Saturday, 21 December 2013

Decking the halls

We put our Christmas tree up this week, how late are we?? I know everyone has already done the whole 'look at our tree' thing but here is ours. Apologies for the rubbish photos but the camera doesn't do low light very well and I didn't want to put the flash on so you could see the lights...I am really not a photographer!
I don't have a tree skirt or anything to cover the base as I will soon be putting presents under there to cover it.
It isn't stylish or modern or different. It doesn't have a colour scheme other than 'christmassy' colours like red, gold and silver. Basically it looks like Christmas threw up on our tree. I love it.
I love the family traditions of Christmas and I like quite a traditional looking tree (i.e. traditional to us like the trees we had as kids used to look) we have quite a mish mash of decorations that we have collected along the way and I make it my mission to use all of the decorations.
I like these wooden figurine ones, they were from paperchase a few years back and I had some similar as a child.
The rest are all baubles and tinsel bought from either supermarkets or DIY stores in packs.
We bought this owl one from the Christmas market the other week as we have a random private joke about a bit from Phone Shop where they say 'A Owl? A owl bruv'.
I don't really do too much other than the tree as we live in a smallish flat so I don't want to crowd it but I did throw some tinsel over the picture frames and put up my usual few sentimental ornaments and little touches.

We don't have a fireplace so don't have stockings (we have only had fireplaces in half the places we have lived) and I don't have a mantel to dress. The only other place so far to get decorated is the table, I couldn't find anywhere to hang the wreath so I used it on the table. The snowman and santa salt and pepper shakers are from Avon years back when we had family round for Christmas dinner the first  (and so far only) time at our last house.

Now I'm off to have a massive present wrapping session while listening to carols and maybe having a cheeky glass of wine!

That's probably about it from me here before Christmas, working Monday and Tuesday and then looking forward to some family time. I hope you all have a lovely Christmas however you are spending it xx

Friday, 13 December 2013

Friday Inspiration

Nice but busy week for us this week, we went to the Christmas market in Birmingham on Tuesday for a festive day out and it was a lot of fun. I seem to have done my knee in so no running and not great climbing this week, I'm hoping it will be better soon. I think it's just a muscle strain so going to take it easy for a few days and try some swimming to gently mobilise it.

Anyway other than my poor battered body not much gong on here...hoping to get the Christmas tree up this weekend as Tom as been a Grinch and not let me put it up yet :)

I have been pinning loads recently, so you can find loads more inspiration on my pinterest page.

Please can I spend the weekend here instead of Christmas shopping?
This is my dream kitchen. It has an island, hardwood floors, gorgeous cabinets and a lovely wall colour. I'm also and loving the rug, I'm debating a rug for our kitchen to provide a bit of warmth and colour...
Another living room trunk, I am totally obsessed! I am forever looking out for them but am yet to find one that is the right shape and size with a flat top (a lot seem to be domed, no good for use as a table)...I will find the one eventually!

Have a lovely weekend everyone, we have a Christmas party to go to and my brother and cousins joint 21st Birthday party so we will be having a very merry weekend!

Monday, 9 December 2013

Nearly There!

I did the second to last room in the big deluttering challenge last weekend, the kitchen. This is how it looked before.
This room wasn't really too cluttered but since we moved in we've not really been using some of the space in the best way. For example the space on top of the microwave had become a bit of a mess as it was often where we just put larger food items due to not having enough cupboard space.
So I cleared it off, threw away the crisps and crackers as they were out of date, and put my porridge oats up there in their place. This jar stays down from the cabinet top as I use it every day (the others have flour etc in which I don't use daily) and I don't want to have to climb the cabinets every morning to make breakfast! I got a box out for stuff to go to the charity/car boot pile but actually everything ended up in the bin liner for the tip, so Minty claimed the box as her fort for the day.
It was already looking better, but still there was too much out on the counters in here for my liking meaning cooking can get a bit frustrating due to lack of counter space. This is our largest cupboard, and it is just full of random stuff.
 The pots and pans were all in this smaller cupboard next to the oven
So I dragged it all out and swapped them around. Now the 'random kitchen stuff' cupboard is the smaller one, and the cookware, tupperware and tea towels are in the larger one. Much more sensible. The carrier bags are all in the hallway now, as I figure if they are near the front door they are more likely to get reused than if they're hidden under the sink.

