Category Archives: My home decor

A small office in the making (or the zero budget project) – part 3

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I guess the hardest part is over. The room is in a decent shape and totally possible to work in it. Not one single penny was spent; I used everything I had already bought/got in the past. It is not ready, and I guess it will never be.

Some organizing is needed, but nothing too bizarre. Some cosmetic changes here and there are needed as well, but we need to fell the space and change accordingly. I’m a very practical person and having things just for the sake of having, with no real meaning or usage doesn’t work for me. I like it visually and I get why people would want to have a pretty space with a lot of pretty objects, but if it disturbs the flow of work (complicated places to put pen, little working space because it’s taken over by plants, etc) it is just not right for me.

So here is how the office is as of today. As I said, some changes required, including cosmetic ones, but overall, pretty pleased with the result and how much it cost (several hours of my days).

 

The view from the door

Is it my impression or the shelf is inclined? Ikea Kids poster on the left. Lion illustration for a kids nursery there too. Yes, it is possible to have kids artwork in the office, but if it wasn’t for the printer, this could easily be a wall of a nursery.

The desk. This Ikea desk is a bit… wonky. Or maybe we just don’t know how to assemble Ikea’s furniture well. Anyhoo, it’s ok to type, but really bad to write or draw on. I have a dog instead of a mouse. ūüėČ

Laptop down: tah-dah!

And now from a different angle.

Now this is the part where I’m not so sure of, and probably the space that might change.

Hiding the cables and wires, visible cables drive me crazy!

I’m thinking about putting some plants on top of the shelf and maybe were the camera is. This camera is an old film camera that I didn’t want to get rid of (yet).

Details: box with washi tape in (I spray painted it), a candle, tray with a stapler and cute notes, a mask. I am trying to make some room in the cupboard in the dining room, so some of the stuff I had there is coming to the office (the mask and the candle are two of them).

Details: I’ve finally updated the photos, adding more recent ones of Laura and Beatrice. Previous photos were all Laura’s, when she was between 1 and 3 months old!

Details: hubby wanted a planning board, a simple one. So I made this using an old board, cardboard paper, washi tape, glue and 3M Command tapes. I would have used a black pen to write the titles, but I wasn’t in the room when he did it.

That’s it, peeps! Next plans are to make a cover for the chair, add some green bits around, sort a box of frames I have on the floor and… do some work.

A small office in the making (or the zero budget project) – part 2

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Day 2: trying a different approach.

Instead of trying to find my way around the mess, I decided to remove it altogether and deal with it later. I’m not saying it was best or more efficient, but it felt right at the time.

Taking everything out of the room was the easiest part. It felt good, it felt like I was getting rid of things, it felt like I had space. In the room. Check out the state of the other rooms though:

My bedroom

 

The girls' bedroom

The girls’ bedroom

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The landing area

The landing area

 

The guest room

The guest room

Did I mention that we collected a bunch of stuff throughout the years and we have problems getting rid of things? Things that I found in this mess: 4 old mobile phones and about 8 different mobile charges, two broken laptops, a bunch of brand new/unused Frozen posters, lots of party favours from the girls old birthday parties (including Laura’s 1st party), old used nearly finished candles, many nearly finished notebooks, 6 old diaries, all sort of cables, floppy disks, dozens of empty DVD-Rs, dozens of used DVD-Rs with god knows what, shelves I bought and never put up, paper bags, brand new cushions, a bunch of fabric I was hoping to make stuff with… I also have manuals and boxes of every single thing we every bought.

One thing that delayed me on day 1 was actually sorting out our files. We piled up unopened mailed, which I managed to sort; I sorted old manual, Laura’s school reports and activities. Mr. C is also of the theory that he has to keep every paperwork he has ever got since moved to this country, so there are boxes of old bank statement, proof of addresses, utility bills from every single place he every lived in in the past 15 years. And because I am paranoid, I also kept my stuff from the past 10 years. I couldn’t be bothered to sort these ones out, by date, by category, like I did with our more recent stuff (as in past 5-6 years).

