June 29, 2023

Things that make my life easier right now.

Here are some thing that are making my life easier right now (I think in the blog-o-sphere this is called "saving my life right now" but that feels more of an autumn/winter vibe for me)

1. The canteen at my office.  My office is a 2ish hour commute away.  I go once a week.  On office days I don't have to pack any food as they have a subsidized canteen.  In the morning I usually get either a salmon bagel and cream cheese (my fav!) or a yogurt and fruit and granola parfait.  They do hot lunches most days, and have excellent sandwiches other days.  Also, the chef makes AMAZING cakes and I wish I could eat last week's chocolate raspberry cake forever.  It both gives me something to look forward to on my office days AND relieves any stress of packing lunch.  No matter what I get, breakfast and lunch and drinks never come to more than £5.

2. My kids sleep.  Or maybe my kid's sleep.  Basically, I am super lucky and my kids sleep.  They sleep by 7:30pm every night.  Sure, they wake up early (before 6 is too early, if they sleep till 7 it's a miracle), and sometimes Lilah falls out of bed, but in general, they reliably sleep.  It has SO MANY knock on effects for our lives.  Andy can go out at 7:30 knowing the kids will 99% be asleep by then.  We can get the house sorted and we can start a TV show by 8pm.  I can have friends over anytime after 7:30.  

3. Handy Andy.  My husband is very handy.  He can fix and build stuff.  I am lucky as I am decidedly not handy.  

4. Flexible working days and working from home.  Honestly, how did we ever do it before.  I could never be moving forward in my career the way I am without flexible working.  

5. Kindle.  I wasn't sure if I would use it enough, but I do and I love it.  

6. Fruit.  I am anemic and trying to up my iron, and I remembered how much I love fruit.  Some dried fruit has iron, some regular fruit has iron.  I love eating fruit.  Unfortunately I'm also on Iron tablets now, which can have some digestive side effects, but these side effects can be fixed with... you guessed it... fruit!

7. Vinted.  I know I'm so late to this used clothing buying game, but today we had 8 shirts, 3 pairs of shorts, 1 button down shirt and 1 sweater delivered for Isaac for less than £30.  For comparison, one button down shirt from M&S is £14.  I need to list some of my own clothes on there soon too.  Unfortunately nothing Isaac wears survives enough to be resold (most ends up in the clothing scrap pile as it's so stained and usually has holes.  Who are these kids who leave clothes in good condition?)

8. Planning.  Life is somewhat complicated.  Our weekly FLOM is helping us keep it all together and do fun stuff.  We have so many moving parts and I'm glad I have one space in the week to go through everything with Andy.

9. Massage.  Because it is amazing, and I bought myself a package of 6, and I found someone who does amazing deep tissue massage that feels moderately painful at the time and immensely restorative after.

10. Blogs.  Thank you all for entertaining me!

June 28, 2023

Kitchen Project - A potentially underwhelming reveal?

Our kitchen project is done (for now!)!

If you remember, we started with this:

Moved to this:
And now, we have this!
It feels like a rather underwhelming reveal now, but at least the fridge is in the right place.  I would love to get some sort of free standing unit that holds those bins and has counter space (or maybe a drawer??!!?), or even a standalone wall mounted unit to hold bins and give us some counter space.  That space is 30cm wide, so not huge, but wide enough for a standard small cabinet.

The builder who took the cabinets and tiles down called back to say he didn't really want to do anything else with our kitchen (he said it much nicer, but that was the gist) so thankfully we already have a plumber lined up to install the dishwasher on the 17th of July.  Then I can really do an after photo... because this whole project existed for the installation of a dishwasher.

I am really enjoying having a full-size fridge again.  It's much nicer than an under counter fridge, and bigger.  We still have a second freezer in the garage, and I am hoping someone will come buy our under-counter fridge soon (otherwise it's getting donated on the 17th).  

We also need to buy a dishwasher now - what a minefield!  Why are they all wifi connected?  Why are they all £600?  I had thought they would be under £400 and that for £500 I could get something from a UK/German/American Brand.  This is not the case.  