The next to do was food, we had a bigger kitchen in our last house but now only have one cupboard for food so we need to get better at buying less and only what we will eat straight away. I got all the food out of here and sorted through it.

After getting rid of all the out of date things and reorganising the cupboard I was able to get more things into the food cupboard, like oils and spices, so there is less on the counter and I could move the toaster round and also fit a chopping board in front of it.

 This is the out of date stuff. We have out of date tinned goods, how embarrassing!
We have gained a usable counter space!
It's amazing what a couple of hours and a bin liner can free up, we now have more cupboard space and another work surface. 
I will get a few more small jars when I'm next at The Range as I want to move some more of the dried stuff like couscous up to the top of the cabinet out of the cupboard, and there is room for another row of smaller jars behind the big ones. Other than that now it's nice and clear I'd like to replace some stuff in there like the bread bin and canisters, and bring in some more colour and interest as it looks pretty boring.

Also observant people might notice that the view out of the window looks different, the garden is being redone so the landlords part of it now looks like this.
I will ask if I can take some snaps when it's done but it is certainly more open and they now have a nice spiral staircase in up to their back door instead of the old wooden stairs they had before. We are hoping this will mean more sun into our little part of the garden in the summer and it certainly feels a lot more spacious out there. Our part looks like a dump though as we had to move all our pots into the centre to let them do the work so I need to spend a few hours out there! Another thing for the to do list...

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Weekend Inspiration

OK so back to Saturday for this post, I think I might just call it weekend inspiration from now on and post on either day! I used to be able to do this on a Friday because I didn't have a lot on after work most days, I finish earlier than Tom so I used the in between time to write my posts as if we had evening plans they wouldn't be until a few hours after I got home from work.  However now I'm climbing 3 times a week and in the last week I've also completed week of the couch to 5K challenge so have been running 3 days as well.

Upsides are I'm feeling great and my climbing is really coming along in the boulder room. I even went up on the walls one day last week, very briefly and didn't make it to the top but I didn't cry or pass out so that's a bonus. I also am really proud of myself for starting up running and actually kind of enjoying it (OK enjoying might be too strong, I don't hate it and I feel good afterwards). Downside is I have stuff to do 6 out of 7 nights of the week, so I'm kind of slow with projects and the flat looks terrible! I'm hoping to find a bit of balance eventually as this is the first week I've been running as well as climbing so eventually I should manage to fit it in around the rest of my life.

However there is ALWAYS time for Pinterest (mainly on the bus to work on my phone) so the inspiration just keeps on coming...and while a lot of it the last week has been wedding, travel and cute animals there is always home inspiration in there.

These fairy lights are pretty cute for a teenagers bedroom, but I really love the bedding and the blanket it just looks so snug
This mint coffee table and the frame arrangement above really drew me in, this is kind of how I want our living room to look, mainly white and neutral but with fun little colour accents. Click on the photo for the rest of the house tour as the rest of the house is also gorgeous!
This look is probably a little bold for me to use in our flat (I am envious of that window!) but the geometric rug and the sculptural coffee table paired with the dark accessories definitely make an impact!

Hope you are all having a lovely weekend so far, the advantage of my little clean up last night is that I don't have much housework to do today and I will write the post on the kitchen that I promised you last week!

Saturday, 30 November 2013


It was thanks giving last week in America, and I follow quite a few American blogs so reading all their thanks giving posts over the weekend got me thinking of everything I am thankful for...and it made me feel all warm and fuzzy so I thought I'd share the list. It is so easy to think of what we have yet do accomplish, or what we need or want that we don't have that it really puts things into perspective to look at what we already have.

