Wednesday, 6 July 2016

kids table makeover

The playroom makeover is done and dusted, and I've moved on to pastures new (gross, grubby pastures, in the form of our ensuite bathroom), but before I let you in on my plans for that and how it's going I thought you might be interested in a little update we did on the Latt table and chairs we have for the kids.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

adventure themed playroom reveal! finally!

adventure playroom makeover diy

Yay!!! It's finally time! I got my act together long enough to actually clean the playroom and take semi-decent photos! Go me! (exclamation points!!!!!!!!!)

I feel like I've been promising this post forever, but in my defense my kids sole reason for being seems to be to thwart me. Better late than never right? Right?!

So lets get on with it shall we, before some poo-related catastrophe get's in my way? Lovely.

To give a quick re-cap, we only had a couple of definite requirements when we were looking for a house, and one of them was that we wanted a room downstairs that we could use as a playroom. Given the fiasco that was our journey to house-ownership we were lucky to end up with exactly what we wanted, a house with a nice little room off the kitchen/utility where we could shove the kids and all their hideous plastic monstrosities and pretend that they didn't exist! For a while anyway.

Now, while we were delighted to have it, it wasn't exactly inspiring. I don't have a picture of it from the very start, but this is it just before I really started the bulk of the makeover. I had already painted the door from it's original fake wood.

adventure playroom makeover diy

adventure playroom makeover diy

adventure playroom makeover diy
Yuck. Hi Elliott!

However, as the kids were still so small and not really into playing on their own yet it just wasn't a priority and it was basically just used for storage for a while....but fast forward to a year later and I was ready for them to have a place I could send them and not feel bad about it! I wanted somewhere that would entice them to peel their sticky little fingers off my clothes and possibly, actually play without me long enough for me to completey finish a cup of coffee without having to microwave it or down it like a jaegerbomb. So the makeover was on.

adventure playroom makeover diy

I thought I knew exactly what I wanted for this room and I shared my plans for it back in February....and then promptly completely changed my mind. I think I saw "Up" one too many times but I finally decided I wanted it to be kind of aventure-y in here!

As always, paint was the first step. I painted three walls in Crown "Cloudburst", a lovely warm grey, and one wall "Sail white", the same colour I used in my kitchen. Then I painted a really simple mural of mountains in Colortrend "Clockhouse", which was left over from the bedroom....and kitchen. I get my money's worth people!!!

Just a note, I'm really not thrilled with the quality of the Crown paint, it doesn't cover particularly well and it doesn't seem to be very robust either, wheras the Colortrend colour (which I had mixed in Fleetwood paint) went on really well and seems to be much hardier. I won't be going with Crown again. The colours are great but I'd get them mixed in something else.

To paint the mural I just outlined a few triangles with frogtape, painted over them and removed the tape while the paint was still wet to get a nice clean line. I love these mountains, they're kid-friendly, but not childish. Kid stuff is so freaking loud most of the time, and I did NOT want to be sitting sipping pretend tea in a room that gave me a headache, so I figured a nice, calm, neutral background would make the kid colours pop without letting them take over the room.

I also found those cute cloud shelves in Tiger, love them :) And Em and I made the balloons together one rainy Max-naptime.

adventure playroom makeover diy

I wanted to add in some really bright colour, and a trip to Tiger took care of that! I picked up a pack of tissue paper confetti for €1 and stuck them all over this wall with kids art paste. Took an hour, really easy to do, and it'll be really easy to remove when I want to paint in here again.

Over this I hung my gallery wall for the kids art, where I display all their little creations.

empty frames display kids art

adventure playroom makeover diy

I also painted the radiator with a tester pot of Valspar "Sweet Orange". I hate radiators, but I've decided to deal with them by painting them to make them part of the scheme. You can't hide them, may as well make a feature of them!

adventure playroom makeover diy

The door is painted with chalkboard paint, perfect for playing school...or Banksy.

adventure playroom makeover diy

Ribba picture ledges make a great little library area where the kids can see all their books as they're front facing. They love picking their own books, and they're definitely "reading" more since this went up.

adventure playroom makeover diy

adventure playroom makeover diy

I took the Billy bookcase from Em's room (she didn't need for books any more, she just keeps a little stack of her current favorites by her bed) and jazzed it up with some bright wrapping paper on the back.
adventure playroom makeover diy
Of course it's always this tidy! Bahahaha!!!

