Monday, July 14, 2014

That time I went to IKEA


Here are the things I bought when the Bear and I visited an IKEA store near Oakland, California in June. I bought things for the house: a set of two rosy kitchen towels, a striped kitchen towel, four packs of picture frames in three different colors, two cushion covers and a package of templates to use with perler beads (also known to some as hama beads). Not pictured is a pack of art cards with colorful images of animals; they were on my desk and I overlooked them when gathering my purchases for this photo after the trip. I only bought things I could take home in my carry-on luggage, since we weren't checking any bags. I would have happily bought much more than this, though.

I was downright giddy while I shopped there. I wish I had a photo of myself, I must have looked like I'd just won a sweepstakes. Unfortunately, I have no photos of the visit at all. I didn't bring my camera into the store with me, and I forgot to take pictures with my phone. It was that exciting. The Bear took a few blurry photos of things inside the store that he wanted to remember for later on, but they aren't very blog-worthy. In any case, if you've been inside an IKEA store, picture this: the two of us, wandering dizzily from one display to the next, opening and closing doors and drawers, knocking on hard surfaces, inspecting every nook and cranny in every display, exclaiming over the unexpectedly low prices and generally acting like yokels let loose on civilized society. I'm sure we looked ridiculous but we didn't care because we had finally realized a longtime dream: we were in IKEA and we had all afternoon to ourselves.

My favorite part was the showroom floor, where you weave in and out through all the different room displays and floor models. I liked all the rooms, with a slight preference for the kitchens and bedrooms. I loved the way they had examples of apartments and houses for a certain lifestyle or size of family; it was interesting to see the way people might use the space, especially when it was small. I have a good-sized house but it often seems too small. I like thinking of ways to use the space differently.  I thought that part of the store was very useful and instructive. I particularly liked looking at desk configurations, closets and cabinets. They have some really good ideas. I've never seen an IKEA kitchen in real life, so I don't know what people really think of them in practice, but they seem well-planned and are certainly affordable and stylish. I'd love to know more about their durability and function, though.

My new cushions, just because I love 'em.

We also liked the lower floor, where most of the stock is kept. I can easily see myself buying almost everything there, from dishware to bedding. I liked the openness of the stock area, it seemed intuitive. We spent a long time near the lighting because they seemed to have some good solutions for supplemental lighting in kitchens. I was a little surprised that the Bear was interested in the lighting. As an electrical engineer, he often has very strong opinions on lighting fixtures and the way they are wired, which bothers me a little because I'm mostly drawn to pretty things, practicality being less important. He didn't rain on this parade at all, though; he sincerely approved of what he saw. He particularly liked the INREDA series of under-cabinet lights and promptly ordered a couple of them online when we got home to Albuquerque. He spent half a day installing them for me, one over the stove and the other in a dark corner to the right of it, giving me more useful work space. I love them! They're bright without being harsh. We realized while we shopped that we liked all the same things in the store. Traditionally, it hasn't been so easy to come to consensus about housewares (and certainly not about electronic devices). I wonder how many arguments IKEA might have prevented over the years...

Are these real Swedish words? I'm not sure.

Kitchen pretties!

I have only one regret about my trip to IKEA: I didn't know you could eat there. We had already stopped for a really mediocre lunch somewhere else when we arrived. It was a Friday and there was a fish-and-chips lunch special at IKEA, only $1.99. I didn't eat it, but it looked pretty good. We didn't feel like coffee so we skipped the free cup, but we did get frozen yogurt on the way out. It was excellent frozen yogurt, actually, and it was served with a joke: the clerk, a non-native English speaker, asked for "Two big dollars!" when she rang us up. We didn't buy any other food but it was fun to poke around the grocery department. I wished I could take some elderberry or lingonberry syrup concentrate home with me. The prices were good for imported foods, I thought; most of the imported food I buy comes from World Market and I think there's a bit of a markup. If I ever go back, I'm trying the Swedish meatball plate at the lunch counter.



Back at home, I added some of the IKEA photo frames to the children's bedroom wall groupings, some with the photo cards I bought there. The LB got a snappy red moose in a blue frame (and a colorful geometric card, not from IKEA, in the other blue frame from the pack of two). The GB has a green squirrel and a composite of multi-colored rabbits, both in fuschia-colored frames. Sorry about the quality of the photo of her wall; there was a glare and it was dark at the same time. I put a card with a composite of bird shapes in a black frame on the wall in the family room. I still have two other cards from the set to find homes for. You've already seen my striped cushion covers on the family room couch; I added a plain gray one from an eBay seller. I ordered cushion inserts from eBay sellers too. I really like the style of their things; I can see why it's so popular the world over.

