Gallery Gazing

As I mentioned in this post, I have been wanting to create a gallery wall in our kitchen for some time now and over the last few months, I have been gathering up frames and pictures to give it a shot. If I’m honest, I’m a little bit nervous about it, as I don’t want it to finish up looking like a mess (which is highly possible!) I’m a big planner and I’m often planning things in my head for a long time before I actually take the plunge. Sometimes it takes months or even years to make those plans a reality but I never feel any kind of regret about that because, in my opinion, it always pays off to wait and think things through first when it comes to decorating decisions.

So, in keeping with this philosophy, and inspired to get on with it by the array of photos we took on our recent holiday, I’ve been busy researching gallery walls – placement, frame type, frame colour, style, etc. for a while and trying to decide what I like best and what would work best in our space.

Here are a few examples of different approaches to the gallery wall which have come up in my research:

Instagram Prints Gallery

Instagram Prints Gallery

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This one is a similar idea to the Instagram Gallery Wall I created in our stairwell. I love the uniformity of it and I love seeing our family pictures every time I run up and down the stairs but I feel like the wall in the kitchen will need a little more ‘personality.’ I’m looking for a more eclectic mix of frames and other items which I think will fill this larger space better.

Gold Gallery Wall from Classy Clutter

Gold Gallery Wall from Classy Clutter

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I loooooove this one. The gold frames, the mix of pictures, words, photos and mirrors. It is just what I’m going for but sadly, I don’t think the gold would match our colour scheme on this occasion. Still, definitely one to bear in mind for the future.

A Gorgeous Gallery From Bless'er House

A Gorgeous Gallery From Bless’er House

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This is one of my favourites. The use of different textures, shapes and sizes is so effective and I love the letters too. I adore the way the colour of the frames are slightly different but all still tones of a similar shade.

Gallery wall from Feather Nest Photography

Gallery wall from Feather Nest Photography

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This darling arrangement is another twist on a similar idea. I love the two-tone frames in different shapes and sizes and the colourful prints mixed in which add colour without overwhelming. It’s just so cute!

These are just a few of my favourites. There is a world of inspiration out there but I definitely have a clearer idea of what I’m going for now and I can’t wait to get going with my own Gallery Wall. I just need to get hubby on board as I think I may need some help with this one!

Has anyone else been making plans to get their family photos on display? I just love to be surrounded by pictures of our happiest memories don’t you?

P.S. You can see our Instagram Gallery Stairwell here.

 

Chalk Paint Chair Update

Dining Chair Update from Home Heart Harmony

Dining Chair Update from Home Heart Harmony

 

 

I’ve been getting busy with the paint brush again and I’m so pleased with the results, I couldn’t wait to share them with you. Earlier in the year, a lovely lady I had known my whole life passed away. The people clearing her house knew that I liked to ‘up-cycle’ furniture and I had a call to ask if I would like to do so with a set of six dining chairs which had belonged to her for years. I do love renovating old furniture but there is something particularly special about doing so with something that has a sentimental meaning for you. I thought the chairs were a lovely shape and we were desperately in need of new dining chairs since our pup did this to ours:

Our dog-chewed chairs are in urgent need of replacement

Our dog-chewed chairs are in urgent need of replacement

I have waited until now to do anything because I wanted to make sure the dog had finished her chair-chewing. Now, she hasn’t done any for some time, so I’m really hoping she wasn’t just waiting for new material!!

I started off with this:

Before

Before

 

I have been keen for a while to try chalk paint which I had seen around a lot on Pinterest. My Mum had used it to update some of her old pieces of furniture and it looked great and then last weekend, we had dinner at a friend’s and they had used it to paint one of their dining chairs which spurred me into action with ours. The paint I used was this Autentico chalk paint which was recommended to me as being good.

Autentico Chalk Paint

Autentico Chalk Paint

For anyone local, upon the recommendation of aforementioned Mum and friend, I purchased the chalk paint at Keeper’s Pre-Loved at Farrington Farm which is just down the road from me. The lady there was so lovely and helpful, she advised me how to use the paint and helped me with colour choice. She even opened tins of paint for me so that I could get a better idea of how they looked (and I didn’t even have to ask!) The paint is not cheap (I think it was around £25 for the tin and the wax) but I think the price is competitive with other suppliers and I quickly realised that the paint goes a long way. I have only painted one chair so far but I think I will quite easily get all six painted before I need to buy another tin.

You can use the wax and chalk paint to achieve a distressed finish but personally, I don’t like that look so I just used the wax as suggested to seal and give a smooth finish and I’m really happy with it.

Coat 1, 2 and 3

Coat 1, 2 and 3

The lady at Keeper’s Pre-Loved advised me not to panic when I put the first coat on. She said it would go on thinly and there would be brush streaks with the first coat which there were. She advised at least two coats and I finished up giving it three. The paint had quite a gritty (you might say ‘chalky’!!) texture and it was strange to start with. It did seem to dry very quickly although I left each coat overnight to make sure it had dried properly.

For the seat pad, I used some left over curtain fabric which I just cut to size and attached underneath using my staple gun. I love the fabric so much and it was SO easy to put on, I can easily replace it if it gets messed up. Here are some pictures (which are not great because the light has been so poor this week but we’ll get the idea. I’ll try to take some more pictures and update them if we get a brighter day.)

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All finished

All finished

 

So, now I just need to do the other five!! I will be sure to share with you again when all six are complete and ‘in situ’ I am on a roll now and determined to get all six finished before Christmas. Has anyone else been busy painting or ‘up-cycling’ this weekend? I would love to hear about it and see your pictures. You can get in touch by email (homeheartharmony@yahoo.com) or follow me on Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter.

P.S. You can see some of my previous painting adventures here and here.

Let’s talk Plans

Happy Sunday! It was a really miserable rainy day here yesterday but I secretly love a Saturday like this every now and then because it gives you the perfect excuse to hole up at home and either get all those pesky jobs done……or…..lounge around and do very little (my preferred option if I can get away with it!) Yesterday, I used the rain as an excuse to get some floor plans done on the computer for our extension which have got me into a state of high excitement!

As I mentioned in this post about our kitchen, we have plans for big changes to our ground floor. We have waited 10 long years to replace our kitchen and during that time, I have gone backwards and forwards a hundred times over what my dream kitchen would look like. It’s a big decision and one I still haven’t made, but I think I’m moving in the right direction.

Thanks to my plan-drawing activities yesterday, I definitely have a clearer idea about what the layout should look like. Here is what we have at present:

The Current Layout

The Current Layout

I used ‘Sweet Home 3D Format’ to create this drawing and it was really easy to use. I didn’t measure anything so it’s not to scale and it’s all just done on guess work but I think I’m pretty close to how it should look. The furniture etc. is just representative, there were no colour options or anything so we’ll just go with it.

