A Perfect Second Birthday Party

Jasmin second birthday party dress

It’s probably terribly immodest to describe Jasmin’s birthday party as perfect. But, truly, I think she loved every minute of the day she turned two.

I’m still grappling with the fact that my baby is growing up so fast – but other than that – we really did all have the perfect day celebrating.

There wasn’t a fancy theme to her party or an extravagant gift awaiting her when she woke up, but what there was was a great deal of fun.

second Birthday Opening presents

Her gifts from Tony and I were simple – a cheap calculator which she opened and loved at first sight. “My new phone, Mummy,” she shouted happily. A watering can so she can help Daddy water the garden – as she loves to do. A new buggy for her ‘baby’ so she can keep one at nanny’s and one at home. A Frozen book.

Second Birthday presents watering can

She loved opening them all “my peasants, Mummy, my peasants” – and she didn’t quite get what the cards were for, but she loved them anyway too.

Milin had his own morning present opening joy – we had saved him an old box of Lego that belonged to my sister and I. He is still in Lego heaven and we can see that box is going to keep him happy for hours – in fact, hopefully years.

We were lucky enough to have a dry day amid days of rain – and so Jasmin’s little friends and second cousins spent the party in the garden. I’d bought pretty flowers and bunting – but other than that, I was a poor party decorator.  A run to Marks and Spencers in the morning meant our table was full of treats, a run to Tiger later meant the party bags featured wooden fire engines or taxis, bubbles and crayons; and my very easy but delicious chocolate cake made to double the quantity and sprinkled with sugar stars meant the simplest cake in the world was done.

Chocolate birthday cake

We borrowed a bouncy castle from friends, stocked the wine fridge with Prosecco and borrowed garden furniture from family and neighbours.

Birthday bouncy castle

It was such a simple day – but Jasmin was surrounded by people who loved her. She had the time of her life on the bouncy castle, she wore a beautiful dress and sparkly shoes which made me envious, she got a little shy when we sang her ‘happy birthday’. She made us all so happy.

Singing happy birthday

I can’t believe she is two. It’s gone so fast, yes, but it’s also been a magical, brilliant, wonderful journey. I tried to stop and savour some of the moments of her party. I tried to watch her and work out how she’d suddenly grown up.

I want to grab all of these moments where she’s changing, doing new things, getting bigger. But all I can do is be there next to her for as many of them as possible and try to make sure she is happy and knows she is loved. On her birthday, she really was.

Jasmin's birthday

The One Parenting Lesson I Need to Remember

parenting lessons children playing

If I could tell you one thing, one lesson I’ve learnt, one lesson which is bigger than the rest, one lesson which keeps me going every time I relearn it – it would be this:

With love, it will be ok.

And there is a second, vital part.

Belief. Because sometimes, in that moment, you might feel like that is all you will have. (Apart from the children, the children.)

If I could tell you one thing, to hold on to in the worst times, to tell yourself repeatedly in the bleakest hours, it would be that.

Love. Do it with love. Believe it will be ok.

It isn’t a complicated lesson. And yet it is a message I lose all the time. I forget. it I let it get blacked out. I see right past it.

When it feels like, again, I’ve got it all wrong; when it feels like, once more, I took the wrong path; when it seems like, just like last time, I messed up – I never remember this.

That with love, it will be ok.

And this is, in those times, the only thing I should remember. It is the only thing I should believe.

I am in a constant state of self-doubt. I see myself as a mother and see short-comings and not quite measuring up and not quite doing things as I’d like them to be done and not quite being good enough and not quite setting the right example or whatever you are meant to do.

I am in a constant state of wishing I was better. Wishing I was better at cooking meals they’d eat; wishing I was better at staying calm when no-one will put their shoes on and we’re running late; wishing I was better at knowing how to do the stuff some mothers just know how to do.

I am in a constant space where there is fret that I’ve not done right by them, that I’ve not done things well enough, that I’m not quite up to this. I could be more organised, I could make more time to give them each on their own, I could play outside more instead of tidying up inside with one eye on them, I could make up better games at the park and let them dig in the soil when it’s bath time and be more silly and more kind and more patient and more fun.