I (ahem, Gavin) added a new top to the Latt table and chairs that was already in here. The table originally had a lip on it that gathered dirt and made it really hard to clean, and anyway it wasn't big enough for two kids to spread out their stuff on it, so Gavin pulled a bit of leftover plywood out of the shed, curved the edges to prevent eyeball loss, and screwed it to the table top. I then sanded and painted the whole set, and upholstered the chairs.

adventure playroom makeover diy
I LOVE this fabric!

The rug is the indoor/outdoor one that has previously lived in both the living room and the dining room. It's pretty much indestructible, so the playroom is it's spiritual home. I love the graphic black and white in here, it's interesting enough that the kids like it, and it satisfies my need for some "grown-up" pieces in here.

                 adventure playroom makeover diy

adventure playroom makeover diy

The bunting is from Tiger, and was €1! I think it adds interest on this wall, and stops the window looking too bare with no curtains. I toyed with the idea of making a faux pelmet type thing, but it would just block light so I ditched it in favor of the bunting. 

                adventure playroom makeover diy

It didn't need much art in here, what with all the detail on the walls and the front-facing books, but I did make these cute little "Up" inspired pieces for over the bookcase. I made the balloon one out of the same confetti as I used on the wall, and the other I just drew with some sharpies.

adventure playroom makeover diy
I wanted to keep the middle of the room clear for playing, so I kept all the furniture to the edges.

The Kallax unit we already had in here still looks great, and it holds an unbelievable amount of toys! Which I attempt to keep organised, but I have an idea to print out pictures for the front of each basket so the kids can at least try to tidy up by themselves soon.

adventure playroom makeover diy

Finally, a cute little laundry basket i picked up in Tiger holds all the dolls and teddies.

                 adventure playroom makeover diy

So there you have it! It's a small, narrow room that doesn't get a lot of direct light and it's tough to photograph, but I hope I've given you some idea of how much better it is now!

If you're interested in the cost, here's the breakdown:

Things I bought

Ribba ledges-€35
String lights-€6
Confetti, bunting etc-€5
Upholstery foam-€5
Laundry bin-€6
Cloud shelves-€7
Coat hooks-€10

Things I already had

Kallax unit-€55
Storage boxes-€24
Billy bookcase-€40
Latt table and chairs-€22
Cork boards-€10

So it cost me under €175 to makeover this room, and if you were to start from scratch the whole thing would have cost under €425! Bargain!

adventure playroom makeover diy

The sprogs love it, and I must admit I put up less of a fight when I'm asked to come and play dolls now! What do you think?

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Monday, 13 June 2016

personalised cork board

personalised corkaboard tutorial

Keep your eyes peeled people, the playroom reveal is coming this week! I've decided that I'm never going to do the couple of things I've been meaning to "finish off" in there so this is a good as it gets. I'm just waiting for the gods of good photo's to bless me with a bright day that happens to coincide with the room being tidy and I'm golden!

So basically don't hold your breath.

In the meantime I wanted to share this nifty little idea with you fine people. 

I had a blank space on the wall in the playroom that I didn't know what to do with. I already had a LOT going on here what with the mural, and the polka dots, and the gallery wall.

More is more people. MORE IS MORE!!!!!!