And that's my trip to IKEA. I hope I get to go back someday. It was one of my favorite parts of our recent getaway. I didn't expect to visit this store at all but I'm glad I did and I think it's pretty great that the Bear and I liked so many things in common. It was a visit full of surprises.

47 comments:

  1. I love IKEA! I've only been to one twice, but enjoyed each visit. I wish we had one nearer to us. I like your purchases.

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  2. I am so happy you were able to visit Ikea! It's such a fun store... I could spend hours there. It looks like you came away with some great finds. I am loving the floral kitchen towels! And the new cushion covers look awesome on your sofa. I hope you get back there again some day, and go hungry, the Swedish meatballs are delicious!

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  3. Jennifer, I was with you all the way on your IKEA adventure :) I've had such good times there and made purchases with which I am still pleased. I have especially appreciated the bookcases and the day bed I bought. After nearly five years of use they are all in good shape...the drawers in the bed are amazing! My oldest daughter purchased the rose tea towel, too, and we all love it. We need to update the kitchen in this house and have been wondering about the durability of the IKEA kitchens, too. We would especially like to have drawers in some of the lower cabinets to maximize the accessibility of the cabinet space. So glad you and the Bear had harmonious fun :) xx

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  4. Everyone hates on IKEA but I love it.. and when we go there we end up spending the whole day there..
    Great picks.. we have some of those frames too.. and the pillows are so cheery.

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  5. Sounds like you had a great time, I love to go and look but Master M hates it so we only go sometimes.

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  6. You are SO lucky your husband enjoyed the time with you at IKEA, mine will only go in for the frozen meatballs, sauce packets and lingonberry jam for Swedish meatballs to make at home. But I am determined to go back soon and get some goodies.. my favorite area is the house wares. They have good candles too. If you ever come to Oregon.. we have an IKEA right by the airport. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  7. you got some lovely things! we go a lot, the children adore the meatballs, they sell gluten free cake, and we always always seem to buy a bookcase!

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  8. Ikea will love you too with that glowing review!I have those stripey t-cloths too! I shall think of you next time I dry my dishes with mine :-) The kitchens are very popular here but my brother-in-law vowed never to put in another Ikea sink in his next kitchen - the plumbing fixtures are different to what we have over here. In the main, though their kitchens are just as good quality as anywhere else for the price you pay and their wooden worktops are very popular here too. Try and go at Xmas time - their displays are gorgeous. I love your stripey cushion covers too and yes, all the names are authentically Swedish. Their meatballs are heavenly, especially made at home in a pasta sauce. Thanks for leaving your sweet comment at mine, Jennifer. x

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  9. How exciting for you to finally visit Ikea, Jennifer; I LOVE the place so maybe it's good that I have to travel over 400kms to get to all that wonderful temptation. I do like all your purchases, especially the cushion covers and picture frames, and it's a lovely bonus that you and The Bear agreed on so many things! xoJoy

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  10. When we lived in London we had several IKEA stores within a short driving distance and we went there at least once every two weeks. I love their meatballs :) it's only since moving away and now having to drive for over an hour to get to one of their stores that I can appreciate how much we relied on them for everything in our home. We do still go quite often, I can't kick the habbit that easily! When my sister visited me from South Africa a few years ago, her first request was to go to IKEA as she has never been to one either. She too was absolutely giddy with joy when we got there, so I can totally imagine what you looked like walking around there.

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  11. We have quite a few pieces of furniture from IKEA as when we moved to this house we had to pretty much furnish the whole place and it was in budget for us at the time, we have replaced some things since, but only because we have been given other things that we like better - our table and chairs for example - but we are always very happy with anything that we get from there. I hope that you will keep enjoying your purchases too and that you will get to return or go to another store sometime! xx

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  12. Your Ikea adventure made me smile, I do go occasionally when I visit one of my daughters, we don't have one near our home. We always have the meatballs followed by the strawberry tart, a real treat. The kitchen towels looked delightful - enjoy your purchases.

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  13. I do love going to Ikea but the walk through it always goes for my back. I don't know if it's because it's a long walk or because I stop and look at every room setting so it takes ages to go through. Having said that, I really love their fabrics - some of them are so cheap and yet such good quality. Oh and I believe the name of your cushions will be the name of the designer of the fabric - but don't quote me on that! I could well be wrong! :oD

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  14. Gosh it has been years since I visited Ikea, I know Mike is planning a trip at the beginning of September & I know I want some picture frames.

