Life Making

How To Hang Curtains…

April 20, 2020

I moved into my flat three years ago and I was flat broke! I was sleeping on the floor and had only two chairs and a table. You can read more about that here. I also didn’t have any curtains. Instead I had a very old duvet cover and a shower curtain which I hung across the windows with command hooks! Once my bank account had recovered I saved up for blinds and my dad showed me how to use a drill to hang them.

Forgive me these photos were taken ages ago when I did this and my photography and editing skills weren’t great. It is what it is!

This was the situation in my bedroom! A piece of blackout curtain was stuck permenantly to the window with hooks and bluetack. A blind pulled down in front of it to make it look nicer! Sometimes on the weekend I would take it down to let in light. The window could be open at any time. I longed for the day when I could open my curtains but the blind would stop nosy parkers as I got dressed. Not having to turn the light on would be so lovely. Saving for my lusted after West Elm Velvet Curtains took nearly three years and I thought I would share with you how I hung the curtains.

I decided I wanted the rod and hardware to be black and whilst the West Elm products are lovely I settled for these Ikea ones. It all came down to budget! First tip is that Ikea do not supply screws to hang the hardware so I had to nip out and purchase those.

Using the curtain holder I marked on the wall the gap where the screws could go. I wanted there to be enough room at both ends to tuck part of the curtain around the holder. This way when I pull the curtains the whold panel doesn’t move to the other side. For this curtain pole I left a 5cm clearance.

Using the drill bit I made the holes for one of the curtain holders. I decided to complete one at a time to not rush. Now that I have more confidence in the drill I would have done all the holes and not had to change the bits as many times. Placing the curtain holder in the right spot I screwed in both screws. Done! Once I had completed the second curtain holders I added the covers.

To make things a bit easier I left both ends off the curtain rod and threaded on the curtains. Lifting these up in the holders I was then able to add the ends. To ensure that hte curtain doesn’t move across the whole rod I made sure one curtain tab was on the ‘wrong’ side of the curtain holder. After living with this for a few hours I moved another tab over which helped to balance and also prevent any light coming through the side crack.

Using a drill does have this scary overtone but it is quick an easy skill to pick up. If you are unsure get some scrap pieces of timber and practice on those. The biggest thing I forget when drilling is to click the drill in reverse to get the drill bit out! I soon remember as the bit will not budge without it!

Now that I have lived with the curtains for a couple of months I need to jump back up and adjust the curtain holder on the left. When I was fiddling around with it and extending the curtain rod the older moved and actually it needs to be further to the left of the window.

Do you do any DIY at home? PF xo

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The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton…

April 13, 2020
Picture of the book.  The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton…

Published in 2014, The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton, is based in Amsterdam in 1686 and follows the marriage of Nella Oortman and Johannes Brandt.  This book debut to critical acclaim and continues to be in the top 10 or recommended lists.  I avoided it at first as the blurb really did not sell the story to me.  At the time I was working long hours in the advertising industry and looking for lighter reads.

Nella marries the wealthy merchant Johannes in a country side wedding and later travels to his home.  The house is dark and imposing and is the living space for her new husband, his sister and their two staff, Cornelia and Otto.  Johannes virtually ignores Nella who becomes consumed with negative thoughts as she wishes he spend any time with her.  To make amends Johannes gifts Nella an exquisite dolls house that replicates the rooms of their own home.  To furnish the home Nella engages a Miniaturist who sends her tiny gifts that seem to prophesise the future.

I enjoyed reading this book except for the explanation for Johannes lack of attention for Nella.  The reason felt a bit forced and put me off.  I continued to read the book thinking it was just a note about his character, but it soon became the main storyline.  I realised upon reflection that I must be a bit pedantic when it comes to historical telling.  The reason (and I am deliberately not saying to avoid ruining the surprise for you) just wouldn’t have been dealt with such lack of care in the 1800’s.  Johannes would have known that this secret would have consequences and would have been much more careful.  I did love how the story was able to bring Amsterdam alive and having visited I found myself walking the streets too! I can see why at the time this story got such a response and the BBC turned it into a miniseries.

Have you read The Miniaturist?  What did you think?  Jessica xo

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Free Tours Of London Buildings…

April 6, 2020
Picture of a group of people getting a tour of Somerset House.  Free Tours Of London Buildings.

“Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” Quote Samuel Johnson.  To be honest I am having a back and forth with London now and trying to fall back I love.  I have lived here for nine years in April and spent four in my flat.  One of the reasons I moved to London is the history and architecture.  Australia is a young country and we don’t have the beautiful old buildings that London offers!  To keep costs down I have sourced free tours of London’s building.

Battersea Power Station.

