Thursday, 5 May 2016

How To Curate The Perfect Library For The Loo

small toilet design solutions www.archieandtherug.com
I really want to show you a complete before and after of this room, we changed a lot and it was the first room we painted. There is a house renovation lesson here, who'd of thunk it but this toilet, this tiny room was integral to so much plumbing that needs to be done on the third floor. So some of my freshly painted space now needs to be destroyed. Also I made a fools error, I installed a very smart toilet and neglected to tile behind it so when people wash their hands they make splash marks on my nice wall. So I need to find the perfect tiles, take out the toilet, tile the wall and re fit the toilet. Yes this room is more work than I bargained for.
small toilet design solutions www.archieandtherug.com
So you might be asking yourself what we did on the toilet before the age of the smartphone, well we read books. Okay okay I hear you, you are thinking are we not on the loo to well, wee and poo, (I said wee & poo we are all grown ups here and can deal with that). The truth is that sometimes we need to take a little longer and wouldn't it be nice to have a distraction to hand. Secondly if you have a busy life then you have to steal every moment you can to have some quality time and who am I to judge. 
small toilet design solutions www.archieandtherug.com

So here are the key points when choosing books for your loo.
  1. You need books that are instantly entertaining. If you require a book that you need 'to get into' then you may have a problem and you should consult a doctor.
  2. Short stories, these are something that the reader can pick up and put down.
  3. Poetry, again poetry is something the reader can flick though and finish within a reasonable time frame.
  4. Travel Guides, wouldn't it be great to not be tied down by your physical location. You might be on the loo but your mind can travel the world.
  5. Anecdote books, these are great for the loo as you can normally dip into at any point in the book and still find a bit of enjoyment.
  6. Very very funny books. Sometimes even if you are out of sync with the narrative an extremely funny book is still entertaining, plus laughter may help you along.
  7. Plain old silly picture books, cat yoga, bunny suicides, that type of thing.
small toilet design solutions www.archieandtherug.com
small toilet design solutions www.archieandtherug.com
I have added in a few other essentials to my loo such as flannels to act as micro hand towels , soap, hand cream and some ornaments as every inch of your home deserves to be beautiful.
small toilet design solutions www.archieandtherug.com
small toilet design solutions www.archieandtherug.com

Monday, 2 May 2016

Annie Sloan, Worth The Fuss? - (A Laptop Table DIY)

annie sloan mini project pack makeover www.archieandtherug.com
I grew up hearing "she was born awkward" a lot. Instead of letting this scar me I chose to live up to it and love to be awkward so when the whole Annie Sloan phenomena hit the globe my reaction was pah! Nothing in my home or style desires any level of shabby chic about it, apart from maybe my hair but that is entirely unintentional. So what changed my mind? Well the first step to me wanting to try this paint was the fact that I continued to see images of of Annie Sloan paint used as a flat colour, no distressing or shabby chic in sight. I then read more and more about the fact that you can fully mix her paint range to make custom colours. One thing I love more than being awkward is being different. I want my home to be exclusive to me, I mix the paint, I create the colour, I couldn't argue with that. Last of all is that I really do have an awful lot of painting projects in this house and priming everything first is a painful thought. Speaking of thoughts here are my thoughts, a non believer!
annie sloan mini project pack makeover www.archieandtherug.com
  • First of all this paint dries quickly. Now I have been using water based eggshell as my paint of choice for a long while but this dries faster.
  • It really does have good coverage. For the grey area I did only one coat!
annie sloan mini project pack makeover www.archieandtherug.com

  • It does feel a little gloopy, so much so that I felt the urge to water it down, I didn't and it spread nicely. 
  • Lets' talk about finish. Now I am pretty impressive with a brush but it took practice to get results with little or no brush marks. Using this paint for the first time, so I have room for improvement, the paint sort of flattened out.
annie sloan mini project pack makeover www.archieandtherug.com
  • So it might sound like up-selling when all sites say you should use Annie Sloan flat brushes to get a flat colour. So I bought the brush but I tried it with my own brush first. You need the genuine brush.
annie sloan mini project pack makeover www.archieandtherug.com
annie sloan mini project pack makeover www.archieandtherug.com
  • More notes on coverage, I used the mini project pack so each pot was only 100ml. I painted this laptop table and I have loads left so a little goes a long way.
  • I have only used the clear wax and that too has a little goes a long way policy. It buffs up to a slight sheen similar to a water based eggshell finish.
annie sloan mini project pack makeover www.archieandtherug.com
  • Price. It is not cheap but it is good value. As I said earlier a little goes along way and cheap is not always best value. In my opinion it is worth the cash.
annie sloan mini project pack makeover www.archieandtherug.com
So far I am happy with the results and really pleased to have turned an ugly yellow pine table into a stunning one. Before I start using it all over the house I want to see how this paint job holds up, how robust it is. I will, of course keep you posted on that.
annie sloan mini project pack makeover www.archieandtherug.com

