Organizing For Your Lifestyle

ORGANIZATION

Being a pretty obsessive OCD organizer, (mainly due to a lot of ‘stuff’ in my home which if I don’t control results in chaos within hours), I can happily spend hours sorting, catagorizing and decluttering areas. I find this a really calming thing to do, whereas to others it might seem like hell.

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I always thought that this was my own personal madness, as I can get itchy when I see clutter.  But I recently read a new book by Jane Stoller called ‘Organizing Your Lifestyle’ that delves deep into the psyche behind organizing, and which explains what the benefits are as a whole to your life.  With the clutter controlled, there is more time to actually ENJOY YOUR LIFE!  I don’t usually read self-help books, but  ‘Organizing Your Lifestyle’   is a really useful hybrid as it offers both practical advice as well as explaining the psychological benefits of organization.

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Plus it is a realistic book, as I do not have the patience to look at everything I own and murmur in the latest fashion ‘But do I really love it?’  Of course I love it, I love all of it and am never, ever going to be a minimalist!  But I can be a tidy and organized maximalist, and this book has excellent tips on how to evaluate what you have and how to look after it all so you have more quality time on your hands.  It also makes you look hard at things so you can let some of them go without regret.

USEFUL ADVICE

Some of the tips are really useful, I loved the wardrobe section on how to store and look after items.  Like most ladies, I own more clothes and shoes than I realistically have cupboard space for.  There are great tips on how to look after and store things so they are not creased, crumpled and hence last longer.  If you think of the hefty financial outlay that we females spend on clothes, it makes sense to make them last.

Traveling away?  The book has great ways to make packing less stressful, and without the dreaded over-packing that I usually do so I end up with a massive suitcase full of clothes I don’t even wear on the trip.

The book breaks down areas of organization, so it can be something you can ease into this is a new process and makes you shake in your boots.

You can follow Jane on Twitter where she has motivational tips to keep the spirit going.

 

 

Up All Night -A Domestic Goddess’s Insomnia

This post has has absolutely nothing to do with interiors, but this is a blog so I am allowed to go ‘off piste’ sometimes.

THE PROBLEM

So…. I have insomnia most nights now, mainly due to thinking… thinking about the house, thinking about the kids/laundry/parent taxi service/exams/what is for supper tomorrow….thinking about things I have to do, what I may have to do and what I have forgotten to do….

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This is how asleep I would like to be as soon as I get into bed…

Most nights I get into bed ready for sleep and then my mind starts churning so much I can almost hear the cogs turning, it must be due to the quiet in the rest of the house at that time of night.  The next morning I am pie-eyed with exhaustion, and most of the lists and thoughts that came into my head vanish so I cannot even remember what I planned the night before.  So then I spend the day racking my brains, and getting grumpier as I become convinced dementia is setting in early.

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This is sort of how I am feeling when I still cannot get to sleep and it’s 4am….

Someone once told me to visualize an empty beach, and imagine myself looking out to sea onto an empty horizon.  It used to work, but now things interfere with the vision; paint charts appear through the sand, paperwork I need to finish floats in on the tide and then the whole beach vision is gone and the thoughts start swirling en masse.  It is like those scenes in old movies when the dates start flying off a paper calendar in the wind to signify speeding time.  I also apparently fidget, huff, turn a lot and tap my fingers on the pillow when I cannot sleep, which also drives the hubby insane.

I have tried all of the usual suggestions: hot baths before bed, warm milky drinks, caffeine bans, lavender, camomile, herbal teas, no electronic technology in the evening, valerian, magnesium, aromatherapy oils, sleep masks, open windows, and tried to drink myself silly with wine to pass out.  But alas, none seem to work and the last one is really bad with a hangover to boot the following day.

THE SOLUTION

I decided this week to try a new approach.  Armed with a notebook and a pencil, plus a nice candle on my bedside table, I got into bed and tried to fall asleep.  Thoughts and plans and to-do’s started swimming about in my mind, and instead of lying there and pretending I was asleep,  each time a thought came I wrote it down briefly by the dim but not too bright candlight.  I fell asleep pretty fast, (with the notebook ending up in the bed, and thank god I had a pencil and not a pen as my sheets would have been ruined with bizarre markings), probably because I was expecting to stay awake.  In the morning I looked at the notebook and found some quite bizarre notes, bizarre as in I have no idea how one thought led to the next.  Here they are:

  • Fix hole in wall in daughters bedroom and paint it
  • Ring godmother and arrange lunch
  • Do company accounts
  • Where are the tent pegs?
  • Are the children really happy?
  • Why can’t I just let things go to the charity shop?
  • Book vet for cats vaccine boosters
  • Do we have any baking soda left in the larder?
  • Look into ferries for summer trip
  • Must clear the borders in the garden
  • Put Point To Point date in diary and call Claire
  • Am I ringing Mum enough?
  • Actually when is our wedding anniversary?
  • Bathroom

The last one escapes me, I have no idea what it even means.  What bathroom?  Where?  Do I need to fix something in the bathroom?