So not wanting to overdo it, and definitely not wanting to spend any money on it, I dug out the two cork boards that had been in here for pinning up the kids art before the makeover. I got them in Tesco for €5 each and they were really useful, so I decided to jazz them up a bit and stick them up in the space. You can never have too much display area in a playroom right?

personalised corkaboard tutorial

This is particularly good if you have used a fabric elsewhere in a room, and want to bring it in somewhere else. I had covered the kids chairs in this amazing fabric from Ikea, and as I had some left I decided to staple it over the cork boards.

personalised corkaboard tutorial

This ain't rocket surgery, start in the middle of each side, pull 'er tight and staple!

personalised corkaboard tutorial

I left a little space to stick command strips on to make them easy to put up on the wall.

personalised corkaboard tutorial

I think they look really great just as "art"....

personalised corkaboard tutorial

...and equally cute showing off all the odd little bits and pieces I couldn't find a place for elsewhere :) 

Note ~ this is too high up for Max to reach, but I don't trust the little bugger not to build a scissor lift out of lego or something so the lower down board will have the pins removed and replaced with glue dots.

personalised corkaboard tutorial
Only trust those who like big books, they cannot lie.

So that's it, a quick little project that you could have done in half an hour. If you're like me you have lots of odds and ends of fabric lying around waiting to be used, or you want to bring a particular pattern into a room and could use these as "canvases" to do that. I love them, and they finished off the room so I'm happy!

See you all again at the end of the week when I finally share all the pretty pictures of the finished room....although you've already seen most of it by now! :)

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Friday, 3 June 2016

who hasn't lost a kid?!

You get bonus cousin Jamie in this photo. No need to thank me.

So bear with me, it's another short "parenting is frigging tough" opinion piece from me today. For those of you who wish I'd just get back to painting stuff already I promise it's coming, but there's just something I need to mention first.

I once lost Em in her own bed. 

The bed had bars.

An achievement, I know. let me explain.

I went in to check on her after a particularly "vigorous" bedtime wind-down (once they're old enough we operate a "go the hell to sleep,I'm not coming back in here unless you're actually dying" policy) and she wasn't there! The place looked like it had been ransacked! I freaked out, obviously, checking the windows and all the other rooms, thinking someone had somehow gotten into our seventh floor apartment and snatched her. It was terrifying, and all the while I was thinking "this is all my fault, maybe she was shouting because she was scared and I ignored her, I'm a terrible mother"!!!!!!!!

And then I went back into her room and recognised the pattern of her pyjamas peeking out from amongst the destruction that was her cot.
There she was, panned out, snoring gently, covered by her blankets and all the toys and cushions she could reach to pull into the cot (another bad-mammy move!) completely oblivious to the fact that she had just scared at least ten years off of my life.

I've lost Max too of course, more frequently and dangerously. He's a sneaky, fast little guy and now I have another kid I need to watch too, so either he's wilier or I'm paying less attention. Honestly it's probably a little bit of both.

Twice I have been in play centers, turned my head to check Em and looked back to find him gone. Both times strangers found him outside on the footpath. And I felt like crap, of course I did. But you know what, I was doing my best, and accidents happen. I was just lucky that he was found safe and well, with nothing more than a taste for freedom and an industrial strength leash to show for it.

The lady who's son crawled into that gorilla enclosure wasn't so lucky. He ended up in a terribly dangerous situation, and I can't even begin to imagine what she felt as she watched what was happening. 

And for that, good people, she should be pitied, not vilified. 

His dad was there too, the kid shouldn't have been able to get into the enclosure at all, the zoo didn't have any choice, of course they didn't, and yet SHE is blamed. 

There is no-one to blame. This was a terrible accident, that is all. And anyone talking about how the gorilla was "protecting" him or that they should have risked tranquilizing him instead?! Let's just stick your kid in there to take the kind of abuse I saw on the (uncut!) video and see how you feel about it, shall we? 

It's very easy to be an expert when you're sitting safely at home. You know, without a giant, agitated gorilla dragging your small child around? 


And what's been enraging me even more about this is that a couple in Japan left their child in the woods on purpose, causing him to be missing for SIX DAYS and all I hear in the media is "oh they must feel terrible", and "sure who hasn't tried to scare their kids by pretending to leave them?"

Eh?!! ME!! I haven't!! 

I don't get it, why the complete opposite reactions? I mean, at one point I was listening to a talk show on the radio where they literally went from one topic to the other, and the reactions were a total attack on the mom from the zoo, and then concerned pity for the parents of the child in the woods, and at that point he hadn't even been found yet for crying out loud! They thought he was dead!!

So why the difference? Why the complete hypocrisy?