One of my favourite buildings in London, the old Battersea Power Station is having a makeover.  Her shell previously stood by the river Thames unloved and with various owners.  Property prices in London increased so rapidly in the 2000’s and 2010’s that developers were able to make significant profit from just selling her on.  This changed in 2010 when Rafael Vinoly presented a masterplan to create a new suburb around the Battersea Power Station.  As part of the regeneration there is a free audio tour triggered by your GPS that guides you on the heritage of the area.  It was great fun and we spent some time afterwards in the local restaurant warming up!

Open House London.

A yearly event, Open House London sees large buildings and personal homes open to the public.  Every year the known buildings are keep secret and revealed to all!  There is a directory you can pre order already for 2020.  Based on last years buildings you can try your luck getting a tour around 10 Downing Street, A House With A Slide and Hive House.

Somerset House.

Situated on the River Thames, Somerset House offer free guided tours to all visitors.  Choose between The Old Palace, Historical Highlights and Studio Tours.  These are held at various times and available dates are shown one month ahead.  You do need to book even though they are free.  I went on The Old Palace tour and learnt lots about how this building was home to several Queens including Queen Elizabeth the first!

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Everything I Have Learnt About LED Laser Facials…

March 23, 2020

If you follow me on Instagram it won’t be a surprise to you that I use an at home laser mask or am always running off to a salon version.  I’ve had some form of acne since I was eleven and decades later it doesn’t look like it will ever leave me.  Sometimes this can be attributed to stress, then it is obviously because the air is quite polluted or other times it is hormonal.  My skin is sensitive, and I get red marks that can last a year despite my everyday routine.  Fortunately, my skin rarely scars so that is a blessing.  Laser facials have changed my life these past two years and I thought I would share everything I have learnt about laser facials to help you.

The Science.

Healing with laser light was first developed by NASA for their astronauts.  It was discovered that specific light waves could kill bacteria (blue) and also help to promote healing (red).  Further investigation has determined that light can reduce pigmentation (green), refresh mature skin (yellow) and boost collagen (white).

Picture of me holding the Neautrogena Light Therapy mask. Everything I Have Learnt About LED Laser Facials.

Try A Good Cheap Product First.

At home treatments can be expensive and you also need to see if this product works for you.  Neutrogena has a great Light Therapy mask at a lower price point.  It has 16 lights that emit 8 red and 8 blue light waves.  This means you are getting healing and bacteria killing at the same time.  The draw backs of this device is that it limits the usage, however youtube can help you with hacks for this.  Also you have to have both lights on even if you don’t need one and you can’t adjust the time. Because there are only 16 lights I found I did have to do this everyday to make a difference.

Picture of my MZ Skins Light Therapy mask. Everything I Have Learnt About LED Laser Facials.

Research Before You Invest.

When you are ready to invest more you can find light masks on the market from £200+.  The key here is to think about what you want from your mask as it will last a long time.  I wanted all five light options, with the ability to choose, more lights (at least 100) and to set a timer.  At the time of researching I settled on MZ Skins Light Therapy mask.  It is sold here in London so any issues I knew I could get in contact with them quickly.

Picture of person having a salon light session. Everything I Have Learnt About LED Laser Facials.

In Salon Treatments.

These are the dream and much stronger than any at home treatment.  Lots of salons will offer LED therapy as part of facials, but the ones who know where the money is at allow you to book just the LED light for a 20minute session.  Walk in, walk out.  No need to even take your top off.  Just sit in the chair, meditate and get on with your day.

My Personal LED Light Facial Routine.

I started with the Neutrogena Light Therapy mask and it worked great.  I had to use it everyday and after two years it broke and only gave me the red light.  I kept using it but realised that I needed the blue light to keep breakouts at bay.  My skin went crazy and I had soooo many breakouts that I booked a salon course.  I went once a week for five weeks and everything healed up and pimples went away. 

Then I invested in MZ Skins Light Therapy mask that has 150 lights.  I find I can use this 2-3 times a week, 10 minutes per coloured light.  As it is a bit stronger I also find I’ve had hardly any breakouts and can use just two colours, blue and white.  I still get pimples but the way they behave now is much different.  They literally appear within a few hours and if I pop them, because let’s be honest we all do!, they are ready and there is no scab or mark. Now I treat myself to a salon treatments every 4-6 months when they are on special.

Hope this was helpful and you are on your way to better skin too.  Read more about my skincare routine here. PF xo

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Life Making

Creating A Functional Entrance Hall…

March 16, 2020

Each year I participate in Apartment Therapy’s January Cure.  It is a great way to reset your home, identify tasks that need doing and clear out the years clutter.  Each day you are given a goal from clearing a drawer to donating items to charity.  The big task is to put together your yearly home project.  Identifying something that you want to do, putting together a list of what that entails and planning it out.  You aren’t expected to complete this task in January and it can take as long as you need.  This year my yearly home project is to create a functional entrance hall.

