Design in small spaces

Our flat is pretty nice. It’s also pretty small. Kitchen, bathroom, bedroom… That’s kind of it. This, my friends, is what two graduate salaries in the Arts/Humanities can rent you in London town. I really shouldn’t complain, we’ve actually got a very good deal: a lot of the places we looked at only had two rooms, and would have involved waking up, rolling out of bed and seeing your reflection in the oven door immediately opposite. One place I looked at online genuinely had the shower in the bedroom i.e. cubicle next to the bed. Quite a lot had no fridge or washing machine. The city should really employ me to advertise the perks of London living… Anyway.

To me, home is important: I’m definitely a home bird at heart. So even though this place is rented, and we can’t hang anything on the walls or have our own furniture or replace the dodgy extraction fan on the hob, I was determined to make it nice. I also didn’t want to spend a fortune (you know, Arts salaries, see above), so I used a lot of what I already had. I thought I’d share some of my efforts with you, in a handy numbered list of unfortunate home scenarios, and how to make them nicer.

Scenario One

A small, cheap white table. Quite wobbly, with a very warped and bubbled top from where the previous tenant has spilled something. Or been using a blowtorch. The letting agent promised to remove this on the day we moved in. It is now two months later and it’s still here, so I thought I’d make the best of it.

I made a kind of runner with a scarf which I’ve had for ages- it was a present and I think it originally came from New Look. I love books as decoration, so I piled up some of my prettiest ones. On top of the pile is a candle teacup which my mum made with a teacup and saucer that they were selling for about 50p at the local British Legion, melted down tea lights and string. Next to it is a vase that I bought for £5 from Next while I was at university because somebody bought me flowers too nice for a plastic bottle. Et voila.

10807456_851889388195350_1556286714_o

Scenario Two

A space which is small enough that you put down your bag at the end of the day and it feels like the messiest and most cluttered space on earth, combined with a slight make-up/cosmetics addiction. Solution: put it all in a massive box, but preferably a pretty box. With old maps on. That you got from TK Maxx for a tenner. The space instantly looks neater and all of your stuff is still easily accessible. I used all kinds of mismatched stuff to store my makeup and brushes inside, including a mustard tin and a makeup box that is straight out of an S Club 7 dressing room in the ’90s. This is a good tip for desks and stationary, as well as dressing tables. This is my kind of tidying, just hide it all away…

10815571_851607174890238_635189507_o

OH MY GOSH SO MUCH MAKEUP DID NOT SEE THAT ONE COMING

10821948_851889328195356_1394298875_o

Scenario Three

Your heating is externally controlled by a mysterious being/ force that does not exist along the same space/ time continuum as we do. Thus it’s sometimes freezing, especially in November. Solution: get a throw in your life. This one is from BHS. It is so snuggly and warm it will change your life (no overstatement there) and make you choose activities based on whether you can complete them from under the aforementioned blanket of joy. TV/YouTube/reading are in. Washing up is probably out.

10807382_851889454862010_602702359_o

Just looking at it makes you feel warm

All content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2014.

 

Carrot Cake on the Underground

Twice this week, I’ve found myself on packed commuter trains clutching a gigantic Tupperware box containing varying amounts of carrot cake. On Thursday, the cake was complete in all of its cream- cheese frosted glory. Children gazed longingly up at it, adults looked quizzically down at it. The guy giving out the free Metro newspaper asked wryly if it was for him. At one point a very friendly man asked if I’d like to put it in the overhead luggage rack. I tried hard to hide my horror, fending off the visions of the cake splattering onto the train floor as I politely declined, preferring to clutch the box protectively to my chest. When I arrived at work and complained about my aching arms, serious discussion ensued about how I could transport cakes to the office more efficiently in future: Tupperware on wheels, a Tupperware rucksack, and a Tupperware headdress were all suggested.

On Friday, I brought about a quarter of the carrot cake home. Again, everybody stared. Less admiration this time, more confusion. And as my friend pointed out, I looked like I’d taken a very indulgent packed lunch to work, and hadn’t quite managed to finish it. But personally, I think more people need to open-carry cake on the Underground. People love it when unusual things happen ‘down there’: there’s even a Buzzfeed article dedicated to it (!) London work days very often seem to begin with something along the lines of ‘You’ll never guess what I saw on the Tube’ –  it gives us something to talk about. And to complain about, of course: ‘Who the hell takes a carrot cake in such a massive box on the Tube in rush hour?’

But all the staring (and honestly, people really did stare very intently) made me realise that we begin and end our days surrounded by complete strangers. And we sit, on the whole, in silence. But we must all be wondering about each other. We spend this limited amount of time glancing at each other, apologising to each other every time we bump elbows, getting annoyed at each other for not standing clear of the doors, and then as soon as the Tube stops we all pour out, and never see each other again. I find that strange, somehow. But maybe that’s just me.

In any case, back to cake. In case you too want to make a super- duper fabulous carrot cake for your colleagues and then get it to them using the mode of transport of your choice (no cars please, people, that will not brighten anyone’s day, or give anybody something to grumble about) then here’s the recipe that I used from Sally’s Baking Addiction… Super Moist Carrot Cake.

10804333_847529548631334_897139012_o

I even won the ‘Stab Baker’ congratulations spoon. Yes, it’s meant to say ‘Star Baker’, ala The Great British Bake Off, but my friend struggled with the ‘R’ and this version is a lot funnier.

All content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2014

Hello! (again…)

Well hello there. Long time, no blog posts! An explanation of my absence seems a little bit pointless for the following reasons:

1) I definitely have not been doing this anywhere near long enough to have a dedicated, ardent following (the thought of which makes me chuckle…)

2) On the offchance that anybody was holding their breath for another post, they wouldn’t be looking too rosy after the last three or so months

3) The idea that I might think that anybody actually hangs off my every word still makes me cringe quite a lot

But, after all that, here’s a short explanation, just in case.

Since August when I last posted, a lot has happened. I hadn’t been home from University for long when I was offered a job (miraculously) and found myself moving to London.

The last few months have been a whirlwind of flat hunting, Ikea trips, adjusting to a daily commute (major shock to my country- girl system), a full-time job (major shock to my humanities student system) and just generally being plunged headfirst into being an adult (of sorts). I’ve assembled my first flat-pack furniture, had my first ever paycheck, paid my first lot of tax (!) and had my first irate conversation with a letting agent (I JUST WANT A SPARE SET OF KEYS… please?).

And, of course, blogging fell very much by the wayside.  Not helped by the fact that for a significant amount of this time I’ve been without internet (read: intense trauma).

But I’m determined to get back on the bandwagon. I soon found myself missing having a reason to be creative outside work. I need to have a reason to write, to think and to photograph stuff and make it all look nice. (Is it bad that I need to blog to remember to do those things? Maybe…) Taking time away, even if it wasn’t deliberate, has made me realise why I started ohtogoawandering in the first place. And that is that it’s first and foremost for myself.

It has always made me cringe to assume that I blog because anybody wants to read what I have to say… A cripplingly British sensibility perhaps, but there we go. And if anybody else happens to like to read my rambles, and see my photographs, then great! I don’t mean at all to sound ungrateful to that tiny band of followers that I do have, even if by this point you’ve seen this on your blogroll and been like ‘Who on earth is that…?’

So here’s to trying very hard to remember to blog, no matter how hectic pretending to be a functioning adult can be.

All content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2014