Sunday, October 25, 2009

Cleaning a kettle

When I initially moved to the UK I always laughed at how you get asked if you would like a cup of tea as soon as you step into someone house. You see, in South Africa, as I suspect in many other countries, you just offer people 'a drink' or you 'go for coffee' at a coffee shop.
I've been in the UK for almost 5 years now, and on Thursday this week I received my British Citizenship...

and I'm glad to report that I can indeed make a good cup of tea, and I now too automatically offer people tea when they step through the front door. England is very much a tea drinking nation, and kettles here work overtime. Combine non-stop tea drinking with the hard limescale water most of Britain has and you end up with a furry kettle. Kettle's need cleaning, so here's how.

Let's work from the inside out because it's more important how your tea tastes than how your kettle looks (well, it should be anyway). I've tried all these fancy gadgets to help reduce limescale in the kettle, but the limescale still builds up rather quick. So the best and easiest way to keep your tea from being crunchy (eugh, it's horrible when you get a piece of limescale in your mouth) is to clean your kettle regularly. How often depends on how bad the water is where you live, but this is simple to do, and once a month should be plenty!

Half fill the kettle with water and half fill it with clear vinegar. Leave it to soak overnight, then wipe it out with a sponge or soft wash up brush and rinse. Refill the kettle and boil it once more before using for drinks (unless you like the taste of vinegar in your tea).

Kettles seem to get grubby on the outside quickly too and I'm never sure how or why, but they just do. But a regular wipe down with a microfibre cloth will usually do the trick. If it's a bit dirtier, try these. Plastic kettles ought to be wiped down with some warm soapy water and a soft cloth - anything abrasive will scratch the surface. Metal kettles can be washed with soapy water and polished with a microfibre cloth.

So much to do, so little time eh? This week I am preparing for Halloween - we are hosting a party which I am really excited about. I'll make sure to post some pics of how the house looks when all decorated. I'll also be posting photos of our new updated bedroom soon - yup, Mr L has wallpapered our bedroom, and I LOVE it! Thank you Mr L.
Have a great week, and for those of you who like spooky things, enjoy preparing for Halloween.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Colour choices for a bedroom

I hope you are all having a lovely weekend, I've been cleaning, crafting (for Halloween), shopping and sewing. My reason for doing shopping and sewing was because we are re-colouring our bedroom. The colour choices you make in a house is not only a reflection of you, but can affect your moods, and dramatically change how a room 'feels'. I'll start off with my bedroom story, and then I'll move onto some more information that you could apply yourself, so here goes:

One thing that has bothered me ever since we moved into our house and started decorating is our bedroom. Our bedroom is on the darker side of the house, and initially I was inspired by a photo of a wall painted gold, and thought it would reflect some light into the room. Unfortunately the gold wall, for most of the time, looked like a brown wall and made or bedroom feel really really gloomy. So the gold wall has to go...

Mr L and I have been ordering wallpaper samples off the internet, but the more samples we got, the more confused we became. Then I came across this picture on the Martha Stewart website...

... and I thought 'that's it, we need to use a bright colour like yellow to bring some sunshine into the room'. Of course, yellow is a happy colour, but it's also quite an energetic colour, which makes teaming it with a calming blue in a bedroom perfect. I also fell completely in-love with the yellow bedskirt on the above photo, and knew that with my white bedding it would be a perfect way to bring some extra yellow into the room. And that's why I've been sewing away this weekend to make a bedskirt and some cushion covers (6 metres of bright yellow fabric for £23 from IKEA!).

The shopping we had done was for wallpaper, we decided to try one more time ad go to a shop rather than looking online, and lo and behold we came across this wallpaper that we both finally liked (not too girlie for Mr L, but still nice and soft - and the love bird design is a good omen for a bedroom ;) .
It's quite a heavy pattern, but it's very pretty and the colours are spot on!

So after my sewing frenzy this morning, here are the results so far (I've only made one cushion cover, but there will be two)...
I'll post the photos once the wallpaper is up, and I'm also planning on painting the bedside cabinets an off-white and adding pretty drawer pulls.

Below is a close-up of the bedskirt - it's such a simple project, 3 flat panels, with the tops tucking in under the mattress. I did the edges with a 5cm seam. (I still need to iron both the bedskirt panels and cushion).

The cushion cover has a piping border made from powder blue velvet ribbon. I love cushions with a piping edge, it makes them look a bit more glamorous, especially if the piping is a different texture to the rest of the cushion cover. Click HERE for a great tutorial on how to sew piping (the tutorial is for a handbag, but can easily be applied to cushion covers).

