Home | The not so new bathroom

We’ve lived in this house for almost 3 years now and for 3 years I’ve hated our main bathroom. Each and every single day. It’s blue, I imagine the previous owner of our house (and I hope she isn’t reading this) thought that blue would remind her of the sea. A nautical feel for when you bathe, the sea is relaxing and siren. I can assure you, this is my most detested feeling when I bathe, the colour of the walls and tiles makes me feel cold and uncomfortable. As you can guess, I hated it. I’ve long dreamt of a new bathroom, free standing bath, waterfall shower, wooden cabinet and small Belfast sink, oh yes, thats the dream. Our budget didn’t stretch that far, firstly because we’ve done so many other projects and secondly, we live in a small 3 bedroom town house, these ideas are for our forever home, whatever that means now. The third reason we hadn’t rushed into this project was because we have been thinking about a gas conversion, it has been a long thought process, but now, I think we are going to proceed. With space at a premium in our house we would do with removing the unnecessary and have an gas meter installed easily, we’ve even seen our neighbours get it installed and it’s really simple because its in our area, I”ll keep you posted on the gas conversion chat.

With this in mind, changing the bathroom at all became the furthest thing down our to do list. I also don’t use the bathroom that much, I use our en suite every day and honestly even if it did annoy Chris, he wouldn’t dream of bringing it up, he knows the next year of DIY and projects I have planned for him, why would he volunteer for an extra project. It wasn’t until we decided to host Chris’ family for Sunday lunch that I thought, surely we can’t have people come here for lunch and use this bathroom, it’s gross, yes its that ludicrous that this was the trigger.

Start the Pinterest searching…

I started by thinking – ok, lets just paint the walls white, how bad could blue tiles be anyway if I take the blue from the walls. Then elbow deep a few hours later (we were watching a movie Chris chose, I wasn’t interested) I was practically a plumber ready to install a new bathroom.

As always I had to bring it back a level, it seemed reasonable and after reading various blogs and watched a number of YouTube videos as well as copious product searches, I’d made a list of everything I needed to do in the room and I compiled a to do list:

  1. Paint the walls
  2. Paint the tiles
  3. Paint the radiator
  4. Shaker shelves for towels (and decoration)
  5. Change the toilet seat & toilet roll holder

It all seemed reasonable and surely such a small to do list wouldn’t take that long.

What I needed to paint the tiles:

  1. White concrete floor paint
  2. Clear concrete floor sealant
  3. Sand paper
  4. White Spirit & old rags
  5. Paint brush
  6. Small roller

We headed off to B&Q. This post is not sponsored by B&Q but I wish it was with the copious amount of trips that I made! Also shop around, I picked up things cheaper in Homebase as they had a 3 for 2 on paints that weekend, wish I had known that at the start of the project. I needed paint for the walls and the floor, just ordinary white paint was fine, nothing fancy, I knew I needed a lot to cover the blue, this wasn’t going to be a one coat wonder. Secondly I needed tile paint, but I looked around, I went for concrete floor paint, whats important about this is that I read people painted their tiles with chalk paint and although it looked great to begin with, it won’t last with high traffic, however concrete garage floor paint is made for vehicles to be driven over it so it’s much more hard wearing. Sand paper to give the tiles a quick sand down with a medium grain, I used 120 for our hand sander. White spirit to clean up, masking tape for prep. I also bought a smaller roller but our bathroom floor is very small so I wanted to cover it more thoroughly and not a large wall roller.

Once I got it, the preparation started. I had to remove the towel rail, mirror and shelf off the wall, as well as actually removing everything from the bathroom, I didn’t realise just how much stuff we actually had in there. Everything out, time to sand the floor. This part is not the best, the sound was not my favourite but I do have to say this part was the most important. I gave them a good sand and went through quite a few sanding sheets (I used 40 grit), now to mask the room off, this is where the room is bigger than I actually thought. I completely masked the skirting, bath, sick and toilet. I ended up ripping of long strips of masking tape and putting it on the sink, it saved me going back and forth each time. All done, I white spirited the floor to clean it, then it was time to start painting. More thin layers are better than few think layers. This preparation took so much longer than just going straight in to painting the floor, it is really annoying but well worth it in the end. Coat one done, time for dinner, movie then bed. I will start the second coat tomorrow. I started by going around the room and grouting first with a brush then let it dry for an hour then with a roller I went over the entire floor, this way I covered the grouting and made sure to get it all covered from the first coat, I didn’t do this with every coat but every other coat.

After the first coat, my mind wondered. I began thinking about doing more than just white tiles, what about stencilling the tiles so they look like everyones super cool bathroom floors right now. I measured one of my tiles, it was 31.5cm² so I found a large stencil which was 30cm² I thought about it before ordering but thought there couldn’t be much harm, I would try it and see what it was like. This is where I began researching how to stencil but stupidly I didn’t, I thought I knew all along.

How not to stencil

Five more coats of paint go on the floor, with 4 coats on the walls, it got to the point where when we first came in from work we would get changed into our painting clothes and painted the room first, then the floor then leave to walk Piper leaving it over night to dry. I know the drying time for the floor was less and if you wanted to walk on it when it was touch dry I’m sure you could but I wanted to make sure that each layer was completely dry and hardened to the floor without it peeling. That took us to the next weekend and back to B&Q for more supplies, this time I stopped for Farrow & Ball paint for wood and metal, they don’t do tile paint but I thought it would be better than the wall paint. We came back from the cinema and I wanted to start straight into the floor (this floor became my obsession). My mum would call this, ram gansh, not thinking about it and thinking I know best. Firstly I started using a sponge but the paint was so runny, it was leaving bubbles. Then I moved on to a small brush, that was worse, the paint for metal and paint is much runner than the wall paint. I pulled out a wall paint for this where I found a sample from ages ago, much thicker but equally really difficult to work with for this project (I should say I’ve used Farrow & Ball before for it’s intended purpose and its my favourite but it wasn’t right for this!) I taped the stencil down so I thought I would leave it over night to see how it turned out in the morning. I went straight to bed then that morning jumped out of bed to reveal work from the previous night…disaster! It has bleed everywhere, my YouTubing and Pineresting to find out ways do it without bleed. Next trip to B&Q, I needed temporary adhesive but should I continue with that paint, who knew. I thought a hardwearing spray paint would work, I wanted something that was relatively quick drying and dark glue like my previous paint. I have to say, the B&Q at Holywood Exchange were so helpful, they helped me match it up after I had looped the entire painting section for about 45 minutes. This sprayed changed everything. After my disaster, I had to sand down that tile and repaint it, so I started stencilling from the other corner.

Now for the art of stencilling

What you need:

  1. Stencil to fit the size of your tiles (the stencil I bought had a quarter stencil in it which is good tiles that aren’t full but you could get two if you have a big enough room)
  2. Clear Low Tack Adhesive (I used 3 for my small room)
  3. Spray paint suitable for tiles (I used 2 for my room)
  4. Masking tape
  5. Newspaper to protect the surfaces
  6. Fine paint brush for touch ups
  7. White spirit
  8. Cotton buds

So whats important when it comes to stencilling. Firstly cover everything in newspaper, go around the entire, I covered the bath, sink, toilet and walls, with spray there can be a lot of residue spray which can get on everything. Secondly you need to pick out the full tiles first and move from one corner to the next to give it time to dry.

The best thing about the spray paint is that it drys really quickly, the one I chose was about 15 minutes to touch dry and 1 hour until completely dry, if you have a large enough room, 1 hour is reasonable to dry and spray others but my room was so small that the 15 minutes was adequate to wait then spray the tile next to it. Once the entire room is covered, you then need to start by covering the floor so that you can only spray one tile at a time, use the grout as a guide, put paper the whole way around and tape to the grout, make sure its down really tight and there are no gaps. Spray the back of the stencil with low tack adhesive, be generous, if you have an integrate stencil you want to be sure it is all completely covered. Make sure you do this on a bit of plastic or cardboard as the spray will get on the other surfaces which is tricky enough to get off. Then place the stencil on the tile, move around a little quickly to the desired location, be sure it’s all stuck down, this will help prevent bleeding. Tape down the sides, tape down newspaper all around it if there is anywhere that isn’t covered, the spray will go everywhere. Once you’re sure everything is stuck down, you can start spraying.

Leave for 15 minutes (or the time specified by your spray paint) then left the stencil and start into the next one, making sure not to step on to the new tile while it dries. Remove the news paper from around then 15 minutes later you can lift the stencil carefully to unveil your newly stencilled tile!

