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On One Thing At A Time

On One Thing At A Time

**This is a Housekeeping Superstar Post**

If you are not of an organised nature, creating and adhering to a routine is horribly difficult. It means forcing yourself to do a whole list of things when you would really rather be doing more interesting stuff instead. It means setting aside the creative to do the necessary and despite knowing all the wonderful promises doing the necessary brings, still feeling that niggle, nay that raw scratch of pure irritation as you shuffle through the house, pretending to be committed to performing a routine in the manner of a resentful circus monkey.

I have long nagged you about the benefits of routine. I have even tried to jolly things up by insisting you pretty up your days with personal ritual too, but I am aware that for some of you, both routine and ritual are difficult to instigate. That your brain just doesn’t work like that. Or that your job makes it impossible. Or the kids have got you so harried you can barely think straight.

Darling, I know…

If you are a Housekeeping Supertstar you can read the rest of this post here…

To learn more about Housekeeping Superstardom, or to sign up, just pop over here… 

Puttery Treats For Spring Joy

Puttery Treats For Spring Joy

Spring has almost passed in the sniffle of a runny nose, but I, Mistress of the Puttery Treat, will not be deterred. Oh no, not I. I will lift my sagging spirits and thrust myself head-first into this gorgeous season with a list of lovely treats I hope you will be equally as inspired by…

* Wrap glass vases or mason jars in vintage silk-scarves and use them to display flowers on the kitchen table…

* Plant a set of wishes. Take yourself out on a creative excursion to a nursery and search for a packet of flowering seeds that speak to your heart. Take them home and make a wish on each seed as you plant it. Now commit to nurturing your wishes with your whole, bestest self…

* Start a promise quilt for a child. Embroider small promises on to an existing single bed quilt and wrap them up in your promises to them forever after.

* Create a cabinet full of Springtime curiousities…

* Stitch or buy a set of oilcloth cushions for durable comfort in the garden…

* Print out this lovely little quote and frame it by the kitchen sink…

“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.” 
― Rainer Maria Rilke

* Create an instant vintage family, by using pretty magnets to pin a selection of sepia vintage portraits to your fridge.

* Stitch a deep length of lace, petticoat style to the bottom of your apron.

* Start a “quiet hour” early evening ritual at home for frazzled Mums and revising teenagers.

* Take a long look at your diary and try to schedule in your very own two day at home retreat…

* Seek out a vintage baby quilt as a lining for your Granny-Cat’s bed…

* Add a tiny brass bell to your meditation kit and use it to chime the beginning and end of each meditation session. Sound resonates in the heart and deepens our connection to ritual.

* Start a running away fund…

* Fit a selection of vintage tins into a drawer and use them to store love letters, wish-lists and secrets…

* Guarantee that there is always cake in the tin, by whipping up this deliciously, simple Condensed Milk Cake as often as possible. Heavenly served with early berries…

* Start the search for a little vintage suitcase and fill it with your favourite journals and journalling tools. Make it one of the things you would carry out of the house if it were on fire…

* Make lemon curd tarts to serve as elevenses on Easter mornings…

* Embroider a row of whimsical flowers along the hem of a pretty, Spring coloured skirt…

* Make super quick bunting in happy colours by tying scraps of frayed fabric on to a long length of ribbon…

* Clear out your make up bag and treat yourself to one that looks glorious on your dressing table…

* Use drawing pins to create a temporary gallery collection of botanical watercolours torn from old books. Remember that not everything has to be offered the permanence of a frame…

* Add happy  floral corsages to the necks of busts, lampshades and other ornaments…

* Make sun-dried tomato bread and serve it warm with basil and black pepper butter for breakfast…

* Start the search for a happy little set of vintage egg-coddlers…

* Keep a handful of exuberant jewels in a china cup on your dressing table…

* Download Plantifier and go on a nature trail around the neighbourhood with the kids.

50 Apps For Happy Housewives

50 Apps For Happy Housewives

I am a vintage housekeeping geek. I want all the pretty with half of the bother and I want a life thoroughly integrated with all that is terribly modern so I can free my head up for more exciting, old-fashioned things…

In the past three years life as a vintage geek has become the kind of wonderful that sometimes threatens to overwhelm us, which is why my darlings I have taken it into my head to draw up a list of fifty fabulous apps (plucked from a cast of thousands!) for both the computer and the mobile, which can help us live a life less ordinary, without the faff of trying to keep track of routines and rituals, housekeeping plans, chore charts, financial management, child’s play and so very much more!

This is my first download of the New Year and it is an utterly scrumptious one: 

* A list of  more than fifty gorgeous apps which will TRANSFORM your housekeeping life!

