Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Farewell January

As January plays out its final day, I am not sorry to see the back of it.

It has been a month of coughing, and more coughing.... and yet more coughing.

It has also been a month of chocolate, alcohol and takeaways - nice at the time of indulging but the sluggishness that inevitably accompanies such excesses has not helped me to cope with how busy I have been and how thinly my personal resources have been stretched.

Cold, dark mornings and cold dark evenings do not charge me with the energy I need to make the days productive.

I have worked so hard to help my daughter get her new home ready to move into that my own home has been sadly neglected. I have really enjoyed being able to help her with the decorating and cleaning (and now curtain buying) but I am desperate to get on with my own home improvements.

Blog posts have been half written and will remain so as drafts until such a time as I get round to finishing or deleting them.

The sands of time are doing their thing with the hour glass at far too great a rate.

A lovely wedding that featured my daughters singing so beautifully, lifted my spirits and gave me a moment to reflect on how lucky I am to be part of a big, sometimes demanding, sometimes challenging, always wonderful family. No matter how difficult things get, no matter how torn in different directions I feel, no matter how sleep deprived I am - I must never forget how truly blessed I am.

With optimism fully intact, bring on February.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Thomas in Charge

It's been years since I've watched an episode of Thomas the Tank Engine - not since my nephew (now in his twenties) could name every engine from the tiniest glimpse. In all honesty, I've never really been a fan of the works of Reverend Awdry and until recently, having been blessed with only daughters, Thomas et al did not feature in my life.

The arrival of my son has precipitated an interesting shift in the toy cupboard and the DVD collection. I don't go out of my way to impose gender stereotypes but my son very definitely has more interest in all things vehicular than my daughters ever did.

When I was offered a copy of the new Thomas & Friends DVD - Thomas in Charge - released this week, I  imagined my little Dylan would be very happy.

The animation style is quite different to the original series that I remember and  Ringo Starr has been replaced as the narrator by Michael Angelis, who I remember fondly as Lucien from the BBC sitcom The Liver Birds ("I breed rabbits, me") - but I suppose evolution is inevitable with a franchise of any longevity.

Another difference is how much more friendly and pleasant the engines are to each other. I'm sure that in the books, there are some quite nasty characters.  I was disappointed that the original theme tune no longer featured but Dylan responded to the new cheery tune with a little wiggle and a smile.

Although for me, watching this DVD inevitably made me draw comparisons and ultimately feel my age, for Dylan, watching with fresh eyes, it was a positive experience. It did not sustain his attention for the running time of just under an hour but as it is comprised of episodes, that was not a problem.

I was actually doing my knitting and chatting to my mum at the same time as watching this DVD. Without giving it my full attention I couldn't really give you the run down of all four episodes but suffice it to say, it was much what you would expect with  problems finding resolutions in the setting of  Knapford Station and the Island of Sodor. I was more attuned to my little boy's reactions as he watched avidly, proving that I was right to think he would enjoy this.

It is possible to select the episodes individually on the DVD menu or to take the option of "Watching with Mr Perkins". The Mr Perkins infill between episodes creates a separate story arc about playing music at the Knapford bandstand. There was a gentle educational content to the Mr Perkins segments but I could happily have done without it. Dylan was far more engaged by the animation than the acted parts. Perhaps for older children it would have more value.

In summary, fans of Thomas & Friends are in for a treat and for Dylan it was definitely a good introduction to a classic.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Chinese New Year

Despite the fact that both my little ones are under the weather and consequently being more demanding than usual, I decided to go ahead and celebrate Chinese New Year with a special dinner - if only for the excuse to use an oriental bowl set that my much missed older sister gave me on the occasion of my first wedding many years ago (a wedding which had it not yielded four amazing daughters would have counted as the biggest mistake of my life).

I had grand plans involving an elaborate menu and painting dragons but on account of my poorly babies, I downscaled. I did egg noodles and quorn nuggets with dipping sauce (that is tomato ketchup dolloped onto a little plate) for the less adventurous palettes and a vegetable thai red curry that was as easy as chucking frozen stir fry vegetables into a wok with a jar of curry sauce. I managed to turn the nuggets hard and leathery and the rice soft and blancmange-y by overcooking both but nobody minded once they had entered into the spirit of celebration.

