Wednesday, 21 July 2010

KEEP CALM… or not

The KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON craze seems to be all around us. Especially on the interior design blogs. Every other blogger sports a framed poster or two on the walls.
I’m no exception myself. I haven’t actually got a poster, but on our first wedding anniversary (which is paper, by the way) Hubby gave me the book with this and other motivational quotes. I think it’s really cool.

However, how cool it is really to have these posters, cups, bags, sweatshirts and God knows what else, when everybody else has exactly the same?
Not very, it seems, considering all the ironic parodies people have come up with. Some of them are really funny. This is my personal favourite, so far.

Here are a few other good ones.

These things seem to be everywhere, so I have borrowed them from various net sites.
I came up with these ones:

If any of you have suggestions for funny texts, leave a comment and I’ll make posters for you all to see. (Let me know which colour you would like.)
This could be fun!

Great suggestion from Irene. My new favourite.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Laundry room laments

We had a nasty surprise when we entered the cellar yesterday. In the laundry room there was red rusty water flowing from the hot water tank on to the floor. The floor covering felt squishy under our feet and there was a faint smell, which we didn’t like very much.

We felt it was best to call someone in to assess the damage. A man came this morning and quickly confirmed our suspicions of a leak in the tank, but worse than that, he concluded that it had been going on for a quite a while.
So, out went the dodgy old water tank and off came the floor covering, only to reveal a soaking wet cement floor covered in a slimy substance I’d rather not describe in detail, except to say it was not a sight for the squeamish.

I believe you can imagine our first thought: My God, how much is this going to cost?
Luckily, we were able to breath a sigh of relief a little later, when we found out that some of it is going to be covered by our house insurance. We still have to shell out quite a bit, but it won’t break the bank.

THE PROBLEM. If you open your hot water tank and it looks like this, then you know you're in trouble.
Certainly, the laundry room was on our long list of things to fix up, but there was quite a few things I’d rather have had done first. Now, it seems, our priorities have been changed for us. So, I suppose there’s nothing else to do but look on the bright side and try and think how we would like to organise things down there.
First of all we would like to paint the tatty old pine panel white. Then we want to install some cupboards. As it is, there is absolutely nowhere to stash things. However, we will have to wait until everything is dry before we can do anything at all. There is a huge fan and a dehumidifier working round the clock there now, so hopefully in a few days things will look better.
The plumber who came round in the afternoon was a highly efficient character, and before we could say “cold shower” he had rigged up a brand new hot water tank in an adjacent room, so we can’t complain of being much inconvenienced really.

KNUT IS ON THE JOB. The dehumidifier will have to work around the clock for some days to come.
Now the question is: Is there any way to make a laundry room seem inviting and stylish? Not like the sort of room that one would want to hang out in, but somewhere nice to work.
If you have got any advice, it would be most welcome.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Dog days of summer

They have come and gone. But, I dearly hope, not in the sense that the hottest days of summer are already behind us. As far as western Norway goes, summer has been a disappointment so far. As always the spring was nice, but for weeks now the daytime temperature has hardly reached 20 degrees Celcius (68F). We have had a little sun today, but mostly it has varied between cloudy, drizzle and full on downpour.

No, the “diēs caniculārēs”, as the Romans used to call it, just refers to the fact that we have had a dog visiting for a week. While some friends of ours went off on a little holiday, they left their Norfolk terrier Tessa with us at Hilltop House. We are debating whether or not to get a dog, so this was also a test to see how we liked it.

PLAYFULL. Tessa likes to play every now and then.
Tessa is the cutest little thing. She is tiny, hardly any bigger than a cat, and has a very pretty ginger colour. We were prepared for her to be a bit restless and sulky from missing her family but she seemed to be in a quiet, good mood all the time. No barking, except for when there was a cat around, no nagging and no mess. It would have been easy to forget that she was there at all. Every evening when she was tired, she went into her cage and slept all through the night.
It was incredibly nice every morning to be met by someone who was so happy to see us that she almost fell over from wagging her tail so hard. We are not the fittest people in the world, so it was also good for us to have to go for walks several times a day. Tessa loved her walkies. There would always be something interesting to sniff, especially all the frogs that came out in the wet weather. One day she found an old flat football that she just wouldn’t leave behind. Craning her neck to hold it up from the ground, she carried it all the way home. Quite an achievement for someone with such short legs. That football was her favourite toy while she was here.

WELL BEHAVED. - But, where's my titbit?
We are still undecided about getting a dog. Not to mention what breed to get. We have tried numerous “breed selectors” online but none of them come up with the same breeds. I think that the Belgian collies are lovely dogs, but they may be too much for us to handle. We’ll see. Perhaps you have some advice for us?

ENJOYING. Being scratched behind the ears is just sooo good.
Hope you have all had a good weekend and wishing you a good week ahead. J

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Summer lottery

To celebrate 2000 visits to our blog, we would like to have a little lottery.