At the moment, we have a small conservatory at the back of the house which we NEVER use. It is far too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter and it’s also too small to be useful for anything I can think of. It is joined by double glass doors to our ‘den.’ This room is well used. It is home to my piano (which won’t fit anywhere else in the whole ground floor) as well as my son’s Xbox and most of the children’s toys and games (the collection of which is rapidly reducing as they get older.) In the summer, we have to keep the double doors closed at all times otherwise, the den is also too hot to sit in.

My initial thought was to knock down the walls between the breakfast room and the conservatory/den and open up the whole back of the house but there were a few reasons why we have decided not to do this:

1. We really use the den a lot. It’s great to have a space where the children can take themselves off and play their games and make a mess and if need be, we can shut the door on it all and deal with it later. I think it’s always useful to have space that can be separated off and used for different purposes.

2. As the children get older, I’m sure they will want space of their own to hang out with their friends etc (away from hubby and I!) and I would feel better if this was somewhere on the ground floor so that they are still close to us and not cut off and shut away upstairs.

I’m sure we could create an amazing space at the back of the house if it was all open plan and we could install bi-fold doors and open it to the garden but I’m just not sure it would work with the way we live our lives. Here’s what we’ve come up with as a new layout:

New Layout

New Layout

We eventually made the decision to replace the conservatory roof with a ‘proper’ roof and square off the corner to create a bit more useable space. We will also knock the walls down between the current conservatory and den to open up the room.  We have thought carefully about how we use this area and how we would want to use it in the future and I came up with three main uses. The first is as a space for the children (and adults!) to watch TV, play games and computer games and generally lounge around. The second is as a place to play the piano or other musical instruments. The third thing I would love to add to this space is a desk area. At present, we all use our kitchen table for doing paperwork etc. I spend a fair amount of time working on the computer (for the blog and for work) and the children sometimes need help with their homework which entails them being closer to me or their Dad than they are in their bedrooms (which is where they do most of their school work.) By having a study/desk area in here, it means we can all be closer to the rest of the family while we work without cluttering up the kitchen table which has to be cleared off every time we want to eat.

In the kitchen, we are planning to push the external wall out to allow for a bigger kitchen as well as a larger laundry/mud room behind. You may have noticed that I have also snuck a ‘pantry’ into that space – I could just burst with excitement at the prospect of having a pantry!! I have also always dreamed of having an island unit in my kitchen and I am seizing this opportunity to make it happen! I am SO excited at the prospect of our new kitchen it’s ridiculous!

The current utility/laundry room is tiny and whilst it’s really handy to have it, the room is usually in a state of chaos because it’s just not big enough to house everything that needs to happen in there! This room is home to our cat’s food, bed and litter tray, it also houses our bags, coats, wellington boots, hats, scarves etc. It has a wall mounted shoe cabinet as well as a sink (which I can never get to) and cupboards which contain all of our laundry detergent, pet food, shoe cleaning equipment, cookery books, etc.etc. I could go on for ever!

At the moment, I take all of our clean laundry upstairs to fold and iron. In my dreams, this room will have an area for both of those activities so that I can simply take our ironed clothes upstairs to put away and we won’t have a spare bedroom full of laundry. I would love to incorporate a folding table and baskets for each person’s clean laundry which could be taken upstairs, emptied and returned. Something like this:

Screen Shot 2012-05-25 at 8.38.01 AM

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I would also love it if there were a place to keep all our boots so they are not just scattered around the floor. This room is also where we dry off the dog after muddy walks and it would be great to have a bit more space for that activity which is not easy in cramped quarters!!

In the kitchen, we have made space for that island unit as well as including large doors onto the patio and garden. We will keep a table in there as well as having a breakfast bar at the island so that we can still accommodate larger numbers for dinner or whatever. My husband is dreaming of a Rangemaster oven and I would love to have somewhere to house all his cookery books within the kitchen. We are gradually zeroing in on what we want for this space but it’s so hard to decide and I’m sure when we realise what everything costs, there will be compromises to be made!

So, that’s it. Our dream layout and plans for the next year or so. I am currently making a list of little extras I would love to incorporate such as a waste disposal unit, a space under the counter for the dog’s bed and an outside tap that runs warm as well as cold water. Is there anything else you can think of that we should include in our new plans? Is there anything you would change about this layout? I would love to hear your ideas and suggestions. I just can’t wait to get started with all this. Now all we need to do is find someone to do all the work!! Please contact me with your comments and suggestions in the comments or email me at homeheartharmony@yahoo.com. I would love to hear your ideas!

All text and images are copyright Home Heart Harmony unless stated. Single images may be reproduced only if they remain in their original state and must be credited back to Home Heart Harmony with a link to the site. Failure to do so constitutes a copyright violation. 

 

 

 

Christmas Preparations

Happy Halloween! I can’t believe it’s the end of October already! Where has this year gone? We have had a lovely half term week but it’s gone waaaay too quickly. We had fun carving our pumpkins last night and I’m actually quite enjoying the snuggly evenings now that the clocks have gone back.

Tree

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As it’s November tomorrow, I thought it might be ok for me to mention Christmas?! It’s certainly on my mind now and although I ban Christmas music and films in our house until 1st December, I definitely need to be thinking about Christmas gift shopping and preparation. I love to embrace the festive season during December and I always feel that thinking about Christmas too early spoils the excitement of the build up.

I used to keep all Christmas activities on hold until 1st December but since becoming a Mum, I am acutely aware of the huge amount of preparation that is needed before the big day and every year I promise myself that next year, I will start planning earlier.

This time around, I would like to think that I could get most of my gift-buying done by the end of November so that we can relax a bit and just enjoy December. I created a template last year to help keep track of present buying and budget. Here is a FREE DOWNLOAD for you to help you do the same this year. (Click the link underneath the picture).

IMG_0426

Christmas Present List

This list really helped me last year. I started using it just for present ideas but when I actually started shopping, I was able to keep a track of what I had actually purchased as well as the amount of money I had spent on each person (something which I can easily lose track of!) In some cases, I bought more than one gift so I left the lines wide to enable me to record each one within the same area.

I am a very visual person and I find the action of writing things down helps me to remember them which is why I find this type of list so useful. However, I do understand that some of you will prefer to use technology to keep track of things so here are a few of my favourite FREE Christmas apps to help you stay organised over the festive period.

 

mzl.kqmcalndSanta’s Bag

This app allows you to make lists of your gift recipients and keep track of your spending as you buy presents for all of them. You can set an overall budget and it even enables you to change the status of each gift as you purchase and wrap them up as well as emailing lists of things you still need to buy. You  can even add a password to stop little noses from seeing all your secret gift ideas!

 

NoMoreSocksLogoNo More Socks

This app enables you to use it year-round to create and update lists of gift ideas for all your friends and family. You can create events, add people and presents as well as go online shopping to save links and photographs. The app also enables you to get gift inspiration from other users and share your gift ideas with the ‘No More Socks’ community.

