Archive | February, 2011

Outdoor Bath and Shower

27 Feb

We have a summer-house where we go to spend time with our extended family and to “rest”….well…sort of rest! (see my earlier post titled “crowded house”)

But, for me and my husband rest means “doing what you love ” and “loving what you do”…

So we had a little DIY project during our December holiday and made an outdoor bath and shower where there previously was just….well, grass.

You have to experience it, to love it as much as we did..but here are some pictures (though not doing any justice to the ambience) .

The bathtub is under a thatch roof and the shower is under the open, African sky under a “doringboom” – aka thorn tree.

It’s an amazing feeling to be in there !

The structure is made from corrugated plates and the floor set on concrete garden stones, so I felt the need to soften it a bit with some antique, romantic and feminine items.

Having property in South Africa, unfortunately means that what you leave out there, you might loose…so it had limitations on things like putting in old fashioned copper tubing which would have added to the charm…but it was not an option.

And it is better if certain things can be removed when the place is unoccupied. So my VERY HANDY husband converted this pewter jug I found into a faucet for the main bath.

Ahhhhh….to just put your head back and let the hot steam water run off the shampoo like you are in a salon is just simple bliss !!

My brother-in-law helped me turn this old piece that was lying around into something useful and beautiful … voila…it turned into a chandelier !

Everything turned out really well and it became one of the hot spots on the property for everyone who was visiting !

To get the whole story on how it came about…read on:

Two years ago I bought a bath… sometimes I do things like that  – for no reason other than the fact that I liked it !

It is an antique bath, weighs a ton and can fit a whole family into it !

I had it re-enamelled and left the outside rustic and unfinished.

But it can be kind of annoying and in someone’s way if it just sits there in the storeroom for no real purpose. A good thing that it so happens that we have 10 people sleeping apart from the main house, but using the bathroom inside the house. Off course they would love a bathroom near their “sleeping quarters !”

And why would we not give them what they want? Yes – that is what we said too…..

All my husband could think of was to get my huge bathtub out of his storeroom.

So, during our visit in November he spotted the little thatch roof we have right on the river bank and decided that that was the perfect spot to go place the bath when we return in December.

Only problem was – when we returned 3 weeks later…the river was in flood.

Since there was no stopping me now with creating this bathroom, we had to come up with plan B.

Measure up and move the structure a little up the yard was the only option.

It meant a lot more work than anticipated..but we had no option.

But in South Africa, where the rainbow nation lives .. any spot under that rainbow after the storm …is a good spot to put up a little hide-out where you can get naked close to nature !

I checked out the view from the new location…..

…and approved.

So the building work started in all earnest.

This had to happen all in between holiday-ing, river-rafting, Christmas, birthdays and family gatherings…. so needless to say that we used every pair of hands that were sitting around looking bored.

And on New Year’s eve, after 10 days of hard work, we could finally “open” the new bathroom with a little ribbon cutting ceremony and all !

The bathroom was officially open after me and hubby spent a few hours putting some final touches on it!

Everybody loved it and I have to admit…we could not wait for the next shower round.

In fact, everybody loved it so much that I soon had to replace the bath stand with a bigger, more functional bath cabinet where people could put their belongings when taking a bath. So I found a “sorter” they used in the bank in a local pawn shop and with some paint it did the trick.

I am so happy that my bath finally got a place in the sun….or should I say..under the stars !

Finally we could kick off our shoes…fill up a glass of sherry….lie back….smell the infused bath crystals from EnStyle mixed up with the smell of the grass fields and the muddy river banks  ….. and enjoy the view!

I think this is now my favorite spot in the world !

Kiddies Go – kids helping clean up

22 Feb

Sometimes I find a lot of things on the floor…

 

…including my kids….

They tend to leave things ALL over the house ….

and it becomes simply an impossible task to carry each child’s items back to where it belongs.

Kids don’t generally clean up what they throw out or leave behind  – unless you MAKE them do it. Well, mine anyway…

Some claim they are too small, so they go on strike…….

and they may have a point.

But, kids can be helpers in the house too, to keep the house more organised and tidy.

They just need a little help. And something to make it a little more tangible other than just mom’s nagging !

Today I found these at Costco.

Got one in the colour of each child’s room.

I thought they were pretty dandy!

So, what to do with them?

I think they will be pretty handy.

Here’s what I plan to do.

