Thursday, 18 May 2017

Bullet Journal Friend or Foe

how to bullet journal effectively
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
make your own herbal tea gift set
you will need;

a box
a collection of seeds
a sharpie 
teabag papers
small envelopes
a black pen 
make your own herbal tea gift set
  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.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

How To Style A Mantle

How To Style A Mantle styling and interior design advice
So I have finally reached the fun part of completing a room design.....the styling! The styling brings with it a whole host of decisions and in my case headaches! I have spent the last couple of decades traveling, collecting things and living in small houses so many of those things have been in storage whilst it has been fun to get them out and find them a home in my home I have realised there are huge gaps in what is needed to create a killer design. For me it is really hard to move forward on this as want my home to be a reflection of our lives simply filled with personal items. One thing I have learned to recognise is that not everything has to have a story attached to it. In fact if I can buy a few select items that really make the others pop I am doing a good thing.

Any room you design should have a collection of vignettes, in the lounge the main focal point is fireplace so the styling on the mantle has to be on point or the whole room will be thrown out of balance if you get it wrong - no pressure guys. Knowing this has sent me into a blind panic so I have decided to hit research mode and share my findings with you. Let me talk you through what I like in each of the examples below and why.
How To Style A Mantle styling and interior design advice
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I was initially drawn to this as this lounge has dark blue walls, like mine, but when I looked at the styling there were other elements I really loved. In particular the large display of green plant life. I mean if you are making a statement just make it, this toe in the water attitude to design really grinds my gears. I think the scale of the mirror adds real grandeur without the mirror itself being ostentatious in design. I also loved the balance to a relatively neutral pallet that the bright yellow statue brings to the design.
How To Style A Mantle styling and interior design advice
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Despite this being quite a stark colour pallet there is a lot of interest still going on. The sculptural pieces, the layered artwork. The very dark horse works a stark contrast against the white backdrop and makes the composition pop. I especially like that the flowers they used as the living element of the mantle design also have a sculptural quality. The overall design is quite minimal in its design and colour base so these flowers (which I think are aubretia) work well to compliment that, no bushy meadow bouquets here, and the small orange colour pops stop the whole thing being too bland.
How To Style A Mantle styling and interior design advice
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This mantle has a lot more colour in which is far more up my street and is clearly above a working fire. I love that they have gone for a very commanding piece of art but balanced it well by offering the eye something else to look at. A small collection of bottles are a cute addition and they can be changed up by displaying different flowers or greenery in them. The mantle is a great place to show off a micro collection. Not everyone has 100 of something but a fair few of us have 3/4 of something. The books are a great way to add a bit of your own personality to a vignette.
How To Style A Mantle styling and interior design advice
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By this point it is clear that I am drawn to layered artwork. Again the books are added with the addition of very cute book ends. The skull hung on the wall adds real interest and hanging it on the wall adds height to an otherwise low lying composition.
How To Style A Mantle styling and interior design advice
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This is a really crisp design and shows that even with a minimal look you can still create interest. By making the layered art various sizes and altering the orientation it still adds interest regardless or the neutral colour pallet of the pieces.  The simple shape of the black lamp works as a great sculptural piece. The plant softens the composure by adding life, literally and a much needed shot of colour.
How To Style A Mantle styling and interior design advice
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I have saved my favourite one until last. This mantle is from the styling powerhouse that is Emily Henderson. The reason I love this one is that it is styled yes but it looks less contrived than other mantles I have seen. I love the amount of colour in the artwork and the colour continues in the stunning arrows and the warm metals. It combines colour, layering, personal books and quirkiness from the tiny wooden shoe and has a collection to boot the only thing missing for me is some plant life.

So what have I learned from this?
  • Add some colour
  • Add personality 
  • Add plant life 
  • Add collections 
  • Vary the heights and orientation of the pieces of art you choose 
  • And layering is key - it will bring depth to your mantle
Aesthetics are a very personal thing so work with the rules to best suit your taste just like the examples I have shown you. If colour is your thing, go for it. If you are not really into plants and flowers, skip them but replace that lost element with something that adds a more organic shape and breaks up the harsh lines. As for my mantle it is a work in progress I am still playing around with it but I have a good picture in my minds eye of where it will end up. That is the fun thing about your home is that it is never really 'done' it grows with you, you can build on an idea and pull others back. Happy styling!