The total cost so far has been £400, plus £30 beer payment to andy for all his painting work.  We'll see what the dishwasher install comes in at, but this is still the cheapest of all the options we looked at and the quickest, and I'm so looking forward to never washing a dish by hand again (kidding/not kidding?)

What was your last big or small home improvement project?  Are dishwashers very expensive or am I very behind in the times?

June 25, 2023

Weekend Updates / Food Plan / Grocery Habits / Freezer Habits

Andy is on a cycling trip this weekend so I am solo parenting.  I have been kind of dreading it because it turns out two year old can be hard work (sometimes... who knew? Why isn't there a book about this or a name for this?).  After Andy left, in a moment of parental inspiration, I got out glue and random scrap pieces of felt and let the kids glue things to other pieces of paper.  This kept them occupied for over an hour.  I will admit I then spent £25 on random craft supplies from Wilko and can't wait for those to show up.

Our friends came in the afternoon for a classic toddler playdate, which involved moving from the padding pool to the house to the paddling pool too many times.  The kids put on a show where they forgot all the words, and then everyone went home before dinner. 

Dinner was ham sandwiches and scrambled eggs and fruit, because I guess that is a balanced meal?

Today we are going to a friend's house for a play date and hopefully Andy will be back soon after that.  I honestly do not know how single parents with young kids, or parents with partners who work abroad or travel lots do it.  (Elisabeth!!)

This morning we are getting a grocery delivery, which I haven't done for months.  It turns out, I like choosing my own fruit and veg.  I also spend £80 whether delivery or online, but the delivery prices seemed to go up faster than the in store prices (at the cheaper store by our house) so we shifted back to shopping in store.  

Also, one of our logistical issues is that our FLOM is on Friday and we generally need food on the Saturday so one of us goes to the shop on a Saturday since next day delivery wasn't a thing last time I checked.  

Side note - one of the signs the pandemic must be over - full availability of grocery delivery slots:
On another side note, we since the recent fridge/freezer reshuffle (photos to follow!) I decided we need to eat more of our freezer food and we need to finish up more of our grains we don't often eat.  Yesterday I made hummus with the remainder of the fava beans.  I still need to use the buckwheat and the giant cous cous.

We also need to eat some of the leftovers in the freezer, which I have recently started dating better (after I pulled out a bag of frozen Thanksgiving Turkey in June).

Food plan for this week:
  • Sunday: Chicken sliders and Fries (with chicken from the freezer)
  • Monday: Fish Curry (with freezer fish)
  • Tuesday: Tacos (with leftover freezer meat)
  • Wednesday: Jacket potato & Beans
  • Thursday: Pasta Bake (with Frozen meat of some sort)
  • Friday: Noodles and Tofu (must find recipe!)
  • Saturday: Pizza
Do you get groceries delivered or do you go to the store?  What's your favourite Buckwheat or Giant Cous Cous recipe?

June 21, 2023

Kitchen Project - Middle and Middle 2.0

Last time we had plastering work done on our house was in November, and it was on the new loft.  I remember the plaster took 5ish days to dry.  It turns out, plaster dries much quicker when it's 70+ degrees and not raining!

The plasterer finished last Monday (it took him 2.5 hours, which means his hourly rate is higher than both mine and my husbands professional career rates, but I won't think about that too much)

It looked pretty terrible, but dried in 48 hours.  It's always interesting doing house projects as it look like the kitchen was at some point painted blue? And before the very dull magnolia tiles were set down it looks like we had some 1950s red square tiles.  Also, we are not sure what some of the wires in the walls do, so everything was plated and shoved back into the wall if not an outlet. 
Andy and I did the mist coat on Wednesday night, which made it look worse.  Progress?

On Monday Andy did 2 more coats of white paint, and it's actually coming together:
He did one more coat last night and when I get back from my work trip I'm excited to see the result!  Once dry we can move the fridge into place and then we just need to get a date for the dishwasher install.  The kitchen is somewhat of a pain to work in right now so I am looking forward to getting things more in place, although I know that the real benefit won't be until the dishwasher comes.  It will be nice to have a full-size fridge freezer again and it will be interesting to sew what I can do with the rest of that corner space.  