Once the box room was empty, it was time to clean it. Goodness, so much dust and mould. The photos below are a bit rubbish, the light was bad, there are shadows, but you can see some of the dirty on the skirting board and walls. I didn’t paint the walls, but I put bleach on everything and gave them a good scrub. And vacuum cleaned everything about three times. At the end of the day I was so damn allergic that I had to had medication to be able to sleep.

Check out the state of the of skirting board and the wall on the bottom left corner.

 

We decided to keep this unit because it would be too much trouble to remove them or even relocate them. It is a zero budget project at the end of the day.

 

Once it was all out of the way, I wanted to play a bit with the existing furniture. Should I keep them where they were? Should I move things around? I’m always up to moving things a bit, but I must confess: all the furniture in this room is old, cheap and ugly, so in the end, it was best to hide the uglier ones behind the door, as they were before.

I was tempted to place this shelf unit there, but it is so wobbly that I didn’t think it was safe. Main issue is the kids: they just go in everywhere and play with everything…

 

Then I thought about putting the archive there. But it is so ugly and now a bit broken… I thought about painting it or getting some wall paper to wrap it up, but I had nothing at home and will not spend money just yet.

 

This is how the set up is, when looking through the door. The shelf unit and the archive are behind the door, oddly placed, but hidden from the eyes.

The second day was easy, compared to the first one. Just cleaning and cleaning and playing with the position of the furniture. I did start sorting up things a bit more, but it wasn’t even 10% of the whole thing. At the end of the day, I had to put everything in the guest room so the mess would be out of the way and not a hazard to anyone.

A small office in the making (or the zero budget project) – part 1

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One of the main things I wanted to do while at home, and before the Easter break, was to tidy up the house. This is a very ambitious plan, considering the amount of stuff we have been collecting throughout the years and how attached to these stuff we are. On top of that, I also challenged myself to spend as little as possible, using basically things I have already got at home.

I started with our box room, as it was by far the most messy place in the house (maybe just behind the garage). Our tiny room is the place where we dump stuff when we want the house to look ok, especially when we have visitors over. To add insult to injury, this room hasn’t been cleaned in several months, just because it is impossible to even get in.

This will be a series of posts where I will show the before, the during and the after of our home office makeover. Tips, constructive criticism and ideas are more than welcome. So here we go…

The messy room, as it was:

An old rug, old stair gates that we removed ages ago, two printers, one Silhouette Cameo, shirts to iron, and a bag of whatever on the floor.

 

Eeeer…. stuff. This is showing the space partially empty: the vacuum cleaner and the ironing board used to be on the right, where it is slightly empty now.

 

More and more stuff… there is more stuff to the top. This archive was partially destroyed when someone(s) broke into our house and the drawers don’t close properly.

 

I kept a bunch of bags – including those reusable shopping bags – behind the door. Not in the picture: there is a small unit with drawers behind the door as well, making the door hard to open in full.

 

First step was deciding to remove the ironing board+iron and vacuum cleaner out and placing them somewhere else. Finding somewhere else is always a challenge, so I had to empty one door in our wardrobe, where we stored heavy winter coats. We hardly ever used them, so making the decision of giving them to charity wasn’t too hard. An infiltration in the past left this area humid and mouldy, so I had to give it a good clean, polish it and pain it. I had left over paint at home, it wasn’t the right colour, but who cares?

Scary job: I’m so clumsy and so not patience that I was sure I was going to drop paint everywhere. Didn’t happen. Phew!

 

After the first¬†coat of paint, the stains were still very much visible… and I thought it would be a simple job.

 

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After 3 coats of paint, everything was ready to be moved in. It’s a tiny space, but we could fit it all.

Then I tried sorting out the mess still in the room. I wanted to get rid of things before I even started cleaning it. It was a pain. It was too much to sort, too little space to spread things out, I had no clue what I had in mind. I have a massive problem trying to picture spaces in my head, especially when it is already packed.