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Paris Blue & Tour Eiffel - What I Wore

Paris Fashion
So you know when you are living in Paris and you have the opportunity to be pictured with loads of famous monuments but all of your outfit posts are in lovely but nondescript areas of the city? I do. I also know that the day I say right I am putting on make up, doing my hair and standing in front of the Eiffel Tower there are large plywood sidings up all over the place, the light is all wrong and well it is really crowded but the decision was made and there are not many days I do my hair so there we have it. So off I went with child, tripod and camera remote, "let's do this thing"!

Fashion in Paris is classic and I love the new colours that come in each season but it is impossible to live through a summer without a line of what I lovingly refer to as Paris blue. It is a rich and vibrant blue that I now find synonymous with this beautiful city and I was determined to find the right piece of Paris blue for my wardrobe. 
Paris Fashion www.archieandtherug.com
Paris Fashion www.archieandtherug.com
This is so easy to wear and I have worn it at right fancy occasions like a wedding and playing in a sandpit, yes that is how I roll but it is honestly one of those jumpsuits.
Paris Fashion www.archieandtherug.com
I am not against heels but with long an flowing it is flats all the way. The next photo is not a great photo, I am even squinting into the sun, but I had to share it as I rarely find a true profile shot that does not make me feel sad. I have a huge chin akin to that of former sports presenter Jimmy Hill, (to those of you overseas and younger than I he had a really big chin.) Well I saw this snap and thought it does not look too bad here, not bad at all.
Paris Fashion www.archieandtherug.com
And for good measure Sebastian is working on his Blue Steel. (Note to self I need some more up to date pop culture references).
Paris Fashion www.archieandtherug.com

I Wore - Sandals Monoprix // Jumpsuit & Necklace Zara



Tuesday, 26 April 2016

The Act Of Being Sorry & Toddlers

toddler behaviour www.archieandtherug.com
So when you get to my age and you look back it is hard to pinpoint exactly when you started to have a problem with something so you use a stock phrase to describe time, such as, for as long as I can remember. For the purposes of my memory and this post I have had a problem with the word sorry for as long as I can remember. I have heard people complain about those who are in their life who just don't say sorry, "why does that word stick in their throat", I hear. I reply, "are they sorry?", if the answer is yes then that is more important. My problem with the word sorry is it is just that, a word, one that can roll off the tongue without any thought or contrition. My ex husband said the word sorry more than most, sometimes I would say what for or why and nine times out of ten he was stumped. Why say sorry if you don't understand the reason? You see I have no problem with people using the word but it has to carry meaning, it is a weighty word, or at least it should be. What is the point of an alcoholic saying they are sorry if they have every intention of drinking again, pointless right?

Well we are all just winging it as humans and that is pretty much my parenting style, I am learning from my mistakes daily and sorry was my latest. All toddlers go through a shouting, hitting stage. It makes sense the world is their oyster yet it is filled with restrictions that they cannot fully comprehend. And we as parents often exacerbate the situation, we have this tiny baby that we can place where we choose, is fully dependent and we can meet their needs with ease. Then their needs are more complex and we kick against the change, some of us more than others. So toddlers are not necessarily being 'naughty' they are finding their way in the world and we should guide them. So I found myself explaining things; "I know you are angry because you don't want to sit in the car seat but that is the safe seat for you and even though you are angry you shouldn't hit mummy. Now say sorry". I had similar conversations like this for a few weeks and then as the words 'now say sorry' left my lips I realised, oh this is why the word does not carry any weight. We spend our lives training adults to just say it, as that is what you do. Massive parent fail, I felt like such a muppet!

