My kitchen is cured

It’s been a long weekend. FULL of cleaning. I didn’t anticipate the Kitchn Cure to be quite so full-on, but every task so far (5 days in) has been cleaning of some sort. Day 4 was a full-on deep clean. It took me until the weekend to catch up as I had things on every night after work, and this was going to be a loooong-ass task. It took four hours yesterday, and about 2-3 today.

Can you tell the difference?

Overview-before after

First look – yes, I’ve found a home for the drill, tool box and compost bin. But closer up, I managed something I’ve not done since I first moved in five months ago.

Sink-before after

All the dishes are done, dried, put away and the dish rack is actually folded up. Never done that. Probably won’t ever again if I’m honest but this once, it’s a pretty nice feeling.

Continuing upwards, I had decided to finally clean the top of the cupboards and extraction fan. I noticed when I first moved in that there was a load of old bits of wall (I think?) up there, that I’ve shamefully never got round to cleaning up. So this was the day to tackle it.

It wasn’t just bits. There was grease. A lot of it.

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I know. Eww. I don’t know if this was my five months’ worth of cooking, or if it just wasn’t cleaned before I moved in – I obviously prefer to think that it’s the latter. But with a bit of elbow grease and my favourite green multi-cleaner, it was soon sparkling.

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Good eh? Next was the top of the cupboards, which were also pretty rank.

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What makes it worse is that I’ve actually been putting things up there for months. For example, the tupperware with Barry’s food, which I regularly take down from there and (ugh) put on the work surface. I know. So vile. I was a little bit ashamed. But no more, as it’s now gleaming!

Next it was the turn of the cupboard insides. This wasn’t too bad, just a matter of taking everything out, giving the cupboards a quick wipe down and then putting everything back in.

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Luckily my friend Rachel helped me organise the cupboards when I first moved in, so that was one less job for me to do now.

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That last photo also drew my attention to a spot on the bottom of the shelf that I’d missed…thanks flash.

Next up – that bastion of clutter. The work surface.

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Before and after, you say?

Work surface-before after

The only thing proudly mounted on there is the (mostly crossed-out) to-do list. Let’s take a look shall we?

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That makes me happy. Oh, I properly got my geek on in the middle of clearing up the cluttered work surface and fashioned a little plastic bag holder out of an egg carton. Yeah, that’s just as bad as it sounds, but I was feeling…inspired? I needed a solution for the, ahem, nappy bags that I use to clear out Barry’s litter tray. Something that’s a bit more aesthetically pleasing than just the ugly Tesco Value bag that was proudly sitting on top of the toilet cistern. I used some wallpaper sample scraps that I had stashed away to make it look a bit…prettier.

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Yes, you may point and laugh.

SAM_0527But you know, it looks a lot better now.

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Go on, mock me. I fully deserve it. But at least the kitchen is clean!

 

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Cure my kitchen!

I’m about to own up to all my culinary ugly. And I mean…fugly. I’ve signed up to  the Kitchn cure in an attempt to get my mess under control before my dear mum comes over in ten days. Everyone knows mother’s visit = shame. Non? And since it’s her first visit since I moved into the new flat, I want to impress. So, without further ado…..here’s the shameful before:

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You can see where this is heading, right? MESS.

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SAM_0513Oh hello breakfast dishes. And last night’s dinner dishes…I just can’t seem to become one of those people who always wash up before they go to bed.

I also can’t seem to ever become one of those people who actually ever put the dishes away. Until the dish rack is so full nothing else will precariously balance on top. SAM_0514

Where the proverbial magic happens:

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There’s still some magic lingering….

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And here is the Bermuda work surface that never, ever stays clear. Hang on, who am I kidding – “stays” clear? It’s never been bloody clear.

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Above that, the ornamental cat food:

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And below….so much wasted yet badly organised space.

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The only area that’s somewhat organised is the cleaning area behind the door.

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But never fear! To balance that out, more disorganised mess:

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And of course, the feline fine dining nook:

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Yep, a random shelf propped up next to the radiator. Looks good, right? Wrong. So many wrongs in one room. Here are some of the things I’d like to sort out in this kitchen:

1. Find a place for the tool box + drill – not necessarily in the kitchen, but somewhere easily accessible since I use them quite often.

2. Put that shelf up above the microwave – just need to get the right screws from B&Q. It will house my cook books (which will make more room on that trolley for other things that don’t have a permanent home) and the woven basket that holds all my lunch boxes. At the moment that basket is on top of one of the cupboards next to the extraction fan, which isn’t very practical.

