London lights

At the weekend we’ve ventured into London for a stroll through some wonderfully lit up streets, mulled wine and general merriness to celebrate the beginning of Advent. I don’t generally do any of my Christmas shopping in central London but really enjoy the atmosphere and the bright prettiness.

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Blueberry cake

I must say I haven’t been much of a domestic goddess lately and it’s been a whole month since I’ve baked a cake. Anyway the distinct lack of cake on my cake stands has finally pushed me to make one of my favourites – a blue berry and coconut cake or rather a blueberry and whatever the cupboard has to offer cake.

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For the original recipe head over to BBC GoodFood website: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1104663/blueberry-and-coconut-cake.

Living room update

Our living room was the first room we decided to decorate as we tend to spend most of our time there. I have mentioned before that after years of living in rented apartments surrounded by a sea of magnolia I had an overwhelming desire to go a bit wild with the paint colours. I’ve seen a few lovely pictures of powder blue rooms with white accents in the form of skirting boards and window/door frames but Mr S always found the colour too cold.

The day before we could finally move into our new house we’ve stopped for lunch at a lovely pub in the Cotswolds and that’s where we got our inspiration from. The dining room was painted quite a deep shade of teal. Admittedly this colour is a lot warmer than the powder blue I have been presenting Mr S with previously but it also definitely helped seeing an entire room decorated in that hue that convinced him in the end.

Dulux Blue Reflection

Dulux Blue Reflection

When it actually came to choosing the colour we’ve gone for Dulux Blue Reflection which might be a touch lighter. I was still keen on some white accents to break up the fairly intensive colour and set my heart on a picture rail. Not to actually hang pictures on but just to divide the wall a bit.

Ever since we moved and started a variety of DYI projects it mostly starts with us thinking “it’s going to be a 15 minute job”. I couldn’t imagine hanging a picture rail being overly complicated but in the end it has probably caused the most arguments in the whole time we’ve been together. To top it off while really struggling with making the corners look neat we’ve googled a few how to youtube videos and there you have a cheerful American chap smiling back at you while saying: “Hanging a picture rail is one of the easiest project you’ll ever undertake…”. If you weren’t sufficiently frustrated by now you definitely are after watching the video.

Anyway we got there in the end and I’d like to share a few mistakes we’ve made and how to avoid them:

  • Buy more picture rail than the perimeter of your room. Not just because you’ll most likely mess up a few times while cutting it but also because you don’t want to have to join together ten bits of wood you have left over along one wall.
  • When marking the line for your picture rail measure the same distance from the ceiling at three points for each wall. This works a lot better than a spirit level as it turns out our house (and probably the majority of others) isn’t quite level. On top of that any slight inaccuracy just multiplies as you go around the room.
  • Only cut a couple of bits at a time as accuracy is really important and chances are your walls aren’t perfectly straight either. You can always fix or at least minimize any inaccuracies of your previous cut on the next.
  • If like me you’re painting the rail with white gloss paint you’ll most likely need two coats and allow 12 hours between the coats and 24 hours after the second coat.
  • Even if you’re not planning on hanging picture off the picture rails and it’s more of a show feature no more nails isn’t going to do the trick. Unless your walls are perfectly flat and the picture rails touches the wall for majority of the wall or you’re prepared to stand holding it for half an hour. A nail gun did the job much better and the nail marks were easily covered up with more gloss paint.
  • Don’t worry if your joins aren’t completely perfect. There’s very little some wood filler and more gloss paint wouldn’t sort out.

These tips probably sound like common sense but trust me when you start with the attitude of a 15 minute job even the most obvious things don’t occur you. Hopefully this will save someone making the same mistakes.

BlueReflection

I’ll post some before and after photos of the progress so far in the week so drop by and let me know what you think.

Pine cone madness continues

I had a few pine cones left over after my pine cone wreath project (Pine cone madness) and also dried some sliced oranges for other general Christmas decorating and a lovely smell through the house. I new my pumpkins have seen better days when they started growing little furry tails (ewww…) so I’ve just piled up a couple of large pine cones and the dried oranges on my cake stand. I think Mr S is getting slightly fed up with me using cake stands for anything but cakes. I’ll have to bake a cake soon. I can’t believe I’ve only just discovered how good a few simple things can be made to look under a glass cloche. This piece will be staying in the living room for now as I have an advent wreath to go on the dining table. But I might move it onto the window sill in the hall as we’ve just had new windows installed and they deserve a bit of dressing up. Call round in the week for the rest of my festive touches which are slowly cropping up around the house and in the mean time have a a lovely weekend!

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