Wednesday, 14 June 2017

The Curated Closet - A Book Review

I have always tried to against the grain for no other reason that I pride myself on being deliberately perverse. So when the globe went gaga for Marie Kondo I was late to the party, now my home is better because of Kondo, it not only has less "stuff" in it but it also helped me realise what stuff really matters. Then bloggers and influencers went crazy for The Curated Closet, I resisted. This time I had good reason, a reason that went beyond just being perverse, I had read books and endless articles about how to 'style' or 'edit' your wardrobe. They all followed a general format and guess what I don't suit trench coats, nor do I desire a nice pair of tailored black trousers. I found all of this fashion advice somewhat formulaic, a 'one size fits all' attitude. 
the curated closet book review http://www.archieandtherug.com/
During pregnancy I was confined to around 4 outfits. As well as being depressing being away from one's clothes really does give you the space to re evaluate your wardrobe. I also renovated a junk room into a walk in wardrobe during that time so I could see everything in front of me and knew that there were a whole mess of things there that I didn't wear, that didn't suit me and items that only held sentimental value. I knew what needed to go but I was unsure as to what to replace it with.
the curated closet book review http://www.archieandtherug.com/
When I received the book I had a 1001 things to do so I thought I would have a quick skim over a cup of tea and I was quickly sucked in. The first thing I noticed is that there is no advice given about what you should have in your wardrobe, instead it leads through a journey of editing your wardrobe in your own style.
the curated closet book review http://www.archieandtherug.com/
One of the key lessons I have learned so far is that my wardrobe did not match my lifestyle. You see the thing is I don't attend nearly as many swanky garden parties and cocktail evenings as I thought I might, try zero....who would have thought eh! I have released that instead of filling my wardrobe with gowns I should invest in nice day clothes. I previously thought hey I will invest in a few nice dresses which left very little in my clothing budget, so I was picking up ill fitting cheap crap for the rest of the time. The thing is the 'rest of the time' is the majority of my time and I deserve to feel good all the time, we all do.

If your style is chaotic and you are not sure where you stand, you go around buying things on a whim the book helps with that too. One thing I loved about it was how practical it was. When I first saw how big the book was I thought wow that is going to be a chore to get through, can I really read that much about clothing? The opposite was in fact true. I believe the fact that the book was interactive was a big part of that, full of flow charts and quizzes.
the curated closet book review http://www.archieandtherug.com/
One of my favourite hobbies is to cyber shop. What do I mean by this? I fill my basket online with everything and then close the page, of course I do I am not made of money. What I have found after reading The Curated Closet is that very little goes into the wish list basket, even my imaginary purse has become more discerning. 

Perhaps a little of these lessons come with age. When I was younger I wanted to achieve certain looks, now I am more focused on the quality and fit of an item than defining the genre of an outfit. So my verdict is this; buy the book and read it don't have it as a coffee table book you will certainly benefit from it and it will save you money as you will buy things that you will wear and look great in and curb the impulse buying that so many of us fall foul to.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

How To Master Alfresco Dining In 4 Steps

4 top tips for alfresco dining and styling http://www.archieandtherug.com/
One of the things I learned about living overseas is they know how to eat outside, they just do and it is not a matter of the weather being an issue because when we have nice weather in the UK we still get it wrong. Nigel Slater has an amazing description of the great British BBQ in his book Eating For England;
"I live in fear of the barbecue, it's small talk and the awkwardness of holding glass and a plate at the same time, just as others fear being run down by a bus"
For me it comes down to a few key points. Point one standing around. Eating should be a relaxed affair so standing around does not appeal. This leads me to point two, we treat an alfresco meal/BBQ as a full on party inviting everyone we know so that standing around making small talk is the only option. I think treat it as a dinner party a few guests, a sit down affair. Point three go beyond the meat fest. Okay so I am vegetarian but I, perversely I know, enjoy cooking meat, but I loathe those giant meat packs of the cheapest burgers and sausages, the ones you wouldn't feed the dog. Now of course f you have invited everyone from your Facebook friend list this is the only way to afford to execute this meal but at this juncture I will refer you to point two, don't invite everyone.

