Insta – catch up.

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What better a way to catch up than over Instagram?

I have a deep, love-hate relationship with Instagram. When I first caught the insta-bug I loved how real the photos were, I loved following my favourite bloggers even if it was just what they bought from target, or a good old fashioned fitting room outfit post, those are the posts I think we all love.

The downside however, is once one person has a picture-perfect Instagram its kind of hard to swim against the tide. My own is sketchy at best but its also greatly helpful for us catching up again after so long!

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Lined up once this site is all polished are plenty of travel posts (I may have finally mastered hot weather packing – from trips to Italy & Malta). Along with that, this summer we’ve been experimenting with our garden – from being black fingered to green there are plenty of vegetables that we have somehow grown!

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If anything, the last few months have been about living primarily. Without a constant stream of blog content to write I’ve been able to spend more time reflecting and taking the time to actually live in my outfits rather than just recording them!

Its made me think long and hard about content beyond a stereotype flat-lay and about the brands behind the lifestyles we want (brand spotlights) to how clothing has the potential to change how we feel, or create an identity for ourselves! I’ve also read more on closet building, thought more on my spending habits and even how I can be a better consumer in the face of fast fashion.

I think the key to living out of an instagram account is finding what truly matters and giving yourself space to build a true persona, rather than a public face and its this type of content you will get to see on the new, re vamped blog – less contrived and a lot more real!

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Until then there is still plenty to see on Instagram and catch up on the last few months before we dive head first into the new! Now if only I could have a well formulated Instagram, that would be great! Anyone have any tips?

Bake | How to make simple bakes more fun..

Baking can sometimes seem so overcomplicated that it makes more sense to just buy ready made. I certainly do that with brownies (who has the time?) but let me tell you there are cakes out there! Cakes which are both fun, relatively easy to make an awesome to look at. Enter the coffee, chocolate walnut cupcakes.

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These started out so differently I can’t believe it. Firstly you need to go full out Great British Bake off and use Mary Berry’s Cappuccino cake recipe then you need to mix it up a little by adding chocolate drops and finely chopped walnuts to the cake mix (I used 100g of chocolate and 50-75g of chopped walnuts). The biggest change? Put the mixture into cupcake cases instead of tins!

Cook at 180 degrees and they cook wonderfully quick! I can’t tell you exact times just wait for them to be cooked through (skewer one once the tops are tanned and springy. They are done once the skewer comes out clean – but remember chocolate drops will leave a residue.) On a side note because of the mixture its worth cooking them a little longer than you perhaps would normally. I always find Mary’s mixtures a little heavy and it seems cooking them for a little longer often helps in making them a little less dense.

Now, the fun bit? Decorating.

We forget why kids love baking, its the experimentation and fun of decorating. You could just buy a piping bag and do a basic icing but then you could do this instead.

Make a mountain.

The icing, unlike Mary’s is coffee buttercream (with a little milk for smoothness) mixed with chocolate and the kicker… once you spread a little on the top of the cupcake (although cut the very top off first to make the mountain structure.) roll the cupcake it more chopped walnuts and/or place chocolate drops onto then add a little hat & icing sugar, suddenly your bake is fun again!

My favourite part of this was just experimenting and making half of them different, it just adds to the look and makes them a little more fun and less serious.

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Bake | Need a Friday pick-me-up treat?

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Friday treats are a must and with it being Autumn now this could be the last weekend to make the most of those warmer afternoons eating outdoors (or at least with a lovely sweater on!) so why not live it up this Friday?

Add to Brownies a little fudge sauce and the last of summer strawberries, perhaps some Ice Cream with vanilla pods and you’ve got yourself a party! Am I wrong?

Brownie Recipe +

Fudge Sauce Recipe+

House & Home |Going grey, tiny updates

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Farrow & Ball French Grey, Dulux MixLab, Mixlab at homebase

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A small change in your house can make a massive difference. When we had the flat we would yearly change the layout of our living room/dinner. It instantly refreshed the rooms feeling leaving us with an almost new space!

As I’ve probably discussed a hundred times before our house needs a little fixing and in the bathroom and kitchen that means a full on overhaul. Of course, not everything can be accomplished in the first few months. Instead it takes saving and a little patience and also living in your home first before you can start making solid, large changes.

Thankfully we have found small ways to change our space and try things out before committing to any larger purchases.

Painting

This time we played around with paint to transform our space. A big tip from us to you is we used Farrow and Ball’s beautiful French Grey but we re created it by using Dulux’s Mixlab.

