Thursday, July 31, 2014

Lighting our new home...

When we started thinking about the design of our new house, one of the things that was high up on our priority list was to create a home that was light and bright. Although white walls and large windows can make a home bright, there are big chunks of the year when it gets dark early and there is no natural light to illuminate a home and this is when good lighting becomes really important.

Now I won't pretend that we've nailed the lighting situation yet, but we do have a few ideas and I've been putting together a Pinterest board as we've gone along. If that sounds a bit fanciful, bear in mind most of the remodel so far was based on ideas from Pinterest!


I love rope lighting and I have seen it used really cleverly under kitchen cabinets. It gives a lovely glow when the lights are turned down low at night and instantly makes the kitchen look more modern. It's pretty easy to fit and can just be plugged into a wall socket at one end.

Our bedroom

This is one of the few rooms in the house where we have a pendant light. We have very high vaulted ceilings and needed a really huge fitting to fill the space. Everything I looked at was either too expensive or too small. In the end I found a wedding supplier who make paper lanterns that are a metre wide. We bought one for £20 and I think it looks great. Next on the list is bedside lights, there is so much lovely fabric around that I think the solution may be to buy some simple bases (I love these from BHS) and make the shade ourselves.

via Etsy

Sitting room

We have halogen lights in the ceiling in our sitting room, they are great for bright light, but we also need a mixture of table and floor lights for mood light in the evenings. I really like the 70s style floor lamps with three pronged wooden bases. For table lights, we have a red sofa that dominates the room and I think the best way to work with that is top bring other colour into the room. We have a few colourful pictures for the wall and I really fancy a teal coloured table lamp.

Theo's room

I'm not really a fan of traditional children's lighting, not least of all cause they grow out of it too quickly. However I do think a kid's bedroom is a great place to have some fun with lights. Theo has one floor light from Ikea (pretty dog standard but does the job) and having just graduated to a single bed, I'm on the look out for a quirky light for his bedside table. I also love Marquee lights and think one would be great above his bed. There's a great cheap DIY tutorial here but sadly I think it would last 5 minutes in a toddler's room!


Lighting the garden is an important area that is often forgotten about. Thanks to my dad, we did remember to ask the electricians to add three LED spot lights into the overhang of our roof during the build and when we get round to building the deck outside our sitting room they will be a fantastic feature. However I still want to add some festoon party lights (like fairy lights but with bigger bulbs) and some nautical style lamps to our veranda at the front of the house to help transform the garden into an outside room.

This post is an entry to the Lighting Majestic competition to win an iPad Mini, find out more here

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Guilt free drinking?


Last summer for the first time in my whole life I decided to go on a diet. In fact, I'd like to rephrase that... I decided to look at the food I was eating and find away to eat better in order to lose a stone (and I succeeded.)

One of the things I became aware of as I tried to alter my eating was calories in drinks. Almost everything I was drinking except tea and water was more than 100 calories and it was really hard to find anything, even as a treat, that is low calorie (particularly if you don't do sweetners.)

I mention this because, over the last week it has suddenly occurred to me why people rave about juicing being the dieter's friend. We have been trying out the Vegesentials range. The range comes in two sizes for kids or adults, but the little shot size child's portions have got "diet friendly" written all over them at only 45 calories and even the big bottles are only 85-100 calories.


But I digress a little... These are not diet drinks. They were sent for us to try because they are aimed at kids who are picky about food to encourage them to consume the good things in fruit and veg and adults who are too busy to get their five a day.

Reactions to the range varied hugely in our house. My husband was appalled by them! He couldn't understand why anyone would take fruit juice and contaminate it with (horrors!) vegetables. He only tried one flavour and I doubt I'd get him to go back for a second even if I held him down...

Theo is more adventurous! He loved the dinky bottles the moment I opened the box, but was deeply untrusting of the green flavour (pineapple and cucumber) and stuck stubbornly to the red and orange ones. He absolutely loved drinking out of the bottle with a straw and often opened the fridge to ask for them.

Millie his 12 year-old cousin is a fan of smoothies and I wasn't sure she'd take to the less sweet flavour and less thick consistency of these, but I was wrong. Not wanting to waste a big one, I gave her a small one to sample and she came back for an adult size one too and declared it "lovely!"

