Sunday, 24 March 2013

The Writing's On The Wall

Literally! I am a huge fan of wordy art, and i have finally managed to fill the hugely blank nothingness in our living room.

You might recall that our living room is loooong with big straight walls and for the longest time they were bare and pretty much as boring as you can get.

These are the before photos, but i have taken some after pictures so you can see the difference. Now our room looks lived in and has some of our personality on show.

This section of wall is just next to our Big Unit, and it's also the first thing you look at when you come through the door.

I absolutely love this mustache picture, which i bought from Next in the sale. I think it's just the right amount of silly, and 'taches are still pretty 'in' here in the UK. (I actually typed 'on trend' there first and felt an utter berk, so I deleted it. Ha! Maybe i am more of a berk for telling you that though... I shouldn't have mentioned it. Please keep reading!).

The huge frame holds a collage of my Instagram photos. I absolutely LOVE the fact that there are photos of completely inane things on here, like cheese on toast and my menu plan alongside photos of the kids. It's like an eclectic mix of the every day, and makes me smile whenever i look at it. I actually put this together in Photoshop, but if i were to do it again i think i would try using the collage feature of Picasa instead.

I still think i need a lil something above the 'tache, right next to the Instagram collage, but i'm not sure what...

We installed two Ribba picture ledges from Ikea above the sofa. I love the idea of being able to change out the accessories and move the photos and frames about when the mood takes me. I have taken the glass out of the white frame on the top shelf though, and i have to remove the glass from any larger frames i have up here. I have a real fear of the frames falling down and injuring the kids. They have actually fallen off here before when i had them placed in portrait orientation, so now i also just have them landscape. I guess if you don't have kids bouncing along the sofa directly underneath all the time you can have them any way you like!!

This huge silver frame matches my Instagram one, but i have attached this to the wall properly. There's no way it would sit on the shelf! Both these large photos i had printed by a local company I just emailed them the image and they printed it the same day. They were only £8 each, which i thought was pretty reasonable.

I had to blank some of this out cause there's a bit too much personal information on there for me to be comfortable, but i absolutely love how simple this was to do and how cute it is. I just typed it out in Photoshop and printed myself on white cardstock. I originally saw something like this in a brochure i got through the post. It might have been Anyway, i loved the idea, but realised there was no point in paying for one when it's so easy to do myself!

I'm pretty bored of these three pictures now. They're just made from the matching wallpaper to the curtains i have. I'm stuck on ideas for what to have here instead though. I think i might wait until summer an take some nice new photos of the kiddos... I could even use Instagram images since the frames are square! Hmmm.... :)

No, i wasn't drunk when i took this photo, i was experimenting with a jaunty angle. Maybe not ay?!

I think i have already shown you my mirror, but i will show you again since i love it. And of course it IS on the wall in here, so it must be included in the tour. I found it at TK Maxx Homestyle and totally had to have it. I'd been looking for a suitable mirror for this space for absolutely ages and had almost given up hope of finding something a bit different.

I really must thin out the books on this shelf, i have far too many, but i read so quickly, they build up in no time. I have a carrier bag full in my wardrobe too, and i keep meaning to stick on ebay. Must put that down on my 1001 Things To Do list.

This plaque was from Achica. I love the sentiment here, "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain." I am terribly guilty sometimes of thinking too much about the future, so i look at this and i'm reminded that life is happening right now. Even days where the kids are mental, the weather is pants and i have stubbed my toe eleventy billion times are days to be lived and enjoyed in whatever way i can. It's also there to remind me to relax if we ever encounter bad times again. Before we had our children we went through a pretty rough patch with loosing two babies late in pregnancy and i remember feeling like life was literally on pause until the next time i could get pregnant in hopes to bring home a healthy baby next time. I don't ever want to feel like that again.

And last but by no means least is my super-awesome book-on-the-wall. I have no idea what these type of pictures are called. They do have a name, but i don't remember it. Maybe it's "Spineless.. something or other" Stupid faulty memory! I think... think i got it from Achica. The sillhouettes are obviously the ascent of man and the background is made up of the whole text from Charles Darwin's "Origin of the Species." I am a classic ditherer and it took me so long to decide on whether to buy this, but i'm so glad i took the plunge and bought it. It's ah-mazing. I love love love it! :)

And that completes the tour of my living room artwork. Now the spaces are filled, but - as always - i don't feel like it's complete. Is anything in the home ever complete?!

