Monday, 30 November 2009

Apartment Therapy Cure Week 7 and a confession

Paper snowflakes from RE(unrelated to this post but aren't they stunning?)

It's time for me to confess - I've officially abandoned the Apartment Therapy cure with only 1 week to go.  This weekend there was such a lot of other important stuff going on and I just realised I couldn't sustain all this domestic goddess stuff!

So to finish off officially I just wanted to look back and capture what I've learnt along the way:-
  • I love fresh flowers in the house - particularly in my little bathroom where they are now an almost permanent feature.  A £3 bunch of flowers can be split up between vases and make a huge difference in how a room looks.
  • Organising is not a one off process - my cured kitchen cupboards, coat cupboard etc need maintenance to stay that way (I think I overlooked this part).
  • Getting rid of clutter has a much greater effect than you anticipate it will.
  • My husband, The Queen of Clean is extremely useful.
  • Any home project takes longer and costs more money than you intend.
  • Life still needs to go on and you need to accept when enough is enough and you're done.
Thank you to all the comments from fellow cure project bloggers - cowgirl in wellies, This Home Sweet Home, Alana in Canada and Misadventures in Procrastination.  I have enjoyed looking in on your progress and will continue to follow you all.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Festive highs and lows

I'll start with the highs.  My lovely friend in Hamburg sent me these fabric hearts and I just adore them.  I am hanging them on my sash window locks for the moment.  They may make their way onto the tree at a later date....

Onto the lows.  Yoyo had an accident at our town's annual Christmas festival on Friday.  She cut her chin quite badly tripping over a wall and we ended up having to take her to hospital. She was *so* brave and after some glue and butterfly stitches was her old self again. I promised her I would buy her a present as she had missed out on the festival (the accident happened within 20 minutes of arriving there).

So the following day just before we ventured out to choose said present, she handed me this note.

I think I cried.  Now, between you and me I appreciate the motivation behind this note may have been around getting a really good present for being brave.  But she hid that quite well.  I think the combination of the 'fank you', the coloured in heart and the stream of kisses was what bought the tears on.

And on a lighter note......we made these snowflakes today.  I'm going to iron them and stick them on my front bay windows on the bottom panes.  For a great tutorial have a look here.

Thursday, 26 November 2009


An unusual morning for me - I had an empty nest for just a few minutes.  I think it was about 10.

Mornings are quite frantic here - making packed lunches, searching for shoes, endless rounds of peanut butter on toast.  But today my husband (aka The Queen of Clean) had taken the kids to my parents and I just had a few moments alone before work.

And this was the scene before me........everything perfectly still.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

A little polka dot goodness and some repurposing....

As part of our garage clean up this weekend, we rediscovered these canvas pockets that we have had for years.  We bought them pre-kids and never really found a good place/purpose for them so they ended up in the shed in our last house.  We used them to hold trowels, garden clips and all that jazz.

So, as a result of being in the shed for several years they had got mildew at the bottom.  Very sad.  But I felt too sentimental to throw them out - and with all our new storage in the garage there was no need for them in there.

Now for the brainwave.  I'm going to use them in the coat cupboard for each childs hat and gloves.  3 pockets and 3 children - very convenient.  So I decided to disguise the mildew part with some polka dot loveliness..............

I chose 3 different colours (my littlest one has 'reserved' blue already), and cut equal size rectangles to make a cuff.  I placed a little wonderweb along the middle and ironed them which gave a nice firm fabric that was a little easier to work with.

 I folded over the ends also so I had nice neat edges all round.

This is when it all went a bit pearshaped.  I was trying to iron the whole 'cuff' on using wonderweb to the canvas pocket. And trying to make dinner and negotiate with a three year old over having a biscuit before dinner.  And explaining to Yoyo that it was not a good idea to lean on the ironing board.....

So take this into consideration when you see the above.  I am going to have to secure each end with thread as it's not bonded as well as I'd liked...but it's enough.

Now have to just get it in situ.  A task for another day.

Monday, 23 November 2009


 Kids this summer at a windmill near to our home

There is a delicate balance for me between motherhood and work, family and friends; time for oneself, for home projects and of course, The Queen of Clean. 

