21 May 2015

The Scandinavian Kitchen: How to Get the Look and Not Break the Bank

 Scandinavian kitchens are in the spotlight right now, thanks in part to the Nordic food movement, the New Nordic Cuisine and a growing interest in Scandinavian food. If you're interested in adding some elements of Scandinavian style to your home, you might be wondering how to get the look of a Scandinavian kitchen -- without breaking the bank, or spending a small fortune on kitchen renovations. Read on if you'd enjoy checking out some ideas and inspiration for decorating in this unique regional style.

The Scandinavian Pantry 
Ample pantry space is an asset in any Scandinavian kitchen, since preserved, pickled and brined foods are essential components of Scandinavian cuisine. These kitchens are typically stocked with colourful jars full of pickles, sauces, relishes and jams, and so the Nordic chef needs plentiful space for storing these jars of preserves.

A spacious pantry is a smart feature to borrow from the Scandinavians and incorporate into your own kitchen. With some creativity and a little pre-planning, your food can become part of your décor. When you take this approach, you can combine your food budget and decorating budget to get more for your money and make your pounds go further than they would if you were to spend that money on décor alone.

But how do you display vignettes of beautiful preserved foods? Well, that's another important design idea you can mimic from contemporary Scandinavian kitchens. Open shelving is a noteworthy trend, and it's a look that you can easily adopt in your own home without overspending. Open shelving is far less costly than traditional cabinetry, and this type of project is easy even for DIY enthusiasts to implement.

To get this look, there's a minimal investment in pretty mason jars -- plus the cost of installing open shelving if you don't already have adequate shelving available in your kitchen. There's also a time investment required to pickle or preserve the food in your jars, and arrange the jars attractively on your shelves. Alternately, you could buy jars of attractive pickles and preserves to use for decorating your shelves.

Scandinavian Furniture in the Kitchen 
In decades past, Scandinavia has been home to many brilliant furniture designers. Since the beginning of the modern era, Scandinavian furniture has been popular worldwide -- and the Scandinavian style remains relevant today.

Anyone decorating a modern or contemporary kitchen can look to Scandinavian kitchens for splendid design inspiration. Many Scandinavian kitchens include modern furniture pieces such as stools, chairs, and kitchen tables developed by local designers, including Verner Panton, Kaare Klint and others.

These pieces tend to be expensive, but you can often find them for sale at bargain prices on the secondary market. Check eBay UK and antique shops for possible deals.

Funding Your Scandinavian Kitchen 
If you're in need of a home improvement loan from a reputable banking institution to make your new Scandinavian kitchen a reality, Clydesdale Bank has some additional guides, resources and information you can use to save money. Between those resources, the ideas posted above, and your own creativity, hopefully you can plan and implement the Scandinavian kitchen of your dreams.

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20 May 2015

Sneak peek at the house

We've gone unconditional on the house! I know the house-buying process is different in every country, but how it happens here is that you see a house you like, put in an offer to the owner via the estate agent if one is involved, or in our case directly to the owner as it's a for-sale-by-owner property, and negotiate until both parties agree on the price.

This offer is considered conditional - you can specify which conditions you want met before going ahead, usually a builder's report and LIM report (it's a land report from the council dealing with information like flooding, council resources on the land, etc). You can pull out if things come up in the reports that you don't want to deal with, or renegotiate with the vendor.

As I mentioned, our building report came back saying that the house and garage roofs both needed immediate replacement, and the gutters needed cleaning out, and the hot water tank is 56 years and also needs replacing. We renegotiated a lower price with the vendor and then all we were waiting for was the LIM report. That came through yesterday and everything in it was fine, so we went unconditional - both parties are locked in now, and we pay a deposit to the vendor.

All that has to happen now is the bank fronts up their share of the money (mortgage), we supply the rest of the deposit, and transfer of title takes place and the house is ours. It's been such smooth sailing and SO much less stressful than the process in England, where the entire chain of house buyers and sellers can collapse at the last second, even on moving day!

Okay, so all of that waffle aside, I'm sure you're dying to see the house, judging by a few comments I've had on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.

The house was built in 1961 and it's a 3-bedroom weatherboard home with a cinderblock garage, and sits on half an acre with mature trees, including an apple tree, plum tree, and apricot tree. We are so excited to get in and begin tweaking it! The number one deal-breaker when we were looking at houses was indoor-outdoor flow - we wanted at least one living area (dining room or kitchen or living room) to look out and have access onto the back garden. This house has it in spades! The dining room and living room both have French doors onto the sun drenched patio, from which the garden extends.

At last, here are some photos to give you a glimpse (I didn't take the photos, a friend of the vendor did).

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I feel like I'm constantly (at least in my head) squealing like Cher at the end of this clip ("Project!"):

Not long to go now!!! We move on Monday!

