The Living Room Decoration Saga (Part 54)

You might remember back in January, I started to take my living room in hand; it was dingy and dark and badly in need of an upgrade to make it more pleasant to be in and a more comfortable space for us all to spend time in. As you can see from the previous post we aren’t doing a brilliant job of actually managing to sit down together at all, nice new living room or not and for similar rushing around and toddler reasons, I’ve not finished of the actual decoration of it either. It doesn’t look a great deal different and sadly the friends who advised me that the paint I chose would not last, were right. I’ve got a grease marked wall which a daughter sprayed polish on and the boy has kicked and hand-printed and before I go much further, I’m going to need to repaint the blue wall at least. Similarly, I got as far as putting up curtain poles and I’ve not been able to decide on what to hang on them (voile looked awful) so we have this.

livingroomcurtains

I’ve been totally uninspired until last week when I saw these at The Handmade Fair the other week and rather loved them.

printingrollers

I’ve now got a nearly overwhelming urge to print my own curtains on long pieces of linen. It would look lovely but I’m not quite sure how to fit in the time or how to keep the room looking nice enough against the onslaught of CHILD to deserve the time and money I’d have to spend.

If I ever get the wall repainted and the curtains made and hung, I’m left with a couple of other problems. I may have solved the rug conundrum (I really want a rug but I really can’t find a way to afford one that appeals to me) by another stand at the same fair where I bought an outsized extreme crochet hook – next year I’m setting myself challenge – “A Year of Yarning Frugally” – where I’m going to use up my stash and actually a many stranded rug might be just the job all round. After that I need to conjure up a corner desk to make better use of the space we have in a long and oddly shaped room. We need a desk but currently it just gets covered in total clutter ALL the time – and it doesn’t match the room either. I have a deep and unrelenting urge for a lovely oak corner desk but it isn’t happening for a while.

Which is a shame because my last big problem is seating. Granted bottoms will start to move out in the next 2-3 years but at the moment they are only getting bigger and more in need of their own seat space. We’ve got two sofas, both big enough for two adults and a third smaller posterior and that’s not enough and not ideal when we do watch a film together as one is side on to the tv. (It really is a very oddly shaped room). Without the desk, we’d have space for some movement and an extra 2 seater.

I was asked to take a look at the Chesterfield Sofa range from Newman and Bright. I’ve only recently converted to Leather Sofas in my head, having been put off by a manky one in my childhood but lately I’ve got a distinct soft spot for them. In my dreams I will one day have something like this Knightsbridge version which looks so gorgeously snuggly as well as modern and traditional all in one. (I just need one that’s a bit smaller!)

Image credit: Newman & Bright

Image credit: Newman & Bright

On the other hand, one of the recliners or the York, which is a fabulously funky coloured version of a chair that belongs in Downton, would fit were my desk wouldn’t be and as for the Carnival….

Image Credit: Newman & Bright

Image Credit: Newman & Bright

Do you think there is any chance that when Bene wrote on it, he would at least match colour for colour? Or would he see it more of a challenge? ;)

The grand vision is still on Pinterest; suggestions for actually getting on with it welcome ;)

Follow Merrily Me’s board Living Room Plans on Pinterest.

Disclosure: this post is in collaboration with the company mentioned within the post.

Finding Family Time with Teens.

I’m not one of the parents who sighs with relief as the kids go back to school, though if I’m honest this year was slightly different as balancing teens, tweens, tots and (hmmm… travail would just be pretentious wouldn’t it?) work was very hard over the summer and a business that relies on Christmas is not well served by a six week cessation in activity over the summer.  But autumn, which once signified a run up to a fabulous crafting extravaganza and a month off to indulge in Christmas activities, now means school uniform, early mornings, children who dash from pick up time to after school gymnastics with barely time to grab a snack, never mind exchange news. Homework fills weekends, trying to find a way to wind down after late sports club finishes while grabbing a refueling meal and dodging disaster the incredible non-sleeping toddler crams the evenings full of work, not play. We adults sit down together for the first time at 10pm or later, often still with a teenager drifting around and, increasingly, needing collecting from a late night school commitment situated somewhere we wouldn’t want them to have to come home from alone.

There are two major things that are essential to us as family:

  • Sit down meals together
  • Sharing entertainment, be it games, films or stories

Increasingly these are hard to do. 2 or 3 of the girls are now out from 4-8.45pm every day which cuts the opportunity to meal together down enormously; we’ve been muddling along and letting standards slip but it occurred to both of us the other day that the old status quo will never return. We aren’t going to get back to weeks full of evening meals and so we need to make the most of evenings for people who are in, not disband them because some aren’t.

Likewise, games are difficult now because Bene is at toddler-trashing stage and since he doesn’t sleep before nearly 10pm, the opportunity to game around him is not currently really there. Max and the girls went through quite a fun phase of group computer games but that has waned, as these things do. And I have failed at reading to them regularly, which I regret deeply. I’m sad that Josie has missed out on that.