I'm not sure how much the little ones actually ate but they enjoyed the novelty of chopsticks and spread noodles and ketchup far and wide.

Dessert was another cheat - shop bought chocolate fudge cake (not very Chinese but they both start with Ch) which we decorated with some little plastic dragons that I found in a tin of mythical creatures  I had forgotten we had until I had a rummage for a dragon that I know we have but failed to find. These dragons were much better anyway!

The one thing that we did spend a bit of time on that made the evening special was our origami fortune cookies. I pointed Charis in the direction of a You Tube tutorial, provided her with paper and left her to get on with it. Rather than fortunes, I told her to insert little slips of paper with monetary values on them from 5p to £1 and for one lucky person £10. The money corresponding to the amounts was left tantalisingly on a small plate waiting to be claimed.

Charis did an amazing job in the time she had and wrote little messages telling people what they had won rather than simply putting the value as I had suggested.

I won £1 which made me stupidly happy given that it was me that put the money into the pot in the first place! It wasn't Taylor that won the £10.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Holiday Inn, Heels and Hangover

My Friend Rose got married this weekend. There is no mascara waterproof enough to cope with the tears I shed as I watched  Rose take to the dance floor for the first dance with her new husband.

Rose has not had an easy life - I honestly don't think I could have coped with half of what she has been through - yet here she was, swaying blissfully, completely content, brimming with love for a man who clearly felt exactly the same way too.

This perfect moment (aptly played out to Kelly Clarkson singing A Moment Like This) was touchingly beautiful and one I think I will remember for ever.

You've got to love happy endings!

The wedding took place at The Holiday Inn Swindon. I wore impossibly High Heels. I drank enough to have suffered a minor Hangover. Although this was never meant to count as our H date, it was a wonderful weekend and thanks to my fantastic daughter, Charis, volunteering to turn in early and stay with the sleeping little ones in the Hotel room, I got to spend a lot of time dancing with my Husband. I think it qualifies.

Other Wedding Weekend Highlights included:

  • My girls singing for the entrance of the bride
  • Getting through my 'Father of the Bride' speech without mishap.
  • Enjoying my girls performing a band set for the evening entertainment.
  • Seeing Taylor looking so grown up and partying. For the first time, I could really imagine her as a University student.
  • Spending time with all my grown up daughters.
  • Sleeping Babies
  • I've mentioned them once, but I love them enough to mention them again - my shoes!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Maths Geek

My daughter Taylor is a maths geek hoping to achieve A* in her maths and further maths A Levels to secure herself a place at Warwick University to study.... maths, obviously!

Having a  maths geek daughter definitely has its uses and gave me three Reasons to be Cheerful in one evening alone.

She used her knowledge of ratios and her ability to calculate quickly and accurately to resize a digital photograph for me to exactly the size I wanted using HTML code.

She then used her problem solving skills and sheer tenacity and determination to finish unravelling the big knotted mess that my little boy had turned my knitting into.

Finally, she made Apple Pi.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

The Gallery - Week 87 - Eyes

I have brown eyes.

Five out of my six children have brown eyes, ranging in shade from greenish brown to nearly black, but still brown nonetheless.

My husband has blue eyes which in a metrosexual moment that we never let him live down, he described as slate. 

Our little Addy somehow got the mix of genes that have given her vivid blue eyes.  I still find it slightly odd when she looks at me with them - they feel so unfamiliar. 

To capture the image for this week's Gallery I experimented with my macro lens, which was a lot less tricky than trying to get Addy to sit still and open her eyes for 5 seconds!

Tuesday, 17 January 2012


I am very glad that I didn't make a promise in my New Year action plan to blog daily. I would have failed miserably already.

This picture of my knitting after I had spent the best part of 40 minutes untangling the mess my little boy made of the ball of wool seems to be synonymous with my life at the moment. I work hard to create some sort of order but chaos still reigns.

I have had similar tangles in my hair to contend with.

On Saturday, my body was exercised, stimulated and pampered with all that The Fairlawns Spa, Walsall had to offer on a day out with my sister and niece. My skin felt soft and smooth but my hair had been frazzled by saunas and steam rooms and had a generous caking of mud from my over enthusiastic application technique during the mud treatment we had booked.  On Sunday, I added to the disaster of what should be my crowning glory when I painted the ceiling in my daughter's new living room. The 'value' emulsion I was using rained down on me with every roll of the roller. Much washing, conditioning and brushing later and I am still more Worzel Gummidge than Rapunzel.

