Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Random - Disco

Just a quick one - I wanted to do this while I remember (and before I become completely unhinged!!!).

Do you remember the old pop song "Disco" by Ottawan (I had to google it to find out who sang it!)...

She is 

D - delirious
I - incredible
S - superficial
C - complicated
O - oh oh oh


For some reason the song's been in my head today but I realised I was making up my own words cos I couldn't remember the proper ones (kindly got those above from Mr Google, he's a very accommodating man). 

Work is stressed and hectic right now and I think my choice of words is a reflection of this (and I'm scared y how well these words fit the tune, its like it was meant to be or something!!:

Sorry for the rubbish graphic, Word's playing up and I don't have the time to play about with it!!

If I get bored with my monthly subway art, I can always substitute this in - might make me laugh while work's such a nightmare (I work in Finance and our end of year madness lasts from now till 31st March - oh the joy!!).

If you'd like to see some more of my (STRANGE) sense of humour (go on have a look, you can always peek from behind your hands...), check out this post. I think I'm hilarious... someone's got to!!! I keep dreaming up these weird statements at random moments, and I NEED to get them turned into works of art... the world will not be complete without my "Could You Give Me a Clue As I Don't Appear To Have One" - this one I should copyright!! or "Chocolate and I Are No Longer Friends" printables.

Told you it was RANDOM...

Decor - Hearts in the Study

For decoration in the study (and given that its only me that uses it), I wanted to inject a bit of girliness and had been browsing online and settled on a hearts theme - awww...

I had already got these hearts from The White Company at Christmas time...

White Porcelain Hearts - for Christmas Deccies - have to decide what to do with them!

but hadn't really come up with any ideas that I could use them for, so they were my first candidate for the study. They're too small on their own though, just about 3cm, so I needed some more options.

In the end I found exactly what I was looking for all on the same great website, Bliss and Bloom.

I got this one...

White Wooden Heart

and this one...

Silver Wooden Heart

and finally this one...

Silver Bell Heart

and here's what they look like in situ:


Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Organising - The Larder

Our Home - Kitchen Teaser

I am painfully aware that I need to get my act together and get on with the posts about the kitchen. I'm such a slacker!!

In my defence, there is a LOT going on here right now!!

As a little teaser, here's a pic of the kitchen (I'm sorry its such a rubbish photo as it was taken at night - I've been waiting for a sunny day to get a better one, but its been miserable here lately):

When we were having it designed, the company kept referring to each wall where there would be units as a "run" and this became known as the hob run (the others being the sink run, the larder run and the oven run).

One of my main design aesthetic requirements (woo hoo get me with the fancy words!) for the kitchen was that it was to resemble a kitchen as little as possible - I'm sure the designer thought I was slightly insane!! I just meant that I wanted as much of the kitcheny paraphernalia stored away in cupboards/drawers where possible, leaving more space for decor items. I wanted it to feel more like a living room that happened to have some kitchen equipment than a full on clutterville kitchen gadget gone mad dust magnet (not that I'm OCD about this or anything, no no no).

Right from the start even before I knew what kind of kitchen I wanted, I knew what kind of accessories I wanted - matt silver, matt white and deep aubergine purple. I also carried that through as much as possible into the kitchen equipment itself, but that's another post waiting to happen!

I think the hob run best demonstrates my design thinking (except for the ugly microwave in the corner!) - no kitchen clutter, just lovely (well I think they are) accessories. Another thing you'll probably notice is that we've no wall cabinets - I was adamant about that! I can't reach 'em so I ain't having 'em!! Picture lots of  metaphorical foot stamping and you get the drift.

