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How to transform a space when you’re renting

The product provided by 1Wall via Nuffnang was gratis, but the opinions contained within are all mine. See my PR page for more details.
One of the challenges for us as landlords who are also tenants (got to love London property ladders!) is finding ways to make our various spaces unique without drastically changing the structural integrity of the living space. Bookcases are in, bookshelves are out. Focal furniture is in, textured walls are out.
1Wall has created a great collection of wall stickers and wallpaper murals to create dramatic results on a small budget, and without needing specialist tools, knowledge, or a degree in engineering to dismantle it when you move. While the husband has his eye on the NYC Times Square mural…
I adored the typography collage wallpaper pieces, that allow you to arrange your panels in any configuration you like.
However, as we were redoing the kid’s room from little-kid nursery to larger-kid bedroom, we thought it only fair to involve him in the decorating process. So he chose a mural of Disney’s Cars.
SONY DSC SONY DSC The kit comes in two pieces (very handy as I did not feel like having to drag an entire roll of cartoon characters to the wall when adhering), and most kits come with a bag of pre-measured wallpaper paste, so there’s no wasted trip to the hardware store. (Don’t worry, there is a button online to order the pre-measured wallpaper paste on the site if yours doesn’t come pre-equipped for some reason. Just check the item’s description for details).
The paper itself is a very nice quality – not so thick that it feels unwieldy when you’re applying paste, but not so thin that you’ll be worried about it disintegrating the second it gets wet. The colours are true to the displays online, and I was impressed by the crispness and detail in such a large panel.
SONY DSC SONY DSCThe instructions are very easy to follow, and there is even a QR code that takes you straight to a video walking you through the process. But what if you’re still terrified by the prospect of wallpaper and paste? Well, each bag of wallpaper paste that comes with your kit is good for up to 4 rolls, meaning you can do a tiny test panel of store bought wall paper before you dive in to the 1Wall artwork.
And if you’re still terrified, don’t worry – there’s no law that says wallpaper murals have to be applied with wallpaper paste. In fact, right now we’re using blu-tac to arrange the Cars mural around the room, as the kid still hasn’t decided exactly where he wants everything located (he’s becoming quite the mini- Martin Brudnizki!).
As you can see from the current location behind his loft bed, the nice thing about these types of murals is how they aren’t sector-specific; if you need to hide a portion behind a piece of furniture, the overall aesthetic still has impact (and the kid loves laying his head so close to his ‘buddies’ at night!). This is a decorating project that works around your needs, and I like that.

Can you see a distinct theme emerging in the kid's design repertoire? Yeah, we see it as well.
Can you see a distinct theme emerging in the kid’s design repertoire? Yeah, we see it as well.

Lighterlife Fast’s new flavours!

Okay, so quick recap: I’ve been doing pretty darn good on the LighterLife Fast 5:2 program, where you have controlled-portion meals for five days of the week, and then eat sensibly the other two. If you check out my last post, I fill you in on all the science-y details on VLC (very low calorie) meal plans, intermittent fasting, all that fun stuff. I like it because I don’t have to overthink my food choices, I get yummy, on-the-go meals, and they’re super easy to prepare.

LLF curry meal LLF pink grapefruit











Anyways, LighterLife Fast has some new flavours/products out, and wondered if they could send me some to trial and I was like sure, because YES FREE FOOD OF COURSE I WILL SAY YES WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, IT’S FREE FOOD YO.


The first is a rice/curry dish. At first I was a little hesitant, because as an American who didn’t grow up with Indian food, curry in Britain is always a hit or very very miss sort of deal for me, but I’m pleased to say the dish was easy on the palate, and didn’t have any of that icky heartburn so many other curries have caught me off guard with. It’s almost like a light korma, so if you like your curry a bit more aggressive, feel free to spice it up.

