A week’s worth of wandering

Friday finds

  1. The perfect Fall sweater
  2. Watermelon slicing for ninjas
  3. How many times have you needed one of these?
  4. A clever candy store
  5. A “Man Table” to end all man tables
  6. What a happy home!

Oh! And guess what came in the mail today!

Ludovico the cat with Ikea 2013 catalog

No online page will ever compare with cuddling up and thumbing through a colorful catalog. Snuggly sleeping kitten is an added bonus.

Happy Labor Day weekend to my friends stateside! It’s not a holiday weekend in Holland, but we ARE going to a BBQ tomorrow! What are your plans?


August Rush

I wish this blog post had the same budget as that movie! Alas, this is not a feel-good Hollywood drama.

However, this post is supposed to make me feel good by reminding me of all the progress we’ve made on our home despite the financial setbacks. Bring on the Hollywood ending!

It did feel really good to open up here and be honest about the job snafu and all the trials that come with expat-riatism (should be a word!), so I will definitely be doing that more. I hope that writing about my experience will make some new expat feel better by knowing she is not the only one struggling with immigration issues.

Anyway, you want to know what never fails to turn my sad face upside down? This happy one:

Our kitten Ludovico

Yes, that’s an updated picture of our little fuzzball Ludovico. He’s made such an impact on our lives already — I actually okayed a scratching post the other day saying “I guess that doesn’t look so bad.” If you want to see A LOT (okay, too many) pictures of Ludo, I post them on my Instagram almost daily. You should follow me!

Ludovico was a big change for us, but a lot of the updates we made  this month were small, affordable ones like adding some hooks and hardware in our toilet and bathroom, thrifting some kitchen necessities, and splurging (well, as much as broke people can splurge!) on a designer clock.

Ikea Grundtal toilet paper roll holder

I didn’t blog about this, but it bears mentioning that you can make a stuck-to-the-wall toilet paper roll holder much prettier by running some acrylic caulk around the edge and smoothing it out with a paper towel, like so:

Ikea Grundtal toilet paper roll holder

See? No more gross see-through holes!

We did make a couple of big changes this month. They were just ridiculously cheap! We added a bunch of hand-me-down furniture to our living room.

Living room

And ain’t nothing wrong with this discounted Pax wardrobe:

Ikea As-Is Pax wardrobe

Well, that is, until we broke it.

Ikea broken Pax wardrobe

Womp womp. That’s okay. “We can rebuild him…we have the technology.” More on that later.

This month, we also added a thrifted chandelier to our living room, lovingly spray painted white, the rainbow’s most forgiving color.

Thrifted chandelier spray painted white

Funny story, I am in the process of repainting it. Yes! It’s true! Maybe this month has been a wash.

Ah well, at least we got some relaxing in before the summer ended.

Bosbad Amersfoort

Pax of lies

It started out innocently enough.

I found a tall, 2-door white Pax cabinet in the Ikea clearance section. It was €39.99, a 50% discount, and there was literally nothing wrong with it.

So I texted Rolan that picture and told him the deal.

“Found this perfect Pax cabinet for half off. Should I nab it? Would be hard to carry on my bike, though.”

“It does look perfect. Ask them if we can reserve it and pick it up later.”

No problem, right? Wrong. They don’t hold or reserve things at the Ikea Clearance section.

I should’ve given up right then and there. Should’ve known that the cabinet was cursed. Should’ve reminded myself of a bunch of cliches like ‘If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.’ and ‘You get what you pay for!’

We decided to leave it up to chance. We would return to Ikea when Rolan got home from work and if it was still there, we’d figure out what to do then.

So we did. And it was. But how would we get it home?

We’d have to take it apart, of course.

By ourselves. In the store.

By the end of the disassembly I’m sure Rolan would’ve preferred to just buy the darn thing new, all nicely put together in a big cardboard box.

But the next roadblock was waiting for us.

And it was even more fun than the last — like a game of Tetris when the game board is super full and every piece is a long, straight one.

It didn’t exactly fit, but luckily we had one nylon rope to hold the backdoor down and some fabric to put between the boards and the windshield. Rolan’s view on the right side was compromised a bit, so we drove slow and avoided speed bumps.

After all of that, you’d expect to see a nice picture of our beautiful new 50% off Ikea Pax wardrobe standing proudly in the bedroom holding hangars of clothes, right?