 

imagesManage Christmas

Another similar app which allows you to budget, keep lists, track ideas and record purchases. There is also a Christmas gift ideas section to give you inspiration for those ‘difficult customers’ (We all have those, right?)

 

 

And once all the serious business has been taken care of, here are a few more fun ones to get you and your little ones into the festive spirit!

imagesNORAD tracks Santa

We have been following Santa on the NORAD website for a few years now and my kiddo’s always get SO excited to follow his journey around the world. Now you can follow using their app to track Santa’s progress on the NORAD radar! (Available from 1st December).

 

 

unnamedInstaCard

Use your instagram photos to create cards for your loved ones. Choose from over 60 card designs and 55 creative frames and add text in a variety of fonts and colours. There are also stickers to add a touch of fun and you can use your photos as backgrounds if you wish. This app can be used year-round.

 

 

imagesMartha Stewart Craft Studio

This app enables you to create and order cards to be delivered to your door featuring your own photographs and ‘virtual glitter.’ There are four free themes and more are available with an additional cost. You can also print at home or share via email, Twitter and Facebook.

 

 

Hopefully, once you’ve downloaded the Christmas list and all these fantabulous apps, we’ll all be well on our way to being organised and ready to tackle our Christmas shopping! Is anyone else planning to get started with their Christmas prep? I would love to hear about it. Don’t forget, you can contact me by email (homeheartharmony@yahoo.com) or follow me on Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.

 

Easy Entertaining

It’s been another busy week around here and I feel like I’ve hardly been at home! We have reached the end of the first half term of the school year so the children and I have a week to re-charge our batteries and prepare for the madness of the Christmas term which is always a non-stop, full-steam-ahead sprint to the holidays.

One of our favourite things to do at this (and pretty much any other) time of year is to have people over. As the home-loving gal that I am, I have always loved having friends and family gather at our place to enjoy a nice meal and a little tipple (or two!) Since we had the children it obviously holds the added bonus of being an opportunity to have a fun evening with friends whilst not having to worry about getting a baby-sitter.

I am so lucky that my hubby is the chef in our house and he loves to cook for others and try out new, more exciting recipes that we wouldn’t be having in the day-to-day meal-prep frenzy that has to be squeezed in between ballet lessons, grocery shopping, swimming, school projects, housework and general tearing-around that has to be done on our weeknights. Over the years, we have made a few changes to the way we plan and prepare for these social gatherings that make things run more smoothly and (by and large) reduce the chances of  a) burnt dinner b) being half dressed when guests arrive or c) a screaming row! So, here we go with my definitive top 10 tips for entertaining at home:

1. Get ahead with the housework

Get ahead with the housework

Get ahead with the housework

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We have been using our Cleaning Schedule for a few months now and it works so well….when I’m on top of things. Of course there are days when all my best-laid plans go out the window and I fall behind with the housework but having a plan definitely helps me to tackle those little jobs as and when I have a spare 10 minutes without being overwhelmed.

Our Cleaning Routine

Our Cleaning Routine

In the weeks when I know we are having people over, I try extra hard to stick to the plan and get things done in the week leading up to the event so I don’t find myself rushing around on the day working up a hot-sweat to get the house together when I need to be doing other things. Generally, on the day itself, I just whizz around with the vacuum cleaner and that’s about it.

2. Ask ahead about food preferences or allergies

It’s always a good idea to get this info ahead of time so that you can plan your menu without having to re-jig things at the last minute to accommodate a food allergy or preference.

3. Team Up

Team Work!

Team Work!

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My Mum always says ‘Many hands make light work’ and it’s so true. Splitting the workload in terms of food-prep and house-prep makes things so much easier. In our house, I usually make a dessert, get the house clean and tidy and get the kids to bed while hubby cooks the main course and dessert and walks the dog so she’s not bouncing off the walls while we have people here (though she usually does that anyway!) Generally, I will make the dessert either the day before or early in the day (since I’m home earlier). I often involve the children in our preparation too. They love to lay the table and make it look pretty, light candles and get involved with anything that delays the moment they have to go to bed!

4. Plan the meal prep

If you do everything possible in advance – either during the day or the night before – everything is so much easier on the night. From preparing the dessert to peeling and/or chopping vegetables to making a soup or sauce, whatever can be done before the evening will take pressure off on the night.

5. Clean up as you go

Get that washing up done before your guests arrive!

Get that washing up done before your guests arrive!

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After all the effort of making your kitchen sparkle for your guests, the last thing you want is to create a disaster zone in the hour before they arrive. So, get the washing up bowl filled and ready and wash each item as you finish with it. Then it’s just a matter of putting things away and a quick wipe-down of the worktops and you’re ready to go.

6. Leave yourself time to get ready

Don't get caught in your underwear - leave time to get ready!

Don’t get caught in your underwear – leave time to get ready!

Don’t forget to allow time to get yourself ready as well as the meal! There’s nothing worse than still being in your underwear when the doorbell goes! Cue sweaty red face and ‘dragged-through-a-hedge’ hair.

7. Remember – everything doesn’t have to be ready the second your guests walk through the door.

It’s easy to forget in the pre-dinner panic that people won’t want to sit down and start eating the second they walk through the door. If your meal is ready when your guests arrive, chances are, it will be overcooked or burnt when they are ready to eat. It’s often much less stressful to know that you have a bit of a window once your guests arrive and if one of you is pouring drinks and greeting people, the other can be dealing with the last minute meal preparation.

8. Serve a meal that is easy to eat

Don't make your guests wrestle with their food

Don’t make your guests wrestle with their food

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As a guest, it’s always preferable if you don’t have to mess around with your food too much. Lots of dishes on the table where people have to help themselves can be fun but it can also be awkward and can mean the food goes cold before everyone has had a chance to serve themselves. It’s probably best to keep such meals to small groups and go with something simpler for larger tables. It’s probably best to avoid meals that have a high likelihood of ending up in your friends’ laps too! Nothing more embarrassing than mustard on your chin when you’re in company darling!

9. Create the ambience

Create the mooood

Create the moooooood

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Create a playlist, light some candles, turn off the big lights and keep things relaxed. The last thing you want is your guests listening to one another eat or cutlery clattering against plates while they worry about waking the children. Try to relax, chatter, laugh loud and everyone will soon be following suit – just focus on the lie in you might get in the morning if the kiddo’s are a bit late going off to sleep!

10. Don’t take it too seriously. 

If you are fretting about red wine getting on the table cloth or stressing that the vegetables aren’t perfectly ‘al dente’ or the meat too tough, your guests won’t relax either. There is nothing worse than going to someone’s home and feeling that you are putting them out or causing your host an episode of high blood pressure. Laugh at yourself, don’t worry if things aren’t perfect and just enjoy yourself – that’s what it’s all about after all!

Oh, and don’t forget to put the wine in the fridge!! Is anyone else entertaining this weekend? I hope you have a blast!