How The Entrance Hall Functions Now.

Spoiler – it doesn’t!  I moved into my new build flat and I wasn’t allowed to repaint or decorate.  The plaster requires up to eighteen months to air and dry out limiting any decorating.  When I come into my flat there is a small entrance hall which every other room feeds off.  To the right, tucked behind a boxed in pillar, is a small space where I keep my shoes and coats. 

I currently have a very traditional, English coat rack in the space and that is it.  Storage wise it is a space that could be doing so much more and really could look better.  In this space is also a double powerpoint that I use for my hairdryer and fairy lights.  UK standards are limiting when it comes to power in bathrooms and we aren’t trusted to be able to plug in appliances in wet spaces!  As a result, all my other hair gadgets are piled in this space as well.  Safe to say I am not looking after these gadgets, and I have to tidy this space at least once a week.  It does not function well.

Planning and Budgeting The Entrance Hall Makeover.

Over the past four years I have researched many ideas on how to make this space function better.  The ceiling height means I can lift my coats with a hanging system.  It makes sense to have some sort of storage that stacks the shoes.  I’ve love to not see them poking out from their space! 

One of the biggest sticking points were my hair gadgets and how to store them.  Researching online I found several systems designed specifically for Dyson hairdryers.  Some even use magnets to display the attachments.  Finally, I would like to have a second double power point so that I can get rid of the power board.

Knowing the cost of this project would determine if I could go ahead.  I spent a few hours researching, over a couple of days, and came up with the below design.  It is a total spend of £290, excluding paint.  I am still unsure how, and if, I will paint the wall, total area, ceiling or nothing.  Paint isn’t cheap!  The most expansive item is the Kroft hanger which I might try and DIY later this year.

Getting Started On The Entrance Hall.

Excitedly I have decided to move ahead with the project knowing I have a year to slowly purchase and put everything in place.  I have borrowed a stud finder from a friend and organised another’s electrician husband to come and put in the powerpoint.  I’ve purchased the Dyson hair dryer holder and marked the ceiling where the hanger can go.  A few months of saving and I’m looking forward to making over this space.

Mood board picture of all the elements I am hoping to add to my entrance hall. 
 They correspond with the list of seven items nest.  Creating A Functional Entrance Hall.
  1. Kroft Hanger £98
  2. Silver Double Point Power Point £24 plus £50 install
  3. Dyson Hair Dryer Wall mounted Display £21
  4. Black Metal Shelf £15
  5. Wall Hooks £19
  6. Yamazaki Shoe Rack £52
  7. Earthborn Clay Paint £20+

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Books To Read In Spring…

March 9, 2020
Books to read in spring.

I’ve been carving out my life recently and it has allowed me to get back to reading books.  I’m trying to read before I go to bed as it does make me sleep better.  Often on weekends I can be found curled up on the couch reading a book.  I’ve started swapping books with friends widening my reading circle.  This is good as I always want to explore new stories and I know at least one of these books I would not have picked up myself.  Reading also has a knock on effect to my writing and words seem to come onto a page easier.  Here are some books I have read recently that you can read in spring.

An American Marriage – Tayari Jones

Celestial and Roy are from different backgrounds, but their love for each other brings them together in marriage.  A year on a crime is committed, and Roy is found guilty.  Celestial and the reader know he is innocent.  We are then shown the next 10 years through letters and various first-person accounts.  Their marriage is challenged as Celestial’s art becomes popular whilst Roy sits in prison serving his sentence seemingly paused in life.  When he is released can they resume their marriage as if nothing has happened?  This is what Roy wants…

Grown Ups By Marian Keyes

One of my favourite authors, I recently went to a live session with her being asked about her work and she is fabulous.  One of my favourites to follow on twitter and Instagram.  Keyes is delivering books every 18-24 months, so I really tried to read Grown Ups slowly.  It was a fool’s errand!  The story is so enticing.  About one Irish family whose secrets all come out when one gets a bump to the head and tells the truth.  Keyes has created some great characters who have depth and flaws including the men.  I did find some of the men trash and their behaviour awful.  That is the great power of her books!

Save The Cat! Writes A Novel

I’m trying to write my own novel because we all have one in us!  The first 10,000 words were easy but now I am at a sticking point as to what is next.  This book gives guidance on how to work through plot and characters and is incredibly helpful.  Here’s hoping I can get another 70,000 words down.  I am encouraged by my sister who messaged me after reading the bits I have and said she wants to read more.  No pressure!

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