Room for Improvement

Living room

Before, a vision in beige

It’s fair to say that since our girls came along, the house has found itself a little neglected. After a pre-baby decorating blitz that almost killed me, things have stayed pretty much the same, aside from pink walls for the girls’ rooms and new flooring that was a necessity following a leaky toilet. Finding the time and money to spruce the place up isn’t easy with jobs to go to and small people to look after.

It’s very much time for a change though, which is why I jumped at the chance to join in the “Room for Improvement” challenge. It’s organised by MoneySupermarket.com to showcase different ways to improve your living space on a budget – in this case the budget was £50 which was kindly provided by MoneySupermarket.com.

We decided to focus on the living room, because it’s the most used area of the house. In recent years it’s resembled a toy shop more than somewhere you’d want to relax in, but we managed to tame the toys a couple of months back, so things were already heading in the right direction. But with no time to paint, and a limited budget to work with, how were we going to improve things?

Soft furnishings!

With “builder’s cream” walls and a beige sofa, to work around, we decided it was down to the curtains and cushions to inject some colour and life into things. And so we headed off in search of… well, something. We had some ideas of colours we thought might work – I was thinking deep reds/purples, Gem was thinking greens –  but in reality we were open to anything.

First stop was Dunelm Mill who, by coincidence, had a sale on. And it was in the sale that we spotted the curtains for us! The Plum Jakarta Collection combines the plum and green colours we’d been thinking about, and with 20% off, reducing the price to £39.99, we were well on the way to sprucing things up. Next up cushions.

Living room - after

After, full of life and colour

We decided the matching cushions might be a bit much, and went for a wander round Dunelm’s extensive cushion collection. I’m delighted to say it was me who spotted the cushions we ended up buying – not like me at all. But the colours in the Berwick cushion covers were a perfect match for the curtains we’d picked up, and we liked the mismatching but coordinating look they’d give us. We picked up two covers at £6.99 each to go alongside our existing cushions.

We’re both thrilled with the final result – it makes the living room feel like a much more grown up space, all for a total spend of just £53.97! AND we got everything in the first place we visited, so no traipsing round endless shops looking at home furnishings. Thanks Dunelm Mill!

To complement our new look further, we’ve also moved a few pictures round, including a piece we commissioned from our artist friend Leila Neal a few years ago. It’s been brightening up our kitchen/diner since we moved in, but the colours seemed such a great match for the plum curtain tops that a new home made perfect sense.

Roses and Thistles, a triptych by Leila Neal

To be honest, this image doesn’t really do it justice

Of course, it does mean we’ve now got a big empty wall in the kitchen. Guess which room is next in line for improvement…

I was provided with £50 by MoneySupermarket.com to spend on improving a room in our house. All words and opinions are my own, and links have been included out of courtesy.

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

Silent Sunday: 2013-05-26

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This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

Movin’ on up

Megan's cot - before pic

Now you see it…

Way back in the mists of time, before I set up the only boy in the house (a year ago last Friday, fact fans!), there was Lunch Hour Waffle, my first toe in the water of the blogging world. To be honest it wasn’t that good – believe it or not, it was more rambly and less focused than this blog is – and I’m glad I decided to change things. Although I did bring those old posts with me when I changed, as a kind of starter for ten.

One of those was about Heather’s transition from cot to bed, and how much help the Gro-Clock had been. Astonishingly, almost two years on, we’ve now reached the same point with Megan, and it’s interesting to now be able to read back on our experiences with Heather. And with that experience, and having fixed the cot that caused so much trauma last time, we’ve been able to plan things much better this time round, and so far that plan seems to be working.

Our cot isn’t one of those that converts into a bed, but it does have a drop-side that’s fairly easy to remove, without affecting the structure and stability of the cot itself. It’s what we did   with Heather until her new room was clear and the bed built, and it’s what we’re doing with Megan too. And I think it’s a great way to get her used to sleeping without bars on all sides, not least because the mattress is at a height that’s not only easy for her to climb onto, but is also low enough that she won’t hurt herself if she falls out. Which she has done – several times in fact, but we’ve put a duvet down to pad the floor a bit, and so far those falls haven’t even woken her, never mind injured her!

Megan's cot - after pic

… now you don’t!

One thing that is different this time is how easy it’s been putting her to bed, in comparison to Heather at the same stage. Either she’s not yet worked out that she can climb out, or she’s quite content going to sleep rather than taking advantage of her new-found freedom. I suspect it’s the latter, because Megan’s always loved her bed, but I guess time will tell. At this point with Heather it could take us up to an hour to get her to stay in bed long enough to fall asleep so we’re definitely winning.

And, when it comes to morning, we’ve bought Megan a Gro-Clock of her very own, and after a couple of days she’s just about got the hang of staying in bed until it turns yellow and the sun appears. Honestly, I don’t think we could ask for anything more from her – the ease with which she’s adapted to the change is astonishing.

That said, there is the possibility it could all change when we move her into a proper bed, but I’m pretty confident that won’t be any problem whatsoever. Once she stops rolling out in her sleep, obviously!

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

Silent Sunday 2013-05-12

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This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

Sponsored Post: Walkers Hoops and Crosses

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You know the kids are watching too much Disney/Nick Jr when they start coming out with Americanisms. “Daddy”, Heather asked last week, “what’s tic-tac-toe?”. I explained that it was another name for noughts and crosses, without considering that this was likely to lead to the (obvious) question of what noughts and crosses is. And, inevitably, we were in the middle of something else and it wasn’t a good time to explain more fully.

By astonishing coincidence, we received a package from Walkers a few days later, allowing us to try their new snack, Hoops and Crosses. They’re baked, rather than fried, and contain 56% wholegrain which I know is good, but I’m not entirely sure why it’s better than other types of grain. That said, our kids already eat plenty of wholegrain, but it doesn’t harm to add a little extra. What’s more, according to Walkers 27% of UK kids don’t have ANY wholegrain in their diets, so hiding them in tasty snacks doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.

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Hoops and Crosses come in three flavours: beef, prawn cocktail and salt & vinegar. We received a packet of beef flavour to try, which we did as a family.

Megan wasn’t keen at all, but Heather enjoyed hers, and was more than happy to deal with Megan’s leftovers. Gem and I liked ours too, with both of us being reminded very much of Monster Munch, another Walkers snack.

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Much to Gem’s displeasure, I used some of the snacks to show Heather how noughts and crosses is played, before they all got gobbled up. I’m not sure I got my message across fully, right enough – after they were all gone I asked Heather if she’d enjoyed her Hoops and Crosses.

“Yes Daddy, and now they’re playing tic-tac-toe in my tummy!”

Sigh…

This is a sponsored post. I was provided with a bundle from Walkers for review purposes. All words and opinions are my own, and links have been included out of courtesy.

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!