All text and images are copyright Home Heart Harmony unless stated. Single images may be reproduced only if they remain in their original state and must be credited back to Home Heart Harmony with a link to the site. Failure to do so constitutes a copyright violation. 

 

 

 

Heavenly Hilton Head

I’m back with the second instalment of our holiday story. It all feels like a long and distant memory now and I am already longing to go back as Autumn starts to take hold here. You can read about the first part of our American Adventure here.

As some of you will know, Hilton Head Island is a “Lowcountry resort town located on an island of the same name in Beaufort County, South Carolina in the United States” (according to Wikipedia). Over here in the UK, I was completely ignorant of its existence until it was suggested as a possible holiday destination by our travel agent who had visited the island herself and couldn’t recommend it highly enough. We were just looking for somewhere to kick back and relax after our week in New York but our only proviso was that we didn’t want to go to Florida because a) we had been a couple of times before and b) we are planning to holiday in Florida within the next few years and will probably do a beachside location there on that occasion. I completely understand that choice of holiday destination is a very personal preference so please do bear in mind that everything that follows is very much my own opinion.

The Hilton Head Landscape was like nothing we have here in the UK

The Hilton Head Landscape was like nothing we have here in the UK

Hilton Head Island itself was a type of landscape I had personally never encountered before. I had seen pictures of the ‘Southern’ landscapes in America with the Spanish moss hanging from the trees and the wetlands stretching for miles. We were captivated by the reality of the environment. A lot of consideration has been given to the natural habitat in Hilton Head and there is a notable absence of bright lights and colours. All the buildings seemed to be designed to blend into their surroundings and we were told that artificial light interfered with the turtles’ nesting activity which accounted for the absence of night-time lighting.

The track from the Hotel to the Beach - complete with weird camera filter which I didn't realise I had on!

The track from the Hotel to the Beach – complete with weird camera filter which I didn’t realise I had on!

We certainly noticed this lack of light on our first evening in the area when we got spectacularly lost driving from the airport in Savannah, Georgia to our resort in Hilton Head. It was an interesting evening to say the least! We picked up our hire car (A ‘Dodge Charger’ – is it possible that there could be a more American-sounding name for a car?!) at Savannah airport just after a rainstorm which had steamed up the windscreen nicely. Unfortunately, we discovered too late that the de-mister didn’t really work properly and finished up unable to see out, driving on the wrong side of the road (we drive on the left here in the UK), in the dark, with no map or sat-nav. We seemed to drive through mile after mile after mile of forest and there was nothing anywhere!

The 'Dodge Charger' - The most American name a car could ever wish for!

The ‘Dodge Charger’ – The most American name a car could ever wish for!

How on earth we went so wrong I still don’t know. The journey back to the airport at the end of our holiday was so straight-forward it seemed impossible we could have got so lost! The children (and adults) hadn’t eaten or drunk anything since a snack in the airport at lunchtime and by the time we reached our hotel, it was 11.00pm. I have NEVER been so relieved to get anywhere, EVER in my life! We only found the island by eventually deciding to head back towards Savannah and start again. Thanks to some friendly local police officers, we finally found our way. Let’s just say that the drive, which should have taken us about 50 minutes, took over 3 hours. Luckily, Hubby and I remained completely calm throughout and at no point did we find ourselves driving backwards down the wrong side of the road or screaming ‘STAY ON THE RIGHT!!!!’ like a crazy person or, indeed, swearing that if we ever found the hotel we would never leave it until we had to go home (at which point we would tell the woman at the car-hire desk exactly where she could shove her ‘directions’). Thank goodness for that!

Thankfully, the following day, my parents arrived to join us for the rest of our holiday and, having not had the hideous first-night experience we had, they encouraged us that perhaps we could consider leaving the hotel at some point! Ironically, we became extremely attached to the ‘Dodge’ by the end of our holiday and were sad to say goodbye!

Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island

Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island

We stayed at the ‘Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island’ in Shipyard Plantation. It was a newly refurbished hotel which had only been part of the Sonesta group for a short while. I think there were a few teething problems that were still being ironed-out but generally, the surroundings, service and our experience as a whole were wonderful. The grounds of the hotel were beautiful and the rooms were really comfortable, plush and welcoming. The beach was amazing and the climate was very ‘Florida-like’ – hot, humid and perfect for lounging around in! The thing we most noticed about the second week of our holiday was the ‘Southern Hospitality.’ I don’t think we have ever visited anywhere that the people were as warm and friendly as they were in Hilton Head and the surrounding areas. Everywhere we went, people were smiling, happy to stop for a chat, interested to hear about where we were from and eager to help with anything we needed. It was so lovely and really added that extra sparkle to our experience.

One of the Hotel's lagoons where the children enjoyed feeding the Turtles every afternoon

One of the Hotel’s lagoons where the children enjoyed feeding the Turtles every afternoon

The majority of our days were spent relaxing by the pool (which was heavenly after a week of tearing around New York) and we ventured out more in the evenings to explore the island. After one evening in the hotel, my parents managed to convince us that it was safe to venture out in the ‘Charger.’ We left the hotel while it was still light and everything seemed so much easier! The first evening out was spent just down the road at the ‘Coligny Plaza.’ We did some souvenir shopping and found somewhere to have dinner. Our daughter was especially taken with Coligny Plaza, she is becoming quite the little shopaholic and there were all sorts of little boutique-type shops which were her idea of heaven!

For our next evening, I had made plans prior to our holiday to go on a ‘Sunset Fireworks Cruise’ with Drifter Excursions which departed from South Beach and sailed past Harbour Town to Broad Creek for the fireworks which took place there on Tuesday evenings throughout the summer.

All aboard - Sunset and Fireworks Cruise from South Beach

All aboard – Sunset and Fireworks Cruise from South Beach

Prior to the trip, we had dinner at the ‘Salty Dog Cafe’ which is renowned locally as the port to which a dog called Jake (so the legend goes) swam for three days and three nights with his owner hanging on to his collar after their fishing boat was wrecked in a storm. Who wouldn’t want to hear that story?! The food was really good too! After dinner, our excursion departed and we were treated to the most spectacular sunset I think I have ever seen! This photo is completely un-edited. It really was this beautiful! And that yacht happened along at just the right moment!

An unbelievably beautiful sunset - UNEDITED I tell you!

An unbelievably beautiful sunset – UNEDITED I tell you!

The fireworks were great and it was such a beautiful, balmy evening. It was a very relaxed and relaxing thing to do and we got to see the Harbour Town lighthouse for the first time. There was lots of wildlife to see as well, we even saw a brown pelican diving into the sea for fish (we established that it was a brown pelican after reading that they are the only type of pelican that dives in this way.) The pelicans were a frequent sight during our holiday, there seemed to be an endless string of them constantly flying along the shore-line.