The prize you can win is a set of travel sized products from L'Occitane. They are perfectly sized to bring along on holiday, and the 30 ml bottles are also well suited for bringing on board as cabin luggage when you're flying.

The products are shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, bodylotion and a small bar of soap in the Verbena range. In addition, you'll get a bodyscrub and a lovely, luxurious wash cloth in a matching colour.

Here is how to get tickets:
  • One ticket for leaving a comment.
  • Two tickets for adding yourself as a follower.
  • Three tickets for linking to this lottery from your own blog.
All in all you may have six tickets.

You don't have to have a blog to participate. Just leave a comment as "Anonymous". But remember to write your e-mail address, so that I will be able to reach you if you win.

The prize will be drawn on the eight of August.

L'Occitane is one of my favourite brands and I have used their products for years. Obviously I like the scents and the lotions, but I also think their design is very stylish. I often bring along the little travel sized containers when I'm travelling, but I also like to put them out in the guest bathroom, so that our guests can have their own things to use while they are visiting.

Here is your chance to try L'Occitane for free. We hope many of you would like to join. :-)

Friday, 9 July 2010

On the strait and narrow in Malacca

We have recently been travelling through South East Asia. In addition to all of the exotic experiences that area of the world can offer, there is also a lot of inspiration for interior decoration to be found there – at least for Husfruen, who loves the old fashioned colonial style. One of my favourite pastimes in connection with travel is to locate hotels that not only offer five star service, but have delightful decor too.

On this trip we were working most of the time, but we had a few days to ourselves when we could relax and do what we wanted. We stayed at a number of nice hotels, which we will probably show you later, but today we would like to share with you our visit to Malacca.

CHRIST CHURCH is Malacca’s most famous building. 
This small, and attractive town in the Southwest of Malaysia has a long and proud history and has been designated a World Heritage site by UNESCO. The town was founded 600 years ago, and according to legend derives its name from a tree that grows there. Parameswara, a prince who fled from Sumatra, stopped to rest under a tree growing by the river. A small deer appeared out of the forest and startled one of his hunting dogs so that it fell into the water. The Prince took this as an omen that here the weak could triumph over the strong and saw it as a good place to establish the capital of his new kingdom.

CYCLE RICKSHAW. Owners decorate their “beca” with flowers by day and lights by night.
Strategically placed on the narrowest part of the strait that bears its name, Malacca is halfway along the sea route linking China to India and the Near East. The town quickly became an important trading port, and was soon one of the most powerful sultanates in the region. A port like that was irresistible for the European colonial powers. Portugal conquered the it in 1511. The following century the Dutch invaded Malacca in 1641 and ruled it until they ceded it to the British in 1824. Malacca was governed by first by the British East India Company, and later became a crown colony until 1946 when it became part of the newly independent Malaysia. In addition to the European colonialists, Chinese and Indian merchants have left their mark on the town. Such a rich and varied history has left an impression on the town, both cultural and culinary but most noticeably in the architecture.

A LITTLE OF THIS AND A LITTLE OF THAT. The varied history of Malacca can be seen in its architecture.
Malacca can offer the traveller many different kinds of accommodation, from the simplest hostel to modern (and boring) international chain hotels. However, if you want to visit Malacca and live in historical style, there is only one place to go: The Majestic Hotel.

The building is in shining white, and stands beside the river, where in times gone past, Chinese Junks and European ships loaded with the riches of the Orient sailed past. The building is a part of Malacca’s colourful history. The main house was built in the 1920’s as a mansion for a wealthy Chinese businessman. It became a hotel in 1952 and was run as such for nearly fifty years before closing. Fortunately someone saw the potential in the old building and restored to its former glory. A new wing housing most of the rooms and suites was built on the grounds of the mansion. This was finished in 2008 and everything is obviously brand new inside, but the original style has been strictly adhered to, so a wave of nostalgia envelopes you as you enter.

LOBBY. Here the guests are greeted with a cold drink and wet cloths, during check in. The cold wet cloth is especially refreshing when entering from tropical warmth and humidity.
LIBRARY. The Portuguese floor tiles are so beautiful and I just love the way that the bookshelves have been painted to match. It is a nice contrast to the standard dark hardwood or white shelves. At home, we have exactly the same chairs in the room that will someday become our library. Now, I have new inspiration for decorating that room.
The building shows Dutch, Portuguese, British, Chinese and naturally Malayan influences. Floors are either teak, or colourful Portuguese tiles. The furniture is mahogany, upholstered with dark leather, while the panelled walls are painted in light pastel colours. The rooms are lit by lamps in traditional Chinese porcelain. Colourful oriental carpets and thick cushions of silk decorate the bedrooms, and the bedclothes are of finely woven white cotton.

COMFORT. We slept soundly in this bed.
After checking in we were escorted to our room by a young man carrying a basket. We both wondered what it contained. It turned out to be a full tea service. We were served surprisingly refreshing green tea in tiny cups.