I knew I had to get rid of a lot of things, our stuff wouldn’t even fit in the office if we wanted to keep them all. Well, they would fit in but there would be no space for us in the room.

Unplanned tidying up. I managed to remove some bits, throw others away, but I ran out of time and started feeling claustrophobic and anxious in this space.

So my first day was all about painting the space where the vacuum cleaner/ironing things would be – 3 coats, waiting a couple of hours in between to dry, throwing bits and pieces away. It felt like a wasted day, but I know it wasn’t. It just made me extremely anxious and overwhelmed with the task.

Next post: spreading the mess throughout Рdeconstructing to reconstruct.

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Landing area after moving some stuff out of the room.

 

Best Mother’s Day present

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This year I got two non-convencional gifts for Mother’s day. Neither were given with Mother’s Day in mind, but worked pretty well to me.

The first one came in February, half term week to be precise. Hubby took the girls to Romania and I got to spend a whole-full-entire (yes, redundancy) week all by myself! It was a first, people, and it was brilliant!

Here is the part I say: don’t get me wrong, I love my girls more than anything. Most of the times, it’s me not wanting them to be apart, but knowing that they are safe and around with their father made me feel ok with the whole idea.

I had four days off at work as well, so morning, afternoon and evening all by¬†myself. I was so desperately needing some time on my own that I couldn’t get myself out of the house. My time was all spent watching TV (I watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy and caught up with new Criminal Minds), which I never do, listening to music I like and sorting out bits and bobs around the house. I even got the hallway/landing area painted, after several months just planning.

 

The wall that needed painting

The wall that needed painting (back in June 2015)

 

Now looking shiny and new. (the whole wall, landing area and hallway were painted)

 

The second gift was actually a Christmas present, that was only good to use in March. The date was an “accident”, as Mr. C doesn’t have a clue when Mother’s Day is; it just happened to be the very last presentation of Cirque du Soleil’s Amaluna¬†(Ama Luna?). He got us amazing seats, very close to the stage, and it was an adult-only event for us. I’m a big fan since I first saw them (on TV) and since I moved to the UK, we used to go every year. Until Laura was born that is. It was an amazing day for both of us, we had lunch at a Japanese restaurant in South Kensington, no rush, no stress, no trying to keep the kids quiet at their seats. We went to the V&A (my first time there, not sure why I haven’t been before). We had an interrupted conversation for hours!

The V&A – a lovely museum

 

The Royal Albert Hall is one of my favourite venues in London. Just being there makes me happy. RAH + Cirque du Soleil = dream! We were five rows from the stage, so close that the actors were a meter from us when performing near the audience. Luckily we were in the middle of the row, as they tend to pick people on the borders (I must admit that I would have loved if they got my phone to take some selfies).

Where is Wally? I mean, Mr. C… This is the lateral view of the stage, with our seats just in front of it.

 

One of the performers interacting with the audience. No zoom in this photo.

 

At the very end… I missed these performers “flying” over heads.

Although it was a great day and evening without kids, we also said how much Laura would have enjoyed the presentation. Beatrice is too young for it and would probably be scared or bored (there was a boy screaming in the middle of the show, roughly Bea’s age). Most of the artists were women, including the whole band (the director as well). We wanted Laura to see it and see how women can play any instrument and type of music, if they want to, and maybe get inspired. Laura always mentions “this is for boys”, “this is for girls” and we try to show her that there is no such thing.

I got all excited to go again next year; I don’t even care if it is a Christmas-Mother’s Day all in one celebration again.

January: the bad and the ugly

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The previous post was about the positives of January (“the good”), but I would be lying if I said that it was all pink flowers in January and it was an easy month. January in the northern hemisphere is never easy – unless you live in Florida.

