My dressing room(!) – project #2

Having recently moved from a 2-bedroom house to a 4-bedroom house, our priority was to ensure that we had as much storage space as possible from the get-go, so that we didn’t waste time and money having to sort things out further down the line.

I was getting quite frustrated with our storage solutions in our previous home; under-bed boxes for gym clothes, jeans and holiday wear, work wear rammed in with other dresses and coats in the wardrobe and a full to bursting chest of drawers with everything else. I felt I wasn’t using half of my things simply because I had to delve in/move boxes around/upend the entire room to get to something. So when we bought our current house I decided it was only fair that if Sam got a double garage that I should have the 4th bedroom as ‘my’ room. And my dressing room was born!

We could have got a pre-fab kit or got a company out to measure up, but we like to do things ourselves and get stuck in. I say ‘we’, Sam did most if not all of the work. I just ordered a chest of drawers and made it look pretty.

The first step was to rip up the floor (some old pink carpet) and lay down laminate wood flooring. It turned out to be pretty easy as the length of the room was exactly as long as two floor boards. Plus this made it really quick for Sam to cut, so the whole room was laid in 3 hours.

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After the floor was down work began on the wardrobe itself. We spent over 2 hours in B&Q buying timber and paint (though they do cut the timber to size for you so that saved Sam even more time).

I should say, probably quite obviously, that we had already designed the layout of the wardrobe and Sam had measured each section of it to within an inch of its life so we knew exactly how much we needed of each item.

I thought it best to have a bottom board to give the wardrobe more stability and also so that it would look more like a wardrobe as opposed to seeing the grey floor at the bottom of it. It worked quite well and has made it look more like a unit and a bit more professional.

Sam began work straight away once we got home, and within a couple of hours it was already mostly together.

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He finished it off the following day by putting the ‘roof’ on it and securing each joint with a corner clip before painting it.


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Though getting into the bottom boxes to paint is not easy when you’re 6’4″!

He’s pretty proud of his work though (as am I):

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And here it is in all of its finished glory:

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The wardrobe will be covered by a curtain (we’ve just attached the curtain rail), though I need to choose some material for it. I’m thinking mostly white with a grey print of some kind – perhaps a geometric print. I’m not sure though, its something I’ll only be able to decide once I see the fabric in person. The window will have a simple white-ish roman blind on it.

I’m in love with the room! I can’t believe how much the wardrobe holds. And the best part is its all built to our height and the lengths of my clothes. Sam has done a truly wonderful job; not just a pretty face is he! ❤

We’ve joined the #vanlife club!

So I’ve been a bit tied up for a few weeks and haven’t been able to post what I’d wanted to. Work has really got in the way; I don’t usually stress much but there was this one client where I worried so much I didn’t sleep for a fortnight.

Anyway, that’s mostly over now and work is back to ticking along as best it can. Alongside that we’ve been busy round the house (I will totally have to share my new dressing room that Sam built for me – everyone is envious!)

And then this happened 2 days ago:

WE ARE NOW THE PROUD OWNERS OF A VW T5 CAMPER VAN!

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We’ve been talking about converting a van to go travelling in for some time now, well over a year. But vans are so expensive never mind customising them so I honestly thought it was a pipe-dream.

Anyway, on Thursday evening Sam received a message from a friend with this van listing so he drove straight there to look at it. I was a bit sceptical simply because there is so much round the house we need the money for, but I trust Sam’s judgement; he’s an engineer and we have a classic mini so any work that needed doing to the van would have to be done by him.

I was on the train home at the time and only had one screen-shot message to look at, and the van admittedly did seem ok. A few minutes later Sam called me, which was when I knew it was serious:

Sam: I’m seeing the van.

Me: Yes, I got your message. What its like?

Sam: Well, good. I want to buy it.

Me: *rolls eyes* bear in mind we still have a lot of work to do round the house and its my 30th birthday in a few months and we need to save for having children (we found out they are waaaaaaay expensive apparently!)

Sam: Its in really good nick and runs fine. There’s a few bits that need sorting, but its good. And for the price we can’t go wrong [that part was damn true].

Me: [explains he will need to sell the mini long-term as we don’t have money for everything]. I’ll leave it up to you. Just bear in mind the work has to be affordable and do-able by you.

Me to mum: I bet he’s going to buy it. I bet we’ll have to traipse up north this evening to go collect it. He’d better sell that mini.

1 hour later. There is a van on our drive.

AND IT IS BRILLIANT! If not slightly more compact than I imagined, but that’s all part of the fun right?20180330_185622

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So… instead of doing things round the house, my pinterest has exploded with #vanlife pins and ideas and I’ve even drawn out a rough lay out, though that’s probably a tad premature right??

I was supposed to be planting my vegetables this weekend so that’s gone right out of the window.