So I am thankful for:

  1. My Grampy had a recent cancer diagnosis but following radiotherapy has been given the all clear. I am so thankful that he doesn't need to go on to have chemotherapy or surgery and that they caught it early enough to treat it.
  2. My family - Just generally that they are all here and that as mad and massive and expanding as our family is it is loving, caring and mine.
  3. Tom - That we are engaged and planning our wedding. And that he makes me cups of tea in the morning and gets the pasta off the top of the cabinets for me, and when I'm hungry and grouchy he will just laugh off my terrible mood and make me something to eat (I get really moody really quickly when I'm hungry), and motivates me to go climbing when I don't want to, and humours all my weird habits and quirks, and a million other things.
  4. My health - I know everyone who is healthy is thankful for their health in a vague kind of way, but seeing and speaking to people near my own age at work who have such huge health problems, and some people who are terminal and will not see 40 or even 30, makes me thank my lucky stars every day that I have a strong and healthy body. Sure I might wish to be a jeans size smaller, or my skin to be better but what does that matter?
  5. That I am at a point in my life where I am content, this started over the last year actually and I love the feeling of being in charge of my life and that I am starting to get to where I want to be. I like where we live. I like my job. We're getting married. I have a new hobby in climbing that I enjoy and is helping me get fit, and has prompted me to even started trying other exercise. I feel like financially we are doing ok, although the wedding will take up a lot of our disposable income next year! Generally I feel secure, happy, settled and healthy. I don't know if this is because I am edging my way to my later twenties, or because we are getting married, or because we moved to a new area and a new property where I am about 100% happier but I just really like my little life at the moment.
  6. You guys for reading...I started this blog as a way to keep people we knew in the loop about our new flat and just a little space for me to share stuff that I thought someone might find useful, so I'm very thankful that anyone is reading!
Did any of you celebrate thanksgiving last week? I hope you had a lovely time if so!

Friday, 29 November 2013

Friday Inspiration

Made it on a Friday - Wahey! Pretty good week this week, we've been getting back into climbing regularly after a break when we went on holiday and I've well and truly attacked the kitchen in the delucttering mission - more on that next week.

I've also started thinking about how to get a bit more exercise other than climbing and have started on the couch to 5K running plan, did the first one on Wednesday and it was pretty good - challenging but not unattainable, I can see myself completing it and being able to run 5K within 9 weeks! I need to get in shape as we may be doing something very exciting next year which I need to be fitter for, more on that when it's all confirmed :)

I've been on pinterest still, as always (need something to do while the football is on TV!), and there's plenty of inspiration...

I like this moody but neutral living room, the post is about bringing more texture and colour into a very grey living room too which is just what I want to do in ours!

I was obviously being drawn to dark colours this week, as I also pinned this dark and woodsy cottage, I like the rustic finish and all the green outside

I pinned this for the window and the floorboards...

Have a great weekend!xx

Monday, 25 November 2013

Staying Snug

The heating is on in our flat, and today is the first day we have extended it from the 2 hours in the evening we start with as it was too cold to turn it off at 8pm! Luckily the flat seems to be pretty efficient and, other than the bedroom which does get a bit chilly, is quite a nice warm place.

However we once lived in a house with single pane windows and night storage heaters. I have never been so cold! I really learnt there to appreciate the central heating and use it sparingly, and especially with all the news of energy prices going up this winter I thought this was a good time to share and discuss energy and heat saving measures!

Most of them are pretty common sense but they are all definitely worth checking you have before we really get into winter:

