{ Hydrangea Girl

Desk lamp update - moar tassels

When I saw Kat von D's handmade Victorian lampshades back in August, I wanted all of that action to happen in our home. And I wanted it five minutes ago.

I already had quite a collection of black lampshades [case in point, desk lamp], so all I needed was some overly dramatic tassels. I searched Dublin high and low and couldn't find any. I was becoming desperate. So desperate in fact that one day when I was going through my closet, my eyes stopped on my sheer black summer kimono. All I saw was how well the tassels on the bottom of it would look on my lamp. And so I attacked said kimono with a seam ripper and applied it to our lamp. All in the name of DIY. 

I'm really very fond of the moodier feel to my desk lamp alread [you can see it's original transformation here], and I can't wait to find some awesome artwork to hang over our new old mahogany desk. Though, I'm thinking I may just have to paint an oversized piece of art myself, as I unfortunately have something very specific in mind, and haven't been able to find it. We'll see.

For the day that it is, I would like to wish you a happy Halloween! As it happens, I didn't style my desk especially for Halloween, I'm afraid it's just Halloween every day in our home. I hope you enjoy the night. 

xx A

Overheard in Dublin

The creators of Overheard in Dublin messaged me a couple of months ago. "Listen, Alex. This is really tough thing for us to say, so we're just going to come out and say it. We can't include your quote on the cover along with a picture of you and your cats like we previously planned. Unfortunately, we also can't include it in the forward. People will catch on. We've had to take special precautions to throw people off, and so we've decided to include your feature on page 88. We hope you're okay with that", and I was. Because I'm cool like that. I agreed to put my Peppa Pig quote [thanks to an incredibly hungover father in Tesco one morning] on page 88 of their new book so not to make everyone else wildly jealous of my latest feature. It would have been far too obvious otherwise. I'm just down to earth like that. 

Husband read through the new book last night and had a good few chuckles. That is, assuming he was reading my contribution over and over. If you're related to me, you can expect a signed copy for Christmas. You're welcome.

xx A

Bathroom skirting board update

Sometimes it takes me a long time to pluck up enough courage to ask a question. Last April [ahem, April 2013], our landlord visited our apartment as he hadn't seen it since he moved out 8 years ago. He was very happy with how we were keeping it, but had mentioned some areas of the apartment had aged and talked about getting someone in to repaint the discoloured skirting boards. And then a year and a half happened. 

I FINALLY emailed our landlord last week proposing I paint the skirting boards [after all, I don't want strangers in our apartment + I do find painting relaxing]. He had no problem whatsoever and even went as far as to say if there was anything else I thought needed updating, he would cover the cost. !!!!!!! Trust me when I say I screamed a little at my desk. More on that another time! 

Apologies in advance. My camera has been acting up, so I had to take most of these photos on my phone. 

The skirting boards and doors throughout our apartment were, I'm assuming, originally painted white. But aged quite terribly and were so ugly and yellow that my eyes were in a constant state of almost bleeding. The discolouring of the paint is most noticeable in our bathroom. Unfortunately, the colour of the skirting boards and the door made not only the grey walls look blue, but the grey floor tiles too. It was EMBARRASSING. Whenever we had guests over I had to emotionally detach myself from the situation whenever they used our toilet. As far as I was concerned, they were going in there and closing their eyes, right?

After I got the go-ahead from our landlord last week, I hurried to B&Q and bought a 2.5L tub of Dulux Stay White Satinwood and got painting. As advised by the paint expert in B&Q, I first cleaned the existing discoloured paint with turpentine on a rag, sanded the paint [as the original paint had a high gloss finish], wiped any dust off and started painting. 

Since I'll be updating all the skirting boards and doors slowly, one room at a time, I wanted to do a legit job. I removed all the door hardware, cleaned it and added them back after the paint had dried. Above was my panic moment when I thought oh dear lord, what have I gotten myself into? 

Okay, I might be going a bit over the top with the before and after pictures, but I'm so pleased with how much better our bathroom looks now that it less resembles an abandoned veterinary clinic. I promise I won't be inundating my blog with before and after pictures of every room once it's repainted. Our bathroom was by far the most obviously-discoloured. 

There are two aspects of our bathroom that need further updating - 

THE MAIN MIRROR - [as seen above the toilet. It spans almost the width of the room] it's really worn and just way too much mirror. Nobody needs to see that much of themselves. 
THE FLOOR GROUTING - I don't think the previous tenants cleaned the floor. Ever. So unfortunately the grout in the bathroom as well as the kitchen is really discoloured. At least now that I've repainted the skirting boards and door it's a bit less obvious, but I still want to see if I can dye the grout a darker colour. I've tried lightening / lemon-vinegaring / bleaching the grout, and nothing. Chemical warfare is my only option.