Wrong again.

While I was recovering from my tonsillectomy, Rolan got bored and tried to put together the doomed Pax wardrobe by himself. The picture you see above is what happened after he attempted to stand the wardrobe up. Now all the little places where the screws go in look like this or worse.

So I guess the moral of the story is ‘Let sleeping clearance Pax wardrobes lie.’

Maybe ‘A Pax in a box is worth two already put together in the store‘?

Ooh! Or ‘Idle hands make the devil ruin your Pax.’

But it’s probably just closer to ‘Four hands are better than two.’

Save the Maskros!

You guys already know that I love me some Maskros. And its rise in popularity did nothing to hinder my obsession.

It’s a relatively inexpensive lamp for its size. The small one is only €50. However, given that it’s made of paper, I was holding out hope that someday some crazy person would decide they’d had enough of its flowery nonsense and offer it to me for less than the retail price. The longer I held out, the more unlikely it seemed that there was a crazy person out there for me.

Ultimately, though, crazy never lets me down:

As I was strolling through the Utrecht Ikea As-Is section with my boyfriend’s mother, she picks up this sad, white blob and starts picking at it. “This could be a nice lamp” she said as she showed it to me. When I finally realized what it was, I said — probably WAY louder than I should have — “This is it! This is the one! The one I’ve been searching for!” And then I hugged it. I hugged the lamp. In the store.

Maybe I’m the crazy one.

The fact that I could not tell what it was at first should give you some clue as to how badly this baby had been treated. It looked like someone had thrown it or kicked it or something. Most of the paper flowers were bent every which way.

The beauty of this light fixture really is in its simplicity, though. Even if it’s all messed up and already assembled, it can be fixed. The paper flowers can be removed. You can rebuild it. You can make it stronger.

Well, maybe not stronger, but you can at least make it pretty again.

I am here to tell you that fixing an as-is Maskros is as easy as popping off all the little flowers and smoothing the heinously bent petals by just running your fingers across them while they are laying on a flat surface. Once you have smoothed out every bent petal, place all the flowers in a big pile, making sure that there are no rogue petals being bent. It helps if you stack them in piles of 5. Then simply place something flat and heavy on top of the pile and let it sit overnight.

When you wake up in the morning, your pile will look something like this:

This flattening process will iron out all the little wrinkles and creases in the paper and also give the flowers a more uniform curve.

Then it’s time to pop all the flowers back into their little plastic holders. I found it was easiest to start at the top of the fixture and go down row by row. Oh and we also had a microphone stand handy to place the light on so it wasn’t resting on the little metal arms. You could just as easily tie the light’s wire to something and work while it’s hanging. Just don’t let the light rest on the newly ironed petals or you’ll be back to square one.

So you see, this Maskros just needed some TLC. For 50% off I’ll hug, rub and love on a pendant light. I’d be crazy not to!

Setting the mood in the bedroom

When I dreamed of what our bedroom would look like, I couldn’t think of much else besides the sea.

We met on a cruise ship, where Rolan was finishing his study to become a maritime officer. Rolan went to school near the sea on an island in Holland called Terschelling. Our first vacation was to an island off the coast of Holland where we camped in a tent and “swam” (brr!) in the North Sea. Rolan loves fishing and even keeps an aquarium. Besides all that, we both love the sea and feel calm and at peace when we are near it. It only followed that our bedroom should bring us those same feelings of serenity.

My design for the bedroom actually started with a bright orange velvet curtain as its foundation, hoping that the orange would remind us of the sky at sunset in the picture above. But when we borrowed some orange velvet curtains from Rolan’s uncle, I felt like the orange was just a bit… too much for the room. It wasn’t serene or calm. It was more like the feeling I’d imagine you’d have if you ate a package of cookies, downed a Red Bull and then jumped into a pool full of ice water.

Little bit of a jolt there.

