Thursday, 10 August 2017

10 Completely Impractical Design Trends

10 completely impractical design trends
Let me begin by saying I am guilty of a few of these, in fact many are too cute to resist despite the fact that they are completely impractical. This is not a post about what looks good, I have many pairs of shoes that prove that practically does not matter to me, at least not all the time.
1. Nice Rugs In The Kitchen/Bathroom 

I have seen them in a number of wonderfully styled kitchens and bathrooms and after the initial wow that looks great I think my word that rug is going to be damp and ruined in the bathroom. Or eeek cleaning under that in the kitchen will be a pain. Perhaps the kitchen rug is a testament to how messy I am, don't get me wrong I clean my kitchen but I am somewhat flamboyant with food prep.
10 completely impractical design trends
2. Plant Shelf Window Dressing 

Even as I write this I am planning to do exactly this in the bathroom because it looks way too cool to resist. So why do I have a problem with it? Keeping the window clean, I hate cleaning but I like my home to be clean so I like to be efficient with it, also depending on how your window is constructed you may not be able to open it afterwards. And whilst I am throwing all of my neurosis out onto the world wide web I have fear of fire to the degree that I time myself getting out in case of fire, the route I would take based upon the most likely areas of the home to have a fire and how I would get my family and dog out. I feel shelves blocking a possible escape route places an additional fear into an already fearful situation, yet still I plan away. 
3. Twisty Twirly Light Shades

Let's gloss over the problem of dusting because you may start to think I am a clean freak, I'm not. We (I) am more concerned with spider homes, these light shades look far too inviting a location for spiders and their dangling. I also find that they cast some very unflattering, lets just say ugly shadows around a room. Yes they may look nice in  themselves but the effect the light has on the rest of the room can make or brake a design.
10 completely impractical design trends
4. Minimalist 

I watched an episode of Grand Designs once where a couple built their new dream home and by the end of the show they had dispensed of everything that was in their old home and started wearing all black, they even had new super slick haircuts. The thing about a super slick minimal decor is place one thing out of whack and the entire scheme looks awful, it is a really unforgiving look. I don't want to live in a home that does not allow for the goofy family photo or god awful but completely wonderful thing your child makes for you.
10 completely impractical design trends
5. Maximal 

In contrast maximal. Now I thought I was pretty maximal, I am nothing compared to people who fully embrace this look. Not to mention the elongated time it will take to dust, I know I am talking about cleaning again but I am right it will take an age! Maximal, full on maximal is as hard to maintain as full on minimal. You see to the untrained eye it looks like the person has just gone crazy putting stuff all over their house, bold uses of clashing colours and it just happens to work. No, they have spent a lot of time and careful consideration on what to put where and how to clash colours in a way that makes you feel good in the room. It is not a look that will just work if you start throwing anything in just to make it full.
10 completely impractical design trends
6. Olive Trees Indoors 

Simple, they will die. My father in law is a celebrated, full on published in Nature botanist and even he said he could not keep an olive tree alive indoors long term. So I guess this comes down to how rich you are. If you are able and happy to spend £300 on a tree for 4 years then go at it, they are rather wonderful and I do so want one but I did my research first and decided against it. Now there are some faux versions available, they look great online but I have not checked them out up close yet so I will keep you posted.
10 completely impractical design trends
7. Neon Lamps

For me this is a big no no. They are cool and I do like to look at them but the thought of having such an unflattering light in my home makes me say no. But they do look cool, damn that pay off between style and substance damn it to hell.
10 completely impractical design trends
8. White Sofas

I would love to say hey a white sofa with children and pets in the house are you crazy but no it is me, me and every other red wine drinker in the world, you know who you are. We all think we can not spill red wine but one drop always finds its way out of the glass and turns into a stain 1000 times larger than the drop was. On my list you can add every food and drink going, I am not a neat eater/drinker. Watch this confession drastically reduce my invitations, so I will quickly jump in and say I always use a coaster guys please can I still come over, I will drink water. Wait even water stains a white sofa.
10 completely impractical design trends
9. Wire Units/Shelves 

It is another cleaning related moan but these things gather dirt and a pain to clean they are also wobbly so it limits what they can hold and guess what I have one. Look how cool it looks right? I had it in my last kitchen and when the building work is done on this kitchen it will return to be a tea station, really cute! So here is my top tip for cleaning them. In a bath of soapy water and make sure you dry it well you don't want it to rust.
10 completely impractical design trends
10. Cork 

I remember my mum having cork floor tiles in her house in the 80s and she found them dated back then but cork is back but I just do. I have found so many products to be nothing short of stunning the way cork has been added to create texture. I like the cork floors, I really like the cork table but.... It is a big but they get damaged quite easily in comparison to say a wooden table, or slate floor. The slick cork surface will look like a tired noticeboard in the teachers lounge when it starts to get nicked and chipped.