Hair-wise, it could be worse. My little Addy loves to climb up onto her daddy's shoulders (whether he wants her to or not!). My husband does not like to admit that he is thinning in top - preferring to refer to his bald spot as a 'prominent crown'. It was with such an earnest tone that she said to him from her vantage point - Daddy, you've got a hole in your hair.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Making a Start

Although the beginning of the new year hasn't been the most fantastic ever, my 2012 Plans and Goals  have got off to a flying start, giving me plenty to be Cheerful about.

I haven't been able to put the plan to lose my festive plumpness into action yet because of the temptation of the remaining seasonal goodies and the habit of drinking alcohol that I got into very quickly over Xmas. I am, however, enjoying brisk walks to and from school and have a spa day to look forward to this weekend to reinvigorate and motivate me.

Both of my little ones are now going to bed at a reasonable time without too much fuss and sleeping through the night again. I had all sorts of strategies that I was going to implement to get them back to a good bedtime routine, including a Super Nanny style reward chart, but none of it has really been necessary. The promise of a sticker book and more resolute parenting seems to have been enough. As much as I enjoy the occasional night with a warm body (or two) nestled between my husband and I, regular bed sharing isn't an ideal situation for me and I am very happy to have my nights back.

My mum and I made a start on our new knitting project after the success of our Birds of Xmas. After some trial runs, mum worked out that with 30 stitches on size 4 needles with DK wool and working 54 rows in garter stitch, the result is a 5 inch square. The plan is to make many 5 inch squares (84 we think) in a variety of colours with different embellishments and join them together to make patchwork blankets for the children's cot beds. Mum is churning squares out faster than I could dream of but I am enjoying plodding along at my own pace.

My de-cluttering drive is gaining momentum and despite my husband's inadvertent sabotage, the decorating is going well. It is amazing how much more energetic and optimistic I feel simply by throwing out some unwanted junk and the smell of fresh paint is helping to keep me focused on my goal to achieve my perfect living space.

Tonight is the first of our new Ballroom Dancing classes. We have dropped a level because we were struggling to keep up with the advanced class, particularly in the dances that we had never covered before with our old teacher. I am looking forward to taking things slower and reminding myself that it should be about enjoyment as well as mastering routines.

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Monday, 9 January 2012

Soothing White

I can still remember the master bedroom of a house I moved into back in the late eighties. It had woodchip wallpaper painted dusty pink with a pale pink ceiling. I remember lying in bed looking up at that ceiling and wondering why anybody would want a ceiling any colour other than crisp, light reflecting white. I'm sure there will be many that disagree with this opinion and think I am missing out on a world of decorating possibilities by limiting my colour palette, but for me there is nothing to rival a clean, white ceiling (with the possible exception of the Sistine Chapel).

This weekend, my husband laid a new floor in my en-suite bathroom. We opted for wood effect vinyl which is a massive improvement on the existing carpet that had got soggy that many times it was starting to smell. In readiness for the new flooring, I glossed all the skirting boards and painted the ceiling. The ceiling had a few small cracks so I used a basecoat that promised to not just fill the cracks but prevent them ever returning. It did a really good job of providing a perfect finish to top coat. It is only a small room and it does get somewhat steamy in there so my final job before I let my husband loose on the project was to apply Brilliant White moisture and steam resistant bathroom paint. Unfortunately, I ran out of time to get this done so I entrusted my husband to buy the paint and finish off while I took the children shopping for new outfits for a forthcoming wedding.

My husband is colour blind.

I'm not sure colour blindness is really an excuse for what he did.

Instead of Brilliant White paint, he bought Soothing White. I'm not entirely sure why it was the 'soothing' white that found its way into his shopping basket rather than any of the other romantically named shades from the 'whites with a hint of ' range or an even bigger mystery, why he didn't just buy the bog standard (and cheaper) Brilliant White that I wanted. Nevertheless, that is what happened.

I would have imagined that as soon as he opened the tin he would have realised his mistake - or if not, then surely when he began rolling it onto the pure white base coat.

If he did notice the discrepancy between his white and my white, he chose to ignore it and painted the whole thing. He didn't actually paint it very well either.