Now I am a blogger and I like all things pretty and styling is key but it does not have to be taxing so let me share with you my key finds and tips so that you can enjoy some alfresco dining this summer no matter how many days of it we get to enjoy. Surely if we only have a few days we should make them count by doing a bang up job of eating outdoors.
4 top tips for alfresco dining and styling http://www.archieandtherug.com/
4 top tips for alfresco dining and styling http://www.archieandtherug.com/
1.Seating 

You really have to sit down to have a relaxing meal in my opinion but you don't have have a huge long table to create a wonderful seating area. A picnic blanket, a small table or crates on the floor to make a long and low table would all have the desired effect. Think about cushions, there are a great many showerproof cushions on the market that you can use on the grass or to protect your bottom from damp seats. Alternatively you can use a waterproof spray on cushions if you are in need of a specific look.
4 top tips for alfresco dining and styling http://www.archieandtherug.com/
4 top tips for alfresco dining and styling http://www.archieandtherug.com/
4 top tips for alfresco dining and styling http://www.archieandtherug.com/
4 top tips for alfresco dining and styling http://www.archieandtherug.com/
2. Food

The main part of any alfresco dining experience is the food, if there was no food we would just be hanging out in the garden. Too often we feel that certain foods are outdoor foods, BBQ means horrid burgers and sausages, over eating white buns. Why not think outside the box. If you have successfully tackled the seating all food is back on the table, excuse the cheesy language. BBQ can be special, think of handmade burgers, local sausages, griddled vegetables. Think seafood and fish, something about fish makes people think you are fancy for serving it, I don't make the fish rules I just report them here on my blog. You don't have to be a great chef to serve a great feast why not fill your table with cheese, fruit, olives, antipasti, breads.
4 top tips for alfresco dining and styling http://www.archieandtherug.com/
4 top tips for alfresco dining and styling http://www.archieandtherug.com/
4 top tips for alfresco dining and styling http://www.archieandtherug.com/
3. Lighting

Chances are that your alfresco dining will go on into the evening. We have started to eat out in the evening as a matter of course when the weather is mild so having nice lighting is essential. So lets start with the basics, candles. Candles serve a multi purpose when is comes to alfresco dining they give off a very flattering light but they also create smoke which helps to keep the flies at bay. You could even use cintronella candles to really ramp up your anti fly campaign.You will need something other than candles to light your evening whilst you mop up the last of the wine and cheese. A few years ago I would have been a little dismissive about solar lighting but solar panel technology has improved and you can now get some great festoon lighting and lanterns that run on solar power. You can also pick up better lights, both options save you getting an electrician in to hook up exterior mains lights.
4 top tips for alfresco dining and styling http://www.archieandtherug.com/
4 top tips for alfresco dining and styling http://www.archieandtherug.com/
4 top tips for alfresco dining and styling http://www.archieandtherug.com/

4. Plates & Utensils

Balancing a burger on a napkin whilst standing in the corner, no no no. So we have addressed seating lighting and the whole burger issue so let us now talk about the napkin. I am nearly 40 I do not want to eat off a napkin. I want a plate, or if I am in a hipster cafe I will settle for a bread board. There is always a worry about breakages, even if you and your guest are careful. Personally I tend to take the risk but between my toddler and the odd guest who does not hold their wine I am thinking I might look at some different options, less breakable options. 
4 top tips for alfresco dining and styling http://www.archieandtherug.com/
Plastic plates have come on a long way and there are some great designs and patterns out there. I am a bit funny with plastic and try to avoid plastic toys for the kiddos but they are long lasting and you can look for ones that will recycle when the time comes. I am leaning towards wooden or enamel plates.
4 top tips for alfresco dining and styling http://www.archieandtherug.com/
4 top tips for alfresco dining and styling http://www.archieandtherug.com/

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Bullet Journal Friend or Foe