But I am quite pleased with a lot of the others, as I can actually try and get on with some of them.  So far this has worked for 3 nights in a row, and my daily exhaustion and procrastination, (which I feel is an art form in its own right a lot of the time), have improved.   Time will tell if it really works, and my husband seems OK about waking up with a pencil digging into his nether regions as it sure beats me huffing, tapping, turning and keeping him awake all night.

With that all out of my system, I bid you goodnight x

 

 

 

 

MODERN BOTANICAL DIY PRINTS

EASY DIY BOTANICAL PRINTS WITH A TWIST

This is a simple way to create your own botanical prints with a contemporary twist.  This weekend I picked up two very nice simple black chunky frames on offer for 2 for £10 at Homebase, with mounts inside already cut to fit A4 prints.  I then made the prints myself at home, using downloaded botanical and paper images, normal photocopier paper and a printer.  I have seen examples like this on sale for a lot of money in smart home decor shops, galleries and on Etsy, but you can make them yourself which is far more satisfying and far cheaper.

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HOW TO MAKE THEM:

Start off by finding large sized botanical prints on-line.  There are lots of places to find them for free:  The Graphics Fairy and Botanicus are great paces to browse, especially the latter for thousands of botanical themes.  Download the picture you want to use, in Botanicus it comes as a large pdf of a botanical collection of the book’s plates, whereas at The Graphics Fairy is it just one image as a pdf or jpeg.  You do not need to print them out, but the below are examples of ones to look for, they need strong colours and lines to show up in the finished piece.

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Enclosed here is a ready to print dictionary piece of paper, (but you could use old sheet music cut to A4 size, or other old text paper you may have available).  Print this out in colour onto a piece of A4 paper, and make it fit the whole page as much as possible on your printer by using the ‘scale to fit’ option..

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When it is dry, reload this printed paper into the printer, and then print out the botanical flower of your choice straight onto it.  You may need 2-3 runs to get your grade right for your own tastes, (and not to do it upside down which I am guilty of a lot!). You can tweak your grade in your photo browser directly if it is a jpeg, or if it is a pdf you will need to convert it to a large sized jpeg first.

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Then frame up your print, and hey presto… done in a jiffy….

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Have a go, it is really not that hard to do and the possibilities are endless for printing images.  Just make sure they are dense in colour and line.  You can even do a 3rd print run with text on to personalise it for someone.

Winter Warmer – Cardamom Coffee Recipe

During this past chilly week I have discovered a lovely way to make coffee, and it makes me feel like I am sitting in an exotic bedouin tent as opposed to being freezing in a drafty old house mid-winter.  Being a coffee fanatic, I drink coffee according to mood.  Latte usually in the day as a norm.   But I also love those little strong numbers, from gritty thick Turkish coffee served in weeny cups to brutally strong espresso which could put hairs on your chest.

I was at a meeting last week and was served coffee in this way, and it is LOVELY.  It smells and tastes heavenly, a bit spiced and moorish.  You can have it black or white, and serve it as a strong small coffee or as a base for latte’s and cappucino’s.

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The magic ingredient is cardamom.

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An aromatic spice indigenous to south India and Sri Lanka, cardamom seeds come from a plant belonging to the ginger family. They are contained in small pods about the size of a cranberry. Cardamom has a wonderful aroma and an enticing warm, spicy-sweet flavour.

To Make:

  • You can use either a stove-top coffee maker or a cafetiere.
  • Use one seed per cup.  Using the back of spoon, crush it so it splits.
  • Add to your normal ground coffee and brew.
  • Leave to stand for 5 minutes and the flavour and scent is released into the coffee.
  • Add milk and sugar if desired.

I already have used dried cinnamon in coffee at Christmas before, but this cardamom version scales way higher on the yummy scale.  The next trial will be star anise….

Wardrobe Crisis… and Storage Solution

Fact:  I have too many clothes.  These are dotted all over the house as storage is tricky for the amount I have.

Fact:  I have too many shoes.  I could well give Imelda Marcos a run for her money.

Fact:  It felt so crowded in the bedroom with clothes, shoes etc that it was a pain to keep it organised.

Fact: A lot of my clothes are quite old, but very well made so I am loathe to chuck them as they do come in useful randomly from time to time.  Need a fab fitted Armani suit for a meeting; got one.  Feeling like chanelling Chanel at the races in a pink tweed suit; done.  Wedding on the horizon;  Dozens of outfits to chose from….  Dinner dance; loads to choose from.  But these were stored all over the place so I had to hunt for them.

Fact: I otherwise wear pretty much the same uniform of clothes most days.  I have trusty Uniglo trousers in one cut (but with lots of pairs in black or grey), a lot of Cos black dresses and huge swaddling roll-necked jumpers.  Add my Converse hi-tops or biker boots, and I am ready to go.

Fiction:  I really need all of these clothes.