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  15. I really enjoyed your post on ikea. I love my Ikea here in Nottingham England. I am lucky mine is about a 30min or less drive.I am sure that the names on packaging are real Swedish names. Next time you go you must go to there reasturant and try there meatballs and gravy x

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  16. Ooo lovely goodies! from ikea. The kitchen towels are lovely. I really like how you've grouped together the pictures they look great. I like the fizzy apple drink from ikea, being a veggie I haven't tried the meat balls my partner tells me there good. Have a lovely week x

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  17. I really like IKEA too! And can happily while away hours in there. Sounds like you definitely need a return trip. Bee xx

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  18. You've got to love Ikea - I actually get excited bubbles in my tummy just pulling in to the car park ! You absolutely have to have meatballs and chips next time you go, for ages Ikea was known as The Meatball Shop in our house when the girls were little. We have a store about 30 minutes away from us in Bristol and I have only been thinking these past few days that we must be about due for an Ikea trip.
    Enjoy your lovely things Jennifer,
    Kate x

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  19. We just love a trip to Ikea too! No quick dash round just buying what you need, but a good old look at everything is required, you need to allow an hour or two don't you as its such an experience each time?
    You got some great stuff, those tea towels are so pretty!
    We had an Ikea kitchen at our old house and it was still as good as new when we moved out 12 years later. We chose a Shaker style one back in 2000, and the drawers moved as smoothly as the top of the range ones at Magnet, a higher priced good quality kitchen retailer, yet we paid a fraction of what it would have cost for essentially the same type of kitchen, so I have no hesitation recommending their kitchen units if you're going for a flat pack melamine kitchen rather than a handmade kitchen.
    Glad you enjoyed the experience Jennifer!
    Gill xx

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  20. I'm like Kate, I get all bubbly and excited when I get to the car park! We've just had an Ikea kitchen put in. Our kitchen is small but it's perfect now it's been done. It's light and airy and I've heard great things from people with Ikea kitchens. I'm sure there are downsides too that will come in time, but I like the fact that everything can be bought separately, so, say if in 5 years time we loathe the doors and drawer fronts, we can swap them all over cheaply and get a whole new look to our kitchen. I love walking around their rooms too and getting ideas for small spaces and multi functioning rooms. It really is a great place to spend a day. And yes, you must stop for food next time!

    Have a super week

    Vanessa x

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  21. We used to live close to IKEA and I went there regularly, buying little things from the homewares section. Now we are about 40 minutes away, not so often, but I enjoy when we go. Love your rosy tea towels, and the stripe cushions are very bright and trendy, as are those cute frames. I hope you get to go again soon!

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  22. There's an Ikea here in Delft and what on earth would we do without it?! Quite a few things in my house come from there, including the chaise longue in my favourite corner (you can see it in one of my recent posts). No doubt about it: Ikea has wonderful, affordable products and ingenious stuff for small spaces. Glad you enjoyed your visit over there and took home some lovely things.

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  23. how far is your Ikea then? we too are lucky and have one about 20 mins drive from us, and guess what..... I am in the middle of a kitchen reno right now, and.......... we have ordered the ikea kitchen!!!! so when its all installed I will be able to tell you what I think of it, so far so good! My dd has one and she LOVES it!!! its so practical!

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  24. My nearest IKEA store is in Bristol, which is about a four hour drive from me. My family live there (Bristol. not IKEA although that would be the best), and when I visit I try to go. It's not always possible though. I am like you and get very over-excited when I am there. I have memories of wandering around with a raging hangover when I lived in London. I always took a bottle of water with me after that.
    Your purchases look lovely, especially the cushion covers and photo frames. I may get similar frames to put away for when Olly gets a proper bedroom. Enjoy your lovely things!!
    Leanne xx

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  25. Jennifer, I'm laughing because my heart starts besting faster when I enter an IKEA! So many beautiful things and great storage ideas. We fell in love with their kitchens a few years sgo when we were planning a kotchen redo. My hubby was doing the work himself, so we did an Ikea kitchen. Just love it, it's beautiful and our cabinets are very nice quality. You have given me the idea to do a blog about it sometime.