Brown pelicans flying above the amazing beach-front properties

Brown pelicans flying above the amazing beach-front properties just outside the Hotel grounds

The following evening, we decided to check out Harbour Town and were lucky enough to get a table on the veranda of a restaurant which looked out to sea. We spent the evening drinking cocktails and watching the boats sail into the harbour. It was heaven. We were even treated to another quite special sunset.

Cocktails at Sunset in Harbour Town

Cocktails at Sunset in Harbour Town

Harbour Town was a buzzing place which was home to restaurants, shops and a very fancy lighthouse! We would have loved to spend more time there and are hopeful we will visit again one day.

Harbour Town

Harbour Town

On our penultimate day in Hilton Head, we decided we could not leave without spending a day in Savannah. My daughter and I went with my parents leaving the boys to chill-out (our 8 year old was all walked out after New York and I wasn’t about to push him any further). I’m so glad we took a day to explore. It was an amazing place which just oozed Southern charm! We spent most of our day on historic ‘River Street’ which was a fascinating place packed with all manner of souvenir shops and a market place packed with local traders selling their handmade creations. We chose a great day to go as it was stormy and we were treated to a dramatic down-pour which made everything all the more exciting!!

Historic Savannah

Sheltering from the rain in historic Savannah

We took a ride on that tram which dates back to the 1930′s and has just been restored and returned to River Street. We did lots of souvenir shopping in Savannah and even managed a quick whip around one of Hilton Head’s designer outlets on the way back!

Having my parents with us for the second week of our ‘holiday-of-a-lifetime’ and unexpectedly finding ourselves in such a glorious location meant that our time in Hilton Head Island was the icing on the cake which made our time in the US extra-special. I would definitely recommend it as a holiday destination and we will certainly be planning to visit again one day.

Has anyone else ever visited Hilton Head? Anyone planning their next big adventure? I would love to hear all about it. Until next time….xoxo!

All text and images are copyright Home Heart Harmony unless stated. Single images may be reproduced only if they remain in their original state and must be credited back to Home Heart Harmony with a link to the site. Failure to do so constitutes a copyright violation. 

 

 

 

Decorating with….Grey

Well it’s been a while since I did one of these posts but I have seen so many beautiful examples lately of rooms decorated with Grey, I just had to jump in there and share some of them with you. We decorated our kitchen and breakfast room in Grey a couple of years ago. I was initially concerned that the grey would be too dark but also didn’t want to go too pale and regret not going the whole nine yards (so to speak).

The Breakfast Room

The Breakfast Room

Our walls are painted in ‘Dove Grey’ by Homebase and I chose to accessorise with cream and pink. The whole look was originally inspired by the Clarke and Clarke ‘English Rose’ fabric. I fell in love with it for the table cloth and curtains. The other item I really wanted to incorporate was the cream shelf unit on the wall. This unit comes in both cream and duck egg and I was so torn. I really wanted a grey room but I was so in love with the duck egg shelf unit, it almost swayed my colour decision. In the end, having already decorated the living room with the duck egg colour, I decided we should go with something different in the kitchen and I’m so glad we did because I love the grey. I’m thinking about creating a more eclectic gallery wall in here (where the clock is now) so watch this space for that.

The shelf unit was a must-have

The shelf unit was a must-have

The Clarke and Clarke Fabric was the inspiration for the room

The Clarke and Clarke Fabric was the inspiration for the room

The sun streams into this room in the mornings

The sun streams into this room in the mornings

The kitchen itself is the one that was here when we bought the house and it’s not one I would have chosen myself but when you’re presented with a kitchen that’s still new and you have no money to replace it, it’s hard to justify borrowing more money to do so. Also, when you have young kids, then kittens, then a puppy, it seems like a bad idea to plough money into a new kitchen that’s likely to be ruined! I’ve often thought about painting the units but they are not solid wood and the veneer was scratched and peeling in some areas so I felt that painting the imperfections would just highlight them.

The Kitchen wasn't our choice but I don't hate it.

The Kitchen wasn’t our choice but I don’t hate it.

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We have big plans in the works for this room. Exciting things lie ahead people!! If things proceed accordingly, this will all be gone this time next year! More on that another day….

So, on to those beautiful, inspiring grey rooms I mentioned. I recently visited IKEA to have a nose at their new range of kitchens and they have a really, really tempting grey kitchen which makes me swoon. I fell in love with the grey units but I’m just not sure I’m quite brave enough to go grey with my kitchen units. What do you think?

The New Ikea Metod/Bodbyn kitchen

The New Ikea Metod/Bodbyn kitchen

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I am considering a mix of grey and cream like the one in this picture which was uploaded to Farrow and Ball’s Facebook page by a happy customer. The upper units are painted in ‘Skimming Stone’ and the lower ones in ‘Charleston Grey.’

Uploaded to the Farrow and Ball Facebook page by a happy customer.

Uploaded to the Farrow and Ball Facebook page by a happy customer.

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And while we’re on kitchens, how about this white kitchen with dramatic grey walls? Definitely another option to consider!

White kitchen with dramatic grey walls

White kitchen with dramatic grey walls

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But it’s not just kitchens that look great in grey! It is actually a really soothing and restful colour for a bedroom too. I love the vintage feel of this one:

Vintage inspired Grey bedroom

Vintage inspired Grey bedroom

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It’s crazy how such a masculine colour can look so delicate and pretty! Having said that, I could also be swayed by a bolder, cleaner version of the grey boudoir….

A sleek and sophisticated glamorous grey boudoir

A sleek and sophisticated glamorous grey boudoir

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Can you imagine how sophisticated you would feel swanning off to bed in a room like this? Actually, on second thoughts, I think I may be very slightly out of place in this room! My very presence would throw the vibe entirely! (On reflection, perhaps that is just a black and white photograph and not a grey room at all?!)

Warm and cosy layered textures

Warm and cosy layered textures

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This bedroom has popped up on my Pinterest feed numerous times and I am amazed at how warm and cosy grey can be made to feel with a mix of different wood tones and textures. I would not have thought it possible.

I also love how grey can be livened up by mixing it with a brighter colour. This grey living room is completely transformed by the addition of very few bright yellow accessories and it looks fabulous!

Pops of yellow jazz up a grey living room

Pops of yellow jazz up a grey living room

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And this gorgeous home office is lifted from ordinary to extraordinary by just a hint of pink:

Grey with a hint of pink from Style Me Pretty

Grey with a hint of pink from Style Me Pretty

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I could literally keep you here all day long showing you pictures of beautiful grey rooms! Here are just a couple more of my favourites:

Image from Pinterest - there was no link but please enlighten me if you know to whom this belongs!

Image from Pinterest – there was no link but please enlighten me if you know to whom this belongs!

One of my favourite rooms ever! From A Thoughtful Place

One of my favourite rooms ever! From A Thoughtful Place

[source]

So, have I inspired you to go grey?! If these pictures don’t do it, nothing will. We are planning a weekend of school projects and family time around here and hoping the sun shines just a little bit. Hope you all have a great weekend whatever you’re up to. See you next time….xoxo.

