Category: My home

Introducing the gifts drawer – the joy of planning and giving

The Gift  Drawer Fabuliciousfifty

 

I love buying gifts, I buy them all year round and then keep them in a very important place – my gift drawer.

It isn’t about the value of the gift for me, but rather about the sentiment, and the person I am buying for.  I get so excited when I find something that simply shouts out a name, and I know it is the right gift.

My gift drawer makes me smile.  It has some random goodies collected throughout the year.  It is lovely to know that when November comes and Christmas countdown begins, I can rummage through my drawer. I always find that I have collected lots of gorgeous goodies specifically for the special people in my life.

Not just for Christmas

Of course a gift drawer is not just for Christmas (although it certainly helps). It is also there for birthdays and those very important gifts – gifts with no reason.

Quite often when I am going to visit someone instead of buying chocolates or wine, I might have a peek in the present drawer.  This magical drawer often yields just the right thing to take along and make my host feel special.

I do love giving but I have honestly learnt the best lessons on giving from getting.  I think of the feeling I had when a friend arrived with a paper bag full of little gifts all of which show how well she knows me and how much she cares.

Lots of gifts at the ready

When I was a little girl I had a lisp.  Legend has it that when I was asked what I wanted for Christmas I replied Biths and Pieces.  I still think it is a great idea.  I delight in lots of little parcels – all with meaning.   Because of this, I rarely buy one large gift but prefer to collect up a little grouping of special things with great memories and thoughts.

I am blessed to have friends and family who think like me, and treat me to special times unwrapping little gifts all carefully thought out.

Home made treasures

I also make a lot of my gifts – upcycling common household items and of course raiding my craft supplies.  A personalised gift is a great way of telling someone who you really care.  For this reason I have a second drawer with items that fit into this category.  This year I am going to be creating some personalised jewellery using mini art works and photographs.  I am also determined to try the Sharpie oven bake idea for personalising gifts.

Wrapping and writing

The third drawer down in this magical chest is the wrapping and writing drawer.  The place where I keep wrapping paper, tissue, ribbons and cards.  And of course tape and scissors (as I am always looking for them!

My mom always takes so much time wrapping gifts.  I remember Christmas where each gift was wrapped in tissue and then in matching cellophane and then curly bows pulled with scissors.  These are the memories that make me smile!

Thank you for reading

Kerry x

 

 

Do you need a digital declutter?

This week I deleted over 50 000 emails and 20 000 text messages – a massive digital declutter.

Do you need a digital declutter

Digital mess is different to normal clutter.  For the most part it is invisible and takes up very little space in the physical world.  I honestly didn’t know I was carrying it all around with me.

So let me tell you how it all started.  I joined a group on Facebook called #Dream Life & Biz Creators Group.  It is run by the fabulous Patricia Parashakti Lohan.  She set up a week-long challenge and anyone who knows me knows that I am competitive so I was hooked.  When I started it I wasn’t even sure what it was about!

Patricia is a Feng Shui expert and the challenge was around decluttering.  I had already started on a big cleanse a few weeks prior so I felt quite smug.

First the handbag …

The first cleanse was your handbag – well I did mine the day prior so that was ok.  And then I remembered my very bad habit of migrating from handbag to handbag with only the essentials and leaving the clutter behind.  I cleared five handbags.

I found money and a few other things I had lost on the way and I threw out so much rubbish and it felt great.  The biggest benefit of all – I spent some time going down memory lane, looking at receipts, business cards, train tickets and flyers.  I let myself remember and contemplate and then I allowed myself to let the mess of scrappy papers go.

Then the emails and texts …

I digress though.  The real whammy for me was when we were asked to clear out our emails and messages – day four I think.  We carry our phones around with us all the time, our phones carry around much the same as our handbags, just in a digital form.

I started with the messages.  Over a thousand messages from an old boyfriend.  Why was I holding onto those.  Delete!

I deleted junk messages offering me 60% off at a sale that took place years ago.  I deleted work messages from a job I left over a year ago.  I deleted and did a digital declutter of over 20 000 text messages.

I did take time to enjoy the memory of some of the messages.  The message saying that my son had been accepted in his first choice course at university.  The first message from my partner.  The announcement that a friend had had a baby girl. The mantra was the same, enjoy the memory and then delete and make way for the new.