how to bullet journal effectively http://www.archieandtherug.com/
Admittedly I am somewhat late to the bullet journal party. This is odd as any project that involves using nice pens and a notebook is right up my street. The reason I hung back was that I was fearful of the journal, I saw them appearing online, I looked them up, they became a sort of a Pinterest obsession of mine yet still I refused to take part because I thought that the obsession may be less than helpful and instead become another time vortex in my already too busy life. But the pens! The beautiful, beautiful pens! I was like a child standing looking at a big shiny red button that said DO NOT PRESS, longing to press it but fearful of what might happen if you do. Like any good child and red button scenario I pressed the button, I pressed it hard, who wouldn't it's a button dude, or in my case a crisp new journal and a plethora of pens! So has it turned out to be a friend or foe? Friend, it is an absolute friend but it could have quite easily gone the other way so let me advise you how to keep your friendship with the bullet journal healthy and non toxic.
how to bullet journal effectively http://www.archieandtherug.com/
1. KISS - Keep It Simple Stupid 
Once I decided to take the plunge I hit Etsy marketplace and started to fill my basket with lovely stencils and washi tapes, I got more than a little bit carried away. Then I remembered the golden rule that it has taken me until I am almost 40 to realise, keep it simple stupid. Sadly I emptied my basket and remembered I am not an illustrator, I am not a graphic designer and I am not a teenager with lots of time. I am a woman who works full time with zero support network in terms of childcare, 2 kids under 5 and a home to renovate this is not a project this is supposed to help me plan my time and be more efficient. So I started to think about simple layouts. 
how to bullet journal effectively http://www.archieandtherug.com/
2. Make The Layout Work For You
If you Google bullet journal you can easily waste the best part of a lifetime scrolling through enticing images of intricate layouts. Then there is the original advice of monthly log, daily log, future blah blah... And that is great if that suits your needs but it won't suit all of us because we are rich and diverse globe of folk, so match your journal to you not the other way around. I knew that I did not need that many logs. I needed a weekly log and that was all. I wanted to see the whole week across two pages. This was my starting point.
 how to bullet journal effectively http://www.archieandtherug.com/
I wanted a small section for each day, I wanted to plan daily meals to help with food budgets. I included a notes section for things that I needed to do that week but did not need to be assigned to a specific day. I also added a shopping list section and a means to track my water intake, and 5 a day. I am the sort of person who will make more effort if I get to colour in dots at the end of a day.
how to bullet journal effectively http://www.archieandtherug.com/
3. Make It Personal 
In addition to the weekly log I wanted to make sure I could plan for other things such as the home and garden renovation. Although this, through choice is a book that plans my life and not my blog or the NOW Blogging Conference I would still have cross over, such as recording meetings in the weekly log but also in blog post planning. I needed a place to write down plans for the home and garden renovations; jobs to do, materials to be bought etc. It seemed like a logical place to write down potential blog posts that are contained in those tasks, especially for those days when your brain melts.
how to bullet journal effectively http://www.archieandtherug.com/
I also wanted to make a record of recommendations I receive. So often when we chat people will say, you must watch, you must listen to, you must read. I hear these, get excited and promptly forget, now I write those things on a list.
how to bullet journal effectively http://www.archieandtherug.com/
4. Don't Fear Change 
At first in my weekly log I had a sleep tracker. As much as a good nights sleep is a great thing and a healthy thing to monitor I have 2 children under 5, a babe in arms and a 3 year old who wakes 2 or 3 times a night, still, with vivid dreams. Basically sleep is an alien concept so why torture myself with it. If you start one way and find something is not working for you change it up.
how to bullet journal effectively http://www.archieandtherug.com/
5. Don't Freak Out Take A Break
Often when we start a project and we falter we have a meltdown and quit. Instead why not just take a break, no harm no foul. During the third trimester insomnia, cracked rib, walking a round like a zombie eating whatever I liked not budgeting food at all stage of this year I decided to put the bullet journal in a drawer. I needed to let go of organising, embrace uncertainty and go with the flow. I knew at this time seeing what needed to be done and possibly missing stuff or pushing things back would depress me so guess what I let myself off the hook and picked it back up later, That is fine, it is your journal, no teachers are going to come and mark it. It works for you remember not the other way around.

I hope that I have helped you navigate your way through the complicated relationship of bullet journal and bullet journaler - not a real word but you all know what I mean.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

My Office Moodboard

It is that time of year when everyone gets into full on project mode, Spring is springing and we all have an out with the old attitude. I am planning the next big building project in this building site/home. As with the dressing room, (my dressing room), it has been decided that most unpacking and sorting will be achieved by giving my creative space and office space a real home. Joe, who is not the writer in this relationship surpassed himself by so eloquently stating, "it will keep all your shit out of the rest of the house". Yes I know the wrong one became a writer, you should see my physics skills. 

I am very excited by this as I have not had a 'home' for my work for nearly 5 years. A lot of stuff went into storage to make our little house look less cluttered whilst it sat on the market. Then we had a small apartment in Paris, again space was an issue.Then we bought a big house in the Yorkshire countryside. This is what the blank canvas of my room looked like.
Bloody awful right!

In fact that wall with the fireplace you are seeing has to go right back to brick and be remade as the chimney was leaking, it has been re pointed but the plaster is ruined.
And this is what it looked like with all of my stuff in there, in a way much worse now!

I found two old pieces of furniture that need a complete overhaul so I need to look at paint colours, new hardware and possibly legs.

The to do list is like this;

1. New gloss white floor to be installed 
2. Remove wet plaster and replace. Plaster one wall with magnetic plaster
3. Replace radiator
4. Add industrial trunking and plug sockets
5. Install new ceiling and wall lights.
6. Paint the walls and furniture.
7. Add some wall shelves.
8. Buy or make a long desk.
9. Build a custom storage unit under the eves
10. Dress the room and pack 'my shit' away
As any good interior blogger knows you cannot simply go out one weekend and shop, no you need to spend endless and productive hours searching for the perfect everything and make one hell of a shopping list or mood board! Here is mine. You can also find it on Pinterest here, where you will find all of the shopping links.

