Monday, 24 June 2019

Marie Kondo doesn't want you to get rid of all your books

I've written before about Marie Kondo and how much I enjoy her books. Although I've never felt cluttered enough to complete an entire Marie Kondo festival, I definitely use her techniques when it comes to arranging my home. In particular I follow the essence of her method, which is gathering and decluttering items by category rather than by room or storage area.

Related post - Working out my own interpretation of Marie Kondo's method

I've always loved reading, and I've always loved buying, collecting and displaying books. Fortunately I've always also been good about passing on books once I've finished with them. Even books that I've bought new, if when I've finished them I don't feel that I'll want to read them again I'll pass them on to either friends or family, or to the charity shop.

Earlier this year, after the Marie Kondo documentary was broadcast on Netflix, people got very cross at the suggestion that Marie Kondo advises that one should keep fewer than 30 books. I don't remember this quote featuring in the series (although I'm happy to be corrected if it was!) and I didn't remember it from the books either. All I remembered was her opinions about which books to keep, and how important it was to really think about the books that truly deserve a place in your life.

Marie Kondo book meme
I had a look through Kondo's first book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying, and found the section that this 'quote' comes from. Under the sub-heading 'Books to keep - Those that belong in the hall of fame' where Marie Kondo discusses books, she says "I now keep my collection to about 30 volumes at any one time, but in the past I found it very hard to discard books because I love them."

So she is most definitely talking only about herself, and saying is that 30 books is the right number for her, and she emphasises everyone is different when it comes to how many books you want to keep around the place. I definitely have more than 30 books, but every book there is one that really does spark joy to me, and when I look at my bookshelf it makes me feel happy, not overwhelmed by a mass of books that make me feel guilty because I've not read them.

Related post - My Marie Kondo approach and Sparking Joy

I also found another quote in that section which I really loved - "The moment you first encounter a particular book is the right time to read it. To avoid missing that moment, I recommend that you keep your collection small." It's so true - when I spot a book that I want to read I want to read it immediately, not put it at the bottom of a to be read pile and lose that enthusiasm.

So which books belong in my Hall of Fame? I actually shared a blog post about my fiction bookshelf a few years ago, and more recently I shared a list of the books that I can read over and over again. Some of them are rather battered and scruffy copies, but they have definitely earned a place on my bookshelf.

Rows of colourful books on a bookshelf
Photo credit Nick Fewings via Unsplash

So don't be put off the Marie Kondo method if you think that she wants you to get rid of all your books, her advice really is excellent and will help you to think carefully about the books that you do want to keep, however many that is, and your reasons for doing so!

Related post - The Life Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo

Friday, 21 June 2019

Hama bead Disney magnets - ideal Fish Extender gifts

Disney Cruise Fish Extender magnets idea

Later this year we will be setting off on our fourth Disney cruise and I can't wait! Each time we've cruised with Disney we have taken part in a little more of the magic on board, and now for the first time I've signed us up for a Fish Extender gift exchange as well as a couple of other exchanges. As part of a Fish Extender gift exchange you swap small gifts as part of an organised group. The gifts can be bought or homemade, Disney themed or not, and are a way of adding a little extra magic to your cruise.

Related post - Our Disney cruise - Adding some magical extras

I designed some Hama or Perler bead magnets to use as part of a cabin gift, or they could also be used for a dedicated magnet exchange. They are really easy to make! I made them with three different designs, two are my own photos from a previous cruise on this ship and the third is the Halloween on the High Seas logo, as we are cruising on a Halloween sailing.

If you want to take part in a similar exchange on your Disney cruise you can find the details on your dedicated cruise Facebook page - just search for your ship name and dates and ask to join. Read on to see how I made these simple Fish Extender magnets!

Related post - A Disney Cruise Fish Extender with a Moana theme

Disney Cruise Fish Extender magnet gift ideas

To make these Disney themed Hama bead magnets you need a circular Hama bead pegboard (either the small board or the large board will work) and a selection of Hama beads. My design uses 23 black beads, 17 red beads and 2 yellow beads. You also need a picture to use for the frame, printed on sturdy paper or card if possible, as well as some magnets for the back.

When placing the beads on the circular pegboard make sure to line the beads up correctly - you want to position the board so that the centre line of pegs is horizontal, and it's easiest to start by placing the black Hama beads along that line.

Here is the design that I used:

Hama bead Disney pattern

Iron the beads on both sides so that you have a nice solid frame. Of course you can adjust the size of the frame if you want to make them a little larger - these measure about 4.5 cm in total diameter and the inner circle has a diameter of about 2.5 cm. It might be nice to make one larger frame which the recipient could use to display their own photo.

