Thursday, 11 September 2014

Metod to their Madness

For readers who have been reading my blog, you may have guessed I am a Ikea fan. Our kitchen, wardrobes, dining table and living room media units are all Ikea and we really love them.
I think they are really good value for money, especially as more expensive brands offer close to like for like furniture quality and material. Those brands I speak of are possibly Next, Marks and Spencer sometimes even John Lewis. Hate to say it most of their items are flat packed but with a nice inflated price to accommodate their labelling. Thanks but no thanks. 

I think the problem that Ikea possible faces is the inescapable: "familiarity breeds contempt" effect. Mostly everyone knows someone who owns at least one of the incredibly popular expedit bookcases. And why not? They are inexpensive, fantastically functional and perfect for a quick hack job. However, I guess if you see something everywhere the last thing most people want to do is "follow the masses".

Well being pig headed as I am, I like to follow my wallet and not worry about the masses.  My point of view is that  I am working to  sustain a balanced life, not working to pay for items which on a whole do not truly enrich my life. Hence my love of the 4 letter wonder: Ikea. Rant over. But hey to each their own, right? 

As mentioned in our last post, we had a bit of a mishap in the Kitchen. It is a bit of a long story, so I will save it for another day, but that mishap means we will need to look to expanding on our kitchen. Which ultimately means, purchasing new kitchen units. Enter the 4 letter wonder. 

But here in Europe, especially in the United Kingdom Ikea has retired it's long line of Kitchen System Faktum. And replaced it with a new more modular system called Metod. Boy oh Boy is it cool!

Think smaller more customisable cabinets and doors and new draw solutions for any kitchen. Everything looks to be in increments of 20 centimetres. So units that are 20 cm, 40 cm, 60 cm, and finally 80 cm. Doesn't sound that radical, but it really makes for fun "legoish" design

According to Ikea: 
Our new kitchen system METOD, is Swedish for method, because it's a great system, designed to give you total freedom to personalise your kitchen layout, style and functionality, whatever the size of your home, or your budget

I am loving the black kitchen by the way, if we have a bigger space I would reconsider totally. 

Thankfully, they still make our doors as there have been some changes to their door line. Big problem here is this system is not compatiable with our existing Faktum system so we may need to do a bit of hacking to make it work. 

But so far I do think it is a better system. I have visited Ikea to check out this new line and it looked and felt almost a bit of better quality then Faktum. Not sure what the plans are to bring this to outher countries however you can check out their new line here.

On  completely separate note, besides the Kitchen I am so in love with a recently added bed  model for 2015:

I am seriously in LOVE:

In fact, guys I spent the last pennies of our bedroom budget on purchasing it! Yup, the bedroom budget has been blown. We just purchased it today and will be getting it shipped in a few weeks times. Hopefully that will give me the time to finish up on the bedroom? 

Maybe.. just maybe.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

A wee catch up?

It's been awhile.. hasn't it?

It has indeed. I hope everyone is well, and you had a fantastic summer. I try my best to keep this online journal up to date but life has a way of keeping you busy doesn't it?   I don't know how people find time to update their blogs everyday, especially with full time work and life thrown into the mix? I would love to see their detailed time management schedules.

So hey, I am still alive and that is always good in my book!

So what have I been up to? Nothing too exciting just work, a bit of play and housework. Harley our new addition has change the family dynamic in the most best way possible and we now we can't remember life with out  a furry four leg pal.


I am just in love with Harley, to be fair I think we all are. Love  her so much, that me being social media shy, could not help proclaim her loveliness to all who know me. I had to ban myself as I am sure my friends where internally sighing " Give it a break Jileen, we get it you have a dog and you like her!"

 You probably can't see it,  but Aedan can be found underneath the blanket, and was feeling rather poorly. Nurse Harley to the rescue.


Besides being the summer of the dog, Summer 2014 was the summer of the Camping trip! The Harkins family got ourselves a nice roomy tent and went camping in the lovely Scottish countryside.

We visited the magnificent Isle of Skye and parts of the Trossachs and really enjoyed ourselves!


Crazy enough, our little man is now a fourth grader!

And has celebrated his 8th birthday. 8 years guys... the gravity of this situation requires it to be spelled out: Eight.. E I G H T Years!

