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Cora's birth day

I've always been fascinated with people's birth experiences. Some people may find that strange, but it's something I've always loved reading about it. As my due date approached I knew I'd one day like to share our experience, so with some help from Robert [as he was the sane one that day], I wrote all about Cora's birth day, how an epidural saved my sanity and how we should stop being so damn hard on ourselves. 

Before I start, I'd like to say I don't think I had a regular labour. It didn't go smoothly and I handled it as best as I could. But I think that's what we all do. I can't speak for men, but I know women are used to feeling pain and discomfort regularly so we deal with it and get on with it. Labour is the same, just on an unbelievably epic scale. In the end, a tiny human comes out of you so the prize far outweighs the experience ...

Defining My Style

Have you ever had something muddled in your mind for a long time but it's only once someone says it that it clicks in your head and you say to yourself, YES. That makes total sense to me! When I read Kimberly of Swoon Worthy's blog post about How to Use Pinterest to Define Your Style, it clicked with me and I knew it was something I've wanted to figure out for a long time. 

It sounds strange as I'm always writing about design, but I've never tried to define my style in words before [actually, I did try once here, and I wasn't far off!]. Kimberly's piece is well written and I won't do it much justice by trying to summarise it, but what you do is create a Pinterest board, pin only the images that really inspire you, write down the repeating themes, textures and descriptive words and from there try and narrow down [to roughly] three words that define your style. I would urge that you read Kimberly's post as it's much better explained and whatever you do, don't skip ahead and try to guess your words because Kimberly will know and she will find you

I created my Pinterest board and collected my absolute favourite pins. I wasn't so much surprised by the themes, but I was surprised by having to define them. It was like homework! Trying to describe what themes that connected all the images was tough, for me.  

Here's my long list of words, exactly how I wrote them as they came to me ...
Hygge, vampire, velvet, luxurious, texture, dark, jewel tones, warmth, cosy, comfort, ornate, carved, antique, romantic, deep, botanical, floral, candlelight, layers, gold, metals, luxe, strange and unusual, Victorian, history, juxtaposition, berry hues, old, flowers, natural, structured.

From that list, I was able to group my words into three categories after much considering ...

DARK is one of the most obvious words, but it doesn't just mean dark colours and shades, I included it as sometimes I like an ever-so-creepy feeling to design. Keeping you on edge a little. Strange and unusual. But not overwhelmingly. I don't want to scare people off. Just somewhere you feel you can hide away from the world. 

ROMANTIC was a surprising one for me. It sums up my always wanting cosy, hygge and warm interiors. It marries dark and cosy together. I do love very dark interior design, but I distinctly do not like stark or cold types of dark. There needs to be texture, depth, layers and a bit of mystery.

LUXE [or luxurious] was a difficult one for me and it was in fact my WhatsApp Clique that helped me put a word to it. Alongside romantic, I love warmth like candlelight, golds, fireplaces, lights, thoughtful embellishments and considered details. I was intimidated by using that word at first because I immediately thought of throwing-money-at-things expensive, but it doesn't mean that at all. My kind of luxe doesn't mean over the top or expensive, just bringing something shiny and warm into a setting. Lifting the darkness just a little. 

I found this exercise really helpful and as Kimberly mentions, your three words apply to much more than just your interior design sense. I can apply my 3 words to how I like to dress. Setting myself a guideline of three words has already helped when looking at pieces for our home [or pieces of clothes]. I look at it and think, do my three words apply to this? In the past, if I bought something that was wildly outside of what I usually like, more times than not I would return it a couple days later. This way I can constructively and rationally think about buying a piece. It's a simple exercise, but for a person like me who likes themes and sticking to them, it has helped immensely. 

Do you know your defining words? Or is this something you'd like to try defining? I thought I knew my words beforehand ['gothic, gothic, gothic'], but I was surprised by how much warmth I want in my home, and in fact need.

Image sources ... 
1. Image by Heather Nette King
2. Image of Kempshott Road 
3. Image of Peruke & Periwig 
4. Image of Palacio Ramalhete Hotel
5. Image originally via Ralph Lauren Home [no longer present on site] 
6. Image originally via sofa.com [no longer present on site]

Spring cleaning and decluttering roundup

This time of year inevitably comes with an urge to scrub and get rid of all of the things. Or at least it does for me. I've written about decluttering and downsizing a good few times, so this is a roundup of my favourite blogposts that [for me] have worked until this day to keep me organised and less hoardery. I figured I'd share it ahead of this month's bank holiday weekend in case you need something to do to burn off a few chocolate calories or just want a valid excuse to hide in a storage cupboard for a few hours ...

THE BASICS - my original spring decluttering blog post from 2014 is the best place to start. I write about my top 5 tips for staying motivated while decluttering and following through with your plans.

THE BASICS 2.0 - the following year in 2015 I wrote 5 more tips on decluttering to give you an extra boost if you're feeling overwhelmed, as well as touching on the mental health benefits of decluttering.

