Making Our House A Home

When we bought our current house, 3.5 years ago, it was love at first site (see what I did there?). Sure, it wasn’t perfect, but it looked and felt like it could be our forever home. And it still is, but like every romance, the early days are very rose tinted and you can see no flaws, or in my case, floors.

Not long after moving in I began to realise that we had a fundamental problem on our hands. The flooring of the house was dog shit ugly. Mismatched pink glossy and matte terracotta tiles, broken grouting and jut plain ugly. No matter what I did decor wise, it was basically lipstick on a pig.

When I was pregnant with Carter we redid his bedroom floor and it became the nicest room in the house. I began to hate my flooring, it was cold, unattractive, pink and kitsch.

I started whining about the need for new flooring, and the more I whined, my husband, who quite frankly has the same interest in decor as he does in the Kardashians, would roll his eyes and just tell me to be patient. I also really never thought that we would be able to afford renovations. People who do are clearly laundering money or prostituting themselves. We seemed to be living month to month and I couldn’t fathom the idea of how we would ever save enough to actually fix the problem.

When I took on a second job, I knew it would be demanding, but I also knew it would financially free us up somewhat. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough photoshoots in the word that can cover all the work we needed to do, especially with my time frame (“before we have another baby”) and so we did the only logical grownup thing; We maxed out our bond. I’m telling you this, because I’ve spent the last 15 years of my adult life scratching my head and wondering how people afford nice things. I hate the shadiness of some people when they just wont tell me how they make it work. Even worse, when people are sponsored by the bank of mom and dad and then pretend it’s all their doing. So yes, peeps, our renovations are courtesy of Standard Bank and our 3 job incomes. And those random R2 coins I find in couch cushions. You’re welcome.

So, after 3.5 years of waiting and saving and praying and drinking, we started our renovations today. I am so excited I could platz. (Remind me of this joy in 2 months time when I’m sneezing dust and have no where to live, k?)

Some of the work we are doing includes finally knocking through to the cottage on the property which has been a glorified storeroom since we moved in, and turning that in to our bedroom. Redoing all three bathrooms, re-flooring the whole house (Oh yes, no more pink beauty), updating the kitchen, the patio, the jungle gyms and the garden and adding a playroom/photo editing study for me.

I think I just wee’d a little bit.

Someone ased me if I would be sharing the before and after pics, and as mortified as I am to show you all the existing tiles, I think I have to. And as someone else pointed out this morning: “The worse the before, the better the after”

So, the blog might deviate slightly from babies and booze to home stuff and decor, my other love. I’m going to be sharing and recommending suppliers as well as progress pics along the way.

So, cheers to our little family as we break new ground and begin turning our house into a home.

PS – To confirm just how excited I am, this is a photo of me and 2 taps. Because they’re bronze, and beautiful and ohmygodimfinallyredoingmyhome.

Continue Reading

Baby Rankin Room Reveal

One of the most exciting things about having a baby is knowing that you get to create a space, just for them, in your home.

I have never been one for ‘themes’ and always envisioned a calm, neutral and tranquil space… which mean that the 1980 pink terracotta floors that came with the house had to go! Working in client service, I get paid in smiles (and the occasional pat on the head) so sadly the budget wasn’t there to re-floor the entire house, but we did manage to save enough to put laminate flooring down in the guest bedroom and study (turned nursery).

It made a massive difference!

Floors before

20150303_083625

We inherited some pre-loved furniture – a cot and compactum – which, after serious amounts of elbow grease, sanding, priming and painting look almost brand new.

Being the frugal DIY’er I am I made the mobile and my hubby applied the stickers to the walls.

I sometimes wondered if this room was ever going to come together, and even though there are still some things left to do it’s pretty much complete and I just adore it.

Walking around the room last night to take photos I said to the husband “It still feels like something is missing…” to which he replied “Yes, a baby”

So, minus 1 x baby, I present to you #BabyRankins nursery:

IMG_4599 IMG_4602 IMG_4598 IMG_4597 IMG_4586 IMG_4587 IMG_4589 IMG_4590 IMG_4591 IMG_4584 IMG_4578 IMG_4577 IMG_4575 IMG_4574 IMG_4570 IMG_4569

Continue Reading

Must Love Dogs

A friend asked me the other day “Why do people have dogs?”. She doesn’t like dogs, and when I jokingly reminded her of this she replied “I do like them, I just don’t want them near, or touching me”.*

I get that. Dogs are generally filthy, wet, sharp nailed, muddied creatures of mass destruction.

