My Arch Enemy Is Gone

A few evenings ago, while the boys were sleeping, we did something that I have been itching to do for nearly eight months….we only fugging ripped out that horrible naff fake feature of an arch from our lounge!

So long fugly arch! See ya never!

Above before. Below after.

To be honest, it took longer to clean up the mess than it did to knock it down! So satisfiying!

The Ghosts Of Kitchen-mas Yet To Come

Our current kitchen feels just right to me. Its not perfect, but for me it has the right amount of space and storage. Its in decent nick (i.e not mouldy or falling apart) but the decor is not great.

The chintzy, beige-ness of the room is not my cup of tea. The tiles and flooring are a faux-marbled yucky green colour and the worktop is a bit of an early 90’s green patterned yucky mare too. Nah, just nah.

I have lots of plans for this room. But unfortunately not a lot of £££’s for this room right now, but that doesn’t stop me dreaming!

Here are my plans for the kitchen listed in levels of attainability –

Level 4 – Rip it out and install a bespoke, made to order white and walnut coloured birch plywood units, yellow or avocado coloured formica birch ply worktops, a built in oven, built in microwave, integrated fridge freezer, intergrated washing machine and some string shelves above the sink to display my nik naks. Something like this would do me↓

Image from Pinterest. Original source unknown.

Level 3 – Rip it out and install white gloss or light grey handleless kitchen units with white worktops and white grid tiles with black grout from either Wickes, B&Q, Wren, Magnet or Ikea (who ever was the cheapest basically) with intergrated appliances and string shelves above the sink for my nik naks. Kind of like ↓

Image from Pinterest. Original source candckitchens.

Level 2 – Paint the walls, chip off the tiles and replace with white grid tiles and black grout, replace the worktops with much nicer ones in a light wood colour, replace the flooring, get a company round to vinyl wrap the existing kitchen units with gloss or matt white wrap and pack out the doors so they are flat fronted not shaker style and fit some discrete white handles. Sort of like this, but not. Im afraid you are going to have to use your imagination for this one!↓

Image from Pinterest. Original source createyourworld.

Level 1 – Paint the walls white, change the knobs on the unit doors, change the light fitting, vinyl wrap the work tops, paint the tiles white, change the flooring, build some shelves above the sink from scraps of wood in the garage for my nik naks and hang my print on the wall.

I bet you can guess what level renovation we are going for! Yep, Level 1 the budget make over/freshen up!

And no, before you ask we are not going to paint the units a different colour. Nope, we can live with the cream thank you, rather than spending hundreds of man hours sugar soaping those bastards and what little free time we have painting them with a tiny roller. Nope, aint nobody got time for that shit thank you! Nope, the cream units do not offend me enough to do the most tedious, time consuming job known to mankind!

All we have done so far is put the first and second coat of paint on the walls (it still needs another bloody coat, but luckily I managed to get hold of another tin of paint!), changed the knobs and the yellowing broken light fitting that came with the house and already it has made such an improvement. Hurrah!

The Ghosts Of Kitchen-mas Past

Hello, I hope that everyone is ok and adapting, adjusting and coping the best that they can in our new normal, the global lockdown.

Im going to try to blog a little more in the next few weeks, sharing some updates made to our house and general musings about whats going on in our lives right now (or rather not going on #lockdowndiaries!)

*Preemptive Warning Alert* I apologise in advance, but I am going to talk far too much about and overthink about my kitchen(s)! Blame it on being indoors for most of the time, but I am spending a lot of time daydreaming about how good my current kitchen could look! I see it as a harmless distraction from what is going on right now, and if you manage to read all of this waffling on blog post, Im gonna drag you down with me!

So lets talk kitchens. We are in the process of giving ours a make over. But before we move forward with this room I feel the need to revisit the kitchens of my past. Just call me Heleneezer Scrooge!

Its funny, when we were moving back to Kent and house hunting I knew that, with the housing market etc, I would end up with a smaller kitchen. Weirdly, I wasn’t bothered. Im a realist. At this point in my life, with two toddlers, I am all about the quick, easy, one pot meals rather than the marinate the meat overnight type recipes and making sourdough from scratch right now! I don’t want or need a huge beast of a kitchen, its no longer a life goal of mine (I’ll explain a bit more further on).