Moving on to the trickier tiles

When you have all the full tiles complete give yourself a pat on the back, you’re almost there and reward yourself accordingly. I chose a glass of prosecco for my accolade then its time to move on to tiles that are a little tricker.

If you have two stencils, this would make this a little easier but the one I had also had a quarter tile so I was able to work with that for the tiles that one quarter was suitable for {ideally at the side of the toilet}. When you start to work with these tiles you need to start cutting, make a note of the largest tiles first, I started with the radiator a cut little slits for the pipes then I could easier tape those bits back together again then cut slits for the next pipe. The for tiles for example around the toilet, I began to cut the edges off, I started with the largest one then it was slowly cut down until there was very little left. If you have a few awkward tiles, I’d highly recommend not cutting but used more of the low tac adhesive and really making sure what you can have stuck down is stuck down, then use masking take to tape it down so it a flat as possible,make sure there are no gaps, if there are spray a little of the adhesive on to cardboard and brush it on to any of the stencil thats sticking up.

Once your completely done stencilling then its time for the tidy up, if you follow any of my instructions the most important is to make sure its stuck down really well, be generous on the adhesive and be sure the floor is well covered with paper then you should be fine, it took me a few tiles to find my own way of doing it first so I had a bit of bleed around the tiles. I then took some white spirit, cotton buds and an old rag, I pain stakingly went round each of the tiles and tidied them up as best I could. A  cotton bud is perfect for this to lift any of the drips and because you have used concrete floor paint it won’t lift it, just be sure to run the rag over the top to lift off any excess. Don’t beat yourself up about this, it will need to be touched up and it’s also DIY so it won’t be perfect by any stretch of the imagination so it’s best to try your best to make it tidy. Here you’ll see light at the end of the tunnel, you’re almost there!

The seal of approval

Once you have completed the tidy up, then give the floor a hoover, get up as much dirt as possible then run over it with white spirits as well to be sure its completely clean. Now you are ready for your clear seal. I think this is really important as it just protects all your hard work. I used the same small roller I used for the white paint as it was perfect size for the floor and gave such an even finish to that paint. For this varnish, it did state to use a brush but hey I’m a rule breaker, I liked the roller and it was quicker. I put it on in the evening and let it dry over night, this was it we were almost there. I wanted a matt finish (just like those gorgeous tiles I’ve seen before) but unfortunately couldn’t get one so I had to settle for gloss, now its done I actually really like the gloss, it’s not too shiny and makes the tiles look less hand painted and more expensive that what they really were.

After we finished the tiles, it was time to complete the room with a little bit of decor. I painted the radiator (Farrow & Ball Down Pipe) and the two shelves we made from some spare wood and shaker style pegs for our towels. Lastly we changed the toilet seat and toilet roll holder. A few candles added in for good measure and we are done. I’m still tempted to paint the bathroom cabinet the down pipe but I’m not sure if it would look too dark, what do you think?

In total we spent less than £250, the thriftiest DIY project I have done to date. I now enjoy this bathroom and love showing people it, I often find myself leading people into it and before we know it we’re on the floor checking out the tiles.

It’s not finished yet, once we get our gas conversion we will be changing and maybe retiling the shower (goodbye weird blue flower tiles) but if we can get away with repainting them we will and changing the sink so we have some extra storage underneath then the bathroom will be complete. On to the next DIY project after that….whatever that will be.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this, if you have any questions, just let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear about your stencilling stories or how you have updated a room on a strict budget!

Lashings of love,

K xo

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Travel | The secret South of France

I’m on a bit of a tour of the south of France. Typically we travel down here once a year but to date we haven’t rented a car to journey off on our own, we’ve always opted for the laze by the pool option. This year I wanted to go off and explore a little bit more of this beautiful country. Chris has spent a lot of this childhood holidays here, for me it’s more new. Thankful he also speaks French which means that going into villages were English isn’t spoken often is fine, although I do sit there like an idiot attempting a French accent and trying to read phonetically each word…it’s a bit embarrassing.

First stop on our trip was Collioure. As we drove through the windy streets to get to Collioure the first thing I noticed was the vines running up and down the hills, there were a few tight corners here and there and there seemed to be more room at the airport car park than this hilly car park up by the Chateau Royal de Collioure. Firstly I’d recommend some sensible footwear, sandals with straps are a must, maybe a saltwater sandal, it’s rocky paths even out of the carpark so be prepared.

We walked around the Chateau to the beach and stopped for breakfast, I use the term breakfast loosely, the area where we stopped we bars that had cocktails and waffles so I had a waffle with Nutella, that’s breakfast right. We sat a people watched {my favourite past time} and thought a little be more about what we would do that day. The original plan was to stop at Collioure then head to Argeles for lunch that afternoon.

After breakfast we started walking around the little streets and between stopping to take a picture or walking into another little shop we couldn’t believe that a few hours had just passed. I stopped by a few shops, I was looking for another wicker basket {yes Mum, another one but it’s a different style from the ones I had before}. I did however buy two necklaces, very missoma style, typical blogger much. There was also a cork champagne bottle top that I loved, the owner told me the waiting list was 2 months and wouldn’t give me what he had in store even though he had a few there and that would be a logistical nightmare. Let’s face it, I need to eat every 3 hours whether I need it our not and with all this walking around, I needed it. We walked back to the beach front and stopped for a fishy lunch. It would be ridiculous not to eat fresh fish from the menu when we were at a seaside. We got a small local bottle of rosé wine. It has to be said rosé wine just tastes devine on holiday especially if it’s perfectly chilled.

To walk off lunch, we walked to the church, had a walk around inside, it’s beautiful, so peaceful and quiet. Then we walked to the end of the pier. Whether it was just the day we went or time of year or what but oh my was it windy, it was like we had stepped into a different climate when we walked over there.

Last stop for a coffee then it started to cloud over and rain a little. If I had a little bit more time and spent less time drinking rosé and coffee then I would have loved to go to the Chateau and the little train around town. There are also boats over to Argeles, although that was a little choppy for me.

We took another day to go to Argelès, it’s more of a tourist seaside town and has more bars and shops there but honestly I didn’t like it as much as in loved Collioure and we’ll be back again.

Lashings of Love,

K xo

Travel | New York City Take 2

This year Santa Claus (aka mum) bought me a trip to New York City with mum. I bought mum this trip last year so who know who will be buying a travel gift next year. Last year I had never been to New York, but mum had lived there for a short time. If you wanted to know what we got up to last time, you can read all about it here. This year, I feel more Carrie Bradshaw than carrying my head in the sand, honestly I didn’t have a clue, I hadn’t really done my research because I thought I’d seen enough movies.

*Beware this blog post is picture heavy

I started by making a list of all the things I wanted to do before we went, then on one piece of paper, wrote down all the days we were there and started looking at a map, what made sense and when. I should note at this stage we have 4 days in New York, but storm Emma had other ideas and we had to leave the next day on a much later flight that was also delayed for hours, not to worry, perfect time for mum and I to have a good catch. Plan in place, we used the delayed time to make some changes and also to note the things we wouldn’t be annoyed if we didn’t get to go.

Book before you go

This year by being more organised we were able to book things before we went. I booked the NYC Airporter bus from JFK Airport to Port Authority (it also makes a stop at Grand Central), this was $70 for two people return on a coach, depending on traffic its about an hour into Port Authority and honestly the cheapest (we paid $100 for one way trip to and easiest way to get from the airport to your hotel. We walked to our hotel (it was 5 blocks up, so super close) but you could get a taxi, it’s fairly easy to hail a cab.

Once we arrived it was late at night so we checked in and straight to bed. Annoyingly if we had got our original early morning flight we would have arrived at lunch and had the rest of the day but oh well nothing we can do about delays and a storm.

Sunday

I woke up so early on the Sunday morning, like 4am, what is there to do in New York at that time! I tossed and turned for a while and then got up about 6:30am, mum and I got ready at our leisure and got breakfast from Starbucks. When they say New York is the city that never sleeps I can’t say that’s right for Time Square at 8am, it was so quiet.

