Holiday Fun

Holiday Fun

Melbourne

You have  probably all heard or seen by now that I am on holidays at home in Melbourne. With such a jam packed trip there isn’t a minute to spare in between all the coffees, celebrations, sitting in the sun and of course babysitting the real lovetomtom. Not that I would have it any other way of course!

While I get my dose of family and Melbourne life, here are a few things to keep you along the ride with me. If you haven’t seen it already, check out part one of my Long Haul Flight Essentials video. Part two is coming but if I’m honest it was rather an unpleasant flight to Melbourne and  there are only so many ways to say ‘and then I vomited’ but seeing as I have to take the horrendous journey home to Dublin there will be a part two.

I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to celebrate my wedding with my Aussie family so out came my wedding outfit and we had a lovely celebration at Trunk Restaurant and Bar followed by coffee and cake at Bruntetti, an old favourite Melbourne spot. To top the night off we had a lovely catch-up with our extended family and friends and I had such a great night I had no time to take any photographs!

A trip home is very different to any other holiday. It is jam-packed, emotional and there is never enough time to fit it all in. I’m trying to take full advantage of every moment spent with my family and friends and a little less time with technology which I’m sure you will all understand. Don’t worry though you can stay in touch on Instagram which is where I’m posting a few holiday snaps in between all the hugs and kisses with the real lovetomtom.

xo

 

 

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Home is Nowhere

Home is…. Nowhere?

Life

You’ve probably gathered by now that I have recently moved abode. Unfortunately the move wasn’t by choice. If I’m honest it has been rather a traumatic few months so before I go on to how I’m trying to make my new place a home I want to share with you how I ended up in the middle of Ireland’s housing crisis.

If you had the misfortune of being around me at all the past year you would know that I had only two things to talk about: My housing situation and an ill family member. Not surprisingly, I was consumed by both. We got word last year that the rented house we were living in was being sold. A house that five years ago sat empty because no one wanted it due to its poor condition and decor. Not that this that bothered Mr B and I. In fact we were delighted to find a three-bedroom house in a good area and because of its poor condition we were even able to negotiate the rent down. It became our home.

If you live in Ireland, you will know the country is embroiled in a housing crisis. The simple version of it is supply and demand. Add to that the economic effects of the financial crisis as well as the unregulated rental market (although there have been some changes in recent times and one can only hope this continues!) the country as a result has seen a wave of new homeless. As a grown woman with a decent job, I ended up a part of it. Of course it’s a home owner’s prerogative to sell their house but any renter who has received similar news probably wonders the same things: Is the house really getting sold or is it a way to get new tenants in at a higher rent? How accommodating do I have to be for viewings and strangers traipsing through my home seeing as this is not my decision? How are we going to afford to live somewhere else? The answers or the inconvenience didn’t matter as it was happening whether we were on board or not.

With the news that we had to leave our ugly but lovely home we had two options; buy or rent. We decided to take the plunge and try to purchase our own home, the cheaper option of the two. For the next few months we spent every waking minute looking for a house. If you have every looked to purchase your own home you will understand how stressful and consuming it can be. With our endless research and pros and cons lists, what started out as an adventure turned into a race against the clock. Some Saturdays felt like we were on the Amazing Race, often going to four different house viewings scheduled all around the same time! Despite all the daydreaming and way too many hours spent on Pinterest, none of this was exciting or thrilling. Our lists went out the window and we were now in a situation of having to buy a property not necessarily wanting to. It seemed every other person in the buyers market was looking at the properties we were (how dare they!) and with the volume of people at each viewing anyone would think they were giving away houses! And then there were the offers. Offers were usually at least fifty thousand euro over the asking price and that was just the first viewing! This was not a fun time.

Fast forward to December, December 23rd to be precise and we found ourselves in yet another bidding war. Needless to say you know how that ended. Another house (there were four in total)  that we attempted to buy but walked away empty-handed. Part of the process I know, but we needed somewhere to live and that is all I could think about. We had hoped to make that special purchase and move from our beloved rental to what was going to be our beloved home but seeing as that wasn’t going to happen we had to come up with a new plan. We made the decision to join the hunt for a new rental property and take a break from house hunting and with that decision I felt a little sense of relief.