Facing the mammoth task of the emails was daunting.  Gmail doesn’t facilitate mass deleting very easily and when I googled it and tired something as advised I landed up in a bit of pickle with new messages going into the trash.

The only option was to do it slowly.  I trawled through emails with my finger on the delete button.  It was really cathartic pressing down and watching the past wing its way into the digital dustbin.   As I deleted I really did feel more energised and more positive about the future.

I have made some decisions about email, unsubscribed to emails that are no longer relevant and filtered my email into manageable files.  I am now finding that a visit to my inbox is a quick pleasurable experience.  I see the promotions I want to see, read the updates I enjoy and most of all I am more efficient.

The decluttering journey continues and I am honestly looking forward to it.

Patrica tell us that by letting go of the old we can make way for the new.  I have done a lot of that in the last week and there is more to do.  The bins (both actual and virtual) have been filled and emptied.

Thank you so much for reading and please feel free to comment if you have undertaken a digital declutter.

Thanks for reading.

Kerry x

Celebrating my birthday with Joy

I have always loved celebrating my birthday.  I guess it is really just a great excuse to get together with family and friends and celebrate life.

There is always reason to celebrateAs I get older (and I will be 52 in a few days time), I try and reason with myself.  You are too old, too tired, not well enough, it will be too much work, and then something happens to remind me why we should celebrate our birthdays.

Last week I listened to Facebook CEO, Sheryl Sandberg’s commencement speech at the University of California, Berkeley.

Sheryl Sandberg is a fabulous woman in my opinion, and has shown just how strong she is following the death of her husband just over a year ago.  In this speech she is very honest and quite emotional about the shock of dealing with his sudden death and how she has coped.

She talks about finding joy and meaning. “Dave’s death changed me in profound ways. I learned about the depths of sadness and the brutality of loss. But I also learned that when life sucks you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface, and breathe again. I learned that in the face of the void — or in the face of any challenge — you can choose joy and meaning.”

Choosing joy over sadness can be really hard, but the rewards are immense.

I urge you to listen to the speech which you can do here.  Her honesty about pain and hurt is so real, but so is the message that we can continue on.

Now what has this to do with cake?  During her address Sheryl Sandberg says “I used to celebrate my birthday every five years, and friends’ birthdays sometimes. Now I celebrate always.”

We do not know what is ahead of us, but what I do know is that my riches in my life are in people, my friends and family.  A birthday party – why not?  It is a great excuse to celebrate life and to focus on gratitude for what we have experienced this last year.

I have decided that this year I will simply open my home, and spend quality sofa time with wonderful people.  It is an open invitation to if you would like to join in, please message me.

I have chosen to celebrate on 6 June which is a day early, but as it is a bank holiday it will be lovely and relaxing.

I urge you to use any excuse really to celebrate and spread joy.

Thanks for reading

Kerry x

South Africa to Ireland a Big Move – My Story

There is no place like home

 

Thirteen years ago I moved from Johannesburg, South Africa to Ireland.  Not only was it a huge move from continent to continent, but it was also a move from city life to a rural life in beautiful Connemara.

It really doesn’t matter how many people you ask about the experience before it happens, it is still a massive shock to the system.

Ultimately my decision to move was motivated by the rising crime in South Africa.  There were a few experiences that really touched my life and I realised that I was living with fear.

I don’t judge the people who have stayed and neither do I judge the people who have left the beautiful country that is my birthplace.  The time came and I had to make my choice, and the fact that I had a 7-year old son was a huge part of that.

From South Africa to Ireland

We moved across the world and landed up in Connemara in early February.  Connemara is a beautiful place, but it doesn’t really show it’s beauty in February.  It was wild, windy and very cold.  It rained almost every day.  I wasn’t prepared, and my pretty umbrella bought in South Africa turned inside out and blew away the first time I used it.

With the hindsight of 13 years I am glad I made the move.  It has been a very turbulent 13 years which has seen me live in Connemara, in Westport, Mayo and now back in Athenry on the east side of Galway.

It has seen me start my own business in the form of a craft shop called An Siopa Buί – The Yellow Shop.  Through the shop I was privileged to travel across Ireland and meet some really special people.   Circumstances change and I returned to the corporate world and spend two and a half years in Westport (considered to be the best place to live in Ireland.)  I am now living in Athenry (made famous by the song The Fields of Athenry) and am moving onto a different phase of my life.

