, I just propped it against the wall of various rooms around the house. Now Albie uses it as a play toy. At least I have the photo graphic evidence to show it wasn’t a complete fail!

Hobby 3: Netball

Back in my youth, I was proper sporty.  Between running club (shout out to Ryston Runners) and football, I also played for the school netball team. However by the time I got to high school, I pretty much gave all that up to concentrate on defacing homework diaries and school disco outfits.

It wasn’t until I got to uni that I really remembered the sport actually existed. So in the early stages of freshers, my friends flatmate suggested we join a casual netball league. “Casual” they said, “it will be fun” they said…  Genuinely my only memory of this is me skidding across the court, falling flat on my face, with my trainers making that squeeky skidding-along-a-sports-hall noise that I can still hear like it was yesterday. Cringing hell. Needless to say, the only activities I took part in throughout the rest of my university career were drinking games.

So last Summer, my friend’s mum who is a proper netballer (in that she plays for a team every week) mentioned there was a ‘Get back into netball’ session being put on locally for 8 weeks throughout the Summer.  It came at a really good time as I was going through a period where I was staying late at work too often for my liking, so as sad as it sounds, it gave me a good reason to leave on time.

My main concern with seriously taking up a team sport was a ‘Mean Girls’ scenario. Even at 25, as much as we try to get away from it, girls can still be really cliquey and bitchy.  Ain’t no one got time for that. The get back into Netball sessions weren’t at all like that, as many of us were all in same boat i.e. actually getting back into netball & not really knowing anyone in the sport. Although there were groups of players from the same team who stuck together, no one knew everyone which meant everyone was really friendly and I just felt like I could chat with anyone really!

Whilst I’m all for a bit of competition, as it was a casual league with no serious point scoring going down, it was all very lighthearted which is exactly what you want when you’re getting back into a sport. I never really felt like I was rubbish or letting anyone down.

In a team, you don’t really get a chance to try other positions but as it was all super casj, as long as the bib was available, you could play it! Whilst I realised I am a TERRIBLE defender, at least I tried it to know that I don’t want to do it again! Variety is the spice of life and all that.

A couple of girls mentioned about playing for a team. At first I feigned enthusiasm, however in my head I was thinking “oh it’s x amount of miles from my house”, “I need to fork out for a kit myself?!” and “I need to register with Netball England?! Can’t be bothered”. If I was that fussed, I would have driven / bought kit / registered but I realised  that whilst I didn’t love it enough to commit to seriously playing week in week out with a team, I really enjoyed the 8 weeks of meeting new people, re-kindling an interest in sport and generally being outside on a Summers evening! I’d definitely recommend it and would 100% look into taking part again this year.

These are sessions are held by England Netball and available across the country. You can read more about them here.

 

Hobby 2: Upcycling

I like to think I’m quite a creative individual with a basic level of DIY under my belt (highlights include hacking at a metal rail with a kitchen knife for a built in wardrobe), so reading through realms of upcycling blogs, I was optimistic. But it’s so simple, I thought, just add a slick of paint and pop it on Gumtree for a hefty profit. Oh how wrong I was!

The first step was to find a piece of furniture, so one Sunday, we moseyed over to a carboot sale where I would surely find a solid pine, spotless coffee table for a fiver. Not quite, but amongst the jigsaw puzzles, broken photo frames and plant stands (plants? who knew people sold shrubbery at car boots?! I sure didn’t), I found this:

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The first alarm bell started ringing when I was reminded of my complete lack of negotiation skills. I just find it so awkward! The seller already haggled herself down from £15 to £10, Seb offered £8, and when mrs car boot seemed hesitant and started justifying her £10 bracket I hurriedly chipped in with, “10 IS FINE, WE’LL TAKE IT FOR 10”, with Seb glaring at me across the way. Apparently you have to be prepared to walk away, soz.

So excuse the negativity, but here’s all the stuff that went wrong when I got this lump of wood home..

1. There are just so many types of paint available on the market isn’t there?! I knew that chalk paint was good for furniture, Annie Sloan is pretty much the bees knees of the stuff as I understand it, but it’s pretty expensive. I did some light research and all the DIY-ers did recommend all different kinds – matte, gloss, water based, oil based, and confusingly, some of them are the same but are just called different names? I was pretty bamboozled in B&Q to be honest, so I’d suggest doing some INSANE research before shopping to ensure you get the exact finish you want. In this case, I got a glossy finish and for something that isn’t 10000% smooth (despite all the sanding), it just showed up every single teeny mark. Marks I could’t even see until I painted it!