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

10 Things EVERY Home Should Have - Regardless Of Your Style

10 things every home should have interior design tips advice
It does not matter if you are a new bohemian, minimalist, retro/vintage lover, traditionalist, boho glam or yet to define your interior style there are a few things that your home should have regardless of your taste. 
1. House Plants

I am not sure how we all stopped filling our house with plant life, perhaps it was an era of  loving the industrial and going out all the time but since staying in is the new going out and we are all nesting again plants are back. I for one never stopped despite the fact that my fingers are not the greenest in town. If you are like me and a taking plants home from the garden centre is akin to committing genocide take a look at these two posts where I recommend sturdy plants that are hard to kill, HERE & HERE. Although faux botanicals are superb these days and are great for those dark spots, I myself am an advocate you also need plenty of the real deal in your home and here is why. Plants clean the air in your home, the environment in our homes gets polluted too, especially as we find new ways to insulate our homes and stop the flow of air and shy away from opening windows in the winter. 
House plants can also help control the humidity levels in your home. There are also studies that show they improve your mental well being and reduce stress levels. It might sound odd that putting something in your home that needs regular care reduces your level of stress but we are constantly on the go and with mobile technology we are at work all the time. Slowing down and watering your plants allows your body and mind to slow down and switch off.
2. Lamps/Mood Lighting 

I have no idea if the joke about putting 'the big light on' translates out of the north of England but I hope it does. The lighting in your room design is so often an after thought, a rushed decision in a DIY store at the last minute to get the room finished. That is the wrong way to think about lighting. You know when you go to a great spa or hotel or restaurant or store and the lighting is on point it instantly feels better to be there, that is because they probably had a lighting designer spend endless hours thinking about zoning, mood, colour temperature.
10 things every home should have interior design tips advice
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The truth is I feel bad for lighting as when it is right it often goes unnoticed how much care has gone into it. When it is wrong we all notice it. You know the store with the great clothes that you never buy anything in because you feel ill in there and nothing looks right when you try it on, they probably got the lighting wrong.
Although we are not trying to make a sale in our homes we are trying to create a nice feeling and sometimes a room needs to be able to change what it feels like depending on the time of day and who is using it. That is done with lighting it can make or break your design. Sitting with one big floodlight in the centre of the room is never the right option. Think about lamps, fairy lights even the type of bulb you use in them and the glow they will emit. Think about how they are angled and the shadows they will create, think about the mood you want to create in the room. Play about with it but don't rush it.
10 things very home should have interior design advice tips
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3. Candles 

Okay I am just going to come out and say it hygge, a concept I am two minds about. Part of me feels this is just the zeitgeist effect and most of the concept is common sense and something many of do naturally and have done for years but it does prove to be quite a useful adjective now as if I want to describe something I can use the word and people go yeah I know what you mean I recently read a blog/book/article about this. 
Candles are an important part of my home for 3 reasons. Firstly it is another way to control the mood lighting in a room. Secondly the light emitted from candles has a calming soporific effect. I talk about the difference between warm and blue light in my post on insomnia HERE.
Last but not least you can get some lovely natural scented candles and you can create a truly calm home with scent. I would advise using beeswax or soy wax candles they are just healthier and only using scented candles that use essential oils, synthetic odours will not benefit you.
4. Books 

I have to say I am a bookophile, so much so I have granted myself the autonomy to create silly words such as bookophile. I cried hen they created kindles and e readers. Whilst not everyone reading this will spend time going around sniffing books and feeling happy at the mere smell of a book books are still an integral part of our existence and will never be fully replaced by screens. From airport page turners to art and design coffee table books or graphic novels everyone has a genre. I have very few dating rules but in my dating days I would never consider a relationship with a person who did not have at least one shelf of books, I also had a rule about people who only owned soundtracks and compilations but that is off topic. 
Our homes should tell people a story of who the inhabitants are and books is one of the best indicators of that. Don't hide them away, display your books whether you colour co ordinate your spines, (a look I love but cannot live with as I couldn't find anything), or you go full on dewey decimal system show people who you are and give your home personality.
10 things every home should have interior design tips advice
10 things every home should have interior design tips and advice
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5. Cushions 

