Home Is Where My Heart Is

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Last week was the one year anniversary of living in my house. The time has flown by and the occasion of 12 months in this space has left me contemplating the concept of ‘home’ and what it means to me and my little family.

In what I now sometimes refer to as ‘my past life’ I never felt satisfied with home. I didn’t particularly feel at home anywhere I lived –Nottingham, North, East and North-West London, Olney. I always felt I was chasing something, a life that would be perfect if only we lived in a better home. I owned a house, that didn’t help. I lived in a big flat, a studio flat, a garden flat. A small house and a big house, an old one and a new one. It still didn’t feel right but I soon got really REALLY sick of moving.

And then I found myself living alone with Elfie and Hux in a rented house and my mum and dad came up with an idea. They’ve owned a house, a small two bedroom 80’s-built house on an estate in Milton Keynes, for about ten years. They said that if I wanted to I was more than welcome to move in as their tenant. Paying tenant, I add.

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At first I said, ugh, no thanks, who in their right mind would want to live in Milton Keynes?! I thought I’d need more than two bedrooms, more than a small open-plan living space downstairs. More than the town of eternal roundabouts.

But then I realized how good a semi-new start could be. In a new place, in a house with new neighbours, close to my gym and the place I always retreat to when I’m having a bad day: WAITROSE. And so I said yes, I would move into the Milton Keynes house, but probably just for a short while as I was deciding what I wanted to do with my life and where I wanted to live in the long-term.

It wasn’t an easy move. There were tenants here who didn’t want to leave (and I felt extremely guilty for making them) – they had three months notice and then overstayed that by a month more. Then it was time for my dad (DIY extraordinaire) to knock through the lounge and kitchen to make space for my table, paint the house from top to bottom, fit new french doors and kitchen and re-tile the bathroom.

Our new house was a long time coming.

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But for the first time in my life I feel like I am home here.

I love everything about this house, from the small living space that gets a bit crowded on a rainy Sunday afternoon to my walk-in wardrobe and our dodgy 80s artex ceilings. I love my little office nook in the kitchen and the cupboard I hang up my laundry in. I love the fact that we have been so content here, we feel so settled and safe and warm. I even love Milton Keynes with its hundreds of roundabouts (130, apparently), short 30 minute train journey into London and hugely convenient shopping center.

Some people think dogs are excellent judges of character- well, I think my little house is. I get very territorial (but don’t worry, I stop short of weeing over everything like a cat) and if I don’t trust someone I will feel strange about them being in my house. I dunno, call me Mystic Meg or something, but if a man I’m dating visits my house and I feel weird then that’s them done.  

My house is magic.

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This house, it hasn’t been without dramas. For one the garden is huge and if there’s anything I hate more than cleaning the bathroom it is mowing the lawn. BAD LUCK, Alice. There are also plenty of fruit trees that bear bounties, bounties that go moldy if you don’t put them in the green bin quick enough (nope). I really need to sort out the steamed-up mess that is the greenhouse (or, as Elfie calls it, ‘the shed that is glass’) and I’m currently perusing Factory Direct Flooring for a replacement floor since my new steam cleaner cooked the top layer of my designer Karndean vinyl.

Oops.

So that’s me – insanely happy in this little Milton Keynes home that I moved into as a six month stop-gap a whole year ago. It’s going to take a very special house to make me leave.

What makes you feel like you’re home?

Thank-you Factory Direct Flooring for supporting MTT

 

My Favourite Mr Men

For me Mr Men were an integral part of my childhood – one I’m hoping to extend to my children as they grow up. As Elfie is beginning to take a real interest in reading and books (just like her mum. Until her mum discovered boys) I’ve started buying the Mr Men books for her. And I’ve noticed something about them – Mr Men are actually pretty good role models.

Bear with me on this. In a world where the people from TOWIE, Geordie Shore and The Kardashians are hailed as heroes we need all the good values we can get. And I think Mr Men can give this to us! Here are my favourites:

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Mr Brave

Mr. Brave is the most courageous person in the world, or so everyone thinks. The truth is that Mr. Brave is really a lucky coward. He only has one fear: heights. He’s brave enough to save Mr Messy from water, but not brave enough to go on a tightrope…

Mr.Funny

Mr Funny

Mr Funny went to the zoo, where all the poor animals have colds. He ends up cheering up the zoo animals with his funny jokes and humour before driving home to his teapot house. Nobody has a sense of humour like Mr Funny!