So what is the alternative? I am no expert and no one is really, even those who claim to be aren't, people are far too complex a structure to specialize in. What I have started doing now is this; Sebastian asserts himself, I explain the situation, then I say that his action hurt me and made me sad. Then, for example if I was playing trains with him I stop and sit on the other side of the room. If he asks me to play I explain I am sad because he hurt me. So far this has had great results and he has time to contemplate his actions and make his own contrition. This is normally something that he might like such as bringing me soft toys to hug and saying there there. Sometimes he comes to kiss me better and has a hug. Then he feels open to talk about it. He is 2 and a bit so the vocabulary is limited; "Sebastian hit mummy, no hitting mummy, all better."

I am much happier with this system and I think it is important to show your children good ways to behave, lead by example. If I want him to control his temper I need to do the same. Then I can say to him, we do not shout at each other, we to not hit each other. I may not be an expert but I worked in social care for over a decade and saw families break down often enough to know that 'do as I say not as I do' does not work, trust me.Your children have learned everything they know so far from mimicking, walking, talking, eating, facial expressions, so if you shout and hit they will see this as validation of their behaviour. Teaching your little one to work through strong emotions is to show him how you do it. It will not happen over night, give them a break they have had a pretty hectic 2 years. From birth until now it has been go go go, so much learn, so much to take in, it is an emotional time, so above all give them a break, life is tough, it takes practice.
toddler behavior www.archieandtherug.com

Monday, 18 April 2016

Kale & Rocket Gnocchi

kale, rocket, quick, weekday meals, healthy, low fat meals www.archieandtherug.com
I am a woman who requires only the simplest pleasures in life and sometimes the smug satisfaction of creating a really healthy meal that was quick is all I need. As I am vegetarian and Joe is not, and I cook and Joe rarely does he often ends up as a de facto veggie. I am a perverse human and an even more perverse veggie as I actually like to cook meat for Joe, I like to play with ingredients, but in all honesty unless we have guests it is a waste of time and money to cook two separate meals each time we eat together. So when I can create a recipe that is easily changed up either way, and is full of goodness, and quick and easy to prepare my smugness is off the charts and I am the first to admit I am probably a little obnoxious to be around in those instances.

This is an incredibly easy recipe so be prepared for some pretty precise measurements, (she types in her sarcastic tone).

you will need;

a handful of kale
2 handfuls of rocket
3 cloves of garlic (roasted)
2 cups of mixed mushrooms
1/4 cup olive oil (approx) 
500g gnocchi
1/2 cup lardons or 3 rashers of vegetarian bacon
salt and pepper
kale, rocket, quick, weekday meals, healthy, low fat meals www.archieandtherug.com
kale, rocket, quick, weekday meals, healthy, low fat meals www.archieandtherug.com

method;
  1. Put the kale, rocket and roasted garlic into a food processor. Whilst it is running pour olive oil into it, enough to make a loose sauce.
  2. Cook the mushrooms in a small saucepan with a little oil, salt and pepper.
  3. Boil the gnocchi in hot water. Meanwhile fry up the lardons or veggie option.
  4. Drain the gnocchi slightly before you think they are done. Mix with the sauce and return to a saucepan to heat through. Serve on 2 plates and top with mushrooms and your 'bacon' of choice.
This recipe could easily be made as a vegan friendly meal also by using tempeh. Make sure you have plenty of bread to mop up the oily sauce. You may feel smug after eating such a tasty meal and knowing it is full of health. 
kale, rocket, quick, weekday meals, healthy, low fat meals www.archieandtherug.com