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19 May 2015

Pneumatic wheels

This is a sponsored post with text provided.

Casters are very important for a wide range of businesses. It does not matter if you are working in a warehouse or a retail store, casters will be used on various carts and flatbeds to transport a wide range of items. Different casters must be used, depending on the weight of the cargo they are carrying and the conditions they will be exposed to on a regular basis. For example, if the environment is going to be very hot or cold, certain casters will be better suited for either of those conditions. Here is how to find the best casters for your particular business.

1. Ask people in your industry
If you are looking for casters to be used for a specific purpose, one of the first things you should do is get in touch with other business owners in your industry. Find out what type of casters they are using and where they bought them. Talk to as many people as you can to get a variety of references. Then you can begin to contact the places that these people recommended to you.

2. Try to find them online
You can find everything from casters to pneumatic wheels for sale online. This is why the Internet should be a resource that you take advantage of in your quest to find the casters you need at affordable prices. If you do not get the amount of references you are looking for from other people in your industry, the Internet is a great backup plan. In fact, it would be a good idea to check the Internet even if you do get a decent number of references from other people. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by looking around at some websites to see what options are available to you.

3. Salvage yards
There are much more than cars at salvage yards. Metal items of all kinds are disposed of in these places. Therefore, it would be worth your while to go to several salvage yards in your area to see if any carts have been disposed of containing the casters you are looking for. You may be able to find some casters in very good condition for next to nothing. If you are not successful, you can tell the people at the salvage yard to be on the lookout for a certain type of caster, if any should come in.

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16 May 2015

Blurb flash sale

Just thought I'd give you guys a heads-up about the Blurb flash sale - now is a good time to order any books you've been planning to, and get 35% off, but hurry as the offer ends on 18 May!

Offer: Get 35% Off with Blurb's Flash Sale
Valid: 5/14 - 5/18
Link: Blurb Flash Sale

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13 May 2015

Packing packing packing

Hey lovelies, just wanted to post a quick update on what's been going on here because I really haven't had the brain space for blogging.

I've been packing and packing and packing and trying not to overdo things at the same time. Grant has been handling all of the paperwork and admin involved with registering the kids in their new schools, buying the house, setting up utilities, etc. I'm so grateful he does all of that because my brain is like mush right now. Sorting through all of our belongings and packing them up and planning where things will go in the new house is about all I can manage right now intelligence-wise, ha ha! He's also been slogging away doing some hard-core cleaning, for which I really don't have enough energy, so that is a huge help and I'm very grateful for all of his hard work.

I have been vlogging now and then because that's much easier for me to keep on top of than blogging, as it's just taking the camera with me through the day and then piecing together the clips when editing. Blogging, on the other hand, requires concentration and thinking and taking photos and editing them, etc, and I just don't have it in me right now, so I hope you'll hang in there for the next little while.

We move on the 25th, which is in 12 days time, and there is still a lot to do. The house purchase is still going through, although there are the inevitable bumps in the road, for example finding out that the house and garage roofs need immediate replacement as there are holes in places, and that the hot water tank, which is supposed to last 25 years, is 56 years old and will also need replacing! We negotiated the price down with the vendor so things are still going ahead, and hey, we'll have a nice new roof as well, so that worked out fine. Not sure if we'll be able to get the hot water tank replaced right away, but it's less urgent as there aren't actually any problems with it at the moment (as far as we know). We'd rather delay that because we'd like to move it to a different location (it's currently in the kitchen) when we make over the bathroom / laundry, and we can't afford to do that right away. We'll have to save up for that and get the hot water tank replaced at the same time.

So in the meantime, while I'm taking a little blogging break, you can catch up on me on my YouTube channel, on Facebook, or on Instagram. Facebook is the place to be, really, as I post there whenever I blog (unless it's just a photo and quote) or upload a video, and all of my Instagram pictures go on there too. [Update: if you want me to post my videos over here on my blog, just let me know in the comments below and I'd be happy to do that!]

Oh, and my brother is doing so much better and is getting stronger all the time - thank you so much for the prayers and positive thoughts!

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11 May 2015


 Pink and white 01

 Pink and white 02

“Beauty shouldn’t be about changing yourself to achieve an ideal or be more socially acceptable. Real beauty – the interesting, truly pleasing kind – is about honoring the beauty within you and without you. It’s about knowing that someone else’s definition of pretty has no hold over you.”
- Golda Poretsky

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9 May 2015

Thrift shopping tips and what I bought

(Scroll to the bottom if you'd prefer to watch a video instead of read this post.)

I love thrift shopping! Thrift stores, charity shops, op shops - whatever they are called in your country - are awesome. I love the thrill of the hunt and finding great items, but most of all I love how inexpensive it is - great for someone on a tight budget, like me, who loves clothes.