I mean, my once cream couches look about a million years old and my rug in my lounge is never ever straight. My dining room floors are constantly covered in swimming pool water and sand, and there’s hair on pretty much everything.

If I had a nice standing floor lamp, it is long gone, and most of my wooden furniture has Boston terrier sized bit marks in the legs. My Persian carpet is missing a large chunk and my shower is always filled with tell-tale brown footprints.

New linen? Forget about it – anything lighter than black looks dirty within minutes, and the more expensive the throw, the more chance there is of a crusty piece of dog poo being stuck to it.

Love your garden? Learn to love it a little less – anything even vaguely expensive gets eaten or chewed. Case in point – A year ago my husband’s Granny passed away, and as a token of sympathy my folks bought us a Wild Olive tree to plant in our garden. The dogs took one look at the newest flora addition and decided it was an enemy that needed abolishing – needless to say they left us with a twig. Twig was subsequently replanted and dubbed ‘Big Granny’. Twig turned into longer twig which turned into leaf which then turned into something resembling a very small, happy and thriving tree. On Saturday, our new gardener assumed it was a failing weed, pulled it out, and threw it away.

Dogs take up your time and dogs take up your money. It’s very common for us to leave a function early to go home and feed the dogs, but where we can the dogs come along and gate crash dinner parties and braais. My boy dog has even weed in someone else’s house (you can immediately tell who the dog lover is by the way they react when your “I’msosorrymystupidfuckingdogjustpissedinyourkitchenandIswearheneverdoesthis” comment gets met with a “Shame look how remorseful he looks, he didn’t mean it, he was so excited, here Rupert, have a treat”.

Thank god for friends like this. I’m talking about you “my dogs kiss you when your mouth’s open and you love it, Clair”.

When girl dog was 9 months old, she was bitten by a puff adder. In Fourways. We are hard-core like that. 10 days and 20 thousand rand later we had her home with us, somewhat battered and missing a good chunk of knee, but she was home. For the 10 days she was in hospital we visited her every day – taking turns doing morning and evening shifts. At one low point, when we weren’t sure if she was going to make it, I sat with her on the floor of the vet, and she wrapped her limp weak body around mine, drip tubes, bandages and all. She had no control of her body and by the end of it I was covered in urine and vomit. All over my work clothes. You know what, I didn’t care. All I wanted was for my little girl to get better. When she eventually was released, we built her a fort bed in the bedroom and slept with her there (on the floor) for 2 nights to make sure she stayed breathing.

A few nights ago, I was having a very bad night. Sadness weighed upon me like a ton of bricks and nothing could get me out of my funk. Until my 2 hounds, who never (despite all evidence to the contrary) sleep on the bed, wormed their way out of their bed into mine, and lay with me for the entire night. The more I cried, the closer they spooned against me, until at one point I had Boston fart touching my nose and another Boston snore reverberating against my back. Dogs know, they just know.

When I get home, and I could have been gone anywhere from 5 minutes to 8 hours, there they are practically doing somersaults in the driveway. They jump up, scratch my car and try and absorb every part of me. They do this every single time they see me. Now you tell me, what human is ever that enthusiastic?

A few other reasons dogs are just so awful:

They are very needy. 

They are messy drunks

bad drunk messy drunks

They are never happy to see you

20150305_212638

They take up all the duvet

They are absolute sluts.

They always use your things

They are very bad at roadtrips

roadtrips

They are awful with children

bad with kids bad with kids 2 bad with children

really bad with kids

And even worse with other dogs…

pitbull

idiotic smiles confrontational

They’re not terribly well read

not very well read

Capture 2

They can never pose nicely for a photo

not photogenic

And they are so unfeminine

not feminine

Dogs are so nosey. Jeez.

nosey

And SO needy!

needy

They’re terribly lazy

lazy

Not terribly good at hide ‘n seek

hide and seek

hide and seek

They don’t look good in anything.

dog blog

nothing looks good on them

They can never just pose nicely for a photo

Capture

They hate extra mural activites

Capture 4

And group photos? They want NONE of that!

