It all started because I wanted a little change. 3 hours later, I have emerged from the vortex that is blog design and uploaded my new header! Same old blog, just a fresh new look. Hope you all like it 🙂
My garden was not very fruitful this year. Boo. A few things have grown, and I am hoping that the carrots, potatoes, beets, and leeks do well this fall. The thing I was most upset about was not having tomatoes. … Continue reading
Years ago I was in my favorite bit of Ikea. The ‘as is’ section. They had a bunch of random bits of wood piled up, and in the mess I found a white door that was meant for a kitchen cabinet marked down to £1.50 (Or about that. I know it was under £2). I quickly snapped it up thinking I would make a sign out of it. I had no idea what I wanted it to say yet, but it was a bargain and it had two holes in the back already, made for hinges, that would be perfect for hanging.
I decided I would put our last name on it and make a little ‘family established’ sign! My process for doing this is a little complicated because I didn’t have a printer, so bear with me. I went into Word and found a font that I liked. I did one letter at a time on my computer screen, so I could get the letters the size I wanted. Starting with R, I placed a piece of paper over my screen and lightly copied it with pencil. Once I was done coping all the letters, I drew over them with black marker. This was just to make it see through because then I flipped them over and traced them with pencil again, on the back. Heavily trace the letters with pencil this time. Then I placed the letters on the door, with the newly traced pencil facing down, and using a plastic card, I rubbed. This made the pencil rub onto the door giving me a nice outline.
After I had all my letters traced, I used one of the kids paint brushes and some left over paint in a tester pot to carefully paint in the lines.
It was not perfect. It had some crazy edges, but I loved it. Represented our family perfectly. 🙂
When we moved back to the States last year I didn’t know what to do with it. I didn’t want to toss it but I also couldn’t bring it with me either. My father-in-law told me he wanted it and don’t I dare throw it away. Ok then! So away it went. It was stored away the entire time we were gone and when we came back, he gave it back to us. I was actually quite surprised he had kept it to be honest. It really meant a lot to have something meaningful from our old life be kept and also to be able to have it in our home again.
Unfortunatly, after being stored away it was a little banged up and some of the letters were scratched. So I fixed it using the same method as before. Just a kids paint brush and a tester pot of paint in a similar colour.
You can see the scratches above. Fortunatly, the wood itself wasn’t scratched, it was just the paint rubbing away. Taking my time I just painted each letter again. I didn’t redraw them, I just went for it.
And there she is all shiney and refreshed. It is still a little wonky in places, and for the life of me I could never get that 6 looking perfect either time. But that is ok. We are a little wonky too, and seriously who cares? It hangs above our front door and not a single person has noticed the little imperfections that I do. It is perfect.
The only thing I was nervous about was it being above the door and possibly falling with the door being shut/slammed over time as the holes for the hinges are quite big. So I used blue tack all around the edge of the sign, hung it on two nails, and then used a rubber mallet to tap it all around so it stuck to the wall. It has not budged.
In. Love. It pleases me so much to have this sign back with us in our new house. Hanging it up was like telling the house ‘you will do just fine’. And there ya have it! A family sign for under £5! The tester pot of paint was from Homebase and was less than £2 too. And it was so thick and close in colour, I only needed to do one coat.
Last but not least, it is not a trip to Ikea without hitting up the ‘as is’ section. Do it. You never know what treasures you will find.
Monday has to be the worst thing ever. Just the worst. And it starts with the Sunday dread, so really it sucks away from your weekend too. I never used to care about Monday’s but now I can’t bear them. Alex obviously starts moaning about going back to work, the kids are excited/don’t want to go to school, so it is a fine line with them, and me? Well, good weekends mean that I don’t do jack diddley all weekend. So my Mondays look like a sea of laundry, cleaning, tidying and it is just down right depressing. It is 9:45am and I am already on my third load of laundry. And of course there are still a few more loads staring me down. I am daydreaming of being in bed with a good book and just letting the house go to pot. But, the girls were on their last school uniform gear today so unless I am cool with sending them to school naked tomorrow, I guess I should keep on trucking.
