Monday 21 May 2018

5 Things To Remember About Interior Design

If you're about to start a new home project, or perhaps you're just planning for the future (I have many Pinterest boards ready and waiting for when I win the lottery), you need to think carefully about how you want the space to look and feel before you start doing anything. You don't want to get part way through the project and then realise you've changed your mind, so make sure the project is 100 percent planned before you embark on any actual work. 

With that in mind, and to reduce the risk of you changing your mind part way through the decorating, here are a few interior design tips for you to keep in mind:

1. It's your space
It's your home and it needs to be somewhere you feel comfortable. Not just comfortable in a wow-this-home-is-beautiful way, but in a this-home-reflects-who-I-am way. Your home should represent your personal style and it should be filled with things that compliment the person you are. If you look at the stunning interiors projects by Oro Bianco Interior Design, you will see that the client's unique personality is always a part of the finished design. Your story, your experiences and your tastes are what makes you who you are and they should absolutely add a layer of personality to your home. 

2. Your Pinterest dream board might not work in your house
Pinterest is full of breathtaking properties with floor-to-ceiling sash windows, imposing staircases and original features, but that doesn't mean you can make your home look the same. There will be compromises you have to make because of the style of your home. For example, I love grey and natural coloured kitchens, but my kitchen is at the side of my house and it doesn't get much natural light so I opted for a lighter kitchen to ensure it looked its best. I didn't want the room to feel dark and gloomy, because I know the natural light in my kitchen can't compete with my Pinterest boards

3. Fashions change
Interior trends may not change quite as fast as fashion, but different styles do fall in and out of favour. If an interior trend has been around for a while, there's a chance it could fall out of favour within the next couple of years. Whether that bothers you or not will it depend upon why you want that style in the first place. If an interior trend is fashionable only for a short time, it will date your room. 

4. Be realistic about functionality
Everybody wants to have a glossy-magazine-ready stunningly beautiful house, but it might not always be a realistic dream. If you have small children, you're going to have the plastic toys, the pushchairs and the endless trail of shoes and socks associated with that. A beautiful space is still possible, but you will need to be realistic about how it will look on a day-to-day basis. 

5. Technology makes things easier
Remember back in the 90s when we all spent hours designing and redesigning our perfect homes on The Sims? Well, you can do that for real with your house now. You can use digital room planners that let you mock up changes to your interiors. You can try out hundreds of paint colours without ever having to pick up a painting. You can see how different items of furniture, work out where to hang your prints and compare different curtain fabrics all from the comfort of your iPad. 

This is a collaborative post. Photo by Jonny Caspari on Unsplash

Thursday 17 May 2018

Some New Dresses Just For Me (Not My Kids)

I don’t think I’m alone in saying that I spend way more on clothes for the girls than I do for myself (am I alone?). The girls seem to outgrow things constantly and I always see lovely dresses or bright coloured clothes that I really can’t not buy for them. When it comes to myself, I’m less willing to spend money. I buy things for specific occasions but never really go out with the intention of buying new clothes ‘just because’. And even when I do, I end up stumbling into the children's’ department and spending my money there instead (eye-roll).

When I do go clothes shopping, it’s usually for something in particular. A wedding or a hen do or the fact that my jeans have a hole in the crotch again. So, when Fashion World got in touch to offer me some dresses, I accepted. It is nice to have new clothes for no reason, it makes me feel like I am young and childfree again (but, you know, more tired and with stretch marks). There were lots of different styles to choose from. Does anybody else feel overwhelmed browsing for clothes online? There are just so many to choose from.

In the end, I settled on this Monsoon tunic which I thought would be perfect for wearing on holiday. I’ve never bought any (adult) clothes from Monsoon before and it’s lovely. I wore it last weekend when I went out in Manchester and I felt good all day (no easy feat). And, even better, it looks good with white trainers so I don’t have to stress myself out worrying about wearing heels (I hardly ever wear heels, I walk ridiculously in them and I feel too tall and they hurt)

I also chose this tea dress from Oasis which I really love. It is such a lovely colour and I really like how it fits. It doesn’t cling around the waist, not that I have one, so it is a very flattering fit. I definitely can’t wear it with trainers though so it loses points for that… but it will be perfect for next time I am forced to do something fancy.