How have you adorned your walls? Link me up in the comments so i can get to know you better too. :)

Thursday, 31 January 2013

How To Do Menu Planning

If I had to choose one single thing to recommend to someone struggling with organising their home life i would definitely choose menu planning. It's made the biggest difference to our family! Shopping trips are now quicker and easier - not to mention cheaper. There's no last minute scrabble to find something to cobble together for tea, and either my husband and i can cook without having to have the same old, "You decide!" "No, you decide!" arguments. It's all there in easy black and white! Plus, we almost never throw away food now. Meals are planned so that we use all the ingredients, even if it's over a few days. We even double cook things like chilli, bolognese, soups and pasta etc. to freeze and either send with the kids to nursery or use on a lazy day.

I promise you that if you decide to do weekly menu planning for your family it will be one of the best decisions you've made! Let me tell you about how i do it and then you can decide. :)

Okay, so i got myself an A5 hardback notebook, which i keep just for doing my menu planning. I figured that sometimes i struggle with deciding on what to eat this week, so if i keep all my previous menu plans in this book i will have weeks and weeks of inspiration to look back on! You could make yours cute if you wanted to. I might do... eventually...

So, i always use the right hand page and begin by folding it in half. The left hand column i use for the actual menu plan and the right hand side is for my shopping list. You can't see it here, because i didn't happen to do it this week, but i use the back of last weeks menu plan on the left hand page to rough out the meals. I do this because i like to try to eat meals with fresh ingredients or those with a short shelf life at the beginning of the week. Then the end of the week is more for things out of the freezer or meals where the ingredients will last til the end of the week before being used. If i jot down my meal ideas on the left page as they pop into my head i can then decide which order they need to go in before committing them to days.

It helps if you use the contents of your fridge, freezer and cupboards to help you plan. Before i was converted to the magic of the menu plan we used to try to pluck meal ideas out of the sky - usually at the last minute! It sounds obvious, but we never used to do it this way, so i'm guessing we weren't alone... Or maybe we were. Maybe no one else is as useless as we were!!

Anyway, i check the freezer for meat to use and the fridge for veg to use up etc. Then i check the cupboards for and sauces and packets of rice and things. I do bulk buy now and again, especially on meat. There is probably a loads cheaper way to do it, but i haven't got the time to get up at the crack of dawn to go round all the separate shops n town so i just get the Tesco 4 meats for £12 every few weeks. If i see something on special offer i will buy it, but this is why it's good to check your cupboards when you're doing your meal planning. I used to buy things on special offer and then they would languish at the back of the cupboard for months until finally going out of date!

Once your meals have been allocated a day. Or your days have been allocated a meal. Whatever! Then you can use your menu plan to compile your shopping list. I look at each meal and check the cupboards to see if we have everything that's required to make it. All ingredients found lacking go on the list along with all the usual supermarket staples like milk, bread, fruit etc. Also, because my better half knows where the shopping list will be, he can jot down anything he thinks of that he wants when it crosses his mind so it's on the list, ready.

I think this part is quite clever, even if i do say so myself - Then i use the fold i made in the page to tear the shopping list away, leaving the menu plan in the book. List can be taken shopping. Menu plan can be retained for future reference and inspiration.

Shopping with a shopping list helps to reduce your food bills considerably too. I used to go to Tesco, buy a trolley full of stuff and spend a fortune. Then when i looked closely there were barely enough things to make a couple of meals, never mind a week's worth! Taking a list - and more importantly - sticking to that list saves loads of money!

The list in the photo isn't long at all, but usually i end up going over onto the back of the list. Just remember if you do that to write on the correct half of the page so you don't leave half your list behind. I've done that before!

When everything is finalised i get out my chalk and copy the menu plan onto the chalk board. I could just leave it in the book, but i like that this is on show so it constantly reminds me that i need to take meat out of the freezer, or that today's meal needs me to start prepping it early or whatever. If i don't have a constant visual reminder i just forget.

Sometimes i plan lunches as well as main meals and sometimes i don't bother. My husband works shifts so my board either has "Mornings" or "Afternoons" written at the top. We alternate when we have our family meal according to his working patterns so that he always eats the main meal with us. Sometimes it's at lunch time, sometimes it's at tea time. I also don't usually plan for the weekend - i'm just not that hardcore! :) Things are likely to change at a moments notice on a weekend so i just don't bother. Keeps us free to eat out on a whim or whatever.

