Monday, 23 November 2015

Christmas at Blenheim.

*First Christmas Market of the Year klaxon*

What a lovely little Saturday. It's beginning to feel that with the year winding down - where has November gone? - Moon and I are finally getting our lives back on track post-house move. We're settling in nicely after a quick 7 months and it feels pretty good.

This weekend was the first in a while where we've slept in but not overslept, started the day with a relaxed breakfast before heading out and doing something fun.

As Blenheim Palace is now just 20 minutes down the road from us and we love a good fair, the Living Craft fair seemed like the perfect opportunity to pick up an annual pass.

After that first visit, I can honestly say I'm in love and I'm so pleased we'll be able to come and go as we please for the next year. The grounds are absolutely beautiful and we're so lucky that the weather turned from wintery showers to bright sunshine, even if it did take 6 or so hours for the feeling to return to my legs once we got home - I can't wait for more chilly walks and seeing in all the seasons, it's looking like a summer picnic will be a must.

The fair itself was pretty good and actually full of quite a few retailers I hadn't seen before. Going to a few of these things, particularly in the same area, you often see the same products over and over but Living Craft wasn't like that. We managed to pick up a few Christmas bits but didn't get nearly as much shopping done as we would have hoped - still, December is still a week away, there's no need to worry.

The pictures don't do them justice but these adorable houses hide incense pastilles that make them smoke when they're lit. ADORABLE.

Ditto these tiny AGAs.

Moon trying his hand at giant knitting. It didn't go that well...

Unfortunately, and I'm not sure if it was because of the extra crowds drawn in by the fair, but we didn't manage to take in much of the house, the queues were ridiculous! I'm hoping we might be able to pop back before the season is over and have a look because I think the house is fully decked out but I'm sure we'll get around to it eventually even if it's not this year. It's the one thing I wish we'd done with the afternoon but the leisurely hour-long stroll along the lake (THERE'S A FRIGGING LAKE!) away from the crowds, more than made up for it.

I was so surprised by how low the sun was all day, even though all of these were taken pre-lunchtime! It did make for some beautiful lighting though.

Even though it's well sign-posted and a really short walk from the main palace, it seems that so few people were willing to take advantage of the sunny afternoon by taking a walk down to the Cascades.

Lake Blenheim.

The arboretum was my favourite part of the lakeside walk, I can imagine it looked beautiful when the leaves were changing a few weeks ago.

I always find myself enjoying the changing of the seasons and while I must say that I'm pretty pleased to have not had to defrost my car yet, chilly walks and warming up afterwards are nothing but a good thing, and after such a wet and mild autumn, a cold and crisp weekend to blow the cobwebs out was just what I needed.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Living Room: Before + After

When the lovely people at Ocean Finance got in touch with the challenge of making over a room for £50 or less, it couldn't have come at a better time.

Working on making our house a home has very much been a marathon rather than a sprint and a few weeks ago we finally got around to painting our living room. Our friends Richard and Fran were on hand to help and it was pretty amazing how quickly we managed to get things done, they were even sneakily up early to finish up the trim, we definitely owe them more than one.

So, obviously it didn't look like this all the time but it should give you an idea of what a blank canvas this room was.

We are planning on putting a fireplace at some point but for now a makeshift radiator cover - what was left to us by the previous owners - will have to do.

Repainting things white never fails to make me feel a bit uneasy. Funny how your eyes can trick you.

So, the deal was that once we got this room painted we would be able to get curtains, put pictures up, finally pick up a dining table and basically just make the room feels like it was more 'us'.

Ocean sent over a voucher for Dunhelm to see what I could find to makeover my chosen room. Dunhelm has been one of my savior shops since we moved, all our curtains have been from there and I just think it's really good for everyday bits and pieces at a great price, it's definitely up there with Wilko as somewhere I'd recommend for general house things.

Pro tip: radiator paint is awful.

In need of so many more house plants!

After we'd tried to put things back to normal post-putting the curtains up.

Now I've had practice with a lot of other rooms in the house, I feel making a room over can be as simple as a lick of paint and a few personal touches, so I wasn't going to go too far out of my comfort range with my £50.

Every meal I've eaten has been here since we put this up on Saturday afternoon.

This little ladder shelf was a TKMaxx find, just what I was looking for and much nicer than the MDF versions I'd been watching on eBay. Now we just need to work out what to put on it...

Most of the voucher went towards the map blind, I chose them because they're a little different but neutral at the same time. I didn't want another set of curtains as we got long curtains for the patio doors and because they're pretty close together I figured it would look weird to have different lengths next to each other. The rest went on curtain rings and picture frames (which we're yet to put up).

This 65daysofstatic poster has had a little re-frame and is looking much healthier now it's out of a bendy clip frame.

We used to have this poster in our bedroom in our flat but it's been promoted to living room since the space above our bed is a little too small for it. I'm pretty happy to have it more out on display now anyway though.

This mirror was one of our first Dunhelm finds, I love the wood.

My mum treated me to this Atlas Moth a few weeks ago when I was in Covent Garden with her. I'm actually a little obsessed with insect taxidermy recently.

I picked up this table on Saturday to match the other one we got when we first moved in. I'm so pleased that IKEA still had them as they're one of my favourite IKEA purchases - they're actually meant to be plant stands but they're the perfect shape for what we need as they don't take up much room.

I guess I'd have to admit that because of all the other things we picked up at IKEA at the weekend, as well as our new dining set (with IKEA bench), making over the room for £50 was a bit of a failure but I think you'll agree that I've certainly managed to put our stamp on it, even if it's from a few different places.

After 7 months of a combination of hard work - and being a bit lazy - we're actually pretty much there with this whole 'nestmaking' (not in a baby way) things and I feel much better about the prospect of hosting our first Christmas, our next milestone.

Would you be able to makeover a room for £50? Which room would you choose?

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