Home(s)

Home is one of the most complicated words in the English language.

Or maybe it’s just me & my complicated home situation speaking. But the fact is, almost everytime I use it, I have to explain which home I mean.

Coming home, going home, being back home… How many times have I had to stop mid-sentence to add some helpful bit of context. One of the difficulties of being an expat’ (for lack of a better word) in a country I don’t have direct ties to, I suppose.

The Places I Call Home • #travellinkup • Cake + Whisky

From London to Ile de Ré, to my parents’ house in the French countryside and to places we visited that instantly made me feel at home, there are so many places I call home.

You know what they say… Home is where the heart and the memories are. And my heart & memories just seem to be spread all over the world.

My parents’ home

My parents bought the house they live in shortly before I was born.

It’s the place where I grew up. The place where I’ve woken up every Christmas morning. The place my childhood memories link back to.

It’s the place I’ve met my best friend in. The place I’ve baked endless cakes while studying for my exams. Where I fell in love with garden-to-table dining. The place that never fails to make me feel calm and at peace the second I pass through the door.

It’s in the middle of nowhere, in the tiniest of villages, and the sort of place where you need a car if you hope to be able to do anything. Post office, grocery store, the whole lot. Needless to say, it’s really rather unpractical given that I don’t own a car.

But then again, it’s the place the ones I love most live in. The place where the dogs are. The place where I come from.

It’s always been my home and even now, after having moving out almost 8 years ago, it still is.

London

The place I built my first home in.

The Places I Call Home • #travellinkup • Cake + WhiskyCake + Whisky | London

It hasn’t been easy. London is a demanding city. It’s gigantic, it never stops and it can take a while to find your spot in the city’s crazy diverse environment.

Exmouth Market, Clerkenwell, London | Cake + WhiskyAnd yet it was love at first sight. From the very first day, London has felt like home in ways every other place I lived in before never did.

● Cake + Whisky

And almost 5 years in, it looks like I’m not about to get tired of it any time soon. Especially since I’ve started cycling everywhere (more on that soon!).

Île de Ré

When I was a child, I went on holiday to Ile de Ré for a month every year.

Postcard from the Ile de Ré | Cake + Whisky

There, I would live in my swimsuit, swimming in the sea, walking barefoot in the sand, eating ice cream by the dozen, sleeping under a tent, picking up shellfish on the rocks and salted butter by the kilo at the local market. And I would dream that one day, I would own one of the gorgeous houses overlooking the ocean.

Postcard from the Ile de Ré | Cake + WhiskyCake + Whisky | Ile de Ré France beach

To this day, that’s still a dream of mine, and a rather expensive one at that. But oh, how I’d love to some day live beside the seaside…

Finding new homes on the way

Whenever we travel (and even more so since the whole Brexit thing started), our #1 priority is to experience the city/country the way the locals do. Avoid the tourist crowds and try to have a peek of what living there would be like instead.

A weekend in Barcelona ● Travel Guide ● Cake + Whisky A weekend in Barcelona ● Travel Guide ● Cake + Whisky

That’s how we ended up finding the best tapas spot in Barcelona, why we decided to spend a week eating croissants and wandering the streets of Paris last summer, and why we loved our trip to Dublin so much.

It’s obviously not helping in any way with my travel bucket list as I now want to re-visit my new-found homes on top of trying to discover new ones…

A mini guide to Dublin, Ireland | Cake + Whisky

Where to you feel at home? Is home a specific place or city, or like me, do you confuse others with multiple homes and potential future homes? Answers on a postcard or in the comment below!

This post was created as part of this month’s #travellinkup, all about exploring the places closest to our hearts – home. If you want to join in the #travellinkup fun, pop your post up over the first week of the month (the 1st – 7th June 2017), then add it to the link up widget found on Follow Your SunshineSilverSpoon LondonAdventures of a London Kiwi or Kiwi Footprints from June 1st.
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Home(s)

How to make your new home your own in 5 easy steps

It’s been a month (give or take a couple of days) since we moved into our new flat.

And god, has it been a journey!

How to make your new home your own in 5 easy steps ● Cake + Whisky

As for any new house, there were rather big challenges –why don’t London landlords put any shelves in their wardrobes again?– and a billion of little intangible things that needed taking care of.

But here we are one month later and it finally starts feeling like home, thanks to a few tricks that really helped us (and can help you!) getting settled!

1. Get the internet set up

Home is where your phone connects automatically to the wifi. Plus, getting this done early will save you SO MUCH money on roaming charges. Money you’ll probably need for you know, food and bills and stuff…

If you already have a contract for your internet connection, get in touch ahead of time so they can transfer your account on the very day you move. Trust me, NOTHING beats collapsing on a sofa with Netflix and a nice take-away after having spend the day carrying boxes down and up stairs.