The kids are at nursery some days too, so with this and changing shift patterns doing a menu plan really helps you to think ahead and factor these things in without the panic or forgetting. I won't lie, it did take a bit of time to become a habit. I struggled with remembering to take the time to plan instead of just rushing out to the shop. But, the positives of doing it were so pronounced and immediate that it didn't take long for me to make the time and it soon became a habit.

Well, i hope that this has helped you to understand how great menu planning can be! Do you think you might try it? Do you already menu plan? What do you do differently?

Thanks for stopping by! :)

I have linked to...

Making The World Cuter
Nifty Thrifty Tuesday at Coastal Charm
BecolorfulThis Silly Girl's Life

Funky Junk's Sat Nite Special

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Toy Organisation / Playroom Love

Okay dokay, so i said i've been busy and i mean it! I have been none stop doing since new year and it feels amazing! There are a ton of things i want to share with you, but i actually got to take some photos of the toy storage situation today before the kids wrecked it all again. :) It doesn't stay tidy for long!

This space is the toy room slash playroom. I don't feel like i can call it a true playroom because it's actually quite small. There isn't much floor space to really play in, so usually the kids drag out their toys to play in the living room, which is fine by me. I just think it's wonderful having a room where all their toys can be tidied and hidden away. I am certain this room will evolve as they grow up, but for now it has everything they need.

There are some ah-mazing playrooms out there in the blogosphere and on Pinterest and i will admit i feel envious at how much space some people have in their homes to allocate to a play area. There are also some truly innovative and clever little design features, which i would love to incorporate somewhere, but my kids are a bit young yet i think, and we don't have room. 

 Anyway, one of my invaluable Expedit shelving units lives in this playroom. It used to house all of my crafting gear, but that has since been relegated to the big unit in the living room. I cannot praise these ingeniously simple pieces of furniture enough! I just love them! The cubby holes are a great size for storing toys as they're wide enough to sit things on and big enough to store the kids books - why are they sometimes so massive?! The Skubb boxes corral all of the bitty bits...

  • Cars and track
  • Larger cars and trucks
  • Figures
  • Baby dolls
  • Baby doll accessories
  • Food and crockery for play kitchen
  • Instruments
  • Miscellaneous

On top is where i stash the things i don't want emptying all over and jumbling up - jigsaws and games mainly. If they were within reach there would be a puzzle soup to sort out every day, several times a day. :: shudder ::

Oh, and my printer is on top there too. No where else to put that thing!

That's the kid's guitar on the wall. It only has three strings, but they way they hammer it i am wary of adding any more right now! I found it in a charity shop for £5 so it was a real bargain! My husbands guitars used to reside here, before they were usurped in favour of morekidsthings. Story of our lives eh! :)

Can i also just say that i LOVE this play kitchen from Ikea. I know, i know i am all about Ikea again, but it's just awesome! Sooooo many play kitchens are bright pink, which is not ideal if you have children of both genders (although my son does have a lot of pink in his life). And some are just gaudy and nasty looking. This is perfect! It's simple and more like the real thing, which is of course what kids want - to be just like mummy and daddy.

While i'm banging on about how i have organised the toys i'll show you the two baby Expedits in their rooms. My daughters is top and my sons is on the bottom. Couldn't be without them!

My daughter's room is actually a good size, so she has the space to keep additional things, like her dressing table and her dolls house. My son's room is the third boxroom bedroom, so it's pretty small. Once he gets big enough we will get him some sort of cabin bed type of solution.

Last but not least, here's the toy box. It currently colds all the millions of teddies they have accumulated, but i am considering bringing it downstairs and using it to keep their dressing up clothes in. I'm undecided.

I hope you've enjoyed being nosy at my toy organising solutions. I have, as always, enjoyed sharing these ideas with you. I know these solutions are not as design savvy or as clever as some of the things i have seen on the interwebz, but they work for us and they work well. At least for now anyway. You know how it is with organising - it's an ongoing process!

(You might have noticed you got a sneaky of dearest daughters new bedroom. I've got a few finishing touches to do before i am ready to show you in yet, but i am excited! I love this room!)

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Happy January!!

I love this time of year, it makes me feel so motivated and refreshed! The buzz of Christmas and the new year has finished and now we can all get on with renewed vigour!

You may be wondering where the heck i've been... Well, to begin with i basically just sacked this off to concentrate on Christmas. I had a couple of ideas for cute Christmas themed posts, but was mainly just going to chill out and enjoy the holiday season.