We don’t do much on the weekends. I wish we were the kind of get up and go go go people, but no. Weekends are for rest, sleep, relaxing, playing games, sitting in pyjamas, cooking, eating, laughing, and catching up with family. Not work. Saturdays we always watch the football scores coming in while I call my mom. We speak every Saturday anywhere from 1-4 hours and I look forward to it every week. I don’t really know how we have so much to talk about every week, but even those hours don’t feel like enough. Sundays we usually try to do some house stuff or a project so we feel a little accomplished. I am talking about maybe doing the dishes, hanging a picture, or maybe some light yard clearing. Nothing real serious people.
But this Sunday we went to the pet store to see the animals because we needed flea stuff for Lily, Tesco to check out the new American food section because I needed some mac and cheese in my life, McDonalds for lunch (it has been so long since we have been lets just say they redid the entire place and we didn’t even know that they had), and then to Papas for a coffee and chat. It was a nice day. Everyone was in a good mood, the sun was shining, good family time was had by all. But it exhausted us. I was in bed last night before 8pm. I feel like I was ripped off and had a day taken away from me. That may sound wrong, but I really need two days of rest a week. It is my treat for keeping all of these people alive and where they need to be all week. Ideally, I would have two days of rest and one day to go and do…but that ain’t gonna happen.
So that was our weekend! How was yours? Are you a busy bee always on the go? Or are you like me and just want to be a hermit until you have to be a member of society again?
Happy Friday! Oh I am so happy it is the weekend. The first full week back at school has been exhausting for everyone involved. I plan on being in pyjamas from 6pm tonight until Monday morning!
I just wanted to pop in and tell you about this awesome website. A week or so ago, Charlotte from Living Well on the Cheap, posted about this site and it is http://maps.stamen.com. You can view maps in watercolour! It is so beautiful, I just wish I would figure out how to create a decent sized print. You can search anywhere in the world to view. Warning: highly addictive and time wasting ahead!
Wouldn’t it be awesome to have a little grid of framed images? You could do places you have lived, your home town, where you got married, where you vacationed, or went on your honeymoon. I love maps, but having them be abstract and colourful is even better! Only you will know the true meaning, which is awesome. How many more times can I say awesome in one post?
Here are some images I pulled so far.
Where we live now.
My home town, and where we were married.
Our old flat.
So neat! I am in love with the watercolour maps! A few more hours playing around and maybe I will figure out how to print larger images!
We were running late. I realised I had just over 20 minutes to get dinner on the table. Frozen pizzas were sounding appealing when I remembered I had a pork tenderloin in the fridge that needed to be used, like now. I flung the oven on and started heating up a pan while I quickly thought up a meal. I didn’t want the effort of making mashed potatoes and I really didn’t want a million dirty pans. Mushroom risotto sounded perfect, but I was out of risotto. Enter fake risotto.
I quickly rubbed up my pork with some olive oil and herbs and threw it in the pan to sear. Use any herbs you want, but I used thyme, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. I started boiling my kettle to make chicken stock too.
Trying to photograph something that is spitting hot oil all over your hands and camera is super fun. Don’t try that at home.
Next I quickly hacked up some onions and mushrooms. Once the pork was seared on all sides, I transferred it to a hot and waiting baking dish and popped it in the oven to continue cooking. Then it was the onions and mushrooms turn in the hot tub. I drizzled some olive oil in the same pan and sautéed them up. Using the same pan allowed all the flavour from the pork to get all friendly with the onions and mushrooms. Next, I dumped in a mug full of plain old rice and a little hot chicken stock and gave it a stir. Once it was mostly absorbed, I added more chicken stock. Just like risotto. And I kept on doing that until the rice was perfectly cooked.
Once the rice was perfect, I took it off the heat and added a small handful of grated parmesan cheese and a squeeze of lemon for a bit of zing. I took the pork out to rest while I steamed some green beans to go with our dinner.