Park them in the room you are busy cleaning up. Throw each kids’ belongings in their own cart and later when they are home…they can have the responsibility to get all the things in their own cart back to where it belong.

You can make them pick up their own toys and fill their own carts..but the problem is they are usually at school when most of the cleaning up happens !

They have wheels, are lightweight and easy carry along so little ones have no excuse ! They are pretty and durable..so it perfectly fits the criteria of “form meets function”.

Each child has his/ her own so it is easy to point out who is doing their bit and who not..and consequences/ rewards can be given based on empty/ overloaded carts !!

Find them at Costco

Kiddies Go ! Hooray ! Go Kiddies !!

Yellow Fever

21 Feb

Enough said in my previous post. I am not going to make you read THAT much this time…or maybe ever again !

So, just something to look at today !  Honestly – I think I have yellow fever. Ever since I did that post on yellow and gray… I keep seeing it !

Here are a few more images on that topic that I could not forget after seeing them….and can’t resist sharing with you.

Next post – I promise – something pink..or maybe I’ll share with you the last project I did. Better come back for that !

Just enjoy these lovely spaces for today – on yellow and gray !

via Guest Bedroom – eclectic – bedroom – birmingham – by Tracery Interiors.

awww……….

via the style files.

How about this very cute moose duvet and a hint of yellow with the gray walls – perfect partners !

 

kids rooms with yellow

via the style files

Not with gray, but still sunny ….

via Houzz

via Lake District Residence – – – san francisco – by Dijeau Poage Construction.

via Jen’s Office studio – eclectic – home office – – by Made By Girl.

via Yellow Design, Pictures, Remodeling, Decor and Ideas – page 3.

and a little personal touch for a home-office

via Magazine files in office – contemporary – home office – – by Atypical Type A.

and for a happy ending to this post…

this bedroom above that just does it for me…. and a final quote I leave you with, was one that I found on a fabulous blog that I love and follow and is definitely worth keeping an eye on…. April and May.

Life-lemons and lemonade-lessons

17 Feb

One year ago, a life so perfect started to take a few bumps and beatings. A lot of loss,hurt, panic, sadness, anxiety , anger and stress made its way into the Queen’s castle!

And when my mom passed away in November, I took only a few items from her house. The most precious one of them all…this little sign….

It is such a cliche, right?!  But, what is the recipe for making the lemonade in real life?

Today, I am sharing my recipe for coping with all of this. I have to admit that I am not yet at the stage of adding the sugar and chilling it…but I am slowly making my way there..

Sharing makes me hope that you will find some wisdom in this recipe for yourself or identify with how I do it or you will be able to help me by adding a few ingredients that has worked for you and might do the same for me…

So, to reflect on what I do with my lemons…….

1. PROCESS / REACT to what is happening…do not be in denial….allow it to absorb your mind….clutter your thoughts…talk about it…cry about it….yell about it….but acknowledge that it is happening…so you can deal with reality that the lemon has hit you…..be BUSY with it…do not ignore it. You can freak out if you have to… for a little bit… I tend not to…but I have other ways in which my system responds… I start talking about it..to everyone and anyone…untill my husband falls asleep on it…untill such time I feel that I have talked so much about it, that I don’t want to talk about it..only then I stop talking…

2. THEN…  STOP for a while and forget about the rest of your life….sometimes when the juice squirts in your eyes you have no choice but to take a moment and gather yourself together…do not feel guilty that you have missed out and dropped the ball in a few other areas while you were busy dealing with the crisis…let it be the most important thing in your life for a day or three…. I am sure the school forgave me for not signing up to come see the teachers for parent conference day and I am not going to feel like the worst mother ever… I just went back, said sorry and will see them tomorrow….I simply can not have my mind everywhere it needed to be….

3. Think about things that came as a result of this….ponder some thoughts on side -effects this created (not neccessarily good things that came out of it – because that is very hard to see in a time when there is really no good thing in it for you…??! ), but for eg. be reminded of how wonderful your support network is, who your true friends are, who you can trust in situations like this, how making you stop made you realize some things that has nothing to do with this…. for example…when a bad thing happened to my nanny, I got to do a few things with my little one that I have not done in a while and I really enjoyed dressing her and giving her breakfast whilst I dont always get to do that anymore because there is someone helping her with that….I am still not happy that this happened but it made me think again of other things that came as the ripple effect…..

