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Renters anonymous

Apologies in advance, as today's post is a bit of a therapeutic rant for me. Hold on tight ... 

Things have been a bit tough lately. For anyone who lives outside of Ireland, at the moment things are a bit tough when it comes to rent and the cost of living here in the Republic. It's actually getting to a point where - get this - it's actually cheaper to buy a house or apartment than to rent one. I'm not talking a little bit cheaper. I'm talking exponentially. Rent is skyrocketing and so are stress levels, not to mention people's mental well being. There are many people I know who are making the leap from renters to buyers because the cost is becoming that ridiculous. 

I've mentioned before that I'd love for us to own a house. In the past year, this feeling has become unbearable. I'm an interior designer, DIYer and let's face it, a blogger. My blog is supposed to be an online portfolio of what I am able to do. As a renter, there's only so much you can design and DIY when living in someone elses house. There's a lot of red tape. And what's worse, as someone whose blog is kinda based around designing and DIYing, I can't showcase and demonstrate my ideas and skills in a rental. Basically, I'm screaming into a pillow on a daily basis. 

And now I'm being mildly tortured by the thought of buying [see first paragraph]. I'm hoping that if I kinda dear diary about it here, it will stave off my fixation to run to one of the gate houses in the Phoenix Park with a fist full of money, knock on the door and make it rain on the current owners [p.s. I want to live in one of the Phoenix Park gate houses. Badly. If you own one and are looking to sell, let. me. know].

I've lived in rented accommodation for a long time. It will be eleven consecutive years this year. That's eleven years of living with with other people's furniture. Eleven years of carefully dancing around other people design choices. Other people's colour palettes. Other people's uncomfortable and ugly couches with weird stains that I don't want to think too much about. Other people's fixtures and fittings. Eleven years of other people's mattresses

I'm supposed to be showing my design and DIY skills here on my blog and all I can really show is painting something a different colour. I want to DIY panels on every wall. I want to re-tile a bathroom. I want to install and repair real [reclaimed] wood floors. I want to choose fixtures and put them into place myself. I want to tare down walls and remake kitchen units. I want to source a neglected claw-foot tub and restore it. I want to upcycle a piano into a kitchen island. I WANT TO BUY A COUCH THAT IS COMFORTABLE AND NOT UGLY. I want to etch glass. I want to make my own black grouting. I want a pantry full of pretty and recycled storage. 

Having said all that, we're not really in a position to buy a house. Not yet. To me, that seems like a really grown up thing to do. I mean, husband and I still stare blankly at each other at times and say things like "we're married ... that means we're adults ... " I don't even know if I'm adulting right. Not to be confused with adultery. Nope. Definitely not that. 

I don't want to sound ungrateful for the homes I've lived in. I am very grateful. And they've been great practice. I just feel I'm ready for a home of my own. I had a eureka moment last night where I said to myself, "why not just do all those projects you've wanted to do to the apartment? Do them, and when the time comes, undo them." So do [and subsequently undo] them I will.

This is my desperate attempt at finding a silver lining as a renter. I hope this will keep my buying urge at arms length for a little longer. I hope. 

Image Interiors & Living - Ask the Experts

Hello Friday, you sexy beast. You are here at last and the cherry to the top this fine Friday - the new Image Interiors & Living is out! The Ask the Experts team is back and in this issue I put my DIY knowledge to good use with a readers' question about how to DIY a hanging branch for their home. It was a perfect question as it was a culmination of two recent projects I did in our spare bedroom [pendant cord light + branch art], so I was like, don't worry guys, I got this.

I still have to pinch myself when I see me alongside the likes of Roisin, John and Peadar. I'm just waiting for someone to realise I'm an intruder. Wait a second, how did SHE get in here! Off with her head. But seriously, there aren't enough awkward words in my vocabulary to describe how humbled I am to be included in this panel. It's pretty awesome.

You can check out the full mag in all good newsagents as and from today. And happy Friday of course! TFIF. 

The Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao

For our San Sebastian getaway last week, we flew into Bilbao from Dublin. And if there's one thing Bilbao is known for [of many things], it's the Guggenheim Museum.

When I was in my second or third year of college, our entire year went on a trip to Bilbao to see the Guggenheim Museum. I didn't go because at the time I couldn't afford it. Big welp. So when we booked our recent flights through Bilbao airport, there was no way I was missing out on some Gugg for a secondtime.

