Keeping It Together

I work from home for much of the week. And although I spend most of my time at my desk, my job varies so much, that the things  I need to conduct my job/s are more than your average persons.

Couple this with the fact that I have clients coming to my home for “styling analysis” and the need to be organised, practical and aesthetically pleasing is even more important. So, my aim is to keep my desktop clear of clutter and stock my draw with items I used on a regular basis.

Here is a closer look at my very full desk draw, which keeps me productive and prevents me going on mini missions (and rants) looking for stationary or work related items around the house.

1. Tabs and Stickers – I’m forever making notes in books/magazine or in my paperwork
2. Charger – on hand for myself or clients
3. Pencils for sketching, led and pen refills, erasers etc
4. Calligraphy pens, sharpies, markers, silver and gold paint pens and highlighters… something for every occasions and every surface
5. liquid paper/white-out and a micro-fibre  cloth for my screen (I always have people touching my laptop screen with their fingers)
6. Retractable measuring tape, but I also have three rulers (50cm, 30cm and 15cm) in my draw too
7. Glue of every kind; glue stick, super glue, gem glue etc
8. Tapes of all kinds – packing, clear, double sided, frosted etc
9. Clips and pins – Paper, alligator, bulldog, bobby, safety etc
10. Twine and embellishments for last minute gifts/flowers
11. Post-it notes – for thoughts/to do’s that need to be dealt with ASAP
12. Lip balm and hand cream – Otherwise I’d neglect myself
13. Scissors, short and extra long stapler, blutack and a hole punch.

Other stuff in this draw: cutting mat, paper slicer, brushes, colour pencils, tags, coins and gum.

My styling and colour tool kits, sewing machine and giftwrapping box are stored in my desk cupboards – handy, but out of the way.

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Arranging Flowers

I typically buy a bunch of flowers every week.  They brighten up a room instantly and the fragrance is just an added bonus. Buying a ready arranged bunch, can set you back a fare bit so I opt for seasonal blooms from the local grocer or fruit barn and arrange them myself.

Below is my ‘how to’ guide to ensure your beautiful blooms have longevity….

1. As soon as you get your flowers home, trim a small amount off each stem and put them in water.
2. When you’re ready to arrange, start by removing leaves that will sit below water level (this will stop rotting, and keep your arrangement lasting longer)

3. Once you’ve removed the low leaves, cut and set aside any flowers or foliage stems that are too short or sit too low on another stem.  These can be used for a smaller arrangement.
4. Measure one flower stem in the vase – cut for size. As a guide, the stem should hit the bottom corner of the vase.
5. Cut all remaining stems roughly the same length.
6. Start with your centre flower and slowly add flowers and stems constantly turning your arrangement ensuring a round shape is maintained.

7. Continue until you’ve used all your flowers and foliage and you are happy with how the bunch looks.
8. Tie the bunch together and cut any stems that appear longer.

9. Now arrange any of your shorter off-cuts in a similar manner.

10. In each vessel/vase put a small amount of sugar (for nutrients), a few drops of bleach or hydrogen peroxide (to kill any bacteria/bugs) and fill the vase with room temperature water (If the water is too cold, it will shock the flowers/stems).

11. Change the water ever  4-5 days or when it begin to look mirky.

Coffee & Conversation Books

I am a tactile, visual person, always have been… and although I enjoy a good novel particularly sitting pool-side sipping on a chilled glass of wine, the books I find myself returning to over and over again are coffee table books. The ritual of running my fingers over the hard cover feeling for texture, the paper stock, the big bold imagery and the snippets of easily digestable information has me completely immersed in that world…whatever it may be.

I love these books so much, that I often find myself looking for them in other peoples homes. Why? Well nothing provides a better, more immediate character assessment. Cultured? Well travelled? What they do or did for a living? hobbies? If the books are interesting enough or just stand out… watch me start firing off a million and one questions.

So, how do you select coffee table books for your home? My tips are simple;

  • They should be a reflection of you (& obviously of those whom you live with); hobbies, interests, careers or personal inspiration.
  • It shouldn’t be just any old book on your chosen subject, but rather a style, brand, person or key topic that really makes you tick.
  • If you entertain often and enjoy random conversation, look for books that pose questions or scenarios. They make for perfect ice-breakers which can lead to hours of entertainment.

Below are just a few books that would fit well into my personal collection. On top of the list;  Iznik, Pucci and Move & Work.

1 – Never Stop to Think … / 2 – Waves / 3 – Tom Ford / 4 – Time And Tide / 5 – The Art Book / 6 – / 7 – An Eye For Design / 8 – Iznik / 9 –  Everything is Made / 10 – Chloe: Attitude / 11 – Cuba / 12 – If  /13 – Influence  / 14  – 52 Suburbs / 15 – Pucci / 16 – Move And Work  / 17 – Kate Moss / 18 – Irreverent / 19 – Absolut Book / 20 – Mid-Century Ads

If I was picking for the husband…

1 – Cosmos / 2. The Big Book of Breasts 3D (We actually came across this book in HK – Couldn’t stop laughing) / 3. A World of Cigars  / 4. Sneakers

For more, check out my (continuously updated) list on Pinterest – here.

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Affordable Art

I have always been a huge fan of art. It stems as far back as my earliest childhood memories; from endless hours of trying to perfect my own drawings to watching a close family friend paint one of her many masterpieces. Art was my way of expressing myself, telling a story without words as I couldn’t read or write English until I was about 7 years old.

