Tag: home

Of Mad Men and Talks of Home

How many times have we heard that?  Or read it?  It’s a lovely saying isn’t it, comforting even.  For the longest time though, every time I mention home, I always mean, my home-country, where I’m from.  When I say “I’m going home” or “I want to go home”, it usually means back to the Phil, when in truth, I haven’t lived there since 2007.

Ever since we’ve had T, my husband and I planned that once she finishes primary school, we’d head back to live there.  If my husband had his way, he’d stick to the plan, or even make it happen tomorrow if he could.

It just doesn’t work that way, does it?  We’re thinking of his parents, they are getting older and we wouldn’t want to leave them.  And then because of current events, we are having to re-think our plans.

A few nights ago, feeling disheartened with the way things are also turning out in England and work-wise, he turned to me and said “Fancy living in some other country in Europe, say France?”  I replied, “Can’t.  We don’t speak French.  I don’t think we can survive with the little French words we know”.

The truth is, ever since a mad man has been elected to the highest office in my country, the desire to go home is slowly being dampened.  That little flame is diminishing bit by bit as I read the latest news online, although my husband thinks he isn’t a mad man and calls him a “fraud”, a jokester.  Sadly, I think he is right.  And because of this clown, I don’t think of my birth-country as home anymore.

Why would I want to live in a place where I won’t feel safe, where I won’t feel my husband and daughter will be safe? And to quote my favourite actress, Meryl Streep who has been in the limelight lately because of her speech in the recent Golden Globe awards:

And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modelled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kinda gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others we all lose.

Meryl Streep

Sadly, this is the world we live in right now.  I don’t think there is a place safer in this world where we can move to, to ensure the safety of our daughter, digging the deepest hole in the ground won’t do to hide from the bullies in the world.

My home is my family.  At the moment, it is this cold detached 400-year-old house by the coast where I’m finding out its walls get mouldy in the winter and the fires won’t work all the time.  Indeed, home is where the heart is.  In my home, no bullies are allowed.  And I also like what TS Elliot wrote …

Home is where one starts from.

Indeed it is.

Where is home to you?

A Country Kid’s Post: Creating Childhood Memories

We used to live in a terraced house in a little village by the sea.  While it was quiet and lovely there, where everyone knew each other, whose kid belonged to whom that sort, I didn’t allow little T play outside.  Older kids played outside by our parking lot that was never full.  While it was safe, I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of her playing outside, even though our neighbour’s child “F” who is from T’s school and is even a year younger than her once said to me “I’ll take care of her!”  I actually laughed when he first announced this, looking down at little T’s gallant knight who was (then) barely taller than her.

Not that I didn’t trust him, it was mainly because of the cars.  It wasn’t a busy road, but I did worry about the cars coming and going.

I want little T to have a childhood where she can roam freely without her paranoid mum breathing down her neck and I’m pleased to say that, she has that now.

We didn’t move far from that little village by the sea.  In fact, you could say we’re just down the road and still live by the coast.  We live in a private road where there are only three houses, including the farm that lives further down.

Now you’ll find T going up and down that private road in her scooter, along with Doc bounding up ahead of her.  We also help her practice her bike up and down that road.  In the summer, you’ll seldom find her inside, she’s out there in the garden jumping in her trampoline, playing with her friends.  She’s also gone exploring the country lanes, although she hasn’t done this on her own yet (still too young for that), we do go with her, an excuse to walk the dog, who doesn’t even need walking all the time anymore.  He actually takes himself out any time he wants.

It’s a lovely life, living in the country really.  It’s as if time stands still, and nobody really worries much about tomorrow, after all it’s not here yet, is it?

Do you allow your child to play outside?

Wild Flowers: Bringing the Outdoors In

I’ve always loved wildflowers even as a child.  I guess you could say I inherited it from my mother, who in turn got it from her mum.  There was always freshly picked flowers from the garden.  And I loved that.

As an adult, I’ve had that desire too, to be always surrounded by flowers, especially the ones that grow in the wild, I like to take them in with me…

bluebells_littlestepsbluebells_bythewindowpinkcampions_littlestepscampions_littlestepsseaofdaisies_littlestepsdaisies_in_a_jar

I like looking around inside our house and seeing them there.  As the great French impressionist once said …

I must have flowers, always and always – Monet

And I so agree with him, always and always.  Now excuse me while I pick more flowers from our garden.