Related post - Hama bead ironing tips

Hama Perler bead Disney designs

Cut out your printed inner design so that it is slightly larger than the hole in the middle of the frame.

Fish Extender Hama bead magnets

Then glue the picture to the back of the frame. It's worth having a quick look at each frame and deciding on the side that you want to face outwards, as sometimes the ironing process can distort the beads. Leave the magnets to dry fully.

Disney Cruise Hama bead magnet

Then you can apply a magnet to the back of each frame. I bought some strong small magnets (affiliate link) to glue to the back. These magnets are very strong, so you'll need to use a strong glue like super glue to stick them down. I learned that it was necessary to glue the magnets towards the top so that they are behind the part made from Hama beads, otherwise the paper might not be strong enough when you try to pull the magnet away from your magnetic surface! Also wait until the glue has dried completely before you test them. Try out a few different magnets, and if you do find that your magnets are too strong then you can use magnetic tape instead.

Hama bead magnets with a Disney theme

These magnets will form part of a cabin gift for each stateroom taking part in our Fish Extender exchange. Each cabin will receive one each of the three different designs, along with a Disney themed Christmas ornament.

Related post - Disney Cruise Ornament Exchange idea - Felt Christmas stockings

I really enjoyed making these magnets and I think they turned out well! It's making me even more excited for our cruise, even though we still have several months to go yet - it's definitely a way of making that Disney magic stretch a little bit further as the anticipation builds!

Related post - Disney Cruise craft ideas

I hope that the recipients like them!

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

My working from home essentials

I love being able to work from home. As well as my blogging and social media work I do some part time work for a home working company, and although I don't earn a fortune it's very nice to have the extra money for something that I can easily fit around looking after the children and the home, as well as having time to myself.

But it's not always easy working from home. There are plenty of distractions - washing to be put away, a dishwasher to be emptied or a drawer full of snacks. Here are my working from home essentials:

A reliable internet connection and the associated technology - It goes without saying really, but I need the internet for most of my work. I can make notes in a notebook, but I always find myself wanting to check facts or just have a quick browse for some inspiration. Luckily our set up is fairly reliable, but it's so complicated that when it goes wrong I have no idea how to fix it!

Peace and quiet - I work much more productively when I'm on my own in the house. Even when other family members are quietly occupied, I'm always on edge waiting for someone to come in and disturb me. Luckily I'm on my own most days at home!

A kettle, biscuits and snacks - I don't drink much tea or coffee but my morning is fuelled by a daily hot chocolate, and it's always nice if there's a biscuit or ten to accompany it.

Laptop open on a tidy desk with yellow chair
Photo credit Kari Shea via Unsplash

Temperature control - A nice hot radiator in the winter, and a window to open in the summer.

Desk and comfy chair - All my written work is done at my desktop PC. I have access to a laptop but I just can't get comfortable anywhere else, I need a proper clicky keyboard and a big screen with plenty of desk space.

A window with a reasonable view - The window in my study looks out over our front path and hedge. I can't see much, but it's nice to stare out sometimes when I'm stuck for inspiration. As long as the hedge doesn't need a trim, as then I'm just reminded that I need to get out and cut it!

Space to work on crafting projects - and space to lay things out without them being disturbed when I'm not working on them.

Some social interaction - I don't need much as I'm generally quite happy in my own company, but I do like to meet up with friends regularly for hot chocolate and cake (and quite often our chats provide me with blog post inspiration!)

Do you work from home? What do you need to help you through the day?

Monday, 17 June 2019

I want to live inside Unsplash

Sometimes when I'm writing a blog post I don't have a good photo of my own to illustrate it, and so I turn to Unsplash. Unsplash is a fantastic website filled with high resolution photos that you can download to use for your own projects, even commercial ones, for free, without asking for permission and without the need to credit (although I always do). I've found some beautiful photos there which fit my posts perfectly, especially when I'm writing about some of my favourite topics like organisation and minimalism, reading, travel or blogging.

Woman reading seen from above
Photo credit Thought Catalog via Unsplash

I've spent a fair bit of time browsing photos through these categories, sometimes because I'm trying to find the perfect picture, but other times because I just really enjoy scrolling through the pictures and imagining living the lifestyle that they depict.

The other day I was sitting on a comfortable seat in my tidy garden with a hot drink in my hand and a book on my knee, and it dawned on me that for just a few seconds I was experiencing what I decided to call my own 'Unsplash moment'.

Notebook by a pot plant
Photo credit Kyle Glenn via Unsplash

Because for me Unsplash has started to become the embodiment of a perfect life. In the world of Unsplash there are endless cups of tea, alongside notebooks laid open with a pen at the ready to fill them with ambitious plans and innermost thoughts. There are pretty things to look at while you are working, like beautiful views, well cared for houseplants, and posters with motivational quotes.