THE EARLY BIRD - since writing about it in 2014, I've done my 10 minute morning tidy routine every day since. You may prefer to do it at night before you go to sleep [that's what she said], but either way, 10 minutes of tidying a day will keep you on top of things and in the long run with save you time and energy. Admittedly, now that Cora is here and keeping me on my toes, our apartment isn't as tidy as I'd like. But I'm learning to try to be less hard on myself but I still do manage to keep most of our apartment tidy, otherwise it will get out of control.

DAY-TO-DAY - my two tips for staying organised on a day-to-day basis and it's something I strongly think everyone should practice; using an agenda and organising your email inbox. To this day I religiously use both every day and find them a huge help.

EXTRA READING - a few years ago I interviewed Sarah Reynolds of Organised Chaos for Image Interiors & Living and we got way too excited about organising and how being tidy and organised can help improve your mental health. You can check out the full article here - Cut the Clutter: six steps to a calmer, cleaner, happier home.

Our secondhand Stokke crib

When I was putting together ideas for the nursery, one of the main pieces we needed was a crib. Cora's room is quite small and whatever crib we picked would be a big deal, so I wanted to make sure it was something we really loved before getting one. We went to a lot of stores and looked at a lot of cribs, but my gut feeling was to see if we could find a secondhand crib. I wrote about it more in my Nearly New Wood Challenge a couple of years ago; how for the most part I'm not too keen on buying brand new furniture, especially wood. 

I spent a few days looking through the cribs available on Adverts.ie and that's when I spotted a secondhand Stokke Sleepi crib in walnut. It was so different to any other crib we had seen that it immediately gave me heart-eye emojis. Before I replied to the ad I looked up more information on the Stokke Sleepi crib and my doubts were drowned out pretty much by how incredible it is. 

A couple of text messages later and a thorough cleaning, Cora's new [to us] crib was home. We didn't use the mini crib as it didn't fit in our equally small bedroom. I don't know if we'll end up using the bed until Cora is 10 [though it's a nice idea to not have to buy her a bed for 10 years], but being able to use the end pieces of the cot as chairs? Game changer. "Look how much use we can get out of it!" Robert didn't need too much convincing TBH. 

We paid €200 for our secondhand Stokke Sleepi crib which was €20 over our budget. I didn't have a problem going over budget as I thought it was just too good to pass on. It came with newborn and toddler conversion kits which if bought new, including kits it would altogether cost us over €1,000. That's not why we bought it though. It's a gorgeous solid walnut bed [and it looks like Stokke no longer sell it in walnut] with simple lines and a killer shape. And even better, for my conscious at least; it didn't cost the earth. 

To find out more, you can check out my Nearly New Challenge and Nearly New Wood Challenge

Trends that do good - TK Maxx Uganda

I've noticed since having Cora that I've changed. A lot. Chemically. Not that I was emotionally devoid BC (before Cora), but I'm now much more emotional whenever something child-related pops up in my news feed. The little girl who loves a broken water heater? I cried. The sassy kids who interrupt their dad's BBC interview? Cried. Different types of tears, but I think they prove I'm doomed to look like crying Dawson Leery at anything involving children going forward. 

Last week when TK Maxx approached me to help promote their new homeware range with a difference, they hit a chord with my new-found parental emotions. From today, an incredible range of hand woven and hand crafted pieces will be available that are not only perfect to brighten your home for spring, but they also support a strong cause. Each piece that's sold supports the disadvantaged Ugandan parents who crafted them by increasing their income so they can afford to keep their children in school. 

1. Multi-coloured hand woven platter, €16.99, TK Maxx
2. Hand woven patterned vase, €16.99, TK Maxx
3. Rice spoons, €8.99, TK Maxx
4. Horn bowls, €22.99 each, TK Maxx
5. Lidded hand woven basket, €19.99, TK Maxx

Since TK Maxx began working with parents in Uganda in 2008, school attendance has risen from 53% to 94%. This isn't something that in the past would have hit home so hard, but since having Cora I can't begin to imagine how difficult that struggle is and I'm only starting to realise how much we take for granted.

The sale of these bespoke pieces helps to achieve long-term improvement in the everyday lives of the people who make them; an excuse to go shopping if I ever needed one. Let's also not forget the durability factor. Now that Cora has reached pre-toddler mode, these woven bowls and vases won't shatter should your adorable bundle of grabby-hands hone in on them. They're uniquely crafted statement pieces that are doing good for those less fortunate. 

Please note that the new Ugandan stock is limited and will vary per TK Maxx store nationwide.

DISCLOSURE - this is a sponsored blog post by TK Maxx to help promote their new range of Ugandan handmade products. As always, all words and opinions are my own. I only work with companies I like and of course, think that you will too. Thank you for supporting the companies that support The Interior DIYer. 
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