The title refers to the Swedish National anthem. Sometimes I miss my native Sweden so much it almost hurts.

Today is the Swedish National Day (Glad nationaldag alla svennar!) so I suppose it’s fairly appropriate that I’m missing it especially today. I was browsing a few Swedish blogs earlier, and paid Underbara Clara a visit (Underbar means wonderful, and Clara is her name). I was scrolling randomly through her archive and found this picture from a post many years ago.

SwedishWinterClara lives in Northern Sweden where they still get winters like this. Where I’m from, we used to get them when I was little, but the climate change has definitely changed that (pun totally intended). But this picture struck a chord in me. Having grown up with snow and ice, sledging and ice skating, with schools being shut because people just couldn’t get there, and serious tutor time talks about NOT throwing snowballs at each other’s heads… Well, you kind of end up missing it when it’s not there anymore. I miss the winters. Most of all, I miss Lucia (read about that here). Being little miss involved-in-everything when I was a child, I sang in three different choirs. And Lucia is a big deal for any choir. With the school choir we first performed in the school in the morning, and then visited the local nursing homes to perform there as well. Just after school, the swimming team (which I was also part of, of course) did a swimming Lucia performance with lit candles in the pool. The evening performance with the church choir was my favourite though. The entire church was lit up only by candles, and we sang all the songs a capella. It was magical. Magical. That’s exactly how I felt about Lucia and that time of the year. The days were short and the nights were so much darker. But Christmas was around the corner, and looking out my window in the evening the white snow made every tree branch shimmer in the street lights, or moonlight, whichever was the brightest. The air was cold, but smelled of promises of more snow (yes, snow has a scent) and, I suppose, hope. And excitement. Mum even used to light candles at breakfast. Magical.

Mr Man, Bean and myself have been to Sweden in the winter quite a few times now, but a couple of years back we were really lucky – it snowed about 40cm on our 3rd day there. I got to show them a little bit of my childhood magic, whether they felt it or not. I took this picture on our way home from sledging one evening. That’s the house where I grew up, and where my parents still live.

MaPasHouseWinterThe quality isn’t great, I admit, but it’s taken with an old iPhone and it was dark. I look at that picture and I can feel the cold on my face. I can feel how rosy my cheeks are after hours spent outdoors. I can smell the snow. And I can feel the magic. Crazy huh?

And then I look at Clara’s picture, and I get this weird sensation in my tummy. Is it longing? Am I home-sick? Is this expat actually admitting to missing her home country after 12 years in London? Maybe. May be. May well be. I think about what it would be like to live in a red, snow covered house like the one in Clara’s pic, and I try to picture myself, Mr Man and Bean there with me. How we’d have a wood burner in the kitchen, mis-matching chairs around the kitchen table, and a drying cabinet (torkskåp hallå!) to shove all our outdoor gear into as soon as we get in the door. And it almost works, in my head, I can almost see it. Could we? Would they be happy leaving their home and relatives behind? Would I be happy to come back to a country that, sure, I grew up in but, let’s face it, I have no idea how to lead an adult life in? I mean, whenever I go to Sweden, I can’t even make sense of the grocery store layouts, and I end up darting back and forth through the entire shop. But the quality of life… We could buy a four bedroomed house in Sweden for a fraction of what it would cost us here. But is it even an option? Most likely not. But the thought is appealing, so very appealing. Hmm…

It’s funny really. Today we had 25 degrees here and beautiful bright early summer sunshine, and tonight I am reminiscing about snow and my childhood winters. I guess no matter how far away you go, and no matter how long you stay, you can take the girl out of Sweden, but you can’t take Sweden out of the girl.

 

Bold colours seem to be finding their way in to most peoples homes, lives and hearts at the moment. For some time now, I have been developing an obsession. Nothing dangerous, nothing scary, but an obsession none the less. My obsession is the colour yellow. Now, I’ve done quite well in restraining myself so far, and only allowed this obsession of mine into our home in the form of two chicken yellow Tolix bar stools for our breakfast bar – but my scrap books are full of yellow wallpaper samples and magazine cuttings… There’s just something so happy about yellow, don’t you think? I’ve wanted to pick up the yellow in my bar stools elsewhere in the diningroom, and thought a chunky lamp would do the trick, but despite serious research (and I mean s-e-r-i-o-u-s) I’ve not been able to find one. And that only means one thing: I’d have to make one.

