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

Sunday, 2 March 2014

The Pelmet that never was...

Or shall be? That is to be decided... 

As of late I have been crushing on pelmets: Cornice Pelmets, Fabric Pelmets, Wooden boxes Pelmets; I am loving them all!

I have toyed with the idea of creating something similar in our bedroom.

Decisions, decisions... 

To be honest, I am still rather undecided, which quite frankly says a lot! By nature, I am a  pretty decisive person. You know how some people stagnate towards a decision, I have never had that issue. I am a yes and no type of gal, "maybe" is always a rare thing. But something as silly as a cornice pelmet has placed me firmly in the  "biting my lip and looking confused" camp. Seriously,  you can probably see the smoke 2 miles away.

It all stems with the whole stay vs leave argument. Spend extra money and time on those little extras or save and stick to the basics (still good quality).

I mean if we do move, could we bring it with us and if so is it guaranteed that will be fit into our new space?  Those arguments wages on. Not that it that much extra spending but it is time and time is money (especially since I work full time and  am also studying in University part time).  

It looks at the moment we are steering slightly towards a no at the moment. Basically,  we want to keep things simple and work with the items we currently have.. but well that is subject to change.

While I am ho and hum over that decision I leave you with pelmet eye candy!

Feast yer eyes:

Gosh, aren't they just lovely? I could happily have one of those bad boys in our bedroom. 

Well, as we diligently await the arrival of our much need DIY items for the master bedroom I am hoping that we can finally call a decision. 

To Pelmet or not to pelmet.. that is the question? 

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Bedroom Wall

I have always liked grasscloth wallpaper.  

The above bedroom wall really captures the look we are going for. It is so polished and adult. 

Our masters bedroom's wall? Not so "adult"...

I chucked all the pillows and soft toys on the shelf as we cleared the room. The shelf was pretty handy in a playroom situation however it is was not staying in our bedroom, nor was that sun lamp and eventually those curtains will say sayonara too.  Purging things always feels really good. 

Out the shelving came, in went some wall putty to hide the holes and on the wall went lovely thick vinyl wallpapering:

I wallpapered the wall myself and it took me about possibly around an hour.  Stephen is not to crazy about wallpapering, and as I have never done it before I thought, hell why not? The paper is from B&Q  and it was a paste the wall wallpaper which makes it is super simple. I mixed my glue painted it on the wall, cut my paper to size of the wall and simply adhered the paper to the wall. 

Apologise I should have taken photos of the process, I am really making a habit of the whole don't take photos while you DIY scenarios. I will work on that :) 

Back to the wallpaper. I really love it. And although it is not a grasscloth, it is a thick linen looking vinyl paper so it hides many of the wall's imperfections perfectly :) 

It is really tactile and adds texture without overpowering the room. Stephen was surprised I choose such a tame wallpaper, especially as there was so many lovely flower patterns. But my reasoning is simple: Keep it Simple. My favourite rooms has always been the most simplest of places. Muted and neutral colours that gentle say "warm and cosy" as opposed to screaming "big and bold". 

By the way, those frames are not going on the wall. I wanted to see what the contrast would look like with a black frame.  And so far I am loving the contrast.  I am still unsure what art will live on this wall, so at the moment I am working out  my options. Any suggestions?

Bedroom Budget

We started out with £750.00 to get this room ship shape. So how is our budget doing? 

Wardrobes:    £348.00
Wallpaper:     £ 24.00 (2x rolls)
Paste:             £  5.00
Total:            £377.00

Bedroom Budget:   £750.00

Remainder: + £373.00

Looks like we are about halfway there in our budget.. and it is about that time I start getting nervous lol.

Next steps

Our next steps are:
  • Add some coving aka cornicing to the room (will hide my misaligned wallpaper lengths)
  • Purchase our new curtains and bedding 
  • Add bedside tables
  • Add a nice plush rug
  • Add lighting 
  • Hack our rather bland headboard. 
  • Build in those wardrobes (we have a some ideas on that)

So that is how the room is looking at the moment: bare and mismatched but it is progress. Let's see what next week brings us :)

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Blog Design v27846.1

Blog Design v27846.1? That maybe an overstatement.. we are really on version 3 .. (i think?)
As you may have noticed, I have been tweaking bits and pieces of  our site for a few weeks now. In fact, while I was working on our future  blog template, I migrated our blog over to the dynamic blogger template in the interim.  While I do like the dynamic templates, they do, at the best of times, feel pretty soulless and configuring them to any design flavor is a bit of a challenge.

There are still a few more tweaks that I am working on (moving around the about me section to the top.. etc), however I am glad to finally publish the brand shiny new blog design.

The template I used can be found at: . By using a template and  doing a quick reconfigure (I have configured the style and background further), I saved myself over £100+ so I am hand to heart McLoving that!

My background is in graphic and business design however it has been a  good few years (15 yrs to be honest!) since I have touched html/xhtml. Yet after have a bit of a play with the code, it really has interested me to learn a bit more (glad I work among excellent software developers!).Without a doubt this will trigger yet another blog redesign but for now I am liking the simplicity this current user interface is offering.

I will be adding additional pages shortly to the above menu and then get to work  i.e. start getting to work on this house of mine!

Talking about blog content:
 Bedroom update: we have moved into our new room and we are happy for the change! We hit our target of February 14th and while the room is not aesthetically fantastic it does functionally work as a bedroom.  I  will try my best post sometime this week

However, one thing to note: if you are experiencing any issues viewing the site. Please do not hesitate in giving me a shout.