I think a new kitchen bin is in order soon but I am sure Andy disagrees... it's hard to find a balance between a bin that's big enough for what we need but that doesn't take up all the floor space.  We've been using a £4.50 IKEA bin for 5 years.  It might be time to upgrade.

Do you like your kitchen bin?  Do I think about bins too much? is this the most boring post ever?

June 19, 2023

Camping Recap

This weekend we ticked off a family bucket list item - camping!

We booked a campsite about 90 minutes away, near the coast, for Friday and Saturday night.  We took Friday off work to pack and so we could arrive in good time, and made it to the campsite by 2:30pm.

There was a slight detour when we realized we had forgotten to pack Lilah's clothing bag and had to stop at Tesco to buy her some clothes for the weekend.  £25 later we had a 3 pack of shorts, a 3 pack of shirts, and a new swimsuit.  

The kids were very excited to set up tents.  They were very excited to eat dinner.  They were very excited by camping stoves and very excited by our friend's camper van.  

We don't own a family camping tent so we set up our 2.5 man tent and our 1.5 man tent. We made one small mistake by bringing a single airbed and a camping pad - I had assumed kids would be asleep by the time I went to bed and I could shuffle them both onto the camping pad.  Because they were both awake I ended up sleeping on the ground (ouch!) between the two beds (in the 2.5 man tent) which was not ideal for both sleep quantity and quality.  

Saturday morning I was very grumpy (I am not good on little sleep) so Andy took kids to the park and I slept until nearly 11 (on the air bed, which was pretty comfortable)

Saturday afternoon we went to an amazing Welsh beach.  Did you know Wales has amazing beaches?  Some Welsh beaches rival what I saw in Thailand and are better than beaches I grew up with in California... depending on weather of course.

Saturday night was BBQ, which the kids loved.  Then we tried having them sleep in separate tents, so Lilah joined Andy and Isaac was in my tent.  Lilah fell asleep almost immediately and Isaac slept when I got to bed - he told me I could sleep on the air bed because the air bed is big and I am also big.  Thanks buddy!

Everyone slept until 7am - YAY - and woke up very happy.  Kids played in the tent for a bit
Then ate some snack before heading off home
Although it was a great camping trip it definitely made me miss camping in the USA.  Camping in the UK is mostly private - farmers set up campsites on field.  This means there are often LOTS of other people around.   Here's a map of the site we stayed in (the dots are all different types of pitches)a:
There wasn't much separating us from our neighbors.  I always felt like national parks in the USA had secluded camping, where even on a campsite you still had some space that was yours.  Including a picnic table and a BBQ, usually.   Sometimes we have found great campsites here, and sometimes we have slept next to A**h***s who listen to Oasis until 3am.  this was fine before we had kids, this is less fine now.

Overall camping trip 1 was a success, with definite room for improvement.  The kids loved it, and everyone is very tired, but it was a great weekend.

When I got home I took all the photos and ordered a cheap and easy photo album for the kids - it took me all of 20 minutes to upload and I let Snapfish do the layout.  Hopefully that will arrive this week and the kids will enjoy it.

Have you ever been camping with kids?  What is your favourite campsite?

June 15, 2023

Thursday Randomness

Today I drove to Bath for work due to train chaos.  It was an interesting experience to drive and I missed the train - even though the drive was quicker the train is far more relaxing.  I don't like the not knowing part of driving - when traffic will be or wont be.  The drive out took about 90 minutes and the drive home took a bit more.  The train is just 90 minutes each way (plus transfer time and getting to the train station) so it is longer but once on the train it is less stressful.
Unless, like last week, the train just goes past my station without stopping.  I didn't realize trains could do that?  I filed a refund complaint online and got 25% of my ticket price back (so, £6.20) however that didn't really make up for the frustration.

In other news, this weekend we are going camping! I have booked Friday off work so we can have a long weekend and leave before the crowds.  The weather is looking good:
We are staying near (but not on) a beach.  I think the kids are going to love it and I could use a long weekend.