Blogging flatlay with laptop and accessories
Photo credit Chris Adamus via Unsplash

The surroundings are minimalist and tasteful, mixing old and new successfully, and everything fits together perfectly to create a calm and relaxing workspace.

Houseplants in stone planter
Photo credit Jessica Lewis via Unsplash

There is so much potential for creativity and relaxation, without the distractions of mess, clutter and general family life.

Pile of books with glasses on top
Photo credit Nicole Honeywill via Unsplash

Of course I know that the majority of photos on Unsplash are posed, and they don't represent anyone's actual real life. Maybe I'm cheating a little bit to use someone else's staged photos to portray a world that's different from my reality. Or maybe using the lovely pictures also acts as an escape from reality for the readers of my blog. I'm sure that no-one really wants to see my messy bookshelves and floors covered in Lego!

So if you see a photo on my blog that makes it look as though my life is perfect, there's a reasonably good chance that it's just a glimpse into a world that I sometimes wish I could inhabit!

Friday, 14 June 2019

Our Ooni Koda outdoor pizza oven

Today I'm sharing a short review of our recent fantastic purchase - a Ooni Koda Pizza Oven. If you follow me on Instagram you may have noticed me sharing a few delicious pizza photos, and we've enjoyed using our new outdoor pizza oven so much that I wanted to share it with any other pizza aficionados! I'll warn you that this isn't a particularly technical review, I'll be chatting about how we have been using it, sharing a few tips that we've picked up, and generally showing off our pizza making skills!

We eat a lot of pizza, and have been making our own pizzas at home for years. We started with pre-made bases, then began making our own dough using a mix before moving on to making the dough from scratch. It's been quite a journey, and over the last few years we've tried various different ways to create the perfect pizza. The most successful by far were cooking pizza on the barbecue using a pizza stone, and purchasing an indoor pizza oven which still receives regular use.

This summer we decided to take things even further, and we purchased a Ooni Koda Gas-Powered Outdoor Pizza Oven (affiliate link). Ooni make a variety of different pizza ovens, some are gas fired, some are wood fired, and some are a combination of the two. We chose the gas fired oven which was definitely the best choice for us as it's so easy and quick to get up and running. It's also very portable if you want to take it out and about with you, especially if you are visiting someone that has a gas cylinder.

Ooni Koda outdoor pizza oven review

We have been using our Ooni Koda on a wooden garden table and it's been absolutely fine as the temperature underneath the oven doesn't get that high. You definitely do need a raised surface for it to stand on. Because you need to constantly check and turn the pizza while it's in the oven it would be very awkward to have it placed at floor level. 

Ooni Koda outdoor pizza oven

Once you have turned the pizza oven on it takes about ten minutes to fully heat up. We bought an Infrared laser thermometer (affiliate link) which makes it really easy to check the temperature of the pizza stone inside the oven (and it's also quite fun to play with in general!). We've found that the Ooni takes longer to heat up if it's windy, and if the wind is very strong you need to keep an eye on it to make sure that the flame hasn't been blown out, so it's best to find a sheltered spot for the oven if you can.

When you have prepared your pizza and it's ready to cook, you just need to slide it into the pizza oven onto the hot stone inside, and the flames will cook the pizza from the back and the top. During cooking you need to turn the pizza to make sure that it is cooked evenly all the way around, and so for this you need a pizza peel. When we started using the oven we used the short wooden pizza peels that we use with our indoor pizza oven, but we quickly upgraded to a Ooni branded metal peel which is much easier to use. We still prepare the pizzas in advance on the wooden peels to put into the oven (we have four so we can make all the pizzas for our family together in advance) then turn them during cooking using the metal peel.

Putting pizza into the outdoor Ooni Koda pizza oven

We've found that a sprinkling of semolina flour on the peels underneath the pizza really helps with a smooth transfer to the pizza oven. Once the pizza is in the oven it will cook very quickly (it usually takes just over a minute to cook the pizza completely) so you need to be stood there keeping an eye on it and turning it every 15-20 seconds or so. Some heatproof gloves are really handy for moving the pizza around on the peel!

Cooking pizza in the Ooni Koda pizza oven

It takes a bit of practice to learn how quickly the pizza will cook. At the moment we are still using a timer while cooking, but it won't take long for us to get used to the oven and realise when the pizza needs to be rotated. 