2. Whilst my project started off exactly as I imagined it (sanding & cleaning outside in the sunshine – loving life), the majority of it was cooped up in our spare room, engulfed in fumes, with the door shut to stop Albie treading paint paw prints throughout the house. I thought it would be soothing & therapeutic, but I actually got pretty bored (and probably high), pretty quickly.

3. My choice of furniture could have been better for a first project – it had 4 compartments which obviously all had to be cleaned, sanded, primed & painted which to be honest, was a bit of a pain and in hindsight, I should have bought something squarer and easier!

4. Oil based paint gets everywhere, EVERYWHERE if you do not have white spirit. Apparently you just need cold water to clear brushes but this is not true. I can’t even explain how much it gets everywhere, anything you touched the brush with transferred to the cleaning object so it never actually cleaned, it just spread! Which is messy, especially if you have a black sink.  Ugh, it just pains me thinking about it again!

5. Paint DOES get underneath masking tape.  I still how no idea how.  So my vision came from Pintrest and is below:

Upcycling - the dream

The problem was that mine didn’t turn out QUITE so neat after seemingly not understanding how masking tape works, so this is what I’m stuck with:

Upcycling - the reality

In summary, I think the main flaws of the project come down to two aspects of my personality unfortunately . I am an inpatient perfectionist. I wanted the project to be perfect first time but didn’t have the patience to make it happen! I would like to try another upcycling project like this, but one that is a bit simpler.  I’d probably have more success with everything I’ve learnt from this disaster, but I’ll proceed with this in a few months, when the stench of fumes eventually leaves the house…

 

 

Hobby 1: Running

I’ll start with the hobby with the most longevity behind it, and that is running.

I feel like there’s SO many people (including me) that are guilty of claiming “I’m just not a runner”. Yes, some people may find it harder and that first run is, without a doubt, THE WORST OF YOUR LIFE, but if you have a working pair of legs, you can run! Even just for a couple of seconds. Look at it this way, at least 30 seconds running is more exercise than sitting on the sofa! You just need to build it up, keep at it and have patience. Don’t try and run before you can walk, literally. 

I wish I could take my own advice – I came back from my first 0.8 mile run around the block sweating profusely, red as a beetroot, feeling sick all with a sore throat (probably from swearing at Seb 99% of the way) adament I’d never go again. Apart from the latter, I still do all of these things but find the whole thing much more enjoyable!

As I’m sure you’ll soon gather from my other attempted hobbies, I have zero patience. If I’m not good at something immediately, I’ll be completely demotivated, hate my life and chuck all hobby-related paraphernalia in the bin. I’m not sure what it was about running, but I really wanted to get better.

My first tracked run was 20th August 2014 where I ran 1.35 miles which took me 13:26 minutes (roughly 10 minute miles). My PB for distance (lol, so profesh) is 7 miles which I did in 1:04:29 (9″11 minute miles) on 11th January 2015. It’s not even the distance but the time duration – running non-stop for 1 hour at a decent pace makes me really proud!

You’ll feel knackered after every run, whether it’s for 5 minutes or 5K, so using a running app to keep track and see your progress in cold, hard numbers is really motivational. I’ve used Runkeeper & Fitbit but they’re all very much the same. So when you’re feeling like you’ve plateaued, take a look through all your tracked runs and if you’re going regularly enough, you’re going to start doing longer distances or running a quicker pace, and that’s a promise. 

Getting deep here, but not only does running help with that ever present fitness / I want a bangin’ body aim, but I genuinely think it’s good for your mind.  Something about being in the fresh air with your own thoughts  really clears your head if you’re worrying, having a bad day, feeling restless, the list is endless! Do you ever have those Sundays where you’ve slobbed around the house and by about 7pm you’re deep in Sunday blues territory, feeling gross and unproductive? Going for a quick run makes you feel like you’ve achieved something with your day!

If you’re kind of into the idea, but not fully committed, go out there and buy some bright, ridiculous, crazy running gear which makes you happy to wear, and you’ll be flying!

Also reading “Running Like A Girl” is super inspirational – read it!