We grabbed our coffee to go and got the Subway from Time Square down to South Ferry. This is the closest subway stop to the Staten Island Ferry. We walked over and into the terminal. Last year we arrived in the afternoon and there were so many tour sales people there and they told us that the ferry was booked up, this is a load of rubbish and probably the one thing I’ve learned from my trip is don’t believe everything that they tell you there. The Staten Island Ferry is a free service run by the New York department of transport. It runs every 30 minutes to and from Staten Island and provides you with a great view of the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan. When you arrive at the terminal, walk in, past all the tour sales people and straight up the escalator and you will see the glass doors which open when the boat is ready to board. Simple. It does feel like a bit of a cattle market getting on to the boat. The temptation is to walk the whole way to the back on the boat as your heading over to Staten Island but don’t, stay at the back as this is the perfect place to get a view of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. You will also be able to go outside and take it all in, you are not able to go outside the boat in the direction that it is heading for safety reasons so be sure that you get outside on the way over to Staten Island as you won’t be able to get that gorgeous Manhattan skyline view on the way back as well. Once we arrived in Staten Island we walked off the boat, downstairs and straight back on to head back to Manhattan.

Once we arrived back in Manhattan we walked up to the Brooklyn Bridge walkway. This is the most delightful walk over to Brooklyn. I wanted to walk round to the pier when you can take a picture of the Manhattan but we ended up walking around an area called Dumbo.

Dumbo is an uber hipster place to go shopping and grab a coffee. We walked to the Brooklyn Park. If I had to move to New York this is exactly where I would love, lots of coffee shops, restaurant and the streets are really clean. There is a sense of tranquility here that was difficult to leave.

Then of course I had to go to West Elm, one of my favourite interior shops. We grabbed a coffee and planned our next stop.

We decided to walk back over the Manhattan Bridge, it is not as busy as the Brookly Bridge but there is a reason for that. One of the trains goes over the Manhattan Bridge so it is very noisy and a little wobbly at times, which to say the least made me feel nervous.

One the walk over we seen Chinatown. It looked amazing to see this community that was set in the middle of New York. The signs are all in English and Chinese and one Sunday they had fresh fruit and vegetables on sale on the streets.

We walked through Chinatown as I wanted to go to Glossier (I’ll write a little bit more about my purchases soon).

One thing about heading away with mum is she loves clocking up the miles when we go away, crazily this means we decided to walk to the Meat Packing District. I use the term crazy as mum was on the navigation with a paper map and we ended up walking about 10 blocks in the wrong direction. Luckily we walked around the Financial District, we seen the Federal Building, Wall Street and September 11th Memorial. Once I got Google maps on the go we started walking in the right direction. The weather was so beautiful it was a lovely walk to the Meat Packing District. We went to the Chelsea market and then walked the High Line. Once we finished the High Line we walked back to Time Square.

We wanted to see if we could see a show with some last minute tickets but unfortunately there wasn’t anything of interest so we headed to dinner. I got a recommendation to try the Burger Joint, a secret burger bar in the lobby of the Parker Meridian Hotel. You wouldn’t know it was there, in fact we walked past it in the beginning only the burger light indicated where we needed to go.

It’s behind a curtain and you walk along the curtain into a small room. When you initially walk in you wouldn’t know what to make of it, The menu is written on cardboard, there are random posters over the walls and the walls are written over. Its simple, just burgers and chips, you decide what you want on the burger, cheese, bacon, salad or sauce and how you want it cooked. There are 3 beers on tap so the choices are limited but that is what makes this place so good. We grabbed a table and waited for our food. It was a quick wait and it was so worth it! Easily the best burger I have ever had and I don’t say that lightly.

The atmosphere is amazing, it was surreal that this is in the lobby of a hotel. This is definitely one thing I would say you have to do if you head to New York. After walking 15 miles that day and an early start at 8.30pm, I was ready to head back to the hotel. We walked through Time Square and took in the sights but headed for an early night ready for the next day.

Monday

Monday we went to Woodbury Common Premium Outlet. Again we bought the tickets before we went on groupon. Shortline Coaches is the service that runs from Port Authority to Woodbury Common which is about 1 hour 15 minutes away. With this groupon deal you pay $25 dollars instead of the $42 you would pay if you just arrived at Port Authority, plus you will be able to redeem a saving passport when you arrive at Woodbury Common. As you can imagine, Port Authority is massive, so head up the escalator and round to the left and you will see the Shortline Coach desk where you redeem you groupon vouchers. Then walk to 110 depot and you can board the bus. The coaches are regular with the first one leaving at 8:30am. This is about perfect timing to get there on time for the shops opening. We grabbed breakfast and made a list of the places we wanted to go. I’ll bore you with everything I bought but this place is good for casual clothes and gym wear. I actually ended up buying more things for Chris as it’s great for mens clothes. There are also a number of designer shops, they don’t keep any core lines and usually the colours are quite elaborate so no bag purchases for me this time. We walked around all, stopped in a few shops before we took the plunge to buy anything then there was a shopping frenzy. Mum wanted to stop in Levis to see about a pair of jeans, an hour and $300 later we left the shop heavy ladened with bags. My one tip for outlet shopping is bring a 4-wheel suitcase. Its easy to pack everything in and also lots of the shops use paper bags and when you have so many they easily rip. Its also much easier to get back to your hotel without forgetting any bags if it’s all in the case. We got back pretty late, when to Walgreens for some sweets and a quick bite to eat then went to Sephora to pick up a few things and then back to the hotel. Another day of walking over 8 miles so its bed for us.

Tuesday

Last day and we have ticked off everything that we set out to do on this trip so this day is much more relaxed. We start the day with a run round Central Park, we ran over 3 miles and mum has run in years so it was amazing that she ran the whole way with me.

We went back to the hotel got shower, changed and packed up and checked out leaving our bags there for the day. By this stage we had done enough walking so today was definitely a little slower after the run. We walked to Anthropology then Rockafeller Centre and people watched really.

We then began to get peckish so we walked to Levain Bakery on the Upper West Side. A small little bakery with the freshest cookies you will ever have. They are a small shop packed full of people. There cookies are made fresh and hot in the middle with the chocolate, plus they had Earl Grey Tea so I was happy. They have a lovely little bench outside where we enjoyed baguette with butter and jam (yeah!) and then our cookies! They are so rich, one between two is more than enough.

We walked back to Central Park for a walk around then back to Sephora for another quick purchase (I wouldn’t want shoppers regret) then back to the hotel to go to the airport.

So another trip to New York ticked off the list. I just love that city so much and could go back again but after I have a big long nap to recover from the lack of sleep from this trip. I enjoyed doing a few more of the non-tourist things attractions and there is so much more of New York that I still need to see.

Lashings of Love,

K xo

Style | Joining the Gucci Gang

I’ve been toying with the idea of the Gucci Marmont Belt for quiet some time now and had I have done a Christmas list it would have been on it *regrets. At over £200, is a belt a good investment, is it enough of an accessory to purchase and what would I wear it with. Ok that doesn’t take too much time to think about but all the girls I have seen wearing it are a size 6 with a thigh gap and enviable long legs, could I pull it off.

Call me old fashioned but online shopping isn’t my thing and one of my key things was, I wanted a belt that I could wear around my waist and my hips, two very different dimensions. Online shopping just won’t work I needed to try it on. With no Gucci store in Northern Ireland I would have to wait until I could head to a shop. Insert next work trip. Luckily I travel with my job and this time I made a stop in Heathrow Terminal 5, my favourite airport to shop in. I almost know all the shops there so I knew Gucci would have been my first stop. As soon as I cleared security I skipped down the escalator to make my way there.

The loveliest sales assistant came to help me and got me a few sizes to try one. I’ve got a 90cm belt and I’m a size 8/10, although a little loose around my waist they have told me that the stores, outside of the airports, have whole punching facilities as lots of people get an extra two holes added so they can wear it with different outfits.

Initially I thought I would go for tan as it would match blue denim better but once I had seen the black I couldn’t resist, it’s classic. I also decided on the smaller buckle, the medium size buckle, although gorgeous, was too much for me, it looked much too big for around my waist so I ruled it out. It is the most popular I was told in the store so they rarely have them in stock.

Duty free is definitely the best place to pick it up, this belt retails at £235 but in the airport I got it for £195, so if you are thinking of investing and are heading away, wait, you will save the duty on the item.

This has been my first Gucci purchase and I have to say I’m impressed, it has never really been on my radar. I loved the service and the new design of the bags are beautiful. I’m thinking of investing in the nude Marmont bag next.

Wish me luck convincing Chris of that investment.

Lashings of Love,

K xo

Home | Fakeaway Chicken Curry

I had a few requests for my recipe for the Mayflower Chinese Curry Sauce in my slow cooker which I posted on Instagram on Monday. This curry came to my attention when someone in work mentioned it, then I seemed to be hearing about it a lot more. It’s popular with Slimming World members as it’s low in syns and you get lots of veggies in.