    Love the bright picture frames and the linens you chose. The counter lights sound perfect.
    You have to get the Swedish meatball plate next time , which comes with a serving of Lingonberry sauce. :)

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  26. Good Morning Jennifer! I'm so glad you finally got to go to Ikea! I love the store myself, and have to stay away ;) It's such a great place for outfitting your university-aged child as well. We have lots of Ikea things throughout the house (bookcases!). My sister outfitted her kitchen with their cupboards, and they've held up really well over the past 15 years (or more). She bought the solid pine cupboard doors rather than laminate as the laminate sometimes chips off at the corners. Just something to watch out for.

    I've spent the last few minutes catching up on a few posts here. It sounds like you're having a really nice relaxing summer with your kids. I enjoyed your jam post, and had actually just checked a preserves recipe book to cook up some black currant jam! I've never made jam either, and have a small tin full of fresh currants which need to be dealt with today before they spoil. I'm rather excited about it all, and feel a bit more confident after reading of your success. Your jam looks delicious btw. Enjoy your day :) Wendy x

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  27. I'm glad you had so much fun at IKEA, Jennifer! I love going to IKEA, which is apparent the minute you walk into our house. Bookcases, the coffee table, beds, and Fergus's favourite - pillows - are all from there. You made some great choices. It must have been excruciating knowing you had such limited space to take things home. You could make your own IKEA dinner. Lingonberry sauce is usually available in specialty markets, and you could find a recipe for Swedish meatballs online. Then all you need to do is find something bright blue and yellow for a table decoration. :-)

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  28. Ikea always is fun :-)
    I have three Ikeas in an "action radius" of 80km... pure luxury... and at the end of 2015, there will be one opening in my home town (yay !)...
    Belgium may be a small country and a bit crowded, but sometimes, that is an advantage ! Couldn't imagine my shopping life without an Ikea for a regular visit, to stock up on paper napkins, cute kitchen towels, picture frames, lamps, christmas deco,... well, I can go on and on like this ;-)
    I can imagine how you must have felt, during your visit, if you don't have an Ikea nearby your home to visit regularly... it must have been like a child in a huge toystore ;-)

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  29. IKEA is awesome, just blows me away anytime we go. It goes on and on and on! Love your kitchen towels and pillows too. There are just too many choices there.

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  30. We don't have an IKEA anywhere close to us in Spokane, but, whenever I get to Portland to see Mandy she and I make a trip to IKEA. It's the same one Teresa and Gracie go to. I have those lights under the kitchen cabinets. Hubby was the one to find that bargain. He installed them and I love them. I have kitchen towels too, but went for the blue stripe...maybe next trip I'll get a rose one since I think yours is beautiful. I have covers for sofa pillows and candles and a few dishes and pots and pans...goodness I love IKEA too! We've never eaten there either but I would like to sometime. My favorite thing is poking around the rooms too. Since Alex lives in a tiny apartment in Japan, he had fun imagining some of the furnishings in his place. And then he went back to Tokyo and shopped the IKEA there for some of the things he found here. My favorite thing there is a chair Brad and Mandy have. I think it's called the Poang chair, or something like that. They call it my chair because when I visit I lay claim to it. lol It's easily the most comfortable chair I've ever sat on. I bounced/rocked Piper to sleep many, many times in that chair.
    Okay I'll stop now. Can you tell I agree with you wholeheartedly about IKEA?
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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  31. It's a little silly how happy and giddy a trip to IKEA can make me, too! Seeing all the displays really makes me want to be the sort of person who can decorate and live in and maintain a model home like that. On our most recent trip, my boyfriend and I went to look at office desks and chairs, and ended up spending two or three hours just wandering through in a happy daze. It was also the first time we'd eaten there. Everything was surprisingly tasty, and the desserts were just fantastic.

    I think you showed rather remarkable restraint in buying only what you could take back in your luggage! Although being able to order things online is a terrible temptation...

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  32. Oh yes Jennifer nothing quite like a trip to Ikea, I'm only 30 minutes away from my local store! My craft room was furnished completely from Ikea, it is such good value for money.
    V x

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  33. Ikea is like Disneyland for newlyweds, pregnant families or a family day out (sorta sad but oh-so-true!). I love it, I can't help but buy little bits n' bobs and feel happy with all the Scandinavian clean lines and clever organisation. And you found some lovely souvenirs! ;-) Chrissie x

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    1. so agree and made me smile how true this is... Ikea is the disney land.... I think so too and for everyone of all ages! good point!