I picked up this lamp base at a carboot sale about 5 minutes walk from our house. We got there late and it was the hottest day of the summer. I’m amazed that there were still stalls there, and even more amazed we managed to make it around the market! The lamp was £2.50. For that price the lady also included the pink horrific shade with tassles. Jeez, thanks… I think?

LampPost1

Anyway, after a bit o’ magic – aka one can of spray primer…

LampPost2

…and one can of bright chicken yellow  spray paint later, the base of the lamp looked like this:

LampPost6

Check out the yellow on that thing!!! Waaaaah – to die for! Oh, be still my little heart…

As I had the shade on hand, I decided to see if I could strip it and recover it.

LampPost3

Underneath the stained, faded and smelly pink fabric, this beautiful frame was hiding.

LampPost4

I’m not sure I’ll keep it like this – I’m struggling to find lightbulbs weak enough to not need a shade – but for now, I quite like the industrial feel of this lamp. It’s like our very own happy, industrial chicken!

LampPost5Budget break-down:

Lamp (base + brothel style shade): £2.50

Spray paint + primer: £3.99 (special offer) and £4.99 – £8.98

Total: £11.48

 

In my recent trawling on the internet (I may or may not have obsessively been trying to find white Wishbone chairs at bargain prices. Who needs sleep, anyway?), I’ve come across images of dining room sets that combine chairs and benches around the same table. I’ve always really liked benches – they say ‘family’ to me – but have felt trapped in the choice of either or. Either benches or chairs. And then people say benches are so uncomfortable to sit on for long. So I’ve been put off. But look at these examples:

ChairBench2See, if that table had been surrounded by chairs, it would have looked so much more cluttered, and would have limited the visual flow through the room. And even if you could squeeeeeeze 3 chairs in in place of one of those benches, you could easily fit 4-5 kids on a bench, as opposed to 3… 1-0 to benches.

ChairBench3Are words even necessary here? I mean look at this set up… If this had been our house, it would only look like this for about 10 seconds – 5 seconds from when I finish setting it up and getting the camera ready, 3 seconds while I snap a pic or two, and another 2 seconds to enjoy the view. But it would be 10 seconds of bliss, I tell you. Tulips should always look like that.

ChairBench4Again – four kids on this side vs. two adults on the opposite side. 2-0 to benches.

ChairBench5Ooooh, benches. Beeeeeeeencheeeeeees!

ChairBench6Our current dining chairs are very similar to these, in style. They are white, but have the same spindly chrome legs, and bent wood seat/back. It’s nice to see this type of chair paired with a bench – maybe I could simply just replace the chairs with a bench on one side of the table and leave the other side as is.

ChairBench1OMG – now we’re talking!! Note the layered rugs, people – we are bang on trend here! But instead of those Eames chairs with sheepskins, imagine they were Wishbone chairs. With sheepskins. I’m Swedish – sheepskins are more than welcome at my table!

WishboneSheepIt would have to be the inexpensive, washable fake ones from IKEA, but I’m fine with that. And then a couple of cushion and another sheepskin on the bench… Can you picture it? I think I can. I think I like. I think I want! :)

I’m home alone this weekend so I’m planning a few little projects and tweaks at home. Big and small, you know I’ll post all about it on here :)

As in not ‘wild and crazy’ (although, that it probably is), but more ‘insane and should not be realised’ kind of crazy…