3.  Organise under the sink. I’ve not actually documented it because, to be honest, I forgot. But it’s in dire need of sorting out. Hopefully it can house the cleaning stuff that’s now in the yellow box on the floor, taking up unnecessary space.

Doesn’t sound like a lot when I list it, but for some reason it’s seemed like an insurmountable task which I’ve been putting off for months. So, let’s roll those sleeves up. Tonight I’ve already done the dishes and cleaned the fridge out, chucking some two year old lemon curd, a kids’ carton of apple juice (?) and an almost-empty jar of chutney in the bin. It’s a nice start, I’ll tell you. Looking forward to tomorrow’s task!

Photo collage (finally!)

This is something that I’ve been planning for almost four months, i.e. since I moved in. In the last flat I ran out of wall space for all my photos, posters and other framed paraphernalia, but here I’ve almost run out of things to hang! For my reading corner I wanted to create cosyness by hanging loads of pictures of family and friends, and since I’d never attempted a frame collage before, I thought it was about time.

First I laid out all the picture frames in a formation that I liked:
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Barry clearly wasn’t as taken with it, but since he can’t complain, I chose to ignore him. Oh, and I know that in most stylish frame collages you see on Pinterest etc, all the frames match. Mine don’t. That’s fine, as these were all frames I already had and I wasn’t about to go out and spend loads on this.

After previous failed attempts at hanging pictures exactly where I wanted them, I took some advice from this post and used newspaper templates to make sure I got the holes/nails right.
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Before I taped the bits of paper up on the wall I marked a hole where the nail should go, so that I could easily put it in the right place once the template was on the wall. Like so:
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Yep, I got to put a nail through Viggo Mortensen’s crotch.

Once I’d marked and taped all the paper templates up and put nails in all the correct places, my wall looked…interesting. Not exactly stunning, or cosy.
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Put when I’d whipped off the paper and hung the pictures – ta-daah!
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Please excuse the lilac chair. I bought it that way with plans to spray paint it, but when I finally took the time to do it, I ran out of paint. It’s still on my (long) list of projects. And the frame collage may look a bit small, but the idea is that I can build out from this shape as I want.

And just because I’m a nerd, here it is in 60s mode:

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Things are looking up!

After over a month in the flat, I’ve finally got someone to come round and help me put shelves up! And on top of that, it’s father and son team (boyfriend and his dad):

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I’m so excited to be finally getting in order! I’ll post more pictures soon of all the beautiful DIY-ing done today!

Day out with the bean

I’ve not written a blog post for a long time now. I have been trying to look after myself more and being kind to myself, and unfortunately the blog was beginning to feel like another thing on my ‘must do’-list – it became something I felt like I had to do, rather than wanted to do. But since I’ve been looking after myself more, I started feeling like I wanted to get back to it. And after spending a lovely day doing something that definitely fit into the ‘being kind to myself’ category, I decided it would be fitting for it to be my first “comeback” post.

I spent today doing something I’ve never done before – paying to go crafting. My friend Haley suggested going to a placCrafteliciouse in Chorlton called Craftelicious, which is a lovely little cafe that offers crafting of various kinds, tea, cakes and crepes (sadly I didn’t have any this time, but I will definitely go for the Nutella crepes next time I go – hubba hubba). And since this meant a reason to see my lovely little godson, I was more than eager to go along.

There were loads of different things to choose to do – painting lanterns, Christmas baubles, decoupaging, and loads of different animals to choose from. Well, that got me right going – if there’s one thing I like, it’s an animal-shaped ornament. And since I’d never tried decoupaging before, I thought I would give it a go. Coming up to Christmas it seemed apt to decorate a reindeer as well!

To start with, it’s just a cardboard-type figure, ready to paste in whatever colour you want from a selection of coloured and patterned papers:

Reindeer + decoupage papers

I decided to go for Christmassy colours of red and green.

My choices

Then I was instructed to tear it up into thumbnail-sized pieces, ready to start applying to the naked reindeer.

Ready to apply

Decoupaging is basically brushing a special type of glue to the base, applying these tiny bits of paper, then brushing more glue on top. It sets quite quickly, but you can apply more paper on top as you want, to create whatever pattern you fancy.

First patches + getting on

It was fun, but by the time I got to his antlers I realised how much concentration it actually took!