The newest product that I was very excited to try was the new calorie free pink grapefruit drink. I think often what can throw people off of plans like this is their routine is often centred around food and drink, and while most plans cover the food, the drink is sadly left out, meaning people either drink plain water (and get terribly bored within weeks, splurging on a high-sugar cola to sate them), or think ‘diet’ colas will work for them, meaning they often gorge themselves without realizing it. The new grapefruit drinks come in sachets with 1 sachet making 1 litre of drink, so you know exactly how much you are imbibing and can regulate accordingly. And the crisp, clean taste is enough of a jolt to your taste buds to help you realize you’ve had a nice treat, but not so powerful that you start to crave the stuff. I think this sort of drink addition will really prove popular for people on the Lighterlife Fast plan.

Couple things to remember if you didn’t click my original review:

Lighterlife Fast is available exclusively  in Superdrug stores.

While the ‘fast’ days are very low calorie, you are still getting 100% of your recommended daily allowances of key minerals and vitamins. So, don’t panic.

You do need to drink at least 4 pint glasses of water and commit to 20 minutes of moderate exercise per day, to help the plan along (basically, walk briskly to the pub, have a couple of pints of water while your friends have a few pints of beer, and walk briskly home. Job done).

Always consult your GP before starting any sort of health regimen.

If you’re looking ahead to the holiday office parties and starting to freak out that the mountain of Halloween candy you’ve consumed may hold you back, grab a few boxes of LighterLife Fast, hop on the plan, and sail into December without any worries. Okay? Good. Now, back to my grapefruit drink…

You know the deal – the products were provided gratis, but the opinions are all mine. See my PR page for more details.

Early Morning.

Been up since 4.40 or so, answering emails, quietly getting house ready for morning routine. Reminds me of when I would study at 3 am when doing cluster feeds with the kid – your body forms a natural shape of kid in one arm, textbook in another. Muscle memory.


Current #shelfie with #fountainpens and #pencils. Love my workhorses, but I need to get a cleaning/repair kit assembled. If anyone has suggestions for kit items, let me know. #fpgeeks #parkerpens #Lamy #carandache #sheaffer #crosspens #waterman #Staedtler #fountainpenrevolution

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  I have (foolishly?) decided to do NaNoWriMo this year. Last time I did it I was heavily pregnant, here’s hoping this time I’m successful. I know the story I want to tell, I just need to outline like a mo-fo for the next 10 days. That on top of new video project (shhhh, it won’t be out for another 8-12 months!), and the mictrostories over at Dayre is making me a busy little bee.      



Sketching story pictures to help walk me through the 20 or so theories under one of the 6 subheadings for this exam. Modification of the mansion mind trick in #DerrenBrown book. If this works, I’ll owe him a drink. #mba View on Instagram



We don’t get our grades back till December 5th, which is terrifying, as if I didn’t do great in Corporate Finance I’ll have to resit the exam in April, and if that happens, I want to get as big a jump on it as possible, So I guess it’s okay that I’m doing NaNoWriMo, as it’s not like I could be doing huge studying anyway.


And at some point I’d like to clean this blog up – people keep sending me buttons I should be slapping up here, and then there are PR people’s needs to consider, and blabbity blah blah oh sweet God could there be anything more boring.


And finally, my goal for the next six months is to put one item of crap on eBay a day. I’ve got about 5 items fully photographed and described, so that at least covers this week. Fingers crossed for a huge clear out.


Weekend was spent tidying up (a losing battle, there is so much paperwork to attend to!), and Sunday was dedicated to the family getting out and about. People tend to think of London as this hard, cold place, but I’ve found it to be really family friendly. We went to King’s Cross station to the Steam Extravaganza – kid did a coal shovelling competition, watched the model trains, rode a mini coal-driven steam engine, listened to storytellers, and checked out the House of Illustration’s workshops! And of course, there were oodles of side fun, like yummy food and Word on the Water, my personal oasis in the form of a floating bookstore.

Word on the Water
Word on the Water
House of Illustration's wallboards, have to take the kid there next week for Paddington Bear exhibit!
House of Illustration’s wallboards, have to take the kid there next week for Paddington Bear exhibit!