But all of this is part of us all growing up together. The doubt, the tough days, the heartache. The joy, the unbearably perfect hours, the blissful moments where you realise you have it all in that second of life. This too is part of motherhood.

It’s just the part that’s hard to see some nights when you go to bed exhausted and you’ve hardly had enough cuddles. When you wake up and lose your temper before breakfast because last night you were up every hour. When you don’t have the answer that makes them smile. When you feel like you just, can’t, do, things, right. Ever.

But if you do them will love, it will be ok.

Believe it. Hold on to it. Sometimes that belief might feel like it’s all you’ve got. Grasp it tight.

This is the one thing that always makes me stop, makes me think about it again, makes me realise it’s not as dark around me as I thought. This is the thing, that keeps me going.

Love them, and they will know it. Even when you think you have failed, when you think you are failing, when you think you will always fail – remember this. You love them. Believe it will be ok. Take that belief, and hold on tight.

parenting lessons children playing

So What Are the Minions Anyway?

Kids outside shed and minions

So I don’t know anything about Minions. I don’t understand what they are, I don’t know any of the stories they feature in, I don’t know what their names are – or whether they even have names. And I’ve got a feeling Milin doesn’t know much more than me. But he loves them.

His current fad has got me thinking about what it is that makes our little ones suddenly fall in love with a character or movie or book or cuddly toy – or whatever it is that week. Milin had never known a thing about Minions until he came home from nursery about a month ago and started chattering away about them. I’m guessing a friend with older siblings had heard of them through a book or DVD or toys at home – and so they spread around nursery as ‘the thing’ that week.

Before Minions it was Star Wars – again a film Milin has never seen, a plot he knows nothing of – and yet he comes home talking about Darth Vader and rolling up an A3 sheet of paper and calling it his “light saver”.

I guess Milin is just following his friends, he’s joining in and he’s learning social skills. He can’t tell me much about the Minions, but he can recognise them and describe them – and I guess this is just the start of the kids falling in love with a fad and me not really understanding it. Sigh, I’m getting old!

Minions, whatever they are, have helped us out a bit though in our new house. They’ve given Milin something else to focus on. When he’s been feeling a little down about the ‘new house’, when he’s been upset about being here and wanting to go back to nanny and papa’s house – these little yellow creatures have cheered him up.

He was lucky enough to be sent a few little bits in the mail from Claire’s to play with and they arrived when we’d just moved in. Thank goodness. I was all out of ideas for ways to make the new house seem more appealing, and then a pretty trendy pair of Minion sunglasses arrived and Milin had them on in on no time – prancing around for hours saying “minions, minions, minions”. I couldn’t tell you if he was singing an official song, or if he was just making up his own chant. Whatever it was – he looked super cute to me.

A little Minions smart phone case was immediately turned into a fashion accessory minus the phone – hooked around Milin’s t-shirt, it became the perfect vessel for carrying little bits and pieces which are of course essential to the life of a three year old.

One of his most prized possessions at the moment though is a set of Minions headphones. I’m so impressed with these – but not half as impressed as Milin is. In fact, Jasmin loves them too. They both wear them round the house, not plugged into anything, but clearly at the cutting edge of toddler fashion. I don’t mind what they look like – they’re happy and the Minions have distracted Milin from the disruption of the move. They’ve got my approval for that!

Thought I’d share this funny photo of the kids – this is Milin’s current fashion statement look. I couldn’t love them more.kids outside shed minions 2*We received the Minions products from Claire’s for the purposes of this post.

 

An Open-Plan kitchen – the Heart of Our Home

open plan kitchen diner

We have been living in our new house for two weeks now and, very slowly, we are starting to make it ours. In some ways I feel like we’ve been given a blank slate on which to make our mark. In other ways, I feel like I still see so much of the previous owner everywhere.