I think this is my favourite of the 4 "runs".
  • I love the flowers, they look black in the pic above, but they're actually a lovely inky purple (and I know I'm biased but I think its quite unexpected for a kitchen - and I like that!): 
  • I love the simplicity of the white vases.
  • I love the artwork, which was a lucky find at the framers who we'd gone to to get a COMPLETELY different print framed up (Hubs chose the one on the left, I chose the one on the right). They're originals, not prints and were super expensive, but to us worth every penny! 
  • I love that the lack of wall cabinets makes it so much open and airy.
  • I love that the induction hob blends seemlessly into the worktop so its almost invisible - I also love that the hob is only 1 pan deep, so no stretching to get the to rings at the back!
  • I don't so much love the extractor - I wish we'd chosen a less obtrusive one or more design conscious one - this one's too functional looking.
  • I don't so much love the wall colour - I'm not sure we've got it right. The worktops are weird, we thought they were grey, till we tried to put a grey colour with them and it so didn't work. Neither did  cream or any brown-toned neutrals, so that's how we ended up with this colour. It was the only one from hundreds (no exaggeration!) that didn't make the worktop look weird.
Just in case you were beginning to think the kitchen I keep banging on about it was a figment of my imagination!!

Monday, 27 February 2012

Our Home - Dining Room Progress

I introduced the dire state of our dining room in this post. We lived with this for a few months, even over Christmas as we had major problems with the unit that we had bought - it was the dearest piece of furniture we've ever bought and it was also the most troublesome and for a long time we felt it was the WORST piece of furniture we'd ever bought and wished we'd just gone to Ikea - so much for trying to get a bespoke solution - ick!

Anyway fast forward a few (lot!) weeks and finally the replacement parts for the unit arrive, we get a masterclass in German flat-pack building and ta-da the unit was built. I gave a sneak preview of it in this post.

So finally here is the unit that caused us so much hassle, drama and ruined our Christmas (I didn't even wait to clean it after it was built before taking the photo, I was just so excited it was done!!):

Like I said, we went for a bespoke solution, mainly because of the size of it - each section is a metre wide and its 1.5 metres high. Also the doors slide which is a much easier choice for me rather than negotiating round pull-open doors in a limited space (when the table and chairs are back in place).

The unit is the Mega-Design from Hulsta. The carcass and the shelves & drawers have a lacquered finish in Sand (I call it Kelly Hoppen taupe), the backboards are a walnut veneer and the the doors are glass, again in Sand. I love that it goes so well with our existing decor (apart from the yellow pine picture rail - the yellow pine in our home is the cause of an ongoing battle between Hubs and I - he likes it and wants to keep it, I hate it and want rid!).

We wanted a combination of decorative open shelving plus closed storage so that the not so pretty stuff we needed a home for wasn't out on permanent display, turning the dining room into an eyesore.

The section on the left is for Hubs. He uses the dining room as his office and needed a home for all his papers and archery equipment (our bows live under our bed!):

The drawers are a handy addition to keep smaller items neat and tidy:

The middle section has a small closed cabinet that we use for our delicate wedding china:

The right section is for additional crockery and glass storage - we decided when we did the kitchen remodel that we didn't want to keep all our dishes in there - space was precious in the kitchen and every inch counted for useful and often used storage, so there was no room for occasionally used items:

I know I'm a bit sad, but I do love my organised glasses shelf:

We also have a couple of drawers in this section, for candles, table mats, napkins etc:

When we had finished filling the unit (from 5 massive containers) we were shocked by how much space we still had. Given the amount of boxes we had to empty we were so concerned there wouldn't be enough room but we couldn't have been more wrong. We even have an empty drawer!

We're off on a shopping trip at the weekend to get some decor items - here's what I'm planning:

                             Handkerchief Vase - x 2 for the bottom shelf of the middle section of the Hulsta unit  Handkerchief Bowl - x 2 for the top shelf of the middle section of the Hulsta unit
                                 Handkerchief Vase           Handkerchief Bowl

However, knowing me I'll come home with something completely different.

They are to go with the items already bought and at home in the unit (which were not the items I had set out to buy on the day!):

Wire Swirl Bowl   Lustre Peony
           Wire Swirl Bowl                               Lustre Peony

                               Nassjo Jumbo Tealight Holder
                                       Nassjo Candle Holder

We also have to get a new table and chair, new light fitting, lamp and curtains - but I have lots of ideas (and I love that I can pin all these ideas onto the wonder that is Pinterest:

Jena Pendant Light - for above the dining tablePoppy Print Eyelet Curtains in Linen      

Tripod Floorlamp with different shade (matches Table Lamp for bedroom). Would also be nice in the Dining Room - I like it too much!!        Layla Shade