Almost every rom com/sit com likes to make cushions a men are from Mars women are from Venus issue but honestly I call BS on that. I have not met a human who does not like flopping on cushions. Like with so many things that are marketed as gender specific it turns out, again, that no comfort and cushions is not gender specific.
As soon as you see a room with cushions it instantly screams cozy and my dears regardless of your interior style, even in a minimal home comfort is key if your design is going to be a success. Cushions are also a great inexpensive way of completely changing your room. No one is crazy enough to repaint every winter and then again in summer but changing out the cushions is certainly doable. For those of you who are afraid of bold colours and design cushions are also a great way to add something a little more daring to your pallet. 
10 things every home should have interior design tips and advice
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6. Adequate Storage  

Okay after my previous points this might seem a little dull but it is something that is very important to me. In fact if you want to find one sure fire way to get me shouting at the TV put me in front of a room reveal that takes  a room that was filled with books/toys/records you name it and then the designer has given them a beautiful but entirely impractical room as they have removed all of the storage. I like my home to look great and I spend a lot of time thinking about the design of my home but I always think about storage when I do. We need to live in our homes and you need to be practical and truthful with yourself. 
10 things every home should have interior design tips advice
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10 things every home should have interior design tips advice
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For example if you say hey I will just not have any of the children's toys in the lounge ever, I will take them upstairs to their room every night fine, but will you really? If your room design only works clutter free you need to plan for that with storage. Or you can incorporate items that are going to be 'out' into your design. 
7. Blankets/Throws

This goes back to the whole comfort hygge thing again. In my house I am always colder than Joe so setting the room temperature is impossible, cue blanket. Even if you are not cold a lightweight throw is a great way of creating your very own cuddle therapy.  Come on we have all had the bad hangover, bad breakup, bad day in the office and longed for a good session on the sofa wrapped in a throw or blanket. Again it turns out this is not gender specific either! Funny that.
10 things that every home should have interior design tips advice
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I have some sort of box or basket in most rooms of the house that contains blankets. We are blanket heavy in our home and I make no apologies for it. I love that when we are reading books my little boy from age 18 months has has automatically gone to fetch a blanket and brought it over for a book snuggle.
As well as the comfort, warmth benefit of a good blanket it is also, like a cushion another great way to add colour to an otherwise bland design.
8. Rugs 

A home just feels more like home with a rug.  They can be practical such as keeping your feet warm or can add depth to a design, especially if you layer them, yes you can do that. Think hard about rugs use the right size for the room, think about colour. Think about texture, if you are looking for a way to add texture and comfort to a bedroom, a low pile with harsh lines in the pattern is probably not the way to go. 
Rugs can work anywhere, even outside. The addition of a brightly coloured rug to your garden is a great way to inject colour to your space especially as you wait for new plants to bed in and grow. 
10 things every home should have interior design tips and advice
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9. Art 

Perhaps it is because of my student rental days of having to live with blank magnolia walls that the idea of blank walls sends me into some kind of ptsd frenzie now. Art is a great way to personalise your home, so please avoid ikea posters at all costs! When I say art that could include hangings, framed art made by your children and family photos. If you are in a rental you can always turn to command hooks, oh if only they had command hooks in my day. 
10 things every home should have interior design tips and advice
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Anything from a gallery wall to a statement piece hung correctly. Remember you can always add holiday or family photos but shy away from the photo canvas, (it is a personal bug bear of mine).
10. You  

This is the most important thing so I saved until last so that it sticks in your mind. Your home is unique because it is your home, it should be a reflection of you. When people come in they should not walk into a store room set or an overly styled space that has been lifted from the last hotel you stayed at. Those things can inspire you but you need to leave your personality in there. Some of the earlier things in this list are a great way to keep the 'you' in your home. Your home should evolve as you do and should reflect your story, your travels, your interests as well as your interior design taste.