Well, I don't want to seem cynical folks, but I find it very interesting that the mother was the focus in the zoo case, while the father took responsibility and gave the interviews in Japan. It would seem that a father's outrageously crappy parenting is a mistake, but a mothers mistake is unforgivable. 

I'm so tired of this crap. Really.

So that's it, mini rant over. I'm not foolish enough to think my opinion means much either, but I just felt like I had to send some positivity that poor woman's way, 'cos she for sure is getting more than her share of the opposite.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

10 signs your lovely toddler may be entering the "twatty twos"

Toddlers! They're great aren't they?! All wobbly and cute, still baby-cuddly but finally developing a personality that means you can actually start enjoying them as little people in their own right. You get a couple of months of this loveliness, and then, out of nowhere, you're hit with a tsunami of rage and whinging so terrible it is remembered with fear by parents everywhere.

Oh yes, the terrible twos, or more appropriately in my case, the twatty twos. 

With Em this stage started around 18 months and lasted until after she turned three, so I know I'm in for a while of it with Max, but she did turn into a reasonable, hilarious human being eventually so I have hopes for him too. 

They're not high hopes, but they're definitely there.

So, having been through this once already it isn't quite as terrifying this time around, although Max's symptoms are a little more pronounced than Em's ever were, and I thought it would be fun (and informative!) to share some of the things that clued me in that my little darling is on the turn!

And so in no particular order, here they are:

1) There is a sudden rebellion when it comes to nappy changing. He will twist, he will turn, he will double kick you in the face, all in the defense of a poo so disgusting it must surely be burning his bum?! Once the nappy is off he will become his normal smiling self again...only to resume the fight when you try to put a new nappy back on. There is no sense to this.

Does he hate the nappy? 
Does he hate being dressed?
Is he just taking the absolute piss?

Looking for sense in the terrible two's is futile. Therein lies madness!

2) He's perfecting "the banana", which sounds cute, but is more like a full on knock-down drag out fight to the death over whether or not he is going into his car seat. This is always, always performed in a carpark, in full view of another mother, one who has twice the number of kids, but who is somehow beautifully dressed (usually she's wearing heels, HEELS!) and who's fully in control of all her delightfully well behaved children. Cow. 

You always try and sound like you're supernanny, all "there there darling, sit down for mommy, there's a love" through gritted teeth, all the while thinking "just you wait you little shit, I've got a million photos of you naked but for a bandana and an amusing hat and I'm going to spend your teenage years showing them to anyone who will let me!". Bahahahahaha!!!!!! *sobs*

3) You have been waiting for months to hear him utter his first words, and when suddenly he learned some you were ecstatic, but now, after months of hearing "UP!", "DOWN!" and "NOOOO!!!!" screeched at the top of his lungs approximately once ever 2.5 seconds you are beginning to wonder why humans need language at all.

4) He hates the buggy. He hates his reigns. He hates holding your hand. How dare you try to restrain him?! He is a strong, independant baby and he certainly doesn't need you holding him back. Oh look, he's fallen over for the 100th time today. "How could you let me fall over?!!!" 


5) He refuses to eat the carefully prepared meals you make him, but when he finds a slice of burned toast you threw out for the birds three days ago in the flowerbed it's a full-on fight to the death to get it back.

6) His hobbies include: putting things in the toilet, spilling drinks, crying about things he's put in the toilet, scaring cats, and breaking your spirit.

7) He has two settings, perfectly happy, and totally devastasted. There is no in between, and the transition from one to the other can happen in seconds.

8) He throws tantrums to protest the injustice of being prevented from scalping his sister. This is your fault. He usually hurts himself during the tantrum. This is also your fault.

9) He is completely oblivious to my existence....until I try to make a cup of coffee/check my phone. Then, he appears, and like a whingey limpet attaches himself to my leg screeching "Mama!! Up!!" until I relent and pick him up. Wherupon he instantly struggles to get out of my arms. Obviously.

And finally, and this might just be me......

10) He deems it acceptable to approach me, as I am bent over drying my legs after a shower, and slap me, hard, in the tit. 

Then he laughs.