PS. You can see other posts in the ‘Decorating with…’ series here and here.

All text and images are copyright Home Heart Harmony unless stated. Single images may be reproduced only if they remain in their original state and must be credited back to Home Heart Harmony with a link to the site. Failure to do so constitutes a copyright violation. 

A Cupboard Conundrum

Sunday was one of those rare days in our house where none of us had anywhere to be. I always imagine spending those days curled up on the sofa drinking endless cups of tea but in reality, there are always a million things lurking, waiting for attention. One of those things has been the double cupboard in my son’s bedroom. As soon as I heard him utter the ‘b’ word (Muuuuum, I’m bored!!), I was straight on the case enlisting his help to tackle the mountain of ‘treasures’ he had tucked away in there! This cupboard is floor to ceiling, double width storage sent from heaven. It’s so fantastic to have concealed storage like this, especially in a child’s bedroom. The down side to it however, is that it fills up over the months (and years!) and gradually becomes so full that you can’t really remember what’s in there any more! I last had a sort-out in this cupboard around a year ago but even by last Christmas when we updated our little man’s bedroom with new bed and overhead storage, I found that the contents of that cupboard had been sneakily breeding and resolved to do something about it soon. Ten months later and lo and behold, we are back to square one!

Cupboard Overload - How does this happen?!

Cupboard Overload – How does this happen?!

I feel like there is definitely a cyclical process when it comes to cupboards like this. It is inevitable that as new ‘things’ find their way into our homes and lives, the space we have to store them becomes fuller and fuller until you can’t avoid having to go through it all and decide what you really want to keep and what can go. Sometimes, if there’s an emotional attachment, I find myself moving these items from one place to another (like the loft or garage) until sufficient time has passed that we are mentally ready to ‘let go.’ I think this can take anything from a couple of months to a couple of years and whilst I don’t want a home (or loft) full of clutter, I also don’t want to feel panicked into ‘ejecting’ items with sentimental value from our lives without a second thought.

One tactic I have embraced in negotiating this situation is to allocate each of our children a ‘memory box’ which sits in the top of their cupboard. They each have special items tucked away and when the box is full, they need to think about whether there is anything in there that they don’t want to keep any more. There are usually items that no longer hold as much significance and they are happy to let them go and add something else that they consider to be important now.

Two other things happen when we go through this type of de-cluttering exercise. The first is that we find all sorts of things that we had forgotten all about but which we would definitely still like to use/play with. The second, of course, is that there are also things we don’t need or want any more so we are able to make a donation to our charity shop of choice!

On this particular occasion, we filled one dustbin liner with rubbish, one with clothes and two big bags with games and toys to take to charity. We also found a few items to pass on to younger family members. The things we held on to are now much more easily accessible and therefore more likely to be used and enjoyed.

In order to reduce the ‘volume’ of the cupboard contents, we unpacked lego and puzzles into re-sealable bags and included a picture and/or instructions. I labelled all the bags and this exercise had a big impact on the amount of space available at the end of the process.

Bags of Lego

Bags of Lego

The cupboard is actually now surprisingly empty! The two new green storage boxes are empty as is the stripy bin on the bottom shelf. I’ve decided to keep the bed linen for our son’s bed in his room from now on and one of the bins has been re-purposed to this effect.

All cleared out and ready for action

All cleared out and ready for action

I’ve labelled the boxes and baskets so that things can be found and returned to their proper home more easily in the future. I live in hope that labels will lead to a less chaotic build-up going forward!

I also added a couple of command hooks to the door for baseball hats which always inspire a storage conundrum. I may add more as they become necessary. Shall we see a before and after?

Cupboard Before and After

Cupboard Before and After

 

Labelled bins make my heart sing!

Labelled bins make my heart sing!

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I am actually feeling ridiculously smug happy that this cupboard is now ready and waiting for the Christmas ‘in-flux’ and our little dude is very pleased with his newly organised storage.

Has anyone else been spending their only free day in weeks clearing out the clutter? I would love to hear about it. Remember you can follow me on FacebookPinterest and Twitter or email me with your pictures at homeheartharmony@yahoo.com.

All text and images are copyright Home Heart Harmony unless stated. Single images may be reproduced only if they remain in their original state and must be credited back to Home Heart Harmony with a link to the site. Failure to do so constitutes a copyright violation. 

 

Our New York Adventure

You may have noticed I’ve been AWOL for a couple of weeks. I have missed my little blog soooo much! Don’t you just find it so annoying when paid employment has to become your priority for a while and the things you want to do for fun have to take a back seat? How inconvenient! Still, I think we’re over the ‘hump’ now and coasting back down a (gradual) hill again!! It’s good to be back.

As promised (in yester-year), today I will be sharing the highlights of our family summer break. We booked a blow-out holiday this year as the result of a combination of events in our lives which both made us feel we needed to ‘seize the day’ and meant we had the financial opportunity to do something amazing with our children.

We talked for months before booking our trip about home improvements, new cars and investments in additional property but as a family, we felt that creating memories and experiencing new and different things together while the children are still young enough to want to was, for us, more important than anything else.

It didn’t take us long to agree that the US would be our preferred holiday destination and having been to New York ‘pre-children’ we always knew it was somewhere we would want to share with the kiddo’s if and when the opportunity arose. We booked 6 nights in New York and 8 nights in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina as we were 100% sure we would all need some serious recovery time! (I plan to talk about New York this time and will do a separate post another day on beautiful Hilton Head).

New York - an amazing city!

New York – an amazing city!

Our preparation for our time in New York began with an Amazon order. I read some guide-book reviews and eventually decided to order these two which were great. I was also given a ‘New York Pass’ book by someone who had recently visited which proved to be really useful as well. (The New York pass is a ticket you can buy which provides entry to most of the attractions in the city and some people find it a way to save money. We did our research and decided on which attractions we wanted to visit before making a decision about the pass. As it turned out, when we researched the entry prices for the places on our itinerary, we worked out that the pass would cost us more than each attraction individually so we decided to give it a miss. This was probably primarily because we were planning our time out to meet the needs of the children and didn’t want to over-do it. I know other people who have found it a great way to save some money).

Lower Manhattan

Lower Manhattan

I would definitely say that if you are planning to visit New York (or any other city!) with children, don’t plan to do too much. There were dozens of things we would have liked to do in the city but our youngest is still only 8 and New York is a biiiiig city for little legs! The itinerary we planned differed slightly to what we actually did so here is the run down of what we got up to (it’s busier than we planned!):

Day One – Empire State Building, Shopping at Macy’s, Horse and Carriage Ride in Central Park, Dinner in Ellen’s Stardust Diner, Evening in Times Square (incl Ferris Wheel in Toys’R’ Us!)

