Inspiration


Like many people across the world, our lives are centred around our home. It’s where we laugh and love together as a family. Our safe haven, where we can relax and be truly ourselves.

And yet contrary to this, buying a house is one of the most stressful things you can do in your life. Just the words stamp duty, conveyancing fees and searches are sure to bring a wave of dread to the most hardened house buyer.

Mid thirties, I currently have a handful of friends that are house hunting for their dream family home. The list of requirements is normally long and finding a house that actually ticks all the boxes for both partners is pretty much like finding a needle in a haystack. The house has to work for the entire family, pleasing everyone and ultimately most people end up compromising on a few points. House hunting can take months, even years sometimes.

I thought I’d share with you the story of when we bought our dream house, what we were looking for and where we, ultimately had to compromise.

Buying our house

Rewinding the clock 2 years, we lived in my partners modern 4 bedroom house. It was a lovely house but personally I never quite felt at home there. I didn’t like the lack of character and feeling of space. On paper, we had enough space, everyone had a place to sleep, but the house proportions felt small, and the estate crammed. We started talking about moving to a house that was closer to our idea of our dream home. I don’t think at that point we actually thought we would find our dream house but rather “a stepping stone house”, on the way to “the one”.

I had a fixed list of wants, things that were non negotiable for me. The house needed 4 bedrooms, a big garden for the children to play in and enough space for us as a family. As a lover of architecture and design, it needed to work with my idea of an aesthetically pleasing house. I’d always loved period homes so ideally it would be an older house with some lovely period features. My other half had a different list of necessities he needed fulfilling. He needed a location that was practical for work and also the children’s schools as they grew. Preferring modern houses to period, he wanted minimal work and upkeep. He also required a garage to store his motorbike. (You can see our personalities right here can’t you, I’m all about the pretty and he’s about the practical).

We viewed a few houses, one the garden was too small and one didn’t have a garage. Both points were non negotiable on our lists, so we continued looking.

One day my partner sent me the details through of a house. It was old, beautiful but in a state of disrepair. I text him back confused “Babe, it’s old? And needs a ton of work? That sounds like your idea of hell surely?” He suggested we go and take a look anyway. I agreed, super excited to take a look at the property but fully prepared there was no way he would sign up for a renovation project.

As we were viewing the property I kept very quiet, as did my partner. Neither of us knew what the other one was thinking. Gazing around at the proportions of the house, there was a fabulous feeling of space both inside and outside. A tick. It had all the lovely period features I adored, high ceilings, fireplaces, old doors, stained glass, even a hidden tiled floor which we later discovered. Again a tick…

In fact the house ended up ticking all the boxes, it was spacious, had a large garden, 4 bedrooms, a garage. It was conveniently located for school and future high schools, for access to town and the journey to my partner’s work.

But, and it was a big but, there was no denying that the house was in a pretty bad state. It hadn’t been touched for more than 50 years. The garden was terribly overgrown, the house was dirty and the decor was extremely dated. Yet somehow we could see past all of that at the shining gem of a house. It just needed bringing back to life.

Renovating a large period house was a big job, one we perhaps, looking back now, even underestimated. Were we willing to compromise and take on the work required to make it our dream home?

Having kept quiet the whole viewing neither of us knew how the other one felt. Turning towards him as we pulled away from the house I said “So, what do you think?”. He threw it back to me ,”Well, what do you think?”. A huge smile crept across my face. I think it’s my dream home… and he smiled and said, I know, lovingly.

That was it. We had fallen in love with a house.

Luckily for us, the negotiations went pretty smoothly as a sale had just fallen through, so they sellers were keen to proceed quickly. Our offer of £20,000 less than the asking price was accepted immediately and we started the process of making the house our own.

Fast forward 2 years. We started with cleaning, lots of cleaning. Then there was stripping of carpets and curtains to reveal the bare carcass of the house which we could call our home. Since then we’ve rewired, re-rendered, replastered, ripped out, sanded floors, painted. We aren’t finished but we are well on our way.

I remember the first couple of mornings, waking up in the new house and being filled with joy and an indescribable feeling of being home. I can still conjure up that feeling, as I admire the blossom trees in our garden or get captivated by the light streaming through the stain glass on our front door. I’m home and it’s perfect. Tick.

This post is in collaboration with Slater Gordon, thank you for supporting Lish Concepts.

meri-meri-halloween-decorThis year for Halloween we’ve decided to throw a little party. With Halloween falling on a Monday, we have the whole weekend to spend doing ghoulishly fun things.

We’ve invited some friends over on Saturday, both little and grown up so we can throw our own mini Halloween party. As with all good parties no matter how big or small, we need food, decorations and fun!

pumpkins

I was kindly sent a £20 voucher from the fab team at TkMaxx so I headed out in search of party goodies. TkMaxx is my absolute favourite shop for party bits, seasonal decorations and all kinds of fab items for the home. We don’t have many brilliant shops where I live but we do have a TKMaxx and I love it. I visit at least once a week to check out what’s new through the doors and have to resist spending my hard-earned wages. With such a variety to choose from, there is always something I think I need!