Sorry about the awkward photos. I was not born to model clothes. Also, the final photo is not of me, just in case you were wondering. Helmets are not the latest must-have accessory so don’t rush out and buy one. Though if you do, that one is pretty awesome.

This is a collaborative post.

Friday 11 May 2018

7 Things Toddlers Do At Meal Times

If you are having a slap-up meal, you should not invite any toddlers. Toddlers have terrible table manners, they have pretty poor conversational skills and they are unpredictable at the best of times. They do not make eating out a pleasant experience. They mostly run away from the table, drop their food and refuse to eat anything. And eating with them at home isn’t much better. Or it isn’t at my house, anyway. Here are 7 things my toddler does pretty much every meal time:

1. Strips off
I don’t know why, but my toddler is incapable of sitting down for a meal fully dressed. If you asked her what appropriate dinner attire might be, she would probably show you her bare butt because that is what she wears for dinner every day. When I put her dinner on the child-size table she shares with her sister, she immediately plonks herself on the floor and starts removing clothing. My two kids eat their dinner together on a tiny table, one fully dressed with a bewildered expression on her face and the other as naked as the day she was born.

2. Eats my food
I don’t want you to assume I give myself the best food and my poor toddler is pecking around on the floor trying to hoover up a few morsels. We have the same food. I have my plate and she has her plate. Hers is a bit more plastic and a little less Emma Bridgewater than mine, but the food on them is the same. To me, at least, but not to her. To her, my food is where it’s at and it is all she will eat. And bananas, she loves bananas. Sometimes, she will stand next to the plate of food I lovingly prepared for her and scream because it is not a banana.

3. Spills her drink
I honestly don’t know if she does this by accident or as some kind of comedy routine, because the circumstances of her spilling drinks are always highly suspect. Sometimes, she pretends she has dropped something and then bends down with her entire body, hand and cup to check, thus spilling her drink all over the floor. Once, she gesticulated so wildly that a fountain of soya milk flew across the room. Then she toddlers over to the drawer, pulls out a cloth, cleans some of the spillage and then dumps the now dirty cloth back into the drawer. Every. Day.

4. Walks off
Remember when you were little and you weren’t allowed to leave the table until your mum said so? No, me neither, but I had friends who lived in houses like that. Well, continuing the long-standing family tradition of having no table manners, my toddler just comes and goes as she pleases. Her leaving the room is no indication of whether she has finished her dinner or not. She might want to ride around on her wheely bug for a bit, or she might need to grab her doll and feed it hummus (it is hard to get hummus out of the open mouth of a dead-eyed plastic doll) or maybe she just wants to touch all of my white kitchen cupboards and walls with her pasta-sauce-encrusted hands. Who knows.

5. Dumps unwanted food on her sister’s plate
We live in a terraced house which is particularly unfortunate for the families who live next door to us. The soundtrack to our family mealtimes consists of the six-year-old yelling at the toddler for putting half-eaten food on her plate. She picks food off my plate, eats a single tiny bite of it and then dumps the right square into the middle of her sister’s dinner. This, as you can imagine, causes an uproar. Every. Damn. Day.

6. Experiments
Do you know when you go for a nice meal and you have a nice glass of wine and you pour it all over your dinner? No? Oh. Well, that’s what my toddler does every time she sits down to eat. Calm down, it’s water, not wine. I am not giving my toddler wine. Don’t ring social services. There is no underage alcohol consumption taking place in my house. Even when I do give her wine, she just pours it on her dinner anyway which she then refuses to eat because it’s wet so there’s really no need to worry. Once her cup is empty, she will start picking up bits of food from her plate and dumping them in the cup. Let me know when you want to have her around for dinner, ok?