Then disaster struck and my Dad had a massive heart attack. Thankfully, after a pretty worrisome and intense period of time, he was released from the hospital - on Christmas Eve! He's still having a lot of ongoing treatment, but he is better.

I shoved all thoughts of this blog and my other non-essential obligations to the back of my mind and i concentrated on Dad, Christmas, the kids, the rest of my family and then finally my daughters birthday a few days ago.

During all this commotion my laptop conked out on me too! Apparently they don't stand up too well to toddlers bashing them and pushing them off furniture. I know, who'd have thunk?! Thankfully, i know an awesome technical fella and he got me a new hard drive and i am now back in action. Not so good is the fact that there was a hole between my last back up and the images on my camera memory cards. So i might have lost a fair few pictures of the house. Obviously i can take more "after" shots, but my "before's" aren't so replaceable. Boooo!

I am trying not to stress about it though. I still have all the photos of the kids, and that's what's important. :)

Sooooo..... Once i have re-installed Photoshop, enabling me to view and edit RAW image files again, i will be able to show you what i have been up to.

Oh i have had a real January spark going on, let me tell you! The whole house right now is tidy AND clean. Oh yeah baby! I have the playroom to show you, and my daughters new bedroom! Oh so much! I can't wait to fill you in.


Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Not Achieved Much This Week

I had hoped to be able to show you the playroom or the rest of the Big Unit. Or even my nice newly decluttered kitchen nightmare spot. These are all the things that were next on my list to do. However, this week has flown by with barely a chance to flick a duster about!

This is what chaos looks like. Yes, my son is wearing a hat and purple gloves inside. What of it? ;)

You might wonder why on earth i am showing you these embarrassing photos of our home in disarray. Well bloggers, i want to prove to you that this really is a journey for me. None of us here are naturally tidy. We are all bloody messy to the extreme! Our home is clean, because although it don't enjoy it, i always do it. However, i just can't learn to see the small messes until they turn into huge catastrophic messes like these!

The worst of all rooms is the hallway. I dump things there when i come in the house and i dump things there that the kids aren't supposed to touch because there is a stair gate stopping them getting in. I dump things that i mean to take upstairs with me next time i go and i dump things that need to leave the house with us when we go out. It's a general dump, as you can see.

These are the main reason i hate winter. I can tolerate the cold weather and the miserably short, bleak days to an extent, but i cannot stand having washing all over the house 24/7. I used to have a pretty good system, but then we gave the kids a playroom and that meant sacrificing my efficient and very effective inside clothes drying strategy. I really do need a new solution before it drives me mental.

So, let me just fart out the contents of my brain in relation to where i need to go next with this project... In no particular order...

I need to finalise the Big Unit organisation including,

  1. Declutter and organise CD's
  2. Arrange the open shelving so that it doesn't look like the bric a brac shelf in a charity shop
  3. Stop piling things on top of it, it looks horrendous, especially when you look in our front window from the street!
  4. Use the empty spaces - drawers, top left cupboard

The kitchen needs decluttering really badly. The surfaces are so full of junk i have forgotten what the worktops look like.

Arrange the living room furniture so that it doesn't look like a corridor.

Decorate daughter's bedroom pink! :)

Finish the playroom.

Paint the internal doors. It's been forever!

Put some photos in my photo frames. It's not a design statement, it's just lazy.

Do finishing touches in master bedroom - art on other wall & cushions.

I can have this all done by Christmas, right?!

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

I've Been Featured!

I can't tell you how excited i am to have been featured for the first time. Not once, but twice! I swear to you now i was sat right here with my husband next to me and when i saw i let out a massive "YEY!" and both arms shot straight up in the air. Both times. Honestly! My husband wondered what the heck was going on and the kids jumped out of their skins!

So now i get to have "I've Been Featured" buttons! I feel all proper now! I'm going to have them in my sidebar and everything.

Apart from feeling like a real live blogger, those features have validated the work i have done so far. It's such a boost and a wonderful motivator for me to keep going. So thank you so much to Pamela at BeColorful and to Leanne at Organize & Decorate Everything. I am honoured to have been featured by you both, and really, really giddy too!

Organize and Decorate Everything

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Hidden Mini Home Office - In An Ikea Besta Unit

Can you remember Big Unit? Well, we have now moved our home office-y type of things inside it. Like so...