Nearly bedtime. #latergram

But family TV we can manage and thanks to our Stream Team membership with Netflix, the girls have discovered some new family viewing that allows them to congregate in smaller groups to watch things that are appropriate but that don’t make Max and I want to pull our brains out through our ears. Miranda has been one such show (it doesn’t do it for me but it seems to amuse them and is cleverly enough constructed that anything of the innuendo type goes over Josie’s head) and Outnumbered is another (although it did teach Bene to say “For God’s Sake!!!!” – thank you Karen!) Both shows mean that short bits of together time can be used with or without us but if Max and I can find 5 minutes to sink on to the sofa with them, we do. Likewise Doctor Who, though some of that is a bit scary for Bene; it’s like an old friend though and the girls know the episodes so well they distract him from the worrying bits.

autumn netflixI suspect though, as Autumn nights and weekends become what they do, this new trio of Netflix specials will appeal to the younger elements of the family quite a lot.

I’m resigned to us not having had the most creative of years and even resigned to more tv dinners than we used to have. I do miss our family time though; we need to make more of it if we can.

How do you balance the needs, activities and time constraints of a family where the dynamics are growing and changing fast? Do you allow TV viewing as a way to unwind? What impact has the return to school had on your family?

Disclosure: we are part of the Netflix Stream Team review group and do not pay for our access to the service.

Words for the Week: One. (Big Changes)

Three words to sum up this week. Daunting. Exciting. Overwhelming.

A few weeks ago Max and I decided that the sensible thing was for one of us to get another job. There’s nothing wrong, the businesses trundle along nicely enough, employ us and someone else and keep a goodly number of customers happy. But the fact is that online life is not what is was and the big players have altered things profoundly for the small independents. I can foresee bigger changes too as distributors and brands start to take on direct sales themselves (some already have) and a concerted effort to squeeze out small online shops continues. We will only ever be small, I suspect and that’s fine because small is okay and I like having the right to be personal and kind and thoughtful. What I also think is we’d be foolish not to see that in two years time we might be facing brands who want to cut out the costs of retailers and have all the profit themselves; I’ve got a lot of children and a big mortgage which I can’t reduce any time soon and I don’t want to suddenly find myself unable to fight the big companies who can throw more money at things than we will ever manage.

That’s a difficult thing to say, not least because people will wonder if we are in difficulty. I don’t know how to say it more clearly that this – PlayMerrily and CraftMerrily trot along nicely, selling goods, paying suppliers, paying three wages, always able to pay the rent and the costs and offer some discounts but we need to accept they won’t make us rich and give us a comfortable old age with money to enjoy life. And there are things I would like to do that will need some available money, not least giving more of my time to changing the world.

And they really do only need one of us. Max and I both work there all week and the truth is one of us could do enough to keep it just the way it is right now.

So when Max said, “I think one of us should go back to work…” my immediate response was to ask him if he’d go back to engineering. And his response to that was…

“I was rather thinking it would be you.”

I won’t lie, it threw me. But of course, as he almost always does, he was talking sense. He runs the business in an operational sense and although I do the creative side, it doesn’t really need me. If I was working I would still fit in the chatting and Facebook paging and talking to suppliers and customers and all that jazz but if I was left to run it, I’d be rubbish. I’m just not a ‘runner’ of things. I’m a creator of things.

But what should I do????

Daunted.

It’s been 16 years since I had to ‘get a job’ and I worked on the high street then. I had a moment of feeling profoundly 40 and skill-less and wondering if I would need to apply to Tesco. And then, after a few days of breathing in and out and stern talkings to by my sister and various other friends I breathed in.

I wrote a CV. I submitted it. I tentatively talked to a a few contacts. I drew breath and started to optimise my online life to look a bit more professional.

And a few people have started to talk back.

It’s been an okay week. Exciting. I’m far from safely out of the clutches of shelf stacking but I’ve had time to review myself and see my skills and talk to people and I’ve been surprised by how many people value me and have wanted to talk back. This week has been about one new client and one piece of work and  two possibles and several calls about my cv and even an interview opportunity (that didn’t happen as his wife went into labour as I got there!)

Mad days picture for Fran. I love it. @minimoobear @projectfranblog

I am excited. It’s a good thing to hold on to because no doubt in a few weeks I will feel frustrated, frightened and foolish over something or other and, as someone wise said to me, “remember this feeling for the lean weeks” but I’m slightly overwhelmed too. I know I can do this if I work at it. I also know I’m going to have to reorganise how I live, spend less time with my toys and crafts, spend less time with Max, the girls and Bene and be professional and more vocal and more pushy and sell myself. And I can sell nearly anything but myself. So overwhelming is my third word. Not overwhelmed though. There is a subtle difference.

Some very good people have offered advice and support and leads and I’m grateful to them all.

I mentioned this on my Facebook page a few weeks ago but it seems a fitting time to revisit it. Patch of puddles will retire gradually from active service over the next little while, though it will be gradual. I want this to go back to just recording family days and what I want to remember. I don’t want to feel inhibited by ranting here or wondering if it fits the ethos. I want to try different writing and different oppportunities and for this to be about Bene growing up. At least, I think so.

I’ve been writing a little differently on my other blog recently. I’d be delighted if you joined me.

New MM LogoSo. That’s that. I won’t lie it all feels a bit of a wrench; the last few years have been far from easy but, as I’ve said a million times, at least I had a cosy, safe nest to be in while I recovered. Now it is time to move out of my little business a bit and move on from my blog a little bit and try and be just a bit more of the outstanding person I can be.

Thank goodness for being 40. I think I’m going to need the confidence and elbows this age decade has brought me.