When I came home from my shopping trip I was horrified by the transformation of my flawless white  ceiling into a patchy, tinted mess. I could have cried. 

I didn't cry. I fumed a little but I didn't cry. 

As luck would have it, Soothing White is the colour my daughter has chosen to paint the bathroom in her new house so I can give the nearly full tin of paint to her and feel that it wasn't a complete waste of money.

Today, I bought the Brilliant White moisture and steam resistant paint that I wanted from the start and the Gods were smiling because the Dulux variety was half price in my local Wilkinsons.

I repainted my ceiling.

With every roll of the roller, I felt my calm return. 

I did have a bit of an "oh ****" moment when I over extended to reach a corner and inadvertently allowed the paint tray I was holding to tip up. It made a quite lovely sound as the contents of the tray splopped to the floor. Thankfully, I had covered the new vinyl properly with dust sheets which protected it from my mishap completely.

I may need a second coat to obliterate every last trace of the Soothing White, which quite frankly, did not soothe me one tiny bit! Brilliant Whiteness will soon be restored to reflect light back onto my now smelly carpet-less bathroom.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

How Clean is Your House?

The people that my daughter and her boyfriend bought their house from were a lovely couple with a little girl the same age as my Addy. They left a good luck card to wish as much happiness in their new home as they themselves had had and a tin of Roses chocolates (which has proved invaluable to restore flagging energy levels during the process of redecorating and preparing to move in).

I went around this morning to help out for a few hours. Liberty was cleaning the paintwork in the living room ready to gloss so I busied myself in the freshly painted kitchen, packing away the decorating equipment we had been using and giving everything a good clean. It was all coming together beautifully and I was hopeful that we would have a finished room to show off to Liberty's boyfriend (who is still having trouble visualising how lovely it is all going to be).

Then I came to the oven.

The oven was a brushed steel De Longhi built in appliance that didn't appear to be very old. It is a total mystery to me how it could possibly have got into the state that it was inside.

In all the time that Liberty had spent in the house, she had never opened the oven. This is what we found when we did.

My photograph doesn't really capture the full horror of it all. The heavy, rank smell of old grease was stomach churning.

Liberty went to Morrisons in search of propriety oven cleaner - the stronger the better. She returned with Mr Muscle and Oven Pride (and some cheese pasties and muffins to sustain us through what was likely to be a long day).

I got to work on the inside with Mr Muscle while Liberty put the grease and carbon encrusted racks and grill in the bag supplied and added the Oven Pride magic chemical. This needs to be left overnight so I don't know yet how effective it will be but I was impressed that it made an instant impact, turning the clear liquid  black and tarry like the images used to put people off smoking.

I struggled to make much impact at all. The very edges of the oven wiped clean easily to reveal bright, shiny metal that seemed to confirm our suspicion that this was not an old appliance. The thick, carbonised deposits on the glass door and inside the body of the oven were barely touched despite repeated applications of the Mr Muscle spray (which served mostly to burn my nasal linings and little else).

It was dark before I left. I scrubbed until my hands were sore. I attacked it with a steam cleaner. I even took to scraping at it with a wallpaper scraper. I made a small amount of progress but I am a long way off being able to show before and after photographs.

Searching the internet has given me the idea to use baking soda mixed to a paste with water which is applied to the filth and left to soften it. I want to find a plastic scraper which will do the job without damaging the oven surface and I want to make that oven gleam!

I will make that oven gleam!!

It did occur to me that I haven't paid a great deal of attention to the state of cleanliness of my own oven recently. I checked when I got home. I was very happy with what I found.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Plans and goals

It hasn't been the easiest or best start to the New Year. On top of self worth issues catalysed by my husband's Christmas gifts to me I have had a parenting wobble. Being a mum has always been  the most important thing to me so when I get it wrong, it hurts me to my core. There is also the fact that I missed a New Year/40th Birthday Party that I had really been looking forward to because I couldn't justify dragging my little ones along when they were both still struggling with coughs that interfere with their sleep... and my usual babysitters, my older girls, were all at the party. It was a fancy dress party with a "last 40 years of film" theme and Ivy and Charis did look amazing as the most excellent Bill and Ted!