The common thread through my life and the big move has been people.  The friends that I have made at every stage – both South Africans in Ireland, South Africans at home and of course my Irish friends.

After 10 years I took Irish Citizenship and am proud to be Irish – although I will always be South African too.

I visit South Africa as often as I can and will always have the song of Africa in my heart.  When I am homesick I think of the sound of crickets on a summer night.  The evocative smell of sunset after a hot day and the wonderful social culture of bring and braai (a BBQ where everyone brings something along).

I was honoured to take part in a TV series on RTE in 2007 called No Place Like Home.  The producers came up with a cool concept of featuring foreigners living in Ireland, and comparing where their lifestyles in Ireland with lifestyles back ‘home’.  The title really says it all.  There is no place like home, but what I have come to realise is that you can have two homes.  I will always have a little part of my soul in Africa, but now I have fallen in love with Ireland too.

The West of Ireland where I have made my home is a truly beautiful place.  One day on a drive between Westport and Connemara I stopped to take in the view.  The word awesome came to mind.

Truly awesome as you realise that this magnificent scenery is simply there for us to appreciate and admire.

Ireland has been good to me.  I have made so many friends, through my crafting, through blogging , through the ICA and through my career.  I have been welcomed into so many homes and drunk copious cups of tea as I have learnt the generosity of spirit that the Irish are known for.

My son is now grown-up and is completing a Physics Degree at University in Galway.  He has made his home here but I will always remind him of his African roots, so he too can have two homes.

 

Thank you so much for reading and if you have a question or story about moving I would love to hear it.

Kerry xx

10 Areas of your Home to Tidy

10 Areas of your home to tidy

When I think of everything that needs a good tidy I sometimes find it overwhelming. It is however, something that needs to be done,  otherwise the clutter can become overwhelming itself.  Time to tidy up!

I have created this list both to inspire me and to keep me motivated. (I plan to do a lot of ticking off in the next few months). My word of the year is ‘detail’ and this is the type of detail I am starting with.

  1. Bedside locker (and drawers)

    My bedside locker is generally packed full of all sorts of things that I think I might need – tissues, mobile phone, chargers, water, books that I am reading/want to read/ have already read, hair ties, hair brushes – you get the idea. I even have some cute coasters for tea in bed. The only problem is that I can’t always find place for the tea. This is the first area to be hit!

  2. Mantlepiece

    Housewarming cards which get replaced by Christmas cards etc. When this get’s tidied I will save a spot for one Valentine’s card – but that is it. I actually quite like to change the decorations on my mantle piece as it really is an area that draws focus. My plan is one candle and a few key items. The clutter of incense, oil burners, matches and random bits and pieces will be banished.

  3. Hall Table

    I think I seriously need a coat rack, perhaps with a shelf. Perhaps a few more tidy tools. A place for everything from mail, gloves and hats, and keys. A good idea for me would be a waste bin – right at the door for junk mail, envelopes and the zillions of slips that seem to multiply in my handbag.

  4. Windowsills

    I tend to use my windowsills for storage, especially books. I am short of storage space in my home, but I do think that perhaps limiting what is allowed on the windowsills might be a good thing.

  5. The bathroom cupboard and make-up in general

    I love make-up and am can’t resist it.  I seem to have make-up clutter everywhere from make-up bags to the bathroom cupboard. It does tend to multiply and I think a cull and a clean-up is on order.  This might have to be a monthly task.

  6. The shower

    Hands up who has empty shampoo and shower gel bottles. Please tell me it isn’t only me?

    This is a quick clean out, but should make a big difference. I will limit myself to one shampoo, one shower gel, one conditioner and my two scrubs. Enough I think!

  7. That drawer!

    We all have one – quite often in the kitchen. The one that gets filled with miscellaneous keys of unknown origin, pens that no longer write, scraps of paper that were important at one time, business cards – you get the idea.  A simple blitz with a bin.

  8. The bulging folder of accounts that need filing

    With so much happening online it is important to keep record of some things in the old-fashioned way. A good friend advised me to set aside an hour or two a week for important financial things – very good advice. I have added filing to this time slot. A little behind right now, but yet another thing that can be ticked off.