We fell in love with this house as soon as we walked through the front door for the first time. Well, I think my love affair started when it popped up in my inbox on a property alert. I remember being almost too afraid to call the estate agent about it – it was a bit more than we thought we could pay, and I knew once we saw it, we would be smitten.

One of the very big drawcards for this, our new home, was that the decoration was very neutral (perfect for us to make our own when we could afford to!) and no major renovation work was needed. Our last home was a complete doer-upper. With a three-year-old and a one-year-old, with Tony and I both working, we didn’t want to go through that again.

However, there was one change we wanted to make before we moved in. It involved taking out a wall and so we wanted to have the job finished before the children were in the house. And so, we got the builders in.

When we bought our new house it featured a separate kitchen and dining room. The kitchen was narrow but light and bright – but we wanted to open it up. We used builders my parents have used before, and they spent two days removing a radiator and knocking out the wall between the kitchen and dining room. Their work, their finishing on the walls and floor, it was all perfect and just as we’d hoped. Here are the two rooms which used to have a wall between them.

open kichen diner wall knocked through

What it means is that the dining room has become a kind of everything-room. I cook and potter in this space, the kids play in it, we eat at the table, the kids also have their own little table in one of the alcoves beside the chimney, and this is really where our living is done.

open plan kitchen diner

We have another room at the front of the house that I guess most people would have used as their living room… but we’re going to be turning it into a home office for a very exciting project (more on that another day though…) That room does have the television in it so it does draw Milin in, but we have the bulk of the toys in the back open-plan room, where there’s also quick access to the garden.

And so – our kitchen really has become our living space. We’re still to put something up on the wall over the fireplace, we’re still to take delivery of the two-seater sofa we have ordered for the back wall of this room too – but it’s getting there.

Over the weekend, we had friends round, opened the doors to the patio, let the kids run in and out while we ate – and I felt so glad that we’d got the work done despite it being a ‘nice to have’ and not a ‘need to have’.

I’m now able to see Milin and Jasmin when I’m in the kitchen. They can get involved with what I’m doing, and I can play with them while also doing things that need to be done around the house. There’s a long way to go, but it’s the first step towards making this house our home. We’ve given it a central point to come together and be together in. It’s the heart of our home.

diner new house family kitchen

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Kidzania Westfield London – a review of our family day out

Kiran and Jasmin at Pizza Express Westfield London

When Tony and I were offered the chance to spend the day at Westfield London and the new Kidzania centre there I was intrigued. I work only about a ten minute walk from Westfield – but it wasn’t somewhere I’d ever taken the children. Kidzania – an interactive educational centre – sounded amazing – but I wasn’t sure if the children were too young.We did go though – and actually it was one of the best family days out we had had in a long time.

I love the concept of Kidzania – it’s a self-contained village just for children. We were sent tickets which looked like airline tickets in advance of our booking and when we got there we really felt like we were at check in at the airport. We went up the escalators to be checked in and the children were given bracelets to wear so they couldn’t leave the centre without us being alerted.

The little village had everything – a hospital where children could learn to work in various roles, a fire station and ambulance station where again they could learn to work in those occupations. There was a bank, cafe, job centre, theatre, recycling plant, manufacturing centre – I was blown away. This replica village was perfect, and it was all geared towards teaching little ones about the adult world.

Westfield Kidzania street

Kidzania Westfield London fire stationAs they are under four, Milin and Jasmin were very limited as to what they could do. We spent our time in the early years centre. Milin loved playing with the inflatable dinosaurs, they both had fun in the pretend bath, and Jasmin loved playing house.

Kidzania Westfield London inflatable dinosaur

The early years rooms were set up just like a real house and the attention to detail was amazing. From the fully stocked fridge, the children make me lunch in the amazing kitchen, and Milin even made me a coffee!

Kidzania Westfield London kitchen

Kidzania Westfield London early years ironingKidzania baby area

We spent only an hour at Kidzania, but with children over six, I think you could easily spend four hours there!