Let me start from the beginning. We have a radiator in our kitchen. When we installed our new cabinets about 4 years ago, we left the radiator in place, with the intention of moving it into the conservatory/dining room in the near future. Yeah, you’ve guessed it – the radiator is still in the kitchen. We even left a gap for it between the tall kitchen cabinets and the wall. Way before we started on the kitchen renovation, we removed all (two) internal doors on the ground floor of our house – our house is small and the doors seemed to be in the way more than anything else. Now, after a fairly cold winter with lots of cooking (= warm kitchen + cold conservatory) I’m really keen on getting this radiator moved. Yes, this will leave us with a gap, which is about 15cm wide, where the radiator is now. Originally the idea was to install a sliding door there, to keep the noise of the Bean’s American tween programs out (they may or may not make my skin crawl) when I’m cooking or otherwise hanging in the kitchen. We were thinking something like this:

SlidingDoorNice, right? But then I stumbled upon this over at Apartment Therapy (I mean, where else?), and just fell in love!

PullOutPantryLike I said, our house is small, and so our kitchen is small – we can always use more storage. I told Mr Man that this is what I’d like to do once the radiator comes out. He was less impressed, as he very much had his heart set on a sliding door. So I gave up on the idea. But then today I thought to myself – couldn’t the two be combined? I mean, look at that pull out slim larder in the picture above. Couldn’t the back piece of that be a door? And as long as the inside of the larder was made pretty and kept tidy (and hello, it’s my house we’re talking about here!), would it really be so bad it if was on display every time the door was pulled close? Is this crazy? Or am I a genius who has just had The Idea of Her Life Time? I need to sketch on this idea… I’m sure I could make it work…

… on such a winter’s DAAAAAAAAAYYYY!!!

As you may have guessed already, I never got an opportunity to photograph our living room last week, bet there is hope for the weekend so stay tuned! Instead I’ve been dedicating a bit of brain-time to our dining room. The notion of focussing on one room until it’s finished is just not for me.

Our dining room is an on-going project (as is, I suppose, the rest of the house). The last time we visited the dining room, it looked like this:

PaintingRugFinished

Which is definitely a significant improvement to how it once was. But still, there is a lot more cosiness to be wished for in here. Personally, I blame that white panelled wall. It lends the entire room a kind of caravan feel, and somehow screams ‘temporary’ at me every time I look in that direction. I can’t explain it any better than that, but it bothers me. The reason those panels are there is simply because it was a less expensive solution when we built the conservatory, than brick would have been. And there is only about 30cm (if that) between that wall and the neighbours fence, so not a particularly nice view, sure enough not worth the extra cost of glass panels anyway. So, we ended up with PVC. Phwoar – not. Mr Man and I have discussed our options, and considering this room is exposed to a lot of light (glass roof, hello!) and in the summer also silly heat (glass roof, hello again!) we are a little bit limited to what we can do in here. We could board the panels out, to make a smooth wall and wallpaper it, but I worry that the wallpaper might fade and/or curl and peel. Then I saw this over at Kara Paslay’s blog, and I got twinkles in my eyes!

WoodWall

 Isn’t that little nook cute? Make me want to curl up in it with a good book when it’s raining outside… But that’s not what we are looking at. See the wall behind the bench seat? The plank wall? Here’s a bigger picture picture.

PlankWall2

Gorgeous, right? May I also point out the exquisitely well chosen black and white stripey rug that is under the table in that last picture. Remind you of anything? Meant to be I’m telling you! Anyhow, the wall. I thought of potentially carrying on the wooden floors up and onto the wall, like in this very realistic and professional Photoshop mock-up I created to try and convince Mr Man:

PlankWall

But he wasn’t sure. So I looked around Tha Internet some more, and spotted this:

WhiteWoodPanel3

 Ooooooh – yum! More:

WhiteWoodPanel4

 It’s basically wood panelling, that has been rough and tumbled with. Close up:

WhiteWoodPanel1

This last picture is probably the tidiest of them all, and most likely the effect we will get if we bought planks of wood from Homebase or B&Q. I don’t mind the look at all, but I think Mr Man preferred the slightly more weathered look. So, we’re looking into how to achieve this . I’ll get back to you with our findings.