Now we have used the full on Farrow and Ball before and loved it! Our space room used Cornforth white and Charleston Grey. Now if you have the cash these are so needed! They paint beautifully, the colours are amazing and neutral without being boring and better yet they apply perfectly to the walls.

Now in this case we went to Mixlab, we had decided to paint both our bathroom and kitchen and because of this we needed a better than bogstandard wall paint. We needed endurance. Thankfully bathroom and kitchen paints are specially designed to be harder wearing and protect your wall and plaster underneath from water damage. The problem then with this is that the price goes up.

If you couldn’t tell from my lack of blog posts nowadays we are also planning a wedding so funds are tight. This was the one way we could lower the cost nice and easy. The paint we ended up was slightly harder to apply but the colour was perfect and in both areas instantly changed the rooms!

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(The lines you can see here are just wet paint)

Picking Colours

The blue previously in our bathroom was a horror. I picked it thinking it was bright, airy and would feel beachy! I also thought, anything is better than magnolia and beach orange. Oh, how wrong could I have been! Suddenly the moment I was looking at the blue I could also see the tiles I thought were just grey have a pink undertone. The bathroom ended up feeling messy and uncoordinated for months until…

Along came green, honestly, on a spur of the moment I suddenly looked at our farrow and ball swatch and realised this would pair great with grey and pink.. it has all the right tones in it! As I bought it into the kitchen I also realised that it too would work well with the dark yellow Kent life tiles we have in our kitchen.Now rather than one room being overhauled there were two!

Ultimately the green has worked really well in both rooms and has made the kitchen feel more inviting and the bathroom a little less uncoordinated which in the grand scheme of that bathroom is quite the mission to accomplish!

The key as always is to find the right tone for your house. In a lot of cases simple colours like white work in most spaces but sometimes simple and expected is boring or doesn’t add that homely feel to your house the way you wanted. I’m personally a huge fan of the warmer colours in our house. At first (like in the bedroom) we chose white and blue and although I love it now that I see warmer colours in the space its like the house is truly coming together!

The Weekend | Happiness is . . .

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It might sound obvious but finding time off on the weekend has not always been that easy for me. Although in the past I’ve been known to be a homebody as an adult I took on some many side projects that filling the weekend was more than easy to do.

Since moving we have slowed this down and have found more downtime in our weekends for relaxed fun. This weekend we spent saturday literally running errands and napping. Although we did fit in a quick walk around the village as the sun went down which was amazing.

On Sunday however we weren’t so certain what the day would hold. We started off with some fruit and cooked breakfast before heading off to a national trust property in Sevenoaks. Unfortunately it turned out that everyone else had had a similar idea so not long after we found ourselves in Tonbridge. Getting out of the house seems to be a key component for feeling happy. There is really little better than time spent wondering with Josh before coming home to paint our fence in the sunshine.

This weeks happiness therefore was simple. Happiness is . . . doing very little at all.

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Home DIY | Kitchen Reno Inspiration

Kitchen inspo

Image Sources: Grey units, white kitchen tops, Subway tiles, wood floor, embedded sink, purple accents.

On Sunday we finally saw some sunlight and strangely I missed our flat. Not because I’m ungrateful for my house but because there is a great simplicity to renting a new-ish build to renting in general and having a property which is all complete.

Sunlight in our doer upper means seeing the things that need doing. Theres less dark evenings to hide the fact that our original seventies kitchen desperately needs another steam cleaning and although we have no intention in overhauling our kitchen just yet, theres no harm in making plans. Right?

Grey Units

I have a post for the future regarding my worries about embracing trends too closely in the home and although grey has been this massive trend in the last few years we have felt that grey units straddle the gap between minimalist white (which will show all the dirt) and darker, more traditional wood units. We are also infatuated with curved lines and a gloss finish for a modern and glamorous look which seems to reign supreme in our home so far.

White, sparkle flecked granite

As a child when my parents would take a trip to John Lewis in Welwyn Garden City I first saw this type of granite and obviously, I fell in love. I am a magpie and I’m not afraid to shout about it! I also however realise that this might be out of budget for us but a girl can dream and if I had good funds this would be it. If not I also love a basic white or even a wood top.

Subway tiles

In the bathroom we plan to have as few lines and edges as possible simply because a fluffing towel gets everywhere and who wants to be continually cleaning? In the kitchen we had the same idea but there is something about these tiles that I am just drawn to. If we went differently I also like the more basic plastic gloss splash backs. We are all about easy to clean nowadays.