Anyway, I will probably post a bit on here about how we are getting on converting it, and any recommendation will go a long way, so do let me know!

TTFN!

*so excited!*

Project #1 dresser restoration

Pretty soon after we moved in I knew we needed somewhere to store some of our things; from the board games usually reserved to the under stairs cupboard to our wedding crockery. I searched the internet for a dresser, though finding one with glass doors proved quite hard and pretty much doubled the price. I also didn’t want anything too ‘fancy’ and intricate especially one that could be seen as old fashioned.

I’m quite new to the wonders of Facebook market place. We bought our dishwasher second hand from there so it was the first place I thought to look for a dresser. In the end though, a few weeks later, we found this one on Ebay for sale just up the road from us.

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The paint was sprayed on which gave it an odd effect up close, and whilst it looked white it was actually quite yellow. So we set about restoring it.

After dismantling it into sections and removing each shelf, the first step was to sand off the existing coat to give the paint something to ‘grab’ onto.

Then it was the most exciting part! Paint time! Though I have to say, I had not appreciated the amount of sides, inside and out, a dresser has. I’m pretty sure I developed RSI in my hand.

We did the top of the dresser first in Down Pipe Grey; a dark grey paint by Farrow & Ball. It took 3 coats top ensure the right depth of colour but I’m sure on other pieces of furniture 2 coats would be enough.

The cream came after; Winterbourne White by Farrow & Ball. This isn’t too white in colour, its an off-white without having yellow hues.

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The third and last step was to treat the wood. We sanded the surface to lightly remove the varnish before putting 2 washes of mahogany oil on it to bring out the colour.

The overall result is fantastic!

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& here is the before and after to show just how much went into the project:

I think the re-paint has given the dresser a new lease of life and suits our modern but comfortable family home.

The dresser is in the dining room, which we haven’t decorated yet. The floor will eventually be replaced with grey flagstone tiles with a light grey on the walls. Any guess what my favourite colour is?!

Sam & I absolutely love doing things to our home, but most of all we love doing things together. At the moment, we are redecorating my dressing room and Sam is in the process of building me a wardrobe from scratch. I’ll post about that as soon as its done – I’m super excited about it!

Mystery Blogger Award!

Thanks so much to A life of Vanity for this nomination! I’ve not been nominated before so this is quite exciting!

Go check out A Life of Vanity when you can – she posts about her #vanlife experience so if, like me, you’ve ever contemplated doing just that you’ll find her blog invaluable.

So this is how this works:

  1. Put the award logo/image on your blog.
  2. List the rules.
  3. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  4. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well.
  5. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.
  6. Answer the questions you were asked.
  7. You have to nominate 10-20 people.
  8. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog.
  9. Ask your nominees any five questions of your choice, with one weird or funny question.

Special shout out to Okoto Enigma for creating this v cool concept.

3 things about me:

  1. I’d give my right arm to have a dog. The bigger and fluffier the better. I’m that friend that points at every dog going and practically cries about how cute it is: ‘look at him, but just look at him, look at how he wags his tail..!’
  2. I go through periods of growing my hair long and cutting it off. It averages 3 years from between jaw-shoulder length and nearing my waist. I’ve definitely got the itch again, though this time when I cut my hair off I will donate it to a cancer charity who make wigs for young cancer patients.
  3. I’m currently trying to achieve a forearm stand before my 30th birthday. I’ve *tried* to take up yoga recently but its not going amazingly well…

Here are my answers to the questions A Life of Vanity asked me:

  1. What’s your all-time favorite movie? Probably Lord of the Rings – it is no exaggeration to say that I have watched each film in the trilogy in excess of 30 times.
  2. If you could have a shitload of money but a job you hate, or a job you love for v little money, what would you pick? I’m a happy medium which probably doesn’t answer the question! I’d rather be happy, as with happiness comes less anxiety which you wouldn’t get in a high-powered job.
  3. Dogs or cats? DOGS.
  4. Who should be our next president? I’m not American, I’m British. But I would suggest.. someone who isn’t Trump?!
  5. Who was your middle school celebrity crush? Johnny Depp, though looking back I’m not sure why. I think it was his pirate days that attracted me…

Nominees:

Fiercely Me

Little Van Ventures

Lovely 365

Absolut Lilac

The Chubby Mind

Georgia Beth Talks

Café Avec Christine

Catherina’s Creative Corner

The Half Arsed Runner

5 questions for you lucky nominees:

  1. Are you a Marmite lover or a Marmite hater?
  2. Would you prefer a heavy night out clubbing or a cosy night in by the fire?
  3. Which: an actual book or a kindle?
  4. Do you prefer to be behind the camera or in front of it?
  5. If you could have one super power for a day, what would it be?

Thanks for the nomination and I look forward to reading all of your responses!!