Mr Good

Mr Good is very good but lives in a town called Badland, where everyone is bad. When he opens a door for someone, trying to be good, he gets kicked in the shin! Mr. Good decides to take a long walk and ends up in Goodland, which is where he lives now. 

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Mr Happy

One Day Mr Happy discovers Mr Miserable (who happens to look exactly like him) and helps him become happy.

Mr Impossible

Nothing is impossible to Mr. Impossible: he can do anything! He has magic powers and uses them to motivate people. He proves he can do anything in some amazing ways! 

If you’d like to buy up your own collection of Mr Men (and why wouldn’t you?!) then take a look at the deals at The Works – I’ve just bought the Mr Men box set from there for the kiddos for Christmas and can’t wait to get stuck into them!

Gifts For Me, I Mean Her: The British Edition

I bloody love being British.

I’m very proud of our country and the lovely lives we are able to have here: the NHS, our schooling system, the British companies I work for and with, the epic brilliance that is our capital city of London, the beauty of our countryside. Despite thinking I was always a bit wanderlust-y I can say with certainty that there is nowhere else in the world I’d rather live. Crap weather, imperfect politics and all.

As I get older I find I like to do lots more British things. I’ve just been on a weekend break to the Lake District for example (with my wellies and my wax jacket!), and you could not pay any money to part me from my weekly stroll around my favourite British supermarket (Waitrose) with a cup of English Breakfast and the Times in my trolley. I’m taking Elfie out for her first afternoon tea next weekend and I really enjoy a jolly old moan (I also enjoy saying ‘jolly old…’).

I’m so British you can call me sodding Mary Poppins. Though I don’t have her patience with small people, unfortunately.

So this year I’ve decided to go very patriotic in my approach to Christmas shopping. I’ve decided (weirdly, maybe) that all presents I buy for friends and family will be from British companies. Why? I DON’T KNOW. But here’s my very British rundown of stocking fillers for women (clue: some of you might need a bigger stocking):

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1. My very favourite wax jacket is from my very favourite British countryside company, Joules. But because I can’t afford one of their lovely jackets for everyone (sorry) their bath and body sets are a very acceptable replacements. My favourite is this Blooming Brilliant Weekend Bag at £45, which is not only choc full with treats but is a re-usable tote bag too.

2. If you have any new mothers in your life – STOP! Don’t look any further for a gift for them than the lovely hand-crafted jewellery company Epanoui. I love how everything Hannah produces is specially made by her just down the road from me and I can personally vouch for how gorgeous her pieces are. If I’d just had a baby I’d love nothing more than one of Epanoui’s Heritage Name necklaces (£65). Really stunning.

3. Epanoui again, but this time to their range of linen scarves. Nothing says class like a lovely scarf (really!) and my favourite is the Amelie at £49.

4. If you really really love someone, have a think about splashing out on a Fortnum & Mason’s hamper for them. I bought the Grosvenor (£100) for my parents last Christmas and, despite shedding its straw-like filling all over the carpet, it was very happily received.

5. For something a little different, how about personalised nail varnishes? Enail are a new company who print your own label on your own choice of nail varnish colours (£19.95) before delivering them to the recipient. I love this idea – watch out for a giveaway from them soon.

6. There aren’t many lovelier things than receiving flowers, and with Bloom and Wild‘s subscriptions you can gift someone with a whole year’s worth! Their packages start at £50 for three bunches.

Thanks to Joules for working with MTT!

Turning your house into a home one room at a time

There’s nothing like little trinkets, cuddly cushions and quirky signs to transform your house into a home. If you’ve just moved house, or feel like certain rooms (*cough cough every room*) need a revamp then it can be hard to know where to start. It’s pricey too!

I’ve always loved those small extras you can’t seem to find everywhere else. Cute designs and personalised knick knacks that really express your individuality. IKEA may have the functionality, but when it comes to the personal touch, there are plenty of ways you can insert yours…

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The Kitchen

For the kitchen, personalised enamelware is a really cute way of revamping without spending loads on fresh new appliances. The selection from Jonny’s Sister come in a range of soft pastel hues, easily suited to all tastes and designs, as well as sizes fit for all worktops. With mugs, tins, bins and pet bowls, you can create a personalised theme running through your kitchen. Why not personalise mugs and plates for the whole family? You never know, it could encourage them to eat up all their veg. I love the idea of personalised trays and pots for growing herbs and small ‘canisters’ for your various tea bags too.

