MariesConnections

A beauty, lifestyle & photography blog.

It was a Tuesday, a very rainy Tuesday that my husband and I decided to try the Zushi restaurant in Banbury. It was to celebrate the regression of my HbA1 (diabetic blood glucose), the fact that we were child free for the day and mostly spend a bit of time together. I have to say its probably the first time we had a lunch together since we got married in January early this year. It s been a while that we wanted to try the Zushi restaurant, as we are both big Japanese food fanatic and the reviews being so good we had nothing to lose but try it.


As soon as we walked in I could straight away feel the Japanese vibe. A simple but chic atmosphere with over sized leather sit, bamboo light, stone decoration element, Japanese wall art and dark wood. A nice welcoming atmosphere without being to impressive or intimidating.
Being a lunch week date we decided  to just go for soft drink and order 2 starters to share and have them also served with our main course. Chris and I like to have all the food in one go especially when were are having Japanese or Chinese food. which is the Japanese dinning style having all the food serve in one go. having travel to Japan its a way of eating out that I really enjoy. And if the Japanese doing it so I will. We were actually offer if we wanted to have all the food serve at the same time and we obviously accept straight away.
Our 2 starter of choice were the follow:

Soft Sheel Crab Tempura £9 -A deep fried soft shell crab in a light batter, served with a Dashi-based sauce and a Tabasaki Wings £6 - deep friend chicken wings with homemade mayo sauce. Where shall I start? Both of those 2 starter were absolutely succulent. The soft shell crab was fresh, light and crispy at the same time. And you know its  a quality batter done freshly when you get this divine combination that wake up your taste bud the Dashi sauce add that little Japanese stock style to the dish that just add that lottle salty flavour. 



The chicken Tabasaki wing were scrumptious and moist and let me tell you the homemade mayo sauce served with it was so delicious that I end up eating it with my chopstick even after finishing the dish. 

Our main meal were the :  

Chris choices was the Pumpkin Katsu curry £8.40 - Deep fried pumpkin in Panko breadcrumbs with Japanese Curry sauce served with salad and steamed ricea. My choices was  the Teriyaki Salmon Bento box £9.50 - A selection of chicken Gyoza, pickle, rice and Teriyaki salmon 

According to Chris his Pumkin Katsu Curry did not need any word he absolutely loved it and he refused to let me try it. What more can I say?
My Bento Salmon Teriyaki was really nice. I had similar Bento in Japan and in London and this one was on point. I always loves Bento box for the variety that it offer and this one offer on the variety. From the fluffy steamed rice, the succulent Gyoza, pickle and the salty and sweet Teriyaki salmon. 









I have nothing more to add that Zushi restaurant was a success , we tried, we loved it and we will be back. If you ever travel across Banbury or simply live around then I strongly advice you to stop by and try one of their succulent dishes. 
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I am in no mean a specialist on how to take care of cactus. But my oldest one is about 7 or 8 years old and since then I learned a lot on how to take care of them. I made mistakes along the way, don't take me wrong, but like everything else in life you learn and progress by making mistakes. 
Here's my few easy and simple tips on how to take care of your spiky (or not so spiky) friends and how to make sure they thrive and grow healthily.
Water
I know sounds like the obvious one but very often people have the misconception that cactus need no watering or very little water once every blue moon (I used to believe that). The truth is far from that. Your cactus, like all living things, need water and I mean a good soak, especially during the growth period during Spring. To check if your cactus need water : Use simply your finger and check if the soil is dry on the surface and also just below the surface by digging the tip of your finger to about half your finger nail. If the surface and below the surface are dry give then give it a good soak according to the size of your cactus & pot.
Always water your cactus when the soil is dry never when it is wet or slightly moist.


Light
Also sounds like the obvious but cactus do love the sun so try to provide this as much as you can. 
Although on very hot day (like the crazy hot summer we had last year in UK) cactus can get brown patch if they over exposed, especially if they are by a window that reflect and over heat the room. In this case move them to a place that is not in direct sun light. This never happen to my cactus but I though I would still mention it.


Soil
Do not bother buying over priced special cactus soil. My tip its to mix 1/2 of normal compost and 1/2 gritty sand that can be find in any good gardening shops. Cactus love a good drainage soil but they also need the nutriments hence why I always provide them with both world.