Ooni Koda outdoor pizza oven

We have been so impressed by the quality of the pizzas produced by the Ooni Koda. It's definitely worth taking some time to research how to make a good quality dough - there are plenty of apps to help with recipes, and videos demonstrating how to roll and form the dough into bases. We've also invested in some good quality ingredients - we use Caputo flour and have recently started buying Fior Di Latte mozzarella. They need to be bought from Italian food stores or online, but they really do make such a difference to the taste of the pizza. 

We are so pleased with our purchase and now have our fingers crossed for a lovely, long and hot summer like last year, filled with plenty of delicious pizza!

Delicious pizza from the Ooni Koda pizza oven outdoors

If you want to see the Ooni Koda pizza oven in action I can thoroughly recommend this YouTube channel - Got2EatPizza - for plenty of Ooni pizza making demonstrations and recipes.

 Related post - The G3 Ferrari Delizia Pizza Oven review

Affiliate links - Here are some of the products that we have used with our Ooni Koda that I can personally recommend. It's definitely worth shopping around when it comes to buying the actual pizza oven as prices do vary by retailer and you may be able to find a special offer.

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Marie Kondo, and managing without things that you've decluttered

I'm constantly organising and decluttering my home. Even though I like to think that I'm fairly minimalist, I'm always on the hunt for things that are unnecessarily taking up space and can be moved on. I can honestly say that there are very few things that I regret getting rid of, but that doesn't mean that there aren't a few annoyances.

Related post - The Life Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo

For example, in my recent blog post Decluttering 100 things in a week I listed all the things that I'd removed from my home, including some plastic food trays with separate compartments which went in the recycling. Then a couple of days later we were given a huge Lego set with many, many pieces which needed to be sorted. The plastic trays would have been perfect for organising some of the pieces, and I was so cross that I'd thrown them away!

But then I remembered a passage that spoke to me from Marie Kondo's book Spark Joy:

"I have bid farewell, at least temporarily, to countless things that didn't bring me joy and, to be frank, the absence of a discarded item never caused a catastrophe. There was always something in the house that would serve as a substitute." - Marie Kondo - Spark Joy: An Illustrated Guide to the Japanese Art of Tidying.

She describes how she discarded a chipped vase, only to need it the very next day. Instead of going out and buying a new vase she covered a plastic bottle with cloth to use instead, with the bonus that it could be recycled and removed from her home once finished with.

Glass vase of flowers on a stool
Photo credit - NorWood Themes via Unsplash

It's so true, whenever I've found myself missing something that I've decluttered, I've always been able to find an alternative. And when I'm debating over whether an item deserves it's place in my home, I find it easier to let go of it if I imagine what I would do if I didn't have that item. There are very few things that you can't find a substitute for, and they are definitely the things that spark joy.

In the case of the Lego sorting trays, I remembered a stack of plastic cups that I bought for parties years ago, and I started putting aside plastic food containers and the punnets from our fruit and veg, all of which can be reused or recycled once finished with.

Related post - My Marie Kondo approach and Sparking Joy

Now I just need to get the children to build that Lego set so that I can have my dining table back!

Lego pieces sorted into cups and boxes ready to build with

Monday, 10 June 2019

How to make simple tin can lanterns for the garden

Tutorial for repurposed tin can lanterns

Last summer we bought a fire pit for the garden, and this year we've bought a pizza oven, so I'm anticipating plenty of warm, summer evenings sitting outside with food, drink and good company. Fingers crossed we have another lovely summer like last year!

To brighten up our patio during the evening, I've been making some tin can lanterns. They are easy to make, so I thought I'd share how I made them in case they inspire you to make something similar for your garden! All you need are some tin cans, a hammer and a nail.

First, wash out the cans and remove any labels. Then fill almost to the top with water and freeze. This means that the can will keep its shape while you make the holes.

Freezing ice to make tin can lantern

Then take a hammer and a nail, and bang the nail into the can where you would like the holes to be, removing it once you are done. You can mark out a design on the can with pen, tape a piece of paper to the can with your design that you can punch through, or just go for a random approach and cover the can with holes.

Designing a tin can lantern

When the ice has melted, your lantern is ready to use, just pop in a tea light candle! I decided to decorate the rims of my cans with some beads. I made two holes at the back of the can, then I threaded coloured and glass beads onto a piece of wire, securing it firmly through the holes in the can. For my sunflower themed lantern I kept the colours to greens, yellows and oranges, and for the other cans I used bright and cheerful colours. Then the lanterns still look pretty, even when they aren't lit!

Lanterns made from old tin cans

Here they are once dusk has fallen. They look so beautiful sparkling away in the dark. I'm going to be making lots more, and I can't wait for the warmer evenings when we can sit outside surrounded by them!

Tin can lanterns with candles at night
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...