So I went back to the drawing board where the textiles were concerned and this, I am happy to say, is one mood board I have been consistently happy with for just over a week:

So, without further ado, the breakdown:

  1. Rolan has had his heart set on having steel pipe curtain rods because it’s a.) inexpensive, b.) “cool-looking” and c.) strong enough to span the entire width of our bedroom without sagging in the middle or needing a center support bracket. I like it much better than those track systems and I do think it will “man-up” this bedroom a little. Win-win-win.
  2. The Ikea Maskros lamp. I’ve dreamed of the day when my bedroom could have one of these babies. I don’t even care that it’s everywhere nowadays. I think it’s beautiful and simple and, if its popularity is any indication, the public is nodding in agreement with me.
  3. Ikea Premiär picture. I don’t know if this is the exact picture we’ll hang, but I do know that I want something big, beachy and with a lot of that beautiful turquoise you see in this picture.
  4. Chiasso flock wall art set. I wanted something reflective in this room, because it’s a little on the small side. I think any little touches of mirror that we can add will do wonders to amp up the light in the room. I like these little bird mirrors because it stays true to the beach feel, can be hung anywhere in the room and is also a nod to one of Rolan’s grandfathers, who photographed birds as a hobby.
  5. Our bedroom is severely lacking in clothes storage and I’m pretty sure we’ve nailed down the Ikea PAX system as our weapon of choice to eliminate that problem. Rolan really loved the look and feel of the Pax Birkeland white door and I’m inclined to agree with him.
  6. Ikea Henny Väv duvet cover. This duvet cover was in our favorite bedroom in the showroom at the store. Rolan bought it for me as a Welcome Home surprise after my last trip home. I really love how much texture is in the pattern. From far away it looks grey and closer it looks white. It’s the best of both worlds.
  7. I plan to bring in a lot of color and pattern with the pillows on the bed, starting with this beautiful Cotton Starfish pillow at Delinda Boutique’s Etsy shop.
  8. The nautical colors and shapes in these pillows from Posh Street Pillows Etsy shop will bring pops of orange, turquoise and navy into the bed.
  9. I’ve already mentioned my intense LOVE for these prints from Seaside Prints. Here I picked 5 that would coincide just perfectly in this bedroom.
  10. There is A LOT of light coming into our bedroom at night from the garden outside so we went with these beautiful and heavy dark blue Ikea Sanela curtains. Luckily, we found all three of our curtains in the bargain bin at the end of Ikea, so we saved a BUNDLE on these curtains!
  11. I love how this Ikea Ofelia blanket calls to mind the soft sea foam you see on the beach. It looks comfy and warm, too!
  12. This Ikea Branäs laundry basket has a beachy feel to it thanks to the handwoven rattan exterior. And it’s big enough to hold a lot of dirty laundry!
  13. This rug is very reminiscent of a water ripple and I like that it’s neutral with just a hint of blue instead of the other way around. This Ikea Eivor Cirkel rug should be a nice, soft feeling on our toes in the morning.

We all scream for Ikea!

By now you have no doubt already seen the new 2013 Ikea catalog that popped up online today. You haven’t? Okay, go look. I will wait.

Ikea 2013 catalog

So many great ideas, right?

I have been flipping (virtually, of course) through it all day, so I will cut straight to the chase.

This Trådklöver fabric:

I want to buy a whole shipment of it and staple it to my walls so they will look like this:

Image via paloma81.blogspot.com

I’m also a big fan of this black and white graphic Lappljung Ruta rug.

It’s tres 8-bit chic, non?

These new Överens dishes are really beautiful and, thanks to their neutral coloring, could easily work themselves right into your everyday dishes:

Or they could be a fun new take on a Thanksgiving table setting.

It doesn’t say how it does it, but this new Jubel self-watering pot supposedly “helps your plants thrive”:

I guess it’s worth a try if it means I can stop buying plants over and over again. (I’ve a terrible black thumb.)

Not necessarily a new item, but I really love this idea from the catalog (haha) of taking pictures of the PIECES of something and framing them in a gallery on the wall, like so:

You could easily do the same thing with a puppy, a baby, your significant other, your family. Such a great way to cherish the details.

Finally — an organic way to hide a power strip in the nightstand:

I tried to hack my Malm nightstand drawers for this reason to no avail, so it’s nice to see this Nordli nightstand embracing the age of cell phone alarm clocks.

These new Skäret bath towels are cute and a half:

And such a good price!

Holy beautiful, affordable armchair, Batman!

Those shiny metal legs are calling to me.

There was so, so much new stuff that I loved. I will probably flip through it about 10 more times tonight.

Was there anything in there that caught your eye?