How to make your new home your own in 5 easy steps ● Cake + Whisky

2. Furniture that’s adapted to your needs

So, that’s where it gets tricky.

Most places in the UK are rented furnished and yes, it is convenient that way. But sometimes, said furnitures are anything but adapted for the space and the use you’re going to make of it.

So if you’re planning on staying in your new home for a significant amount of time, it might be worth investing some money into buying things that really work for you, be it a good sofa bed if you host guests regularly (we invested into this one and we LOVE it!), or solid wood kitchen cabinets to make all your kitchen dreams come true!

3. Frame and hang prints as soon as you can

Nothing to make a house feel more like home than having your favourite prints hanging on the walls.

Not in the poster taped or blue-tacked to the wall sort of way though! For it to truly work its magic, you’ll want to frame things up and hang them properly.

And if you can’t hang things to the walls because, well, you probably want to get your deposit back at some point, Command Strips work really well (get the biggest ones you can)…

How to make your new home your own in 5 easy steps ● Cake + Whisky

4. Let there be light!

Lighting is usually another challenge, because one lone lightbulb attached to the ceiling is never going to give you all the cosy home-y vibes.

That said, that’s an easy one to solve. A few selected small lamps and a loooooot of candles are all it takes to create softer, muuuuuch more flattering & relaxing light sources!

5. Actually spend time at home!

This one might sound like a no-brainer. And yet, when there are piles of boxes to unpack and so much cleaning to do, it can be SO tempting to avoid the problem by going out instead.

But the truth is, nothing makes a home more than the people that leave in it.

Forget about the mess and focus on what makes you feel most at home, then do exactly that.

Watch TV, fill the fridge, cook meals, take a bath… Before you even realise it, all your boxes will be empty and all your things -and you!- will have a new home!

What’s your top tip to settle into a new house and make your new home your own?

*This post was written in collaboration with solidwoodkitchencabinets.co.uk but all words, pictures and pile of boxes left to unpack my own!

How to make your new home your own in 5 easy steps

The best night in with #YelpBigNightIn

I’m the biggest home-buddy there ever was. Sure I’m always up for dinner in a nice restaurant, or a few drinks with friends, but my favourite nights are usually the ones spent at home, curled up on the sofa watching TV.

The only problem being that that ideal scenario often ends up not being that idyllic a scenario since life very often comes inbetween my (admittedly lazy) plans and reality. Laundry, flat cleaning, cooking… There’s so much to be done!

But last Friday was different thanks to Yelp’s Big Night In. All I had to do was come home and relax as everything else had been taking care of for me.

When I came back home that evening, on-demand cleaning app Hassle had already made sure my flat was shining-clean and my laundry had been picked up by the newly-launched Laundrapp. No chores for me then!

And there was wine, carefully selected and delivered to my door by advisor-extraordinaire Mr Vine.

Mr Vine, London's new sommelier app! | Cake + WhiskyI was really impressed with the app, which promises to find you wine you love, no matter what your criteria (style, price, country of origine…) are.
#YelpBigNightIn | Wine from Mr Vine | Cake + Whisky#YelpBigNightIn | Wine from Mr Vine | Cake + WhiskyWe started our big night in with a glass of chilled Currabridge Chardonnay, which was far superior to many supermarket equivalents I’ve tried in the same price range.#YelpBigNightIn | Wine from Mr Vine | Cake + WhiskyThe perfect way to unwind while deciding which movie we wanted to watch (you can’t do a night in without a good movie, can you?)!
#YelpBigNightIn | Food from Jubo via Deliveroo | Cake + WhiskyJust as we settled on watching The Wolf of Wall Street, the bell rang and dinner was served, courtesy of Deliveroo (my favourite London delivery app! They have such great restaurants onboard and would even deliver food to you in the park if you wish so!)!
#YelpBigNightIn | Food from Jubo via Deliveroo | Cake + WhiskyWe were starving so that spectacural Korean food display (from one of my favourite Shoreditch restaurant, Jubo) didn’t last very long!
#YelpBigNightIn | Food from Jubo via Deliveroo | Cake + WhiskyThe soy-glazed wings are the #1 reason to order from Jubo, but the Kimchi slaw is never far behind! I love how complex the flavours are in such a simple dish!
#YelpBigNightIn | Food from Jubo via Deliveroo | Cake + WhiskyFor some reason, I also ended up eating chips with chopsticks that night… (I blame the wine!)