What I like about my current kitchen is the fact that it is a galley kitchen, be it a small one. I know from experience that this is my favourite kitchen layout. In our first house we bought together (back in 2005 – say what!!!) we had a decent sized galley kitchen which we installed all by ourselves. We renovated it to boost the house’s value and because the old kitchen was falling apart. This was a lovely kitchen to cook in and I was sad to leave this kitchen behind when we sold the house in 2010.

Our next kitchen was a grower. It was smaller and had an odd lay out due to a previous owner moving the position of the back door, so I never felt that I had enough worktop space (but lets be honest I was spoilt for worktop space in our first house!) But eventually I adapted to the space and begrudgingly grew to like it. We installed a new Ikea kitchen, again because the kitchen we inherited was falling to pieces and to add value to the house.

In 2016 we were able to sell up and follow our dream of moving to a different area. Of course, you know that that didn’t end up going to plan and it turns out that the quieter life wasn’t for me! But my kitchen in the Devon house was the largest kitchen that I had owned and took some adjusting to.

It was a nice kitchen that we inherited, Ok, shaker style doors are not my top choice, but they were non offensive enough and we gave the kitchen a make over with new tiles, flooring and painting the walls dark green.

I loved my pantry, but after six years of using a smaller kitchen I found myself thinking there was a lot of wasted space in this room and unnecessary walking here there and everywhere to gather ingredients etc. Plus loads of extra floor space to clean! This kitchen was also at the front of the house, so was not the most practical with keeping an eye on the kids in the garden etc.

So that brings us to our current kitchen. I literally had no expectations for this kitchen. It was just a box in which to cobble together beige food for the kids as far as I was concerned. But for some reason, despite its ultra chintzy decor, it has really grown on me! The elements that I like are the layout, the fact that everything is to hand, position of the room in the house – I can poke my head round the door to keep an eye on the kids in the lounge or garden (the Devon kitchen was off the hallway away from the lounge so I had to leave the kids in front of the telly when cooking and hope that they weren’t fighting! They usually were TBH!)

I also like the fact that I have just enough storage space for all I need. I don’t have a huge pantry so can no longer stockpile canned goods (I mean, there is no need to do so, whats the whats the worst that can happen? The supermarkets run out of food???!!!!!!!)

I have also found that I have stopped wanting various unnecessary kitchen gadgets (try airfryer, waffle maker, omelette maker etc, etc!) because there is literally nowhere to store them. Nope, none. Nada. Everything in this kitchen must be of use to justify its cupboard space! I have a strict one in one out rule for kitchen equipment and try (I do try honest!) to be as minimialist as possible. And that goes for the rest of the stuff in the house. I try to live a small house/minimialist lifestyle as much as possible.

Except for Pyrex, Cathrineholm, Orla Kiely, Hornsea and fat lava. There is always more room for that in my kitchen and life!!!

More Small Changes

Decorating and making a house feel a home is a process.

A slow, energy sucking, expensive process with frustratingly little results….wait, we are still talking about decorating not toddlers here, right?

Nah, I jest. Its all good. Things are progressing and improving. Both with Dylan’s speech and the house. Its still a process. But isn’t everything?

Here is our latest change in the lounge – a new dining table!

TBF we haven’t had our last table all that long (we bought it to fit the Devon house almost 4 years ago) but it just looked too small for the space in our current house, so it was sold on FB Marketplace and the new larger replacement table is looking right at home in our new home!

Here is the before –

It is hard to show just how odd it looked in the photos, you will have to take my word that it was a small round table (100cm diameter) floating in a large area of horrible salmon red shag pile carpet. Bleugh! Believe me the carpets days are numbered now. We are counting down the days until spring arrives, then we can turn the heating off (or down at least!), and rip up the shitty carpet and live with the original 1970’s floor tiles that are underneath, until we are ready to install some new flooring! Huzzah!