What about you?

Do you like wildflowers too?

Do share.

My Top Three Electric Range Cookers

To me, nothing spells country than having a range cooker in the kitchen.  In my ideal world, it would be an Aga like this one.
aga-cream-cutout_245x229

Image source

Yes, it can only happen in my dreams, since these cookers when bought brand new, probably cost about eight grand, maybe even more than that.  And I for one, can’t afford something as expensive as that, unless I win the lottery, but that would mean having to buy a ticket, which I never do.  Maybe, it’s about time I did?

When we move to our new house next week, we will be needing a new cooker.  There is a current freestanding one in the house, but it looks like it hasn’t been cleaned in ages (or maybe it just needs a good clean?)  And since I have neither the money nor the space, (it’s a small galley kitchen), I’ve been looking up on affordable electric cookers online.  I don’t like gas, I’m too paranoid for that.

1. Stoves Mini-Electric Range.

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2.  Rangemaster Classic Electric:__resize--454-gt-x356-gt-2Both one and two look a little bit like my dream range-cooker sans the hefty price tag that goes with buying an Aga.  Would’ve loved a double oven, both sadly both only have a separate grill and one oven.  But that’s fine by me.

3.  And lastly, the Belling Electric Range Cooker in Stainless Steel:

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Image source for both 1, 2 , & 3 here.

But even this is too ambitious, not the price, but the size.  I doubt if this will fit, so I might have to settle with either 1 or two.

What would be your choice?  Are you familiar with any of the three?

Or can you suggest an affordable electric range cooker?

Do share.

An Invitation to a Good Night’s Sleep

Are you a sleep deprived parent?  I am.

Even though my little one is not so little anymore. T is five.  We co-slept with her when she was a baby.  And just before her second birthday, she moved into her new bedroom.  We made her room beautiful.  Decorated it with a feature wallpaper from Cath Kidston, her cot, was turned into a proper bed for a toddler.  When she first saw it, she squealed in delight, especially when she discovered that her cot-bed could be used as a trampoline.  Did she sleep on it? I’ll save that for another post.

Fast forward to the present.  She’s now five.  Is she sleeping on her bed?  Yes.  Does she sleep alone in her room?  Err… Depends on what day it is.

Hello.  My name is Dean and I am a sleep-deprived parent.

It’s easy to recognise my fellow sleep-deprived parents at the school-gate or school-runs.  We look like zombies. No, we don’t look like characters straight from ‘Shaun of the Dead’ movie.  Although we could easily pass off as a dead-person walking, as we drag our bodies heavily across the school grounds, wearing our spaced-out expressions on our faces. We mumble incoherently or with monosyllabic answers to “How are yous” from annoyingly cheerful parents who smile and greet us.  In our heads, we’re shoving them violently on the side and growling “Go to hell!” under our breaths.

Thank goodness, I don’t do the morning run, otherwise, I’d be known as “T’s crazy mother”.

In honour of the sleep-deprived parent, Yorkshire Linen recently launched a campaign called “The Patch up with your sleep revolution”.  It invites parents to share their tips on how to get that much sought-after holy grail of a goodnight’s sleep.

I’ll be honest with you, I don’t really have much tips to share.  If I did, I wouldn’t be sleep-deprived now would I?

One thing is certain though, I know what makes me happy.

I love beddings, clean, crisp, newly laundered bedding.  I may not sleep on it the whole night, but knowing that it is there, just waiting for me, fills me with absolute bliss.

I’ve mentioned this so many times in past posts before, how much I love beddings and soft-furnishings, how they are on the top of my list of “small joys”.  Suddenly the state of being sleep-deprived isn’t much of a big deal anymore.  Bring it on, sleepless nights!  Besides lacking sleep is like the “new normal” isn’t it?  At least in the land of parenthood, that is.  After all, Part of our job description as a parent: Must learn how to function with little sleep.  And you know what, I’m bloody good at it!

Do you have any tips on how to have a good night’s sleep?

Do share.

Disclosure:  This is a collaborated post.

Cuddle Fairy

Small Joys in Bed Linen and a Competition!

Winter is definitely here, not only because it’s the first week of December, but lately, the weather has been grey, dull and dreary and the days are definitely shorter.  Let’s just say T and I have been having loads of “hiding-under-the-duvet” days, especially during the weekend.