Having wolfed down our dinner, we had a few more glasses of wine and chatted happily until one of us (me) starting to have some dessert cravings…
Quiqup London delivery app | Cake + WhiskyIn just a few clicks, Ladurée macaroons were on their way thanks to Quiqup, the new app that will revolutionize how I handle my midnight cravings!#YelpBigNightIn | Ladurée macaroons via Quiqup | Cake + WhiskyShortly after, I was presented with this adorable box… #MyPrecious#YelpBigNightIn | Ladurée macaroons via Quiqup | Cake + Whisky#YelpBigNightIn | Ladurée macaroons via Quiqup | Cake + WhiskyAlmost too pretty to eat… (Almost). And the perfect ending to a perfect evening!

Thanks Yelp for including me on the list of the lucky fews who were treated to the most brilliant night in I’ve had in a long, long time!

Want into some of London’s best events? Join me on Yelp! It’s free and Yelp events are THE BOMB!!

The best night in with #YelpBigNightIn

Objective Capsule Wardrobe – #2 The Investment Theory

The previous episode of my “Objective Capsule Wardrobe” series was all about de-cluttering, only keeping the clothes you liked and liked you back and making room in your cupboard and your life!

But of course, everyone knows nature abhors a vacuum, and there’s very little point pretending you’ll never want to buy anything anymore now that you have all of that empty space! So I thought it would only be fitting to focus the second episode on strategies to buy better so you don’t have to go back to square one too often.

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My mum has always tried really hard to explain the whole price VS quality thing to us. I was that kid that never got one pair of expensive branded trainers but was always wearing expensive, well-made leather shoes.

But when I first started buying my own clothes, I obviously forgot it all at once for quite a while and ended up with far too many things, many of which that didn’t fit me and I incidentally never wore.

I’m not even sure why I fell in the fast-fashion trap. I clearly didn’t need that many things, but it was so cheap and I felt like buying things “in case I’d need it” made me ready to face every situation I’d ever encounter. I was basically trying to build an armour out of all those junk-clothes I’d never wear and believed that my life would definitely be ruined if I didn’t have those sparkly silver heels the day I needed them.

Thanksfully, that’s when bloggers started taking a step back and talking about minimal wardrobes. Reading Dead Fleurette and French blogger Une Chic Fille, I had a bit of a lightbulb moment and eventually realised that I didn’t need all these things in my life. That having them around actually made me feel worse rather than good and that my money would be better used differently.

That same evening, I sat on the floor of my room and filled two (TWO!) Ikea bags with all the things I shouldn’t have bought in the first place. I donated most of them, sold a few, and promised myself it wouldn’t never get quite that bad again.

I obviously needed to come up with a plan though! That’s when I created my very own “Investment Theory” as some sort of a test for potential wardrobe suitors, so I thought I’d share my top tips to buy well!

1. It’s not all about the price! Mark my words: no deal is good enough not to be missed. If you’re never going to wear it, no matter how cheap it is, you are still wasting money buying it. This is especially true when it comes to sales; I’ve bought SO MANY things on sales because it was cheap and I would never find such a good deal ever again! Whether or not I would be using it was a thought that never crossed my mind. So now, every time I catch myself thinking “oh, that’s such a good deal”, I ask myself if I’d still get it if I was shopping in Liberty and it had the usual £££ pricetag. Works like a charm!

2. Better material is a worthwhile investment: Well-made clothes will last you longer, so it might be worth putting in the exact £, especially for those major pieces you’ll wear quite a bit (shoes, coats…). (However, that only works if the quality increases proportionanlly with the pricetag. I usually find that there is some sort of price ceiling for this, which is generally related to the impact of branding.)

The reasons behind it being that:

1- Better material will keep you warmer and won’t made you sweat so much (i’m so glamourous!)

2- Well-build items can be fixed.

3- Good-quality material will keep its form and colour much better.

4- You won’t tire of wearing basics quite as quickly as you would of wearing the last fashion fad.

3. Cost-per-wear: If I invest time in money into buying something, I want to make sure I get the best return on it. Which is why I usually only invest in items I know I’ll be using on a daily basis. So before you go out and spend all your money on really beautiful but also expensive pieces, take the time to figure out what you are actually wearing every day. One good way to measure this up is by putting all your clothes in the Closet app which allows you to log in what you’ve worn and does all the hard work for you!

4. Beauty samples: I love how you can get samples for pretty much every beauty product there is. That’s such a great way to try things out and decide whether or not they’re truly made for you without cluttering your cupboards!

Do you have tricks to avoid shopping mistakes? I’d love to hear them! 