  1. Were you born in a barn? My parents always used to tell me to close doors (and ask that infamous question), but it helps to keep the heat in when you are spending all evening in say the living room closing the doors will help to keep it snug. Especially doors into rooms which have external doors, for example we always keep the door to the hallway closed as the front door isn't very energy efficient so it can get a bit draughty in there. Closing the door keeps that draught confined to the hall, so we don't have to compensate by heating the flat more.
  2. Obviously this also applies to the actual external doors, try to avoid opening and closing doors and windows a lot when you have the heating on. If you have to go in and out a lot (when we were smokers we were in and out every hour) close the door straight away. Jazzie cat is a bugger for dithering over whether she wants to be inside or out, but in winter the door gets opened for her for about 2 seconds and if she doesn't choose the choice is made for her! We don't leave windows open for the cats in winter either, they use the litter tray.
  3. Think of your property like a tank and heat like the water inside, where are the leaks? Insulate every last place you can. If you are a tenant you may not have control over loft and wall insulation, or be able to get better windows or doors (If you own the place definitely something to consider - Landlords listen up too!) but you can still keep as much heat in as possible. Draught excluders on doors, especially external doors are great. Also lined thermal curtains on all windows, and external doors if possible, will help. You can also get foam insulating tape that you can run around the inside of door frames which helps to keep any draughts out (my mum used this with good results). 
  4. Ventilation - some air circulation is needed for ventilation, and depending on if you have a gas fire and the age of the building may be necessary for safety reasons like carbon monoxide etc. Don't block off any vents or permanently seal them unless you have consulted an expert on whether they're still necessary. You will also need to let some fresh air in to prevent damp if you don't have any ventilation vents or bricks, I like to throw the windows open when I can in the daytime if the temperature is decent and let some air circulate...use a dehumidifier to draw out any extra moisture in the air to avoid damp in winter if you can't bear opening the windows!
  5. Good old solutions like hot water bottles (pop one in the bed 15-20 minutes before you get in), nice PJs and slippers or blankets work just as well to keep you warm especially in the evening when on the sofa or going to bed. It is natural to be cold in winter (it's cold outside after all) so we don't expect to be sat around in shorts, I regularly put a jumper on before considering putting the heating on. After living in our freezing house blankets on the sofa (and occasionally the duvet) has become a habit for us, now more about comfort than warmth as it's just nice to snuggle up sometimes.
  6. Heat reflecting foils behind radiators reflect heat back out into the room rather than letting it get absorbed by the walls. Also don't block radiators off with furniture or washing.
  7. I began to treat heat as a precious resource when living in our cold cold house, so anything that gave off heat became valuable to us! When cooking I would leave the oven open afterwards and let the heat out into the kitchen/living area, we would also use space heaters when we just got too cold - but they cost a fortune on the electricity.
  8. Speaking of electricity - try to avoid energy wastage on electricals by leaving things on standby (you are paying for that little red standby light to be lit!) or leaving things on. Make sure to switch everything off when not in use, properly off at the switch not on standby. Things like electric clock displays are also a waste, do you need your microwave and oven to both tell you the time? No, unplug the microwave when not in use.
  9. Monitor your timer and thermostat - don't put the heat on high and long from the start, start at your most conservative estimate of what you need and go from there. We start off the heating with just 30 minutes in the morning before we wake up to make it bearable, then it comes on again at 6pm and off at 8pm - the last few weeks we have been turning it off early if anything but now it has started creeping up. Start low and leave the thermostat low for as long as you can, just enough to keep the place warm (not roasting) and just for a short time while you are home. Try to only extend the times for short bursts rather than just whack the heating on for all evening straight away, it doesn't need to be on at all times while you are home, we tend to leave the timer at 6pm-8pm for as long as we can but during really cold spells it can go up to 5pm-9pm, however we reduce it again as soon as the temperature picks up a bit.
  10. I find having the heating on low for longer is more efficient for our property than having it on for short bursts of higher temperatures, hence why we always start with the heating being on for at least 2 hours in the evening but on a low temperature. Try to keep the place and even warm temperature, rather than having it roasting hot for a few hours then freezing for the rest of the day...think about how much energy it takes to heat the place up rather than just maintain a reasonably steady temperature. This takes a bit of trial and error, we got into our timed routine last winter after a month or so of faffing (do we want it on at 5 or 6pm? What time should it go off, how early can we do it before being cold going to bed?).
If you are really struggling to keep warm shop around energy supplier and see if you can get a cheaper deal or contact your current supplier and see if there is anything they can do. We moved out of our cold house in the end (to a bungalow with central heating a double glazing, it was like a luxury!) so speak to your landlord if the place is unbearably hard to heat, or shop around for somewhere new if it is impossible to make improvements.

Keep warm! xx

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Weekend Inspiration

Another late inspiration post, meant to be on a Friday but I just keep getting sidetracked!

Has anyone been watching George Clarke's Amazing Spaces on Channel 4? If you live in the UK or get Channel 4 it's definitely worth a look, it's on a Thursday evening. It's all about small but clever and beautiful spaces, with lots of cool converted vehicles like ambulances or things like treehouses! So rather than using my pinterest boards as the source of all the inspiration stuff this week I thought I'd feature some of the things I've liked so far on the show, just my favourite thing from each episode although they feature numerous things each time.