TEA CEREMONY. The small cups of green tea were just what we needed after a hot day on the road.
The bed was a magnificent four poster, without a canopy though. The bathroom was open, with sliding louvered doors if privacy is needed. The bathtub rested on thick marble floor tiles 

The bathtub was so inviting that we both leapt into it (though not at the same time). The separate shower had a tropical showerhead, which was akin to standing under a warm waterfall.

BATH SALTS provided a lovely scented bath.
SUITE. Some of the rooms had a stylish sitting area in addition to the bedroom.

The rooms also provided ample reading material. The hotel had recently served as location for a photo book about Malacca’s unique Nyonya culture, and that of course held the place of honour on the coffee table. Nyonya is a term for rich Chinese that have adopted parts of the Malayan culture as their own. This fusion of cultures has resulted in a very special style of clothing, architecture and cooking that is only found here.

There were lots of glossy magazines as well. Hubby found the latest edition of the watch magazine “Revolution” and would probably have spent many happy hours leafing through that, but there were after all sight to be seen

DELICATE. This crystal lamp made a delicate contrast to all the other lamps which were in Chinese porcelain.
The hotel’s restaurant was the only thing that disappointed us slightly. Not that the food was bad in any way, it just took forever to prepare. When it finally arrived at our table though, it was served in a very attractive manner, so perhaps that is what took so long.
POACHED EGGS were served with all the trimmings. The bacon however, was made of beef as Malaysia is a Muslim country and pork is not on the menu.
Every weekend there is a night market in Jonker Street. Here you can find locals and tourists, shoulder to shoulder. As well as the more normal touristy souvenirs, there are shops selling genuine articles, also antiques, but don’t expect to find any bargains here – the shopkeepers know what their stock is worth, though it is definitely worth haggling.

In a shop called “Beyond Treasures” we met a tiny old Chinese lady who proudly showed us everything that was on offer, and that was quite a lot. Her shop stretched far back from the street front. There were quite a few quasi antiques on display, which she brusquely brushed aside. “Pfft, you don’t want such rubbish! Come here, and I’ll show you something special from before the Cultural Revolution.” And out came one gorgeous vase after another. We ended up with a nice little bowl that according to Feng Shui will bring happiness to our house. “You take this, and you turn towards north, east, south and west, then you place it in the south.” So has been duly performed, and all we have to do now is lean back and enjoy the happiness.

Flower painted wooden clogs is another thing to shop for in Malacca. They are quite different from the traditional Dutch clogs. One can actually wear these. We only bought a fridge magnet version.

A VARIETY OF FOOD. Chinese Dim Sum is only one for the meals offered by the street vendors on Jonker Street. Another stall pressed juice out of sugar cane while you watched.

Malacca is only two hours by bus from Kuala Lumpur or Singapore. If you are visiting either of these cities, a day or two in Malacca is well worth considering. We spent only one night there, but we managed to see quite a lot in the little time we had available.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Lovely prizes

I have been so lucky that I have won some beautiful things from Det lille huset med druehage - a lovely blog where Gro-Beate writes about her house and her garden with grape vines. 
A little package came in the mailbox yesterday. Look, what a nice card and a cute little rose!

Inside there was a heart shaped lace pomander filled with lavender, two tiny glass bowls and a jar of scented white stones. Hubby thought they were mints and I just managed to stop him from popping one in his mouth. The poor man was completely dumbfounded when I yelled "No!!!" "I was just going to taste one..." he said unhappily. Being a man sure is difficult sometimes. :-)

After having duly admired everything (and convinced Hubby that I really wasn't trying to keep candy from him), I took it all out to the bathroom to find space for it.  

The heart is on the wall over the toilet. 

The jar and the glass bowls were placed on a white whicker chest of drawers. I had some small rose scented soaps that just fitted the bowls. Doesn't it look lovely?

In front are two sea shells that I brought home from Indonesia. They have little pink stripes that match the soaps. :-) In the basket I keep brushes and scrubs for the shower. 

Behind is the sign that I won from Villa Klaraberg a few weeks ago. I think it all looks so lovely. Our otherwise dull bathroom now has a little idyllic still life that lifts my spirits every morning. 
A big thank you to Gro-Beate for a lovely prize. I really appreciate it. 

Soon I too will have a Give Away, where I will tempt you with travel sized  products from L'Occitane and other little goodies. So keep visiting!

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Sharp dressed berries

I just had to share a picture of some strawberries we were served the other day. They are first dipped in white chocolate and then dark. Finally they are decorated with bowties and buttons.
I thought they were increadibly charming. What a great idea if one is celebrating something special - like a wedding for example. Perhaps it would be possible to make little lady versions too?

Not to be forgotten: They tasted absolutely gorgeous. We have had strawberries dipped in dark chocolate before and they have been nice. But the white chocolate gave an extra touch to it all.