7. She rubs the remains on my trousers
As though putting half her food in a plastic cup and throwing the rest on the floor did not send a clear enough message, my toddler will then ceremoniously rub the remaining food all over me. She is very fast, much faster than I, and the daily smear in unavoidable. I have tried yelling no, I have tried running for the day and I have tried holding her at arm’s length, nothing works. She always wipes her hands on my jeans. As a result, my jeans are always dirty even if I have only just put them on fresh from the wash. When porridge-dashed jeans come into fashion, I will be on fleek.

Thursday 10 May 2018

My Beautiful Eyes & The Angry Little Man

I love Kat Von D. I don’t really know much about her professional or personal life, but she has revolutionised my face. Switching to a vegan diet was easy. It took me a while to learn the names of hidden animal ingredients and it took me ages to find a vegan snickers alternative, but aside from that, it was pretty easy. I thought I’d struggle to give up cheese, I thought I’d miss having milk in my tea, or that Christmas without a Terry’s chocolate orange would be miserable, but it was all fine.

The thing I did struggle with was makeup. Back in 2009, it was impossible to find good vegan makeup. You had to order things off the internet and hope they would be amazing, but they never were. The mascaras ran, the foundations were too dry and the eyeliners smudged away to nothingness. Finding good vegan food was easy, but decent makeup was proving more of a challenge. I quizzed experienced vegans on their makeup brands, I did many Googles and I tried a lot of makeup.

Then Kat Von D changed my life. Her stuff is amazing. It is the future of vegan makeup. I have an ink eyeliner from there that is like an actual tattoo it stays on so well. And last week I picked up a pencil eyeliner (I am all about the eyeliner) and it was the most amazing eyeliner I have ever used in my whole life ever and I am 32 so that’s a lot of life. All her stuff is vegan and cruelty-free, but it is also amazing and stays on and doesn’t look crap. What more could a vegan want? Blue lips? She’s got you covered.

I love Kat Von D because she made me ageing eyes look good (not an easy task). I don’t know who she is or what she stands for. I don’t really care as long as she doesn’t give me panda eyes. She is vegan though so that’s pretty good because it means she’s probably someone I agree with on a lot of issues. Although, actually, you can’t exactly take that for granted.

One thing I’ve noticed in the vegan movement is that there are a surprising number of folks who don’t share my viewpoint on many issues. Sexism is rife in the vegan movement, something which is pretty upsetting to see. And racism often rears its ugly head in the comments box in vegan groups. Not to mention there’s a lot of pro-life vegans (apparently, if you care about an actual pig, you should care about a clump of human cells that can’t feel pain, um). And, as the polar opposite of that sector the vegan movements, there are the antinatalists. These are the vegans who don’t believe in having kids - and not in an ‘I don’t want kids myself but you guys do what you like’ kind of a way, in more of a ‘having children is wrong and anyone who does it is terrible’ way.

Don’t have kids, have kids, whatever, do what makes you happy. But don’t waste time worrying about what other people are doing. And definitely, don’t go round telling parents that they’re not vegan because they have kids. Er, yeah, so apparently that’s a thing now. You see, Kat Von D is pregnant and she announced it on Instagram with a sweet photo and a blue heart and she got a shitload of abuse from angry vegans. Not all the vegans were angry, some of them were lovely and said congratulations. You know, the normal ones. But the abnormal ones stood out a little more because their comments were so misplaced on a pregnancy announcement photo.

Someone commented, "Congrats on undoing your veganism almost tenfold.” So, yeah, that was nice. Way to go, the vegan movement, for making us all look like a bunch of dicks, yet again. Oh, and, obvs it was a man who said it, because, you know, it’s necessary for a random man to have an opinion on what any woman does or doesn’t do with her reproductive organs. Being vegan and choosing not to have kids for the planet are separate things. Being child-free is not a requisite of being vegan. There is a real problem in the vegan movement at the moment with this, there are some very loud and aggressive voices constantly shouting that nobody should be having children. This atmosphere has made some vegan parents, or wannabe vegan parents, feel unwelcome in vegan spaces and that’s not exactly a good thing, is it? If we want to encourage more people to take up veganism, and if we want to make veganism as accessible as possible, and encourage this next generation of vegans to actually be vegan, then we need to welcome them into the movement and allow them to be a part of it.