Episode one showed the conversion of this old ambulance into a family camper van, I've always wanted a camper van as I love the idea of just driving off whenever we want down to the beach or off climbing somewhere...although in reality how often do we just have time on our hands?! Anyway if we did ever get spontaneous I'd like to do it in something like this

Episode 2 had me actually slightly drooling over these treehosues, it's a hotel...cue hint hint hint to Tom about next years holiday! It says on the website you can see the northern lights there too and I know he has always wanted to go somewhere to see them. These are my 2 favourite ones, how awesome are they?!

Episode 3 - This bus looks like the best camper van ever, much larger than the ambulance in the first photos so not quite as charming and cute, and probably less flexible, but it has 3 full size doubles and bunk beds, all in actual separate rooms.

Episode 4 - This mobile vintage shop ticked all my boxes - vintage clothes, funky space, clever conversion, random inspiration followed through (hey why not convert a horse box into a shop...sounds like something I'd come out with)

And episode 5 this week, I'd definitely take a holiday in this place. A gorgeous view, plus a rustic and recycled interior with tons of charm.

That's all so far, I'm enjoying the series though and might do another post on the rest of the spaces featured. Living in a small-ish basement flat I really like seeing all the clever solutions to making the most of the space you have. It's really helping to keep me motivated in 'the big declutter' seeing all the really small spaces people use to the max by not having loads of stuff in the way!

Monday, 18 November 2013

Back on it!

Back on the decluttering list! I did intend to take a 2 week break while we were away but kind of got sidetracked once we were back and am just getting back to it now. So the last post back here was over a month ago, oops! It also didn't help that the hallway was too full of stuff and we were having to climb over boxes to get in and out, so adding more to that pile was difficult. After a trip to the recycling centre to get rid of a load of cardboard and reorganising the boxes it now looks like this 
I didn't take before photos as there was literally nowhere to stand in the room to take one! The most recent one is this (but picture those boxes piled higher and stuff reaching over to the shoe rack out of shot on the left)
The most recent additions to those boxes have been from this corner
Items from the list are:

  • Living room – CD’s - I was not able to get rid of any CDs as Tom wouldn't let me get rid of any of his and all my old embarrassing ones are in my mums loft already, but I was able to just tidy up the shelves and organise the general cables and headphones etc into a more presentable arrangement
  • Living room – Corner by CD’s - The main issue here, the stuff piled in front of the CD shelves. The box had all the equipment from our last internet provider in it. We brought it with us when we moved as we thought we'd be staying with the same provider, but we didn't in the end and now have a BT home hub (more on that here). I wasn't sure what to do with it so just kind of kept it but that was a year ago now so it's got to go...I figure if they wanted it back they'd have asked by now! Also the blue bag had some of Tom's birthday presents in it, from February, he is a lazy sod sometimes. So those all got put away and now it looks like this.
So much better! I knew the living room would be the room with the most noticeable difference from getting rid of clutter. Next up was:
  • Living room – Box under coffee table - This is meant to be a kind of 'drop spot' for stuff that usually collects in living rooms like post, lovefilm DVDs as well as usual living room stuff like remotes, controllers and cables. However Tom appears to use it as a dustbin/coffee table cleaning aid. He said to me a while back that when he tidies the living room he just opens the top and sweeps everything off the table into here. Sigh. It has since been explained that this is not how we clean...but this is how it ended up looking like this
I mean there are nails in there for God's sake. Now it looks like this after everything actually got put away or put in the bin
This is everything that came out of that one small box, all sorted into piles of which room it actually belonged in
Next on the list was
  • Living room – Ornaments, frames, candles - I didn't actually get rid of any but I'm hoping to move some around soon and get something hung up in the bedroom so I've kind of mentally earmarked what's due a changearound. 
  • Living room – Coffee table - Just a general tidy really - NOT sweeping it all into the box underneath...
  • Living room – Misc - Last sweep over the room didn't really find anything as I seem to have covered it already.
Next up is the kitchen then the bathroom then it's done! I can't wait to get rid of the stuff, we just don't have time to do it bit by bit which is why it's all getting piled up then we will do a huge trip to a charity shop. 

I'm also mentally earmarking furniture to go, which is always the surprise doing this as you think that you won't be able to get rid of many bigger items but the more little things you get rid of the more larger items become empty and you realise they can go too...