We finished with some quick conveyor belt sushi at St Pancras, and while the kid was NOT a fan of the sushi rice (too sweet and sticky for him, he much prefers proper fluffy Chinese rice), he loved taking dishes off the belt, and did quite well on the fruit dessert plate.



Obligatory conveyor belt sushi shot.

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It’s so nice not to spend all Saturday in a study cubby, surrounded by notecards and highlighters, but I know I can only give myself this vacation for a week or so – I have to get back into the study grind sooner rather than later. No rest for the wicked, all that.

Oh! And a piece I submitted for a new London monthly mag was very enthusiastically received, so fingers crossed!


…and the daddy tomato said, “ketchup”.

So. Yes. Good. Okay.


Finals are over. Whew. Unless I completely, utterly bombed my exam, that will be the last ‘sit-down-at-a-desk-and-write-for-three-hours’ test I’ll have, ever. I’m taking the next session off to focus on the kid, and then I have a few electives, and then right into my dissertation sessions. Fun.

Week before the exam I get a Skype from my mom, all ARE YOU UP CAN YOU TALK NOW?!?! Seems my father’s heart decided it was Norma Rae and was like “NOPE. NOT WORKING FOR YOU UNLESS MY DEMANDS ARE MET”. Not fun. Luckily the muscles of his heart are strong, and the ‘pipes’ are clean, so one emergency pacemaker later, he’s on bedrest, but in good spirits.

My husband wondered if I wanted to fly over, and I’m sure school would have allowed for an extension of the exam, but I’ve slept on cots next to the kid’s hospital bed enough times to know while the thought is nice, nothing really helps in that situation. I can’t make his heart beat, I can’t even answer medical questions while my mum rests, as I don’t know his current situation. There’s a point where you’ve been asked if you want a cup of tea for the thousandth time by someone who is trying their hardest to help, but can’t actually do anything, and you find yourself hating them, and yourself, for the impotence of the situation. Because all you want to scream in that moment is, “Can you make this all better? Can you fix him? Can you take his pain away? No? Then SHUT THE FUCK UP AND GET OUT OF MY FACE”. You don’t say that because, well, social contract, but by God you want to.

verso shelfie

In nicer news, I was greeted at the end of my exams by a stack of new Verso Press books, which we have already started devouring. Love them. I know I should go with digital copies of books – this costs trees and shipping costs and blabbity blah blah, but I can’t help it, I love holding a book, turning pages, and my allergies be damned, smelling the old ones. It’s a thing, don’t try to overthink it.

alexander mqueen puma trainers

However, I am dedicating the next six months to a MASSIVE clearout. While I’m pretty ruthless with getting rid of stuff, hubs is awful, and we’ve yet to do a proper sort and donate drive with the kid’s stuff since he was like 2, so that will get attacked asap. The only problem is I have a lot of unique items that I can’t for the life of me remember the season/year for. For instance, these Alexander McQueen/Puma collaborations are gorgeous, but I can’t recall when they are actually from. If you’re a lover of McQ and you know, drop me a line. If you’re a lover of McQ, a size UK 5/EUR 38, and in London, drop me a line and I’ll sell them outright. One less thing to battle in consignment hell/eBay.

I’m also stoked to get time to take the kid on adventures during the week. Now that school is properly back in session, we can hit the museums and stuff without jostling for space. Very excited to hit up a couple of cool exhibits coming down the pike.

Okay, off to battle the office which has been waylaid by papers during revision, then lunch at BrewDog with hubs. Catch you on the flip side, kittens.

#FlashFiction in #London: “Last Call”

shea wong #flashfiction, #microstories, last call


“The trick is to give ‘em what they want.”
He wipes down the bar.
“The real trick…look, I pour a good drink. I listen. I banter. I clean up. I call them a cab. I give them everything they want.”
She sips her drink. “But that’s not the trick, is it?”
He smiles. 
“I should tell them to go home, and sort out their lives. But that’d cost me customers. So I give them what they want, never what they need.”
“…That’s the trick?”

“That’s always the trick.”


#microstories #flashfiction