I am still not convinced by The Netanyahus.  
Have you read this book?  Am I too basic to enjoy a pulitzer prize winning book?  I think I can tell when they are making a joke now, but I'm not sure that's a compliment to the humor.  I did listen to 2 hours of it while driving today but switched over to podcasts for the last hour of my drive.

I listened to an interesting podcast on children and phones/screen time today.  The argument was that we should aim to make our houses/lives more interesting for kids that screens, by providing engaging activities and an interesting home set up.  It was more nuanced than that but had some very good points - one thing I found interesting was the comment that children are losing out on descriptive narration because adults are so quick to show things on phones.  

I notice this when people visit us - it's wonderful that people want to share their lives with our kids but instead of talking about things they use phones to show them things.  The example used in the podcast was the difference between "I saw some ducks today, they walked across the road, they had beaks, there were 5 ducks" etc vs. "Here look at these ducks I saw".  I  hadn't thought about the language aspect of phone use before but it definitely made me think about whether we are losing descriptive vocabulary now that we can so easily share visuals (not to mention how that transition affects the visually impaired community).

Whenever I take photos of the kids they say "let me see!" and my new answer is "you can look when we get home (or "later" if we are at home) and they almost always forget.  It would be so easy to show them but I don't think they gain anything from it.

That's it from me today - time to pack for camping!

June 14, 2023

Tuesday Timeline - a day in the life

Here's a day in the life of me! This is a Tuesday, which meant I was off work and watching the kids.

5:30am - Wake up, drink tea, do some important admin (I forgot what it was, possibly blogs)

6:10am - drive to friend's house for breakfast

6:30am - breakfast with friend

7:30am - drive home

8:00am - kids play in garden and do "rice play" while I do some house tidying & dishes.  Andy goes upstairs to work.

9:30am - drive kids to nursery for Isaac's Graduation Photos.  Drop off Isaac, Lilah and I go to the park.

11:00am - Pick up Isaac from nursery. Stop at M&S on the way home to get ingredients for a picnic lunch

12:00am - Home and I finally accomplish my dream of making a kid friendly charcuterie board!

Andy joins us for outside lunch

1:00pm - Get the pool out and kids play in pool and outside.  Short lived arts and crafts time that doesn't go well.

2:45pm - Kids getting ratty so we head out to library for a change of scenery.  Lilah falls asleep in the car which is not a good sign.  She is very tired and I regret not trying for a nap (she is a very intermittent napper)

3:00pm - return books to library and get new kids books

3:30pm - home from Library.  We make smoothies (frozen spinach, banana, milk & frozen berries). More pool time.

4:30 - Andy finishes work early and hangs out outside with kids.  We decide to do early bath and then TV as Lilah is starting to fade..

5:00 - Bathtime followed by Lilah meltdown.  Isaac and I watch Zog and the Flying Doctors while Andy takes care of Lilah

5:30 - Dinnertime - Chicken Gyros.  Normally a family favourite but poor Lilah is just too tired.  I put lilah to bed after a cup of milk and a story and she falls asleep by 6pm

6:00 - Finishing up family dinner, I don't often get the chance to eat family dinner without Lilah.  Isaac asks engaging questions like "why is my left hand on a different side than your left hand?"

6:30 - Isaac stories and bedtime, he's asleep by 7:15

7:00 - Dishes and tidy house

7:30 - Chat with my visiting family until 9pm

9:00 - Shower and Bed

That's a Tuesday.  I had a truly adorable moment where we walked out of M&S with Lilah holding Isaac's hand and Isaac holding my hand.  The cuteness lasted all the way to the car, where Isaac said "I need a wee!" right as I had strapped Lilah into her carseat. I told him to do a discreet car park wee. Sometimes you have to grab defeat from the jaws of victory.

June 13, 2023

Summertime! And the Living's... Warmer

 It is well and truly summer now (despite summer officially starting on 21st June).  We got our garden summer ready with the addition of kids picnic table, adult table, bench, and climbing frame!