Side note on how I cook veggies: I do not like to boil vegetables. I like crunch and vibrant colours in my veg. Nothing worse than grey soggy green beans. Bleh. I always get a microwave safe bowl, chuck in my fresh veggies whether it be broccoli, green beans, corn, cauliflower, you name it. Add a little salt and pepper then a dash of water. Cover the bowl in cling film and microwave for a few minutes. 3-4 minutes is usually perfect. The cling film sticks to the bowl and the water creates steam. It perfectly cooks veggies without loosing any good vitamins from boiling. And it is super quick which I like. I do the same for frozen vegetables, just don’t add any extra water.
Then I just sliced up the pork and served it over our fake mushroom risotto.
This was an amazingly delicious meal and it took less than 30 minutes to make too. Yummy. The lemon in the risotto was just enough to give it interest and the starch from the rice made it taste so creamy even though there was probably only 1/4 cup of cheese. We cannot wait for pork tenderloin to be on sale again so we can feast on more!
So we have been living in this house for ummm, a bit now, and I did a little something recently to only realize later that it was the first thing to actually be hung up in our entire house. Like period. I guess when every square inch of your house needs work, putting up something pretty takes a back seat, but really? Months without a single nail being hammered into a wall? Not any more!
When the girls come in from school, things go flying. The place we keep our coats and bags is pretty high up, so I am always stuck picking it all up and hanging it just so while they start shouting demands at me. When I was at B&M a few weeks ago they had a little shelf with hooks on it marked down to £3. I bought it with the intention of hanging it by the door for keys and…well I don’t know. Honestly, I saw £3 and figured I would find a use for it if it killed me. Turned out it was a smidge to big for being by the door, so I thought I could maybe hang it lower somewhere else so the girls could hang up their own stuff. And then it sat in its sad little box for weeks.
I finally decided on a place to put it so Alex drilled all the holes and we used wall plugs too because my girls are part Hulk and seem to enjoy ripping things off the walls. I remember when I made these cute little book shelves for their old room, painted just so, and hung low for them to access. Yeah, that lasted all of 2 hours before they were pulled off the wall. Ah memories.
Boom! We have a cute place to hang their coats! And momma got a cute shelf to style up. Win win if you ask me! Oh but then I remembered this bit of art I had bought from Dunelm a few months before. It is actually metal and was only £2.99! (it is on sale now for only £1.49 too!) It was just leaning against a wall on top of our console table in the living room until I decided where I wanted it. I decided to hang it above our little shelf, and I love it. Cheap, cheerful, and it makes me smile when I walk in the house. Whoop! Congrats Mr. Shelf for being the first ever thing to grace our walls!
No more coats on the floor and a flat surface to pretty up is the way to my heart it seems. What was the first thing you hung up in your house? Something functional or meaningful? Or do you just remember flinging things up randomly until you were done with it already?
We all strive for it, in some way or another. Everyday we are bombarded with images and written ‘proof’ of someones seemingly perfect existence. I know there are a lot of people who have debated the whole issue of social media and its effects on society. Good and bad. So I won’t go into some long rant about the topic, but I will say that I agree it has many benefits just like it has many downsides. Like most things I suppose.
I have been thinking a lot about this blog during my little hiatus. Thinking about how I felt about it, how I could improve it, what I imagined it to be, and of course facing my fears and anxieties about the whole thing. I wasn’t really aware that I felt certain things until I began facing it all. And it all boiled down to perfection. Or better yet, my lack of it.
Blogs are pretty. Pretty little snippets of someones pretty little life. I follow a lot of blogs and have done so for many years. My favourites just make me sigh and go all glossy eyed at their beauty. Yes, I am aware of how that sounds, but it is true. Just like a lot of social media, it makes you want to create this spot of perfection in your own life. People only share things they want you to see. Usually these little snippets are the good things which lead you to believe they have the perfect life. Or so it seems. Whether it be how you raise your child to be the perfect little member of society, or having your living room be set up like a show home at all times. The perfect hair, makeup, clothes, kitchen, food, pictures…it just goes on. And in the end, it makes a lot of people I know feel like crap. And I chose the nice word to put there.