Dark wood floors

We currently have basic beech, click together wood flooring in the living room and what I would ideally like it to darken it all and have the whole of the downstairs matching. I also feel like the darker wood is a little more unexpected.

An embedded sink

In the future house of our dreams a white, farmhouse sink will be ideal but for this house it just doesn’t suit. Obviously you have stainless steel sinks but again who doesn’t have one of those? I still like the white porcelain however and these new ones embedded beneath the work surface look great.

Purple accents

You might be surprised to learn that the Kitchen is actually Joshes domain. We operate the system that the first person home does the cooking and because my work hours stretch longer into the night Josh has been chief cook in our house for quite a while.

As Josh spends the most time in the kitchen I’ve given him the reigns predominately on what he fancies in this part of the house. Josh first spotted gloss cabinets, choose the grey colour and who also wanted Cadbury purple accents.

We will have some untiled – un covered walls in our kitchen so we intend for these to be painted purple and with a kettle already in metallic purple we are well on our way to the kitchen of our dreams!

Home Décor | Lessons in home ownership and not falling prey to Pinterest

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(A blue so dark its black at night. I’ve paired this with so many patterns that it can make your head spin when falling into bed with a too big glass of wine firmly planted in your belly.)

Whether you’re renting, own a property or heavens, even live with your folks how do you think about buying furniture and designing a room?

I have heard so often and from so many people about how you should buy your larger pieces in neutral colours that I’m beginning to think that the whole world operates in monochrome. We are told daily, don’t buy that bright pink velvet chair unless you’ve got cash to burn. If I won the lottery I would . . . sort of thinking. Let me burst the bubble; you don’t have to play it safe.

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During the house hunting process I had boards and boards of Pinterest with ‘minimalist’ design. I am talking full on grey as an accent colour style minimalism. It was fun, it was very capsule wardrobe obsession led but ultimately when I looked around at our existing furniture I realised, this dream of living the simple life was so not fun and so not going to happen!

In between these times I found, Abigail Ahearn and I quite frankly fell in love. She is this bold, experimental, love her colour, paint all your rooms dark designer and I fell really hard with her book, colour.

Within an hour I was thinking about bronze leaf kitchens, wood cladded hallways like a men’s smoking room and painting everything a dark moody blue. Suddenly I felt so revived that I went home to re-fall in love with our dark red leather couch. I re understood why I laid on our red and orange floral stool from my mums store in the middle of the showroom one afternoon. Quite frankly everything made sense in my world again.

Floral chair, TK

(A floral velvet Chair from TK. I stood in the Wandsworth branch for a full ten minutes drooling. Wondering, how I could convince Josh that the £300 price tag was an investment and moreso how he should for sure detour from Maidenhead to Wandsworth to drive us, (me and the chair) back to our home in Kent that evening. Ultimately, I realised this wasn’t going to fly. Especially after six snapchats from different angles went ignored. Thats not to say I’m not still waiting, thinking that he might re stumble across these and shout, lets go! Need that chair! He won’t however, sad.)

I had gotten so tied into this idea that a Scandinavian home would make me happy. I forgot that this home is not for Instagram. It’s for us and we like to be brave with our choices. I’m not afraid of making our long galley living room feel smaller by painting the room aubergine and bronze. Just think how wonderful that colour is going to feel in winter when we are watching The Flash or Arrow buried under our mountain of pillows and the long haired faux fur throw that I have yet to purchase.

Suddenly it makes sense. A narrow, armless futon in a rough grey fabric will never make me happy, so we paint our house in all the colours. We look forward to not thinking about paying out for a wedding so we can buy occasional chairs in crazy coloured florals even when it doesn’t match the rest.

This by the way is home bravery and if you didn’t catch it, this is happiness.
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(Zebra rug, probably for a childs bedroom. It looks far better under my dining table.)

Decor | First Home and Painting Hanging

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Did you know that hanging paintings is far harder than it looks? I didn’t. It probably should have been obvious but after standing together for over two hours frustrated with three small canvas’s determined to hang in different directions I’m beginning to think I probably won’t hang paintings like this again, ever.

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In case you do feel the urge this is what I would suggest.