Not for long! I thought I knew what the rental market had to offer. Small spaces, extortionate rents and millions of people competing for the same thing. We found all of that and more! I don’t know why I was shocked. Some of my friends had been through it, the housing crisis was in the news daily and yet I was completely and utterly shocked at what we faced. I was losing my faith in humanity as we went to viewing after viewing after viewing. The combination of greed and desperation made me want to live in my car. Something I often joked about but something I was seriously considering. As my disdain for humankind increased I found the complete opposite in my friends, family and acquaintances. The kindness shown to Mr B and I blew my mind. The offers of a place to stay, the thoughts of asking those around them if they knew anyone that could help, the offers of storage space and mostly importantly an ear to listen to my endless worries, rambles and let’s not forget, the tears! I couldn’t reconcile the two extremes and both made me cry. For very different reasons of course.

I haven’t felt like myself since this whole housing situation started and I often found it hard to function. Between work, family commitments and life in general I started to wonder if this was what life as an adult was? I was consumed with worry and I had no control over it. A difficult thing to manage seeing as I love to control nearly everything (happy to admit it) and so I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what I could control. Turns out there wasn’t much. I know we aren’t the only ones in this situation. Everyone has a story, a crisis or heart-ache of some sort. Sometimes these things are better shared but up until now, I couldn’t really say everything I wanted as I didn’t have the words. Literally. Anyone who was brave enough to ask me ‘have you found somewhere to live?’ will be all too familiar with the crazed look on my face that greeted them. Smiling and nodding saying ‘no but it will all be fine. It will all be fine’. Either that or I burst in to tears and it’s really hard to write when you’re crying and snotty. Trust me I made a few attempts and you’ll be glad I spared you.

So here I am, still believing home is where you make it but I have to admit in all of my adventures, it never occurred to me that I would have nowhere to make my home. Although I would never choose to live where we find ourselves now or pay the amount we have to in rent, I remind myself it is not the worst option we faced. I also know that we are extremely lucky to have somewhere to call home and this won’t be the last crisis that will present it’s disgusting, ugly, mouldy head. I’m hoping there will be less mould in the next crisis.

With all that said it is now time to take a breath and make the most of our cherished possessions in the four walls we live in. It is these things after all that ignite memories of past adventures, places we’ve yet to explore and our loved ones and they are what make up our home. These and a few nice cushions!

xo

P.S. If you find yourself in a similar situation or think I could lend a hand in any way please get in touch.  You can leave a comment below or email me directly at lovetomtom@outlook.com and I will be happy to answer any questions you may have. 

Houseguests

House guests

Some of you may be aware that my fabulous parents have crossed the pond and made the very long journey to pay Mr B and I a visit. Life has been so busy the past few months, my countdown to their arrival went from over one hundred sleeps to 1 sleep in the blink of an eye! And you all know  I love a good countdown!

House guests means preparations and preparations that I love. Remember the last time I had house guests?  Most of my preparations this time round have been about food and what we will eat and where! I know I have a tough few weeks ahead of me!

Essentials

Essentials

Back home I’ve gone into guest room mode and I always have this image of how I want a guest room to look (I blame Pinterest for that) but sadly, there are lots of things in my house that are there and not by choice. I can only work with what I’ve got and it doesn’t take much or cost much for that matter to pretend like our house is somewhere worth staying. I added a few little goodies  like  toiletries I know they like, samples I know mum would like to try, the city essentials and a well stocked drinks trolley will hopefully make up for the brown patterned carpet! At the end of the day they are here to see us so I guess that’s all that counts!

Drinks trolley

Drinks trolley

Do you like having house guests? How do you prepare? Will I be envious of your guest room?

xo

Concrete Corner

 Concrete corner!