I don’t know about you, but I love linen.  Soft furnishings, especially bedroom linen remains on the top of my “small joys” list.  Changing the bed sheets into clean-crisp linen is an instant mood-uplifter for me.  It can be cold, wet, sombre and all the shades of grey outside my window, but it won’t matter to me, as long as I have lovely bedlinen to lie on.  That to me, my friends, is utter bliss!  So if you’re like me, then this post is especially for you!  Yes, you! And you’re very much welcome 😉

Elinens, a British company specialising in lovely bed linens and other soft furnishings for your home, will be running a “Bedding For life Competition” all through out December for bed linen lovers like you and me.

How to Join:

It’s really easy.   There’s no need to write a blog-post about it to tell us how much you want it, all you need to do is enter your name and email address here.  And that’s it!  You could be the winner.

The Prize:

A yearly £100 voucher to spend on the website.  Yes, yearly! Every year, you can buy bed linen sets, bathroom towels, bedspreads, cushions, or curtains to make your home even cozier than it already is.  Have I piqued your interest?  Want to find out more?  Click here to read more about it.  Sounds too good to be true?  Guess what?  It can happen to you!

linens

Have you browsed through their website already?  My favourites are their plain Egyptian 100% cotton bed linen collection.  If I have the chance to win, I’d order everything from this collection and I’m set for life!  For me, nothing looks cleaner, fresher than crisp white-plain bedlinen.  Some may find it too “clinical” like a hospital or yes, a hotel.  But I just love it!  I like my bed to look nice and tidy, maybe because, most of the time, it hardly looks like that.  One can always dream right?

Have I convinced you already?  However, if you’re like me, ever-so impatient and always want something NOW, this very minute!  Then there’s more good news for you!  After all ’tis the season to be jolly and giving!  For you lovely folks who can’t just wait to win, but at the same time want to grab a good bargain, order now with the code elinens11 on the checkout and you will receive an exclusive %10 discount. What are you waiting for?  Join the competition or order now!

Do you also love bed linen, just like me?

What are your small joys or the little things that make you happy?

Do share.

Hope everyone is having a lovely first week of December!

*This is a collaboration.  Photos from the elinen website.

Let There Be Light…

…is probably one of the most famous lines from the book of Genesis in the Bible.  I could be wrong of course, not exactly an expert, nor am I religious.

If you’ve been following my blog for some time now, you might have read in a  past post (specifically posts from last year), that the year before that, we put our house up for sale.  By January 2014, we’ve had several viewings and the next month got and accepted an offer.  Then the sale went pfft right before our very eyes.

My husband and I were heartbroken, especially since we were looking forward to moving into our new home in Crackington Haven, another small village near where we currently live right now.  While it wasn’t exactly our dream house, it ticked all the boxes.  The extra room which we want to turn into a study, a bigger garden, a downstairs cloakroom and the bonus was, it had a huge garage.

Yep, but that’s all in the past now.  Currently we are still living in a terraced two bedroom house with a small garden, which isn’t really so bad.  But we are desperate for a study, as some of you may know, my husband works with the OU (Open University) as a lecturer in History.  At the moment, we have the bureau in our bedroom and shelves upon shelves of his history books, since he has ran out of shelf space in our bedroom, some of his books can also be found on our bookshelves in the living room.  The dream is to have a study where he could keep all his history books together, so when he’s working, he doesn’t have to keep running back and forth from the bedroom to the living room trying to find a particular reference book he needs  for work.  Yes, it is a bit chaotic.

Since we were utterly disheartened from the disappointment of the sale of our house.  We didn’t have the heart to go through all of it again.  Our little house isn’t that bad.  In fact, we love it.  So we thought, why not just do an attic conversion instead and make that into a study?

Our wounds quickly healed and excitement ensued as we hired an architect to foresee the conversion.  At first though, he wasn’t convinced it was possible, but when he went up our attic he was pleasantly surprised with how big it was.

When he left, I was bubbling with excitement and quickly got my home magazines out and started flipping through them for some inspiration.  Then we saw this spread and we both were in love:

VELUXcollage_littlesteps

Can you imagine working on your desk, looking up and seeing breathtaking countryside views?  For a couple of months, my husband was daydreaming about looking out these windows, while sipping his first morning cup of coffee before switching on his computer to get to work.  As you can see the marking tape I put on a year ago is still there.