And me? I loved them. I didn't think they'd be my kind of thing, but I couldn't stop drinking them. I loved the fact that they weren't overly sweet and that you could actually taste the ingredients (yes, even the vegetables!) and of course they are a good healthy drink option. The only down side I can see is they aren't cheap at around £2 a bottle, but I'd definitely buy them for a treat and especially if they were an option on a lunch menu when eating out.

If you want to try them Ocado and Waitrose stock them and I suspect we'll see them popping up all over the place soon...

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Living Arrows - 30/52

ISO 400, 35mm, f/4.0, 1/200

I'm a bit late posting for Living Arrows today. We've spent most of the weekend sorting the house out and that has meant the computer has been unplugged, the camera battery was flat and my desk was in pieces, but we are getting ourselves straight again now.

Amongst the big leaps forward this weekend, we now have our sitting room back. When we sealed it off and handed it over to the builders 5 months ago it was less than half the size it is, the kind of room you might generously call cosy!

In it we had a three seater Ikea sofa which we had bought in Cyprus, moved to Scotland and then brought with us to Sussex. It was broken and rather tired. I was worried that at the end of all the building work we'd have nothing left to spend on a sofa and we'd end up in a lovely house on a broken sofa - I was right to be worried, we did finish with nothing left to buy a sofa!

However a few months ago my parents decided to change up their 10 year-old red corner sofa and we became its lucky new owners. We sat on it in the sitting room for the first time last night, we all love it, but Theo in particular is besotted with it and keeps telling me "I love our new sofa mummy"

So this week's portrait just had to be taken on it!

living arrows

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

External house photos - before and after

On Friday the final bit of external work was completed on our house and that means I can at last show you some before and after pictures of the outside.

There is still a lot to do, we have walls to paint, stairs to varnish, furniture to move, pictures to hang and our garden needs loads of work beginning with grass seed! The internal pictures will be another few weeks!

A quick recap on what we did (or rather had done!) The original house was a 1900 bungalow which had been progressively extended. We completely removed the existing roof and at the front we relocated and replaced the ground floor window on the left and replaced the one on the right. The existing UPVC front door went and in the opening we installed an oak front door.

This is how it looked in February of this year before the work started. We had originally planned to reuse the roof tiles, but stretched our budget to buy composite slate, I'm so glad we did!!

Now the side view. The first picture is of the house when we originally bought it (I think this was actually taken on completion day) in 2009. It needed immediate work on the inside and we also pushed out the middle section of the back wall to extend the kitchen.



Here's that same view today. It's hard to tie the before and after together, but the right hand window on the rendered section of the house has stayed the same throughout.

And finally the seaward facing side of the house. The room with the washing machine visible was originally a sun room with an internal window into the kitchen. We knocked through and made an arch. The two windows to the right were sitting room (middle window) and main bedroom (right) and those two rooms were knocked together to form our new living room...  



Today we have a rare cool day (I'm not complaining about the heat, honestly) so we are going to crack on with finishing as much of the inside as we can. I'll share more pictures as we progress!

Hope you are all having a great weekend...

Love Chic Living and Love Your Home

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Feeling hot, hot, hot....

Over the last week or so I have begun to wonder how we ever coped with living and working in Cyprus for two years. It's not that I object to sunshine and warm weather (I'm not moaning, I promise!) It's just that it is very hard to get anything constructive done when it's this hot and we have loads to do, most of which involves moving furniture... Urrrgggh.

So, as we have been spending more time outside the house than in, I was grateful for a well timed delivery of summer essentials from Boots.

I always remember Boots fondly as the place we'd stock up before our summer holidays in Spain when I was a child, it was all part of the drawn out build up to a holiday which usually involved being bought a new book to read too! Of course a lot has changed since the 1980s when we wore sun protection factor 2 on the beach and thought nothing of getting burned quite regularly. Fortunately the Boots experts have lots of advice about how to stay safe in the sun this summer and they offered me the chance to put a question to their experts too. Thinking of the care free summers I spent with minimal protection in the 80s I was curious to know what the advice was for kids these days...

Q. "There is a lot of talk about children not getting enough vitamin D and I am wary of smothering my son in suntan lotion too early in the year. Is there an easy way to tell when you should apply sun protection in the UK?"

A. "We receive a great deal of incidental sun exposure throughout the year all of which allows synthesis of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is also present in our diet; oily fish being a good source, and this can also be supplemented. Deliberate UV exposure without sun protection should be avoided as even short exposures can cause long term skin damage. As a rule of thumb think about using sun protection from April to end of September."