So carpet rant over now (I think that I average one per post RN, sorry!), lets get back to table talk. Do you know how hard it is to find a nice table? Welp, at least it is for me. I wanted another white table, one that extended with the extra leaf stored underneath (I didn’t get an extending one in the end BTW) and one that wasn’t stupid money. Oh, and if it was round or oval, not rectangle that would be awesome too thanks!

Who said fussy? Nah, not me!

Anyhoo, in the end we ordered a table top from Ikea. And after a little discussion on the legs, I wanted wooden, tapered, mid-century style ones, Rob wanted metal, industrial style ones, we settled on these orange, metal hairpin legs. Because why not? Life is too short for sensible table legs! Lets have the brightest ones we can find! Im glad that I let Rob talk me into them. But don’t tell him that. Im still the chief designer in this household!

Time will tell how long this table will last. Toddler D likes to kick the shit out of the table while eating his meals. So for now lets all admire the tables newness and beauty in these (terrible mobile) photos. And please ignore the carpet, which makes everything look a bit yuck in photos and lets all try to visualise the coming together of our beautiful lounge!

As I said, its a process!

The chairs are what we had before BTW, with two bought down from the loft, now we have space for them again. The kids wooden Tripp Trapp chairs were bought second hand on FB and are the best thing ever.

New Lights And Shelves!

After a brief pause on my blogging, mostly because we have also put a pause on the decorating. Im back!

There have been a couple of small changes to the lounge recently, mainly some shelves and a couple of ceiling lights. And I like them so much that I feel that they warrant a post on here.

Sadly the reddish-salmon coloured shagpile carpet remains, but it will be going as soon as we wrap up potty training, which fingers crossed is soon!

I previously mentioned that I let go of my lovely Ladderax, so in order to display some of our nick naks I ordered a couple of String shelving knock offs. Not quite as dreamy as the real thing, but have you seen the price of String shelves? Ooff! These will do thank you!

And then we have the lights. Our lounge is quite spacious and we currently cannot have any lamps because of destructive toddlers (also see houseplants – sob), so we needed something that would project enough light into all the nooks and cranies of the room. Enter these beauties from Habitat! I bought them during the Black Friday sale (seriously, who pays full price for anything these days?) and I love the space age, retro vibe that they have.

I also have a new print, the number 8 as toddler D calls it. A cute new print to replace one of the sun damaged ones from our old house.

These small changes have given me a boost through a challenging start to the year (its the kids fault!) And also given me the urge to blog again*. Hurrah!

*I have had the urge to blog, but only self indulgent pity party stuff, and no one wants to read that, least of all me!

P.S Excuse the mess and the toddlers fighting over toys. Keeping it real and all that!

The Porch, Stairs and Landing So Far

This area is still a work in progress, but we have carpet now! Yey! Well, we had carpet before but it was horrible, so we ripped that shit up as soon as we could.

We have also removed the textured flock wallpaper that was painted a horrible 80’s tastic dusky pink colour. Bleugh. Now for some reason, this colour seems to be coming back in fashion in interiors on Instagram and the like. Each to their own, but Im not gonna be painting my walls this colour any time soon thank you!

We are currently in the process of hanging lining paper and painting the walls white. I plan to add colour by painting the inner porch door bright yellow, hanging some yellow light shades, a new metal hand bannister and a gallery wall of colourful prints and family photos…….Well, fingers crossed anyway as I hoped to do this in our last two houses, but never got round to it!

Thankfully the chipped gold paint, that was under the pink flock wallpaper has nearly gone!

After removing the carpet in the hallway/inner porch area we have laid a temporary piece of lino down. It only cost a tenner for an offcut from the guy who is doing our carpets (who Rob used to go to school with! Its so nice to be back home again using trades who we know etc. We had a few bad experiences in Devon), and it will do until we decide what we are doing with the flooring in the downstairs of the house.

Our Bedroom Currently

Things are moving so quickly in the house, and I have a bit of blogging to catch up on. Here is an update on our bedroom, its about 75% finished!

It started out like this, all pink wallpaper, pink grotty carpet and it hadn’t been decorated for at least 20 years –

A few weeks back it looked like this, the walls were stripped back then lined with lining paper, the previous owners fitted wardrobes from the boys bedroom were moved into this room and then we recarpeted it as well as the landing and stairs (post coming soon) and, even though the room is 75% done, it looks 100% better already!