There you have it my top 10 impractical design trends and only 90% of this post makes me sound completely obsessed with dust. Do share if you you can think of any more or if indeed you are that one person who keeps the white sofa looking tip top.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Summer Health Smoothie - Sponsored

turmeric smoothie sugar free vegan health drink recipe sponsored
All of us at some point has grown tired of the new superfoods, almost every month there is a new trend and we are met with an onslaught of recipes and articles detailing the health benefits but in the case of turmeric there is nothing new fangled here. I would like to say that it was the fact that my granny was Indian that I have long been a fan of the ayurvedic uses of turmeric (haldi) but I feel that it is much more than that, you see my granny was ahead of the curve on all things health. She was the woman who was all over E numbers and children's behaviour, herbal supplements, homeopathy, cosmic ordering, cider vinegar, you name it she knew about it before anyone else. These things are well discussed now in the main stream press but back in the early 80s she was edgy, in fact born a century earlier villagers would have called her a witch. When I got a cold I was presented with onion juice. If I had a cough or 'growing pains' I was presented with warm milk, mixed with ginger, honey and turmeric, this was 1984, you see my granny was hip way before any hipsters were.
turmeric smoothie sugar free vegan health drink recipe sponsored
turmeric smoothie sugar free vegan health drink recipe sponsored
Turmeric has to be one of the most well researched and documented ayurvedic herb beyond the field of ayurvedic medicine. It has been shown to;
  • promote digestion 
  • support the brain and nervous system 
  • be an antioxidant 
  • support healthy liver function 
  • ease joint discomfort 
  • aid good circulation 
  • bolster the immune system
  • maintain healthy blood sugar levels 
And guess what even if you don't buy into any of that it tastes great, it has a truly unique taste we eat it in some form at least 3 times a week in our household so when I was asked by Wayfair to share a smoothie recipe with them I knew exactly which one to share.
turmeric smoothie sugar free vegan health drink recipe sponsored
Smoothies are a great summer drink but I find many of them too sweet and claggy to handle, this recipe contains no dairy, so reduced clagginess,  no refined sugar and a rich colour and flavour.
turmeric smoothie sugar free vegan health drink recipe sponsored
you will need;

1tbsp turmeric
3tbsp date syrup
the flesh of 2 peaches
80ml almond milk (or milk of your choice)
1tsp vanilla extract

  1. Simple as this, blend until smooth and serve over ice.
This recipe will more than fill 2 of these wonderful mason jar glasses from Wayfair.

Click on the links to find some more great smoothie recipes for you to try this summer


turmeric smoothie sugar free vegan health drink recipe sponsored

Friday, 21 July 2017

Post Natal Depression & Social Anxiety

Yesterday evening I was supposed to be going out to meet old friends and hopefully make new ones. I had planned to do this for a month, I was excited and planned an outfit, I was taking baby Humphrey along but it was still a night out. Yet I did not go out I sat here writing this post. I woke up in the morning and immediately had a panic, a physical feeling in the pit of my stomach. I then played out 1000 scenarios for the evening and started to feel uncomfortable in my own skin. The day drew on I was talking on the phone arranging the conference, sounding pretty confident, sending out emails, going about my day but still this feeling remained in the pit of my stomach. As time ticked on the sweating started. Then I started to make excuses to myself; Sebastian will be upset if I go out, I have too much work to do, I will get tired. Whilst all of those things are true they are not the reason I stayed away, I stayed away because I was scared. 

Trying to explain social anxiety to someone who has not had it is pretty near to impossible because all of their responses will be logical and the fear is illogical. Nothing really bad will happen. No probably not. If someone is mean to you it is not the end of the world, also true, and yet the fear is crippling.