4. Do NOT  ask WHY this has happened. This is counter productive and makes you go back and forth as if on a swing… you do not get anywhere because we as humans are simply not equipped to anwer that question. For death, illnesses and tragedies we do not know and will not know. It is exhausting to do that.

5. Return to your Source of inner strength and calm…. the place or Person that can help you pull through a tough time….. If you are a believer, let go and let GOD. If not, find your source of comfort and go there for inner strength. Sometimes it is too difficult to pray during your own suffering. Ask others to do that for you…or just be still and He will know about it anyway…ask for Peace and you will receive it. You might not get the answer or a solution, but you will find peace in accepting your circumstance. And if you are not strong enough to pray, be quiet and put on some beautiful music…and don’t panic. Your stamina will return.

6. Get back to basics in taking care of yourself….eat well, go to bed early, drink a lot of water, get some exercise…….getting overtired and stuffing yourself with junk makes you feel even more miserable and does not help the situation at all… I am very guilty there…. I tend to stay up and do comfort-eating, give up on exercising and soon enough I have even more things to be depressed about !

7. Get dressed and dolly yourself up a bit ! Take a good look at yourself. Again – GUILTY. I find something sloppy to wear and hang around the house. It feels like everything, including me is  a mess ….. Do not get me wrong…. I LOVE hanging out around the house without being all dressed up – I can stay the whole day in pj’s …but, what I am saying is that in a time of crisis, it is not the right time to do that…do that when you are on top of the world, feel like you can achieve anything and in control of your life and emotions…otherwise…. get up and get dressed…so you can face your sad face in the mirror !!

8. Find a creative outlet...yes, like blogging…or baking…or whatever it is that you love to do and that gives you energy….In times of crisis, we often don’t allow ourselves to do the things we love because we are absorbed in the thick of things…but force yourself to spend just a little time on your hobby or something that gives you joy..something that will inspire you from within yourself….that will take your mind off things even just for a moment….that will force you to make an attempt to light the fire that life just blew out…so you will feel that you still have the ability to give even though it feels as if all has been taken from you….

9. Think about a list of ten things that you still have that you can be thankful for…and you will surely come up with a list ten times ten. Yes, even in death..there is some thankfulness… a life that was good…a suffering that has ended…. in terminal illness, there is still….the fact that are you are still alive with time to make right…extra time with loved ones….even in sadness….there are other things that bring you joy…. having a devastating diagnosis and a young child to care for is a heartbreaking situation but having the young child that you are thankful for, helps you to focus and hope for a solution, to push through and to look forward….to not get stuck in one place…

10. And then – go DO something – go DO something with your lemons….be pro-active, come up with plans to make things better, take action and move on from your place of sadness and insecurity and sickness….if you have nothing else to do……go make some real lemonade !! For the recipe – see the bottom of this post.

If it is cold and you don’t feel like a refreshing glass of lemonade..how about some lemon tea.

In Korea, you get this lemon preserve. I love it.

You spoon it into your cup…and just add hot water… It is delicious and heart-warming and is a good alternative for hot chocolate or coffee…..

So, here again – my recipe of making lemonade from life-lemons:

1. React and let it ALL out when it happens

2. Stop and take stock

3. Look beyond the border of the burden

4. Dont ask WHY

5. Pray for Peace

6. Back to Basics

7. Face the mirror

8. Create and Conquer

9. Fill your thankful tank

10. Go DO something productive

So……I bought the lemons, got my juicer out, making the lemonade….and found out that my honey spoon is missing…:-(

But, in the process of looking for it, I found this glass in the cupboard….

It must have been a little Corona marketing stunt..but it came in handy and so I share with you what it says:

“Enjoy with Lemon  – Corona represents the ultimate reprieve from and the rejection of the pressures of life. It’s an invitation to kick back and not take life too seriously.”


So it need not be lemonade. There are other things to do with the lemons you got in your life. Everyone’s situation is different and everyone responds differently. The important thing is to make something with YOUR lemons.

But for those of you who really read this blog for inspiration on design and decor, I did after all find something to share with you when I went to get the lemons. It is the fruit bowl that I bought on my recent trip to South Africa.

It is from the South African designer Carrol Boyes. She has AMAZING things !!!!! and I am a true admirer of her work.