  • If hanging them with your partner tell each other before, “I love you, but during this process I might not love you as much . . . “
  • Measure, measure, measure
  • Two sets of hands are better than one
  • Don’t let a hammer bounce off the back of the bed where it was balancing onto the exposed bed slates and let it go bouncing across the floor.
  • Wear shoes

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I initially photographed this thinking a how to! Yes! How hard can it be? Upon reflection I don’t think my method was flawless enough to emulate but the lessons and revelations I took from it? Priceless.

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All I want for New Years is . . .

 

Mariah Carey is not the obvious choice for new years resolutions however with new years here and glistening its that typical blog time where we tell the world our plans to stop ourselves backing out so here I am, deep breath, here goes . . .

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Be more brave and exploratory

2015 certainly had its break throughs and big steps but for 2016 I want to be even less timid about mine and Joshes future and where necessary make the harder choices to secure the better path. At 25 I realise that its not enough to go easy, to make allowances but to instead be a little bolder and a little braver.

Health in all forms

Buy a house and then see how your well being drops.

In 2015 we have stressed ourselves to max, forgotten all our good eating habits and become sloppy. Like million across the globe, January means health, it means more exercise and it means being more serious about making good food choices.

 

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Be more saving savvy

Pre-house we were so good at saving it hurt. We pushed for making ourselves as secure as possible and honestly owning a house costs far more than just a deposit, it requires fixes (quick and long) it needs your attention and then other things do to, like when your car breaks down, you cough up that cash but it does take its toll if your not replacing those depleted funds properly.

Thats not to say that we haven’t been saving, we have but not to the same extent that we would like. I’d also like to put a disclaimer in here, from what adulthood has taught me we are not the modern norm to want to save and to put away, the way we do. I like flying by the seat of my pants on most things but for me being secure monetarily is not fly by the seat of your pants acceptable. So in the months of February and March (which in the UK are non council tax months) myself and Josh are going to challenge ourselves to get out a small, set amount of cash for the month and try not to spend anymore than that. Its gonna be a challenge but we are excited for it a chance just to see how much we can live on. So stay tuned for more on this and how you can join along!

And then . . .

Thats it really. We have other things happening in 2016 like getting married etc but these are the right now things, keep your fingers crossed for me and lets see where 2016 takes us all!

2015 | therealjlow

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Holy heavens guys! 2015! What a year! I wrote a quick insta, but heres the thing, a lot of emphasis is put on the fact that what you’re doing when the clock strikes 12 is uber important the next year.

Reality is . . . it means so little. Our lives don’t happen because we got kissed or spent the time alone in our bedrooms, our lives come from us, from our actions and most importantly the decisions that we make every second of the day.

This time last year Josh was getting over food poisoning, and I was so busy spending my time cleaning the flat from top to bottom that by 12am? We were depleted, exhausted, certainly not out celebrating! So what did that mean for our year? Was it doomed? No, in fact this year we flourished!

Personally I flourished on a personal development level, in my work, my direction and in my home life. This time last year we didn’t have a wedding date or anything of that sorted but now we have a date, a venue, a photographer, food, entertainment and we have our own house! One we bought!

We have been through so much this year both huge highs and honestly huge lows! We spent six months feeling run into the ground and its only really been the last month that we have felt like the tunnel was clearing that the light was here, it was upon us! Today we took a walk, we took blog photos and silly photos and talked about the new year, about wanting a rescue dog just normal chill happy things! and honestly we have come full circle we’ve gone through a lot but nothing that happened at the strike of midnight meant a damn thing.

Make 2016 a year of change for yourself. Don’t put your fears and issues on anything/anyone else, take the bull by the horns, make the life you want! Only you have the power to be happy and have everything you want so go get it girl! The time is now!

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Christmas | The Tree

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The best bit about Christmas? The decorating.

My favourite part of Christmas is never presents but always the feel of the festive season and time with mine and Joshes family. However if you were to ever ask my mum (please don’t) she’ll tell you all about my obsession with the christmas tree as a child. Although I don’t spend hours in front of it as I once did there is something so magical about seeing your own christmas tree in your first house. So here it is! Happy Christmas everyone!

 

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Dine and Celebrate | Friends Christmas

DSC_0439   DSC_0391   A long time ago myself and Joshes friends discussed doing a friends Christmas. The rules were you had to turn up in your most fantastic Christmas jumper, exchange secret santas (where we have to guess who its from) and finally make dinner all together and just be chill and celebrate us and our fabulous life! Here are a few stand out moments and a few things I bought which I loved and thought were pretty cool! DSC_0400 DSC_0392
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