And we were sold on these windows.  The company VELUX has a variety of different kinds of window styles or even light tunnels to choose from, when converting an attic, or simply adding a window to a very dark room or even a corridor to add more light.  And as everyone knows, they  have a very good reputation for their high-quality products and superb service.

This is one of my faves, although it will be used in a study/guest bedroom, not a bathroom, though of course you’d probably have to install some roof blinds or even blackout blinds which will be so handy in the summer.

whiteVELUXwindow_littlesteps

The only problem was our stairs was in the wrong way and for it to be approved, we’d have to move our staircase, re-plan the layout of our living room and our bedroom.  Everything seemed promising till the plans were drawn.

For us to have our dream-attic conversion with lovely windows from VELUX, we would have to change the position of our staircase, move it in front of our front-door, so in case of a fire, it would be an easy way out.  If we don’t do that, we’d never get planning permission.  Moving the staircase would mean that it would use up space in our living room and also the stairs leading up to the loft-conversion would also use up space in our bedroom, and this would also mean that we’d have to move the bathroom too.

We were willing to go through all that, even though when added up all together, moving into a new house would somehow come out cheaper.  I guess what really popped our bubble was when our architect said that in spite all these wonderful and lovely plans, with windows that would open to breathtaking views, if in the future we intend to sell, it would never be marketed as a three bedroom house.  In the end, it will always be a two bedroom house with a lovely attic conversion.

You may ask, what’s the problem with that?  Nothing but the real deal-breaker was, if we ever do manage to sell in the future, we won’t be able to get the money spent for that glorious active conversion back.  At the end of the day, it all boils down to money.  And no one wants to lose any – right?

With a bit of a heavy heart, we put our house back in the market lat Autumn.  As of writing, we haven’t had a single viewing.  I’m still hoping for some light at the end of this very long and dreary tunnel, who knows?  We might just see it soon 😉  So I say, let there be light!

What about you?

Have you had any attic conversion?

What kind of windows did you use?

*This is a sponsored post, however all views and photos are by yours truly.

Shelves! Glorious Bookshelves!

We don’t have much home decorations in our house.  No expensive vases or sculptures,  save for a few affordable knickknacks like an old wooden figure of a rice god I used to have in my old apartment when I was single, and also my small collection (if you can indeed call “three” a collection 😉 of fertility gods I brought back with me from Africa.  We also have a man and woman figurine a close friend gave us when we got married and about four pinecones I’ve collected over time, each pine-cone has a memory attached to it.  Apart from those mentioned what we have instead are books, shelves upon shelves of them – in the living room, landing upstairs, our bedroom, little T’s room and even our kitchen.  Thank goodness for Ikea shelves, they are fab!  But I’m sure most of you know that already.

living rm

Living room

bedrooms

Bedrooms

We are seriously running out of shelves.  That’s one of the main reason why we want to sell our house and move into another one, with an extra room.  We need a study where we can just line the whole room with bookshelves and when we’ve filled it up, move to another bigger house.  Yeah right, in my dreams.

You can say that books is the glue that binds our marriage (among others of course).  We really are a boring couple.  When we applied for a small mortgage last year (just when we thought that we managed to sell our house and then the sale fell through, but that’s another story, one I won’t bore you with), the mortgage office asked us about our expenses, how much we spend on stuff like going out, we said we hardly even ate out.  When she asked us about what luxuries we indulged in. we were actually at a loss on what to say to her, but after doing some hair-scratching, we both answered, books!  Books are our only luxury.   She laughed and said that if only all of their customers were like us, you mean boring, I asked.

We’ve been known to spend more than £100 in Waterstones, though we of course, don’t often do that.  But you see, there’s three of us.  Books for my husband, myself and of course little T and when you hardly go out or eat out, you could say we deserve to treat ourselves right?  We are happy that way, it’s all part of celebrating small joys.

What about you?

Do you have any decorations at home?

What kind of stuff do you like to surround yourself with?

Keynko

The House-Hunt is Over!

I’m happy to share that we’ve actually made an offer on a house and it was finally accepted.  Whoppie-bloody-doo-dah!  I can’t tell you how relieved I am right now.  As much as I love looking at houses,  I’ve realised now that it’s so much more fun when you’re just sitting on your couch in the comfort of your own home and watching other people do it in my favourite property shows like “Location, Location, Location” or “Move to the Country” than actually doing it in reality.