I know some people are a bit skeeved out at the thought of second-hand clothes. I'm not because I expect my washing machine to actually clean things, so once I have brought the thrifted item home and washed it, it is no different to any of the other clothes in my closet. I have been thrifting for years and have never got sick, a rash, bugs, or lice from it, I promise. Just don't think too much about where the clothes have been, and wash your hands and the items when you get home.

An advantage is that the clothes fit how they are going to fit. Sometimes when you buy something new it will shrink slightly or fit differently after washing and drying, but with thrifted items that have already been washed and dried you know exactly how they are going to fit and look. Buying second had is also good for the environment, so there's that :)

I some tips to share when going thrifting, so here they are.

1) Be in the right mood and allow enough time.

Occasionally you might walk into a thrift store and find something amazing right away, but usually it takes a little digging. You have to be in the mood and you have to allow yourself enough time to really look through everything to find the gems. They are there, I promise! You might have to flip through a whole lot of mediocre, wrong-sized, damaged, and just plain weird items to find them, but they are there.

2) Try everything on

Along with enough time to look through everything, you will also need to allow enough time to try everything on. It's sometimes tempting to just buy something that you like, because it's inexpensive, and try it on at home, hoping it will fit. This is a direct path to clutter collecting because not everything will fit right, and you'll be stuck with the item. Just try it on in-store to be sure.

You also want to try on anything that you love that is maybe a size too big or too small, but looks like it will fit, because you might find that it does. In thrift stores there is such a variety of brands and the variations in size and fit that comes with that, so don't just stick to your regular size. I've just been thrifting (scroll down to see what I bought) and bought a top which was labeled as two sizes smaller than I currently wear, and it fits beautifully.

3) Check for damage

Before purchasing an item, inspect it carefully for damage. Look for missing buttons, broken zips, small holes, stains, and pilling. You might decide that some damage, such as missing buttons, is not a big deal and that it's worth replacing all of the buttons because the item is so inexpensive. Or you might decide that no matter how beautiful the jeans are, replacing a broken zip is beyond your expertise and not worth shelling out for.

4) Think of the possibilities

You might try on something that you just adore but isn't quite right BUT it might be easily fixable. Consider removing trim such as beads and decorative pockets (check underneath to make sure the fabric hasn't faded around it), or shortening hems or sleeves, or taking in the sides of tops or dresses. If the item is at a low price, and you love it, and you know you will actually make the fix, then why not?

5) Keep a wishlist and stay focused

I have a pretty extensive wardrobe but I still have items on my wishlist to fill gaps in it. It helps me to stay focused when walking into a thrift store. I'll decide what in particular I'm searching for that day, and look for those items first before browsing around elsewhere if I have time and money to spare.

It's easy to get distracted by pretty things and end up with a wardrobe that leans too heavily in one direction. I have a bit of a weakness for skirts, plus they are easy to fit, so if I'm not careful I can end up buying too many skirts and not having enough other items to actually put together with them.

6) Buy if only if you can wear it right now

When clothes are priced so low it's easy to make too many allowances and buy them just because they are bargains. Try to avoid buying clothes that don't fit you beautifully right now. Don't buy clothes are a bit tight and will look great after you lose a few pounds - go shopping after you lose a few pounds and I'm sure you'll find great items then. But if you buy the tight item now, you won't wear it. Buy pieces that you love and that fit you right now. No matter how inexpensive an item is, it's still a waste of money if you don't wear it. It's still clutter if you have to store it at home but isn't used, and I can guarantee that if it is too tight or too baggy in areas or just doesn't fit well then you won't reach for it when choosing clothes to wear.

So those were my tips for thrifting. Now I'll show you what I bought when I went shopping with my friend on Wednesday. Although I do like to browse the op shops in my local area fairly frequently, we only go to SaveMart every 3-4 months. It's a chain of second-hand clothing stores and we are lucky to have quite a few in Auckland. They are huge warehouses filled with racks and racks of clothes, so it's really essential to go in with a wishlist and plenty of time. They are also a bit more expensive than most op shops, with items from $6-$9 upwards. They have racks of designer items for $20 upwards, but I don't generally browse those as that's more than I am prepared to pay for thrifted items (I'm not that bothered about designer names).

I tried on over 40 items and I bought 11 of them. I went in specifically looking for comfortable pants like ponte pants, jeggings, leggings, etc - non-frumpy pull-on trousers with elasticated waists because I've been spoilt by wearing skirts and leggings (and at home I wear yoga pants or pull-on shorts) and now find jeans far too uncomfortable. And I always look for more V-neck cardigans in colours I don't already have, because I adore cardigans and wear them probably 75% of the year. So this is what I found. The total came to $83.89, which I think is pretty good for 11 items.