F. M. L.

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Sunday, 22 May 2016

simple billy bookcase update

simple billy bookcase update/hack

Yes, I've told you guys many, many times that the playroom reveal was on it's way, and yes, it turned out I was lying, but this time I mean it, I promise!!!!!

Everything in there is finished, I'm just waiting on one decal to arrive and then I can photograph the whole thing for you. I swear!

In the meantime, I thought I'd share a quick little idea for jazzing up a bookcase with you.

simple billy bookcase update/hack

We have two of these small Billy bookcases from Ikea, one in the sitting room which houses the books we just can't bear to part with when we're finished reading them, and this one, which used to house Em's books in her room. Now that we have the book shelves in the playroom it wasn't really needed up there anymore, so I pinched it for extra storage in here.

~Cheapskate decorating tip #163: always shop your house first. You'll be surprised how pieces can often be better utilised in different rooms.

Billy bookcases come with a really light panel that goes on the back if you don't want open shelving, and it's perfect for personalising. As you can see from the state of it in the picture above, this one had already had two previous incarnations, one painted pink, and another covered in gold glittery paper.

simple billy bookcase update/hack

To tidy it up for the playroom, and help it add to the "black/white/grey with brightly coloured touches" scheme I ended up going for in here, I decided to cover the back in this great paper I found in Penney's. €2 for 10 metres! Bargain! I just popped the backing off (it was stapled on) and wrapped it like a present. I didn't even bother sanding off any of the stuck-on old paper, there was no need.

simple billy bookcase update/hack

simple billy bookcase update/hack

Once it was done I stapled it back onto the back of the bookcase, and hey presto, it was done. It took me 20 minutes, cost €2, and makes a big difference. My favourite kind of project!

simple billy bookcase update/hack

It's so bright and cheerful, and really adds to the room. And yes, of course the toys will stay that tidy.

Laughs hysterically and downs a spiked double espresso.

simple billy bookcase update/hack
Oh this? Just a carrot wearing shorts riding a ladybird. You know, the usual.

I made some "Up" inspired art that now sits on top, and I can display some of the kids lovely wooden toys. You know, the stuff they never play with cos they love the crappy one legged fake Barbie so much? Yeah that.

simple billy bookcase update/hack

simple billy bookcase update/hack
"Adventure is out there" - so get the hell outside and play so mommy can drink her coffee in peace.

So there you have it, a cheap and easy way to update a bookcase, and with the huge choice of cheap wrapping paper available the possibilities for this are endless. If you wanted it to be a bit more robust you could use wallpaper, or paint/stencil it, but really you can't get quicker and cheaper than good old wrapping paper!

simple billy bookcase update/hack

What do you think? Will you be gift wrapping any of your furniture now? :)

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Thursday, 19 May 2016

10 things I've learned in my first year of blogging

things I learned in my first year blogging

By some miracle I started this blog more than a year ago, and instead of my usual "think it's the best thing ever for a month and then drop it like a hot snot" approach to hobbies*, this one has stuck. If anything my interest has only grown, and the more I get to know about the ins and outs of running a blog the more into it I get. 

*"Hobby" really feels like the wrong word, but I can't think what else to call it. Sideline? Venture? What I want to do when I'm a grown-up? That thing I neglect my family for? Answers on a postcard please.

Friday, 13 May 2016

my first blogiversary!


A year ago this week I hit publish on a facebook post telling everyone I knew that I had started a blog. I didn't know if anyone would read it, but I had been working on it in secret long enough to know that I was proud of it, and that it wasn't something I would be giving up anytime soon.

One year, 3500 facebook followers, 60,000 blog visits and 2 Irish blog award short lists later I can't really believe how well it's going and I just want to say thank you to all of you who read my posts and are following along on this little journey with me. It really means a lot that anyone is interested in what I have to say!

I have so much planned that I want to share with you all, and so many ideas for posts that I will think you will love, (starting with a short series of posts about the ins and outs of blogging, how I got started, the equipment I use etc) so don't go anywhere!

Thanks again you guys, you really and truly are the greatest.

Here's to another year, hopefully even better than the last!



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