The 3 W’s

This is my first time taking part in WWW – a meme revived by Taking on a World of Words. So here goes, my 3 WWW’s!

What are you currently reading?

To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey. Its written in a diary form which would usually put me off, but its so captivating! Ivey is quite an artist at describing the turmoil the expeditioners faced traversing Alaska and I’m enjoying every page so far. It’s a bit like a re-imagining of the Scott expedition to the Antarctic, but less like a present-day documentary and more a story of colonization and long distance love. Its beautifully raw.

What did you recently finish reading?

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. It was a brilliant read, but not as good as A Thousand Splendid Suns in my opinion (though many people think the opposite). I would definitely recommend you read both if you haven’t already as they really had an impact on how I view the current conflict in Afghanistan and other parts of the world; a more humane view point that the news is unable to portray.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m not sure. I tend to read whatever takes my fancy at the time, but Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey is on my list so I might give that a go. I have no idea what it is about (apart from, maybe, a girl called Elizabeth who goes missing?) so I’ll let you know how I get on with it.

What are you guys reading? Let me know if you have any recommendations!

Kedgeree: mumma’s recipe

When I was younger I used to hate kedgeree. I don’t know why, as I love it as an adult (then again, I also used to eat picked onions whole from the jar and now I can’t stand them!)

As with many things, some recipes are only at their best when cooked by mum. But this week I had a change of heart and decided to make kedgeree for the first time myself – using my mum’s recipe of course.

My mum’s recipe is slightly different as she doesn’t use curry powder like so many others do, but she does add cubes of cheese to the mixture at the end. The cheese partially melts and is a lovely addition to the fish, so I would definitely recommend it!IMG_3047

Now, I didn’t happen to have any haddock when I made this recipe and as it was hailing outside I didn’t much feel like running over to the supermarket to get some. So my dish is made with kippers and salmon; this was a lovely change though kippers have quite literally 403 bones in each fillet so I probably wouldn’t use them again.

To make my mumma’s kedgeree, you will need:

1 cup of rice

2 hard boiled eggs

2 portions of haddock or other white fish (the less bones the better)

3 tbsp single cream

2 tbsp Philadelphia cream cheese

½ handful of cheddar cheese (cubed)

Parsley (chopped)

To make:

  1. Boil the eggs for approximately 7 minutes so that they are hard boiled. Drain, and put to one side to cool.
  2. Boil the rice. Whilst the rice is cooking, simmer the fish in a pan of water for around 10-15 minutes until cooked.
  3. Drain the fish, de-skin, and then flake. Do not put the fish back in the pan before flaking as you are unlikely to be able to remove as many of the bones.
  4. Once flaked, add the fish to the rice and simmer on a low heat to keep warm. Pour in the cream and mix. Then add the Philadelphia; sometimes I find it easier to pour a tablespoon of hot water on top of the Philadelphia as it helps it to mix better, but its up to you.
  5. Whilst the mixture is simmering, peel the eggs and chop into slices.
  6. Add the cheddar to the mixture and keep on a low heat for a few minutes.
  7. Remove the pan from the heat, dish up and add the boiled eggs on top with parsley to serve.

Let me know what you think!

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Creative spurt

Anyone who knows me knows that I often lack imagination and creativity, despite being a dab hand at art and crafts when I get going. Now that we’ve moved into our new home 🙂 I’m so keen to get on and starting making it our own.

Pinterest is a great platform to gain inspiration, and I often find that an idea I initially began with starts to grow and expand into something more pronounced and beautiful than what the confines of my own mind could imagine. For several years now I have had an obsession with pallet wood and all the natural and bohemian-type designs that can flow from working with such a basic, rustic material. Pinterest has truly helped me to develop my little ideas into something that will suit a grown up family home.

My tastes are quite simple: I love wood, plants and grey hues with preference for industrial-type designs that incorporate dark metal over the more ‘twee’ cottage styles. One thing has become quite apparent over the last couple of years, and that is my love of texture, especially when it comes to home furnishings. Thick and chunky and hard-wearing, not fragile and delicate to touch. With this in mind I’ve enrolled the help of my mother to teach me to knit. I’m starting off with medium wool but hope to be able to knit with my arms in the near future; I have visions of a massive chunky bed throw or blankets piled on wooden crates. Wish me luck – my foray into knitting is still in its early stages but its probably fair to say it doesn’t come that naturally to me given the amount of hand-eye co-ordination required!Arm Knitting 5

Having help around the house – not just with my ideas but also on a practical level, is lovely. My parents are very hands on and love to lend a helping hand. Admittedly this is mostly around the garden as neither Sam nor I are particularly green-fingered, but it also extends to painting and helping us lay the flooring in the house too. It is a good bonding exercise but also gets the job done a lot quicker! My mother has always been into interior design so I think I have definitely got the ‘bug’ from her.

