Simplify 2018: Bathroom

Both in 2017 and 2018, my focus word is simplify. I’m sure I was supposed to pick another one but as I hadn’t finished what I hoped to, it became my word for this year too.

Every year, I’ve always struggled with resolutions. At school, we’d often have that task in English where we had to write our resolutions and it would do often be a pointless exercise. My resolutions would fail either because they are unquantifiable or have been unenforceable. So often I wouldn’t bother but maybe they just needed to be simplified. Make them into attainable goals with quantifiable results.

We’ve been in this house almost nine years now and so through wear and tear some bits of the house have needed to be redecorated and things like that.

While the boys were away in Malawi last year, I worked on decorating the bathroom. It made the most sense while there was just me in the house rather than when the house is full.

Some of it was easier said than done. Chris and I had already chosen the paint so thankfully I didn’t have to do that and risk getting it wrong. When I opened it though I wanted to paint it the purple not the grey! Actually it was just where it needed stirring a bit. Then it was about getting the paint on the wall. Without removing the toilet and the sink, I had to lean and stretch all over the place which I’m sure probably broke a bunch of health and safety rules!

It seemed simple enough. Grab a brush or a roller and go for it. Then I got round to the radiator and actually it wasn’t that simple. I ended up calling Dad to see if he could take the radiator off the wall for me so I could paint behind it.

Well, I was getting there. It probably took me longer than it should of because I was doing bits in the bathroom then going off to other bits in the rest of the house while I had the chance.

When the boys got back, most of the paint work was done but some bits still needed finishing also we still needed to replace the bathroom unit (in the above photo) and the flooring.

Fast forward to earlier this year, we finally got the flooring sorted and a new unit.

Chris decided we’d get the Vilto unit from Ikea. I wasn’t so keen on the idea of open shelves but was willing to give it a go. This also helped with the task of Simplifying because it meant we couldn’t have too many bottles on the shelves. In the end I’ve added some storage boxes, to store shampoo, shower gels etc in but they in turn do make it look tidier. Since I discovered Mrs Hinch and the #hincharmy, I’ve added a further two drawers/boxes on the top shelf to store the cleaning materials and Chris/Our Sidekick’s shaving stuff rather than them both mixing together and escaping across the shelf. This definitely makes it easier just to grab what I need to clean or to tidy the shelves again.

I thought we were there and that we were finished on the bathroom but then we had an issue with the sink. There’d been a puddle appearing across the bathroom floor but we’d figured it was Jaxon playing with the water. However, when it happened again on a day that Jaxon hadn’t been playing with water in the sink we knew there might be a problem. Chris was out on the Saturday evening so I took a screwdriver to the sink and figured out where the problem was.

Because it was around 9.30pm by the time I’d figured out the issue I told the boys not to use the sink. Chris decided we needed a sign too in case any of us forgot. Once Jaxon got over the change of routine, he thought it was kind of novel washing his hands in the bath after going to the toilet.

Following church, Chris and I set about taking the sink apart again to double check what we needed. I’m glad we did because actually it was the metal bit that connects the waste pipe to the sink that had corroded and was leaking into the pedestal and then onto the floor. We went to Wickes, to get a new part and also got some sealant to re-seal the bath while we were at it. While I pulled off the old sealant Chris worked on the sink. At one point Jaxon was watching cartoons on the iPad sat on the landing so that we could keep an eye on him at the same time.

So it took a while because of how it all worked out but now our bathroom is complete. I’m sure we’ll find some bits we need to change over time but hopefully they are little bits and pieces rather than big projects. Onto the next room now…

Fall 2018 – 10×10 Challenge

Fall (well Autumn) has arrived here in Bedford. Some morning it’s chilly but by lunch time it can be warm again. For instance, today as I write this post, my phone tells me it’s 19C (66F) but earlier this morning it was a low of 9C (48F). It’s completely varied so something that I might wrap up in for the morning school run can be too warm for the afternoon school run! Helpful right? I wore my red lovely scarf earlier for the morning school run but as soon as I got home I had to take it off as I was cooking!

Autumn Leaves

So what is the 10×10 challenge?

Well, my lovely friend Shelby has started fall with a 10×10 challenge. So you pick out 9 or 10 pieces to wear and coordinate for 10 days. I’m attempting to join in from October 1st-10th.

My week didn’t entirely go to plan and it’s now the 5th and I’ve finally got chance to take a photo of my outfits. Great right?

Stylish Fall 10x10 Challenge

So in my picture I have:

  • 3 short sleeved t-shirts (red, navy blue and pale blue)
  • Black Hoodie
  • Red Star Jumper (which is kind of my Christmas jumper but is also unchristmassy enough that I can wear it the rest of the year!)
  • Grey Cardigan
  • Two pairs of Black Jeggings
  • Grey jeans
  • Dark blue/indigo jeans (that I’m currently wearing so they aren’t in the picture!)