This is the first time I’ve made something in my slow cooker but honestly I was surprised at how tasty it was. And here is an even bigger confession, I am not the cook in my house, my mum had spoilt me so I never had to learn to cook, anything that seems simple, I’ll give it a try but this is the most I’ve experimented and this really isn’t experimenting it’s winging it all in a slow cooker and letting that do the work. The slow cooker I have is 6.5 litre so there is more then enough to feed two of us for a week so this is perfect if you are feeding quiet a few people. If you’re cooking for less half would be fine for a family of 4. I honestly just picked up a few ingredients so you can change the meat if you want or add/change some of the vegetables.

Ingredients

Mayflower Medium Curry Powder (255g)

1.2kg of chicken

400g of peas

3/4 red peppers

2 white onions

200g mushrooms

1 chicken stock cube

Recipe

  1. Add 800ml of cold water to the whole box of Mayflower Medium Curry Powder, mix it up well.
  2. Chop up all the ingredients and place in the slow cooker, break up your stock cube over all the ingredients.
  3. Pour the Mayflower Curry mix into the slow cooker, make sure it covers all the ingredients, if not pop in a little bit more water.
  4. Turn the slow cooker on to low. I was out of the house for 10 hours so low was fine, high is you’re looking to eat it less than half that time. If the Curry seems a little runny, wind your slow cooker up to high and let it sit for 30 minutes.

I served it with brown rice and quinoa which I microwaved so when I arrived home, dinner was ready in less than 5 minutes. That’s the quickest dinner I’ve ever had and it’s most certainly one of the healthiest dinners I’ve made, lots of vegetables and protein. It’s the perfect fakeaway for just about any night of the week.

Lashings of Love,

K xo

Home | Buying our first house

As we now are celebrating being in our home two years (where did that time go!) it got me thinking about the whole buying process. It all seemed so stressful at the time but now that I look back here is the advice I would give my younger self. 

Be prepared to sacrifice 

If you’re starting to save for your first home, like we did, I took a long hard look at my monthly income and outgoings, and this was the daunting start to our process. This allowed me to calculate my bills and my disposal income, shockingly I had more disposable income than I thought, by no means a millionaire, but multiple trips to the shops and online orders seemed to take a large proportion of my salary. That’s the first thing I cut back on, not completely but sacrifices had to be made. 

Save, save and save some more

Although I’ve just said I didn’t completely cut back I was very concise of what I bought, I became more aware of disposable fashion and make up and things had only to be bought for a purpose. There is much more than a deposit, there is solicitors fees, furniture and installation charges. It really racks up so be realistic with the money you can save keep that in mind for your mortgage payments. I went to a mortgage advisor to workout our budget and what were affordable monthly payments. One thing I will say was that with our salaries they were willing to give us more than we originally thought, we could have gone for a higher mortgage with higher monthly payments and probably a bigger house but really we wanted to make it manageable. Only do want you can afford, it’s important to be able to live and enjoy your new home. 

Compromise is key

Whether you’re buying on your own, with your partner or with a friend. Once you have an idea of budget, make a list of things that are ideal. Now go through this list and look through the things that you would compromise on. For us location, south facing garden and car parking were essential. It would have been ideal to have a semi detached, separate dining room, downstairs toilet but unfortunately this was not possible so we had to compromise and what’s important is, for us this is our first home, it’s unlikely we or you will stay there forever and the next house, once you get some time under your belt and maybe a little more saving, you will be able to incorporate these desirable into your essential list. 

Don’t let looks get the better of you

If you walked into a shop that is beautifully decorated and tidy you’re more likely to buy right…it’s the same with houses. The difference is there is only 1 house and lots of buyers. If an estate agent thinks a house has potential they will do an open day. That’s what happened with the first house we bid on. If a house is well decorated, you can see yourself living there. That’s exactly what we thought and although we set a budget there were multiple bidders and we seen ourselves go £12,000 above our budget and £16,000 over the asking price. What were we thinking, we got carried away and I just hope that the other buyers could afford. No matter what, when the furniture is removed and the rooms are bare, it looks completely different and then you will want to reprint walls and change things around. Interiors are not worth blowing your budget, you can and will make improvements as you go along. 

Try not to get emotionally invested 

My dream home is a old house which we can renovate. We viewed multiple houses and fell in love with this one which looking back now was completely impractical, particularly for our first home. We were sale agreed but knew it needed a lot of work and a couple weeks later we got a complete building survey, our dreams were shattered. The house was in such bad disrepair beyond our naive eyes. It need completely rewired, the chimney was about to fall in, repointing on the outside, wood root, a second damp course and to top it all off asbestos. Our surveyor (who was lovely) and we met him at the house while he was doing the survey gave us some pretty good advice. Without £40,000 before we moved in, it would be impossible for us to make the house liveable, all before we even lifted a paintbrush for the internal. This was a tough blow, we were devastated, because we were emotional involved in the house. We were annoyed that we paid £800 for a survey that proved this wasn’t our dream home, really we should have been happy, we identified the problem and saved ourselves a painful and stressful journey but at the time it was difficult not to think that we had wasted that money for a survey. That’s the trick the survey was vital for us to know that was not a sensible investment. 

Don’t be afraid of professional advice

We took advice from anyone who would help and not my mum or dad but professional advice. We went to a mortgage advisor, who proved to give us a better rate on our mortgage than going directly to the banks. We also took advice from our building surveyor on that and the house we eventually bought. Our solicitor who helped us along the way, I called a lot and I’m sure he screened some of our calls but he knows this process inside and out. Other than signing a few documents and giving them a read (I’m probably doing them no justice) but he gave us so much help. Your solicitor works for you and in this case represents you so use their knowledge and expertise. Remember the estate works for the seller of the property so if you have any problems, get advice and help from your solicitor, they are the best person to represent you. 

Be patient

This process takes time. Finding the right house takes time then conveyancing takes even more time. It’s so easy to say this once it’s complete but it’s so important to be patient, you can rush people along, and be sure to keep them on there toes chasing but there will be a lot of back and forth so don’t let that get you down. Once you get the keys and unlock the door of your new home for the first time that feeling is amazing and no one can take that achievement away from you then. 

Lashings of Love, 

K xo

Home | Burn baby burn

From my last post on our wooden floor which we finished back in August, the wood burner seems to be a long way coming. Just picking a stove can be difficult, waiting for it to arrive and then a fitter it’s a well thought through process. It all started last year when there was smoke coming back down from our chimney into our living room, I came back from the gym one night and it was so bad that Chris has all the doors and windows open, it was extremely dangerous. We had chimney sweeps out to clean the chimney and check there was nothing up there so I thought a wood burner was a great solution. Truth be told, this was how I sold it to Chris. After months of reading Country Living, I knew I wanted a wood burner from day one. Our fireplace was deceiving, like many of the fittings in this house, but this is the blog post for that rant. The fireplace was actually a heavy duty plastic, not stone like it would initially have you believe. This made it extremely difficult to clean, the black soot stuck to it, some would say it made it look worn, me, dirty. I cleaned as hard as I could but it just never looked clean. I knew there was so work to be done before we could install it.

Once the wooden floor was done, I went to the Stove Yard, outside Belfast, it came highly recommended from my Auntie who got her stove there a few years back. Thankfully they are open on a Saturday until 12.30pm so we called in on a Saturday morning. They are experts in the burner industry, we wanted a multi-fuel stove as we burn a lot of coal not just wood, without even seeing our room they were able to give us an idea of the size of burner we needed, 5Kw, which is the heat the burner will produce. This is more than enough for our small room, we didn’t even know the energy level of our fire at that time. They arranged for an installer to come out to do a home check to see that we were suitable and give us a price. The fitter called out a few days later, we had no idea of the extensive work that was required. The chimney had to change from 8″ to 6″ and they fitted a lining to that to reduce the width, we also needed a carbon monoxide detector, even though we already had one but it had to be in the room, building regulation changes and not to mention the stove itself. The best part of getting one fitter was that they do everything and I mean everything. Getting this done was going to a two day job, remove the old fireplace, dig out the hole for the new stove, plaster and fitting. We booked it, 6 weeks was all we would have to wait. Now lets talk cost, the cost of the stove was around £550, we didn’t go for a brand name, although a Charnwood would have been right up my street, the one we choose had a good warranty and there was good feedback on it. We would have looked more into the differences in the branded stoves but we don’t intend to stay in this house forever so we wanted something that was aesthetically pleasing but didn’t break the bank. The cost of the remainder of the parts and the labour was £1200 so a total of £1750, of course you can spend more if you want a more expensive stove but for our purpose this was fine.