And perhaps in the interest of completeness and to paint the full picture of my bad start to the year I should also mention my catastrophic Sky Lantern episode. We had four sky lanterns that we planned to let drift majestically skyward. One did actually just about make it. Another got tangled dangerously in a tree. My relief as it finally freed itself without setting fire to the branches was short lived. It bounced over the flat roof extension of my kitchen and wedged itself up against our next door neighbour's caravan. My daughter's fireman boyfriend sprang into action, beating out the flames with a child's hallowe'en broomstick and no harm was done that a wipe with a damp cloth couldn't fix. The final two lanterns never quite managed to build up enough warm air to make them rise. Instead, the lantern paper ignited. This is their soggy remains after our friendly fireman stuffed them into the chiminea.

I did see the funny side of the lantern disaster and I am trying to focus on all the wonderfully thoughtful things my husband does for me throughout the year rather than allow his uninspired Xmas gifts to be the definitive measure of my worth. I am also feeling a million times better about my role as a mum and am so grateful for each of my six wonderful children.

With a more positive outlook, I finally feel ready to take stock and think about plans and goals for 2012 and as writing them down gives them weight and demonstrates my commitment to them, here goes:

1. I have definitely put on a few unwanted pounds over the holiday period so my first goal is to shift that. The walk to and from Nursery School twice a day should help.

2. My two little ones have taken a backward step with regard to sleeping through the night. I always feel so much better able to cope with what life throws at me when I've had  a decent night's sleep so I am planning to implement some strategies to get things back to where we were.

3.  Last summer, our ballroom dance class was cancelled because the teacher basically wanted her Sunday back. We joined a different class but it was at a more advanced level and despite our best efforts to keep up, we struggled. I feel as though I know a lot more about the dances but a lot less about dancing for enjoyment and the exhilaration of flying around the floor. We have made the decision to  drop down to a lower level class that will give us the chance to be good at what we are doing again and rebuild some confidence. My goal for this year is to take our dance shoes for a twirl around The Ballroom in Blackpool and feel amazing.

4. I have two knitting projects that I want to complete. One I am doing with my mum is to make patchwork blankets for the cotbeds. The other I am going to attempt completely on my own. I bought myself a book called Gothic Knits. It hasn't been delivered yet but it has patterns for some amazing little vampire dolls. I can't wait to see what else there is to fire my imagination and have me reaching for my needles.

5. I really want to get to grips with my garden this year. I love being outside and working in the garden and my goal is to make my vegetable plot productive and enjoy the benefits of freshly harvested produce.

6. With the best intentions to work my way through an alphabet of imaginative dates with my husband last year, we only got as far as G. This year I want to get all the way to Z.

7. Six years ago when I moved into my current home, there wasn't a single room that wasn't in desperate need of a complete revamp (how I wish I had taken pictures!) It is all pretty good now but my goal this year is to freshen up the paintwork, win my battle against the clutter and add some finishing touches that will make it exactly the sort of living space I dream of.

That should keep me busy!

Thursday, 5 January 2012

...always hope.

Even on the greyest days there is always hope.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

All over for another year.

The decorations are packed away for another year, the kids are back at school, my husband is back at work. Christmas is definitely over.

I have to confess that although the lead up to Christmas will probably go down as one of the best ever, my festive cheer did desert me on the day itself.

My husband is a lovely man but he was not on good form. He carelessly put his foot in it on two occasions, spoiling surprises I had worked hard to achieve and instead of congratulating me on a Christmas dinner well executed, he just moaned that he had eaten too much and felt sick.  I took the majority of the responsibility for present buying this year so all he really had to worry about was something for me. I don't expect lavish gifts but I do like to see that thought has gone into choosing a present, otherwise what's the point?

He bought me:

  •  pyjamas in size 12/14 when I have worked hard all year to achieve and maintain my size 10 figure
  • box of fudge - which would have been lovely except for the fact that he bought me the crumbly variety. I hate crumbly fudge - I am most definitely a creamy fudge sort of girl.
  • a bottle of suntan lotion with a 10 euro note taped to it. This would have been a fantastic present for my daughter Charis because we have planned to take her to Spain at Easter to show our support for her initiative to learn Spanish in her own time when her timetabled lesson at school turned out to be a disaster.  There was no promise of a European getaway aimed at me. This was my Spain survival kit. I already have suntan lotion. Ten euros, quite frankly, isn't going to go very far.  I just didn't really get what that present was trying to say.
I hate being ungrateful but I was seriously underwhelmed. He has apologised for his lack of inspiration.