 

It consists of two bowls, a small and medium, size which you can easily pass around the table if you want to hand out the fruit. It is not neccessarily for fruit but anything you can think of, of course !

If you do go to South Africa, be sure to look for her work. Just ask around and anyone will direct you to an outlet in selected malls. You can find it in selected international stores and now also online. She constantly comes out with new designs and they are a feast for the eye ! Remember – Carrol Boyes.

If you go to the site, there is also a competition going at the moment for new designers. So, if you happen to be one or aspire to be one  – go see the METAL MESS AROUND competition at her site. There are great prizes to win and a promising career for the lucky winner!

Right now…. I so wish that I could blog more about design, decor and detail as this was the intention of my blog….but reality is that life has thrown us these lemons …and they have been coming at a bit of a steady pace over the last few months….

So, here is to you, Sam…for inspiring me to write a blog post despite dealing with little one’s diarrhea, dialysis and other dilemmas in life right now !

If you have a few ingredients for lemonade, do not be shy to share them in the comment section below!

If you want to know how my lemonade is tasting so far…go follow me on Twitter (idodetail or click on the blog’s sidebar), as I will be posting my progress on steps 1-10 in the coming days.

And if all else fail – go grab the Tequila and Salt… I have no further advice for you !!

Take care

Ilze

Valentine’s Day

13 Feb

My son is cute. And cool. And 12.

And tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. So he made this for someone special for tomorrow..

…from a piece of wire he found in his room tonight…

He is into detail as much as his mom is !!!

But he is way more creative and innovative than me.

Did I say that he’s cute. And cool. And 12.

I would have bought the flower… I admit.

So, to all of you out there – all I have to share on this Valentine’s Day

…A flower that won’t fade…..homemade, handmade.. and hopefully by tomorrow…happy-heart-made…!

 

 

Let me know if you got something that made your heart happy today – even if it was not for Valentine’s Day !!

With Love

Ilze

Crowded House

7 Feb

Ever had the “joy” ?!  of managing a “kitty” for a group of people who all contribute and then share some resources like food or other household goods?

Today’s post is for those who have had the experience of sharing a house for an extended period, or even just a weekend breakaway, with relatives or a close group who had to co-share on food and accommodation. Everybody trying to be polite by what and how much they use…but somebody always feeling on the short end of the stick – a little grumpy that they pay more and eat less (never visa versa)… or an individual feeling he/she has the administrative monster on their shoulder to manage and collect the money should you all contribute and one buys for all???

If you have not done this… there is a very real chance that you might have to do this some time in your future…so, read on…here is my story and my solution which turned the craziness of a crowd and the crippling effect it had on the hostess and her leisure time, into a situation where we have found peace for all !!

I call it the DOT SYSTEM. This is the point where my family – if any of them read my blog, will switch off the computer and turn to the news on TV. They know it by now.

It’s boring – I know.

I don’t care.

I stand by it. Try it. It worked wonders for us. It still works.

This is how it came about:

I am living overseas as an expat. That means going home every year to catch up with family and friends.

We are in the fortunate position to have a holiday house which is unoccupied during the year and therefore available for us and our extended family whenever we pay a home country visit.

We love having the family over since this is the only time we get to spend time together. And they love coming over. And STAYING!

Here are just a few of them in the pool…

We would not have it any other way. But it gets hectic. REAL hectic. When you are at any given point , twenty plus people for 3 meals a day for a period of 3-4 weeks, it means a LOT of grocery shopping, a LOT of eating, a LOT of figuring out who needs to pay what….

As the owners of the house, we were  naturally the “hosts”..but our family are nice enough to know that everybody needs to contribute to the food when they stay for that long a period.

We all pitched in with money and I then bought groceries from the “kitty”. But , besides the fact that I, or any volunteer, crippled themselves with bags from the grocery shop…. it also meant that by the time you got home with the drinks, and twenty people sink into the supplies…an hour later much of it was depleted already..so it became a never-ending re-curring situation of stocking up supplies.

Then came the DOT system. Very simple.

Every family (we are about 4 families staying in one place), buy their own groceries.

In the first instance – that took the load of ONE person to go shop all the time…so immediately the “shopping burden” shifted equally well to each family that is on vacation in stead of a few individuals.

Every family got assigned a pack of cheap dot stickers in a different colour.

As soon as the bags hit the counter, you put a dot on every single item in your assigned color. DONE.