Fertiliser
I have to admit that I am still not good on the fertiliser wagon tip. I try to give them at least once a year during Spring  (when I don't forget, that is!) a boost of fertiliser high in phosphorous. Use a natural / organic one that can be found everywhere, better for your cactus and the environment. 

Pot
Last but also very important its the size of your pot. I very often see people on Instagram, blogs etc. leaving their cactus for months in those brown plastic pot which very often come with your cactus. I have to say it break my heart as I know they won't survive like this for months.  Your cactus are not meant to stay in those pot. Those pot are just for the purpose to be transported from the cactus supplier to shops where you going to buy them. My advice, as soon as you buy one of those cactus, its to transfer them automatically in a bigger pot with some extra soil.
Also as your little friend grow it is without saying that they need bigger pot as they grow bigger. 

Hope those few tips will help you. I was once someone, many moon ago,  who used to kill every living things in my home so being able now to have a better understanding and mostly seeing my cactus, succulents and house plants thriving give me lots of satisfaction.
A cactus is for life not for a spring blog prop. Haha!


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Lets welcome back my chapter 7 from my beloved series : The Past Few Weeks. Its been now almost 3 years since I started my little series and its my favourite one to say the least.  My last one was  in October 2018 which you can find here. So what s have been happening the past few weeks?

How was my Wedding ?
 If you've been following me for a while you might now that I got married in January this year. It was a simple registry ceremony. Having said that it was nothing but simple. It was beautiful, full of laugh and love. What more to ask really? So have been now married for about 2 months. Many people already asked me how it feel to be married? To be honest with you ...nothing changed. Everything remain the same apart that my name changed and that I wear on extra ring on my finger but life in general is the same. But it is lovely to be officially recognise as a family, and to have our house bought on my husband name to be now officially on my name too. If you would like to see my Hair and Makeup Wedding then follow this link.


Have you decided on your honeymoon?
Yes and no. Yes has we decided on two potentials destination. No has we haven't booked anything yet. I bet you are wondering what are our two chosen destinations? The 1st one is Japan. I actually been to japan in June 2009 so almost 10 years ago. I spent 2 amazing weeks there between Tokyo, Nikko etc, (find my japan post here and another one here ) but my husband never been and it is a dream of his to go one day . As I absolutely love Japan I am absolutely delighted on the idea to go back and perhaps this time try to see things that I miss on my first trip.
Our second destination is actually more like a journey. we would love to do a road trip to North Europe and by that we would love to see perhaps Norway , Denmark, Sweden etc. I do not think we will, of course, physically be able do see all those countries but if we can visit two of then in the space of about 3 weeks then it would be bloody fantastic. 


Any holiday planned aside the honeymoon?
Dorset is next on the menu and the departure is due in few weeks time. Yet I understand it is not a paradise island in the middle of the Pacific but it is one of our tradition to go away, in a charming cottage, fro a week or so somewhere in England each year. This year Dorset is on the menu. we mainly chooses this destination for the Jurassic cost (also because I never been to Dorset before) , being a lover of fossil I want to get my hand (if lucky) on fossils. Perhaps i 'll come back empty handed ( most likely) but I can only try. Also we do love beach holiday and our 2 years old toddler absolutely love playing with sands so perfect destination. I will most likely post about our little holiday  on my return so stay tuned.


What is happening with my blog?
As I mentioned on my latest The Past Few Weeks, I was planning to do more lifestyle post and especially more home renovation style post , well I finally jump on my renovation post and the first on the menu was Our bedroom renovation. I am planning to do hopefully soon my living room and my daughters s room. Home interior is something I am very passionate  about at the minute or since we moved out of our rented flat in London and bought our first home in the Cotswold must have help a lot!  
Also I am already thinking to change my blog layout yet again. My current layout is not as I imagined when I purchased it about a year ago. I am on the market for a fresh one but so far none attract me. Who know next time you check on my blog a new layout my welcome you?


Any blog event planned?
Unfortunately no blog event planned at the minute. I have to say that I have not been invited to any or look for any. I do miss them but I knew moving away from London would affect my number of invitation a year. But lets be honest I don't blog just to go to events otherwise I would have stop a long time ago. Having said end of last year I got invited to a fabulous press event which was the Cinderella Experience & The Illuminated Christmas Trail at the Blenheim Palace. It was a fantastic experience , and if you can go on the next Christmas edition then I strongly recommend it. 