In the scheme of things, when I think about everything that my husband does for me and our family, the fact that he wrung the magic out of my magical Christmas is fairly insignificant. I can think of several reasons why he was not on good form. He has been worried about his mother who is recovering from a hip replacement operation. Not being able to see the two children from his first marriage and share the season's joy with them must weigh heavily. Like many of us, he has been a little run down and overworked. My head says that they are all valid excuses but it doesn't chase the melancholy from my heart.

I have much to look forward to this year and looking back at the high points of Christmas day does make me smile but I do feel that carrying the weight of disappointment into the new year has taken some of the colour out of my world. I need to find a way to get it back.

Xmas High Points - the Llama Ocarina - yes, you do have to blow up its bum!

Xmas High Points - How much my little boy loved his work bench.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

My Top 5 Photographs of 2011 - Listography

One of the things I love about blogging is the focus it gives me to take photographs that I might otherwise not have thought about taking. 

This week's Listography topic gave me the opportunity to look back over a year of blog photos and select five of my favourites. It wasn't easy to pick just five but here goes...

1. The photograph of a poor frog frozen into my pond during the cold spell in January 2011 received a lot of attention and remains one of my highest viewed posts. Most people agreed with me that it was a tragic reminder of the fragility of life. My eldest daughter, however, said - "Ha ha - a frog ice cube"

 2. I love this photograph of my two little ones in a hotel bed, totally engrossed in an electronic game that is still a favourite toy. They both look so tiny back in January when it was taken - what a difference a year makes. Although at the time I thought it ruined the picture, now I really love the bruise on my daughter's forehead that tells the story of a moment of ill-concieved adventurousness that ended in a nasty bump.

3.  I don't think this photograph is technically any good but I do remember so vividly, with fondness,  standing out in the cold evening with equipment not quite up to the task, not really knowing what I was doing and trying to capture the magical 'Supermoon' of 19th March, 2011.

4. This is the most recent of the photographs for my Top 5. I took it from my hotel window at Butlins, Bognor Regis where I was attending the Tots 100 Christmas party. The flock of seagulls circling the strangely lovely roof of the Skyline Pavilion against the winter sky was a dramatic sight.

5. Without a doubt, this is my absolute favourite photograph of 2011. It is a picture I took during my husband's vasectomy. I had originally only intended to snap my husband sat nervously in the waiting room but I am so glad that I found the courage to ask the Doctor if he would object to me photographing the actual procedure. Far from objecting, he enthusiastically 'posed' for the shot. My husband wasn't able to look at the picture for quite some time and even now it makes him feel a little peculiar but I love it.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Christmas Decoration?

Just before Christmas, my eldest daughter was handed the keys to the house she and her boyfriend have bought together.

Currently, they are living in a brand new, pristine two bedroomed flat so I was quite surprised that they opted to purchase an older property that was in need of some work to turn into a home. I absolutely love the house with its high ceilings and original features that add character. I am especially envious of the Minton tiled floor in their rather elegant hallway, which although in need of some restoration, is going to be absolutely beautiful.

So, this Christmas, as well as the usual entertaining - eating, drinking and being merry - I have been spending a lot of time helping my daughter get a good start on the decorating before they move in.

I really enjoy decorating and having owned six different houses over the years, I have become reasonably proficient at it.

Back in the nineties, I couldn't get enough of the home style programme Changing Rooms with the wonderfully flamboyant designer Lawrence Llewellyn Bowen. I think I stencilled and 'paint effected' every room to within an inch of its life. My favourite project was a dungeon inspired dining room. It was a painstaking process to create the trompe l'oeil stonework effect but it was a labour of love and I certainly did love that room. A little of it is visible in this photograph of a wedding anniversary dinner with my first husband which, if my memory serves me correctly, was a miserable affair!

The decorating style I have adopted now is much less ambitious but I do still enjoy picking out colours and love the painty smell of a freshly decorated room. Once my daughter has finished with me at her house, I will turn my attention to my own and give the rooms a much needed freshen up. This does of course rely on me having an ounce of energy left - otherwise I will be joining my two little ones on the sofa!

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