I have yet to find it.....but in everything I do I am trying  to achieve it.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Garage - The After


The garage has been rather a labour of love this weekend.  Our thinking was that once it is sorted, everything else inside the house will run smoother.  We can store things more efficiently, get going on DIY and gardening projects and save money by buying in bulk.

The whole exercise was prompted by The Queen of Clean getting some free industrial shelving and plastic boxes from the warehouse at his work.  So this transformation involved:-
  • taking a people carrier sized boot of rubbish to the local household recycling site
  • fixing the industrial shelving securely to the wall so there was no danger of it collapsing on us!
  • moving stuff we don't often use up into the rafters
  • rejigging things so the tool chest is on the workbench at the back of the garage
  • lots of sorting out wires, tools, equipment and general garage 'stuff'
I'm sure it's fairly obvious that my part in this was limited - I was more of a teamaker and general cheerleader.

I love this little area at the end of the industrial shelf.  He left a gap in the chipboard shelf so there is a little nook for our garden tools.  No risk of them falling out on you.

 This metal shelf at the end we are using for biking equipment, shoes and helmets.  It is actually a Habitat kitchen shelf that we had 2 houses ago.  How I loved that shelf! (I threaded it with fairy lights one Christmas and left it like that all year).  Sadly it hasn't fitted into any of our kitchens since, but now it again has a purpose.

So whilst all of this was going on outside......I was doing lots of this with the kids inside.

I hope those of you on the Apartment Therapy Cure journey are still sticking with it!  Let me know how you are getting on?

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Garage - The Before

The saying is 'a picture speaks a thousand words' so need I say more?  This garage is our junk room - although we try hard to keep our living space in the house organised, stuff literally gets thrown in here.

This week it was a nightmare navigating my way to the chest freezer with carpet grippers all over the floor.  Ouch! Enough is enough.  It is our goal this weekend to get this organised.  Hope to be back tomorrow with some shots of our progress.

This will be in place of any Apartment Therapy work on the bathrooms (it is their turn this week) which are just *grim*.  I will also take some photos of those to prove that they are beyond help at the moment.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Organising the art supplies

I won't pretend there are extensive art supplies in this house, because there aren't!  I find most immediate crafting urges are met with my little wooden tray above.

It is actually an Ikea cutlery tray that doesn't fit in our kitchen drawers as it was intended to.  Here is an image from Ikea's website, as my pic above is a bit arty (Queen of Clean was teaching me depth of field) and doesn't show great detail.

On one side we have 2 enamel buckets (bought ages ago from Sainsburys - they were 99p each from their summer garden range) with scissors, pencils and crayons in.  I will confess that I avoid felt tips at all costs due too many incidents of 'unauthorised' colouring of pine chests, walls, oak tables......I am fairly laid back but in the end the felt tip pens had to go.......... 

On the other side we keep sellotape, pencil sharpeners, pritt stick, PVA glue, spreaders and whatever other little crafting doodads we have picked up...wiggly eyes and the like.

This little system has meant everything is to hand immediately for that impromptu creation, and has saved lots of frustrated cries of 'I can't find the sellotape' (Why is it that they need sellotape for everything?).  The tray lives where all the children can reach it, on the bookshelf in the playroom.

Monday, 16 November 2009


Thank you to whomever invented the Wii, I am eternally grateful.

It can be difficult to find things that Yoyo and my eldest son enjoy together.

The Wii seems to unite them.......Yoyo is happy joining in or even narrating what he is doing.

Their current favourite (shown above), is Lego Starwars.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Apartment Therapy Cure Week 5

Confession time, I am really having a hard time keeping up with this Apartment Therapy Cure.  A combination I think of 3 evenings last week keeping me out the house (lots of fun but very disruptive), and this major caffeine withdrawal from giving up Diet Coke.  I know it may sound over the top but I have just felt horrendous.  Zero energy.

Anyway, this week was focused on the office.  I don't have an office exactly, but we do have a playroom with a computer in.  This room is due for a transformation, but I don't think we have the budget or energy to get this done in the Apartment Therapy Cure unfortunately.  In fact I don't think, I know!  I am going to keep it underwraps until it looks beautiful!