What is happening with my Instagram?
I noticed a shift in my posting with a more home interior. I did warm that the change will happen and I enjoy much more doing so . Right now, like my blog, my Instagram reflect more lifestyle and home interior post. The algorithm is still shocking and I barely grow any genuine followers for months but I came to accept it and I am happy as it is. Although we all do wish the old Instagram could be back isn't it? Perhaps one day or wish will come true.
By the way all the above picture, as per usual on my The Past Few Weeks series are form my Instagram.
What have you been up to lately? Tell me all!
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I have a little secret. Although perhaps I should not share this but last year I read not a single book! I know! shocking! I used to read at least 6 or so book a year sometimes more sometimes less but as long as I read couple of books I was happy (it never been about the numbers for me but as long as I read I was happy). 
I believe the reason for me for not reading last year was that I had lots of things on my mind (anxiety etc.). and open a book was kind of 'forgotten' in my every day struggle with my mental health, taking care of a toddler, renovating our house, planning our wedding etc.
I never been a person setting myself read challenges. But this year I want to come back to what I used to be and I set myself a little challenge, even so it is not a read challenge with a set number of books to read but I set my own challenge to start a new book as soon as I finish one. I am not necessary a fast reader (although if a book is exceptionally very good I can read in the matter of few days) and if I take 2 month to read one book then I am going to be fine with that.
So far I have a little selection of books that are patiently waiting to be read as soon as I finish my current read which is : Artemis by Andy Weir.

1:

Les Disparus du Clairdelune - Part 2 of the series: La Passe Miroir. 
The Missing of Clairedelune - Part 2 of the Mirror Visitor Quartet by Christelle Dabos.

This is the French version (the author is French) as I am French and I usually prefer to read in my own language. But don't worry the series have been translated in English and are available on Amazon or any good library.
As you are probably guessing I read Part 1 a few weeks ago and as it was a very enjoyable story, I decided to buy Part 2 which is the follow up story. If you want to read my little review on the Part 1 I suggest you follow this link. The Mirror Quartet series is in the fantasy spirit so if that's your kind of story I suggest you give it a go. This book won few prizes so must be good right?
2:
Crazy Rich Asian by Kevin Kwan.
This book is my latest purchase and I have to admit my purchase was very motivated by many 'influencers' out there. I do not usually follow trend when it comes to book but every now and then why not? I heard or read this book was a very amusing read and I am open to have it a go. And if I don't like it there is always someone else that I can pass it on. Have you read it?

3:

La quete d'Ewilan- Part 1 
Quest of Ewilan -Part 1 by Pierre Bottero 
In the same spirit as The Missing of Clairdelune, this is a fantasy book highly recommended by French awards and book shops and after hearing many French You Tubers or bloggers mentioning it as their 2018 favourite reads I had to have it. Like The Missing of Clairdelune, La Quete D'Ewilan is a series of 3 books.
Oh ! And don't worry the author have been translated in English, which you can find here.

  4:
The Bees by Laline Paull.
I originally bough this book for my husband as a birthday gift. He hasn't read it yet but he asked me to have the 1st read so I can give him the review if its worth to read or not. Its a bit cheeky of him but we share books like all household so I don't actually mind. I originally bought this book as he remind me a lot of The Empire of the Ants by Bernard Werber (French Author) which is one of my favourite book that I read about 20 years ago, perhaps the Bees which is more recent release is a plagiat of the world famous Bernard Werber The Ants series but as I am curious I am open to try it.   
What is your reading list? Have you read any of the above?
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This is my number 2 from my "5 Things" series, basically its a round up of 5 things that I love for the past few months it could be from beauty, food, fashion, book, art etc. basically anything that rock my world. Its a bit like a monthly favourites but without being every month. My 1st one from back November 2018 (which you can find here) went down a treat so lets welcome No 2 episode!