Of course when I started this blog I wanted that too. I wanted it to look pretty. I wanted the perfect little header with the perfectly matching sidebar and blah blah blah. I wanted my pictures to look magazine worthy, staged just so. But after a lot of thinking, and beating myself up about it, I realised what I really wanted. Yeah, I could spend hours learning how to take the perfectly crafted pictures, and spend money getting props and all that jazz, but is that what I really want to be doing? No.
I would rather give it to you straight right now. This is real life. The food I make is for my family. When I take pictures of a finished plate of food, that is my dinner plate. I take pictures as I cook, and then a picture of my dinner seconds before I eat it. So I am going to take a stand with this here blog. I am going to just give it to you like it is. I won’t be staging recipes. I won’t be staging rooms or projects to make them seem perfect. I won’t choose to not tell you of my crafty/diy failures. And I sure as hell won’t spend time editing my pictures. What comes out of my camera is what you will get. I have decided that I do not want to be another blog/media outlet that makes people feel less than perfect. Have you ever made a recipe from another blog, or magazine, and it looks like a distant twice removed cousin from the so called image they have for the end result? Oh goodness nothing drives me more insane. They use fake food. They use undercooked food too because it photographs better. They have people, who are paid a lot, to spend hours staging food pictures. I would rather be eating, playing, painting, and sleeping to be honest. Of course, if photography is your passion then great! Embrace it. Learn. Be the best. I would love to be able to photograph things like a pro, but I don’t have the natural talent for that and it is also not as high up on my dream list as other things. And I am ok with that.
This blog is just gonna be down to earth and real. If you make a recipe from here, it will look like my picture. No trickery. If you make a project that I show on here, it will turn out the same. I don’t pretend to have any skills, and half the time I make up things as I go along. Is our life, home, or family magazine worthy? Far from it. But, it is my perfection. And that is as perfect as I want to be.
So I took an unintentional break it seems. I am not really sure what happened. The last week of school was crazy and filled with parties, concerts, and confusion. And then we had to adjust to summer, which does not sound difficult, but it was.
Day one started with me being jolted awake by Emma screaming that Sara broke the light. Eh? Sure enough, she tried to climb into Emma’s bunk bed and panicked, so she grabbed onto their light and actually snapped the wire. That reminds me, it still needs to be fixed. Before the early nights set in anyway.
Later, I was upstairs doing laundry, and when I went downstairs I noticed little tuffs of fur in the bathroom, which is odd. I realised it was cat fur around the same moment I spotted my razor (!!!) on the windowsill, also full of cat fur. It seems the girls decided it was a fantastic idea to shave the cat. Now, I still do not grasp how they came to this idea, or why they thought it was a good one. This was day one of our summer holiday remember. My girls quickly found out what being grounded meant. Welcome to summer!
Once we found our rhythm, Alex was then off work for two weeks which was bliss. We got a lot of work done in the house and also enjoyed a lot of nothing. Perfect. But now the girls are back in school (hooray!) so lets get this show back on the road shall we!
This is my last year to have one kiddo home for some of the day, so I am happy to be getting back into our routine. Next year I expect to be a blubbering heap on my bathroom floor all day. The perfect way to
not deal with my girls leaving me.
Although, last night it was fun to tell them to get to bed because it’s a school night.
But I sure do miss them being around.
As most people are aware, Google Reader is saying ta ta to us all on July 1st. I have always used Google Reader and love it’s simplicity. I also do not like change. Not with this kinda stuff anyway! So I have been playing around with a few different ways to keep up with the blogs I love and so far nothing has grabbed me.
Today on A Pretty Penny, Keira posted about Bloglovin. I figured it was worth a shot as I still had not found my fit. 5 minutes in and I am loving it. I love love love the sidebar that shows how many unread posts I have for each blog. I don’t know about you, but I like to read one blog at a time, and save my favourites for last. All the other places I have tried made it a jumbled mess. Ugh.
See? Nice and simple. If you are still looking for a place to import your Google Reader blogs to, try Bloglovin! It may be the perfect fit for you too. And if you would like to follow my blog through Bloglovin, just follow the link below!
Now I doubt I will even notice Google Reader is gone.