* My top ten personal faves and how I use them at Chez Brocante…

* Instructions on integrating apps into existing routines and rituals and creating HOUSEKEEPERS CENTRAL online and mobile…

* And a collection of utterly lovely puttery treats to drag your inner housekeeper into the 21st Century!

This is a timely download because there are now so very many ways to improve our housekeeping lives with the help of technology and now, more than ever before, we have access to the phones, tablets and laptops we need to create one point on-line in which to manage our housekeeping lives…

So if you are struggling with budgets, kids chores, lifestyle balance, vision board planning, recipe planning, receipt management, routine tracking, vegatable garden planning or one of the hundred other little jobs that make for a balance, relaxed life at home, then this is the download for you, for I have spent a silly amount of time sorting out the wheat from the chaff JUST FOR YOU, so you can get organised and feel free to do something a little more creative than getting that budget to balance or making sure you are getting enough nutrients in your Paleo diet!

Half-Price Today!

The download goes live on Monday 28th April for the lowly sum of $20.00, but if you order it before Monday 21st April, then you can grab it half-price for just $10.00!

Just click the button below to order and your download will be delivered to your in-box on Monday 28th April.

Oooh and P.S: don’t forget that this download is ABSOLUTELY FREE for all my lovely Housekeeping Superstars

Happy Housekeeping Darlings! 

The Book of Knowledge

The Book of Knowledge

So um… yeah. I spent my weekend organising my books and gave myself a horrible fright. I am a book hoarder. While other people may well have already realised this truth about me, I was not aware until I took it into my head to count my books and discovered that I own more than 1500 thousand real books and have 962 virtual ones shoved into my Kindle. Nearly 2500 books! Even I can see that that is nuts.

One would imagine that most have been read and are lingering in my life because I love them so. But readers, oh dear, darling readers, this simply isn’t true. You see being terribly good occasionally at taking my own advice, I am rather fanatical about taking the books I have read and enjoyed and for the most part (unless of course they are life-changing!) passing them on. I give them to friends. I leave little piles of paperbacks on my neighbours doorstep. I take them back to the free book shops. I deliver them to charity shops. I delete them from my Kindle. And occasionally, if I have scrawled private notes in the margins I even bin them. (So shoot me.) In short I am a responsible book passer-on.

So those lurking on the book shelves are not the read, but a tempting mixture of reference, the revered and the many, many, many unread. It is a bookish scandal. I am not so much a reader, but an obsessive collector. A hoarder. I will die buried under a bookshelf weighted down by words I should have absorbed, for isn’t it true that lurking in my kindle could be the kind of words that could change the course of my life in the same way that simple Abundance once did?

And so over the course of the odd weekend that has just gone by, I took it into my head to set myself a project. To start with my real bookshelves and one by one to pick out each book and decide once and for all whether it is worthy of a place on my over-stuffed bookshelves. To scan each in turn and pluck from it’s pages the paragraphs, quotes, ideas and recipes for life I am inspired by and then write them down in a big blank pad I am christening The Book of Knowledge. And then give it away. Give it back. Or offer it to charity.

I should take this further. I should start an entirely new blog, called Adventures in the Great Un-read or something equally as inspired and make one of those curious resolutions to not buy a single new book, real or virtual for an entire year, until I have reduced my shelves to three books. But Darlings, I am Alison. Book-hunting is one of my greatest pleasures. I get giddy when I un-earth something wonderful. I make my Mum smile each and every Friday by meeting her in Southport already laden with a stack of cheap books from the remaindered store and oh too many blissful nights have been lost to prowling around Amazon and Gutenberg to even contemplate giving them up.

But I will be limiting myself. I will be operating a two out, one in policy and making a commitment to adding a little something to my Book of Knowledge daily. If only so that the bookshelves don’t cause the collapse of these 150 year old Victorian floorboards or indeed so that my darling Kindle doesn’t blow a fuse trying to keep up with my relentless downloading.

There now: a plan. I do love this kind of sensible, decisive Monday don’t you?

Refresh Rather Than Relocate With Look Again

Refresh Rather Than Relocate With Look Again

My bathroom is the bane of my life. A room that never feels quite right. A room that frequently needs a re-think. A room, my Darlings that just doesn’t bring out the Hollywood Starlet in me long enough to relish well lit close inspection of my furrowed brow, nor comfort me enough to have me wanting to seek it’s lavender scented sanctuary at the end of a long day…

Honestly, a person gets to feeling like throwing in the over-washed towel and calling in the estate agents when peace is not to be found in a room a person should be able to find peace in! But when re-locating is not on the financial cards, refreshing a room with frugal attention to detail is always the answer…