This was born out of necessity really. We used to have a full room for an office space which housed a desk and all of my crafting things. I would craft in there and i would also work from home (before i was made redundant - boo!) Now obviously we don't need the office space for me to work at my now none existant job, and i haven't done any crafting in a looooooong time.

The room which was once the office is currently being cleared out to make way for the kids things. Sigh. These blinking kids take over don't they?! :) More on that later though. I am sure i will let you know how that transformation goes.

So this is what the inside of this cupboard looked like only a couple of days ago.

AAAAAHHHH!!!! Does that make your eyes itch? It does mine.

The top shelf held some of the kiddos crafting supplies, and the bottom space was home to my husbands gibble. It was never really planned that way particularly. We just needed to put glue up high out of their reach and my dearest husband decided that he needed to put his deoderant on and his contact lenses in while standing at the Big Unit. As you do.

I cleared away all of that stuff and gave the shelves a good old clean. The crafting things are in a box in the old office just waiting to be re-homed somewhere more sensible, and my husbands gear has been stored somewhere more appropriate.

Here's what it looks like now!

Proud as punch i am! Let me go through everything with you.

Starting top left...

These drawers used to sit on my desk for crafting bits and pieces in. I bought them from Wilkinsons. Although i'm pretty sure they don't do these same ones anymore. However, they might do something similar.

Pretty AND functional. I keep my clips, pins, tippex, date stamp, USB pens and blu tak etc in there. 

I made practical labels for my magazine files (from Ikea - Kassett i think). I had a huge stack of magazines in the cupboard opposite.

So i thinned them down, choosing only magazines dated within the last few months, or those with particular articles or tutorials i am interested in. 

The current projects file contains paperwork for whatever project we happen to be focusing on right now. Then the Address & Birthdays file has my birthdays book, my address book and any greetings cards i have waiting. There is one spare magazine file with nothing in it. I am sure it won't be empty for long though!

To the right of those are a few books and a super cute pen pot.

The pen pot was also from the Wilkinsons Nostalgia range of stationery supplies. I love that whole range, it's so pretty!

Guess where my family organiser calendar was from? Wilkinsons - you got it! Can you tell i love that shop, almost as much as i love Ikea? The calendar doesn't start until January and i need to go through it and add all the important dates, but for now it just looks cute. I used a calendar hook from Wilkos too and it was really simple to stick on. The instructions said to wait 24 hours before hanging on it, but i got excited and did it right away. Seems to be holding well. 

Okay, so here's the bottom shelf. The catch all box is where we throw all those things that you can't be bothered to deal with straight away. Previously everything used to land in two wicker baskets on the open shelving. That was okay, but it was too out in the open. I really need to keep that kind of thing hidden away. No one wants to be confronted by a display of take away menus, till receipts and wires when they come visiting. 

See? No one needs to be seeing that.

As you can see i am not too good at stamping, but i put the wording on here myself none the less. I am telling myself i kinda like the crazy, splodged look... 

The black folder you can see behind the box is where i keep receipts. I dump them all in here out of my purse and out of the catch all box every now and again. Then periodically i will go through and throw away all the ones i no longer need. Neat!

Lastly, but by no means leastly. Here is where i keep my spare office folders (punched pockets, presentation folders etc), my gift wrap supplies (sheet wrap, tags, tissue paper) and my printer supplies (ink, sheet labels, paper). 

And that concludes the tour of our shiny new hidden home office space. I know it's compact, but it works for us right now. 

And because i like em, here's a before and after...

Thanks so much for visiting me! 

I've linked up to these super parties:

Becolorful Sumo's Sweet Stuff My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia
Organize and Decorate Everything shabby creek cottageThe Shabby Nest

Making the World Cuter - Monday Link Up Party
Debbiedoos - Power of Pinterest Party
We Are That Family - Works For Me Wednesdays
New Nostalgia - Anti Procrastination Tuesdays
A Bowl Full Of Lemons - One Project at a Time
Adorned From Above - Wednesdays Link Party
The Artsygirl Connection - Pinspirational Thursdays
Between U & Me - Crazy Cute Link Party
30 Handmade Days - Friday Pity Party
Chic on a Shoestring Decorating - Flaunt It Friday
French Country Cottage - Feathered Nest Friday
It's a Hodgepodge Life - Hodgepodge Friday
It's Overflowing - Overflowing With Creativity
Positively Splendid - Saturday Seven Party
Too Much Time - Get Schooled Saturday
Lovely Crafty Home - Lovely Crafty Weekend
Funky Junk Interiors - SNS
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