Stornas TableChairs for the Dining Room


Kriistin Ceiling LightPaperflowers Fabric in Pool

Sources: 1, 234, 5, 6, 7, 8

Friday, 24 February 2012

Arts & Crafts - Subway Art

In this post, I had mentioned (OK described in far too much detail) how I wanted to created a seasonal vase display for my kitchen work area. I had also wanted to incorporate subway art into the display and had got Tolsby frames from Ikea for the art. I pinned loads of subway art ideas onto a Pinterest board (sincere thank yous to everyone whose links/prints I've pinned there for the great inspiration).


I was struggling to find the time to make any progress on the vases project and in the end I abandoned it for the kitchen and am hoping to resurrect it for the den when we're finally able to do the prettifying in there.

I was OK with that decision even though its still left me with my work area shelf undecorated - I'm still pondering that and hoping to get me some inspiration on our shopping trip this weekend.

Anyhoo, I was a bit miffed at having done all the ground-work for the subway art idea (I'd chosen the monthly themes, decided what words I wanted to use and just needed to make up the monthly prints) and then it looked like it was going to fall by the wayside.... but doo do doo (that's a fanfare in case you didn't realise), thanks to a happy accident and a lucky find in Ikea the subway art project is all systems go... in  THE STUDY.

BTW as an aside, I am conscious that so many of the posts lately have been about the study. By way of explanation, being in the wheelchair, I'm limited by the DIY and decorating I can actually do (pretty much zero to be honest), so I have to rely on the Hubs for that. He often works from 6am to 10pm and recently has been away on Saturdays on a training course to. So progress has been painfully slow on the major projects (dining room, bedroom, den).

The study however doesn't need any major redecorating, its just what I call joojing that's going on and I can so take control of that! So I am all about the study right now, otherwise I'd go stir crazy if I had nothing I could achieve on the home decor or organising front while Hubs is MIA. Sorry, just felt the need to wander off on a tangent and explain - I felt if I didn't it would seem a bit crazy that there was no progress happening where the chaos is the worst!!

Ramble over, back to the project...

When I was sorting out the mess on the desk in the study I knocked a picture frame down the back of the desk and haven't been able to retrieve it (or convince Hubs to go crawling on the floor to rescue it for me), so that left a gaping hole on my desk crying out to be filled... you can see said gaping hole here (between the lamp and the white pot):

On to the lucky find in Ikea. When I was looking for the Tolsby frames, I came across a silver easel frame and just knew it would be perfect for interchangeable art. No messing about with taking a frame to bits to put a new print in, just put a new bit of art onto the easel whenever the fancy takes you - love it!! I would post a link to it, but for some reason its not on Ikea's website - I've checked the UK, US and Swedish sites and no sign - no idea why?!?

At this point, I didn't specifically have the subway art in mind or know where I might use it, but when the happy accident happened in the study I put 2 and 2 together and came up with subway art hanging out on the easel in the study!

As its SO easy to change up the art on the easel, I knew that the monthly themed subway art idea would be perfect. I just needed to change up the colour-scheming to work in the study and ended up keeping it simple and having all the text in a soft grey which I thought would go well with the cream and metallic tones of the study.

So I set about creating the works of art (well they are to me anyway). Like I said I stuck with grey text on on a plain white background and once I was happy with the fonts I used, I kept these consistent each month, so that the change was quite subtle. Here are the results (I've only shown pics of a few of the months, but you get the idea):

February - Valentine:

April - Easter:

June - Our Anniversary:

EDIT: Thought it would be appropriate to also include March, since its right around the corner!:

The fonts I used are: Kredit, Sybil Green, Burnstown Dam, Aberration, Earwig Factory, Hill House, Planet Benson 2 and Jokerman and they are all free online.

