Candles – how they helped me clear the clutter

Those of you who follow the blog will know I was unwell at the beginning of the year.

I had a pretty awful and disastrous cough that was preventing me from doing – well, anything really – and it was really getting me down. I mean, big time. No matter what steroids I was on, inhalers, antibiotics, x-rays… No one could find the source.

One day, I read about the magical world of clutter clearance.

I got hold of every bit of research possible, and, it turned out that clutter clearance could help to improve my health!

Willing to give anything a go at this point, I made a start.

For some reason, the logical place to start was the kitchen.

To this day, I can’t tell you exactly why that was.

I wasn’t a cook! I didn’t spend time in the kitchen! I mean, WTF?

But – something told me to make a start in there.

What it taught me very quickly was I had an addiction. Not a problem, necessarily. But an addiction.

To candles.

Or, candle BUYING, to be exact!

Drawer after drawer I’d open, and there they’d be.

Tea lights.

Tall candles.

Green candles.

Red candles.

Scented candles.

Glittery candles (no idea where I got them from!)

I realised all of a sudden it was the perfect analogy for consumerism.

Can’t find what you’re looking for?

Buy another!

Even if you’re pretty convinced you already have one. Or a few. Somewhere.

But it’s probably easier to buy a new one, right? And they’re super-duper cheap!

Yeah.

It’s not the financial cost that’s the problem here,

It’s the cost of space.

And, if you imagine putting all the clutter in general (whether you include the tea lights into that or not), 40% of homes are clutter storage.

40%!

Let that mull over for a minute.

So, essentially, what I realised was – we could survive in a home that was 40% smaller without the clutter, and not have our lives affected.

Not feel cramped.

Not feel as if we didn’t have any personal space.

I didn’t go out and put our home on the market the next day.

Nor did I decide to look for smaller homes.

Instead, I put all the candles in one place, ready to be burnt regularly since.

…and she lived Hyggeligt ever after!

Top 3 things Swedes don’t understand about living in the UK

Top 3 things Swedes don’t understand about living in the UK

Today I wanted to do a little Tongue-in-cheek list of interior items us Swedes don’t understand about living in Britain..

Let’s begin…

1. The fascination with carpet

In the bedroom – I get that. Nice and cosy to step the feet onto the floor in the morning.

In the hallway – mmmm, I’m not convinced. Muddy boots after a day out in the (predictable) rain? Just, why!

In the bathroom – no. Just… no. Seriously. No.

In the kitchen – have you people heard of “hygiene”? Or maybe your children eat neatly at the table not spilling a single crumb, and you’re not messy when cooking (I do embody the Swedish chef while cooking!)

2. Hot and cold taps

As in, separate taps.

So, you either freeze, or burn your hands every time you use them.

Perhaps it was encouraged to have separate taps as a status thing?

Oh look! The Joneses have a cold AND hot tap! Ooooh!

3. Tea bags left out on the counter

This one completely baffles me.

Boil kettle.
Get teabag.
Pour water into cup, put in tea bag.
Let tea brew.
Remove tea bag.
LEAVE ON THE COUNTER in a dish.

Why – just why!

20 years in the UK and this mystery is as of yet unsolved. Answers on a postcard!

Decorex 2015 – de Gournay Ltd

Decorex 2015 – de Gournay Ltd

If you’re unfamiliar with Decorex, click here for the previous posts…

de Gournay had the opportunity this year to showcase their talented team this year.

I can’t believe how blown away I was by what I saw!

 

They’d flown one of their main designers over especially for the show; had only landed Saturday (so a day before he was drawing away).

It was amazing seeing the process that hand-drawn wallpaper goes through.

But, for me on a personal level, what amazed me the most was the ease and confidence he had in each brush stroke.

A leaf there.
A tree here.
A hill over there.

Mind-blowing.

Oh, and this?

Yeah. That’s the finished article.

The very next day (Monday).

The team admitted the fish print had been prepped beforehand, but still, he sat painting so confidently and calmly despite a small crowd of people forming around him.

I especially enjoyed seeing the concept inspiration for the wallpaper designs, pinned up on the board above where he was sitting.

Goes to show each creative industry still uses concept boards!

(I reckon secretly he loved the attention he was getting…)

The pictures don’t do the spotlight on deGournay justice, they really don’t.

What did you make of him and his talent, darling reader?

Let me know below!

Sx

Decorex 2015 – part 2

Decorex 2015 – part 2

Decorex 2015 – part 2

If you’re unfamiliar to the concept of what Decorex is, have a read here of part one.

 

3. Susie Watson Designs

In part because, well, she and I share the same name. I’m not going to lie. Although she doesn’t spell it as awesomely as I do, of course!

Her collection is solid, her market is a niche market, she knows what her customer want, and she delivers.

If you’re looking for classic farmhouse / traditional English countryside look, then look no further than Susie Watson Designs!

2. Hyde House Bespoke Furniture

Simply put:

Everything in their collection made my heart sing. 

(I may even have stood in a trance looking at each item in the collection in turn..)

Judge for yourself:

  1. Ochre

They really need no introduction.

I’m just, plain and simple, in love with their lighting!

What do you think of these three?

Are you excited about what the next post will bring?

Which were your favourites, out of the images I’ve shared?

Let me know, below!

Sx

Adventure for #BEDM

So as part of a little side-project (on top of everything else!) I figured it would be fun to join a month-long blogging challenge as suggested by Rosalilium – mostly to give me some inspiration and a well-needed kick up the bum to get better at doing regular content! That’s not to say I’ll keep blogging every day forever more, as I don’t think I’m interesting enough to blog about that much!!

