{ Hydrangea Girl


My favourite time of year is here - autumn. There's a lot about this time of year that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside - weather getting colder, crunchy leaves, scarves, cuddles and hot drinks. Aside from all the above, the next thing I love about autumn is the impending Halloween tinted decorations. 

I gave myself 10 minutes in TK Maxx over the weekend [yes, I actually have to give myself a time limit], and when I got to the top of the escalator, there sat their Halloween section. A plethora of Halloween themed snow-globes obstructed my line of vision. Some were a bit naff [ugly skeletons, bad-weird pumpkins], but then there was this crow snow-globe. Or as I like to [yell while I'm shaking up all the black glitter], CROW-GLOBE. I mean, seriously. Black. Glitter. And this is a legitly solid piece, no flimsy seasonal decoration. And I've always wanted a crow as a pet. Is that weird? I just think I'd look so mysterious. 

Crow-globe is a welcome addition to our living room and I should state, he will be present all year round, not just the autumn months. Pro creepy.

Also featured - Bill Murray print

#IMAGEblogawards nomination!

Sorry for the no-show this past week. I woke up on Monday morning with a head cold that reduced me to living in a nest on my couch up until this morning. There's nothing quite like a gargantuan dose of mucus to make you appreciate not being sick the other 360 days of the year. 

ANYWAYS, as I've gingerly shared online a couple of times over the last few weeks, Hydrangea Girl has been nominated for an Image Blog Award [WOAH], and as much as much as I hate asking people to vote, if you wouldn't mind shooting a click my way this Friday afternoon, I'd be forever grateful and I will craft a stylish centre-piece using my own hair and send it to you if you vote for me. If that temptation is right up your alley, you can ... 

>>>>>> V O T E   H E R E <<<<<<

... and I've had just above the legal limit of throat lozenges to ask you to vote using all of your email addresses if you have more than one. Yep. Please. I'm desperate and currently sound like a 78-year-old smoker. 

I / Hydrangea Girl can be found at the verrry bottom of the list. One could say they saved the best 'til last? Nope. That's more of my excessive use of throat lozenges talking. Apologies again. Happy Friday! 

xx A

Baltic Cruise - sweltering St. Petersburg

The next destination on our Baltic Cruise was St. Petersburg, Russia. We had been there before on our honeymoon, close to 2 years ago. Our honeymoon was in late October it was a lot colder than we had anticipated. We adored St. Petersburg. Wandering the streets, heads constantly gazing up, drinking chili infused hot chocolate, and adjusting to the unusual social hours [before I start reminiscing too much, you can read and see more about our honeymoon here]. 

We were really looking forward to going back to St. Petersburg, but in the summer. Little did we know it ended up being the hottest day of the year. A great day to be dressed head to toe in black, yeah? We also didn't know it was a national holiday, so thanks to everyone flocking towards the city centre, it ended up taking us almost 2 hours to get into St. Petersburg, leaving us only and hour an a half to reminisce. We covered as much ground as we could in the 35 degree heat. 

Since we had such limited time in St. Petersburg, we made sure to visit the Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood, wander down Nevsky Prospekt, and [attempted] to escape the heat by going back to one of our favourite cafes, Cafe Singer. Unfortunately, Cafe Singer, with its floor-to-ceiling windows, acted like a massive greenhouse and was hotter inside than outside. We still reminisced with carrot cake and this time, behemoth milkshakes. 

We begrudgingly walked back to the bus and back to the cruise ship. We felt a little robbed of what we were hoping would be our second honeymoon, but maybe it's the perfect excuse for us to go back again. Third time's a charm? We ate dinner and like the anti social introverts we are, we retreated to our usual evening spot - the lounge chairs in the adult pool that face massive windows so we can watch the scenery go by. After dinner, this area was always deserted. We spent every evening on these chairs, with wine, talking complete rubbish and reading books. 

We were treated to once again, a pretty awesome Baltic sunset. And to top it off? We passed a Russian submarine. No big deal. 

Stockholm - Helsinki - St. Petersburg - Tallinn - Riga

Teal obsession: I'm cheating on my favourite colour

This isn't going to seem like a big deal to most of you. I see so many pictures through social media of people's colourful lives. And I really wish I could be so bold. For me, colours are a big deal. In the past, I've tried to introduce many colours into our home. But the truth is, it drove me IN.SANE. I hope that doesn't sound rude? I'm well able to appreciate when people share they're colourful homes and if anything, I'm jealous. But I just can't do it. Call it DOCD - design obsessive compulsive disorder.

But that all changed a couple of weeks ago. It's really lame, but it started with a hoodie my husband bought in H&M. It was a really dark teal. Oh. It was nice, and that freaked me out. But no, this isn't a dark berry colour, so just no. But the more I thought about it this new hue, the more I realized it might actually go really well in our home. So I tested it out with an easily disposable item - candles. I headed to my local Tiger store and picked up two teal candles for €1.

They pretty much sealed the deal. Last week while I was doing my lunch time charity shop route I spotted two particularly interesting gems. Both of which were within range of my new colour obsession. First I saw this Achill Pottery bud vase. I'd seen a few of them before in charity shops here and there, but never had I seen one in this colour. The bottom half is pushing it with the brightness factor, but I like the top half so it makes it okay. It's a rather cute little wobbily vase with different sized holes in it for buds and off-cuts. 