The themes/words for the other months are:
  • January (New Year/Burns Night) - Countdown, Burns Night, Resolutions, Old Lang Syne, Celebrate, Fresh Start and Midnight
  • March (St. Patrick's Day) - Leprachaun, 4 Leaf Clover, Blarney Stone, Top of the Morning, St. Patrick's Day, Pot of Gold, Lucky Irish and End of the Rainbow
  • May (Springtime) - Sunshine, New Growth, Umbrellas, Birds Nests, Rainbows, Busy Bees, Blue Skies and Tulip Fields
  • July (Tanabata - Japanese Wishing Festival) - Make a Wish, Cherry Blossom, Geisha Girl, Kyoto Tokyo, Tanabata, Fingers Crossed, Harajuku Girls, Saki & Sushi
  • August (Summer Holidays) - Summer Hols, Ice Cream Cones, Sunburnt Bits, Sandcastle, Lazy Hazy Days, Roadtrips, Thunderstorms and Sunny Days
  • September (Autumn) - September, Wrap Up Warm, Hot Chocolate, Lovely Colours, Getting Chilly, Autumnal, Harvest Time and Falling Leaves
  • October (Halloween) - Halloween, Fancy Dress, October 31st, Orange * Black, Trick or Treat, Pumpkins, Under a Spell, Clocks Go Back
  • November (Bonfire Night, Thanksgiving) - Fireworks, Give Thanks, Chilly Nights, November, Bonfire Night, Blankets, Roaring Fires
  • December (Christmas) - Christmas, Cards & Pressies, Wonderland, Ho Ho Ho, Snowball Fight, Let It Snow, Jingle Bells, Santa Claus.
The great thing is I can totally customise these and change the words or the theme as I choose.

February's on display right now (March coming up next week - gulp, March already!):

All in all I'm pretty pleased with the outcome and all thanks to my happy accident! 

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Mission Control - The Saga Begins

I recently decided to create a household binder (or Mission Control as I prefer to call it). I know that I'm not exactly inventing the wheel here, as household binders are all over the internet, but here is my version.

As a starting point I looked through all our paperwork, files and information I'd held electronically to see what I felt would be better integrated into one format/place.

Once I had collated the information, I listed all the categories that I wanted to have in Mission Control and created an Excel spreadsheet to use to develop the worksheets I was going to need. I use Excel a lot for work and for me I felt it would be the easiest tool to create the templates and also easy to add and update  information once the template has been created as well as new templates when required (I'm sure I'll change my mind and develop the ideas as I start using the binder!). Its probably not as sophisticated as it could be but it works for me!

Here are the categories I've decided to include and an idea of the sections of the category:

Bank Accounts - current and obsolete
Calendars - this year and next year
Christmas - to-do list, card list, address list, menu planner, shopping list, movie list
Contacts - emergency, important, mobile phone contact lists
Daily Affirmations - for the spiritual and wellbeing books that have a daily reading
Emergency Info - who to contact, emergency numbers, emergency kit
Health & Wellbeing - medical info, medications, alternative therapies, diet
Holidays - public/planned/previous, packing and what to wear checklists
House Maintenance - monthly and annual/internal and external
Important Dates - family birthdays plus annual holiday dates (Valentine's, Easter, Christmas etc)
Income & Expenditure - for monthly budget planning
Insurance, Pensions & Bills
Inventories - CDs, DVDs, books, tech, one for each room in the house (for insurance), major purchases, clothes etc
Savings Info - current savings & savings forecasts/targets
Subscriptions - magazines
This Week/Next Week - 2 weeks to view
To Do Lists - general & house (1 for each room in the house)
Useful Info - dialling codes, restaurants, websites, usernames

I'm conscious that I don't have chores/cleaning or menu planning info/checklists/to-dos anywhere in Mission Control - I'm a bit of a haphazard homemaker in that respect and yet to be convinced if I would actually use these if I included them, so I am still trying to make up my mind on those.

Some of this information won't be printed out and I will simply keep it in the spreadsheet for reference when required (the info I know will only be referred to infrequently).

Here are a few sample pages:

Yearly Calendar

Weekend Planner

Holiday What to Wear

House Maintenance Checklist

Holiday Planner

I'm still very much refining the content and have realised that even these sample pages that I created last weekend have since been edited! My process (which may seem a bit back-to-front but it works for me) is to quickly put together the template and then print it out (for some reason a piece of paper in my grubby little paws helps me think better!) and then brainstorm how will I use it and that's the point where the refinements come into play.