The climbing frame arrived in 4 boxes of pieces, which I would have given up on immediately.  However, Andy got to work:

The fun thing about kids helping with projects is that they don't really know what's being built.  Once I was building a rolling cart from IKEA and Isaac was sure it was bunk beds EVEN WHEN IT WAS DONE.  He was concerned as to how he would fit into the rolling cart which he thought was bunk beds because it was so much smaller than him.  Good worry, kid.

They started to get the idea around here:
And was a total trooper building the whole thing, which probably took 10-15 hours including concreting it down and figuring out where in the garden it goes.  Now it's got a home in the back, and the kids have had free reign

Unfortunately I don't have many more photos because it is HOT (ie, above 75.  I live in Wales after all) and the kids take off their clothes all the time.  We pretty much have a clothes-less garden now.  Except for the amount of clothes in the garden, which is a lot.

Today it is meant to be 84 degrees, which is really really hot for Wales/me.  We will be blowing up the paddling pool and running the sprinkler.  It is fun living somewhere that is both hot and not in a drought. 

I haven't posted a food plan for a while and this week was a good one:
Sunday: Quinoa Enchilada Slow Cooker
Monday: Salmon & Potatoes & Veg
Tuesday: Oven Baked Chicken Gyros
Wednesday: Risotto (because we must use up this tiny portion of risotto rice!)
Thursday: Leftovers

This weekend we are going to try camping with the kids.  Fingers cross for no rain....

Do you spend time in your garden (yard)?  What is your favorite thing about your home's outdoor space?

June 9, 2023

5 on a Friday

Adventure: We booked a camping trip!  We've had a bit of a non-holiday spring so far - beside going away in January and March we've canceled every summer trip so far.  I haven't missed trips (or the associated costs) but I really want to take the kids camping this summer.  We booked a campsite for a weekend in June and are crossing fingers the sun stays out.  It will be the kids first camping trip and they are going to be so happy - plus friends (with a campervan!) are joining us which should make the whole thing much easier too.

Work: Work has been really busy lately, which was fun but stressful.  It's now CPD season in work with goal setting etc.  I've been reflecting a lot on leaving my last job and how it was the right decision for SO MANY REASONS.  One thing I took for granted at old job was that sometimes work days would make me feel unsure of myself and my position in the company that I would actually feel sick to my stomach.  Certain meetings would leave me feeling 100% fight or flight.  It turns out, that's not normal/needed.  I never feel that feeling in this job.  When I asked about career development I got both support and an action plan.  I finally got an area for improvement from my bosses boss.  Normally during performance reviews I'm told that I'm amazing... which is nice to hear but doesn't really leave room for any development or improvement.   I'm so pleased to have gotten an actual improvement objective to work towards.

Kitchen: On the list of things that can never happen - we got a call back from the plasterer and the next step of kitchen project is happening MONDAY,  Which means I may be able to start painting next week.  I am not very good at painting but I think I can manage mist coating and then white painting a freshly plastered wall.  The last time we had plastering work done was the loft in November 2021 and it took 5 days to dry but I am hoping a small corner of the kitchen in warm dry summer will dry a bit faster.

Reading: I'm currently reading (on Kindle, my new love!) The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and enjoying it so far.  I forgot how much I like the TJR world when it includes repeating characters.  I still think my favourite TJR book was Malibu Rising, which was also my first TJR book, but now I especially enjoy books that include those characters.

Sleep: I shouldn't say this(for fear of jinxing), but our kids are sleeping pretty well right now. They're in the same room and falling asleep between 7 and 7:30.  Isaac gets up by 6am and Lilah by 7am.  I think everyone is getting the right amount of sleep.  I am sure this phase wont last but I definitely appreciate it while it does.

June 8, 2023

Kitchen Project - Middle and Middle

 Progress has been made!  Where once we had this totally functional corner:

Now we have this totally yuck corner:
On the plus side, we have theoretically added about 3 inches of space to our kitchen by removing the disused pipes and trunking.  On the minus side, it turns out that the counter was actually holding up most of the tiles.  When speaking to the handyman he suggested we just get the corner plastered and painted rather than trying to tile it again. So now we are waiting for the plasterer to get in touch.  