Concrete garden

Summer is here, well kind of and it always gets me in the mood to whip the garden into shape. There are a few obstacles I have to overcome first. One, I have no idea what I’m doing in the garden and two, I rent so I don’t want to invest in a full-on landscaping extravaganza. With that in mind, I wanted to spruce things up with as little work as possible and without spending a fortune.

Doesn’t matter if it’s summer or winter, there is one main thing that I want to improve. I have this concrete wall I can see from the living room and I hate looking at! Ever since I’ve been living in the house I’ve wanted to cover it. I’m having flashbacks to my bathroom makeover. It sure is a challenge trying to make a small, ugly space bearable and that’s how I feel about this concrete area! I had a few ideas on how to deal with the concrete wall. Ideally I wanted to hang baskets and pots over it but the wall is a bit too wide for any hanging pots I found so I came up with a cheaper alternative. There were some old bricks lying around the place and I bought some wooden boards used for decking to create a ledge in front of the wall. I made sure the boards were already treated and suitable to be left outdoors.

Concrete garden

With the ledge assembled all that was left were the plants and flowers.  I relied solely on the sales assistant who was very helpful I have to say. I told him what I wanted and what I was putting together.  And I did mention my lack of gardening skills!

Flower corner

Flower corner

As you can probably tell this is a work in progress and I’m hoping the plants actually grow and flourish. I need to add a bit more greenery and I have some herbs to plant as well. I’m still going to keep my eye out for an alternative to my makeshift ledge. I’m thinking an old bath tub would look great but for now, my little concrete corner is looking a bit more colourful and loved.

Meet Fagioli our guard dog

Meet Fagioli our guard dog

xo

 

Goodbye

The real lovetomtom has left the building.

(and I’m running out of tissues)

This post seems a bit late since my house guests left almost two weeks ago now but it has taken me a while to compose myself enough to write this.  I don’t need to tell you that saying goodbye to loved ones completely sucks. I am heartbroken, I miss them and I want them here now! Yes I’m being a baby and throwing my toys out of the pram, but I think I’m allowed.

I could write a thesis on how much I miss them and the depths of my homesickness but I will save you. Instead let’s talk about how I prepared for my guests and the real lovetomtom. With all my research I had to remind myself that they were not moving in forever (I wish) and the real lovetomtom is a 2 year old boy who can easily be entertained. Some things I bought new, but most things, like books and toys, I bought from charity shops. I wanted to give him the option of taking goodies home with him so everything I bought had to be light and easily transportable. Not an easy task, as everything I wanted to buy was solid wood or too big to fit into a suitcase! Can you tell I’m a smitten auntie?

With toys and entertainment taken care of, I was left to create a pop-up bedroom. I’m glad I didn’t go too over the top with his room which could have easily happened. I realised after some very grand ideas and swooning over many Pinterest boards, that he wouldn’t be spending that much time in his bedroom and that I was probably decorating it more for the adults! Here are a few things I put together for him.

I couldn’t resist this black and white elephant fabric.

Elephants

 

A bit of colour thanks to this ABC wrapping paper I framed.

T is for tomtom

A few extras just for fun.

Kids room accessories

Kids room accessories

Trucks, blocks, books, bubbles, make-believe, dress-ups, music, baby chinos and dancing. Oh the dancing! That’s how I spent my time with the real lovetomtom and I miss him and his mummy and daddy very much.

lovetomtom

lovetomtom

lovetomtom

xo

 

 

 

lovetomtom has landed!

lovetomtom has landed!

I don’t need to tell you again but just in case you forgot,  lovetomtom (the real lovetomtom) has landed!

I might be a bit quiet the next two weeks and I’m sure you’ll understand why, but fret not as there will be plenty of blog posts to follow, including the final decision on how I styled his bedroom.

Until then, here is  a sneak peek.

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xo

Who is lovetomtom?

The story of lovetomtom

(and his lovesick aunt)

With the pending arrival of tomtom himself, I thought now would be a good time to introduce you.