It was a bit of a close call. The only time we could visit was before our return flight home. Our flight was at 16:35 and we arrived at Bilbao airport [via direct bus from San Sebastian] at 14:00, so we jumped on the next bus into Bilbao, suitcases in hand, and ran to the Guggenheim.

No, we didn't go in. I know, sacrilegious. We had just enough time to admire the building itself and its Frank Gehry-ness in all of its splendour. And admire we did. As quickly as we could, in the near 30°C midday heat. I ran, snapped pictures like a starved paparazzi tailing a Kardashian, and in 20 minutes we were on our way back to the airport.

Dem curves tho, girl. Dayum.

So tell me, have you ever done a drive-by on a tourist attraction? I would have loved to take a proper chilled walk around it [and in it], but I figured €600 on amending return flight tickets would have been a bit of a splash. 

Sun, sea, sangria and San Sebastian

Last week we jetted off to San Sebastian, Basque Country in northern Spain for a relaxing few days full of nothing but sun, sea, sand, seafood and sangria. All our holidays to date have been full of things to do and places to see. This was our first attempt at a relaxing sun holiday. And what did we do? Walked about 20km every day and didn't put our swimsuits on once or read a book. Ha! We just got so excited and want to see all of the things.

This trip had a Will Ferrell theme to it; we sang this every time we walked down the boulevard, sang this whenever I ordered a sangria [which was A LOT], quoted Anchorman a lot, and talked about the inclement weather to no end.

On our first day we walked from our hotel, along the beach [and crept on all the houses along the way], up Monte Urgull, back down to the city centre for eats and drinks, wandered aimlessly for hours, eating and drinking [SANGRIA. ZOMG], then lounged on the lawn under hydrangeas at Miramar Palace ...

On another day we walked to Monte Igueldo, went up the [terrifying] funicular [I'm terrified of elevators and as it seems, funiculars. The idea of being held by a single cord, no matter how strong, makes me want to eat Zanex like they were M&M's], enjoyed the views, went back down said funicular and celebrated not plunging to our death with MOAR PINTXOS AND SANGRIA

Sangria and pintxos. Pinxos are the Basque version of tapas, and every single bar you walk into, pintxos are resting on every inch of available counter space. We went burserker. There was so much seriously yummy and tiny food. None of the photos I took of them did any justice to their yumminess [FYI, the crab ones were my fav].

But sangria. Did I mention the sangria? I really like sangria. It's nice and it matched my nails. So, win win.

I really have to stop myself from uploading every single image I took, but I'll be good and finish it here. Before we headed home, we made a quick trip to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao before getting our return flight, but that place deserves a post of its own [UPDATE - here it is!].

In short, if you can go to there, go to there. San Sebastian and the surrounding Basque Country are incredibly beautiful. A perfect holiday destination for wandering aimlessly with no agenda.

And there's sangria.

DIY Friday - travel pet pillows

Around this time last year when we were away on holidays, I shared a little picture of the pet travel pillows I made especially for us to bring with us since we're crazy cat people to our core and really miss little Juniper and Toshi while we're away. I figured being able to smoosh our faces into poor replicas of them would stave off a small amount of home sickness whenever we're away. And since we've brought them with us 3 times since, it actually works!

And here's how I did it ...

Last year when I made these travel pet pillows, I had taken photos of each step, but when I went through my external hard drive I couldn't find a single picture. So apologies for the lack of tutorial photos. It's a fairly straight forward project anyways, and I'll try to explain as best as I can how I did it. 

I first photographed Juniper and Toshi on their own, in good light, making sure they were facing me and being their cute selves. I opened each photo in Photoshop [or the Linux equivalent 'Gimp'] and traced around them using the paint tool set to white. I carefully did this and coloured out the rest of the photo until the entire photo was white, with the exception for each fur baby. 

I saved each image as a jpgon a USB key and went to one of those gift kiosks in a local shopping centre that specialises in printing images onto objects. They printed Juniper and Toshi onto a square pillow each. As these were going to be travel pillows and the smaller they are the better, I sewed the pillow closer to the silhouettes of each cat and filled them with extra stuffing I had. That's it really! 

We bring our travel pet pillows every time we're away from home. Even during our Christmas holidays when we're staying down the road with family for a few days, our pillowed kittens come with us too. As crazy as it sounds, it's a little ritual we now have to take Juniper and Toshi out when we first get to our hotel and squeeze them a bit. 

Husband even has a few sneaky photos of me passed out, face mask on with a kitten pillow under each arm for every holiday we've been on since I made them. And no, you won't find those pictures hitting the internet any time soon. Sorry ;)
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