I am slightly worried this is what it will still look like in 6 months, but I will be more patient than a week. We are just going to paint it white, and then  put the full size fridge freezer there.  Currently the half size freezer is back as a makeshift counter.

I disassembled the large drying rack to gain some counter space.  It has reverted our kitchen to the previous awkward layout with clean dishes next to the cooking space, but at least we have a prep space to the right of the sink now
One thing that has always bothered us about this kitchen (besides the size) is why the draining board is to the left of the sink.  I think it's because the family before us had a full size fridge freezer where we have those open shelves and they wanted counter space next to the fridge, but it means there is a super awkward small workspace between the draining board and the stove.  We are getting a quote from the handyman to replace the worktop and flip the sink around.  It would also be centered under the window then, which would be an improvement too.

So, we are waiting for quotes and plasterers.  I have a mental budget of under £1,000* for improvements that will last us 5 years.  We are at about £250 so far so I'm hoping that we can get it plastered and a new sink and a new counter and dishwasher installed for under that price... but we will have to see what happens.

*not including price of dishwasher.

June 7, 2023

Wednesday Updates

There are other things in my life besides the kitchen!  Here are some updates:

Kindle: I got my Kindle to work with Libby and I managed to download and read my first book! I read Love Lettering by Kate Claybourne.  It was pretty good, but not as good as Nora Goes Off Script, which I really liked.  Also, I can't read too many lovey-relationship stories in a row.   I also had to start putting books on hold on Libby in addition to Audio Books so I'll have to keep an eye on that holds list.  

Reading: I started listening to The Family Firm by Emily Oster and I feel like she has written the book I was going to write when I thought about stuff more.  I also decided I would enjoy reading it more than listening to it so I returned the Audibook and now have to wait approx 14 weeks for the Kindle book.  I've stated listening to The Netanyahus by Joshua Cohen which I'm not sure I "get".  It was recommended on an episode of What Should I Read Next by someone I didn't really relate to so I'm not sure I'm onto a winner... but also it won a Pulitzer so I should probably give it a go?  I'm not very far in yet, maybe it gets more funny / engaging.

Weekends: We have had some epic weekends.  Not epic in the form of climbing mountains or anything, Epic in the form of really fun.  Last weekend we went to the bike park and had one of Isaac's friends over after.  On Sunday we had two different friends stop by with their kids while we put together the climbing frame in the garden.  We got the paddling pool out for its last jaunt (two of the three rings have died).  The sun has been out for WEEKS and it's soooo nice.

Planning I've been using an Erin Condren Daily Duo.  I love the layout and design and stickers... but it's huge.  I don't have that much daily planning to do.  My days are very similar.  It's nice having a place to put daily to-do lists but I don't feel like I'm using it to it's full potential.  I think if I was in the US I may be able to sell the July-December.  Because it's dated I feel like I either need to use it (not very well) or just abandon for a bit and go back to a pseudo-bullet journal that I used to use.  

Clothes: I've been ordering from Vinted recently.  I bought 4 pairs of jeans (mini-boden!) for £12.  I got a new pair of Fat Face Pyjamas for £13.  The site is basically ebay before ebay turned into a weird cross between Amazon and AliBaba (IMHO)

Have you used Vinted?  Is the sun out where you are and are you having an epic almost-summer?

June 4, 2023

Kitchen Project: Before and Middle

Kitchen project is continuing.  This weekend, I emptied the entirety of the cupboards which are (hopefully!) coming out on Monday:

I also emptied our makeshift larder/pantry (the cupboard in our dining room):
Then it was time to figure out how to get it all back into the cabinets, ideally in a way that was usable and sort-of made sense
I did throw away some apple cider vinegar that expired in 2019 (although does vinegar expire?) and some sesame oil which expired in 2017.  I would love to be a person who cooks delicious asian food.  I love asian food! But, I do not cook asian food.  And asian food needs its own ingredients, like sesame oil.  And right now we don't have room to have more ingredients - we don't really have room for the ingredients we do use.  So I tried to be more ruthless about what stays in our house and what gets thrown away or donated to friends.