I even baked his birthday cake. Embarrassingly enough, I have never made this son of mine a birthday cake.

Not perfect, but fun to make and didn't taste half bad. A bit of issues with transportation and the cake polka dots but hey it was edible and that is half the battle!

Eight years needs a magical intervention, so thankfully Wizard Kramus was able to soften the blow for this mother. A mother who is in denial that her little baby is now a big boy.


Debatable. Days turns to weeks and weeks to months and the next thing you know is hey.. "when is the last time I checked my blog?"

Surprisingly, we have been busy with DIY in our home and parts of our garden. Pictures have been captured but have yet to make it to the editing and writing process.  What places? Little man's bedroom has been refurnished from the ceiling to the floor, our living room inches closer to the after pile  and even the kitchen has had some major action. Progress on our bedroom? Well..not so much. We had to hit pause on our bedroom due to some issues that need us to reprioritise (aka the kitchen).

And our garden, year two in Garden life is swell! The border have really filled in this year.

 Do you remember last year's end state?

This year? Explosion via Flower awesomeness!

Still things to tackle though, Can we say decking refinish and future pergola?

Summer is quickly bowing out and the colder winds are starting to make their entrances here in Scotland, so not sure if we will tackle this this season. Nevertheless, Summer of 2014 was fantastic! Here hoping that your summer was just the same!

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Going from three to four!

Our home has now grown by two feet  four lovely paws!!

So very happy to say we have welcomed our 1st  furry child: Miss Harley Harkins.

Harley is a Border Terrier, who has a particular love of all things squeaky and furry and tickles to her tummy. She was a surprise to Aedan, who although been pining for a wee dog of his own for years, did not realize that summer of 2014 was going to be the year of the Dog ;)

I had planned on added a furry pal to our family for a while, but was just waiting for the right time. Summer looked to be best time for us especially with School out and me able to take a good chunk of July off for vacation. House training in the colder months does not appeal to me and my sub tropic blood.

Aedan's response to finding a four legged pal in his home, was absolutely adorable, I dare to mentioned there was a few happy tears shed by our little guy and maybe even his parents.

We are all equally smitten. She is so very sweet, full of character and wonderfully adorable. I claim that Harley must be the cutest and smartest puppy in the known worlds but I am, above all, bias.

While she is just completely irresistible, it has been a bit of work on our end.. those periodic night time trips to the yard does eventually take it's toll. It is like having a baby again!

But with a face like this,  who needs sleep er?

Friday, 18 April 2014

Easter Bucket

Spring has finally hopped here at Casa Harkins! Granted, it is a very bad pun however you must allow me at least one badly delivered Easter pun, the bunny demands it! 

Spring is big business around these parts, it consists of 4 family birthdays, 1 Mothers day (Brits celebrate mother's day in March),  gardening season commences and finally a fun day full of egg hunts and bunny visits. 

I love Easter baskets, especially when I can try my hand at making them or rather filling them up! 

Funnily enough, Easter baskets are not as popular here in the UK then it is in America and as such I always enjoyed making them for the kids every year. 

This year however, as the children are getting older I traded in the wicker basket of old for a new shiny pail.  In creating the Easter baskets bucket, I opted to go for a more naturalist theme of gardening. What better way to cultivate some life long gardeners then to add a bit of chocolate bribery, right?

Step 1: Gather your materials 

Items for our Easter buckets:
  1. Pail - £1.00 (Poundland)
  2. Large Mini Egg - £1.00 (Asda)
  3. Kid size gloves -  £1.00 (Asda)
  4. Kid size trowel and fork -  £1.00 (Asda)
  5. Wind Chime -  £1.00 (Asda)
  6. Bunny lolly pop-  £1.00 (Asda)
  7. Easter grass -  50p (Asda)
  8. Easter cracker - 25p ( pack of 4 for £1.00- Asda)
Total: £4.75 per bucket 

Of course, I then had an after thought that adding Seeds to this fun easter bucket would have been   very in keeping with our gardening theme. Ah well, there is always next year. But the good thing here is you can put any theme related item in your bucket. I would say keep your bucket small to medium. I like to keep larger gifts for birthdays and christmas, so I try to manage gift expectations whenever possible. 