For a long time I’ve often end up wearing, a t-shirt/jeans combo because it’s been easier to keep up with Jaxon or just chuck it on in the morning. I want to try and be more adventurous and start dressing more grown up than my current “student” look that seems to still be going on!

Shelby says on her blog post that a successful 10×10 challenge is where you can coordinate the pieces together to make different outfits. Included in my picture are a new pair of black jeggings and the (not pictured) blue jeans. Because they are both new they still have that “I’m jeans but I can be smart” kind of look if I had needed to go out this week. Also dressed with the red jumper over one of the t-shirts this would have worked for going out.

What is also not pictured is my black t-shirt that I needed to wear for work on Monday. I was on standby to work for one of my Mum’s Clients and the uniform there is a plain black t-shirt with black trousers. In the end I wasn’t needed.

With the weather being so changeable I decided not to include a coat and as I practically live in one set of trainers I also didn’t include them. (I guess if you were trying to be strict with the rules you’d include them in your count too in which case I have too many items!)

So these are my 10×10 outfits and hopefully I’ll come up with some good combinations.

If this challenge sounds like your kind of thing you might like to check out Shelby’s Dressember challenge too. I’m still trying to decide if I can do it!

Is a challenge like this your kind of thing or do you like the whole range of your wardrobe to pick from? Do you have different wardrobe setup like a capsule wardrobe?

Monthly Review: September

I stumbled across Belle’s review posts over on her blog by accident and decided to attempt to revive my own Monthly Review posts. This is August’s review. You can see others here.


Monthly Review: September

Highlights from September

Flowers from the Wedding

  • September started with two of our friends from church getting married. Chris had been asked to help with some lighting and other bits so he was at the church nearly all day and into the evening. When Chris got home in the evening, he’d been given one of the floral centerpieces from the tables as a thank you to me for letting the Bride and her family borrow him for the day. They were a lovely mix of wildflowers so were right up my street. I love the daisies especially – they are my favourites!
  • We continued counting “Lasts” before Jaxon started school. One of these was his last morning at Lemon and Ginger before starting school, He’ll get to go to ones in the school holidays but it won’t be the same as the lovely ladies there seeing him every week.
  • Jaxon and I had a last field trip to MK before he started school and it almost ended up with a trip to A&E. (read about that here).
  • Jaxon started school and settled in really well. At first I don’t think he wanted to go back as he’d done the first day so why did he need to go back. But he’d taken it completely in his stride and the first day we had tears was when I left by the “wrong” gate after the caretaker had opened the one closer to the main gate about three weeks into term.
  • We had a temporary lodger. One of Our Sidekick’s friends needed some help so he came to stay with us for a few weeks. Every evening that he was in the house he’d often offer to make drinks. I was well looked after – especially on days when I had forgotten to get a drink!
  • I got a new to me bike! My friend Emma has moved back to Australia and so I bought her bike from her. It’s so much nicer and easier to ride than my “old” bike. I rode home from her flat and left it in the garden for a few days because I pretty much went everywhere on it! I even cycled from Jaxon’s school to my knitting group in town. I got there and had to have breakfast because I was starving!
  • I have been walking to and from school which has added heaps on to my average step count each day. I’m trying to make sure that on week days, I am hitting my 10,000 steps which generally does work on school days. Out of the 19 school days in September on 11 of them I reached or exceeded my step count. On 5 of those days I was over 9000 but under 10,000. Also some of those days had lower counts because I cycled instead. So all in all I am doing some exercise each day which is great.

Top Posts Viewed in September

Projects Worked on in September

  • Stormy Skies Jumper (Pattern by Nicky at Handknits and Hygge)
  • Jaxon’s Jumper
  • Autumn Breeze Sweater (Pattern by Paintbox Yarns – downloaded from LoveKnitting)
  • I finished the Autumn Breeze Sweater. DIsappointingly, the arms are long enough but the body is too short. I even got Chris to try it on and it’s too short in the body for him too.
  • Jaxon’s Jumper had a little more work done on it but it’s been put to one side for now.
  • Stormy Skies Jumper was also put to one side temporarily.
  • I’ve been working on a couple of fairly urgent

Books Read in September

Series Watched (Not full seasons btw!)