We then went to explore Westfield. We treated the children to little gifts from the Disney Store, and we had a delicious lunch at Pizza Express. This is our fail-safe family meal venue – the kids eat the food, the staff are always amazing, and we just know it works.

Child past at Pizza Express Westfield London

The children were lucky enough to be treated to a kiddicar for the duration of our visit and this was probably the highlight for them. They LOVED it. It was so easy to push them around in and they thought it was the funnest thing ever. I was a bit jealous actually…

westfield kiddicar Kiddicar at westfield

 

I was so impressed with Westfield London on so many levels. The family rooms were amazing – so clean, spacious, and so much to keep the kids entertained if you were breastfeeding little ones. The range of shops was phenomenal – and if we hadn’t just seen our first mortgage payment go out – I would have easily spent a month’s salary during our visit! We used the handsfree shopping service which meant our shopping bags were sent directly to our car and I loved this idea. Shopping with kids is hard work – but without carrying the bags, it’s so much easier!

The valet parking service was also brilliant. Not having to drive around looking for a car park space took another layer of hassle out of our trip. We drove up to the door, our car was parked for us, and then washed to the sparkliest it’s ever been! We barely recognised.

Before (reluctantly) leaving Westfield, we sat down for a little while in the VIP Express Parking lounge. It really was the icing on the cake of a brilliant day. We felt like we were living in luxury! The gorgeous lounge had a coffee machine which meant I was happy, big sofas and tv which meant Tony was happy, and the kids were given kids packs to keep them entertained.

westfield London vip lounge

I’m a little bit worried about what our trip to Westfield London might mean for my wallet. I can’t see myself shopping at another mall again! It really was a lovely place to spend a day – everyone we met was so helpful and the service was amazing. I highly recommend the express parking for star star treatment, and the Kiddicars are brilliant for amusing the kids – which means more shopping time – hooray!Kiran and Jasmin at Pizza Express Westfield London

*We were given tickets to Kidzania and use of express parking services and kiddicars at Westfield London for the purpose of this review. All views my own.

Freelancing and motherhood – how to make it work

I can’t believe it’s almost a year since I returned to working in an office. When I look back at how my work life has changed since becoming a mum though, it’s not been a straight-forward path from maternity leave to employment.

I took on my first freelance commission, a series of articles for a national newspaper, the month Milin was born. A few months later, I started writing two columns a week for a multinational parenting site. I wrote regular features too, and kept up the freelancing during a short stint back in the newsroom as a staffer.

The day Jasmin was born, I had articles appear in Australia, New Zealand and the UK. I cleared emails and brainstormed ideas while breastfeeding my newborn at night. Freelancing gave me the ability to keep on earning and upskilling while having two children only 18 months apart.

It’s over three and a half years since Milin was born, and while I’m working four days a week now in an office, I still keep up a little freelance work. And, it feels like more and more mothers are doing the same.

Freelancing has given me and my family so much flexibility. What I sometimes struggled with, though, was that I missed having colleagues. I missed the office. I missed bouncing ideas off other people.

I wish I’d known about Hiive when I started out – because I think a lot of these issues wouldn’t have mattered so much.

Hiive is a creative network that offers users a portfolio platform, job opportunities and access to careers resources. It’s designed to encourage discussion and collaboration within the creative industries.

For a writer who works for themself, it’s the perfect place to showcase a portfolio and hear about new leads. But it’s also a lovely little place to build a community. For all of us freelancers who sometimes want to discuss projects and ideas with people but don’t necessarily have a network of people around us – it’s perfect. If you’re looking for people to work with or embark upon creative projects with – you can see their portfolios and talk about things with them, all through Hiive.

Hiive would have been brilliant for me when I started writing freelance. Even though I had nearly a decade of working as a journalist in newspapers behind me, I didn’t have much confidence in putting myself out there creatively, for myself. The community that you can build at Hiive would have helped.

Now that I’m into my fourth year of combining freelance writing with motherhood, I thought I’d share some of the tips I’ve learnt along the way. I know so many new mums decide freelancing will offer them the flexibility employment won’t – so I hope some of these help!