Years on, and art is still an expression of me; my state of mind, my hopes and dreams and general optimism for life. Other than music and the sun and sea, art is one of those things that can move me. So whilst there are white walls in this beautiful apartment the husband and I now call home, it won’t be done until we find a few more beautiful images to make us smile.

A few of my favourite finds and sites are below;

 Click on images for site details

Some of my fave sites include:

Please let me know if I’ve missed any!

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My Bedside

Once I’ve made my way to bed, the chances of me getting out are very slim (it’s only a bulging bladder that will do the trick). As such, I like to keep everything I might need, close at hand. Being a “reformed” type A personality, I still like to keep things organised, so as to make my nightly ritual of makeup removal, moisturising, reading and note-making an easy process.

No, I don’t have my bathroom sink by my bed, but what you will find is…

  • A vintage ashtray which houses my hair pins and ties. I have so many of them, that if I didn’t have a home for them, they will be all over the place and nowhere to be found when I need one.
  • My skin care products; Payot milk and toner (doesn’t require water), a number of creams and serums dependant on my skins current behaviour, a tray which holds it all together whilst also being a place to keep any fine jewellery I take off of a night.
  • Flowers, normally lavender to aid sleep (I have a lavender bush growing in the yard) or off-cuts from a bunch I have purchased for the house.
  • My phone, which seconds as my alarm.
  • A candle. I go through candles every few weeks – this is a new Coconut candle c/o my baby sister.

In my drawer;

  • Handheld mirror, so I can see what I’m doing with my skin regime.
  • Hair clips/claws to keep the hair pulled away from my face during the skin regime.
  • Small jewellery boxes.

At the bottom of my bedside…

  • Books or mags I’m currently reading.
  • A notebook/diary & pen. I am one of those people that can’t sleep if I have something on my mind. Writing a to-do list or jotting down ideas helps me put my mind at ease.
  • The TV remote. Yup, we’ve got a TV in our bedroom (controversial I know) however, it’s mostly a weekend thing. Although, it did come in very handy during the FIFA World Cup and the very early morning matches.
  • Face wipes & pads,
  • Heat pack for when the husband or I have muscle aches.
  • Headphones… so I can listen to music (if I can’t sleep) without interrupting the husband.

Funnily enough, I only recently found out that the husband likes my (lazy girls) nightly ritual of makeup removal. His thoughts? a sign of self respect and diligence (insert raised eyebrow) but whatever floats his boat, right? hehe. Isn’t it funny how we interpret our actions one way and our partners another? I would love to hear what you keep by your beside… what are your musts? Am I the only lazy lady left around? What does your partner think of your bedtime ritual?

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In the past I may have alluded to my love for thrift/charity store shopping. Scouring aisles for that one item that just screams out at you, AND it only gets better when you see the ridiculous price tag.

My aim: to find beautiful items with potential. A good wash, nip, chop, scrub, lick of paint, polish or repurpose can give any item a new lease of life.

Here are a few of my tips:

  • Time: Go when you have lots of it. No point rushing.
  • Unique: I always look for items that stand out. Does it pop, is it unusual, fun patterns, does it scream a particular era? Often when you isolate these items or style them with simpler items, they just work. Often they become the ‘talk’ – “I would never have picked that up – but OMG!”
  • Inspect: Look over each item closely. Check for stains, holes, loose seams, fading, rust, scratches or any other signs of damage. Can it be fixed? Does it add character? Note: Don’t be scared off by small flaws. Skirt too long or slightly too big? Take it up, take it in. Chunky printed knit has a small fray on shoulder? Sew it up from the inside. It will be barely visible due to the print. Vintage Tshirts – Holes and faded colours make it that much cooler!
  • Google: Think you’ve stumbled on a vintage brand? Or a collectable? Look it up. Found red pants in your size and a flattering shape, but are not sure if you can pull it off? Google looks. 
  • Try: Try before you buy. Most thrift stores will have dressing rooms, so make sure you do try each item on. Even if you think you know your size, clothes, particularly second hand clothes, stretch and change shape. Note: Just like shopping for new items; look for your flattering colours & shapes …
  • Ask: Don’t be afraid to ask for a discount. Think that stool is priced too high? The store staff might think so too.
  • Frequency: People drop things off all the time. Ask staff if they have a busier drop off day.
  • Walk Away: Don’t be afraid to walk out empty handed. There is no point in spending money (even if it is a bargain) if you can’t use the item or you don’t absolutely love it.
  • Fun: Most importantly have fun! Bring a friend and make the most of it.

Below are a few of my recent thrift store finds…

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Our House…

Before the husband and I left on our six week adventure, I managed to get some snapshots of our new home. Considering we had less than three weeks to move four different loads of storage ( i. belongings held in Australian storage, ii. our Singaporean shipment, iii. belongings at the in-laws and iv. our everyday clothes/items at our friends place, where we were staying prior to our move) I was skeptical as to whether or not we’d get any order, let alone personal style in our new home. Somehow we managed. I guess having a strong sense of your own personal style makes the job easier. The husband and I are always drawn to similar styles, items or colours, which by no coincidence, ensures that at least from an aesthetic perspective, things work. It’s only when we haven’t been 100% in love with an item or sizing is an issue, that things have gone a little pear shaped. The other big factor for us is; all our big ticket items are in a neutral pallet, allowing things we have collected over time to speak for themselves, whilst working easily with most rental properties. 
Our new home is now 70% done, it’s comfortable, livable and presentable… the remaining parts will be a work in progress (patience is key) which we will do slowly once we return from our travels …

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