Six weeks rolled around pretty quickly and we began clearing out the furniture in our living room, apart from the sofas, we just threw some plastic lining over them. I couldn’t wait to come home and see the progress after the first day. I was so pleased to see the old fireplace gone and the hole was prepared for the stove, the stone was laid, it looked good. However there was dust everywhere. It was difficult to understand how every inch of our house had dust in it, I suppose there were parts of our wall coming out so I shouldn’t complain. I couldn’t wait for it to be finished. The day day we came home and it was all done, we were both delighted. The fireplace looked bulky and now the wood burner looked much nicer, it made the area look bigger. Now to start with the clean up. We spent that evening cleaning the floors and hoovering (I’ve never emptied the hoover more in my life). We had to wait a week until we could get it painted so for one week we continued on with minimal furniture in our living room and our spare bedroom completely packed with whatever wasn’t in the hall and living room.



The painter arrived on the Wednesday and we picked our paint that weekend. Because our floor is such a dark wood, we wanted to keep the walls really light so we went for Farrow & Ball Strong White, this did become slight confusing for our painter who has strong white for the walls, white wood paint for the skirting board and white emulsion for our ceiling, there really was a lot of white paint. The colour was It’s the first time we have got a painter and I would highly recommend it, no mess, no fuss, just remove everything and that night we came home and it was all done. Our painter did bring 3 others with him so no wonder it was done so quickly. We began to move the furniture back and then we went to Donegal, living room still not finished, oh well, the fresh air of Donegal will help me forget about the work from home. As we put the furniture back in, we measured up the living room and made the decision on the sofas, that weekend was the last of the Laura Ashley sale so thankfully they are coming on the 8th December, but we’ll take them earlier if you need us too Laura Ashley.

With a long weekend on the cards, the last thing we needed to do for now was to get a mantle piece. As always, I made Chris put his DIY hat on. I had an idea for the mantle and we bought two shelves and we placed the second shelf below so it looked more than just a shelf.

We cut out grooves to make it more interesting and then painted it white. It was done, now just for Chris to put it up. I went up to do one eyelash appointment and to my surprise when I came down Chris has finished it by himself, I couldn’t wait to get it decorated.

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Now it’s all done, we are just waiting on our sofas and we also need a new dining table and I’ve promised Chris that is all we are doing to the living room. The next stop is the stairs, which we need painted and then the carpet put down, I’ll maybe wait a few weeks before I mention that. Time to get our current sofas cleaned and sold to make way for what’s new. As I am finishing writing this, I’m currently drying my hair in front of the wood burner on the first night that I have really seen what granny would call as the turn in the evenings (that’s darker evenings) and its bless being nice and warm, in my PJ’s by the stove, my new favourite thing.

Lashings of Love,

K xo

Travel | More Strand & More Stripes

Spending time away from home can be nice. After a week of living with no living room or dinning room, it was a welcome relief to put the house back together on Friday and head away from the ever mounting dust to the fresh countryside air. Getting away from it all really is the best way to relax.


Last year Chris and I headed to Malin in Donegal for a weekend away with our friends and their children, we enjoyed it so much last year we had to do it again this year. I have to say I was really looking forward to the break, feeling completely remote. Chris luckily had the day off on Friday so he packed the car, did a shop to bring up some food and then came to collect me from work so we were straight on the road. From Belfast, Malin is quiet far and the house we were staying in doesn’t allow dogs, so Piper heading to mums for a holiday, treated like a princess no doubt. We arrived to the house at 8pm, the kids headed to bed, time for a glass of wine and dinner, it’s the weekend so lets unwind.

The house we stay in has more than enough room for 6 adults and 5 kids, with everything you could need, including a hot tub. After a long week, a dip in the hot tub is perfect. The run into the hot tub on a cold October night really is bracing, no more so than when you have to get out and dry off. Luckily there is an aga in the house (the dream) so once your back in the house, its nice to warm up by the aga before heading to bed.

Saturday morning, Chris and I lay in, no help to our friends who were up with their kids. You can tell neither Chris or I are parents, we didn’t even wake up to the sound of the kids in the morning, we were in a deep sleep. After a good nights sleep it was time to brace the great outdoors. Driving through country roads where you barely meet another car and there is no traffic lights, parking is at the side of the street, free from traffic wardens and an jams are from meeting a tractor on a windy road. It’s refreshing.

We made our way to Genevan Waterfall for a walk but unfortunately due to the adverse weather we have been having recently it was closed as bridges have been destroyed and the trail isn’t safe. Thankfully the guys found that out before we all started to trek up. We then made our way to Pollan Bay for a walk on the beach, it was brisk, but I loved seeing our friends kids play in the sand, despite the fact I was standing around freezing, running around playing with kids sure does get the temperature up. Then time to head back to the house for a leisurely lunch.

After lunch we drove to Malin Head for a walk, the most northernly point in Ireland, now here was where you really needed your coat, the winds were so strong. It was amazing to go for a walk along the edge of the island, at the point where lots of families said good bye to their relatives as they made there way to the US, somewhere I have been back and forth to lots, this was the last time these people seen the Emerald Isle. On our way back, we spotted a heart made of stone with C&K, no no, don’t get carried away, Chris isn’t some kind of romantic, nor would I want him to be, but some other couple must have made it when we were on our walk!

After a fast paced walk back to warm up, we drove back to Malin and we enjoyed a Guiness (with a dash of blackcurrant, the only way I can enjoy a Guiness) and games with the kids, its unbelieveabe how competitive we can all be. New favourite game dobble, well lets just say the kids showed me up, and I wasn’t even trying to let them win, more practice needed. We made our way back to the house for the evening.

Saturday night, Chris made chilli for burritos and tacos, not your typical Irish dinner. Storm Brian had descended to Donegal so there was no way I was journeying out into the windy night to get into the hot tub. Wine by the aga is much nicer, not to mention the chat all night was so good. I went to bed on Saturday night and realised I had hardly looked at my phone, now that is detox, not only when you know you shouldn’t look at your phone but you don’t even want to because you’re having such a great time.
We woke up on Sunday morning had breakfast, tidied the house ad although the others made their way to the beach we went to mummy’s house for Sunday lunch, there is no greater treat than someone cooking for you, especially on a lazy Sunday. We popped Piper into the car and drove home for a relaxing afternoon in the house. I started writing this blog post while Chris unpacked the car, I think I played a good card there. This really was weekend bliss, fresh air really is good for the soul. Until next year Donegal!
Lashing of Love,
K xo

Home | Wooden Floor

It was never my intention to do a complete living room renovation so quickly after we got the kitchen done but when we were off work I seen no better time than to make the most of it and get some stuff done.

It all started with the wooden floor. Last year when we got Piper, everyday when we came home, our cream carpet was scattered with muddy paw prints. It was time for that to change. I thought a wooden floor would be the best option for use. I just love wooden floors and I sold it to Chris that it would be super quick to clean up after the dog. Dad got the plain wood for us and Chris and him laid it over 2 days throughout the living room and hall way. I was so pleased that they did it together and so quickly.


I wanted a reclaimed wooden floor but honestly we couldn’t justify the price of it. At almost double the price of what we paid for our plain wooden floor boards and considering we would have to do significantly more work to prepare the wood before we could even lay it. So I established I wanted long boards with lots of knots in them as we were going to stain the wood dark.

Dad bought the wood from a wood merchant in his local town which had the tongue and groove already in it. We went for a redwood pine, is a lower cost wooden floor but it’s a soft wood, although redwood is a harder version of pine, so high heels can mark it easily so it has to be treated to reduce the amount of marks on it. I love the marks on the wood it makes it look distressed and older than it actually is. Although the wood was sanded, there were knots throughout it with made it, exactly what I wanted.

It all started with a day of preparation. We began removing the tiles for the hallway and the carpet from living room as well as packing away as much furniture that we could. Removing the tiles was so difficult, and when we were disposing of them, they were bloody heavy! We then had to remove the skirting boards, they were cheap chipboard so they came apart when we removed them we just through them away although if you have real wood treat them carefully. Once everything was removed and cleared the floor could be started the next day.

I have to confuse dad has done this before so isn’t completely a novice, Chris on the other hand is new to this so he watched a few YouTube videos to get himself up to speed and with dads experience he caught on to it in no time. Thankfully I have to say, both dad and Chris are measure twice, cut once guys so I left them to it. They glued and nailed the wooden boards to our concrete floor until it was completely covered. Unfortunately for the next two days, every lady who entered the house for eyelashes was greeted with a saw dust haze at the front door. Over the next two days while I was busy lashing, I could hear the chatter between the two of them, working hard to get the job done quickly, renovating a room is hard because you live without that room until it is finished, harder still for us in a tiny house where most of the furniture was then placed in the kitchen which we had to manoeuvre around.