I want to create something light and bright that will allow me to take photographs as well as work. I need it to be full of stuff and remain uncluttered - easy right? As much as I am looking at a white backdrop I do not want a dull office, I need it to be filled with pops of colour and personality. That means that all of the practical elements of the room have to add something to the aesthetics. I do like to set myself a challenge.
 The building work in this room is scheduled for October, what do you think will I be able to pull it all together before Christmas with 2 children and working full time - all I can say is bring it, I NEED AN OFFICE AGAIN!

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Elsewhere Online

best interior design posts round up
So things have been pretty quiet on here on the blog front and this has been for two very good reasons. The first being I am organising a very exciting blogging conference with International speakers, TV celebrities and kick ass food, honestly it is going to be amazeballs and I will write about it in full but in the meantime early bird tickets are on sale and here is the link so you can have a look at the speakers so far and grab a ticket at a great price.
best interior design posts round up
The other reason things have been a little quiet is baby related between labour, birth and toddlering on top of the conference something had to give and that was the blog I am afraid but I have still been around online in fact AMARA included me in two of their posts. If you would like to read my thoughts and the thoughts of other interior bloggers on Victorian homes then take a look at the advice in this post.
best interior design posts round up
I was also included in their top 25 posts of March which is nice as it was my birthday month too so I feel that makes it extra special. So if you want to read the round up of interior blog posts follow this link. 
best interior design posts round up
Things will pick up here an there are many fun posts planned and check out the NOW Blogging Conference site, I am not kidding when I say it is great!

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Make Your Own Herbal Tea Gift Set

make your own herbal tea gift set http://www.archieandtherug.com/
Honestly since getting a garden after so long I feel I have fooled myself into thinking I have a small holding and should be wandering around outside with a ukulele wearing only the most floaty floral Anthropologie dresses. The truth is the garden is small to medium but being rural and having a home surrounded by hills, sheep and neighbours with chickens I have allowed my mind to play tricks on me. That being said you don't really need a whole lot of garden to grow food and herbs. In fact over the past few years a number of books and blogs have been dedicated to growing in small spaces. Container gardening is big news and balconies in busy cites are becoming greener as this trend gains momentum. Herbs especially lend themselves to being grown in pots as so many of them can be invasive.
make your own herbal tea gift set http://www.archieandtherug.com/
I have not talked about this pregnancy a lot online, this is mostly as it has not been great. For the first 6 months or so it was touch and go that the pregnancy would survive and despite talking openly about my miscarriages it was too hard to do it whilst half of me was pretending I was not pregnant and the other half was trying to keep positive for my small boy and husband. I have been in pretty bad shape physically. My neighbour Aine decided to become a super hero and was dropping soup, gifts of bread and walking the dog for me despite being super busy herself. So in retaliation I decided to embrace my inner small holding self and create a gift for her to say thank you for the support that arrived just as I was at breaking point.
make your own herbal tea gift set http://www.archieandtherug.com/
Tea is one of my passions, both drinking and mixing so this was such a pleasure to create. It also reminded me of the act that I can draw, it is so easy to forget what skills you have when you don't have the time to fully realise them. I have been reminded that I want to spend more time just drawing and painting again, I think it will be good for the soul. 
make your own herbal tea gift set http://www.archieandtherug.com/
make your own herbal tea gift set http://www.archieandtherug.com/
you will need;

a box
a collection of seeds
paper
paint
a sharpie 
teabag papers
small envelopes
a black pen 
make your own herbal tea gift set http://www.archieandtherug.com/
method;
  1. First of all lets talk about seed selection. If you are not up on your herbs there are so many sites on the internet that will talk about herbs and what the benefits of each are, you can also find information on what part of the herb is used to make the tea and how to prepare it. I also made suggestions of what they could be blended with. That part is easy just think about the flavours. Here is a list of the herbs I included; Fennel, Chamomile, Thyme, liquorice, Lemongrass, Oregano, Rosemary, Chicory & Mint.
  2. I found images of each plant online to use a reference to sketch from and wrote some information and advice on each 'plant card'. If you really cannot draw you can find a royalty free images to use instead or take pictures at a local garden centre on your phone.
  3. I found some small envelopes in a local stationers to place the seeds in, remember to label them. When I was little they were known as dinner money envelopes. You took your money to the teacher each week in order to get hot meals, is that still a thing? Was it just a UK thing? 
  4. I ordered some teabags online that you can fill yourself and packaged everything together in a box. In fact the box I had was covered in advertising so I painted the lid white and drew on it with a sharpie. You can decorate it however you decide, decoupage could be a cute option. 
It is such a great little gift to pull together and you should pull together two one for you and one for a friend. Feel free to message me with any herbal enquiries.