Empire State

Empire State

The Observation Deck of the Empire State Building was a ‘must-visit’ as far as we were concerned. It was a great place to go on the first morning because it gave us a chance to explain the layout of the city to the children before we started exploring it at ground level. We took our time to see the views from every side and pointed out the famous places all around us. The kids loved this experience and were able to get good views. I would say that for children younger than our 8 year old it may have been difficult to see over the wall without being lifted so I’m glad he was old (and tall) enough to make the most of it.

Our 8 year old was tall enough to get great views

Our 8 year old was tall enough to get great views

The Horse and Carriage ride in Central Park was something we all really wanted to do. It was definitely pricey so we chose to just tour the lower section of the park but we all really enjoyed it. It was such a beautiful day and our ‘driver’ was so friendly. The children fell in love with the horse whose name was ‘Puzzle’.

'Puzzle' - Central Park Horse and Carriage Ride

‘Puzzle’ – Central Park Horse and Carriage Ride

Ellen’s Stardust Diner is a hot tip for anyone visiting Manhattan with children. It’s an American diner where all the waiting staff are Broadway performers between jobs. While you eat, the waiters and waitresses take it in turns to perform numbers from all manner of Broadway shows and movie soundtracks. I have now been to Ellen’s Stardust diner 3 times and I have never heard anyone sing who wasn’t A-MA-ZING (in my best Simon Cowell voice). It’s definitely worth a visit. They don’t take bookings so you just show up and if necessary, queue. We didn’t have to queue the first time but there was about a half hour wait the second time as it was Friday evening. Totally worth the wait though.

Singing waiters at Ellen's Stardust Diner

Singing waiters at Ellen’s Stardust Diner

Day Two – 2 hour river cruise around the lower half of Manhattan, Afternoon rest, Dinner at ‘Lombardi’s,’ (a famous pizza restaurant in Little Italy), Grand Central Station.

The theory was that we would intersperse our busier days with quieter, less demanding ones. This was supposed to be one of the quieter days but it was HOT so I think we all tired more quickly as a result. We could not have asked for a more beautiful day for our river cruise. The skies were blue and there was a slight breeze to keep us relatively cool.

The views from the water were spectacular

The views from the water were spectacular

Our guide was fantastic, she was extremely knowledgeable and funny and really made the trip special. I would say that this was a great thing to do with or without children because you learn so much about the city while seeing it at its best. The bonus for the kids was that they were able to sit and relax rather than being dragged around. We sailed with City Sightseeing Cruises.

Dinner at Lombardi’s was one of our favourite evenings. Lombardi’s claim to have ‘introduced pizza to America’ and they certainly seem to have the recipe right. The place was heaving but we still only had to wait around 10 minutes for a table. The pizza is sooooooo good. We all gave them the seal of approval.

Lombardi's pizza - we went for a half and half

Lombardi’s pizza – we went for a half and half

Little Italy is a great place to spend the evening. The streets are lit up with lights like Christmas and all the restaurants spill out onto the pavement so that as you wander through you can hear the buzz of Italian music and happy chatting people all while smelling the delicious food! It is a fantastic atmosphere which really filled us with a happy holiday feeling.

On the way back to our hotel (which was ideally located in mid-town), we stopped at Grand Central Station and the children tried out a trick we had heard about where if you whisper into the corner in a certain spot, the shape and texture of the ceiling carries the sound over to the other corner. It worked! The children were fascinated by how this could be and I couldn’t really explain it!!

Whispering into the corner at Grand Central Station

Whispering into the corner at Grand Central Station

Day Three – Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Immigration Centre, Financial district, Evening and Dinner in Times Square.

The Statue of Liberty is the other New York destination we would not have missed for anything. Since July 4th of this year, you can go all the way up to the torch but you need to book months in advance as there are only so many opportunities each day. I didn’t realise this fact far enough in advance to get tickets to the top but I’m not sure I would have booked it anyway. It was significantly more expensive and there are hundreds of steps. I’m not sure our youngest would have been too keen to make the extra effort and I wouldn’t have wanted to risk wasting the money. However, I’m sure it’s amazing if you have the chance.

We visited at ground level which is worthwhile for so many reasons. A close up look at the statue makes you realise how huge it is and in addition to seeing Lady Liberty up close, you also get amazing views looking back towards Manhattan. You have to catch a ferry across and we had booked Liberty and Ellis Island so we could go and see the immigration centre as well but you don’t have to do both.

Lady Liberty

Lady Liberty

Ellis Island is really interesting but I have to say, it makes you feel a bit sad to think about the desperation and suffering some of the immigrants endured. We watched a half hour film about the island, the immigration process and the people who came through it. It was very interesting and gave the children an idea of what went on there so that when we walked around they could picture what happened in each area and what the uses were for some of the items we saw.

Ellis Island Immigration Museum

Ellis Island Immigration Museum

Day Four – Central Park – the Zoo, the Carousel and a walk in the park. A visit to FAO Schwartz, Shopping and Dinner in Little Italy and Chinatown.

We spent a lot of time hanging around in Central Park while we were in New York. It is such a great place to just wander, people watch and see famous sights around every corner. The zoo is not big but it is fun. The children loved our morning there. We watched the sea-lion show and walked through the ‘tropical rainforest’ where you could get up close and personal with the birds. There is also a 4D cinema in which we watched a short film and got wet!

This little beauty seemed to want its photo taken!

This little beauty seemed to want its photo taken!

This was supposed to be another more ‘restful’ day but unfortunately, we finished up getting lost in the Park and walked much further than we were intending!!

Little Buddies in Central Park

Little Buddies in Central Park

We were treated to a pop-up ‘street show’ by some guys from The Bronx who whipped up the crowd and put on quite the acrobatic display. It was amazing! We also eventually managed to find the Carousel and the children had a ride.

We went back to Little Italy and Chinatown and did some shopping for souvenirs after another amazing Italian meal.

Day Five – American Museum of Natural History, the Upper end of Central Park, Souvenir and gift shopping, Dinner in Ellen’s Stardust Diner (again – we all loved it so much we had to go back!)

This was our last full day in the city (sad face). The American Museum was one of the children’s favourite places. We decided before we went which areas of the museum we would visit. Back in 2003, my husband and I got hopelessly lost and finished up walking for ages and ages trying to find a way out so we didn’t want to repeat that with the children in tow! (Though the hubby may argue he had a pretty childish companion on that occasion too!!) We limited ourselves to the ‘Dinosaur Halls,’  the ‘North American Mammals,’ the ‘Hall of Northwest Coast Indians,’ the ‘African Mammals,’ and the ‘Hall of Ocean Life’ where an incredible life-size model of a blue whale hangs overhead. The ‘Dinosaur Halls’ were incredible and our daughter really enjoyed the Hall of Northwest Coast Indians. I think my favourite were the ‘North American Mammals.’ It was a brilliant place to visit with children, they were fascinated and captivated by the displays.