After two days the floor had been laid but the hard work wasn’t over yet. Now to move on to the varnishing. I wanted a dark oak colour, cooler tone than the more popular mahogany teakwood. I journeyed to B&Q to have a look. I picked the colour immediately, I knew exactly what I wanted. While I was there I noticed that there was a new range of ronseal which had a simple varnish pad which claimed to be 5 times faster than a regular application with a normal brush. The problem was that the colour I wanted wasn’t available in this range. I decided to see what I could do about it. I asked one of the painting experts in B&Q who was so helpful and said that it was just the regular ronseal with a new brush included and essentially had a marked up price. She directed me to a a similar sponge brush and I bought it straight away, now to give it a go.

When the floor was complete it was time to prepare it for the varnish. I picked a matt varnish as I don’t like the look of a gloss finish but the best thing about real wood is if you don’t like it you can sand it down and paint it again. We sanded the floor, ever so slightly, hoovered and rubbed white spirit it to remove all of the dust. I then got started with the varnishing with my crafty new mop type brush. I have to admit I’m the beginning I was a little slow. I realised that although it was faster I had to go around the door frames with a small brush. Once this was done, I was quicker. The only problem was moving around the rooms, because our front and back door was being varnished we had to leave some things out the back of the house so we could leave for a few hours and let the floor dry. Our neighbours must have thought we were crazy getting changed in our back garden, hopefully none of them saw! After 6 hours we came back and we were ready for another coat with another brush so this time, two of us would tackle it. The brush was so much quicker this time but we worked in the opposite direction, from back door to front door meaning this time we locked ourselves upstairs, while I put the finishing touches to the hall, Chris heated up dinner and took it upstairs, the glamorous life of renovating. That way we could leave it over night to dry, ready to evaluate in the morning.


I was happy with it then but Chris thought another coat would be good, don’t tell him, but he was right. We added another coat and then headed out for a walk, thankfully we ran into some friends who invited us for dinner so we had an even better excuse to be out of the house for the next 6 hours. When we arrived home we ran quickly upstairs, nothing is more nerve wracking than the first step on a varnished floor. We came down in the morning and it was done. I’m still so delighted how it turned out.


Furniture back in for now until the wood burning stove. Once the room was empty we used the opportunity to rearrange the furniture. Again Chris’ idea and again he was right. The room looks much bigger now and we are really using the space better. Just waiting for the Laura Ashley sale to pick up a new sofa…can I even wait that long!


The wooden floor has helped with the muddy paws for Piper but now I see her fur more than ever…is there ever a perfect solution. I’m trying to convince Chris that a cordless Dyson would be a good idea, he’s not buying it…yet.

Next stop wood burning stove.

Lashing of Love,

K xo

Beauty | Feeling radiant this weekend

Last night I had the delight of going to Radiance Beauty & Day Spa launch of their own skincare range, what a great start to the weekend, cocktails and canapés. This was my first blogger event. I was excited in the build up that week, well it was on Friday so I was getting ready for the weekend. As Friday approached, I had a presentation at work (stressed much?!?) and then once that was over I was heading straight there. I began more nervous as I got closer. I sat in my car putting on a little bit more make up and became paranoid about what I was wearing. Oh word, anxiety up to an 8/10. Luckily I had spoke with Leigh earlier in the week and I found out that she was going, perfect time for a catch up. But why was I so nervous, I’ve been put in these situations before and I can talk to just about anyone, shake out of it.

We all know the Lisburn Road isn’t the best place for parking so I parked up the street and walked down towards the event. I could see a marquee in front of the shop, the event looked fabulous. As I walked in, I was greeting with a delicious chocolate martini, great start. I then spoke to Christine the owner and WOW! Christine was in the most gorgeous gold sequins full length gown, so look fabulous and was so welcoming, what was I worried about. I then seen her gorgeous daughter in a similar gold sequins outfit, anything gold and I’m yours. Christine told me about some of the informative talks that were happing inside so I went in to see their new range of skincare and find out a bit more about it.

Alongside the expansion of its Upper Lisburn Road premises, which is stunning, the gold font on the back of the chairs had me sold, the salon is launching its own signature skincare product range. Radiance is a results driven skin care collection, which has been carefully formulated using clinically proven, highly active ingredients. These products are paraben free, contain no animal by-products and are not tested on animals, A-MAZING. Testing on animals is a big no no for me so this skin care range is perfect. The skincare industry is extremely competitive but this puts even the top line collections to the test as it has been designed, developed and produced by a team of dermatologists, scientists and pharmacists to ensure it is among the best in its field.

Two if the new products stood out to me. Firstly, hydrate is an ultra nourishing serum and is perfect for dehydrated and ageing concerns, this contains hyalauronic acid which will attract moisture and bind it to the skin leaving it soft, supple, nourished and glowing.  Because I have such dry skin, this blend is perfect for me, I drink so much water in the day but never seem to be able to get the moisture into my skin. This contains a cocktail of anti-ageing ingredients to reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles, and prevent future signs of ageing, definitely something I’m worried about as I begin to make my way to my thirties.

Then there is recover, a night cream that provides some much needed extra care for skin to help it repair and renew from the stresses of the day whilst you sleep, all that work while I’m catching up on my beauty sleep. Our signature night cream has been specifically developed to rejuvenate through its antioxidant activity. Rehydrating skin to allow over night recovery and reveal a softer more youthful appearance for the new day ahead.

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We got the most gorgeous gift bags with some samples, the bag alone sold me, gold foil printing is divine. I was delighted to meet Steph as well as some other amazing bloggers around Belfast, it’s strange because we all know each other but most of these girls, I had never met before, its fantastic how we can all be brought together. I also got to catch up with my school friend, Ashlee from Oh So Femme, but we won’t think about how long it’s been since we were in school together.

Thanks Radiance Belfast for the invite, I was delighted to attend and can’t wait to try some of the products. I had a ball, the cocktails we delicious, canapés were to die for, not to mention the fire dancers, talk about impressive.

Lashings of Love,

K xo

Life | It’s ok not to be ok

This last couple of weeks have been a struggle. Things peaked on Monday when I was in terrible form in the office (sorry to my colleagues). Not even my lovely friends could cheer me up! Do you ever get those weeks where you just feel…unsettled is probably the right word. Nothing goes right and when this happens, I’m sensitive to things that are being said to me and I’m extra clumsy and if I drop one more thing I’ll sit on the ground and have a little cry.

It’s hard to point my finger on what’s making me unsettled but I know I’m just not right. I’ve often thought I have SAD, seasonal affective disorder, a feeling of down which comes with the change in the seasons, the winter blues. Maybe that’s it. Maybe it’s the shorter evenings, more time spent in the house. Just this morning we were talking about how much darker it was. The struggle to get out of bed in the morning. The motivation to go out for a run. No more flowers around…generally the change in routine. Depression is serious, and by no means am I making little of it and the change in seasons can have an impact on everyone with varying degrees of severity. Is this the only reason I’m unsettled, probably not! It’s a multitude of stress rather than just one thing. I’ve had a chest infection for the last 3 weeks, my house is turned upside down again, I’m busy at work and now a family member is in hospital, lots of things to contend with but hey that’s life, lots of things to juggle. I suppose I shouldn’t complain, I’ve seen one of my great friends struggle with significantly more on her plate but we’re all different and deal with things completely differently. Their strength gives me strength.

The point is in the past I’ve given up and moved on but this time I’ve such a will to keep going. Desire to succeed is my sole driving force. Social media can often make us want to live up to the happy go lucky life all the time, but the reality is that it’s not real, everyone has down days, but these down days make the good days even better!

And what’s really important is to being able to distinguish when your unsettled and unhappy. There are so many things in our lives that can make us unhappy and well that’s just not nice, I’ve been there before, bad job, bad relationships and even bad places to live. So things can make us happy for the short term, but it’s really important to find out what are the things that make us unhappy and that’s when we need to fix it. What’s even more important is know that you can talk to someone, let them know exactly how you feel.

The last time I felt this unsettled or stressed, I thought rather than change something in my life why not add something, enhance myself instead of running away from the things I’m afraid of. That was 2 years ago when I first starting lashing, in all honesty I thought it would just be my friends and family, I never thought I would meet lots of you lovely ladies.

I suppose the point of this ramble is that’s it’s ok to feel like this sometimes. It’s world mental health day so there seems no better time than the present to open up and discuss how we feel. I’m not quite back to my normal self yet but I’m sure I soon will be! *insert mum singing Bob Marley* don’t worry about a thing, cause every little thing is gonna be alright!

