Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Tah Dah!

Ladies and gentlemen I present to you the newly recovered 99p chair.

Just so you don't have to go scrabbling around this is what it looks like before.

It isn't perfect but I do think it is a pretty good first attempt at upholstery.

I am not going to go into how I did it as I would look a fool and there are hundreds of descriptions on more accomplished blogs out there. Suffice to say these things I learnt along the way.

1. Your hands will hurt and look pretty ugly during the process. I am not a hands and nails kind of girl at all but they did look pretty dreadful. Nail and staple scratches are not pretty.

2. Take your time and take photos as you remove the old fabric. (This works better if you don't have your phone stolen with the photos on it.)

3. Label and number the pieces of fabric as they come off. You want to put them back in reverse order.

4. Iron the old fabric and lay it out on the floor so you can work out how much fabric you need. (This is revolting but essential.)

5. Decide whether the last person who covered the chair knew what they were doing. If yes follow them if no follow them and use your commonsense to make adjustments. There are at least two parts that I really wish I'd done this.

6. You will use a lot of staples.

7. GO SLOWLY! Tack each piece of fabric in place with a few staples and check it is right before properly stapling it in place. It is a pain to take out 30 staples just because it all needs to shift 1cm to the right.

8. Doing your own upholstering is cheaper than hiring a professional but it is not really cheap. Yes you may well get the chair for a bargain  but upholstery fabric is expensive and your will need more than you imagine. I did splash out on Jorja Wilkinson fabric because I have been yearning to used her denim owl fabric for ages and as the chair had cost so little I felt I could justify it. This place will help keep fabric costs down:

9. It may well be worth giving the chair a bit of new padding. Ebay has loads of cheap sheet wadding. This also has the advantage of being fire retardant so will give you peace of mind. I didn't want to attempt removing all the old padding and springs as I know my limits and it was all in good condition. However giving it a covering of wadding freshened the whole thing up.

10. It is really addictive. "I'll just do this little bit and then I'll stop. Oooh! Look how nice it looks. I'll just do that little bit......Ooooh! Look! It's starting to look like an actual CHAIR and it's 1am and the neighbours are getting annoyed at the sound of the staple gun........"

11. A pair of long nose pliers are very handy as you tug the fabric through the slots in the frame.

12. I have a very patient Matey who came and said nice things every single time I called him upstairs to show him the new bit I'd just done. He also managed to not point out that I looked crazy as I stood looking at it with what can only described as a  bear stare while saying absently that I'd come to bed in a minute.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Chicken, mushroom and white wine risotto

I used to hate risotto. Every time it was claggy and sticky and I just did not like it one bit. Until several years ago I went to a dinner party only to discover that a prawn risotto was the main dish of the day. "Smile and eat it." I said to myself. It was fabulous. Mentioning my surprise to the chef he pointed out that most risottos in restaurants have been hanging around for a bit so go gungy. His was out of the pan onto the plate, onto the table and eaten with no time to go bad. A revelation!

I still thought that there was no way I could do it at home until I had a very yummy one earlier this year at the in-laws which inspired me to have a go. Several edible but not so great risottos followed until this one which I can honestly say is easy, yummy and can be made out of leftovers.

Ingredients for 2-3 people
Risotto rice - 1 handful per person plus one extra for seconds.
Chopped left over chicken (or cooked chicken thighs, one per person)
1-4 cloves of garlic (I like garlic but am aware not everybody does!)
1 Chopped onion
100g mushrooms - I go for chestnut mushrooms.
1 mug of white wine - You can of course leave this out and replace it with more stock.
2 mugs of water with 1 chicken stock cube - I find oxo cubes work best for this. Clearly if you have proper stock this is better.
50g Parmesan

1. Fry the mushrooms till they browned and put aside with the  chicken
2. Get the pan nice and hot with  a drizzle of oil and fry the onion and garlic until softening then add the rice.
3. Reduce the heat and put about a ladleful of the stock and white wine into the pan. Keep stirring until the liquid is mainly gone, add another drizzle and repeat.
4. When the rice is close to being ready add seasoning and stir the mushrooms and chicken in. Keeping cooking until the rice is soft and ready to eat. You may need to add more water.
5. Before serving stir in the Parmesan.

Authentic it is not, yummy it is. Last night I could have twice as much but it was all gone.

Monday, 2 September 2013

I'm back to normal finally.

Don't tell me! I know that you were on the edge of your seat wondering where I was and what I was up to. Phoning insurance people mainly. The banks sorted out replacements in a matter of days. The insurance lot however agreed it all pretty quickly but three weeks later I have only just got a replacement phone have had one small payment but am still waiting for the main cheque for the rest of it. The insurance people must be sick of my voice as I took to phoning them daily for a bit of a chivvy up. However this is somewhat depressing as it means that three weeks is positively speedy in their world.

No means of taking the odd snap means that blog posts get very tedious. I would be the first to say my photos are rubbish but I do at least try to ensure that they show the object in question thereby clarifying what I've been wittering about and possibly negating the need to read all the nonsense.

While I have been very good about waiting to get the cheque to replace stuff but with replacement cards arriving I did crack within a few days and got a purse. I tried to hold out before buying a bag but after two weeks it was driving me mad carrying my bits around in an increasingly grubby Daunt Books bag. At my Matey's suggestion I went for a satchel so I could have it on me when cycling but still retain a modicum of style.

Now don't tell me that satchels are boringly ubiquitous. I KNOW! I actually wanted one way before the current trend started but had a really lovely bag so couldn't justify it. I have slightly skirted around the trend by going for for a small 11 inch satchel which does not have the 'school' name plaque at the front. It also ensures that will carry the things I need instead of the entire world in my bag.

So here it is. From the Leather Satchel Company. A British manufacturer which has been making these things since the 60s. Their bags come with a 5 year guarantee and is totally customiseable. (Beat that "we don't do custom orders and are more expensive" Cambridge Satchel company)

Any gripes? Only one very minor one. I asked for a few extra holes in the strap. As a shorty I always end up hammering nails into shoulder straps to get them to the right length. The person who added the extra holes seems to have got a little carried away. It looks a bit odd to me but I'm sure I won't notice it at all in few weeks time. I should add that I never like new bags when I first have them. Even if I have chosen them, spending weeks, months even, deciding on the poor thing. Yes I am that fussy. This bag looks far too new at the moment and I can't wait for it to get properly bashed about and develop some character.

I do fear however that on my dutch bike with my shiny gold helmet and red satchel I look somewhat irritating. At least I'm not wearing a cape...until the fabulous 60's navy blue one I've just ordered from Etsy arrives...
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