I have mental health issues, I have written about them in the past so with Sebastian we were on high alert for PND, it never came, I was the happiest I had ever been in my life before or since. During my pregnancy with Humphrey the flag went up again and we were pretty confident that all would be well but it wasn't. The second night that Humphrey was in the world Sebastian woke up, as he always does and Joe had to go in and I couldn't go in as I was feeding and I thought silently to myself "this is your fault Humphrey you are keeping me from my child". As soon as I thought it I burst out crying and felt guilty and spent the next 3 hours staring at him, knowing I loved him but I did not feel the same way as I did on day 2 of Sebastian. So I kept staring willing the exact same emotion to transpire. Feeling increasingly guilty when it did not and fearful of the "what you don't love your baby comments" or the looks as others would tell me they felt the same way about all of their children. But in fact all of these conversations and subsequent judgements took place in the theatre of my mind.

I cannot think straight I have 2 completely different brains, one is saying of course it is different this time get a grip. You have health and work worries that you did not have last time let it go lady. Yet the brain that is in charge, the irrational one does not take note of any of that.

So why have I lumped social anxiety in with PND they are two entirely different things, that is true, but for me one has prevented me talking about the other. Looking back I have always suffered from social anxiety and there will be people who know me personally who will think yeah right, there may even be readers who think hmmm you put yourself out there a lot I am not buying this social anxiety thing. So there are nuances to it and it is different for everyone but mine manifests in a number of ways. 

When I was younger, and a little bit now, but less so I was super loud. If I am loud and flamboyant no one will know I am in fact shitting myself and have zero confidence in who I am. If people react badly to this no worries I will just get louder, bigger, more flamboyant, bordering on obnoxious. If I am a character that is fine, presenting at events, TV, in the workplace all fine because I am protected by the role, not as raw as here I am, please be my friend.

Many people say they lose confidence when they have children, forget who they were but I get out more now because I will force myself to do anything for my children. A singing group, messy play, forest school if they are enjoying it I will go, I will make an effort with other parents as that will impact on my child but meeting up with a parent as a friend outside of those confines and I am shitting myself again. Networking I am okay with that is social yes but it is work, take that framework away and I am blowing in the wind.

All of these feelings that I have lived with my entire life all of a sudden have a further impact because your friends are the ones who you need to tell. How do you talk about something as humiliating as PND when you are scared to be social. Situations I am normally okay with like talking one on one I am scared of and it is because I know I have an elephant in the room that I want to talk about but can't, until now. Oh the beauty of online the ability to open up behind a safety curtain.

It is easy to hide because I know all the right moves and what I should be saying so I keep saying them I am just uncertain as to their validity. Also the fact that there is a common misconception that PND or in fact depression means you are sitting down sad all the time helps you hide the fact you are drowning in it.

So here is the promise I made tonight I am breaking the silence and if I am judged for it so be it you couldn't possibly have a lower opinion of me than I have of myself right now. 

This is what I know;
  • I love Sebastian 
  • I love Humphrey 
  • I will never harm either of my children
  • I wanted to have both of my children
We were so on top of reading books to Sebastian and preparing him for the new addition to our family yet those feelings of resentment of my time with Sebastian are my own. So I have to make those points my mantra when I have doubts and carry on. 

This post is not my usual recipe/interiors/craft but this blog has always been an extension of me and maybe by more of us saying look actually I am crap at this it will bring comfort to someone else. So here goes. I am crap at this, life is kicking my ass daily and I am not inspirational or a hero or even a great person I am poo most of the time and I suppose I am okay with that.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Quinoa Pancakes

vegetarian freeze ahead recipe
It is not new information to any of my regular readers that I love food and love creating new recipes but it is new that I am obsessed, yes obsessed with batch cooking. I have two kiddos under the age of four, in essence 3 full time jobs and I am renovating a house, not to mention a dog that refuses to stop moulting regardless of the weather. So where does this leave mealtimes? 

