Friday, 31 October 2014

30 Days of DIY - a personal SMART challenge

Refurbishing a house yourself around kids, doing your day job and running a business is not something I would recommend. We managed to refurnish out last house from top to bottom in six months (I was on maternity leave and the house was only 10 years old) but this house, with it's wonky floors and high maintenance roof, is taking forever and I am fed up with it.

The main issues, well there are several. 

The mess! I cannot stand it much longer, then there are the days we seem to spend hours working on something and there is no visible difference at the end of the day so the house looks exactly the same. And the little finishing off jobs that now seem like one big job - urgh - they truly make me want to leave home. 

The solution, well part of the solution is a little DIY challenge.  What can I get done in 30 days? We will see and I am making no promises but I have a long list of jobs to complete in my self set #30DIYdays challenge.

So what needs doing. Lets see, there are more doors to be undercoated and painted. White on the room side and black on the hallway side - getting the line straight is so much fun. I have more lights to hang, mirrors to put up, door frames to sand and paint, there is a chest of drawers needing a makeover, wallpaper to hang, the beading on the bathroom floor needs finishing off, and the radiator needs painting, the bathroom fan needs replacing, the hallway cupboard needs re-configuring so our vacuum can actually fit in it. Then there is the blind I need to make and the Boy's built in cupboard needs finishing off properly. So basically I have loads to do and I want as much of it done in the next 30 days. There is no way I will finish everything but focus is good right and even if I only have time to work on a project for 30 minutes it will all makes a difference.

Turning flush doors into smart panelled ones is defiantly worth the effort
There is of course a serious side to setting a SMART challenge. Seeing your goals written down has a powerful effect on the brain and setting goals helps to organise your time and your mind. Plus a goal broken down into smaller chunks makes achieving the goal less challenging, physically and mentally. 

Do you set SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound) goals? I am amazed by how many people I know who don't and then wonder why their efforts didn't achieve the outcome they wanted.
  • Make your goal as specific as possible.
  • Use completion dates, benchmarks or measurable milestones to evaluate your progress.
  • Make sure your goal is attainable; create a target date that is achievable but won't allow you to become complacent.
  • Set a goal that is relevant and meaningful to you and be prepared to make the necessary sacrifices to achieve it.
  • Explore opportunities to create a team of people who support your efforts.
  • Your goal may reflect other's input, but it should be closely aligned with who you are and what you want to contribute to the world.
So at the end of my 30 day DIY challenge I will be able to look back and take in the progress made and being able to see at least four totally finished rooms will make me so very very happy.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

What I want right now, an eternal wish list

Do you have things on your eternal wish list that you never get round to getting for yourself? 

There are two things I want, a bottle of Hermes Faburoug 24, there is a reason it is nearly £100 a bottle - it smells devine. I totally fell in love with this scent in Paris last year and now I go to department stores to get a little complementary spray during my lunch break. I loooove it but can never quite justify buying it when I look at the long list of DIY tasks we still need to complete.
The second item on my eternal wish list is a new drill. The husband has got a dodgy elbow which seems to play up when he uses a manual screwdriver and considering I brought my drill about 15 years ago when my daughter was 5 I think it's time for a new one.  This Bosch Uneo drill is exactly what me and the husband need, it's light, cordless and powerful enough for serious jobs like installing a new kitchen.  I think £140 is good value for money - especially if the drill lasts another 15 years. 

Maybe when I complete my 30 Day DIY Challenge, which I am starting on 1 November, I will have earned some treats. I have reached the point of not really being motivated to tackle any more decorating but I literally hate looking at what still needs doing even more. The solution is I am setting myself a #30DaysOfDIY challenge to power through a few of the smaller jobs like finishing the beading on the bathroom floor and sanding door frames - joy! I think setting a SMART goal is the only way to get stuff done some times.

SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. 

Right then, going to Lisbon to drink coffee and NOT think about DIY, see you when we get back.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Riverford Organic, a veg box review

We have taken the plunge and have started ordering a weekly vegetable box from Riverford Organic and so far I can totally recommend it.

I can't remember if we got a leaflet through the door or an marketing email but we have been thinking about getting back to basics with our fruit and veg for a while so whatever the offer was it came just at the right time. 
Every week for £13.50 we get a box of seasonal organic vegetables dropped off at the house. This week our box was filled with carrots, potatoes, leaks, a cucumber, mushrooms, a cauliflower, a savoy cabbage and a romaine lettuce. 