I then spotted this picture frame in the same charity shop. While I know it itself is not teal, the thick wedge of glass on it glints teal whenever I walk past it. I should say this frame was in a very sorry state in the shop. It had a massive old sticker across the glass, rendering it pretty severely gross. But I saw past the ugly. I steeped it in warm soapy water, and laughed a menacing manner at all those who disregarded it. 

CONFESSION: we have no photos in our home. Now that I think of it, ever since I moved out from my parent's place close to 8 years ago, I haven't had one photo printed and framed. Not even one from our wedding, which was almost 2 years ago. So I'm hoping that now I have this pretty little number, it might encourage me to get my ass in gear.

xx A

#PicadoMexican - kitchen details

Happy Friday, homies! Today I'll be sharing the next installment of #PicadoMexican - all about the kitchen details. To give you a little reminder, this is what the kitchen section of #PicadoMexican looked like when we first got the keys ...  

It had potential, but it was a fairly standard magnolia shell. This area of the shop made the most sense to house the kitchen; the shop narrowed a bit towards the back, there was a sink and plumbing in the back room [left as you go through the door] which meant we could knock through and continue the pipes and electricals through to the kitchen space, and there was also a toilet [on the right as you go through the door] so again, we could easily harness plumbing etc. Not to mention, this area was the only relatively level part of the shop, so it had to go here.

And this is what I had in mind ...

1. Lily and Alan needed space dedicated to packaging foods. By food safety standards, their packaging space had to be separate from the general food preparation area as well as the retail section of the shop. Placing the counter here made it the ideal spot. 
2. Understandably, Lily and Alan were conscious of having their backs turned on the front door while at the packaging station [the front door is behind them at the other end of the shop when they stand here]. My most simple solution for this was to hang a mirror so they can glance up whenever they hear the door open. I sourced a beautiful red Carolyn Donnelly mirror, but unfortunately it's no longer available online. 
3. Not only is #PicadoMexican a place for people to come in and buy their favourite Mexican ingredients in the retail section, but in the evenings, Lily hosts her own authentic Mexican cookery classes. Well impressive. So, Lily needed the stove to be somewhere where she could demonstrate her techniques without people having to crowd around behind her. Gallery stove it is. 
4. For the kitchen itself, we turned to IKEA. We used METOD cabinets finished with RINGHULT high-gloss cabinets, HALLESTAD counter tops and finished them off with EKEBODA stainless steel handles. We also sourced the appliances from IKEA as well as the ceiling-mounted TURBULENS extractor fan which hangs over the stove top.  

We hit IKEA, ordered the kitchen, and two days later we were up to our shoulders in boxes and doors and extraction hoods, oh my! Lily and Alan then did something that didn't even cross my mind - hired a carpenter [genius Allen] to put it together. In my stupidity, I gave them stink-eye. "Sure, we'll be able to put it together ourselves. It's IKEA!" WRONG. To give you an idea, the walls weren't build at 90-degree angles so things didn't fit in corners properly, extra space had to be made for awkward plumbing and thanks to the minutely sloping floor, Allen had his work cut out for him. Srsly. I stupidly thought IKEA kitchens would just be like a bigger version of a bookcase. 

Allen staging one of the many moves I didn't think we'd have to pull in our wildest dreams. 

[Allen - ahead of the official opening of #PicadoMexican, I apologize in advance if I have too many margaritas and cry on you or try to awkwardly high-five you too many times.]

Alan's dad crafted 3 shelves out of leftover board from the retail shelves, and around the counters we went with plain white square tiles. Lily and I spotted these Utopia white tiles in B&Q which were easy on the eyes as well as the pockets. I detest white or light grey grouting [it's just gonna get filthy], so I suggested to Lily and Alan that they get dark grout so the areas around the sink won't get noticeably darker after a couple of months. And as it happens, just as we were tiling he kitchen Anna Dorfman of Door Sixteen wrote a feature about square tiles with dark grout. Ohhhh snap. Yes, it did hurt to be that en trend, but we recovered. 

And as if I forgot - the sink saga. "Ehhh, there's quite the collection of sinks there in Picado", I hear you say. You would be right. There are. There are 3 sinks in the kitchen altogether. That's not including the two sinks behind the glass door. To adhere to the food safety regulations we needed a sink for food preparation, a sink for washing pots and pans, and a sink for hands. And they all had to be separate. We were short on counter space so we had to be clever. The easiest places to put the sinks were in the corners, not just because they were corners, but because that's where the plumbing came in on both sides. Lily picked up a Cooke & Lewis Locone spring neck tap from B&Q for the double sink which looks well swish.  

To add a little je ne sais quoi to the blank wall in the kitchen, so far we've added some poncho art. I took a poncho of Lily's that she no longer uses, stretched it around a cheap canvas and stapled it on as a mini focal point for the wall [above photo thanks to Daili!]. I of course couldn't resist taking it for one last spin before we committed it to a life as artwork ...

And there you have it! Details for the #PicadoMexican kitchen. I'm hoping to share the final installment [the pay and display area] of the shop within the next couple of weeks, so keep your eyes peeled xx A

Proposed designBig reveal : Retail details : Kitchen details : Pay and display
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