I've chosen a display book from Paperchase instead of a ring binder option. Its A5 size (148mm x 210mm which I believe is a similar size to US Junior Legal) and has 20 sleeves so will hold 40 pages. As the book's frosted I'll be able to put a title page in the first sleeve that will be seen through the cover. I think I'll probably need to have 2 of these but I have a nifty trick up my sleeve for storing them together...

Follow-up posts on the contents coming up!!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Arts & Crafts - Wallpaper Art

This is one of those projects where I got all carried away to get it done and didn't take any progress photos!!

I am trying to sort that out and keep my camera handy when there are going to be any art, craft, organising or decorating activities going on!

So, when we were clearing out the Den I came across an old silver picture frame that originally been in the kitchen pre-remodel as well as some leftover wallpaper from the mini make-over of the study (I'd got loads of samples when I was determined that the mini-makeover was actually going to be a major makeover!).

I'm not particularly creative or artistic but I couldn't pass up on the opportunity to have a go at some upcycling and DIY art (and take a break from all that organising!).

I used a neutral paper with a subtle ribbed effect as the background. One of the wallpapers had an ethnic medallion style pattern so I cut one of the medallions out and cut it in half. Another paper was a paisley pattern so I cut out a few of the motifs. I had got our initials in a trip to the DIY store (again with no purpose in mind for them I just liked them), so I stuck mine onto the frame (I'd lost Hubs' one oops!). Then it was just a case of playing around with the placement till I got an arrangement that I liked.

I'm pretty pleased with the end result.

I put it onto the chair to take a photo of it and have decided to leave it on there - its a bit random to have a picture on a chair but hey ho. The chair sits in a corner of the room opposite the door because I don't need to have a chair myself at the desk and its just for the odd occasion Hubs might use the study.

For ages the chair has been piled with filing which finally also got sorted out in what I'm calling the great purge. I had been debating whether to move the chair out of the room completely given that its so rarely used (and I have to move it when I want to print something) but with the print laid on it the chair actually looks purposeful and quite cute. So its had a reprieve and staying for now.

I am finding the achievement of even these small projects so satisfying!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Blogging - Feedback

Hi, if you're visiting my blog, I would really appreciate to hear from you. 

I'm new to this whole blogging thing and I'm still a bit uncertain. In my job, I have to write quite formally and I think it's leaking into my posts on the blog a bit - I'm not sure its lighthearted or interesting enough and I don't want it to be too lecturing and dull (have to do enough of that at work!).

I like to think I'm a fun person (actually I think I'm my own comedy double act, but that's another story!) but I'm not convinced the fun me's turned up on the blog as much as I'd like.

So, any ideas or suggestions you have - but please don't be too brutally honest lol - are all for a good cause to help make me a better blogger!

Gratefully, Mags

Organising - Savings Idea

This is a little bit random but relevant for today as I've just been to work.

I usually work from home - 4 days a week - and have one day in the office.

When I'm working from home I don't take long lunches and don't tend to go out during the days as my workdays are really busy. We get our shopping delivered once a week so I have all my supplies and catering sorted for the days I'm at home.

On the days when I'm in the office I treat myself to a nice lunch. We have a reasonably decent staff restaurant and as well as having a hot food section they also have a pretty snazzy salad bar.

I have £20 to cover office days but I don't ever spend anything near that amount.

What I was finding was that I'd break the £20 note at work and then at the weekend when we were out and about, having that cash in my purse was becoming too much of a temptation to just waste it on stuff that I didn't really need.

I figured if I didn't have the cash then my purchasing decisions at the weekends would be more considered as I wouldn't use my card for a few £ spend so would probably decide I didn't really need the item after all.

The decision then was, do I get less money out of bank for office days, or do I forego the nice lunch on those days? Selfishly I didn't want to give up my lunch as it is a nice treat for me. I could get less money out  (probably could easily half it and still have change over) but I came up with an alternative.

I decided I would stick with the £20 and at the end of an office day I would empty my purse and put the change away into a piggy bank for savings.