Objective Capsule Wardrobe – #2 The Investment Theory

Objective Capsule Wardrobe – #1 De-cluttering

I used to be that kid that kept absolutely everything (from magazines’ pages to every inch of ribbon or fabric). My imagination had no limits when I was younger, and I always found ways to use all the stuff I was putting away in boxes under my bed, in my cupboard, and in my siblings’ rooms. Until said siblings didn’t let me use their space as storage anymore and I had to learn the hard way how not de-clutter.

cake + Whisky | dream wardrobe
Dream wardrobe (from Pinterest)

Later on, my taste for accumulation continued on as I bought far too many clothes in hope it would make getting dressed easier. It didn’t. If anything, it made it worse. Shortly after that, I started being obsessed reading about minimalism, and minimal wardrobes. I’ve been fascinated by those discussions ever since, and started to apply some of these ideas to my own wardrobe for year, favouring quality over quantity (I call it The Investment Theory, might write about it some day, would you guys be interested?), only buying things that fit me, learning tricks to resist that oh-that-looks-kind-of-cool top (that I would wear twice) at H&M…

But all of this doesn’t prevent me from facing this “OMG-I-have-nothing-to-weaaaaaar” moments every now and then (especially in Spring, what’s up with that? Is it just me or do you get this too?).

Weirdly enough, what really helps when that sort of thing hits me is to get rid of things instead of before buying new ones. As they say, less is more. And don’t get me started on the mental space a clutter-free wardrobe brings you!

However, de-cluttering is hard work (and sometimes a little soul-crashing too because it might mean you have to say goodbye to that little silk dress you love but doesn’t fit you quite right…). But here are a few things that help me let go of things I no longer wear.

1. Cake and cocktails: I don’t know anything in life that can not be improved by the addition of those, so might as well have some as you de-clutter! 🍰🍸

2. Have a few plastic bags/cardboard boxes at hand to put things to sell/donate/throw away. Doing it as you go will make it a lot less tiring as you won’t have to spend extra time in the end tidying things up.

3. I like to start by emptying my cupboards entirely and lay it all by categories (tops/bottoms/underwear/shoes/dresses/woolwear…). I only put back inside the things that have past the following tests:

4. Questions that help me decide:

  • Does it fit? If it doesn’t, get rid of it. I know it’s hard, but from my own experience, I can tell you you will never wear it. Yes, even when you loose that extra 10 pounds. Because 1. you don’t know how your body will be shaped then 2. You’ll want nothing more than go buy new things then. And you should do exactly this, because you deserve it!
  • Do I feel comfortable wearing it? There is absolutely no reason why you should wear something you don’t feel good wearing. It really is as simple as that. So if it doesn’t make you feel good, don’t keep it. You can always find something similar, except more flattering / softer / not so tired / you can walk / breathe in (…) and it will worth making that change because you will wear those pieces more (#NoMoreItchySweaters + #TeamBallerinas).
  • If I was shopping right now (and I had to pay full price for it), would I buy this? This little gem really helped me get rid of things that were not exactly top-knotch in terms of quality. Just picture yourself browsing through Liberty’s fashion sections. Now, what if this dress/top/jeans you’re holding were on the rack in front of you. With the usual £££ price tag. Would you still buy it?
  • Would I wear it if I was going out to meet friends right now (or if it was the right season to wear this specific item)? I tend to get a little bit obsessed with lounge wear (as in, stuff I wouldn’t really wear in public but rather to lounge at home… But one can only have that many burger-printed leggings and Bambi Tshirts!), so that helps me keep this issue in sight so they don’t take too much wardrobe space!!
  • Do I feel like I have to keep it? Is it something that’s been given to you? Or something that cost you a fair bit of money and you feel like getting rid of it would be a waste? I’ve had issues with those items in the past but I just found THE BEST way to deal with this a few days ago! Just ask yourself ‘Would I keep this if it had been given to me by somebody I don’t really like?’ and tadaaaaah, it all becomes a lot easier!

5. Once you’ve gathered the things you’re ready to let go of, you might want to organise them in categories and put them in the right bag/box. I tend to only throw away things that can not be worn anymore (because they’re too damaged/stained…). You’ll want to do this right away (and probably bring the bag down to your bin room so you’re not tempted to rescue things from it.). The rest, I usually divide in things to give away to charities (I do that the next day or so, for the same reasons) and things I’ll try to sell on eBay.

6. If after putting them through the test, there are still a few things you’re not sure about, you can create a “maybe” category for those. I like to put those items through additional tests (either in terms of cost-per-wear, or by getting them altered to fit my style/lifestyle better). Don’t forget to review those next time you de-clutter your wardrobe (they can’t be on your “maybe” list then!)

Do you find it easy or hard to let go of things, even if you don’t need/use them? Any de-clutter tips for me? 

Objective Capsule Wardrobe – #1 De-cluttering