Lashing of Love,

K xo

 

Change of a name?

While I’m still pondering the thought of whether I’ll change my name when I get married I thought it was time for a new name for something else. My blog (!)

It’s official, I’ve gone full Taylor Swift and I’ve decided to take the plunge and change the name of my blog, Instagram and anywhere else you will find me. It’s taken a while but I just don’t feel that The Little Lash Room really encompasses everything I do now. By no means am I a high flying blogger, in fact I don’t even like calling myself a blogger, I’m only just trying it on for size. If you’re lucky you’ll get 1 blog a week and lots of Instagram pictures of my home, flowers and Piper the pup. Rarely will you find a picture of my eyelash work, pictures from Pinterest of Beyonce crying because she can’t get an eyelash appointment or why I think you have to come to me because you’ll look fabuLASH when you leave. The reason for the change is exactly that, I’m a fraud, when you visit the little lash rooms social media pages you won’t have a reference point, you girls are fab at putting your trust in me. And as most of you girls know, if you’ve been to me, we talk way more about life and love than eyelashes themselves.

Don’t get me wrong I love lashing and I absolutely love all my clients who have supported me over the last 2 and a bit years. This is by no means a sob story that I’m no longer doing lashes, I’m definitely still going to be working every night and weekend. If anything I’m just much more than lashing now, eyelash extensions do not define me, I’m sharing things about my life as they happen, no different to anyone else I guess.

So the new name Strand & Stripes, where did it come from. I’m still keeping a bit of eyelash love there as many of you know each extension will be added to an individual eyelash hair strand. This is the only technique I use as it’s the safest and allows for nature fall out and growth with no damage to your natural lashes. And of course for anyone who has followed me for a while you will know that I’m fond of a breton or two or three or four…. It’s as simple as that.

So there you have it. A change is as good as a rest so there seems to be no better time than the present to take the plunge.

As always, lashings of love

K xo

Change of a name?

While I’m still pondering the thought of whether I’ll change my name when I get married I thought it was time for a new name for something else. My blog (!)

It’s official, I’ve gone full Taylor Swift and I’ve decided to take the plunge and change the name of my blog, Instagram and anywhere else you will find me. It’s taken a while but I just don’t feel that The Little Lash Room really encompasses everything I do now. By no means am I a high flying blogger, in fact I don’t even like calling myself a blogger, I’m only just trying it on for size. If you’re lucky you’ll get 1 blog a week and lots of Instagram pictures of my home, flowers and Piper the pup. Rarely will you find a picture of my eyelash work, pictures from Pinterest of Beyonce crying because she can’t get an eyelash appointment or why I think you have to come to me because you’ll look fabuLASH when you leave. The reason for the change is exactly that, I’m a fraud, when you visit the little lash rooms social media pages you won’t have a reference point, you girls are fab at putting your trust in me. And as most of you girls know, if you’ve been to me, we talk way more about life and love than eyelashes themselves.

Don’t get me wrong I love lashing and I absolutely love all my clients who have supported me over the last 2 and a bit years. This is by no means a sob story that I’m no longer doing lashes, I’m definitely still going to be working every night and weekend. If anything I’m just much more than lashing now, eyelash extensions do not define me, I’m sharing things about my life as they happen, no different to anyone else I guess.

So the new name Strand & Stripes, where did it come from. I’m still keeping a bit of eyelash love there as many of you know each extension will be added to an individual eyelash hair strand. This is the only technique I use as it’s the safest and allows for nature fall out and growth with no damage to your natural lashes. And of course for anyone who has followed me for a while you will know that I’m fond of a breton or two or three or four…. It’s as simple as that.

So there you have it. A change is as good as a rest so there seems to be no better time than the present to take the plunge.

As always, lashings of love

K xo

Travel | 48 hours in Barcelona

Barcelona has a rich cultural heritage and is today an important cultural centre and a major tourist destination for people across the world. Particularly it is renowned for the architectural works of Antoni Gaudí, honestly I didn’t have a clue who he was before we went, time to Google.

Situated in the Catalonia area in Spain, it’s easy to get to Barcelona. We flew there a few days before, spent 5 days in France and got the train back to Barcelona again for a 2 day visit. We have exactly 48 hours there. Time to get planning. We made a list of a few things we wanted to see and started a plan.

When we arrived at the train station, I opened Uber to find that it’s not available in Barcelona. What no Uber, how would we get round. Straight out to queue for a taxi and with more than 100 people waiting I. The blistering heat we knew it would be a long wait. I spotted an information desk and walked over, there was a bus tour which went straight past our hotel. Why not, find out more about the city for the same price as a taxi over the 2 days we were there. €39 each, sign me up. I always go away and do a bus tour, I’ve turned into my granny it would seem. But a few years ago Chris and I were travelling to Oxford, a city steeped in historical landmarks so a bus tour became the easiest way to get around and find out more. Since then, we’ve just always done it. For a city like Barcelona, a bus tour is essential just because it’s so big and taking taxis everywhere really wouldn’t be that cost effective. There are 3 different routes of the city so it well worth the money with buses coming to stops every few minutes. This way you get to take in the most of Barcelona and hop on and off for the spots you really want to see. We started sightseeing before we had even arrived at the hotel – result!

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We got off at the end of Las Ramblas and made our way to our hotel. Las Ramblas is a long meandering street with connects the port with the city centre. We got checked in, checked out the room, freshened up and then began to walk further up Las Ramblas to get on the next stop in the tour. It was extremely unfortunate that just over one week before we arrived a terrible terrorist attack happened on that very street with people killed and injured. I don’t really know what we expected, less people, quieter streets but it was the exact opposite, it was hard to believe such a horrible act had happened. There was hustle and bustle and the sellers on that street kept their shop doors open with many giving away free candles to add the the memorial which continued to grow at pace every day. We stopped at each of the memorial sites on our way to the Plaça de Catalunya to get on the next stop and travel around some more.


As you travel around the city on the bus you will hear Gaudi mention a lot as his works become very familiar after a while, like mosaic tiles. We then journeyed to Park Guerl another one of Gaudis works to be told we couldn’t get in until 6pm. We spent a while walking around the Park Guell and think goodness for the people selling iced water, after walking up a fairly steep hill, to find out we were going in the wrong direction and then having to walk up another steep hill to get to the park we were exhausted by the time we got there. We had a beautiful walk about the part of the park that you don’t need a ticket for. There were buskers and painters around with lots to see. Normally a walk like that wouldn’t seem at all strenuous but in the searing heat, it seemed almost impossible. We stopped for lunch just outside the park, tapas as always and a good drink of water to hydrate before heading on again. A good spray of deodorant wouldn’t have gone a miss then either!! The one stop I really wanted to make was the Sagrada Familia, we got back on the bus and made our way there to find that the next available time for 6pm, we were told to book online for the following day. Everything was booking up so fast, especially because it was the weekend. In hindsight, I wish we had booked online for Saturday but we didn’t know what time we would get there but my advice, estimate a time and work around that. We wasted most of Saturday afternoon trying to get into places which were fully booked. We got back on the bus to get back to the centre and came across Barcelona Football Club. We got off the bus to have a look and to Chris’ delight we were able to go in straight away. It would have been a waste of an afternoon if we didn’t go in and do some sightseeing so I agreed. Not footballs biggest fan I thought I would go anyway and see what it’s like. We began by walking around and reading the history of the club, honestly I was shocked how impressed I was. When they say that it is more than just a club they really mean it, it was really interesting and the stadium itself is breath taking. It’s safe to say that if I hear any news about Barcelona Football my ears may just prick up, I’m emotionally invested now, you can only imagine my interest in transfer deadline day…like what is that about! We left and missed the last bus back so we got a taxi. It’s easy to hail a cab in Barcelona, if the green light is on, just hop in.


We got as close back to our hotel as possible as there was a peaceful protest. The huge number of people who attended with flowers, candles and signs was truly astonishing. It’s amazing to see how people come together over such sadness and show such strength. They walked up and down Las Ramblas and within minutes the memorials grew phenomenally. It was amazing to see and something we will not forgot. We walked back to our hotel and watched the goings on from our balcony while we got ready for the evening and booked our tickets for the next day.


We headed to the Barcelona Square for drinks and dinner, no surprises for guessing we ordered tapas and paella from Ocaña. Truly delicious all washed down with a few glasses sangria. We walked up Las Ramblas to see what else was going on, we stopped along the way for a few glasses of wine (NOTE: why does rosè taste so much better on holiday!). We called it a night and wandered back to the hotel.