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  34. It truly is an amazing place. i love to visit it and we have one here on the other side of Tampa, I have gone twice and felt like I should re do my whole house every time I went.
    Love what you bought.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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  35. You made me laugh here! I can just imagine you in IKEA, and I'm so glad you got the chance to go. I love the room set-ups. I especially like the ones laid out like a tiny, perfect apartment and I pretend to myself I live there, as I open and close doors. I realise that's weird. And yes, the food is tempting. I always buy a bag of sweet and salty liquorice in the food shop as I leave. x

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  36. I love Ikea, i'm pretty lucky in living only 20 minutes away from one. When i went to Uni, it was actually a freshers week trip to visit the store! I love the little mock up homes, especially the small space saving ones, I just love small well appointed spaces, It's a love that stems from the same place as my love for caravans I think. My hubby refuses to come with me any more though as I always spend far too much time and far too much money in the marketplace picking up little bits and bobs! I hope you get back to a store soon and enjoy yourself! x

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  37. I'm 45 minutes away from IKEA...I do like the store and most of the products. In our downstairs family room, we have a couch, end table, two side chairs, a sofa table, a huge Chicago picture, and three big floating shelves all from IKEA - and we've been pleased with it all. My son's bedroom furniture is from IKEA and we actually bought it used from someone else. He's had it for many years and it's still in great condition. I've also bought lamps, pillows, etc. at IKEA. Next time you go, be sure to eat there. Their food isn't the greatest, but it's good - especially for the price.

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  38. Ha! Loved this friend! I am telling you the way you described IKEA is spot on! I often go with the beans and they love that you can get a pencil and a paper measuring tape...they think it is so cool! And your finds are all so lovely! I especially like your art galleries that you created with the frames! Beautiful! Wishing you a wonderful week! Nicole xoxo

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  39. Ikea should pay you for a great write-up! Love all the things you bought, especially those pretty tea towels... I think a trip to our local one may be in order soon to see if they have them too. We've had various bits and bobs from Ikea over the years and mostly found their quality really good. Their Billy bookcases are almost legendary as we've moved 3 times with them and they're still going strong. And pretty much all the furniture in my craft room is from them too and I love it. You need to petition them to open a branch nearer to you!
    Have a happy day, hugs xx

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  40. I can get to an Ikea store in about an hour from where I live (driving). They have some amazing stuff. I like their storage solutions, especially for bedrooms. My husband is also an electrical engineer and he likes to think of good ways to improve the lighting in our house. We didn't have any input into the original design though the house was new when we moved in.

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  41. glad you enjoyed your first Ikea experience! it's a whole other world isn't it. So you gradually want to transform your whole house, that's how they do so well! when my son was little I would drive 30 mins there just to have 45 minutes free while he was in the creche! I used to enjoy my walk around in a child free daze! X

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  42. Seriously jealous, I still haven't been to an Ikea and I really want to get some fabric from there. I have plenty of other things from Ikea that can be ordered on line, but you can't order fabric. One day!

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  43. I love Ikea and can spent a full morning in there! A lot of our furniture is from there and I get fabric from there too as it is so cheap. We also always have lunch there when we go and I can recommend the Swedish meatballs, yum! I am hungry thinking about it. The breakfast is also very good. There is a creche at ours, which si very good and free! So the older children go in there to play and we carry a pager in case they need us. They have 45 minutes and they love it! And I love the stress free shopping. :) I think my favourite part is the dining / kitchen areas, I love how they set all the places and the cool little gadgets. I hope you get to go there again soon Jennifer. :)

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  44. Oh I really love Ikea too! I'm so glad you got a chance to go and all the things you bought are lovely, but I am especially loving those tea towels. We enjoy a little visit to the food hall when we go to Ikea...I adore the packs of cinnamon buns which you can heat in the oven from frozen, they are so delicious.
    Marianne x

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  45. I love Ikea. I really love going there alone. The ABO (unless we're getting something specific) cannot stand the way they make you walk through the whole shop (I know there are cut throughs but I always end up going the wrong way.) although he loves the products. I'm sure this stems from him breaking his ankle 10 days before LittleR was born (yes it was dire) and me dragging him there with a newborn to look for a stool so he could get the bath (don't ask!) and trying to manage a sea of people on crutches with a buggy! Scarred for life. You got some really beautiful things. I really hope you get to go back!!

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  46. I love IKEA! When we go, the kids pretend to cook in the kitchens...hehehe...lots of fun! Lovely treasures you've brought home! xoxo Jen

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