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!

The importance of authenticity in interiors

The importance of authenticity in interiors

As I’m typing this, my fingers hover over the keys.

I’m not sure whether I’m ready to share this with you, but I feel it’s time.

It’s time for you guys to know my story, and why authenticity matters so much to me in interiors.

Most of you will recognise me as this:

I don’t take myself too seriously nowadays.

If you saw me walking down the street, I’m not smartly dressed or made up; I’m just me. Casual.

But I’m also a Cancerian.

You know, hard on the outside, but soft and gooey in the middle.

Only, my middle is a lot more gooey than other peoples’.

From a young age, I suffered with feelings of inadequacy, lacking a sense of belonging, and I’m realising now that it was because I struggled to settle.

At the age of twelve, my family split up.

Not in the “normal” way, but by my dad getting an amazing once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in the UK, my sister being one year away from completing the Swedish equivalent of High School, and my brother already having moved out as he’d joined the Army.

So, it meant my parents taking me and my younger brother with them on the move to the UK. Leaving our family home in the Stockholm suburbs for an entirely different life altogether.
The school was now a 45 minute bus ride away as opposed to 10 minutes.
Closest friends I made lived over an hour away.
I had absolutely no clue who the kids were locally. If there indeed were any.

But, the biggest issue was the home.

There was nothing particularly wrong with it, just that we didn’t belong there. It was only ever intended to be a home for us for the duration of the UK stay, anticipated to be 3-4 years.

Understandably, while my parents settled us and themselves in to the new lifestyle, the house remained unchanged.

Horrible, horrendous flowery border on the walls throughout the house.
Shower only in the en-suite and not in the family bathroom (trust me, Swedes are not as keen on bathing as the Brits!)
Carpets everywhere. Literally. Including the bathroom and kitchen.

While our Swedish home had been filled with joy and laughter from morning til night (family of 4 kids, plus my mum was a child minder so even more kids during the day!), this one felt strange and awkward.
Sounds bizarre perhaps, but I’m a firm believer that every home has a personality. That house was, and felt, very much of a hybrid. It was an expensive-looking house, but with incredibly cheap finishes (once we discovered that the pipes under the kitchen sink were sellotaped together. Yes, you read that right).

What it failed to do for me, was to give me the grounding I needed. Provide the support I desperately craved as I was learning the English way of life.
And, seeing as this was the days before the internet <dinosaur> it meant I had very limited ability to keep in touch with old friends. New friends, as I already mentioned, lived over an hour away.

When I eventually moved out of there, we’d lived in the same house over 15 years.
We never moved back to Sweden.

Insane, non?

By this time, the bathrooms had all been redone. Kitchen was gutted and refitted. Bedrooms swapped around a couple of times (well hel-lo, walk-in wardrobe!). Flooring relaid throughout the house, in each and every room.

The house ended up being way more supportive to my parents at that time than at the beginning of their stay.
Still, I hate to say it, but I never felt like it really was us.

My brother and sister would rarely come and stay; in part because they didn’t really have bedrooms that would’ve worked for them, but I’m wondering whether they, too, felt the same.

I’d love to say there was a happy ending to this story.

Sadly, the couple that bought the house when my parents emigrated in 2012 tried to make it fit them:

  • Moved the staircase so lost two bedrooms
  • Changed the kitchen from a country style to minimalist
  • Created an open-plan feel for the entire downstairs part of the house
  • Put on a large conservatory on the back

Well, what’s the sad part about that?

I hear you say.

They lived in the house for approximately 18 months, before selling it and moving to another house on the street.

The home that could have become a loving and supportive family home felt doomed from the start.

It seems like that house is always going to be one that is a go-between for people desperate to live in the area, and are willing to settle for the time being, until the right house comes along.

I hope that, one day, someone will see its potential and live there happily for many years.

Do you feel your home doesn't represent you?

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Top 5 reasons to become minimaist

Hello my lovely!

Hope you’re doing amazingly?

The title of this post may have sent you reeling a bit:

FFS, I didn’t think she was the type to become minimalist?

As I stated in a previous post, I made the decision earlier in 2015 to follow clutter clearance, partly through the guidance of the KonMarie method, but also through Karen Kingston’s Feng Shui clutter clearance methods. <note: I’m not getting paid to promote these two; I just feel I should share them with you as they’ve changed my thinking in a deep way, and inspired the success and abundance I’m receiving today.>

If it wasn’t for minimalism, I don’t think I’d be able to run the household the way I am today.

My current setup is such that TBT goes to preschool 2.5 days/week (which he loves!) and during that time I do:

  • client work
  • study
  • bulk of housework
  • networking
  • blogging
  • social media
  • see girlfriends

…and whatever else comes my way.

The only way in which I can get the time to do all of that, is to run my home on a tight schedule, and here are some of the ways that minimalism thinking helps:

  1. No excess clothes

You’d be amazed at how long it can take the boys to get ready and out the door. In fact, unless I’m scraping my hair up into a ponytail (which currently happens way too often!) I spend a good chunk of time drying my hair and fighting it with straighteners.