Currently we have the doors back on the wardrobes, the walls are painted (in Dulux’s current colour of the year no less!), the curtains are up and our lampshade from our old lounge is now hung –

Still on the to do list for this room is – decide what prints are going on the walls, a new interior room door and in the summer, as its not a winter job, Rob will cut some new MDF wardrobe doors and paint them white. Im currently Googling and hunting for some brass knobs for the doors*. Its gonna look the mutts nuts when its done!

*Whats wrong with Googling knobs?

Hello Darkness My Old Friend

Some things change when you move house, some things don’t. But one thing that we have found different in this house is how dark it feels compared to our last house.

It might be because we no longer have huge windows in every room like we did in our Devon house. TBH I don’t really miss them, as this is a warmer house and the sun faded and discoloured everything (Im talking prints on the wall, our lovely green fabric sofa and book covers etc, sob!)

It might be because we have moved from a link detatched house to a mid-terraced house. In particular, our stairs and landing seem very dark, as we do not have a window in this area.

It might be the time of year. The days are short and daylight hours are very limited right now.

Or it might be a combination of all of these factors? Who knows?

To make the best of things, I intend to paint as many of the walls as I can white (Rob’s favourite thing to do! Ha!) and then to just be glad that I have average sized windows again, especially in the summer and for our privicy!

An improvement that we have made is to change the back door panel in the kitchen from white PVC to glass. It didn’t cost too much in the grand scheme of things. And its made the room feel much bigger, lighter and, more importantly, given the cat a cat flap so she doesn’t have to use her litter tray anymore. Hurrah!

Here is the before –

And here is the after –

When The Going Gets Tough

It’s nearly the end of 2019, and boy has this year been a challenging shit storm. It’s not all been bad, but it’s been very tough at times.

At the start of the year we had no plans to move, I was enjoying being a new mum of two (Reece was only 4 months old, and new borns are piss easy!) and I was on maternity leave hoping not to go back to work.

Fast forward to December and we have moved cross country, I am working more hours than ever and I am still learning how to navigate this motherhood lark! Even after nearly three years of toddler D and almost 16 months of being a mum of two!

If I am honest the thing I that I have struggled with the most is what people think of Dylan. This year has been a bit of an emotional learning curve, because while I am old enough to not care about what people think of me (mostly, about 98% of the time!) and my parenting choices, it turns out that I get really hurt and upset about what people think of my kids!

In 2019 I have had the following said to me –

“You should take him to the doctor about his behaviour”

“He will struggle at preschool”

“I have been talking to a friend of mine, who knows a place that you can take Dylan to help him”

All of the above was from one of the volunteers at a Devon toddler group that we used to attend. I love unsolicited advice, don’t you?!!!

“It’s too early to tell isn’t it?”

“Have they said any more about Dylan?”

Two recent statements from mums at Kent toddler groups, while I have been chatting about D’s behaviour and him starting preschool.

“Does he not like loud noises?”

“It doesn’t matter, he is still our granson. We still love him”

“You just need someone to tell you what to do with him to help you cope”*

My mum fishing there and self diagnosing toddler D. And then on a recent visit upsetting me while D was having an epic meltdown. My mum is old school and likes to follow the rules and thinks the professionals know best etc. She did apologise the next day for saying that*. Its behind us now.

“He is a little shit. A nice little shit, but still a little shit”

That was Rob’s dad agreeing when I was saying that he is a little shit. Look OK, I am allowed to moan about him and say that he is a little shit, but no one else is! I still dont like people saying it to me!

Oh, and I also experienced my first time witnessing someone deliberately upset toddler D. It was another mum at a Devon toddler group who kept making D cry by grabbing a blooming Peppa pig toy off him to give to her inmobile baby and telling him off for screaming. WTF? I think back and wonder how I managed to keep my cool with her? Grrr! Maybe because I am a decent person who was bought up to be polite and nice to other people?

Yeah, so my feelings have been hurt a few times in this year. I know that on the whole people mean well when they say stuff like that. But I really need to toughen up and not be so sensitive about peoples opinion of him!