So this week I decided to finally gather all items together from all over the house to see how much I actually could lose/keep/use more.  Pretty much most rooms had a cupboard or two groaning with clothes/shoes/out of season stored items.  When all together, and reader I am a bit ashamed when I admit this, they filled a whole room.  30 years worth of clothes and shoes stared back at me. Continue reading

Dream Living Room Plans

I have been looking at a fabulous website called Arhaus who are based in the USA, and am seriously wishing they would open a shop in the UK, (hint, hint….).  Their collections are really beautiful, very classic, and I would snap up a lot of their items, especially the furniture, in a flash to use in interiors.

I have based the room around artwork by Fin DAC, who produces huge scale street mural artwork around the globe.  I love this image, and used it as the inspiration for the room.  It would look amazing as a huge piece on one wall, and he sells via online galleries so I am after one now… although I may have to save up a bit….

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Having recently completed a grey, black and orange dining room, I am still slightly obsessed with these colours and was immediately drawn to the sofa and daybed in the Clancy range, they are both traditional with the buttoning but have lovely sleek modern lines as well.  Plus, (and this is key for me), I really hate plumping up base cushions of sofas, so this is a dream design for me!

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How to make your own scented soy candles

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Scented candles are incredibly popular at the moment, but can also be very expensive for long-lasted, heavily scented soy versions.  I love ones by True Grace, Diptyque, Tom Dixon, Kenneth Turner and the Cowshed -but they come at a hefty price tag, especially as I burn them constantly.

So I decided to make my own for a change, and have discovered it is REALLY SIMPLE and they smell AMAZING!!!

I wanted to make a variety of candles in both rich floral and then more musky scents, and they have come out very well.  They also work out so much cheaper than buying ready made scented candles. 1kg of wax costs approximately £7, and from that I made 5 candles, and reused old candle pots and a cup and saucer set.  I had a few bottles of essential oils lying around already, and you can get 5 bottle of candle fragrance oil for £5 roughly online.  Wicks are about £1 for 10.  have worked it out to be around £2.60 per candle, a lot better than the £28 upwards costs of my usual candle purchases!

Here is what you will need:

  1. 1kg soy wax flakes.  I used Kerawax 4015 as it has a good scent throw and adheres well to glass containers.
  2. Essential Oils or specific Fragrance Oil for candle making.  I like to mix my scents up as I am making the candles, so have a variety of both.
  3. Candle wicks with metal bases
  4. Glue Dots
  5. Wooden sticks
  6. Metal container
  7. Large Saucepan
  8. Glass Containers (but china also works well).

Instructions:

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Most Hit Posts of 2016

Today I have been looking back at last years blogging, sometimes done a bit intermittently I must admit, and noticed that the most popular posts always seem to be the DIY ones, so here is a round up of the ones that still get the most hits, and I only hope that as a result there are many Ikea hacks, Plaster Flowers and No-sew curtain pelmets floating out there now!  More DIY ideas coming soon as I tackle a spare bedroom in the coming  months.

Click on the photos to take you to the posts and tutorials…

DIY Plaster of Paris Flowers

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No-Sew Curtain pelmets

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Ikea Hack Bookcase

 

 

Slate Effect Painted Fireplace

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Moppe Drawer Makeovers

 

 

Christmas Decoration Storage

TOP TIPS FOR STORING CHRISTMAS DECOR

As Christmas draws to an end, it is all too easy to take decorations down, shove them into various bags and secrete them in attics, garages, under beds, and even in random places where space can be found, (I am guilty of the last one, for years my faux tree has been stored in an airing cupboard).

This is all very well until 11 months later, when you need to get things out and find them twisted, smashed, crumpled or just gone!  Fairy lights are particularly good at getting lost in our house, sometimes not turning up for a couple of years by which time replacements have been bought and then there are strings of them lying around everywhere.

So this year I am have a New Year resolution; packing away Christmas efficiently.

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Decorating for Christmas

Fa la la la la, la la la la….

I LOVE Christmas decorating!  I had a photo shoot last month in the house for a Christmas decorating feature to go out next year in a magazine, and as it was not quite December it didn’t feel ‘christmassy,’ (although the photos I saw looked beautiful). Plus everything came down again at the end of the shoot.  It was quite mind-blowing how fast the stylist and photographer worked.  So it was like a Christmas-for-8-hours in a mind altering day!

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A lovely fresh berry and evergreen wreath sets the scene on the front door

But come the 1st December I get everything out of the attic and from stashes all over the house. Boxes of baubles, lights, garlands and more.  This is just some of the stash I have, it has grown over the years and I can see lots of things my children liked when they were small like little gingerbread men garlands… actually I have FAR TOO MUCH STUFF!

DINING ROOM

This year my children are 18 and 15, and I decided that for the first time we would not be doing the usual fir tree which always stands in the Dining Room, but an alternative version instead on a tabletop.  I asked the girls if this was all right, as they are the ones that the tree is usually aimed at with decorations collected over the years that they remember and coo over.  This idea went down OK-ish!  I found this really cute 3D  wooden tree at Hobbycraft, and it was a snip at £10.

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Given that dining room had a recent overhaul, we did not use a lot of the existing tree decorations and stuck to gold and silver ones with accents of oranges (literally) around the room:

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