We got up on Sunday morning had breakfast and got on the road. I imagined we would have got up earlier but I think the rosé wine had taken a much greater toll. We walked around the port and then continued the bus tour to the Gothic Quarter before making our way to Sagrada Familia for the tour we booked.


We booked it for 3pm which allowed us to go up the façade 15 minutes later. We went up the Nativity Façade rather than the Passion Façade. Nativity isn’t as popular as the Passion Façade is much higher so we took what was available. The views from the bridge between the Façade is amazing, we seen the whole east side of the city. The bridge isn’t that wide and if there are a few people on it there is just about room to squeeze past them. The walk down is less than desirable. The narrow spiral staircase is one to walk slowly down, especially if you look down the middle and see just how far there is until the bottom, as you look down you’ll notice it looks like a shell, the whole way to the bottom. I’m not the greatest fan of heights and if you’re the same hang on tight to the railing. We then collected the audio guides and went around the Cathedral, to say it’s impressive would be an understatement. It’s difficult to comprehend Gaudi’s vision for this incredible building as the amount of detail couldn’t be completely covered in one tour. The pillars inside are like a forest, the stain glass windows are cooler colours on the side of sun rise as this cooler in the morning and the sun set has warmer colours. Whether you are religious or not this is definitely worth a visit, it was my favourite spot on our tour.

*insert awkward scared face


After we walked back into the town for dinner and drinks. We went to Rossini for dinner, give it a try, their tapas were much better and the paella was to die for. Earlier night for us tonight after a walk home and then off to bed to catch the early flight in the morning.

We both said that we would definitely visit again there was so much we didn’t see and only a 2 hour flight from Belfast so perfect for a weekend city break. There is an endless amount to see and just walked through the streets of Barcelona taking in the atmosphere is amazing.

So where is our next destination? Any recommendations?

Lashings of Love,

K xo

Travel | 48 hours in Barcelona 

Barcelona has a rich cultural heritage and is today an important cultural centre and a major tourist destination for people across the world. Particularly it is renowned for the architectural works of Antoni Gaudí, honestly I didn’t have a clue who he was before we went, time to Google.

Situated in the Catalonia area in Spain, it’s easy to get to Barcelona. We flew there a few days before, spent 5 days in France and got the train back to Barcelona again for a 2 day visit. We have exactly 48 hours there. Time to get planning. We made a list of a few things we wanted to see and started a plan.

When we arrived at the train station, I opened Uber to find that it’s not available in Barcelona. What no Uber, how would we get round. Straight out to queue for a taxi and with more than 100 people waiting I. The blistering heat we knew it would be a long wait. I spotted an information desk and walked over, there was a bus tour which went straight past our hotel. Why not, find out more about the city for the same price as a taxi over the 2 days we were there. €39 each, sign me up. I always go away and do a bus tour, I’ve turned into my granny it would seem. But a few years ago Chris and I were travelling to Oxford, a city steeped in historical landmarks so a bus tour became the easiest way to get around and find out more. Since then, we’ve just always done it. For a city like Barcelona, a bus tour is essential just because it’s so big and taking taxis everywhere really wouldn’t be that cost effective. There are 3 different routes of the city so it well worth the money with buses coming to stops every few minutes. This way you get to take in the most of Barcelona and hop on and off for the spots you really want to see. We started sightseeing before we had even arrived at the hotel – result!


We got off at the end of Las Ramblas and made our way to our hotel. Las Ramblas is a long meandering street with connects the port with the city centre. We got checked in, checked out the room, freshened up and then began to walk further up Las Ramblas to get on the next stop in the tour. It was extremely unfortunate that just over one week before we arrived a terrible terrorist attack happened on that very street with people killed and injured. I don’t really know what we expected, less people, quieter streets but it was the exact opposite, it was hard to believe such a horrible act had happened. There was hustle and bustle and the sellers on that street kept their shop doors open with many giving away free candles to add the the memorial which continued to grow at pace every day. We stopped at each of the memorial sites on our way to the Plaça de Catalunya to get on the next stop and travel around some more.


As you travel around the city on the bus you will hear Gaudi mention a lot as his works become very familiar after a while, like mosaic tiles. We then journeyed to Park Guerl another one of Gaudis works to be told we couldn’t get in until 6pm. We spent a while walking around the Park Guell and think goodness for the people selling iced water, after walking up a fairly steep hill, to find out we were going in the wrong direction and then having to walk up another steep hill to get to the park we were exhausted by the time we got there. We had a beautiful walk about the part of the park that you don’t need a ticket for. There were buskers and painters around with lots to see. Normally a walk like that wouldn’t seem at all strenuous but in the searing heat, it seemed almost impossible. We stopped for lunch just outside the park, tapas as always and a good drink of water to hydrate before heading on again. A good spray of deodorant wouldn’t have gone a miss then either!! The one stop I really wanted to make was the Sagrada Familia, we got back on the bus and made our way there to find that the next available time for 6pm, we were told to book online for the following day. Everything was booking up so fast, especially because it was the weekend. In hindsight, I wish we had booked online for Saturday but we didn’t know what time we would get there but my advice, estimate a time and work around that. We wasted most of Saturday afternoon trying to get into places which were fully booked. We got back on the bus to get back to the centre and came across Barcelona Football Club. We got off the bus to have a look and to Chris’ delight we were able to go in straight away. It would have been a waste of an afternoon if we didn’t go in and do some sightseeing so I agreed. Not footballs biggest fan I thought I would go anyway and see what it’s like. We began by walking around and reading the history of the club, honestly I was shocked how impressed I was. When they say that it is more than just a club they really mean it, it was really interesting and the stadium itself is breath taking. It’s safe to say that if I hear any news about Barcelona Football my ears may just prick up, I’m emotionally invested now, you can only imagine my interest in transfer deadline day…like what is that about! We left and missed the last bus back so we got a taxi. It’s easy to hail a cab in Barcelona, if the green light is on, just hop in.


We got as close back to our hotel as possible as there was a peaceful protest. The huge number of people who attended with flowers, candles and signs was truly astonishing. It’s amazing to see how people come together over such sadness and show such strength. They walked up and down Las Ramblas and within minutes the memorials grew phenomenally. It was amazing to see and something we will not forgot. We walked back to our hotel and watched the goings on from our balcony while we got ready for the evening and booked our tickets for the next day.


We headed to the Barcelona Square for drinks and dinner, no surprises for guessing we ordered tapas and paella from Ocaña. Truly delicious all washed down with a few glasses sangria. We walked up Las Ramblas to see what else was going on, we stopped along the way for a few glasses of wine (NOTE: why does rosè taste so much better on holiday!). We called it a night and wandered back to the hotel.

We got up on Sunday morning had breakfast and got on the road. I imagined we would have got up earlier but I think the rosé wine had taken a much greater toll. We walked around the port and then continued the bus tour to the Gothic Quarter before making our way to Sagrada Familia for the tour we booked.


We booked it for 3pm which allowed us to go up the façade 15 minutes later. We went up the Nativity Façade rather than the Passion Façade. Nativity isn’t as popular as the Passion Façade is much higher so we took what was available. The views from the bridge between the Façade is amazing, we seen the whole east side of the city. The bridge isn’t that wide and if there are a few people on it there is just about room to squeeze past them. The walk down is less than desirable. The narrow spiral staircase is one to walk slowly down, especially if you look down the middle and see just how far there is until the bottom, as you look down you’ll notice it looks like a shell, the whole way to the bottom. I’m not the greatest fan of heights and if you’re the same hang on tight to the railing. We then collected the audio guides and went around the Cathedral, to say it’s impressive would be an understatement. It’s difficult to comprehend Gaudi’s vision for this incredible building as the amount of detail couldn’t be completely covered in one tour. The pillars inside are like a forest, the stain glass windows are cooler colours on the side of sun rise as this cooler in the morning and the sun set has warmer colours. Whether you are religious or not this is definitely worth a visit, it was my favourite spot on our tour.

*insert awkward scared face


After we walked back into the town for dinner and drinks. We went to Rossini for dinner, give it a try, their tapas were much better and the paella was to die for. Earlier night for us tonight after a walk home and then off to bed to catch the early flight in the morning.

We both said that we would definitely visit again there was so much we didn’t see and only a 2 hour flight from Belfast so perfect for a weekend city break. There is an endless amount to see and just walked through the streets of Barcelona taking in the atmosphere is amazing.

So where is our next destination? Any recommendations?

Lashings of Love,

K xo