It’s not up to random Instagram users what makes a person vegan or not, I’m pretty sure that’s already been decided by the Vegan Society. And, I would argue, with my amazing smokey eyes, that Kat Von D has already done more for the vegan movement than some angry little man on Instagram. Being an aggressive, hostile little twat isn’t making anybody want to be a part of the vegan movement, if anything, it’s just showing them that the vegan movement is as flawed as the rest of the society. Those angry little white men just seem to get just about everywhere, don’t they?

Photo by Alysa Bajenaru on Unsplash

Friday 4 May 2018

32 and Feeling Older

On my birthday last year, I had the realisation that I was still just winging it. When you’re younger, you assume that all the adults around you know what they’re doing, but when you are old enough to be one of the adults, you realise they don’t. Even the most put-together people seem to be barely holding it together if you look close enough.

This time last year I was trying to juggle working with looking after a baby. I was trying to figure out the balance of life with two children, desperately trying to meet everyone’s needs without losing my mind. Oh, and I was sleep-deprived, so sleep-deprived. I felt like I was sleep-walking from one day to the next with no idea of what I was really doing. I was in the inevitable survival mode of life with a baby, just trying to make it to bedtime each day with little thought for the future.

This year feels different. I don’t think it’s the gift of growing older, rather I think it’s that my children are a year older. Ember is out of the baby stage and now a fully fledged toddler with an attitude. Ebony is that little bit older and that little bit more independent which is both wonderful and heartbreaking. Life is getting more manageable. I still don’t find as much time to work as I would like, but I know how short the years are before school starts and I intend to make the most of them with Ember.

I feel older now. Not wiser, but definitely older. The years are etched out on my face in a way they weren’t when I was in my 20s. My smile gives me away, forcing my eyes to crease at the sides, reminding me that time ticks on. I see the occasional slither of silver glitter hidden in my fringe, caught in the sunlight streaming through the glass in the front door as I check my reflection in the hallway mirror. My body is betraying me, growing old before I’m ready.

Sometimes I feel ever so grown up and other times it is like I’m just pretending. When I attend parents evening and sit on one of those tiny plastic chairs I can’t help but think how ridiculous it is that I have a child old enough to be at school. Ebony tells me I am old, she can’t believe I’m turning 32 tomorrow, it’s Just So Old. And sometimes I do feel old. I ordered a shed the other day and that felt like a really grown up and painfully dull thing to do. And my body is certainly getting older. I ache and I make weird noises when I sit down.

When I turned 30, people kept telling me how wonderful your 30s are. They said I would shed pointless friendships, stop giving so many fucks and make peace with who I am. I’m not sure whether that’s true or not for me, yet anyway. I think I have made some changes to my friendship circle since I turned 30. I don’t think it’s an age thing though, rather it’s just that I now have two children and so my spare time is pretty rare. I don’t want to waste it, I want to spend my days off with people I value and who I feel value me. I have stopped putting effort into friendships that felt one way, and, equally, I have put more effort into nurturing some friendships. Looking around at my friends, everybody seems to be doing the same.

I’ve gotten better at knowing what I need and how to make myself feel happier. Now that Ember is a little older, I’m able to find a little more time for myself. Not much, but enough to do things like read books and watch movies and go running. I’m getting better at recognising when I need a break, when I need to switch off from family life and just have some headspace so I can be the best version of myself at home. And I can tell when Laurie needs to do this, too. I think after the initial What The Actual Fuck period of life with two kids, we’re finally doing an ok job of parenting again. Life as a parent is constantly evolving and throwing new challenges in my path, and I finally feel like I can handle that a little better than I have in the last year or two.

I am a planner. I like to know exactly what’s going to happen and when. I don’t know why. I wasn’t even aware of this part of my personality until after Ember’s birth. Before then, I’d have described myself as easy going but her birth made me realise how important control is to me. I’m now learning to let go a little. I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know where we’ll be living in ten years time or what my work will look like then. There are a lot of unknowns but I’m finding that, as I grow, I’m ok with that.

So, 32. Just. So. Old.

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