The Bedroom

As well as throws and updating your bedding (the feel of fresh new bed sheets can’t be beaten!), all cosy bedrooms should acquire a truckload of cushions. Various sizes, shapes, colours and textures, an array of cushions is one of the best remedies to banish the blues. Especially now it is getting colder, you need all the help you can get and a mountain of cushions is the way to go. The Love Letter style cushions are the best. You can get them handmade with a fabric of your choice and size of your choice too. They make lovely wedding gifts too.

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The Bathroom

The bathroom is obviously a very clinical place, but it can also get in a right royal mess too. Some nifty storage ideas are key in sorting out your lotions and potions and add personality to this functional room too. Whitewash wicker baskets complete with a pastel inner cloth to suit your existing colour scheme keeps all the bits’n’bobs in one place helping to destress you in the process. Obviously you can’t take these neat wicker baskets in the shower with you. Small plant pots are a unique way to keep your shampoos and conditioners together.

The Hallway

The hallway is the first thing your guests see, and also the first thing you see after a tough day. A messy and unappealing hallway will do nothing to lift your spirits.

Many hallways are slightly dark so the first thing to do is give it a lick of paint. Pastel tones create a light and refreshing atmosphere and a soft cream will give you warmth as the days become shorter. The key to a good hallway is great storage options that keep all the shoes, umbrellas and bags out of the way. If you don’t have the luxuries of an under-the-stairs style cupboard, never fear. An antiques hat stand will solve all of those bag, coat and brolly clutter whilst your bog standard welly holder and shoe rack can be given a coat of varnish and engraved with a heart-warming saying allowing you to “leave your troubles at the door”.

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The Dining Room

Whilst the other three rooms have a specific function, your dining room is primarily for entertainment and your chance to really stamp your sense of style. For starters, think about that table where your guests usually gather for a *gourmet meal. You can decorate using embroidered napkins, elaborate candle holders and beautiful carving boards to serve nibbles from. What about bringing the outdoors in with small enamel buckets filled with freshly picked wild flowers?

And it isn’t just the table. The dining room is the perfect opportunity to spread your creativity to the walls too. Rather than opting for the usual tranquil painting, why not make a statement? Typography is hot this season and the simplest way to revamp your room and make a bold statement. If you have a lot of white space and nothing to fill it, bold wooden lettering creates the perfect modern look. A simple “Let’s Dine” or “Enjoy” would create a cosy atmosphere, making your house feel like a home.

Thank you to Jonny’s Sister for partnering with More Than Toast

The Dream Home: Au Natural

One of the best things about my job with IKEA Family Live is the fact that I get to look at beautiful homes each and every day. I’ve always had an interest in houses – not so much in interiors but in crafting a home out of the space I live in – and being paid to work with beautiful spaces seems to suit me down to the ground.

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Minimalist kid’s bedroom via IKEA Family Live

We’ve been in our current home about 8 months now (how did that happen?) and I’ve been thinking a while what our next steps will be. I love the house we’re in at the moment, it’s small but perfectly formed ;), but I know it’s not our forever home. I want my kids to grow up with more of an outdoorsy lifestyle than we currently have but until I’ve saved up for my Spanish beach bar I’m reflecting that in my interior tastes.

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Monochrome living space with natural wood accents at Style Me Pretty

Right now I’m wild over the influences of nature: aged wood, muted colour palettes, greenery. White walls that will be uber practical with mucky fingered kids, I’m sure…

05374e7818fbbdb3967f5c589eded8b5Bright and light kitchen via Dwell

Slate tiles and light upon light upon light, with a little help from VELUX windows. I want my home to always feel beautifully happy and sunny inside, even in the dead of winter.

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To-die-for Californian home at A Cup Of Jo

This natural wood headboard in the bedroom of one of my favourite bloggers is still my most favoured item in the last couple of months; it brings such character and warmth to the room and is a piece that will last forever. Want!

What’s your dream home currently looking like?

This post was brought to you with roofblinds.co.uk. 

There’s No Place Like Home


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In my new job as Freelance Digital Editor for IKEA FAMILY LIVE Magazine I’ve been thinking a lot about the role of home in our lives (which luckily for me means lots of times on interior blogs and Pinterest). My thoughts always return to my own current living situation, how happy my home makes me and what I can do to make it lovely.

Looking back, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you how many times I’ve moved home in the last ten years. It’s actually insane and I’m a little bit ashamed to admit it.

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