1. Know that you have someone backing you. I don’t mean financially – I mean emotionally. Whether it’s your own mum, your husband, or a career mentor, have someone by your side cheering you on. It’s hard as a freelancer to deal with lapses of confidence – but having someone who believes in you (even when you don’t) will help you keep going.

2. Don’t just have one cheerleader – build a community of them. Ok, so this isn’t about getting your entire netball team to write great reviews about you on your website – it’s about finding like-minded people to connect with. It might be building a creative swarm around you on Hiive, whatever it is, a network of contacts to bounce ideas off, share contacts with and turn to for advice is invaluable.

3. Be strict with your timing. It’s so easy to work at every spare minute – because if you don’t, you don’t get paid. But allocate yourself set work hours when you have childcare and stick to them. It might be that you work every night from 8pm-midnight (I used to do this). It might be that you get three hours every Saturday morning. Whatever it is, don’t do the housework, don’t agree to pop to the post office… it’s your time to work and earn. Make it count.

4. Take time off. Chances are that as a freelancing working mum you work late, sleep little, and survive on coffee. Remember though, that if you’re knackered at the end of the week – you won’t make that deadline. Also, a few hours off at the weekend will mean time with your children – and that’s way more fun than working.

5. Believe in yourself, and make others believe in you too. Know what you’re brilliant at. I’m a trained journalist, I’ve only ever been paid to write. I was never going to make a living as jewellery designer (although that would have been lovely). Do what you know, ace it, believe you can ace it, and go out there with your head held high.

If you’ve got any other tips, I’d love to hear them!

freelancers desk

*This is a sponsored post.

What Makes a Home?

children and daddy at bedtime - what makes a house a home?

So what makes a home?

Is it the wedding cutlery in the kitchen drawers or the personalised towels in the bathroom?

Is it the furniture you’ve spent months searching for and now happily use because it’s perfect?

Is it the children’s artwork on the fridge or the letter from nursery pinned on the notice board?

Is it the forgotten tennis shoes by the front door?

What makes a home?

Is it the years spent making memories within four walls, just by living right there?

Is it blowing candles out on birthday cakes at the same table every July for a decade?

Is it the grooves in the door frame which show how much a small child has grown?

Do these things make a home?

Is it the boxes in the loft which have been there forever but will never be forgotten?

Is it the stain on the wall which reminds you of where you burnt the Christmas pudding?

Is it the sound of children being soothed in the night by their mother?

Is it the sound of children learning their letters at bedtime with daddy?

Is it their laughter, at every hour, is it their joy?

Is it the sound of their feet running down the hall when they look for you?

What makes a home?

I don’t know what will make our new house our home.

Perhaps it will be the feeling our children come to know – a sense that this place is safe and is theirs.

Perhaps it will be the the joy that they bring into our lives while playing in this garden, while eating at this table, while laughing in this lounge, while following us around the kitchen, while sitting close to us on the sofa.

Perhaps it will be that we are all together, just us, finally in a place to call ours.

There will be tears and regret and words spoken too harshly. There will be sadness and worry and fear. But there will also be comfort and strength and laughter and love.

What makes a home?

We shall see. We will make our home. It shall be us.

children and daddy at bedtime

Moving House with Children – the Hardest Part

Our new house

We moved into our new house a few days ago, and although we don’t have things like sofas or book shelves, it already feels like home. Well, it does to Tony and I. For the kids, things are a little different.

Children drawing at easel in new house

We always knew moving them at such a young age would come with its challenges. Aside from the sheer logistics of calling on my mum and others to entertain them while we did the physical moving of box after box, there’s been the emotional drama too.

Jasmin, at 23 months, seems to be taking things in her stride. She has spent her entire life so far living at my parents’. But she is now happy to be in the “new house”. She’s not spent a whole night in her cot yet – but that rarely happened in our old house anyway. Content to explore the new garden and play with her old toys in a new setting, she is probably too young to feel too much concern. She has always been clingy – and happy that I’m not going anywhere without her, she is fine.