I am also considering replacing our dining chairs. When we bought the ones we have I was over the moon, but now… They feel a bit space-age-y. Cold. I want something warmer, maybe a bit more classic. Something like this:

wishbonewhite1Oooh, they are soooooo beautiful!!! But they are like £200 a pop, and I don’t know… I can’t really justify it. Not right now anyway. But if I win the lottery, you know these babies will be the first thing I’ll invest in! :)

I’m going to leave you for the weekend with some bright colours of a window display I did for the charity shop late summer last year.

What I love the most about dressing the windows at the charity shop is that I never know what I’ll get to work with. I turn up and have to come up with something on the spot. One week last summer I turned up and somebody had donated a full set of gold cutlery. It was most likely not real gold, but either  way, it was sort of mesmerising. I had to use the set in my display.

WindowMoroccanSummer3

I displayed the cutlery along any other gold coloured item I could find. Add the bright colours, and there is something Moroccan about it all!

WindowMoroccanSummer6

 

WindowMoroccanSummer14

I don’t know why these images appealed to me right now. Maybe it’s because the sun is actually shining while I’m writing this. Or maybe it’s because last night when I left work, it wasn’t dark outside. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s because spring is in the air… :)

Next week I’ll have a few days at home. If I’m lucky enough to have a sunny day then, I’ll try and photograph the living room in it’s new sultry greige colour. It looks great at all times, but especially when it’s sunny!

Have a lovely weekend!

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve become increasingly curious about alcoholic drink storage at home. At the moment we have one of those kitchen wall unit bottle racks that we got when we bought the kitchen 3 years ago, one like this:

perfekt-wine-shelf__81969_PE207248_S4

However – I detest it. I want to remove it, tile the wall behind it and put up open oak shelves, with one rounded corner. Hmmm, I think that would look great! I do have open shelf-plans for another part of the kitchen too – but that’s a different post…

When the bottle rack comes down, I need to have a plan for the bottles that are in there now, but my idea stream is running dry. I had a look on Apartment Therapy (I practically live on that site), and spotted a few different solutions.

BarCart

Having a bar cart seems to be a very popular solution on this American site. Bear in mind though that American homes are larger (and clearly grander!) than British homes. Also, I’m not sure I would like to have our entire drinks collection out on display like this, never mind where I’d find the room to keep a trolley if I had one! Moving on…

BarShelves

Now, I quite like this. I think it’s smart, it blends in more with other items in the home and doesn’t scream ‘WE HAVE LOTS OF ALCOHOL AT HOME AT ALL TIMES BECAUSE THAT IS HOW WE GET TRHOUGH THE DAY!’ the same way a bar cart does. It would only be the nice bottles that make the cut though, which leaves me with the task of finding the less attractive ones a home elsewhere.

BarSideboardSee, THIS really appeals to the OCD designer in me: Decanters. Oh, decanters. Decanters, decanters, decanters. I’d have the house full of them if I could. This would be an option. I just need to get enough decanters together, which, to be fair, shouldn’t be difficult – the charity shops are full of them. How well do spirits hold in decanter though? And the only good place to keep the beloved decanters would be on the sideboard in the conservatory where they will bathe in light all year around, and then in ridiculous heat in the summer. Would that affect them at all? Hmm.

BarDrawer

Call me boring and Swedish if you like (at least one of them will be true – HAH!) but I think this, or an Anna-fied (that IS a word) version of this, will be the winner for us. I think by the end of the day, I do prefer the bottles tucked away and out of sight. Not because we have a self-control problem (not with alcohol anyway – yummy baked goods is a different story), but because it’s just neater. And I don’t know, child-friendly? At this rate the kitchen will be going through a major overhaul very soon. Mr Man will love it. NOT!

Ps. All images in this post were sourced from this post over at apartmenttherapy.com – http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/one-two-three-four-weve-got-ba-132871

I’ve been going through old picture on my computer, and I found these! It’s a window display I did for the charity shop at the end of summer. I just love the popping colours!

WindowColourfulFun1

As somebody with an obsession with yellow, those cushions… Yum.

WindowColourfulFun2

WindowColourfulFun3

Merry Christmas!

Happy New Year!