So that's my bedroom looking and feeling sunnier already. I really can't believe what a difference it has made adding the yellow - even with the gold wall that still don't like.

It really is true that different colours have different affects on our emotions, and how we interpret an image, room or object. But it seems that the effect of colours vary between different cultures. Red is considered a relaxing colour in China, whilst in America most people see it as an energetic, even aggressive colour. So choosing red for a bedroom if you feel energised in a red room is probably not the right choice if you value your sleep. Remember that the colours you choose will also be affected by the room itself depending on how much light it gets. A dark room in red can feel cosy and romantic, whilst a room with plenty of light painted in red will feel energised and bright.

Combining colours are the best way to get a balance in a room right. A white and silver room can feel starkly clinical, but add some coral pink accents and the room will feel fresh, modern and welcoming. We're so lucky that with the internet and all the lovely blogs out there we have access to some wonderful inspiration, so start collecting photos of rooms you like to give you an idea of what would suit you best. Here are some wonderful examples of bedrooms that manage to be fresh, warm and relaxing.

What colour is your bedroom? Do you like it?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

TOTW: Storing Boots

Hello! I'm back after having a wonderful time with my mum visiting us here in the UK. We went sightseeing in Oxford, relaxed at a spa, then had afternoon tea in the Cotswolds and finished the visit with a trip to Windsor Castle... all in 5 days! More on the Windsor Castle visit later.

For now, here is the TOTW - Tip of the Week: Storing Boots.

When not wearing boots, try not to let them flop over, it will make creases in the leather or suede and will generally distort the shape. You can of course buy boot shapers, but the easiest and cheapest way to store them upright is with a rolled up glossy magazine per boot.

Newspapers work too, but I find with magazines that the keep the shape better. And when you need to wear a pair of boots, just pop their magazines inside another rolled up magazine of one of the other pairs of boots - they can easily double up, like this...

How or where do you store your boots?

I'll be back at the weekend with a longer post!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Vanity space

I hope you're all having a good weekend! I'm doing some cleaning and organising because in 4 days time I'm picking my mum up from the airport. She's visiting us for 5 short days from South Africa, and when my mum comes to visit I always make sure the house is super-tidy and clean.

So part of my sorting out has led to me re-organising my make-up.
I love make-up, not because I like buying cosmetics, but because I honestly think I look better with a bit of foundation, mascara and a bit of pink on my cheeks. My make-up routine is such a part of my morning routine, and because of this I have always loved the idea of having a dressing or vanity table... you know, a little table with pretty bottles, a vanity table set with matching brush and hand mirror, a small pretty box for earrings etc. Like this sort of thing...

This photo from Anthropologie is almost like a doll's house set - cute!
Simple, but perfect.
And this image from country living features the most beautiful bottles.That's it, if I ever have a vanity table I want this fairytale mirror from Anthropologie, fittingly named 'who's the fairest mirror'.
And I'm in love with this chair!

Dreaming is all very well, but unfortunately that's not something I can really consider having in our house because we lack the space. The bathroom is also not ideal for make-up because it's a bit dark, and Mr L would not be impressed if I had to rush him out the bathroom because I need to 'put my face on' as we call it.

However, I have found a nifty solution which works wonderful. My wardrobe (which is in our spare room) is nice and deep, so I'm lucky that I can use the inside of the wardrobe doors. On the one side I have a full length mirror - very important for seeing whether the shoes match the bag. And on the other wardrobe door I have a small mirror, below which is a little jar for all my brushes, and below that is a perspex shelf holding all the products I need to 'put my face on'.
(Oops, I better clean that mirror!)

And because I now have a mirror on the inside of each wardrobe door I can position the doors so that I can see the back of my head (or how big my bum looks in a particular outfit) with the two mirrors. It's like my own make-up centre in the wardrobe, and I love it! I think having limited space can sometimes be a blessing, it means you really have to focus on what's necessary, and can help you avoid clutter. So until I one day get my very own dressing table, I'm ever so pleased with my wardrobe vanity space. Oh, and thank you Mr. L for putting the perspex shelf in for me!

What have you been up to this weekend?

A note on perfection

Many of the posts featured on this blog are about doing household chores the correct, or so to say perfect way. My intention is not to make readers feel that the way they are running their households are wrong. So if making the bed, or ironing shirts in a certain way doesn't fit your lifestyle, do not feel guilty about it. But by learning the correct way of doing things it might just come in handy for those times when special guests are staying, or when you need to iron that shirt perfectly for a job interview. So enjoy the learning, but skip the guilt and LOVE your homes. x

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