I think that sitting down together at mealtimes is vital for family life, you get to stop and talk to one another and catch up, reconnect. No TV dinners in this house I am super strict on this one. I also want myself and my family to eat healthy home cooked meals. I don't want to have to resort to ready meals that are not the best for you and damage the environment with all of the additional packaging. My answer to these dilemmas is to cook with all of my might every so often and fill the freezer and store cupboards myself.
vegetarian freeze ahead recipe
These quinoa pancakes freeze like a dream and re heat in the oven. The recipe make quite a few so feel free to enjoy some on the day and still have lots left for the freezer.

you will need (makes 20 approx)

1cup quinoa mix (I use the quinoa & Bulgar wheat mix from Tesco)
1/2 cup rolled oats 
1/2 cup Eikhorn Flour (you could just use brown/wholemeal instead)
1tsp baking powder
4 eggs
1 onion
2tsp sumac 
1/4 cup milk
1tsp bicarbonate of soda  
2tbsp fresh chopped parsley 
2 garlic cloves 
salt and pepper 
olive oil for frying 

(so cute how Sebastian has decided to get involved with blog pictures now, we bought him this second hand camera for Christmas and he has not stopped using it)
vegetarian freeze ahead recipe

  1. Boil and drain the quinoa mix and set aside to cool. Meanwhile fry your chopped onion and garlic until soft.
  2. In a large mixing bowl mix all of the ingredients together. 
  3. Fry either side until brown and the pancake is set. 
  4. If you are freezing them let them cool and then freeze them on a baking sheet so that they keep their shape. Once fully frozen they can be transferred to a freezer bag and stored until needed.
vegetarian freeze ahead recipe
They can be served in a variety of ways. A few days ago I used them in a stack with griddle vegetables and hallumi with a tomato sauce. Not a great pic but I did grab a shot with my phone as a serving suggestion.
vegetarian freeze ahead recipe

I hope you enjoy them as much as we are.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Le Marché des Enfants Rouges - A Paris Guide

Le Marché des Enfants Rouges - A Paris Guide
It has been a while since I shared with you one of my Paris faves. I guess my mind has been so preoccupied with baby growing and the renovation in Yorkshire I forgot that it is easy to take the city for granted. The sun is out and it is time to wander. This is the best city in the world to wander in and it is mostly flat so you can walk for miles without breaking a sweat even in the heat. In fact I hold Paris responsible for me losing all of my baby weight. I wandered for miles daily with Sebastian and still ate my fill of pastries.
Le Marché des Enfants Rouges - A Paris Guide
Le Marché des Enfants Rouges - A Paris Guide
Le marché des enfants rouges is the oldest covered market in Paris and is situated in the 3eme arrondissement. 
Le Marché des Enfants Rouges - A Paris Guide
Le Marché des Enfants Rouges - A Paris Guide
Le Marché des Enfants Rouges - A Paris Guide
The food is perfect if you are like me and and enjoy a global vibe on your plate you are in luck, world food is key here and it is all authentic, fresh and reasonably priced. Okay the Moroccan food is not Moroccan prices but hey we are in Paris so cut me some slack. One thing I love is that there is a good range of vegetarian food available something that is high on my agenda, there are also a few vegan choices too in a couple of the eateries. 
Le Marché des Enfants Rouges - A Paris Guide
Le Marché des Enfants Rouges - A Paris Guide

Le Marché des Enfants Rouges - A Paris Guide
Le Marché des Enfants Rouges - A Paris Guide
After enjoying a very nice lunch pick up some deli-esq eats to take home and enjoy. Although it may not technically be part of the market, (I have not checked), as it is market adjacent there is one of my favourite shops in Paris, perhaps the world, and no I am not speaking hyperbolically. There is a little shop that sells old photos. Some framed, these are more expensive, others are loose in boxes, these are cheaper and my favourite as I like to rummage. A big treat for me is to have a good hour to do this. I am obsessed with what images people chose to document in the days before digital. Film photography was expensive and so they needed to count and they deserve our respect.
Le Marché des Enfants Rouges - A Paris Guide
Le Marché des Enfants Rouges - A Paris Guide
Le Marché des Enfants Rouges - A Paris Guide
Le Marché des Enfants Rouges - A Paris Guide
If you are with little ones there is a lovely park close by, I think it is always good to have a bribe in your back pocket although Sebastian does love a cafe and shopping and will sometimes decline a park  in favour of a brocante. I have raised a true Parisian!

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
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
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
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
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.