As first mentioned on this post, the practical house has indeed won us over in spite the lack of enthusiasm on our part when we first saw it and this suitable home also happens to be in a good location.  Does this mean we’ve succumbed into location over property?  I shouldn’t think so, in the end, it was all about the darned ever-so-sensible house/choice for our little family.  I am indeed a grown-up now.  Whoopie-bloody-doo-dah.

I’m wondering though – is it really over?

The hunt is.  But my stress-level is still churning, especially since my husband warned me that though our offer has been accepted, all is not %100 over till we’ve exchanged.  You see back home even though payment hasn’t really exchanged yet, once you sign in the dotted line, it’s as good as done and dusted.  Apparently here in England, things are just a bit more complicated and even though offers have been accepted, one can still back out and it can also take ages before you can heave a sigh of relief and declare that the ordeal of buying/selling your property is indeed over..

So we’re on a different hunt now – the search for a good solicitor.  I’d like to share  a few things I’ve learned so far:

  • Whatever country you live in solicitors are expensive, so make sure you do your research when looking for a good but affordable one.  Remember just because your estate agent recommends someone, doesn’t mean you have to absolutely use them too.  My husband phoned the firm J, our agent recommended and he nearly fell of his seat when they told him their fees.
  • So we shopped around and asked recommendations from friends and family, made calls and asked for quotes.
  • And also went online. While you’re trying to save money, however, when choosing the cheapest make sure that they are “proper” solicitors.  Remember, you might end up spending more if they do a terrible job and might have to hire professional negligence solicitors in the end, which may of course cost you more.  I’ve also learned that it helps to actually read the reviews on the solicitor’s website.  At the same time though, take the comments you’ve read with a grain of salt.
  • If you’re buying a house with a mortgage, make sure that the solicitor you’ve chosen is accredited by your mortgage company.
  • And lastly, selling/buying a house in this country is utterly maddening!  I absolutely refuse to move again unless it’s my dream-period property which is a lovely detached Georgian/Victorian or Edwardian house.

Fingers crossed, if all goes well we might just be in our new home by spring time!  Wouldn’t that be great?

But I’m going to miss this little house though.  We have memories here long before little T was born, when life was simple and oh-so quite and it was just me, my husband and Mutley.  Now the Mutt is gone and it’s me, my husband, little T, Boots and Doc.  And I will especially miss my tiny kitchen, the place where I blogged the most.  Here.

But of course, we are all excited about the whole move.  I’m trying not to be overenthusiastic though till the final-final exchange is done lest the chain breaks.

Have you sold/bought a property in the past?  How long did the completion take?

This is a sponsored post, however, all words are by Yours Truly and so is the photo.

My Vac and I

My three-year-old and I have one thing in common, we both hate the husband’s old vacuum cleaner which he bought when he was single and living on his own.  It’s huge and terribly noisy.  When asked why he got it, he replied “Because it’s big, powerful and cleans floors.  Then adds, ‘it was on sale!”  Of course, that is so my husband.

I hate it, not because it’s noisy, but because it’s so heavy!  I can manage it of course, but it weighs a ton to carry up the stairs and my daughter goes berserk every time she hears it, I have to vacuum when she’s out.  Another mother I know also said that her twins is the same and that they also hate the sound of the hand dryer in public toilets.  I’m glad I’m not alone.

So when our sweeper broke, the husband was thinking of getting a replacement one, one that cost more, not that our old sweeper was cheap either.  I asked what the budget was, he said £100.  So I went on a mission, I thought if he’s going to spend that much for a sweeper, surely we could find a vacuum that doesn’t weigh a ton and maybe cost not more than the allocated budget?  Lucky for me, it was sale season and I found one for half the price!  Woopie-bloody-doo-dah.

I’m a happy woman.  I’m so in love with my vac.  The good news is, my daughter loves it too!  It’s not as noisy as the old one and probably weighs half of monster too!  (That’s what I called his old vac).  My daughter now likes to say “C’mon Mum, let’s vacuum now … together”  And so we do …

Meet my new vac and T’s little one: mother and daughter team.

Instead of hiding from it and cowering in fear, she looks forward to her mummy vacuuming, so much that she actually drops little bits of paper and food and exclaims “Time to hoover now Mummy!”

And there’s little T, resting after doing her chores with her mum.

Do you have a little one?  Do they also hate the sound of a noisy vacuum cleaner?

FYI: This is not a sponsored post.