Some of you may already know, so I will keep this brief and not to give away all his secrets (everyone deserves a bit of mystery) but tomtom is my wonderful nephew. TaDa! (insert jazz hands). Anyone who has a niece or nephew no doubt thinks he/she is the cutest, the smartest, the kindest and I am unapologetically no different! tomtom is very special to our family and as his Zia (aunt) I am completely crazy in love with him.

It’s no surprise then that his visit (along with my fabulous sister and brother in-law) is the event of the year! As part of their visit I will need to design a temporary bedroom, play area, activities and meals for the little man and I can’t wait.

My aim is to create a fun, calm space for him to feel relaxed and comfortable. He is coming a very long way and being on a plane for 24 hours is bad enough for most of us let alone a 2 year old. Don’t worry, I will have plenty of goodies for the grown ups too!

I’m not one for gender colours or gender themes for that matter so over the next few weeks my eyes will be peeled for all sorts of inspiration. I’m going to have to be creative in how I use materials and think outside the box, as after all, they will be going home again (the tissues are on standby).

My sewing machine and paint brushes, as well as my never ending supply of hugs and kisses are ready to go. I’ll keep you posted on what I will be working on and if you have any suggestions please send them my way.

Let the countdown begin! (even though I have been counting down for months but you get my drift).

9 weeks and counting!

lovetomtom

Not long tomtom until you can reach out your cute little hands to me in person!

xo

What’s on my fridge

What’s on my Fridge

 

What's on my fridge

The very first time I left home and packed my life into a suitcase to start a new adventure,  a dear friend of mine gave me a gift, a fridge magnet. An ideal gift of home and friendship that didn’t take up too much space. Since then, it doesn’t matter where I live or how long for, I always decorate the fridge!

My current kitchen is tiny and anyone who has a tiny kitchen knows you have to be well organised and use what little space you have wisely. Of course every item has its place and there is great hysteria (from me) if they are not in their well thought out place, but you can only work with what you’ve got. Despite all the downfalls of my little kitchen, I have been able to style it in a way that has made it one of my favourite rooms of the house.

However, when it comes to what’s on my fridge, no styling is necessary. More is more! I figure I’m bound to go to the fridge about a hundred times a day so I want it (along with the food I’m grabbing) to spark all sorts of lovely images and memories, and what better way to do that than with bits of life stuck all over it.

It’ simple, if it makes it to the fridge, it is super special!

A dear friend always reminds me

Love letters

Travel, love letters, pictures, places, that’s what’s on my fridge.

What’s on yours?

xo

Is it really that bad?

Yes is the answer to that question, it is that bad!

I am speaking of my bathroom. The most detested room of my house. It has taken me almost 3 years to find a way to make it, well less ugly and still to this day I’m not sure I’ve succeeded. As I rent I am limited to DIY home improvements and yes there are lots of ways to create the illusion of space and all the other tricks renters try but even these bring their own challenges.

IMG_2590

My main issue (and there are many with this room) is the tiles. Floor to ceiling tiles of what can only be described as a wishy washy, cringe-worthy mess of green and white swirl (as you can see there is no way of making these tiles look anything other than revolting, in my opinion!). It is unfortunate as if I was to decorate a room green would dominate. Anyway, initially when I approached this room I was trying to find accessories that would ‘blend in’ with the hideous tiles however no joy with that plan.

Bathroom jazz up

My new approach is to change the focus. Instead of walking in and seeing ‘those tiles’, my aim was for the eye to go directly to something else. So here it goes, the one colour I would never use in interior decor; black!

black in a bathroom

I adore black in clothing, footwear and accessories but for home interiors I feel it is too modern, I prefer a softer, more vintage feel. However I needed something so bold as to shift the focus so black it is. With only a few additions, I now walk into the bathroom and the tiles somehow, if I squint enough fade into the background of a bold monochrome shower curtain and a big black mat that adds texture and warmth. Throw in wooden triangle shelves that use up what was once dead space, a plant holder for magazines, a jam jar for my make up brushes, a hanging door storage unit for all my creams, nail polishes and of course lipsticks and a turtle just for the fun of it! By no means does the final result resemble a bathroom I actually want but hey, you can only work with what you’ve got!

Turtle fun

xo