But for now, I'm very happy with our clean, white bathroom. xx A

Baltic Cruise - regal Riga

Aside from creeping Swedish cottages, Riga was by far the highlight of our holiday. It seems Royal Caribbean saved the best for last. We were so taken back by Riga and unfortunately we [rather embarrassingly] knew very little about it or Latvia and didn't know what to expect. We boarded our tour bus, buckled our seat belts and proceeded to have our minds blown ...

One of the first places we drove past was the former KGB Headquarters. Back in the day they would roll a red carpet down the entry way and along the street outside of the building. Why red? To masque the blood stains leading into and out of the building, and thus was the origin of the phrase to 'roll out the red carpet'. Unfortunately we did a drive-by on this building and didn't have the opportunity to go in, or take half-decent photos for that matter. But you get the idea. 

Our tour bus dropped us off in the centre of Riga and husband and I attempted to double-back to see all the incredible architecture again. 

The city of Riga has the largest collection of Art Nouveau buildings in the world. 40% of the city consists of architecture from this era thanks to a boom in the economy in the late 1800's. And when I say the architecture is insane, it's IN. SANE. 

To perfectly juxtapose the intricate and over-the-top Art Nouveau architecture, dotted around the city are old wooden buildings as well as ultra-modern sky rises. We learned that in the beginning, Riga was built strictly out of wood. The reason was that if the city was breached, the residents could easily burn the city to the ground, any intruders had nothing to claim and Riga could be rebuilt again. A few of these wooden buildings still remained. Seeing them along with the Art Nouveau and modern sky rises sit side-by-side complimenting each other so well was very cool.  

One of the best streets we wandered down was Elizabetes Street, where Mikhail Eisenstein designed numerous buildings [above and below; a small taste of his mad skillz]. I think I have to stop typing because nothing will truly caption how beautiful the architecture is. 

We had to board the cruise ship by 16:00, so we meandered along Kronvalda Park and daydreamed about ditching Dublin and moving into any one of the buildings. I'm not picky. I'll even resort to moving into the corner suite of this old place ... 

Riga, there are no words. It took me a world of willpower not to upload every single picture from my camera. For anyone reading this, before you book your next holiday to Portugal or Spain, take a long hard look at Latvia first. Seafood, scenery, history and wine. It is well worth it, I promise. We will definitely be back. 

So what's the most unsuspectingly amazing place you've been? I love when I visit somewhere that takes me off guard. Riga was for sure one of our all time favourite destinations. Having just written this post, I want to go back so badly. 

Guest bedroom bedside table - updates

Have you ever decorated part of your home and once it was finished, it didn't exactly look better? Yeah, that happens around here more often than I'd like to admit. 

Case in point, our spare bedroom earlier this year [below]. I painted our bedside table black and accessorized it with pieces I wasn't particularly fond of and it was all just BLEUH. Everything needed a bit of an upgrade, so on Monday night I repainted the bedside table with leftover Dulux Exterior SatinWood 'iron clad' paint that I used on our living room stools. This paint is meant for front doors, but it works like an absolute dream on furniture. 

Upgrade step 1: complete! Now onto step 2: in keeping with my current a bit less IKEA phase [ie - our new old desk], the next step was to find a replacement lamp for the IKEA lamp we had. Yesterday I took to my well-worn Dublin charity shop route and I spotted this absolutely lush gold lamp in Second Abbey ...

Phwoar. Isn't it well lush? I headed to Dunnes Stores and picked up a small black pleated lamp shade to bring it out of the early 90's, and I've got to say, I'm ridiculously pleased with how it turned out. Just LOOK at it ...

All shiny and gold and pretty. I next upgraded our rescue kit for unexpected guests box [psst - you can also see what the bedside table originally looked like in that post]. I had a spare white KASSET box from my DIY holiday memory boxes, so I added the contents of the rescue kit to the slightly fancier box and added an old school Dymo Omega label to balance out all the fancy. And damn straight, I am mixing gold and silver. 

And last but not least, I decided to jazz up the bedside table by doing something I almost never do - I bought flowers. I love flowers in our home so I don't really know why I'm always hesitant to buy them. I will admit part of me thinks it's a bit of a waste of money. I know that sounds harsh. I tried to curb my opinion by buying these pretty pink roses which were reduced yet absolutely perfect [WINNING]. I trimmed them into one of our gold tumblers, et voila. 

When I showed husband the new getup in the spare bedroom, the first thing he said was "are you sure you want to keep that lamp there? It's really nice and we'll never see it in the spare bedroom ... ". He makes a good point. Yes, he may be critiquing my styling placement, but I'll focus more so on the fact that he thinks I made a kick-ass Frankenstein lamp :) xx A
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