  9. The linen cupboard

    It is so satisfying seeing the linen cupboard all neat with bedding sets paired up and cosy towels in a pile waiting to be used. Alas it only takes one morning when you need a towel from the bottom of the pile and it all comes tumbling down.

  10. The craft room/home office

    Now, I know that not everyone had a craft room, but if you do it is a big job. My craft room is also my study and it is chaotic. It is at the bottom of this list as it is such a big job, but it must be done.

I hope these tips might inspire you. Any other areas of the home you would like to add to the list?

Thanks for reading and I appreciate any suggestions!  Read more about my word ‘detail’ – here.

Kerry

Planning a party from your sofa

There is always time for tea and cakeI love a good party.  I love bringing people together over good food and drink (not necessarily alcoholic) for fun times.  Spending time with friends and family is so very special.  I also enjoy the idea of inviting random people who have come into my life, and made it better.  Seeing people meet and make connections just makes a party pop!

Well, I have a reason for another party – I am having a housewarming for my new home. As I started to plan and prepare for the party it occurred to me that I do most of my planning online using social media and apps.

This is how I do it …

I start with a little Pinterest and YouTube browsing ideas for a theme.  Sometimes it is a piece of music and an item of food that has me thinking.

I just love vintage music – so let us put a bit of Louis Armstrong on in the background on YouTube, and then hit Pinterest for some foody ideas. Time to unpack my gorgeous tea cups!

Tea parties are really my thing.  A good cup of tea and a perfect cake cannot be beaten. I have recently connected with a fabulous tea company based in Galway.  Solaris Tea have simply the most marvelous teas including one I call celebration tea.  I am including a video clip because I am not sure I can describe it as well.  A clear tea pot is a must and as the hot water is added the pot of tea becomes an exquisite flower.

I am very excited to say that I contacted.Solaris tea on twitter and will be having this fabulous range of tea at my party!!  I met up with Catriona from Solaris at an ITWBN blogging event and she urged me to try the Chai Green tea. I am not a green tea lady, but to be polite I said I would try it.  After drinking 3 cups I had to buy it.  The tea is beautifully made and combines whole leaf tea with delicate citrus and spice.

I do love spending an hour (or two or three) in Pinterest, It is my first stop when planning a party menu.  I was so inspired that I had to create board with tea party ideas,   I am thinking tiny tea sandwiches and perhaps a pink and white dessert buffet?

A trip to Spotify sorts the music – some big band blues I think.

Now for the invites.  Let’s head over to Facebook, where I can send off some invites and catch up with some friends who live to far away. Perhaps I might have to have a little party over in South Africa when I visit…

The party is next week, so best I had over to my lists.  Lots of recipes and party posts coming soon.

Thanks for reading

Kerry x

 

 

 

Making a gratitude list – and checking it twice …

gratitudeˈɡratɪtjuːd-nounthe quality of….. there are many people who have been very nice, and none that have been naughty.

I have a lot to be thankful for.  Over the last couple of months I have been through a bit. I have moved home twice, started a new job, said farewell to friends and hello to new friends.

Throughout it all, there has been one constant.  Gratitude.  I have so very much to be thankful for. My family and friends near and far have been there for me.

Sometimes it is the big things like a the gift of a holiday or a bed for a month that I am extremely grateful for, but then again there are those smaller things that simply come along at just the right time when you need them.

The day I moved to my new home I had so much help.  I simply could not have done it without the kindness of others.

I was moved in and was surrounded by boxes and memories, all the helpers had left and I must admit I was feeling a bit sorry for myself.  A little bit lonely to be honest.  The next thing I was greeted at my front door by a fellow South African I had ‘met’ on Facebook.  She had those moving day essentials, a bottle of wine and a cake!

I am no good at scrubbing and cleaning because it hurts my hands.  How blessed am I to have a friend who came and cleaned my bathrooms for me.  True friendship,

I have honestly been so humbled when I wrote my gratitude list.   It is something quite personal but very important.to remind us of the true meaning of gratitude.

This definition is very true.  It is not enough to simply be thankful.  We need to show appreciation and return kindness.It is also really important that amidst the hustle and bustle of life, it is important to make a call, send a text or even send a card to say thank you.

I challenge you to make a gratitude list.

Thank you for reading

Kerry xx

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