Which is why I was delighted to be asked to be one of a number of bloggers taking part in Look Again’s Refresh Rather Than Re-Locate Competition: a challenge to create a themed mood-board for the puttery, pretty, re-invention of one of the rooms in my house, with a budget of £750.00 of products picked from Look Again and of course a hefty spoonful of inspiration…

lookagain bathroom

The Hollywood Bathroom

So I set about this task with my interior designers hat on – following a series of steps I have long relied upon to create rooms that make me feel happy and keep my bank account healthy…

* First up I establish how I want the room to make me feel…

Though the rest of the house is Cath Kidston bright, in the bathroom I need serenity. A calm space in which I can concentrate on making myself feel beautiful. I want twinkly glamour, a place in which my reflection is all and all the minutiae of creating my most beautiful self  is carefully stashed away in a shabby, pretty storage solution because no-one will ever convince me that depilatory cream is glam…

* Then I settle on a color scheme…

To my mind serenity is cream. While my son tells me that he will cry if I paint anything else cream, to me it is as soothing as bathing in a gilded china cupful of ambrosia and I want my bathroom to be a symphony of cream, white and glittery, reflective surface…

* Next up I combine atmosphere with color to create a theme…

When a girl wants to feel like a star, beautifying herself before her next curtain call in life, a Hollywood inspired bathroom is the choice of all the Marilyn’s, Bette’s and Alison’s of this world, because it allows us to indulge a taste for luxe with a shabby penchant for serene, easy to clean, cream. Just don’t get carried away and coat the walls in shag pile aka Jayne Mansfield

* The next job is to look at the budget…

£750 sounds like a heck of a windfall to land upon the teeniest room in the house, when most of the fixtures and fitting are up to scratch, but if you are wise (and I am!) then you will not fritter it away on too many bits and bobs but will carefully analyse exactly what will improve your experience of the room in question, above and beyond the merely pretty. This of course takes strength and commitment to creating a room that works, but it is worth it if said windfall is to provide long term design satisfaction as opposed to a fit of shopping whimsy!

* Then I look to the dull stuff…

First up, to my mind is making sure that the dull stuff is attended to. That things works as they should and are right up to date with the latest in function and technology. In my bathroom this means making a new shower a priority. A girl cannot feel beautiful in even the prettiest, most glitziest of bathrooms if she finds herself shivering and hunched under a dribble of a shower!

So I chose the Martinique 9.5kw Shower by Triton at £149.00

* Before choosing a show-stopping piece of furniture…

Next up I want something that stops my silly heart: a gorgeous piece of furniture I will long treasure. Yes, it takes up the bulk of the budget, but nothing, and oh but I repeat nothing, sets the atmosphere of a room quite like a piece of furniture that commands attention…

So I chose this gorgeous Aimee Five Drawer Chest at £332.00

* Then I consider convenience and function…

I need to hang towels so that they are accessible while I float in the bath. I want to be able to see my reflection clearly. I want a curtain that will not expose my naked self to the world while I take a eucalyptus shower and I want all of these things, the essentials in the room to be as lovely as possible, adding to the atmosphere rather than undermining it, and encouraging me to want to spend time in the room…

So I chose the Chic 2 Rail Towel Stand at £45.00, a Lace Shower Curtain at £40.00, and the rather wonderful, vintage inspired set of Santiago Scatter Mirrors I am coveting above all else at £70.00…

* Before starting to accessorize…

Finally I want some twinkly lovely objects just because I want them! A girl must allow herself to keep a fraction of the budget for pure frivolity now mustn’t she? I want to dance, in nothing but a towel, to music piped from a retro radio! I want to choose a light fitting that throws a lacy, glitzy pattern over the whole room, like a paste brooch on the cosiest of cashmere cardigans! And I want the velvet bliss of a darling cushion so I can perch on my little stool and paint my toenails oyster pink.  Combine these precious pieces with aromatherapy oils, candles and fluffy towels still warm from the dryer and I have a room I will probably never want to leave…

So I chose the Beige Retro Brighton Radio by Steepletone for £26.00, this Beaded Pendant Light Fitting at £65.00, and this gorgeous Boudoir Cushion at £22.00…

Budget Check:

Martinique Shower – £149.00
Aimee Chest – £332.00
Chic Towel Stand – £45.00
Lace Shower Curtain – £40.00
Scatter Mirrors – £70.00
Brighton Radio – £26.00
Beaded Pendant Light – £65.00
Boudoir Cushion – £22.00

=  £749.00 (!)

And so there you have it: a plan, a mood, a selection of lovely picks for the room and a theme: all the ingredients I need to create my dream space and in my imagination at least: a room transformed by creativity and a careful eye on a tight budget…

Wish me luck won’t you? And if nothing else, then take away from this post, my eight point plan for refreshing a room that needs a makeover, before you lose your marbles…

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