Decoupaging

While I was busy sticking my brush into the reindeer’s various crevices, Haley was making this cute bauble with Sean’s hand print on it. She made one last year for his first Christmas and is planning on making one every year – such a nice idea.

Bauble

Sean wasn’t really too enthusiastic about any of the crafting (probably a tad too young at 18 months) but he was busy looking generally cute and trying to eat all the paint and brushes.

Sean crafting

Finally my little camp Christmas reindeer was dressed!

Finished!

I’ve not worked out where he’s going to go yet, but I’ll try him out in various places. And I reckon with this new addition, I must be up to at least 40 animal-based ornaments around my flat…problem, me? Possibly.

Pretty in pink

So after living here for almost two years, I thought it was about time I did something about the drab magnolia walls. Since I live in rented accommodation I can’t go too mad colour-wise, but I’d thought about just painting two small walls – that way they’d be easy enough to paint over (back to magnolia, mmm) when I eventually move out. And like many decisions I make, something just came into my head and I went with it. This thought was ‘hmm, dusky pink? Yeah, why not’. Well…maybe because I’m not particularly, nor have I ever been, into pink? Not even as a child – if me and my sister were bought matching things, she always got the pink version and I got the blue/green/yellow. Does this sound like I’m traumatised? I assure you I’m not – apart from throwing a massive tantrum over some mittens at the age of about 8, it never bothered me in the slightest.
As usual, I digress. Back to the wall. I tried a couple of sample pots but they just didn’t do it for me. Then my boyfriend (genius that he sometimes is) suggested just sticking some swatches on the wall to see how they looked. Now why didn’t I think of that before spending 25 quid on tester pots?? Dagnammit. So I did as suggested.

I left the swatches (that’s four of each kind taped together, then blu-tacked onto the wall) for a few days, to see how they looked in different lights and which ones I liked best. The middle one was a clear winner from the beginning, and remained so.

Because this wall is so small, I only had to buy one litre of paint, so it wasn’t a particularly costly project (not counting the tester pots…). This (embarrassingly messy) picture from when I first moved in somewhat shows the wall in question:

It was literally only the alcove behind the bed that I was painting, so it didn’t take long. Well, it shouldn’t have taken long, but I started quite late on the Saturday, and because I wanted the first coat to dry properly, I didn’t finish it until the Sunday. And here’s the finished product!

At first I really wasn’t sure if I’d strayed too far from my personal anti-pink principles, but I’ve grown to really like it. The opposite wall will eventually be a green-y mushroom-y colour, but they’re far away from each other to not clash or look weird (I hope!).

Next project – chest of drawers. Here’s a sneak peak of what it has looked like since I “rescued” it from a communal hallway about…oh, five years ago?

Any wild guesses as to what fate awaits it?

A bit of Ikea improvement (yes, it can be done!)

I love a trip to Ikea. Obviously, I do – I am Swedish after all. Although I’m not happy that they’ve stopped selling all the proper Swedish food and replaced it with their own brand foods. No more Daim bars! It’s a good thing I’ve got people on the inside who can bring stuff over on a regular basis…

I know Ikea is a lot of people’s idea of a day in hell, but I love walking around the whole place, looking at the made up rooms, having a rest on the sofas, being inspired by organisational ideas and, of course, pretending to live there:

 

We’re easily amused.

My many purchases included this lovely rug as well as various organisational bits and pieces, including one of these to store my jewellery in. Previously I’ve had things in bowls, which a) means that it looks a bit cluttered, and b) means that everything gets covered in dust. And I’m not very good at dusting. So while Moppe isn’t very exciting as he comes, I had planned on covering him in black gloss paint and lining the drawers with some interesting wrapping paper, ideally in some sort of swirly pattern with blue, white and orange.

He really does look rather lacklustre in his natural state, doesn’t he?

But after just one coat of paint I could tell that he’d grow into a handsome thing:

I love the contrast between the black and the pale inside. Luckily my paint job passed Barry’s scrutiny. What I didn’t realise was how hard it is to wash gloss paint off when you don’t have any white spirit, and both my hands and the bath had to take a severe scrubbing to get clean. Slight rookie mistake there. But we live and learn. After two coats he was finally done. Oooh. And aaah:

The only thing left was getting his insides dressed with this rather strapping Habitat wallpaper (thank you Homebase for allowing me to “sample”). I’m rather pleased with the final result!