Thank God January is over!

Aaaaaand that brings us up to about now, right? Maybe not entirely, I do have a few pictures from this Christmas I’d like to share (but not loads as I cooked my hiney off this Christmas and it’s hard to hold a camera, a whisk and a spatula at the same time), but first a more pressing matter: booze. I don’t know about you guys, but over Christmas and New Years we have accumulated a rediculous amout of booze – wine, whiskey, vodka, more wine and maybe some more whiskey. Multiple bottles of each. Now, some of them we bought as we had people around on Christmas eve, but a lot of it was given to us by friends, neighbours and guests (thank you, guys!). The only problem is – I don’t know what to do with it all now! The obvious answer would be ‘drink it!’, but both Mr Man and myself drank out own bodyweight in alcohol over the holidays, so we’re taking a bit of a break. I need somewhere to keep all these bottles. Which leads me to this question: how do people store their booze at home nowadays? On a nice tray on the sideboard in the diningroom? In a glass cabinet? A specific bar cabinet? Like, do people have those anymore? I sense a future post on this theme…

Now, here is our Christmas in fast-forward.

Christmas tree (VERY important):

ChristmasTree

Our most recent addition to the Christmas family:

Rudolf

Christmas presents:

Present

Swedish Christmas baking (because I wasn’t busy enough in the weeks leading up to the big day):

Baking

Christmas table center piece (although, one would have thought I’d take the time to light the candles before taking this picture. Seriously, poor, Anna, that’s just poor):

CentrePiece

And my very own angel. I kinda wish he’d been naked, but for the angel wings, in this picture… :)

Angel

January was a busy month, but I still managed to squeeze in a little bit of planning, and a window dressing or two. February will be the month that I play catch-up. Just you watch me.

I mentioned wanting to remove the wallpaper and paint in the livingroom in a previous post, but have not been keeping you up to date on the progress made. The paper removal was tough, but nowhere near as bad as I though it would be. After reading Young House Love’s wallpaper removal technique reviews, I decided to use a spray bottle with warm water and a tiny bit of washing up liquid to soak the wallpaper, 1 meter wide sections at a time, and then simply scrape the paper off with a spackel knife. Most of it came off in large pieces whereas other parts were more stubborn and required more elbow grease. It’s insane how much material you actually remove!

LivingRoomPrepPaint6

Yes, we have bin bags that look like Christmas puddings. Who doesn’t? How to make the bin men smile in August:

LivingRoomPrepPaint8

Cute huh? :)

Anyway, it took about 5 hours to get to this stage:

LivingRoomPrepPaint1That’s how the room was painted before the wallpaper went up. I’m impressed with how immaculate the paintwork actually was behind the wallpaper!

LivingRoomPrepPaint2The walls did need repairing in quite a few places, especially behind the sofa (see pic above) where there used to be a fake fireplace, semi bricked into the wall (WHY???). Mr Man removed the fireplace within a month of moving into the house. Over time, the patching up he did then had sunken further into the wall, so more spackel was needed! I spent almost an entire day spackling, the fireplace and the rest of the room – especially around the doorways where the plaster came off with the wallpaper.

LivingRoomPrepPaint9What? What fireplace?

LivingRoomPrepPaint10

We all know what comes after spackling: Waiting. For the damn thing to dry. And then some more wating. And THEN sanding. Messy messy job! But, once every wall was as smooth as a baby’s bottom (well, almost anyway), it was time to paint! Oh no, hang on, masking tape comes first. I try to freehand as much as possible and have stopped using masking tape in the ceiling for example. But when it comes to power sockets and light switches, it’s just a lot easier to use masking tape. I have perfected a technique for this:

LivingRoomPrepPaint11

Oh, it’s so neat, make my little OCD heart beat faster! :)

After two coats of primer, I was here:

LivingRoomPrepPaint14It was unbelievable how BRIGHT the room felt! Bright and airy. It made me nervous to think that I was goin to paint it in a darker colour again… But let me tell you – the second I started on the grey I. Fell. In. Love! Stay tuned for after pictures!

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