We already have a savings plan in place so this was to be in addition to what we'd normally save during the month. This is just for short-term bonus savings where I can accumulate it for a few months and then get something nice for the house or myself - I sometimes have a hard time spending money to treat myself, so I'm going to use this savings plan to try and give myself a little kindness every so often.

I've been doing this since the beginning of the new year and already I've amassed quite a stash...

On a similar vein, I also saw a suggestion to save every £5 that comes into your possession. I've pinned that idea for now to keep on the back-burner and see how my £20 challenge goes first. I get bored easily to so might not stick with it! - although I'm hoping the incentive of treats will keep me interested!!

Monday, 20 February 2012

Organising - Sometimes You Can Have Too Much Organisation

I actually can't believe I've created a post with this title!! 

But its true, we had a complete organisational failure. 

I've mentioned previously about recycling items such as packaging to use them as storage containers. Well  we have a pretty purple box with a damask pattern that originally contained chocolates and I had the idea to use it to store important documents such as passports, driving licences etc. The size of it means it tucks into a space between the top of my desk drawers and the desk itself - so its nice and handy but I didn't think it would occur to anyone that it contains such important information.

Then I had a bit of panic thinking that these documents really needed to be stored somewhere more safe and secure, so I decided to use a mini divided plastic envelope to store them, which could then be locked away in our filing cabinet.

So I sorted all the documents out and duly organised them into the envelope system and it got filed away.

Then we decided to replace the old filing cabinet in the study so cleared the cabinet out ready for it being recycled... but we had a change of heart when we struggled to find a suitable alternative (that wasn't too expensive!). As I've mentioned in this post, the filing sat in on the chair in the study for what seemed like months... and somehow the envelope with all the important documents got lost!!

We didn't realise this until Hubs urgently needed his driving licence for work - oops! We turned the house upside down, had a huge fallout about my rubbish organisation systems (ouch!) and finally uncovered the envelope - stupidly I had completely forgotten that I'd created this new system and couldn't understand why the chocolate box was empty!!


We've gone back to the old system and the chocolate box is back in its rightful place on the drawer unit. Morale of the story, don't fix what isn't broken, don't reorganise something just for the sake of it and most importantly of all, when you do reorganise something, try to remember what you've actually done!!

Have you had any organisational failures? Or have you like me completely forgotten that you'd reorganised something?

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Our Home - Making Progress

I thought it would be nice to do a visual update on the progress that's been made in the time since I posted the "before" state of our home.

In the bedroom, we had completed the decoration project but things had stalled at that point:

We're still living with the ladders, paint etc. The plastering to repair the ceiling in the wardrobe is finished but we had to wait for it to be painted. I did clear some of the stuff from the drawers, but we've not yet had a chance to get to the framers, or for a carpet or furniture or to repurpose the lights... lots still to do!

The Den has been a dumping ground for rubbish removed from other rooms which re-organisation or redecoration projects have been ongoing:

It may not look like much has changed but we did managed to move out 4 huge boxes of stuff that found their new home in the Dining Room since the storage unit in there was built (see below). Progress in this room is going to be slow until we complete the other projects, but we do have big plans!

In the dining room, we had been having problems with a unit that we'd bought and not realised that we had to build ourselves - German engineering had us stumped and some of the sections were damaged and we had to wait 12 weeks to get replacements!!

We finally resolved all the problems and the unit is now built! 

We still have to source some ornaments for the unit and order new curtains, a table & chairs and a new light fitting, but its so nice to not be living with the nightmare that was that unit!! Major progress here!!

In the kitchen we had an area of worktop beside our back door that seemed to constantly be a dumping ground for rubbish:

We're making a conscious effort at keeping this area tidy as it lets down the rest of the kitchen. I still have to decide what I'm going to do with the 2 microwaves we have (I don't think we need 1 each!).

The study was reasonably well sorted following its mini-makeover with just a few things to be sorted out:

It was then a case of one step forward and one step back to gets things back on an even organisational keel and I blogged about the progress of this here, here, here, here, here and here (oops I hadn't realised how carried away I had got with the study updates!

Now the study is almost in its finished "after" state and I am very happy with it!!

The other rooms in the House - Before post haven't featured here as they haven't had our attention - YET!