Capture 3

boston tea party

They despise shower time

bathtime

Capture

In fact, they’re hardly pat of the family at all.

20150321_064222

announcements

But in all seriousness, my absolute worst thing about dogs? It’s that I don’t have more of them.

—–

*Disclaimer, I in no way hold any grudges against my friend for not liking dogs. I don’t like many things, including people who suck their toothbrushes and centipedes, but our differences are what make us unique and lovely, don’t you think?

PPS – I would however hold a grudge against a non-dog lover who owns dogs. It’s one of my pet peeves. But that’s a whole other story.

Continue Reading

It's Our House-Baby!

In January of this year Barry and I decided that 2014 was the year we would buy a house. Not a cluster in a complex, a house house, with rambling gardens, DIY and fixer upper opportunities, a pool, a covered patio and room to run around. A few large trees were also a plus. We gave ourselves a year and our deadline was Christmas time – so we could have people round in groups, and not invite them Noah style – in groups of two’s.

We told everyone about this house, we stared lovingly at the sales brochure and I spent my days Pinterist’ing imaginary furniture into rooms that did not belong to us. We decided (despite the slight over-budget part) that we would make an offer.

To cut a long story short (cue offer being accepted, then lost, then accepted again, The current house we owned that needed selling, sold, then lost, then sold again) we were finally told the place was ours.

You know when new moms say giving birth and looking at your perfect, new infant is the most awe inspiring feeling on earth? Well guys, we gave birth (C section of course) to a one story 3 bedroom child. She’s not new, she’s not perfect, but she’s ours.

Because the folk who bought our house were moving from Durban we had to move relatively quickly – which meant a few months of occupational rent and ‘don’t touch ’till its yours‘ rules. Well today friends, the house was lodged and it is now 100% FNB’s ours.

Cue champagne and excited pig like squeals!

So here she is, our number 73 pride and joy – I cant wait to tuck in, fix ‘er up and make this into a home.

Also, if you’re an out of work landscaper or interior decorator looking for some pro bono work… you know where to come.

(These photos are all taken before we moved in, so yes, we do have furniture and food. And wine, It’s very important to stay hydrated)Image

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

…And the lived in debt happily ever after!

Continue Reading

I Need A(nother) Stiff Drink.

I’m tired all the time, my hair is falling out in fat chunks and I’m living on wine and carbs. No, not pregnant (thanks everyone, for naturally jumping to that conclusion) just exhausted and in a bit of a quarter year slump. Not surprising that the last few months have been CA-RAZY! In the last 4 months so much has happened and gone down that I’m not surprised my scalp resembles a Chinese Crested Powder Puff (Also, does the dog on the right not look like Bon Jovi??). Here’s whats been happening:

Powder Puff

1. We got Married (Two piccies, because, I can)

Married! Married!

2. We got back from Honeymoon to the news that my mom in law had suffered a very bad stroke after the wedding. The next few weeks were severely stressful with tears, hospital visits and scary ‘what ifs’. (Side note – she is 100% recovered :))

3. We were broken into on Christmas.

4. So…. we decided to sell our house

5. I turned 30 and felt like this (except I didn’t even get a cake)

Birthday Cake

6. I sold my house on my 30th birthday

7. We found our dream home, put in an offer, lost the offer, put in another offer, and got it!

Look – garden, pool, space for actual people!

House

New House

8. We are moving to said house. Tomorrow. And I’m working. Which means poor husband is going to be multitasking the bejaysus out of the day.

9. I’m going on an adventure weekend with Mercedes Benz as part of their launch of the new GLA. This weekend. Moving weekend.Look ma – I’m famous! —> http://www.glaadventure.co.za/the-bush-adventure

10. We gained a little niece. World – meet Emma (also, isn’t my nephew the cutest??)

Daniel and Emma

Continue Reading

The Fight For Flexi Time

6.4 kms in 2 hours and 15 minutes. That was my commute to work today. I know I’m not alone. Social media platforms this morning were pulsing with angry, frustrated and irritable drivers. Everyone in Joburg seemed to be stuck on one of our main roads trying desperately to get to the office and do.some.work.