We do keep a back-stock of Bob's Redmill Cornmeal, because you can't get it in the UK, and because it is delicious.  We also have one of the largest collections (unconfirmed/probably not true) of Trader Joe's spices in the UK for the same reason. 

I did get everything back in, although the seasonings/condiments/breadcrumbs/salt(?? misc??) shelf is hard to view and will just need to be checked before we buy more ketchup or mustard.  I found we had two unopened ketchups. 
The next project is going to be sorting these open kitchen shelves, once we eat down our apocalypse store of pasta.  There is too much kitchen real estate being given to baked beans at the moment:
I am a bit nervous about losing this counter space - it is the largest counter space in our kitchen.  However, we will make due and hopefully the addition of a dishwasher means we won't be using counter space for drying dishes anymore, which should definitely be a net gain.
You know what takes up more room than I want?  Bins/Trash Cans.  Why so much trash can needed?  Also, this counter is a total bodge-job from the previous owners - It's higher than a normal counter, so there are two small pieces of counter holding it up.  It used to have a boiler underneath before we re-did our heating system.  The panel on the side against the wall used to enclose the boiler pipes, but is now empty.  We could get 2 more inches of space if we took that out, but the border between "inches of space" and "trashing the kitchen" is very fine.

In case you're wondering, this is our whole kitchen, from January.  We have packed about as much storage as possible in here, but will probably try to build an extension someday.  

One of the things that makes the kitchen awkward is that there are 3 doors and 1 window in the small space.  But, within the confines of what we have, we've definitely made it work well since we bought the house 6 years ago.

Have you ever done a major kitchen remodel?  What about a minor one?  What's the biggest improvement you've made to your kitchen since you bought your house?

June 1, 2023

Kitchen Projects - Before and Before

We are finally getting a dishwasher.

I have wanted a dishwasher for years. My first plan was to move the washing machine "somewhere else" and put a dishwasher there.  The options for "somewhere else" and associated costs were as follows:

Build an extension (£50,000+)
Remodel upstairs bathroom (£10,000+)
Put in current bathroom (£500, but need dodgy builder because this is technically illegal)
Convert downstairs bathroom to utility room (£3,000+ and loss of bathroom)

Unfortunately, the good ideas were not financially viable, and the financially viable ideas were not good.

I realized that if we remove a counter and two cupboards from our kitchen we can fit a full fridge-freezer (right now we have a under counter versions of both).  This option should be less than £500 (quote coming on Monday) and means we get a full fridge freezer (no more bending over!) and a dishwasher.

So, we need to say goodbye to this messy corner:

More importantly, we need to empty out the two cabinets.  This is not as easy as it sounds - we have a very small kitchen with many many things in it.  On Saturday I started the emptying process:

The left cabinet has baking supplies.  I decided to be a decanter and put as much as possible into Jars which we can put on our over door shelves.  It's gone OK:
I know labeling jars is silly, but I also know paper taped onto the side is not my favourite look:
I have no plan of action for the right hand cabinet - tea/coffee supplies and random spices and cooking seasonings:
And I also think far more kitchen real estate has gone to tupperware than I would like:
So, it's a work in progress. But I am getting somewhere!  One of the big considerations now is "how much of x do we really need in our kitchen?" During Covid we started ordering things in bulk because going to the store was awful.  At one point we had over 100 pounds of flour in our house.  Every time I would go to Lidl I would stock up on everything.  But now I'm more aware that space is the limiting factor for our kitchen, so perhaps we are better served by keeping less stock and re-buying more frequently

It's weird how quickly the "stock-up" mindset came in, and how tricky I'm finding it to change!

Do you like your kitchen?  Do you have enough storage?  Are you a stocker-uper or a buy-as-needer*?

*I know Gretchen Ruben calls this Underbuyer and Overbuyer, but who is to say what the right level of buyer is?  If there's an under-buyer shouldn't there be a "buyer" who does the right amount?  I think these are different forms of shopping, not "under" or "over" shopping.