My kids love putting the dots on the items, so this motivates them to help unpacking the groceries when I get home and “blue dot” them before I pack away our families’ supplies. And from that point on, my kids know that they can have ANYTHING in the house, as long as it has a blue dot. Even the little one who can not read names yet, knew to ask only for drinks or candy with blue dots on them.

Sounds simple, right? The trick is that you still want to do something “together”…and you are thinking – how “un” social to buy your own food and drinks when you go on a holiday together. And herein lies the secret…

The menu for each week (end) was planned and put up on public display. This required one morning of detailed planning to write down what we would need for each meal, but then everybody could go shop in their own time, enough for their own family and we still had the joy of sharing our meals together. Say for example – we would plan a BBQ – we would say – BBQ with lamb chops, a green salad, baked potatoes. Then everyone would buy only enough chops for his family, bring 3 potatoes if they are 3 people or 6 potatoes if mom knows everyone in her family eats 2 potatoes, and a few ingredients of your idea of a green salad. We found that we had a lot less waste, as every person had put in exactly how much his/ her family usually eats instead of one person trying to judge everyone’s appetite and then wasting the food in the end.

This system was initially greeted with some scepticism. But after one holiday of succesful implementation, it was cheered by everyone with great accolades !!

What great relief it was when I only had to do grocery shopping for 5 and not 25 people and when I did not have to answer “what can I bring from the shop/ add for dinner……” every time somebody went to town. I could relax about the food…everybody had put their contributions in comes dinner time and no more fuss trying to figure out who owes what on the food bill!! Each family has dedicated shelf space and basically everybody sticks to their own supplies….

There are certain items for which you don’t have space and it is not practical to have 4 of each for example MILK! Nobody wants to make coffee for the group and then have to pour in milk from 4 different containers. Those “shared” products are marked with its own unique dots – see the PINK dot in this picture. These are either sponsored by the host or paid from out of the small group fund.

This system got 10 DOTS in my records !!! And I am sure my family will agree.

Here, somebody liked it so much, they got a little carried away with it all and even “dotted” the sandwiches that were prepared to go on the grill?! Not that you need to go that far!

There are small little details that makes this system a winner and I would be happy to share those should you have any questions.

But I would like to hear if you have ever been faced with a crowded house and your solutions of making it a manageable win-win situation to deal with the food sharing ! Let’s learn from each other.

TIll next time.

ilze

The difference is in… FRIENDS

6 Feb

Dear Friends

I have to admit. I got stuck a little. I have so many ideas for my blog, but as I reported earlier I needed to take the plunge…and so I did !!

I am moving my blog..but more details to come.

It has kept me from focusing my attention on all the wonderful posts I have in my head but I am hoping that problem will be of the past soon.

For now, I just want to tell all my friends how much I appreciate you and the wonderful support I am getting for my blog. It inspires me greatly. So, here is to your all…!!!!

Just in this past week, Friends made my day in so many various ways…

– sending me a mail to say that you read my blog even though you hardly know what it is and never comment !

– hearing from new friends who got introduced to my blog by old friends

– getting texts from a friend out of the blue from a weird number I don’t even know…. but hearing that she is thinking of me and wishing I was there..wishing me a happy Year of the Rabbit !

– hearing that another friend who moved just after I moved here, is moving BACK ….I am SOO excited !

– we just went on a breakaway weekend and hooked up with a couple of friends at the resort we went to. It was so much more fun to spend an evening having fun with a group of friends than spending the time on our own!

So – celebrating friendships in many ways today as I feel blessed to have so many friends in my life who is making this world a better place to be in !

And with that – I share with you my mini-cake stand that I bought this December. I just love it

I bought it in the small town of Parys, South Africa at the shop Thatzit! Unfortunately they do not have a website up to which I could link you up…but if you are in South Africa – do yourself a favour and visit them. You can find them at 100 Bree Street, Parys and tel nr: 072-545-4655 or ask info@parysanddome.co.za

They have fabulous finds and next time I go, I will be sure to do a full write-up.

Yes – sadly I have no decorated cupcakes to fancy it up right now…. but that is what you get from being away and coming home unpacking – no home-baked goodies for photo styling !

But – THANK YOU FRIENDS !!!

Each of you reading my blog or being in my life just makes my happy.

I will always love you.

Ilze

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