A big bear - and a couple of little clowns!

A big bear – and a couple of little clowns!

We re-visited Ellen’s Stardust Diner for our last night at the kiddo’s request. It was possibly even better than the previous visit. We were seated on the ground level this time which meant we were closer to the performers and the atmosphere was fantastic.

In addition to all this, we also managed to squeeze in an afternoon of getting our bearings and taking in the ‘awesomeness’ of the place on the day we arrived and a visit to the New York Public Library on our last morning.

Our days were full and we started out early. The time difference between the UK and New York played in our favour in this regard as we all woke early due to the fact that our body clocks were set five hours ahead. This definitely helped us to make the most of every minute. We were up and out by 7am on the first day and by 8/8.30am thereafter. This meant we were able to make our way to our destination for the day before they even opened in most cases. It certainly helped to avoid long queues and also enabled us to allow time for a rest in the middle of the day (when it was hottest) as the children would have found it difficult to go all the way through to bed time. (The adults may have found that tough too!)

Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge

Some days we did more than we had planned and others we did less. If the children (or adults!) were tired or needed a break, we headed into a diner or back to the hotel to re-group, cool off and rest. The other slight restriction on our activities was budget. New York is VERY expensive. We would have liked to go to the ‘Top of the Rock’ as we had heard the view downtown towards the Empire State Building, was worth seeing but it was almost as expensive as going to the top of the Empire State (which we had already done) and we just couldn’t justify the expense of both. The other thing we didn’t splurge on was watching a show on Broadway. Partly because of the cost, partly because we were all so tired by the evening and partly because we have taken the children to see shows in London’s West End so we didn’t make it a priority on this trip. If we were going again I would probably do those things as well as a visit to the HMS Intrepid which was a Sea, Air and Space museum on board an aircraft carrier. It houses a large collection of airplanes as well as the space shuttle ‘Enterprise’. I think it would have been a great place to visit with children but we just didn’t have the time.

Having said that, I definitely feel like we could not possibly have enjoyed our time in New York more. The children were ‘awed’ by the city when we arrived (which was heart-warming to watch) but they quickly became completely at home and LOVED every minute we spent there. We did A LOT of walking which meant we saw more of the city but we also bought ‘metrocards’ and used the subway for all our other travel. We didn’t use a taxi once and we didn’t need to. We felt the subway was an extremely economical way to get around and it was so convenient – the trains were even air-conditioned! (Listen-up London underground!!) We all found the week exhausting and I would definitely recommend taking the time after a visit to New York to kick back and recover! Arriving at our beach-side resort in South Carolina after a week of serious sight-seeing was like stepping into Heaven! But more on that another day….

Sorry this post has been both long and a long-time-coming! I hope I haven’t bored anyone! Have any of my lovely readers ever visited New York? With or without children? Any tips or highlights? I would love to hear about it in the comments. Til next time……xoxo.

All text and images are copyright Home Heart Harmony unless stated. Single images may be reproduced only if they remain in their original state and must be credited back to Home Heart Harmony with a link to the site. Failure to do so constitutes a copyright violation. 

 

 

 

Shiny Happy…Paint

It’s been a big week here. Back to school time has arrived and with our oldest heading off to secondary school, it’s been emotional. (For me. She’s absolutely taking it in her stride!) A new school year has always sent me into a frenzy of organisational activity and it’s the perfect excuse to go out and buy stationery and supplies to get my life in order! I actually planned a ‘back to school’ shopping trip with my daughter to get all those essential items she would need for her new academic journey. We had a lovely day together and there may even have been a few items for Mum that had fallen off the shelf and into our trolley by the time we got to the checkout!

In last week’s post about our little Command Centre update, I hinted about my final solution for keeping that pesky paperwork under control. I had discovered that there were paper items coming into our home that even our lovely mail rack couldn’t accommodate on a long term basis (things like catalogues, magazines and the children’s artistic creations). So, in an effort to control all those final piles of paper which were the bane of my kitchen counters, I decided they needed a home of their own.

I always admire colourful magazine files like these Laura Ashley ones but they are often pricey for what they are – especially if you need more than one. When I was last at IKEA, I bought a set of these Flyt magazine files.

Cheap and (soon to be) cheerful

Cheap and (soon to be) cheerful

They are plain but cheap and I’ve used previous versions of them many times to house my ever expanding selection of Homes magazines. When I made the purchase, I had in mind that I would cover or decorate them in some way to make them more interesting and it’s only taken me around a year to get to it! (That’s pretty good by my track record!!)

Initially, I planned to cover the files in paper but I wasn’t sure how I would get a clean finish with the curve of the top. I decided to break out my new craft paints and give them a try (the files are cheap enough that it wouldn’t have bothered me too much if I ruined them! Which was a distinct possibility!) I decided to measure out stripes and stick strips of masking tape to achieve the effect I was looking for.

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The paints I had were ‘Docrafts Artiste’ Baby Blue and Pearl Frosted Mint Acrylic Paints with the greener shade being a metallic finish. I hadn’t tried them out before and I loved the texture of them. The blue one was really smooth and covered so well while the green metallic one was thinner but dried nicely to give a bit of a shine.

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By the time I got to the last file of the three I wanted to paint, I was feeling more confident and decided to try a zig-zag finish. I didn’t measure anything for this one, just went with it and stuck the masking tape as evenly as I could without worrying too much about a wonky line here and there!

photo 1

I have to say, it took a fair while to stick the tape and then paint this one. I gave everything two coats of paint, letting each coat dry before applying the next so the process was not quick but the paint went on quickly so the taping and drying were the most time consuming parts. I also painted the files before assembling them so that they could lie flat which also meant letting one side completely dry before starting the other.

When it came to removing the tape, I had the best results when I removed it while the second coat of paint was still not quite dry. This way, I don’t think the tape had adhered to the card quite so strongly and it was less inclined to pull the card away.

photo 2

There were some imperfections because I didn’t always get to the tape while the paint was still wet (I was fitting this in around a dozen other things we had going on that weekend as usual!!)

All finished and fulfilling their magazine file destiny - yay!!

All finished and fulfilling their magazine file destiny – yay!!

You can see a couple of spots at the edges where the tape pulled at the card but I can live with it. (Just…..I think!) I have allocated one file for magazines, one for brochures and catalogues and one for the children’s art work (the bits that don’t make it onto the wall!) The files are sitting pretty in our kitchen now – our last line of defence in the war against paper clutter!

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I am so transfixed by the metallic paint, it’s so pretty! I’m already thinking of where to use it next!

Shiny happy....paint

Shiny happy….paint

So what do we think? Is anyone else about to break out the craft paint and masking tape? Anyone else dealing with Mummy emotions sending their kiddos off to or back to school? I’d love to hear about it. I’m relying on my old friends ‘tea’ and ‘biscuits’ to get me through the week!!