I thought buying organic would cost us a little bit more on our food bill but actually - by not going to the supermarket and over-buying the box is saving us money as well as time. Plus we quite like not really knowing what we are going to get in the box each week - its just a little bit like Christmas with the added bonus that we are supporting the little guys who are getting a much better deal through Riverford than they are with any supermarket. And do the vegetables taste better than ones from the supermarket? Yep, they are totally yummy and they have dirt on too, you know that stuff from the ground they grow in, yeah that.

Riverford are really building up their customer base at the moment and they have lots of special offers on the website for new customers. This week we got a free fruit box - I have never even seen a green satsuma before so that was a great surprise plus we got a free cookbook - packed full of - surprisingly - vegetable based recipes. 
If you fancy trying getting a box delivered you need to check out if Riverford has a route in your area and give them a call or order via the website. The website also lets you know how much you are saving each month compared to buying the same produce in a supermarket. The vegetable boxes start from £10.35 a week and the deliveries are flexible so you can cancel or amend your box depending on your plans for the week. Best of all for us, you don't need to be home when your box is delivered - if you have somewhere for the driver to stash it. Each week you do need to leave your empty box out as of course they can be re-used, we aren't so good at remembering that bit yet.

Caring is sharing and Riverford are sharing the veggie box love for new customers with this voucher. If you are already a customer make sure you give your code to friends and family giving the delivery option a go. Totally new to Riverford? Here is my code 540434, as you can see I get a little kick back on new customers too - bet you can guess where that money will go - yep the house and I do have my eye on some amazing dining table chairs....

Friday, 10 October 2014

What's good in Lisbon?

I am getting excited, we are heading to Lisbon for a few days soon and I literally cannot wait. No emails, a big event with the day job will be over and I can spend time exploring a new city with my boys. It is a real treat to look forward to. I have been pinning like crazy.

I haven't found at much about visiting Lisbon, I have a guide book and have read a few blog posts but there really isn't a lot around in the way of what's on or recent reviews for restaurants. So what must you absolutely see in Lisbon, with a kid in tow?

So far my list of must visit includes.

Casa Pasteis De Belem reportedly they make the best Portuguese custard tarts in the city.

Feira da Larda, Lisbon's flea market in Alfama - like of course we are going here. Never one to miss a vintage shopping opportunity.

The boy is totally thrilled by knowing he can ride the old trams, wheels they never get old when you are seven. 

What to do, where to go, any suggestions? What to pack - we are doing the whole carry on luggage only thing, not scared at all but I must check the carry on restrictions.

All images via Pinterest this time round, when we are back I will post my own which I will be taking on my compact Olympus Pen that I haven't had the chance to really experiment with yet.

Lisbon - have you been?

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

The other dreaded c-word....Childcare

The husband has got a day job! Now I know most husbands have jobs but it really has been a while since this husband had a day job, which means when the little gets out of school Dad will be at work. So yep, we need help with the dreaded c-word - childcare.  

Until now we haven't needed childcare. The Boy used to go to nursery school, we were really lucky it was for fun so he could play with other kids. The Boy's old school, Walthamstow Montessori,was lovely and small so we knew all the parents and everyone took everyone's kids home all the time. But now new local school and new playground rules. I can't complain, we've had a good run, we just need to find a cake loving local childcare professional, who doesn't mind dodging paint pots, to take care of our little Jedi while we are both at our day jobs.

We have posted an ad on and let everyone in our network know that we need some part time help.  I hope we find someone who gets us as a family without too much bother but oh how I have been reminded of how stressful getting childcare can be.  
When the daughter (nearly 21 now) was a little I was a single mum, I used to do that walk-run move to get her nursery the moment it opened so I could get to work on time and then do the same little walk-run shuffle going home to pick her up on time. I am sure that stress took years off my life!  When my daughter started school I used a combination of after-school clubs and childminders for childcare. Neither was ideal but mostly I remember the constant running and dread of being late. I hear after-school clubs now charge £1.00 a minute now for late pick ups. I guess it's the only way to discourage lateness and the staff have to be paid, but wow that's like a premium rate phone line.  
Parents juggling full time childcare really do deserve a medal, it isn't easy, ever.
How hard was it for you to find the right childcare for your littles? Have you used  I'm really interested to know if you employed a man? I would love to hear your story.
Should you know anyone in gentrified Clapton, London E5 looking for a part time childcare job we are looking for someone who is obviously caring, reliable, honest and patient with oodles of common sense, all attributes which will be reflected in their references. Of course they will also like cake and baking them!
Clapton in Elle Decoration, yep we are officially fancy now.