We left it a little late getting Halloween paraphernalia but luckily they still had a good display of spooky bits and I managed to pick up an awesome bowl for sweets. Isn’t it fab? Can’t wait to spook some kids with this on Halloween night.

halloween-bowl

We also got a funky banner, plates and napkins from the gorgeous Meri Meri which is a brand TkMaxx often stocks. I adore their party and seasonal products, they are literally the cutest! If you haven’t heard of Meri Meri take a look on their website, I promise it’s adorable. I also love their Christmas range which I’ll be buying in TKMaxx shortly, no doubt.

halloween-banner-meri-meri

plates-meri-meri

Our party will be for grown ups and little people so we need a mixture of fun activities for all ages.  In typical mum fashion, I’ve been perusing Pinterest for some ideas and inspiration for activities. With so little free time I need ideas that aren’t going to take me ages to prepare or craft but with maximum fun factor. I’m thinking games like make mummy a mummy, spooky treasure hunt, quickest dangly donut eating competition and guess the monster!

If you need some last minute inspiration, check out my spooky pinterest board!

Happy Halloween everyone!

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babylish-baby-led-weaningSince the addition of Babylish to the family, I feel like my life is busier than ever. I’m a stay at home mum but also a work at home mum which means my days are packed full.

I really enjoy cooking but it’s not something I really have a lot of time for at the moment. With 2 hungry little mouths to feed I need meals that are quick and nutritious.

Weaning the Italian way

Baby at the table is a new book by The Chiappas sisters Emanuela and Michela, both busy mums to young children. Having been brought up in a large Italian community in South Wales, they know a thing or two about family and food!

Baby at the table shares the Italian approach to weaning which aims to get your little one joining in family meals at the table by age 1. Split into 3 stages, baby, toddler and family, it’s crammed full of lovely recipes and tips on essential basics like how to organise your freezer, store cupboard essentials, when to wean, what babies can and can’t eat and portion sizes.

Baby at the table is a philosophy we definitely believe in. Simple, fresh ingredients used to prepare healthy meals for all the family and prepped in less than 15 mins, perfect!

baby-at-the-table

Weaning Babylish

At 9 months old Babylish has passed the weaning stage and is already eating with our family. We went down the baby led weaning route, mostly because she’s a fiesty one and wouldn’t be spoon fed. Plus she enjoys feeding making a giant mess and throwing food everywhere, herself. I jest, she’s actually a really good eater, enjoying everything that resembles food – even dog food biscuits (really trying to wean her off these!!). With 4 teeth she’s got a good bite on her too which helps!

Despite the fact that Babylish is already eating at the table with us (I always thought I was Italian at heart!) we can still use a helping hand with recipe ideas. I love the clever ideas for speedy lunches like cheats pizza, healthy snacks like apple sandwiches and tasty Italian classics for the whole family like rainbow ricotta gnocci.

Testing the recipes

We have been using the book to make some fab meals this week including the Salmon and Broccoli pasta which we all ate as dinner one night, the girls at the first sitting and Daddy and I later on in the evening. We were all fans of the dish but Babylish was a particular fan and wolfed the lot down as soon as it was in front of her.

salmon-and-broccoli-pasta

salmon-broccoli-pastsa

We also opted for the ricotta pudding which we were sold on by the photo of Fiamma (Michela’s daughter) enjoying a large bowl of chocolatey goodness! It was the first time Babylish had tried chocolate pudding and she LOVED it. Perhaps a little too much! Although obviously the ricotta pudding is a treat only to be given occasionally it does feel good to be able to create a pudding that is homemade with a clear knowledge of the ingredients. And while ricotta cheese and chocolate may not be the most healthy things in the world there is no pure sugar in the recipe at all, it is only sweetened with maple syrup or honey.

chocolate-ricotta-pudding

ricotta-puddingchocolate-ricotta-dessert

We’ve also got the ingredients in to make the Blueberry bread and mini fish pies this week both of which I cannot wait to try!

Making it easy for mums

Written by mums after my own heart, Baby at the table is like the bible your super organised chef best friend would make for you. Always trying to make life easier, never complicating it with long ingredient lists or complicated cooking steps. Everything has been made with time saving and you in mind.

baby-eating-chocolate

It feels like a tremendous amount of love has gone into making this book and a real sense of family and joy runs through each page. The photos of the families together with their adorable children tell a heartwarming story, feeding your family should be joyful and so, in fact, should cooking for them. Let’s face it when you are busy mum, cooking is joyful when it is quick, simple and healthy and more importantly it actually gets eaten by your children!

Baby at the table is available from all good book stores, including Amazon. I’m definitely hanging on to my own copy but I do have a copy available for giveaway too. You can enter via the rafflecopter. Sorry but it’s only available to UK residents.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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