  • Hilda
  • Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (Recommended by Nikkei at knitting group – still not convinced but will keep trying it)
  • Scorpion
  • Three Wives One Husband
  • Amazing Interiors
  • Joel & Nish vs The World
  • 9-1-1
  • For The People
  • Burden of Truth
  • Chesapeake Shores
  • Instinct
  • Michael Palin in North Korea
  • A Taiwanese Tale of Two Cities
  • Dramaworld
  • Good Witch
  • Great News
  • Sisters
  • Bodyguard
  • The Great British Bake Off

Films Watched

  • Wonder
  • Nappily Ever After
  • Us and Them
  • Leap Year
  • Step Sisters
  • Annabelle Hooper and the Ghost of Nantucket
  • Sierra Burgess is a Lose
  • The X Files: I Want to Believe

Goals for October

  • Clear some more projects. They’ve been growing rather than reducing but I’m sure I can make it happen in October.
  • Work on a business plan for work and ideas around a new direction.
  • Exercise! There are 20 school days in October (although 25 weekdays) so I’m going to attempt to make sure that all of those 20 days I reach my step count.
  • A longer term goal is to walk 2018km in 2018. This is a new goal but is still possible. According to my Fitbit account by the 30th September, I had walked 1478km. This leaves 540ish to walk in 90ish days. This works out around 5-6km each day which is relatively easy when the school runs alone are nearly 5km total – especially if I have time to take a longer route home.

Another Adventure to MK

At the beginning of September, like a lot of other four-year-olds, Jaxon started school. With so many things changing, I thought we’d have one last adventure just us two. Due to the time that we had another adventure to MK seemed to work best.

The day started with us heading to Lemon and Ginger at The Pavilion in Bedford Park. Jaxon’s honorary aunties and Grandma’s wanted to see him before he started school. They were all so excited for him. We are both so blessed that they are all part of our lives. Bus to Lemon and Ginger

After Lemon and Ginger, we headed into town to catch the X5 from Bedford to Milton Keynes. Before we had left knitting group, I grabbed Jaxon a Kid’s Lunch Box from the Pavilion. It included a sandwich, a drink and some other bits. I figured it would be easier for me to grab food on the go when we got there. Making sure Jaxon was fed before I asked him to be patient was the better option. He had his lunch on the bus while we travelled to Milton Keynes.

Once we got to the shopping centre, Jaxon and I had a deal. If he would behave and let me do what I needed to do then he could play on the soft play in the shopping centre. It meant he would have like two hours to play.

To the Bank and the Apple Store

First, we stopped by the bank. They weren’t able to help me with my request but I was able to find a temporary fix that would allow me to do what was needed while we were there.

I’ve been thinking that I could really do with a new phone. My iPhone has been dying on me for a while. I’ve been having to charge if twice if not three times a day for it to keep up with what I do on it some days. So our first stop was the Apple Store. I’d already done the research and if Apple couldn’t price match another store in the shopping centre then I’d go to the other shop instead. I spoke to the Apple person who was helping me who said, yes they would price match. Also the guy I was talking to let me put my “old” phone on charge while we chatted and processed my order, as I was already running out of battery. I don’t think this is normally allowed but as I was there making a big purchase I think the rules could be flexed for me. So, while we were there I got my new iPhone sorted out.

Soft Play in the Shopping CentreThat was the one major thing I needed to do, the other thing I needed to do was to get a phone case but I could always order a new phone case from the internet once I was home rather than going to a shop to buy one. I’m sure if I’d have been there by myself I could have filled the time easily. But I wasn’t going to drag Jaxon round the shops for the sake of it, especially because if it caught up with him the day after he might not have been on best form at school.

Lego, Train and Soft Play

We went to the Lego shop where Jaxon wanted to buy all the kits. I love Lego and love to build the kits. Then we headed to the soft play area, which he loves. The miniature train that drives around that bit of the shopping centre leaves from next to the soft play area so I let Jaxon have a go on it and while he was riding that around the loop in the shopping centre I grabbed a drink and found a seat on the bench while I waited for him to come back.
Once he arrived back at the “station” we went to the soft play, after all he had kept his part of the deal by being a good boy and letting me get on with what I needed to do. I parked myself in one of the corners within the soft play. With my bullet journal across my lap, I worked through my email inbox to clear the decks and write a to-do list once Jaxon was in school. I even go talking to another mum there about the lack of seats and then it turned out that she draws illustrations, so she showed me her sketch book which was really lovely. I wish I’d taken her name so I can take a look at more of her illustrations.

Pizza Hut and Falling Down the Stairs

So around 4pm we went to Pizza Hu, firstly to use the toilet and then sit down and have some food. In this particular restaurant, the toilets (minus the disabled one) are up a set of fairly steep steps. Having been upstairs, we were on our way down the stairs and Jaxon tripped about 4/5 steps from the bottom and just flew. He was there in front of me and then he was gone and was in a heap on the floor. There was a staff member waiting at the bottom of the stairs for us so he tried to help Jaxon up but I think that freaked Jaxon out that bit more.
I dashed down the rest of the stairs, dumped my stuff on the floor and scooped Jaxon up in my arms. I think a stranger coming to his rescue rather than Mummy freaked him out more than the surprise of falling down the stairs.