Anyhoo, lots of really bad nights with my little angels, which made me really moody. The vitamin D doesn’t seem to be as effective as before and I still have bone/muscle pain all over.

I’ve been eating like a pig and all sorts of bad stuff: Nutella, chocolate, cheese, bread, pasta… I know that, in moderation, these are not bad, but these are all I have been eating. Needless to say that I’m putting on weight… again.

I also get very affected by others’ bad news. Some people close to me went through some tough moments in January and I can feel the heartburns from my worries for others’ problems.

I’m still struggling to find the right balance between home and work and I’m letting one interfere with the other. I have loads of plans and ideas but very little will power to get moving. Energy levels are at the minimum here.

The biggest fail of January, though, is my bedtime. I mean, the time I go to bed. Only twice before 11pm (once was 10:55pm, the other just after 10pm), but most of the time just after midnight. I wake up at 6:15am, with the girls waking me up in the middle of the night at least once (2am, 3.30am, 4.30, 5am). I keep telling myself that I should go to bed at 9 or 10pm maximum, but I find it absurdly hard. Today, for example, the girls went to bed at 8pm. I was getting mentally prepared to sleep at 10pm, but then decided to organise the dining room (the table is finally clutter-free!!), clean the kitchen, tidy up the toys, prepare Laura’s school back, have a shower – don’t forget the cream – and finish this post. If I’m lucky, I’ll sleep before 11pm.

I know what I need to do to change things – but I’m not always happy with the solution, or I’m too lazy to start, or I’m too confused with where to go.

So, welcome, February, I have a few plans for you.

Check me out: I’m a tidy dining table.IMG_2930
This weekend I spent a couple of hours changing the girls bedroom a bit. Guess what’s the theme? Yeah, Lerigo.IMG_2912
After trying three different set ups, we settle with bed near the radiator (far from the door), cheat of drawers against the wall, leaving a little gap for the book shelf (we don’t want to nail it to the wall, so it needs to be safe from falling, as Beatrice climbs on it). I still need to remove some old stickers, but my nails and finger tips were too sore from peeling off wall stickers.IMG_2915
I’m thinking about getting a storage bench I’ve seen at Ikea, that can also act as a little stage. They love performing for us. I also ordered some snowflakes stickers for this wall (the idea was to paint the top half blue, but it won’t happen anytime
soon). Also planning to frame this poster. The bottom half was going to be to hang their own art, but I need to teach Beatrice to be less of a destroyer.IMG_2924
The best thing about the new decor is that Laura now wants to keep her bed tidy and she makes the bed!IMG_2911

Exciting times

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I woke up today very… not positive. Another very bad night with little to no sleep, Laura being so difficult in the morning (poor her, she was also tired), Bea being adorably difficult to put down to sleep (different noises in the house). But as the day progresses, I’m recovering slowly my mood.

Yesterday, Mr. C took the day off to help me with the logistics of taking Laura for her BCG jab (oh dear, thank goodness it’s the last – hopefully – jab for many years, she screamed so so so much, several minutes BEFORE having the injection. times like this, only an ice cream can make things better; not even chocolate helped!). He dropped me off at my photography workshop and when to a soft play area to spend some father-and-daughter time with Laura. She absolutely loved it! As for me, I’m really enjoying spending some time with other mums, and despite the subject evolving around kids, it doesn’t feel like that. It rained like hell yesterday, with 10 minutes of hail during the class, and it was freezing. I went home on the tram and train and by foot and it was alright, I think. I might try this again next time. Car is very convenient, especially when you need a wee, but I’m more relaxed if I am NOT driving.

We are in the process of tiny changes and news here. Nothing exciting for you lot, I guess, but tiny things help my mood to improve. The baby massage course finished last week. It was quite hard to massage Bea with her being so mobile and nosy, but it was fun nonetheless. And she absolutely adores having a back massage. So much that for the past week, she fell asleep a few times just being massaged. Before, I had to rock her for a long time (once, for two hours). I can’t believe how much and how sudden it changed – it’s not always easy, but even when she is agitated, a back massage calms her down. She might not go to sleep straight away, but she stays still and stops moaning (she is a moaner when she is tired, but I think it’s a general thing with all babies and children).