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

My Home Buying Story

buying a house in yorkshire www.archieandtherug.com
I felt as I have been littering this blog with progress reports, DIYs and inspiration for this house I thought I would take a little time to talk you through the journey we took in buying it as it was far from conventional. So first a little back story. As regular readers will know I have been married before and renovated a couple of houses in that marriage, then Joe and I bought our first home. Joe and I lived in a small 2 up one down house in the arty market town of Hebden Bridge. It was a strange time as most of our time in that house we were not living together so the renovation was really all about finishing it and it never felt like a home. As the credit crunch hit we wanted to sell, we knew it was a risk as the economy was not great but we popped it on the market to see. After many many Sunday shoppers we decided now was not the time and we did not want to have it sitting on the market for ages as that never looks good. The only photos I have of the place are these ones the estate agent took, what I naughty blogger I was back then, shame, shame!
buying a house in yorkshire www.archieandtherug.com
buying a house in yorkshire www.archieandtherug.com
buying a house in yorkshire www.archieandtherug.com
buying a house in yorkshire www.archieandtherug.com
After that a whole lot of life happened in between; we got married, moved to Paris and oh yeah got pregnant. Whilst we were in Paris we thought this is silly let's put the house on the market again, that is what we did. Within two weeks, (October), we had an offer from a cash buyer and the chap wanted to move in before December. This was perfect as Sebastian was due on Christmas Day. We accepted the offer and waited. And waited, and waited, and waited! Life never runs smoothly am I right? The buyer began to niggle and tried to renegotiate at every twist and turn. My hormonal heavily pregnant state led me to completely lose it and said, "we are done, stop trying to negotiate further we are putting it back on the market". Later that day we got a call from our solicitor saying he had signed the contract and he wanted to proceed with the original offer. That was good news, in the UK once a party has signed the contract they cannot back out without a hefty financial fine so we were winning again. The trouble was his delaying had taken me to the point where I was too pregnant to fly back and empty the house and I was pretty big and close to the due date so Joe did not want to leave and pack up the house and risk leaving me in France to give birth alone. The buyer had to wait.
buying a house in yorkshire www.archieandtherug.com
It was the week before Christmas and I waddled though Paris buying food, having pro drominal labour and generally feeling very uncomfortable and super emotional. Sebastian was 2 weeks late and he was a chunker weighing in at 5kg, about 10lb 6oz. Before his arrival I was all business making practical plans for getting the house packed up and into storage so we could exchange contracts. After the birth selling a house was the last thing on my mind, partly due to the difficult birth, I was exhausted, but mostly because all I wanted to do was look at him. We were kept in hospital for a week, which drove me crazy and the day after our release we marched off to take his picture in a photobooth. Please imagine the ludicrous scene of doing that with an infant who cannot hold his head up and still not be in shot. Anyway we were unwilling to pay a photographer 90€ for a passport photo so we managed, and were laughed at and aided by teenage Parisian girls. That was that the passport was applied for. 

The fact that I have neglected to share in all this is my obsession with looking for houses on Rightmove, I have the app on my phone and suffer from insomnia so I search almost all the time and save properties I like. Well I had our current home saved for quite some time and when I first saved it it was out of our price range. Then it dropped, then it dropped to within our reach with a stretch, and then.... I was going about the business of being a new mummy the sun was shining in Paris and life was generally good when I had a call that made everything a whole lot better. Joe rang me up and said he had randomly been showing the house to a friend at work and it had been reduced to 15,000 below our original budget. After I was done squeeling I rang the estate agent and said I wanted to offer the asking price. To which they replied, "you need to view it first". I tried to explain that we were in Paris and couldn't leave until my son had a passport and we really were very serious, they declined. I was crestfallen the house needed a complete renovation but it would definitely go at this price before we cold get over. An hour later I received another call, this time from the estate agent, the owner of the agency was desperate to get this off their books, the couple were separating and only spoke through a solicitor and it was a headache. He asked me if I knew the area and 10 minutes later the listing went to under offer.  Including the photo at the top of the post the only other images we had seen of the house  before buying it were these below.
buying a house in yorkshire www.archieandtherug.com
After a few days the reality sunk in we had bought a house without looking at it and there were only 4 photos online we were crazy, was this baby brain? It was the end of January/beginning of February, Joe flew over first and I waited an extra week for the passport then we joined him. We packed the house, closed off bills, filled a storage unit. Thank goodness for my husband wasting his youth on Tetris as we filled the unit up to the door, I wish I had been in the right frame of mind to take a photograph. We then went to see the house we bought online....it still sounds crazy. Well my word it was more than we could have hoped for. There was so much space and space that was not even mentioned on the spec. It was a heap of work, so much work, but we knew that. It had not been lived in for over a year so had a Miss Haversham feel to it. Then we flew home to Paris and this little bear started his career as a frequent flyer.
buying a house in yorkshire www.archieandtherug.com
The truth is we took one hell of a leap, and luckily it paid off. The house is in a small village and the cul de sac itself has around 40 houses, who, incidentally all form a water coop, (we have a natural spring). The street is like a village within a village and the neighbours are awesome so we really lucked out.  Whenever I bought a house previously I was so measured, I drove around the area at different times of the day, I researched house prices, road links, made endless viewings. Yet the house I plan to grow old in was bought on a whim, proof that sometimes it pays to go with your gut. I am enjoying breathing new life into it and cannot wait to share with you finished rooms but I have underestimated how inefficient I am with a toddler so please be patient with me.
buying a house in yorkshire www.archieandtherug.com