Each day there is a particular topic in mind, so I’ll tag all the content under the same category, making it super-easy for you all to not to have to miss out. If you’d also like to make sure you don’t miss out on future content –  click here to sign up for my newsletter :)


Adventure

Ahhh, adventure. Would I say I’m adventurous?

At one point, I may have owned a top that said “If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space!”

Funnily enough, yesterday I decided to try and clear some clutter from our garage, and came across zillions of photos from the days of yore when I used to travel.

Coming from a fairly nomadic-minded family (having lived permanently in three different countries in my life thus far) I knew I’d get bitten by the travelling bug. It was only a question of when.

Once I finished 6th form, I decided to take a gap year as I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Interior Design hadn’t even entered my mind at that point. I couldn’t draw, you know. Still can’t. But that’s beside the point.

Two friends of mine and I decided to go and do something completely different – travel with Africa and Asia Venture. By the looks of their website, it’s changed a lot since I went, but back in 2001 you had only very expensive mobile phones to run (hello, Nokia 3210! Didn’t even have a colour screen!) so of course bringing one of them was out of the question. My poor parents had no idea how to express their worry and fear for my life. I was 18, going on 19, about to set off to the deepest darkest depths of Africa. Malawi, to be exact.

I was to be a volunteer teacher of English and PE (hah!!!) in St Anthony’s Catholic School, for one class of boys, and one of girls, near a place called Thondwe. Not even Google Maps car has ventured there to this day, it’s that remote.

Our house was a small brick-built shack on the site of the boys’ school (the girls’ school was a 2km walk away at a convent), complete with a kitchen (two tables for storage complete with two hot rings), a dining/living room (complete with a ceiling light) a spare bedroom (used as walk-in wardrobe), the main bedroom (where we put our three tent beds together, complete with sleeping bags and mosquito nets), a courtyard (for washing and storing the big water bucket that was replenished daily), a shower room (don’t. Just, don’t.) and a toilet (long drop decorated as the inside of an aquarium).

We had a night guard called “Nyson” but pronounced “Nice One”, we had a giant spider we called Polly (who spun a yellow web so was poisonous and laid like a thousand eggs shortly before we left!) and a singing gecko that would appear out of nowhere jumping on our mozzie nets each night and sing to us as it caught the mosquitos.

Teaching 80 children at a time turned out to be surprisingly easy. The 80 children in the girls’ class were the naughtier ones, of course. Despite being the second to last year of primary school, some of the boys were even older than me. They never questioned my authority though, and were so incredibly lovely.

Some of them decided during my PE lesson (consisting of frisbee rounders, as we had no bats or ball) to run off. When they came back, I scolded them only for them to present me with a green stick. About an inch wide in circumference, and about a foot long, I thanked them with a puzzled look on my face. Always up for a laugh, they had a good giggle at my expense of not having realised it was sugarcane. They showed me how easy it was to eat – all I had to do was to bite into the stick, and tear away at the skin, have a chew and then spit out the remains. Looked super-easy, so bite in I did.
…I definitely proved that “azungus” (whites) had much Much MUCH less strength in their jaws and gums that day. I didn’t even have a second bite.

Another time worth mentioning was when I got to see the late Colonel Gadaffi’s hand!

Teaching the boys’ school English lesson one morning, the school was located on the main motorway from Lilongwe (the capital) and Blantyre (second largest city) so was a major thorough-road. I think rush hour was pretty bad, with about 5 cars an hour going by. It was a single track, no road markings and worse pot holes than Cambridge roads has after a winter.

As I was writing on the blackboard with my chalk, I noticed someone looking at me from the door. The boys who were normally chatting between themselves had gone silent.
In the doorway stood an armed guard with an AK-47 in his arms.

I didn’t even have enough time to see my life flash before my eyes.

The soldier spoke to the students in the local language (Chichewa) and they silently went out of the door. Despite being in a Catholic school, I’m not religious in any way but at that moment I remember looking at a picture of John Paul II blessing an African child and thinking “HELP!!!!!”

The armed guard motioned for me to go out of the door too, so I grabbed my book and chalk (they’re like gold dust there!) and I walked where I was motioned to go.

The students, I realised, were walking happily and jokingly towards the road. I had no idea what to expect, until another teacher saw me look white(r) as a sheet and asked if I was OK. I nodded, slowly, but my “rabbit in headlights” look must’ve given me away. He asked if I’d read the local paper recently. I pointed out that although I could speak formalities in Chichewa, I couldn’t quite read it yet.

By the time we reached the side of the road, I noticed that all of the school children were standing there laughing and happy. At that moment I questioned their sanity, and whether voodoo (which was still practiced alongside catholicism) had finally taken over. More armed guards were standing expressionless every ten metres or so.

Before I knew it, a convoy of cars started to appear.

It transpired that Colonel Gaddafi was on an official visit, hoping to persuade the president at the time Muluzi to join in Libya in creating Africa’s new Big Five.
Car after car drove past. Police cars, armed cars, ambulances, army trucks, each carrying a dozen or so people. Each blowing the horn as they went past.

The children were all whipped up into a frenzy, and my buddy the terrifying armed guard motioned for me to SMILE and wave my hand to the convoy. So I did. Because, well, my ninja-skills I’d purposefully left behind that day…? I mean, who am I to argue?

Soon enough, I’d counted up to 90 cars when two black limousines went by. One carrying President Muluzi, and one carrying Colonel Gaddafi. Each one had the window rolled down just enough to stick their hand out to wave at the adoring crowds, and disappear back into the distance followed by an additional ten or so vehicles.

I’ve never experienced anything like it. I do wonder what Colonel Gaddafi had hoped for as Malawi’s input – it was the third poorest country in the world at the time, with one in three people HIV positive.

The native people, however, were amazing. Truly some of the most hospitable people I’ve ever met.

Have you had any travelling adventures? Feel free to share in the comments below.