I was going to replace the massage course with a baby yoga class, which would be today, but I had some fitters in to work on the conservatory. Yes, it seems like we will have it done for Christmas. This puts a smile on my face. ūüôā Yes, it’s a pain to get stuck in the house while they are working, but hey, I wanted it, so I have to put up with it.

Beatrice started crawling yesterday, after what seemed the longest training period ever!! She was 6 months and 10 days old, which seems a little bit too soon, but not soon for a 2nd child I was told. Her sleeping hasn’t improved at all with weaning and the crawling training – I would say it got worse. But I have hopes for the near future.

We ordered Laura’s bed from Ikea (the one I mention on this post) and it will be delivered next Friday (oh, boy, Ikea’s online shopping is a pain!). So hopefully December will be some for of goodbye 2013, hello 2014 for us. Then, of course, we are travelling and who cares about routine?

We are also trying to reduce Bea’s dummy usage. Not that she uses a lot, on the contrary, but exactly because she doesn’t like it too much, we are slowly cutting it completely. It’s not easy (for me) though, as a dummy can be a life (for me) saviour. At the moment, I would say that she sucks her dummy about 2 hours a day? Yesterday she fell asleep without it, which is a victory. I’m hoping that it will be easier in Brazil, where I will have extra pair of hands to help soothing her.

Speaking of Brazil, we had some great news. Our friend Italiano, who is leaving in San Francisco for too long now, will join us in Brazil – a week in Bahia and another week in Rio. We are so excited!! Truth is, going to California is not in our plans just now (have other places in the queue) and coming to London is not in his plans either. So makes all the sense to meet up in the middle. And Bahia is a place that none of us know and we can explore together. Now, it is also be a test of our friendship – if he disappears completely after that, means that the girls scared him for good. hahaha If he enjoys the experience, I think we could look at an annual holiday with uncle R, eh?

Now, the last update is in regards my diet. It is going slowly but surely. I can’t get into the habit of exercising enough, so I must try harder. I’ve lost just over 1 stone so far and I would like to lose another 1/2 stone before the trip. I don’t think it’s impossible, but at the pace I am now, it will be hard. Oh well, it took me 8 years to put on weight, I should be grateful that it is coming out.

Learning to sleep

Learning to sleep

Learning to crawl

Learning to crawl

Getting rid of the dummy

Getting rid of the dummy

Press ups

Press ups

My home decor: the girls’ room

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I gave up on Laura’s room ages ago, because to be honest, she didn’t use to spend too much time there. Her toys and the “play area” are in the living room, so I preferred not to spend too much energy there.

I didn’t want a visually exciting room, because I want her to sleep, not to play, at night. I know some people defend that kids should play when they want and go to bed when they want. Fine by me, as long as they are not my kids. I explain: my daughter doesn’t play on her own for long, she requires our presence. And although I admire these mums that are 100% available whist their children are awake, I cannot do a 6am to 10pm(*) shift, sorry. I have tons of other things to do (like writing this post, for example), which are done when the girls are asleep.

(*) If the girls are ill or have a nightmare, I am¬†more than happy to¬†will spend the whole night up to stay with them, I’m just not up to having this as a routine, just because they want to play.

Having said that, I am on a mission to re-arrange their rooms without changing much of the furniture. Here is the challenge:

1) Huge wardrobes. Not a chance in the world I can get rid of them (we need it as I store lots of things that are not Laura’s) and not a chance to put the somewhere else (too big, too heavy, too difficult break down and assemble). We are not even changing places in the bedroom.

2) Changing table. At the moment, we are using it for toys and nappies/wipes, but we change Bea in my bedroom. No doubt this table will go, but when? The space behind the door is a dead space anyway, there’s not much that can fit in there, plus even the table is stopping the door to fully open, so I might leave the space empty.