Step 2: Filler Up

Filling the buckets was easy peasy. I added a bit of a filler on the bottom of the pails with a crunched up shopping bag. This helps the easter grass from disappearing in the bucket.  

Then it is a case of adding your easter grass and fluffing it up in the process.  I like a bit of it to spill a bit over the sides. The grass really act as a staging area of your items. 

Once you have it fluffed to your liking, start adding your items. I add my fork and trowel to the back as they are one of the larger  stiffer items and added the gloves directly to the front to drape over the bucket. 

Now that the structure of the bucket is laid out, I add the remaining items. Allowing the larger items to sink a bit deeper into the bucket, while allowing the grass to cater to it's shape. 

Step 3: It's a wrap

After playing with the arrangement,  It is then a case of wrapping the bucket in clear cellophane and adding some simple raffia ribbon.  And voila it is completed.  

Again in retrospect, adding a  name label would really make this work even better. I will need to remember that for Easter 2015. So that is me guys: 1 bucket down.. 5 more to go :) 


Happy Easter! 

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Friday, 11 April 2014

Welcome to our new blog site!

Hi All!

Welcome to our new blog site :)

I have waited  few years for this blogger domain:

Low and behold one faithful day it shows to be available! Woo Hoo.

I am currently migrating all my post to this domain. For reference all my original posts can still be viewed at my original blog, nevertheless all new DIY/Gardening misadventures will be found (or the

So what will happen to my orginal blog?

A bit of rebranding me thinks to: An American, A Broad.... (that is me in a nutshell lol )I intend to use this site as our family and our traveling blog. I had  thought a while about the division and I believe it would really work well for our family. We really enjoy a bit traveling and exploring, we look forward to sharing those misadventures

Blog Followers and Google +

If you do follow our blog and would like to continue reading all the craziness please subscribe with to our new blog

Thanks for all your support over the last few years and hope to see you on our new dual sites. 

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Tiny House Movement

With our Spring cleaning around the corner, hand to heart our home is in a state of pure discombobulation.

Honestly how do we gather so many unnecessary and needless things? I am by no means a minimalist but I tell, it is starting to look appealing.

Every year after we do a big house sweep, I honestly feel as though the house just lets out a sigh of relief.

Since we started culling our clothes to put into our new wardrobes, it has really catapult our decluttering marathon. I think we are at the "it is going to get worse before it gets better" phase, don't you just love that phase? (Please reread that line with unreserved sarcasm)

Then the thought hit me... Our current home is pretty small by today's standard and:

didn't we want to double our space by purchasing a new home?Thus amassing more clutter?!

I will need to note this brand new epiphany on our Pro vs Con to move to not move list. 

Downsizing is the new Supersizing 

A trend to downsize is apparently taking hold of many countries such as America, Canada, Australia. The tiny house movement is a movement which finds perfectly sane people who shed off all excesses and simplify their lifestyle by creating a home which is between 150 to 500 square feet in size.

I think a world that is indeed full of excessiveness and which gears itself to a "super size" mentality is very much in need of a movement such as this.  Limiting your house space, not only is friendly to your wallet and kinder to the environment but I bet it really identifies and helps define the true happiness of life.. which I guess in a nut shell is less about "stuff" and more about togetherness.

A fantastic resource I have found  on Tiny Houses is: Give it a read when  you can :)

So less stuff + small cosy spaces = happiness?  I think there might be much truth to this.

Tiny but perfectly formed

Tiny these houses may be but they are pretty big on aesthetic! I think they are absolute gems of a property, even more so then their larger counterparts. Living in such a small space really breeds creativity and thoughtful planning. 

Tiny House Layout

A really good example of a tiny house and it's layout was found via google+

 Granted I think she might be bigger than some other tiny homes  but isn't she just beautiful?

Of course each house has it's own layout and style as seen below:

 There is no doubt  something so poetically cathartic about cutting those ties with the excess items in one's life. It sounds crazy but I bet it is very cleansing and freeing. I told Stephen as opposed to buying a newer larger property, lets buy some land and build us a small house. His response? " Bring it on... but I am keeping my LED 3D TV".

Not really the answer I was looking for, but one I could work with.  Can we say Solar Panels? lol