BOOK

Christelle Dabos - Les Fiancés De L'Hiver - Part 1.
If you really like  Philipp Pulman books such as The Northern Lights, The Amber Spyglass etc. then you will love Les Fiancés De L'Hiver -Part 1 by Christelle Dabos and don't worry the talented young French author from South of France (oh! hello my home country!) had her book translated in English so look out for the English version: A winter's Promise - Part 1
The Plot-
Long ago, following a cataclysm called "The Tear", the world was shattered into many floating celestial islands. Known now as Arks, each has developed in distinct ways and a different pace; each seems to possess its own unique relationship to time. Ophelia lives on Anima, an ark where objects have souls, with which Ophélia can communicate. When she is promised in marriage to Thorn, from the powerful Dragon clan, Ophélia must leave her family and follow her fiancée to the floating capital on the distant Ark of the Pole. Though she doesn't know it yet, she has become a pawn in a deadly plot"
My though-
I read that book in a matter of days. As soon as I had a moment , basically when not running after my toddler, I would grab it and read few pages just so I could satisfied my reading thirst. The imagination behind is grandiose and you felt transported by the story and his heroes. This story embark you in a twisted tale of betrayed, death, jealousy but also kindness and hope in a world beyond your imagination. You live and breath with the characters. I purchased lately Part 2 which I am hoping to start as soon as I finish my current read (Artemis by Andy Weir) . anyway if you like fantasy world then get it, you won't regret it.


MUSIC

Bibio -Curls
I am a huge fan of Bibio since, my now husband, introduced them to me about 6 years ago. They are not widely known and that's a shame (or perhaps make it more unique?) either way they are my type of music. I am not a fan of actual pop musics artist for me someone talentless like Beyonce, Ariana etc.  just bored me to death and are soul destroying. I know shocking! But its my blog and my opinion.

I am always on the look out for little know brand and Bibio is one of my favourite along with Tycho (which I am so excited to see at the Green Man festival this year) anyway call me snob or hipster , I dont care I know my taste are different than most average people and I like that fact about me.
Bibio just came out with their new tune : Curls
Listen and judge after. 







SKINCARE 

B. Radiant Day Cream by B. Phase 2.
Sometimes you just want an affordable day cream that offer hydration, SPF and is perfect for your older type of skin (yes I am in my happy 40's) and just like this you find something that didn't cost the world and give you everything that you wish for. This fabulous day cream is the B. radiant Day Cream- Skin phase 2. This cream is from a range of 4 cream phases.
The phase 1 its for younger skin: for 20 to 30 years old , the phase 2 for 30 to 40 years old and so on. 
I cannot stress enough how this very affordable cream is great, its very nourishing but not greasy and won't leave any residue. It is very easy to apply and have a very gentle & subtle perfume. My skin absorb it very quickly and a small amount is more than you need. I even find myself not even using a serum before ( I know shocking!) as I felt my skin so hydrated that nothing else was needed. I just can't believe I only paid £5.35 for 50 ml although, having said that, I have the feeling it was on a special offer at the time I purchased it (I believe actual price is £10.99) so better to grab it now before price go up. Either way this little pot is such an affordable and luxurious cream that would make green of envy more prestigious brands. Try it !!

NETFLIX
Sex Education.
It was a dull afternoon, I felt a bit "meh" and I needed to watch something to make me forget basically ...a shit day. Well its literally what happened when I randomly decided to watch Sex Education on Netflix. In all honestly I was expected a "teenager" series with bad lines, silly story lines and questionable humour, which I would probably have quit after watching one episode. Well....to my surprise it turned out to be quiet the opposite.
I am not really good at reviewing series but it is glorious, funny, heartfelt & eye watering . 40 millions of us tuned in on the first month of release and it is love by so many of us all that series 2 have been confirmed and due to start production this coming spring. If with all that you still don't know what to watch on Netflix then I don't know what else to say? I leave the trailer link below for you to enjoy!