Huge wardrobes and the changing table

Huge wardrobes and the changing table

3) Chest of drawers. I would like to put it in my bedroom (because it is bigger than mine), but it doesn’t fit! Not to mention that now with two, it is full. The stickers will all go.

4) Rocking chair. This has been so useful with Laura – only recently we stopped reading stories for her on the chair. I haven’t had the chance to use it much with Bea because of the whole logistic of bedtime. I thought about putting it in our bedroom whilst Bea is sleeping there, but we don’t have much space in there, and Bea will move to Laura’s bedroom in November (if not before).

5) Shelves? Frames? I want everything, but first I need to decide what goes where. Also, our last experience putting up shelves traumatised me, so I need to forget about it before I try again. These photos of us with Laura were very useful when Laura was small. She used to wake up in the morning and look at the pictures, chat with “us”, and we got an hour or so of sleep. So they will be replaced by photos of all of us. Big ones. And more than 2.

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Chest of drawer, rocking chair and pictures

6) Beds. The cot-bed Laura sleeps in at the moment will soon be Bea’s. My dilemma: 1) get Laura a cheap junior bed now and the two will have their own beds for a couple of years and then get them a bunk bed (I cannot do this now because I’m scared Laura might fall and Bea is too small for a raised bed); or 2) invest in a good bed to last for many years and in 3 years time I replace Bea’s cot-bed with another good bed and end up with two beds in the bedroom?

We went to Ikea a couple of weeks ago and Laura loved the Kura bed (photo below). I think it’s quite ugly (it looks better in the photo), but it fits the purpose of getting a cheap bed until we find out what to do. The question is: does it fit in the bedroom? Oh, it costs ¬£120, which for me is NOT cheap, but the beds I was looking at (especially bunk beds) were ¬£500+. So, if we go with the expensive option, it will be a bed for life, until they go to uni.

7) Reading corner. This is the only “play area” I like having in the bedroom, because it is part of Laura’s bedtime routine. She doesn’t sleep until we read her a story. And she likes reading books during the day as well (and so do I). The book shelf will not do, I like it too much. It’s now a matter of where it will go. Me thinks: cushions on the floor (under the Ikea’s bed, photo below?)

Cotbed

Cotbed (the swing doesn’t belong there, but it was one of these things that we just forgot about it)

Ikea's Kura Reversible bed: the cheap solution

Ikea’s Kura Reversible bed: the cheap solution

A fun solution that won't break the bank

A fun solution that won’t break the bank

Same bed, but "upside down"

Same bed, but “upside down”

Reading corner

Reading corner

8) Blackout/blinds. I want to remove the wooden one, I don’t like the black one. The black one has to stay otherwise Laura will go to bed at 11pm and wake up at 4am in summer (just the wooden one didn’t work – it was in the house when we moved in and we kept because it added extra darkness to the room).

9) Curtains. Another controversial topic in the house. Husband and I cannot agree on it, except that we don’t want to spend a small fortune on made to measure curtains. Because the window is big, bespoke curtains are quite expensive (minimum of ¬£300, with quotes going up to ¬£700!!). Hubby won’t let curtains covering the radiator, so they need to be either short length or mere decoration (like the ones up now, too small in my opinion)

Curtains, blackouts

Curtains, blackouts

10) Theme / accent colours. The theme was originally animals and Laura likes it. If I ask her now, she will say “Princess” and, although it is HER bedroom, I’m against pink and princesses. Judge me if you may, I don’t care. My options: all white with green/yellow as accent colours, Red/grey, blue/red/white as the union jack flag (huahuahuahua), all white with various bright colours here and there. I still have to work on that. Ah, the border will go. The stickers on the wardrobe will go eventually, except the height chart.

Budget: TBC (I want to spend as little as possible and the only furniture to be bought will be the bed, whichever it will be). Deadline: December.