I have managed this week to:-

Delete all the photos we don't want.  Lots and lots have gone.  I've been trying to learn to use the Queen of Clean's SLR and it has resulted in millions of not very good I have been brave and hit delete (is it just me that finds that difficult?)

Copied all the important dates from various scraps of paper into my diary.  And if you need a diary recommendation please please check out Organised Mum's Lifebooks.  Ignore the name, you don't need to be a Mum to benefit from these.  They have stickers (who doesn't get excited over a sticker?), tear out shopping lists, meal planners, budget sections....the list goes on.  I found these 4 years ago and haven't used anything else since.

Apartment Therapy also wanted you to edit your books but I am quite good at keeping these under control, and already sorted the kids excess books out a few weeks I missed that step.

So it's baby steps for me at the mo on the Apartment Therapy Cure front, but I am pleased with what we have achieved so far and am not going to get frustrated.  I think (and please agree with me!) that any challenge like this is about putting your own spin on it, and taking as much as you want  from it, or can manage at the time.

Signs of life

I found a new blog yesterday in amongst major caffeine withdrawal headaches (I'm trying to kick the diet coke habit) and this post really spoke to me.  To sum up 'be thankful for all the signs of life within your home'.

So today I will not get stressed about the cup above abandoned on the floor, my beloved felt flower cushions turfed off the sofa, the buttered knife left on the worktop or the DVDs orphaned from their cases.  I will acknowledge all of these as signs of life......not sure that The Queen of Clean will feel the same though.

Monday, 9 November 2009

My evening ahead....

...could it get any better?
  • Glass of diet coke by my side
  • Kids asleep after much debate writing their Christmas lists
  • Catching up with favourite blogs on laptop, Rose the kitten keeping me company
  • The Queen of Clean cooking me Toad in the hole with roast onion gravy 
Hope you are having a good evening.....whatever you're doing.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Lemonade days

I picked up this handwash yesterday along with my weekly shop and didn't really read what the bottle said - I was just drawn to the typeface (and the £1.99 price tag).

When I was washing up today I actually read it:-

those lemonade days
that warm sunny know the one.....when for no proper reason your tummy just goes all weird and you grin like a silly hen.

And I thought yes, I'd like some more of those.  Bring on the lemonade days.

Although I don't think I've ever seen a hen grin so a bit confused over that analogy.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Getting my fix

I've always had a magazine habit (and a diet coke one, but this isn't the place to explore that).

Even with all the images and blogs and inspiration available online, for me there is just nothing nicer than relaxing in the bath with a nice interiors magazine (with a diet coke).  Or for having a flick through whilst your 3 year old is insisting you watch a film with him you have already seen numerous can very easily multi-task watching 'Monsters Inc' with absorbing all the loveliness in Living etc.

So with the move to bigger house last year, and the resulting impact on our household budget, I had narrowed down my magazine consumption to just one a month.  I chose Ideal Home as it felt like it always had something relevant and achieveable in there to me.  But I have missed the aspirational images of Living etc.

So this week I treated myself with my Tesco Clubcard Vouchers to 2 more magazine subscriptions.  I reasoned that they had cost me nothing, although I must have spent a fortune on food to earn £36 worth of vouchers.

I subscribed to Elle Decor and Living Etc.  I was feeling generous so even treated the Queen of Clean to a Mountain Bike Rider magazine subscription with the remaining vouchers.  3 annual subscriptions for £36 in clubcard vouchers - a thrifty find for me.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

A little tour of the living room


This week the Apartment Therapy cure is focusing on the living room.  So I've been having a bit of a tidy up - nothing too drastic but a bit of 'tweaking'.  Here are the results. 

This is actually a lounge/dining room and I do have a table and chairs the other end of the room.  I'll post some more pictures once I've sorted it out.  It looks a bit too empty at the moment and I'm trying to work out how to fix that............

By the way the room never usually looks as tidy as this.  Could only get it like this once kids were in bed!

Is it too early to mention Christmas ideas?