Traffic in J Town is never good – unless it’s December – when for 1 month of the year our prettier sister Cape Town gets to experience what we do for the other 11. Today was made even worse by the torrential downpour which lambasted the whole of GP. Both roads and souls made damper by the grey, wet sky and the inching of wheels, lights on lights.

The irony hit me like burst cloud, when 30 minutes and 500 metres into my drive I laughed at the absurdity of it all. Here I was – trying my damndest to not while away my time on Facebook – while surrounded by my work laptop, personal laptop, smartphone, iPad and 3G dongle. Devices, which I could boot up in seconds (OK, not my Acer, that’s just a piece of crap) and start working on, productively, within minutes. I can bet you I wasn’t the only one experiencing that sweaty tingly feeling under my arms, neck getting clammier knowing there was work to be done, emails to be read and sent and to-do lists to be actioned and crossed off. Anxiety made worse by the never ending line of cars not moving in front of me and the transition from breakfast radio DJ to mid-morning DJ. All of this in 6.4 kilometres.

Why as a society are we so stuck on the idea of an ‘8 to 5’? My never ending drive into work gave me time to reflect on why this approach has never really been adopted in South Africa:

 

  1. People assume you are busy, productive, grafting hard if you are at your desk, in your high rental Sandton office block. There’s a false illusion that if you are at the office you must.be.working. Trust  me – I’ve  sat  next to enough people who study Facebook like they’re going to write an exam on it later that day, to know that this isn’t necessarily true.
  2. People love to feel like they have been served an injustice. It starts as kids – “Moooom, Jimmy got a bigger piece of cake/food/chocolate than I did’. We are no different as grownups. Whispered conversations in office walkways – “Did you see that so-and-so waltzed in here at 9 am?!” Tsk tsks and collective anger will a mob make. I bet these haters never stopped to think about so-and-so’s reason for ‘waltzing;’ in at 9am. Kids, school drop, carpooling, late nanny, they were working until 1 am from home?
  3. Trust. I get this one. I’m a bit of a martyr when it comes to getting things done. I hate people who take their time doing things – especially when someone else is waiting on them. Perhaps it’s my desire to please, driven by guilt that makes me a bright shiny candidate for flexi time. (Pick me, pick me! I will be so paranoid that you think I’m slacking off that I will work double as hard, no, no, make that triple!). If I cock it up, miss a deadline or turn into a 9 am drinker, then by all means, haul me back to my lumber support chair in my cubicle and never give me a leash again. But until then, let me prove to you that I am grown up adult, one capable of working. from. home. (When I need to)

Flexi time is just that – it’s flexible. On mornings when you wake up to a Mother Nature shit storm, wouldn’t it be nice to know that you can grab a cup of coffee, boot up your laptop and be productive for a few hours while waiting for traffic to subside?

If it took me 2 hours and 15 minutes to get to work today and will take me possible the same time to get home. If I generously slice off an hour or so from that and call it 3 hours commuting, then multiply that by the millions of worker bees trying to get to the office in time then we, my friends, are looking at millions of hours wasted on a daily basis. Millions of Rands lost and an economy with an upside down smile.

Let’s look at trying to change our mind-set and applaud those using this time more effectively. I applaud my friend who worked in bed from 5:30am waiting for the roads to look less congealed than a Mac n Cheese dish after a family meal. I applaud that guy who pulled into the Mugg and Bean to work instead of rising to road rage. I applaud that mom who ensured her child got to school on time and safe and will more than likely work from home tonight, when her family is tucked in bed. I applaud the iPhone hot spots, the Wifi zones and the 3G dongles –because of them we are less bound to our desks, and therefore more productive.

Remember – Busy doesn’t make you productive. Productive makes you productive. Being Busy used to be ‘cool’. You know those people who are always SO BUSY. They just don’t have time for anything. Life for them is exhausting. Busy Busy Busy, Miserable miserable miserable.

Life is too short to be busy and sad. Let’s make life easier, more productive and more happy. 