MAKEUP 

Illuminating Touch Foundation by Collection.
I was looking for a while for an affordable dewy kind of foundation, and for some reasons my local Boots & Superdrug did not really seems to stock any? Or at least any of the brand they are hosting. All brands seems to be on the Matt foundation wagon? Until lately when my local Superdrug had a massive renovation and all their makeup stands are now super large and trendy. To my delight they also added extra brands to the makeup area. Anyway long story short they are now offering the Collection makeup stand and I was delighted to find the Illuminating Touch Foundation which seems to be what I was looking for a while.  
I took this bad boy back home and tried it on the next day. Well let me tell you something this little bottle deliver! Not only it give me a nice little glow but also it last hours and it is easy to apply. In all honestly at £5.99 you can't really go wrong. I tried much more expensive foundation in the past ranging from NARS, L'oréal, Bourjois, Chanel etc. and this product delivered like any other higher end makeup.  I actually sometimes wonder why the brand Collection do not get more coverage on blogs etc. is it perhaps its a cheap brand so people are snobbing it or  are too embarrassed to talk about? Who knows? But I love make up and I love trying from all prices from high end to low budget.  Sometimes it fails and sometimes its a win and that s what I love make up so much because you might get the cheapest items on the street and just like this it end up in your top 5 favourites. 





What was your latest favourites?  Tell me all by commenting below.
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Since as far as I can remember I always have a thing for Bumble bee. I mean what is not to love , their cuteness, big butt and their attitude to bump into everything without a care in the world. Pretty much sounds like me really. Perhaps I was a bumble bee in a past life? Who knows? All I know that they are a fascination of mine and I could easily spend hours watching them in my garden flying to flower to flower during spring and summer time. 
So of course with that in mind and my odd fascination I had to get my hand on a bumble bee necklace. This was my goal for the whole 2018. I mean I almost not even exaggerating. 

Then out of nowhere like a bumble bee god heard me or something Lily Rose London appear on few of my social medias with the cutest bumble bee gold necklace ever. I had to have it and lucky enough the day, my husband ask me what I wanted for Christmas, all I had in mind was one thing only and that was Lily Rose bumble bee necklace. It did not go in the hear of a deaf person.
I got his laptop out, I went into the Lily Rose web page and just point at the Bumble Bee necklace with a smile as big as my head and I said: " that is the only thing I wish to have for Christmas along with shed lots of yummy food ". He got the idea...well that's what I though until days later he asked me yet again: " so what do you want for Christmas?" I mean I do not know if men are just here to just not listen to us, women, but that time around I emailed him every other day the link of my bumble bee necklace with title such as: "you still ask your wife what she wants for Christmas here the perfect idea" or "bored to keep asking what she wants, here the perfect gift", "bumble bee by Lily Rose dream necklace perfect for your wife" you get the idea.
I mean if you ever need someone to send reminder emails after reminder email to your love one then DM me for detail.
But in all seriousness he knew I am generally not bother about gift but he could see I was very excited about that one. One evening he came to kiss me tenderly and he then murmur in my hear "I ordered it". 
 Yes !!!! Junk email tactic finally work wonder. And ...."Oh Hello sexy husb of mine" ;)
so here my absolutely beautiful Bumble bee by Lily Rose London in all its glory.


I can only say positive thing about it . I just have love for it. This brand provide quality at affordable price jewellery. I wore, pretty much every day, my Bumble Bee necklace since Christmas and the colour or the precious metal have not a single scratch or mark on it. Also I shall point out for the excellent customer service that my husband share with me back in December last year. 
My necklace was sent late, and Lily Rose London team emailed my husb, few times, to apologise on the delay, as they are a small family run business and they didn't have the facility as other giant companies have. In all honestly, even if I had receive my necklace days after Christmas, I would have not been bother. My partner and I were just happy they care about their customer and we were happy to give our money to a small business. 
Also they also do a Bumble Bee bracelet. I think I would have to order it soon! I may as well have the whole Bumble Bee collection.
PS. They have sale on right now, find the link here.
Do you have a Lily Rose London jewellery? Tell me all by commenting below.
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Its been 2 years since we moved from our small rented one bedroom flat in London to our very own 3 bedrooms house in the heart of the Cotswold. 
Even so we found or dream house, it come with the ex-owner taste. I do respect that everybody have different taste but... When we discover that the ex-owner had a bold and colourful taste and mostly love red bright colour and animal print it surely didn't go hand to hand with my more Bohemian style. But we knew it was only cosmetic and with some good old elbow grease, few hair pulling, bucket of paints and trip after trip to B&Q we would eventually live in our home that reflect us and not someone else 90's home decor. 

Special guest: My cat Pumpkin.