These basic black pants have a permanent crease down each leg, and are of a very thick, soft, stretchy fabric.

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These pants look fine in real life, it's just the way the light is falling that they look faded and stretched at the knees.

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Totally love these, they are super thick leggings with some detailing and structure to them. The grey is a nice change from black as well.

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These navy blue pants are super soft and comfortable. They have a side zip and button.

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I promise these don't look like grandma jeans when worn! I know they have an elastic waist but they fit so well they look just like regular jeans, and I always wear my tops over the jeans anyway so nobody will know ;)

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I love this knee length denim skirt. I live in my straight / A line denim skirt and I thought the pleats on this one were so cute and a nice alternative. I know I'll wear it a lot.

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I've been searching for a long, non-frumpy denim skirt for ages. It's so hard to find one that doesn't look old-fashioned and is long enough (I like my maxi skirts to hit the top of my feet). This one ticks all the boxes. It is very slightly too big at the waist but I can put a couple of darts into the back of the waistband with no trouble.

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I love this tunic. It's a super soft, thick, stretchy knit, perfect for autumn and winter with a cardigan over the top, worn over leggings with boots.

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I also found three V-neck cardigans in colours that I didn't already have. A red one was on my wishlist specifically, so I'm pleased that I found one.

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If you'd like to see a video of these tips and haul (i.e. me waffling on for hours), here it is. (If the embedded video isn't showing up, click on over here to see it.)

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8 May 2015

Fashion Friday

I'm sorry I haven't been posting Blurb offers; it's because there haven't been any lately! I believe the marketing manager is new, and does things differently. I'm not holding out on you guys!

So it's just Fashion Friday on Fridays for now, but you can still save 15% by clicking on the Blurb ad in the right hand column here on my blog.

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Cardigan: thrifted (SaveMart)
White top: Tesco
Denim skirt: thrifted
Belt: came with a dress from Tesco
Boots: Number 1 Shoes
Necklace: gift from my friend Rebecca

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7 May 2015

How to Buy a Garden Furniture Set and Organize a Garden Party

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Spring is ideal for planning a garden party. At this time of year you can get great deals on garden furniture sets, outdoor lighting and heating, barbecues and parasols. Where to buy affordable outdoor furnishings for your garden? There are several ways to find a bargain:

1. Garage Sales and Second-hand Shops 
If you're not fussed about matching reclining or lounge chairs, or whether you'll get a round or rectangular dining table; consider looking out for garage sales and second-hand shops in your local neighborhood. You'll be able to buy old family favorites for very little money. With a duster and a generous application of teak oil, or a paint job, you can bring new luster to those old wooden chairs and tables.

2. Home and Garden and D.I.Y. Centers 
Most garden and D.I.Y centers offer a great selection of garden furniture sets, as well as additional folding chairs, swing seats, parasols and whatever else you'll need to hold a fabulous garden party. Typically sold as 2-seater, 4-seater, 6-seater, 8-seater, 10-seater, 12-seater or 14-seater dining sets, garden chairs and tables come in all colors, shapes and materials; from wire mesh to rattan, from graphite gray to chocolate brown, and from shiny chrome to the rich red hues of teak.

Modestly priced, these sets have the added bonus of being displayed in a garden setting, showing you all the accessories a successful garden party could require, such as lanterns, wall lights, candles and solar lighting, a chiminea or fire pit, plus a gas or electric barbecue.

3. Online Specialists 
Online specialists will be able to sell larger dining sets with matching sofas and coffee tables, lounge chairs, cushion covers and parasols, to help give your garden a stylish and coherent look. Specialists also offer a far greater range of accessories than garden or D.I.Y. centers do.

Organizing a Garden Party 

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Now that you've installed the new garden furniture, it's time to plan your party:

Look up recipes for accompanying dishes that can be prepared in advance; this will allow you to concentrate on grilling meat to succulent perfection. Offer a choice of meat-based and vegetarian food, as well as a selection of non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks. Be sure there's plenty of ice in buckets!

Draw up a list of guests who will get on well together, and enjoy being outdoors. Design outdoor lighting so everybody can move around safely after dark, but don't forget your garden should look magical at night. Try lanterns and solar lights, which give off a soft glow. Have sun cream and insect repellent ready. Buy disposable glasses, plates and cutlery to make your life easier. An outdoor garbage bin on your terrace or patio is also handy.

Select music most guests will like, and adjust the volume according to your neighbors' tolerance level. Enjoy the party!

Image by stevencoxon used under the Creative Commons license

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6 May 2015


"Happiness comes from walking the beautiful thin line between knowing that you will never be fully satisfied on this planet, and always striving for more."
- Nikki Phillippi

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