Image

Continue Reading

DIY – Study Table From Fuddy To Fab

We all have that room in or house – you know, the one that looks like the application photo for ‘Extreme Hoarders’. For us, that room is the study. For years friends and guests have been convinced that we lived in a 2 bedroom home, as the door was never opened and any mentioned of ‘Ooh whats in there?’ was met with a shove down the stairs for fear they actually dared to venture inside. 

Our study currently houses the following: Two wing-back chairs, all my crafts and wrapping paper, my canvases, paints and art supplies, all our luggage, my winter wardrobe and shoes, my handbags and extra sports gear, a chest of doors (9 of them) filled with sporting gear, a study table, 3 laptops, all our filing, all our books, 2 irons and an ironing board, linen, spare cushions and pillows and about 400 random cables and cords. 

And a partridge in a pear tree.

Kinda like this…

Image

Over December I tackled the study like a 150 kilogram rugby player. I ruthlessly chucked about 3/4 of its contents and cleaned the place out. Look, the room is still fuller than my belly after a beer fest, but at-least there’s space to swing a cat. 

I also took on a DIY project – our old study table was a revolting hand me down and I have always hated. I decided to make this a bit more of a fun room and give it some character. I managed to convince my folks to give me an old rotting dining room table they had been storing, and to let me restore it. 

Image

 

Step 1. Get table from parents house to my house (Tip – find a father with a 4×4 and trailer)

Step 2. Sand the thing down. (Tip, ask your husband to do this, or get a handheld electronic sander.) Apart from the numbness in your hands that follows for the next hour, it’s fairly therapeutic. ImageStep 3. Prime, prime prime. This table had been sitting outside for about a year and was drier than a Savannah ad by the time I started refurbishing it. I invested in a solid primer which had two purposes – to prevent the paint from ‘leaking’ through and being absorbed by the dry wood and to ensure the paint went on smoothly.

Image

Step 4. Wait 24 hours for the primer to dry. I find wine helps the time pass quite well. (Tip, if you live in a ‘miggie’* prone area like we do, then either do this job inside or accept that you will forever have fossilized insects stuck to your table)

Step 5. Paint. The trick here is to use an enamel based paint (to get that high gleamy shine). I asked the man at Builders Warehouse for ‘Stripper Red’ but ‘Fire Engine Red’ will also do the trick. (Tip, take off your wedding ring, unless you like the look of ‘blood diamond’)

Step 6. Get it into study. Not an easy feat – we eventually managed (after removing half our wall) to hoist it up over our upstairs bedroom balcony. It was worth it – we have a long way to go but our study is finally looking like a part of the house. Who knows, one day we may even leave the door open for guests to actually see!

Image

 

* For the sake of my 1 international reader, a miggie is a tiny flying insect – smaller than a mosquito or fruit fly. They favour wine glasses (preferable new, full and expensive Merlots) and fruit bowls. 

Continue Reading

Style me pretty, on a budget.

I recently had a surprise visit from an old friend in the States, and with that in mind decided to ‘spruce up’ my guest bedroom. We all have one of those rooms in our house, where the door remains shut for fear of anyone peeking inside and seeing unopened boxes, wrinkled laundry and an an ironing board, right?

My concern for this room was that I would be working on a very strict budget, so I really needed to be creative and clever when it came to making it look semi decent, on a R400 limit

I decided to keep the main fixtures of the room intact, the bed, curtains and and the side table as these would be too expensive to replace. The curtains are a somewhat mousy beige and the linen is all white, so I decided to work with these two colours and bring in other colour accents with the decor.

I painted a square mock headboard on the wall behind the bed (Dulux Moss Green), which really created some depth, and then centered a beautiful wall vinyl of birds on it, which I had been given as a Christmas present.

For some wall ‘art’ we simply hammered in 6 Hilti Tool nails (ladies and gents, best R99 DIY product, ever) and hung our hats in rows of 3. A quick visit to an ‘al cheapo’ home decor shop and I was one lamp shade, new sheet and a scatter cushion closer to creating a guest bedroom.

Not exactly a suite at the Hilton, but not bad for DIY on a budget!

Continue Reading