I thought that was a rather interesting response and certainly a indication that I might need to buck up my rather slack personal suntan lotion routine (Ooops!) You can find more help and advice here.

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Living Arrows - 29/52

iPhone 5 / Edited in Snapseed and Overgram

Apologies to those who have already seen this picture on my Instagram feed. I originally took the photo for a Samsung competition called "100 Days Of Family" but I liked the end result so much I thought I'd make it my Living Arrows Portrait for this week.

August is the month of birthdays in our house. I'm first on 15th, Jim's is 18th and Theo (who was due on 17th) made his appearance on 30th. Of course this means he will almost certainly be the youngest in the school year and of course, he has two parents who know exactly what that entails. Will he really be ready in 14 months time? We discuss it a lot, but ultimately only time will tell...

living arrows

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Love the little things, week 29

Today I'm linking up with Morgana for Loving The Little Things. It's a great way to round up the weeks events and I try and join in whenever I'm organised enough with photos. So here's what I've been up to this week... 



This week I watched the scaffolding come down on our house after four and a half months. Although we've been able to see the new look, I couldn't believe how different it actually looked without metal poles all over it. There is still work to do (mostly by us!) but we have at last been able to move into our new bedrooms. I will post some more photos of the outside next week when the scaffolding is finally removed from the lawn!


This week I finished reading The Fault in Our Stars. I was reading the final pages whilst sitting in the salon getting my hair cut and desperately trying not to cry! My next book is Mollie Hunter's A Stranger Came Ashore. It's a children's book about kelpies, one of this term's university modules involves illustration and graphic work for a book on folklore, so my husband recommended I read it.


Sitting waiting outside Covers in Chichester earlier today to view wooden flooring. I have decided to take back the 38 boxes of the stuff we bought on Saturday. #verytoleranthusband

I have been rediscovering my summer clothes this week as we unpack, however my favourite combination this summer is still my lovely green Dorothy Perkins skirt and red Saltwater Sandals.


Last week I was recruited by Ipsos Mori to keep a radio diary. After 20 years working in radio where careers and made and broken by the results it has been rather fun to be on the other side of it. I've mostly been listening to Radio 2... I do love a bit of Jeremy Vine!


One of my absolute favourite meals, Delia's Lobster Risotto using up the last tin of Baxters Lobster Bisque that my neighbour in Scotland got me while she was working there (at a very cheap price!)

Delia's lobster risotto is my favourite meal ever and it is ludicrously easy to make from store cupboard ingredients. I play around with the ingredients a bit leaving out the cream and adding frozen peas or sweetcorn. The base of the dish is Baxter's Lobster Bisque which costs about £1.69 a tin. My nextdoor neighbour in Scotland used to work for Baxters and before we moved south she bought me a load of heavily discounted tins (about 20p each!) This week, I finally used the last one... Now I'll have to go back to buying them at full price!

And lastly

I've really been getting into using Instagram recently and I'd love it if you could follow me. It's often the first place I get a chance to share things like pictures of our house or the quilts I am making. You can find me at @maybushstudio


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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

New handmade stickers - review

One of the unexpected problems with making and giving a lot of handmade gifts is that sometimes when the person unwraps it they can completely miss the fact it is handmade. (Really, they do!)

After a couple of slightly embarrassing incidents where something I had slaved over for several days was dismissed with a sincere but brief thank you, I started labeling everything with sewn in labels, but then I discovered that even this wasn't enough because the label is often hidden away on the reverse of a quilt or inside a pouch, so then I started labeling the actual packaging too.

My last batch of sticky labels came from the Far East because I couldn't find anywhere to print them in the UK at a decent price, so I was delighted when approached me and asked if I'd like to try out one of their products. The last of my Far East stickers had been used so I opted for a new batch of their 51mm round stickers. 200 in fact, which should keep me going for quite a while!

The stickers are fab, excellent quality printing, fast dispatch, easy to use website, everything I wanted really. The economies of scale mean it is only marginally more expensive to print 200 than it is to print 50 ( £22.34 vs £20.44) making it really cheap if you are prepared to buy in quantity.