DIY has moved on these days. It is not just about wielding a drill and changing a bulb but now includes all aspects of home improvement work. Whilst I could get someone in to lay my wood floor and paint my walls, I enjoy doing it myself. If gives me a sense of pride, and the little knocks and imperfections don’t bother me. I would consider my work to be of a pretty good standard though I am by no means an interior designer or professional painter, etc. Sam is also keen to do as much as possible so we have agreed that he is going to be my builder! Of the non-masonry sense. Sam has basic carpentry skills and has worked with metal since he was a boy, so we are going to make my dining table and benches, as well as a bookcase, over-the-bath unit and toilet roll holders. He’s going to have to get cracking soon as my list is getting quite long…

I plan to share our little creative journey with you and would appreciate any ideas that you guys have too! For now, I will leave you with the following pictures of the type of home we hope to make for ourselves:

 

My 30th Year Bucket List

In exactly one year I reach the grand old age of 30. Three – zero. Three decades on this planet. When my mother turned 30 she had a mini mental breakdown and was in a bad mood pretty much for the whole year apparently.

I don’t plan on sulking about my age, though I am somewhat surprised that it has come round so fast.

I, like most people I’m sure, have a busy year ahead. But I figured that in my ‘30th year’ and whilst I can still say I’m only 29, that I should set myself a series of mini-goals. And 30 of them seemed the most apt number.

So here goes, here are 30 things I hope to do/achieve before I turn the big 3-0!

  1. Go inter-railing around Europe
  2. Eat multi-coloured macaroons
  3. Make an olive loaf of bread
  4. Do a head/forearm stand
  5. Wear red lipstick
  6. Knit a blanket/throw
  7. Complete all 7 seasons of Game of Thrones
  8. Visit America
  9. Get toned/fit
  10. Go surfing
  11. Lay in a hammock without falling out
  12. Single-handedly design my new kitchen (for a house I don’t yet have, but probably with a little help from pinterest)
  13. Eat at a Michelin star restaurant
  14. Be a nicer person (i.e. less bloody judgmental)
  15. Get a dog
  16. Get a lob (a ‘long bob’ for those not in the know)
  17. Get to and maintain a weight of 10’3
  18. Host Christmas
  19. Enjoy a Sunday brunch out
  20. Have a candle-lit bubble bath
  21. Go bungee-jumping
  22. Get a VW Transporter van #vanlife
  23. Grow vegetables in my new glass greenhouse (wow, this does sound grown up)
  24. Complete the Three Peaks Challenge (though maybe not in 24 hours)
  25. Complete Final Fantasy 15 on PS4 (I am still a teenager at heart)
  26. Finish the cushions I’ve been sewing for c. 3 years
  27. Drink more leaf tea
  28. Have a massage
  29. Be in Thailand, or an equally exotic country, on my 30th birthday itself 🙂
  30. Spend every single day treasuring my Sam

Reading back through my list, there seems to be a good balance between challenging myself to achieve something, and enjoying the simple pleasures in life.

I’m going to make this year a year to remember!

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Blogging goals for 2018

I figured I’d start 2018 how I mean to go on. I’ve not had my blog very long and in that time I’ve definitely neglected it, sometimes for weeks on end, and then I go through phases of posting frequently. I’ve always wanted to have a ‘fluid’ blog containing posts about meaningful topics and events in my life, rather than just random page-filling babble. I’ve wanted to give readers an insight into the important aspects of my life and things I enjoy doing, as well as having a balanced take with the stresses and strains that is part and parcel of my routine too.

I acknowledged to myself yesterday that I hadn’t posted much at all in November or December and after some thought (and a few bevvies last night) I realised that stress and anxiety are bars to my blog. I’m a bit of an introvert and have to quietly deal with the issues facing me before I can think about anything else; be it hobbies, health and fitness or blogging.

I want to make a real effort to post more frequently in 2018, but I may need a bit of help from technology.

Now, I’m a bit of a techno-phobe. I don’t know if that is the right word actually, but I simply hate technology. If I could I’d throw my ‘phone in the canal and go back to telegrams and carrier pigeon. But to blog I need some tech and my home laptop (admittedly, nearly 6/7 years old now), is not quite up to the job. That, and I just don’t have the time to sit down and type most evenings which has definitely had a knock-on effect on my blog.

So I’ve come up with a solution – which involves a bit of sales shopping hahaha – and I’ve decided to buy a small laptop that I can use on my 2 hour commute each day. Light-weight and portable and a good use of my travel time, I really hope it helps me to become more of a regular blogger and that I will be able to optimise my blog in the coming months. I think I’m going to grab a cup of tea and order it now before I think about the cost too much(!)

I hope that you will see and read a lot more from me in 2018 and it’d be great to hear from you guys too with any tips you can offer me!

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Happy New Year.