Not having a collection of coats and shoes eliminates choice, and therefore cuts down on time.

If TBT is going to school, he knows to wear his smart shoes. If it’s wet, it’s wellies. If it’s a day off, it’s his trainers.

That’s it.

2. Reduced housework time

When we used to have a cleaner, I’d do a clean before she came.

I couldn’t allow her to tidy as well as clean. It just seemed like a waste of her time.

So, I’d spend hours tidying up magazines, clothes, empty loo rolls, cereal packaging, you name it.

Now, I’ve implemented a one-in-one-out system. Unless we’ve run out of something, we don’t consider buying a new one to replace it. We don’t have extras for “just in case”.

3. Less time spent on clothes

  • What top will go nice with these trousers?
  • Can I get away with wearing this?
  • How many washes am I going to have to do before I see the bottom of the bloody wash basket??
  • Nope, I don’t want to wear this. I know I’ve got a nicer top somewhere, but… where is it?

Since adopting a capsule wardrobe, I not only know that every time I open my wardrobe I’m presented with a collection of clothes that I’d be comfortable wearing at any time, and have a small selection of items for winter and summer specifically I keep elsewhere. I cannot emphasise enough the freedom that this has given me!

4. Less time on my phone

I must confess here –

this is only a recent thing. Beforehand, I’d have to be practically surgically removed from my phone. I’ve got an addictive personality as it is, so I suppose this wasn’t all that surprising.

When I quit my job and TBT went to preschool, I still didn’t feel like I had enough time. I just couldn’t put my finger on it. Despite having evenings and some day times to myself, I constantly felt rushed, unmotivated and stressed.

Then, I went ahead and did something drastic.

I bid adieu to Facebook.

Mon Dieu!

The day after initiating my Facebook hiatus was so productive I’m embarrassed. I can’t believe I didn’t do it sooner.

5. More time doing what you want to do

Which, in my case, is:

  • Meeting friends for coffee / McFlurries
  • Practice my singing ahead of choral performances
  • Go for long walks in the countryside
  • Practice yoga daily (got to love the sun salutations! And I’m practicing handstands, too. Not doing great with those yet, but, hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day, right?)
  • Most importantly: Spending time with my family. with Husband and The Blue Thing.

Are there any ideas you’d like to add?

Did you even realise that this is what’s considered as minimalism?

Share your comments in the fields below – I always love to hear from readers!

Sx

Why I chose to rebrand

Welcome to the new!

No, that’s not a typo.

But what is new, exactly?

Let me tell you:

  • the website and theme
  • the colour scheme
  • the website content
  • the photos

OK but… why?

Good question!

As you maybe recall from the beginning of the year, I was in limbo. I’d been unwell for a good while with a bad chest and throat, burning the candle at both ends by working a corporate job 4 days per week, running after The Blue Thing as well as studying in the small pockets of time in-between. Oh, and trying to build my business.

Madness.

Utter, utter madness.

And it wasn’t until March/April that I really started to feel better again, having initially fallen ill in November. That was basically me hitting rock bottom.

Not mentally, but physically.

I was constantly exhausted. Yet, somehow, despite my background of being a CFS/ME, I didn’t see the connection.

I kept the blog going during that time as best I could, but hiding behind the facade of “everything is amazing, thanksverymuch!”

So, once I started to feel myself again, I made a lot of changes. Some big, some small.

Lifestyle changes included pushing myself back to yoga (I love it so much, why couldn’t I just turn up even if it meant just resting in Child’s pose, or Savasana, for most of the session?), and I quit my job. There was nothing wrong with it per se, but it wasn’t for me anymore.

Understandably, everyone around me was telling me I was mad, I was going to regret it; how could I possibly do this without having a huge savings account? But, darling one, I had to do all of these changes to get me back to base.

I started to explore what I liked and didn’t, all over again. Like, reconnecting with myself. But I wonder whether this is something commonly suffered by women who become mothers, whether working ones or stay at home. I know, for me at least, when TBT was born, all of my needs went out the window so I could look after him.

I tried to get back to writing, but the writer’s block wouldn’t let go.

Everything suddenly felt wrong.

The name. The website theme.

It was pretty overwhelming, but I realised that the longer I kept the website going the longer I was going to feel that way.

So, after a lot of soul searching, amazing coaching by some fabulous ladies (who I’m happy to recommend if you so wish) Suzanne Designs was born.

It’s been written in such a way as to not let me hide behind a facade. You get to see the Real Me, warts and all.

The website has only been “live” for less than a week at the time of writing, but the feedback I’ve had from it has been immense.

Have you had a chance to take a look at it yet? Essentially, it’s my life’s work. And I’m so fucking proud of myself for having survived the journey.

Take a look at the new-look landing page...

Take me there!

...portfolio work...

Take me there!

...About me....

Take me there!

...and more about my services!

Take me there!
20 Random facts about me

20 Random facts about me

Hello my lovelies!

As I was trying to search for inspiration for blog posts recently, I realised that some bloggers out there were doing 40 random facts posts. I thought “what the hell, I might as well join in!” right?