The only down side I can see is that you have to produce the artwork yourself. This is straightforward if you have Adobe Illustrator (as I do) but that's not the case for everyone. Although this won't deter me from ordering again (I'm going to try postcards next) I do hope they consider introducing a few ready made templates so everyone can have a go.

In the meantime keep an eye on their website as they will be introducing a new photographic range soon with things like canvases and framed prints...

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Living Arrows - 28/52

ISO 400, 50mm, f/2.2, 1/800

I'm later than usual posting for Living Arrows this week and that's for two reasons. Firstly we moved back into the house on Friday night and although the builders may be close to finishing, our own work has only just begun, but more on this later in the week...

Secondly I thought I had my photo this week, it was a picture of Theo asleep in his new bed which for him was the highlight of the week, but somehow a picture I took without his knowledge just didn't feel right. Mostly he is a willing participant in this portrait project and I hope there is nothing I publish that will make him cringe in later life, but somehow a sleeping photo just felt a bit... invasive?

Anyhow, I reshot today under the lovely weeping willow in my parents garden. I'm sure I'm not alone in constantly trying to define boundaries in blogging and who knows if we will ever get it right?
living arrows

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Where we've been sleeping...


For the last few months I have been a little evasive about where exactly we've been sleeping during the massive building works on our house, but with only one night (hopefully!) left till we move back into the main house, I can now reveal a bit more...

The cabin we had installed back in March has actually been our temporary home. It's insulated and heated, but it doesn't meet building regulations for accommodation that can be slept in, which is why we had to not publicise our use of it.

Internally it measures 4.5 metres by 2.5 metres, which is just large enough to accommodate our bed, Theo's cotbed, a bedside table, chest of drawers, changing table and an Expedit bookcase which divides the room.

We whitewashed the walls ourselves before we moved in and Jim laid the laminate floor (Homebase's cheapest floor at £2.99 a metre!) I took theses photos in March when we first moved in so it looks very tidy, but over the months that bookcase has filled up with all manner of stuff.


As you can see everything fits very tightly and that's no accident. Jim drew it all out before we moved the stuff in! There's about 30cm between the end of our bed and the double doors, which makes it pretty tight coming in and out, but it's doable.

Temperature wise, we have had more trouble with the heat than the cold. In the spring it retained heat during the night quite well, but it has done the same in the summer and at 8 o'clock at night it can easily be 25c inside even with the windows open.

Although sharing a room with a toddler is not ideal, the bookcase has helped keep the spaces separate and I pinned a quilt on one side of it so that he couldn't see through (is there no end to the uses for quilts?) Theo has also been pretty good at quietly playing with his toys when he wakes up early on summer's mornings and we've been disturbed more by the sound of the billowing wrap round the scaffolding and the local wildlife than by him.

Keeping Theo in a cotbed for so long has not been what we would have done if we'd had a choice. His obsession with keeping cars in his bed has lead him to have several disturbed nights as he tossed and turned and bumped into them. He is also pretty tall for his age and so the cotbed is rather small. The move to a bigger single bed in a few weeks will definitely lead to a better nights sleep for all of us and quieter nights!


We will actually have pretty fond memories of the four and a half months we spent sleeping in this cabin, but we are ready to move on and I'm excited for its next role in our lives.

Once the beds are moved out this building will become my quilting room. A real physical embodiment of the Maybush Studio this blog is named after...

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

#CapturingColour - Orange


It's our sixth week of Capturing Colour and it's been great to see the momentum really growing on Instagram. What started as a group of photographically minded bloggers posting about the colour blue at the beginning of June, has blossomed into a really exciting little community with over a 1000 posts sharing the hashtag #capturingcolour on Instagram.

Orange week has been both good and bad for me. Bad because I struggle a bit with it as a colour, it has associations with cheapness and safety equipment and I have never encountered an orange flower that I really loved (even the tatty nasturtiums in my garden.)

But it was good too because I am trying to embrace the colour and part of that was completing my first quilt that quite apologetically featured orange in a big way...



This is our final week of sharing #capturingcolour through our blogs, but it will be continuing on Instagram where next week's colour will be gold. 

A huge thank you to Kirsty at My Two Mums  for inviting me to take part in this project back in May. I really felt honoured to be included and it has been great to have a focus to my instagram posting. Don't forget to visit the other four bloggers taking part today and lets keep the colour sharing going...

Hayley at Shutterflies
Lucy at Capture By Lucy

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