I am the first to admit that Dylan is difficult. He is hard work. He is very behind with his speech. He is not potty trained and his behaviour is bloody awful at times. He screams, he shouts, he doesn’t do as he is told, he gets frustrated very quickly, throws tantrums left right and centre, he is physical with his little brother and other kids (seriously, it’s like a WWF match round my house) and he does not want to share any toys that he is playing with.

He is also a very sweet little boy at times, passing Reece toys and food, and he giggles away playing chase with R. Basically he can play with R only when there are no toys involved.

Its been hard this year because D and R still don’t have much of a relationship. I naively thought that siblings close in age (we have a 20 month age gap) would mean that they would have more in common, be close friends and play together nicely. Its not happened yet, but hopefully in the next few years it will happen. I frigging hope so anyway!

So despite what people think of Dylan, he currently has no diagnosis. Its too early to tell.

We do not know what to think. I worry that I am thinking too much about it and not enjoying him, then on the otherhand I worry that I am burying my head in the sand and being in denial. Time will tell. If he has a diagnosis, he has. We still love him with all our hearts. He is still our much wanted baby boy.

Its hard because when society sees a challenging child they want to know why and put a label on them. He might just be behind with his speech, frustrated because of it and in his terrible twos.

Its hard because society sees a challenging child and thinks its because of something that the parents are doing, or not doing. Believe me, we are doing the very best that we can. We really are trying our best.

So yeah, I think that in 2020 my new years resolutions are to toughen up and stop caring about what think of my kids. To push, push, push for speech therapy for him and get what help I can from the services available. To enjoy my kids the best I can even though they can be little shits (Im allowed to say it OK! Not you!) And to stop bloody googling this label or that label etc because it is not a fun internet rabbit hole to fall down!

It’s Beginning To Look a Lot Like Xmas

….Or not really in our house, because we have two toddlers!

The bare minimum of Xmas decs are out this year for a number of reasons – laziness, we have just moved house, not feeling festive, we don’t have a mantle piece etc, blah, blah, blah.

But mostly we have pared things back because last year D pulled all the baubles off the Xmas tree and smashed a few of my kitschy decorations. Grrrrr the little bugger! And now that toddler R is also on his feet and on the move (last year we could just plonk him in a bouncer. Sigh, those were the days). One of them, if not both of them, would destroy everything Xmasy in a matter of minutes!

Anyway, Im gonna use our lame-arse Xmas decs as an excuse to share an update on the lounge. As per usual, all photos are dark and crap. Apologies.

So due to the aforementioned Xmas tree incident, I decided to buy the most toddler proof Xmas tree I could find, the neon one below↓. Except that it turns out that nothing is toddler proof. They both rattle it and little R delights in switching it off and on all the time. Im sure that it wont last long. Nevermind. And my Mum said that it looks a bit like something from Mr Burns factory in The Simpsons. But I like it! Nothing like a festive toxic glow, eh?Note that in the above snap the tree is on the indoor wall/rockery feature. Welp, guess what? Last night Rob knocked that out (hurrah!) and we moved the furniture around. The lounge looks much, much better for it.

Here is how things looked before a few weeks back. We have since sold the Ladderax unit (it just wasn’t working in the room, so it was time to let it go. It’s a shame, but I made a £500 profit on it! Boom!) and the old bedroom furniture stored in the room has also gone. Sadly the yucky carpet remains, but at least its on brand with Xmas being red!

We have bought a new telly, hung it on the wall where the sofa was, with the Ladderax piled behind it, and moved the sofa to where the lounge wall/rockery was. The room seems massive now and our furniture looks a little lost in the room. The new house is pretty much the same square footage as our Devon house, just a different layout. The smaller kitchen means a bigger living space and also means a ball ache making a larger room work for us all. We need to figure out what furniture works and what needs to be replaced. It feels like its gonna bleed us dry this room eeekkkk! £££££££££££!

So here is the room today –

So there’s our kid friendly, toy based, toddler proof Xmas decor. We also have some festive rubber duckys in the bathroom. It seems festive rubber ducks and glittery deers are my Xmas weakness, I couldn’t resist the two new larger ones in Dunelm at only £2 each!