1. I’m awesome

at least according to a fellow cat-lover friend. When I first asked for suggestions on Facebook and Twitter for this post, this is what she came up with. So, how am I so awesome? I think it’s similar to being “cool” according to the Simpsons, or a guru in yoga – you don’t call yourself that, other people do.
Oh wait.. Does this mean I’m no longer awesome? <head explodes>

2. I suit fringes.

mostly because of my Swedish genes – somehow my forehead has taken up half of my face..? That bad boy needs sheltering, or else NASA will attempt a landing!
Maybe I don’t suit ALL fringes, mind.. Check out the bowl cut! Hah!

fringe

3. I’m bilingual!

Swedish and English. Most of you will know that already.
Problem is, I only speak Swedish to family or TBT so it’s not the easiest to form complex sentences nowadays. I always find it such a novelty when I hear Swedish being spoken even in my metropolitan city of Cambridge. I swarm to the Swedes like a moth to a flame!

4. But I don’t live up to the stereotype…

of being a chef (thank you Muppet Show!) or deprived of all happiness (thank you, Simpsons!) or a porn star <audible sigh of relief from parentals>. I don’t even know where THAT stereotype comes from!

5. I was only meant to be in the UK for 3-4 years

while Father rocked his business thang. It was new, it was exciting, it was terrifying and confusing. It made me see the flaws of school uniforms. Bleurgh. Just, bleurgh.
Twenty years later, and I have no immediate plans to leave!

6. I have a super power:

I grow babies. Well, baby, in my case. I won’t bore you with the back story but if you’d told me five years ago I’d have a near-three year old by now, I’d laugh hysterically and call you insane. How times change!

I successfully outgrew my maternity clothes!

 

7. I’m insanely tall

and it always shocks people. They don’t expect a 6ft woman, that’s for sure!

bus

Well, slightly OTT I’ll give you that, but yes, that’s my head. Outside the roof of a bus.

 

8. I’m left-handed

which apparently makes me more creative. Slightly insane. Hmm. No comment.

9. I carry crystals

wherever I go. Different ones for different ailments. Don’t assume I’m pushing them onto other people, Husband calls me “hippie lady” but he’s just jealous..

Currently rocking citrine and rutilated quartz. Say cheese, boys!

crystals

10. I also meditate

and I find it amazing for shutting up that niggling voice in you. Also, makes me appreciate stillness! I can wholeheartedly recommed Headspace – it’s not a paid endorsement but I love it. And it’s freeeeee!

11. I’m a yoga fan!

Bet that doesn’t come as a massive surprise! I restarted my yoga path in September when I joined a local vinyasa yoga class. Each time I die at the end and walk to my car like an extra from Walking Dead. Husband knows not to speak to me after class.

Spiritual awakening during camel pose one hardcore session. Made my yoga guru cry.

Spiritual awakening during camel pose one hardcore session. Made my yoga guru cry.

12. So I’m pretty spiritual.

Not to be mistaken for religious, you understand. Not that I have issue with that, as it does wonders for people.
I go with my gut, trust my instincts and believe everything happens for a reason. Classic example – last weekend I was fretting about whether my business will be a success so I asked the Universe for a sign. Sure enough, the next minute a strong pool of sunlight filled the room. Done.

13. Husband is a grown child.

Plays video games. Talks video games. He’s an anchor for Retrocollect FM, but I couldn’t tell you what they’re about. Apparently the podcasts do well, though?

14. I once did a 14k ft skydive

in the Blue Mountains of Australia. I travelled Oz on my own, and promised my folks I wouldn’t do one. Oops.

15. I also dived with sharks.

On that same solo-trip. After promising my folks I wouldn’t do that, either. Double-oops.

Oh, and let’s not forget when I dived in Egypt and came face to face with an Ocean White-tip. Life, meet eyes! Flash flash flash!

16. I have a tattoo.

It’s of a gecko, whose name is George. Inspired by the singing geckos I saw in Malawi when volunteer teaching, eventually had it done in Cairns. Word of advice people: don’t have a tattoo done the day you have a four hour flight, people!

17. When I run,

I’m a pro at the Phoebe run. In fact, when it featured on Friends, I thought they’d seen me run!
Of course my running buddy (the Sprinter) makes it look so effortless. I’d hate her if she wasn’t so NICE!

18. I love IKEA

and the food! Especially the celebratory hot dog at the end, to keep Husband motivated. Towards the end when I’m dilly-dallying in the market place I can only hear Husband mutter “hot dog.. think of the hot dog…”

19. Salty/sour Swedish is my life!

Give me some of that goodness and I’ll do anything!

20. My choice of Euro championship

is Eurovision. In a similar way to how Husband will get cross and shout at the TV when watching football games, that what I’m like with the points-giving at the end of Eurovision. I scrutinize each contestant’s performance to the max, and LOVE the staging! Top three for me in the last few years:

Iceland 2014

Malta 2012

oh, and Azerbajian 2013 – “Help, I’m in a box!”

Random bonus fact: when getting into my design mojo I need music. Often you’ll find me listening to Eurovision 2013. Don’t call me un-patriotic! <waves invisible Swedish flag>

Loving the patriotic king!