When we first visit our future house the agency sale man was proudly shouting to, whoever wanted to hear, that yet all rooms were a "bit" dated but the master bedroom was actually newly redecorate. 
Yes it was perhaps newly decorate but for me the result resemble more as a 70's porn studio than a stylish newly decorated bedroom. 
The master bedroom have been freshly decorated with zebra print wallpaper, matching zebra curtain (because why not..?), multi grey stripes carpet, zebra print canvas (you may as well) and on the bed the the ex-owner that left behind (she already moved out before selling her place) was covered with an animal print duvet cover. Hello Safari theme !!!
Being who am I had to mention that it was a questionable taste or choice of decor for a master bedroom and certainly the lovely zebra curtain would go along with everything else. 
The agency sale person was not impressed and probably though I was, yet again, another "twat from London".
He was probably right.
2 years later, I can ensure you the zebra print have been sent to a recycle bin, along with the curtain. The animal print duvet cover went happily to a charity shop along with the grey stripy carpet. All gone to be-reused elsewhere but not in my home. 
As I do love a before & after, here how it looks like before (A safari theme in all its glory):

THE BEFORE
  THE IN BETWEEN 
THE INSPIRATION
As most of us, when we are looking for inspiration, there is really 2 places to look: Instagram and Pinterest. Even so I was  inspired by many real home budget design Instagramers such as : Linsdrabwellhomemy_british_homethecraftyfox  and many more my main source  really ( and still is) was Pinterest
My main inspiration was bohemian based but with few touch of luxury detail like gold such as mirror etc. mix with dark navy colour along with grey, white and a touch of mustard/ rusty tones. My Pinterest inspiration board, which you can find here, kind of look like this at the time :

Now that we had an idea of what we wanted it was time to execute.
Walls:

I wanted a dark navy wall but I was not inspired to have the whole bedroom in a dark navy (worrying it would make the room too claustrophobic) I decided for one wall at the back of the bed to give a focus point. The paint chosen was by Dulux but originally we went with a cheaper paint from wicks that was not at all like the sample and turned out to be very chalky, it was a disaster until we paint over with the Dulux paint. 
Floor:

My husband and I did not want a carpet at all. We never been fan or carpet and having now a 2 years old toddler we though it would be much easier to have a wooden floor for cleanness and practicality. Originally we wanted to keep the original floor board but unfortunately we discovered that they were badly done and damaged.
It would have cost a fortune to replace the wooden floor and because we did not have the budget we decided to go with laminated floor. Choosing a laminated floor was a difficult decision due to the amazing range that most DIY shops offer, from thickness, colours and durability. At the end we went for a sturdy 10 mm thick laminated floor that was built to take on furniture weight, wear and tear. It cost more money but I can already tell it was worth every penny. We went for a light grey wood effect tone to go with my more bohemian style .Also I wanted a change from a more conventional wood colour. 
Furniture & Decorations:

When we used to live in furnished rented flat in London we always have rubbish and uncomfortable  beds. Having now our own house we did not want to get a cheap bed. 
We went all out by getting a Made.com bed with a large comfortable head rest . It was a dream for many years and I can sure you this king size bed by Made.com is the absolute dream and worth every penny. This is not sponsored but I wish it was. You can find our bed here.
As for our chest of draw we decided to go with a simple grey tone chest of draw from Ikea, which you can find here. 
My dressing table was the biggest headache of all. I literally spent hours and hours scrolling different web sites and magazine to find a dressing table that look a bit mid-century and bohemian too. And from all places we end up buying it on Amazon Home! A place I will never though buying a piece of furniture one day. The dressing table is no longer available  but is still advertising there at around £150. I absolutely love it . I found it very different to what I seen before and I believe it match my taste and style perfectly.
My 3 mirrors are probably one of my favourite decoration it is from a brand called Umbra. Do check their website for unique decoration pieces.

THE AFTER








In no mean our bedroom is finish, the truth its I would like much more print on walls, a large washed Moroccan style rug and other bits and bobs but overall my husband and I are very pleased with the result.  
I will probably be doing, in a year or 2, an update but for now we love our bedroom as it is. It make us feel calm and at peace. A far away feeling from the safari theme that use to gave us headache.
The cost or renovating this room including new furniture and flooring cost us approximately  £1600.
What do you think? Do you have a similar project? Tell me all by commenting below.
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