Child watering plants

Things have been different for Milin. He’s been incredibly unwell with a virus and a terrible bout of asthma-like breathing problems. It meant he spent his first night upset and awake a lot. He cried out more than once, half asleep, “I want to go back to Nanny and Papa’s house.”

When we got back from the GP the next day and pulled up in the driveway, he said the same thing on seeing where we were.

My heart breaks a little for him each time he says it. I know he’s unwell and wants the things that are familiar to him as they will bring him the most comfort, but it still makes me sad that he doesn’t quite want to be here yet, in our new home.

I have heard so many people say that children adapt quickly. And I’m sure Milin will, and he’ll do it probably once he is feeling more well. For now though, he can’t quite understand why we have moved.

We moved in with my parents when he was 13 months old. It was two and a half years ago, and he knows no different. To him, their house is home. It is a place of fun and joy and love. He knows there is always someone to play with him there, he knows how steep the stairs are when he climbs up them, he knows his bed is pushed right up against the wall so he can’t fall out, he knows he can reach the front door handle to open it when the doorbell goes, he knows how to get up onto the trampoline by himself.

In that house, he has a little step in the bathroom he sits on while brushing his teeth, he has a sofa he always goes to when he’s tired, he has a little collection of sticks outside the front door, he has a place he always plays Lego, a place he lines up his cars. It is home. He never understood it was temporary – he couldn’t have.

In time, he will come to recognise the sound of the new doorbell, he and Jasmin will choose their chairs at their new little table, he will have adventures in the rackety old bike shed, he will stop getting his feet stuck in the gap between the bed and the wall that exists because of the skirting board.

For now though, he’s a little boy who doesn’t quite feel sure why we have moved. He doesn’t understand that we needed our own little space to be a family of four. He doesn’t understand that he will still spend three days a week at Nanny and Papa’s while Tony and I are at work.

I hope he understands though that even though we might move around, our little foursome will always travel with each other. And, wherever we go, whichever four walls we find ourselves in, our home will be a place where we are together.

Children in shed in new garden

Giveaway: Green People Quinoa and artichoke shampoo and conditioner

green people artichoke quinoa shampoo conditioner

I’ve got a new hair obsession. It’s not often, to be honest, that I get excited about things like shampoo and conditioner, but since switching to the new Green People hair products, I’ve realised that using something a bit lovely on your hair really does make a difference.

I’ve got very long hair and it does get dry and look rather lack-lustre most of the time. I’ve been using the new quinoa and artichoke shampoo and conditioner for a couple of weeks though and without a doubt I’ve suddenly got more shine.

The shampoo is designed for hair like mine – the artichoke is meant to give it a deep cleanse and remove mineral deposits which could be causing dullness. All I know is that whatever it’s doing – it works. The quinoa’s job is to make hair look fuller and thicker. I’m never going to complain about this! The quinoa protein in the conditioner is also meant to help increase shine – however it does it – I’m happy!

I am already a self-confessed quinoa fan – it’s my number one salad ingredient without a doubt. I also love artichokes – but I’d never really thought much about how these two yummy things might do my hair wonders as well. It makes sense though I guess – if they’re good for you – they’re good for your hair too!

I’ve got a Green People quinoa and artichoke shampoo and conditioner set to give away. Just enter via Rafflecopter below – (jewellery not included!) Closes July 21. Good luck!

green people artichoke quinoa shampoo conditioner

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and conditions here.

Home Renovation – A Blog About Our First Home

home renovation living room

Moving into our new home in London has been so incredibly different to the experience we had with our first home in New Zealand. As well as now moving with two children in tow, the house we have bought this time round is completely different to our first home. The biggest contrast is that we need to do very little to it – in fact this was one of the main things that attracted us to it. By contrast, our first home was a complete ‘fixer-upper’.