My Yoyo is fanatical about colouring in.  Just can't get enough.  She also loves creating her own master pieces, but colouring in when available is her thing.  I think it's because at 6 you're confident its going to look decent once you're done.  And there is the whole challenge of not going over the lines.....

Anyway I digress.  I found these delightful colouring books and will be getting a couple for her stocking.  Little pricey but I think she will just love them.




Cheapest place I've found so far is here on Amazon.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

My first 'grown up' home

I happened to catch a glimpse of a TV series currently on called 'Trinity' the other night and immediately recognised the building.  This is it - the Founders building at Royal Holloway, University of London.  I was 18 and I spent a year living in one of the rooms in the third floor of this building - Room 330 if memory serves me right.

Can I admit that this amazing building was one of the main reasons for choosing this university?!  It was a funny little room with a fireplace, an old wardrobe (now I would think it was vintage chic, but at the time didn't appreciate it), a washstand with a granite top, a huge old desk and a sash window that wouldn't open.  The floorboards were painted black and showed the dust all the time.  I bought loads of plants the first week at 'Freshers Fayre' and they slowly passed away by Christmas through my lack of looking after them (and probably the not being able to open the window issue). Sadly I don't have any pictures of the room to share - and I'm wondering if that's because although I loved the idea of living here it didn't quite feel like 'home'.

So I never took any pictures. Makes a great film set though.

Monday, 2 November 2009

This is more than a salad

This is my Mum looking after me.

Whenever things get a bit much for me, my Mum will step in with a salad.  She made me one just like this the night I came home from hospital with my firstborn.  Complete with her Delia Smith dressing in a jam jar.

And she made one again for me today and dropped it round whilst I was at work. She knows a salad is required often even before I do by the tone in my voice on the phone, or just plain instinct that I've got a lot on my plate.  And this little gesture of someone caring enough to buy and chop all these ingredients and make the dressing for me always has the desired effect.  I feel loved.

So thank you Mum for this salad and for all the salads you have made me.  They mean a lot to me.

And thank you Dad for driving it over (and everything else you do for me).

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Apartment Therapy Cure Week 3

This week I was supposed to focus on 'The Landing Strip' i.e the hall/entry way and ensuring everything is running as efficiently as possible.

Now I have mentioned before about our 'Command Central' so feel this side of things is working quite well.

I did however this past week clear out the little coat cupboard in our hall and move all of the redundant shoes etc out.  Now brace yourself - I am going to show you a 'before' picture.  I am really embarrassed of this.  Please remember my usual excuses when viewing:-
  • I work full time
  • I have 3 children
  • I am naturally super disorganised (it is my husband 'The Queen of Clean' that is the ordered one).
Okay?  Taken that on board?  I'll let you have a look. 

That was bad wasn't it?  And onto the improved version.

Now I appreciate that this is not a 'fall off your chair' transformation.  But it is working for us.  We still need to carry the wooden floor through to this cupboard so the floor you see is grimy floor tiles and the new polysterene underlay from the wooden floor.  Much of our home is still work in progress.

Another move I made to stop so much junk mail arriving for us is registering with this site:-  This is a free service which removes you from direct marketing address lists.  I used them before in my old house and they were fantastic.  It takes a couple of months to kick in but after that you will no longer get the endless catalogues, invites etc.  If you are interested do read it all carefully - you will also be taken off existing databases so you may need to re-register with companies you do want to continue to have a relationship with (in my case Boden!)

We also this week:-
  • had our windows cleaned for the first time ever (felt very decadent).  We have been homeowners for 11 years and have always managed to do this ourselves, but we are struggling with old sash windows now which we can't clean from the inside.  We were charged £12 for 13 windows (less than £1 per window!) so that felt okay.
  • put up a new cloak room ceiling to replace our one which had a huge hole in from a leak in the bathroom (this was unknown to us until we moved in - top tip do look at ceilings when viewing properties)
  • raked up about a million leaves from the garden
  • made some adjustments to our understairs cupboard so we can now fit the ironing board in there.  I would take a picture but it really is just too boring!  Perhaps once I've painted it white and it all looks beautiful.
So it has been a frantically busy time but with not much to show for it.  So I'll leave you with these to compensate.  Our halloween pumpkins :)


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