Jaxon and I moved from the stairs to a table in the restaurant so I could see if he was okay. It also meant I could get a better look at his head where he said it was hurting. The member of staff who’d witnessed it all went to grab the duty manager for us who looked after us amazingly. She got one of the other members of staff to grab some ice and a cloth to put on his head. While we waited for our food to arrive, the manager took our information and what had happened to put it all in the accident book. While we ate our dinner I was having a text message conversation with Chris who was about ready to drop everything and get us or meet us at A&E. I think he was more panicked when I didn’t answer my phone. He had rang a few times and there were missed calls but we were eating dinner so I’d put my phone away.

The Trip Home

After dinner we walked through the shopping centre then outside to meet Chris who was coming to get us. We headed back out of MK but as it was the middle of rush hour there was traffic everywhere. When we got to Newport Pagnell there was really heavy traffic so we took a diversion through Newport Pagnell itself instead of round the outside. There were work men resurfacing a driveway. It just happened that their big delivery truck arrived right in the middle of the rush hour. It was tight but we did make him home for bed time and that was our adventure done.

Time to get the uniform out and ready for the first day at school! EEK!

Back to School – Setting Goals

“Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.”

“You’ve Got Mail” – Nora Ephron

You’ve Got Mail is one of my favourite films. I just love cheesy chick flicks, that are usually so predictable you just know that the girl and guy who hate each other at the beginning will fall in love along with some kind of misunderstanding along the way. But there’s something about it too. I think it feeds into my love of New York but also the fact that it starts with “Fall” well Autumn here in England.

I love this quote because it makes me think of “Back to School” season. As I write this Jaxon is on his third day at school. After the first day, he said he wasn’t going back. Then yesterday morning he was a bit more for going to school. Today the debate was which side of the road we had to walk and then where to cross outside the school (there’s a pelican crossing but about five metres away there’s also a small traffic island in the middle of the road so you can wait for the lights to change and then still cross the road further along – if that makes sense!)

So what have I been up to with my days so far of “freedom”? Well, lots actually. I’m almost up to date on the washing and have managed to clear some other bits of clutter that have been gathering around the house. I even got the bedding and towels back into the airing cupboard instead of them migrating across the landing.

My bullet journal. On the left page there is a tick chart for the jumper I'm currently doing and on the right side is my to do list for the 6th September.

I may have got distracted by pretty highlighters too. Interesting colourful spreads make you more productive right?

Well I’m sure it might but not 100% I was as productive as I could have been!

Then I got onto longer-term goals. What did I want to achieve next week and in the rest of September? Well, I might have got to a “Before Christmas” stage as well but decided to pause that one.

SMART Goals.

So I don’t know about you but when it comes to making goals that aren’t just a “cross of a to do” kind of goal I often end up back at SMART goals. (For daily goals I sometimes try the 1-3-5 method that my friend Rickie introduced me to. 5 little tasks, 3 medium tasks and 1 big task each day rather than a long to-do list like I normally do. You can read more here).

Back to SMART goals, so let’s go back to the beginning. What does SMART stand for?

Specific – Make sure the goal is well defined. What do I want to accomplish? Why is the goal important? Who is involved? Where is it located? What do I need to achieve it?
Measurable –  Make sure the goal is obtainable – think about how will I know when it is accomplished? (For instance, rather than ride my bike more, I might set a goal like ride my bike 10 miles a week)
Achievable – how I accomplish this goal? How realistic is the goal?
Relevant – is the goal relevant? Does this seem worthwhile? But also is this the right time?
Time-Bound – Every goal needs an end day so that you have a deadline to focus on. Maybe it’s the day of a big race (like London Marathon is always around the 25th April – actually it’s nearly always the weekend before my birthday!)

My planner is definitely more of the appointments along with daily to do list kind of goals. I’ve decided to try and start a new insert in my standard TN for the longer goals. With Jaxon now being at school on weekdays, I’m trying to be more proactive and try and achieve some of those goals that I kept putting off because I couldn’t do them with Jaxon in tow.

September started with a lot of decoration, I’m a huge Harry Potter fan and even if Anna’s September stickers weren’t technically HP and Hogwarts themed they did work perfectly (with some additions) to decorate the week leading up to what is the day everyone catches the Hogwarts Express to school. I paired the stickers with red and yellow washi. They were the closest I had to the Gryffindor colours (although I did discover at last year’s Jingle and Mingle that technically I’m a Hufflepuff. Have you booked your tickets for this year’s Jingle and Mingle? They are available here)

This post was originally shared on Mrs Brimbles’ Blog here