I’ll save the few little house projects we do plan to undertake in our new London home for another post. But tonight just thinking about the differences between our first two homes has made me want to write about them. And so, this isn’t a post about looking forward to our plans. It’s a post about looking back on our first home, our old home that is now someone else’s. And it’s about the lessons we learnt in that renovation project.

new house bathroom home renovation

This little picture of me in our new bathroom in London is what made me realise just how different the two houses are. I felt compelled to take this as I wandered around our new house the first day it was ours, taking it all in. Why? Because I couldn’t believe how sparkly the tiles were, how bright and functional everything was, and how shiny and clean everything looked and felt.

old bathroom

It was so different from the first day in our house on Daniell Street in New Zealand. On that day we’d just opened the Veuve when Tony took a sledgehammer to our bathroom floor to see how rotten the floorboards were.

home renovation bathroom floor

Tony and his wonderful old friend Anton ended up ripping out all the floor, adding some new piles in, regibbing the walls and then putting in a new bathroom suite. We paid for a plumber but other than than – they did it themselves. For a week we were bathroom-less. I cycled to the gym as soon as I got up each morning just to have a shower before work. At night we snuck into the hospital at the end of the road to use the bathroom.

We had bought a house with a horrid bathroom that tenants hadn’t looked after. We had known it was going to be first on our list of things to do. And while we smarted at the cost of the plumber, we bought the other suite in the sale and managed to keep costs low. We were so happy in the end with our little narrow bathroom where the shower didn’t leak, the floor didn’t squelch and the strange partition was gone forever.

new bathroom home renovation

A coupe of months later we tackled our next big project – the kitchen. It had been so dirty that I’d not been able to bring myself to use the oven those first few months. We began by ripping out all the units – Tony salvaged what he could for his shed, and the rest was dumped or sold. We found that part of the floor was concrete under the lino (the rest was beautiful ancient matai hardwood). We sourced some reclaimeed matai and eventually had the floor polished and that little corner told a story. Beneath it was a load of bricks which Tony later used to build a little wall for our feet at the breakfast bar.ome renovation kitchen floor

With Anton, again, and his sister, Tony again rewired, repiled, regibbed, repainted – and basically did everything to get the space ready for our new kitchen. We splashed out on granite – Tony’s decision – and we loved our little blackboard wall we painted at the end of the room.home renovation new kitchen

Thank goodness we embarked on this project in summer. I got bored of takeaways and washing tea cups in the bathroom sink – but at least it was warm outside and we could break up the sandwiches and takeaways with barbecues!home renovation new kitchen project

Once it was done, our kitchen was a joy. Milin would sit in his high chair at the breakfast bar and watch birds fly from their nests in our garden. We looked out on to a karaka tree, stepped out of the French doors on the deck, sat at a breakfast bar handpainted with Tony’s art and used the blackboard every day. A bell on the wall had been made at Tony’s grandfather’s foundry, our beautiful mango wood table was a wedding gift and became the place around which we spent many an evening with friends.home renovation new kitchen open plan

home renovation living room

We spent a year painting walls, sanding frames, building things, fixing things, getting quotes, replacing glass, redoing guttering… it really was never ending. After we’d cleaned up the big front bedrooms, Tony built wooden wardrobes in the spare bedroom and a bedroom and shelving units in our room.

home renovation painting

home renovation bedroom

Again, everything was done on a budget (Tony carried the headboard he found second hand, online, home on the bus; the wood for the shelving, cupboards and drawers was quite cheap ply he stained himself…) – but in the end of it all, we were proud of our home.

This experience so far with our new home in London is so different. We are still looking forward to making it our own, but we are grateful not to be embarking on such a major renovation. With two little people around – it would just be too hard. We also know now how costs spiral… this time round, there’s no money for that!

I didn’t particularly enjoy DIY or renovating either – the bits I enjoyed were the smaller scale things which still made an impact. This time, we’re doing very little. We’ve got a list of nice-to-haves – and, in fact, we’re starting on one of them in a few days time… Overall though, our projects will be smaller. For now at least!

 

 

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